Our Choice: A More Perfect Union or A Stalemate?

Today Colin Powell stepped across party lines and endorsed Barack Obama for President. As part of his endorsement, he strongly criticized the tactics of the McCain/Palin campaign, particularly with regard to their current effort to paint Barack Obama as a terrorist.

One of the tactics that Powell strongly objected to was the current spate of robocalls being used by the McCain campaign to stir up fear and hate among the base. Here’s the text. I won’t post the audio here because it is visceral and hateful:

Hello. I’m calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge’s home and killed Americans. And Democrats will enact an extreme leftist agenda if they take control of Washington. Barack Obama and his Democratic allies lack the judgment to lead our country. This call was paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee at 202-863-8500.

Josh Marshall summed the McCain campaign up this way:

Stripped down to its components McCain’s message to voters is this: “Don’t forget. He’s definitely black. And he may be a terrorist.” That’s the message.

In light of these hateful tactics, I found it useful to go back to Barack Obama’s historic speech on race, delivered 3/18/2008 to see what he predicted. As usual, he was remarkably prescient:

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

After acknowledging the anger of blacks and whites, he calls us to move beyond the old racial wounds:

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

He even has ideas for how to do it:

It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

The McCain campaign wants us to believe that Barack Obama is a scary black guy who will wreck the country. They need to leave this impression because they hope beyond all logic to erase the truth: The last 8 years have wrecked this country more than any of us could have imagined, and John McCain stood right next to George Bush and the Republicans while the wrecking ball slammed into the walls of our banks, insurance companies, Wall Street, social institutions, FEMA, New Orleans, Iraq and the national budget (not to mention the national debt).

We have a choice. Obama knew we had a choice back in March, when he said this:

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.”

Colin Powell understands this. He spoke out so forcefully about what President Palin, the RNC and John McCain are doing with their robocalls, their mailers and their ads as his way of saying NOT THIS TIME.

When Gen. Powell spoke of Barack Obama as a transcendent and transformational leader, who represented generational change, he made a choice to put his country first, to move us toward a more perfect union.

That’s the same choice we all have on November 4th. We can get stuck in all of the distractions that make absolutely no difference to our wallets, or our kids, or our health, or we can stand up and say “not this time”. This time we’re choosing to push past the fears and the wedges, the division and the hate, and say:

Not this time.
Say it with me. Stand up. Make your voice heard; say that it’s time to reconcile, to put our country first, ahead of our fears, ahead of ourselves.

Not. this. time.

VOTE. Fight for change.

MP3 of “A More Perfect Union”

Read My Lips: There WILL BE TAXES

I originally wrote and published this in February, shortly after Sen. McCain won the GOP nomination. Given that the debate is heating up now on these issues, it seems like a good time to bring it back to the top for more discussion.

McCain and the GOP are already tossing around the “L” word with regularity, claiming that if Obama is elected, he will push through the biggest l-b—l tax increase on record.

Here’s a really simple picture of our economy and our options and a reality check for anyone deluding themselves:

  1. We are engaged in a war of our choosing which has cost over one TRILLION dollars and increased the national debt to record levels.
  2. Our social investments in schools, health initiatives, and infrastructure have been nil, because of the focus and obsession with the war in Iraq.
  3. When the war ends, we will be faced with returning veterans returning to the work force, some with incredibly complex mental and physical health issues. Some of those issues, like PTSD, are not even acknowledged by the VA or the Bush Administration at this time but threaten to become major problems as the war ends and troops return. We have already seen untreated PTSD at its worst — see examples here (free, login required), and here. The PTSD Timeline Project has been tracking reported incidents of suicide and homicide amongst returning veterans, and a startling report in October shows that veterans seeking treatment for PTSD has jumped by 70% in one year.
  4. Social programs notwithstanding, the war debt alone will require a tax increase. As all of us know, you don’t borrow money without paying it back.

Every time I hear John McCain or a Republican say that only the Democrats will raise taxes, it makes me laugh. When George Bush stole took office, he walked into a fiscally sound country with a budget surplus, not a deficit. Today, we’re deeper in debt than we’ve ever been, not just as a country but on an individual basis, too. The subprime mortgage crisis is a clear indicator of the inevitable consequences of predatory lending gone mad.

Higher taxes are inevitable. It’s really a question of who will bear the brunt of those taxes. Will it be the middle class folks and small employers, or will it be more fairly apportioned? What about the large corporations that have profited much from their war contracts (a la Halliburton) while moving their operations out of the country so that Americans don’t even benefit from employment opportunities by those companies?

Or put another way, would you rather have a President Obama ask us to dig deep for a finite period of time to pay off this ridiculous debt, or have President McCain sneak those increased taxes on you by way of “user fees” and “revenue neutral” legislation? Note: “Revenue neutrality” is nothing more than giving to the rich by robbing the poor and middle class. Things like cutting programs for the poor, or cutting back what you can put into your 401(k) or your IRA, which typically benefit the middle class the most, while leaving the tax cuts for the rich in place.

If my President asked me to sacrifice $600 extra dollars for two years to make a dent in the war debt, I’d do it right now, especially if it meant that veterans would get some decent health care and we could put our resources back into our country. But what I’ve gotten with the Republicans is an ‘economic stimulus’ tax refund which they expected me to spend but which I didn’t spend because as a self-employed individual, my tax burden has increased while my income stream has decreased over the past seven years. That first refund went back to the IRS as a deposit on the following year’s tax bill, as will the one they give me this year.

I’d much rather accept a tax increase for a finite period of time which would pay the war debt down and give us a way to bolster much-needed social and educational services, wouldn’t you?

Whatever your opinion, accept as fact that you will have to pay higher taxes to take care of Bush’s folly in Iraq. That’s just how it works.

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Dan Abrams has it wrong

He described the Obama supporters opposed to Hillary Clinton as VP as opposing her nomination because they don’t like her.

I don’t know her. I don’t like things she’s done. That’s not my issue.

My issue is that she is a distraction, an impediment to getting shit done. She is drama queen to his calmer, more efficient style. Putting her in the VP slot ensures drama, and more drama.

I want to get shit done. That’s all. It’s not a personal thing. I just don’t want the stinkin’ drama. I get enough of that at home. Don’t need it in my morning paper. Besides, I lived it once, for a long time, culminating in an impeachment. Don’t need it, don’t want it. Want someone with a style that doesn’t include putting the country in debt or turning women shrill on each other and stirring racial pots and all the rest of it.

So whatever it takes, Democrats, let’s find a place of respect for Hillary Clinton that will get her behind the candidate so we can get shit done. Okay?

Is Democratic party unity really a goal for Clinton?

If so, it is time for Senator Clinton to stop saying the Democrats are fielding the wrong candidate.

Her inexperience argument is a canard that should die a rapid death. Senator Obama has demonstrated his ability to mount a strong and effective campaign while not abandoning his core principles of transparency and staying focused on the issues. He has demonstrated fiscal responsibility and an ability to reach out and build a strong coalition of support around the core principles guiding the Democratic party.

Make no mistake, the nominating process and campaign is a strong indicator of where the general election will go. Let’s call the church crap a draw, given that McCain’s got Hagee and Parsley repudiations under his belt. Barack Obama will end the primary season with millions in the bank, a nice nest egg for the general election, and a strong, empowered, grass-roots base to build his general election campaign.

ANY argument which suggests that Hillary Clinton is more capable than Barack Obama to be President of this country is based on intellectual dishonesty. Let’s talk about leadership in that context.

Leadership has more than one element. It is first, and foremost, the ability to exercise good personal judgment. Second, the ability to communicate a direction in a way that attracts people to your cause; and third, the ability to move that cause forward steadily and with purpose.

Just in the context of today’s RBC meeting, let’s look at leadership. The Obama campaign asked its followers to refrain from any demonstration or en masse appearance in Washington DC today, choosing instead to focus on their 50 state voter registration drive, intended to shore up the Democratic voter base in all 50 states. His supporters are just as passionate as Hillary Clinton’s, trust me. They could have appeared in front of that hotel with their own signs, but they DID NOT, choosing instead to follow the request of Obama and work on calling voters, registering new voters, and working on other aspects of the campaign.

Clinton’s supporters, on the other hand, disrupted the meeting (particularly the afternoon sessions), called for more division by stirring her Florida supporters with comparisons to the 2000 election, the civil rights movement, the suggestion that the compromise reached treats Florida voters as less than slaves (who received 3/5ths of a vote), aligned with slanderous and discredited characters for the sake of attention, and consistently continue to whine that the failure of her candidacy is somehow related to sexism, misogyny and unfair treatment.

The video linked above and the one embedded below are examples. Both are pathetic. I would never, ever in a hundred years do this. It’s a disgrace to Hillary Clinton. It’s a disgrace to every hard-working woman who manages to find their place in life as a self-actualized human being. As the daughter of an abusive father, I know what it feels like to be controlled by men. I also know it’s possible to be a woman in a man’s world without turning into a hater. This supporter’s hysteria and irrationality undermines Clinton’s legitimate, strong, hard-fought candidacy. I don’t hold her responsible for what one supporter says, but let’s be honest — when Clinton surrogate Geraldine Ferraro attributes her current position to nothing more than sexism, she undermines all of us who chose NOT to vote for Clinton because we did not recognize her as a strong, unifying leader. My impression of Clinton has been that she is a divider, not a uniter, and that has been obvious as the primary season has progressed. I’m a woman! I’m not anti-woman, nor do I feel bound by my physiology to vote for one candidate over another.

If Barack Obama loses in November (and the only way I see that happening is if the party is so hopelessly divided that it simply disintegrates), Hillary Clinton will lose the opportunity to advance her own agenda for women’s rights, reproductive rights, ending the war, and health care. She will have far more influence with a Barack Obama presidency than she would with a John McCain presidency.

If her motives are what she says — party unity and advancing an agenda of social reform — then it’s in her best interests to throw her support wholeheartedly behind Obama and lead her supporters to do the same. If her interests are purely self-serving, she should continue to encourage horrible behavior and paint herself as a victim. And a loser.

Clinton has the power to decide what she wants to do. Let’s hope she does it, and demonstrates leadership that is effective, outspoken and works to defeat the Republicans in November.

Clinton’s Taking it to the Convention

The Rules Committee meeting on the 31st doesn’t make a whit of difference. Here’s why

Democratic National Committee rules require that the two states lose at least half of their convention delegates for holding elections too early, the party’s legal experts wrote in a 38-page memo


Because Clinton has mobilized her over-50-women base in Florida by comparing this situation to the 2000 election, despite the intellectual dishonesty of that idea, Florida will not accept anything other than full seating, despite their flagrant disregard of the rules.

There are two ways to seat 100% of the delegates:

  1. Give all delegates 1/2 votes
  2. Appeal to the credentials committee at the convention

]The analysis also said there is an option to restore 100 percent of the delegates — by a recommendation of the Credentials Committee that meets later this summer. However, that would mean a final decision would not be made until the first day of the convention in Denver since Credentials Committee decisions have to be approved by the full convention as it convenes — risking a floor fight.

The Clintons have pulled it out over and over and over again. They believe they can do it again this time, through a combination of stirring the FL/MI pot (despite the fact that Michigan’s election was ruled unconstitutional).

While I understand the Obama campaign’s desire to wait until South Dakota, Montana and Puerto Rico have voted before unleashing the alleged flood of superdelegates, I’d say it’s worth having some step out sooner might be better than later, not because I believe Clinton will win, but because the only way to focus completely on John McCain is to have enough superdelegates to meet the bar after Clinton forces the shift.

After Sunday, it won’t be 2025 for the nomination. It will be something between 2025 and 2210. Since it’s a given that the rules committee cannot arrive at a solution acceptable to the Clinton campaign, she will not concede, unless the superdelegates step up and speak.

Much is happening behind the scenes, I’m sure. The Virgin Island superdelegate who switched his endorsement from Clinton to Obama and then back to Clinton again yesterday is evidence of that, though I’d like to think most superdelegates are smart enough to not look like multi-flip-floppers.

We are now seeing the apex of the Clinton power play for the nomination. If she somehow manages to take it this way by some incredibly long-odds steal, the Democrats will lose to McCain.

At this point, I’m beyond even trying to be generous with her. I am grateful that my mother is an Obama supporter, because I am rapidly becoming rebellious and hardened toward women one generation away from me who are so goddamned determined to see a woman that they would elect an amoral, ambitious, greedy sociopath (thank you, Andrew Sullivan for framing it so well).

Obama is 48 delegates away from the nomination as it stands today. After Sunday, he will probably be somewhere between 48 and 233 delegates away. 86 pledged delegates remain. Assuming a 50/50 split, Obama will have 43 from Tuesday’s contests.

If you think I’m being paranoid, think again. Clinton is challenging the credentials for the Texas delegates won by Obama at the county conventions (see her website for info about organizing for these challenges…yes, it IS her campaign doing the challenging). Her surrogates strongarmed Obama delegates in Michigan (yes, THAT Michigan, the one that doesn’t count).

Either the superdelegates end it, or it goes to the convention floor, where Bill Clinton will be the number one goon acting for her.

I regret ever spending even a second of my life, much less several years, defending them both.