In humble attempt at casting this in the tradition of Socrates, a (slightly altered) quote:

"The unexamined vote is not worth casting."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What did Obama actually say when he spoke against the war before it began?

Picture of Obama during his 2002 speech opposing the Iraq war.

It's ridiculous how much a symbol like Obama's name and logo can so quickly become kitsch and tacky with overexposure, however it may just be that I've been spending enough time looking at things that it appears that way to me. Nevertheless, I had never read or heard what exactly Obama said in his oft-mentioned opposition to the Iraq war PRIOR to it being declared--take 3 minutes and read his short speech, it is a remarkably accurate prediction of what has happened, I can't believe it. He gave it during his campaign for U.S. Senate--not a time when it is very safe to oppose a war that was framed (wrongly I believe) as part of our "payback" for 9-11 (as an important sidenote, the whole concept of paypack or revenge is not helpful in my view; dealing with the root problems to make sure they don't arise again seems a more worthwhile, humane approach). Here's the little bit of it that was caught on tape too (with a bunch of people after filling in some pieces of what he said that was not caught on tape): (check out the written speech to hear it all though, it really is short). You can also look at his overview page on Iraq here.

Update: In reading over Obama's speech another time, I thought I would pull a few quotes to place right in this post, although I would once again encourage anyone interested to read the whole thing, as it is literally just a page long. Here's a few excerpts:

-“What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.”

-“That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear - I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.”

-"I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda.”

-“You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.”

-“You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil. Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair. The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable.”

-“We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not -- we will not -- travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.”

Update 2: Here's a great seven-and-a-half minute video clip of Obama talking about: the thought process he went through prior to deciding to oppose the war early on; his overall take on where the war has gone wrong, including interesting notes about such things as the need to punish high-ranking officers in cases like Abu Ghraib; and finally, on the need to launch "the greatest diplomatic effort in recent history" in order to move the Iraq region to a positive position. Here's the video:

Update 3: Here's a link I'll write more about later, to an unbelievable speech before the war by Presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich on the floor of the House of Representatives. It is incredibly prescient, taking portions of the 2002 Iraq War Resolution, which authorized use of force in Iraq, prior to its passage, piece by piece, and dismantling the justifications behind it. This is the type of judgment that was not shown by those who voted for it--Clinton, Edwards, Biden and Dodd--that is based on very accessible information, as you'll see with the Kucinich speech. That is why I wrote this piece, "What's in a Vote (for War)," about how I think we should be able to expect better proven judgment and sober-minded caution from those who are seeking to run our nation.

Update 4: I did write about the above piece by Kucinich, and it's damning, in my view, for any who voted for the war. Read the piece I wrote on this with specific excerpts from his House floor speech here.

Update 5 (I also added this same note to the end of this post): There's just so many issues related to our decision to go into Iraq, and therefore a number of updates I've had here. As an addendum here, I just watched Obama speaking at a faith forum where he talked about the "solemn obligation that you do everything you can to get that decision right," talking about decisions of war and peace (see the last 30 seconds of this video, where he also talks about how he "agonized" over the entire decision of whether to go into Iraq); that's a solemness I must say I do not see in the disgusting casualness with which McCain approaches issues of war--e.g., in the way he has literally joked about the idea of bombing Iran (video here). I'll hope to write more about the faith forum and McCain's overall views on war later.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Health care part deux

Hey whoever might be reading this, a good follow up to that last post of mine on '08 options for hlth insurance. This website has online videos available of forums that are being done with most of the candidates from both parties, and are nicely in depth with questions from a panel of reporters from ABC News, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and the PBS NewsHour. It's takes a LOT of time to learn about the candidates in some depth, and I think the paramount importance of this issue makes it a good place to start (even if it is the only issue one might end up having much of a specific sense about with the candidates). At least I'm personally trying to understand at least one issue with some decent measure.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Health care how?

A key article on how Kucinich is the only presidential candidate offering a single payer health care system. I don't know if it's the most realistic or how it compares to the other candidates sort of mixed approaches to providing health care for all via govt. and private collaboration, but it is certainly interesting and something I'll personally be checking out. I just can't get past the basic issue of health care as a right that so many are being kept from because of unnecessarily high costs (ie, costs that reflect insurance companies' profits, not simply the cost of the care). I would challenge people to see Sicko, even though Moore has been somewhat imbalanced in previous films, i think for the most part, he does a good job of telling the story of what I think is the criminal state of our health care system.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Whoever's out there, check out this 10 questions thing here: important questions I think (along with some that are less so). It's a way people can submit questions via video that they want the presidential candidates to answer. Then people vote on the questions that have been submitted (which has now happened) and the 10 with the most votes will be answered (via video also) by each of the candidates (hopefully that is; you can push two quick buttons or so on the homepage there though, to encourage all the candidates to participate; it's sponsored by the NY Times and others though, so candidates will likely partcipate).