Posted by: Randy Allgaier | September 9, 2008

WAKE UP AMERICA- That’s all I want for my birthday!

Today is my 51st birthday and all I want for my birthday is an American Electorate that uses our God given intelligence in order to cast our vote. If we do that- Barack Obama will be the 44th President.

The McCain / Palin Campaign doesn’t want you to think that this election is about issues- Rick Davis, the McCain campaign’s manager said it starkly- “It’s not about issues, it’s about personalities.”

Haven’t we already elected a guy who most Americans would like to shoot pool with and hang out and have a beer with? And the odd part of that is the people who wanted to have a beer with George W. Bush never would have had the chance. He wasn’t the guy to hang out at the local saloon, but rather hang out with his buddies from the elite Skull and Bones Society at Yale. Yup he’s just a guy.

What is it about Americans and our delusional obsession with voting for the “just a guy or gal” rather than the smart one? Are we that insecure- we don’t want to be led by someone who is smarter than us? Hillary Clinton – a brilliant graduate of Wellesley and Yale Law, a successful lawyer, a smart First Lady and an excellent Senator had to play down her real resume and play up her Scranton creds in order to win Pennsylvania.

What is with that? Do we really want the neighbor who got their GED to be the one running the country?

I thought it was the height if cynicism when Rick Davis made that remark. But my gosh- if the polls concentrating on women and interviews with women I have heard are any indicator- he is dead on.

Women fought a long time to get the franchise and achieved it 88 years ago. Does it make sense to fritter away that long fought for right to vote- by voting for McCain because you like Sarah Palin’s moxy? What about her policies? What about the truth of her statements.

Hello people- we are not electing the President and Vice President of the Senior Class. But sadly I’ve seen better articulated platforms from candidates in student government than I have seen from Senator McCain and Governor Palin.

This summer Senator Obama successfully argued that the tax gas holiday was a political gimmick. I thought- “Aha- finally America doesn’t fall for the gimmick”. Then the drilling issue came to the fore. “Drill Baby Drill” has become the absurd Republican mantra and they accuse the Democrats of not wanting to drill for oil. Watching John McCain at a biker rally getting all worked up about drilling and stomping his feet as he whipped himself into a frenzy –“we need to drill now, we need to drill here, we need to drill!” Did he want to erect an oil derrick right on the spot where he was standing?

Unlike the gas tax holiday which was exposed for the gimmick it is- drilling I guess is more complicated and the issue needs to use more of the brain than the part that controls chanting “Drill Baby Drill”. But what about those 68 million acres in oil leases that haven’t been touched by oil companies? The Democrats tried to pass a bill that called on the Interior Department to accelerate leasing in an area of Alaska specifically set aside for drilling, could diminish domestic exploration since it would bar oil companies from obtaining new leases if they were not actively exploring current holdings.

Doesn’t it make common sense to use what you have before beginning to look elsewhere? Forget the environmental implications of off shore oil drilling and the potential effect on the tourism economy of states that rely on their shore for a big chunk of change. Leaving those considerations aside- doesn’t it make sense to look at what you have first? Before adding an addition on to your home, don’t you weigh whether or not the current size of your home meets your needs and decide if you need more room or not? It’s just common sense.

Let alone that drilling won’t have any impact for over a decade. It won’t provide immediate relief and it still doesn’t get at the core issue of moving the nation to alternative energy sources. Not to mention the lies the McCain campaign are telling about Obama’s position. Senator Obama is against off shore drilling but has said that if it is the compromise that needs to be made in order to pass decent legislation concentrating on alternative energy development he would support it. Also he has said that nuclear power is also on the table- not the complete opposition that the McCain camp seems to toss out there as fact.

What about the McCain Maverick myth. I’ve addressed part of this myth before on this blog- most recently in Maverick? NO WAY! – John McCain’s devolution of character but here is some straight talk for you- no one who votes with Bush 91 percent of the time is a maverick, and someone with 134 former or current lobbyists advising, funding or managing his campaign cannot be considered a reformer.

What about Governor Palin and her opposition to earmarks? Let’s have some straight talk on that too.
Earmarks have never been a dirty word in Alaska, a huge state dotted with small communities that have enormous dollar needs for sewers, roads and other projects.

Instead, earmarks — pet projects that members of Congress fund but that no federal agency has requested — have become a mainstay of political life in Alaska, and one that Palin embraced from early on in her career as a mayor of Wasilla to the governor’s mansion in Juneau.

Some of Palin’s requests were for science research, such as $499,900 to assess halibut harvesting; others for lighting village airports in the Alaskan bush, where small planes and gravel runways may be the primary link to the outside world.

Palin’s requests to Congress came at a time of huge federal deficits, while Alaska state revenue was soaring due to rising oil prices and a major tax increase on oil production that Palin signed into law in late 2007. As a result, Alaska this year was in such a money-flushed condition — with no state income tax or sales tax and total state revenues of $10 billion, double the previous year’s — that Palin gained legislative approval for $1,200 cash payments to every Alaskan.

In addition, each Alaska resident gets an annual dividend check, about $2,000 this year, from Alaska’s oil-wealth savings account, known as the Permanent Fund, now fattened to more than $35 billion.
The state also has been able to tap into a gusher of federal money as its Republican congressional delegation rose in seniority and clout.

In 1996, when Palin was elected mayor of Wasilla, a city of about 8,000 some 40 miles north of Anchorage, she did not take part in the earmark process.

But by 2000, into her second term, the city had hired a Washington, D.C., lobbyist, Steven Silver, a former aide to Stevens, then the ultimate rainmaker as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“She was hungry for earmarks just like everybody else,” said Larry Persily, who worked at the Alaska state office in Washington, D.C., until earlier this year. “Everyone was feeding at the trough.”  Before she left office, Wasilla, with aid of the lobbyist and the blessing of Stevens and Rep. Don Young, got $27 million in earmarks, according to the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense.  During her fall 2006 campaign for governor, Palin appeared to embrace the so-called “Bridge to Nowhere,” even after Alaska had been held up for ridicule by McCain and others for what was seen as a wasteful boondoggle, a $233 million bridge that would replace ferry service connecting Gravina Island and its Ketchikan airport to mainland Ketchikan.

In a debate, Palin said she would fight for the earmark to build the bridge. McCain and others sought to divert those funds to help fund Hurricane Katrina recovery. That prompted a threat from Stevens to resign from the Senate for such discrimination against his state.

A year later, as criticism of earmarks mounted, Palin began to speak out against earmarks. Though she took the federal money to fund Alaska earmarks, she diverted the money for the Ketchikan bridge to other projects. She also issued a news release to alert the national press to her action.
So to paraphrase a slogan from the 2004 Republican Playbook- Governor Palin was for the bridge to nowhere before she was against it. Her hyperbole was political only.

And finally – let’s put the earmark issue in perspective. Congressional earmarks make up less that 1% of the federal discretionary budget and many of the projects- such as funding Amtrak and other vital infrastructure projects are important. The way the McCain campaign talks about earmarks – you would think it was a big chunk of the budget and that it funds nothing but wasteful projects. Let’s get the facts straight boys and girls.

And there is the lie about taxes. Senator Obama’s plan will cut taxes for the vast majority of Americans, but McCain gets to a podium and lies. Mr. Obama will raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans but most Americans will realize a decrease in their taxes. If Mr. McCain were talking to a group of millionaires, his statement could be construed as fact- Obama would be raising their taxes by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. But Mr. McCain makes this statement when talking to lower middle class and middle class Americans who will see no relief from Mr. McCain’s plan but will have relief from Mr. Obama’s.

Issue after issue many Americans become convinced to vote against their economic interest. Issue after issue- people are convinced to vote against sound public policy. Why? Because we vote on personalities not issues.

All I want for my 51st birthday is an American people that use their God given intelligence in casting their votes. Is that really too much to ask for?


  1. I discovered your homepage by coincidence.
    Very interesting posts and well written.
    I will put your site on my blogroll.

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