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Thank you, America!

Barack Obama

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9 Responses to “Thank you, America!”

  1. josh says:

    much respect for you, but i don’t agree. higher corporate and personal taxes will be here in the next year or two. I fear much worse things but we will see. First up: Fairness doctrine aka free speech only for those that agree with the ruling party. bad idea no matter who is in control.

  2. Pete says:

    Here, Here Josh! There is a lot to like about Obama, but it is not enough to win me over. Sorry, I’m not part of the america you were trying to thank.

  3. m3talsmith says:

    But I am. I’m very glad that we can move on. His speech did a lot to start the healing (no I didn’t vote for him, I voted for someone else: Baldwin). If he can follow through with actions that meet his words I’ll have nothing left to complain about for the next eight years.

    Signed,
    The Libertarian

  4. Marco says:

    Josh, Pete, perhaps do you use Ruby?

    Just joking! :D

  5. Harry says:

    Count me among those who think a tech blog is an inappropriate place for political sentiments that have no stated tie to technology. While I consider political involvement to be an honorary thing, this is the wrong forum. Nowhere does your blog state that it is about politics. You already have two other blogs, one devoted to math and the other to life in general, so starting a politically-oriented blog is obviously not an insurmountable task.

    Although I make some of my points below in a forceful manner, they are made without any personal animosity towards you, and I hope you will read to the end and consider them in that light. Indeed, time is as precious to me as it is to you, and the fact that I am taking the time to compose a somewhat lengthy post tells you how much I normally enjoy your blog.

    More disturbing, for a scientist, which is how I view you, is your apparent lack of knowledge and/or willful suspension of disbelief, to quote Hillary Clinton, on the actual state of affairs here in the United States, and your simultaneous ignorance of a worse situation in your adopted country, Canada. I am referring specifically to a previous comment you made about the erosion of civil liberties in the United States under Bush. (For what it is worth, I consider him to be a worse president than Jimmy Carter, as impossible as that seems on the surface, so this is clearly not a partisan rant.)

    The United States has a real constitution, protecting civil liberties, as evidenced by several Supreme Court rulings against the Bush administration. Canada, on the other hand, has a toy ‘constitution’ that if it were a commercial warranty would land the company’s executives in jail for fraud.

    Consider the defective laptop that you purchased from Best Buy. It’s clear that you rightly expected it to be covered under the warranty. How outraged would you have been if the warranty had a clause that said middle management could revoke any guarantees provided for any reason at all, including for no reason at all, with no avenue of appeal for you, and the Supreme Court signed off on that?

    But that is exactly what the Canadian ‘constitution’ says about civil and human rights in Canada. Any provincial government, which is ‘middle management’ in the scheme of a national, provincial/state, and local hierarchy of government, is allowed to disallow any part of the constitution that they don’t like under the ‘notwithstanding clause.’ Exhibit ‘A’ is the prohibition of broad use of the English language in Quebec, in what is officially a bilingual country. (Canada is really two separate countries, with Quebec having rights that the other provinces don’t possess, such as determining it’s own immigrants from other countries, among other things, but that is a whole other issue.)

    I relate all of that to make a simple point: It is bad enough to read political comments without even the most tenuous link to the content the blog is promoted as delivering. It is beyond incredibly galling to have to read critical but factually incorrect political analysis from residents of foreign countries who do not criticize the faults of their own countries.

    I’ve already pointed out Canada. Have you ever blogged about the elimination of the civil rights of English Canadians in Quebec? I believe you lived in the U.K. prior to moving to Canada. The U.K. does not have a constitution, having ‘only’ the Magna Carta. Yet the U.K. has many pieces of legislation, such as the Official Secrets Act, which would never past muster in the U.S. Did you ever blog about them while you were living there?

    Your blog is normally a model of what a blog should be. It’s timely and informative, genuinely useful. Please do not debase it’s value with ill-informed political content.

    Having said all that, I am still hoping for the long-delayed virtual machine shootout. When it didn’t appear as promised, it was like Christmas morning delayed.

  6. Hi Harry,

    thank you for taking the time to formulate a thoughtful response which is, at times, flattering. Despite my keen interest in politics, particularly North American politics, I tend to abstain from mangling the technical content of this blog with politics. Political discussions, like religious ones, get ugly pretty quickly. I value my readers’ time and I don’t feel it’s appropriate to waste theirs with off-topic content they didn’t sign up for. A quick comment here and there may slip by, I’m a passionate man, but overall I try to limit the blog content to the field of programming. In fact, you didn’t find an appeal to vote for Obama, or anyone else, in the days leading up to the election. I have been following the presidential race for a long time, but not once did I write a political post endorsing any of the candidates. Likewise, when the Canadian election was going on, I didn’t mention my thoughts about it, not even when I was disappointed by the final outcome.

    Yet, when Obama became President-Elect I placed his picture and a “Thank you, America!” message. That was no ordinary day; it was a remarkable, historically significant event. I was fully aware that this would not please everyone, but I felt compelled to make an exception and share my gratitude towards the American people. For the first time in many years, a very large number of Americans felt the need to show up and vote, in a great display of democracy. Given America’s influence on the rest of the world, their votes have a profound effect on more than just their own lives.

    I also felt compelled to share my joy in seeing that American voted for a candidate whom I believe was the better choice. You might notice that it’s not only my take, but that most of the world cheered upon learning about Obama’s victory. I don’t always agree with Obama, some of the moves in his voting history are less than stellar and I don’t believe he is a political Messiah who will solve all of America’s problems. But he definitely represents a breakthrough in American politics. He was able to energize and win the confidence of many young voters, gain the vote of independents and even many Republicans, thus adding further proof that he’s more than able to cross party lines. Time will tell, but it’s reasonable to believe that he will have more respect for the Constitution and Civil Liberties than the current administration or the other candidate’s team.

    Before the VP candidates were selected, I was willing to think that both candidates would be an improvement over the current president and administration. But the selection of a utterly inadequate vice president, for the political sake of gaining white female voters, broke the camel’s back. Voting for McCain, an elderly cancer survivor meant running the risk of one day placing Sarah Palin in charge as the President of the United States of America. That thought should have terrified Americans. In most other civilized countries in the world, people would be absolutely scared to elect her into any office higher than city council. And she was essentially running for President. Obama may not be perfect, but I feel that America has dodged a bullet in preferring him and Biden, over McCain and Palin.

    More to the point of your argument. I’m aware of America’s history and the value of its Constitution. In commenting about America, it’s never to belittle it when compared to Canada, UK or my country of origin, Italy. In fact, I’m fully aware of how terribly inadequate Italy and UK are in protecting the civil rights, and while it is a much better nation in this regard, I’m familiar also with Canada’s own issues in this area. If I dared to comment once about America’s losses of civil liberty, or to put up a picture of its upcoming president, it’s because of the fundamental belief that the US has been, and can continue to be, a paladin for freedom, civil rights, opportunity for everyone and democracy. Principles ingrained in the Constitution by the farsighted, brilliant minds of the Founding Fathers. Any criticism regarding America that I’ve made should be measured as a result of my disappointment in seeing such a role model fall from glory, and not as a way of singing praises for the country I live in. By the same token, I feel that mentioning disheartening political events from Italy, UK and Ireland, or Canada would not only be off-topic as per the US, but also much less interesting for my readers, most of whom happen to be based in the US.

    Finally, Harry, in closing our political discourse with this last point, I want to address your comment regarding the shootout. The book I’m writing now has an extended schedule in order to properly keep the content up-to-date with Rails 2.2, which is about to be released. This introduces inevitable delays for the shootout. I realize how frustrating this can be, since I myself would like to have a week long benchmarking fest to produce a new shootout. But right now I simply can’t. As I approach the last three chapters of the book, the shootout is in the foreground of my mind, and will be the first project I’ll take on as soon as I’ll have finished writing the book. As a matter of fact, I’m waiting for a powerful new workstation which I will be able to use for the shootout as well (it’ll be a quad core).

    Your comment does not make me regret my choice to publish a photo of the next American President, but it has been food for thought to further fortify my position of abstaining from future political and religious posts in this blog. For this and for being a loyal reader, I sincerely thank you.

  7. josh says:

    Antonio, I think you have every right to post what you choose. Personally speaking, I didn’t mind the post and hope you didn’t mind my original comment. Free speech is best when even disagreeing sides respect each other’s differences.

  8. Harry says:

    Antonio,

    Thanks for the reply.

    For the record, and before I get into the heart of the matter, my reaction to the entire array of candidates — Obama, McCain, Hillary Clinton, Fred Thompson, and all the other assorted lesser lights — was ‘300 million plus people, and this is the best we can do?’

    A couple of thoughts to directly address some points you make in your reply and then I am done discussing this. I will certainly read your reply, if you choose to do so, but I am not going to reply again.

    1) Some of the constitutional violations of civil liberties that you attribute to Bush were also done by the Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton administrations. While I don’t accept that everything that is alleged to be a constitutional violation really is one, that is besides the point. Arguably, we as a country are facing far graver threats than any those administrations faced. If those same actions were acceptable in lessor circumstances, why are they suddenly such an issue now when we need them more than ever? It defies logic. Also, when you actually examine the facts, as opposed to what is reported by the NY Times, CBS, and the press generally, there is an impedance mismatch of monster proportions, to put it charitably.

    2) You mentioned Palin as being ill-qualified. Absolutely true. But she does have more executive experience than both Obama and Biden put together, and it is insulting to diminish her experience just because of what state it was garnered in. Do you recall anyone making the same arguments about Carter or Clinton?

    And is Biden a better backup? In interviews with Katie Couric, he made at least three major misstatements of facts. That, along with his track record of votes regarding foreign affairs, makes it extremely dubious that he is any more ‘qualified’ to be first in line of succession.

    A) He clearly doesn’t understand the constitutional role of the Vice-President regarding the Senate, as evidenced from his comments about Dick Cheney, in spite of the fact that it is clearly spelled out in the first several articles of the constitution. This from a guy who has spent over thirty years in the Senate and teaches constitutional law. (We should have some sympathy for his students at the University of Delaware or where ever it is that he teaches and who pay tens of thousands of dollars a year for that kind of educational malpractice.)

    B) He said the United States kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon and suggested Nato has a role in Middle East peace keeping. Both assertions are absolutely false. Hezbollah was never kicked out of Lebanon, and there is nothing in the Nato charter that would allow its involvement, ignoring for a moment the question of whether most Nato countries would even consider it in their interest to get involved. All of this from a guy who told us on the campaign trail that he has forgotten more about foreign affairs than his Senate colleagues know to start with, and from someone whose votes have been on the wrong of history for throughout his career. (See ‘the surge,’ etc.)

    C) He told Couric that when the market crashed in 1929 Roosevelt immediately went on television to tell the country what was happening. Roosevelt didn’t become president for another three years, and television wasn’t available for many more years.

    Take your choice: Based on his own words, actions, and votes over his career, to say nothing of his record of plagiarism, Biden is either a liar and/or an idiot. Neither is terribly flattering. Please tell me which one of those two qualities makes him a better VP than Sarah Palin?

    A final point on those interviews with Biden, and the ones Couric had with Palin. She trashed Palin, but she pandered to Biden. Putting aside the question of basic fairness and responsibility, and given that Couric didn’t challenge Biden on any of his fairy tales, including the Roosevelt/television one, how qualified is Couric to interview candidates? She has never worked anywhere but in television, but she obviously knows nothing about its history. How qualified is she to host the evening news? Given her sixteen million a year salary and dismal ratings, worse even than Dan Rather, as implausible as that may be, with its apparent inverse performance/reward ratio, shouldn’t we be having congressional hearings about that kind of greed?

    (Can you tell how disillusioned I am with the press? For over twenty-five years I read four newspapers a day; watched the evening news every day; watched Sixty Minutes and read Time and Newsweek every week; and watched miscellaneous other news shows and documentaries and read other news-related things. Today? Almost nothing. I can look up stuff on the Internet and find out the truth about things. Note to CBS, the New York Times et al: It’s not really that the internet provides a timelier vehicle for your product that is killing you. It’s your politicized, biased, inaccurate content. When you lose as heavy a user of your product as I was, it’s not a good sign. And it looks like I am only one of many with the same attitude.)

    3) If everyone was so concerned about the possibility of who might end up President, shouldn’t we have been focused on the actual candidates for that position?

    For better or worse, we knew John McCain, including his age, his frailties from his war injuries and time as a prisoner of war, his problems with cancer, and his tendency to roll the dice.

    We know very little about Barack Obama. It is fair to say that he is the Jeff Skilling of politics. Remember him, the former CEO of Enron? He famously never signed anything, such as memos, in the hope of not leaving a paper trail.

    Many things that would normally be a part of a person’s public record in Obama’s case are AWOL. Consider an abbreviated list:

    A) He has a below market rate mortgage that he says he got because of competition from a second bank, which he refuses to identify, and he has refused to make public the one piece of documentation about the transaction that might shed some light on the truth of the matter. Given that he came up through, and his connections to the Chicago political machine, one is hesitant to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    B) Nothing from his time at Columbia University can be verified, not even his going there. No transcripts, nothing. No one from his time there can remember him, much less anything about him. To put it in context, how likely is it that absolutely no one from your time at IBM would remember you in twenty-five years? And that there would be no paperwork?

    C) He says he has no records from his days in the Illinois Senate. No diaries, calendars, meeting notes, nothing. We wouldn’t tolerate that response from a corporate executive who was under scrutiny for something. The press would be rummaging through their garbage and there would be congressional hearings.

    Let’s contrast that with a short list of some of the things we do know about him:

    A) One hundred and twenty-nine ‘present’ votes while in the Illinois Senate, barely one hundred fifty days in the U.S. Senate, and zero meetings of the committee of which he was chair before he essentially abandoned the Senate to campaign for President. It seems that he thinks Senators hold no-show union jobs. For my two cents worth, the fact that the button used for voting ‘present’ is yellow says something about the person pushing it.

    B) No published writings from his days at the Harvard Law Review or his days as a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago. It suggests that he didn’t want to leave a written record of anything controversial. That doesn’t speak well for him having the courage of his convictions. And ask yourself, have you ever heard of anyone being offered tenure at a university without having published a single peer-reviewed articles, as he was? Isn’t that a little strange, and suggest something other than merit was involved on the University’s part?

    C) His long and continuing association with racists like Wright, domestic terrorists like Bill Ayers, and sleazy back-room political hanger-ons like Charlie Rezko, who is now a convicted felon. When ever anyone asked him about these kinds of things, the best he could offer in own defense was that ‘so and so wasn’t the person he thought he knew,’ and accuse you of engaging in old style politics and insinuate you were a racist for bringing it up.

    D) He turned off all the anti-fraud measures on his online campaign donation system. What possible reason would there be for doing this but to allow fraud to be committed?
    There is documented proof that he took illegal donations, and not just those of his aunt. The law says candidates have to make best efforts to make sure the money is clean. He did the exact opposite. And let’s not forget that he reneged on his word to take public financing if John McCain did. What’s his word on other campaign promises really worth?

    E) He has worked for, and his campaign donated the better part of a million dollars for voter registration efforts to Acorn, whose voter registration abuses, among other things,* have been well documented. Given their history, and his previous involvement with them, how could anyone with an open mind think he expected anything but fraudulent registrations from them? (*A million dollar embezzlement by the founder’s brother that was covered up, and Acorn paying its workers below minimum wage on the excuse that it couldn’t afford to. Aren’t they supposed to be in the business of helping the poor?)

    F) He threw journalists who organizations didn’t endorse him off his campaign airplane. Doesn’t that remind you of Nixon’s enemies list, and doesn’t that foretell what we can expect from Obama for anyone who dares to cross him?

    Speaking of journalists, there were very few who weren’t brazenly using their positions to promote his candidacy. Journalism is the only industry that enjoys special constitutional protection in the U.S. (freedom of the press). Instead of being society’s watchdogs, which they style themselves as, they acted as ex officio members of his campaign.

    In closing, I wasn’t thrilled with any of the choices right from day one. But if you look at the result, Obama stole the election with fraudulent and illegal campaign donations, illegal votes courtesy of helpers like Acorn, and a corrupt press. We bought a pig in a poke, with the little we do know about him being far more negative than positive. How do you see that as the start towards America reclaiming anything?

  9. g says:

    Harry, I believe you have carried your initial objection far afield, and now you’re regurgitating anti-Obama talking points, of which many have been thoroughly debunked by fact checkers, months (and in some cases years) ago.

    Go away, troll. However articulate, a troll is a troll is a troll.

    The election is over. You lost. Move on.

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