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Coming down off the 'Obama High'

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In the end, it wasn't even close. I had spent the two days before the election glancing at headlines that read things like: 'polls tightening,' 'McCain gains ground,' 'Obama's lead shrinks,' but refusing to read the verbiage attached to them. I really began to worry that John McCain might actually be our president, bringing with him the dreaded (and dreadful) Sarah Palin. But that is not what happened. On November 4, 2008, a new chapter in American history was written when we elected our first African-American president, Barack Obama. It was so easy to get caught up in the euphoria because the Obama voters crossed all ethnic and racial lines – it was clearly a mandate for change. Obama simply rolled to victory.

My vote was never in question because I'm a Democrat and I firmly believe that – between the two men left standing – Barack Obama is the best man for the job. The bitter remnants of the John McCain camp can blame Sarah Palin for his loss all they want, but let's remember that McCain chose Palin as his running mate. It's also time for the McCainiacs to face the fact that he could barely differentiate himself from George W. Bush, whose popularity is – to put it bluntly – in the toilet (and rightfully so). Yet, in spite of the fact that I believe Barack Obama can improve the dismal state of our nation, is he enough of a progressive? There are issues where I, well, have issues with his positions. I was recently asked by a friend who reads my blogs if I intended to “quiet down and give Obama a chance.” It took me about two seconds to answer, and my answer was “no.” If Barack Obama is everything he says he is, he will embrace the opinions of the American people (even those who disagree with him).

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Aside from the the economy, which should be Obama's priority, there are other clear-cut issues he must address in his first 100 days. The Bush administration has done extensive damage to civil rights in the name of fighting the shadow 'war on terror.' The biggest blight on America's reputation is the illegal and immoral Guantanamo Bay. This has been the Bush administration's playground for creating a whole new system of cowboy justice that violates US Constitutional and international law. Obama himself has pledged to close this facility. In 2006 he stated, “I have faith in America's courts and in our JAGs. As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Military Code of Justice provide a framework for dealing with terrorists.”

That being said, remember that this is a hot potato issue. Obama runs the risk of alienating some conservatives, but he must be held to his word. The inhabitants either have to be charged and sent to prisons to await trial or released. Those who are charged must also be given access to legal representation. There's no question that some unsavory characters will be released. However, we cannot hold these so-called 'enemy combatants' for what they might do. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) believes that Obama will deal with the issue of Guantanamo fairly quickly. However, she intends to introduce legislation to close the facility early next year anyway.

There are other civil rights issues Obama must deal with. He must outlaw torture in all its forms and ensure that the United States abides by the Geneva Conventions. Then there's the Patriot Act. President-elect Obama wants to rewrite it. There is no place for such an act in a free and open society. Nobody, neither the FBI nor the CIA, should be given unrestricted access to the financial and medical files of US citizens. The Patriot Act should not be rewritten. It should be abolished, repealed, and as soon as possible. The illegal wiretapping and Internet surveillance of American citizens must stop, and the retroactive immunity given to the telecoms who took part in this Bush fiasco must be revoked.

The issues of Iraq and Afghanistan are also areas where I have differing opinions from president-elect Obama. In 2003, Obama voted against the decision to invade Iraq, calling it a “dumb war.” In a February 2008 victory speech in Texas, Obama said he'd end the war in 2009 if elected, but what exactly does that mean? He has also said he will bring troops home over a sixteen- to eighteen-month period, meaning that troops will be in Iraq well past 2009. What is even more disturbing to me is that Barack Obama wants to redeploy troops to Afghanistan where, he says, the true cradle of terror lies. Afghanistan is a quagmire, and nobody really knows why were are there. We were supposed to be going after Osama bin Laden after the 9-11 attacks, but that turned out to be another Bush lie. Why are we in Afghanistan? And can we effectively fight terrorism by fighting a war?

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In addition to getting out of Iraq, we must pay reparations for the harm we have done there. If Iraq did not have oil, it's unlikely that we would have invaded. This was George Bush's attempt to privatize Iraq's oil supply. More than a million innocent Iraqis have died as a result of our occupation. Millions more have been displaced. We have left destruction and devastation in our wake. To add insult to injury, the contractors we have hired to 'rebuild' Iraq have fleeced our government out of billions of dollars and constructed buildings that are, in some cases, uninhabitable. Our reputation as a fair and just nation is at risk here, and Barack Obama must see that justice is done.

The separation between church and state has become totally blurred under eight years of Bush rule. In California, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2000 ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Yet, somehow a Constitutional ban found its way onto the ballot in the 2008 election. The position of our politicians on gay marriage is clearly based on their religious ideology. This does not only refer to John McCain and Sarah Palin, but also to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. While both Obama and Biden support equal rights for gay couples as well as civil unions, neither supports same-sex marriage. What is the difference? The difference is that the word 'marriage' is steeped in religion. That is the only difference. The success of the discriminatory California initiative, as well as similar initiatives in Arizona and Florida, was bolstered by the very public positions that national politicians took on the issue. Regardless of the religious convictions these candidates hold, the issue of same-sex marriage is one of civil rights and upholding the basic tenets of the Constitution. That is the only position they should take on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Dennis Kucinich is the only presidential candidate who got this one right when asked, if elected, would he allow same-sex marriage. He replied, “The answer to your question is yes. And let me tell you why. Because if our Constitution really means what it says, that all are created equal, if it really means what it says, that there should be equality of opportunity before the law, then our brothers and sisters who happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered should have the same rights accorded to them as anyone else, and that includes the ability to have a civil marriage ceremony.” Where in the Constitution does it state that marriage is between a man and a woman? It doesn't. This is a question of basic civil rights and it does not belong on any state ballot. In fact, it should not be left to the states. This should be a non-issue. Furthermore, the Mormon Church and its members put up $20 million in support of Proposition 8 in California and even allowed phone bank calls from Utah, thereby interfering with the democratic process of another state. The Mormon Church clearly violated the separation between church and state, and should immediately lose its tax-exempt status.

Reversing the toxic Bush Effect is a huge task and these are certainly not the only issues progressives see as critical for the Obama presidency. Which issues the president-elect chooses to address and the order in which he addresses them remains to be seen. However, the American people need only look back on the past eight years to be reminded about the danger of becoming a silent partner to the Obama presidency. It appears that we have a president-elect who will listen to the American people. Whether or not this proves to be true, it is incumbent upon all of us to never be silent again.

In the end, it wasn't even close. I had spent the two days before the election glancing at headlines that read things like: 'polls tightening,' 'McCain gains ground,' 'Obama's lead shrinks,' but refusing to read the verbiage attached to them. I really began to worry that John McCain might actually be our president, bringing with him the dreaded (and dreadful) Sarah Palin. But that is not what happened. On November 4, 2008, a new chapter in American history was written when we elected our first African-American president, Barack Obama. It was so easy to get caught up in the euphoria because the Obama voters crossed all ethnic and racial lines – it was clearly a mandate for change. Obama simply rolled to victory.

My vote was never in question because I'm a Democrat and I firmly believe that – between the two men left standing – Barack Obama is the best man for the job. The bitter remnants of the John McCain camp can blame Sarah Palin for his loss all they want, but let's remember that McCain chose Palin as his running mate. It's also time for the McCainiacs to face the fact that he could barely differentiate himself from George W. Bush, whose popularity is – to put it bluntly – in the toilet (and rightfully so). Yet, in spite of the fact that I believe Barack Obama can improve the dismal state of our nation, is he enough of a progressive? There are issues where I, well, have issues with his positions. I was recently asked by a friend who reads my blogs if I intended to “quiet down and give Obama a chance.” It took me about two seconds to answer, and my answer was “no.” If Barack Obama is everything he says he is, he will embrace the opinions of the American people (even those who disagree with him).

Aside from the the economy, which should be Obama's priority, there are other clear-cut issues he must address in his first 100 days. The Bush administration has done extensive damage to civil rights in the name of fighting the shadow 'war on terror.' The biggest blight on America's reputation is the illegal and immoral Guantanamo Bay. This has been the Bush administration's playground for creating a whole new system of cowboy justice that violates US Constitutional and international law. Obama himself has pledged to close this facility. In 2006 he stated, “I have faith in America's courts and in our JAGs. As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Military Code of Justice provide a framework for dealing with terrorists.”

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That being said, remember that this is a hot potato issue. Obama runs the risk of alienating some conservatives, but he must be held to his word. The inhabitants either have to be charged and sent to prisons to await trial or released. Those who are charged must also be given access to legal representation. There's no question that some unsavory characters will be released. However, we cannot hold these so-called 'enemy combatants' for what they might do. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) believes that Obama will deal with the issue of Guantanamo fairly quickly. However, she intends to introduce legislation to close the facility early next year anyway.

There are other civil rights issues Obama must deal with. He must outlaw torture in all its forms and ensure that the United States abides by the Geneva Conventions. Then there's the Patriot Act. President-elect Obama wants to rewrite it. There is no place for such an act in a free and open society. Nobody, neither the FBI nor the CIA, should be given unrestricted access to the financial and medical files of US citizens. The Patriot Act should not be rewritten. It should be abolished, repealed, and as soon as possible. The illegal wiretapping and Internet surveillance of American citizens must stop, and the retroactive immunity given to the telecoms who took part in this Bush fiasco must be revoked.

The issues of Iraq and Afghanistan are also areas where I have differing opinions from president-elect Obama. In 2003, Obama voted against the decision to invade Iraq, calling it a “dumb war.” In a February 2008 victory speech in Texas, Obama said he'd end the war in 2009 if elected, but what exactly does that mean? He has also said he will bring troops home over a sixteen- to eighteen-month period, meaning that troops will be in Iraq well past 2009. What is even more disturbing to me is that Barack Obama wants to redeploy troops to Afghanistan where, he says, the true cradle of terror lies. Afghanistan is a quagmire, and nobody really knows why were are there. We were supposed to be going after Osama bin Laden after the 9-11 attacks, but that turned out to be another Bush lie. Why are we in Afghanistan? And can we effectively fight terrorism by fighting a war?

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http://www.becomeungovernable.net

Deb Della Piana is a corporate ex-patriot (30+ years in advertising & public relations) turned activist and aspiring revolutionary. Co-founder of the group #BecomeUngovernable, she invites everyone to stop by the web site, learn about the (more...)
 

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