Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Letter from 2008

By now you've probably seen the fear-mongering letter from Focus on the Family with a "likely scenario" of what will happen in the next four years should Obama be elected.  They attached a nice disclaimer (which I'm sure they know will be stripped off as the letter goes viral among fearful evangelicals).  The letter will be taken by many of the faithful as prophecy and is a warning from someone in 2012 back to us in 2008 to scare us.

My friend Kevin Beck at Transmillenial wrote a brilliant response.  If only we could send a letter back to ourselves in 2000, it might read something like this:

Dear friends,
I can't believe what has happened to America in the past eight years. This America doesn't even resemble the America of less than a decade ago. So many of our freedoms have been taken away and the entire idea of democracy has been put at risk -- and by a Republican administration no less.

The Florida election fiasco was the start of it all. Talk about a Constitutional crisis. We had a politician going to court to stop a recount of ballots in districts that have high populations of African-Americans. The Supreme Court voted to stop the recount -- by only one vote. Is that democratic? Essentially, it has only one person deciding who becomes president.

Mr Gore won the popular vote, but almost immediately Mr Bush started talking about having a mandate to govern. He had no mandate. The country was divided. I was hoping that he would lead on the principles of what he called "compassionate conservatism" yet Mr Bush was neither compassionate nor conservative.

One of the first pieces of business Mr Bush attempted to get done was oil drilling in Alaska, in ANWAR. A lot of folks wondered if this was to repay his campaign donors who were his corporate friends in the oil industry. I don't know if it was, but looking back it appears that it may have been.

Sadly, the September 11 horrors shocked the nation. Who could have imagined something so disastrous, so awful? Several Muslim fundamentalists hijacked commercial airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, and another plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. In response, we invaded Afghanistan and we're still there seven years later with no end in sight. Plus, we're not especially focused on getting the mastermind of the plot, Osama Bin Laden because Mr Bush used the September 11 attacks as a pretext to invade Iraq.

There was no evidence that Saddam Hussein aided in the September 11 plot. But George Bush said that if we don't fight the terrorists there we'll have to fight them here. He also said that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But after the invasion, no one found any WMD's. In fact, it appears that Dick Cheney conspired to fabricate data to fool the American people and the world into thinking Iraq threatened our national security. The administration even besmirched Colin Powell's reputation by co-opting him into making their case at the United Nations.

We proclaimed Mission Accomplished in Iraq, but we're still there more than 2000 days later. And the current Republican candidate for president says we may be there for one hundred years.

In 2004 the Democrats ran a wishy-washy candidate, yet he almost won the election. He may have actually gotten more votes, but due to irregularities and possible fraud in Ohio Mr Bush won again. And once again he talked about having a mandate.

Meanwhile the wars dragged on and so did the scandals. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales fired many US Attorneys because they didn't share Mr Bush's political views.

Mr Bush tried to appoint one of his political cronies, Harriet Miers, to the US Supreme Court. Why? Perhaps it is because she helped craft the legal justifications for torture.

He used the NSA to spy on Americans and listen to their private phone conversations without warrants.

Torture became official policy.

He suspended habeas corpus and created the prison camps of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo -- not to mention several secret so-called "black prisons." We've also used extraordinary rendition to capture several so-called enemy combatants, and hand them over to governments that have no qualms or laws against torture. They do the torturing; we watch and listen.

He made extensive use of extra-Constitutional powers such as "signing statements." These basically say, "I as the President exempt myself and anyone else I deem as being exempt from this law."

He along with Mr Cheney used their powers to punish a covert CIA agent whose husband took a political position that differed from his. In this scandal, Mr Cheney's assistant was convicted of felonies and Mr Bush commuted the sentence.

Billions of dollars went to Mr Cheney's former company, Halliburton, in no-bid government contracts. Halliburton supposedly is helping to rebuild Iraq, but no one knows where the money is going.

Russia has invaded a sovereign nation. Iran is becoming a strong nuclear power and we won't even talk with them. There was a proxy war in Lebanon.Mr. Bush helped craft what he called a Road Map to Peace, but it got detoured along the way. Our policies toward Israel subsequently helped lead to the election of Hamas as the Palestinian ruling power.

The airline industry is on the brink of collapse. Bridges are falling down -- one big one in Minneapolis. There is a mortgage crisis and people are losing their homes. No one can afford to go to the doctor and private health insurance is almost unaffordable.

A massive hurricane wiped out the city of New Orleans, and Mr Bush didn't activate the government's response until several days afterward. During this time he told his friend who was the director of FEMA that he was doing a "heckuva job." To this day, New Orleans is still struggling to recover.

The stock market collapsed as did the credit markets and the entire economy is on the brink of falling apart. In response, Mr Bush nationalized the banking industry and redistributed the wealth by taking nearly a trillion dollars from the US taxpayers and giving it to banks and bankers. Believe it or not his proposal to achieve this was no more than two-and-a-half pages long.

Now we're at the 2008 elections, and it looks like the Republicans are going to lose the presidency and both houses of Congress. The Republican Party is in shambles.

Why did all of this happen? One huge reason is that Christians in 2000 were fixated on three issues: hatred for Bill Clinton, abortion, and gay marriage. I can see how Mr Clinton may be perceived as a scoundrel who abused his powers. But even impeachment pales in comparison to the scandals and trouble we're facing now.

I agree that abortion is awful, but have you ever considered why a woman might get an abortion? How do issues like education, lack of affordable medical care, lack of affordable child care, and other tough problems effect young pregnant women? To really be pro-life we must be pro-life outside of the womb and not just in the womb.

And gay marriage? First, if you're not gay how many gay people do you actually know? Have you met any gay person that wants to get married? Instead of foaming at the mouth toward gay people, maybe you should have a conversation with some gay people and listen to them. Besides, why are you more concerned with gay people getting married than with something as practical as helping the millions of children in poor single-parent families? And don't point to Sodom and Gomorrah as a Biblical justification for being against homosexuality. First it is a scare tactic. "God will destroy America if we don't oppose gay people." Second, the prophet Ezekiel said the sin of Sodom was exploitation of the poor, not homosexuality. Why isn't the Christian community as revved up against poverty, exploitation of the poor, and violence as they are against homosexuality?

My friends, please consider all of this carefully when you vote. Today under George Bush we have fewer civil liberties than you do under Bill Clinton. People who disagree with the ruling powers today are called unAmerican, and one Republican congresswoman is actually calling for a congressional investigation of unAmerican activities. Can you say McCarthyism?

Whether or not you'll agree with his policies, the current Democratic candidate for President in 2008 is an amazing success story. Born into a working class family with an immigrant father, he was raised by his mother and grandmother. He ended up graduating from Columbia and got his law degree from Harvard where he was editor of the Law Review. He is of African descent and if he is elected we will have gone a long way to realizing the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and Dr King's dream of equality -- all people are truly created equal. He embodies the truth that America is an amazing, inspiring place. Even so, he is being called a shallow celebrity, a domestic terrorist, a secret Muslim, and a communist by his Republican opponent and his supporters. (Odd considering that the husband of the Republican Vice Presidential candidate belonged to a political party that advocated for Alaska to secede from the Union.)

Today's atmosphere is untenable. As polarized as 2000 is, 2008 is a hundred times more so. Please think about all of this seriously and see what you can do to prevent it. Thank you.

A concerned voice in 2008


kc bob said...

Kevin did a good job on this one.

I wish the ultra-religious-right trusted God a bit more.

Tones said...

Interesting Brian - a lot to absorb here. On Friday, Mr. Obama said "5 more days before we fundamentally transform the United States of America". Hmmm, interesting. Fundamentally transform? As you have said many times, Mr Obama simply wants to slightly adjust the progressive tax structure. Fundamentally transform? He simply wants to sit down and talk to other world leaders. Fundamentally transform? Those are the words of a person who perhaps has a radical experiment in mind. Do know what he means by a FUndamental Transformation of this Country?

Brian said...


There will be a fundamental transformation should Obama wins. I'll give you just a few ideas.

Working to build coalitions rather than just push through things based on ideologies. Obama when asked how he'd work with a Democratic majority congress made it very clear that the Democrats needs to stay humble and work with Republicans on the big issues we have confronting us. Unlike George Bush who said he was a uniter, not a divider, I think you'll Barack Obama really reaching across the aisle to work with Republicans.

Another fundamental transformation will be the way American presents itself to the world. Rather than saying "Do what I say, not what I do." I think you'll see American leading more by example and employing all diplomatic means possible before resorting to force.

Another fundamental transformation you will see is Obama giving people a helping hand, but at the same time promoting self-reliance and accountability.

Another fundamental transformation you will see is Barack Obama will have the support of the largest cross section of voters ever in this country. While he has been able to garner a huge percentage of the minority vote, he has also reached across ethnic, social and economic lines like no other candidate has ever done.

I don't know that I would call the changes in the tax code "transformative". In a very mild sense, you could say they are because they do represent a build it from the ground up approach to the economy rather than a trickle down approach. But, that is really just a return to what we had before.

Yeah, I think we will see some pretty radical stuff. Obama has built a grass roots organization that my guess would even surprise him. If he can turn all the people who campaigned for him into volunteers to spearhead social programs, can you imagine what we could accomplish?

Tones said...

I agree that these are fundamental - but transformations? Sorry - he sounds like a same-old-same-old politician promising stuff - and Obama reaching across the isle? That's gonna be a tough one for him as he hasn't demonstrated success in that arena.

Radical? No, not radical - a little more tax, a little more spend, and it doesn't matter if it works, as long as your heart is in the right place.

Brian, they all sound the same - Obama is no different except that he just may have something radical that he has not revealed to-date... But hey, if he wins, I'll support him, and offer him the highest in respect - which is something that I don't think McCain will ever get from the left if he were to squeak out a win.

Brian said...


Yes, Obama has made grandiose promises. And whether he'll be able to deliver on them remains to be seen. I cannot think of a single President I've ever seen who has accomplished all he said he would do.

Those who think Obama has some secret socialist plan for the country are going to be surprised. Some on the left are going to be disappointed when they find out he's not nearly as liberal and as much of an idealogue as they would like. Of course there are some on the right who are going to criticize him no matter what he does and who are already counting the days to the next election (I saw a comment from one of them just a few minutes ago- literally counting the days, I kid you not).

You're certainly entitled to your opinion that Obama is more of the same. I happen to disagree with you as do many people who have worked directly with him and many people who have followed his candidacy and support him. If I haven't convinced you of how he's different by now, it's kind of doubtful I will any time soon. Actions speak louder than words. So, if he gets into office, we'll both watch his actions.

I think it's rather unfair to say you'll respect Obama and then use that to springboard into a pot shot at the left. There are many on the far right who will not be supporting an Obama presidency. There will be those who plot to kill him (as some already have). And there will even be those nut jobs praying for his death, I'm sure. You're right, if McCain got into office there would be nut jobs on the left who did not support him either. But, should he win, I will support him and call him my President as I have every President we have elected.