Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why Edwards and Not Obama

Something I've noticed when I criticize Senator Obama's policy stands: I get attacked as a racist or someone who just doesn't get it. And then I read this afternoon a blogger describing being an Obama supporter as being a member of a new religion.

No, thank you! I don't want religion and politics to share the same space -- that's what separation of church and state to me.

But the main reason I'm supporting Edwards rather than Obama has strictly to do with policy issues. So, it turns out that insurance companies make their money by overcharging their customers, shortchanging those same customers in terms of underpaying claims, and then getting taxpayers to pick up some of the tab. And these are home and auto insurers! What the hell do you think the health care industry is doing?

So, tell me again, how is being nice going to change this dynamic? And these are the people you want to negotiate with for health care reform?

Maybe religion does explain it. Or maybe folks just drank the Kool-aid (which really wasn't Kool-aid in the case of Jim Jones' followers). They definitely want to believe.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Obama and the Chamber of Commerce

In today's LA Times, the Chamber of Commerce vows to spend $60 million to defeat candidates who want to look out for the middle class.

But not to worry, Obama will sit down and talk with them. Although, according to the article in the The LA Times, it doesn't seem like talking is going to solve this problem.

"We plan to build a grass-roots business organization so strong that when it bites you in the butt, you bleed," chamber President Tom Donohue said. The warning from the nation's largest trade association came against a background of mounting popular concern over the condition of the economy. A weak record of job creation, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, declining home values and other problems have all helped make the economy a major campaign issue.

"I'm concerned about anti-corporate and populist rhetoric from candidates for the presidency, members of Congress and the media," he said. "It suggests to us that we have to demonstrate who it is in this society that creates jobs, wealth and benefits -- and who it is that eats them."

In advance of today's news conference, Donohue told The Times of his plans to be active in 140 congressional districts this year, as well as the presidential contest.

At the state level, Donohue said his organization would be active in nearly four dozen contests for attorney general and state supreme courts. Both state courts and attorneys general are involved in decisions affecting business, including consumer protection and a wide range of litigation."

So, tell me again how is Obama going to change this dynamic?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Voter ID - a short rant

In response to all of those who insist that everyone should have picture ID "after all, you need it to cash a check or use a credit card." If you are poor and/or elderly, you aren't using checks or credit cards. You're paying your bills in cash or by money order.

I'm living in a country where everything that is necessary in life (with exception for groceries at the large supermarket that caters to the foreign crowd; it has food from around the world, not just foods that Greeks traditionally eat), like plumbing repairs, most grocery shopping, gasoline for your car, home heating oil -- all are paid for in cash.

And in the five years I've lived here and in the 17 years since I first came for a visit - I have never seen anyone write a check. In fact, credit cards were mostly used by tourists only before Greece converted to the euro.

So, please stop talking like cash has been made obsolete. If you're poor, spending cash helps to keep you from getting poorer - you can't spend what you don't have and if more people only used cash (or money orders), America's credit card debt would be greatly reduced.

Slavery and Today

And I believe there is a great deal of truth to the analysis of Obama's magic comes from not being the descendant of slaves, but the son of an immigrant to the US. The descendant of slaves here in America could not be as genuinely utopian, hopeful, or optimistic as Obama. We've lived in the US since the end of the Civil War and the freeing of the slaves -- it really wasn't that long ago, only 133 years. (Living in Greece, you get a feel for the passing of time and 133 years means great grandparents, possibly great great grandparents...not millennia.)

I think it will take millennia before other African Americans can truly feel the hope and optimism that Obama speaks of everyday. Just because slaves were freed, doesn't mean that Blacks weren't still slaves. It took until June 19, 1867 before the slaves of Texas learned that legally they were no longer slaves. Heck, January 1, 2008 was the 200th anniversary of the end of the Atlantic slave trade, but there were no celebrations in the US (at least none that I read about on the Internet) and I haven't read about plans for future commemorations.

Obama and To The Point - the Backstory

So what compelled my friend Marian to write the letter below? An interview on Warren Olney's To the Point radio show on Friday (the link will lead you to the podcast).

Warren Olney was talking to a number of people, including a Democratic Party strategist and two professors: Dante Scala, a political science professor from the University of New Hampshire and Robert Dallek , a Boston University history professor.

In the Reporters' Notebook section (this starts at 42 minutes after the beginning of the show) Dallek called Obama an African American, where upon Warren Olney told him of the many emails he gets disputing that designation as he is not the descendent of slaves.

At that point, Dallek not only agreed but said this is why Obama gets such support. He is the son of an immigrant, which many Americans can relate to in their own lives where as being the descendent of slaves makes it much more difficult to connect to the American public.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Barack Obama and Ethnicity in the Democratic presidential campaign

This was written by my friend, Marian Douglas-Ungaro. You can read more of her work here: Marian's Blog.

This is my message to Warren Olney, radio host, KCRW FM, concerning To the Point interview, Friday, 4 January 2008; with guests Dante Scala and Robert Dallek:

Dear Mr. Olney:

Greetings from Wash, DC. Thank you very much for raising the issue of Mr. Obama's ethnicity - and what he is not - in your interview with Dante Scala and Robert Dallek.

As a Black American woman I am offended by and appalled at the willingness of many to ignore and devalue Black American identity and ethnicity, in order to anoint Barack Obama president. Barely a week after the NON-observance of the 200th anniversary of the U.S.
abolition of the slave trade in 1808 (which did NOT stop the smuggling and human trafficking of Africans into slavery in the U.S./Americas), the course of this primary season takes on even more importance.

I have been insulted by some and condescended to others for raising this matter, yet some whites and others as well as more than a few Black Americans fully understand the fallacy of what's going on. But few of them are as willling as I am to speak about this publicly. This needs to be discussed intelligently.

Finally, if he is the Democratic candidate I shall not vote for Barack Obama. It would be an unacceptable compromise and yet another renunciation of my people, our authentic history, and the truth about our country.

Thanks very much.

Marian Douglas-Ungaro,
Washington, DC and Rome, Italia

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Obama, Obama

I was going to let the Obama dig at Edwards for being a trial lawyer, instead of working to help people (what the hell does he think trial lawyers do, for God's sake - Obama himself is a lawyer) but this latest dig at both Gore and Kerry is beyond the pale.

Is he trying to make it difficult for Democrats to support him while he's pandering for Republican votes?

But the worst thing about criticizing Obama is how his supporters act. Just like those who can't stand to hear anything negative about Israel.

An interesting phenomenon, eh? What shall they name it? You'll probably be accused of being racist like being accused of being anti-Semitic or an Israeli hater.

I found this to be the case on the Democrats Abroad listserv as well. Folks had better get over this silliness. Constructive criticism is a good thing. Unfortunately, I'm not finding Obama's criticism of Edwards, Gore or Kerry the least bit constructive in that no one has learned to change the past but Obama could certainly change how he describes his disagreements and differences with others.

So far, I'm not really sure what he is trying to accomplish, but I am starting to wonder how much I will work for him or find the money to support him if he is the Democratic Party nominee.