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2007
 
In a year where so much has been revealed, it's the only title I could come up
with to describe this year's election season. Although the graphic is
political, what is not readily seen, speaks volumes.
(If you would like to see the original, much larger version, click on the logo.)
 
FAITH TRUMPS FEAR
 December 28, 2008
 
 
Revealed
 
This election season was a very emotional experience for many of us who did not want to see this country, once again, be persuaded by those who would scare us into voting Republican. And that somehow, if we didn't vote for McCain, we wouldn't be safe or that Barack Obama is a "scary" person with no experience, who will ruin the country if elected. Most importantly, it revealed in many people, elements of their own biases that heretofore, were unknown. Yet, as they spoke and wrote with no intention of revealing how they really felt, their words belied them. Even when they weren't "telling" you anything, their biases jumped out. When I asked those who were voting for John McCain "why?", everyone - no exceptions - had no substantive answer. If you pressed them, they would get angry and not want to talk about it. What were they afraid of?
 
We all know people like this. They are in all walks of life, and in all parts of our country. Some are in my family. I will always love them and I enjoy their company. I will never mention their names on these pages, nor will I ever attempt to change their thinking. They are entitled, as am I, to choose how they believe. And although I would thoroughly enjoy having a substantive debate with them about the future of our country, its citizens and leaders, I know that it's probably not possible without the conversation digressing into something far less preferable. I wish one of them would prove me wrong.
 
People were saying - and writing - the most ludicrous and hateful words I've ever heard or read in any public forum. Then, when confronted with what they said, many went into complete denial, which for me, revealed much about their character. They could not - or would not - accept the change that was coming, let alone embrace it. They remained in their personal cocoons, continuing to embrace the past. They spoke and wrote from that perspective, not realizing the world was watching (thank you, internet) and was moving beyond their perspectives.
 
Even after the election, they continued to stay fixed in their thinking, somehow believing that the election results are the demise of this country, and that one day, the rest of us will wake up and realize the "sin" we've committed by electing this man to be our 44th President. "But by then, it will be too late." Blah, blah, blah.
 
What is revealed through all of this is FEAR and its offspring, HATE
 
Even religious leaders were not immune. A Catholic Priest in South Carolina went so far as to say that voting for Obama was a sin, and that if any church member voted for him, they could not take communion "...lest they drink the blood of condemnation..."
 
 
His name is Rev. Jay Scott Newman. Letter to Parish He goes on to say that we must now pray for him as he is our President. But seriously, how does that help, after you've said such hateful things?
 
Here's a VERY SMALL sample of the FEAR and HATE
that was propagated during and after this election season:
 
The cigarette in Obama's mouth was "added" to the picture. Notice that ALL of the pictures have been darkened to create a "scary" image of Obama. The picture on the left was taken during a performance of our National Anthem, NOT the Pledge of Allegiance. The picture on the right is obviously a fake. The poster talks about how crime in countries that have black leaders is exponentially higher than in countries with white leaders. Note the organization that created the poster and how they made sure that the name included one of those code words - "Patriots". And if that wasn't enough, this "League" is creating a website. When you start reading their site, you'll see that they are White Supremesists, and proud of it.
 
 
This guy is Andre Lacasse. He lives in Florida. He was PROUD to display the sign in his yard.
 
 
 This sign was in Ohio, sad to say.
 
 
This was a mailer that went out from the RNC.
 
This was created by someone on the West Coast and posted online.
 
 
This one came in my mail from the Republican Party.
 
 
Posted by South Carolina State Senator, Kevin Bryant.
 
 
This local southern newspaper did not apologize.
 
This was not an uncommon sight in the yards of southern states.
 
 
 At least this took some talent and creativity.
Notice how the one on the right does not use a darkened image of Barack.
 
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Information is Power

 
I always giggle when I hear people say that the media is "in the tank" for this person, or that person. Bottom line: the media is in the tank for... the media. It's a business that needs advertisers to stay in business. Media goes with whatever story it feels will improve ratings, thereby attracting advertisers. PERIOD. It has nothing to do with the candidates - it's about MONEY. Here's an example: Let's say so-and-so politician might be having an affair. Even though it does not affect us, that "sells" more than a knowledgeable debate on an issue like farm subsidies, which affects all of us through our country's food supply. If a candidate said something that could be interpreted in such a way that it might "ruin" his or her campaign, that will fill the 24/7 news networks for days with pundits endlessly talking about it (while ignoring real issues) because it increases viewership, which in turn increases advertising dollars.
 
YouTube, the blogs, and candidates' websites played a huge role in getting information out to voters, especially those voters who were new to the political process. The 9-second sound bite that ruled the evening news in previous elections is no longer the best way to get information.
 
 
 
 
 
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The Low Information Voter
 
Those who vote based solely on quick sound and video bites, or the information coming from only one source are often called "Low Information Voters." I thought I would have a little fun with the term "Low Information Voter " which I will call "LIV." To borrow from Jeff Foxworthy's "You Might Be a Redneck If…" idea, let's go with "You Might Be an LIV If You..."
 
YOU MIGHT BE AN LIV IF YOU...
1. Watch only one network or broadcast for all your election information
2. Rarely, if ever, use that "TV with the typewriter" to learn anything
3. Are afraid "them damn liberals" are going take away your guns
4. Believe that you can "pray away the gay" in someone
5. Think "big government" is something that Republicans don't believe in
6. Think "free markets" and "free trade" are good for our middle and lower income working men and women
7. Believe Barack Obama "pals around with terrorists"
8. Think Barack Obama was not born in the USA
9. Believe that only the Democrats are responsible for the financial meltdown
10. Think Republicans were not in favor of home loans to those who couldn't afford them
11. Still believe that the Iraq "War" was necessary
12. Believe our soldiers almost always vote Republican
13. Believe that the Iraq "War" is really a war and not an occupation of a sovereign nation
14. Think Republicans will reduce your taxes
15. Think Bill Ayers is a threat to our country
16. Think blacks overwhelmingly voted for Obama only because he is black
17. Believe Sarah Palin is qualified to be President
18. Think John McCain knew and liked Sarah Palin
19. Believe that Barack Obama has no executive experience (more on this later)
20. Think that John McCain is more knowledgeable in foreign affairs than Barack Obama
21. Think Barack Obama is a Muslim
22. Believe the stock market is a good barometer for our nation's economy
 
 
Low Information Voters usually make up about 50% of the vote in most elections. Republicans know this so they create fear with issues about gays, guns and God to get people to pay little or no attention to issues that actually do affect them and their families. They hear things like "They want to take away your guns", "Gays are threatening the sanctity of marriage" or "Your religion is being threatened by people who believe in Pro-Choice." Certain code words trigger reactions in Low Information Voters and they automatically gravitate to the candidate who promises protection of the "freedoms" they have been told to be fearful of losing.
 
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24/7 News
 
 
 
Realize that, except for the "Evening News" dinosaurs at 6:30pm each night on the three broadcast networks, you don't have to work too hard to understand the biases of these 24/7 news networks.
 
 
 
can appear to be unbiased and yes, you will find true journalists like John King and Anderson Cooper.
 
 
But you don't have to go far to find some bias. Lou Dobbs, who is a professed Libertarian, just stays angry about immigration issues and unconstructively criticizes everything and everyone who does not agree with him.
 
 
To say he has a huge ego is a huge understatement.
 
 
Jack Cafferty has absolutely nothing good to say about most Republicans, especially our 43rd President.
 
 
Wolf Blitzer, no matter how hard he tries, can not cover up the fact that he leans conservative, but certainly not with the zeal of Alex Castellanos.
 
 
David Gergen, someone who has worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations, is one of the least biased commentators I've seen on CNN.
 
 
 
 
 
 
has commentators like Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews and now, Rachel Maddow,
 
 
that most definitely lean Democratic, or, if you like, Progressive. There are also commentators who lean Republican, or Conservative, like Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan.
 
 
But unlike their counterparts at FOX News, many MSNBC commentators have years of experience working in presidential administrations and congress. Chris Matthews worked for House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill and was a speech writer for President Jimmy Carter.
 
 
Pat Buchanan was a special assistant to President Nixon and Chief of Staff for Ronald Reagan.
 
 
Joe Scarborough was a Republican Congressman representing Florida in the 1990's.
 
 
They bring real life experience to the table - from both sides of the political aisle. NONE of the popular commentators on FOX News (Hannity, O'Reilly, Barnes, etc.) and on conservative talk radio (Limbaugh, Beck, Savage, etc) have real life experience in the political arena. So when you're in a conversation about politics, and you've researched an issue, it's not hard to determine where some get their information. If their input into the discussion lacks substance and facts, then there's a good chance they are listening to FOX News commentators or radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh and the like. (More on talk radio later.)
 
Although Olbermann and Matthews are journalists by trade, they do not play that role in their shows. There are actual journalists at NBC and MSNBC such as Brian Williams, Andrea Mitchell and David Gregory.
 
 
They intentionally do not reveal their biases, because as journalists, they are required to stay neutral when reporting. You would be hard-pressed to find any quote from any of these three that is untruthful or has a political slant, one way or the other. Showing that type of bias could jeopardize their credibility as true journalists.
 
 
Saving the "Best" For Last (I use the word "best" very loosely...)
 
 
Those that believe everything they see and hear on FOX News fall into the category of "Low Information Voter." Now before you start throwing things at your PC monitor, (which could say something about you that you didn't want to know), allow me to give you some examples of how people get "brainwashed" into believing things that are absolutely not true.
 
When you watch FOX News, you will notice that they have already "convicted" someone of something that is not true and did not happen.
 
Example: A caption at the bottom of the TV screen reads, "Why won't Barack Obama admit he's an anti-Semite?" while the commentator reports, "He is close friends with Louis Farrakhan. He's attending a church whose pastor is also very close with Farrakhan. We know that Farrakhan has spoken at that church. These facts have been well-reported" and on, and on. The commentator will speak convincingly and authoritatively, using phrases like "well-reported", "we know", and "some say" making the intellectually non-curious viewer think that they are informed. The truth: the viewers have received no information. (They then repeat these words to others acting like they know what they are talking about.) The commentator goes on: "In addition, Barack Obama launched his campaign for US Senator in the home of unrepentant terrorist and close friend, Bill Ayers."
 
 
The truth: Barack Obama officially launched his campaign for the Illinois US Senate seat in the home of Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, who also lived in Hyde Park and taught at the University of Chicago. Here's what Rabbi Wolfe had to say about Barack Obama, before his passing in December.
 
 
 
Another example: In the caption below, you'll read "Sarah Palin has more executive experience than Barack Obama." The commentator says, "She's been elected mayor of her home town twice." "She was elected governor of one of the largest states in the union." (FYI - Alaska's entire population is less than my home town of Columbus, OH.) "Barack Obama has never run a company or managed employees."
 
 
The truth: Wasilla, Alaska, whose population was less than 6000 at the time, elected Sarah Palin to manage their city as mayor. The town was in good financial condition when Sarah arrived and in debt when she left for the governors' office, to the tune of $20,000,000. Near the end of her role as mayor, she had to hire a City Manager to run the mayoral office, because she was in way over her head and unable to execute her administrative duties. Before her first year as governor was over, she was under investigation for ethics violations and abuse of power. Also contrary to what FOX News reported, she was NOT exonerated. The prosecutorial team, made up mostly of Republicans, found her guilty of abuse of power, which is a serious ethical violation. After their findings, her self-appointed Personnel Board "exonerated" her. Adding to her "executive experience," she and her husband opened up a ski shop that had to close in less than 2 years - no business.
 
Saying someone has executive experience does not mean they are a good executive.
 
More truth: Barack Obama started and was CEO of the largest start-up corporation in America - www.BarackObama.com. It grossed $750,000,000 in less than 2 years. It had multiple offices in all 50 states. It had over 4000 people on staff and well over 3,000,000 volunteers. He assembled some of the best I.T., media, research, publicity and marketing teams this country has to offer that stayed with him through the entire campaign. The corporation's main offices were located in a 33,000 square foot building in the heart of Chicago and were fully equipped, looking more like a large insurance company than a political campaign's headquarters.
 
 
It had by far the best ground game of any campaign this country has ever seen in any election season. The goals set forth by this company were met - handily. When it was over, there was enough money left to pay several key staffers five digit bonuses. The rest of the staff also received bonuses. Barack's experiences as a Community Organizer for 3 years in Chicago's south side taught him a great deal about how to operate a business. In addition, when Barack Obama was elected to be the first African-American President of the Harvard Law Review, he managed a staff of 80 people.
 
Who would you want running your company?
 
 
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More registered Democrats than Republicans
 
It's at least a 55-45 split. And with the growing minority population, this split could widen in the next 20 years. In order for Republicans to win elections, they must find ways to reduce the number of Democrats voting in an election. In other words, they must suppress votes. This voter suppression occurs in many ways, but one of the most common is to have party-loyal Republican Secretaries of State make sure that there are only 1 or 2 voting machines in low-income and minority precincts. These precincts are usually Democratic and are typically far more populated than middle and high income precincts, which are usually Republican. In these upper income precincts, you find anywhere from 8 to 12 voting machines. The idea is that lower income and minority voters can't take several hours off from work to stand in line to vote, so they get discouraged and either leave before they vote, or don't bother to vote at all. In the more affluent neighborhoods, the lines are short or nonexistent, and people can vote during their lunch hour.
 
 
Tactics that were used by Republican Secretaries of State
Kathryn Harris (FL) and Ken Blackwell (OH)
 
1.) Making it a regulation that absentee ballots are printed on a particular weight paper, then mailing ballots with a different weight paper to low income and minority precincts so that they don't qualify (Ohio - Ken Blackwell - 2004).
 
2.) Challenging voters' addresses on their IDs when they come to vote, forcing them to vote on "Provisional Ballots" and then disqualifying their vote when the ballot shows a different address than the one they had four years ago in the previous general election (Florida - Kathryn Harris - 2000; Ohio - Ken Blackwell - 2004).
 
3.) Electronically adding an additional 4000 votes on a machine in a precinct that only has 600 people. (Gahanna, Ohio - Ken Blackwell - 2004).
 
4.) Closing precincts at the posted closing time, when there are still hundreds of people (who haven't voted) already in line, which is against the law in EVERY state (15 precincts in Cuyahoga County, Ohio - Ken Blackwell - 2004).
 
5.) Approaching people who are standing in line for long periods of time and letting them know that the next closest precinct has a much shorter line and they could probably vote quicker over there. Then, when the person gets there, and because they are not voting in the correct precinct, are told they must use a provisional ballot, which then gets disqualified because the person voted in the wrong precinct. (Florida - Kathryn Harris - 2000; Ohio - Ken Blackwell - 2004). And on, and on, and on.
 
Here's just one article on the voting "irregularities" that occurred in Ohio in 2004 from the Washington Post - hardly a left-wing, liberal newspaper.
 
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The Voter Fraud Myth
 
This year, ACORN (Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now), a 30-year-old non-profit that helps register and educate voters in low-income communities, came under attack by Republicans - not because they were doing anything wrong, like what was reported, but because the massive number of new Democrats being registered all but guaranteed a win for Barack Obama.
 
 
ACORN is not ultimately responsible for the validity of registration information gathered. All registrations are verified by elected officials of the Board of Elections in each state. So, if Superman filled out a registration card with his name Kal-el and his address, the Fortress of Solitude, and it was turned in by ACORN, and even if the Board of Elections didn't catch it, what are the chances that Superman, who has no ID and no valid signature on file, would show up to vote?
 
The truth is that Voter Fraud is VERY RARE in this country. People working for ACORN get paid based on how many people they register. If these employees turn in registrations with fake names and addresses, they are ripping off ACORN, not the country, and certainly not the Republicans. This is voter registration fraud only if the faulty registration isn't revealed during the verification process. It's voter fraud if that registrant actually shows up and votes.
 
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It's Already Written
 
This year's election confirmed for me, once again, that there is a force (most in this country would call God) that is much stronger than any one group of people, any financial institution, religious organization, or political organization. Everything that was "common knowledge" was completely upended. Nothing stayed the same. The changes that occurred were unpredictable, even by the best pundits in the business. I not only became a more avid fan of the election process, but a better student of it as well. Yes, I listened to radio and watched television. But where the real knowledge came from was "full" videos as seen on YouTube and other websites (as opposed to the "clips" you see on TV) and of course, READING! The written word BY FAR exceeds the other forms of media when it comes to a better overall understanding of any process.
 
When things like this happen, I always ask "Why?" "What's different?" "Why is it that no one can get a handle on this?" (BTW - This is called "Intellectual Curiosity" - something that was non-existent in the previous administration.) The answers to these questions were NOT found in the media, which discussed all of this ad nauseam. I watched and listened with great intensity, read as much as I possibly could, and yet, no one could answer these basic questions. I finally realized that the outcome of this election, to use an age-old expression, was meant to be - that despite the color of his skin, his Kenyan name, and yes, even his big ears , Barack Obama would win with a clear and decisive victory. It would not matter what the opposition threw at him or who his running-mate would be. It would not matter how mediocre his debate performances were reported to be or how big and powerful the "Clinton Machine" was. It would not matter who the Republican nominee would be or who their running-mate would be. (I apologize if all that sounded like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.) My grandmother used to say, "It is already written." She was right.
 
 
Many in "Pundit World" tried to explain this election season phenomenon in the various ways that speakers and writers use to corroborate their statements. Some would refer to previous elections, or certain times in history to show how we've been through this before, and then say "…but not really." Others, by drawing comparisons, would tell us that the current candidates would emulate previous candidates' behavior, and still others would stand firmly on the political "knowledge" that such-and-such a state will always be "red" and such-and-such state is hopelessly "blue." (BTW - nine "red" states turned "blue" and no "blue" states turned "red.")
 
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An Early Knowing
 
I was at our minister's home, reviewing some of the church's administrative items for the week. It was the Monday evening before "Super Tuesday", February 4th, 2008. Her daughter was in the house, and walked through the room, saying something about the Democratic Primary. That's when I heard that "still small voice" say, "Barack Obama will be our next president." I then blurted it out at the table. Unlike many things I've blurted out over the years and sometimes regretted saying, these words were actually comforting when they came out. I also realized at that moment how emotional this election was going to be for millions of people in this country and around the world.
 
Now, before you start thinking that I'm retro-fitting my statements to the results of this election, understand that I sweated it out everyday - just like the millions of Obama supporters across the country - all the way through to election night. But for some reason, no matter what happened - and God knows, a lot did - I never thought he would lose. I kept holding the vision of him being inaugurated on January 20th, 2009. As hard as I tried, I could not create the vision of anyone else standing there, left hand on the Bible, right hand in the air.
 
 
I put the campaign's circular logo (my recreation of it) on my cell phone as a reminder to keep him, his family, those around him and our country, in my prayers.
 
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Finding the Truth in Politics
 
1.) Read!
2.) Don't believe any one person's or TV / radio program's point of view (See #1)
3.) Never let your candidate be defined by his or her political opponents (See #1)
4.) Seek to vote for the most intelligent, well-read, pragmatic leadership, regardless of party affiliation (See #1)
 
As a matter of fact, party affiliation has become increasingly detrimental to Republican candidates. The far right, i.e. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Pat Robertson and Glen Beck have hurt
 
 
 
the Republican Party. They make their livings attacking the other side. They don't offer viable ideas or options to help solve any issue. This year, when we desparately needed real leadership from all corners of the political spectrum, these tactics fell on deaf ears more than in any previous election season. People have increasingly grown weary of this style of programming. The electrion results were a clear indication. Even with a 10 to 1 ratio over the progressive radio talkers, they could not get their candidates elected or re-elected. Yet, because they control such a large listening area in the country, and party leaders are afraid to denounce their tactics, the RNC continues to keep these commentators in the fold by bowing down to their demands: Pro-Life, Anti-Abortion, Anti-Gay, Free Markets, De-Regulation, Big Military, Anti-Union, Anti-Public Education, Anti-Government, Anti-Taxes, and on and on. Republicans have not won an election remotely based on any issues since Reagan, which is why they keep referring to him. He was the last Republican to appeal to the majority of this country with his rhetoric on the issues - not his actual policies.
 
Depth of Thought
 
On October 23rd, with his grandmother's health failing, Obama announced that he would leave the campaign trail for nearly two days to visit her. Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage and others actually tried to say that he was going back to Hawaii to get a valid Hawaiian birth certificate and he was using the "ailing grandmother" story as a cover. What's even more pathetic is that FOX News picked up the story as one of those "…some say…" pieces.
 
The same day, on his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said, "Who announces days in advance they're rushing to the side of a loved one who is deathly ill, but keeps campaigning in a race that's said to be over, only to go to the loved one's side days later? See, I think this is about something else. You know what's really percolating out there? And I've been laying low on this because it just -- it hasn't met the threshold to pass the smell test on this program. But this birth certificate business, this lawsuit that a guy named Phillip Berg filed in Philadelphia in August for Obama to produce his genuine birth certificate, and he still hasn't replied, he hasn't done so."
 
Limbaugh later added, "When you first announced this, you're gonna rush, you're gonna hurry, you're gonna make tracks, you're gonna get over there because you don't want your grandmother to die before you got there like your mother did, but somehow you keep campaigning, you take three days to get over there, if he's left yet. And this birth certificate business -- I'm just wondering if something's up. I have no clue, and I -- folks, I'm telling you, this has not reached the threshold until now, and it's now popping up all over the place."
 
Obama produced his birth certificate in JUNE, nearly 4 months before Limbaugh's comments. He even put a copy of it online on his website.
 
 
In a statement to the press, Hawaiian authorities verified Obama's birth in Oahu, Hawaii on August 4, 1961.
 
 
Barack announced that his grandmother, Madelyn Payne Dunham, died peacefully in her sleep late Sunday night (November 2nd) after a battle with cancer.
 
"She's gone home," Obama said as tens of thousands of rowdy supporters at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte grew silent Monday evening, November 3rd.
 
"She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me."
 
Let's look at this with a little depth of thought. In this day of heightened awareness about terrorists, illegal immigrants, etc. and an administration that was hell-bent on invading the privacy of virtually everyone in this country under the guise of protecting us, does anyone really think Barack Hussein Obama would have received the necessary security clearances to be a US Senator and on the Foreign Relations Committee, if he wasn't a citizen? Seriously, if you are one of Limbaugh's "ditto heads," and you can read this, stop believing all radio talk show hosts are knowledgeable journalists. They are NOT! They are entertainers.
 
Most of the better progressive talkers, like Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller, will tell you the same thing. They are commentators paid to increase the number of listeners for the radio stations that are airing their shows. Telling the truth is not a pre-requisite for talking on the radio. It would be nice if it was.
 
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Having Faith
 
From time to time, we have to rely on our own instincts and not necessarily what we have "always believed." It's like being in survival mode. We have to throw out everything we think we know, and live "in the moment" or "have faith" that moving in a new direction is the right thing to do, even if we don't know the outcome. We sense that we can't keep going in the same direction, but our fear works hard to keep us from trying anything new. So often we get caught up in the rigors of everyday life and we do not take the time to really pay attention to what is going on around us. We are reactionary, not revolutionary. We keep thinking "inside the box," not realizing that "outside the box" usually proves to be far healthier and more productive. Applying this to politics: many continue to vote "inside the box" just because that's all they know, or want to know. Faith is applied when we listen to the "still small voice" that helps us move out of our fears and into the faith that voting "outside the box" might just be better for us and our country.
 
Just an FYI: Although I am a politics junkie, I do not do this much research every four years. Because this was such an historic election, I wanted to capture as much of it as possible. I have plenty of material that I did not use.
 
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The 2008 Democratic Primary
 
Early Signs
 
Barack Obama jumped out onto the national stage when then presidential candidate, John Kerry, asked him to be the keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic Convention. Little did Kerry know that he hand-picked the 44th President of the United States - and that it would not be him.
 
 
Then came a little bit of prophecy in 2006.
 
 
 
On February 10, 2007, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States in front of 15,000 people in Springfield, Illinois.
 
 
 
One of the first published indications that Obama would win came February 26, 2008 in an article from Stephen Hayes, of The Weekly Standard, a very popular conservative magazine. It was titled "The Power of Words" and the last two paragraphs spoke volumes towards what I believe he thought the outcome would be. 
 
  Read the Article
 
Stephen has appeared on many cable and broadcast TV shows representing conservatives.
 
 
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A little known fact about the election came to light the next day when there was an issue about John McCain's financing and a dispute over the collateral for the $4M loan he received to keep his campaign going. The 2/27/08 article by Michael Luo of the New York Times, entitled "McCain's Financial Pledge Problem", revealed that even if a dispute over any election issues came up, there was no way the Federal Election Commission could render a decision.
 
 
 
This was yet another illustration of the poor management coming from the Bush Administration. The rest of the article also highlights the preferential treatment McCain received to get his name on the ballot in some states, including Ohio. Complete Article
 
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Maureen Dowd, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer with sarcastic wit and great insights, summed up very well the challenges with Hillary Clinton's campaign on February 27th, after she didn't win the democratic nomination on "Super Tuesday", February 5th.
 
 
Regardless of your politics, you can enjoy Maureen's sense of humor. Complete Article
 
It became increasingly aware that Clinton was not being herself, and many people were seeing through the facade. The public was getting a taste of Hillary's lack of leadership skills with the badly managed campaign that she was waging against Obama. This was a clear indication that Obama would win the Democratic nomination.
 
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Hardly ever discussed in the media, and probably rightly so, was Obama's safety. He reluctantly accepted Secret Service protection beginning May 3, 2007. We now know that he had over 500 threats on his life during the primaries and the general election season, based on an article called "Guarding Obama" about the Secret Service on November 25th. Obama rarely talks about it. In an article by Jeff Zeleny on February 25, 2008 entitled "Hushed Worries about Obama's Safety", we learned that his security rivaled that of a sitting president's when the rallies started drawing tens of thousands of people.
 
 
This was also the actual first time we learned that Obama's Secret Service name was "Renegade," not after the election as was reported by the TV media.
In a post-election interview with Barbara Walters, he was asked about his safety and he said that he was "…firm in his faith…" and was not concerned.
 
 
OBAMA'S SECURITY
(THIS IS A POWERPOINT PRESENTATION - PLEASE ALLOW APPROXIMATELY 20 SECONDS FOR IT TO LOAD)
 
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By mid-March, John McCain had sown up the Republican nomination for President.
 
 
 
This did not make the traditional evangelical movement within the GOP very happy. McCain had separated himself from them very early on because he was pro-choice at one time in his political career. Even after he switched his views on this issue, that element was never fully on board.
 
James Dobson, a voice that represents this element, was very vocal about his lack of enthusiasm for McCain.
 
 
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Hillary and Barack went toe-to-toe in the Democratic Primary: Hillary drinking shots,
 
 
and Barack trying to bowl. Don't let his good form fool you, he's a horrible bowler!
 
 
Ellen Degeneres invited Hillary to bowl on her show.
 
 
She did no better. Now, if you put Barack on a b-ball court, you get a very different result.
 
 
The man does have some game. Conclusion: Hillary can do shots, but hopefully not as good as Barack can play basketball. Both were trying hard to one-up each other in a tit-for-tat, back-and-forth campaign that was a monumental endurance test for both camps.
 
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In one of the debates, Hillary brought up Tony Rezko, a then-indicted, now-convicted real estate developer in Chicago.
 
 
As did others before her, Hillary tried to make it look like Barack was somehow tied to Rezko with some shady dealings over the house he bought in 2005. Here's what was written by the Chicago Tribune, the 100 year old conservative newspaper.
 
  
What was not reported by the pundits was that there were nearly 250 articles written on Rezko, some of which were investigations on the relationship between Obama and Rezko and nothing nefarious or illegal was ever revealed. Article
 
 
The other story that was not reported was that Tony Rezko was a major contributor to Bill Clinton's campaign as well.
 
 
You don't get a photo with the President and his wife unless you've really contributed. So it was a bit disingenuous for Hillary to bring up Rezko in the debate. In addition, the complaint that somehow the media was "in the tank" for Obama didn't ring true. The New York Times ran an article about the Rezko-Obama connection that was certainly not dismissive. Article
 
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Rev. Jeremiah Wright
 
 
EVERYONE in "Pundit World" thought that this would derail Barack. So much so, that McCain wouldn't touch the story and Hillary saying only that she would not have stayed in that church for 20 years. "You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend." By the way, her husband invited Rev. Wright to say the prayer at a prayer breakfast in the Whitehouse when he was President.
 
 
In another example of how the media WAS NOT in the tank for Obama, this story lasted for over two weeks in the mainstream media and all the way through the election (and beyond) on FOX News. The story was poorly reported and the media intentionally left out HUGE portions of what Rev. Wright was saying that night. Here's what was actually said in that evening service:
 
Rev. Wright asked his congregation to turn to Malachi 3:6, which reads:
 
"For I am the Lord, and I change not." He then proceeded to interpret that passage as follows: "God was against slavery (on) yesterday, and God, who does not change, is still against slavery today. God was a God of love yesterday, and God who does not change is still a God of love today. God was a God of justice (on) yesterday, and God who does not change, is still a God of justice today."
 
Noting, "governments fail," Rev. Wright then proclaimed the failures of the Roman, British, Russian, Japanese and German empires -- before returning his attention to America's failures:
 
"And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian [Native American] descent, she failed. She put them on reservations."
 
"When it came to (treating) her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in internment prison camps."
 
"When it came to (treating) the citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. She put them in chains. The government put them on slave quarters. Put them on auction blocks. Put them in cotton fields. Put them in inferior schools. Put them in substandard housing. Put them in scientific experiments. Put them in the lower paying jobs. Put them outside the equal protection of the law. Kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education, and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness."
 
"The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three strike law and then wants us to sing God Bless America. Naw, naw, naw. Not God Bless America. God Damn America! That's in the Bible. For killing innocent people. God Damn America for treating us citizens as less than human. God Damn America as long as she tries to act like she is God and she is Supreme."
 
"The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent."
 
In reference to the tragedy on September 11, 2002, Wright quoted a US Ambassador, "America's chickens have come home to roost" implying that we may have attracted this attack with our past actions in this country and in the world.
 
"A white ambassador said that ya'll, not a black militant, not a reverend who preaches about racism, an ambassador whose eyes are wide open and is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice... the ambassador said that the people we have wounded don't have the military capability we have, but they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them... let me stop my faith footnote right there."
 
There are many references to these words if you do a little searching - something that seems to elude the mainstream media. What was barely reported was that some of the words were taken from Ambassador Edward Peck.
 
 
I'm not the only one who feels that this story was really poorly handled by the media. Walter C. Uhler served in the U.S. Army Security Agency (a branch of the National Security Agency) from late 1966 to early 1971. Here's what he had to say about the Rev. Wright sermon. Sam Stein, one of today's best reporters, had this to say.
 
As I watched this event unfold, and listened to Rev. Wright's words, I realized that there was very little - historically - that was not true. America DOES have some skeletons in her closet and innocents' blood on her hands, just like many other nations in the world. We're not perfect. We've made (and will continue to make) mistakes.
 
What was most impressive about the entire Rev. Wright event was Barack's speech on race.
 
Most politicians would have separated themselves from the issue immediately, throwing anyone in their way "under the bus" in the process. Instead, Barack used the event to help bring us together, to help us better understand that our diversity is our strength and that where there is a will to grow beyond racial barriers, we succeed.
 
A Personal Note
 
All of this also hit home with me on a very personal level. I worked as a church administrator for a year and a half. Our wonderful minister was an African-American woman. Her name is Rev. Linda Poole Kennedy.
 
 
 
Getting to know her and her family has been a great experience for me. My wife and I thoroughly enjoy her Sunday messages, her kindness of spirit, and her never-ending generosity towards everyone. She uses the events of everyday life to teach. She is always there to help others, often at great cost to her own well-being.
 
As I watched Barack handle the Rev. Wright event with such compassion and understanding for the bigger issue that it revealed, I was touched. He seemed so centered, using that moment to teach, much in the same way our minister does everyday.
 
 
 
He did the truly Christian thing to do. He embraced Rev. Wright, not for the words that were spoken in that evening sermon, but for the child of God that he is. We would all do good to learn from that very important teaching moment.
 
 
 
I have a theory for why Rev. Wright kept himself in the media's radar beyond the initial event. It wasn't to be in the spotlight. It was to create a situation by which Barack would have no choice but to separate from him. Rev. Wright, in his own way, through his subsequent comments at the NAACP dinner and the National Press Club Conference, forced Barack's hand.
 
 
He knew it was the only way for the story to end. He knew that it was for the greater good - a concept that ministers all-too-well understand. Of course, there was speculation by the media pundits that Rev. Wright would show up again in the general election (maybe an October surprise) but he never did. This seems to reinforce my theory that his actions were intentional. I think Rev. Wright did not want to be responsible for bringing down a good man and this was the best way to do it. He used the media to achieve his goal, and it worked, brilliantly.
 
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Talk Radio
 
One must understand the strangle-hold that the conservative talkers have on the airwaves. It is NOT because their ratings are so great. In fact, when placed up against some of the better progressive talkers in the same market, and with the same signal strength, the progressives do as well in the ratings game 80-90% of the time. The reason that conservative talkers are on the air in so many more places is because radio stations are being gobbled up by big corporations with an agenda. During the late 1990s and through the Bush Administration, rules on monopolizing the media became nearly non-existent. (Please note: this has nothing to do with the Fairness Doctrine.) One owner or corporation can own several radio stations in a media market, along with a newspaper in that market, and yes, even a TV affiliate, thus controlling the message for hundreds of miles. This is why Rush Limbaugh is heard on over 600 radio stations every day with a listening audience of about 13 million people per week. Let's face it, if all there is to listen to is one point of view, and you're a Low Information Voter, you're going to believe what you hear.
 
This year was different. The progressive talk radio movement managed to get into some fairly big markets during this election season and I believe they made a HUGE difference. XM / Sirius Radio and streaming radio through BlackBerrys and other similar devices allowed people to hear progressives regardless of where they broadcast from, or where the listener lives. Combine that with being able to stream virtually any radio station on your computer and now the playing field gets leveled a little more.
 
Here are a few of the best Progressive Talkers in the country:
 
 
Ed Schultz (a former conservative) is, I believe, the best of the bunch. Apparently, so do many others. He started out about 5 years ago on 3 or 4 stations. He is now on over 100 stations. He, unlike many of his counterparts on the far right, allows anyone to call in and "...we'll have at it..." He started his show in Fargo, North Dakota and is planning to move to Washington D.C. after Barack's Inauguration. You can find him on the 24/7 news networks like MSNBC and CNN many times in any given month. FOX News asked him on and then wouldn't let him talk, so he got up and walked off the set.
 
 
Fox and Friends host, Brian Kilmeade (center) was dumbfounded, not knowing how to recover from the incident. The next day on his radio program, Ed apologized to his listeners/viewers - NOT to FOX News. He said that if anyone from that network would like to have a real "fair and balanced" debate about the issues with everyone permitted to participate, they are more than welcome to join him on his show. To date, no one has taken him up on his offer. Trust me - no one at FOX News wants to debate "Big Eddie." He'd have 'em for lunch. Ed has written a book that was published back when he first started as a Progressive Talker called "Straight Talk from the Heartland." Sales are still going strong.
 
 
 
Thom Hartmann is probably the headiest of the bunch. He's written many books and has been on the air a little longer than Big Eddie. His approach is a little dry for me, but that's because I like being entertained while being informed. His knowledge of the issues is unsurpassed.
 
 
Here are a few of the books Thom has written. He's considered an intellectual authority on politics.
 
 
 
Stephanie Miller, the one-time stand-up comedienne and TV show host, is the daughter of Bill Miller, Barry Goldwater's running mate in 1964. She was 3 years old at the time. Stephanie's show is very "fast," full of great comedy and still very informative. Having grown up in a Republican household, she understands both sides very well.
 
 
 
Teaming with her is one of the best voice men in the business, Jim Ward. His impressions of people like Kim Jong Ill, Sean Connery, George Bush I and II, Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher and Rush Limbaugh add a great dimension to the show.
 
 
Stephanie Miller also has the comedy team "Frangela" joining her on Fridays in a segment they call "Fridays with Frangela." These two are smart, funny and very knowledgeable.
 
 
In addition, Stephanie's website is very participatory. There is a section called Photoshop Fun which allows people to submit creative artwork. I was honored to have some of my artwork put on her site. Here's a couple of them:
 
This first one was done towards the end of the Democratic Primary when it was obvious Hillary couldn't win enough delegates to get the nomination, but would not get out of the race. Everyone was wondering if the primary was ever going to end.
 
 
It was reported that Hillary's campaign was running into financial trouble and they had to go to a smaller aircraft. That report coincided with the time she was photographed doing shots and beer with some folks in Pennsylvania. The combination of those two events was irresistable.
 
 
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The primary lingered on through spring and into summer. Tim Russert predicted that Barack would win the primary, based on facts. There was nothing prolific about his "prediction." He knew, as did many of us, that Hillary could not get enough delegate support to beat Barack. Yet, she continued through until the end - all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Democrats Abroad and of course, Guam. She started using the popular vote to justify staying in the race, which was not a determining factor according to the DNC rules for selecting a nominee.
 
Finally
 
The Associated Press finally made it official: On June 3rd, at 1:35pm, Barack Obama became the Democratic Party's nominee for President of the United States. Article
 
Hillary Clinton conceded on Friday, June 6th, three days after the final primary in Montana. She then held her final "rally" on Saturday, June 7th in New York City.
 
Here are the final results
 
 
 As for Barack...