From (R) to (D). What Happened?

I was born and raised in Oklahoma, one of the most conservative of the United States. My parents are Republican, as is just about everyone else. Growing up, I was raised to believe in the basic Republican tenets:

1) Fiscal Conservative
2) Smaller Government
3) Strict Constitutional Interpretation
4) Environmental Awareness

Ronald Reagan was the Prez during my early youth, and he was a joy to watch at my young age. When Bush Sr. took office, I was still very young and honestly don't recall much from that time except the feeling that he took us to war after a Bad Man invaded a country and we won. However, he raised taxes when he said he shouldn't so this Clinton guy got elected.

Even though Clinton was Prez during most of my teen years, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention. I remember Whitewater and the Lewinsky scandal, of course, and I was appalled. I don't remember health care and I don't remember welfare reform or NAFTA. I do remember paying a good deal of attention to the 2000 election, as that would be the first I could vote in.

I was taken by George W. Bush and his style of speaking. He sounded like someone I could meet down the street. Al Gore, on the other hand, struck me as a stuck-up college professor, a stiff robot that I couldn't relate to. I remember watching the debates and feeling good about my choice. I cast my vote with pride.

When the election results started dragging due to the Florida debacle, I followed with great interest. What surprised me more was Gore throwing in the towel when EVERYONE was saying to hang in there. He said that he wanted the country to move on. This made me happy. My guy won, and Gore was classy about it. Good on him.

When September 11th happened, I was once again happy with my choice. I thought for sure that major happenings were moments away, but we seemed to stay calm and search with precision. This is good, I told myself. At least we're not just going to war with some random country.

When we first went into Iraq, I was happy with my choice. I was told that Saddam Hussein was not only a bad man (I already knew that) but he was conspiring against by building destructive weapons and had given an assist to Bin Laden and his cohorts. Go get 'im, I thought.

However, soon after my happiness faded. The links between Saddam and the terrorists dried up. Dick Cheney, whom I never liked, double-faced and said that no one ever linked the two, when video footage exists of he himself asserting that as fact. Bush looked more and more like an uneducated buffoon at press events, fumbling his words and being belligerent with reporters. The country as a whole took the 'if you're not with us, you're against us' approach and many of our international allies turned their backs. The war in Iraq started to look like a mission built on revenge.

Guantanamo Bay was opened. What were we going to do with suspected terrorists? Good question...but torture? Really? I'm fairly naive when it comes to war and what is required of men in such conditions, but that kind of behavior is against INTERNATIONAL LAW for a reason. Further distortions from the top brass of the Republican Party didn't help matters.

As the 2004 election approached, I looked more evenly at the playing field. No longer satisfied with Bush, I checked out his opponent, John Kerry. He wasn't anything special either, but I looked at his war record and felt, 'Surely a soldier, especially a Vietnam soldier, would make the best decisions for our troops overseas.' Plus, the basic Democrat tenet of Regulation/Oversight should help with the burgeoning problem of issues in Iraq like the Blackwater incidents. Also, the (surprising) lack of support for environmental issues from the red side of the house helped turn my '04 decision to the Blue ticket; helping out oil companies is not important to me. Not only that, but I thought Kerry handled himself very well in the debates. The fates did not see it that way, however, and another four years went in the books.

The 2008 election is when I started thinking of myself as a Democrat instead of a Republican. Sure, I still believe in the basic tenets of Republicanism, but do they? The election season was marred by horrible attacks from the right and unfathomable support for names like Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck. Freedom of speech is a right, but why do people have to be so ugly to one another? When Obama won the election, I thought it would settle down and we could move on to fixing the broken parts of the country.

So far, I'm wrong. The other day, Sarah Palin said Obama's health care proposal could have her baby with Down's Syndrome killed.

This is the huge problem. People are already upset because Obama is black. People are upset because they think he is a Muslim. People are upset because they think they/their parents aren't going to have proper medical care with the current debates about health care reform. Palin comes in and says this statement, with no base in reality, and adds kerosene to a fire.

All the Republicans seem to be about these days is attack and tearing down others. Health Care is a problem we ALL need to solve. Don't like the opposing solution? Fine. Present an alternative. Don't go out and make statements that have no basis in reality. People are already up in arms about health care; I read a story today about a guy who took a GUN to a town hall meeting that Obama was supposed to show up to and a sign that spoke of watering the tree of liberty. COME ON!

Complaints about his birth certificate. Asserting he is Muslim. Blocking legislation important to the American People. Getting on a soapbox and telling everyone the President wants what is Worst for the country and that we should do something about it. This isn't the America I grew up in. There doesn't seem to be any debate anymore. Just mud slinging and name calling. Vague threats. Even John McCain, a politician I respect, fell to these devices.

I don't want any part of that. That, in a very large nutshell, is the logic and story behind my switch from firm Republican to centrist Democrat. There's more, but this post is a book already.


Casio: In Mourning

I've worn a Casio watch for the majority of the time since my father got one for me back in middle school. I wrote about the death of that watch (after a decade of faithful service) on Livejournal:

Casio NL-11
1993 - 2006

My Casio was a good, nay, a great watch. It stuck with me through middle school, high school, and beyond. It went to Italy with me. It went to Disney World with me. I went on my first date and got married to Indi with it. It came with me when I bought my first, then my second house. It rode with me in the mythical Scorpio and was on me when Dad's Explorer fell off the tire jack and crushed my hand.

Through thick and thin, the watch kept on keeping the time. I replaced the band more often than the battery. I spent the better part of an hour just last month taking it apart and meticulously fixing the bent contacts the Wal-Mart employees had carelessly damaged. Unfortunately, at 4:12 PM on January 5th the watch broke for good. One of the pin-holding catches crumbled, never to allow a band to be attached again.

I will miss my old Casio watch, and will give it a ceremonial burial in the backyard. Maybe on those quiet summer nights when I'm enjoying a refreshing beverage on my porch I will still hear it beep. Rest in peace, friend.

I had a Fossil watch for a while afterwards, but I finally found another Casio, similar to my old one, in April of '08. I wrote about THAT on Blogger:

On Thursday, January 5th of 2006 my wonderful Casio NF-11 watch broke. I had replaced the strap three times (battery twice) in its 10+ years of service but the watch itself had broken and would no longer fit a pin for the wrist strap. With a heavy heart, I placed it in a drawer and sought out a new timepiece.

I wanted the same functionality, but I had a hard time finding a simple watch that told me the time, day, and date. I settled for a nice Fossil watch and moved on. Yesterday, I finally told myself I'd had enough. The watch I purchased was nice, sure, but it was hard to read. It was TOO dark and the light was dim at best. I decided to try to find a suitable replacement for my old watch.

Behold. The Fossil mistake cost me $75(!) but the Casio cost me $16. All Hail the Return of the Magnificent Casio! (The old face is in the background on the mousepad...still ticking away.)

Just before I left home this past April, I carelessly broke the band. It was my fault, I caught it on a door and forced it. It had been working flawlessly. Since it was a $16 watch, I just bought another at Wal-Mart. Indi gave me much trouble about it being a 'crappy watch' and I regaled her (again) with the tales of Casio greatness that I have known in my lifetime.

After four blissful months, the battery died today.

I was heartbroken. Indi, vindicated in her claims that the watch was horrible, barely contained her glee and "I told you so"-itis. It was with much sadness that I bought a cheap knock-off watch from a street vendor in Malaysia today. A great legacy of watches sleeps forever tonight. I will miss my friend.

(Note: the first Casio was STILL WORKING in a drawer when we had our estate sale. I buried it in the backyard.)