Thursday, September 11, 2008

Obama Or Else

Obama Or Else postcard by Liza Cowan (Obama Or Else postcard by Liza Cowan)

Obama Or Else

They say in Spider Solitaire, theoretically every hand is winnable. I never have the patience to try thinking through each move or using "undo" to make a crappy layout winnable. In fact, if on the first layout I don't have several moves to expose hole cards, I'll usually re-deal. But that's just a game. It's not deciding who will become the most powerful leader in the world.

I got a direct challenge from a precious friend yesterday, Liza Cowan, who was a leader before I was out of junior high, whose blazed trail literally saved my life. She's an artist, not a politician, but she said "We have to win this election. There's nothing more important right now." She's 59 and has two children about to enter adolescence (her second go-round at parenting). They've both girls, so she's not looking at them being drafted if McCain wins, but she's sharp enough to not see that as a consolation because she lived through the Vietnam era draft, which scarred us all in different ways. She's made the decision to do at least one thing every day, one concrete action, to make sure Obama wins this election. She asked me to do the same.

So here we go. My goal is to come up with a simple act you can do every day that, directly or indirectly, helps us put a sane, accountable human being in the White House and/or restore basic human rights to the daily life of America. I'll aim for an action besides donating money, because (a) giving money is something we already know how to do and (b) if you're like me, you don't have money to give. Although as Liza says, lots of people can afford ten bucks.

There's two main reasons to engage in direct action like this. One is that this groundswell is what this election is all about -- it's how we've gotten this far. The Republican strategy is to feed their extremist minority with a VP choice whose extremism they're keeping under wraps and pass it off as populism, i.e., "She's a hockey mom". They pacify their corporate overlords by NEVER passing legislation which benefits the average working person, and they dupe the rest of the country into voting for them by any lie available. They lie, they lie, they lie. But we are ravenous for the truth out here, and direct action will bring you into contact with the truth. You'll feel better afterward.

The second reason is that we are afraid and feeling some degree of despair about how things are going. It's bad out here, and looks to be getting worse. We've gotten out of the habit, in too many ways, of learning how to deal with these feelings. We take drugs, we watch TV, we complain on a blog, we sit at home and snark at our family. We think it may be too late. We want reassurance that we have not made a disastrous series of mistakes which have dumped shit in our own backyards, destroyed our economy, made us a joke in the rest of the world, and divided our landscape into enemy camps. We want Hope. And Change.

But the reality of hope and change, we're starting to realize, involves work and mess. Some people don't know how to step past the despair to do the actual work, and for those folks, McCain is offering Change Lite. He's offering absolution -- or, for those of you without a Christian background, atonement/redemption without fasting or self-examination. Except, of course, the bill will come due the day after he's elected, with interest and penalty charges.

The only way through despair is through it. Don't make any major decisions while you're at your worst; accept any offer of help; and move your body/mind according to the best thinking you had before you got desperate until you feel a little better. Keep going ("Proceed as the way opens"), and eventually you'll arrive at Change. The key is to move. Taking action is a direct contradiction to despair. Don't spend a lot of time processing it in advance, just act and process later if necessary.

Today's suggestion comes from Democracy For America. They've put together a 30 second video they're thinking about running on TV, which consists of excerpts of an interview with Phillip Butler. As their explanation states, "Dr. Phillip Butler is a veteran and a former prisoner of war at the “Hanoi Hilton” with Sen. McCain. He knows the real McCain. Now he has shot a 30 second ad with our friends at Brave New Films to make sure Americans hear the truth."

We've already run the extended interview from which this ad was taken here at Group News Blog in the post by The Littlest Gator Being a POW Is Not A Resume Builder.

Click on this link for Democracy for America, watch the video if you have not already, and tell them yes if you'd like to see wider exposure. Of course the point of this, from their vantage, is to add names to their database and hit you up for money. But they're a good place to donate if you agree with their strategy, and you don't have to give money to add your voice to this movement. I'm not affiliated with them in any way, by the way -- this is just about the video. Here's a transcript of the DFA ad:

Screenshot of Phillip Butler, Commander U.S. Navy (Ret.), POW Hanoi 1965-1973. (All items in quotes below are spoken by Dr. Butler.)

"Hell, I'm 70 years old and I've lived through being a prisoner of war, I'm going to tell it like it is.

A fellow POW on John McCain: Reckless. Erratic. Unfit to lead.

"The prisoner of war experience is not a good prerequisite for a President of the United States. He was well-known as a very volatile guy, and he would blow up and go off like a Roman candle.

"John McCain is not somebody I would like to see with his finger near the red button."

The YouTube URL for this longer interview is here. You could send this to everybody in your e-mail box (especially all those friends and relatives who are not solidly Democratic) with the Democracy for America link to contradict the fairly wacky notion that being a prisoner who was tortured over 30 years ago makes someone a good President, especially since John McCain has refused to outlaw torture by our own government. (Can somebody please check the box "Fails to learn from own experience"?)

And, lagniappe for today: The postcard graphic at the head of this post was designed and printed by Liza Cowan. She's already given away or mailed out a thousand of them, and she's extending an offer to the readers of Group News Blog: Send her a self-addressed stamped envelope with postage of 59 cents on it, and she'll mail you ten of these postcards for your own use. The addy is Pine Street Art Works, 404 Pine Street, Burlington, VT 05401. Or, if you or your organization wants more, e-mail her at Liza(at)pinestreetartworks(dot)com. If you use this graphic elsewhere, please be sure to give her copyright credit and link to her blog.

I welcome comments about what you've done today, or recently, to get our Democrat in the White House or more progressives in government. Feel free to share suggestions. Just, please, don't blog whore (i.e., use this as an opportunity to promote an individual's blog instead of that belonging to an organization or a particular cause) and don't engage in hate speech. If Obama is not your first choice, that's fine, find another action which DOES promote your vision of progressive government and tell us about that.