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Letter to my Obama Insider niece

One of the cool things about being married to a woman with fourteen brothers and sisters is that I have family in just about every niche there is.  Need a hardwood floor?  I got a brother-in-law for that.  Suture and an IV?  Got a sister-in-law.  Welding?  Check.  Legal documents?  Ditto.

Well, it just so happens that one of my nieces is “a field organizer based out of Moline, IL and [is] responsible for coordinating campaign operations in ten counties along the Iowa border.” 

And that would be the campaign of Senator Barack Obama (D-IL).

So, this leftie with a radio show and a blog byline just had to dash off this note:

Hi ******, it’s [your uncle] Russ.  [My wife] forwarded to me your email and I couldn’t be more thrilled for you to be working for Barack Obama.  He is my second-favorite choice for president in 2008, behind a guy who shoulda been, could be, but won’t run (Gore).

While I’m thrilled by the Obama campaign and think he has much to offer, I’m a bit put off by his lack of experience.  Being a Senator is nothing to sneeze at, but Edwards, Dodd, Gravel, and Clinton are/were all Senators with more experience in the Senate than Obama.  Plus, I haven’t seen how Obama handles a rough-and-tumble political campaign (beating Alan Keyes doesn’t count… I could beat Alan Keyes.)  I know Obama has an extensive résumé beyond these last three years in the Senate, but if I wanted an extensive résumé, I’d support Richardson (and do, for Vice President or Sec’y of State).

It’s sad, really, that in all the so-called “front runners”, I can find something about them that makes me not want to vote for them.  To wit:

Sen. Clinton — where do I start?  Flag burning amendment?  Pixellated boobies in “Grand Theft Auto”?  Super-high negatives (a.k.a. “unelectable in vast swaths of Red State America”)?  Never met an issue she couldn’t “triangulate” the passion out of in a manner that pleases big business?  Or how about just this simple fact: if she wins, then in your lifetime, the Oval Office will have always been occupied by a Clinton or a Bush.

Sen. Obama — Don’t know enough about him.  What’s his foreign policy background?  How much of this Obamamania is folks just sick of tired old white guys running the country, thinking it’s time a minority was in charge?  I know, I know, this is touchy territory, what with the LA Times piece and Rush Limbaugh regurgitating the “Barack the Magic Negro” theme, but I can’t help but think if Barack Obama were white, he’d be John Edwards.  It’s unfair, it’s racist, but that’s America.  Particularly Southern America… can Obama win without the South, assuming their voting patterns might reflect the Stars & Bars sticker on their pickup truck?

Sen. Edwards — I actually like Edwards a lot, but I don’t want to vote for him because he’s a little too Bill Clinton-esque in his charisma and charm.  Everything he says just sounds and feels so right… so I immediately distrust it (unfortunate side effect of having volunteered for his 2004 running mate under the promise of “Oh, yeah, we’ll see that every vote is counted and no election shenanigans occur” and then when the shenanigans went down in Ohio, Kerry folded like a circus tent on Sunday night.)

Gov. Richardson — foreign policy experience, state governing experience, Clinton cabinet experience, speaks fluent Spanish (something I think future presidents will need more of), fought for medical marijuana in New Mexico, promises to remove all the troops from Iraq… if I thought he’d have a chance in the $21-$31 million Clinton-Obama raisemoneyosphere, I’d be supporting him.

Sen. Dodd — who?

Sen. Biden — Bankruptcy Bill Biden?  Hell no.

Truthfully, the two guys who most closely align with my politics are the “also rans” of Sen. Gravel and Rep. Kucinich.  Usually it’s the case where the guys with the least to lose can tell the truth the most.

But, hey, it’s 500 days or so before I vote, and I can be persuaded.  However, my issues are those that Democrats don’t often like to talk about.  In talk radio, we call them “The 4 G’s — God, guns, gays, and grass”.  So, you can pull me over to the Obama camp if he can address these concerns of mine:

1) GOD: With Bush’s “faith-based initiatives”, a Supreme Court with five Opus Dei Catholics voting in lock-step, and Christian mega-churches openly injecting politics into their sermons, I feel that the absolute wall between church and state that makes America the greatest country in the world has become little more than a dotted line on a dry-erase marker board.  What would President Obama do to return America to its secular Constitution and reduce the influence of religion on American politics?  (See what I mean?  Tough question to answer when Alabama, Kansas, and Utah are listening…)

2) GUNS: America is by far the most violent country in the western world, with far more gun violence than all other western democracies combined.  Considering the constant threat of terrorism and the upswing in mass shootings on school campuses, how would the Obama Administration make changes to our gun laws?  (Another tough question to answer when Idaho, Wisconsin, and Tennessee are listening…)

3) GAYS: Will President Obama repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act?  Does President Obama believe that the civil right of marriage extends to all Americans regardless of sexual orientation, or does he hold to a “Separate-but-Equal” proposal like Civil Unions for gays and lesbians?  Does President Obama believe civil rights should be decided nationwide, or should we “let the states decide” (And if he says, “let the states decide” or “civil unions”, I’ll respond with “Loving v. Virginia” and “Brown v. Board of Education”.)

4) GRASS:  Does Barack Obama, who’s admitted to past marijuana use and cocaine use, believe that a young Barack Obama should’ve gone to prison for one year and had a $1,000 fine for smoking pot?  That is the federal sentence for merely passing a joint from one person to another, even if you don’t smoke it.  If not, then does Barack Obama support rescheduling marijuana so that no adult in America should go to prison for merely using or growing marijuana?  Furthermore, cocaine is Schedule II and marijuana is Schedule I.  This means that doctors can actually prescribe cocaine nationally (it’s used in some dental and nasal surgeries as an anasthetic), but they cannot prescribe marijuana.  Would Obama reschedule marijuana so doctors could prescribe it nationally?  Would Obama at least support Rep. Barney Frank’s States Rights to Medical Marijuana bill so that the federal government would not interfere with the twelve states that have legalized medical marijuana?  And with the War on Drugs decimating the minority communities in America (Blacks are 13% of drug users, but 55% of drug inmates; incarceration of black women has risen 888% in a decade; penalties for black cocaine [crack] are 500 times worse than white cocaine [powder], etc., see http://www.drugwarfa… and http://www.drugwarfa…), does Obama have any priorities for ending the War on Drugs as it is currently waged?

Oh, and health care.  Obama’s health care proposals so far, to me, sound like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.  The reason America’s health care delivery system sucks is because it is set up as a for-profit operation by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.  They profit when people are sick, so their motivations are to keep ’em just sick enough that they need to take prescriptions for life and treat ’em as little as possible so they’ll come back for more.  ANY proposal that doesn’t de-fang these two industries or expects them to co-operate in the best interests of the American people is just muddle-headed.  Single-payer government-backed health care for all!  If Britain, France, Germany, Canada, and every other western democracy can do it, so can we.  Hell, Cuba can do it!  (Can you tell I just saw Michael Moore’s SiCKO?)

Anyhow, regardless of which Democrat not named Clinton makes it out of the primaries, I’ll be a solid vocal supporter.  If it is Hillary, then I’ll be making plans to leave the country after her Republican opponent wins.

Now, to a favor.  You know I have a progressive talk radio show here in Portland, right?  I would love to interview someone from the Obama campaign, or even Barack or Michelle themselves.  It would only take a phone call in the middle of the afternoon, if anyone is interested.  However, they should be ready for some of those questions on the 4G’s.

Good luck with the campaign!

Progressively yours,

“Radical” Russ Belville
Host – The Russ Belville Show
Saturdays, 9am-11am Pacific, AM 620 KPOJ (
and syndicated on the Jones Radio Network

Check my website for stations and times: http://radicalruss.n…
Get weekly emails:…
Get progressive stuff:  http://www.cafepress…

I’m not holding my breath for the interview.

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