Friday, February 22

Obama Finally Got Me!

It's taken quite a while, but I finally made the decision to jump into Obama's corner.

I had supported John Edwards, even through Super Tuesday, because Edwards had been the only candidate I saw that was addressing the issues I was most concered about, which was the idea of reviving the American dream for the poor and the middle class. He was the only one with some real Spine!

I thought Hillary was a fine candidate, but most importantly I felt that the primary thrust of her criticisms of Barack - they he was all talk and little action - hadn't been successfully rebutted.

Now they have been.

I've had my problems and concerns with Obama, and I've thought that the petty territorial pissing contest between he and Hillary was just plain wretched.

However, some of this arguement has been important and illustrative.

Obama supporters have been livid at the Clinton campaign for it's various critiques of their candidate. People said they were "playing the race" card (a charge which I take very seriously as a Black Man Myself) but I always felt that it was a completely fair criticism to point out that their is often a difference between the person who may inspire progress and the person who may best implement that progress.

This was the MLK v LBJ arguement. A lot of people were offended by what they saw as diminishing MLK's importance, but the simple fact is he didn't do it alone. The Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and the Public Accomodations Acts would not have made it through Congress if not for a skilled legislator like LBJ twisting arms and glad-handing, pushing, pulling, cajoling and being a tough negotiator for change.

MLK was vitally important to the Civil Rights Movement, but so was LBJ and so was JFK.

CLINTON: But there are differences between us. And I think, in our efforts to draw those contrasts and comparisons, we obviously try to let voters know how we see the world differently.

And I do offer solutions. That's what I believe in and what I have done. And it's what I offer to voters because it's part of my life, over the last 35 years, working to get kids health care, working to expand legal services for the poor, working to register voters, working to make a difference. Because I think that this country has given me so much.

And there are differences between our records and our accomplishments. I have to confess, I was somewhat amused, the other night, when, on one of the TV shows, one of Senator Obama's supporters couldn't.

So I know that there are comparisons and contrasts to be drawn between us. And it's important that voters get that information. So, yes, I do think that words are important and words matter, but actions speak louder than words.

Hillary has given up on trying to out inspire Obama, that ain't gonna happen - but even until today she hasn't given up on the idea that she is a better fighter than Obama, that she knows better how hard the other side will punch back (because she's gotten pummelled before) and what it's going to take to IMPLEMENT Change.

Yes, it may be true that progress doesn't happen at all if you don't have inspiration and that if you don't have Hope then you can't make positive change at all, but what we really need are both. Inspiration and Implementation.

If Obama has had any weakness in my mind - this is it. It's going to take more than just happy talk to get the difficult things we need done through Congress. We need more than just Hope Alone, We're also going to need someone who is also can effectively Implement the things that we Hope for.

I think Barack did a great job of answering this criticism.

OBAMA: Well, I think actions do speak louder than words, which is why over the 20 years of my public service I have acted a lot to provide health care to people who didn't have it, to provide tax breaks to families that needed it, to reform a criminal justice system that had resulted in wrongful convictions, to open up our government and to pass the toughest ethics reform legislation since Watergate, to make sure that we create transparency...

(APPLAUSE)

... to make sure that we create transparency in our government so that we know where federal spending is going and it's not going to a bunch of boondoggles and earmarks that are wasting taxpayer money that could be spent on things like early childhood education.

You know, I think if you talk to those wounded warriors at Walter Reed who, prior to me getting to the Senate, were having to pay for their meals and have to pay for their phone calls to their family while they're recovering from amputations, I think they've said that I've engaged not just in talk, but in action.

So yes, Obama is not just all hat. - he's not just all talk.

He's DONE. STUFF.

And so has Hillary Clinton, but now that that's settled what else is there?

Well, there are some differences in their policies particularly on Health Care and that had a vigorous discussion of that topic - but it's also true that we all know that any election time proposals are going to be completely different by the time the get through the sausage factory of Congress. Nice to see they are both so well versed with the issue, but this isn't a make or break issue for me.

I don't simply want just another place holder in the White House with a (D) by their name. The massive corruption and malfeasance of the Bush Administration is going to take literally decades to clean up and correct. Our international prestige, our integrity, our national infrustructure, our national debt, our trade deficit, our economy and our armed forces have been left in tatters by this Administration.

We've got some serious heavy lifting in front of us.

What Barack showed last night was that he's been able to Implement as much and as well as anyone, and Hillary has made it clear that she's willing and able to FIGHT hard - and even somewhat dirty - to get what she feels will help the American people.

The point where Barack finally got me was when he finally explained why his approach and strategy is critically different from everyone else in the political plain...

OBAMA: Now, I think that Senator Clinton has a fine record and I don't want to denigrate that record. I do think there is a fundamental difference between us in terms of how change comes about. Senator Clinton of late has said: Let's get real. The implication is that the people who've been voting for me or involved in my campaign are somehow delusional.

(LAUGHTER)

And that, you know, the 20 million people who've been paying attention to 19 debates and the editorial boards all across the country at newspapers who have given me endorsements, including every major newspaper here in the state of Texas.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: You know, the thinking is that somehow, they're being duped, and eventually they're going to see the reality of things.

Well, I think they perceive reality of what's going on in Washington very clearly. What they see is that if we don't bring the country together, stop the endless bickering, actually focus on solutions and reduce the special interests that have dominated Washington, then we will not get anything done. And the reason that this campaign has done so well...

(APPLAUSE)

The reason that this campaign has done so well is because people understand that it is not just a matter of putting forward policy positions.

OBAMA: Senator Clinton and I share a lot of policy positions. But if we can't inspire the American people to get involved in their government and if we can't inspire them to go beyond the racial divisions and the religious divisions and the regional divisions that have plagued our politics for so long, then we will continue to see the kind of gridlock and nonperformance in Washington that is resulting in families suffering in very real ways.

I'm running for president to start doing something about that suffering, and so are the people who are behind my campaign.

Barack is arguing not for what he can do personally - he's arguing for what he can INSPIRE US TO DO.

What he's clearly saying here is that the American People have to have hope and faith in the political process once again, and that once they do the American people have far more power and influence than any corporate lobbyists can have.

OBAMA: The problem we have is that Washington has become a place where good ideas go to die. They go to die because the lobbyists...

(APPLAUSE)

They go to die because lobbyists and special interests have a strangle-hold on the agenda in Washington. They go to die in Washington because too many politicians are interested in scoring political points rather than bridging differences in order to get things done.

And so the central premise of this campaign is that we can bring this country together, that we can push against the special interests that have come to dominate the agenda in Washington, that we can be straight with the American people about how we're going to solve these problems and enlist them in taking back their government.

When John Kerry called on Dailykos to help him Filibuster Judge Alito - we answered the call. Alito eventually defeated the filibuster, but the point is that when Kerry originally brought it up he was standing virtually alone. After he called for our help, and we started to bombard Congress with support for Kerry's stance - we changed things. The votes started to flip within a day or two, what seemed impossible suddenly because plausible - then it was possible, then it happened.

And We Did it. Kerry inspired Us, he asked Us to Fight, and We Stood up.

It finally occurred to me that this is what we need. We The People need to push back against the cynicism, push back against the defeatism, push back against the pacifism, push back against the entrenched interests who depend on our non-participation.

We The People need to take control of our nation back.

Hillary is asking that we place our trust in her, Barack is asking that we place our trust IN US.

This is the Change that he's talking about, and let's just think about what that might mean in the long term future.

From Kos today.

Watching Obama build his incredible ground operation across the country, I can't help but hope that this newly built infrastructure stays in place through November.

We must build long term, in every state, toward a solid future progressive majority.

We can help downticket races, even in states where our presidential nominee won't likely win.

And we need to run up the popular vote.

Here's the thing, that infrustructure has to become Permanent. The thing about Barack is that he's not just asking for us to vote for him, his vision also includes those downticket races in the House and Senate where various candidates - both Democrat and Republican - will begin to be judged on whether or not they on Barack's Team or not, whether they are likely to help America move for - or be a Road Block.

Kos Again...

On that last count, LBJ was the last Democrat to win his election by more than 50.1 percent of the vote. Bill Clinton never even broke 50 percent. So it's hard to argue you're a national party when we've been unable to notch a solid national presidential victory in 44 years.

So I want a presidential candidate who won't just fight for every electoral vote in the swing states, and who won't just create new swing states like Virginia, Colorado, Montana and -- can we dream? -- Texas.

I want a presidential candidate who will eat into GOP popular vote advantages everywhere, even in states like Idaho and Alabama, helping cut into the GOP's vote tally. We must mobilize Democrats everywhere, in every state in our nation, to deliver the most dominant Democratic margin of victory in half a century.

Imagine if we begin to turn a significant number of the Red States, Purple? Imagine if we finally start to Drink the GOP's Milkshake?

The issue of "Implementation" becomes almost moot.

If that is what we truly want to do, if this is the direction that we want to go then Hillary Clinton - wonderful pit-fighter though she may be - is not the candidate for the Democratic party, and not the candidate for America.

Barack Obama is.

Vyan

Thursday, February 21

Michelle Obama and the Reframing of American Pride

Yesterday's mini-explosion over Michelle Obama's comments:

"What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something -- or the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I've seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it's made me proud."

What interesting about this isn't just Bill O'Reilly's idiotic ill-advised "not gonna start a lynching party" comments, - gee, thanks for the consideration Bill - but really the very serious disconnect and failure to comprehend the very simple point Michelle was making on the issue of "Pride".


The Cons just don't understand.

How could an adult person in America, not be proud of America?

How could they not feel their heart swell when the vast majority of Americans are completely cynical about politics, where they don't get involved, where they don't think their votes matters or will even get counted, where the factors that affect their lives - from the cost of health care to the collapsing housing markets, collapsing infrastructure, collapsing wages, rising costs, poisoned food, poisoned water, poisoned toys - all remain unresolved and the only hope were supposed to have is continued blind faith in the mystical merry magic of the "Free Markets" to take care of everything for us.

Most of us know this is all a crock. Corporations are not going to take care of us, they're going to take care of their stockholders - their customers and employees be damned. And while corporate lobbyist have the government in a stranglehold, they aren't going to come to anyones rescue - because that might be bad for business to be able to actually get things for free from the government, instead of having to go into debt for school fees and health care fees.

It's really simple. America has not lived up to it's promise, but it CAN. America isn't perfect, it has many flaws - but it can be better. It can be much better than this.

We know that the brooks brothers set doesn't get it, they already think thht American is just fine as it is (for them) and anyone who dares try to make it better just simply "Hates America" - but sometimes the depth of their lack of reality is truly staggering.

Case in point - Brit Hume:

HUME: Yeah, she's -- first time she said in her, I guess, adult life.

HILL: Adult life.

HUME: She -- adult life she'd been proud of America. That's --

HILL: What in the world does that mean?

HUME: Well, it means that she is a liberal, and maybe an arch-liberal.

Why is she a "liberal"? Cuz Liberals Hate America - don't cha know?

And now that Michelle has said how she really feels, they want to know what Obama really feels?

HUME: Is this -- I mean, for example, was he proud when the first President Bush ran Saddam Hussein's army out of Kuwait? Was he proud when the United States went to the rescue and did all that our Navy and other military forces did for the tsunami victims? Was he proud then? Indeed, one might ask her, "You sure you weren't proud then as well?" But I think this was something that she kind of thinks that the -- and there is -- there is this feeling, and it has affected Democratic politicians for a long time, that they are kind of embarrassed by patriotism.

No, what were embarrassed by is the militaristic exploitation of patriotism. We're embarrassed by Jingoism.

Jingoism: (jĭng'gō-ĭz'əm) Pronunciation Key

n. Extreme nationalism characterized especially by a belligerent foreign policy; chauvinistic patriotism.

Extreme and emotional nationalism, or chauvinism, often characterized by an aggressive foreign policy, accompanied by an eagerness to wage war.

noun

  1. an appeal intended to arouse patriotic emotions [syn: flag waving]
  1. fanatical patriotism [syn: chauvinism]

So naturally every element of Hume's example of "Pride" has to do with the U.S. Military, it has nothing to do with the American people themselves and how they've come together to accomplish - well - anything, because America as a nation hasn't done anything dramatic or impressive together during the entirety of Michelle's adult life over the past 20-25 years.

Hey Brit, were you "proud" when America had a better response to the tsunami than it did to the Gulf Coast and let an American City DROWN? We're you proud when while American's were dying of dehydration in the Superdome, when all they needed was some water? Are you proud that we waterboarded Abu Zubaydah and part of the information he gave us about Saddam training Al Qaeda on chemical weapons which Colin Powell told the UN was completely bogus!.

Were you proud when Americans kidnapped Abu Omar and Maher Arar, two innocent muslims who were wrongly accused and tortured by Egypt and Syria because of our mistake.

We're you proud when Tim Griffin Caged the votes of African-American soldiers serving in Iraq just to help George Bush return to the White House?

Is that the America that you love?

It seems to be the America that Cindy McCain loves:

CINDY McCAIN [video clip]: I'm proud of my country. I don't know about you if you heard those words earlier. I'm very proud of my country, and I'm proud to be a person that has voted in elections and I hope that all of you will do so today.

Yeah, you're proud you can vote - even if it's not clear whether that vote will count or not (especially if you hapen to be in Michigan or Florida).

Then there's Ralph Reed:

Now you get this, and the problem is, the reason why I think this isn't going to go away, unless she apologizes quickly, is because it plays into a stereotype about the left wing of the Democratic Party, that it blames America first, that they don't see the greatness of America, and it really makes me wonder as somebody who is roughly about Barack and Michelle's age, what country she grew up in. I mean, I was proud of America when we won the Cold War, and the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union disintegrated. I was proud when we expelled Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. I was proud when we liberated 50 million people from the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. I was proud when we provided humanitarian aid to the victims of an earthquake in Iran and to a tsunami in Asia.

Or John Gibson, when he puts Reed's premise to Kirsten Powers and she bats it back like a fastball into deep right field:

GIBSON: Kirsten, let's put it this way: Michelle Obama is finally proud of the U.S. Does that mean that President Barack will blame America first?

POWERS: Well, actually, listening to that little speech that Ralph just gave, I mean, why do people think that about liberals? It's because people do what Ralph just did.

It's true that both Liberals and Conservatives love America. They both love their country, but Conservatives love America the way a five-year old loves their parents. It's an idealized vision where American can do no wrong, where their response is to throw a tantrum when someone points out that Dad has a compulsive gambler and Mom is constantly dipping into the cookie Sherry over it.

Liberals love America, but they want Dad to go into Gambler's Annonymous and Mom to stop drinking. They want America to live up to it's full potential not just kick the neighbor kids ass every few years.

Update:There are plenty of things about America that Liberals are proud of. Most of the time though it's been things that we stopped doing or avoided.

We're proud we stopped Jim Crow and Segregation.

We're proud we stopped denying blacks and women the right to vote.

We're proud we didn't start WWIII over the Cuban Missile Crisis.

We're proud we avoided a war with Iran over the Hostages.

We're proud we ended the Cold War.

We're proud we ended the War in Bosnia.

We're proud we helped end the War in Northern Ireland.

We're proud we have the potential to continue bringing these types of values and peace to the rest of the world.

But we won't unless we realize that we MUST get better and be better than we have been. We have to STOP our continued Racial polarization and exploitation, our own willingless to violate international Human Rights standards, and our failure to implement aggressive yet fair-minded diplomatic efforts to promote peace and prosperity.

We have to STOP being proud of our failures, and start being proud of our successes.

Vyan