Friday, September 04, 2009


Forget the Speech. What About This Promotional Poster?

Is President Obama's speech to America's children next week a sinister plot to brainwash them? Well, since they removed the assignment asking kids to write a letter about how they will help Obama, we can probably say no. Even if it's not a brainwash plot, should schools come to a stop while he commences to speechify? What about all those standards? Will Obama's talking points be on the standardized tests that are so vital to No Child Left Behind? Will the goofy lessons kids are supposed to do based on the speech somehow contribute to knowledge of similes or metaphors or quadratic equations or the Vietnam War? No.

Then why are we doing it? Why are we doing it during the school day? Couldn't these children watch a speech as easily at 6PM as they could during second period? Granted, in many instances, and perhaps even most instances, objecting parents can have their kids pulled from viewing the speech, but why should they have to? What is the compelling reason for interrupting instruction in this manner? The message is that education is important. I get that. What I don't get is this: if education is so important, why is it being interrupted by a frivolous speech?

Still, as annoying as it is, I don't think the speech will be too great of a threat to our young minds in the classroom. After all, the speech will be over and done with fairly quickly, and two or three days later will have been largely forgotten. What will stick? What is unlikely to go away for the rest of the school year? What is, in fact, likely to be around for years to come? A poster, delivered to teachers, to put up on their walls. And if you've seen many classrooms, you know that the stuff that goes up on the walls rarely comes down.

It's a high quality product, in color, printed on 11x17 glossy paper. I couldn't hazard a guess at the cost, but it's likely that 120 were delivered to our school alone, and we have about 1,900 teachers in our district. Well, maybe I could hazard a guess. According to this report, a color copy on 8.5x11 glossy paper costs $1.78 each at Kinko's. In 2006. If I double that price for 11x17 glossy paper, and multiply by 1,900 I get $6,764. Not exactly chump change.

Who would be spending that sort of money? The California School Employees Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 595, the National Electrical Contractors Association (only identified as NECA on the poster, but of several groups with these initials, this seems like the logical choice), the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and country supervisor Steve Bestolarides. You might wonder how a Republican got caught up sponsoring deifying posters of Obama along with a bunch of unions. As it turns out, this Olympia Snowe of county Republicans has also endorsed Democrat Congressman Jerry McNerny in his reelection bid.

This poster is a project of a group called San Joaquin Grassroots Action. Who are they? "We are a non-partisan community group whose purpose is to promote progressive change." Am I the only one seeing the paradox in that sentence? By definition, progressive is one sided. Conservative is the other side. Maybe you could find a centrist who is non-partisan, but you're probably more likely to find a dodo bird wandering through the Cabinet, provided it hadn't paid its taxes.

Where can you find San Joaquin Grassroots Action? Right here at Organizing for America, the successor organization to Obama for America.

Why are we putting up promotional posters for President Obama in our schools? Unknown.

Why are unions paying to promote President Obama in our schools? Well, pretty much known.

Is it appropriate for schools to promote certain politicians and not others? Known. No.

What does this poster look like, anyway? Here's the initial artwork by sreichenbach that inspired the poster that was delivered today:

Follow the link to Flickr and you'll see about what you'd expect in the commentary for the image.

Bob Tilden has a modified version up on his Flickr page. Bob also happens to be the group administrator of San Joaquin Grassroots Action. This is what was delivered to us:

The poster would be fine just about anywhere outside of school. If every parent decided to put the poster on the ceiling over their kid's bed so the first thing the kid saw upon waking was Barack Obama, well, more power to them. But in school? No.

If someone says "God bless our school" at the end of a graduation speech, and that is considered to be endorsing religion, how can this poster not be endorsing Barack Obama. With the flag superimposed over his face, the imagery clearly states the position that Barack Obama = America. A little known fact? In most of our classrooms, this poster would be the only representation of the American flag that our students will see.

The motives of those paying for and distributing this poster are partisan. They have every right to support Obama. They have every right to make these posters or any other posters in support of Obama or anyone else. But politics stops at the classroom door. These posters should be removed.

I've only seen them first hand in one district. Have you seen them in yours?

Swine Flu, Part Two.

No, I don't have swine flu yet. But that lady I work with has been gone for a couple of weeks now. I'm not sure what she's got.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Did I Get Swine Flu?

So a lady at work told me her daughter and granddaughter were being tested for swine flu. That was Wednesday.

I didn't see her today. That's not definitive, but I'll usually see her about 75-80% of the time. Maybe she's sick too.

I didn't think too much of it, until we all got an email from headquarters announcing that Swine flu is widespread in out county and in our school district.

Within a half hour, I was having a little bit of a cough. And then my throat was feeling funny. And now, a couple of hours later, my ears feel hot and I kind of have that flushed feeling I get when I've had a few drinks. Could be a fever?

I didn't necessarily want to turn 40 next week, but croaking from Swine flu was not the way I wanted to avoid it.

I'll keep you posted. For reals this time.

Oh, and, long time, no see.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


A Look Back At BDS. A Look Forward To ODS?

First things first: not all Democrats suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome.

I think I finally understand Bush Derangement Syndrome. And I think the psychosis that characterizes BDS may have been caused by a lack of sleep.

Last night I lay awake with visions of the Fairness Doctrine dancing in my head. I spent some time wondering what was going to happen to my taxes. I wondered how many of my students would still be happy with Obama once they had to start doing 50 hours of community service (since last night, the plan apparently is no longer mandatory). What sorts of community service would be approved, and what sorts would be denied? If you do get out the vote work for the Democratic party, will that qualify you for the $4,000 tax credit? If you do the same work for the republicans, would you be denied the $4,000? Of course, I did eventually fall asleep, but once or twice during the night I woke up, and it took me longer than usual to fall back to sleep. I couldn't get those concerns about Obama's plan out of my head.

Has this been what the past eight years have been like for those who don't agree with Bush's policies? Do they toss and turn all night, plagued by fever dreams about Bush's evil and how he is coming to get them? Did they eventually experience an insomnia-induced psychological break? Am I destined to become as hysterical as those who suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome?

I had always considered BDS to be laughable. How could these crazy people believe these crazy things? In an effort to calm my nerves, I decided to take a closer look at the symptoms of BDS. If their worst imagined fears never came true, perhaps I could take comfort in the idea that my worst fears about Obama could be just that: fears that would never come true.

So what do those who suffer from BDS believe, anyway? I wasn't really sure where to begin, But then Jim Treacher pointed me in the right direction. Thanks to him, I found this bit from a post by Evan Handler at Huffington Post:
". . . the wars, the lies, the torture, the stacking of the courts, and the rollbacks to civil liberties; in spite of the religious fundamentalism, the fanaticism, and the utter disdain toward the population that's been expressed; in spite of the Katrina fiasco, the wire tapping, and the raping and pillaging of our economy for corporate gain . . . "

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is perhaps representative of the beliefs held by those who suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome. Did these fears come true? Were they accurate and factual? Were they simply partisan hysteria? Here is a quick judgment of Mr. Handler's beliefs, presenting the prosecution (BDS), the defense (Non-BDS), and the verdict:

The Wars:
BDS: Iraq was a war of aggression.
Non-BDS: Even apart from 9-11, a legitimate argument could be made that invading Iraq and toppling Saddam would be legal. At the simplest level, if you are at war with someone, and a cease fire is declared, you both stop fighting. If one side starts fighting again, the cease fire is broken, which by definition means the war is back on again. Saddam broke the cease fire. There were a number of other reasons why war with Iraq resumed. These reasons were voted on in 2002 by congress, which gave President Bush authorization to do what he did.
The Verdict: Not Guilty. The centerpiece of this argument is that this is an illegal war solely created by Bush. The fact that congress authorized it nullifies this argument. The fact that congress continues to authorize funding, especially once Democrats controlled both houses of congress, can be taken as a sign of their continued support. As a group, can Democrats honestly pin this war on Bush when they continue funding it?
Tried Separately: Afghanistan. Charges dropped. This is the "good war."

BDS: Bush wanted to trade blood for oil.
Non-BDS: If you've seen $4.00 gas, you know the blood for oil argument is foolishness. If we really went into Iraq to take their oil, gas would be cheaper. The New York Times reports that Iraq may be looking at a $79 billion surplus by the end of 2008, thanks to its oil. Wouldn't we be taking all that if we were really there for the oil?
The Verdict: Not Guilty. Obviously.

BDS: Bush wanted to make his buddies rich.
Non-BDS: It's a lot harder to wade through the web on this issue, because most information seems to be on sites like Democratic Underground, which we can expect to be hosts of the BDS virus. Off the top of my head, I seem to recall that the Pentagon already had a working relationship with Halliburton, that Halliburton was the only company big enough to take on the work, and that farming the work out to 10 or 15 different companies would be inefficient. Here's an article from Slate in 2004 claiming that even if the contracts were huge, the profits were very small.
The Verdict: Hung Jury. I'm open to arguments, but I suppose proof of the BDS claim would require showing that Halliburton got substantially richer than they would have gotten if they didn't do any work in Iraq (this seems unlikely, based on the limited evidence of the Slate article), and that any other company that did the work would have done a substantially better job. I'm not sure if this can be proven.

BDS: Bush wants to get rid of minorities/minorities are disproportionately dying in Iraq.
Non-BDS: I looked at two different sites giving racial breakdowns of fatalities in Iraq, here and here. Both were pretty close in their numbers. I also looked at this chart as one of the easier to read breakdowns of US population from 2004, and this chart of the racial breakdown of the military (though Asians are included in the "other" category) from 2001. Let's compare:
Iraq fatality totals: White 74.75% Hispanic 10.72 Black 9.49% Asian 1.85% Other 3.19
US population totals: White 66% Hispanic 14% Black 13% Asian 5% Other 2%
Military population totals: White 66% Hispanic 8% Black 20% Other 6%

Who is disproportionately represented among fatalities in Iraq? It seems reasonable to make the comparison based on military population; US totals tilt the argument even further against the BDS position. According to population percentages, we see that whites actually have the biggest beef in this argument, with a difference of 8.75% between fatality and military population representation. Hispanics have a less compelling case with a difference of 2.72%. Asians and "Other" combined have a difference of -0.96%; they are dying in a percentage smaller than their military population percentage. Blacks are 20% of the military population, but only suffer 9.49% of the fatalities, for a whopping -10.51% difference.
The Verdict: Not guilty. This one is not even open to ideological interpretation. On many issues, feelings or personal beliefs can play a large part in someone's position. This one is strictly numbers. To claim that minorities are disproportionately being killed in Iraq is so demonstrably wrong that it is hard to come to any other conclusion than that those making such claims do so out of malicious intent or willful ignorance. Which are pretty much hallmarks of BDS.

The Lies:
BDS: Bush lied us into Iraq.
Non BDS: Bush made arguments including those in the resolution noted above. Many arguments about Bush lying I believe are falsely made based on wrongly interpreting what Bush said. Here's an example: "Prior to Sept. 11, we thought two oceans would protect us," President Bush said about Iraq in an Oct. 14 speech in Michigan. "After Sept. 11, we've entered into a new era in a new war." For this writer, this is an example of President Bush claiming that Saddam Hussein is to blame for 9-11. Hmmm. What I got was that looking to the future, we could not count on oceans to protect us from those who would like to do us harm, and Saddam Hussein is one of those who would like to do us harm. I certainly do not get that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9-11. It's just not there.
The verdict: Not Guilty. Bush didn't lie. He didn't make statements he knew were false to trick people into thinking or acting a certain way. That is actually more characteristic of BDS sufferers, who deliberately misinterpret and misconstrue Bush's statements, then use the misinterpretation as evidence of a lie.

The Torture:
BDS: Bush tortures people, torture is wrong and torture doesn't work.
Non-BDS: Taking the second proposition first, reasonable people can disagree about the rightness or wrongness of torture. Taking the third proposition, it is not apparent that torture never works. The first proposition is the most slippery, because it all depends on the definition of torture. Find a hypothetical impartial jury, and ask them to give examples of what they think torture is. I believe that the things we do, that are claimed by some to be torture, would not be on their list. Here's a definition I saw somewhere: If a person is willing to undergo some procedure, for the sake of writing about whether or not the procedure is torture, then the procedure isn't really torture. Sounds about right to me.
The Verdict: Mistrial/Case Dismissed. We use interrogation techniques that at least sometimes work, and that are not wrong in all cases. This suggests that in at least some cases, these interrogation techniques are useful and appropriate. While everyone would agree that some acts are torture, we do not all agree on whether or not some interrogation techniques are torture. Even if we were to define some interrogation techniques as torture, we have already decided that in at least some cases, these techniques are right and effective.

The Courts:
BDS: Bush is stacking the courts. We will lose our right to abortion. We will lose our right to free speech. And so on.
Non-BDS: It is the perogative of the president to nominate judges. We may presume that conservative presidents are likely to nominate judges who have a certain judicial outlook. We may also presume that a liberal president would nominate judges who have a different judicial outlook. Part of checks and balances is that the Senate has to approve these judges.
The Verdict:Mistrial/Case Dismissed. It is certainly legitimate to consider potential judicial nominees when voting for president. However, to claim that what Bush is doing with his nominees is somehow wrong or evil or against the sanctity of democracy is foolishness. Especially when those complaining will have no problem with attempts to stack the court by a liberal president.

The Civil Liberties:
BDS: Bush will eliminate everyone's civil liberties.
Non-BDS: Is there some big database listing all the people who were denied abortions the last eight years? Were the people who made a film about the assassination of President Bush prevented from making the film, or prevented from distributing the film, or put in jail? And gay marriage? Obama is against it too. And it's likely that Obama voters in California tipped the balance in favor of Prop 8, which amended the state constitution to say that marriage is only between a man and a woman.
The Verdict: Not Guilty. You don't agree with Bush's policies. We get it. But what did he deny to you, specifically, in your own life? The argument that some hypothetical person, in some hypothetical situation, that may not ever occur in the real world, might possibly somehow be harmed, possibly, in some way, maybe, is not exactly compelling.

The Religious Fundamentalism, the Fanaticism:
BDS: Bush is a religious fundamentalist. He believes he is leading the world to the rapture. He is doing bad things because he thinks God is telling him to do these things.
Non-BDS: Bush believes in God. Bush uses his moral sense, informed by his religious beliefs, to help him decide what is right or wrong.
The verdict: Mistrial/Case Dismissed. You don't agree with his policies. We get it. This does not mean that it is wrong to have religious beliefs. This does not mean that it is wrong to use your religious beliefs as a guide for your behavior. Furthermore, it seems that most of the examples of Bush being a religious fundamentalist are not based on anything Bush has said or done. Rather, they seem to be either extreme extrapolations of something Bush has said, or some wild statement or action said or done by someone who may have voted for Bush. Besides, if you argue that having a religious belief makes your views illegitimate, wouldn't you have you condemn Martin Luther King Jr? Would you call the Obama supporters who passed Prop 8 in California religious fundamentalists whose opinions should not be valued?

The Disdain Toward the Population:
BDS: Bush has disdain toward the population.
Non-BDS: What the hell does that even mean?
The Verdict: Mistrial/Case Dismissed. Seriously? Disdain?

The Hurricane Katrina:
BDS: George Bush doesn't care about black people. George Bush let people die. George Bush didn't evacuate people. George Bush made people cannibalize each other at the evacuation center.
Non-BDS: The reaction to Hurricane Katrina was not perfect. However, it can certainly be argued that city and state leadership failed spectacularly in duties they themselves had acknowledged were their responsibility. This certainly didn't make the job easier for the federal response.
The Verdict: Hung Jury. Blame cannot be assigned to any single individual. And of course it is impossible to prove that anyone else as president would have done any better, or any worse. And there is nothing to prove that racism or not caring about black people had anything to do with anything. Just because you don't like someone doesn't make them racist against you.

The Wire Tapping:
BDS: Bush is spying on Americans.
Non-BDS: The Democratically-controlled congress passed the law making Bush's actions legal.
The Verdict: Dismissed with prejudice.

The Raping and Pillaging of Our Economy for Corporate Gain:
BDS: Bush and his evil cronies are raping the economy.
Non-BDS: Could you be more specific?
The Verdict: Case Dismissed. Lack of Evidence.

So the hysterical fears of BDS sufferers never materialized.

What are some concerns about an Obama presidency, and can we tell if they are legitimate concerns or hysterical fears? There does seem to be an idea floating around that Obama was all about getting elected, and now that he's been elected, he'll be much less radical than all of his statements and associations would lead us to believe. I guess we can only really know by waiting for events to unfold. If he signs the Fairness Doctrine, we'll know that that was a legitimate concern, and not a hysterical fear. Somehow, that's not very satisfying.

Here are a few things to worry about in an Obama presidency:

Fairness Doctrine

Right to own guns

Higher taxes

Employee Free Choice Act

Foreign policy beliefs will unintentionally encourage attacks against us, the west, and Israel

Feel free to add more in the comments.

Monday, June 30, 2008


Old MacDonald Had A Farm . . .

I don't always keep up with the pictures so well, but here are a few from a local farm. If you find yourself a bit southeast from Sacramento, wandering the back roads, you can pull over by the fence and look at some of the unusual animals. Or, if not unusual, at least the sorts of animals we don't usually think of as barnyard animals.

First up, we have some cattle, plus a bit of an emu coming in on the left. Check out the one on the right, with the big horns. No, he's not digging in the ground for roots. He always looks like this. The horn is so heavy that his head just tilts over all the time.

They all started taking a walk. An ok view of the horns, unfortunately less distinct because of the cow walking behind.

And a little farther, but a little clearer.

Not your typical cow. And here's a funky pony. The thing just looks so shaggy, and unlike other horses I've seen. You'll notice sheep too, and all of these animals are sharing the same field.

Longhorn, two emus, and some creepy doglike creature. It pretty much followed the same bull (cow? mommy?) wherever it went.

I have no idea what that thing is. Maybe it is just a calf. It just kooked so strange.

This is the only guy who would come right up to the fence. look at the cute eyes and the fuzzy head.

And the fuzzy neck. You just want to reach out and pet it.

Except that this bad ass is like eight feet tall and could peck your eyes out right over the top of that fence. Maybe the ostrich is a completely docile creature, but with something that big, can you really take the chance? I mean, a horse is a pretty sweet animal, but if you're not careful giving it a carrot, it'll chomp your finger off.

I guess I never really thought about it, but I was surprised by the look of the legs. here's a closeup of some ostrich feathers and the surprisingly leathery looking leg.

So until next time, put that in your cap and call it macaroni!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Jesse Jackson Watch Out! Your Shakedown Monopoly Is In Jeopardy!

It doesn't take much of a Google search to discover that Jesse Jackson has garnered a reputation as a shakedown artist of the highest order. Whether it's Anheuser Busch, or Toyota, or major telecom firms seeking mergers, Jackson finds a way to profit. His procedure is to threaten or initiate a boycott of a company, or threaten or initiate opposition to a proposed merger. When the companies in question "donate" money to Jackson, he suddenly loves the company, or suddenly feels that such and such a merger is a great idea.

Why can't you get Toyota to promise $700 million, per year, for ten years, in business to your friends, like Jackson can do for his friends? For starters, you aren't America's number one race profiteer. Heck, you aren't even California Assemblyman Joe Coto, D-San Jose. Here's what his bill would do:
The legislation had already cleared the Assembly and would have required foundations with assets of more than $250 million to disclose the ethnic, racial and gender makeup of their boards and staffs.

It also would have required them to make public the number of grants and dollars awarded to minority organizations.

Let's check the Jackson Model so far. Go to some private group with a lot of money? Check. Insinuate that said group is not meeting appropriate quotas, said quotas being determined by the person doing the threatening, er, complaining? Check. Threaten to initiate actions to financially damage said group? Check. Suddenly be friendly and announce a win-win result if the group caves in to your demands? Check.

Ten of the largest California's largest foundations agreed Monday to a multimillion-dollar, multiyear investment in minority communities.

Assemblyman Cato threatens you with legislation, but if you agree to his demands, the legislation is withdrawn.

Not everyone agrees that the picture is so rosy:
In a letter published Monday in The Bee, Richard Atkinson, a member of the Koret Foundation and president emeritus of the University of California, derided the proposed legislation.

He called it an "intrusive attempt to redirect the distribution of charitable dollars away from legitimate nonprofits" to others "anointed as more 'worthy' by the state."

Well, Jesse Jackson should consider himself to be on notice. The government has figured out it can horn in on his territory.

The information about Assemblyman Cato was originally reported by Aurelio Rojas of the Sacramento Bee.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


The Gentleman's "D"

Every year, at the last faculty meeting, the head counselor gets up and gives teachers a lecture about grades. In our district, we have a policy that a student who does not get a comment saying "In danger of failing" on the mid-quarter progress report, cannot be given an "F" on the end of quarter report card. If a student does get an "F" without that warning comment, the student is free to protest the grade and have it changed.

The result is not difficult to imagine. All it takes is hearing one or two students say "I didn't get a progress report in math, so the lowest I can get is a 'D' this quarter." Even if a student cuts the remaining 50% of the quarter, it is impossible to fail. Of course, a teacher could get the form for a hand-written supplemental progress report, mail it at least ten days before the quarter ends, and be covered. Most teachers just give every student an "In danger of failing" comment. Yes, even "A" students. Even students who seem great can go off the rails. When it comes to credits for graduation, it's best not to take any chances.

We have a second policy for graduating seniors. Graduation is on Saturday. Seniors have no school on Friday; instead, they just come in for graduation practice. Thursday is the last day for seniors. On that Thursday, teachers have until one hour after school is out to report to the counseling office any senior who is failing a class. You are notifying them that the student has failed, and there is no way for that student to pass. The counselors then call parents to tell them that little Billy or Sally won't be graduating.

Would it surprise you to learn that on Friday, some students who got the phone call arrive to argue and protest their grade? I am fortunate that for this year, my seniors who were failing knew what their status was. Last year, for one student, I was summoned to two different AP's offices to justify the failing grade given to a certain student. It was brutal. Sitting in an office with an upset mother and a crying student who insisted that I had told her she would be passing if she did assignment x, y, and z is not a fun way to spend time. The really upsetting part is that the default mindset of the district and our school is that the parents and students must be right, and it is the part of the district and school administration to determine just what sorts of things the teacher is doing wrong to have caused this terrible problem.

I don't even think the grade book would save me. After all, the student says she turned in all her work, and if the student is always right, then the teacher must have lost the work, or didn't enter it in correctly. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I made copies of her essay final, and the essay final of the student she copied from, and highlighted at least fifteen examples of word for word copying. In some cases, it was sentence for sentence copying. Based on the two papers, it was obvious that this student was the one who did the copying.

If the teacher does not report a failing senior by the one hour after school deadline, the student cannot fail. Let's say you put together this list of failing students, and forgot one. You accidentally skipped the name. That night, at home you realize your mistake. Even if that kid had a 0.0%, you MUST give a "Gentleman's 'D'" and let the student pass.

With that in mind, riddle me this: a senior graduates, attends the ceremony, is one of the speakers at the ceremony, picks up his diploma after the ceremony. How does the school get away with calling him several days later to tell him he is missing five credits and needs to take a summer school class to graduate?

If a teacher makes a mistake and doesn't include a student on the failing list, the student must be passed and be given credits he didn't earn. If the school makes a mistake, after the graduation, after the kid has taken the diploma home, they can just ungraduate him? There seems to be some sort of disconnect here. Which I should be used to by now, since this is standard procedure for our school.

As a bonus treat, I've come into possession of some intelligence, aka notes passed by students, that could be fun. Authorship is unclear, so we'll just have to go with the nicknames the corrsespondents used for themselves. We'll get to those next time.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Super Tuesday Thoughts

Not many, really.

I wasn't careful when I dropped out of the Republican party. I checked Independent, which in my silly brain meant I wasn't with any party.

Then my sample ballot came, informing me that I'm registered with the American Independent party. So I could choose from three people I've never heard of. I was at a loss. I was at a crossroads. I asked myself, what would Jesus do?

In that moment of silent contemplation, the answer came to me. Write-in.

You're looking at one Californian who voted for Megatron.

But I'm not the first to vote for a Transformer in this election year. My election worker source tipped me off that a couple of days ago, at least one ballot came through with a write-in for Optimus Prime. Screw him. I really had no other choice.

And then there's Obama, briefly. I haven't been to any Democratic rallies. I haven't watched any Democratic debates or speeches. Tonight I saw my first one. It was Obama, I guess in Chicago, at the end of the day. What struck me was the audience. They were actually chanting U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! I fully admit that this may be evidence of my own closed-mindedness, but I honestly didn't think this was the sort of thing you hear at Democratic speeches or rallies.

I always thought the U-S-A! chant was the sort of thing you heard when Hulk Hogan took on Nikolai Volkoff, kind of a red state thing to do. Again, this may just be my own ignorance, and maybe it happens all the time and I just miss it, but I never really got the feeling that Democrats were all that excited about America. Excited about winning elections, yes. Excited about hating Bush, yes.

I may very well be missing critical context in the short bit of his speech that I saw, but if Obama's got his supporters chanting U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! he can't be all bad.

For full disclosure, I haven't seen any Republican events, rallies, or debates either, and I don't really know if their crowds chant U-S-A! or not. I would not want to have to defend the notion that McCain or Romney aren't just all about winning elections, without a higher ideal or purpose. Maybe Obama really is a different sort of candidate. Why can't our side get someone like that? Someone I could vote for and feel happy about it.

I mean genuinely happy. If I were to end up voting for McCain in November, or any of the other Republicans, it would be a vote for what I felt was best for the country, not a vote for someone who inspires me or shows a charisma that allows for true leadership. If I thought Obama's ideas were best for the country, I would vote for him, and I would feel like I was part of something greater, something more than just doing my civic duty by voting.

When was the last time you voted for someone that made you feel that way? Who was it? Why are these sorts of candidates the exceptions to the rule nowadays? Is it just me?

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