Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Barack Obama Delivers a Stirring Keynote Speech

I worked on Barack Obama's senate campaign as a research assistant months ago. I was thrilled when he was able to distinguish himself from a crowded field and win the primary election in a landslide. I knew that he had great political talent, but even I have been surprised by his recent meteoric rise nationally after being chosen to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.

Under incredible pressure, this state senator from Illinois was able to deliver a powerful speech that will undoubtedly mark the beginning of a long national political career. In his speech, the little known Obama was able to captivate the crowd and present a clear vision and a keen message. The speech was strongly rooted in the American experience and seamlessly weaved personal stories, philosophical pronouncements and policy prescriptions. In the end, almost all that heard it were moved and many in the media noted it as one of the greatest convention speeches EVER delivered. Click on the link above to view and listen to the speech and feel free to comment on it below.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Bush Vows to Push Gay-Marriage Amendment

Bush and the GOP continue to promote reactionary policies that are completely out of touch with mainstream America in regards to civil rights. They claim that they favor a constitutional ban against gay marriage because they must protect marriage against "activist" courts. Funny, I don't remember the court system being refered to as "activist" when it handed Bush the election.

Maybe the United States isn't ready for equal "marriage" rights for homosexuals, but to push for an amendment to the constitution in order to prohibit them from ever receiving these rights is not only unnecessary, it threatens a dangerous precedent.


The common compromise position is that we should allow homosexuals to enjoy the legal rights associated with marriage through a recognition of "civil unions", as supported by both John Kerry and John Edwards. This position draws a clear distinction between the traditional conception of "marriage" and a broader class of partnerships that also merit legal recognition. Civil union partnerships could enjoy the benefits and legal recognition of marriages without upsetting the traditional meaning of the term. The fact that the distinction would be made legally clear makes a constitutional amendment even more unnecessary.


Personally, I don't see why gay marriages shouldn't just be incorporated and recognized as marriages under the law. The traditional idea of marriage as between a man and a woman is largely grounded in religious doctrine that should exist outside the realm of the secular government. The legal term "marriage" refers to something very different than the religious one. Thus, these religious concerns are really being expressed in the wrong forum. Religious leaders and followers can decide for themselves if they wish to honor homosexual marriages- the government should exist independently of religious trends and a primary goal should be to secure equal rights for all its citizens.


Equal protection and the separation of Church and State are cornerstones of the very constitution that many in the GOP seek to amend. If anything, a logical amendment would be to assure homosexuals do enjoy the right to marriage, or at least civil unions with the benefits of marriage. This type of amendment would be much more consistent with prior amendments and the spirit of the document. Historically, amendments provide important protections for minority groups and act as a safeguard against a tyranny of the majority.

It is for this very reason that the conservatives seek an amendment. They fear that homosexual couples may win Supreme Court cases where they charge that they have been denied their equal rights under the law. A suit such as this on the state level led to the recognition of civil unions in Vermont and a similar case has been won in Massachusetts. The conservatives fear that if they don't alter the federal constitution quickly, the same could happen at the national level. In essence, they are attempting to coercively preempt a historical progression on civil rights.


What if politicians had pushed through amendments to nullify the claims of Brown vs. the Board of Education or Roe vs. Wade? The constitution would start to look like merely another route to legislate policy. Amendments include the abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, due process, search and seizure rights- all of these amendments were meant to secure the rights of citizens, not deny them. One amendment that did attempt to legislate policy was the prohibition of alcohol, an utter failure that was later repealed.

The marriage amendment would likely be an even greater disaster, a clear signal of intolerance and disregard for the rights of minorities. It was not long ago that inter-racial and inter-religious marriages were also viewed as "immoral" and against tradition. I thought we had progressed beyond the false logic of exclusion and discrimination- evidently not all of us have. Let us hope that this philosophy is not revived in our constitution.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Kerry's Cabinet: My Predictions

John Kerry has kicked things off with a solid choice at VP, but who will he choose for his cabinet positions? Here are a few early predictions:

Secretary of State - Joe Biden/ Sam Nunn

Secretary of Defense - Sam Nunn/ Wesley Clark

National security adviser - Richard Holbrooke/ William L. Nash

Homeland Security- Bob Graham/Gary Hart

Secretary of Health & Human Services - Howard Dean

Secretary of Housing & Urban Development - Jesse Jackson Jr.

Attorney General - Eliot Spitzer/ George Mitchell

Secretary of Veterans Affairs - Max Cleland

Secretary of the Treasury - Roger C. Altman/ Robert E. Rubin

Secretary of Transportation - Gary Locke

Secretary of Energy - Diana DeGette

Secretary of Education - Tom Vilsack/ Bob Kerrey

Secretary of Labor - Dick Gephardt/ Lawrence F. Katz

Secretary of the Interior - Bill Richardson

Secretary of Commerce - Laura D'Andrea Tyson/ Gene Sperling

Secretary of Agriculture - Kathleen Sebelius/ Tom Vilsack

Director of the CIA - Bob Kerrey/ Gary Hart

Please add your suggestions in the comments section.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Some thoughts on Edwards, McCain

The Edwards pick is a very wise choice and a fairly obvious one. Despite rumblings by the GOP that McCain was actually the "first" choice, Edwards is clearly the "right" choice.

A Kerry-McCain ticket indeed would have been unprecedented and had great appeal among moderate and undecided voters, but it would threaten to de-mobilize the energized democratic base and appear to be a desperate measure by Kerry.

In recent years, McCain has become the darling of independents, primarily because of his uncompromising nature, marked by his ability to stand up to conservative elites when he is in personal disagreement. However, let us not forget, John McCain is VERY conservative and probably even to the right of Bush on the ideological spectrum based on his voting record.

The move would be akin to Reagan picking Teddy Kennedy as his running mate...well...minus the drunken car wreck and the "Camelot" roots. Still, while the ticket of Kerry-McCain would have signaled a radical change in American politics and a move to reach out to centrists and non-ideologues as a true "uniter" it just as easily could have been perceived as a major sell-out of the Democratic party and an attempt to shamelessly pander to undecided and frustrated (usually non) voters. Kerry acknowledged that the idea of picking McCain was more of a "concept" than anything else. It is an interesting concept-- but Edwards will prove a much better choice and was probably always his and the democratic party structure's first choice.

Why Edwards is the right guy:

1) Youthful charm, charisma, ability to communicate to the mainstream. All qualities that Kerry lacks to some degree.

2) Ability to moralize and co-opt the values message. Edwards appears to be a principled man with a great "American dream" story to tell. From a working class background, he was able to become a prominent trial lawyer- winning huge cases against large corporations for the "little guy". Edwards made a career out of exposing and bringing down guys like Dick Cheney and corporations like Halliburton. I expect he will do the same to Bush Corp.

3) Edwards’ theme of the "two Americas", "one for the powerful insiders, and another for everyone else", should resonate with working class people throughout the country. It should also help to provide a clear distinction between the two tickets and create a vision for what a Kerry-Edwards presidency may look like. JFK used a similar message to great effect against Nixon. Edwards just may be able to help Kerry deliver it as convincingly as Kennedy was able to in a similarly volatile time in history. This type of idealism should appeal to many who are disillusioned after 9/11.

The GOP knows this and it is evident by their hysterical reaction. Only moments after the announcement they were already gunning for Edwards. They questioned his experience and noted strongly that McCain was Kerry's "first choice". Dubya failed to mention that Edwards has more experience than he did before becoming president and that his father selected the biggest dope in political history as his VP. It is telling and Karl Rove and his crew are doing all they can to land the first shot. It doesn't seem to be working.

Kerry and Edwards hit the campaign trail Posted by Hello

Editorials on the Kerry-Edwards Ticket

The above link is to a host of editorial articles remarking on the recently announced choice of John Edwards as John Kerry's running mate.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Meet Bush's Top Choice for the Supreme Court

Bush Stacks the Bench

The Progressive 7/6/04

George W. Bush indicated what kind of federal bench he wants to install if he wins in November when he pushed through the Senate the appointment of J. Leon Holmes.

Here's a guy who compares abortion to the Holocaust and slavery.

Here's a guy who insists that it is the obligation of the wife "to subordinate herself to her husband."

Here's a guy who once claimed that "concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami," though he later apologized for that whopper.

Here's a guy who opposes in vitro fertilization.

Here's a guy who was president of Arkansas Right to Life and a founder of the Pro-Life Educational Alliance.

This is Bush's guy.

And unfortunately, the Senate confirmed him, 51 to 46, after a grueling, 14-month process.

What this says is that Bush will continue to appease the far right of his party by stacking the federal bench with some of the most reactionary people ever to sit there.

I was at the Green Party convention, and even the most ardent Ralph Nader supporter and all but the most doctrinaire Greens recognized that on this issue, anyway, there is a big difference between Bush and Kerry.

-- Matthew Rothschild

Reuters: Bush Liked Less Than Saddam, Bin Laden

Bush Liked Less Than Saddam, Bin Laden
Wed Jul 7, 2004 11:07 AM ET

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - President Bush is disliked by more Hungarian secondary school children than former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, according to an opinion poll published on Wednesday...

...The survey of 34,000 students, aged 16-18, from 655 high schools showed Adolf Hitler was the most disliked foreign personality with 25 percent of the vote, followed by Bush with 23 percent and Bin Laden with 16 percent.

Bush was even more unpopular than former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, according to the poll...


Obviously I AM NOT implying that there is a valid comparison between Bush and some of the most notorious tyrants in history. However, this little survey of Hungarian students is rather revealing. The arrogance with which the Bush administration has conducted "diplomacy" with the rest of the world has alienated many and has put Americans themselves in an extremely unfavorable light.

Bush is being mentioned in bad company Posted by Hello

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Breaking News: John Edwards the VP Candidate

Edwards Joins Kerry's Bid to Unseat Bush

By RON FOURNIER, AP Political Writer

WASHINGTON - Presidential candidate John Kerry on Tuesday chose former rival John Edwards as his running mate, selecting the smooth-talking Southern populist over more seasoned politicians in hopes of injecting vigor and small-town appeal into the Democratic ticket...

(Full text link above)