Saturday, February 23, 2008

OMTS's Political Platform

In response to many reader requests that I articulate my own positions on the major political issues in contemporary America, the following essay is an outline of my views on some of the most important challenges the country faces in 2008 and beyond. These positions are my own and in no way seek to mirror either political party's platforms. There will be no reference to the positions of the current candidates, and I have limited my discussion to 10 major issues and tried to keep my takes clear and relatively concise. The format is much more philosophical than empirical in most cases. Feel free to email me if you have any specific feedback or would like to join my political campaign:

1. Military and Foreign Policy:
America is in a difficult position: We would like to lead the world and spread our view of the fruits of democracy, yet we are mired in a financial crisis in which we borrow money from China to fight a war in Iraq, and we conduct business with horrible countries such as Saudi Arabia because we refuse to stand up to oil companies and begin seriously reducing our dependence on oil, foreign or domestic. We love our version of democracy but fail to appreciate that our reckless foreign policy has created a hatred for America that is so visceral in some parts of the world that democracy backfires. See how well democracy has worked for us in Iraq, Iran, Gaza, and Lebanon, just to name a few. People seized their democratic rights and voted for anti-American radical regimes that pose a greater threat to global peace than those they replaced. Such is the profound failure of the Bush-Cheney doctrine. In addition, America simply does not have the resources or the military forces to police the world with ground troops. A small force of 170,000 in Iraq has stretched our military to the breaking point. Think about that. In a real war--Germany in WW II--we put a million men in the country to stabilize it, but as I said, that was a real war, one where all draft age men served: boxers, professional football and baseball stars--everyone. We had 16.3 million men fight in that war, which lasted less than four years precisely because we were serious because we had to be. It wasn't an "everyone go shopping and let the poor kids fight" war that characterizes Iraq. It was the real deal. My relatives were there--a lot of them. In the 1940s Joe Louis was the heavyweight champion of the world, making up to $400,000 a fight. He gave up 4 years of his prime to enter the military, which was segregated, for a $21 a month paycheck.
Our current military is completely unprepared for any type of protracted ground war; however, what I support is the continued expansion of nuclear weapons, which are, quite frankly, the only reason we are living in relative peace and prosperity: Countries fear us and that is a great thing. The U.S. needs to invest significant money(the current 4% of GDP or around $500 billion budget is about right for now, after we cut out this ridiculous Iraq War) to protect and defend our country and interests from the forces that seek to destroy us, whether it be Russia, China, the Middle East etc. The problem with the military budget is the tremendous amount of waste and fraud. This department is screaming for real leadership. It needs to be streamlined and money should be allocated for useful purposes: soldiers' pay, health benefits, advanced weapons systems etc., yet the vast sums of money the DOD receives are not enough to provide basic medical(60,000 injured in Iraq) and disability benefits(224,000 have filed claims to date) for men and women who have been permanently damaged in this pathetic war? That's a crime. (Stats from Linda Bilmes, Harvard University, 2-13-08)
We need to negotiate from a position of strength and that does not come from ground forces: We do not--and will not--have the ground forces to match up with those countries in a conventional war, so we have to possess and continually develop weapons of mass destruction that will serve as a profound deterrent to any leader who may want to attack us. We are a country with 6% of the global population, so policing the world is simply not possible, and even if it were, would American citizens be willing to send all of their sons and daughters into the military for extended deployments all over the world? I think not. I wish the world were a place of peace and love, but the facts are very clear:
The history of the world is one that is awash in blood and warfare, so we have a choice: We can develop cutting-edge technology and weapons systems or wait around for the 21st century Hitler to show up. The pacifists are living in some kind of romantic novel world, and they are dangerous; I wish people would simply live and let live, but as a student of history I cannot find a single time period where that was the case, for it does not exist.
The changes that need to be made relate to the waste and corruption that defines the military machine, the one Eisenhower warned about 50 years ago. Spending and contracts need to be on the public record and examined by Congress. Therefore, much as it pains me to see such huge amounts of money spent on national defense, the fundamental truth is that it's probably the most justifiable use of our tax money. I would institute a policy that all immigrants will sign up for 4 years of military service as a requirement of U.S. citizenship and all native-born Americans will serve as a condition of significant college financial aid. Anyone who doesn't want to fight to defend this country is free to go live somewhere else. It's a big world. The biggest problem this country faces is simple greed. People want to enjoy the fruits of our society but are unwilling to sacrifice; they leave that to the sons and daughters of other Americans, usually the less affluent of course. In times of war, ALL 18-25 year-old men and women would be drafted. Period. There would be no exceptions for rich, cowardly losers such as Bush, Cheney, Clinton etc.

In terms of foreign policy, limited isolationism needs to be our policy in the sense that we simply do not have the money or forces to intervene in every perceived moral issue. Otherwise, we would have hundreds of thousands of forces in Africa for the next 100 years, but we tend to adjust our moral vision when poor black people with no oil are victims of genocide. We need to negotiate and expand diplomacy but should try to avoid military involvement except through NATO or a new more effective world force. Other countries need to step up and fight--and pay for--these wars that are in their backyards and potentially affect them much more than us. It's insulting that Americans pay billions every year to protect countries that offer no substantive
support to our social or economic systems. I would cut foreign aid drastically and clearly define our strategic allies and interests(Japan, Europe, Israel, moderate Middle Eastern countries etc.) and let them know that they will pay for our protection and support, both in financial terms and by providing troops.

2. Budget and Taxes:
The tax system needs to be adjusted at least to pre-Bush rate levels and loopholes need to be closed. We should not go to a national sales tax or this idiotic "fair" tax. The current system is flawed but this basic idea works: If one makes more, one pays a higher percentage. However, the lines need to gradually increase so that someone who makes $150K is not in the same rate as someone who makes $10 million. That's the problem with the current system. We need to give significant tax relief to all families making less than $200K, which in many areas is really middle class. In addition, the tax form needs to be simplified. Raising taxes continually is not the answer.
We need to return to a pay-as-you-go government. Social Security, Medicare and other social programs are threatening to bankrupt the country, so we need to address the fiduciary connection between what people pay into the system and how much--if anything--will be there when they retire. Currently, this system is all very nebulous for most Americans. They need to know exactly how much they will receive if they retire at a specific age so that we can begin pushing people to save significant amounts for their own retirements. Most Americans will be living in poverty without adequate health care if they do not assume responsibility for their own old age. That the reality: This government can only provide a very basic safety net, but we need to have a discussion about what role the government should have in our lives and how much people are willing to pay for that support. It seems obvious that a livable amount of income and basic health services are worth paying for so that our rapidly aging population does not enter old age in dire straits, unable to afford housing and medical care. That is not the type of society most of us envision, but it takes huge sums of money to cover all Americans over the age of 65. That is why we are facing a potential financial crisis that is truly unfathomable. We need to prioritize our values and create a realistic budget and tax structure that will enable us to provide the services and social programs that we need, while also stressing the need for individuals to assume responsibility for their own lives and futures. We need a balanced perspective that will require difficult choices, but it can and should be done, for what is the alternative?

3. Health Care:

First, this nonsense about our health care crisis needs to be addressed. We have a health care crisis because we have a health crisis! People are obese, smoke, don't exercise and wonder why we are in a crisis. When was the last time a politician had the guts to address the real issue? They talk about the care crisis but not the health crisis. People need to change their habits or no health care system is going to help them. That's the bottom line. Having said that, let's look at the facts: 47 million Americans do not have health insurance. One-third of them make over $50,000 a year, 7.3 million have family incomes over $75K, and 25% are 25-34 years old. The fact is some people simply do not want to purchase health care, perhaps because the cost is so high: The average annual cost for insurance is $4,479 for an individual and $12,106 for a family. $41.4 billion in health care was provided last year but not paid for, mainly because free-riders went to emergency rooms without insurance etc. federal law requires that people are treated at emergency rooms(NY Times 2-23-08)
There are several potential solutions:
1. Do nothing. People who have good jobs will have health care, those who don't are on their own.
The uninsured go to emergency rooms
2. Add a tax on all income(like the Social Security deduction) and force people to buy into the system to cover everyone. People do not have a choice whether to pay into the system.
3. Force people to buy insurance on their own and fine them if they do not. Massachusetts has a variation of this type of plan. They require individuals with incomes of over $31,200 and families with income of over $63,600 to purchase insurance. Otherwise, they face fines that started at $219 but will rise to as much as $912.

My plan would be to offer significant tax breaks to companies that provide health care for their employees and offer a government-run program at a reasonable, subsidized rates for lower income Americans to have health care that transcends emergency room services. People could sign up for a payroll deduction that would enable them to receive a health care card that would be accepted by doctors and hospitals. Basically, a government run HMO, not too different than Medicare, only all Americans who need it would be covered if they choose to enroll. I would not force anyone to enroll, and people who chose not to and decided to be "free riders" would face the same type of credit issues that people who do not pay their mortgages face. They would receive emergency care in all cases, of course, but their failure to pay for the services will result in a significant credit penalty. This incentive will lead most people who can afford insurance to either purchase it on their own or sign up for the government program . People who have insurance on their own or through their jobs would not be affected except for the fact that their premiums will probably decrease because there are fewer free riders. A 2005 study found that hospitals and doctors raise their fees so much to compensate for the losses from uninsured patients that it adds 8.5% to the cost of the average premium(NY Times 2-23-08).

4. Immigration
The idea of deporting 12 million illegal immigrants is ridiculous, so what can we do? First, we need to seal the border, not simply talk tough. Republicans have long opposed this because of the pressure from big business for a constant supply of cheap labor, but since this has become such a polarizing issue, it's time to look for solutions.
1. People who are here illegally need to have the opportunity to step forward without the fear of deportation, perhaps leaving their legal immigrant children behind. They should be given the chance to apply for citizenship, paying a fine that is double the cost of becoming a legal citizen, and they should have to go to the back of the line in terms of the timeline for achieving legal status. In addition, all immigrants need to learn English and show a willingness to participate in this society. Mandatory military service for immigrants will help filter out individuals who are motivated to come here simply to get paid and not to help build the country.
2. All illegal immigrants who commit felony crimes or have criminal records need to be deported immediately. We have serious crime problems as it is and cannot justify spending millions on illegal criminals. This is a simple process.
3. Drivers licenses, college financial aid, and government IDs should NOT be issued to illegal immigrants. Once they are identified they should be given the humane options of following the steps outlined in #1 or leaving the country. I encourage people to look at the policies some of our allies have. Try to get into Mexico through their southern border and see how tight their security is; they do not want anyone coming into the country from Central America, yet they talk about American discrimination. There is nothing wrong with a country closely monitoring who comes in and out of the country. 9-11 was the result of legal immigrants who should not have been here in the first place. We should not allow anyone into this country who may reflect the views of regimes who want to attack us. This is common sense stuff. If people come here and initiate radical anti-American groups, they should be deported immediately. Otherwise, this country will face the type of destruction from within that is currently spreading throughout Europe. Who needs it? This country is plenty diverse as it is and needs to take steps to increase the number of productive, taxpaying citizens who will help us expand our technological and economic edge in a world economy.

5. Education
Education needs to be funded at a rate that will enable us to compete with the rest of the world. The public education system needs equity, as some schools are funded and others are in a state that resembles a third world country. I personally have taught in schools with window fans in 105 degree heat and 6 buckets to catch water from leaking roofs during the winter. Kids who are not really interested in school are still perceptive; they can see what we think of them by the schools we give them. The message is clear: You're poor so you don't count. That's the reality of many schools in poor areas, and it's a disgrace. Period. How are we going to increase our middle class without solid public schools? Notice this is not about paying teachers more; it's about basics: books, facilities, technology, qualified teachers and personnel. Many schools are hopelessly underfunded and kids pay the cost. Take California, which will be ranked 46 out of 50 states in per pupil spending after the current cuts(we are currently 43rd, $2000 below the national average, which is shameful in a state this wealthy). We like to think we're a progressive state but lurking below that nonsense is the shocking reality that we are really just the West Coast Mississippi.
A college education should be available to all students who qualify, regardless of their financial situation. We need to have a variety of loans and grants that will enable all students to attain a college education. Public service requirements can help some students, while simple low interest loans can help others, but the message has to be clear: If you earn high grades you will be able to attend college. That is a promise America needs to make to all high school students in order to provide real hope and a chance to increase our dismal high school and college graduation rates. If we can spend $15 billion in Iraq for nothing, we can certainly invest that much in the future of our own children in this country, children whose parents pay for these pathetic wars and foreign policy bribes to dictators and leaders who share none of our values. It's time to reassess our own values and budgetary priorities. An educated population is the reason we are not living in huts, and if this country wants to lead in the future we need to address this situation immediately, before the other advanced countries pass us by, as they have in so many other areas, such as health care.

6. Criminal Justice:
We need to increase the penalties for violent crimes and immediately release all inmates convicted of non-violent drug offenses from prisons and relocate them to less expensive programs. This number is up to 50% of some states' entire prison population! What a profound waste of money. We talk about the need to build more prisons, but it's all a big lie perpetuated by prison guard unions and right wing politicians. We have plenty of prison space; we simply are wasting it on individuals who could be better served in a different setting. Murderers get out in 7 years so we can keep the crack dealer in prison for 20. That does not reflect the values of most Americans, who want to be protected from robbery, rape, murder etc., not necessarily from drug dealers, who can be treated in much less expensive facilities than state and federal prisons. Let's put those individuals into work camps, halfway houses, and electronic monitoring and save prison space, which costs as much as a Harvard education, for people who really need to be in prison, not just punished. If we make these changes we can keep violent criminals in prison for their entire terms, which would have a serious impact on recidivism and incarceration rates. People would think twice before committing an armed robbery if they knew for certain they were going to do 20 years in prison, not 1 or 2 and then probation. That's not the case now. We have a revolving door system because of the failed war on drugs. We need to protect people from each other, not regulate what they do to themselves. If someone drinks or smokes pot on his couch, that should not be a crime. If he gets in a car and drives, that should. This is common sense, so let's introduce some sanity into the system.

7. Energy Policy
Global warming is almost certainly a reality, but my position is that it's irrelevant, for what bad can result from recycling and creating fewer greenhouse emissions and other pollution? Really, what is the downside of creating a cleaner, better environment for our children? Again, common sense goes a long way. We need to develop cleaner burning fuels because the world's supply of oil is finite, and as countries with over a billion people (China, India) begin to develop their economies, the demand for oil will increase exponentially until it is gone. Wars have and will continue to be fought over oil because our entire economy is oil dependent. We need to begin addressing that now, since Bush ignored the chance to do so after 9-11 because he was born in bed with the oil companies and has never left their side.
The obvious alternatives are wind, solar, electricity, and nuclear, although there will certainly be new sources of energy to emerge as they become economically viable. Capitalism will demand that we diversify our choices, but government needs to take the lead, not follow the oil companies' demands, as Bush has. Change in this area can be accomplished if it is undertaken in a public manner that allows conversion time and tangible results for consumers. This is an area where leadership is essential, for most Americans really do care about the environment, but they are not extremists and are reasonably suspicious of much of the current science simply because they perceive the alternatives as inconveniences. If and when gasoline goes up to $10 a gallon they will come around, and perhaps that is what it will take.

8. Abortion
Theologians, scientists, philosophers, lawyers, and of course, the least qualified--politicians-- have debated the question of when life begins for centuries, so I have no intention of looking like a fool by trying to make the definitive statement on such a divisive issue; however, as it relates to public policy, reasonable laws need to be enacted.
First, religion has no place in the development of laws. I fully support an individual's right to practice any faith and live his or her life in a way that reflects a specific set of beliefs, but in no way should those beliefs be foisted upon the rest of us. Religion has a place in society and has made many people's lives better. I fully understand that, but religious differences are the core issue in most of the current conflicts on this planet, and not too many Americans want to live in the types of repressive theocracies we see in the Middle East.
We are generally a tolerant people and make laws that protect the rights of all individuals. Laws should reflect values that are accepted by the overwhelming majority of a country's citizens. Abortion is an issue that has no common consensus and that is why a person who kills a woman who is seven months pregnant will be charged with two murders but would most likely not be charged with two if the woman were seven weeks pregnant. There is a strong sense of ambivalence in a legal sense. No one is really comfortable establishing a legal definition of when life begins. We know that potential life begins at conception but we certainly would not charge a woman with murder if she drank alcohol or did some other reckless activity and caused a miscarriage when she was 4 weeeks pregnant and unaware of the fact. Is that a case of manslaughter? I think not. However, a woman who is eight months pregnant would receive much more scrutiny and perhaps even criminal charges. Why is that? Because people simply do not know when life begins, but they do know that the 4 week tiny cluster of cells is nowhere near the same thing as a viable 35 week fetus. That is common sense for all but the most ignorant of our citizens.
Abortion is not something that anyone should take comfort in, and in no way should it be some type of default birth control for people who refuse to use birth control for whatever reason. I understand people's opposition to abortion, and I respect their views if they are consistent: These people who say it's OK in this case and that case(rape, incest etc.) are hopelessly ignorant, for if you feel that abortion is truly killing an unborn child, you would have to be against it in ALL cases. Period. We do not murder the children of rapists or molesters in this country, nor do we kill a child because it poses a threat to the life of its mother. The unborn child did not commit a crime. That's not how our justice system works, so if one truly opposes all abortions, I respect that position, though I disagree with it, but once someone starts talking about exceptions he or she simply highlights his or her hypocrisy and ignorance.

My position is a simple one: Abortion should be legal and without restrictions for all women over 18 years old through the first trimester(12 weeks). Most abortions, thankfully, take place well before the 12th week, but after the 12th week abortion should be illegal unless a doctor deems it necessary because of the mother's health or the viability of the fetus. Children under 18 must have the consent of a parent or guardian.

9. Death Penalty

Again, religious arguments have no place in this discussion: I have heard plenty of the dueling "eye for an eye" and "thou shalt not kill" crowd to last a lifetime. In essence and theory, I support the death penalty. However, I cannot support it in its current form, where in recent history every person on Death Row in California was poor enough to qualify for a court-appointed lawyer. America cannot have a justice system that is so blatantly biased against the poor, who not coincidentally, are often minorities. The death penalty either needs to be given to all individuals who are convicted of first degree murder or no one at all. I fully support the execution of murderers as long as there is an adequate multi-stage appeals process and the penalty is imposed on rich and poor alike. I do not foresee that happening any time soon, so I support the current moratorium on executions until these issues are examined and resolved.

I know that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, and I fully understand that most murders are crimes of passion committed by someone who knows the victim. However, the fact remains that some crimes are so atrocious that the person does not deserve to live out his life at taxpayers' expense. Individuals who rape and kill little girls, serial killers, criminals who kill in the commission of robberies, gang murders, premeditated murders--these individuals have no valid reason to continue living. They need to be executed, as they offer nothing in the way of value to our society. I'm no bleeding heart who feels that everyone has something valuable to offer society. I had a machine gun held to the back of my head during a robbery and had one of my students arrested for first degree murder during one of my lectures. Perhaps everyone does have something to offer, but sometimes individuals make the decsion to throw away the "better angels of their nature" and embrace the base animalistic instincts that characterize the human condition, so while I value justice for everyone above all else, part of that responsibility is imposing just sentences that match the crimes, and occasionally the only possible sentence that comes anywhere near matching the severity of the crime is for the criminal to lose his life--usually in a much more humane way than his victim left this world.

10. Science and Technology

America needs to remain on the cutting edge of technological and scientific developments, as this is the foundation of an advanced, progressive society. We need to embrace science as a means by which we can confront health issues and help the rest of the world. As we have started to do in Africa, we can lead the world in helping poor countries develop vaccines and treatments for AIDS and other deadly diseases. We need to aggressively expand funding for a myriad of scientific endeavors in all areas, from energy and medical to advanced computer programs. We need to encourage children in this country to commit to a rigorous science education, and we need to back it up by provding schools and universities with the same types of resources the Department of Defense receives. We need to draw the line between superstition and science and fund innovative ideas such as stem cell research. Scientists have been attacked for centuries, some even murdered for suggesting ideas that all but the most ignorant now accept as fact. Are we a society that is content to believe that thunder is a reflection of God's anger and that evolution is just a "theory"? Will we also begin rejecting gravitational "theory" or the germ theory of disease? Let's hope not. Let's continue the traditions of inquiry that have made this country the great place that most of us know and love, and let's develop 21st century generations that boldly move us into the future through the process of investigation, trial and error, that is the foundation of science and the core of technological advancements. Let's dare to dream big, and more importantly, let's do the hard work that will enable us to continue to develop our scientific imaginations and intellectual foundation so that we can continue to discover more about this miracle that we call life. As Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge," so let's tap that great potential of the human mind and move bravely and confidently in the directions of our dreams.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Words DO matter...

In the aftermath of Obama's stunning victory tonight in Wisconsin he delivered a 45 minute policy-oriented, highly detailed speech that was an overview of his solid positions on many of the most important issues of the campaign: Iraq, the economy, energy, education, health care, children, parenting, the political culture, immigration, and indeed the American character. There he stood, in front of 20,000 excited people in a Houston basketball arena, presenting a profound vision of the transcendental possibilities that makes this country a true beacon of hope. The irony, of course, is that it is Obama who is repeatedly attacked by dullards like Clinton and McCain for not basing his campaign on specific solutions for the mess that Bush has made of this once-great country.

I defy anyone to compare the trite, hackneyed rhetoric of Clinton and McCain's "speeches" tonight with Obama's. He slapped both of them down, rubbing his eloquence in their faces, beating back their desperate attempts to obscure the obvious reality of this situation: Obama is smarter and classier than either Clinton or McCain; more importantly, it is Obama who also has the real ideas to implement real change. Is the country really screaming for an 80-year-old with a horrible temper to have his hands on the nuclear button in 7 or 8 years? That is a frightening vision that is the answer to McCain's weak fear-mongering about the big bad world and how Obama cannot keep us safe from all those bad guys(like Bush's Saudi buddies that were here legally, taking their flying lessons, crashing planes into the WTC). Yes, McCain WAS a war hero--30+ years ago, before many voters were even alive. All he has shown recently is that he is out of touch with this world, the here and now that people care about, people whose kids are dying in a war so futile and pointless that it makes Vietnam look noble by comparison. McCain is a man whom time has passed by. He doesn't get it, and his ignorance makes him dangerous for all Americans. As Frank Rich wrote in last Sunday's New York Times, "Trapped in an archaic black-and-white newsreel, the G.O.P looks more like a nostalgic relic than a national political party in contemporary America." As for McCain, "in the vast arena of the internet he has been shrunk to Grumpy Old White Guy, the G.O.P. brand incarnate." Where were all those black Republicans to stand up and support McCain in his victory speech? There are NO black Republicans in the House OR Senate and black voters account for 2% of GOP primary voters.(2-17-08)
The reality, of course, is that all presidents work in concert with advisors, cabinet members etc. Obama, unlike idiots like Bush-McCain, seems especially willing to consider and even embrace divergent ideas and points of view. In essence, that is why he is not only winning this election but wiping out Clinton and McCain. Obama has a very real chance to step it up in Texas and close the show.

The more I see of Barack Obama, the more I am impressed with the dignity, class and restraint he has shown throughout this campaign. Yes, restraint, for imagine if it were Obama that had LOST 10 states in a row, most by landslide margins and all by convincing margins. The Clinton campaign would be demanding that he withdraw from the race, accusing him of tearing apart the party, claiming that he is driven by ego rather than reality. Well, where does that leave the pathetic spectacle that is Billary? She continues on, ignoring another trouncing tonight, refusing to acknowledge the failure that surrounds her, desperately attacking Obama, the "hope-monger" As Obama noted, "We don't need leaders who are telling us what we cannot do." Running a "No, we can't" campaign has never worked in American politics, and Clinton is paying the price for her ruthless cynicism and hypocrisy. Soon, the inevitable calls for her withdrawl will begin. Let's face the facts: When a team loses 10 games in a row, all by double-digits and most by 20 points or more, there is no way to spin that. There are no moral victories in politics. People are simply not that stupid; Billary's base may be uneducated, but even they can see the writing on the wall. This laughable attempt to continually move the goal posts, claiming that this state and that state favor Obama, is really one of the more disturbing events in modern political history.

Imagine if it were Obama who was dismissive of any state that he didn't win. What would the reaction be? How would he be characterized? She has lost 25 of 35 states yet is given a pass to define victory on her own terms. It's like the Miami Dolphins losing their first 10 games this season(as they did), only to say, "who cares, we're waiting for that Baltimore game, that's the big one." OK... Talking about Texas, Ohio etc. is irrelevant, for short of outright fraud or a total collapse of Obama's campaign, Clinton needs to forget about winning the party's nomination, despite Billary's ruthless pursuit of superdelegates. As the New York Times reported(2-17-08), there are 79 superdelegates from states and districts that Obama won by large margins that are supporting Clinton and over 100 of the undecided are from states that Obama won big, a clear indication of the flawed nature of the process. Obama won Washington state with 68% of the vote, yet the state's two U.S. Senators are both voting for Clinton? These are the types of politicians who need to be held accountable to the will of their constituents, as Tad Devine wrote in the New York Times: "The perception that the votes of ordinary people don't count as much as those of political insiders, who get to pick the nominee in some mythical back room, could hurt our party for decades to come."(2-10-08)

The reason I will not vote for Billary under any circumstances at this point has nothing to do with her qualifications or policy positions; it has to do with their complete and utter disregard for basic decency, fairness, and moral principles, whether it has to do with the race issue, the DNC rules, or the smug assumption of inevitability that is more suited to a monarchy than a democracy in a clearly transitional historical phase. First, the battle to claim Florida and Michigan delegates is simply disgusting: The candidates all signed a pledge not to campaign or contest the votes in those states; Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan, yet Clinton wants to claim the "ghost" delegates. The bigger issue, and a shocking one, is that in Michigan she couldn't even break 50% of the white male vote in an election where she was the only candidate on the ballot!

Americans value a fair game and will not tolerate cheaters, as baseball players are learning the hard way, yet here is Clinton pushing to change the rules of the game after it was played, deciding that a Spring Training game was actually game 7 of the World Series or that a pre-season game was actually the Super Bowl. That's not how we do things in this country. The two states were told that their votes would not count if they moved their elections up, and everyone agreed to it, including the Clintons. Now they want to seize delegates that were uncontested because they are getting embarrassed in every fair fight they've engaged in. If the Clintons wanted those states to count, they should have asked to change the rules BEFORE the votes were cast so that Obama could have a fair chance to get his name out there. The interesting irony is that had the idiots in Michigan and Florida simply kept their elections on Feb 5th they would have had the huge influence that they wanted. The individuals who disenfranchised their own state's voters are the villains of this story. What the hell were they thinking? They were clearly told that if they moved their elections earlier than Feb 5th, their votes would not count, yet they did it anyway, played chicken with the democratic rights of millions of people...and lost.

The brutal truth is that the only significant states Clinton has won in the entire election are the Super Tuesday ones where Obama did not have nearly enough time to campaign. Think of the name recognitition advantage she had in a 20+ state single-day primary--and she lost over half of those states! People know the Clinton name, but once they get to know Obama, they drop the Clintons quickly. That's essentially what has happened in the last 14 days. As I predicted, when Obama has time to get into a state and mobilize his prodigious ground troops, he quickly turns the tide. That's why he's likely to win Texas and Ohio and end this thing if he doesn't make a substantial mistake on the campaign trail or in the debates.

The Clinton campaign responded to the first sign of trouble by trying to play on the worst instincts of Americans, playing the race card, characterizing Obama as another black radical, but to their dismay they found a new America, one that was ready to turn a significant page in race relations, and Billary is still reeling from this epiphany: They simply cannot comprehend what is happening, as states all over this country have rejected their smear campaigns and shallow rhetoric. Like a punch drunk fighter, they are trapped on the ropes, pummeled by 10 unanswered blows, waiting for the ref to step in, arms waving, and mercifully call an end to the fight...
On to the showdown on March 4th. It was on that day--March 4th, 1933, that F.D.R. gave his own little rhetorical speech, something about "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," as the country faced the worst crisis in its history.
Just words...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Men at some time are masters of their fates": Obama takes Control

Listening to the Clinton campaign in the aftermath of the devastating results of the past week, it occurred to me that she and Rudy should form a "Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda" ticket: Unable to compete and helplessly watching her support slip away, she desperately tries to change the rules of the game, talking about her new "firewall" in Texas. It's laughably absurd to think that she will salvage some miraculous 5% victory and bounce back into the lead, as we all saw how that worked for the other "inevitable" candidate, Rudy. Down by over 100 delegates after tonight, the message is clear: start winning big or step aside. Billary is quickly becoming anathema to a Democratic Party that is beginning to really believe in the change that Obama speaks of, and as belief grows it is accompanied by a visceral need to shut the door on the past and turn the page on the Clinton era. There were 23 states left after Super Tuesday: Obama has won all 7 states since then, leaving him with 22 victories to her 10, and the road doesn't look any better for Clinton heading into Hawaii and Wisconsin. Billary dismissed caucus votes from the weekend, saying the caucus system is not inclusive enough, then got destroyed even worse in today's primaries. They enjoyed the caucus when they won in Nevada, yet they have been reduced to spinning their multitudinous defeats and talking about their past victories. Stressing your victories in big states such as California doesn't help you when you're getting wiped out day after day. Moreover, as the old saying goes, "In California, drive 50 miles away from the coast and you're in Oklahoma." Clinton won Oklahoma also, but that seemed like years ago in a campaign structure and media that feeds on what have you done lately.

We live in an era of TV attention spans, and all anyone sees now is a Clinton team that is 0-7 since last week and staring at 0-9 next week. The seats are starting to vacate and the supporters are slowly slipping away from the campaign, as well as campaign managers. Billary's arrogance led them to appoint a hapless neophyte like Patti Solis to run their campaign. Like a precocious child, Solis panicked when confronted with someone like Obama who stood up and punched back. It didn't take a genius to run an "inevitability" campaign. Thank goodness Billary was too cheap and confident to hire someone as competent as James Carville, who could have really helped craft a viable message. Instead, Hillary wanted a "yes woman" when she needed someone to demand that she control Bill before it was too late and that she develop a message that was more uplifting than the trite "ready from Day One." Instead, she hired someone who admitted that she thought it would be a much shorter battle to win the nomination. Indeed, as I suggested last week, Clinton may finish the rest of the season 0-23. It's really quite simple: Win all 4 states on March 4th with over 60% of the vote or do the right thing and drop out, which unfortunately, seems almost unimaginable for Billary, but one can hope that as Frank Rich discussed in the New York Times the Clintons do not counter Obama's 1960 with their own 1968 with "a race-tinged brawl at the convention some nine weeks before Election Day."

Obama is destroying Billary in state after state, and he may not lose another, certainly not by the numbers that he is trouncing Clinton: Obama won with 68% in Washington, 68% in Nebraska, 57% in Louisiana, and 59% in Maine this weekend, and tonight in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland the results were even more decisive. It was a drubbing beyond comprehension, as Obama wiped Clinton out in EVERY category: Last Tuesday he won 57% of young voters, tonight he won 68%; last Tuesday he won 35% of older voters, tonight he won 51%; last Tuesday he won 43% of women voters, tonight he won 59%; last Tuesday, he won 35% of rural voters, tonight he won 59%. The Hispanics whom Clinton aides cynically suggested were too racist to vote for Obama? He won a majority of them also. Those groups are the Clinton base voters, and Obama has effectively taken them from her, which in essence means this race is over unless she quickly reverses the tide or the Clintonian dirty trick machine can steal enough superdelegates through relentless arm-twisting or backroom deals to put her over the top, but that looks increasingly unlikely, for everyone--even superdelegates--loves a winner, and as Obama continues to roll through state after state with landslide after landslide, the will of the voters will be impossible to deny.

The whole notion of superdelegates whose votes count for as much as 13,000 or more votes is undemocratic and highly corrupt, especially when one considers that the Clintons' stated personal wealth is $35 million while Obama's is $1.3 million. Is anyone gullible enough to think some of those "supers" could not be purchased? How the Clintons, who came to D.C. in 1992 without even owning a home, amassed that kind of fortune is worthy of a serious investigation, but unlike Obama, the Clintons refuse to release their tax returns. What do they have to hide?
Superdelegates should vote for the candidate who won their district so that they are respresented proportionally to the popular vote in each state. This is the only way to avoid rampant corruption, and if that means that Obama supporters Kennedy and Kerry vote for Clinton because she won Mass., so be it, as long as Obama gets superdelegates in districts where he won. Americans value a fair game, and cheaters beware, especially if you're an elected official. Most politicians are afraid to throw the will of the voters in the toilet, so I remain hopeful that the person who wins the most states and delegates will garner the superdelegates necessary to secure the nomination. The alternative is downright frightening: Blood in the streets of Denver...

In the meantime, McFossil, surrounded by the same boring white bread he calls his base, delivered another somnolent "victory speech" after barely surviving another round with Ol' Huck-up. What does it say about McCain that he can barely beat someone as flawed as Huckabee? I don't get it, for as boring and dated as McCain and his views are, he is much more prepared to be president than an idiot like Huckabee, yet here is McCain, battling for every state in an election that is effectively over. He has the nomination but no one in the GOP wants him to have it. It's humorous and ironic, as he simply doesn't seem to have many supporters. To quote David Lee Roth who once famously claimed that music critics liked Elvis Costello because they all looked like Elvis Costello, McCain supporters are pretty much limited to guys who look like John McCain. Having said that, the guy may be the next president simply because this country is heading into unchartered waters. Will enough racists converge to vote against Obama instead of for McCain? That could very well happen, as it is clear that McCain has no appeal outside that narrow group that stood behind him on stage tonight. Why is race brought up? Because all McCain has proven is that hardly anyone is actually FOR him: Look at the numbers of voters who have actually showed up and cast a vote for the man. The number is miniscule compared to either Democratic candidate. This does not bode well for the general election, as McCain knows that no one is interested in voting for him, so he has to motivate them to vote against his opponent. The GOP smear machine is gearing up for a new level of slime, but whether it will be politics as usual remains to be seen. The future of the country depends on how the nation answers that question in 2008.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

"We Are the People We've Been Waiting For..."

So much for the coronation of the frontrunner, as Obama held his own and did what he had to do to take the fight into the later rounds, where his money, organization, and most importantly, momentum may very well help him close the show. While Clinton was favored in every state except Illinois, it was Obama who secured huge victories from coast to coast, Alaska to Connecticut, from Alabama to Idaho, and Utah to Minnesota. Clinton won the states she was supposed to win, but with the possible exception of Massachusetts, there were no real surprises. Obama caught and rode the wave that is still building. As Bob Herbert noted in the New York Times, people "are just fed up with the status quo, and they want change...Winds change. If you're sailing against the wind today, it may be different tomorrow. And there are few things more powerful than the winds of history"(2-5-08) What's really going on here is there is a generational war unfolding: Young people who have grown up in a world where race and gender are not huge considerations are flocking to Obama(he won nearly 60% of 18-29 group), while the older voters, especially those over 60(he lost nearly 60% of 60+ year-olds), are mired in the old vortex of racial assumptions that prevent them from transcending their own prejudices. Unfortunately, the results clearly support this assertion, so this is essentially a battle between past and present, and what this country has been and what it can be. As Obama succinctly conveyed, we are indeed the people who have arrived to try to prod, cajole, and help lead this country forward into the 21st century. "This must be the new world..."(John Doe,X)

With the Clinton name recognition and political machine, her campaign thought they were going to finish Obama off, but despite impressive but expected wins in New York and California, Clinton is running scared, today admitting that she and Bill loaned her campaign $5 million and asked staffers to work for free, a move that conjures the image of Romney and Huckabee, not the self-proclaimed inevitable nominee who assured her supporters at a December meeting in Sacramento that the race would be over on Feb 5th. In a humiliating bit of news late in the day it was reported that Obama had raised $5 million of his own since the polls closed on Feb 5, less than 24 hours. That's the reality of the situation; he raised $32 million to her $13 million in January because he has a much broader base of support that is building while hers is contracting. Clinton's spin experts were busy today claiming victory, but when she was forced to reluctantly admit her "investment," it exposed the obvious reality: Democrats are abandoning Billary at an astounding rate, as all but the deluded "core" see the writing on the wall: The calculated attempt to play the race card was a disaster that has left her core group as lower income and uneducated white and Hispanic women. Those are the facts, humbling as they may be, as the results indicated. Obama not only won educated, upper class voters and black voters: He won white males nationwide, a group that usually supports Republicans and an essential group for any Democrat who wants to be viable in a general election. Obama won nearly all the "red" states.

As I explained in an earlier post, Billary's "core" is not enough to get elected president. She is a highly divisive figure, whom one either loves or hates, and she has failed to expand her base. Indeed, it is Obama who is taking votes away from her base, while gaining ground everywhere. Look at the polls a month ago in the states Obama lost: He was down by 20-30% in every one of those states but ended up competing in ALL of them, while Clinton was crushed in many states: She only won 17% in Idaho, 31% in Georgia, 26% in Kansas, 25% in Alsaka, 32% in Colorado and Minnesota, 33% in Illinois, the state she grew up in! Obama had over 40% of the vote in EVERY state except Arkansas.

So who has a better chance to force Dead Man Walking(McCain) to spend time in red states trying to defend his base in a general election? For instance, Obama may lose Georgia but it's not a given. It will be a fight. His youthful energy and enthusiasm will provide a stark contrast to McCain's hackneyed rhetoric and combative demeanor. This is no country for John McCain, a relic of the past. The country is not clamoring for a leader born in the 1930s. The country expressed a desire for change last night and McCain is anything but change. He can't have it both ways of course, bragging he's "experienced" and innovative. He's neither. He's a grocery boy, come to collect his nomination.(Brando) If Billary wins the nomination, those states are safely McCain's and there are a lot of them. This is, after all, an electoral college election. Popular vote and a few big states will not cut it, yet that's all Billary can win, as they painfully demonstrated last night.

Super Tuesday was not so super for either candidate but made it clear that this battle could progress to the floor of the convention in Colorado, where the disturbing image of an all-out bloodbath becomes a distinct possibility, especially if the party insiders steal the nomination from Obama through their super delegate nonsense and the sleazy attempt to seat delegates from the uncontested "beauty contests" in Michigan and Florida, events that Obama did not contest because he is a man of his word. There was an agreement not to campaign in the states, yet now the Clintons want to claim victory? I now fully understand the people who have told me that the Clintons were slimy cutthroats. How low will these people sink? The Clintons should be thinking about a graceful exit from the campaign, not a way to consolidate insiders and rig the convention. Obama's loyal, passionate followers are likely to converge in Denver and make Chicago '68 look like a civil disagreement if he "loses" the nomination because of a few fraudulent super delegates or the seating of delegates from uncontested elections in Michigan and Florida. Howard Dean, as he indicated today, is terrified of this potential scenario. And he has good reason to hope it is over before the convention, but will it be? All the remaining states are ones that Obama can win. The momentum is with him, and he is not going to lose all those states, so what is the endgame? Believe me, the DNC is scared to death today...

So What About the Issues?

Obama has a strong argument on the following issues:
1. He was right about this war fiasco. People want us out. Period. He can declare victory and leave, as Bush should have done. It's not about giving up. We changed their leadership, remember "Mission Accomplished" Let them sort out their country now.
2. His health care plan is prudent but not as extreme as Billary's, which will be rejected once people fully understand that their wages will be garnished if they do not sign up. She reluctantly confirmed this last Sunday morning on "This Week..." Her plan makes it mandatory that everyone purchase it. Period. Good luck selling that.
He will cover basically anyone who really wants to be covered, which is good enough.
3. He's pro-choice. McCain is not. The U.S. population does not support the GOP platform's call for a constitutional amendment to ban ALL abortions. That's ridiculous.
4. He has a reasonable plan to deal with the illegal immigration issue(e.g. pathway to citizenship, pay fines, seal the border etc.) McCain shared this position until the agents of intolerance took over his campaign team. Obama made a BIG mistake supporting driver's licenses for illegals. It's a reasonable idea in public safety terms but a loser politically and did not help him with Hispanic voters, so why go there. It will cost him a lot of votes if he wins the nomination. He should back off now, as Clinton did.
5. Sound environmental record; McCain is generally sound here also, but his party is not. It's one of the reasons they hate him: He cares about the environment and doesn't hate Mexicans, which is a sin to conservatives.
6. Tax policy: McCain voted against Bush's idiotic cuts for people making over $250K(another reason the GOP hates him), but now he supports them. Obama wants to roll them back to pre-Bush levels to help balance the budget. That's the reasonable position. His economic stimulus package is reasonable, with a little extra money for old people and unemployed persons($250 each). May not help but won't hurt.
7. A good energy policy that invests in clean energy sources($150 billion over 10 years) and doubling fuel efficiency standards.
8. An education policy that wisely invests in Head Start and pre-school, where it all begins to go wrong for too many kids, and also supports $4000 college education tax credits. McCain supports vouchers for rich people to get tax credits to pay for their rich kids to go to rich private schools. That's a great use of our tax money: Wake up you middle class GOP fools: The Republican party laughs at you. They know you are idiots who will blindly support their efforts to finance tax breaks for millionaires at your expense.

Barack Obama is the only candidate left who has earned everything he has achieved. Let's face it, McCain is winning because he is running against some real losers--a Baptist preacher with 2 years of education at a Baptist school and a Mormon who is ONLY in it because he is rich. Period.
Hillary Clinton could not get elected to a school board if her last name was Jones. The "feminist" is in this race because of her man's accomplishments only, and she has hidden behind him every time the going has gotten tough. Oh, the irony of that...

Barack Obama has come out of nowhere to seize the momentum and leave the Clinton machine reeling and disoriented; now he needs to get out there and take it, for it won't be easy. He must get into all of the remaining states and do some real trench warfare: Fight for every vote. Make it happen. The country needs you.

Friday, February 1, 2008

OMTS Endorses Barack Obama for President

It was gratifying to witness the return of civility and discursive language to last night's debate; it also made it clear why many of us had an affinity for both candidates when the campaigns began last year. Indeed, the putative frontrunner Hillary Clinton is certainly a capable politician who has many innovative ideas and a generally sound vision of where she would take the country if elected, despite her unseemly celebration of winning the phony Florida primary and the much-anticipated American Samoa primary. You know a campaign is in trouble when they are talking about polling well in territories... The problem with Hillary Clinton is not her policy positions but rather her status as the most divisive political figure in recent memory, as well as her lack of judgment as it relates to the Iraq War and her husband's role in her campaign: Clinton's inability to acknowledge her mistake in supporting the war criminal Bush and her tacit approval of Bill's overtly racist campaign rhetoric has transformed her into a fatally flawed candidate who essentially has no realistic chance of uniting the Democratic Party or, more importantly, winning what will be a bruising general election. We all thank Hillary for putting Bill back in his doghouse. Someone finally had the temerity to jerk his chain. Problem is, it's too late for Ted Kennedy and indeed for all but the most dedicated myopians. On January 8th I wrote about the anger I felt at Bill's "fairy tale" comment, and it was equally painful, though not as surprising in light of the last three weeks, to see him come full circle with his most offensive comment yet, the unsolicited comparison of Obama's 28-point landslide in South Carolina to Jesse Jackson's victories in '84 and '88. Ignoring Rep. Clyburn's advice to "chill," he got one last race baiting barb in before he left South Carolina after the old fashioned ass whuppin' he took, as black voters saw the Clintons for what they have become and rewarded them accordingly. Even Toni Morrison, who much to her discredit coined the "first black president" nonsense that Bill wrapped himself in, came out and endorsed Obama this week.

Not content with alienating black and white voters, the Clinton campaign even sent a pollster out to claim that "the Hispanic voter has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates." Would he still have his job if he said this about white voters? You tell me...As one Hispanic columnist wrote, "why in the world would the Clinton campaign want to portray Latino voters as too unrelentingly racist to vote for Barack Obama."(LA Times) Let's call it as it is: The Clinton campaign knows they are on the wrong side of the main substantive issue--Iraq--so they have resorted to the old-school tactics of divide-and-conqeur racial politics. Much was said about their backing off once the show arrived in Hollywood. Is that a surprise? That's where they raise money, and overt racism isn't going to fly with educated California liberals, but the genie's out of the bottle. The pit bull Billy did his damage. They called off the dog simply because they feel as though they achieved their goal of blackening up Obama enough to take him down in a one-on-one contest. However, what seemed to galvanize the Democratic Party this week was the collective rejection of the Clintonian win-at-all-costs brand of politics. Hillary's "making nice" is a product of necessity, as the Clintons watched one Democrat after another bravely stand up and turn their backs on their methods. Even right wing columnists had it right, as William Kristol's piece in the New York Times conveyed: "But it is now clear that putting her in the White House brings a hyperactive Bill back in with her. Who needs it? Liberals and Democrats can get basically the same policies without the Clintonian baggage, and in choosing Obama, they can nominate a more electable candidate."(1-28-08) All Democrats should heed this advice and vote to give our party a real chance to win in November, for Billary will lead to a humiliating defeat that will have the collateral effect of disillusioning millions of Obama's supporters, left to say, I told you so...

John McCain is a pathetic candidate, with his big cheeks bulging with all the BS that comes out of his mouth about the great success of the surge and how Americans want to stay in Iraq for 100 years. Remember it was McCain who went to Iraq, a place so safe that he literally was afraid to walk down the street unless he had soldiers, tanks, and even air support Blackhawks to protect him. Ah, the fruits of democracy. Talk about the surge when he goes to Iraq and walks down the street with only his Secret Service guys. I would pay to see that. But he is the best the GOP has to offer, and the party faithful will unite behind him, especially if Clinton is the opponent. It's laughable to suggest that any Republican is going to vote for Hillary Clinton because McCain isn't conservative enough. Think about that logic...Of course, they will support "McStain." As the old saying goes, "Primaries are for falling in love, general elections are for falling in line." No one is better at falling in line than Republicans; they will support McCain, despite their bruised egos. Thus, the Democrats are left with the following predicament: Who is best equiped to compete with the Republicans in November and secure an electoral college majority?

I have often been asked if I think Barack Obama can be elected President of the United States in 2008. My answer is an honest one: I do not know. But what I do know is that Hillary Clinton will not defeat John McCain, a generally moderate Republican, despite his protestations that he is some kind of conservative. Clinton's only real chance was against a right wing fringe candidate, such as Huckabee, but with her high negatives she would have to win every state Kerry won, plus a few more where she trails McCain badly. She would start the race at least 20 states behind, as she would have no chance to win any Southern or Western states. Face it, she can only compete on both coasts and the Northeast. Even the Midwest is a dicey proposition for Clinton, especially against a moderate. As in 2000 and '04, the GOP and McCain could focus on one or two swing states and the election is over. As Frank Rich wrote in the New York Times last Sunday, the spectacle of "Billary" is a losing proposition: First, all the Clinton baggage becomes the biggest albatross in political history, as suddenly Bill's actions over the last eight years become fair game, since he has thrust himself into this campaign. More importantly, Hillary is not a strong contrast to McCain, as they voted the same on many issues and McCain, as a much more experienced Senator and a real war hero, takes the thunder out of her main argument. As Rich said, "the moment she attempts it, McCain will run an ad about how he was being tested when those 35 years(of Hillary's experience) began, in 1973. It was that spring when he emerged from five-plus years at the Hanoi Hilton while Billary was still bivouacked at Yale Law School. And can Mrs. Clinton presume to sell herself as the best equiped to be commander in chief 'on Day One' when opposing an actual commander and war hero? I don't think so."(NY Times 1-27-08) Basically both McCain and Clinton are one trick ponies running on their perceived experience, while the country is yearning for CHANGE. If people were so concerned about having an experienced president, they would be screaming for Cheney to run, as it's clear he has much more experience than all the candidates. So much for experience...

Obama, however, provides a sense of hope, as well as a stark contrast with the bitter curmudgeon, McCain. And, in reality, as an Illinois State and U.S. Senator he has eleven years of experience as an ELECTED public servant(four more than Hillary Clinton, who touts her experience) Obama has the potential to compete in Southern states and put the GOP on the defensive over their failed war and irresponsible budgets. While Hillary and McCain were on the Senate floor voting to enable Bush to launch an unprovoked attack on a country that had nothing to do with 9-11 and no WMDs, Barack Obama had the insights and COURAGE to speak the following words:

"I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military is a fraction of it's former strength. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than the best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars."
Barack Obama October 2, 2002

Think about Obama's words, spoken well before our misguided invasion. Think about how this country could have been different if his words would have been taken seriously. Think about the 4,000 young Americans whose lives could have been saved, along with tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. I have ex-students who have DIED in this war and others who are there now. We continue to spend over $12billion a month. Think about those numbers. The $600 rebates the government is mailing out will cost $150 billion. My family will get $1200. We could have received $1200 EVERY YEAR for the same cost as the Iraq war! American families are paying that much for this war. $1200 you could save for your child's education, for your own retirement, to pay bills, to buy healthcare. That is a tangible reminder of how much we are paying for this war: Each year Iraq is costing us more than literally sending every taxpaying family $1200. And what have we gained from the $6000 my wife and I have spent on the Iraq war these past FIVE years? Nothing. Much of the world hates us more than ever, our economy is crashing, and the national psyche is in tatters. You chicken hawks and cowards, masters of war, who, like Bush and Cheney, ran from war when it was your time to go, should "bury your face deep in the rag, for now is the time for your tears...Even Jesus will never forgive what you do"(Dylan)

Barack Obama is a man of vision, integrity, and sound judgment--qualities that have been noticeably and painfully absent from the current adminstration. He can reach out to a world that is looking for America to once again be a moral leader, not just a military power. He deserves your vote on Feb 5th.

The Real State of Our Union

If ever a country was screaming for regime change, it is our country, here and now:
We have a president whose approval rating has gone from 84% in 2002 to 32% in 2008(Gallup Poll, 1-20-08) while Exxon, a Texas company of course, posted the largest annual profit of any U.S. company in the history of this country--$40.6 BILLION. They made this money on the backs of poor people, who paid continually increasing prices for gasoline, home heating oil etc. This supply and demand nonsense that Bush talks about is out the window: The truth is that the oil companies manipulated crude oil markets and futures in order to create these profits for the largest publicly traded oil company. The entire Bush family have been in bed with the oil companies for years. Now that Exxon got their 40 billion this year, it's time for them to kiss Georgie goodbye, roll over and put their pants on. I'm sure they paid him well for his services.