14 November 2008
For the first time in many election cycles, seniors began shifting their votes from Republican to Democratic. This was a seismic shift, and one reflecting a return to established American values and a repudiation of Reaganomics and the neo-conservative policies of hate, division, and rancor.
Mirroring this grassroots approach were other progressive groups targeting young voters, Hispanics, African-Americans, women and religious voters. Obama and the democratic party err if they believe this shift was merely to the Democratic party name plate. The shift was toward a more progressive agenda for governance, and while the Democrats captured that "change" this cycle, they very well could lose it if they attempt a Clintonian centrist approach.
Many wondered if the "young voters" would turn out. They accounted for 60% of the increase in overall voters in this cycle. More over, this broad demographic of "young voters" shifted their allegiance, with two-thirds of voters under thirty voting for Obama. Again, progressive grassroots organizations such as MoveOn.Org and People for the American Way (PFAW) with campus, community, street, and online outreach were instrumental in educating, organizing and mobilizing young people. Expectations were raised.
While there was no comparable surge in Hispanic votes nationally, it did surge dramatically in the aforementioned western states which "flipped" from Red to Blue this election cycle. And, once again, we see a two-thirds preference for Obama and progressive policies in the final vote count.
Social and cultural issues have cost the Democrats with religious voters for several decades. This cycle, "regular worshipers" shifted to the Democrats by 8% over the number voting for John Kerry in 2004, and by 11% did those identified as "occasional worshipers". Astoundingly, evangelicals, while overall strongly supportive of John McCain, showed a major shift in the Midwest, where 33% voted for Obama. Those new progressives come with expectations.
The challenge for Obama and Democrats will be to hold on to this growth of progressive voters for coming years and elections. Promises must be fulfilled and expectation met. A so-called center-right policy will not achieve that.
A strong progressive agenda and restructuring of government and economic policies in favor of the people rather than corporations and Wall Street will.
12 November 2008
The joint initiative builds on similar missions of HHS and the VA by providing "essential consumer directed" home and community based services to older Americans and veterans of all ages, as part of an existing Nursing Homes Diversion grants program.
Secretary Leavitt touts the program as a means to insure that "many people who would have been placed in nursing homes will be able to remain at home." According to the Administration on Aging, the number of veterans over age 85 has tripled during the past decade, creating a tremendous demand for long-term health care.
This joint VA - HHS program targets people not eligible for Medicaid, but who are at high risk of nursing home placement and "spend-down" to Medicaid, says, Assistant Secretary for Aging, Josefina Carbonell. "The program offers consumers more control over their long-term care, including the ability to determine the types of services they receive and the manner in which they receive them, including the option of hiring their own care workers", she said.
A little over $19-million of the grant goes to the new collaboration between the HHS and the VA, and the other $17-million goes to improve existing home and community based services to people with Alzheimer's and their family caregivers.
One does not have to be an expert to recognize that this level of funding barely amounts to seed money and that much more will be required to make the program effective and to carry it forward to meet current and future needs. Secretary Leavitt says the initiative supports Bush's New Freedom Initiative which calls for all federal agencies to help people who need long-term care and prefer to live in their own homes and communities.
On the face of it, that sound laudable. But, without significantly more funding and infrastructure such as local, visiting para-medicals equipped with wireless telemetry to a presiding physician's office or clinic, suburban and rural care-givers and patients will be adrift.
We are not entirely prepared to criticize this small initiative as cynical, or too little, too late. But, we are concerned that it is a very, very small and hesitantly tentative step onto a path which leads a great distance through many obstacles.
We hope the Obama administration will recognize the dire and immediate need facing today's and future generations of older Americans and veterans as we search for effective ways to help them age in place.
10 November 2008
08 November 2008
"I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States..."
"In the news today, President Obama called on Americans to..."
"The Obama administration says it's tackling the issue aggressively..."
"Republicans condemned/accused/attacked President Obama today..."
"The House and Senate have passed, and President Obama signed, sweeping legislation..."
"The first question of this and all future press conferences will go to Helen Thomas. Go ahead, Helen." "Thank you, Mr. President..."
"President Obama's cabinet picks have been hailed as smart, shrewd, and diverse..."
"For the first time in years, polling shows that Americans feel like the country is on the right track again..."
"President Obama, with the backing of General Petraeus and the Iraqi government, announced significant troop reductions this week..."
"Once again, the Republican effort to mount a filibuster failed miserably..."
"After two weeks on the job, Republicans called for Obama's impeachment today, and were literally laughed out of the chamber..."
"OPEC panics as Obama White House announces massive alternative energy push..."
"You're watching Alaska Cable Access Channel 2. Welcome to Hockey Talk with your host, Sarah Palin..."
06 November 2008
I think the answer is tremendously complex and in some ways not worthy of discussion except for the fact that this is truly a historic moment and that Obama did position himself as a black man. There was an advantage to that for him...without the unprecedented mobilization and turn-out of the African American vote, he would have become a footnote to the 2008 primary.
One wonders a bit at that. There were some reasons that the African American community could have rejected him.
While a beneficiary of the black experience, he, at some levels, hardly shared in it. There is a term of derision, which originated in the African-American community, for people such as Obama. Oreo! Black on the outside and white on the inside.
He was raised by a white mother and grandparents and he barely knew his African father. As a child his expectations and aspirations were framed by a middle-class white ethic. He is not descended from slaves, he is not the beneficiary of programs aimed at elevating black youth from the clutches of poverty, and he was a mere lad during the civil rights struggles.
However, that oversimplifies things.
Because he identifies himself as African-American, which in obvious ways is more descriptive of his genealogy than for the American blacks, descended from slaves, who now, as a matter of political correctness, call themselves African Americans, he had to make choices. He belonged to a black church, married a black woman, cultivated black leadership, and paid his dues, and got his ticket punched as an organizer and community activist in the black community.
But all that does not completely explain the almost total acceptance and support of this mixed race man by the African-American community. And therein lies part of the complexity of which I spoke. For, you see, under Jim Crow, anyone with "Negro blood" was by law, a "Negro".
I think that the African-American community understands this, and because of it, looks beyond the "whiteness" and sees a black man, who has shared with them what is a significant part of the post civil rights era "black experience".
What does all this mean? Well, I think it means that the historic moment is not that we have elected a "black man" as president, but that the "blackness" for the majority of America, became irrelevant and barely worth mentioning.
And, that my friends, is progress!
05 November 2008
He did it with white, brown, black, youth, senior, rural, city and suburban voters. He accomplished it with victories in so-called red states. He did it with honesty, decency and humility, despite the Republicans' shrill and snarlingly mean attacks of outright lies and misrepresentations and attempts to foster fear and mistrust.
He did it because he is we. We have forever changed the course of American politics and altered the course of history. Four decades of conservative ascendancy are stricken down. We have turned our backs on religious fundamentalism dictating the national agenda, and the neo-conservative plan for American empire, and the neo-liberal economic theory of unrestrained, deregulated, flow-up capitalism.
Bush once claimed a mandate, he was wrong. Today is what a mandate looks like. This is a mandate from "We the People" and, as with all elections, there will be consequences.
No longer will conservatives be able to sandbag, stymie and frustrate progress. Obama will appoint people of vision, of progressive outlook, and of decency to administer the bureaus and offices of government, he will call upon the best and brightest among us to set right four long and dreary decades of wrongfulness.
Sadly, there will be those who will deny, attempt to impede, and froth with hate because the era of selfishness and greed is over. Oh yes, the selfish and greedy will remain, and some will slip in and do some harm; but, by-and-large, hope has replaced hatred, vision has replaced ideology, decency and co-operation has replaced destructive, mean-spirited, self-centered individualism. Certainly the sulkers, the pouters, and spoiled brats will persist and continue their tactics of fear and divisiveness. It will remain for us to expose, confront, and marginalize their destructive, and selfish negativity.
Yes, it will take time, and there will be errors and mistakes...and, certainly unimaginable crises and near unmanageable challenges, but we will prevail.
Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln, Kennedy, Johnson each had their critics and controversies. But, each managed to persevere and move our wonderful country forward, and to preserve our democracy, and to secure the blessings of liberty for ever more of us, rather than the select few. Obama will do no less!
04 November 2008
The closing polls of this cycle...they mean nothing unless you VOTE! and volunteer to help turn out the vote.
Wall Street Journal/NBC: Obama 51 - McCain 43
CNN/Opinion Research: Obama 53 - McCain 46
CBS: Obama 54 - McCain 41
WaPo/ABC tracking: Obama 54 - McCain 43
Pew Research: Obama 52 - McCain 44 (estimate, with undecideds allocated)
USA Today/Gallup: Obama 53 - McCain 42 (estimate)
And the big finale - Gallup's own final prediction of the vote today: Obama 55 - McCain 44
03 November 2008
Americans will decide between Fascism and freedom, between hope and hatred, between ideology and idealism, between decency and decadence. Never before has the choice been so clear cut and obvious.
If the polls are anywhere near correct, Tuesday, November 4, Americans will repudiate a devastating war built on lies. We will turn our backs on gay-bashing, and for ever shun racist thinking as a test of person's worth to provide leadership. We will tell the purveyors of hatred and nihilistic selfishness, "No More!" We've had enough.
We will vote to support the Constitution and to send home the liars, the torturers, and turn out the greedy mendicants who have savaged the economy, all but destroyed the American Dream and to this day still attempt to "Hoover up" every dime, nickle and penny of the people's money they can sniff out.
We will throw off eight years of the shackles of regression masquerading as conservatism and narrow, bitter-faced, and clinched-lip religious fundamentalism pretending to be "faith".
In short, America is on the verge of rediscovering its core values. Our innate sense of decency is reasserting its self and we are finding that we can overcome fear and darkness. We were lost and are finding our way again.
Be a part of this historic moment and Vote Democratic and help restore the American Dream.
02 November 2008
Some people are happy getting their hour back, I'm ready to get back a few decades! But, dang, I usually wake up at 6:00 am, and my eyes flew open at 5:00 am this morning. Yep, I've reached the point of crotchety, "Why cain't they leave the damned time alone?"