Thursday, August 28, 2008

Engaging Issues

Amidst the recent spat of editorials critical of Barack Obama warning us of the perils of a Democratic government comes a challenge from the Editor of the Daily News Record. In his column of 8/28 (Democrats and the Rich), he challenges Barack Hussein Obama to "engage Mr. McCain on the issues." A simple question comes to mind. Wouldn't it be a good time for John Sidney McCain to engage Mr. Obama on the issues?

As an editorial writer, what better place than the Editorial Forum to start the ball rolling at least here in the Valley. Here are some issues to start on: fair wages, fair markets, health security, retirement security, equal justice, Common Values, or One Country "with liberty and justice for all." I would invite the Editor or anyone else who favors the incumbent party to join in the discussion and support the record of the current administration by telling us why they support torture, illegal wiretapping, "justified" law breaking by the President, CIA black sites, restrictions of habeas corpus, secret rendition, and the "use it or lose it" approach to environmentalism. Then we could start on the privatization of the military, the health care system, social security, the infrastructure, and education, or we could begin the discussion of corporate welfare, the wealth gap, the mortgage meltdown, and the growth of government. It's time to "engage on the issues."

Friday, August 22, 2008

The DNR's Radical Friends

So in the spirit of today's Op-Ed in the Daily News Record, let's look at some of the writer's "Radical Friends." First there is Stanley Kurtz writing in the National Review - Senior Fellow at the think tank known as Ethics and Public Policy Review... noted conservative commentator and colleague of Senior Fellow, Rick Santorum, humiliated former Junior Senator from Pennsylvania who famously warned in 2003 that the repeal of laws banning sodomy would lead to "man on dog" sex.

Then there is the late Reed Irvine - founder of Accuracy in Media and father of current Chairman Don Irvine. The elder Irvine called for sedition charges to be brought against the SDS, the Black Panthers, and the Progressive Labor Party thus certifying his Right Wing credentials. He called for a nuclear strike against Iraq during Desert Storm, he rails against environmental causes with great stridency (his primary funding sources are the big chemical and oil companies), and famously advocated for government policing of major-network newscasts for "accuracy and fairness."

For facts and information the editor refers us to that fount of knowledge and self-edited bastion of scholarship, Wikipedia.

Other sources of information include the famously "fair and balanced" Fox News, the noted conservative rag The National Review, and the admittedly conservative Washington Times (although the Times reporting an AP story, gives our editor some wiggle space here.)

These are bona fide right wing sources, every bit as legitimate as the mainstream media or equally bona fide left wing sources. My point is simply that this "opinion" is so dramatically slanted towards the extreme Right that it loses it's credibility! It's simply PROPAGANDA for the Right Wing. There is no rational argument given for any issue that is relevant to the Presidential campaign only vague references to "judgement." In fact the editor's only point is to demean and slander an American Presidential candidate on hearsay alone, in the newspaper, using the community's bully pulpit. In the vain attempt to find out who Obama really is, all we get is standard Right Wing replays of tired and well-worn gossip, a little fear-mongering, some subliminal race baiting, and an underlying well spring of white pride.

A rational informative opinion piece does not include such hot button, innuendo-laden terms and phrases such as: "terrorist" - "tossing bombs and killing cops" - "infantile coniption known as the 60's" - "bomb thrower" - "America hating leftist" - "crazed lunatic" - "incendiary anti-American and (more importantly my emphasis) anti-white sermons" - "left-leaning poet" - "card carrying Red" - "slavishly pro-Soviet communist party" - compared to, "Joseph Stalin and his apostles of death who murdered millions" - "advocated violent overthrow of the country" - "cosmically radical lunatics" - and again, "terrorists, race hustlers, and communists" - and once again "apologist for Stalin."

Just WHO is the paranoid radical here? How desperate is our Right Wing editor? How far into the mud will he finally dig? If he loves America so much, why is he making villains and enemies of the 75% of Americans who AREN'T Right Wing Radicals?

Here's the op-ed I'd love to see in the interest of "fair and balanced," "John McCain and his Radical Friends." I dare ya!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Why I like Obama

An interesting thread on the DNR discussion board this morning started in on the qualifications for President. Talk of resumes, beliefs, and readiness ensued. Here's one blogger's comment followed by my response. It's a pretty good summary of the reasoning behind my support of Barack Obama for President. Read on....

BoDuke 319 said:

Rager you said: "It is becoming more common to find presidential candidates who didn't serve in the military, yet their qualifications are adequate to hold the highest office in the land."

I agree with the first part of that. You don't have to be ex-military to be a great president. However, you must find adequate qualifications to hold the highest office in the land. I agree with that. Where we differ is Barack Obama. I cannot believe that you are willing to give the ball to a JV player in the NBA championship. Obama has no resume to be president of this country. I undersatnd you not supporting McCain, but standing behind Obama like he's parting the Red Sea is ridiculous. You really have no idea what he plans on doing with this country. I hear what he's saying he plans on doing, but even that has switched up a few times. How can you so passionately support someone you know so little about?

My Response:

Bo: Good questions..

I put great weight in Obama's education at Columbia University, his reluctant acceptance of the position of President of the Harvard Law Review and his academic prowess at Harvard Law School. A good education.

I also put great weight in the fact that he was a constitutional law professor (Senior Lecturer) at the University of Chicago. That's a difficult subject that he was evidently VERY good at teaching. He's a teacher and a learner.

I am very impressed with his community service work in Chicago. From the US News and World Report:
"As a community organizer in the Altgeld Gardens public housing project in the mid-1980s, Obama, then 23, quickly emerged as a tireless and pragmatic advocate for the community—traits that characterize the kind of president he says he wants to be."
He learned the ability to listen to folks and try to put together a consensus. The word "pragmatic" is important to me, as is the word "listen."

I respect his choice to enter the world of community service work and I think he's the real deal simply because he turned down a much more lucrative career in the corporate world.

I've looked over his record as an Illinois congressman and pretty much agree with what he's done there, and I've checked his Senate record and I'm impressed with what he's done in the short time he's had.

I respect but do not admire his political ability. He's a smart tough politician who will say what he thinks will get him elected leading to some embarrassing flips and flops. I'm not really convinced that he's as liberal as he's made out to be. His views concerning the military budget (he will increase it, I want to cut it), the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, (to slow for me) and his cozying up to various lobbying groups dismays me.

I admire his ability to communicate through his speeches. He's very good at plunging into difficult problems and working for consensus. (the race issue for example). He also has written two best selling books that provide a lot of insight as to who he is, where he came from, and what he stands for.

He's a husband and father and an active participant in the African American cultural and social community. This is the big question mark for me and I'm still learning about what it means to have an African American man running for President. None of us have any real frame of reference, it's never been done at this level (Jessie Jackson aside) so we really don't know what to expect. Various allegations of playing the race card have been tried and it seems that so far the electorate is working through the issue in fits and starts.

I put ABSOLUTELY NO WEIGHT in Obama as messiah, or Moses.... That's just dumb. The only ones who go there are the Obamaphobes. Just silly.

To me Obama is still an open book and I agree that really don't know what he will actually do as President. Unfortunately, that's the way it's gone with the last four Presidents. They've all said one thing and done quite the reverse when they actually begin to govern so I think that argument is a wash. I strongly disagree with you in that I think it McCain who is the JV player. Always has been, always will be. An underachiever and wise ass everywhere he's been. Right now I'm leaning towards the education, the communication, the teaching and learning ability coupled with his pragmatism.

To review:

Service as an Illinois State Senator, community service organizer, graduate of law school, constitutional scholar and professor, best selling author, elected to the US Senate, husband, father, American citizen, and an active participant in the African-American social and cultural lifestyle is more than enough to qualify for the office of president of the United States.

He is the CEO and leader of the Democratic Party's Presidential campaign and before that ran the most successful primary campaign in modern history defeating an opponent who was heavily favored to win the nomination.

Thanks for asking!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Point/Counterpoint on: The Race Card and Bigotry - UPDATED

Concerning the playing of the race card referenced in this post, Sarah Palin brings a whole new dimension to the political arena. This link is admittedly from the "kook" osphere, but it needs reading anyway, I mean it's a waitress in Alaska for heaven's sake! In the context of "Who is Sarah Palin?"

Here's and interesting point/counterpoint from the Obiter Dicta in the DNR today: Who's playing the race card, exactly what is the race card? Which side is the most anxious to put it in play? All good questions for a confused electorate. Seems that nobody really knows how to handle Senator Obama's race and that the typical, usual smears don't seem to be having much effect, though not for lack of trying. Read on:

Point: (Daily News Record editorialist)

Barack Obama should quit while he’s ahead, but he doesn’t just seem to understand that Americans are wise to the race card and won’t be fooled when he deals it, as his opponent John McCain said, from the bottom of the deck.

Reprising comments he made in June, Mr. Obama unbosomed these ridiculous remarks last week in Rolla, Mo.: “Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me,” Obama said. "You know, he’s not patriotic enough, he’s got a funny name, you know, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

The ploy isn’t working. The latest Rasmussen Poll reveals these interesting data: Only 22 percent of those polled think John McCain’s ad comparing Mr. Obama to a celebrity is racist. Yet 53 percent of those polled think Mr. Obama’s dollar-bill remark is racist.

A few things about Mr. Obama’s remarks. First, he does have a funny name. Second, he doesn’t look like any other presidents. But if he loses this election, those won’t be the reasons. He’ll lose because he’s the most extremist liberal in the U.S. Senate."

Counterpoint: (Blue Rager)

Interesting points and counterpoint. Polling indicates the confusion of the American people concerning the race issue. I agree that Senator McCain has avoided the whole topic of race and the race card, but his campaign has played it rather aggressively. Senator Graham, one of Sen. McCain's surrogates played the race card loud and clear on "Fox News Sunday" when he put the words, "victim" and "racist" into play. Never mind that Obama never spoke them, Graham and friends know very well who they are talking too, and what they mean to say when they put words like this in Obama's mouth. As Gene Robinson of the WAPO stated,

"This battle over Obama's image as a black man is arguably the central front of the presidential campaign right now. Once-sharp lines between the candidates on issues such as withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq or allowing new offshore oil drilling are becoming blurred. The Democratic Party's structural advantages going into the election are formidable. It's hard to imagine how McCain could possibly win unless he generates doubt in voters' minds about Obama

One way to do that would be to fabricate the impression that Obama is demanding special treatment and privilege because he is black -- in other words, turn a self-made man into a stereotypical beneficiary of affirmative action."

The last point of the letter today, reveals the silliness of this newspaper's point of view. I have a funny name, LOTS of folks have a funny name, I think the name of this newspaper is pretty funny... I think the editorialist is a real scream! If he wants to be taken seriously, I'd suggest leaving the name alone. Veiled bigotry is still bigotry. No candidate for president has ever looked like John McCain either. Of course ALL presidents look like John McCain, but only AFTER their terms in office are over and the stress and strain of holding the highest office in the land is etched on their faces....

And... much to our editorialist's dismay, being liberal is a point of pride for Mr. Obama, for me, and for the progressive community. The editorialist's use of the word liberal as a pejorative renders his opinion meaningless and uselessly one-sided. Anything he writes becomes simplistic political propaganda, and a danger to our pluralistic democracy.

The history of liberalism in America is filled with the ideals, the leadership, and heroism that we all associate with our great country. The same can be said about the history of conservatism! To disrespect and dismiss half of the political spectrum as useless simply because of what they believe is yet another form of bigotry, pure and simple. Nothing can be written herein by the editorialist without a dramatic reinterpretation of the remarks by the reader to remove the prejudice.

Of Actors and Visions...

A simple comment in the Daily News Record bulletin board this morning:

"Truth be told, with all the intelligent people wandering around and voting in this nation of ours, many people will probably shallowly vote for Obama based on his star power and great speech deliverance alone." - jfo11

Sadly, this personality based, star-power, political style has dominated our elections since 1980, when the callow inexperienced, teflon-coated former governor of California, dazzled America with his charisma and stage presence. He played the part so well that we actually believed what he and his handlers told us about governance.

This personality-based, cult-figure, hero worshiping style of selecting the president has been perfected by none other than those who are now throwing the mantle of "celebrity" and "super star" and "messiah" on Senator Obama, and using it to make a point that he's therefore unfit for higher office. This is most amusing, not to mention, silly way to select a president. Always has been, always will be.

Did someone question Mr. Obama's ability to govern and lead? Check out the yearlong national campaign that has made history and is the new definition of "state of the art" in political campaigning. Did someone mention "the vision thing?" The speeches have been written with only some help from his handlers, are about a vision that is as real as the man is real. He's not really a great actor, but is indeed a fine politician and as honest as a politician can be. He inspires his staff, and his constituents, not to worship him, but to believe in his "vision." This is stuff of a level of leadership that has been missing from our political scene for 30 years.

Read the commentary in the opinion pages and the comments in the blogosphere and reject those who simply throw slime into the mix. Ignore the personality based attacks and the subliminal racism that is being thrown around. Obama is the first black man to run for president and no one has ever had any experience in how to do it or how to respond to it. Want to see courage in action? Watch Obama run for president! Can anyone imagine what kind of fortitude and leadership is necessary to get even this far? Stay tuned ladies and gentlemen.....