The Case For Obama

I’ve been considering writing a post about why I’m voting for Barack Obama in November, but I’ve been too busy to sit down and actually write it all down. Thankfully, my friend Joe has written an excellent case for Obama with positive reasons to vote for Obama.\
On top of all of the things Joe mentions, for me, this is the first time I’ve been able to vote in an election where I’m voting for someone. I like Obama. I’m happy that we finally have a presidential candidate who made it through the primaries that is intelligent, thoughtful, and stands for things I actually agree with, that isn’t entirely beholden to the party machine or big business. I think Obama is a great antidote to the last eight years, and I won’t hesitate at all to vote for him. In 2004, I voted against Bush. In 2000, I voted against both parties by voting for Nader (not like it mattered, Virginia was going for Bush and everyone knew it).\
For me, it’s all about intelligence, thoughtfulness and how I think the candidates will do actually governing, not about an individual issue. I think Obama has the perfect temperament to be president and actually fix a lot of the damage done by Bush & Company. He won’t be able to fix it all, and I don’t expect miracles, but he’ll surround himself with the best people for the job, not the ones who paid the most. He’ll make sound decisions based on facts, not gamble with lives based on hunches and forgeries.\
This isn’t a vote against McCain or his ridiculous pick for VP. I don’t agree with them on anything, or what’s become of their party and what they did to our country, but that doesn’t matter. I’m happily voting for Barack Obama.\
If you’d like to try to convince me, you can save your breath. I’ve heard them all, listened to McCain’s talking points and positions – there’s no way in hell I’d ever vote for him again. He betrayed everyone who supported him in the 2000 election (and I did) by spending the last eight years cozying up to the worst extremes of his party, and his choice of Sarah Palin proves it. She is the antithesis of everything I believe in. She doesn’t believe in science, wants Creationism taught in our public schools and is wrong about pretty much everything else… extremely wrong. How can I endorse that kind of stupidity? It’s just not going to happen, so, like I said, save your breath.\
Update: Andy asked in the comments (which aren’t showing up for some reason… I swear it’s a bug and not intentional) to re-address Palin’s stance on Creationism, and I’ve found another report from the same source as the one above that’s very well attributed that shows her stance on the subject and others. That she hasn’t pushed for it to be taught in school is small consolation: she uses all the same code words that every other creationist uses when trying to inject misinformed Christianity into public schools. That Creationism exists at all is a stunning tribute to modern American Christianity’s misunderstanding of the Bible, its translation over time and the nuance of the language it was originally written in. Instead of focusing on the parts of the gospel that are really important, like the Sermon on the Mount (you know, “blessed are the peacemakers“), the Religious Right has twisted religion to be about war, hate and shunning those that are different by selectively ignoring the many parts of the New Testament where Christ contradicts and supersedes the harsher laws of the Old Testament. It doesn’t belong in government, and I want nothing to do with it. She said even more outrageous things in her speech last night. For example, “The Iraq war is a task from God.” You have got to be kidding. The Iraq war is the biggest mistake our country has made in my lifetime, has cost the lives of over four thousand US soldiers and untold thousands of Iraqi civilians, fomented terrorism the world over and destroyed our reputation as a country. What happened to “love thy brother as thy self” or the other things that, you know, Jesus actually said:\
bq. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy … Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.\
I don’t understand how that’s not abundantly clear to any Christian of any denomination or sect. Anyone who quotes anything else is twisting the truth to suit their own desires.

Just A Thought

Just a thought for a Wednesday morning. For all the Christians out there who support President Bush’s secret torture “program”, think about this: Jesus Christ was a victim of torture and was considered a “terrorist” by the government of his time. Our country has tortured, and knowingly sent to be tortured, at least dozens and possibly hundreds of innocent people. This is not a theoretical question.\
Can you be a Christian and support torture? You can’t say, “I only support the torture of guilty people,” because we’ve already tortured innocents. We’ve already proven that the program is flawed: innocent people are being detained indefinitely and tortured by American citizens acting on behalf of our government with the approval of the President. It’s a binary thing. Either you support torture or you don’t.\
What would Jesus do?

Bad Idea

Can we agree now that the invasion of Iraq was a bad idea? Nothing that the Administration said would happen has happened:

  • There were no WMD.
  • Saddam had no ties to Al Qaeda.
  • We weren’t greeted as liberators.
  • Fighting them there hasn’t made us safer here.
  • Democracy hasn’t “flourished” in Iraq or been a good example to anyone.
  • We could fight the war on the “cheap”.
  • We could do it without losses. If you think the war is worth it, worth the sacrifice, read this, and think about it again.\
    On top of the things that the Administration got completely wrong, they’ve turned this country upside down. The United States of America has now admitted to torturing suspects. We’ve admitted to hiding prisoners in secret and illegal prisons scattered throughout the world. We’ve sent innocent people to other countries to be tortured for knowledge they didn’t have. We’ve let Osama bin Laden escape for 5 years. That’s five years of tough talk and inexcusable mistakes at all levels of government.\
    Whatever the President’s intentions, or the intentions of those who support him, he’s a complete and utter failure. And that’s not a “partisan” statement. Really think about it. Look at what he said would happen in Iraq, or after Katrina, or how we would find bin Laden. Nothing he has promised has happened. Nothing he has claimed has turned out to be true. He told us we don’t torture. He told us we followed the Geneva Conventions. He told us New Orleans would be rebuilt. He’s either a liar, or the most imcompetant leader in modern history… I’d bet on both.\
    Our government is a disgrace, a disgrace to its citizens, its history and its ideals. It’s time to do something to change it.\
    How? Vote. Vote in November and do what you can to kick out of office anyone who supports our incompetant president and his cronies, no matter what party they belong to. Yes, most of them happen to be Republicans, but the Democrats are still responsible for not standing up stridently enough. They could have stopped the Patriot Act. They could have done more to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Some Democrats, like Joe Lieberman, actually support this Administrations ridiculous policies.\
    Vote for people who will hold them accountable, who will find the truth, and do something about it. If we don’t, we’re just as guilty as those who approved the torture, who ordered the bombs to be dropped, who have failed so completely to do the right thing.

Merry Christmas, America

What have we found out this year?

  • Our government tortures people because it can, does it without regard for our Constitution, our laws, international treaties or fear of punishment.
  • Our government illegally spies on its own citizens without regard to the legality or constitutionality of the practice (more info from Salon and Josh Marshall
  • Our President thinks the Constitution, the founding document of our country and the bedrock of all our laws, is a Goddamned piece of paper.
  • Our President and Vice President have repeatedly lied to us about a whole host of issues from Iraq to torture to these new allegations of wiretapping, and no one is calling for impeachment. President Clinton was impeached for lying about an affair. President Bush and Vice President Cheney’s lies have violated your civil rights, caused innocent people to be tortured, killed our fighting men and women, and ruined our standing in the international community. Where’s the outrage?
  • Our Congress doesn’t care about any of the above and is beholden to the wealthy and vile.
  • Our Congress can’t seem to make or pass a law that doesn’t contain inordinate amounts of pork for wealthy donors in the home district. They can’t pass a defense bill without sticking in all kind of unread, unreviewed, unrelated measures meant to undermine due process and debate (like sticking drilling in ANWR into a defense spending bill at the last minute).
  • Our supposedly independent press knew about the torture and the spying before last year’s election and sat on the stories. You think 51% of the country would have voted to keep Mr. Bush in office if they knew he thought the Constitution was a “god damned piece of paper”?\
    Merry Christmas, America.

Write Your Senator, Congressman and The President

Sent to John Warner:\
Dear Senator Warner,\
Even though I’m in the “other” party, I’ve always respected you as a moderate and as a man of reason. It is with that sense of respect that I e-mail you today, requesting your help.\
It has come out in recent weeks that not only have our armed services used white phosphorus on the battlefield: a horrific munition, but we’ve set up “black site” secret prisons where we torture terrorism suspects.\
Torture is against US law (see: Report of the United States to the UN Committee against Torture, October 15, 1999, UN Doc. CAT/C/28/Add.5, February 9, 2000, para. 6.). It seems that on more than one occasion, that law has been broken, commands given at the highest levels of the Executive branch. There is no exemption, no provision for exigent circumstances (see the above reference).\
I’m the son of a twenty-three year Air Force veteran, and I grew up under the threat of terrorist attack while we were stationed in Germany in the early eighties. I grew up afraid of the Russians. I am proud to be an American, but today, I am ashamed.\
I’m ashamed that our government has fallen so low as to endorse, and try to redefine torture and rationalize it away in the name of national security. I wonder where the outrage is, and why no one in a position of authority has been held accountable.\
Our own Vice President has lobbied the Senate to exempt the CIA from torture, and although our own President said this week that “we don’t do torture”, no one believes him.\
If we can impeach Bill Clinton for lying about an affair with an intern, where are the articles of impeachment for Dick Cheney, who obviously condones torture?\
Your own leadership wants to investigate who leaked the existence of the “black sites”, but not the black sites themselves. I hope you can help. This is an abomination and a black mark on our country. We’re the land of the free and the home of the brave. Torture should be beyond the pale.\
Thank you for your time,\
Kevin Lawver

No Excuses, No Rationalization

Torture is prohibited by law throughout the United States. It is categorically denounced as a matter of policy and as a tool of state authority. Every act constituting torture under the Convention constitutes a criminal offense under the law of the United States. No official of the government, federal, state or local, civilian or military, is authorized to commit or to instruct anyone else to commit torture. Nor may any official condone or tolerate torture in any form. No exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture. US law contains no provision permitting otherwise prohibited acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be employed on grounds of exigent circumstances (for example, during a state of public emergency) or on orders from a superior officer or public authority, and the protective mechanisms of an independent judiciary are not subject to suspension. (Report of the United States to the UN Committee against Torture, October 15, 1999, UN Doc. CAT/C/28/Add.5, February 9, 2000, para. 6.)\
With today’s revelations about white phosphorus, and the continued revelations about “black sites” and Cheney’s continued lobbying for torture exemptions, it’s high time someone goes to jail.\
I’ve never been more disappointed in my country. I was embarrassed by the Lewinsky thing, because I saw it as a case of sexual harassment. I thought impeachment was the right thing to do, because there was obvious wrong-doing and a crime was committed (even if it wasn’t the one they charged him with). But this? THIS?!\
There is no excuse. There is no rationalization. There is no way to cover this up or make it go away. Our government has committed atrocities in the name of “freedom” and put a huge bloody mark on our flag that may never go away. It’s time for people to stand up and say “no more”. Write your congressman, write your senator, write the President. This has to stop, and those responsible have to be held accountable.\
bq. US law contains no provision permitting otherwise prohibited acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be employed on grounds of exigent circumstances (for example, during a state of public emergency) or on orders from a superior officer or public authority, and the protective mechanisms of an independent judiciary are not subject to suspension.\
It’s already the law, and we’ve already broken it. In the past, we’ve gotten exemptions for US soldiers and military leaders from international courts, but you know what, this is a case where it may be justified to turn Bush, Cheney and anyone else who endorsed and passed down the pro-torture rules, over to the Hague. It’s not the soldiers’ fault, it’s their commanders.\
This makes me think of Abu Ghraib. Since we now know that torture was a part of the policy, what does that mean for Lyndie England and the other enlisted soldiers who were found guilty? Why hasn’t anyone in a position of authority been held responsible?\
We’re supposed to be better than this. We’re supposed to be land of the free, home of the brave, not the land of the war criminal, home of the torturer. We can’t spread freedom if we’re also spreading torture, death and oppression. They’re mutually exclusive. You can’t build a democracy from the scorched bones of women and children. You can’t wipe away the stain of secret torture prisons without someone paying the price for it.