Posted by: Randy Allgaier | January 1, 2010

A Reflection on a Decade of Deception and Fear and the Signs for a new Decade of Hope


Call them the zeroes, call them the uh-ohs, call them the aughts, call it the first decade of the century, or the first decade of the millennium. But whatever moniker you decide to use- the years from 2000 – 2009 have been an odd decade that has defied many a pundit to label it with a catchy pithy adjective. I have been reflecting on the last ten years and I began to write a piece describing the decade as the decade of fear. But it just didn’t feel right. There was something more insidious than fear and fear mongering; it was the deception used in that fear mongering, it was the lies of the Bush administration and the havoc that was wrecked on this nation over the past ten years.

It started with an election that was questionable and installed a President who lost the popular vote and who’s winning the Presidency hinged on the electoral votes in a state governed by his brother with some pretty questionable ballots and it ended with the election of a man who has been accused of being Hitler, a socialist and foreign born. Since we view the world through the lens of our own experiences, one cannot truly observe the themes of the decade without putting them into personal context so I will interweave some personal milestones throughout this commentary.

It is curious, ironic and a sick cosmic joke that we began the decade with the election of a new President who lost the popular vote and was considered illegitimate for tangible reasons by reasonable people and we ended the decade with a new President that was duly elected by a substantial majority but who has been riddled with attempts to delegitimize his presidency for absurd and unfounded reasons by very unreasonable (that is putting it kindly) people.

It all began in 2000 – a new millennium. When I was a kid I wondered what the year 2000 would be like. Would it be the Jetsons? Would it be Mad Max? What would the world be like as the calendar passed from 1999 to 2000? When I thought about 2000 in my youth, I knew I would be 42 years old but I saw myself celebrating the new millennium in some penthouse drinking vintage champagne surrounded by erudite, witty café society types. My childhood fantasy of my adult life had a Cole Porter soundtrack. The reality of the celebration of the new millennium was much better. It was spent in the quiet beauty of Mendocino in the arms of my partner of 11 years and with my 1 ½ year old puppy as a fire crackled in the fireplace of our cozy room at the Stanford Inn and the only sound was of a bell from a nearby church tolling. It could not have been more perfect. But 2000 was personally a challenging year. I had been diagnosed with AIDS in March of 1999 after living with HIV for more than a dozen years. In early 2000 I made the most difficult decision of my life- I recognized that my illness was taking its toll and if I continued to work I would die. I loved my work and it was an excruciating decision and it has been an overriding element of this decade for me.

Of course nationally 2000 was dominated by a Presidential election. An election where a son of privilege and the establishment who went to Andover, Yale and Harvard (a legacy student in all cases and clearly not admitted to these schools due to intellectual prowess) reinvented himself as a cowboy everyman; a candidate who made being disengaged a Zen like art form; a candidate who eviscerated his opponent in the Republican primary with ugly racism (remember the allegations by the Bush operatives that Senator McCain’s adopted daughter was the result of an affair McCain had with a black woman?)

The Democratic ticket was headlined by Vice President Al Gore and he chose as his running mate- Senator Joe Lieberman. No one thought that the choice was inspired but no one thought it was crazy either. Only in retrospect and only after watching Senator Lieberman’s antics during the 2008 election and beyond have we realized that the choice wasn’t much better than Senator McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin.

It wasn’t the campaign that was the big story; it was figuring out who won the election that was the story. Vice President Al Gore clearly won the popular vote but the election boiled down to Florida and its electoral votes. Most Americans didn’t have much understanding of the arcane Electoral College which actually elects the President, but they got a crash course in 2000.

In most states, the presidential candidate with the majority of votes wins all of the electoral votes even if the candidate wins with only one more vote than the other candidate. A vestige of colonial America that was written into our constitution that is as absurd in the 21st century as a state with a low population having two Senators but only one member of the House of Representatives- giving immense power to Senators who represent more wildlife than humans. While I am a lover of our Constitution and I think it is the most amazing document written to establish a government, it was written in a decidedly 18th century world. While the balance of powers, the bill of rights and 99% of the Constitution is a masterpiece in crafting a government that acknowledges the failings of power and those who have it, there are flaws like writing slavery into the document and outmoded ideas like the Electoral College.

Of course, the possibility of winning the presidential election without winning the popular vote has happened before and was the least of the issues of the 2000 election. It was Bush v. Gore and the decision made by the Supreme Court that essentially handed the election to George W. Bush thus setting the stage for the question of whether or not Bush was elected or anointed. Lee and I were in London when Gore conceded the election to Bush in December. There were a number of Americans at our hotel having breakfast and we were all talking about the thought of a President George W. Bush and many of us talked about staying in London and becoming expatriates. We knew he was unqualified and would not be a great President. Little did we know what an unmitigated disaster he would be and the hell our nation would endure under his watch.

That sense of unease carried through to the summer of 2001. President Bush was on one of his many vacations at his ranch in Crawford TX engaging in his favorite pastime- clearing brush- when he was given the now famous “Presidential Daily Briefing” on August 6, 2001 entitled “Bin Laden determined to strike in US” which stated in part “FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.” 36 days later we endured the attacks of September 11th while President Bush read “My Pet Goat” to a group of Florida school students.

The 9/11 attacks defined the decade and the United States will never again be the same. Could the Bush administration have been more attuned to the threat after the August PDB? Maybe, but who knows. But what I do know is that as the decade comes to a close and a Nigerian terrorist attempted to blow up an airplane en route to Detroit, the very people who ignored the warnings in the August 8th PDB, such as Dick Cheney, are criticizing President Obama. Hypocrisy is an understatement for these guys. But I am getting ahead of myself here. 9/11 was pivotal and was defining for a generation.

The nation was numb and in shock after 9/11. Even pacifists like me were fantasizing about turning Afghanistan into a glow in the dark parking lot. The nation was unified in our resolve and we were one America. Who could forget the members of Congress from both parties singing “God Bless America” at the Capitol? We were united in a way I hadn’t seen before in my lifetime. We also had the world behind us and we had the support of virtually every nation on earth.

On September 20, 2001- just 9 days after the 9/11 attacks, Lee and I went to Italy for a few weeks. Many friends were shocked that we would fly just a little over a week after the attacks. My response was that doing anything else would have been allowing the terrorists to win. Everywhere we went people told us they supported the United States and they were horrified by the attacks. Many of the people we talked to- Italians and people of other nations had been touched by the attacks- knowing someone who was in the World Trade Center or having friends who knew someone who was at the Trade Center on the fateful morning.

Unfortunately that national unity and that international good will were squandered. The president didn’t call on our inner angels to rally for this country, he called on our greed and told us go shopping. On October 7, 2001 the US began its action in Afghanistan- Operation Enduring Freedom. We were supported by the international community in that conflict- a conflict that continues today.  It is a disaster that President Obama inherited because the Bush administration abadoned its commitment and the support has waned in both this country and throughout the world. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld & Co. were unsuccessful in their efforts in Afghanistan because they really didn’t care. We pushed back the Taliban temporarily we installed a puppet government – albeit one that would end up rife with corruption- but the President and his gang did not care about stabilizing Afghanistan, they had their eyes in a different prize.

Infamously President Bush and the neo-cons took their eye off of Afghanistan. “We didn’t smoke out bi-Laden” as the president said articulating his notorious cowboy diplomacy. The Neo-Cons had looked towards invading Iraq well before 9/11. The most disturbing part of this was because they felt that having an “American form of democracy” in the mid-East was a way to help the USA’s energy needs and the petroleum industry’s profits. It was economic self interest, not national security.

While we now know that there were plans for an invasion of Iraq well before 9/11, the road to the invasion of Iraq began to be articulated publicly with speeches in late 2001 and 2002. In a series of speeches in late 2001 and 2002, President Bush expanded on his view of American foreign policy and global intervention, declaring that the United States should actively support democratic governments around the world, especially in the Middle East, as a strategy for combating the threat of terrorism, and that the United States had the right to act unilaterally in its own security interests, without the approval of international bodies such as the United Nations. This represented a departure from the Cold War policies of deterrence and containment under the Truman Doctrine and post-Cold War philosophies such as the Powell Doctrine and the Clinton Doctrine.

There were a few seminal moments as the Bush doctrine came into clearer view. This is a doctrine of foreign policy that dominated the last decade and boldly articulated the rationale of a preëmptive strike – a policy that is antithetical to all of US policy before Bush and was a striking departure from two centuries of a moral compass about war that drove the United States’ military engagement.

President Bush addressed the cadets at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) on June 1, 2002, and made clear the role Preemptive war would play in the future of American foreign policy and national defense: “ We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants, who solemnly sign non-proliferation treaties, and then systemically break them. If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long — Our security will require transforming the military you will lead — a military that must be ready to strike at a moment’s notice in any dark corner of the world. And our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives.”

The full court press for an invasion of Iraq started in earnest in January 2003. In President Bush’s Jan. 28, 2003 State of the Union address he stated those now infamous 16 words. “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

The intersection of fear and deception had begun. Sadaam’s ties to terrorists responsible for 9/11 and the infamous WMD statements that duped a Congress and a nation to support an unjust war were two of the boldest lies to manipulate the nation; using fear and deceiving the nation to enter a war that had little if anything to do with national security and everything to do with a neo-conservative ideology.

On February 5, 2003, Secretary Colin Powell appeared before the UN to “prove” the urgency to engage a war with Iraq. Although the presentation failed to change the fundamental position of the Security Council, including France, Russia, China, and Germany, Powell succeeded in hardening the overall tone of the United Nations towards Iraq. Powell also claimed that Iraq harbored a terrorist network headed by al-Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi despite much evidence to the contrary. Powell also showed photos of what he said was a poison and explosives training camp in northeast Iraq, operated by the group. When this camp was visited by a British journalist two days later, all that was found was a few dilapidated buildings and no evidence or signs of any terrorist activity, chemical or explosives. Powell alleged that these training camps had been operating with help from Iraqi agents, despite them being in the northern Iraqi Kurdistan “no-fly zone,” and thus outside of de facto Iraqi control. Powell also claimed that Iraqis visited Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and provided training to al-Qaeda members, although thousands of Arabs from many countries did the same. U.S. intelligence agencies have found no evidence of any substantive collaboration between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. While Colin Powell’s statement to the UN may have been accepted as “proof” by many in the U.S., this was not the case in Europe, where there was widespread scepticism of any links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. The British government’s intelligence services did not believe there was any link at all, given the mutual hatred between Islamists and the secular regime in Baghdad.

The rest of the decade was imprinted with this false rationale for war.  Many of us knew in our hearts that we were being sold a bill of goods. Lee and I joined tens of thousands in San Francisco and millions worldwide on Valentine’s Day 2003 to protest the imminent invasion of Iraq. But the biggest lie- the biggest use of fear- was oft repeated with great effect for many Americans still in a 9/11 altered universe- “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

The invasion of Iraq led to many defining moments of the decade. American forces were not greeted as liberators; children didn’t throw flowers and kisses at US troops. Instead they threw bombs and they planted IEDs. President Bush donned in a GI Joe costume flying onto an aircraft carrier to declare “Mission Accomplished” when the mission had barely begun, claims for months upon months that the insurgency was in the last throes as the death toll mounted, Abu-Gahrib, extraordinary rendition, the United States breaking international law and the covenants of the Geneva Convention, admissions that we tortured, admissions that the White House was involved with outing a CIA operative for political purposes, the dismantling of our Constitutional protections in the name of national security. Our innocence was not only lost but the fear that came with that loss changed what was acceptable behavior. For most of the decade we lost that ineffable American quality that has made this country great- we had had a sense of moral high ground. But by giving in on many of our nations principles we allowed ourselves to lose that quality that the rest world admired- our adherence to the rule of law. For all the bluster, saber-rattling and swagger we were letting the terrorists win. Our government engaged in activities that sullied our reputation around the world that compromised our leadership and our integrity. Was Dick Cheney an arrogant SOB or a scared little boy traumatized? Probably both.

It was fear in 2004 that motivated the public to reëlect President Bush. We were in two wars, one forgotten and one unnecessary- but we were in them and change is difficult at such a time. But it wasn’t just the fear of terrorism that played into the reëlection of George W. Bush it was a state by state strategy of fear of gay marriage that helped elect Mr. Bush for a second term. State wide initiatives banning gay marriage were dominant in the 2004 election and they brought out the right wing nuts in droves. These were people who never would have voted for John Kerry.

It was the Democratic convention in 2004 that introduced a nation to a young star in the party- a man with a white mother and a black father who was still serving in the Illinois state Senate and had not yet been elected to the United States Senate – Barack Hussein Obama. His speech at the convention catapulted him to national prominence and just four years later he would be accepting the nomination of the Democratic Party and be elected as the 44th President of the United States. Barack Obama had also gained national attention and the affection of the Democratic base by his unwavering and vocal opposition to the war in Iraq. Senator Hillary Clinton voted to give President Bush the authority to invade Iraq and even when it was clear that this decision was based on manipulated intelligence she, unlike many of her Senate colleagues would not admit that this was a mistake. She fell into a language trap similar to Bill Clinton’s notorious “it depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is and would not simply say “I was wrong”. This gave Barack Obama an advantage over the presumptive nominee for 2008 and made a Clinton Coronation into a nail biter ending with Obama as the nominee. Thus the invasion of Iraq had profound effect on an election five years later.

During the 2004 election Lee went to Wisconsin as part of the America Coming Together campaign for the entire month before Election Day. John Kerry was not an inspiring candidate and neither of us was gung ho for the Kerry Edwards ticket, but we knew that four more years of George Bush would be a disaster. Kerry lost, but he won Wisconsin so Lee’s efforts were not for naught.

Gay marriage becoming legal in Massachusetts in May 2004 was distorted in such a fashion that it was portrayed as the end of civilization as we know it. The conservatives resurrected the culture wars and the spittle from salivating over the gay marriage wedge issue strategy was clear on the mouths of conservatives from Rush Limbaugh to Mitt Romney. Not only did this pave the way for states amending their constitutions to enshrine discrimination in documents that historically protect freedom and equality but it ensured a GOTV drive of rabid right wingers that all but assured a second term of Bush, Cheney & Co.

So the inept, incompetent, freedom destroying, fear mongering administration held on to the White House and Mr. Bush was inaugurated for his second term on January 20, 2005. Lee and I listened to the inaugural ceremony on the radio as we drove from San Francisco to Phoenix AZ to visit my sister and my father. Bush’s address commonly titled “There Is No Justice Without Freedom” laid out a vision of American arrogance and of aggressive nation building. Yet only months after this address filled with promises to the world about helping them achieve greatness and building freedom and prosperity, he and his administration failed to keep that promise to the American people. Hurricane Katrina had come to call.

The federal response was an unmitigated disaster. President Bush’s handling of the situation- from “You’re doing a heck of a job Brownie” to his fly over to the days of no response while people perished and suffered in the clear view of America through television coverage was astonishing and grotesque.

The Bush administration tried to rationalize their enormous incompetence by stating that they never expected such a natural disaster to occur. But in the 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm’s likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property, documents show.

A 41-page assessment by the Department of Homeland Security’s National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC), was delivered by e-mail to the White House’s “situation room,” the nerve center where crises are handled, at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, the day the storm hit, according to an e-mail cover sheet accompanying the document.

The NISAC paper warned that a storm of Katrina’s size would “likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching” and specifically noted the potential for levee failures along Lake Pontchartrain. It predicted economic losses in the tens of billions of dollars, including damage to public utilities and industry that would take years to fully repair. Initial response and rescue operations would be hampered by disruption of telecommunications networks and the loss of power to fire, police and emergency workers, it said.

In a second document obtained by The Washington Post, a computer slide presentation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, prepared for a 9 a.m. meeting on Aug. 27, two days before Katrina made landfall, compared Katrina’s likely impact to that of “Hurricane Pam,” a fictional Category 3 storm used in a series of FEMA disaster-preparedness exercises simulating the effects of a major hurricane striking New Orleans. But Katrina, the report warned, could be worse.

The hurricane’s Category 4 storm surge “could greatly overtop levees and protective systems” and destroy nearly 90 percent of city structures, the FEMA report said. It further predicted “incredible search and rescue needs (60,000-plus)” and the displacement of more than a million residents.

The NISAC analysis accurately predicted the collapse of floodwalls along New Orleans’s Lake Pontchartrain shoreline, an event that the report described as “the greatest concern.” The breach of two canal floodwalls near the lake was the key failure that left much of central New Orleans underwater and accounted for the bulk of Louisiana’s 1,100 Katrina-related deaths.

The documents shed new light on the extent on the administration’s foreknowledge about Katrina’s potential for unleashing epic destruction on New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities and towns. President Bush, in a televised interview three days after Katrina hit, suggested that the scale of the flooding in New Orleans was unexpected. “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm,” Bush said in a Sept. 1 interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The reports echo warnings given around the same time by Max Mayfield, head of the National Hurricane Center, who began sounding the alarm when forecasters first placed Katrina on a collision with the Gulf Coast on the evening of Aug. 26. But the FEMA and NISAC reports provided much more detail and covered a wider range of possible consequences, from damaged ports and oil terminals to spikes in energy prices.

It is striking that the Bush administration became embroiled in the minutiae of the life of a comatose woman- Terry Schiavo in 2005 but couldn’t see it’s way to handling a national disaster. The priorities of the nation’s leadership were upside down.

Not only had the administration made a mess of the world through its lack of attention to Afghanistan leading to a resurgence of the Taliban and waging a war in Iraq that was an unnecessary war- a war of choice for a neo-conservative experiment expending untold amounts of American blood and treasure, but it also failed the American people in New Orleans. Could it get any worse? Unfortunately the answer is yes, it did.

As we learned more about torture and the Bush administrations flagrant disregard for both international law and domestic law, as we learned about the politicization of the Justice Department, as we learned more about the Vice President’s vendetta against Ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame, it seemed that maybe the United States had come out of the somnambulism it had endured for 6 years.

The public seemed to have had enough of the Republicans and their ineptitude. In 2006 the Democrats took control of Congress and the United States of America had its first woman Speaker of the House, The Honorable Nancy Pelosi. This was a watershed moment for women and for advocates like me. Speaker Pelosi is my representative and I have had the good fortune to work with her incredible staff on healthcare issues- incredibly talented people like Scott Boule, Wendell Primus and Dan Bernal. HIV/AIDS advocates like me had an ally in the Speaker. What a difference!

Of course Iraq continued to dominate much of the political world and the work of Washington and even though we had allies in power, it remained challenging to gain the level of support we needed on many of the domestic issues important to me and my colleagues. There simply wasn’t enough money and there was still an administration that was an impediment to any rational and humane domestic public policy.

I’ve spent a great deal of my reflection of the decade criticizing President Bush. I will give him one piece of praise. His PEPFAR initiative to address HIV/AIDS globally, especially in Africa where the pandemic has caused unimaginable devastation was good policy and was important policy. If only the President had paid as much attention to the domestic epidemic. His domestic policies and his domestic funding challenged those who serve and treat people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. Abstinence only education topped a list of bad policy.

2007 and 2008 were dominated by the longest most expensive Presidential election in history. If you were a betting man in December 2007 you would have been putting your chips on a Clinton – Giuliani race. We know how that turned out.

In 2008 the Democratic Party narrowed its field to a woman and a black man. Was this possible in the United States? It was. Both candidates were compelling and while the primary was marred by sniping and absurd commercials about 2 AM phone calls, the history of the match up cannot be understated. The history that ensued was amazing; a black candidate from a major national party and then the first black President in the history of the country. No other Western democracy had ever elected an ethnic minority as its leader, this reinforced the sense of an America where anything is possible.

Unfortunately the 2008 campaign brought ugliness to the public square that has not abated since the election. Senator McCain who had suffered at the hands of Bush in 2000 with allegations that had race at their core and who had been seen as a reasonable moderate became an ugly partisan who chose the worst possible running mate. Yes, Sarah Palin made history as the first woman to be on a Republican national ticket, but she was unqualified, she was divisive and she was both clueless and dangerous.

During the final months of the campaign, the Bush administration gave the nation one final gift- a financial meltdown and the Great Recession. McCain’s inability to wrap his head around the financial crisis aided in his defeat, but so did Sarah Palin. The vast majority of this country did not want to listen to her hate filled speech and her stunning lack of knowledge on the issues played into the nation’s wake up call. What sort of judgment did John McCain really have if he chose such an incompetent woman to be his running mate?

But fortunately on a glorious Tuesday in November, President-elect Barack Obama spoke to the nation in front of a huge crowd at Chicago’s Bryant Park. The nation was ebullient. On January 20th, 2009 Barack Obama was inaugurated in front of a crowd of historic size most of whom stood in the bitter cold for hours to see this moment in history. The United States had the first black President of the United States and a president with vision, intelligence and candor.

However in California the joy of the election of Barack Obama was tainted by the passage of Proposition 8. Earlier in 2008 the California Supreme Court had ruled that the ban on same sex marriage in California was unconstitutional and in June the state began to perform same sex marriages. My partner Lee and I married at a lovely ceremony in the historic Board of Supervisors Chamber in San Francisco City Hall officiated by long time friend California State Senator Mark Leno on September 26, 2008 – the date of our 20th anniversary. With the passage of Proposition 8 which amended the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman we became one of 18,000 couples same sex couples who were married while it was constitutionally legal to do so and remain one of that small minority. It feels odd and is unfair to our fellow Californians.

President Obama inherited an economy in shambles, two wars and a country deeply divided. But he has been determined to carry out his agenda. He did after all win with a sizable margin and was given a mandate for his policy agenda. He ran as a moderate and is governing as one. He has made healthcare reform his signature for the first year of his presidency.

The conservatives have been in disarray since losing the White House and outnumbered in Congress by a huge margin in both the House and the Senate leading them into a wilderness dominated by the right wing nuttery.We have seen the likes of Glenn Beck, Orly Taitz and the birthers, the coronation of Rush Limbaugh as the party leader, tea baggers and a party that only knows how to say no. While these annoyances have filled the airwaves on cable news during 2009, I won’t give them much of a place in this reflection. I believe fervently that they will all be minor footnotes in history.

I believe that President Obama and the Democrats will lead us to a better economy, a revamped more equitable healthcare system which covers nearly every American, financial reform, immigration reform and a country that will be light years better than the one we had on January 19, 2009. President Obama outlined a nuanced and intelligent foreign policy in his Nobel Lecture when he received the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2009 we have already regained much of the stature and affection we once had in the world and which had been eroded by Bush, Cheney & Co.

In regards to the issues I work on- HIV/AIDS policy and Hepatitis C policy, the President has committed to developing a thoughtful and comprehensive national HIV/AIDS policy and has staffed the Office of National AIDS Policy with an extraordinarily talented team led by a man who I have had the honor to work with on issues for a number of years, Jeffery S. Crowley. The travel ban for people living with HIV coming into the US has been lifted, we have seen the elimination on the ban on the use of federal funds for syringe exchange, and the reduction of abstinence only education funding.

2009 provided Lee and me with a new challenge. In August Lee was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Between my living with AIDS and Hepatitis C and Lee’s cancer diagnosis, healthcare reform protecting people who have preëxisting conditions is vital for our future.

2009 has been a year in which no President or any Congress would wish to govern. The nation lay in tatters thanks to the “stewardship” of the Bush Cheney years. It has been a year where they have had to apply a tourniquet to a country bleeding. I believe in my heart that 2009 has been a year of reviving the patient- our nation.

As we enter a new decade I am seriously considering returning to work- a monumental step for me that both terrifying and exciting. It was at the beginning of the last decade that I concluded working would kill me, now I have some hope. I foresee a decade where we will find our nation beginning to thrive and where the horror of the last decade will be just a memory. No longer will we be a nation manipulated through deception by fear.

I think we are at the time of a new beginning.  I spent New Year’s Eve 1999/2000 with my partner of 11 years and my 1 1/2 year old puppy in front of a crackling fire.  I spent New Year’s Eve 2009/2010 with my partner of 21 years and my 11 1/2 year old dog in front of a crackling fire.  There are some things that remain constant and that make all of the horrors of the decade tolerable; love of friends, family, my dog and my partner top that list. 

Happy New Year!

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Responses

  1. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.

    The bill is currently endorsed by over 1,659 state legislators (in 48 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This national result is similar to recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado– 68%, Iowa –75%, Michigan– 73%, Missouri– 70%, New Hampshire– 69%, Nevada– 72%, New Mexico– 76%, North Carolina– 74%, Ohio– 70%, Pennsylvania — 78%, Virginia — 74%, and Wisconsin — 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Delaware –75%, Maine — 77%, Nebraska — 74%, New Hampshire –69%, Nevada — 72%, New Mexico — 76%, Rhode Island — 74%, and Vermont — 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas –80%, Kentucky — 80%, Mississippi –77%, Missouri — 70%, North Carolina — 74%, and Virginia — 74%; and in other states polled: California — 70%, Connecticut — 74% , Massachusetts — 73%, New York — 79%, Washington — 77%, and West Virginia- 81%. Support is strong in every partisan and demographic group surveyed.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 29 state legislative chambers, in 19 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon, and both houses in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes — 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

  2. The instances in history when the national popular vote winner lost in the Electoral College are not examples of the failures of the system. They illustrate its success.

    Take, for example, Grover Cleveland’s first attempt at reelection in 1888. He won the national popular vote hands down, but that was because he had campaigned hard in the Deep South and won by huge margins in specific, ideologically and politically homogeneous areas. Meanwhile, his own home state didn’t vote for him and neither did the right proportions of the nation. Cleveland learned the hard way that to win the presidency, a broad national coalition uniting diverse geographic, political, and ideological needs is necessary — not just raw numbers. He took the lesson to heart and won the 1892 election, becoming the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms.

    For more information on the too often-overlooked merits of the Electoral College (and the many dangers of a national popular vote), check out http://www.SaveOurStates.com. Rather than being outdated, the EC works better than the Founders ever imagined, and we would do well to keep it.


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