On January 16, 2008 I chose to support Barack Obama for President. Today, my reasons ring as true as they did back then, but this one particularly stood out for me:
But Barack Obama has something more. He has the ability to transform the attitudes in this country from mistrust and fear to community and participation. He has the ability, more than any other candidate, to inspire the best in us, to call the GOOD in people out for the bettering of our country.
Now we are here. Tomorrow is Election Day. This is our moment. This is the time where we can stand up, stand in line if we have to, be vigilant and be patriots. Barack Obama has organized and run a transformative campaign. I have seen the transformation with my own eyes. I watched my oldest son, a veteran, change from a cynical and disenfranchised voter to one who is engaged and enthused. He was checking the poll opening times last night so he could be sure to be there first thing in the morning to vote.
This was a young man who swore he’d never vote again after 2000 (his first national election) and 2004.
I wrote this in February:
The foundation of this movement is NOT a cult of personality. It is the cry of people who have been disenfranchised and disconnected from the governance of this country. We are governed, but not represented. We are spied on and not defended. Our sons and daughters are sent to die or be maimed in Iraq but not cared for and abandoned by the very Administration that sent them there when they return.
We’re tired of what the politicians say “they” will do and are ready to show this country what WE can do as a collective group of energized voices ready to put our wallets, our voices and our feet on the line.
We are the new American majority. We have a voice. We walk streets, we make phone calls, we give what we can, even if it’s just $3.01 at a time. We are speaking for ourselves rather than waiting for someone to speak for us. We want our country back, and we want our standing back in the world. We’re tired of the naysayers who leave our fates in the hands of Wall Street and the Halliburtons, Diebolds and Blackwaters of the world. We are no longer going to stand idly by and have our lives and quality of our lives dictated to us by lobbyists and corporations.
This is not hate. It is democracy..
This is our time. This is our moment. We hold our democracy in our hands. Please, vote. Take tomorrow off, and make sure others vote. There are organized GOTV efforts in every neighborhood. Help where you can, but vote, foremost.
Democracy is coming…
And believe. Yes. We. Can.
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.
Keith Olbermann’s special comment last night echoed everything I’ve been saying whenever I hear John McCain pronounce that a) He knows how to win wars; and b) he will bring our troops home from Iraq after we ‘win’ and with honor.
Let me just say this here and now: I believe that our troops have honor just by virtue of the fact that they are serving, have served, have placed their lives at risk and have obeyed orders that they perhaps didn’t even agree with. Every day that they get up and put their boots on and go back out there, they serve with honor. There is absolutely nothing in the outcome to Iraq that will change the fact that these are honorable men and women serving their country with, yes, honor.
With that said, every single time McCain makes the broad claims about victory and honor, I find myself screaming the words “Define victory!” at my television set. Or my car radio. Or even my iPod, on occasion.
The fact is, victory in Iraq is undefined now, and will forever be undefined. This is largely because there was no clearly-stated objective beyond getting rid of Saddam Hussein, and that objective was completed 5 or so years ago.
Q: Do you think you will ever use the word “victory”?
Petraeus: I don’t know that I will. I think that all of us at different times have recognized the need for real restraint in our assessments, in our pronouncements, if you will. And we have tried to be very brutally honest and forthright in what we have provided to Congress, to the press, and to ourselves.
“This is not the sort of struggle where you take a hill, plant the flag and go home to a victory parade…it’s not war with a simple slogan.
Once again, McCain lies and distorts for political gain. Oh, don’t we all want to puff out our chests and proclaim ‘victory’. And of course, McCain has to take that tack in order to lie about Barack Obama as being a ‘quitter’ who wants to ‘give up’ in Iraq, with quips and sound bites like this one:
“This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word `victory’ except when he’s talking about his own campaign.”
Now you hear Petraeus echoing more or less what Barack Obama has said throughout the campaign — that withdrawal from Iraq must be done with caution, but that it must be done, particularly with Afghanistan at grave risk.
Make no mistake about this: John McCain’s idea of honor IS victory — HIS. And he will lie and sell out to the highest bidder to be victorious.
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:
- We are engaged in a war of our choosing which has cost over one TRILLION dollars and increased the national debt to record levels.
- Our social investments in schools, health initiatives, and infrastructure have been nil, because of the focus and obsession with the war in Iraq.
- 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.
- 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.
- Jeffrey Toobin: In McCain’s Court
- Pentagon Announces Troop Deployments Of 42,000 To Iraq, Afghanistan
- Why Republicans Might Attack Iran Before the General Elections
For example, one of the strongest scenarios among neo-conservatives is based on the hypothesis that in the case of any military attack against Iran — even a limited air strike — the greatest beneficiary among the three presidential candidates would be John McCain. The reason for this is that the American people’s first priority would become national security instead of the economy, and since there might be a “perception” that McCain would deal with foreign policy issues better than economic ones, he would have a stronger chance of winning in November.
- Clinton Puts Up A New Fight
Later, when asked if she thinks this campaign has been racist, she says she does not. And she circles back to the sexism. “The manifestation of some of the sexism that has gone on in this campaign is somehow more respectable, or at least more accepted, and . . . there should be equal rejection of the sexism and the racism when it raises its ugly head,” she said. “It does seem as though the press at least is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by the comments by people who are nothing but misogynists.”
(My aside: No racism? REALLY? Yes, there has been sexism on the part of the media, the pundits, some Obama supporters and bloggers. But to say there’s been NO racism? That’s just a lie.)
Might he really be a “maverick” when it comes to the Supreme Court? The answer, almost certainly, is no. The Senator has long touted his opposition to Roe, and has voted for every one of Bush’s judicial appointments; the rhetoric of his speech shows that he is getting his advice on the Court from the most extreme elements of the conservative movement. With the general election in mind, McCain had to express himself with such elaborate circumlocution because he knows that the constituency for such far-reaching change in our constellation of rights is small, and may be shrinking.
Today is the day that Barack Obama will tip over the majority of pledged delegates. He will need less than 100 total delegates for the nomination. I would once again encourage the women profiled in the last article to consider the facts in the first article.
But he deserves much more than impeachment. I mean, in America, we apparently impeach presidents for having consensual sex outside of marriage and trying to cover it up. If we impeach presidents for that, then if the president takes the country to war on a lie where thousands of American soldiers die horrible, violent deaths and over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, including women and children, even babies are killed, the punishment obviously has to be much, much more severe. That’s just common sense. If Bush were impeached, convicted in the Senate, and removed from office, he’d still be a free man, still be able to wake up in the morning with his cup of coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice and read the morning paper, still travel widely and lead a life of privilege, still belong to his country club and get standing ovations whenever he chose to speak to the Republican faithful. This, for being responsible for over 100,000 horrible deaths?* For anyone interested in true justice, impeachment alone would be a joke for what Bush did.