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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: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/29/opinion/29brooks.html?ex=1202274000&en=3da66464515f7f14&ei=5070&emc=eta1

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: http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/1/21/113648/338



Obama’s Victory Speech in South Carolina

Here’s the link to Obama’s Victory Speech in South Carolina, on 26 January 2008, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iVAPH_EcmQ


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Two Endorsements
From the Seattle Times: this is an excellent rebuttal to the “Empty Suit” accusation that’s going around. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/editorialsopinion/2004145661_obamaed27.html

From the San Francisco Chronicle: another succinct and to the point endorsement. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/27/ED6EUKN15.DTL


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