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Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Really?!

Apparently now it’s President Obama’s fault that there wasn’t an “orderly transition” in Iraq??? Or, so says the GOP.  Never mind that the first few orders given by Paul Bremer after the fall of Baghdad in 2003 virtually guaranteed the instability that resulted.  Let us not forget that Bremer totally disbanded the existing political and security institutions.  He fired the entire bureaucracy, making certain that all knowledge of how things worked disappeared.  And he disbanded the entire military and police forces, putting thousands of trained people out of work.  And we were surprised that an insurgency developed???

You can spin history all you want, but you can’t change the facts.  Epic FAIL!

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We’ve heard a lot recently about the “real” America. 

 Which is the real America? Imagine. Hope. The choice is up to you.  You decide.  Be sure to vote.

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As you can see from my last few posts, I’m starting to look ahead to November 5 and beyond.  I’m still working to make change possible.  But while there are record numbers of registered voters this year, and it’s looking promising, we can’t just sit back again starting Nov. 5 and wait for change to occur.  We need to keep working to make it happen.

We live in a participatory democracy, and if we choose not to participate, we lose out.  But it’s equally true that if we’re going to participate, we need to know how to do so.  And participation goes way beyond showing up on Election Day.  What we do during the days between elections is equally important.

I’m currently reading a new book by Naomi Wolf called, Give Me Liberty; A Handbook for American Revolutionaries.  Over the past 8 years, I’ve been reading a lot.  I usually do, and lately I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction.  Wolf’s previous book, Letter to a Young Patriot, caught my eye a little over a year ago.    In that one she traced the process by which nations slide into fascism.  She laid out 10 steps and sure enough, we’re well down the path.  As depressing as that one was to read and absorb, her new work is quite the opposite.  I highly recommend it.  It truly is a how-to for taking back our government and making it once again resemble what our Founders envisioned.  I’m looking forward to getting further into it, and to doing my part.  And I expect that I may be challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone.  I’ve started by writing — letters to the editor, to members of Congress, this blog– and talking. But as important as those are, they’re only the beginning.  I challenge those of you who want to see things change to read Wolf’s book and to join in.  As I started writing letters, the response among my friends and readers of my local paper has varied.  Some are quietly supportive. Other have been more vocal — some in support and some very vocally opposed.  Most of the comments have been respectful, even when we may not agree.  But I listen.  And I’m trying to listen more and listen more actively so as to hear the fears and anger when it erupts.

Sometimes I dispair.  I know that not everyone is open even to consider change.  That’s ok.  Robert Altemeyer and George Lakoff have been following up on the work of Stanley Milgram for some time.  While Milgram investigated obedience to authority, Altemeyer refined Milgram’s ideas into some thing called conservative or right-wing authoritarianism . They conclude that there is a segment of the population (probably around 25%) who fall into the right-wing authoritarian mindset. We all know people like that.  They’re the ones who, when confronted with facts about Sen. Obama cling to the negative smears.  John Deanhas written about them and their mindset in his book Conservatives Without Conscience and their effect in Broken Government.   We’ve seen a lot of these folks both in government and outside of it over the past several decades.  And we’ve seen what happens when they are in control.

But they represent only 25% of the population — clearly not enough to win elections on their own.  If Lackoff and Altemeyer are right, there is likely another 25% of the population who represent a diametrically opposite mindset — also not enough to succeed without the help of the 50% who can be reached by either side.  For the past 8 years, and largely going back as much as 40 years, the authoritarians have been in control.  Whether by fear or by Reagan’s sunny ways, they have been very effective at swaying that center group.  But if the polls are to be believed, the center is shifting this time. That plus millions of newly registered voters who are seemingly willing to become engaged in the process.  The reasons for the shift seem clear enough — a deep dissatisfaction with the status quo, combined with a candidate to offers something new and different.

Sen. McCain seems so old school, so last century, particularly in comparison to Sen Obama — whether it’s in using technology to reach and motivate people or just the sheer joy and camadarie that seems to permeate Obamarallies.  I, for one, am so very ready to put my smile back on after the last 8 years.  I think that’s one reason I was drawn to Wolf’s book.  The blurb I read on it made it sound like a clarion call for each of us to get and stay involved.  And so far, that’s exactly what it is.

If Sen. Obama wins the election, he will need our help to become “the change we’ve been waiting for.”  If Sen. McCain wins, we will need to work that much harder to make sure our voices are heard loud and clear.  Three million small donors will be a force to be reckoned with!

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As is my habit, I’ve been reading the newspapers — both my local one and the LA Times — as well as various columns and articles that catch my attention from online sources, including both national and local papers and news aggregators.  Several items caught my eye this morning.

This from the Washington Post, where David Frum opines that it’s time for the GOP to stare reality in the face and put its money into some of the down-ticket races.  Clearly, those outside the campaign itself are seeing an Electoral College landslideas even Montana and North Dakota are tied, with Indiana now showing Obama in the lead. Frum worries about the possibility of the Democrats holding a 60 seat Senate majority and what that bodes.

While I do agree on the need and benefit of a system of checks and balances, I don’t share his apocalyptic vision.  First, as John Dean describes in his book Broken Government, Democrats have an appreciation for good governance.  It is Dean’s view that the Republican party of late has been focused on winning, whether it be elections or specific votes. This is perhaps best illustrated by Karl Rove’s philosophy of 50% plus 1 vote.  Governance requires compromise and negotiation, not a “my way or the highway” mentality.  Additionally, and perhaps even more important is the leadership style Barack Obama has demonstrated. Susan Rice, one of his chief foreign policy advisers explained why his campaign has been essentially leak-proof over the past two years.  She indicated that all are given an opportunity to air their views. If the decision is contrary to your own position, the fact that your ideas have been heard and considered makes it easier to accept and minimizes the “need” to go public in order to be heard.

Much has been made recently of how a McCain and an Obama administration would differ, particularly Sarah Palin’s near hysteria that an Obama presidency would turn the United States into a communist country.  I suppose the irony of that claim is lost on her when one considers that by partially nationalizing the US banking system, a Republican administration has made a significant step towards what can only be described as a socialist solution.  While Palin’s fear-mongering in the extreme might appeal to older voters, those who retain a Cold War mentality, it is virtually meaningless to younger voters and to those looking to a “futurist” president.  The methods of the two campaigns could not be more stark in their contrasts — hope vs. fear, the future vs. the past, change vs. more of the same.  To that end I recommend two articles found on the Real Clear Politics site that contrast an Obama administration to a McCain one.  Past behavior is said to be the best predictor of future behavior.  That, and a demonstrated presidential temperament are the major reasons for many of Obama’s endorsements.

Even the Anchorage Daily News has endorsed Barack Obama for President.  Make no mistake, the largest paper in Alaska, home of Gov. Sarah Palin, GOP candidate for Vice President, has endorsed her opponent. Their reasons are sound, but for one who has been following the campaign intently since her selection, one paragraph jumped out at me.

Gov. Palin has shown the country why she has been so successful in her young political career. Passionate, charismatic and indefatigable, she draws huge crowds and sows excitement in her wake. She has made it clear she’s a force to be reckoned with, and you can be sure politicians and political professionals across the country have taken note. Her future, in Alaska and on the national stage, seems certain to be played out in the limelight.

It wil be interesting to watch how the GOP deals with what many of their senior people are admitting is likely to be a resounding defeat.  McCain campaign personnel and senior GOP members have begun to speak of a coming GOP “civil war”as the party tries to re-make itself.  Certainly there is plenty of blame to go around.  The Republican brand has been greatly tarnished by the presidency of George W. Bush, and the country clearly longs to turn the page.  McCain was always viewed with skepticism by the GOP base, and in selecting Gov. Palin to try to shore up their support, he abandoned the moderates and the independents who ultimately decide elections.  The John McCain of 2000 might well have been a successful opponent in 2008, but in pandering to the GOP base, he and Gov. Palin have exposed its basest qualities.

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Well, the updated endorsement list is out at Editor and Publisher.  And the numbers are pretty impressive.  Sen. Barack Obama has garnered endorsements from 112 newspapers with combined circulation of nearly 13.8 million to McCain’s 39 papers representing 3.7 million readers.  What’s even more impressive is the number of Obama endorsements from papers that went for Bush last time.  This on the heels of Gen. Colin Powell’s ringing and eloquent endorsement of Sen. Obama.  What made Powell’ statement all the more important was the reasons for his support.  While E&P’s list is not all inclusive, here it is with links where available.  If you find working links to anything on this list that I couldn’t, please put it into a comment so I can update the list.  Just reading some of the endorsements is worth the time.

First, the 112 papers endorsing Barack Obama.  Those who endorsed Bush last time are in bold.

Tuscaloosa (AL) News
Arkansas Times

The Argus (Fremont, CA)
Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA)
Daily Breeze (Torrance, CA)
Daily Review (Hayward, CA)
The Fresno Bee
La Opinion (Los Angeles)
Long Beach Press Telegram
Los Angeles Daily News
Los Angeles Times

Marin Independent-Journal
The Modesto Bee
The Monterey County Herald
Oakland Tribune
Pasadena Star News
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
The (Stockton, CA) Record
The Sacramento Bee
San Bernardino Sun
San Francisco Chronicle
San Jose Mercury
San Mateo County Times
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Tri-Valley Herald
Boulder (CO) Camera
Cortez Journal
The Denver Post
The Durango Herald
Gunnison Country Times
Ouray County Plaindealer
New Haven (CT) Register
The Washington (DC) Post

Daytona Beach (FL) News Journal
Miami Herald
Naples Daily-News
Orlando Sentinel
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution
Honolulu (HI) Star-Bulletin
Idaho Statesman
Chicago Tribune (IL) — 1st ever Democratic endorsement
Chicago Sun-Times
Daily Herald (Arlington)
Rockford Register Star
Southwest News-Herald
Fort Wayne (IN) Journal Gazette
Palladium-Item (Richmond)
The Hawk Eye (Burlington, IA)
Mason City Globe Gazette
The Storm Lake Times NOTE: endorsement title is “McCain on Ethanol”
Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader
Bangor (ME) Daily News
Brunswick Times-Record
The Boston (MA) Globe

The Standard-Times (New Bedford)
Detroit (MI) Free Press
The Muskegon Chronicle

Columnia (MO) Daily Tribune
Kansas City Star
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Las Vegas (NV) Sun
Concord (NH) Monitor

Nashua Telegraph
Asbury Park Press (Neptune, NJ)
Las Cruces Sun-News (NM)
Santa Fe New Mexican
Buffalo (NY) News
Daily News
el Diario
Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times
Durham Herald-Sun
Greenville Daily Reflector
News & Observer
(Raleigh)
Wilmington Star-News
Akron (OH) Beacon-Journal
The (Toledo) Blade
Dayton Daily News
The (Canton) Repository
Times-Reporter (New Philadelphia)
Springfield News-Sun
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Mail Tribune (Medford)
The Oregonian (Portland)
Statesman-Journal (Salem)
Yamhill Valley News-Register (McMinnville)
The Daily Item (Sunbury, PA)
The Express-Times (Easton)
Philadephia Inquirer
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Chattanooga Times (KY)
The Commercial Appeal (Memphis)
The (Nashville) Tennessean
Austin American-Statesman (TX)
The Eagle (Bryan-College Station)
Houston Chronicle
The Lufkin Daily News
The Salt Lake Tribune (UT)
Burlington (VT) Free Press
Falls Church (VA) News-Press
The Columbian (WA)
The Olympian
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
The Seattle Times
Tri-City Herald
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
Yakima Herald-Republic
The Charleston (WV) Gazette
Huntington Herald-Dispatch
The Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Wisconsin State Journal (Madison)

Now, the 39 papers that have endorsed McCain, with those who endorsed Kerry last time in bold.

Bakersfield Californian
Napa Valley Register
Riverside Press-Enterprise
The San Francisco Examiner
San Diego Union-Tribune
Mountain Valley News (Cedaredge, CO)
The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction)
The Pueblo Chieftain
Daily Times-Call (Longmont)
The Washington DC Examiner
Bradenton (FL) Herald
Tampa Tribune

The Baltimore Examiner (MD)
Boston (MA) Herald
The (Lowell) Sun
The (New Ulm, MN) Journal
Foster’s Daily Democrat (NH)
Union Leader (Manchester)
Roswell (NM) Daily Record
Las Vegas (NV) Review-Journal
New York Post
Columbus (OH) Dispatch
The (Findlay) Courier
Bend (OR) Bulletin
The Jackson (TN) Sun
The Leaf-Chronicle
(Clarksville)
Amarillo (TX) Globe-News
Beaumont Enterprise
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Dallas Morning News

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
San Antonio Express-News
Times Record News
(Wichita Falls)
Wharton Journal-Spectator
Daily Press (Newport News, VA)
The Winchester Star
(Spokane, WA) Spokesman-Review
Wheeling (WV) News-Register

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$121.  Depending on where you live and whether you’ve bumped your tip up to 20%, that $121 might not even cover a nice dinner.  But $121 is the total added annual federal tax burden for people making between $250,000 and $603,400 a year.  Somehow, I don’t think that extra $121 is going to be a hardship on people who make as much as $603,400 a year.  Last Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution cited the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center analysis saying that only the top 1% of wage earners would see a tax increase.  They identify that top 1% as those earning between $619,561 and $2,832,449. And their figures show larger savings at every level seeing a cut and lower increases at the very top than the Parade figures.  Curiously, both tables were pubished on October 12 and both cite the Tax Policy Center as their source.  Here is the latest analaysis from the Tax Policy Center so you can read it for yourself. 

Clearly, Barack Obama’s tax proposal benefits the vast majority of wage-earners.  In contrast, John McCain’s plan concentrates the benefits at the top, continuing the policies of “trickle-down” economics begun under Ronald Reagan.  The distribution of income and wealth in the United States is difficult to conceptualize.  Here’s some information that may help.  And over the past couple of decades, there has been a pronounced upward redistribution of both wealth and income, assisted by tax policies and furthered by the increased disparity between compensation packages for CEOs and that of the average worker.  The increasing disparity has become an increasing concern for many groups, including some religious groups who see it as contrary to the tenets of their religion.  Some have gone so far as to label the trend as “pillaging” by the upper class.

Not surprisingly, McCain is calling Obama’s tax policies a redistribution of wealth.  More accurately, they should be described as a return to the policies of eight years ago.

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Or perhaps this post should be titled “No racist intent?”  The graphics described below are highly offensive, but a Google search will turn them up. 

  • First came the Obama Waffles sold, supposedly as a gag, at the Values Voters Summit
  • Next, there was the Virginia GOP mailer clearly designed to link Sen. Obama with terrorism
  • And the admonition to Virginia volunteers to tie Obama to terrorism in the minds of voters as they canvassed for the McCain-Palin ticket
  • Then the official website of the Sacramento County GOP with its graphic stating, “Waterboard Barack Obama”
  • And finally the mailer sent out by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated with its obviously racist images.

Add to these the rhetoric describing Barack Obama as the “other,” as someone to be feared.  Palin continues to characterize her outrageous personal attacks on Barack Obama’s character as within bounds.  She has done nothing — either at her rallies or by means of a statement after the fact — to distance herself personally or the McCain campaign from remarks made by supporters, let alone to disavow such remarks. Last night McCain expressed pride in this supporters.

I well remember the turbulent days of the Civil Rights movement.  Emotions ran high.  I recall the words of people like Gov. George Wallace, of Lester Maddox, of Bull Connor and others. Fear and hatred spewed from them like lava from a volcano.  And too often those evil words spilled over into evil acts.  I well remember the murders that also characterized those times, from innocent children to individual volunteers to leaders of the movement and finally to the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fast forward some 20 years to 1985.  An Italian cruise ship was hijacked and an elderly passenger thrown overboard to his death.  Initial assumptions were that the PLO was responsible. Few Americans were aware of the nuances in Palestinian politics.  A Los Angeles TV station interviewed the west coast Regional Director of the Arab-American Antidiscrimination Committee (ADC), who tried to flesh out the range existing among Palestinian political factions. He was a friend of mine and I recognized immediately that his views were not accurately represented.  The following morning a bomb exploded as he opened his office door and he was killed, leaving a family and many friends.  A few days later, the entire, unedited interview was aired. But it was too late.  Words are powerful things, and they can be twisted, intentionally or otherwise, with catastrophic results.

Sarah Palin is too young to remember the civil rights struggle.  Perhaps she is naive. Perhaps she is not fully informed.  Perhaps she doesn’t realize that she is playing with fire.  John McCain was of age during that struggle.  He was alive while segregation was legal and during the struggle to overturn it.  He cannot be unaware of those times and of the violence that too often followed the venomous speech of those who sought to deny equality to African Americans.  He wasn’t in Congress then, so we don’t know whether he would have supported the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act. 

John McCain is running to be President of the United States.  He has the responsibility to speak out forcefully when campaign rhetoric takes a potentially dangerous turn.  He has the responsibility to rein in his running mate. For it is ultimately he who is responsible for the tone of his campaign.  And should one of his ardent supporters resort to violence, he will bear some of that responsibility as well.

UPDATE: No sooner than I finished this post, I heard tape of a Palin appearance today (Oct. 16) in Elon, SC, in which she said this when security people tried to usher a protester out, “Maybe we need to tell security that maybe he need not go.  Maybe he needs to stay and learn a little bit from all of you.”  This after reports that a group of “old women” harassed and assaulted two young male Obama supporters at the Palin rally yesterday in Laconia, NH. The Boston Globe story indicates that the two had been disruptive and were ejected.  While that may well be true, the image of a group of 15 retirement age women beating up on a couple of young guys for cheering for Obama somehow doesn’t play too well, either.  Stay tuned.

UPDATE 2: And then there’s this…  And this.   To be fair, the former was in response to a yard display in which an Obama figure was shown alongside a McCain figure wearing Klan garb.  These are ill-considered responses by individual supporters, and both are inappropriate.  However, one cannot compare the tepid attempts of the McCain campaign to call out objectionable responses to the official pieces and statements by GOP organizations and McCain surrogates. 

An reader commented that I was being unfair by not calling attention to mis-deeds by Obama supporters.  Well, I just have.  To his credit Obama has on at least three separate occasions, called on supporters not to boo his opponent — once during the primaries and twice in recent rallies.  Obama demands that his supporters not boo.  How different is that from McCain and Palin ignoring people calling Obama a traitor and a terrorist at rallies, from people shouting “kill him, ” or “off with his head.”  There is no comparison, and to try to argue that such statements are acceptable civil discourse is unacceptable.

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