Sunday, September 21, 2008

* A note to the Jewish community – Like most ethnic groups Jewish people think of themselves as special. It is human nature. We like to think that we are intelligent and aware. We have a history of emphasizing education for our children. Has something been added to our matzo ball soup to make us susceptible to mishegoss political advertising? Polls show that a segment of Jews are concerned that Barack Obama will not be a friend of Israel. Is it based on knowledge or Republican ads and slime emails that say be wary of Obama, his middle name is Hussein? Lets not be shnooks. Is there any evidence that as a Senator he sought policies that would be harmful to Israel? Did you listen to Obama’s comments when he visited Israel in July? Obama said,"The most important thing for me to share is the historic and special relationship between the United States and Israel, one that cannot be broken… One that I have affirmed throughout my career and one that I will intend to not only continue but strengthen in an Obama administration."

If you want specifics about where Obama stands on Israel stop reading farblongjid emails and visit the Obama sight where he presents his position on 3 key policy matters:
Ensure a Strong U.S.-Israel Partnership
Support Israel's Right to Self Defense
Support Foreign Assistance to Israel
It should also be noted that Obama selected as his running mate Joe Biden, the Senator from Delaware with a proven record of support for Israel. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) recently released a statement saying, “Biden is a strong backer of U.S.–Israel ties and a leader in the fight against Palestinian terrorism.”

Another subject of utmost importance to Jews is religious freedom. As a people we have a long history in this area. In my lifetime American Jews could not attend certain schools, would not be hired by many corporations, would not be accepted in many neighborhoods and could not become a member of many country and private clubs. Much has changed for the good over the last several decades for all ethnic groups and none of us want to go backward. What was your reaction when John McCain said, “America is a Christian nation?” This was my reaction on October 4, 2007. Recall that John McCain bent over backwards to attract the support of the Christian Right – a group that wants its interpretation of the Almighty to be the policy of the United States of America. McCain then chose Sarah Palin as his running mate – a woman who embodies this same right-wing Christian fundamentalist philosophy. If this group had its way and, God forbid, your daughter was raped, emergency birth control would not be available to her. This is not an environment that Jews and most fellow Americans want. I suggest that before you enter the voting booth on November 4th you give some thought to what a McCain presidency really means for you. Shalom and L'shanah Tovah – Peace and Happy New Year.

For more information about the Jewish community supporting Barack Obama visit You can watch Obama’s address to AIPAC at the website Jewish Americans for Obama.

* Is Obama ready to lead America? ~ The answer to such a question regarding any candidate who has not already served one term as President is at best an educated guess. Performance under fire can be the only accurate gauge. All we can do is look at indicators. One that struck me as pertinent was noted at this week and which I verified at Obama’s senate web site. On March 22, 2007 – 18 months ago, Obama wrote a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and Secretary of the Treasury Paulson. Obama anticipated the financial crisis we are now experiencing when he wrote, “…I urge you immediately to convene a homeownership preservation summit with leading mortgage lenders, investors, loan servicing organizations, consumer advocates, federal regulators and housing-related agencies to assess options for private sector responses to the challenge.” This was 18 months ago. You may want to read the entire letter because it apparently was ignored by the recipients – the two highest financial “experts” in our federal government.

* A note to the Obama campaign ~ clean up your act – I strongly urge that the Obama campaign be more responsible with some of the claims they have made that wilt under scrutiny. The quantity and quality of misleading statements in the Obama campaign may pale in comparison to their Republican opponents but that is no reason to be less than completely forthright. The American people are up to their armpits in political bullshit. The Obama candidacy and campaign has the opportunity to offer American voters an alternative to the type of leadership that this country has staggered under the last eight years. This must not be jeopardized. If Barack Obama allows his campaign to be misleading or dishonest then it probably makes little difference who wins in November.

* Bilingual bifurcation – Both the NY Times and Washington Post criticized a McCain Spanish-language ad. The ad accuses Obama and Senate Democrats of “killing immigration reform.” Obama supported the bipartisan John McCain-Edward Kennedy efforts to enact such reforms and voted for their final proposal last year. Comprehensive immigration reform was blocked not by Democrats but by Republicans. Esa es la verdad.

* An opportunity to be pro-active – Many of us were disappointed by moderators’ questions during the presidential primary debates this year. At times nonsensical or superficial, such questions do not serve our interests. offers a petition to moderators of upcoming debates - Tom Brokaw, Gwen Ifill, Jim Lehrer, and Bob Schieffer – requesting that they ask questions worthy of a great nation in trouble. A reading of the petition alone offers a refresher course about the state of our nation.

* Correction - In my previous blog I noted that McCain has about 120 lobbyists working on his campaign. “The Democratic National Committee, using publicly available records, has identified 177 lobbyists working for the McCain campaign as either aides, policy advisers, or fundraisers… According to a Mother Jones review of Senate and House records, at least 83 have in recent years lobbied for the financial industry McCain now attacks.” Let no one say that I have a propensity to overstate my case.

* What took so long? – “Members of the American Psychological Association have voted to prohibit consultation in the interrogations of detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, or so-called black sites operated by the Central Intelligence Agency overseas… The referendum prohibits psychologists from working in settings where “persons are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law (e.g., the U.N. Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions) or the U.S. Constitution, where appropriate,” unless they represent a detainee or an independent third party.” One wonders what went through the minds of these psychologists that it took so long for a statement of ethics and morality to be established. This is not a matter of being a conservative or a liberal. It is a matter of being a human being with a conscience and honoring the principles and international agreements on human rights that America once championed.

* What’s in your wallet? - With bank profits down or extinct an easy source of revenue for American financial institutions is credit card holders. There is pending legislation before the House of Representatives that is aimed at credit card reform. “This bill will give consumers a fair shake -- stopping credit card companies from arbitrarily jacking up interest rates on your card debt, and more fairly distributing your payments to costly, high-interest debt first.” Not surprisingly, the powerful bank lobby is hard at work attempting to kill this bill. Consumers Union has available a petition to your congressman urging the passage of a law that actually protects consumers from what has been under-regulated and predatory policies by these companies.

* “We will be a better country when each religious group can trust its members to obey the dictates of their own religious faith without assistance from the legal structure of their country.”
Margaret Mead (1901 – 1978) American cultural anthropologist

1 comment:

Distractions said...

Another great post. Thanks Stephen. I am surprised by the number of people asking whether Obama is ready to lead. On a South Florida radio station today, a "radio personality" called him all sizzle, no steak. Come on! Columbia, Harvard, professor of Constitutional Law.