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Web Letter

I spent part of my life in deep south Texas in a town near Laredo (Freer, Texas) and to this day I can remember (I was about 10 or 11) going with my parents to vote in one of the elections. Across the street from the polling location were people representing a man named George Parr. He ran Duval County. (To this day the Texas Rangers refer to Duval County as Parr County.) His people were "giving" food to the low-income locals who had come to vote and were "suggesting" whom they should vote for.

This would not be the first time this has happened in our history. If you look back at LBJ and the mysterious voting box disappearance, you will find another example.

I think it is very strange that the Senator did not receive any votes in those areas, and I agree it should be investigated.

Just thought I would add an additional example from another state.

Katherine Culton

Kennedale, TX

Feb 19 2008 - 12:37pm

Web Letter

It took the radical badness of George W. Bush’s presidency to whet our desire in 2008 for a candidate as extraordinarily different personally as Barack Obama.

A majority of Americans are disgusted, even ashamed, by the malfeasance of this administration. Nominating and electing the Kansan-Kenyan Obama would allow us to make a sharp break with the Bush-Cheney neoconservative disaster and also break free of some of the race-related psychological chains that have held us back as a people.

Ironically, it is George W. Bush’s dismal performance that has made Americans desperate to clear the slate and opened our hearts and minds to taking a major step forward in our history.

Jeffrey Stone

Milton, MA

Feb 19 2008 - 12:34pm

Web Letter

I wrote about this on my own somewhat more obscure blog two weeks ago. In this case, sharp minds think alike, and Ms. Ehrenreich has it nailed. Barack is new, Billary is "same old" (or in the more pungent vernacular of my social set, "Same guano, different election!").

Obama is a walking advertisement for multiculturalism, and he comes packaged with a brilliant intellect and presidential speech patterns! He makes Bush look and sound like the gunshot head wound victim played by Harrison Ford in 1991's Regarding Henry; the protagonist starts out a ruthless legal shark whose sudden injury renders him a benign, babbling idiot. As far as I know, Bush wasn't around on the Cheney bird hunt, but that hasn't stopped him from trumping Harrison Ford. He's anything but benign.

Hillary is of course very sparkly, very twinkly, but Ms. Ehrenreich has her down: the mesmerizing bobblehead, the pursed lips, the clipped Midwestern intonations, the flat, nasal timber, the speeches that often sound like Exxon/Mobil training tapes. Compared to Barack, her persona is a scary amalgam of a younger Barbara Bush, Jane Darwell (Ma in The Grapes of Wrath) and Ethel Kennedy, or you can pick your own three horror stories. Any way you prop her up or try and "chill" her down, she's no Obama. Dull, dull and, by the way, dull.

If the superdelegates give this to Hillary at the convention, I'd like to envision riots in the streets like 1968, but given the apathy in this country for anything really consequential, and the police-state "security" we all now enjoy that makes public assembly a life-threatening pursuit, what we'll probably get is a few hearty protesters jammed into a barricaded gauntlet a half-mile away from the site, perhaps visited briefly by Donna Brazile on her way to her concierge hotel suite.

I think the country wants Obama, including boatloads of Republicans and independents (including moi), so the superdelegates will be forced to cave and, despite their brokered deals with the Clintons, go with the man from Chicago instead of the woman from Chicago (saying she's "from New York" is an insult to us natives, and like saying Joe Montana was the Kansas City Chiefs' QB. A fact, but as Perry Mason used to say in court, "incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial").

Andrew Sullivan and Matt Damon are right: Obama will put a new face on America for the rest of the planet. All Billary or McCain could hope to do is slap a lot of bad makeup on the old one. The zeitgeist is very clear.

Stewart Braunstein

Deerfield Beach, FL

Feb 19 2008 - 3:51am

Web Letter

The left's falling all over Barack Obama scares me. I am glad we are critical of Hillary, but we should apply the same standards across the board. We must talk about voting records and lack of real difference. We should talk about taking money from lobbyists, and a lack of real difference (Barack Obama's Health Care Justice Act in Illinois and his recent Nuclear Energy bill were disgustingly industry-influenced.) We should talk about universal health care, and why Barack Obama is the only one not for it. Is merit pay for teachers progressive? Not to me. It is corporatist. And his support for charter schools? Has not the left been critical of the charter school movement since day one, and has not the left recently been diligent in reporting findings that point to the charter school industry's failures? His demonization of teacher's unions is more reminiscent of Republican campaign strategies than Democratic ones. How about his nuclear energy stance? Are The Nation's writers and other progressives pro-nuclear of all of a sudden?

I hope we can do better than this, or things will never really "change." Yes, Barack Obama may be the person that a progressive will pull the lever for in November 2008, but it is a compromise, not a solution.

Michael Phillip

Brooklyn, NY

Feb 18 2008 - 10:04pm

Web Letter

Barack Obama as President would go some distance toward healing the global breach with our neighbors, lately alienated and greatly confused by our behavior on the other side of the fence. Domestically and abroad, it’s less a matter of making atonement than of reaching accord.

Obama has already taken the first step toward that scale of national and global reconciliation by the very act of running for the presidency.

Setting aside the monumental stones required for anyone to seek the presidency in any political season, think of the towering sense of self-possession needed to seek the office in this tumultuous year.

Now add to that the historically outsized daring to run for the American presidency during an era rife with Islamist terrorism or the fear of same--and to do it with an Islamic middle name. The outright nerve of such a conceit, the seemingly impossible irony at its very essence, is unmistakably American: the Obama campaign perfectly reflects--distills--our proven national ability to look at the impossible and see the possible within.

That's what people recognize. That's what millions are responding to. That's what makes him appear to be unstoppable.

For eight years we’ve had a CEO, manager, controller, autocrat, tyrant and neighborhood bully in the White House--the descriptors of the Bush brain trust.

Barack Obama, whether his opponents think so or not, has much of the textbook, practical experience to be President: organizer, professor, thinker--all and more are the macro-word bullet words in his already impressive résumé. He would be able to wield power and authority like any President; the awesome leverages of the office will see to that. From day one.

But for the first time in far too long, this country will have a leader--someone for whom the American people will symbolize a spirit instead of a catchphrase; someone for whom conviction is not a matter of convenience but the bedrock that anchors the pilings of his ideas and policies; someone whose life trajectory is an index to the possibilities within our own lives.

M.E. Ross

Seattle, WA

Feb 17 2008 - 11:56pm

Web Letter

The Obama phenomenon is the result of a nation bereft of any skill to think critically.

An Obama presidency will give us double-digit interest rates, terror attacks on American soil, genocide in Iraq, nuclear proliferation, an economy made weak by over-taxation, a Third World healthcare system, surging unemployment, a weakened and ineffective military...

But we will have hope, baby.

Greg Barlow

Gilbert, AZ

Feb 17 2008 - 12:04am

Web Letter

Obama has shown his leadership style during the campaign. He is an experienced organizer, efficiently creating and directing a movement of inspired and empowered citizens. As President he would need to listen to them, not to lobbyists and contractors. He must continue to be flexible, not committed to programmatic details. His would be a bottom-up administration. Hopefully his coattails would insure a Congress able to act as their constituents demand.

Hillary Clinton exhibits a different style and philosophy of government. She would arrive "on day one" with a list of measures she intends to enact, a list she has been accumulating for eight, or maybe sixteen, years. She has decided what needs to be done and how to do it. In many matters, she is may be right, but her style of leadership differs dramatically from Obama's. Hers would be a top-down administration continuing to rely on expanded presidential power. Transparency would not be a priority.

Unlike Clinton, Obama promises to restore our nation to a government that seeks to be "of the people, for the people, and by the people." It is time for Americans to reclaim their fundamental values.

Marilyn Dell Brady

Alpine, TX

Feb 16 2008 - 7:35pm

Web Letter

Two yuppie lawyers, both in the pocket of the bloodthirsty Zionist Lobby, dancing and shadow-boxing on their way up in the nation that frames together with Israel.

Neocon Sullivan waxes literary and frames slickly as he re-brands Zionist murdering in Irag & Palestine and markets wham-bam-Obama with the Islamist middle name.

Mad-dog-militarist-McCain may end up in the Oval Office--just like Supernation elected tricky Dick Nixon in 1968 and got more death and destruction in Vietnam.

The Zionist peeyar boys and girls are framing away.

Gerald Spezio

Willits, CA

Feb 15 2008 - 11:13am

Web Letter

Barbara Ehrenreich's conclusion almost hits it on the head when she says, "That's what "change" means right now: Get us out of here!" But this only leads in circularity to the further question, "If we define 'change' as getting out of here, then what's "here'?"

Of course, the real answer to both of these vague and still unanswered questions is... Empire.

"Change" really means confronting and overcoming the global corporatist Empire, which is hiding behind the facade of "Vichy American" faux-government, and which is the only singular cause of all that is wrong with our country.

While "getting out of "here'" really means getting out of the belly of the Empire, in which we are caught, and of which no candidate or media will even whisper the name--Empire!

So Barbara, my suggestion to the supposedly "Unstoppable Obama" and to the American people is what it has always been:

The very most important question that the American people should be asking of any candidate for President in '08 is not, "Where do you stand on the war?" but, "Where do you stand on the Empire that has taken over our country--an Empire of which the war in Iraq, and increasing domestic tyranny, are only its biggest and most visible crimes--so far?"

As far as I know the hopeful, inspiring and yet to be proven "unstoppable" Obama has never uttered the word "Empire," and has never in any rationally understandable way articulated that the global corporatist Empire hiding behind the facade of our now "Vichy" government is actually the seminal cause of all the "sorrows of Empire," pain and frustrations that make otherwise intelligent people like Ehrenreich blurt out, "Change" means right now: Get us out of here!"

Unless, and until, Obama drives a stake in the ground of rationally defined commitment and does something like define his "hope" and "change" and message of "yes, we can" as "Yes, we can overcome this corporatist Empire, which is the real and identified source of all our various sorrows and which in the real world "we can" overcome," then Obama will remain only a pleasant song and video of what "change" might promise, and he will remain for people like me, in the "reality-based world" only a hopeful allusion to a "faith-based" video that may only be implying that "Yes, we can" overcome Empire.

If Obama wants to become real for me, he needs to sing the lyrics a bit more clearly--"Yes, we can overcome Empire."

Alan MacDonald

Sanford, ME

Feb 15 2008 - 10:04am

Web Letter

Barrack Obama might be a refreshing change for this country.

Personally, I think he will be a let-down. Unless his plans are bold and unless he fights the Powers That Be, he will be bogged down in the morass of special interests and political infighting.

I have read where Obama consults all the old minds on the economy . Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, banker Robert Wolf, CEO of UBS Americas and billionaire Warren Buffett are among his advisors. Economics as usual willl not come close to fixing the mess we are in. That with ever-higher energy prices the very foundation of our banking system, debt-based fractional banking, is obsolete. That without tariffs we will bleed to death. That without drastically cutting the military, all is for naught.

What Obama has better understand is that a little change won't cut it. This country needs a complete economic restructuring, top to bottom, inside and out. Any less, and it will be Obama jumping out of a burning building.

Michael McKinlay

Hercules, CA

Feb 15 2008 - 12:33am

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