Archive for the 'Politics' Category

An American Moment Like No Other

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He has been called a socialist, elite, too black, not black enough, inexperienced, presumptuous, a long shot, un-American, even a terrorist. But today he is simply called Mr. President.

Unbelievable as it sounds, Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. And of course, I had to be there. And we traveled in style. Change has not only come to America, but I got a new car.

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Once again America can lead by example. Many people in other countries, such as England and France, can not imagine an African minority in their country ever being elected to the highest office.

Just as significant, the most reasoned, balanced, intelligent and thoughtful person was the one to assume office. Democracy somehow worked this time! This is a clear break from the past of partisan, ideologically and theologically based ignorance and fear that has been the norm for too long. Sanity, reason and real compassion has returned to the White House along with the first African American president.

This is why some two million people (the largest crowd ever in DC) converged on the Mall in Washington, DC and some 2 billion people around the world watched with a collective sigh of relief.

And it began with a concert and ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. A fitting place for the first African American President (also a tall lanky man from Illinois) and the same spot where Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech. A dream indeed fulfilled!

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There were many great stars and musicians there including Tom Hanks, Denzil Washington, Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Stevie Wonder and of course the band to play right before Obama spoke – U2. True to form Bono reminded the then President-elect and the world, “This is not just an American dream, it’s a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream – and a Palestinian dream” You tell ’em Bono!

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Contrary to his socialist label, it seemed that the Obama presidency has spawned a plethora of entrepreneurs selling everything Obama throughout DC.

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Even Obama at the beach buttons.

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And “Yes We Can” cookies at Union Station.

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The night before, the excitement was in the air as the whole mall was lit up in anticipation.

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Tuesday morning people were everywhere. They came to witness history, such a diverse crowd of happy if not cold people – all 2 million of them!

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They came from all over the country and the world, the rich and powerful and meek and humble. With so many people it was amazing to hear later that there had been no arrests the whole day.

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And then the moment was upon us – “I Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…”.

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And then we cheered, hollered, cried and hugged loved ones and total strangers. It was great to be there with Gretchen and my good friend Jeff.

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And a little while another thing to cheer about – the exit of Bush! Good bye and good riddance!

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And at the White House, somebody new was moving in as the sea gulls celebrated and the bands prepared for the parade.

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They lined the streets and building tops to see the new President and the beginning of a new era. We were fortunate to get a spot right behind the White House across from the Presidential viewing stand. They told us it couldn’t be done (be at the swearing in and see the parade) and we replied – Yes We Can!

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Lots of pomp and circumstance preceded the presidential procession.

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And of course Joe and Dr. Jill Biden.

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Ladies and gentlemen the First Lady and the President of the United States of America, Barack and Michele Obama!

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Yes, that is the Commander in Chief.

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Godspeed Mr. President.

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A Chance at Redemption

In less than two weeks time all of us over the age of 18 have a choice to make. The choice is not simply black and white, or red and blue, but rather right and wrong.

Eight years ago the wrong man and the wrong team managed to come to power under questionable circumstances. This last eight years has been one of the most divisive times in American history. And the current president is almost universally seen as the worst ever in many regards. At a time when we as a nation, and the world as a whole, needed more than ever to try to bridge our differences, the current administration has unilaterally driven a wedge between different points of view within our country, and between the USA and the rest of the world.

Of course George Bush is not on the ballot in two weeks, but what he stands for is. Unfortunately, only one of the two men who have a realistic chance to become President has what it takes to reverse the damage that has been done.

Please, hear me out as to why I think Barack Obama, this man with a funny name and a non-traditional upbringing, is not just the only choice but an exceptional choice of the kind we rarely have the chance to mark a ballot for.

A Unifying Force

Barack Obama is literally an open book. He has written two books (one 13 years ago, well before he had any ambition for national office) that chronicle his life and his worldview. Every bit of both books reveals exactly what we see in public today – a very thoughtful listener, someone who always tries to find common ground, someone who always gives respect to opposing views, someone willing to sacrifice personal gain to do what’s right, someone with the unique combination of abundant confidence, a steady hand, and humility of spirit and tone. It is exactly his kind of temperament that is needed in a time of economic or military crises, and exactly this kind of tone that is needed to heal the division domestically and internationally.

Competence

Barack Obama did not get where he is today by privilege of birth or wealth. He was raised by his single mom and his grandparents of modest means in Hawaii. His accomplishments are due to his exceptional mind and competence. He has a profound ability to learn, analyze, and assess complex issues and situations along with a gift for communication and putting people at ease. This is vitally important in a position like the presidency. He is not from an elite class, he has become elite, as in the top of his game, by raw intelligence and much hard work. When we choose a doctor we don’t want someone who is just like us, we want the most competent and skilled medical man possible. In other words, the most elite doctor we can afford. The same should hold true for the Presidency. How many of us really want Joe the plumber as the leader of this great country?

Issues

So you may agree with everything I have said up to this point, but still not favor Obama based on one or more issues. But there are many issues to consider. You may be pro life but not happy about the war in Iraq, where many innocents have died. Pro life can be seen as broader than just pro unborn life. Look at the breadth of the issues before deciding who is or is not pro life.

You may be someone who wants smaller government and less taxes, but government (and it’s intrusion in our lives) has grown under Republicans lately, and Obama is committed to lowering taxes for the vast majority of Americans. Remember, government (and deficits) did not bloat under 8 years of Clinton as it has under Bush. This is not your father’s Republican Party. The fact is the most recent examples show that Democrats have shown more fiscal discipline than the GOP. It wasn’t always this way, I admit, but it is now. I guess this is not Jimmy Carter’s (god bless him) Democratic party either.

Experience

Some say Barak Obama is new on the scene, not experienced enough, and is not proven. Many of our best presidents (according to historians) were equally “inexperienced” such as Lincoln, FDR, Ronald Reagan, and Eisenhower to name a few. Of course he is not totally green. Obama has served 7 years in the Illinois state legislature and 4 years as a US senator. But on top of that, he has been running a campaign for president for almost 2 years now. One measure of a candidate is to look at how he has run his campaign. Barack Obama has been the Chief Executive Officer of an organization that employs 2500 and has taken in 600 million in revenue, with 130 million in the bank. He has run a very well organized and very disciplined campaign operation and has surrounded himself with the best and brightest in their respective fields. He has attracted young and old, men and women, black and white from all across the country. He has not been overly reactionary or overly negative. He set a high standard for himself early on and has kept to it while suffering attacks even Karl Rove has said went too far. If how Obama has run his campaign is any indication how he would run his administration, he will be on his way to being one of the most effective presidents in modern history.

Who is Barack Obama?

And lastly, Barack Obama is not a Muslim, he is not a terrorist, and he loves America. His mother was a Midwestern Christian and his father was a Kenyan agnostic. He himself became a committed Christian when he was in his twenties. But as Colin Powell has recently said when he endorsed Obama, “Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.” This is from a Republican Secretary of State who served under George W. Bush during 9/11 and the Iraq war! If this man can get past the bias of his party affiliation and the misinformation about Barack Obama, anyone can. You can!

The choice is clear, with one pull of a lever, mark on a paper, or tap on a computer you can vote against the cynical and dishonest ways of the past and at the same time vote for the next great leader, a true statesman, and an honestly decent human being who just happens to bear the name Barack Hussein Obama.

Links:

A neutral site debunking the lies about Barack Obama (as wall as for Sarah Palin and John McCain):
http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/obama.asp

Good Presidents and Experience:
http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2008/Info/experience.html

Colin Powell Endorses Obama:
http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/19/powell-endorses-obama/?scp=3&sq=powell%20endorsement&st=cse