Sunday, October 21, 2012

Why I am voting for Barack Obama

I am a Christian. I became a born-again Christian in 1982 and have been on a roller coaster journey ever since. As I grew more familiar with American evangelical Christian culture I began to take on many of its trappings, including the political worldview they espoused. In 1984 I voted for Ronald Reagan, and couldn't believe it when a Christian friend of mine didn't share my affection for the Great Communicator. Oh well, she was a Lutheran, and they're liberal anyway, right? (wink, wink) 1988- George H.W. Bush. 1992- Ross Perot; I didn't like the elder Bush anymore, and Clinton was a sleaze. 1996- Bob Dole; we certainly didn't need another four years of President Clinton and her husband, did we?
For those of you who were too young to remember the election of 2000, consider yourself lucky.
It was the fall of 2000 and election season was in full swing and getting ugly. Vice President Al Gore vs the governor of Texas George W. Bush. Someone really should have told Al Gore that Vice Presidents don't have a great track record in winning the presidency. But he was doing good.
Election night came. Bush won a state, Gore won a state. Bush won, Gore won. Florida went for Bush, Florida went for Gore. And back. And back again. The next morning Florida still hung in the balance. And United States presidential elections would never be the same.
Lawyers descended on Florida like flies on crap. We added new phrases to our lexicon- dimpled chads, hanging chads, pregnant chads. Along with voter fraud. "Count every vote." "Buying an election." A ballot that elementary school students could manage with ease was too difficult for Florida retirees. One court ordered a recount. One halted the recount. The battle went all the way to the Supreme Court, who said you know, enough of the frigging recounts. You counted already. It's over, and we have to tee off in 30 minutes.
Al Gore won the popular vote, but that's not how elections are won and lost. George Bush became President, and the nation received an education in the electoral college. (An education that I got in high school. By reading. C'mon, man.)
(And before I go on, George Bush won the election. Enough with the "he bought it" crap. It's been 12 years. It's over. Let's move on.)
September 11th, 2001. The date that has become a buzzword, a symbol wraught with different meanings depending on the crowd in which you hang. The date that patriotism became commercialized and shoved down our throat. Buy now! Collections of patriotic CDs were sold at the drug store. T-shirts that Abbie Hoffman was figuratively crucified for wearing were now being sold next to the wrestling t-shirts at Giant Eagle. You can buy your “official” God Bless America car decal through this special TV offer, and patriotic panties were prominently displayed in the circular for the local department store. The country was engulfed in a mob mentality, where verbal stones were thrown at anyone daring to disagree with the President. But I digress.
We invaded Afghanistan. OK, that was justified. I'm not against war outright; we do need to defend ourselves. What I'm against is the celebratory attitude many Christians take towards war. So let's go ahead and hang Osama Bin Laden by his stones. Then, in 2003, we declared war on Iraq. And the attitude of Christians, who were absolutely gleeful, who prayed in church services that bombs would fall on the right targets, who prayed that Hussein's sons would be found and killed, began to bother me. It didn't bother me that people supported the president and his decisions. It did bother me that the conservative worldview was being pushed as the only acceptable one for Christians to follow.
This was the chink in the armor for me, the hole in the wall in which the water began to pour through. I have always been one to ask the questions that no one wanted to hear, and I turned my sights toward the relationship between evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity and American culture. How can the church speak prophetically to a nation when they have become so wedded to the culture of that nation that they can no longer provide a prophetic voice to it? Did patriotic songs have any place in a church service, when St. Paul exhorted us to sing "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph. 3:19)"? How could a believer born in China, for instance, come into a church service in America and say "Amen" to our prayers of patriotic praise?
These thoughts swirled around in my mind as the calendar turned and the 2004 presidential race was in full swing. I only had one thought as I investigated the potential candidates- there was no way in hell that I was voting for George W. Bush. It was actually a tough decision to arrive at. I am against abortion, but I am also against the war in Iraq. One party supported death, the other party supported death. Bush was pro-life but endorsed the killing of Iraqis. Hardly a pro-life worldview to me. I finally settled on Howard Dean. He was an outsider to the process and seemed like he could be the man to effect change. And I wasn't the only one- Dean was the front-runner for the Democratic nomination
Until the "Dean scream." The supposedly liberal media (liberal media bias, my a**) mocked him in the same way Dan Quayle was mocked for mispelling potato. The Democratic party threw him under the bus. John Kerry rose up the ladder and eventually was chosen as the Democratic nominee. I wasn't real excited about him, but I really wasn't excited about four more years of the Bush regime and a war which should rightfully be called "Bush's folly." No WMDs were found, no connection was found between Sadaam Hussein and Al-Quaeda (and don't write me, you don't know how to spell it either), and the Downing Street memo later suggested that the intelligence had been fudged to advance Bush's agenda for war, but the American people didn't give a crap. "America- love it or leave it!" "United we stand!" "We support the troops!" Sound bites replaced intelligent political discourse as the order of the day. And Christians were at the head of the pack. Yellow ribbons replaced WWJD bracelets in the bookstores and the National Anthem replaced "Amazing Grace" (both literally and symbolically). My feelings towards church and Christians began to change in ways I became increasingly uncomfortable with.
One of the coolest days of my life happened on November 1st, 2004. A buddy of mine and I stood in downtown Cleveland for 7 hours with 50,000 other people to see Dennis Kucinich jump around, Stephanie Tubbs-Jones wave a pink slip in the air, John Glenn speak articulately (for a l-o-n-g time), Bruce Springsteen sing, and the next President of the United States John Kerry exhort the throng. All from about 20 feet away. The next day was Election Day. I would vote for a Democratic candidate for the first time in my life. I couldn't wait
Well... we all know how it turned out. Voters in minority-dominated areas had to wait for hours to exercise their right and duty, while white dudes like me sailed through their lines in about 15 minutes. Bitter? Hell, yeah. I cried when John Kerry conceded. I didn't even cry when my children were born. And the Christians I conversed with online and in person stuck their thumb to their nose, waved their fingers and said "na-na, boo-boo." Or the editorial equivalent at least
2007 and 2008 saw popular opinion turn on President Bush. (Where were you people on Election Day 2004?) The war became a quagmire. Bush himself said that the war on terror can't be won. (And indeed it can't be won. "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5) Didn't matter to Dubya and the conservative throng, though- God was on his side.
Sure. Whatever you say
A new star rose on the political horizon, a senator from Illinois names Barack Obama. Barack wowed the participants at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and kept soaring. When he declared his candidacy for the presidency in Springfield, Illinois he was an immediate front-runner. Charismatic, popular, seemed to have an answer for everyone. He narrowly defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for President. I was all in for a Barack Obama presidency
Almost. I wanted to see who the Republican nominee, John McCain, would choose as a running mate. Colin Powell? Mitt Romney? Mike Huckabee
Sarah who?
Along with the rest of the nation, I had to consult Wikipedia to see who the heck Sarah Palin was. But on first glance, it seemed that John McCain was going for the disaffected Hillary voters. Oh John, John. Never a good strategy. Did Barack Obama choose Hillary Clinton as a running mate to shore up his base? No, he chose a man who was strong in an area he was weak, that being foreign policy, and Joe Biden shed the plagiarism scandal of elections past to become Obama's running mate. Had John McCain chose Mitt Romney, someone who was theoretically stronger in the area of the economy than he was, things might have ended differently.
Sarah who?
I bucked the trends of my Christian friends and voted for Barack Obama. The reason I did so was one, I felt that he had the energy and new perspective needed to effect change in Washington. Two, he was against the war and promised to bring our troops home from Iraq. Three, and this was likely the strongest factor of all, I was more than a little tired of my Christian friends insisting that God had ordained the ticket of McCain/Palin as the way to the promised land.
Barack Obama was elected President by a wide margin. Our nation had its first African-American President. And the skies grew darker. No pun intended.

In two weeks Barack Obama will be running for re-election against Mitt Romney. And I am voting for Barack Obama a second time. Here is why.
1) "Don't Re-Nig in 2012: Stop repeat offenders. Don't re-elect Obama!" Really? Really? In 2012 we have to deal with this blatant racist bullcrap? This was a real bumper sticker from a real website attempting to engage the public in the issues of the day in order to put forward their candidate as the better choice for the nation. Not. This was an attempt to engage the emotions of the voting public who were disatisfied that their guy lost. This is something that should have been repudiated by anyone with half a brain. But it wasn't.
2) Birthers. They say that a half-truth is like a half-brick: it is more dangerous because it flies farther. Well, that must make the untruth that Barack Obama wasn't an American citizen the most dangerous of all. It certainly flew fast. Show the birth certificate, Barry! Why won't he show the birth certificate? What does he have to hide? Even when he did show his birth certificate it wasn't good enough. It wasn't the long form. Show the long form, Barry? What are you afraid of? Even intelligent people, when faced with this product of a bull's ass long enough, said "well, if he would just show the birth certificate he could stop this whole thing." As if he was responsible for this insanity. Well, he did finally show the long form birth certificate. And did that stop the insanity?
Why was it so important to show the birth certificate? I am going to suggest that he never should have shown the birth certificate. There are certain questions that are settled, where the answer is obvious and the aforementioned person with half a brain doesn't need a long form reason why. The earth is round. Should I offer proof to a flat-earther that the earth really is round? No! The question is settled. We know already.
In an era when candidates are screened heavily and the press leaves no stone unturned, do you REALLY think that an issue like the citizenship of a man seeking the highest office in the land would be ignored? Seriously. Well, I know how that one is going to be answered- the "liberal media bias". Umm, ask Howard Dean how that liberal media bias helped him out. Yeah.
3) Socialism. Has anyone who calls Barack Obama a socialist ever read the definition of the word in any political science dictionary or textbook? Let me help you out. This is from :
Socialism is a political term applied to an economic system in which property is held in common and not individually, and relationships are governed by a political hierarchy. Common ownership doesn't mean decisions are made collectively, however. Instead, individuals in positions of authority make decisions in the name of the collective group. Regardless of the picture painted of socialism by its proponents, it ultimately removes group decision making in favor of the choices of one all-important individual.

And that applies to President Obama... how? He has not instituted an economic system in which property is held in common. We don't have government ownership of the means of production. Barack Obama has not removed group decision making. Face it. Barack Obama is not a socialist.
4) The behavior of Christians. You know, I am not ashamed to say that I am a Christian. I go to a church that could be described as conservative. Conservative Christians are my brothers and sisters; Liberal Christians are my brothers and sisters. But the behavior of a lot of Christians over the past few years, when it comes to the political arena, would make Jesus Christ want to pull out the whip and overturn a few tables.
Let's get one thing straight. I don't go to church to have someone offer me a Mitt Romney lawn sign. OR a Barack Obama sign, for that matter. I don't go to church to hear patriotic songs and I don't go to church to salute the flag. I go to church to worship Jesus Christ. I go to church to hear the Bible preached and discussed.
If you're going to call yourself a Christian, then act like Jesus Christ for crying out loud. You know, that dude who went to the cross for you. Would Christ have called Barack Obama an uppity (n-word)? I think I am safe in saying no, he wouldn't have.
No secret here- the economy sucks. Has for a long time, much longer than Barack Obama has been President. And no, Barack Obama has not accomplished all that he promised to do to bring the economy around. But has any politician? Seriously, when has any politician been able to accomplish all of the goals promised to attain election? Why should I distrust Barack Obama when he discusses his approach to the economy, but trust Mitt Romney?
"Barack Obama's failed policies have driven this country into debt." Well, OK, I can't argue with that one. But let me make a point. The last Republican president we had drove us into debt too. How did anyone expect to pay for the war? Was someone hiding a few trillion dollars under their mattress? Some debt was involved. Barack Obama had the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but Bush had the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. The point here, and I can just hear the charges of "oh yeah, blame Bush, just like a liberal" resounding in the air as I type, is that they all do it. They all have their enormously expensive policies, it isn't a Democrat or Republican thing. So voting for one party or the other will not end the spending.
So let's sum up. The nub of the gist. I've given myself plenty of chances to read the points of view of the major parties. I don't just read Democratic talking points, I don't just read Republican talking points, I just read. Anything I want. And if someone is going to win me to their side they are going to have to do it with literature free of name-calling and complete and utter crap. To unseat a sitting President I need a little more than "he takes too many vacations" or "he's a Muslim!" or "his wife wears ugly dresses." Give me some meat to chew on. Hey, cotton candy is great (well, actually, I think it sucks, but work with me here). But it ultimately leaves you empty.

Hey, vote for whoever you want. Really. I don't care who you vote for. And I'll still be your friend afterwards. This massive exercise in verbal diarrhea was no attempt to sway anyone. That's not my style. Vote for whomever you want.
As for me, I'm voting for Barack Obama.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Why you should be involved in politics

Let me tell you a story. This story is about a parakeet, a parakeet named Flip. Flip lived in a nondescript town on the plains of Nebraska, one of many such towns that dot the landscape of America- only one way in, only one way out; people had to go to the general store to get their mail; and "fancy dining" meant heading 35 miles out of town to grab a burger at McDonald's.

Flip lived in a small efficiency apartment above a pizzeria. It wasn't a bad place to live, except for the occasions when Luigi and his wife got to arguing about how much the grocery bill was. To pay the rent Flip worked at a small UHF station on the outskirts of town, a station which covered about three miles all around, a station which refused to go digital because "that's not the way we do things here." He hosted an after-school TV show called Flip's Amazing Cartoon Cavalcade. Decent work in a town where employment was hard to come by.

But Flip had a dream. The small-town life was cramping his style. He yearned to spread his wings and be free. He longed for a more fulfilling calling. He longed to become the President of the United States. Sure, people scoffed at his dream. "A parakeet? For President?" They laughed at him, not with him.

One day he was hosting the Cavalcade and had just introduced Patty and the Gentle Gigolo when he went out back to grab a smoke. As he sucked at the sweet, oxygen-depriving, life-destroying herb, two men in sunglasses came up to talk to him, one on each side. They had a deal for Flip- they saw how popular he was among viewers of Flip's Amazing Cartoon Cavalcade, and they thought that he would be a perfect candidate for the office of President.

Flip couldn't believe it. The Presidency! He barely had time to squawk "Yes!" before he had to go inside and introduce the latest installment of Stinky and Smelly the Diaper Twins. He was on his way. He stared out the window on his short drive home and began to imagine the possibilities. He would finally be able to shed the position of third-rate TV host and reach for the stars!

The next two years were long and arduous. Flip criss-crossed the land on his "Flip for Flip!" tour, shaking hands and kissing babies across the United States. His popularity began to skyrocket, even after his "chicken in every pot" comment drew the ire of the poultry population of the South. People saw in Flip a new start for the country. And when Election Day came upon us, and he was elected by an overwhelming majority, he told the crowd at the hotel where he was staying that they too, if they dreamed long enough and worked hard enough, could achieve their dreams, just as he had.

But Flip had a problem. You see, he was a parakeet, and parakeets have very small hearts. They can't handle the stress of the modern political process. So not long after the inauguration, when Flip was jogging through the garden surrounded by a phalanx of reporters, he clutched his chest and fell over dead. The Vice-President, one Snidely Doowrong, took the oath of office an hour later, swearing to uphold the Constitution and all that jazz. But no one expected that Flip would just up and die, so when it came time to choose a running mate, they chose a buffoon. A moron. A total idiot. Snidely drove the country into the ground and then, to take the attention off of his failed policies, started a war with nuclear weapons-bearing countries. The war did not end well and soon the entire country lay dead.

So the moral of the story is this. Be involved in the political process. Vote your conscience. Study the issues and cast your vote for whomever you think is the right man or woman for the job. Vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Vote the Tea Party, vote Libertarian, heck, vote Communist if you can find one. Vote for Marcy Kaptur, Josh Mandel, Sherrod Brown, Jimmy McMillan, or Gary Johnson...

...but never Flip the Bird.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

MacNair Autism F.A.Q.

1) I've never seen Temple Grandin, the person or the movie. I don't like to watch autism movies. Occasionally a documentary.

2) I have, however, seen Rain Man. Dustin Hoffman is a national treasure.

3) No, my kids are not like Rain Man. It's called Autism SPECTRUM Disorder for a reason.

4) I have not read nor do I care to read Jenny McCarthy. As a rule I don't read books on autism, with one big exception which I recommend to everyone: Autism's False Prophets

5) My kids go to a school for special-needs students. They don't "ride the short bus"; they aren't "retards"; if you use terms like that in front of me, we will have a problem.

6) No, I don't know what causes it, nor do I care to speculate anymore. My kids have it. What causes it is no longer my concern.

7) No, I didn't see Dr. Oz the other day, nor have I read the latest Reader's Digest, nor did I see 60 Minutes three months ago, nor have I seen that website that someone posted at I can't read that stuff. I'm too busy living it.

8) No, my kids are not on a gluten-free diet, nor have they undergone chelation therapy, nor have I had the demons cast out of them. I refuse to spend hundreds of dollars on therapies with little evidence to back them up.

9) If my son or my daughter touch themselves in public, you don't have to stare. I'll take care of it.

9a) If I go into the can with my son and help him go to the bathroom it's because I have to. It isn't because I want to. Occasionally he needs help with his aim. There is no way to do that without, you know, aiming him.

9b) I do not take my daughter to the bathroom, nor do I change her diaper, nor do I change her pad. Because I know someone is wondering.

10) Yes, I am aware that in the grand scheme of things there are people who have it worse than me. I know some of those people. I've seen some of those people at different events. But I don't live in the grand scheme of things, I live in the small scheme of things. I still have to take care of my children, and I still get frustrated.

11) If you ask me "what can I do for you?" or "if there is anything I can do, just ask", I am going to tell you specific things you can do to help us. If you are unable to do those things, then please don't express your willingness to do "anything".

11a) The most helpful people to me right now might very well be the Jehovah's Witnesses. Because they stop by to talk every once in awhile. Just saying.

12) My house is usually a mess. I am up several times a night with my son. I sleep during the day. I do my best to keep up.

12a) The existence of such a mess is not an invitation for you to contact Children's Services. Yeah, Officer Merrill, I am talking to you.

13) Yes, I occasionally get jealous of parents whose kids say cute things, play football, go to college and get married. Yes, I know I shouldn't. Please just cut me some slack on this one.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Pride (in the name of love)

My family is proud of my niece Dana, the US Marine currently serving on the USS Rushmore.

We are proud of Meryl for taking part in domestic violence awareness and raising one h*ll of a son.

We are proud of Abby for following her talents and landing a job at Olive Garden.

My friends are proud of their son who attends West Point.

I have friends who are proud of their daughter for winning an Olympic Gold Medal.

A good friend of mine, a single father, has a son about ready to graduate from high school. Alex has also seen many of the landmarks of the USA and is very intelligent. My friend is rightfully proud.

My grandparents were proud of my father for choosing the Coast Guard over other branches of the military.

I am just as proud of my 12-year-old son for writing his name, and my 10-year-old daughter for putting together a 16-piece puzzle on her own.