Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Dreaming Up Daily Image

"Salmon Cycle" by Joseph Wilson (Coast Salish)
at Salmon continues to be a big issue
here on the North Coast and in the Klamath area.
After few salmon last year, this year is expected to
be even worse. Posted by Picasa

Five Years of War

Today there are marches across America to remind the country that the Bush McCain war in Iraq has been killing, maiming, destroying and burning trillions of dollars for five long years.

Even though most Americans
aren't aware of it, nearly 4,000 American armed personnel have been killed there. Civilian deaths in Iraq are increasing.

Politicians aren't
talking about it so much. The media is not reporting it, and continues to soft-peddling the truth of it. But it continues to destroy the lives of many people here and in Iraq, while it systematically destroys our future and our ability to respond to future challenges.

It must not be forgotten. It must be ended, as Barack Obama promises, in 2009.

"No Shock Barack. No Drama Obama.”

It's been a dizzying week in the U.S. political campaign. I've been monitoring the ins and outs at American Dash, but the charges and countercharges, a party seemingly tearing itself apart over race and identity politics--it's all been superheated.

Except for one of the people in the eye of the storm: Barack Obama. Still cool, calm, cogent. Forceful in making his points, but rational and even-handed.

These qualities, obvious in the latest rounds of controversy over his former minister and a big contributor to past campaigns, were noted by a number of military leaders early in the week as they assessed and endorsed Obama for Commander in Chief.

General McPeak said the steady temperament that Mr. Obama has demonstrated during the campaign would serve him well as commander in chief... Said General Merrill McPeak (whose had his own problems with getting too excited in his campaign statements) “Senator Obama was up in Iowa, maybe not so up in New Hampshire, but he was the same Barack Obama “Steady, reliable, ‘No shock, Barack. No drama Obama.”

They spoke about his judgment. And while others--including a counsel in the Clinton White House--question Hillary's claims to experience, Keith Olbermann provided some historical perspective: FDR had served only six years as governor and state senator before he became President. Teddy Roosevelt had four and a half years of "experience" before the White House. Woodrow Wilson had two years and six weeks.

While on the other hand, before they became president Richard Nixon had 14 years in Washington, and Calvin Coolidge 25.

And while the pundits shout and people like me are half crazed with all the possible impacts of this thing and that, Obama is quietly moving closer to the nomination. His victories in Wyoming and Mississippi have more than made up delegates he lost on March 4, he's added 100,000 to his popular vote lead, and since Super Tuesday he has been endorsed by 47 super-delegates, while Hillary has lost a net of 7. Update: Saturday Obama picked up at least 7 delegates in Iowa, formerly for John Edwards. Second update: Obama picked up 9, Clinton lost 1--a net Obama gain of 10.

Even if Hillary wins PA by 15%, she can't catch Obama in delegates--in the contests to come, including PA, she has to average more than 64% of the delegates (meaning getting like 70% of the vote) while Obama only has to get about 45%. And on Friday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that if super-delegates "overturn what's happened in the elections, it would be harmful to the Democratic Party." A very polite shot across the bow of the Hillary campaign.

But Obama is winning super-delegates anyway. He's doing especially well with elected officials. Hillary is desperately trying to insist that only the big states she wins should count, while super-delegates in other states--many of whom hold office, and would like to keep doing so--are seeing that Obama is committed to campaigning and strengthening the party everywhere, and that he wants a big congressional majority. Some studying the subject think he has the best chance to deliver it. Moreover, it's becoming noticed that Hillary has won almost exclusively in states where she was backed by the existing political machinery of the party. That machinery will function for any Democrat, so that's not much of an argument for Hillary's electability.

After Hillary's post-Ohio bounce, Obama has returned to leading in the national polls--he's led now for seven straight days and has broken the 50% barrier on Friday, leading by 6 points. He continues to be the more likely to beat McCain in November, and Democrats continue to consider him the more electable.

Obama has been inspirational with what he says and how he says it. But his cool inspires confidence, too. I've said it before, but it bears repeating because it's so important. Somebody like Barack Obama doesn't come along very often in political life. We are so lucky at this critical time to be able to elect him President.

Meanwhile, as the world turns...

While the current political campaign is important and certainly absorbing, but it's worth mentioning that while all that money and all those words are being thrown around, the American economy is falling fast, oil has shot up beyond $1.10 a barrel and gas prices are moving up as well, unemployment is up, the stock market is tanking, consumer spending is way down, and at least one big bank is in danger of failing.

In case anyone has forgotten, Bush is still President, and besides warbling tasteless country song parodies about the Iraq war, he's the apparent leader of an administration that is still doing its damndest to screw civil liberties and ruin the air and the climate.

As for the Climate Crisis, scientists are signalling a new urgency. A Washington Post article last week said, these scientists say new studies indicate that the situation is so dire that the world needs to cease carbon emissions altogether within a matter of decades... Their findings, published in separate journals over the past few weeks, suggest that both industrialized and developing nations must wean themselves off fossil fuels by as early as mid-century in order to prevent warming that could change precipitation patterns and dry up sources of water worldwide.

As a further sign of what kind of creek we're up, the EU has been struggling mightily to get agreement on a plan to cut emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020, which is a start, but hardly enough. The hope has been that in creating and institutionalizing the changes necessary to do that much, there will be greater change and infrastructure to do what really needs to be done--an 80% reduction by 2050. Except, of course, these scientists are saying even that may not be enough.

And of course, the US is not even close to doing what the EU wants to do. Both Dem candidates talk about green jobs and green energy, with Barack Obama making it his first campaign issue in Pennsylvania. He's calling for a 10 year effort of investment. This to me is a primary reason I'm backing Obama. It will take transformative leadership, able to make sense to people across party and ideological lines, with enough of an elected power base in Washington and elsewhere to get it done. He has the better chance of doing that, by a long shot. Frankly, it may not be a great chance. But it's possible. With Hillary, not so much.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

“She felt that somehow, wandering through uncharted territory, we might stumble upon something that will, in an instant, seem to represent who we are at the core. That was very much her philosophy of life — to not be limited by fear or narrow definitions, to not build walls around ourselves and to do our best to find kinship and beauty in unexpected places.”

Maya Soetoro-Ng, speaking in the New York Times today of her mother, Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro, who was also the mother of Barack Obama. Maya is Barack's half-sister.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Obama Wins Mississippi

The rangy southpaw pitched another
victory in Mississippi, 61% to 37%.
Posted by Picasa

A Very Serious Moment

But also today the most blatant indication that
the Clinton campaign is forcing racial divisions
with the potential of very serious political and
social problems ahead if Party elders don't renounce
these Clinton tactics. More of what I mean here.
Posted by Picasa