Thursday, June 29, 2006

Obama, Faith and Politics

Senator Barack Obama is making the papers again with his current emphasis on faith and politics. As a progressive and liberal I do not have a problem with the Democratic Party reaching out to people of faith. It has been too easy for the Republicans to characterize the Democrats as a group of godless heathens. Alienating a huge group of potential voters is not smart politics. An individual's religion is just one of the many characteristics that shape a person's world view and it should not be a disqualifying factor for being included in the national political debate. The problem these days is fundamentalism rather than faith is driving the political agenda. Religious fundamentalism is about dictation not debate. There is no reason why religious groups could not come up with constructive solutions to pressing issues such as health care, global warming, fair wages, energy and education. After all, isn't that the ultimate application of the Golden Rule shared by many religions? It would be a welcome replacement to the narrow-minded agenda of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and others.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Power of One

Last night, my wife and I attended a performance of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra where it played music from Hollywood Epics. As I sat there and listened to John Williams’ emotional score from Schindler’s List, I thought about the story of Oskar Schindler and how it exemplifies how one person can make a difference in the world. At risk to his own life, Oskar Schindler saved hundreds of people from certain death at the hands of one of the most brutal, inhumane, depraved regimes mankind has ever seen. Closer to home, Rosa Parks sat down on a bus and, by that simple act, stood up to the injustice of the Jim Crow laws and became one of the catalysts of the civil rights movement. I am not suggesting that you risk life or limb or face the threat of imprisonment. However, any individual can do something that can have a tremendous impact on someone else’s life, even if the end result is never seen or known. If you have clothes you do not need, give them to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Disabled American Veterans or any other worthy service organization. If you have an old cell phone, (and who doesn’t), donate it to one of the groups that reprograms them so that women subject to domestic violence can use them in an emergency. Forego a lunch or two drinks at Starbucks, and send a check to a charity. It is impossible not to find one that is doing something you support or believe in. Even a small donation makes a big difference. Doctors Without Borders states that $35 can provide two high-energy meals a day to 200 children. Finally, in this election year, take the time out of your schedule to vote. That precious right has been paid for with the lives of the gallant men and women who have served in our armed forces. And if we have learned any lesson from the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, it is that one vote can make a difference. Remember, you have the power.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Democrats '08 - Picks and Pans

The Washington Post’s June 18, 2006 article about Senator Barack Obama as a possible Democratic presidential contender in 2008 got me thinking about who I would like to see run and who I would not like to see run.

My Picks:

Senator Barack Obama – An engaging personality and a charismatic speaker. His compelling personal story is a great example of an America filled with possibilities.

Senator Russ Feingold – He displays solid, common sense values. I admire him because he is one of the few politicians standing up for truth and freedom on issues such as the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act and NSA wiretapping.

Governor Brian Schweitzer – My long shot pick. First Democratic governor in Montana in over 30 years. He is pushing lobbying reform and alternative fuels. Refused to fill out interest group questionnaires when running for office. Could he make enough of an impact in Iowa to gain momentum?

Not Sure:

Mark Warner – Seems a little bland. He appears to be 2nd runner up if Hillary Clinton does not make it. I am willing to give him a chance but it has to be about more than being from Virginia and liking NASCAR.

My Pans:

Senator Hillary Clinton – She certainly has the name recognition and the money machine. Many Democrats do not seem to like her. How are Republicans going to feel? Do we really want to give anyone the opportunity to dredge up the Clinton era scandals? Let’s make a deal: No one named Bush or Clinton in the White House for a long while.

Senator Joseph Biden - Snooze

Al Gore and Senator John Kerry – They are both honorable, decent, dedicated public servants. I put them together because they both should have won but did not. It should not have even been close. There may be second acts in politics but I am not willing to take the chance.

Finally, I have some advice for the Democratic Party and any potential candidates. Taking the high road in an election is a noble and worthy goal. Discussion of the issues is always preferable to mudslinging. However, sometimes you have to fight back. You cannot follow the Marquis of Queensbury rules when your opponent pulls out the brass knuckles.

Friday, June 16, 2006

My First Post

I think that it is reasonable for my first post to have some discussion of who I am and why I am here. I will leave it to you to decide if I have anything worthwhile to say.

I am an attorney in my early forties living in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. I have a wonderful wife and daughter. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York and went to college and law school in Maryland. I am a registered Democrat who considers himself a liberal and progressive. There are, however, a few issues where my leanings may be moderate, libertarian or even conservative. I do not hate Republicans nor do I think the Democrats have all the answers. I do believe, however, that the policies of the Bush Administration and the Republican controlled Congress are damaging our great country.

This country opened its arms up to my grandparents; Eastern European Jews seeking a better life in what they called "the golden land." My maternal grandfather idolized FDR. My parents admired JFK. I was raised to believe that unions were a good thing that helped ordinary working people realize the American Dream. I am a product of public schools, a state university and state law school. The public education system has allowed me to realize my own American Dream and it is a resource that should be cherished and nurtured.

I am worried about the future. I wonder if our beloved country is a ship about to run aground. Will we be just another empire cast into the trash heap of history due to our own arrogance and greed? I hope not. By creating this blog I hope to add my voice to the millions of others who think anyone can make a difference.

I hope to post to this blog weekly but perhaps more often if time permits. I will leave you with a poem I wrote recently that captures my feelings on the events of the past few years.

End of Days?

It all began when the election was stolen.
But we didn’t realize the system was broken.

The Towers came down.
The die was cast.
The Bill of Rights became a thing of the past.

Yellowcake uranium, aluminum tubes.
WMDs they said he would use.

The threat was imminent we were told.
We didn’t know the lie was bold.

Mission Accomplished, the sign said.
Tell that to the wounded and dead.

Shattered lives on both sides.
The pictures are kept from our eyes.

Flag draped coffins, in a hangar they’re laid.
But we cannot see the price being paid.

A storm, a flood, a great city in tatters.
They’re poor, they’re black, they really don’t matter.

Pensions gone, jobs offshored.
Millions more for corporate boards.

Quakers and Grannies are labeled as threats.
Not a second thought about the national debt.

Truth, justice and the American way.
Is it just a quaint notion of bygone days?

We used the bomb first.
He may use it again.
Do they really want to bring on the end?