Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Two in a Row

Yesterday, the Delaware County Times again published a letter from my wife, Karen.

"Last week, Mr. Canfield's letter stated: "I questioned Jim O'Leary about a quote he had mentioned in a letter and he was puzzled as to what I was referring. Mrs. O'Leary, at his side, reminded him of the letter.”

"I was not at that Peace Vigil and to my knowledge, I'm the first and only Mrs. O'Leary. I’ve never met Mr. Canfield.

"In fact, it's just another example of Mr. Canfield making an assumption and offering opinions, which he rarely backs up with facts. He claims that he can back up whatever he writes with chapter and verse. When did chapter and verse take the place of facts? He suggested that we give him a call and he would then tells us, where to find the aforementioned background facts. I was tempted to call, but my husband suggested not to call, because someone might be trying to contact him for some contracting work.

"Mr. Canfield is correct, I have helped my husband write his letters from the very beginning. First by typing them and once he developed some typing skills, I showed him how to use the spell check, thesaurus and how to Google a subject on my computer. I've suggested that he not be rude and sarcastic, but respectful of others' opinions. In addition I’ve mentioned many topics that are of interest to me, such as freedom of speech, separation of church and state, and women’s rights. He gives all of my suggestion careful consideration, but recently has been urging me to send in letters on the topics, which interest me the most. Jim points out that quoting opinions of experts in the field and using statistics is frequently of interest to the reader.

"Perhaps, we should all petition the Wizard of Oz for some Wisdom. (the quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgment, the quality of being wise.)"

Friday, November 28, 2008

Don't Bug'um

On Friday, 11/21/08, my wife Karen had the following letter to the editor published in the Delaware County Times.

"Wednesday afternoon the mail has arrived, my husband received yet another anonymous letter criticizing his letters to the newspaper.

"Most people would be mortified to have their letters described as "long stupid letters."  Not my husband, he was overjoyed and greatly amused by the comment: "you and your old hippie friends, polluting the village square". I'm sure they meant the Peace Vigils that have been happening in Delhi at the Village Square since the start of the Iraq War, 7 years ago.

"Jim is unbelievably persistent and considers anonymous letters a challenge, which he is delighted to accept. When he was younger he enjoyed competing in running, bicycling and swimming. Injuries and older age have made these physical challenges more difficult. After receiving a computer and setting up his own website, he has focused on writing political letters to newspapers.

"After writing his first letter to the editor of a daily newspaper, in March of 2004, he received a rude anonymous phone call.  He admits that the phone call inspired him to begin writing letters once a month, once a week and now every day on his website.  He's no longer satisfied with writing to a few newspapers, he has become so inspired he has sent as many as 25 in a month, each one different.

"Please, save your paper and the 42 cent stamp. By writing anonymous letters to my husband, you're only encouraging him. He will not be deterred."

"Oh, about those hippie years, we had small children and he was busy earning a MSW at Syracuse University. Not much time left for 'hippie' activities.

"Perhaps you might enjoy sending a letter or two to the newspaper, and this time sign your name.... :-)"

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

William F. Roberts of Otego has been writing letters to area newspapers for the past 40 years, and we have been exchanging letters for several years. He's a very unique person and Karen and I've been very impressed by his creativity. Last Saturday, Bill had the following remarks published in the Oneonta Daily Star.

" I am thankful for people who believe Earth needs to be protected and work to preserve it.

"I am thankful for people who believe in peace and reason, live reasonably, and work for peace.

" I am thankful for people who believe in the constitution and defend it against those who would undermine its principles.

"I am thankful to have lived to vote in one of the most memorable elections in U.S. history.

*****On a personal note, I'm thankful for so many things, that I can't even begin to list them, but if I did attempt to make a list, I'd start with my beloved wife, Karen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

American's Transgressions

Prior to the Civil War, abolitionist Frederick Douglass said: “I make no pretension to patriotism.... I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins."

However, Mark Twain wrote: "For God and country, patriotism is patriotism. Calling it fanaticism cannot degrade it. Even though it be a political mistake and a thousand times a political mistake, that does not affect it....It is honorable -- always honorable, always noble and privileged to hold its head up and look the nation in the face."

It was also Mark Twain, who published the Personal Memories of Ulysses S. Grant, which become one of the most popular books of the nineteenth century. Grant wrote in his reflection on a war: "Experience proves that the man who obstructs a war in which his nation is engaged, no matter whether right or wrong, occupies no enviable place in life or history. Better for him, individually, to advocate, war, pestilence, and famine, than to act as obstructionist to a war already begun."

It would appear that Mark Twain and U.S. Grant were trying to discourage Americans from speaking out against war. However, it's important to continue to read the remainder of Grant's statement on war, because that may not have been not his intent. In fact, Grant continued by stating: "It is to the credit of the American nation, however, that after conquering Mexico.... we paid a round of sum for the additional territory taken; more than it was worth, or was likely to be, to Mexico. To us it was an empire of incalculable value; but it might have been obtained by other means."

"The Southern rebellion (Civil War) was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican War.  Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions. We got our punishment in the most sanguinary (bloody) and expensive war of modern times."

We are "discharging the duty of a true patriot," when they don't excuse our nations transgressions. We may have begun to receive "our punishment" for the avarice, premeditated, unprovoked war against Iraq, which didn't posed a threat, but at the time, did offer political and economic advantages.

During the Vietnam War, former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey served as a Navy Seal He lost the lower part of one leg in combat, and received the Medal of Honor. Kerrey said: “People noted that I was a Medal of Honor winner. But there should have been medal winners for organizers of peaceful protests.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Amazing Dream

In a letter to the editor of the Oneonta Daily Star, Evelina Fuller-Lincoln of Burlington Flats wrote the following.

"Boy, did I have a dream last night! I dreamt the whole world came together in shared hope. Everyone was there laughing and crying. Hundreds, no thousands, of people took to the streets. They were so excited, so many joyful tears, so much hope for the future. The doors were wide open, anything was possible. I could not help but cry from the joy of it.

"There was this place in my heart that opened wide for the first time in about 40 years. I had shut it off, bit by bit, first with John, then Bobby, and then Martin. The heart of my youth so full of hope, so full of the promise of making a better world! It had all seemed so bright, so shining, we had been that younger generation _ the season of love, such passion, such commitment, such hope.

"Then this morning I woke to find it was no dream at all. The spirit of John, Bobby, and Martin had come back to us in the form of a young man with a funny name. His mama was white/white, his daddy was black/black. He was the one sent this time to carry the banner.

"The tears were real tears. This was no dream. I had witnessed it at the election polls where I had worked yesterday. I watched as children brought their parents. I watched as parents took their children into the voting booth so they could witness the levers be pulled, help open the door to tomorrow, the tomorrow of hope.

"Yes, I had a dream, a most amazing dream, a dream where we all said yes, to hope, yes, to a brighter, kinder and more real tomorrow."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Filling the Vacuum

The following excerpts are from an article recently posted on truthout.org by Robert Reich entitled: "How Obama is Already Taking Charge."

"Obama's immediate challenge is to fill the leadership vacuum created by a lame-duck president with historically-low approval ratings who seems to have lost interest in his job (at this writing, he's out of the country) and who's disappeared from the media, and a Treasury chief who has all but punted on coming up with any workable solution to the crisis. But Obama doesn't become president until 12 noon eastern standard time on January 20 - and the national economy is imploding right now.

"How does Obama manage this feat? Two ways: (1) appointing a highly-capable economic team, and (2) telling the nation what he plans to do starting the afternoon of January 20. Specifically:

    (1) The members of Obama's new economic team fit the bill. They're reported to include Tim Geithner at Treasury, Peter Orszag at the Office of Management and Budget, Jack Lew and Jason Furman at the National Economic Council, and Austan Goolsbee at the Council of Economic Advisors. All have several things in common. They're relatively young, in their late 30s or 40s, representing a generational change and a fresh start.

    "All are pragmatists. Some media have dubbed them "centrists" or "center-right," but in truth they're remarkably free of ideological preconception. All have well-earned reputations as hard workers, well-versed in the technical details of public and private finance. They are not visible veterans of the old battles over supply-side economics or deficit reduction, nor are they well-known to the public. They are not visionaries but we don't need visionaries when the economic perils are clear and immediate. We need competence. Obama could not appoint a more competent group.

    (2) The President-Elect has also signaled the country what he wants to do: enact an "Economic Recovery Plan" that will mean 2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011. In his words a plan "big enough to meet the challenges we face ... a two-year, nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy." Again, I have no inside knowledge, but I'd expect it to be about $600 to $700 billion.

    "Its focus will be on infrastructure of a sort that will not only put people to work but also improve the productivity of the economy. His words: "We'll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels; fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead."

    "In short, Obama's job-stimulus plan will be a down-payment on his larger plan to increase the nation's public investment. "These aren't just steps to pull ourselves out of this immediate crisis," he says, "these are the long-term investments in our economic future that have been ignored for far too long. And they represent an early down payment on the type of reform my Administration will bring to Washington." He could not be more specific, at least while still President-Elect."

    

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Energy Initiatives

Tom Sears claimed that under Obama, we can expect "no nuclear, clean coal, or/off shore drilling initiatives."

In his acceptance speech: Obama said: "As president, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America."

“I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I’ll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy -- wind power, and solar power, and the next generation of biofuels -- an investment that will lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced."

In 2008, Obama suggested, that Congress put together a comprehensive compromise bill, which would open up off shore drilling. He never ruled out more nuclear power plants, but insists that a plan be in place for the disposal of nuclear waste.

Oil companies have 68 million acres under offshore lease that are not being developed. Furthermore, we have a shortage of refinery capacity and even if more oil became available immediately, the issue of where we would take it to turn it into gasoline would remain. Governor Schwarzenegger said more drilling is not the answer and instead we should work toward alternative energy sources.

Offshore drilling will have no bearing on energy prices in the near future. The problem isn’t the availability of areas in which to drill, it’s our inability to motivate oil companies to spend money to look for oil. The oil companies weren't interested in spending money to develop new sources when they were raking in record profits. Oil prices came down, when the entire world went on a low oil diet, because of the economy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Diminished Health Care

Tom Sears fears that Obama would bring about a "diminished quality of healthcare." The quality of our country's healthcare system has been diminished for some time, but Sears is in denial.

The World Health Organization ranked the health systems of 191 nations. France was ranked 1st and America was a dismal 37th. Furthermore, “Save the Children” researchers found American babies are three times more likely to die in their first month as children born in Japan, and our newborn mortality is 2.5 times higher than in Finland, Iceland or Norway. According to the annual State of the World’s Mothers report, “The United States has more neonatal intensive care beds per person than Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, but its newborn death rate is higher than any of those countries.” The report analyzed data from governments, research institutions and international agencies, found higher newborn death rates among our minorities. For African-Americans, the mortality rate is nearly double that of the United States as a whole, with 9.3 deaths per 1,000 births.

Other industrialized nations provide universal health coverage, and most of them have comprehensive benefit packages with no cost-sharing by the patients. We have nearly 50 million people without health insurance and many more millions who have poor coverage. People without insurance postpone treatment until a minor illness becomes worse, harming their health and imposing greater costs.

High-quality health care coverage for all Americans would make sure children get regular checkups, instead of having to go to the emergency room for treatable illnesses, like asthma. We lose hundreds of billions of dollars every year because of all the administrative costs, red tape, and profit that the insurance companies have to make. These are the reasons our present system costs so much. It would be a lot cheaper to cover everyone and cut out the middleman.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wealth Building

In Tom Sears' Veterans Day column, he expressed concern that under an Obama administration there would be no wealth building. Hopefully, this time, wealth building will occur for an income level known as the middle class.

Obama has said that depending on what happens in January, the stabilization of our financial system would be his top priority, because none of his other priorities could be "accomplished if we continue to see a potential meltdown in the banking system or the financial system."

For 25-year the neocons plan has been to break the bank to a point that middle class entitlement programs will have to be drastically cut or abolished. They’ve sought to privatization everything they possibly can and get rid of entitlement programs. Americans want accountability and they don’t want privatization of program that have worked such as Social Security, Medicare or our armed forces.

There were as many “contractors” in Iraq as regular members of our armed forces. Hundreds of billions of emergency appropriations never went to support our troops, but instead they went directly into the pockets of crony war profiteers, like Blackwater. This is another form of foreign outsourcing, because thousands of these mercenaries were recruited from countries like South Africa and Chile. The privatization of the military is absolutely the worst possible thing for democracy and peace, because it makes endless war a corporate imperative.

Bush's neocons succeeded in creating a country where there is socialism only for the rich and well-connected. Today, Wall Street profits remain privatized, but losses have been socialized. Obama has proposed a $50 billion emergency economic plan that would save a million jobs. He would pay for this emergency economic plan by raising taxes on the top 2% of our wealthiest citizens, but the neocons claimed Obama is a socialist.

Sears might want to explain how reversing the Bush tax cuts is "spreading the wealth" socialism, while enacting them in the first place was not.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Reducing Productivity

In his Veterans Day column, Tom Sears expressed concern that an Obama presidency would result in reduced productivity and job creation. Apparently, Sears hadn't read that October's unemployment rate had jumped to a 14-year high of 6.5%, as another 240,000 jobs were cut. The unemployment rate was 4.2% when Bush took office but now it’s 6.5%.

October's decline marked the 10th straight month of payroll reductions, and job losses in August and September. Employers cut 127,000 positions in August, compared with 73,000 previously reported. A total of 284,000 jobs were lost in September. This year, 1.2 million jobs have disappeared and half of the decrease occurred in the past three months. A year ago, the unemployment rate stood at 4.8 percent.

Wick Allison is the former publisher of the nation’s leading conservative magazine, The National Review. In an article endorsing Barack Obama, he wrote: “This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse."

Endorsements of Obama are based on his plan to train and educate our workforce with the skills necessary to compete in a knowledge-based economy. He wants to place a greater emphasis on areas like science and technology that will define the workforce of the 21st century, and invest in the research and innovation necessary to create the jobs and industries in America. Obama insists that one place where investment would make an enormous difference is in a renewable energy policy. He wants to end our addiction on foreign oil, provide long-term relief from high fuel costs, and builds a green economy that could create up to five million well-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. We can also create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our schools, roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure that needs repair.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Higher Taxes

In his Veterans Day column in the Oneonta Daily Star, Tom Sears expressed concern that we can expect higher taxes under Obama. The reality is that higher taxes have been necessary since we invaded Iraq. If, we continue to borrow money, we'll continue to pay enormous interest on the money we've already borrowed. The question is who will be expected to pay those higher taxes. Those making less than $112,000 a year or those making more.

Obviously, Sears has bought into the fairy tale that McCain's plan was going to keep taxes lower and that Obama's tax plan has going to make everybody's taxes go up. In fact an examination of Obama's entire tax strategy makes it apparent that it goes from the bottom up. If you make less than $112,000, you benefit with Obama's plan, while the very wealthy would have averaged a $700,000 tax reduction under McCain's plan. Obama's priorities became clear during the first debate when he kept talking about the middle class families and McCain failed to mention them even once.

In fact, the Tax Policy Center run by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute concluded that Obama’s plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5% by 2012, and determined 95% of American working families with children, will see a tax break under Obama's plan.

Obama wants a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but rewards American workers and small businesses who deserve it. He intends to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, and start giving them to companies that create good jobs in America. He'll eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow. Obama recognizes that in todays economy, the last thing we should be doing is raising taxes on the middle class.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Terrorism Flourishing

I'm continuing to comment on Tom Sears' most recent column of “On The Right Side.” Sears claims to be concerned that under Obama, we'll see "terrorism flourishing."

Our intelligence community has pointed out that our military presence in Iraq is making terrorism worse. Consequently, we should be seeking a strategy to rapidly reduce our presence, which will help eliminate the recruitment of more terrorists.

There are more terrorists in the world today, who want to kill Americans than at any time. The fires of hatred in the Muslim world were fueled anew, when our military preemptively invaded an oil rich Muslim country. Furthermore, Abu Ghraib and the use of torture has damaged our moral authority throughout the world. You don’t have to be Muslim to understand the very human experience that if you’re invaded and your country is occupied the people affected are going to remain angry.

Homeland security has been neglected and our military is over stretched in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The 9-11 Commission gave failing grades to in almost every sector of homeland security. We remain unprepared with respect to chemical plants, nuclear plants, and our port facilities. We still can’t screen the cargo that goes onto airplanes or container ships coming into our ports.

Obama opposed the invasion of Iraq, because he knew it would distract us from the real threats that we face and has argued for more resources and troops in Afghanistan to finish the fight against those, who actually attacked us on 9/11. He recognizes that we need to defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries and that by continuing to occupy Iraq we're becoming weaker. We’ve strained our oldest alliances in Europe and more tough talk and bad strategy, is not the kind of change America needs.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weakened Military

For the next week, I plan to comment extensively on a single sentence in Tom Sears' most recent column in the Oneonta Daily Star entitled: “On The Right Side.”

I'm motivated by Mr. Sears' misleading comments and derive satisfaction by disproving his allegations. I'm hopeful that alleviating some of his irrational fears, he will eventually find the election results easier to endure.

A fearful Tom Sears wrote: “What can we now expect? How about a reduced and weakened military.”

Eisenhower said: “We must achieve both security and solvency. In fact, the foundation of military strength is economic strength.” Today, our economic strength has sunk to it's lowest point in 70 years. Consequently, our military has already been weakened by two unnecessary wars.

Senator Jim Webb was Secretary of the Navy under Reagan and is presently on the Armed Services Committee. He introduced a bill that required active duty troops to have at least as much time at home as their most recent tour, but nearly all Republican Senators voted against closure for Webb’s bill. They continued to support Bush’s policies even if it broke our military.

Our military has a hard time recruiting people into the enlisted ranks, so they’ve resorted to felons, obese youth and the usual rejects. We’ve seen the retention numbers of officers go down. The West Point class of 2000 and ‘01, finished their minimum obligation and have been bailing out of the military at a ratio that’s five times as high as before Iraq. The rate of Army desertions increased 80 percent, since the invasion of Iraq. There were 168 suicides last year, which is a record level.

Obama pledged: “It's time to stop spending $10 billion a month in Iraq while the Iraqi government sits on a huge surplus. I will end this war by asking the Iraqi government to step up, and finally finish the fight against bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.”  

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Conservative Principles

Many years ago, Sinclair Lewis warned: “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”

Once again, I’m commenting on Tom Sears’ Veteran’s Day column. I found his statement: “Barack, you won the election and deserve to be supported as long as your path is in alignment with mine,” confusing and more indicative of fascism, than a democracy.

In his concession speech McCain said: “I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.”

Obama believes the Republican Party was kidnapped eight years ago, by an incompetent, highly ideological subset of that party. Nevertheless, he intends to reach out to Republican moderates, who are hungry for change.

As a member of Congress, for 16 years Mickey Edwards was chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee. He wrote: “since George W. Bush has become president...Congress - the branch that is most directly accountable to the people - had been nearly destroyed as a separate, independent, and equal institution. It seemed to many to have become a virtual rubber stamp for a president who himself seemed to have very little interest in maintaining even the slightest pretense of adherence to the Constitution’s system of separated powers.”

Republican Congressman Ron Paul said: “the party has lost its way.” The GOP stood for small government, fiscal responsibility, noninterventionist foreign policy, and no nation building.” Rep. Paul is consider to be an “old school” conservative, but Tom Sears appears to be something quite different.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Depression and Fear

I'll be commenting on statements made by Tom Sears in a column entitled, “On The Right Side,” which appeared on Veterans Day in the Oneonta Daily Star. Sears a professor of accounting at Hartwick College in Oneonta.

Last month, Sears admitted being depressed and fearful. We should be seeking to alleviate those fears instead of writing disrespectful letters. The reason for his depression and fear could be rooted in the way, he perceives the world. Many Americans view the world in terms of black and white, good and evil, with us or against us. His brain seems to be wired for absolutes, which is definitely an advantage for an accountant.

Sears finds it amazing that $650 million can buy the presidency and points out money can trick people into voting for a candidate. However, I find it amazing, that Obama received six times as much money from our troops, than McCain, and nearly 70 million American were tricked into voting for Obama.

Amazingly, Obama carried every northern state from Maine to Iowa, including Wisconsin which for the most part consists of white rural counties and small towns. Many people thought the voters of Wisconsin would never support an African American candidate, but Obama's margin of victory was an unbelievable 13 points.

Sears insists money can take a man with no accomplishments of any significance and make him the most powerful man in the free world. Obviously, Sears isn't impressive that Obama was a former president of the Harvard Law Review, and McCain finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class. In the Democratic primary, Obama defeated the highly regard and well financed Clinton political organization.

It wasn't money that led to Obama's overwhelming victory. He won the presidency, because of his ability to connect with minorities and young voters, who see the world in many shades of gray.

Friday, November 14, 2008

They Blew It

Recently, a blogger known to me only as proudem posted the following comments on "The Huffington Post." I'm posting it as another proud Democrat.

"The Republican party is a party of grumpy old white guys...and sexists....and bigots...and religious zealots...and out of touch wingnuts...and Stepford women....and folksy idiots (that don't need no book learnin').

"The Repubs have brought this on themselves by their name calling, zealotry and greed. They have acted like privileged mean high schoolers that pick on the nice kids and at the same time declare their moral superiority. The repubs do not own religion but they do own religious intolerance. They are anti-education and anti-intellectuals and only want those of privilege to have access to higher learning. And they certainly don't want anyone that is "uppity" to be involved with public policy. And finally, their self serving greed has devastated this country. They have plundered our coffers while telling the rest of us to "work harder." They have made laws that serve them with lower taxes and while leaving the rest of us to foot the bill for two wars and a devastated economy.

"No, Senator, the problems with the Repubs go much deeper than a simple image problem. You have created this monster and younger, diverse Progressives are taking over. Your ideology is self serving and antiquated. So please retire all of the corrupt old white guys somewhere where they cannot do any more harm. You had your chance and you blew it!! Now...GET OUT!!"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Our Duty

I've received another anonymous letter, that states: "Now that we have a new pres., you can stop writing the long stupid letters that are probably only read by a few people. Also, you and your old hippie friends can stop polluting the village square every weekend. A Delhi Citizen."

In fact, I consider it my duty to write factual letters. I've never been a hippy and I don't care if the people standing with me were hippies over 4 decades ago. The prologue this website specifies the reason that I post daily and send letters to editors every week.

"It is our duty, all of us, everyone who cares to reverse the national decline of our knowledge and understanding of history, and to renew a true appreciation of this great country, why it became great and what will keep it so." -- Sen. Robert Byrd

Below the prologue is a picture of what I looked like in 1965. The length of my hair and my values were the same as when I was discharged from the Marine Corps with the nick name "J.J. Squared Away." The baby in the picture is our son, who at 10 years of age climbed the highest mountain in New York State. The beard that I wear today was started on that climb.

Joel Canfield is responsible for both the increased length of my letters and my commitment to continue to protest the wars.

Last month, a very lengthy letter by Mr. Canfield appeared in several Delaware County publications. It got me thinking that maybe longer is better, and if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

Furthermore, last summer, Canfield approached me at a peace vigil to asked if Obama was elected president, would I continue to protest the war. I admitted that I would and don't want to disappoint him. Perhaps, after 1/20/09 Mr. Canfield and the anonymous letter writer will join me in protesting Obama's war. They will be welcome, if they commit to not polluting our village square.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"The Old Lie"

On Tuesday 11 November 2008, Carmillo "Mac" Bica wrote the following:

"Many march to remember, others to forget. But for those who truly know war, no parade is necessary to help us remember, as the memories of war are with us every day of our lives, haunting our existences. Nor does marching in a parade help us put to rest the turmoil of a life interrupted and impacted by war, or forget the dying and the killing. Parades accomplish nothing other than to allow those who make war easily or who ignore completely its reality and horror to feign support and appreciation and to relieve their collective guilt for immoral war. Marching in a parade neither educates nor informs about the realities of war. Rather it celebrates and perpetuates the myth of honor and glory, and "The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." I will march no more."

Camillo "Mac" Bica, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. His focus is in ethics, particularly as it applies to war and warriors. As a veteran recovering from his experiences as a United States Marine Corps officer during the Vietnam War, he founded and coordinated for five years the Veterans Self-Help Initiative, a therapeutic community of veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is a long-time activist for peace and justice, a member of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and coordinator of the Long Island Chapter of Veterans for Peace. Articles by Dr. Bica have appeared in Cyrano's Journal, The Humanist Magazine, Znet, Truthout.org, Common Dreams, AntiWar.com, Monthly Review Zine, Foreign Policy in Focus, OpEdNews.com and numerous philosophical journals.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Margin of Victory

Without the collapse of Lehman Brothers and all the financial chaos that followed Barack Obama most likely would have been victorious, because of his message of change. However, the margin of victory was enhanced greatly by the role our failed economy played in the election.

Obama ended up carrying every northern state from Maine to Iowa and a win in Missouri is still a possibility. Wisconsin for the most part consists of white rural counties and small towns that many thought would never support an African-American candidate, but Obama's margin of victory was an unbelievable 13 points. With the exceptions of South Carolina and Georgia, Obama ended up winning the entire east coast.

The McCain campaign signaled very early, that it would try to exploit their candidate's advantage on experience and national security matters against the untested Obama. However, during the presidential debates Obama demonstrated credibility and a confident, calm demeanor. Eventually, Obama the supposedly risky candidate was perceived by most voters as the steady hand.

Voter turnout increased dramatically in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Texas, Alabama and Georgia, because there was some doubt about the eventual outcome, due to an increase in registered African-American voters, as well as, population growth. The large gains by Democrats in Indiana, Missouri and Nevada were the result of the Obama campaign organization, and the media's focus on those battleground states. The decline in voter turnout in Ohio could have been due to many of the Republicans who voted for Bush in 2004 staying home. Obama's impressive victories in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada were the result of greater participation by young voters and strong support from 65 percent of Latino voters.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Like-minded Conservatives

In her first interview with Barack Obama, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow asked; "Do you think there is a stark difference between the parties?"

Obama's responded: "Well, I do think there's a difference between the parties, but here's my belief. That I'm talking to voters. And I think there are a lot of Republican voters out there, self-identified, who actually think that what the Bush administration has done, has been damaging to the country.

"And what I'm interested in is how do we build a working majority for change? And if I start off with the premise that it's only self-identified Democrats who I'm speaking to, then I'm not going to get to where we need to go. If I can describe it as not a blanket indictment of the Republican Party, but instead describe it as the Republican Party having been kidnapped by an incompetent, highly ideological subset of the Republican Party, then that means that I can still reach out to a whole bunch of Republican moderates who I think are hungry for change, as well."

As a member of Congress, for 16 years Mickey Edwards was chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee. He wrote in his book: “since George W. Bush has become president...Congress - the branch that is most directly accountable to the people - had been nearly destroyed as a separate, independent, and equal institution. It seemed to many to have become a virtual rubber stamp for a president who himself seemed to have very little interest in maintaining even the slightest pretense of adherence to the Constitution’s system of separated powers.”

Rep. Ron Paul has said:“the party has lost its way.” The GOP stood for small government, fiscal responsibility, noninterventionist foreign policy, no nation building. Mickey Edwards and Ron Paul claimed their party has been kidnapped/hijacked by the neo-conservatives.

On 11/9/08, I received the following e-mail from an organization that is seeking my support: "TODAY, (our organization) is launching a national campaign inviting like-minded conservatives across the country to ban together and RESIST what President-elect Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have planned. You and I are the last line of defense for our freedoms and liberties. Only an unprecedented idea-based Resistance from freedom-loving citizens can prevent the full implementation of Obama’s march to the Left. But we must start now. We cannot wait until next year to get organized."

Obama is much more optimistic than I am, because the Republican party hasn't changed and its leadership continues to be willing to trade liberty for the illusion of security. As president, Obama will be hard pressed to find many moderate Republicans left in Congress.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Uncle Barack

Former General Wesley Clark described Obama's victory celebration in Chicago's Grant Park on the night of the election as "truly, a transformational event." Barack Obama's victory could be one of the most important events in the history of our nation, because our democracy will never go back to the one Edward Downing wrote about. Specifically, "The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first the widespread delusion among the poor that we have democracy, second the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it."

The 136.6 million Americans that voted on election day, represents a turnout of 64.1% of eligible voters, which is the largest since 1908. The younger and minority voters have been empowered by Obama's victory. Voter suppression didn't work this time and they've realized that, "Yes we can" is more than an empty slogan.

CNN's exit polls found Obama received 49% of the male vote and 56% of the female vote. Broken down by race, Obama received only 41% of the White male vote and 46% of the White female vote. However, 95% of African Americans, 66% of Latinos, and 61% of Asian Americans voted for Obama. Although, large numbers of Whites supported Obama, it was the non-Whites that put him over the top.

Overall, 54% of Catholics voted for Obama, but only 47% of White Catholics voted for him. Surprisingly, 52% of voters making at least $200,000 voted for Obama verses 46% voting for McCain, even though their taxes are likely to go up. So much for Edward Dowling's "the chronic terror among the rich."

The most significant statistic is that Obama captured almost all of the African American vote and a huge percentage of the Latino and Asian American vote. In the end, Obama's victory shows he has broad support from American's of all racial backgrounds.

Recently, Ralph Nader said: "To put it very simple, he (Obama) is our first African American president, or he will be. And we wish him well. But his choice, basically, is whether he is going to be Uncle Sam for the people of this country or Uncle Tom for giant corporations."

Nader may eventually realize that by working within the present political system Uncle Barack has empowered thousand of young and minority voters, an achievement, which old White dudes like us could never have accomplished.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Campaign Gimmick

In January, John McCain claimed to have a secret plan to get bin Laden, but he refuses to share his strategy with the Bush.  McCain said: “One thing I will not do is telegraph my punches.  Osama bin Laden will be the last to know.... I have my own ideas and it would require implementation of certain policies and procedures that only as the president of the United States can be taken.” 

Why anyone with a strategy to capture or kill the man who was responsible for the worst attack on American soil would willfully keep those strategies from those who have the ability to capture or kill bin Laden is inconceivable.

If McCain actually has a plan, the time has come for McCain to share his secret plan to get bin Laden, with Bush or Obama. Playing politics with national security is the very definition of dishonorable behavior and has been used before.

In the 1968 Presidential campaign, Richard Nixon stated that “new leadership will end the war” in Vietnam.  Nixon told Michigan Republican congressman Donald Riegle that the war would be over within six months of his assumption of office.  However, according to one historian: “...it became obvious in 1969 that Nixon’s “secret plan” to end the war was a campaign gimmick...”

Nixon began a token withdrawal in June of 1969, but the withdrawal of combat troops wasn’t completed until March of 1973.  In 1972 Nixon again promised that “peace is at hand,” but it wasn't until the beginning of Nixon’s second term, that representatives of the US, North Vietnam, South Vietnam and the Viet Cong signed the Paris Peace Accords, which formally ended US involvement in the war.

Fortunately, this time the campaign gimmick didn't work.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Transformational Event

The following excerpts are reflections by former General Wesley Clark, who was in Chicago's Grant Park on Tuesday.

"It was a humbling and deeply moving experience... to see the faces of all around us, representing all the diversity that Barack cited in his remarks. Some were jubilant, some were softly sobbing, some were joyous, a couple were watching others in the crowd. Cell phones and cameras were everywhere as people called friends and families to share the experience.

"This was, truly, a transformational event... After we left Grant Park, we found ourselves walking back to the hotel, a couple of miles north. Celebration was still in the air, along Michigan Avenue and Wacker: groups of young people high-fiving, and shouts of 'Yes, we can.' I was surrounded by electric smiles and energy...so alive.

"There is no doubt -- the challenges confronting our nation are great. We are engaged in two wars abroad and facing an economic crisis at home. Our nation will require great sacrifices from all of us to overcome them. However, with these challenges come tremendous opportunities, and I know we will come together to carry this great nation forward. As Barack said last night: 'The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America -- I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you -- we as a people will get there'

"The sight of Barack, and Joe Biden, and their families on that platform, the warmth of the crowd, and its diversity will long linger as I reflect on how America has changed, and how we have changed ourselves. And as I looked at his expression, I could see Barack's seriousness of purpose, and his recognition that far greater challenges lie ahead. But I'm proud, and so hopeful for our country."

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Only Alternative

Following a discussion at last Saturday's peace vigil, I sent the following e-mail to fellow peace vigil participant Nick Albaugh.

Recently, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Barack Obama what would be his top priority: "Energy independence, a new tax code, including tax cuts for the middle class, education spending or comprehensive immigration reform."

Obama responded: "The top priorities may not be any of those five. It may be continuing to stabilize the financial system. We don't know yet what's going to happen in January. And none of this can be accomplished if we continue to see a potential meltdown in the banking system or the financial system. So that's priority one, making sure that the plumbing works in our capitalist system.

"Priority number two of the list that you have listed -- have put forward, I think has to be energy independence. We have to seize this moment, because it's not just an energy independence issue, it's also a national security issue and it's a jobs issue. And we can create five million new green energy jobs with a serious program.

"Priority number three would be health care reform. I think the time is right to do it.

'Priority number four is making sure that we have tax cuts for the middle class and it's part of a broader tax reform effort.

"Priority number five, I think would be -- would be making sure that we have an education system that works for all children.
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Nick's response was: "Unfortunately, 'making sure that the plumbing works in our capitalist system' is precisely the problem. There is no vision here beyond the capitalist system as structured for the past two centuries, fast approaching the logical end of its unsustainable emphasis on profit first. Obama is relying on the same Clinton pack in his economic circle of advisors that helped create the present crisis, when he needs at least a Galbraith, and preferably a Herman Daly, whose work has shown the true costs of a political economy that assumes unlimited human and natural resources and requires a (quantitative) growth model. 
 
"The economy he would serve is currently apparent as the destroyer of the environment. It was apparent a hundred and fifty years ago as the enemy of the commons.
 
"He is right that no progress can be made in any other area (including retooling the war industry) until this problem is fixed. But he seeks to put an impossibly expensive Band-Aid over a metasthesized cancer he has not diagnosed. Even if he wanted to redistribute wealth (which would not be a bad thing and is long overdue) and had the wisdom of Solomon to guide him, there are no longer effective mechanisms for doing so. The cost of corporate taxes---when they are collected---is simply passed on to consumers. His advertized plan to tinker with the progressive income tax will never gain traction beyond a gesture, since it needs the very people whom it would tax to enact it. The median household income is $50K with 1.5 wage earners. So whatever money the government needs---and there's not much of that left among the most numerous taxpayers---as usual will come from the big numbers in the lower middle and working classes anyway. 
 
"Of course, Obama has specified other priorities, including an expanded military, that Blitzer didn't even include. He can only deliver on the promises most of his supporters think he has made if he loves his country enough to destroy the leadership of both parties and nullify the influence of money. If anyone believes that is going to happen, Bill Moyers has a bridge to nowhere for sale."
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The next four years should be very interesting. I fervently hope that Barack Obama is not assassinated, because he offers hope. Americans need to give hope and peace a chance. As a pragmatist, I will continue to insist that the only alternative to the hope that Obama offers the world is anarchy and war.  

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Jeremiah Wright's Career

A desperate GOP trustpac ad tried to defeat Obama by distorting the career of Jeremiah Wright. Unfortunately, most Americans don't realize that a young Jeremiah Wright gave up his student deferment, left college and joined the Marine Corps. After two years, Obama's pastor transferred to the Navy and graduated from their Corpsman School as valedictorian.  He was then trained as a cardiopulmonary technician at the National Naval Medical Center where he graduated as salutatorian.  In 1966, Wright was assigned as part of the medical team charged with care of President Johnson and was awarded three letters of commendation.

Wright teaches: “Reconciliation means we retain who we are as persons of different cultures, while acknowledging that those of other cultures are not superior or inferior to us... Reconciliation means that we root out any teaching of superiority, inferiority, hatred, or prejudice."

Last year, Wright pointed out: “Our congregation has sent dozens of boys and girls to fight in the Vietnam War, the first Gulf War, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  My goddaughter’s unit just arrived in Iraq this week, while those who call me unpatriotic have used their positions of privilege to avoid military service, while sending over 4,000 American boys and girls of every race to die over a lie.”

Wright warned Obama: "If you get elected, on November the 5th, I’m coming after you, because you’ll be representing a government whose policies grind under people.  It’s about policy, not the American people.  And there is no excuse for the things that the government, not the American people, have done.  That doesn’t make me not like America or unpatriotic.  When Jesus says, ‘You’ll be brought down to Hell,’ that’s not bombastic, divisive speech.  If so maybe we ought to take Jesus out of this Christian faith.”

Rev. Wright is an intelligent and decent man, and I plan to join him in holding Barack Obama accountable.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama's Speech Concluded

The final excerpt from Obama's speech in Canton Ohio.

"Part of the reason this economic crisis occurred is because we have been living through an era of profound irresponsibility. On Wall Street, easy money and an ethic of "what's good for me is good enough" blinded greedy executives to the danger in the decisions they were making. On Main Street, lenders tricked people into buying homes they couldn't afford. Some folks knew they couldn't afford those houses and bought them anyway. In Washington, politicians spent money they didn't have and allowed lobbyists to set the agenda. They scored political points instead of solving our problems, and even after the greatest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, all we were asked to do by our President was to go out and shop.

"That is why what we have lost in these last eight years cannot be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits alone. What has also been lost is the idea that in this American story, each of us has a role to play. Each of us has a responsibility to work hard and look after ourselves and our families, and each of us has a responsibility to our fellow citizens. That's what's been lost these last eight years - our sense of common purpose; of higher purpose. And that's what we need to restore right now.

"Yes, government must lead the way on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and our businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But all of us must do our part as parents to turn off the television and read to our children and take responsibility for providing the love and guidance they need. Yes, we can argue and debate our positions passionately, but at this defining moment, all of us must summon the strength and grace to bridge our differences and unite in common effort - black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; Democrat and Republican, young and old, rich and poor, gay and straight, disabled or not.

"In this election, we cannot afford the same political games and tactics that are being used to pit us against one another and make us afraid of one another. The stakes are too high to divide us by class and region and background; by who we are or what we believe.

"Because despite what our opponents may claim, there are no real or fake parts of this country. There is no city or town that is more pro-America than anywhere else - we are one nation, all of us proud, all of us patriots. There are patriots who supported this war in Iraq and patriots who opposed it; patriots who believe in Democratic policies and those who believe in Republican policies. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.

"It won't be easy, Ohio. It won't be quick. But you and I know that it is time to come together and change this country. Some of you may be cynical and fed up with politics. A lot of you may be disappointed and even angry with your leaders. You have every right to be. But despite all of this, I ask of you what has been asked of Americans throughout our history.

"I ask you to believe - not just in my ability to bring about change, but in yours. I know this change is possible. Because I have seen it over the last twenty-one months. Because in this campaign, I have had the privilege to witness what is best in America.

"I've seen it in lines of voters that stretched around schools and churches; in the young people who cast their ballot for the first time, and those not so young folks who got involved again after a very long time. I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see their friends lose their jobs; in the neighbors who take a stranger in when the floodwaters rise; in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb. I've seen it in the faces of the men and women I've met at countless rallies and town halls across the country, men and women who speak of their struggles but also of their hopes and dreams.

"I still remember the email that a woman named Robyn sent me after I met her in Ft. Lauderdale. Sometime after our event, her son nearly went into cardiac arrest, and was diagnosed with a heart condition that could only be treated with a procedure that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Her insurance company refused to pay, and their family just didn't have that kind of money.

"In her email, Robyn wrote, "I ask only this of you - on the days where you feel so tired you can't think of uttering another word to the people, think of us. When those who oppose you have you down, reach deep and fight back harder."

"Ohio, that's what hope is - that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better is waiting around the bend; that insists there are better days ahead. If we're willing to work for it. If we're willing to shed our fears and our doubts. If we're willing to reach deep down inside ourselves when we're tired and come back fighting harder.

"Hope! That's what kept some of our parents and grandparents going when times were tough. What led them to say, "Maybe I can't go to college, but if I save a little bit each week my child can; maybe I can't have my own business but if I work really hard my child can open one of her own." It's what led immigrants from distant lands to come to these shores against great odds and carve a new life for their families in America; what led those who couldn't vote to march and organize and stand for freedom; that led them to cry out, "It may look dark tonight, but if I hold on to hope, tomorrow will be brighter."

"That's what this election is about. That is the choice we face right now. Don't believe for a second this election is over. Don't think for a minute that power concedes. We have to work like our future depends on it in this last week, because it does.

"In one week, we can choose an economy that rewards work and creates new jobs and fuels prosperity from the bottom-up. In one week, we can choose to invest in health care for our families, and education for our kids, and renewable energy for our future. In one week, we can choose hope over fear, unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo. In one week, we can come together as one nation, and one people, and once more choose our better history.

"That's what's at stake. That's what we're fighting for. And if in this last week, you will knock on some doors for me, and make some calls for me, and talk to your neighbors, and convince your friends; if you will stand with me, and fight with me, and give me your vote, then I promise you this - we will not just win Ohio, we will not just win this election, but together, we will change this country and we will change the world. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America."

Monday, November 03, 2008

Obama's Speech Continued

Excerpts from Obama's speech continued:

"When it comes to jobs, the choice in this election is not between putting up a wall around America or allowing every job to disappear overseas. The truth is, we won't be able to bring back every job that we've lost, but that doesn't mean we should follow John McCain's plan to keep giving tax breaks to corporations that send American jobs overseas. I will end those breaks as President, and I will give American businesses a $3,000 tax credit for every job they create right here in the United States of America. I'll eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-up companies that are the engine of job creation in this country. We'll create two million new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling roads, and bridges, and schools, and by laying broadband lines to reach every corner of the country. And I will invest $15 billion a year in renewable sources of energy to create five million new energy jobs over the next decade - jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced; jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and a new electricity grid; jobs building the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow, not in Japan or South Korea but here in the United States of America; jobs that will help us eliminate the oil we import from the Middle East in ten years and help save the planet in the bargain. That's how America can lead again.

"When it comes to health care, we don't have to choose between a government-run health care system and the unaffordable one we have now. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change under my plan is that we will lower premiums. If you don't have health insurance, you'll be able to get the same kind of health insurance that Members of Congress get for themselves. We'll invest in preventative care and new technology to finally lower the cost of health care for families, businesses, and the entire economy. And as someone who watched his own mother spend the final months of her life arguing with insurance companies because they claimed her cancer was a pre-existing condition and didn't want to pay for treatment, I will stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care most.

"When it comes to giving every child a world-class education so they can compete in this global economy for the jobs of the 21st century, the choice is not between more money and more reform - because our schools need both. As President, I will invest in early childhood education, recruit an army of new teachers, pay them more, and give them more support. But I will also demand higher standards and more accountability from our teachers and our schools. And I will make a deal with every American who has the drive and the will but not the money to go to college: if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford your tuition. You invest in America, America will invest in you, and together, we will move this country forward.

"And when it comes to keeping this country safe, we don't have to choose between retreating from the world and fighting a war without end in Iraq. It's time to stop spending $10 billion a month in Iraq while the Iraqi government sits on a huge surplus. As President, I will end this war by asking the Iraqi government to step up, and finally finish the fight against bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century, and I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

"I won't stand here and pretend that any of this will be easy - especially now. The cost of this economic crisis, and the cost of the war in Iraq, means that Washington will have to tighten its belt and put off spending on things we can afford to do without. On this, there is no other choice. As President, I will go through the federal budget, line-by-line, ending programs that we don't need and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.

"But as I've said from the day we began this journey all those months ago, the change we need isn't just about new programs and policies. It's about a new politics - a politics that calls on our better angels instead of encouraging our worst instincts; one that reminds us of the obligations we have to ourselves and one another."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Speech Continued

Excerpts from Obama's speech of 10/27/08 continued:

"And now, after twenty-one months and three debates, Senator McCain still has not been able to tell the American people a single major thing he'd do differently from George Bush when it comes to the economy. Senator McCain says that we can't spend the next four years waiting for our luck to change, but you understand that the biggest gamble we can take is embracing the same old Bush-McCain policies that have failed us for the last eight years.

"It's not change when John McCain wants to give a $700,000 tax cut to the average Fortune 500 CEO. It's not change when he wants to give $200 billion to the biggest corporations or $4 billion to the oil companies or $300 billion to the same Wall Street banks that got us into this mess. It's not change when he comes up with a tax plan that doesn't give a penny of relief to more than 100 million middle-class Americans. That's not change.

"Look - we've tried it John McCain's way. We've tried it George Bush's way. Deep down, Senator McCain knows that, which is why his campaign said that "if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." That's why he's spending these last weeks calling me every name in the book. Because that's how you play the game in Washington. If you can't beat your opponent's ideas, you distort those ideas and maybe make some up. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run away from. You make a big election about small things.

"Ohio, we are here to say "Not this time. Not this year. Not when so much is at stake." Senator McCain might be worried about losing an election, but I'm worried about Americans who are losing their homes, and their jobs, and their life savings. I can take one more week of John McCain's attacks, but this country can't take four more years of the same old politics and the same failed policies. It's time for something new.

 "The question in this election is not "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" We know the answer to that. The real question is, "Will this country be better off four years from now?"

 "I know these are difficult times for America. But I also know that we have faced difficult times before. The American story has never been about things coming easy - it's been about rising to the moment when the moment was hard. It's about seeing the highest mountaintop from the deepest of valleys. It's about rejecting fear and division for unity of purpose. That's how we've overcome war and depression. That's how we've won great struggles for civil rights and women's rights and worker's rights. And that's how we'll emerge from this crisis stronger and more prosperous than we were before - as one nation; as one people.

"Remember, we still have the most talented, most productive workers of any country on Earth. We're still home to innovation and technology, colleges and universities that are the envy of the world. Some of the biggest ideas in history have come from our small businesses and our research facilities. So there's no reason we can't make this century another American century. We just need a new direction. We need a new politics.

"Now, I don't believe that government can or should try to solve all our problems. I know you don't either. But I do believe that government should do that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide a decent education for our children; invest in new roads and new science and technology. It should reward drive and innovation and growth in the free market, but it should also make sure businesses live up to their responsibility to create American jobs, and look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road. It should ensure a shot at success not only for those with money and power and influence, but for every single American who's willing to work. That's how we create not just more millionaires, but more middle-class families. That's how we make sure businesses have customers that can afford their products and services. That's how we've always grown the American economy - from the bottom-up. John McCain calls this socialism. I call it opportunity, and there is nothing more American than that.

"Understand, if we want get through this crisis, we need to get beyond the old ideological debates and divides between left and right. We don't need bigger government or smaller government. We need a better government - a more competent government - a government that upholds the values we hold in common as Americans.

"We don't have to choose between allowing our financial system to collapse and spending billions of taxpayer dollars to bail out Wall Street banks. As President, I will ensure that the financial rescue plan helps stop foreclosures and protects your money instead of enriching CEOs. And I will put in place the common-sense regulations I've been calling for throughout this campaign so that Wall Street can never cause a crisis like this again. That's the change we need.

"The choice in this election isn't between tax cuts and no tax cuts. It's about whether you believe we should only reward wealth, or whether we should also reward the work and workers who create it. I will give a tax break to 95% of Americans who work every day and get taxes taken out of their paychecks every week. I'll eliminate income taxes for seniors making under $50,000 and give homeowners and working parents more of a break. And I'll help pay for this by asking the folks who are making more than $250,000 a year to go back to the tax rate they were paying in the 1990s. No matter what Senator McCain may claim, here are the facts - if you make under $250,000, you will not see your taxes increase by a single dime - not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes. Nothing. Because the last thing we should do in this economy is raise taxes on the middle-class."

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Canton Ohio 10/27/08

Excerpts from Obama's speech in Canton Ohio on October 27 2008.
    
"After decades of broken politics in Washington, eight years of failed policies from George Bush, and twenty-one months of a campaign that has taken us from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are one week away from change in America.

"In one week, you can turn the page on policies that have put the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street.

 "In one week, you can choose policies that invest in our middle-class, create new jobs, and grow this economy from the bottom-up so that everyone has a chance to succeed; from the CEO to the secretary and the janitor; from the factory owner to the men and women who work on its floor.

 "In one week, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region, city against town, Republican against Democrat; that asks us to fear at a time when we need hope.

 "In one week, at this defining moment in history, you can give this country the change we need.

 "We began this journey in the depths of winter nearly two years ago, on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Back then, we didn't have much money or many endorsements. We weren't given much of a chance by the polls or the pundits, and we knew how steep our climb would be.

"But I also knew this. I knew that the size of our challenges had outgrown the smallness of our politics. I believed that Democrats and Republicans and Americans of every political stripe were hungry for new ideas, new leadership, and a new kind of politics - one that favors common sense over ideology; one that focuses on those values and ideals we hold in common as Americans.

 "Most of all, I believed in your ability to make change happen. I knew that the American people were a decent, generous people who are willing to work hard and sacrifice for future generations. And I was convinced that when we come together, our voices are more powerful than the most entrenched lobbyists, or the most vicious political attacks, or the full force of a status quo in Washington that wants to keep things just the way they are.

"Twenty-one months later, my faith in the American people has been vindicated. That's how we've come so far and so close - because of you. That's how we'll change this country - with your help. And that's why we can't afford to slow down, sit back, or let up for one day, one minute, or one second in this last week. Not now. Not when so much is at stake.

"We are in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. 760,000 workers have lost their jobs this year. Businesses and families can't get credit. Home values are falling. Pensions are disappearing. Wages are lower than they've been in a decade, at a time when the cost of health care and college have never been higher. It's getting harder and harder to make the mortgage, or fill up your gas tank, or even keep the electricity on at the end of the month.

"At a moment like this, the last thing we can afford is four more years of the tired, old theory that says we should give more to billionaires and big corporations and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. The last thing we can afford is four more years where no one in Washington is watching anyone on Wall Street because politicians and lobbyists killed common-sense regulations. Those are the theories that got us into this mess. They haven't worked, and it's time for change. That's why I'm running for President of the United States.

"Now, Senator McCain has served this country honorably. And he can point to a few moments over the past eight years where he has broken from George Bush - on torture, for example. He deserves credit for that. But when it comes to the economy - when it comes to the central issue of this election - the plain truth is that John McCain has stood with this President every step of the way. Voting for the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that he once opposed. Voting for the Bush budgets that spent us into debt. Calling for less regulation twenty-one times just this year. Those are the facts."