FactCheckin’

Yeah, I watched the State of the Union speech last night. It was… ummm… unimpressive. Nothing stuck out as revolutionary, cool, important or significant about it. It was actually really boring. Bush, again, smirks WAY too much for a President delivering a very important speech. He said so little, that the <a href=”fact check is pretty boring as well. Unfortunately, the Democrats looked like plastic dolls delivering the rebuttle. Holy crap. Someone tell Nancy Pelosi to blink! Tom Daschle was OK, but man, show some fire, people! They should have let Ted Kennedy offer the rebuttle. The rebuttle shored up my problem with the Democratic party – no freakin’ charisma. You don’t show up Mr. Cowboy with Ken and Barbie’s boring plastic parents. You beat him with fire, with determination – not wussified scolding. Grow some stones, you Jackasses.

Cluetrain Politics

Doc Searls has an absolutely beautiful eulogy for the Dean campaign. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t mean it that way, but that’s what it feels like. Through that post, I made my way over to The Cluetrain Manifesto, and was blown away. I get it now. I get why I was so enamored with the Dean organization. It wasn’t the candidate. It was the power of the people contributing to the organization. It was the way the campaign worked as a hub for ordinary people to make a difference. I was floored by the relatively small size of the average donation when compared to Bush’s enormous money-making machine. The campaign, and the internet side of it is a tiny glimpse of what’s possible. It is possible to take the monied corporations and special interests out of the game and win with ordinary people. I’m just not sure it’s possible for Howard Dean. If Dean doesn’t win, we should all thank him, Joe Trippi, and everyone who worked on the campaign for giving us a vision of the possibility that one day, it really will be a government of, for and by the people.

The Dean campaign, and to some extent the Clark campaign, have shown that you can express your opinions honestly in politics without wrapping it in plausible deniability and empty rhetoric. The shock to the system has been administered, and the things the press calls “gaffes” are actually a candidate speaking his mind, not the specious platitudes of some faceless collection of writers and spin merchants. I think Dean’s gotten away from that somewhat, and it’s hurting him. Like Cluetrain says about conversation “Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice. “. Dean and Clark have both brought the human voice back to politics. Kerry and Edwards, to their credit, both realized this, and their campaigns have benefitted from it. Edwards, especially, has leaped on it, and done an outstanding job of jettisoning the politician’s vocabulary and speaking as himself. I watched a rally of his the other day, and was amazed at how natural he seemed compared to seeing him in the studio on The Daily Show last year.

Whatever happens with the Democratic nomination, I hope that the glimpses we’ve seen will be embraced. We should demand more honesty, more straight talk, more genuine opinion, from our candidates. Let’s not let them off with their prepared remarks. Make them squirm. If that had happened in 2000, I doubt we’d have the president we have today. I hope that the presidential debates this time don’t give the candidates the questions beforehand. The answers should be longer, and allow for a rebuttal. I really want to know what a candidate thinks, and in 2000, we didn’t get that. Hopefully, in 2004, we will.

Bailing Time?

I don’t suppose this means Gephardt will drop out soon? Kucinich? I’m about ready to winnow down the candidates and pick somebody. Of the top four (Kerry, Edwards, Dean and Clark), I’d honestly be OK with any of them. Here’s my fearless prediction: Gephardt drops out tomorrow, Lieberman and Kucinich both after New Hampshire. Like I know what I’m talking about…

Resurrecting nonDependant

nonDependant isn’t dead… yet. I’ve come back from the holidays now, and am posting over there again. If you visited before and stop, please go visit again. If you haven’t, please go check it out and see what we’re trying to do.

With the state of the debate (or lack thereof), I think creating a space where people can discuss issues, ask questions and help create answers without the furious name-calling of some of the other political communities is important. So, as we move into the heat of the 2004 campaign season, come on over and talk about the issues!

Observation Over Experience

“What really teaches man is not experiences, but observation. It is observation that enables him to make use of the vastly greater experience of other men, of men taken in the mass. He learns by noting what happens to them. Confined to what happens to himself, he labors eternally under an insufficiency of data.” - H. L. Mencken

Found on Reid‘s very lovely quote bar.

What I Believe

You know, I don’t talk about religion much here. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t interest me. Until now, it’s been because I’m not comfortable talking about it, and I’m still not. I’ve never felt like a “good Mormon” before. I still don’t think of myself as “normal”, but I’ve realized recently that you can be a member in good standing and not be like everyone else (I know, I’m an idiot for not realizing this sooner, but I just never thought about it before). There is room in the Church for all kinds of people, weak, strong, stalwart and slack. We all have a role to play, and we’re all trying to be good people.

What I’m dying to write about, I just can’t bring myself to start typing. I’m not sure why, but I know I don’t want to offend anyone. I’m not sure how to express what I want without it sounding overly harsh. I’m going to go ahead and write it, apologizing ahead a time if you are offended by what I write. The last thing I intend for this is to offend. I just want to explain how I feel and what I’m thinking. If you disagree, you’re welcome to post a comment or e-mail me.

I have a problem with religion. By saying that, I don’t mean I have a problem with the Gospel: the teachings of Jesus Christ. I have a problem with the culture of exclusion, shame, guilt and even hate I see in the religious world around me. I can’t stop thinking about Fred Phelps, and his plan to erect a monument declaring Mathew Sheppard’s eternal damnation in his hometown. I can’t stop thinking about the fundamentalists who see to rely heavily on the Old Testament to justify their hatred of those different from them, while ignoring conflicting statements from the Savior himself in the New Testament. I can’t stop thinking about my own religion, and the culture inside it. A culture that I thought I could never belong to because I don’t think like everyone else. I thought you had to be a Republican to be a good Mormon. Of course, I was wrong. I may be wrong about the Fundamentalists, but from the people I’ve known over the years who self-identify themselves that way, I don’t think I am.

Here’s what I believe. I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe he lived, walked on early, suffered for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane and died on the cross. I believe that three days after his death, he was resurrected. I believe that after he left the Apostles and ascended to his Father, that the world fell into apostasy, and the truth was lost from the Earth. I believe that many of the pure, sacred and simple truths of Christ’s work on the Earth was lost, either through mistranslation or deliberate works of unscrupulous scribes to mold scripture to fit their political needs. I believe that the Bible we have to today is good, but that there are pieces of it that are no longer accurate.

I believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about love, not hate. I believe that it is not our place to pass judgement on any of our fellow children of God. I believe that we were each given our own particular burdens to bear, and that our goal on this earth is to turn those burdens into talents – to do our best to overcome our own particular weakness and make them strengths. In realizing this, I know that I’m doing poorly enough on my own that I have neither the time nor the right to pass judgement on others in their struggle. There is no room for hate in the Gospel. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. In loving one another, I believe it is our responsibility to love them as they are, to accept them, love them and support them. We may believe the things people do are wrong, but that doesn’t give us the right to proclaim their damnation, their punishment or exclude them from society.

I believe that in 1820, Joseph Smith prayed in a grove of trees, asking our Heavenly Father for guidance about which church he should attend (more info). That prayer started the process that resulted in the Book of Mormon and the formation of the church that I belong to today. I believe this to be true. I know it in my heart to be true. There was a good long while there where I couldn’t say that. And why am I telling you this? Well, I’m not sure. I just feel the need to say it.

So there you go. That’s what I believe. I think next, I’ll talk about how my feelings about religion and Christianity relate to politics and inform my opinions there.

Selfish Development

I’m creating database tables of my own for a new product of my own design, for my own purposes, for the first time in a very long time. It feels good… I’m calling it mormoNotes, since it’s really for church (I take the notes in all the meetings I go to, and well, doing it in a text editor just isn’t working). I want a tool that creates nice templates, is searchable, and makes it easier to take notes in a wonderful hierarchical sorta way that I can then e-mail out. I know, tall order, but I think I’ve figured out how to do it. I’ll show it off when it’s all done (who knows when, but now that I have broadband, I’ll be online and be able to search documentation and divert myself from it without tying up a phoneline or feeling guilty. Yummmmmm-may.

Who to Pick? Not Sure, But I’ve Got Buckets

As I hinted earlier in the week, I’m seriously considering switching candidates. I’ve been watching debates, subscribing to campaign blogs, reading stories and thinking. I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking. I came up with a list earlier in the fall, about the time we started up nonDependant, of things I thought about the race. Reading over it, I still think those things. Looking at the (now) 8 Democratic candidates, they fall into three categories:

  • The Mavericks: Clark and Dean
  • Old Washingon: Gephard, Kerry, Lieberman and Edwards
  • Truth Wrapped in Comic Relief: Kucinich and Sharpton

We’ll start at the bottom. We all know that Kucinich, Sharpton and the recently departed Braun can’t win. The three of them, though, have had some of the funniest, best, and most pointed moments in the debates. Kucinich, although I disagree with him on a lot of his stands, especially Iraq, he still raises very well-thought out positions. Sharpton, again, don’t agree with him on a lot, and he has a lot of past to explain, has had some really nice moments in the debates. Braun running has been historic, but she’s never really made much of an impression. The trio has been entertaining, but I’m pretty sure it’s time for the other two members of the No Hope Club to drop out.

Old Washington has really pulled out the stops in this one. I almost feel bad lumping Edwards into this group, but he’s in Washington now, and that counts. Edwards is still a bit of an enigma to me, and I’ll be digging more up on him in the coming weeks (I have less than a month till our primary). The other three in this group have run traditional, by-the-rules, run-not-to-lose campaigns. They’ve been uninspiring, sniping, and petty. I’m extremely disappointed in the top three. Their relentless attacks on the front-runner have come across to me as petty and desperate. Their approach looks old and dated next to…

The Mavericks. Dean first, and then Clark, have captured my imagination. Neither have sold their soul to the Party; neither look to me to be beholden to anyone. This is a good thing. As liberal as Dean’s supporters are, he’s a fiscal conservative. He looks crazy next to the Old Washington set because he actually speaks the truth as he sees it and isn’t embarrassed by it. The same with Clark. Both have been lambasted by the other campaigns for their “gaffes” and “changing positions”, but I see that as men thinking about issues, and changing their minds as new information comes up. While Clark and Dean are vastly different in background, their level of grassroots support is not only impressive, it’s an inspiration to me. Comparing the percentage of donations under $2000 is revealing as well. Almost 70% of Dean’s contributions are less than $200, and almost 40% of Clark’s are (the data’s a few months old). The other graphs on that page are just as revealing. The Old Washington candidates are about even with President Bush, the king of the special interest, corporate donors. That means something to me. It means both Clark and Dean have the support of real people, and the candidates aren’t owned by PAC’s, corporations or other unsavory groups. Both seem to speak their conscience and reveal what they really think, which is risky, but I respect that.

Now, there is a lot at stake in this election. This isn’t just a referendum on a failed President. This is a campaign about the future of the political process. Like the television before it, the internet is revolutionizing the political process, evening the playing field and opening doors for candidates like Howard Dean and Wesley Clark. Candidates who found their base on the internet, and parlayed that base into mainstream exposure, and more support. It just makes sense. That others are following means that the internet is probably here to stay in politics. Now, how do we harness is and keep it from turning into the wasteland that television has become?

This also doesn’t explain who I’m voting for. Honestly, I still don’t know. Right now, it’s between Clark and Dean. I think Edwards is third, and Kerry is not that far behind. I have a few weeks left.

Ummm, Ah, What Was I Doing?

Things in my head are kind of weird lately. Weird in what way, I can’t really say. Thoughts are jumbled and incoherent. I’m more absent-minded, as ideas are shotgunned around in my skull. I’ll start thinking about politics, and jump right into my big project at work, and then off to Dublin (where I might be going again in April), to some flukey design idea for this site or one of the others I need to redesign, to the fact that I should probably clean out the dishwasher, to phone calls I should be making for church, to what I need Jen to get at the grocery store this afternoon, to lunch, and then back again. It’s hard to concentrate, to focus on any one thing for very long.

Is it a sign that I have too many things going on? Or is no one thing pressing enough to grab my full attention? Am I over-medicated , hopped up on allergy meds that dry up my brain as well as my sinuses? Am I just out of inspiration? Have I used it up?

On the good news front, I am still in love with jEdit, and Jen (who I am definitely more in love with than I am with any text editor) agreed (easily, I might add) to switch to Linux once we get the cable modem set up (tonight, tonight, tonight). And, Max knows more about the human body than most sixth graders, and knows the scientific names of more bones than most high schoolers (I’m betting, anyway). We had a quiz (his idea, which is even freakier), and he could name all the “major” bones, plus knew that his fingers are phalanges, and that the bones in his wrist are called carpals and metacarpals. The only bone I stumped him with was the shoulder blade, I think just because he has a problem saying “scapula”. The kid surprises me every day.

Ok, back to work… no more day dreaming.