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.

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