Casting a Vision for the Future…

I rarely discuss politics on this blog (or anything serious for that matter!) I have withheld my opinions about the presidential election, in part because I wanted to see how the nomination conventions would unfold. Also, because I do not want to be pigeon-holed and turn people away from reading.

But watching Governor Palin’s speech this evening sparked in me a response. I don’t know much about her except what I have been reading over the past couple of weeks. I was encouraged to see a woman placed on the ticket. I like the idea of their being compelling, thoughtful candidates from both parties.

Unfortunately, Governor Palin came across arrogant, smug, and bordering on desperation.
She didn’t spend time delivering the ideals of her party or running mate, but instead focused on McCain’s character versus Obama’s. I sat their wondering, “What do you bring to this election? …sell me!”

Her speech was a sarcastic attack on the celebrity and alleged lack of experience of Obama… coming from a self-proclaimed “PTA Hockey mom.” Needless to say, I felt that her speech lacked real substance.

I think many are distracted by the “rock-star” persona of Obama… I don’t think that’s why he is popular. Obama has a growing following because he eloquently paints a picture of a preferred future. He casts a vision… rather than trying to defend himself or his party. Can Obama deliver on that vision?  Well, that’s the million dollar question.

Republican candidates seem to spend so much energy on defending themselves and on spreading fear and negativity… younger generations are becoming impatient with this approach. The one exception I’ve noticed is Governor Mike Huckabee. His speech was articulate, respectful and compelling. His comments about the presidency being an office rather than just a symbol were intriguing.

But my question for the Republican party: how does growing big business and shrinking government help middle and low income families (the growing majority of Americans)?

I have the answer… it doesn’t. I experience the effects of this each day, and see it in the faces of the people in the community where I live. It is time for a change.

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11 Comments on “Casting a Vision for the Future…”

  1. Ginny Says:

    I appreciate your comments Mike. The dismissive remarks by both Palin and Giuliani regarding the work of community organizers just emphasized how out of touch the Republican party is with urban America. I hope you continue to post on the campaign.

  2. Darvis White Says:

    Very well put brother. i hope you keep posting.

  3. Steve Knisely Says:

    I have to agree the speeches weren’t that great and I’d have been much happier not hearing what amount to rebuttals and attacks. I wanted to hear “the plan”, hopefully we will hear it in the coming days. I also wanted Mike Huckabee to win. (and kill off the IRS), but that was a dream.

    I do have to disagree that government is the answer to our problems though. What problems are low and middle income america facing that they couldn’t fix themselves if they were given their tax money back? I have the answer…NONE. People are the answer, community groups, churches. Not the bungling government that will take $50 to give us back $5. When we shrink government we empower the people to fix the issues in the best way possible and then you’ve taught a man to fish rather then giving him a day old fish that he involuntarily overpays for.


  4. Steve… thanks for your thoughtful response. I totally agree that big government is also not the answer. I love your comments about the church and community groups being the street level solution. As a follower of Jesus, I do not depend on government to work for good, but I take that mission upon myself as an agent of restoration.

    With that being said, I believe the government has created a mess… a broken system that puts money in the pockets of corporate America and oppresses those who struggle to earn a living. The healthcare system is just one example of this machine. My hope is that governmental leaders will emerge to help dismantle this system, and bring a little more equality in our country.

  5. Lois Lane Says:

    hmmmm thoughtful, but sounds like you have made up your mind.before hand..yes the young do want change and it all sounds good, but is it? we got change for changes sake in our community and boy it sure did…highest tax base in the county, and then raise in water bills of 75 % in a few years time.
    Every time they can’t pay their bills, they raise water rates , which is illegal..whats happening here? CHANGE. How is this elite Obama going to change the congress? They are his constituants…I must say it saddens me that no matter what is being said, the bottom line is they all want to keep their fat pensions that we pay for. Iv’e changed my mind about who I will be voting for a few times .Bill Cosby sounds better than anyone. We all think we have the right answer, only time will tell…where is Harry Truman, when you need him most!? God help us. By the way, her speach was enlightening for those who had no pre-conceived ideas about her. She’s had more political experience than many who are running. Governor’s job is no walk in the park.

  6. Brother Tone Says:

    Mike,

    Thanks for directing me to your site! I’ve only perused a few times before. Nice work!

    To the topic at hand, there are a couple of distinctions I feel are necessary to make. The healthcare crisis has been created by the corporate leadership of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, with the blessings of Nixon (who did many equally idiotic things). The government gets blamed, though it’s just part of the whole system created by money to protect moneyed interests. Government is actually a minor part of it, at this or even larger sizes.

    The problem is that we are experiencing, at every corner, what Garrett Hardin termed the “tragedy of the commons” (an essential read). This identifies the root of the problem, which is a combination of greed, and a disconnect between action and repercussion. We sit and idle in our car and think that global warming is someone else’s problem; we (or some) fail to claim income, and social security nears collapse. Corporate actors and the people benefitting from Bush’s tax plans have extracted wealth from the commons for so long that we have begun to believe that this form of thievery is noble and respectable. But who will pay the deficit?

    It’s more a problem of the size of the spending rather than the size of the government. People like Grover Norquist, who want a government “small enough to drown in a bathtub” have never been on ACCESS, nor food stamps, nor needed a small business loan, or supported any of the myriad aspects that are valiantly trying to keep the social fabric from unraveling any faster.

    Think what you will about the candidates, but you cannot pretend that there is not an enormous difference between say, the policies Obama supports toward social investment, and the reckless warmongering of McCain and passing on inestimable debts to future generations… e.g., Angelo, and his cousins.

    Change for change’s sake is rightly questioned, except when both feet are standing on the accelerator to complete societal and ecological collapse. We should remember that McCain is nearly without an original idea or platform that isn’t spoon-fed to him, and Palin personally sued to keep the polar bear from protection, while her hubby is a British Petroleum oil magnate.

    The fact of the matter is, if you add all the oil in ANWR, all the oil off the coasts, all the oil shale, all of the difficult and economically undesirable deposits of all fossil fuels, they deliver less than 20-25 years of current demand. The change we need to is to begin to recognize that peak oil and the climate crisis are indeed CRISES, and a vote for anyone other than Obama is a vote to continue pretending that it’s not. We need to begin thinking more about what we are doing to help our children than our own selfish needs. There is no free lunch, and until we overturn the system, rock star or not (I’d take a rock star like truman, or kennedy, or Gore for that matter) if that’s what it takes to get people hopeful and involved in doing all they can to work together.

    Yes, brother Tone has a soapbox… one earned with nearly 25 years of intensive work in, and study of these issues, and the blessings of a family from which I draw my courage and integrity.

    Thanks for the opportunity to weigh in.
    love you, tone

  7. deb frost Says:

    Sarah Palin is the US ‘s answer to Margaret Thatcher! Anyone who thinks she cannot handle the job or deal briskly and efficiently with ANY issue, including foreign governments… well, they haven’t met our Sarah.

    As an Alaskan resident, as well as a resident of Wasilla , AK , where Sarah Palin was at one time Mayor, I can speak with confidence. Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska is exactly what she portrayed during her introduction this morning and exactly what our US Government needs. She is ethical to a fault (if there is such a thing), a refreshing change to the status-quo and as smart and determined a PERSON (gender really isn’t an issue here as far as I’m concerned) as anyone could ask for at the head of government.

    Sarah is no naïve “small town mayor” – she just started out there. As Mayor of Wasilla, she brought this “small town” through a lot of GOOD changes and left it at the end of her term having grown to the 4th largest CITY in Alaska – a lot of growth and a stronger economic base than ever before.

    She has EXECUTIVE experience running a government (something NONE of the other candidates can actually boast, even John McCain) as Governor of Alaska and got there by defeating the incumbent Republican Governor, who was definitely part of the “old school” and who WAS very much in the pocket of the big oil companies. We in Alaska wanted change – and we got it in the person of Sarah Palin!

    Sarah Palin is everything she looks to be and more. Her approval rating as Governor of Alaska has been as high as 95% and is currently leveled out consistently in the upper 80 percentile throughout the state (and in both parties) – the HIGHEST approval rating of ANY sitting Governor.

    Sarah has been turning around corruption in the Legislature of Alaska – turning things on their ear for that matter – cutting spending, in spite of the increased income the state is currently receiving due to the high oil prices. She has insisted on putting a huge amount of the “windfall” into savings for the future rather than spending, spending, spending – and has insisted from the get-go on what she refers to as “honest, ethical and transparent governing” – no more closed door meetings and dealings. The big oil companies thought she would be a pushover and have learned better to their chagrin.

    She understands the “real people” and the economic issues we all face (Alaskans along with the rest of the country) – she was one of “us” not long ago. Rather than passing useless “laws” or throwing money at pet projects, she most recently suspended the state gas tax temporarily (on gasoline at the pumps, fuel oil and natural gas for homes, etc.) and has ordered checks issued to ALL residents of Alaska this fall in an attempt to assist with the burden of high fuel costs for the upcoming winter. I could go on and on, but that’s enough for now. She isn’t doing these things to be popular – she is doing it because her constituents are HURTING financially and she can help.

    She became Governor of Alaska by defeating the incumbent Republican Governor and doing it without the money or the support of the Republican Party, which was amazing in itself – and she won by a landslide. At that time, the “powers that be” totally underestimated Sarah and learned better the hard way. She has done exactly what she claimed she was going to do and is just as popular today as the day she was elected – perhaps more so, since even the Democrats up here seem to like her; she works well with both sides in the Legislature here.

    Sarah “belongs” to us Alaskans and although we are going to be terribly sorry to see her leave before she finishes the job she started here two years ago straightening out OUR State, we understand she is needed for a bigger purpose and hopefully her Lt. Governor will be able to fill her shoes here and continue the job.

    As for worrying about what would happen if McCain were to die or step down or whatever, we have seen her as our first woman President of the USA from the start. Up here in AK we’ve only been wondering how long we would be able to KEEP Sarah in Alaska. It’s always been a matter of whether she would wait until the end of her TWO terms as Governor (no doubt at ALL that she would be re-elected if she ran for a second term at the end of her current term) or end up in Washington sooner. She could do the job TODAY.

    Personally, I feel a lot better about McCain now that I know he has someone as savvy, as strong, as ethical and as steady as Sarah at his back. She will be an excellent Vice President and my guess is she will be our US Republican Presidential candidate in four years! By then the country will KNOW her, will love and respect her as we do here, and she’ll win by as much of a landslide as she did here in Alaska. I only wonder if McCain has a clue what he is unleashing on the US of A. She is not only going to be a fresh wind, but also a strong wind.

    Is that enough of an endorsement? If not, I’ll add this – Jerry and I have for many years felt the best “vote” was to vote for the “lesser of two evils” and hope they didn’t do too much damage. Two years ago during our State Governor’s race was the first time EVER that we actually asked for not just a little sign to put in our yard showing our support of our candidate (something we’ve never felt the desire to do at all before), we asked for a full 4′ x 8’ “SARAH PALIN FOR GOVERNOR!” sign and were proud to have it. She hasn’t let us or Alaska down. She will do the same for the USA if given the opportunity.

    Feel free to pass this on to anyone who may be interested.

    Deb Frost in Alaska


  8. Hi Mike!

    I usually read your blog for a smile. But I do enjoy your serious side as well. I was especially touched by your entry Tired of Being Tired. Thanks for your honesty. That entry was a help to many of us.

    As a leader, I appreciated your thoughts on casting a vision. So important and so needed today. But I also know that vision requires not only action but also the right foundation. Your question was THE quesiton, “Can Obama deliver on that vision?”

    The conclusion I come to from the evidence of his past is he can’t. He talks a lot and does very little. I think that is why Republicans enjoyed Sarah Palin’s speech so much. It is funny how little he has done. There is no doubt that his leadership responsibility is sorely lacking. What “changes” have we seen in Chicago, Illinois, or Washington because of his leadership? It’s just more of the same. It doesn’t seem he has been faithful with the little to deserve the much.

    And as far as his foundation, the question is what guides him? He seems to fall on the opposite side of scripture in regards to life, pornography, marriage, etc.

    The most powerful line of Palin’s speech was that some people use change to promote their careers and others use their careers to promote change. The evidence is that McCain has and will promote reform. He is a leader with vision and it seems that over the years his vision has always been more important than winning elections. That’s true and proven leadership. In a changing and challenging world can we really afford to take a risk on an unproven leader and his “vision”? To see if he can deliver on his promises when we have no reason to believe that he will?

    No matter who wins, change is coming to Washington. I just want the right kind of change. (pun intended)

    Love and appreicate you Michael!

    Daryl

  9. drew Says:

    i like obama but really liked palin’s speech. i felt like she needed to establish herself as political presence before bringing in the agenda and i came away impressed.

    it actually made me wish there was an obama-palin ticket.

  10. Kelli Says:

    Michael, you opened a can of worms! : )

    This election has been interesting to me because I’ve never been in a situation where I am surrounded by so many people on each side of the debate. It’s actually shocking to me that the people who I admire and respect the most disagree so vehemently with one another in this election. What I am learning from all of this is humility…no matter how right I think I am, I wonder how much I should open my mouth.

    I want to be informed and active in the political arena, but I don’t want to be remembered for my politics. I want to be remembered for my compassion, my love for justice and mercy, my commitment to Jesus (the things I aspire to). I have seen how political debate can quickly turn ugly (love those family gatherings). It’s interesting how some who stand for equality and tolerance are so hateful (and I don’t use that term loosely) of the current administration and anyone who supported it. It’s also interesting that others whose moral compasses pull them to the right have no moral objection to denouncing the faith of those who disagree with them. I think we need to be careful with such weighty terms (communist, warmonger) and personality judgements…often times, we’re describing people who’ve given their lives to public service (whether as community organizers or as soldiers in the military).

    I could ramble on for pages because my thoughts are still being formed and shaped. I’m not sure where I stand on certain policies…and I hope that I have enough humility to admit when I’m wrong about some of them. I also pray that I have enough wisdom and grace in my speech and actions that my political views will never hinder the way that I want to love others in Jesus.

    Thanks for your thoughts Michael!
    Kelli

  11. Brother Tone Says:

    More on Palin’s real character. Wouldn’t it be simpler and more honorable to just tell the truth?

    It boggles my mind that just because she has such a strong pro-life stance, that it is assumed she reflects any other Christian values. I’m sorry if this feels rude, but I can hardly see this as anything other than a continued effort to dupe the religious community into supporting a whole range of policies and working styles that are as blatantly anti-Christian as one could create. Sending our sons and daughters to die in an illegal, unnecessary war designed by profiteers and justified by lie after lie being just one of hundreds of examples.

    Again, sorry if this offends, but our collective memory hardly recalls what life used to be like before the purposeful elevation of fear as a manipulative tool was put into place. viva la difference…

    tone

    Palin’s “Trooper-Gate” Cover-Up
    Saturday 06 September 2008
    by: Robert Parry, Consortium News

    Ripping a page from George W. Bush’s playbook on obstructing investigations, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her senior aides are maneuvering to thwart an abuse-of-power investigation that Palin initially vowed to assist.

    Now, rather than cooperate with an independent counsel assigned to examine whether Palin fired the state’s public safety commission because he refused to fire her ex-brother-in-law from the state troopers, Palin, her husband and seven witnesses close to Palin are resisting giving testimony.

    Moreover, on Tuesday, just one day before giving her widely acclaimed speech to the Republican National Convention, Palin took the unusual step of filing an ethics complaint against herself – to move the investigation to the state personnel board whose three members are appointed by the governor.

    Palin’s decision to, in effect, turn herself in so she could get a hearing before more sympathetic investigators was known by the U.S. news media before Palin’s speech, but was rarely, if ever, mentioned by TV pundits filling hours of air time with chatter about her charisma, her moose hunting and her 17-year-old daughter’s pregnancy.

    Back in Alaska, state Republicans also took on the role played by congressional Republicans in Washington, attacking the fairness of any investigation that might put a GOP leader in a negative light.

    John Coghill, a Republican state legislator from North Pole, Alaska, demanded that Democratic Sen. Hollis French, who has been overseeing the probe, resign because French suggested that Palin’s alleged abuse of power could lead to her impeachment.

    “These statements cause me to think that the report is already written even though the investigation is only just begun and the most important witnesses have not even been interviewed,” Coghill said in a letter. [NYT, Sept. 6, 2008]

    However, Palin and her administration appear determined to make sure that those witnesses don’t get interviewed, at least not in a way that might cause political embarrassment before the November elections.

    State legislators have set a goal of issuing a report by Oct. 10 on Palin’s firing of state public safety commissioner Walt Monegan, but it now appears that the legislature will have to issue subpoenas to compel the testimony of the seven witnesses, including Palin’s top aide, her personnel director and the commissioner for administration.

    A subpoena battle could eat up time both in getting approval from Republican legislators and in overcoming objections from lawyers for the witnesses.

    Balking at Depositions

    Palin and her husband, Todd, also are balking at giving depositions to independent counsel Steve Branchflower, who was picked by the legislature to investigate whether Monegan’s firing was retaliation for his refusal to fire trooper Mike Wooten, who has been embroiled in a bitter divorce/custody battle with Palin’s sister for several years.

    Palin’s lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, indicated that Sarah and Todd Palin would likely rebuff any request by Branchflower for a deposition and insist that the investigation only be handled by the state personnel board.

    Palin’s legal team also appeared to be following another favorite tactic of the Bush administration – putting the investigator on the defensive by lodging complaints against him for supposed wrongdoing.

    Attorney Van Flein complained that independent counsel Branchflower had sought to reach Todd Palin directly “on a secure and confidential line,” which Van Flein called “a serious security breach that we may be obligated to report to the Secret Service.” [Anchorage Daily News, Sept. 3, 2008]

    Palin’s recent attempts to frustrate the legislative investigation reverse her assurances in late July that she was “happy to comply, to cooperate.”

    After her surprise selection as John McCain’s running mate, she began traveling with the national Republican crowd, which has many years of experience in fending off legislative oversight of controversial actions by the Bush administration.

    For instance, Bush has made broad executive privilege claims to block testimony from his subordinates about a White House drive to politicize the Justice Department, including the firing of nine federal prosecutors who were not considered “loyal Bushies.”

    The case of Palin’s firing of public safety commissioner Monegan is somewhat different because the allegations are that the governor was abusing her power to carry out a personal – rather than a political – vendetta, but many of the tactics for thwarting an investigation would be similar.

    Family Vendetta

    When Palin was sworn in as Alaska’s governor in December 2006, she was enmeshed in a messy family feud with her sister’s ex-husband, trooper Wooten. Through complaints to his superiors, Palin already had helped engineer Wooten’s five-day suspension from the state police earlier in 2006 for various examples of personal misconduct.

    In January 2007, a month into Palin’s term, her husband, Todd, invited Palin’s new public safety commissioner Monegan to the governor’s office, where Todd Palin urged Monegan to reopen the Wooten case. After checking on it, Monegan informed Todd Palin that he couldn’t do anything because the case was closed.

    In an interview with the Washington Post, Monegan said that a few days later, the governor also called him about the Wooten matter and he gave her the same answer. Monegan said Gov. Palin brought the issue up again in a February 2007 meeting at the state capitol, prompting a warning that she should back off.

    However, Monegan said Gov. Palin kept bringing the issue up indirectly through e-mails, such as comparing another bad trooper to “my former brother-in-law, or that trooper I used to be related to.”

    Monegan said he also began getting telephone calls from Palin’s aides about trooper Wooten, including from then-chief of staff Mike Tibbles; Commissioner Annette Kreitzer of the Department of Administration; and Attorney General Talis Colberg.

    Colberg acknowledged making the call, after an inquiry from Todd Palin about “the process” for handling a threatening trooper, and then relaying back the response from Monegan that the issue had been handled and nothing more could be done.

    Monegan also told the Post that he warned each caller about the risk of exposing the state to legal liability if Wooten filed a lawsuit.

    However, Todd Palin continued collecting evidence against Wooten and lobbying for his dismissal. The governor’s husband acknowledged giving Wooten’s boss, Col. Audie Holloway, photos of Wooten driving a snowmobile while he was out of work on a worker’s compensation claim.

    Alaska’s Deputy Attorney General Michael Barnhill told the Post that a member of the governor’s staff, personnel director Diane Kiesel, also made at least one call to Col. Holloway about the snowmobile incident. [Washington Post, Aug. 31, 2008]

    On July 11, 2008, Palin abruptly fired Monegan, saying only that she wanted to take the public safety department in a different direction.

    Monegan then went public with his account of the mounting campaign against Wooten from the governor’s family and staff. Monegan told the Anchorage Daily News that Todd Palin showed him the work of a private investigator, who had been hired by the family to dig into Wooten’s life and who was accusing the trooper of various misdeeds, such as drunk driving and child abuse.

    Though Palin insisted she wasn’t involved in the pressure campaign, a review by the Attorney General’s office found that half a dozen state officials had made about two dozen phone calls regarding Wooten.

    A tape recording of one conversation – between Palin’s chief of boards and commissions Frank Bailey and police Lt. Rodney Dial in February 2008 – revealed Bailey saying, “Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads, ‘Why on earth … is this guy still representing the department?'”

    Facing mounting evidence of improprieties, Palin now appears determined to sidetrack the investigation, much as President Bush has delayed and obstructed probes into his alleged wrongdoing for seven years.

    Gov. Palin has a well-worn GOP playbook to draw from.

    ——–


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