Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I spent most of this morning standing with Dave Davison, president of the Peace Network of the Ozarks, on a parking lot outside Glendale High School.

No, we weren’t out there trying to sell anything shady to teenagers! We were waiting for the doors to open so we could go in and hear Barack Obama speak. We arrived shortly after 8:00 am. He was scheduled to speak at 10:00, but we had to park a block away, and the line already snaked from the doorway the full length of the large parking lot, around the end of the lot and halfway back down the other side.

We and our neighbors in line made lots of observations about the problems Obama faces as the first black candidate to make it this far and questions about why the other side is so fixated on the gay non-issues.

One major difference between the parties was glaring to me, though. I remembered a long-ago demonstration we held when W came to town. He was to speak in the minor league ballpark downtown (Definitely an appropriate site for him.), and, as for today’s event, people had to have tickets to go in. The huge difference, though, was that when our members, tickets in hand, tried to enter the Bush arena, they were not only rejected, but arrested for trespassing. At Obama’s rally, on the other hand, just as at the rally John Edwards held on the SMU campus, anyone with a ticket was allowed in.

If you want to draw a meaningful distinction between the two parties, you’d be hard pressed to find a clearer one than that. There are a lot of things I don’t like about the Demorats, but they do recognize that the people of America, thin wallets and all, have value, and they are far more likely to consider opposing views than their Repulsican counterparts.

Once inside, I found the electrically charged atmosphere of political partisanism intriguing, and was often moved to stand and applaud with the crowd as Obama drove home point after point about the need for our government to recognize the needs of the average American family and tailor its policies for their protection.

I found little to disagree with in what he said. Of course, most of what he said was in generalities, but he did say one thing I have waited a long time to hear, and that was that he plans to put a stop to Congressional raids on the Social Security funds and remove the cap from contributions to Social Security. In other words, to require all wage earners to pay the same percentage of their salary into the SS coffers no matter how much they make. (Actually, he suggested exempting only wages between $102,000 and $250,000 instead of all over $102,000 as is the case today, but otherwise taxing all the same.) I don’t know about you, but I’ve been waiting all my life to hear that proposed seriously. It has been the obvious – elephant in the room – solution all along.

He spoke for a bit less than an hour and then asked for audience questions, but there were only time for four or five. Dave and I conferred afterward on the questions we had come to ask. I wish we had been given the opportunity because I the questions asked failed to cover any ground Obama had not already spoken to.

Here is the question I had written out to ask him: As a Vietnam era veteran I, myself, and all who served with me showed our willingness to serve our country. But we also learned that our government had called us to serve in an unnecessary war.

The United States leads the world many times over in military spending and arms sales. President Clinton balanced the national budget by curbing out-of-control military expenditures and I believe we could regain the high moral ground by ceasing to use war as foreign policy.

What are your beliefs on these issues?

Dave had a great question that I really wish had been asked: When you are elected president, what do you intend to do to repair the damage the Bush administration has done to the Constitution?

As it was, Barack Obama got by with only softball questions being asked, but his speech was still informative and reassuring. His understanding of the fact that there are different criteria for progress on Wall Street and Main Street was made clear. His disdain for the wildly high profits being made by oil companies and the leverage wielded by lobbyist was evident. His understanding of the worthlessness of the empty promise of off-shore drilling as a panacea to our gasoline price problem was succinctly stated. And his intentions to sponsor legislation designed to help us little folk survive highlighted his understanding of the fix we are in.

He didn’t say anything about the evils of this war and the devastation to the checks and balances created by our founding fathers as perpetrated by the present administration. He didn’t make any overly wild promises about a chicken in every pot, although there was a time or two when I found myself wondering where the money was going to come from to do all he has in mind.

He did say that he believes in national service – and not just military service, but community service – in exchange for $4,000 per year college tuition credit. And he did give the impression that he is not a na├»ve beginner, but rather a shrewd thinker who could easily discern between DC BS and reality, and that alone ought to be good enough to earn him a berth at the Whitehouse.

I’ve threatened to vote for a third party because of Obama’s FISA vote, and I will be watching him closely to see what other signs he might give about his allegiance to the powers that be, but one thing is certain. This man is at least head and shoulders above his opponent as a candidate for the presidency, and if the country elects John McCain this fall it would be the stupidest move since they elected George W Bush to a second term.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

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