In order to survive we must keep hope alive — William Parker

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In This Issue:

David’s Notes

Change We Can Believe In?

Altoon’s Blogs

Tax Rates on the Wealthiest Americans

Trickle-up Economics

Great achievements in American Socialism

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As an old white guy myself I feel qualified and free to declare the end of the age of the old white man. It’s over and we should all, even us old white guys, celebrate. There is finally some hope. Maybe my quote from William Parker at the top of the Emailite that’s been there now for more than a year should read:

 In order to survive and keep hope alive
we got to get rid of those old white guys.

Well, it’s happened finally and we all should be glad.

And there’s no more obvious sign of the times than a Black/Interracial President nominating a Puerto Rican woman to the Supreme Court.
Because something is happening here,
and you do know what it is,
don’t you, Mr. Jones?

[for the source of this allusion, go to:]

                  A DEEP BOW OF THANKS TO SHRUBBIE & CO.

The irony of all this is that a bunch of right-wing, fascist-leaning, old white men made all this possible. All of us liberal, radical, left-wing types–no matter what our color–owe a profound debt of gratitude, a deep bow, to Shrubbie, Gunner, Rummy and their henchmen. Without the George W. Bush Administration and their skullduggery, we would not be where we are today. Their disregard for anything but themselves and their cronies, their blatant chicanery and criminality, in short, their idea of a government modeled on the assumptions of the dictatorial, abusive father who always knows best, trucks no criticism and does whatever he feels like doing whenever he feels like doing it is the cause of where we are now.

                   RUSH LIMBERGER, ET. AL.

Rush Limberger, his assistant, the former Vice President of the United States of America, and the rest of the recalcitrant, obstructionist Republicans, can’t seem to get it through their heads that they lost.

To wit: this past Thursday, May 21st, Gunner’s speech before the American Enterprise Institute was clear evidence that the guy is desperate. Never in the history of America has an ex-Vice President behaved this way. For an excellent assessment of Cheney’s speech see David Brook’s op ed piece on May 22nd at: You lost, Dick. You’re not The President anymore. Go home to Wyoming and do whatever you do out there. On second thought, that’s okay, with every new foray onto the airwaves that Gunner and his cronies make, they just dig themselves deeper into the hole they’ve made for themselves over the past eight years. Keep it up you old white guys. There’s nothing you could do that could help Our Guy more. [More on this from Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic below.]


Just as Waterloo was the end of that French guy, and Lyndon Baines Johnson watched his Great Society go up in flames in Vietnam, so too I worry that all of Brarack Obama’s good intentions will be burned to a crisp in Afghanistan. In this writer’s opinion the greatest conundrum facing Our Guy is how to get himself and ourselves honorably out of Afghanistan.

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Recently Norman Turner sent the following. It raises some questions I think a lot of people have been asking lately.
Change we can believe in? I’m starting to wonder—have been wondering, actually, for a while now. Consider what Obama said in defense of reversing his decision on releasing the prisoner abuse photos.

“The publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals.”

A small number of individuals? Excuse me! It’s been shown that torture originated at the highest levels of the Bush administration and traveled down through the ranks. Many were complicit, including Rumsfeld and Cheney. I find it very distasteful that Obama is trying to sweep this under the rug.

My response was:
I’m not sure Obama is trying to sweep all this under the rug. The investigation of criminality in the Bush administration–Gunner, Rummy, et. al.–is proceeding apace in the Congress which gives Obama the chance to step away from the whole mess–a shrewd move. I think you’ve got to look at the big picture, the really big picture. Obama cannot be all things to all people all the time. He is a politician, he has to be. And from the gitgo he has not been a left-winger the way some of us would want him to be. For now at least he still has my complete, wholehearted and enthusiastic support.

Noman responded:

We agree that Obama is an exceptionally adroit politician. I’d add that the man has time and again shown remarkable political courage. Yet Paul Krugman in a recent column writes,

“In a way, it was easy to take stands during the Bush years . . . . Now, however, . . . staking out a position has become much trickier. Policy tends to move things in a desirable direction, yet to fall short of what you’d hoped to see. And the question becomes how many compromises, how much watering down, one is willing to accept.”

I agree with this, and especially so in respect to “a small number of individuals.” Obama needn’t have resorted to Bush-era scapegoating, and he had to have known that his words were false. Given the magnitude of the vile deeds committed in our names, I just can’t swallow it.


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 Our friend Altoon Sultan recommends the following blogs. And she should know!


Andrew Sullivan argues in The Atlantic that: Cheney is taking the torture bait from Obama even as Obama refuses brilliantly to take the terror bait from Cheney. Obama is resisting the red-blue reductionism of the past while forging a new and powerful center. And the more Cheney and Kristol and Limbaugh posture as the future of the GOP, the worse they will do and the more likely it is that more sane and sensible conservatives will eventually fight back.


Al Giordano in The Field argues that: Those [who] argue that the President should not have shifted positions on the photos – or that similarly argue that he should unleash prosecutors upon members of the previous administration – are essentially asking him to forfeit his ability to do bigger and more important things: like ending the production of nuclear weapons and stopping actual acts of torture from happening under his watch.
Altoon Sultan adds: I personally don’t care about the photos; the Abu Ghraib pictures were horrific enough to understand what these additional images must contain. What was impressive was the release of the memos, which many expected to be heavily redacted, and they weren’t. It was all there.

The right is pushing back hard on Gitmo and the American public still thinks that torture works (they watch too much TV, especially 24). Ugh. Our President needs some slack; he’s got a zillion things he’s trying to accomplish, very very important things, which are going to be hard as hell to get done. As Giordano points out, prosecuting wrongdoers doesn’t stop either them or people after them from doing the same shit all over again.

And do you realize that Obama’s ended new nuclear weapon development?! There will be strong resistance from the military, hence another reason to get them on his side.

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Tax Rates on the Wealthiest Americans

People have been accusing President Obama of being a Socialist because of his plan to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans—from 35% to 39.6%.

The tax rate for the wealthiest Americans at the end of Ronald Reagan’s first term was 50%. Under Richard Nixon 70%.

Under Dwight Eisenhower 91%.

For a graph of tax rates on the richest Americans since 1920 go to:

It will boggle your mind.

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Trickle-up Economics

From our friend Ray Bepko, this Editorial from the Charlotte (NC) Observer, March 3, 2009:

 “You might or might not call it hope, but you have to concede it’s audacious.

“President Obama’s proposed 10-year, $3.6 trillion spending plan, announced last week, would reverse the past 30 years of failed, Reagan-esque government philosophy. Assuming the country can afford it – for now that’s unknowable – there’s much in the plan to like.

“Goodbye – and good riddance – to “trickle-down,” the theory that more money for the rich eventually creates more money for the poor. It has “been discredited once and for all,” Obama’s budget plan states. Indeed, evidence shows that for 30 years, income inequality in America has grown. From 1979 to 2005, after-tax income for the top 1 percent of households rose 176 percent; for the bottom fifth it rose only 6 percent.

“And hello, “trickle-up.” Obama’s proposal takes welcome aim at that growing income inequality, cutting taxes for families earning less than $250,000 a year and raising taxes for families earning more.”

* * * * *

Great achievements in American Socialism

For a slide show of Mark Schone’s “Great achievements in American Socialism,” in other words, two dozen excellent things the federal government bought with your money. go to:

This is a wonderful slide show. Don’t miss it.

The fundamental question here is: Do you believe in THE PUBLIC GOOD, or not?

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* * * * *

In order to survive we must keep hope alive — William Parker

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In This Issue:

David’s Notes

WARNING! This JME is two YouTube Music Videos, both, in their separate ways, inspiring and delightful and meant to get you dancing to the polls on November 4th.

HOWEVER! if you do not have a high-speed connection to the internet, as I do not, these will download frustratingly slowly. Start them downloading then go do something else; don’t sit there and wait; come back when they are fully downloaded and enjoy them both. If you are dial-up it may be hopeless.

DON’T FORGET TO VOTE: on November 4th or sooner if you can’t wait. I couldn’t.


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Takin’ It Back with Barack, Jack!


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Kenge Kenge, Obama for Change

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In order to survive we must keep hope alive — William Parker

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In This Issue:

David’s Notes
“This is Your Nation on White Privilege” by Tim Wise
Links to two Op Ed essays on race

Bob Herbert’s “Running While Black”:

Charles M. Blow’s “Racism and the Race”:


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David’s Notes:

The last two Judevine Mountain Emailites have been in support of Barack Obama:

#42, YO! MAMA! IT’S OBAMA! February 3, 2008,  



In February I began corresponding with an old high school friend who said in one of her emails, “I lived in the south toooo long and saw what “they” can do to a town, city, neighborhood, store. I just will not in this lifetime vote for “him.”

This is not a right wing, conservative person talking; she is a Democrat.

Most people who read the JME are white liberal Democrats who live in a dangerous cocoon that insulates them from points of view like the one my high school friend has. I am seriously concerned that white liberal Democrats don’t have any idea what a huge role race and racism is playing and will play in this election.

The dangerous cocoon most of us live in is the cocoon of white privilege.


There is an old adage, which all black people know and almost no white people know which is: black people know everything about white people and white people know nothing about black people.

This is, of course, because black people had to decipher, analyze and understand profoundly the psychology of white people in order to survive in white America. The converse is also true: white people have had to understand nothing about black people in order to survive in a society tailor-made for us.

And therefore this issue of the JME is on white privilege. The best piece on the subject I’ve come across is Tim Wise’s “This is Your Nation on White Privilege.” It follows here.


* * * * *
by Tim Wise
For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.__

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay. __White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug. __

White privilege is when you can attend five different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.__

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”__

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office–since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s–while if you’re black and believe in reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school, requires it), you are a dangerous and mushy liberal who isn’t fit to safeguard American institutions.__

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.__

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto is “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you’re black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.__

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do–like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor–and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college and the fact that she lives close to Russia–you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.__

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because suddenly your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”__

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.__

White privilege is when you can take nearly twenty-four hours to get to a hospital after beginning to leak amniotic fluid, and still be viewed as a great mom whose commitment to her children is unquestionable, and whose “next door neighbor” qualities make her ready to be VP, while if you’re a black candidate for president and you let your children be interviewed for a few seconds on TV, you’re irresponsibly exploiting them.__

White privilege is being able to give a 36 minute speech in which you talk about lipstick and make fun of your opponent, while laying out no substantive policy positions on any issue at all, and still manage to be considered a legitimate candidate, while a black person who gives an hour speech the week before, in which he lays out specific policy proposals on several issues, is still criticized for being too vague about what he would do if elected.__

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.__

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.__

White privilege is being able to go to a prestigious prep school, then to Yale and then Harvard Business school, and yet, still be seen as just an average guy (George W. Bush) while being black, going to a prestigious prep school, then Occidental College, then Columbia, and then to Harvard Law, makes you “uppity,” and a snob who probably looks down on regular folks.__

White privilege is being able to graduate near the bottom of your college class (McCain), or graduate with a C average from Yale (W.) and that’s OK, and you’re cut out to be president, but if you’re black and you graduate near the top of your class from Harvard Law, you can’t be trusted to make good decisions in office._

White privilege is being able to dump your first wife after she’s disfigured in a car crash so you can take up with a multi-millionaire beauty queen (who you go on to call the c-word in public) and still be thought of as a man of strong family values, while if you’re black and married for nearly twenty years to the same woman, your family is viewed as un-American and your gestures of affection for each other are called “terrorist fist bumps.”__

White privilege is when you can develop a pain-killer addiction, having obtained your drug of choice illegally like Cindy McCain, go on to beat that addiction, and everyone praises you for being so strong, while being a black guy who smoked pot a few times in college and never became an addict means people will wonder if perhaps you still get high, and even ask whether or not you ever sold drugs. __

White privilege is being able to sing a song about bombing Iran and still be viewed as a sober and rational statesman, with the maturity to be president, while being black and suggesting that the U.S. should speak with other nations, even when we have disagreements with them, makes you “dangerously naive and immature.”__

White privilege is being able to say that you hate “gooks” and “will always hate them,” and yet, you aren’t a racist because, ya know, you were a POW so you’re entitled to your hatred, while being black and insisting that black anger about racism is understandable, given the history of your country, makes you a dangerous bigot.__

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism and an absent father is apparently among the “lesser adversities” faced by other politicians, as Sarah Palin explained in her convention speech. __

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because a lot of white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.__

White privilege is, in short, the problem.


Tim Wise writes for Soft Skull Press (permission to reprint this essay has been requested.)



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In order to survive we must keep hope alive — William Parker

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In This Issue:

David’s Notes
10 Essential Reasons to Elect Barack Obama by Dan Siegel
Election results from the Virgin Islands
Some Links Worth Looking Into:

Michael Chabon’s Obama vs. the Phobocracy

Obama’s Latino pitched, Spanish language, Texas campaign video

Frank Rich on The Audacity of Hopelessness

The Judevine Mountain Emailite #42

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David’s Notes:
This issue is for everyone on my email list but it’s especially, for obvious reasons, for those readers in Vermont, Rhode Island, Ohio and Texas.

First, Dan Siegel’s excellent 10 reasons to vote for Obama. Then the primary election results from the Virgin Islands, where our guy didn’t do too bad. Then, a few links: to Michael Chabon’s Obama vs. the Phobocracy, which outlines the Bush/Cheney generated climate of fear and loathing. And, just because it’s so much fun, a video of the Latino pitched, Spanish language, Texas Obama campaign video. Then Frank Rich on the war in Iraq as a metaphor for the Clinton campaign. And finally, a link to The Judevine Mountain Emailite #42, also about Barack Obama.


* * * * *
10 Essential Reasons to Elect Barack Obama! 
by Dan Siegel
1. Obama Offers Genuine Hope in the Age of Fear: Let’s start with the obvious but essential. The Bush/Cheney years will be remembered as a time when a president used a terrible attack on American shores as an instrument to terrorize his own citizens into accepting a disastrous war, curtailing the Bill of Rights, and usurping near dictatorial powers for the Executive Branch. The cynical use of fear calls out for a strong force of principle and light who can appeal, in Lincoln’s words, to “the better angels of our nature,” a leader who can walk in the shoes of Franklin Roosevelt and remind us that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

John McCain belittles Obama’s message of hope as he hoists the big banner of “Bad World, Be Scared!” The Fall election will clearly boil down to whether Americans respond at this historic moment to the whipping up of fear of “radical Islamic extremism” or the power of hope that encourages a new citizenship and charts an enlightened course for America in the world.

The cultural zeitgeist reflects and shouts out for Obama. Take film. Dark Films this Oscar season (There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, Sweeney Todd) reflects the brooding of Cheney’s snarl and the bloody cost of misguided adventures. At a time when our highest leaders defend almost daily the finer points of torture, why are we surprised that our movie screens are filled with rampaging Texans seeking oil, blood and senseless violence (not to mention the splatter in video games and movie rentals). This is not to predict the bambification of Hollywood in the Obama era, yet it is to say that even our finest storytellers are projecting on screen what the gun slinging oil boys have heaped upon us and the rest of the world.

The groundswell of loyalists lining up behind Obama’s message of hopeful change draws sometimes accurate but often cynical ridicule by the Commentariat. Hope is not the preferred currency of the punditry, which thrives on division, attack and cable channel shoutdowns. But those who stand with ironic and detached distance should bear in mind that the Obama surge is not the result of messianic over promises and rhetoric, but is a deeper reflection and response to the dreadful underachieving of the political class in our time.

2. Obama Will Protect & Defend the Constitution: This is the most sacred duty of a President, one that has been severely trampled upon by the Bush/Cheney regime. One of the unfortunate and often overlooked legacies of 9/11 and its aftermath is the degree to which politicians, the press and the public stand ready to sacrifice our basic legal rights and freedoms as a price for fighting the Terror War.

Imagine for a moment if a truly catastrophic attack strikes in an American city. The trauma and panic unleashed would open the door for a leader who stands ready to further roll back our constitutional freedoms in the name of defending us. Perhaps we should not judge a presidential candidate by whether they can keep us safe (can they truly?), or how they would track down terrorist aggressors (surely they all would). We might rather ask: who has the calm and constitutional faith to not overstep their authority in such a game-changing moment for America as an open society?

As a professor of Constitutional Law, who recently voted against the extension of the FISA bill that would give immunity to telecom companies that spy on us in the name of the Terror War, Obama would uphold our freedoms more vigorously than Clinton or surely McCain.

3. Obama Inspires Us as Citizens: In The Audacity of Hope, Obama notes, “the vast majority of Americans–Republicans, Democrats and independents–are weary of the dead zone that politics have become.” Like Obama, I was born in 1961, and came of age in the post-Vietnam, Watergate era of Nixon and political disillusion. As a late Boomer, I was too young to be moved by JFK’s clarion call to “ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” I survived the Reagan/Bush years, and felt that the Clinton chapter, while offering a step forward, was change lite, never bold enough to offer a new path for domestic renewal, and failing the imagination and courage to transform the Cold War paradigm (rebranded as the Terror War by Bush/Cheney).

Obama has the uncanny ability to tap and call forward the deep-seated civic impulses of the populace while weaving together the hopeful visions of leaders past (Lincoln, FDR, JFK, MLK). He does so with brilliant tactical skills that transcend any politician of recent memory.

Barack thinks like a community organizer (since he was one), realizing that any hope of true and far-reaching reform and change comes by mobilizing citizens to stand up and demand and create change, in part by providing backbone support to politicians who battle powerful special interests.

4. Obama Mobilizes Young People: My teenage children, like myself in the Nixon years, have grown to know the highest reaches of politics to be filled with deception, cynicism, and law breaking. That is why I am especially on fire to see the enthusiasm and engagement of youth across America respond to and rally to the Obama campaign as a new way to believe in political leadership and to see a path to help build the world they want to create. Just think how frightened and disillusioned young people might feel about the state of the world their elders have created: the promise of an endless “war of terror”, a mounting climate crisis, genocide in Darfur, a house of cards economy, and so on. All of this without any serious call by our political leaders to young people that they have the power and opportunity to step up and make a difference. Obama makes that appeal and call to service.

5. Obama Brings Us Together: How does a solidly liberal policymaker attract a healthy share of independents and even Republicans (Obamicans) to vote for him? His character, eloquence and temperament not only flatten out potential fears about his race, but so far seem to overcome liberal baiting of the past. For this I think we can thank the power of well-crafted words, brilliant strategy, and a perfect messenger for our divided times.

Obama is no doubt the candidate that the country is so hungry for it may have willed him into existence. America–even in the abstract ideal–has been fractured over the past 15 years from any united sense of national purpose, save for the months following 9/11. More than any other president, George Bush has been the Great Divider, pleased as punch to rule forcefully with the slightest margins of electoral victory (or defeat) and governing authority. He has stiff-armed not only the Democrats, but the media and any political powers and cultural forces that stood in the way of the Cheney/Rove plan.

It is hard to imagine any other Democrat or Republican running for president this year or in recent history who could bring along a majority of the country to create a new sense of a common good that transcends narrow ideological camps and cultural divisions. As Obama says:

“It’s time for us to put aside the partisan food-fighting. If you know what you stand for, if you know what you believe in, if you know who you’re fighting for, then you can afford to reach out to those who don’t agree with you on everything. We can create the kind of working majority that we haven’t seen in this country for a long, long time…We can do everything that we want to get done.”

6. Obama Can Potentially Launch A Generation of Change: This election calls for a leader who can deliver not just a victory in November, but a fundamental generation of change. Not just four years, or eight. But 16 or 24. We have a lot of digging out to do, and a lot of transformation to get done. The Obama surge might just deliver in November the start of a long-lasting governing majority needed to avoid the triangulating politics of the Clinton years that made a half a loaf seem like victory. The GOP is now the splintered party with outmoded ideas for the future, having run into the ground the anti-government rhetoric of the 1980-2004 elections. This is the window and time for a major shift and realignment of our politics.

7. Obama Can Help Reshape America’s Role in the World: Barack’s biography and global outlook offers the world a strong message that America can turn the page on cowboy militarism. His background is a confluence of a globalizing world (Kenyan father, Kansas mother, raised in Hawaii and Indonesia). In terms of simple perception and style, Obama would help to rebrand America in a world that has lost faith and respect in our leadership and policies.

That said, foreign policy has been the Achilles heal for most presidents the past 50 years: JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Reagan and Bush. Each of them were undermined by failed wars, national security scandals, or unexpected crises. It is likely to be an international minefield for whoever takes the White House in 2009.

While his background is not in global affairs, I do think that Obama’s chapter The World Beyond Our Borders in his book offers an informed and perceptive worldview about America’s historic and challenging role in the world. He would be a fresh and welcomed face to revive the peace process in the Middle East. His roots would win over Africa and re-engage us in a region badly neglected by Washington.

Let’s not forget that Obama took the politically courageous step of opposing Bush’s march to war in Iraq in the fall of 2002, when it was seen as a possibly fatal step for someone seeking the U.S. Senate seat in Illinois. His analysis of what could unfold a few years down the line in Iraq proved quite prescient.

Most importantly, by stating that he “wants to change the mindset” that got us into Iraq, Obama offers hope for serious restraint on our impulse to disastrous interventions around the globe. It is long overdue. Almost 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we still await an “American Gorbachev” who can change our way of thinking about America’s role in the world, transforming it from an empire to a global citizen.

8. Obama is African-American: Race is perhaps the most particular feature, and stain, of the American story. Obama is an African American man of mixed heritage who has the biography and skills to bridge our historic racial divide. Even Bill Clinton, the so-called “first black president”, underestimated the universal appeal of Obama when he tried to marginalize him as a “black” candidate following his South Carolina primary victory. Weeks later, Obama captured the majority of white men in Virginia against Hillary, and now appears capable of capturing every demographic in our diverse society.

What a proud moment it would be for all if Barack Obama holds his hands on the Bible and is sworn in as the 44th president of our country. Every African American struggle for freedom, and every great leader and participant in those movements, will be affirmed and advanced. So too will the richness of America’s growing diversity. By the middle of this century, half of America will be made up of people of color. Obama is the bridge to that mosaic.

9. Obama is Reflective: The dead certitude of a dim-witted president has been a costly deficiency for our nation. Even intelligent leaders often suffer from the arrogance of power when walled off by yes men in the White House. It is unclear what kind of president Obama would be, but he seems to genuinely possess the strength of character and openness of mind to listen, reflect and grow. In his recent victory speeches, he admits right up front that he will make mistakes and surely disappoint. In The Audacity of Hope, he ponders the passing of age even as a relatively young man, and notes:

“If you are paying attention, each successive year will make you more intimately acquainted with all of your flaws–the blind spots, the recurring habits of thought that may be genetic or may be environmental, but that will almost certainly worsen with time, as surely as the hitch in your walk turns to pain in your hip.”

Blind spots and arrogance have marked many of our rulers the past 40 years: Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and George Bush. Each of these Presidents bogged down in disastrous wars, and the stubbornness, deceit or shallowness of their characters led to agony, scandal and wasted lives.

Obama appears to have a strong inner compass of values, which is combined with deep wisdom and the agility to learn and change course, which is well suited for our challenging times of opportunity and upheaval.

10. Obama Opens the Space for Wider Change: Inspired leaders are usually the catalysts for more wide-ranging movements of political and cultural change. Think of FDR and JFK, and how they helped to spark more far-reaching reform and social movements that changed the landscape of America in the 1930s and 1960s.

The presidency shapes life far beyond politics: The mood of people. The sense of possibility. The experience of art and culture. The role of faith and spiritualism. What we all dream about, fear, and hope for.

It is indeed time to create and tell a new American story.


Dan Siegel is a writer, political observer and social entrepreneur. His articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, Newsday, and the Oakland Tribune, among others. He can be contacted at


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On February 9th The Virgin Islands had their primary. The results were as follows: Barack Obama got 89.95 percent of the votes, 1,772 votes. Hillary Clinton got 7.56 percent or 149 votes. 2.49 percent or 49 votes were uncommitted.


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Some Links Worth Looking Into
Michael Chabon’s Obama vs. the Phobocracy is at:

Viva Obama!: a Texas, Latino video for Obama is at:

Frank Rich, The Audacity of Hopelessness, on the war in Iraq as a metaphor for the Clinton campaign at:

The JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE #42, also about Barack Obama, is at:



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two personal statements, two speeches & two endorsements

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In This Issue:

David’s Notes
Why I’m an Avid Supporter of Barack Obama by Altoon Sultan
Us Versus Them by David Rocchio
Two Speeches by Barack Obama
Two Endorsements

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David’s Notes:

This issue announces our support for Barack Obama for President. If you are of a mind to, please forward this issue immediately to all your friends who live in Super Tuesday states.

There’s a gazillion essays, blogs, YouTubes and so on out there about Obama. We’ve boiled it down to two personal statements–plus David’s Notes–two Obama speeches and two endorsements.

A New Day Is Dawning
On the evening of 9/11 the entire world was with us. In just a little over six years the entire world is now against us; they hate us, and for good reason too. No one, no one, can turn this situation around faster and more completely than Barack Obama. Think of what the rest of the world will think of us if we elect not only a person of color but a President who actually has heard of somebody other than Jesus. The thought is almost too much to bear. The biggest reason right now that I support Obama–in addition to the ones articulated by Altoon Sultan and David Rocchio in this Emailite–is that on the morning he is elected, even before he is inaugurated, our standing in the world will increase a 1000 times. He alone, just him as President Elect, can do more than anyone or thing imaginable to start to correct the insufferable things Shrubbie, Gunner and the NeoCons have done to our reputation around the world.

We still like John Edwards a lot. He has lots of good, practical and specific ideas, and we hope very much that he will be in President Obama’s cabinet.

I haven’t been this excited about any candidate since Bobby Kennedy ran for President. And speaking of the Kennedys, Teddy Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama makes absolutely clear the connection between the young Barack Obama and the young John Kennedy.

A new day is dawning. And if you don’t believe me, read David Brooks:

Barack Obama offers a new way of seeing the world, a new way of going about the business of being the United States, a new way to be US.


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Why I’m an Avid Supporter of Barack Obama
by Altoon Sultan
In 2003, during primary season, I went to a campaign event for John Kerry at a restaurant in nearby New Hampshire. I felt favorable towards Kerry. Sure, I can support this guy; he seems ok; he’ll do the right thing. Watching the Democratic convention a few months later, I kind of cringed at the “Reporting for duty!” even though I thought it might be necessary in order to go head to head against the Bush administration. And so the convention proceeded: positioning the Democrats carefully so as not to ruffle patriotic feathers. Then came the Obama speech–soaring, sweeping, inspiring, calling on Americans to work together, calling in a way that I hadn’t heard in years: “It is that fundamental belief: I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.”

After years of hearing the depressing mantra initiated in the Reagan years, “Government is not the solution, government is the problem.”– even during the Clinton administration, with its welfare reform and government downsizing–I now heard someone who was daring to reignite the liberal flame. Here was a man of mixed heritage who was calling for an end to divisiveness: “We worship an “awesome God” in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States.”

The thoughts are so beautifully articulated, so intensely spoken. So, when Barack Obama announced that he was running for President, I was thrilled. He offers a chance to bring the Democratic party back to its liberal roots, while his inclusive rhetoric also attracts conservatives and those disillusioned with politics, creating the enticing possibility of a broad mandate. For those in the blogosphere belittling him as “an empty suit” singing “kumbaya”, I say look at his record of lifelong service to the poor and commitment to government probity. And I say, eloquent speeches do matter; they inspire us to action. After years of having political leaders who pander to the voters lowest instincts–“it’s not the government’s money, it’s your money”, after 9/11 “be afraid, be very afraid” then “go out and shop”–with Obama, we will finally have true leadership, exhorting us to selflessness, to openness, to overcoming our “moral deficit”. And imagine what having a man such as Barack Hussein Obama as our President will say to the world: We are made anew.


Altoon Sultan is a 59 year old Jewish woman of Middle Eastern descent. She is an artist, and lives on an old hill farm in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Her book, The Luminous Brush: Painting with Egg Tempera was published by Watson-Guptill Publications in 1999.


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Us Versus Them
by David Rocchio
The divisiveness in America’s political system worsens every year. Political consultants and party loyalists insist candidates, to be elected, ‘motivate the base,’ aggressively oppose the other party’s people and plans, even rip their own tribe during primary.

Because raising money is king and takes aggression and passion, our politicians focus on wedge issues, and divisive tactics and sharpened attacks to show competitive advantage. In private they admit they say things they’d rather not, pushing to the edge of ethics in quest for money and votes. It is all rationalized as being part of the game and the price of admission to representative democracy.

During presidential campaigns, insiders push aside complaints about the vitriol of such extreme partisanship with assurances, ‘don’t worry, we’re in primary.’ To be ‘in primary’ means to win the base. Later, a candidate will say, they can subtly moderate away from the edge of the party to govern from the vast middle. It is cynicism masking as strategy and it is a slippery slope.

Here’s the problem: if the base and the money require pushing farther and farther to the edges, it becomes harder and harder to swim back to the middle. Positions staked out for expediency become bedrock and immutable. Because of the pandering to the narrow vitriolic base, politicians box themselves in and nothing gets done. Media campaigns, 21st century gerrymandering of congressional districts using sophisticated polling and sociological data and complex polling of ‘likely voters’ creates a divided country of ‘us’ verses ‘them’ when there is really just ‘us.’

Politicians have learned the art of being electable without having to do anything. It is not government; it is election management.

Effective democratic government is hard. Mr. Obama is saying American’s are not easily divisible and categorized; the vast middle continues to be receptive to good ideas for governing, and complex issues require complex non-ideological approaches to solving them.

Mr. Obama says it is time for change, and I agree with him.


David Rocchio is a writer, attorney, ski patrolman and film maker. He served as Deputy Legal Counsel and then Chief Legal Counsel to Vermont Governor Howard Dean, M.D. from 1997to 2001.


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Two SpeechesObama at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church
Here is Barack Obama’s speech/talk/sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church on 20 January 2008. It’s almost 30 minutes long so it takes some time, but it’s worth every minute.

Turn on the video/audio and then don’t watch, rather, follow along with the text so that you can see how he does and does not stick to the prepared text. This talk is an excellent example of Obama the improviser. The whole section on hope and how his hope is not false hope is a tour de force. Like any straight-ahead jazz musician, Obama has, when he improvises, a bag of tricks, a set of standard licks, out of which he constructs his improvisation, nonetheless this is as finely structured and intricately articulated an improvisation as any by Coleman Hawkins or Kenny Dorham.

Here’s the link:



Obama’s Victory Speech in South Carolina

Here’s the link to Obama’s Victory Speech in South Carolina, on 26 January 2008,


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Two Endorsements
From the Seattle Times: this is an excellent rebuttal to the “Empty Suit” accusation that’s going around.

From the San Francisco Chronicle: another succinct and to the point endorsement.


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