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11/11/2008

I've noticed more often than not when you are dealing with the uninformed or perpetually lost, there are certain habits to look out for. You'll notice, for example, a constant sort of bond to a particular phrase or saying whenever posed with a given question.

Now, maybe it's because of the Governor of Alaska I've noticed this more and more (like I couldn't pick it up in the Bush Administration), but I see it... well, hear it, actually, all the friggin' time.

What better way to show the world how truly one-dimensional you are than to go "broken record on steroids?"

A better question is this: am I the only one who notices this habit? It's a big world out there, surely I can't be the only one who encounters the incompetent on a daily basis.

Now let me just say by "incompetent," I don't necessarily mean "ignorant." I simply mean someone who is ill-equipped to tackle their day-to-day responsibilities and tasks. Now whether that consists of complex practices like balancing a budget or rudimentary procedures like wiping oneself, I guess that depends entirely on the individual. But the fact of the matter remains there are some humans out there who are just not fit for their profession or path.

So in order to mask that blatant smear, they adhere to catchphrases. I don't necessarily mean a particularly cute or novel saying. Rather, it's simply a term that is recycled so frequently it becomes as much of a staple in their vocabulary as "good morning," "thank you" and "the heat is on, mothafuckah."

I've found these catchphrases tend to emerge when challenged on something they simply don't know how to address. Typically it's a question, occasionally a critique. To use the above example of Governor Palin, you would typically notice her egregious overuse of "you betcha." Even the term "maverick" was used as a smokescreen to shield everyone from the fact she was clueless.

Listen to people in your office who seem like lost puppies. Tell me you don't notice the same behavior.

I guess my question is why don't more people notice this behavior? As in, people who can change it? Time and again we excuse people for their quirks when in reality, said quirks are the result of them being unfit. And we just brush it off as, "well, that's the way they are."

Remember, "Manny being Manny" ultimately turned into "Manny being an obnoxious pain in the ass" for the Red Sox. So it should come as no surprise if a case of "Joey being Joey" turns into a case of "Joey holding up progress."

Folks, I'm not belittling these people; I really do feel for them. They're in over their head and don't have the courage to simply say "I don't know," even in cases when that's an acceptable answer. I do however, take issue with the proper individuals with influence not doing something to curb this behavior.

There are some people whose habits and competencies will never reach beyond a certain barrier. You encounter that in life. That doesn't necessarily mean you put them in a position of importance. At the end of the day, it's not their fault, nor should they be held completely (partially, perhaps) accountable for their failings. Someone put them there. Someone thought they could get the job done.

Someone was dead wrong. Someone needs to wake up.

And ultimately, most people do wake up. Hey, we elected a guy who is walking away with the lowest approval rating in history. Twice. We decided not to go for someone who would follow all his policies. We learned.

I guess it's sad then when people don't learn. That's how you know someone is genuinely incompetent.

11/05/2008

The following post is comprised of excerpts from my personal journal written more than 48 hours ago.

I’m not really one to write about messages of hope and faith on this blog. I won’t be including any campaign lingo for either party. Cries of “Yes we did,” “Maverick,” “Alaskan Hockey Mom” or “Joe the Plumber” will be off-limits for the next few pages.

This is as pure as it gets.

11/3/08

Where do we want to be in four years? Or eight? Do we wish to be in the same position socially, economically, culturally? Do we really want four more years of a cockamamie joke of an administration? Would we prefer a driver for change?

These are questions I have asked myself these last nine intriguing months as I have bore witness to the most amazing political scenario of my young life. For the better part of the year, I have sat back as an observer rather than a commentator as usual.

I have felt a rush of energy, enthusiasm and something long-absent from our national dialogue: hope. There is a strange vibe going on in the air right now that no one can deny. There is a surge of young, engaged, passionate energy out there. It’s mobilizing. It’s already manifesting itself in the form of early voting and purportedly record-breaking turn-outs based on the polls.

But I’ve been fooled before. I’ve had my own hopes dashed along with nearly half the American public. Some things are too good to be true.

In the last year I’ve been fortunate enough to travel at length throughout the United States. One such visit actually took me to the White House, remarkable as it may seem. I sat in the same room with the incumbent President of the United States, biting my tongue painfully throughout a half-hearted, hokey speech that mirrored the empty look in his eyes. No doubt this gaze also reflected the absence of gray matter between his ears.

I sat thinking about where we’ve been, where we’re going and what could be next. I knew full well this man would no longer be in charge in less than a year’s time, but still the mere sight of him made my blood turn cold. I couldn’t bring myself to applaud for him; I feigned clapping by wedging my camera between my palms. I couldn’t and still can’t give this man the courtesy when he has not given our country the courtesy.

Twisted as it sounds, I was sitting in that reception room wearing a bear of boxers purchased online bearing the visage of the Democratic candidate, who at the time was still holding down the fort in a vicious primary battle.

I have since joked that would he win, I would write him to let him know I was warming a seat for him in the nation’s capitol. I hope the next 24 hours will afford me such an opportunity.

11/4/08

This morning, Yahoo News showed projects of Obama winning by 318 electoral votes while ESPN postulated on the Redskins’ loss being able to predict the election after their first ever “miss” in 2004.

In the midst of all this, news broke last night on the death of Obama’s grandmother “Toot” while the GOP unleashed a media onslaught of Anti-Obama ads on all major news networks in an attempt to paint him as too radical. They’ve been hard at work trying to link him to purported terrorist sympathizers while hardly talking up their own candidate.

I got a free coffee at Starbucks on Broadway when asked if I voted. I told them I hadn’t, but planned on it (which was true), and they gave it to me anyway. Last night, street urchins were selling Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin condoms in a last ditch effort to milk the merchandising aspect of this historic affair.

By the end of today, such promotion will be gone. But the ramifications will tell the real story. Normally such absurdity would bother me, but there was something all too different in the streets. An indefinable aura, if you will.

Walking down West 48th Street, there is a different flavor in the air. Perhaps it is because of the sheer anticipation of what’s to come. People are walking, talking, behaving less like automatons of yesteryear and more like true human beings.

There is an air of hope.

I remember four years ago watching a map on TV aflame with crimson, denoting the Bush Administration’s criminal activities would go on for another 1,518 until January 20th, 2009. And I remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach, a sensation I can only assume was my heart, heavy with fear and disillusion, plummeting internally.

“There is no hope.”

How could we be so stupid? So naïve? Were we seriously siphoning Kool-Aid off this joker and asking for seconds? What kind of a country do we live in? Do I live in?

The week before the 2004 election, I remember joking with a friend that I could rest easily even if Bush won because the Boston Red Sox broke their 86-year-old curse and lifted the hearts of millions. Looking back, I’d prefer another 86 years without a ring to our name than four more years of Bushian nonsense.

I lost hope in our collective sense of reason. And now, I get the impression that it’s not dead. I feel as though many Americans are clawing to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

Could we be learning at last? Maybe this is why I find myself writing less and less these days… common sense seems to be prevailing, and hard lessons learned are beginning to register. There is less to infuriate or irritate the more I watch the news or read the paper. Less to marvel at.

I don’t care how long I’ll have to wait to vote tonight, even though Obama is certain to win Connecticut. I have a sense of excitement instead of repeated defeatism as I did four years ago this time.

I hope by tomorrow there will be something good to report.


I didn’t have to wait until today, I got my answer last night. History was made in no small terms.

This election serves as an amazing representative of the notion that we Americans are starting to smarten up. Starting to loosen up. Things are stale and scary. Change was inevitable, but the question was what kind of change would we get? Would it come in the form of the more experienced war hero? Or the largely unproven freshman senator? Oh, and the latter just happened to be African-American.

I thought it would be a tight race. I really believed this had potential to be another Bush/Gore scenario of “too close to call” for over a month. My fellow Americans have so graciously (and thankfully) proven me wrong.

Every barrier was broken. Fear, uncertainty, reluctance and above all, prejudice. During the primaries, my father told me a joke from his era:

“A man has a conversation with God and asks, ‘Father, will there ever be a woman in the office of President?’ God replies, ‘Not in your lifetime, son.’ The man then asks, ‘Father, will there ever be a black man in the office of President?’

“God replies, ‘Not in my lifetime, son.’”

Now to all the Christian conservatives out there, don’t panic, the above was an anecdote and not a genuine account.

However, it speaks volumes to our growth. In four years, we went from being scared to change the game to giving an overhaul of epic proportions. As I type right now, the final electoral tally is 349 to 146, and 52 percent of the popular vote in favor of the current President-Elect. We didn’t just crave change, we embraced it. And broke every standard and conventional line of thinking present in this nation’s narrowest minds.

It’s history. This is one of my generation’s watershed moments. And what’s more, it comes in the form of a person who, though unproven and with lots of ground to cover, has managed to unite a large chunk of the populous, motivating people to take action, but also serving as the catalyst for many to change the way they think.

Inflexibility is one of our greatest human faults, especially in this country. Last night proved a lot can change.

We’re late the game on a lot in this nation. Whether it’s technology and science or classic cases like the space race, we fall behind a lot of the time. This is one of the most massively progressive steps in our history, and it comes at a crucial time.

How Obama will perform clearly remains to be seen. He could be a hero, he could be a dog. That’s true of any candidate, no matter how magnetic. However, the glass ceilings have been shattered. Convincingly. I personally feel this man has a lot to offer, and I hope he lives up to his promises. Like anything I will let time determine that.

What is certain for me is that my faith in humanity has been restored. Cliché as it may sound, I honestly never thought I would live to see a day like this, and I’m thoroughly impressed that minds once timid and bound to old ways are now shifting dramatically.

I started this blog November 27th, 2002. Two years after the controversial election in which Bush forged a family legacy, and nearly fifteen months following the nightmarish attack on our nation that fateful day in early September. In that time, I have sat back, like many of my heroes, and watched. And I’ve seen ignorance displayed on every level imaginable. From the mundane to the staggeringly massive. For too long I thought this would just be an ongoing trend, a downward spiral from which we would never steer off-course.

And yet the celebration that has been taking place since last night at about 11:30 PM shows no signs of letting up. It carries with it an unprecedented energy and passion… for so many, it’s as though nothing in the world can possibly faze them, and the day is won for millions. It's like a mass euphoria; I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Actually, I think I have… October 27th, 2004. The Red Sox break the curse. How ironic…

Two songs have permeated my conscious the last 48 hours… yesterday in Grand Central Terminal, I found myself walking behind a young black man listening to his iPod and singing, “I can feel it coming in the air tonight… oh, lord. I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life… oh, lord.” Even though I didn’t know him personally, It was crystal clear why this particular tune was on his playlist.

The other song came on my iPod this morning… out of 6,542 tracks to choose from on “Shuffle” mode, I was graced with “The Times They Are A-Changin’” by Dylan.

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

11/04/2008

History was made tonight. Forget what party you're associated with... times they are a-changin'.

More tomorrow. Sleep well.