Monday, April 21, 2008

My report as an Obama delegate to Pacific County Convention

Saturday, April 19, 2008, Pacific County Courthouse is when and where it was held. I attended as a delegate for Obama from my local precinct caucus. Pacific County will be sending to the Congressional and State convention a total of 7 delegates; four delegates for Obama, and three delegates for Clinton.


I am not among those chosen, yet I am proud, because, having given two brief yet passionate speeches, the message I carry and want sent forth as a military family with 2 returning Iraq veterans and one again deployed in Iraq now will be carried to the Congressional and State conventions. Two of the four Obama delegates know first hand the stakes of having loved ones deployed in Iraq. One is also a military family (father with two returning Iraq veterans; his daughter was wounded in Iraq). The other is a woman, a Marine, Vietnam-era.


Breaking it down into categories, we had four elements that could have gone more smoothly:


Confusion about delegates from the precincts

Rudely interrupted during support Obama speech

Can a seated delegate change position of support?

Confusion in the math yielding percentages for the number of delegates for the candidates

What was tearfully moving to me about the unfolding events is the manner in which they unfolded. Despite the confusions that seemed to abound, by the end, I found myself quite moved by an experience I will recount here.


Confusion about delegates from the precincts


The proceedings began with confusion from those who were reading the sign-in sheets of delegates and alternates. It might be that it could have been better organized and perhaps with a few simple strokes of highlight pens, it would have become much more clear who was who representing what precinct caucus.


As the sign in sheets were read, there was an almost immediate mistake. The alternate delegate from Bay Center precinct was identified as the seated delegate, while my own name as a delegate from Bay Center precinct was not called, despite the fact that I had clearly signed in earlier in the morning. We called attention to the oversight, and after about three times trying to explain that the actual delegate (myself) had not been called or seated and instead the officer was calling the alternate delegate as being seated as the primary delegate, when in fact I, the delegate, was here and was the one to be seated. It took several tries to convey the concept and get it corrected.


From there, other mistakes in who was the delegate, who was the alternate and who was to be seated continued from the various precincts continued to become the norm. Later, the chairman would resort to taking the actual precinct caucus forms and begin going one by one through them calling the names of identified delegates and alternates from each precinct.


Once it became apparant there were mistakes being made in how the officer was reading the sign in sheets, both the officers left the room to try to rework the sign-in sheet names and the numbers. This left a blank spot in the proceedings, so the Chair announced this would be a good time for supporters to give brief speech of support for their candidate.


Rudely interrupted during support Obama speech


A delegate from each campaign gave a brief speech, and then the floor was opened to others who wished to give brief speech. And I was one who did want to add my comments - particularly to bring focus to issue of ongoing war in Iraq and the candidates position on the war.


So I did, and before I could get very far into expressing my thoughts, mentioning that Hillary Clinton voted for the war, one of the Clinton delegates interrupted me stating that she did not. I was confounded because by now, everyone knows that Senator Hillary Clinton did vote in favor of the war. I asserted as much and he argued with me that she did not. Again I asserted that she did in fact vote yes, in favor, and about this point, when he interrupted yet again to say she did not, the chairman intervened to ask him to hold his thoughts and he would be given chance to speak.


He replied that he was too upset to speak and looked daggers at me as I continued with expressing my own thoughts (thinking to myself as I spoke that this was not going too well). I pointed out the recent General Petraeus testimony to Congress and Senator Obama's questions to General Petraeus as to what victory in Iraq looks like; that Obama seemed willing to get into the complexities of Iraq war with the General. I don't remember what else I said. The gentleman who had interrupted me several times chose not speak, rather another Clinton delegate spoke asking, in effect, for calm to be restored to the proceedings.


I really was taken aback by the verocity of the continued interruption from the Clinton delegate. For as long as I have been speaking out publicly as an activist military family, I have not yet had a direct one on one exchange of such an intensity even with people I have encountered who have publicly stated positions oppositional to idea of bringing the troops home. Perhaps that is more because I know to expect it from oppositionalists, but didn't expect it at a Democratic convention from a fellow Democrat.


It did have the effect of causing my mind to whirl a bit. Not so much at the manner of the man, as much as I was wondering how it could possibly be parsed that Senator Clinton did not vote in favor of authorizing this President to invade and occupy Iraq - which was no direct threat to our country as a result of 911 or otherwise. I had to wonder what kind of talking points about the fact of her favorable vote for pre-emptive war in Iraq had been developed for the Clinton campaign supporters.


Can a seated delegate change position of support?


By this time the officers had come back in with their updated counts of the delegates. Again some confusion ensued, until finally the chair concluded what he had begun in reading the names of delegates and alternates from the official precinct caucus official forms. That took some time, all told, getting the delegate and alternate delegate names read, identified and seated took almost 3 hours.


Once we got through that, then arose some confusion about if a now identified and seated delegate could change mind and support. Two people made it very clear they did not want to be seated delegates for Clinton. Another indicated wanted to change mind from being an Obama supporter to being a Clinton supporter.


Initially, the responses to them were that they had to remain as delegates as assigned from the precinct caucuses. It was not explained that after the process of getting seated delegates, they could be given the option to change their minds.


Let's just say that I'm glad that I and my fellow delegate from my precinct was there to help the chair and the delegates to understand that seated delegates could change their mind and we had delegates who indicated a desire to do so.


Confusion in the math yielding percentages for the number of delegates for the candidates


Then came the math and percentages. More confusion. In the end there remained confusion about the number of delegates representing Obama and the number representing Clinton. My neighbor delegate was keeping up with the changes and math percentages along with other Obama delegates and it was believed that with the changes of mind of some of the delegates changing to Obama, that we would have added an additional Obama delegate to send forward to the state convention.


A back and forth ensued, and then an Obama delegate called for a Point of order to do head count, and that was refuted as too time consuming and unnecessary since some delegates and alternatives had signed in and left already.


It seemed unlikely that we could not get any more accurate with the count or the math in light of the fact that some delegates had signed in and left already, it was conceded that the math from the sign in sheets would be used. We were assured that with the modifications, and changes in delegate status either to Obama or Clinton, the sign in sheets had now been counted three times with the same numbers and outcome. Pacific County would be sending 4 delegates for Obama and 3 delegates for Clinton.


Given the earlier confusion from reading delegate names from the sign in sheets, you can probably see what I had little reason to be reassured that the math using sign in sheets was accurate.


I'm still inclined to believe that by the math, it should have been 5 delegates for Obama and 2 for Clinton. I think this a result more of confusion and I am not impugning the character of anyone who was there. I personally decided not to continue to object as, in truth, some delegates and/or alternates had indeed left already so a head count would not have yielded any more accurate numbers than the confusion of the numbers from the sign in sheets.


Identifying Obama Delegates to send to National Convention


Then we needed to identify the delegates that we would be sending to state convention so we split off into two groups in different rooms. Obama supporters and Clinton supporters. For our Obama group, we had those interested and committed to being delegates from Pacific County at the Congressional and State convention, and perhaps the national convention identify themselves and add their names on the sign up board. Each then to give a brief speech as to why they would like to be a representative delegate for Obama.


While I didn't have an investment in being a delegate for Obama beyond county convention, I wanted to be sure my message was part of the discussion at the next level conventions, so I signed up. My experience has been in my county that I am usually the only military family willing to speak up, so I assumed that would be the case again.


But, to my tearful surprise, in the speeches I learned of a woman who signed up and gave her speech identifying herself as a Marine from Vietnam time. I was quite taken with her calling to attention the need for a real leader and that she saw that in Obama. And more to my tearful surprise was when the father gave his speech and identified that he too was a military family with 2 returning Iraq veterans - both were his kids, one his daughter who had been wounded in Iraq. He gave a passionate speech about why he supported Obama.


Then came my turn, and I was so moved that others identifying their military family and veteran status were speaking up that I encouraged they be voted to be the delegates to send forward. As the speeches went on, another man identified himself as Special Forces, and at the very last, a young man went up and signed up to be a delegate for Obama at the state convention: when he gave his speech he identified that he was a Marine, returning Iraq veteran.


This was a first for me in the county where I live, to have others in the county willing to identify themselves publicly as military families and/or veterans supporting Obama in expectation that he could and would do something about exiting Iraq. It was both a confusing and satisfying county convention.


Also I have to be grateful to WB wrtiers that due to the content here, I actually learned enough about caucus and convention process to make a small difference at our county convention.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Send the chosen one to inauguration with a real mandate

I seriously doubt that voting America is on the same page with mere continuation of proposed responsible plans. I believe those Americans who can and will go to the polls in November are most likely going to vote what their gut has already told them.
Something is wrong ... very wrong ... and needs immediate fixing. No more promises, thank you! Immediate action please!

There is no need for restraint right now - as if the Iraq problem can be reduced to an exercise in political and foreign policy patience.

Many seem to think that civic patience somehow means you only speak once for ten minutes every four years. The rest of the time let someone else's magic be the civic consciousness of a nation.


"Hang in there citizens! When you vote Obama or Hillary into office, ONLY THEN can a responsible plan to stop the loss can be worked out and implemented."


Madness.

It will already be too late by then.

"Plans" that falsely justify a mean drunk staying in the house of the abused to wreak more havoc in the name of moral responsibility is political spin. It's a spin that attempts to prey on assumed electoral gullibility.

At its manipulative best it only gets worse especially when never lessened by a media in need of money-generating pseudo-campaign issues.

Even now we are not being guided to the moral or ethical high ground. Rather the sound bite nonsense-mongers lead us up mere sand dunes where candidacies are too caught up in unnecessary strategy.

Voters in America are ready to rumble right now.

They are ready to generate harmonic tremors that will not fail to get the attention of those yearning to be the chosen one.

What is needed now is not more patience with the primary and presidental campaign process.

What is possible right here is not the mindless marching, chanting and banner-carrying protests that cause most to tune out.

There is in fact - right now - national arousal in terms of an unlit fuse is just waiting for ignition. It is palpable in this country and you can feel it. Dissatisfaction and a sense of something being seriously wrong and rotten permeates the mood of most whenever politics comes into discussion.

It would be much better if all candidates were campaigning fully aware of the magnitude of voters fed up with Iraq and our economy.

What can you do right now?

If you get polled, stick to those talking points the politicos are most nervous about. Express and emphasize unleashed and unbridled indignation that reflects RIGHT NOW - not frustration, but genuine anger.

Delay is poor decision-making. Rather than waiting for a Tuesday in November to finally get mad, speak out now if you are polled. And immediately start letter-writing and phone calls to those who are most nervous.

A national growl is sticking in our craws and begging release.

Don't send lazy emails that tempt your politicians to respond with cookie-cutter form letters. Write a real letter and buy a stamp. Then pay a little more for a notification that the letter was received.

I did so recently and it cost me 65 cents. Is your feeling for your country worth a letter, a stamp and an exra 65 cents?

Or call them up.

If you'd ever heard my wife, Lietta Ruger, call her Senator or Representative you'd have heard her demand a specific response.

No form letter thank you!
No aide calling back with vague promises.
I have in fact listened while she demanded a personal response from her representative.

Why not? What have you got to lose by communicating just how fed up you are?

The key is to reveal right away that we are an electorate genuinely pissed off enough to repudiate any candidate who proposes a "plan" rather than vows to change things the very moment he/she is sworn in.

Repudiation is precisely the buzz-saw waiting for McCain and his self-absorbed assumption that America is pining away for nothing more than another military president with no domestic or foreign policy agenda.

Newly-elected presidents need to arrive at inauguration scared, worried and nervous. They need to be sworn in fully aware that something is expected NOW; that conditions are such that there is not going to be a 100-day honeymoon. There is no other choice.

They will be motivated to take their hand off the Bible and immediately start giving orders to reflect a clear mandate forced on them.

If the electorate can communicate that kind of impatience right now, a lot of muck and nonsense can be most easily swept aside. We can narrow the range of focus in this election.

Iraq, the economy and the Bill of Rights pretty well covers it.

If whoever is elected is also running scared because the electorate has legitimately convinced the winner that now means NOW, why would we listen to planners and political schemers and leave the door open to stall, delay and political manipulation?.

... tempting those we endorse to say to hell with what we expect.

... believing they can take just a little bit longer so they can have what they want?

Is that what you want?

General Petraeus testimony; 8 in our Sgt H. Styker Brigade killed in Iraq; An Irresponsible Plan

Dear Readers, those of you who have been following along since 2003,  the saga in our military family, know that my daughter's husband is in his second deployment to Iraq. He left for Iraq in Dec 07, and since only December, eight in his brigade have been killed in Iraq.

I'd say the violence in Iraq is in no way on the decline, and clearly the Surge is not clearing up the violence. You heard of the recent attacks on the 'safe' Green Zone in Baghdad and the attack on Basra even while General Petraeus was giving his testimony to Congress last week? My son-in-law was on convoy two weeks ago when an IED exploded near his vehicle - violence already was escalating.  pMilitary peacekeeping is not keeping the peace. That should come as no surprise, since the military are not peacekeepers. Lacking a vigorous diplomatic process in Iraq, it is similarly not surprising that reconciliation is making seemingly little progress. But what remains a constant is that our troops continue to be killed or so devastatingly wounded as to be unable to return to anything resembling normalcy.

And of course,even while our troops die or are damaged, it goes without saying that the daily carnage of Iraqi lives snuffed out continues. Sunni, Shiite, Kurd - under the umbrella of Iraq, a nation forced into democracy whether they want it or not -  it is nonetheless Iraqi lives by the tens and hundreds daily that are snuffed out in Iraq.

As our military is squandered mercilessly in the 'mission accomplished' in Iraq, trouble is brewing in Afghanistan along the Pakistan border.  As pointed out by more than one Senator at the Petraeus testimony last week,Iraq welcomes Iran emissary, knowing Iran is a dangerous neighbor to be respected and in close proximity, while the President of the United States seems only to be able to sneak into Iraq for tentative visits, under cover of night and certainly with little welcome fanfare.  This Administration has the audacity to believe it can navigate and mitigate with a simplistic cowboy mentality the complex relationships in the countries that make up the Middle East.

But General Petraeus did define his sense of our military mission in Iraq = 'for our national security interests of economic stability in the region'. Read that again - security interests of economic stablity means what?  Did you guess oil? Their oil, our economic stability.

While General Petraeus is trying to define for Congress the impossible - stating the ever changing mission in Iraq, Admiral Mullen recently 'retired' after making it known to the President that he would not lead an invasion into Iran. Earlier there was the retirement of General Casey whom General Petraeus replaced after General Casey began to hint that the impossible mission in Iraq was depleting our U.S. military beyond its limits.

Even while General Petraeus was giving his testimony to the Senate last Tuesday, Basra was under attack. In a telling message that would be wise to heed, note that 1,000 trained Iraqi military and police personnel abandoned their stations in recent attacks, some even turning over U.S. provided vehicles and weapons to the attackers. I can't help but wonder what that does to the U.S. troops that General Petraeus says are serving more in advisory roles than carrying out the military maneuvers. I'd say it leaves the U.S. troops to be unnecessary and handy targets, subject to their very own equipment and weapons being used against them.

This isn't the first time the 'trained' Iraqi military and/or police have fled. Do you remember hearing the news in 2005 and 2006 that there were six Iraqi battalions trained and ready, and then we heard, no make that four, no make that two, no make that none.

There is a pattern to my mind that is a telling message.  It does not matter how long U.S. troops remain in Iraq, pulling them  out now, 5 years, 10 years, or even 100 years from now, the pattern of the culture of what comprises the Iraqi nation was long  habitual before this country and it's democracy was even a glint or hint of an idea.

I would further remind readers that our military demands of an 18 year old in the United States, fresh out of high school, that he or she be trained and ready for combat in Iraq in 6-8 weeks, depending on branch of military service.  I would think it reasonable to expect no less of Iraqis training for military, and certainly five years is an adequate time. It does seem the Iraqi message is not unclear to the U.S. forces - we are not a welcome or wanted presence there and our young service men and women are dying from our continuing to ignore the message. Ignorance is NOT bliss, my friends.

Even if it isn't directly impacting you with loved ones deployed, it is costing you a robust economy in your homeland, and it is costing you the loss of a valuable commodity in having a well-trained military, at the ready and able to defend your homeland. It is not a good idea to deplete and exhaust the only military we have when we have potential threats in more than one direction.

This all-volunteer military has been pushed beyond exhaustion, with repeat deployments in futile combat in a now sovereign nation intent on building it's own nation the way it sees fit, and if that includes civil war between factions, so be it.  Who told the U.S. it could not have a civil war at a time when we were defining our own sovereign nation?  

This morning I read a brief article online from a Middle East publication that indicates that Prime Minister Malaki is turning out to be a worse dictator than Saddam Hussein, and has killed more of his own people in his short rule than in ten years of Saddam in power.  I can't say if that is or isn't true, and may be it is propaganda, but it is getting difficult to sort through all the propaganda, since that seems to be mostly what we get here in the U.S. as well. What is truth on the ground in Iraq - as I understand it, we have no media reporters in Iraq to give us up close reporting.

As the mission in Iraq has changed and evolved much since the 2003 invasion, and the declared mission accomplished, the talking points have evolved little and remain grounded in the concept of fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here. And most recently the added pride factor of 'victory' - undefined, but we are to have victory nonetheless.  How smart is that strategy - an undefined and impermeable victory undefined by the basic whom, when, what, how, why questions?

Meanwhile, Presidential contender, a military man himself, Senator John McCain doesn't seem to be sure where Al Quaeda is -- where the 'terrorists' are which instills in me no comfort that our troops are fighting them there so they don't have to fight them here, and assuredly no comfort that said troops should be led by another Commander-in-Chief who does not have a basis in the reality of what or who is the enemy or why they are an enemy, much less where they are in the Middle East.  

Think about that for a moment though, if 'they'  (terrorists) did come here, we have no ready troops to be fighting them here, and if we use up, exhaust and deplete our troops over there (which we have pretty much done already) so we don't have to fight them here, what do we do when there are no U.S. troops left to fight them over there and 'they' (the terrorists), which continue to reconstitute, are still out there. It is not a well reasoned thought process.  I appreciated how Senator Obama attempted to ask General Petraeus what would constitute a satisfactory resolution - (paraphrasing here) -- what would be the defining meaning of victory - when there are no more terrorists left or x number of terrorist left? What if, although acknowledging it is messy now, if where we are at now with Iraq, is victory - would we know it if we saw it?  

This week Congress will be voting on whether to give President Bush another round of huge millions to sustain our troops in Iraq.  This back door budget of asking for a supplemental budget for the 'sake of our troops' is a political maneuver, not unfamiliar to our Congress.  Since General Petraeus has done his duty and given his report to Congress with two days of testimony last week, now it falls to Congress to do their job and make decisions on what General Petraeus had to report. Is there strong enough reason to continue to keep our troops in Iraq?  Is there strong enough reason to employ another strategy, bring them home and rather than fear the worst in Iraq, give them (Iraq) the opportunity they have asked for to work it out themselves.  

We well know that the President has made his decision to continue to keep troops in Iraq with no changes in the Iraq war, to dump this live war into the next President's lap; and should that future  President pull troops out with all the touted catastrophic results come to pass, it would be blame for the next President and his/her party.

There are two things wrong with that reasoning:


  1) It assumes  there would be catastrophic results, which, as of yet, no one seems able to define for me - what that means - what exactly would be catastrophic or what would that look like and how would it be different than what is already catastrophic genocide in Iraq because of U.S. actions to invade and occupy?

2) Is partisan politics more relevant and important than the lives and dollars it is costing to keep us in Iraq?  I don't give a hang about supposedly 'smart political strategies or tactics' , as thus far those citing them as smart don't seem to know just how smart or flat out dumb said strategies and tactics are. So far the strategies and tactics used by either party have served only to perpetuate the war in Iraq.  I care deeply about the politicians we elect and pay doing the jobs we entrust them to do - especially with the treasure and lives of our young.

Locally, here in Washington, a contender for U.S. Representative in 8th District, Darcy Burner, has come up with what she terms a responsible plan for getting troops out of Iraq.  I had the opportunity to read it the day before it was published online to her website.  This plan was put together with the help and advice of General Paul Eaton, and General Wesley Clark, and it is responsible - no question about that ... a responsible way to keep the war ongoing in Iraq until specifications cited in the plan have been met and no timeline or deadline has been set in the plan as to when the troops could come home.

I'm not so sure who it is responsible to, but it does seem to be a moral imperative to repair some of the damage done by sending U.S. troops into Iraq.  I'm not sure it is the military troops who need now to do nation building, but yes, we do have some moral imperatives to rectify the damage - just not sure why or even if it is the troops who have the responsibility.  

For us, for our family, for our daughter and  grandchildren and for our son in law, Sgt H., home on leave and returning to Iraq to finish out his second extended, stop loss deployment, right to that 'hot spot' that is occurring now in Bagdhad area, this plan is no more responsible than any other plan that has been put forth to date inasmuch as it seems just more political posturing using the excuse of the Iraq war.  

And closer to home, in our own 19th LD, our own U.S. Congressman Brian Baird, decided to support the Surge last summer,and when my husband asked him face to face, man to man, if our son's life was worth it, Congressman Baird, said that while we might not like his answer, 'yes, he did believe our son's life was worth it'.  (In fairness, he added that he would give his life for it and that of his two sons -- who are only 2 yrs old).

I wonder if Congressman Baird is considering the lives lost since he made that statement to us.  And I would call to his attention that eight (8) from our son-in-law's Stryker Brigade have been killed in Iraq since son-in-law deployed to Iraq in December 07. We do pray earnestly that Baird's faith in this surge and in a U.S. commitment to remain in Iraq will not be at the expense of our son's life. We assuredly wouldn't want it to be at the expense of his own sons' lives.

This month, April, our two U.S. Senators and our U.S. Representatives will have an opportunity to do the right thing, the courageous thing, an action of valor, and end this war right now. They can vote no to a supplemental budget to spend more money to keep our troops in Iraq.  Our son-in-law along with all the troops have done their jobs, General Petraeus has done his, and the Commander-in-Chief has spoken his intent to continue as is the war in Iraq.

And now, once again, Congress has the opportunity to do it's job, to do the right thing,  to make the decision that will bring and end to the war in Iraq now.  General Petraeus is not in command of Congress and can only make recommendations.  President Bush is not in command of Congress and has made his recommendations. Congress can now be in command of itself and step up to the plate with this vote. To do less is to abdicate the responsibilities to which they were elected .. it's been five years, and this argument takes on new meaning after five years in light of the cost of lives, dollars and the fate of our depleted military to our national security interests. .

I am told that there does remain funding already in the pipeline to get the troops out of Iraq - responsibly. Voting no on the supplemental permits that already established pipeline money to go to work to get the troops out and bring them home Now. Bringing the troops home now IS the responsible thing to do.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The most significant surge in America today is hope.

This election is boiling down to the choice between the overdue taking of leadership by the dominant generations versus denial; the inability to recognize the oncoming headlong rejection of the old ways of doing business.

Hillary's fading candidacy reminds me of one of the last scenes from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in which Indy - hanging over a ledge above a chasm - finds himself barely inches from the Holy Grail.

Indy just can't quite grasp it.

Finally a voice of reason is heard from his father, played by Sean.

"Indiana .... let it go."

"But I just need to -"

"Let it go, Indiana."

In view of what has happened in an America suffering from the presidential incapacity - accurately described by Mr. Maher last Friday night - of America's first retarded president, it might have been better had we passed the baton back in 2000.

Speaking in fantasy, it also appears that had McCain somehow managed to avoid or overcome the total dishonesty of the Bush campaign and managed to wrest the nomination in 2000, what would the result have been?

Ignoring the reality that Gore actually won that race, we can conclude that Mccain's apparent conscious-less pandering in this campaign suggests how a McCain presidential campaign in 2000 would have required the same pandering to the only political coalition that made the 2000 election close.

McCain would have needed the same kind of sleazy help actually provided to Bush in the 2000 election.

This political sleaziness constitutes the "same old same old" that politicians of my generation have been enmeshed in for years. Only the most naive of my generation would insist that the government previously dominated by Democrats was entirely ethically clean and free from corruption at the highest levels.

Republicans?

Having achieved majority status in Congress and with a haste borne of poor assumptions, elected Republicans rushed to the pork troughs and the lobbyist all-you-can-take buffet.

They commenced their own version of "back-room deal making" with an abandon that reveals the immaturity of their civic perceptions.

They behaved like junior high students acting out their own limited perceptions of how the government of Democrats must have included widespread corruption, graft and opportunity. These apparently were perceived then as entitlements/spoils of Republican victories.

It also reveals the shallow understanding of the consequences of dishonest Rovian-style Limbaugh-publicized political discourse based on lies, distortions and hate.

The truth is that even in their most shameful moments of public stewardship, the Democratic Party - over all those pre-1990's years of majority status - suffered much fewer embarrassments of civic failure and criminal conduct than Republicans have managed to accomplish in their few years of recent Republican control.

These national Republicans were sustained and elected by their respective state party organizations, organizations trained, coached and controlled by national RNC schemers.

Many of the newly elected arrived in D.C. either riding the coattails of the Bush victory based on deception and dirty tricks, or heavily subsidized by the likes of Tom Delay-types (who then installed the lock-step device in their brains.)

That's the legacy of Republican experience.

It is this "same old same old" working environment from which and in which Hillary and McCain have their context.

This is the ultimate weakness of Hillary's tactic of trumpeting her experience. It is perhaps an unconscious admission on her part that business-as-usual is the only method of governing Hillary knows.

The same is true for McCain, but it involves a more gruesome and shameful truth with the Republican Party,

It's the Fear-Mongering, Stupid

McCain now has those discredited Republican minions and Bushco's economic management to thank for having to limit himself to a Johnny One-Note campaign.

His primary selling point seems to be that he used to be in the military, that he has a Patton-like understanding of what it means to be a commander-in-chief who presides over a nation of quivering cowards created by irresponsible and dishonest fear-mongering.

... that he used to be a prisoner of war and therefore has an ex-prisoner's perspective against torture. Most Americans understand that opposition to torture is an American Core Value. This ideal campaign tool has now been squandered by expediencies of McCain's candidacy.

Problem is McCain must appeal to the same "conservative" Republican constituencies who will have been very volatile, rigid and inconsistenlty unreliable supporters in the overall administration his presidency would entail beyond national security.

That of course would be business as usual.

McCain's "same old same old" is worse than Hillary's.

But Hillary has the 8-year reputation of an ex-president husband who seems to have squandered much of his own good will and popularity with his recent campaign behavior; who doesn't understand Obama's generation and doesn't know when to shut up.

She also - when her experience is hi-lighted - has an unsuccessful attempt to reform health care 16 years ago that collided headlong with lobbyist and Republican business-as-usual.

Including this experience, Hillary now proposes that she's learned how to fight dirty - but makes no mention of asking citizens to help her achieve her goals without having to fight dirty.

She does not seem to be interested in cleaning house, merely sweeping out what's under the rug to make room for more.

We boomers born in the late 40's and the 50's have had our chance with Clinton and most recently, Doofus, who is our most recent legacy. If so, that means we muffed it when we had the chance.

The generations to whom Obama appeals OWN the future; have a right to it. These are the generations who have gotten out TO vote, have gotten out THE vote and outnumber us older folks by tens of millions.

The foolish attempts by Hillary and McCain to cut Obama off at the knees by denigrating hope also diminish expectations.

They also expose the candidates, campaigns and party faithful who have lost a genuine hope themselves for the pillars of what really holds this country together.

It's what's wrong when McCain and Hillary - with apparent personal arrogance - ignore the need to talk about voters acting like citizens, who forget to mention how voters must take on-going action and personal responsibility.

You could make the case that failure to insist that post-election citizens take action causes experience-touting candidates to seem to mimic other failures: historical leaders around the globe who've pretended to be father, mother or parent of an entire nation.

... leaders who promised to protect citizens and fix everything needing fixing without citizen help. Few of them are remembered as benevolent successes and most presided over failure and disaster.

We know that these "when I'm President I will ..." promises are not intended to rule out or exclude citizen participation. However in talking in this manner, Hillary and McCain are failing to communicate any expectation or demand of civic responsibility from voters.

Business as usual means that most of the country is purposefully left out of the action - which is what the Republican Doofus adminstration of 2000-2008 has been all about.

Obama knows that. He is speaking to the generations that will call the shots.

America's core values are founded on hopes and expectations; attitudes that sustain or contrast actual reality. It's a reality that may reveal the yet-to-be-corrected or something-needs-to-be-done issues that constitute life in this country.

That's why they are "core" values.

It is hope, courage and willingness to tinker with problems. It's in the attempt to change coupled with the will to focus on equality and national security that might generate laudable civic successes.

The founding fathers were not primarily political veterans in their 50's and 60's who served based on experience and age. The wisdom of the Constitution did not come about because 100 folks my age put the distillation of their life's experience into the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

That some my age contributed is true. But that the majority were of my age group is not true. They were closer to the age of only one of the remaining leadership candidates.

But all of the founders, regardless of age, were significantly united in one of the most important attributes demanded of leaders ... courage.

We olders owe America's youngers a greater demonstration of patriotism and the taking of responsibility for our own governance beyond cowardly pretending that experience matters more than courage. We need to demonstrate a belief and will to look for change when change is necessary.

We must recognize that Hillary's inability to appeal to the majority generational activism of her own party cannot be explained away or ignored by an appeal to our fears of another "My Pet Goat president" if that moment tragically returns.

A real leader can rise without need of a resume and only a lack of courage and will runs and hides from that idea. (Or in the case of the election of 2000, when the stupid voted as a majority block, the exception proves the rule,)

We must recognize that McCain's inability to unite his party demonstrates a dangerous lack of leadership communication skills. If he has to put on his commander's cap in response to another 911 moment, he'll need guidance in how to communicate effectively. Or ... he'll have to rely purely on macho tough talk and we know where that last President to do that got us.

The greatest gift we can give our children and grand children is not our fear, not our timid caution in the face of all the "what might be's" offered up by aging politicians who need us to be fearful so they can get power.

The greatest gift we can and should pass on to the generations that already own and deserve to run the future is strongly epitomized by Mr. Murrow of my parents' generation.


"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men."
That thinking is what makes a generation get remembered as the greatest generation.


Arthur Ruger
Publisher, Willapa Magazine

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