Epiphanyblog

All about ideas…

Posts Tagged ‘2008 election

87% of audience votes “no” for McCain

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In an article written for the Washington Post’s PostGlobal section, Mona Eltaway writes that when the Doha Debates audience was asked who they preferred for the U.S. Presidency, “The result was a resounding ‘no’ for Sen. John McCain.”

According to Ms. Eltaway’s article, 87 percent of the audience voted against the motion “This House believes the Middle East would be better off with John McCain in the White House.”

The verdict came during the latest episode of “The Doha Debates”- a monthly forum on Arab and Muslim issues aired on BBC World to a potential audience of nearly 300 million viewers across 200 countries.

With the economy taking deeper nosedives, it has seemed as if Obama and McCain were – in successive debates – doing their best to ignore the rest of the world and fixate on domestic issues. While that might be understandable for worried Americans and the rest of us who live here, other parts of the world are eager to know how the next occupant of the White House will affect their lives too.

And affect he will, especially the Middle East where the Bush administration has pursued one disastrous policy after the other and where there is palpable dread that the U.S. would want to pursue yet another one by attacking Iran.

It wasn’t an evening of knee-jerk anti-Americanism. Rather it was a chance for people from the region to express what worries them the most about the U.S. When they got the cue for questions, it was as if the Middle East had stretched far beyond the peaceful Doha night to include trouble spots that are rarely on the mind of the U.S. voter come election time.

Asked to identify just their country of origin, we heard from men and women from Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Somalia, Qatar, Sudan, Yemen and the U.S.

Obama is going to have a lot to do to repair the image of the U.S. abroad, especially in the Middle East. To many citizens of the Middle East, the Bush policies towards the Middle East have been…well, let’s just say that they don’t rank above zero on a scale of one to ten. Obama is going to need one hellava Secretary of State and State Department. World class people, to say the least.

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Written by Valerie Curl

November 6, 2008 at 4:13 PM

Obama wins…and so does the world

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Newspapers and broadcasting companies all across Europe are leading their next editions with the win of Barack Obama. His win is filling their front pages. Canadian Broadcasting has been covering the election all evening.

This is huge news all across the world. A lot of people will be smiling.

Written by Valerie Curl

November 5, 2008 at 4:47 AM

Socialism?

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Do you think “socialism” is a terrifying thing, about to invade the policies of America?

If so, you really must hate Social Security and Medicare. When those programs were first introduced, they were called socialist. Republicans ran the “red scare, socialist” mantra across America to attempt the defeat of these programs.

If you think Obama’s health care plan is socialist, then I suggest you check out Switzerland. The Swiss are very conservative. They own more guns per capita than the U.S. They are adamant about privacy, just look at their banking regulations regarding privacy.

Yet, they voted a few years ago for National Health Insurance, even though the Conservatives worked hard to defeat it, saying it was socialist and too expensive. Nevertheless, the leader of the Conservative wing now says the Swiss would never give up their National Health care system. They like it too much. It’s been a boon to their GDP, their pharma companies (among the largest in the world) have no problem with it, the people love it, and health insurance companies are very happy with it.

So, what is the problem with solutions that work for business and helps citizens? This is not 1955 any more.

Written by Valerie Curl

November 5, 2008 at 2:05 AM

Anxiously watching the election…and my fingers are crossed

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I know I’m not alone in being glued to the election news today. I know I’m not alone in having my fingers crossed and hoping my guy, Obama, wins.

This election is very important to me, not because of me – an aging Baby Boomer – but because of all the young people in this country. They deserve a better U.S. and a better world than the one that G.W. Bush and his crowd have made.

After a serious study of both McCain and Obama – their histories, their philosophy, what others who know them well say about their personalities and character, how they think and behave, and their various policy positions – I chose Obama. I sincerely believe he will be better for the younger generations of this country. I believe he has a better ideas and a better temperament.

I also think that a President Obama will be much more conservative than predicted. This guy is very smart, very pragmatic, level headed and inclusive, as his Conservative and Federalist Society compatriots at Harvard Law stated. He may very well have more trouble with his Democratic Congressional colleagues than the Republicans.

Throughout today, I’ve also been reading foreign papers and checking out chat rooms with a large foreign constituency. Everyone is paying extremely close attention to this election, even though many of them do not understand our electoral process. By a large majority, they’re hoping for an Obama win because they see in him a truly positive change in American foreign and economic policy from what the disastrous Bush policies which McCain, they believe, will continue or be even worse.

Obama will be better for the younger generations in this country as well as for older, near-retirement, middle-class people like me. So, I have my fingers crossed.

Written by Valerie Curl

November 5, 2008 at 1:13 AM

OP-ED: No More Economic False Choices

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If Obama wins the election tonight, and there’s a very good probability that he will, he’s going to face an enormous challenge getting our financial house in order after eight years of profligate spending and decreased revenues. Plus, there are added problems of the continuing credit crunch, vast numbers of mortgage defaults, and increased job layoffs as the recession deepens.

How he’s going to deal with these problems is on everyone’s mind. Well, here is a good indication of what he will do. Robert Rubin was the Treasury Secretary under Clinton and is a financial adviser to Obama.

This op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday explores how to get the economy working again and encourage job growth…as well as deal with the deficit.

Fiscal rectitude versus stimulus and public investment: The Bible got this right a long time ago (paraphrasing slightly): there’s a time to spend, a time to save; a time to build deficits up and a time to tear them down. Though one of us (Mr. Rubin) is often invoked as an advocate of fiscal discipline, we both agree that there are times for fiscal discipline and times for fiscal largess. With the current financial crisis, our joint view is that for the short term, our economy needs a large fiscal stimulus that generates substantial economic demand.

We also jointly believe that fiscal stimulus must be married to a commitment to re-establishing sound fiscal conditions with a multi-year program that includes room for critical public investment, once the economy is back on a healthy track.

The U.S. faces a number of challenges, but most Americans agree that the two most important are dealing with the economic problems created during the Bush years and rebuilding our image abroad. This op-ed gives us a pretty good idea of how to deal with the economy…and what we will see from an Obama administration.

Written by Valerie Curl

November 4, 2008 at 9:23 PM

Bush Legal Counsel speaks about Obama

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Bradford Berenson, Harvard Law, class of ’91, associate White House counsel, 2001-’03, Conservative

He made an extraordinary decision. He turned his back on what would normally be the standard route for any president of the Harvard Law Review, which is to take very prestigious judicial clerkships, probably including a clerkship at the Supreme Court of the United States. And he returned to Chicago instead to begin political work and community work.

From the perspective of people on the Review in 1991, that was an unfathomable, unheard-of decision. The clerkships only take — even if you do get a Supreme Court clerkship — two years. And they’re an extraordinary experience, an extraordinary credential, an extraordinary opportunity to serve the country and serve the judiciary. …

Barack was more than capable of getting any clerkship in the country he wanted. … He turned his back on that and did something entirely different. It was clear he had a different plan and a different vision for his own life and saw himself, in some ways, as a breed apart and running separate from the pack, even back then.

Did you ever talk to him about why he made that decision?

… I can’t remember the specifics. I have a vague recollection of being aware that he was a few years older than the other editors, saw himself as … having a little less time to spend on detours; that he wanted to go straight after the things he was interested in and that clerking would have been something of a detour. …

His interest in politics, and his political ambitions, were well-known among the editors at the time. He had received a lot of attention when he became president of the Law Review, the first African American. There had been stories in the national news media about him. He’d been involved in community organizing in Chicago before he came to the law school. And so in the annual parody issue of the Law Review that comes out at the end of the year as part of the banquet, there were a lot of cracks and jokes made at his expense about politics and his interest in politics. …

How did he take stuff like that?

Very good naturedly. I never saw Barack lose his cool, get angry, have a fit of temper, raise his voice. Most of the time if he was frustrated or bemused by something, there’d be kind of a wry smile, maybe a knitting of the eyebrows. But he was a very cool character, a very cool customer in all senses of that word. And any ribbing directed at him was taken in stride and with very good humor, very good nature. …

So when you watch him through this primary campaign … [does he seem different than the guy you knew back then?]

When I see him on the political stage now I very much feel like it’s the same guy that I knew and spent those years with on the Harvard Law School campus in Cambridge. He doesn’t seem like a new man, a different man, someone who’s radically remade himself, a Gatsby figure at all. He was then who he is now. And some of that same cool, some of that same affability, some of that same unflappability, that good faith, that good character, that intellect, they were all apparent then. And I think they all come through now and are part of the secret to his appeal.

So much for the McCain-Palin attempts to paint Obama as a scary radical–someone to be afraid of!

Written by Valerie Curl

November 3, 2008 at 5:48 PM

Obama’s Core Beliefs and Agenda

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I know a lot of Republicans are out smearing Obama with scary labels and painting him as someone to be feared, but he’s far more centrist and conservative than Republicans depict him. (Italics below are mine, for emphasis.)

For example:
Mike Kruglik, Community organizer from Chicago

Obama and I were meeting with a group of leaders one evening on the South Side [of Chicago]. And after these meetings, we would get together and debrief. … And after we got through with the debriefing, as we’re walking out to our cars in the parking lot, this panhandler comes up to Obama and he asks him for a dollar.

Obama then did something that I don’t think I’d ever seen anybody do, including myself. He looks at the young man, he says, “Now, young man,” he says, “You are better than that.” He said, “You’re embarrassing yourself and you’re embarrassing the community. You need to reflect on what you can do to get yourself straight.” And he walks away.

What does that show about Obama? Well one thing that it shows is tough love, otherwise known as agitation in the lingo of an organizer. You’re agitating people to be better instead of commiserating with them about their fears and their weaknesses. You’re challenging them to be better. And, you know, after I told that story, a reporter asked Obama, what did he think about this idea of agitation? And he said, “It’s a way of scraping away bad habits that one person does for another person out of concern for that person’s strength and power and potential.”

But of course, there’s something else that one learns from that episode. And that is, Obama believes that everybody deserves a decent shot at life. But he doesn’t believe that that’s going to be handed to you. It’s not a matter of giving handouts. It’s a matter of people realizing their own potential like he has himself.

So later on, when welfare reform became an issue in the State of Illinois, he didn’t just say, “I’m against welfare reform, period.” He understood that it’s a bad idea to pay people not to work. But he wanted to make sure that if we were going to reform that system, that there would be transportation and child care and necessities that people would need to move from poverty into work.

Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker

He’s a cautious guy. And he’s a deliberate and, in a sort of old-fashioned sense, a conservative guy. I think that’s one of the things that people miss about him. They mistake the message of change for being somehow an ultra-left-winger or something.

If you think about … what he wants to change, it’s sort of a correction back to the center in American politics. The argument to the Obama campaign is that the last eight years have been ideologically radical in one direction.

Ron Brownstein, The National Journal; author, The Second Civil War

With Obama, you’re getting a candidate who I think is clearly committed to a different style of how leadership works; that it is not simply a matter of mobilizing elites, and not even simply a matter of the bully pulpit of the president talking at the country.

I think he has a vision of leadership, growing out of his experience, to a large extent, as a community organizer, that is much more of a president talking with the country, a much more interactive kind of style of leadership.
[…]
We have someone in Obama whose life has been to a large extent, in personal terms, about reconciling differences and building bridges. Mixed race, mixed nationality, feeling like a fish out of water in many communities — in the white community, in the African American community — trying to find his place where he fits in, I think has given him a kind of integrative view of how you pursue change and how you make things happen in the same way that perhaps Bill Clinton’s growing up in a family with an alcoholic instilled his desire to be someone who would find ways to make peace and to find ways to synthesize ideas that seemed incompatible.

Ben Wallace-Wells, Rolling Stone

He’s come from sort of two cultures independently. One of which is this kind of community organizing, left-wing culture and the other of which is this sort of counterintuitive academic culture. …

So from each of these backgrounds, you have a kind of deep skepticism about American power and how it’s constructed and how it’s yielded. And I think the idea that somebody who is young and has a fresh idea might aspire very quickly to overturn all of that and sort of run things, is less shocking and surprising if you start with much less piety towards American power in general.

Written by Valerie Curl

November 3, 2008 at 5:09 PM

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