Americans STILL Don’t Get it…

As election time approached last year, I began to feel that the general American population was finally wising-up to the fact that we are in a tough time and that we, the people, need to take the reins. We realized that we were approaching a major economic crisis, that were in a war we may not be able to win, and that our “leader” had led us astray over the past 8 years. Americans, it seemed, were aware that international relations were weak and that many people across the world who used to adore and envy us, were now disgusted with the American people.

On the night of the election, as they announced that Barack Obama had won, I felt an overwhelming feeling of emotion and relief. As millions of Americans celebrated in Grant Park that night, the American people made a bold statement to the citizens of the world that the last 8 years were not our choice, and that we were going to make things right.  Obama won the election less because of his political party and more for his ambition to “fix the world” and for everything that he stood for. It became clear that  “Change had come to America”.

Almost 6 months later, I am sad to announce that at least partially, we were all sorely mistaken. In the past few days,  the economy still teeters in the balance, issues of Universal Health Care are on the tips of everyone’s tongues in Washington, and the Iranian people flood the streets of Tehran in an effort to continue their fight for democracy. All the while, as I look to Google News’ “Most Popular “, what is it that tops the list??? What is the most read article on Google? What is it that Americans are the most concerned about? Apparently it is the divorce of Jon and Kate Gosselin from “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”googlenews

Are you kidding me!? As the President is being heavily criticized for his leniency toward Ahmadinejad‘s handling of the situation in Iran, we, the people, are not only watching “Jon & Kate Plus 8” but are actively sitting at our computer and reading articles detailing their divorce, more often then we are doing so for the international crisis in Tehran.

“This must be a mistake”, I think to myself, as I decide to double check it by looking at the most popular video’s on Youtube for the day… Surely it is some riot footage or CNN coverage on the situation in Iran. Perhaps it is the video of Neda Solton, the 26-year old Iranian woman who was shot down on the streets of Tehran and who’s death was captured on a cell-phone camera. Just as CNN has put out warnings that “The Footage You Are About to See Is Extremely Graphic and May Not Be Suitable For Some Viewers”, I feel that I need to preface my reveal of the top videos on Youtube with a similar warning… “The Sentence You Are About To Read May Disgust You and Make You Want to Move to a Country More In Tune with Reality”… The top 2 video’s on Youtube are the Adam Lambert and KISS Duet from the American Idol Finale and some new video of Youtube character “FRED”.

Now, I understand that these sites are not solely American sites and thus it does not speak only of Americans and our cultures… However, if you think that it is not almost entirely Americans who are watching the “Jon & Kate Plus 8”, “Adam Lambert & Kiss Duet” and “FRED” videos, give me a break.

What does this say about our culture? We live in a tough time right now, and I get that. It is perfectly normal to watch television for entertainment purposes (as you will learn, I am a huge music, TV, and movie buff). We all need a break and to kick back and forget about our problems from time to time. The problem is that these are the MOST WATCHED shows and clips of the day. During the election, if you went to Youtube, it was almost impossible to find a clip that was NOT related to the election in the first 5 pages of the most popular clips. People were so engulfed with the problems that we faced and the need to find a new leader to fix everything that we simply couldn’t get enough.

What this tells me is that we have forgotten, to an extent, what it means to be an American, and the principles on which this country was founded. We came together after 9/11, in crisis, and helped to build back up America. We came together at election time to find a leader that most of us thought could lead us out of this… and then we bailed. We changed the channel. This country does not work that way. We don’t’ get to wake up to our problems every 4 years at election time, pick somebody to “fix our problems” and then leave it in their hands until the next election.

If you don’t want to write a blog to do your part, then don’t. If you don’t want to take to the streets to help protest the resistance in Iran, don’t. If you don’t want to sit down and watch entire news programs all day every day to keep up with what is happening in the world and not just in your own little box, then don’t… But for Heaven’s sake, can you not read a 1 page news article or watch some news summary clips to stay somewhat informed about the world? I don’t expect “CNN World News” to be the top show on television right now. I’m talking about Google News and Youtube. Anybody, even with the worst case of ADD in the world can sit down and read a 1-page news article or watch a 2-minute youtube clip.

This is the type of closed-off, out of touch mentality that everyone else in the world sees in Americans. It is time that we wake up and take some responsibility ourselves, and not just leave it in the hands of law-makers and government officials.

For those of you who stay informed, and do your part, however small, good for you. To everyone else… shame on you. We all have to live in this world and all of us have to wake up every day and look at ourselves in the mirror and realize that we are responsible for the world we are passing on to future generations. Most of you who are reading this blog probably live in a decent home, with running water and electricity. We never go hungry and we never have to worry about whether we could die from riots in the streets or car-bombs going off on our morning commute. The least we can do is be thankful for what we have and who we are. If we’re going to complain about our problems, we need to tune in and take action… more then for a few months every four years. Step up. Speak your mind, and please, take a break from “Jon & Kate Plus 8”. Even if it’s just during the commercials… It is the least we can do.

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A Preview of Tonight’s Debate

A Preview of Tonight’s Debate…

I want to start off by saying how overwhelmed and pleased I am with the feedback I received (both positive and negative) on my last article. It is great to see that so many of you realize the gravity of the situations our country faces and that so many of you are passionate about your opinions

With that having been said, I would like to touch on the debate tonight. I know that for anyone who is following the election, tonight is a big night, and a night that may change the course of the election. I also know that the politicians involved, as well as their campaigns realize the importance of tonight. I have heard over the past several days that Palin has been quarantined somewhere, in a debate “boot camp” of sorts, preparing for tonight. I picture Biden sitting in his leather “daddy chair” in a Hugh Hefner robe, smoking a cigar and reviewing his notes (don’t ask me why). He realizes that he understands the issues and I don’t know if he’s prepared to face the pit-bull hockey mom in lipstick.

Palin is a likeable, charming, attractive, young woman. Let’s face it; if she won the election, she’d be a VPILF… From all that I have read and all that I have seen of her thus far, she appears to be a strong debater and extremely quick on her feet. I know some of you are saying “Nolan, you just put out a whole article last week about how she’s an idiot and has no business being the VP and now you’re saying this?” Let me explain…

My issue with Palin is that she is extremely inexperienced, ultra-conservative, and knows nothing of the major issues America is facing today. People have spent a lot of time talking about Palin’s lack of intelligence. Some examples of this include the fact that she thinks dinosaurs and humans both lived together on Earth 6,000 years ago, or her inability to name a national newspaper or a federal court case (other than Roe vs. Wade). The fact of the matter (an my point behind this article) is that her intelligence is not my concern. I don’t care where she went to college or whether or not she could win “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader”. My concern is with her lack of understanding of the issues and problems that we face today. Hell, George W. Bush has an MBA from Harvard and we all see how smart he is…

In fact, recently there has been a backlash on the “Liberal Media Elite”, accusing all networks other than Fox News of focusing on Palin, and not representing the same types of ridiculous comments made by her opponent, Democratic Senator Joe Biden. Let me set the record straight… Joe Biden frequently trips over his feet with the same types of blunders Palin has had over her month on the campaign trail. He recently commented on FDR’s Television Speech after the stock market crashed (The president when the stock market crashed was Herbert Hoover and there was no television in 1929). The difference is, he’s been in the Senate since 1972 (not 2 years as a governor of Alaska) and has a deep-rooted understanding of the issues.

The reason I bring this up is because tonight is going to get interesting… My concern is that while Joe Biden understands the issues and is a strong debater himself, Palin is perhaps a stronger debater and is certainly more charming. While most people laugh at her attempts to respond to the questions of Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric over the past few weeks, if you think about the fact that her responses were completely off the hip and that she had NO IDEA what she was talking about, I believe she was relatively quick on her feet. She had no clue about the issues she was being asked about and yet responded quickly and without hesitation. Her answers had no depth and in most cases had little relevance to the question, but her answers were packed with so much CRAP that it was almost hard to sort through it all.

The difference between those interviews and tonight’s debate is in the format. She is not going to have Katie Couric or Charlie Gibson pounding her to answer questions that she brushes off. Rarely do candidates speak directly to each other in a debate, and in this format, I believe Palin may have the advantage. She can brush off questions she doesn’t understand, covering up her convoluted answers with glitter and fairy dust, and then sit back and wait to pounce on anything Joe Biden says. Judging from what I’ve seen, I have a feeling Biden may be in for a sarcastic, back-handed beat down. She can say whatever she wants to him, and with all of the media coverage asking Biden whether he can “Debate the same with a woman as a man”, he will have to hold his tongue and not get involved in the types of accusations or arguments that Palin may try to create. If she does this, she may appear to be the winner.

I write this with one purpose… I’m making these predictions in hopes that they will bring the points to light, so that when they happen, you can pick apart the bull-shit. When you watch the debate tonight, don’t watch it for who is more charming, or who is funnier, wittier, or quicker on their feet. We are not voting someone into office because of their ability to debate or to make someone else look stupid. We need a President and Vice President that understand the issues our country faces and have the ability to help turn things around.

The other issue with tonight’s debate is the double-standard that the media has created for these two candidates. Joe Biden needs to remain calm and confident and to stay on his feet, focuses on the issues and his campaigns views. However, if he takes a wrong step, there is no doubt that Palin, along with Fox News will pounce on him and do their best to tear him apart. On the other hand, Palin has been such a train-wreck over the past month that if she stays on her feet and can even remotely answer the questions without giving the media a new blurb to play on Youtube for the next 2 weeks, she will likely be declared the victor. This is ridiculous. This is like saying that if Chuck Liddell had a UFC bout with Richard Simmons and Simmons didn’t get knocked out the first round, that that means he won… The fact is Richard Simmons has no business being in a UFC Octagon and Sarah Palin has no business near Joe Biden. Don’t get sucked into believing Palin is the winner tonight, due solely to the fact that she may exceed the ridiculously low expectation that SHE has created for herself… If Palin gets up tonight and knows more than Biden, and wins the debate fairly in ways no way related to what I have outlined here, I will admit that I was wrong… But I don’t see that happening…

For those of you interested, the debate will be broadcast live on CNN tonight at 9:00 PM EST. I’m looking forward to your comments.

God Bless America

If You Don’t Read This You Hate This Country…

Ok, so the title is bullshit, but it got your attention didn’t it?

I’m not one to typically step up and talk about politics. I enjoy having passive discussions and as many of you know (if you know me well) I enjoy debating just about anything. However, most of the time, realizing that politics can be a touchy subject, I choose not to bring it up in casual conversation. However, right now I feel that we’re at a crossroads in American history, and I refuse to remain quiet anymore. If a single one of you reads this and takes anything valuable away from it, or if it teaches you something you didn’t know before, I will find it worthwhile… with that being said… here we go…

On November 4th 2008, the American people will place their votes in what is undoubtedly the most crucial presidential election of our generation, and perhaps of our country’s history. I must start by saying, that there is absolutely no reason why any single American citizen over the age of 18 shouldn’t vote. The future of this country will in large part be in the hands of the next President of the United States and anybody who chooses not to vote is simply saying that they don’t care. I’ve heard people say “Oh, I don’t know enough about either candidate to make a decision, so I’m not going to vote.” This excuse sucks. If you don’t know enough to make an educated decision, put down the beer, or the x-box controller, or make the commitment to yourself not to update your fucking Facebook or Myspace for one day and sit down and educate yourself. Anybody who doesn’t think it’s important to learn the issues and to learn about the candidates and their views and to get out and vote this election needs to keep their mouth shut for the next 4 years if they don’t like the way this turns out. However, of course, it’s going to be the naïve, ignorant assholes who didn’t take the hour off of work to vote that are going to have the most to say come the inauguration in January. When I say vote, I don’t mean go with what most of your friends or doing, or to side w/ the views your parents have been shoving down your throat since you were 6 years old sitting around the dinner table, or even to listen to anything in this blog. I’m saying go out, get the facts, listen to some debates, and make an educated decision on who you want to run this country.

While over the passed few elections I have found myself siding w/ the Democratic candidate, I am not affiliated with any particular party. With that being said, I need to express my feelings on a few things…

Over the past 8 years, this country has been torn apart by countless careless decisions of the current administration. September 11, 2001 changed this country forever. On that day, President Bush went on national television and made a promise to the American people that those responsible for this attack would be brought to justice. He built up the American people and brought us together, regardless of party, bringing to light a sense of pride and unity that we seemed to have lost after the Bush/Gore election. On one of America’s darkest days, the people of this great nation came together, and showed the world what this country stood for. As we went forward, over the next few years, however, the promises made on that night became convoluted, and President Bush began to make some very bad decisions. We declared a preemptive strike on a nation, based on faulty intelligence. This was a mistake. But like a stubborn child, for the better part of the last decade, Bush had continued this war, and thousands of lives have been lost, to prove that this was a good decision.

The America that once stood for freedom, is now looked upon by the majority of the world as senseless and power-hungry. Our international relationships are in shambles and we now face the worst economic crisis of our time. Some would say this was all in large part the responsibility of a man who more than half of the nation never voted for in the first place. We can not afford for this to happen again.

Before us are two presidential candidates, each with their own strengths and weaknesses…

Senator McCain, a former prisoner of war, has more military experience than anybody could ask for in a president. However, over the passed several years, he has sided with Bush on most major issues. The common slogan that can be heard from the Obama camp is that we don’t want “More of the Same”. I am not going to beat this point home any further. In fact, I am not going to even touch on the specific issues or views of each candidate. This should be done from a fact-driven, accurate, and unbiased source. However, what I will touch on is the first crucial decision that he has made as the Republican nominee for the President of the United States.

Realizing that some Hillary Clinton supporters would be hardened from the long and hard-fought primaries, Senator McCain chose the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin as his running mate. In my opinion he did this for two reasons. First, he hoped to pull Clinton supporters over the line to give him the edge in the election. Second, I believe that he hoped her inexperience would highlight some of the lack of experience of Senator Obama. From on election standpoint this was an extremely intelligent and effective move. This decision pulled McCain back into the polls and if he wins, this will probably be the reason why.

However, if this decision doesn’t deter you from voting for McCain, I am sorry, but you are an idiot. Sarah Palin is a former beauty queen and hockey mom, a former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska which boasts all of 7,000 residents. This woman was elected Governor of Alaska less than 2 years ago. Sarah Palin has zero experience. She is the governor of a state that has spent a large portion of it’s time trying to separate itself from the United States. She voted in favor of the bridge to nowhere. For those of you who are concerned about your tax dollars, you may want to take a few moments to look into this. The Bridge to Nowhere was a proposal to charge federal taxpayers $320 million for a bridge connecting the town of Ketchikan (pop. 8,900) with its airport on the Island of Gravina (pop. 50). Sarah Palin, who until recently had only been out of the country once, had never met an international leader or had any type of military experience, but cited that her international experience was extensive due to Alaska’s proximity to Russia. To prove this, she cited the fact that you can actually see Russia from parts of Alaska… Well excuse me, but sometimes when my neighbor opens her door wide enough and I’m leaving my apartment I can see some of her dirty laundry laying on the floor, but that doesn’t mean that I’m friends with her. When Charlie Gibson asked Palin about the Bush Doctrine, she used cheap political debate strategies to try to brush off the question, essentially trying to get Charlie Gibson to tell her what it was. To be frank, this woman is an idiot and has no business being the Governor of Alaska much less the Vice President of the United States. I wouldn’t trust this woman to watch my dog for the weekend much less put the future of my country in her hands. I encourage you watch the news, read some articles, fuck, get on Youtube and watch any of the video’s in the top 10 highlighting her ignorance.

Now, under normal circumstances this may not be such a big deal. However, the presidential nominee who chose her as his running mate is a 72 year old former prisoner of war who has survived the most deadly form of skin cancer on four separate occasions. If elected, he would be the oldest president ever.

Do me a favor. Stop reading this for a second… Get on Google and image search pictures of any former president at the beginning of their term and at the end of their term… Being the president of this country is the most taxing, stressful, important job on this planet. Take a look at Bush on the night of 9/11/2001 and compare it with a photo from last week. He looks old, and worn, and tired.

So let me get this straight McCain supporters… You’re going to elect a 72 year old four time cancer survivor into the hardest job in the world during a war in Iraq, while international relations are in shambles, while we face a continuing war on terror and the worst economic crisis of our time and you expect him to survive the term? The latest stats coming out claim that there is a 25% chance that McCain will not survive his first term if elected. Those are pretty damn good odds. What does this mean? President Sarah Palin. If this doesn’t scare the hell out of you, it should. This woman, and I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, is one 72 year old man’s heartbeat away from the President of the United States. This is a joke and the fact that this is even an issue terrifies me. I guarantee you that at least one person is going to make a comment on here or to me later saying “I’m sure McCain will be fine and survive the term… That’s no reason not to elect him.” I’ll see that person inside the 7/11 next week buying a powerball ticket while I”m outside filling my tank with gas for $4/gallon.

To come full circle, even with all of McCain’s experience, the fact that this was his first decision as the Republican Presidential Nominee negates all credibility. In his first major decision he put our country’s safety and future on the line by selfishly choosing a hockey mom as his running mate for the sole purpose of winning the election. To be frank, I don’t want a person who would make that decision to have his hand anywhere near the red button.

America has a lot of issues that need to be resolved in this next election. Most of them involve the war, our countries current economic crisis, and our international relations. Senator Obama, is intelligent, well-rounded and educated, and is extremely well-spoken. The common perception of Obama internationally is that he is extremely well-perceived and if elected, is capable of mending international relations. Beyond this he understands the current economic crisis and focuses on helping the middle class. He also has the experience of Senator Joe Biden by his side. Any criticism I have ever heard about Obama focuses either on his lack of experience or on issues such as health-care. With regard to his lack of experience, Obama is older than Bill Clinton was when he came into office. He is also older than Teddy Roosevelt and JFK were when elected. This isn’t bad company… Also, going back to Sarah Palin, I don’t want to hear shit about any argument for lack of experience. Say what you want, but Obama understands the issues and can speak intelligently to any aspect of any issue that has come up thus far. McCain openly admits his lack of understanding of the current economic crisis, and Palin is a moron.

As far as the other issues are concerned… I don’t mean to belittle health-care, or abortion, or taxes, or any of that, but as of 9/29/08… Who gives a shit! We have bigger fish to fry at this point, and while I still believe that Obama’s views on these points are still favorable to McCain, if these are the issues that are swaying your decision, you need to get your priorities straight. As an aside, if anybody would like me to follow up with a post breaking down some views or passing along links to educate yourself on more specific issues, I would be happy to do so.

In closing, despite my rants on McCain and Palin, the most important thing here is that everybody needs to get out and vote. If we have the largest voter turnout of all time for this election, and the president that we choose doesn’t fix all of our problems, at least then we will have nobody to blame but ourselves. I will support whoever is elected, because this country needs unity now more than ever, but this is a time when you need to stand up for what you believe in and get out and vote.

Please feel free to leave your comments. I will read every one of them and reply if necessary. If this is well-received (or not) I may do these more regularly, so let me know any issues that you feel are important to talk about. I realize that this is probably not going to make me very popular, but quite frankly I don’t care. This is America and I can say whatever I want. That’s one of the beautiful things about this country that we still stand for. A country that I love, that has given me more than I could ever give back. I’m just trying to do my part.

God Bless America.