New Civilization News: "Change Is Coming"    
 "Change Is Coming"50 comments
picture28 Nov 2008 @ 14:04, by Richard Carlson

The head is through, but the body is still sticking out.

---Zen saying

A flower falls, even though we love it;
and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.


Kassan had a monk who left and went all around to the various Zen temples, seeking. But no matter where he went, the name of Kassan was mentioned to him as the name of a great master.
Finally the monk returned, interviewed Kassan, and asked: "You are reputed to have the greatest understanding of Zen. Why did you not reveal this to me when I was here earlier?"
Kassan said: "When you boiled rice, did I not light the fare? When you passed around food, did I not offer my bowl to you? When did I betray your expectations?"
With that the monk was enlightened.

---Zen mondo

Photo: Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images

The title of this reluctant article is on the subject line of the latest message from David Plouffe, campaign manager of Obama For America. It came Tuesday, and suggests the grassroots hold house parties the middle of next month to energize supporters in continuing the message of hope. In the weeks before the election, David or someone from used to email us every day, as did other Democrats and independent progressives. The others either have quit campaigning, fallen in a holiday heap of exhaustion, or gone back to work. Some of the progressive groups seem to be casting about for something to do or new issues to keep contributions coming in. But the Obama organization is trying to keep things together and the momentum going. At no point in Mr. Plouffe's message does he mention growing doubt as a matter for concern. The man isn't even President yet, but the Internet is groaning with disappointment.

My personal reaction to the election, as far as the Internet is involved in my life, was to sigh relief and vow not to bother readers with any more political writing. People who have known me for a while, and who encouraged me to write and post stuff, remember I used to compose reminiscences and pastoral observations of nature. I got very nice responses to that...and still do. But in the Roman tradition of the gentle farmer who must leave the plow and go to battle when the republic is under attack, I started to write political things several years ago. I lost a lot of readers doing that. They didn't want to know about it, or if they did know didn't want to read it on this piece of furniture many use only for recreation. I thought they'd be happy if they found out I was back!

And Thanksgiving yesterday at my home seemed to reflect the wisdom of this perception. We have a pretty animated political group of people who come here---and that includes some who have given up completely various dreams for the future. Everybody is vocal, and in past gatherings we've discussed current affairs in loud speeches. With the Hillary/Obama schism, there came debate and argument. But yesterday---I shall be corrected if wrong---I don't think a political notion was uttered. We talked about babies and traveling and food and shopping---actual normal American conversation. Our worries will be addressed and taken care of, and we can return to our gardens.

But then...but then, I venture into the news sites and blogs this morning, and I find no such peacefulness prevailed in cyberspace yesterday...or in the columns of newspapers. I'm sure there are plenty of articles about things to be thankful for, the usual ones, and we did a lot of gratitude in our house. But in reading today I have to say I soon was overwhelmed with crisis and gloom. So much so, that I hate to tell you I need to share it...not so much to spread it around, as to offer up a reality check. Is a sense of relief really called for?

It started with what appears to be an inordinate number of voices raised about the very nature of Thanksgiving and its origins. I don't suppose we need our noses rubbed in this anymore---or do we? Somebody sent me a link to a entry, where I do some posting too. The Fourth World is a blog organized by Juan Santos, a writer and editor in LA, and the particular essay, from a couple years ago, is entitled Immigration: A Nation Of Colonists And Race Laws. You see where this is going.

"You hear it everywhere. Even from Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, author of the vicious anti-migrant legislation that has polarized the US. 'We are a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws,' he says.

"And like almost everyone else, he’s got it wrong.

"The original Europeans in the Americas were not immigrants, but colonists. And the US is not a nation of immigrants - it is a white colonial settler state, like South Africa under Apartheid, the former Rhodesia, Australia and Israel.

"And like those states the US has always operated on a sometimes hidden, sometimes overt system of Apartheid.

"Like those places, the US is a nation of colonists – and race laws.

"It is just another place where white colonists arrived, seized the land, and dispossessed, exterminated or attempted to exclude the original 'non-white' peoples – all of them.

"They did so at the point of a gun - by open terror and genocide, which was the precursor and the necessary pre-condition of European immigration. And, of course, they didn’t only use guns and overt terror. Where 'necessary,' they operated by 'law.'"


Then the Information Clearing House sent along a cheery little suppressed speech by a surviving member of the Wampanoag tribe, who were the people that "helped" the Puritans through that first killer winter at the Plymouth--uh--Plantation. You may have read this already or know about it but it seems in 1970, the Massachusetts Department of Commerce wanted to have a big 350th Anniversary celebration of the First Thanksgiving. They located a Wampanoag named Wamsutta---or as he is know around there, Frank. B. James. He agreed to give the keynote address...but the Department asked to read it first. When they did Wamsutta was sent to the back of the bus, and somebody else told the assembly what they wanted to hear. His written draft still is around and starts like this~~~

"I speak to you as a man -- a Wampanoag Man. I am a proud man, proud of my ancestry, my accomplishments won by a strict parental direction ('You must succeed - your face is a different color in this small Cape Cod community!'). I am a product of poverty and discrimination from these two social and economic diseases. I, and my brothers and sisters, have painfully overcome, and to some extent we have earned the respect of our community. We are Indians first - but we are termed 'good citizens.' Sometimes we are arrogant but only because society has pressured us to be so.

"It is with mixed emotion that I stand here to share my thoughts. This is a time of celebration for you - celebrating an anniversary of a beginning for the white man in America. A time of looking back, of reflection. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People.

"Even before the Pilgrims landed it was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them as slaves for 220 shillings apiece. The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans. Mourt's Relation describes a searching party of sixteen men. Mourt goes on to say that this party took as much of the Indians' winter provisions as they were able to carry."


Then I went over to Time Magazine and read Joe Klein's appraisal of George Bush as the lamest duck ever. If I was looking to get cheered up, I probably shouldn't have done this.

"In the end, though, it will not be the creative paralysis that defines Bush. It will be his intellectual laziness, at home and abroad. Bush never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and regulation that was necessary to make markets work. He never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and equity that was necessary to maintain the strong middle class required for both prosperity and democracy. He never considered the complexities of the cultures he was invading. He never understood that faith, unaccompanied by rigorous skepticism, is a recipe for myopia and foolishness. He is less than President now, and that is appropriate. He was never very much of one."


Speaking of the markets, Paul Krugman spent Thanksgiving dashing off his analysis of why-didn't-anyone-see-this-coming, and it's in this morning's Times.

"A few months ago I found myself at a meeting of economists and finance officials, discussing — what else? — the crisis. There was a lot of soul-searching going on. One senior policy maker asked, 'Why didn’t we see this coming?'

"There was, of course, only one thing to say in reply, so I said it: 'What do you mean "we," white man?'...

"Some people say that the current crisis is unprecedented, but the truth is that there were plenty of precedents, some of them of very recent vintage. Yet these precedents were ignored. And the story of how 'we' failed to see this coming has a clear policy implication — namely, that financial market reform should be pressed quickly, that it shouldn’t wait until the crisis is resolved."


Last month Jim Hightower went even further and lined up his suspects against the wall for identification. Hightower's not an economist I think, but he knows the value and power of a buck. [link] The article must have gone up on Halloween, but I didn't see it until today---which I am recalling now is called Black Friday. Gloom.

"You don't have to be in Who's Who to know What's What, do you? The fundamentals are NOT sound.

"Wall Street and Washington (excuse the redundancy there) want us commoners to believe that this viral spread of economic grief was caused by those lower-income homeowners who couldn't pay their subprime loans--merely an unforeseeable glitch in a complex and otherwise healthy financial system. Hogwash. The source of today's pain is the same as it was in America's previous financial collapses: the unbridled greed of economic elites, enabled by their political courtesans in Washington.

"This unbridling has been the long-sought goal of a cabal of deregulation ideologues who dwell in laissez-fairyland. During the past two decades, they have relentlessly pushed their economic fantasies into law. Their theory was that (to use Ronald Reagan's simple construct) 'the magic of the marketplace' would create an eternal rainbow of prosperity through financial 'innovation'--if only the market was unshackled from any pesky public regulations. What the dereg theorists missed, however, is that magicians don't perform magic. They perform illusions."


Which brings us to the President-elect and his appointments thus far. This man carries around a lectern with him that says "The Office Of The President-Elect." I guess that's kind of clever because as long as he's not in the Oval Office yet, his office is wherever he shows up. But the sign also implies a president-elect is an "office" in government of some kind, a position of elected power, an indication he's only being polite by not taking over right away. In other countries defeated leaders are just swept out. Many economists are saying that's what should happen here, the crisis is too great to hang around for 2 months while the current guy does nothing. So Obama has been announcing who's going to be doing what, and holding press conferences to do so. On Wednesday he finally was asked, "Where's the change you talked about?" The President-elect seemed a bit sharp in his response.

"President-elect Barack Obama essentially said Wednesday that he is the change, striving to assure Americans that he'll shake up Washington despite filling his administration with old hands from the Clinton administration and the capital's corridors of power.

"'Understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost,' Obama said. 'It comes from me. That's my job, is to provide a vision in terms of where we are going, and to make sure, then, that my team is implementing.'"


The Boston Globe maybe fired the first shot, heard at least as far as Ohio, by going a bit further into the story.

"However, liberal activists contend that Obama so far has gone too far in one direction, bringing in too many of the same Washington insiders and undermining his own message of change. Obama, they complain, hasn't given a top cabinet job to a true liberal, and grumble about the expected appointments of rival Hillary Clinton -- a centrist Democrat -- as Obama's secretary of state and of Robert M. Gates, a Republican appointed by President Bush, to stay on as defense secretary for at least a year.

"'I'm not in the camp that says, "Give him a chance, because his vision will dominate,"' said Tom Hayden cq, a high-profile liberal and antiwar activist who said he supports Obama despite misgivings over his cabinet picks. 'I don't know what he's doing. This is not governing from the center. This is governing from the past.'

"Liberal bloggers, who helped fuel Obama's grassroots fund-raising and volunteer armies, are particularly vocal in their critique of Obama's choices so far.

"Some of them argue that competence and experience aren't substitutes for the right ideology. 'How can selecting only pro-war Cabinet members and advisers be justified on the grounds of "competence' -- as though one's support for the War has nothing to do with competence?' asks blogger Glenn Greenwald, who also writes for the online journal Salon.

"Since he was elected three weeks ago, Obama has tapped several people who worked for President Clinton, including Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff and Lawrence Summers as his senior economic adviser. Reports say that the president-elect has settled on at least two other Clinton-era officials -- Eric Holder for attorney general and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for commerce secretary.

"Criticism of Obama's personnel picks, however, intensified when word leaked out that he will select Clinton as secretary of state. Antiwar activists decried her vote in favor of the 2003 Iraq invasion, which Obama hammered her about during the Democratic primaries. And after reports Tuesday that Obama would keep Gates at the Pentagon, some suggested it could mean Obama was reconsidering a campaign pledge to withdraw US combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office."

[link] Good comments too.

Ramzi Kysia, an Arab-American writer at Counterpunch, on Monday went so far as to assemble a list of people Obama should have appointed...if he truly believed in progressive change. His list follows this beginning~~~

"I feel cheated. I feel betrayed. And I’m not even a Democrat.

"Our nation hasn’t yet finished counting all the election returns, but the outlines of a future Obama Administration are already clear: Clinton at State, Geithner at Treasury, Summers to head the National Economic Council, Holder at Justice, Emmanuel as Chief of Staff, General James Jones as the likely National Security Advisor, and Robert Gates likely to stay on at Defense.

"There not a progressive among them. Not even one. If Obama was vague about his personal politics during the primaries and general election it was for a reason: he doesn’t have any.

"I’m not sure what I honestly expected, but I know it wasn’t this."


But then I looked at the Thanksgiving Day edition of the Chicago Sun-Times, and there's the Obama family continuing its 4-year tradition of handing out food to the needy on the preceding Wednesdays. Hope stirred in my sinking breast.

"President-elect Barack Obama and his family spent an hour handing out chickens, potatoes, bread and other Thanksgiving food to poor families on Chicago's South Side Wednesday morning after Obama introduced his latest economic advisors. Then he shook hands with Catholic grade school students ecstatic to see him.

Many of the poor and homeless -- some of whom come for food every Wednesday -- screamed in disbelief as they entered the parking lot of St. Columbanus church at 71st and Calumet and realized the reason they had been wanded by the U.S. Secret Service was because Obama, his wife and daughters, were standing there ready to pass out the food usually handed out by volunteers.

"'At Thanksgiving, it's important for us to remember people in need,' Obama said. 'They told me the number of people coming here is up 33 percent from last year.'

About 600 families got food, said Kate Maehr, executive director of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. That's up from 270 families last year, said the Rev. Matt Eyerman.


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28 Nov 2008 @ 17:48 by quinty : Good stuff, Jazzo.....

Sensenbrenner emotes a subhuman disposition, even within the halo of the air he breathes. The man is a clear danger to society.

Regarding Joe Klein.... For Bush not to have been “intellectually lazy” something alive and inquisitive and bright and shining would have had to been there. Bush's highest moment came as a drunken frat boy. Unfortunately, his family had money, power, and political prestige, allowing this monster to bloom.

Hightower is known in respectable circles as a member of the “looney left.” Pointing out the obvious runs against the established grain of American myth. That being that greed is productive and creates wealth for one and all. It should be no surprise that the most benighted among the far right immediately began to blame the poor for the economic mess. The have-nots’ greed (a desire for a home, decent health care, tuition for schools, etc.) is fundamentally bad. The greed of those who climb to the top, with their bonuses, corporate jets, on the other hand, is admirable. And those who complain are merely envious. (“Class warfare.”) Get used to it, though, boys and girls, the unending justifications for greed will not go away. And regulation will be fought as a Marxist repressive idol worshipped by the filthy minded left.

Regarding Obama, I’ve gone into a calm wait and see mode regarding him. For I am still enormously impressed and reassured by his personal qualities, which, I believe, are well meaning. If I am deceived about that then I am truly the man who saw a goldfish turn into a golden eagle.

I can not judge Obama’s appointments for I know little about them. (Even though some believed in the deregulation leading to the current mess. Why not pick people who warned against it, such as James Fallows?)

Now since it would be impossible for Obama to pick appointees from the Roosevelt administration or Lincoln’s finding experienced advisors must lead to Bush or Clinton. I can buy Obama’s argument regarding that and, what’s more, there are his incredible personal characteristics to offer us hope. Though we won’t know, will we, until everything takes place. And that is still far down the road. Here’s Joe Conason who might cheer you up on the subject.

Obama’s Shrewd Choices

Posted on Nov 26, 2008

By Joe Conason

While Barack Obama introduced the first members of his economic team, a wailing noise could be heard somewhere in the background. That was the sound of complaining liberals, who worry that the president-elect is already surrendering the progressive moment to centrists—the kind of post-election disappointment with which they are all too familiar.

Looking over the names of the new Obama appointees to important positions in the Treasury and the White House, critics on the left have dismissed them as “Clintonite retreads” or worse. According to this gloomy analysis, the incoming administration is poised to repeat the mistakes of the past rather than create new policy for the future, by staffing itself with economists wedded to old ideologies of deregulation and budget-balancing, rather than government intervention and public investment.

If resumes represented destiny, then there would certainly be cause for concern.

After all, most of Mr. Obama’s top advisers—notably including Tim Geithner, the new Treasury secretary, and Larry Summers, the new director of the National Economic Council—either served in the Clinton administration or have some other connection to Robert Rubin, the man responsible for “Rubinomics” when he oversaw the Treasury during those years. The combination of fiscal discipline and deregulation that bear his name, once lauded as the foundation of an unprecedented boom, seem not only irrelevant but wrongheaded. His reputation has been badly damaged, meanwhile, by the fall of Citigroup, where he oversaw a ruinous and seemingly reckless investment strategy.

Long gone are the days when a smiling Rubin appeared on the covers of the newsmagazines alongside Alan Greenspan, whose record as Federal Reserve chairman and avatar of laissez-faire economics is equally discredited. By now it would be natural for Summers—who succeeded Rubin at Treasury—to wish that everyone would forget his was the third face on those same magazine covers.
But when liberals point to Summers and other members of the Obama team, crying betrayal, they misunderstand the strategy behind those appointments. The most important thing to remember about the president-elect as he prepares to govern is that he takes the long view—and that he knows how to make a reasonable case for radical change. He has not taken one step back from the commitments he articulated during his campaign.

Indeed, Obama has steadfastly refused to scale back his platform of spending initiatives, from infrastructure to health care, despite all the tut-tutting commentary. Instead, even as he rolled out his team, he pledged a very substantial spending increase during the first two years of his term as the only means to prevent the recession from plunging into something far worse.

And his appointees will implement the Obama program, not only because that is what he tells them to do but because that is what they have come to believe is best for the country. Whatever Summers or Geithner or any of the other centrists on the new team may once have said or thought, they will pursue a course of massive counter-cyclical spending, public investment and strong new regulation.

Several of the significant figures chosen by Obama, such as budget chief Peter Orszag and adviser Jason Furman, have defended liberal priorities throughout their careers. The economists who have influenced them include not just Rubin but also Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-winning progressive.
But even Rubin—who once came to symbolize the Democratic Party’s submission to market fundamentalism—has endorsed a new progressive direction. The Washington think tank associated with him, known as the Hamilton Project, promotes public investment and a refurbished social safety net.

As for Summers, just last month he published an essay in the Financial Times that seemed to acknowledge past errors, writing that the “wealth and income gains from the easy availability of credit were highly concentrated in the hands of a fortunate few.”

Sounding liberal themes, he went on to call for a strict new regulatory regime and measures to ensure that the nation’s future prosperity will be broad-based and inclusive. He and the rest of the Obama team possess the managerial competence to implement those policies, which is why the president-elect appointed them. He knows that the proof will be in the pudding and not the cooks.

Joe Conason writes for the New York Observer.
© 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.  

29 Nov 2008 @ 09:01 by jazzolog : Reaction On The Middle East Right
Thanks as always to Quinty for his interesting comment. I received another, of sorts, by email from a librarian friend at Harvard. James Adler has made a specialty of interest in the Middle East, and included a letter he'd written that appears in the current edition of Al-Ahram Weekly, the leading English-language newspaper in Egypt.

"Sir -- Congratulations on your fine coverage of the historic American elections.
"Concerning the letter on some of Barack Obama's social views like gay rights ('Lost lives' Al-Ahram 13-19 November) these are views which he would broadly share with most Western progressive leaders and writers on the Middle East. They would include American presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, British prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, German chancellors Gerhard Schroeder and Angela Merkel, French presidents François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac, liberal and pro-Arab writers and scholars such as Jonathan Cook, Noam Chomsky, David Hirst, Alexander Cockburn, and Robert Fisk, and Israeli progressives like Jeff Halper, Ilan Pappe, Uri Avnery and Avi Schlaim. It is on the contrary, the rightist American Christian Zionists and Israeli settlement expansionists whose social views fit more with the letter's writer, like Benyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman.
"Furthermore, no letter has appeared in Al-Ahram criticising any of the Western leaders noted above, who are white and of First World origin, for having the same social views that Obama does. Instead such a critical letter would appear in Al-Ahram only when it is an attack on the first black man and the first man of Third World origins to be elected president. This exemplifies double standards, anti-Third World prejudice and underlying racism that are shattering. The hatred against Obama among rightist elements in Israel and the West is unremitting and unrelentless. The right-wing agitprop in papers and talkbacks and blogs is intense, such as on The Jerusalem Post site, where what is written and said is much the same agitprop."

My article expressed concerns about the President-elect emerging from the Left. James' letter reflects reaction on the Right, explicitly in the Middle East. He also has an article in the current Harvard Square Commentary that expands a bit on this~~~

"It is noteworthy that among the few important world capitals, on election night nearly all were the scenes of dancing in the streets in celebration of Barack Obama's victory, with the conspicuous exception of Tel Aviv, Israel. And yet American Jews voted nearly 4-1 for Obama. The proportion of the Jewish vote for Obama and against McCain was the second highest of any American religious or ethnic group, second only to the African-American vote. In fact: If America was mainly a nation of Jews; that is, if American Jews made up most of the 300,000,000 people of America -- in other words, if America was primarily itself a Jewish state -- then Barack Obama would have won by even much more than he already did, in what would have been a nearly 4-to-1, coast-to-coast, popular national landslide.

"Conservative blogger and columnist Shmuel Rosner recently went from Ha'aretz to a more congenial home for him at the rightist Jerusalem Post...On the idea, that Bradley Burston at Ha'aretz and others have proposed, that the election of Barack Obama would be similar to Israel's election of an Israeli Arab Prime Minister, Rosner's retort is-- 'Give me a break.' With all due respect to Rosner, with whom I almost always disagree, but admire: I believe that the American election of Barack Obama as President is similar to what the imminent Israeli election would be like of a first Arab Prime Minister of Israel-- except much more. In other words, that the improvement would be even more helpful and historic for Israel than Obama's promises to be for the United States.

"Theodor Herzl, in his classic Zionist novel, 'Old/New Land,' envisioned that Israel would have an Arab Prime Minister and Jewish President. And how could the election of an Israeli Arab as Prime Minister fail to improve -- transformatively -- Jewish-Arab, and Israeli-Arab, and Israeli-Iranian relations? Try to imagine the improvement if the Arab and Muslim worlds suddenly had to confront an Arab-Muslim Prime Minister who had just been elected predominantly by the Jewish people of Israel. How could this not instantly improve everything - recognition, respect, peace, security - to an unimaginable degree?"  

29 Nov 2008 @ 16:43 by Quinty @ : Is there an
"enjoy it while you can" aspect here?

Garrison Keillor: Sitting on top of the world
By Garrison Keillor
Thursday, November 13, 2008
International Herald Tribune

Be happy, dear hearts, and allow yourselves a few more weeks of quiet exultation.

It isn't gloating, it's satisfaction at a job well done. He was a superb candidate, serious, professorial but with a flashing grin and a buoyancy that comes from working out in the gym every morning.

He spoke in a genuine voice, not senatorial at all. He relished campaigning. He accepted adulation gracefully. He brandished his sword against his opponents without mocking or belittling them. He was elegant, unaffected, utterly American, and now (Wow) suddenly America is cool. Chicago is cool.


We threw the dice and we won the jackpot and elected a black guy with a Harvard degree, the middle name Hussein and a sense of humor - he said, "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher."

The French junior minister for human rights said, "On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes." When was the last time you heard someone from France say they wanted to be American and take a bite of something of ours? Ponder that for a moment.

The world expects us to elect pompous yahoos and instead we have us a 47-year-old prince from the prairie who cheerfully ran the race, and when his opponents threw sand at him, he just smiled back.

He'll be the first president in history to look really good making a jump shot. He loves his classy wife and his sweet little daughters. He looks good in the kitchen. He can cook Indian or Chinese but for his girls he will do mac and cheese. At the same time, he knows pop music, American lit and constitutional law.

I just can't imagine anybody cooler. Look at a photo of the latest pooh-bah conference - the hausfrau Merkel, the big glum Scotsman, that goofball Berlusconi, Putin with his B-movie bad-boy scowl, and Sarkozy, who looks like a district manager for Avis - you put Barack in that bunch and he will shine.

It feels good to be cool and all of us can share in that, even sour old right-wingers and embittered blottoheads. Next time you fly to Heathrow and hand your passport to the man with the badge, he's going to see "United States of America" and look up and grin.

Even if you worship in the church of Fox, everyone you meet overseas is going to ask you about Obama and you may as well say you voted for him because, my friends, he is your line of credit over there. No need anymore to try to look Canadian.

And the coolest thing about him is the fact that back in the early Nineties, given a book contract after the hoo-ha about his becoming the First Black Editor of The Harvard Law Review, instead of writing the basic exploitation book he could've written, he put his head down and worked hard for a few years and wrote a good book, an honest one, which, since his rise in politics, has earned the Obamas enough to buy a very nice house and put money in the bank. A successful American entrepreneur.

The last American president to write a book all by his lonesome self, I believe, was Theodore Roosevelt, who, on graduation from Harvard, wrote "The Naval War of 1812," and in my humble opinion, Obama's is the better book for the general reader, but you be the judge.

Our hero who galloped to victory has inherited a gigantic mess. The country is sunk in debt. The Treasury announced it must borrow $550 billion to get the government through the fourth quarter, more than the entire deficit for 2008, so he will have to raise taxes and not only on bankers and lumber barons.

His promise never to raise the retirement age is not a good idea. Whatever he promised the Iowa farmers about subsidizing ethanol is best forgotten at this point. We may not be getting our National Health Service cards anytime soon. And so on and so on.

So enjoy the afterglow of the election awhile longer. We all walk taller this fall. People in Copenhagen and Stockholm are sending congratulatory e-mails - imagine! We are being admired by Danes and Swedes! And Chicago becomes The First City. Step aside, San Francisco. Shut up, New York. The Midwest is cool now. The mind reels. Have a good day.

Garrison Keillor is the author of a new Lake Wobegon novel, "Liberty." Distributed by Tribune Media Services.  

30 Nov 2008 @ 09:13 by jazzolog : Is Israel Upset?
James Adler sent me more material on MidEast rightwing reaction to our President-elect. It fills in the motivation for his letter to Al-Ahram~~~

The right-wing agitation is mainly in Israel, while the Arabs are either delighted or cautiously hopeful; while the talkbacks on the Jerusalem Post's right-wing site for the past six months have been crude and brutal-- not so much the columnists, though one, Caroline Glick, is as bad as any talkbacker. Of course many of the talkbackers are American Christian Zionist evangelicals rather than Israel. Here's a talkback that hopes for extermination of leftists:

"8. "the wind is blowing a song called r-e-v-o-l-u-tion, r-e-v-o-l-u-tion" by the hobargs
Like the famous song it's clear that the jews have had enough of the leftists. a short bloody revolution is coming. Lets hope only the leftists are exterminated and not the innocents ....
rufus gombeck - (10/12/2008 04:39) "

This one calls us fascist stooges and cowards, and Judenrat:

78. Only A Meretz Rep, Like the Judenrat of J Street Would Attack Palin
and endorse the friends of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hamas - namely Obama and Biden. But then again, just like J Street, the "Israel" Policy Forum, MoveOn.Org, and the Obama camp, et. al., Meretz also cheerleads for Hamas. Too bad we can't exchange Obama, Biden, Jimmy Carter, Jeremy Ben Ami, Ira Forman, George Soros, and the leaders of Meretz for Shalit. His life is worth much more than a bunch of fascist stooges and cowards.

This one calls Rahm Emmanuel a Judenrat:

13 | Amnon, Jerusalem, state of Lemmings, Sunday Nov 16, 2008
Scott, it is you and the Brandons of the world who say that the
Lincoln-hater but KKK Byrd and Wright lover will be another Lincoln who
are the idiots and the dupes. My God, I have never seen such stupidity
from Jewish Americans ESPECIALLY less than 7 decades after the
Holocaust. To dismiss the guy's associations, to dismiss his comments
about capitulation in Iraq, or his hiring of Israel-hating advisers is
incredible. And they bring up Judenrat Emanuel! I now see how Hitler
pulled it over the German people. Can't blame them anymore if 78 percent
of American Jews wish to board the trains.

And look at this one:

16. Barack Hussein Obama Is America's Hugo Chavez
McCain is not George Bush. McCain has opposed Bush on many issues. Obama is friends with Weatherman terrorist, Billy Ayers who bombed American institutions and is also chummy with some foreign terrorists. Obama is a Marxist who advocates redistributing white USA wealth to the blacks in the USA and Africa. Obama plans to do this by doubling the Capital gains tax for starters and then give the money to unproductive, lazy.blacks thus ensuring himself of a voting bloc to keep himself in power. Obama just sent R. Mallery to talk with Hamas, that is a fact. Obama's change = Obama's chains.

It's not Middle Eastern per se, though I suppose, like in the First-Third world Episcopalian battle, Third Worlders (and some immigrant voters in the US) can tend to be more conservative on social issues.... I think though most of the Third World was delighted with the Obama victory; it is Israel that was upset, and believe the only important western world capital in which there wasn't dancing in the streets was Tel Aviv. The letter in the Al Ahram that provoked that response was from a Western social-conservative who was undoubtedly trying to play on Third World social conservatism as a wedge issue, and to take advantage of Third World ignorance of the context of Obama's views to try to turn people delighted with his victory against him, just as they use wedge issues so much in this country. When you see how manipulative it is, as the first letter (Re: Perfect Storm) in Al Ahram after the great election victory, you'll see why my response:

The original article, entitled The Perfect Storm, was in the previous issue and may be viewed here~~~  

30 Nov 2008 @ 15:43 by quinty : Fortunately
these people are in the minority.

But certainly they are ugly enough and dangerous enough. In their fantasy world they see violence as a heroic response to overwhelming social problems, like terrorists everywhere.  

30 Nov 2008 @ 17:53 by vaxen : .

30 Nov 2008 @ 18:18 by Quinty @ : Vax
whadaya say we give you a staff and a mountain top from which to rain down your jeremiads for Christmas? Perhaps a Biblical cape land a beard might look smart on you too? Cecil B. DeMille style.


It appears Vax has been in here, Paul, changing history as only the bruised and suffering can. Could it be he realizes he stepped out of line? Not likely. I can just hear him muttering he's wasting his breath on us knuckleheads. Ah yes, breath can be wasted in so many ways. Sad.


30 Nov 2008 @ 19:54 by quinty : Foreign policy team

What a scary picture.  

30 Nov 2008 @ 23:05 by vaxen : .

1 Dec 2008 @ 09:50 by jazzolog : Foreseeing a Clinton State Department
Israelis and Arabs retool their expectations
By Richard Boudreaux, Jeffrey Fleishman and Paul Richter
December 1, 2008
Bernat Armangue / Associated Press
Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near the town of Ramallah.

Reporting from Cairo, Washington and Jerusalem -- Nearly a month after Barack Obama's election, his reported decision to nominate Hillary Rodham Clinton for secretary of State is causing Arabs and Israelis to readjust expectations of his administration's policies toward the Middle East.

During the campaign, Obama carried the hopes of many Arabs for a new brand of diplomacy more open to their views, one that would revive America's power and prestige in the region and end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israelis viewed Obama as a less reliable friend than John McCain, his Republican rival, or Clinton, who touted a deep affinity for the Jewish state in her bid for the Democratic nomination.

Cautiously, Israelis are now applauding Clinton's all-but-certain nomination as a sign that Obama can be trusted to act firmly against Iran's nuclear ambitions and to refrain from pressing Israel to accept a weak, violence-prone Palestinian state on its borders.

Arabs and especially Palestinians, on the other hand, say the news has damped their optimism that Obama will veer from the Bush administration's hawkish policies and from what they call America's long-standing pro-Israel tilt.

"I was frankly surprised by this choice," said Manar Shorbagy, an expert on American foreign policy who teaches at the American University in Cairo. "Obama's talking about bringing diplomacy back to a U.S. foreign policy that has been militarized under President Bush. Sen. Clinton has different ideas. She voted for the Iraq war and has supported many things Bush has done in his two terms."

The Palestinian Authority, which is engaged in a U.S.-backed effort to negotiate peace with Israel, has refrained from such criticism. "The peace process is a bipartisan issue in American politics," said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. "We hope that Madame Clinton will continue the effort to achieve a two-state solution."

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said there would be no official comment before Obama announces his choice, expected to come today at a news conference in Chicago.

1 Dec 2008 @ 19:31 by Quinty @ : Well,
Rush Limbaugh is enthusiastic for Hillary. What more?  

2 Dec 2008 @ 08:59 by vaxen : .

8 Dec 2008 @ 10:36 by jazzolog : Obama's Renewal of our Liberal Identity
Liberals have a history of splintering into smaller and smaller groups when in disagreement or under attack. Getting everybody together was the Obama organizing skill that won the election. Already, of course, we're starting to splinter again. This article, written for the Tikkun Magazine site by Peter Dunlap, is helping me keep my priorities straight. I hope it will do that for you too. Peter Dunlap is a clinical psychologist who now finds himself specializing in "community engagement learning practices." Hmmm, OK. For more information, visit .

Awakening Our Faith in the Future: Obama's Renewal of Our Liberal Identity
by Peter Dunlap

With an Obama presidency, liberals like me can breathe a sigh of relief, right? Well, yes, but maybe no. Certainly when our candidates win locally or nationally we feel pride, relief, and hope. Yet, what have we really gotten with an Obama administration? As the Clinton administration demonstrated, it takes more than winning an election to move the country, especially if it seems that winning required a turn to the right.

Many people feared Obama’s post-convention lean to the right. George Lakoff may have articulated this fear best when he said Obama’s pull to the right would legitimize the conservatives’ positions and perhaps even help make their candidates more appealing. After all, “if Obama espouses conservative positions, then why not simply vote for the real thing?” Well, Obama took that risk and has been elected on centrist political themes without a clear liberal/progressive mandate. Where does that leave the Left? Where does that leave issues of universal health care, offshore oil drilling, corporate accountability? While I’m certain that Obama would do the right thing if he thought he could, his turn to the right tells me he isn’t so confident. He may know the way, but will he turn this country toward its moral destiny? Will he lead us toward a future that repudiates and pursues reparation for our past militarism? Will we develop alternative fuels and overcome our oil addiction? Well, I don’t know. What I do know is that, like before, the opportunity does not lie so much with Obama as it does with us.

How many times have we heard that one—that the answer lies with us? How about the idea that the answer lies within? Does that sound true but unhelpful, because you feel you don’t know how to turn inner change into political change, or your own concerns into community engagement? Gandhi’s invitation for us to become the change we wish to see in the world risks becoming a painful cliché because it does not come with instructions. Without some sense of direction, it’s too easy to infuse Obama with too much responsibility for the hopes he has released in us. He released the hope. We need to embody it, but how?

In an oft-told story, FDR said to a group of trade unionists who wanted him to promote some controversial legislation, “I agree with you—now go out there and make me do it!” If Obama is to bring about the change we want to see, we will need to pull him and the center of the country up and to the left. It’s up to us. But we still don’t have instructions. How do we lead, how do we change the political culture of our communities, states, and the country?

No doubt organizations pressing Obama and a Democratic Congress from the left will be able to “make them do it” on some crucial issues. But this will not be enough to radically alter the future. Obama’s ascension offers us a deeper opportunity.

If we assert our political agenda in the overly rationalized manner adopted by many liberals and progressives, we will not have learned from Obama’s example. Obama’s evocation of hope reflects his own transformation of that traditional liberal identity; it is this transformation that’s worthy of following, not his (necessarily?) centrist stance on issues. We can follow him toward the realization of a new liberal political identity, one based on his mastery of leadership capacities and our own manifestation of other emergent leadership capacities that even he has not yet embodied.

While we can learn from Obama’s new liberal identity, there are many cultural leaders currently articulating and embodying other leadership capacities that will be essential for the future of liberalism and the progressive movement. My own understanding of the emergence of such capacities comes from the work of Aftab Omer, founder of the Institute of Imaginal Studies. I discuss the contributions of Omer, Lakoff, Michael Lerner, and other emergent progressive cultural leaders in my book Awakening Our Faith in the Future: The Advent of Psychological Liberalism.

Obama’s Embodiment of Leadership Capacities: Religiosity and Emotional Intelligence

The presidential campaign of Barack Obama caught fire in part because of his unique leadership capacities, which have the potential to reinvigorate liberalism as both a political force and a personal political identity available to other liberals. One of Obama’s strengths is his integration of a personal religious conviction (what I call his “religiosity”) with his political identity: He unapologetically grounds his liberal egalitarian values and rational policy proposals in a deeper call to respond with love, as a sacred commitment to address the anguish of living in an alienated modern world. Another of Obama’s strengths is his substantial emotional intelligence, which enables him to acknowledge the pain suffered by different constituencies, to forgo scapegoating and blame, and to challenge his own supporters as well as his political opponents to be more responsible as parents and citizens.

Obama's Religiosity as an Emergent Leadership Capacity

One crucial dimension of Obama's capacity to lead is revealed in his effort to live a religious life without sacrificing his egalitarian values, nor simply adopting a church to claim a religious lineage. Obama has actually thought through at a new pitch what it means to be religious. He expresses this thoughtfulness in the keynote address he delivered in Washington, D.C., on June 28, 2006, to the “Call to Renewal” conference sponsored by the progressive Christian magazine Sojourners.

In this speech Obama contrasts conservative and liberal relationships to religion, identifying the conservative inclination to take advantage of the gap between Americans of faith and many Democrats. According to Obama, the Democrats fearfully avoid questions of faith and hide behind the secular culture that has attempted to do away with the influence of any one religion. Obama sees this as avoidance, and in response he calls for “a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy.”

For Obama, religion cannot be reduced to a right-wing fundamentalism that identifies abortion and same-sex partners as immoral. Obama believes that America’s religious tendency speaks to a hunger that “goes beyond any particular issue or cause.” Describing his own experience with this hunger, Obama testifies that, without faith, something is missing in our lives. He understands that people “want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives. They’re looking to relieve a chronic loneliness.”

During his time as a community organizer, Obama confronted his own “spiritual dilemma” through which he discovered that he had kept a part of himself “removed, detached,” leaving him as an “observer” in the midst of the many people of faith he worked with. He said he learned that “without a vessel for my beliefs, without a commitment to a particular community of faith, at some level I would always remain apart, and alone.” Through his community service work, he confronted his own religious alienation and resolved this dilemma by joining a faith community.

Obama’s story shows us one path to reconciling our prejudices against religion with our liberal values and politics. His integration of these enable him to speak with a moral authority that is missing from both traditional religious speaking not rooted in egalitarian values and traditional liberal speaking not rooted in a faith community.

His clear awareness of the necessity of this integration is central to his destiny. While too easily thought to be grandiose, destiny is simply a human capacity we all can aspire to embody through whatever service to humanity, to our family and community, we are capable of offering. Unlike liberals such as John Kerry, Obama embraces religiosity, and his moral speech seems wholly embodied, not contrived or overly rationalized. This religious and moral integrity challenges at least two generations of liberals, if not five or more, to rethink their fears and prejudices about religion and moral speaking.

If we are to renew liberalism, we must follow Obama and others and take up the challenge of deepening our understanding of what it means to be religious and to make peace with those religions that historically and currently seek both justice and spiritual vitality. Of course, this peacemaking must include full accountability for all that has taken place in the name of these religious institutions. However, it is too easy for liberals to scapegoat these institutions, the way conservatives scapegoat the institutions of government. Obama is not inclined to scapegoat any institution, any one political group or politician, or any segment of our society. At a private meeting in April, he did make a dismissive comment about “bitter” working-class voters who “cling to guns and religion.” This was a rare lapse and whether it revealed true feelings that he is too wise to say in public, or played to the prejudices of his audience in a way that was not authentic to his own more nuanced worldview, we can each conclude for ourselves. I go with the latter. Obama’s tendency not to blame is the second aspect of his character that I will discuss. By refusing to blame others, he is modeling the lib-eral speech of a new moral center.

Obama's Emotional Intelligence As an Emergent Leadership Capacity

Following Obama, as simple as this sounds, we must learn to stop blaming one another for our problems and to practice accountability and atonement with one another—to solve problems together. Obama clearly understands this and seems to have the moral character necessary to achieve such an end. He displays a level of emotional intelligence, and his words and actions reveal his expectation that we too live with the emotional complexities of our time without reducing them to simple explanations that find a villain to blame for our difficulties.

Obama’s religiosity, his capacity for moral speech, and his disinclination to blame seem rooted in this clear embodiment and public use of his emotional experience. This embodiment reveals that Obama has faced his own personal suffering and found both a religious and psychological solution to it. As a result, unlike too many liberal leaders such as Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, Obama has found a depth of emotion and avoided the overly rationalized identity to which many liberals fall victim. Traditional liberals have rightly been accused of indulging in forms of rational techno-speak. Lakoff has gone so far as to say that rationalism is the “bane of liberalism.” You may object that Obama’s public affect is “cool” rather than emotional. Some of his supporters have urged him to be more openly emotional in his debates with McCain, for example. There may be some validity to this view; however, it is also the case that, for an African American man, erring on the side of a cautious emotional intelligence has proven crucial. Americans are not ready to integrate the shame they would feel confronted by the legitimate anger of African Americans and other minorities coming out of the historical and current immoral cultural oppression.

Even were he Caucasian, Obama would have needed to contain his emotionality. As valid as it is to accuse Democrats of being overly rational, it is also true that they have erred in the other direction. Ed Muskie lost significant ground in the polls when he cried in public, and in 2004 Howard Dean’s presidential campaign was doomed when he attempted to rally his supporters with a seemingly erratic passion. Obama has not made the mistake of crying in public or showing his passions too intensely.
It's funny that when we think of publicly expressing passion, we imagine some over-the-top, almost smarmy or violent image. Perhaps there is some other way. For example, while Obama has remained emotionally contained, Joe Biden has found a little more room for a public display of passion. Remember his becoming choked up during the vice presidential debate? Biden's emotional expression was a vitalizing moment. In the future we may be able to go even further and truly integrate what we have learned from psychotherapy about the use of our emotions in our private lives, within our public and political selves, and with each other.

Obama’s effective use of a public emotional intelligence was most strikingly displayed in his response to his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. As this psycho-political drama unfolded, Obama used it to build the new moral center of our society. Instead of waiting out the drama in an effort to rationally rise above such “irrational” attacks, the way Kerry attempted to rise above the swift-boat accusations, or apologetically seeking to appease by immediately throwing Reverend Wright under a bus, Obama found a truer, emotionally intelligent path that responded to both the psychological and political needs of the situation. The people of America needed to see how he would respond to a situation that includes some of the worst manifestations of American humanity. We needed to see how he would manage our felt and denied shame, our overt and subtle hatreds. He proved up to the challenge, using the events to further define himself, prove his capacity to lead, and reveal to us our own destiny through his moral vision.

In his response to the complex psychological, moral, and political needs of this event, Obama spoke of the suffering of African Americans and of the imperfections in the African American community, including the anger of this community. His honesty was courageous. In discussing this anger, Obama placed the expectation on the rest of us to understand the psychological impact of oppression. He accomplished this without any dramatization or minimization. He simply said that this anger is “real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.”

However, he did not stop by only acknowledging the anger of the African American community; he also noted the anger within much of the white community. He spoke of how, for many, being white does not bring with it privilege but much suffering in the face of the social and economic inequities of our history and current circumstance. This attention to the emotional pain caused by the social and economic suffering in America, his recognition of its historical and current reality, precludes blame. He simply is able to speak openly about all human suffering without having to find a simple solution in blaming someone or some institution for our ills.

Now Obama is not the only liberal, or conservative, with significant emotional intelligence. However, due to his more integrated religiosity and his deep liberal consciousness, he is better able than other emotionally intelligent politicians to speak in a new way. What we identify as eloquence is really more than that. If we try to capture it by simply calling it charisma, we lose the opportunity to see the extent to which he actually has achieved something that we are all capable of doing.

Very few can match the eloquence or charisma that is part of Obama’s genius. However, following Omer’s unique understanding of how emotion can be transformed into capacity, we are all capable of working our way through our fear, anger, grief, and shame in a manner that would evoke our capacities for courage, fierceness, compassion, and humility. To do this we must address our prejudice against any institution, whether religious or governmental, and approach the task of institution building and renewal from the perspective that identifies responsibility and not blame. This will help us to become part of the new moral center for our society.

Following Obama, we can find whatever talents lie in our own sensitivities and the ways that we too have suffered. This is our responsibility. Obama’s religiosity and his embodied and articulated emotionality successfully overcome key limitations in the modern liberal identity. While there is much more to the mystery that he represents, a renewed liberalism must embrace at least these two strengths.

Obama’s ability to evoke hope in the American people is a direct result of his embodiment of these capacities. He causes people to feel different about themselves and their future. I suspect that this experience of hope includes an experience that we are not alone, that our suffering is seen, and that we can face our society’s crises together as a people.

Obama has activated our hope that he has become the transformation we need. However, we cannot take his success too literally or follow it too closely. Instead, we can learn more about his breakthrough by attempting it ourselves, becoming our own version of what the world needs. Whether Obama can become the kind of president we need will depend on how many of the rest of us become the change that we search for, by fulfilling our own particular destinies as citizens.

Renewing Liberal Identity

Liberals and progressives alike must learn how to fight for our liberal heritage, identify and assert our distinct egalitarian values, and reclaim a moral position oriented toward a sustainable human future. These tasks will be more easily accomplished if we balance our focus on political issues with a comparable focus on remaking our political identities. This new identity will, in part, be made up of those leadership capacities we identify in leaders like Obama. Through the embodiment of these capacities we will find ourselves speaking with the new voice of liberalism, which will enable us to articulate our values, reconnect to one another, and engage our communities in political action.

In order to renew liberalism, we have to accept responsibility for the limitations of our current political identity. We must speak with a voice that will resonate with those who have found liberalism to be too weak a political language. That will help us create new forms of community engagement to meet the current conservative domination of our country’s political discourse.

Bridging Values of Justice and Self-Responsibility: the New Voice of Liberalism

George Lakoff has taught us of the importance of framing traditional liberal political issues in ways that echo both egalitarian and traditional values. His insight is helping create a new generation of liberal discourse. Unfortunately, the new discourse is limited by the traditional overly rationalized political identity of liberals themselves. Lakoff’s crucial understanding of “reframing” won’t be utilized to its full capacity until we construct such a new liberal political identity. Remaking our identities requires learning to face our own problematic attitudes, to identify subtle prejudices such as the prejudice against religion or the public use of emotion, which limit our effectiveness, and to overcome the isolation we feel due to our alienated and fractured modern culture.

Obama’s conscious or intuitive political identity exemplifies much of what will be needed in order to bring us together as a people and renew our mutual faith in the future. Obama appears to be able to form a connection between the community-minded values of liberalism and the self-responsibility values of conservatism.

Inclusiveness at a New Level of Political Development

Central to Obama’s speech is this inclusiveness, this refusal to be divisive. He is helping us remember that we are a people, that we are not forever fractured by differences. His unwillingness to play on people’s fears, his compassionate recognition of the suffering we all experience, and his ability to meet prejudice openly, enable us to imagine that we are a people, that we are together. Radicals, liberals, and conservatives alike are all Americans; and, whatever shame being American requires, we also can find a deep pride in our American identity. We can come together in our shame, our pride, and in our determination to be a moral people.

Obama’s integration of liberal and conservative values can be and must be distinguished from his post-convention turn to the right. Like too many liberals, Obama may have confused the need to integrate conservative and liberal values with the perception that he must not appear to be too liberal regarding political issues. This confusion suggests that he may have underestimated the power of his own genuine presence; as a new type of leader he too is in unknown territory: being the mapmaker includes making such mistakes.

Obama’s turn to the right suggests that he may not understand the way in which a new moral center need not split the difference between conservatism and liberalism. Such a center can be wholly liberal and wholly moral while identifying and articulating an effective way of representing the profound need to conserve and express the traditions that make conservatism a force to reckon with. While speaking a language of inclusiveness, Obama need not cater to the conservative language of our day that distorts the idea of the “middle,” thus hiding our current off-kilter spin to the right. Instead, by simply recognizing the moral authority conservatives hold, by connecting their politics to both religion and individual responsibility, he could re-create a language of liberalism without alienating the more appealing values of conservatism.

Creating A New Moral Center

In order to create a new moral center for our society, we will need to transform political culture. Such change will only come about when we learn to come together in public holding both the values of healing and political action. When we come together, we cannot just talk about political issues or the delight and angst of raising children. Instead we must find our way to a new intimacy with one another within which we talk about what it is we have to contribute to our communities. We each have a political destiny, which can help bring all of us back to a new moral center.

In order to explore this new center, we must also be willing to talk about our prejudices. While liberals have a lot more to learn about racism, classism, and sexism, we have made enough progress in these areas to turn part of our attention to other, subtler prejudices. When we gather we need to talk about our prejudices against the use of our own moral authority, against religion, and against the public use of emotion. These prejudices undermine our relations with one another, our ability to build and sustain effective political organizations, and our ability to draw the attention of the American public.

So long as we on the Left have a hard time recognizing our own natural authority, we will not know who to follow when. This severely undermines our capacity to support effective leadership on the Left. We must learn to talk openly about leadership and we must relearn the value of surrendering to genuine authority.

Lastly, we must learn what our emotions are for, including the way they support decision-making, provide us with political energy, and bring us together as a people. So long as we allow ourselves to remain too rational, we are sterile. The alternative is not an overt, reactive public emotionality. Learning how to speak openly about our emotional experience and how to identify and welcome the emotions of others will be difficult but will strengthen our relationships and our organizations.

Now that the election is over, now that we have tallied our wins and losses, it is time to move past strategizing. Starting this winter we should gather together and reflect upon our election victories and failures. We also should take the time to attend to each other’s injuries and begin the work of healing the suffering that is at the root of all prejudice. Like the seasonal task of growing a crop, we work in the summer and fall and reflect privately and together while we seek restoration in the winter. This is the work of renewing liberalism.

(Monday Nights with Tikkun Authors)
This Monday, Dec. 8 9 p.m. EST, 6 p.m. PST:

We talk with Peter Dunlap about Obama's Renewal of our Liberal Identity.

How? Call 1 888 346 3950 code: 11978.  

8 Dec 2008 @ 16:54 by quinty : PC

Some of my Jewish leftist friends in the Bay Area think Rabbi Lerner is a pompous ass. But I like the guy and respect him for having had the courage to take on the Israel Right or Wrong Israel First crowd. Why do liberals tend to split up into splinter groups? For the same reason right-wingers accuse them of being weak and vacillating. They think. And people who think have a tendency to sometimes turn an issue over and go off in their own direction.

Among the left the ones who most irk me are the doctrinaire, purer than thou lock step PC types. (Let’s not forget the term “PC” was invented by a leftist to describe other leftists.) Alexander Cockburn sometimes comes off that way, and his objections to George Orwell have a Stalinist odor.

I am hoping Obama is attempting to sneak in a progressive agenda - which, after all, isn’t all that radical or progressive, since he is merely trying to save the environment and economy and inject some sanity and perhaps even decency (is that possible?) into our foreign policy through common sense methods - by redefining the so-called ideological differences between left and right. Ie, he is saying, “Look, this is common sense. This is something we have to do. Screw ideological arguments.”

So far, it appears to have worked. While bull headed stalwarts such as the Republican governor of Texas will never give an inch many Republicans have already climbed aboard. How long will that last?

For the past eight or ten years (since Lewinsky?) we have been living in an insane asylum. Now Obama is talking about bringing the arts into the White House: jazz, classical music, poetry readings.

Imagine that?  

12 Dec 2008 @ 21:28 by quinty : Obama’s “first” scandal
which is based on what?

That Obama and Blagojevich breath the same air? That they both live in Chicago?

First of all, it’s out of character for Obama to behave in the manner Blagojevich has behaved. If Obama is corrupt he would have more sense. He would be choosy about who he picked to be a coconspirator. He wouldn’t pick a clown, a guy so over the top a lot of people are wondering about his sanity.

But in consideration of the eagerness many Republicans have shown to jump onto Obama they naturally would never think of any of that. Nor do I suspect they have the inner stuff or class to discern this fundamental gulf between Blagojevich and Obama. After all, the prize for Obama in such an alliance would be miniscule compared to the one he truly wants, which is to be a great president.

So often the rightwing projects, you know? Believing everyone else behaves the way they do. And let’s not forget that ever since Nixon many have been seeking “payback.”

It’s all politics to them. “Bring my guy down in an ugly scandal then you better watch out. It’s tit for tat.” They tried to bring Clinton down and could do no better than entrap him into perjuring himself about his sex life.

What an accomplishment.

Let’s skip past Ronald Reagan and come up to present times. On how many counts of fraud, corruption, war crimes, cronyism, deceit and incompetence does George W. Bush deserve to be impeached? Perhaps hauled off to jail?

There is a possibility, you know, that if Bush ever leaves the country after leaving the White House he may be arrested and hauled off to the Hague. This is a prospect which already exists for Henry Kissinger and may very well loom ahead for some of Bush’s men: Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, others.

So with so much accrued guilt to live with the Republicans have to play ‘gotcha’ with Barack Obama. This is high stakes gambling, for even if there is the faintest possibility the Obama camp may somehow be mixed up in this Blagojevich scandal they have to play it for all it’s worth. The prize is simply too great: and some (are they projecting?) already call it Obama’s “first White House scandal.” How many more do they expect?

And much of the media is playing along too, perhaps to display how truly independent they are. After all, for five or six years now it has been non-stop coverage of the Bush follies. This avalanche of scandals, large and small, has gradually pinned an assumption of “bias” on the mainstream media. How better then to demonstrate their independence than fan the sparks of a possible Obama scandal? Even though Obama has nearly been totally exonerated by Fitzgerald and Blagojevich himself in his taped conversations. Though the latter, being crazy, may still say anything. Is the rightwing hopefully waiting on its toes?

Perhaps this cycle of “payback” is what Pelosi tried to break by not allowing impeachment proceedings to begin against Bush. I always thought it was a mistake to eliminate the Office of the Independent Counsel after Keneth Starr disgraced it: we certainly could have used that Counsel’s services over the past six or seven years.

Yes, it’s party time for the “gotcha” crowd. Where there’s smoke there’s hope: even if there is no real fire inside. Obama’s “first” scandal, indeed!  

14 Dec 2008 @ 12:10 by jazzolog : Yeah I Thought We Should Wait Awhile
before dismissing any connection at all...

No taint seen on Prez-elect, but Rahm Emanuel gave a wishlist for Senate
Sunday, December 14th 2008, 12:47 AM
White House Chief of Staff designate Rahm Emanuel attends a news conference in Chicago.

President-elect Barack Obama's right-hand man reportedly gave the disgraced Blagojevich administration a list of four women Obama considered acceptable to fill his U.S. Senate seat.

Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois congressman who will serve as Obama's White House chief of staff, was heard discussing the issue on court-approved wiretaps with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's chief of staff, the Chicago Tribune said.

The candidates "acceptable" to Obama on the list Emanuel provided included a trio of female Democrats: longtime Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, Illinois Veterans Affairs chief Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Chicago.

Emanuel later added a fourth Democratic woman, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, to the roster, the source told the Tribune.

Blagojevich and his former chief of staff, John Harris, face federal charges of trying to auction off Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder. Harris has resigned.

"The revelation does not suggest Obama's new gatekeeper was involved in any talk of deal-making involving the seat," the Tribune said.

Representatives of Obama's transition team did not respond to requests for comment about Emanuel's involvement Saturday. Obama has said no one on his team engaged in any deal-making in regard to his Senate seat.

Among others who have been publicly sucked into the scandal are U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois.

The longtime congressman and son of the well-known civil rights activist has denied that he authorized any intermediary to try to strike a crooked deal to get him Obama's seat.

A handful of protesters gathered outside Jackson's Chicago office Saturday.

Blagojevich has refused to answer specific media questions related to the scandal, in which federal authorities say he tried to parlay his power to choose Obama's successor into campaign cash and other perks for himself and his wife, Patti.

He says he has done nothing wrong.

A car belonging to the disgraced governor, who has given no sign that he is planning to quit despite escalating calls to do so, was seen outside the office of a well-known Chicago defense attorney Saturday.

The Illinois Legislature is moving to strip away Blagojevich's legal ability to choose a replacement for Obama, who resigned from the Senate after winning the presidency.

Other than his weekly video address, Obama spent much of the day out of the public eye Saturday, emerging only briefly for a workout at the gym.
With News Wire Services

Frank Rich is grateful we have at least one corrupt politician who may actually go behind bars. Wouldn't that be a novelty!  

14 Dec 2008 @ 17:19 by quinty : Rahm Emanuel

Schakowsky would be a good choice, and when the dust settles I hope she gets the Senate seat.

So far the trail to Obama is cold as cold can be. Nothing abnormal about his team making suggestions or discussing who should take his seat. Though some Republicans would have us think another major scandal is brewing.  

14 Dec 2008 @ 18:26 by Quinty @ : Frank Rich's
piece, as usual, is excellent.  

14 Dec 2008 @ 21:37 by vaxen : .

15 Dec 2008 @ 17:34 by quinty : Actually,
I never heard of Raimondo before.

I do remember the SWP office in the tiny mall just off the UC Berkeley campus. How whenever I passed by the guy sitting in shadows in there surrounded by literature would sullenly look out at me, and everyone else passing by, as the unenlightened benighted masses. Cultists tend to be that way. It is their glory and their cross.

But as we all know anyone can start a cult. Some are pretty funny. Some disastrous. But they can all fantasize enormities out of very, very little.  

18 Dec 2008 @ 19:32 by vaxen : .

19 Dec 2008 @ 06:16 by vaxen : .

19 Dec 2008 @ 10:24 by jazzolog : Did We Really Land On The Moon?
Vax continues to copy us his conspiracy paranoids, and I continue to reveal the sad pattern of his doctrine. So who are Devvy Kidd and Edwin Vieira? I sorta prefer the writing style of this California blogger who took on the dynamic redhead a couple years ago~~~

Devvy Kidd is one of a small group of wingnuts who believe things like there is no income tax, that the Federal Reserve is a private corporation, and that various Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were never really ratified. The fact that she’s published at WorldNetDaily should tell you all you need to know about her. Her esteemed colleagues Voxday and the Virgin Ben are neck and neck with her for biggest wingnut. The bloggers at Sadly, No! took aim at her current posting at WND, but I thought I’d do a little retrospective on her “work.”

In April, Devvy wrote:

"You cannot buy or own stock in the privately owned Federal Reserve. That privilege is reserved for the money interests, i.e., the Rockefellers, Rothschilds and other global elites….. Get the facts … because knowledge is power."

Oh, the irony. She’s clearly delusional. The U.S. Federal Reserve is an agency of the U.S. Government. The idea that it’s a private corporation owned by wealthy families reminds me of Stuart, the father character in So I Married An Axe Murderer:

"Listen, Sonny Jim, it’s a known fact
there’s a society of the five
wealthiest people in the world, called
the Pentaverate, who run everything
and meet three times a year at a
secret country mansion in Colorado,
known as 'The Meadows'."

Her claims are thoroughly debunked at Quatloos. Could somebody explain why she’s still being published?


Jesus Christ. I can’t believe how many unhinged wingnut batshit-crazy emails I’ve gotten over this post. Evidently, there’s a whole subculture of stupid people running around who think that there is a Pentaverate running the world. Carl, I deleted your comment because, really, it’s just a regurgitation of the same dumbass remarks made by other people who are just as deluded as you.

How many times do I have to explain this? I can’t use smaller words. Here’s another short discussion of the Fed from the Fed’s own website. (Note to Jovan, who asked why the Fed’s phone number wasn’t in the blue pages, which doesn’t mean anything… They have a .gov domain. Coincidence?)

"Who owns the Federal Reserve?
The Federal Reserve System is not 'owned' by anyone and is not a private, profit-making institution. Instead, it is an independent entity within the government, having both public purposes and private aspects.
As the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve derives its authority from the U.S. Congress. It is considered an independent central bank because its decisions do not have to be ratified by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branch of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by Congress, and the terms of the members of the Board of Governors span multiple presidential and congressional terms. However, the Federal Reserve is subject to oversight by Congress, which periodically reviews its activities and can alter its responsibilities by statute. Also, the Federal Reserve must work within the framework of the overall objectives of economic and financial policy established by the government. Therefore, the Federal Reserve can be more accurately described as 'independent within the government.'
The twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, which were established by Congress as the operating arms of the nation’s central banking system, are organized much like private corporations–possibly leading to some confusion about 'ownership.' For example, the Reserve Banks issue shares of stock to member banks. However, owning Reserve Bank stock is quite different from owning stock in a private company. The Reserve Banks are not operated for profit, and ownership of a certain amount of stock is, by law, a condition of membership in the System. The stock may not be sold, traded, or pledged as security for a loan; dividends are, by law, 6 percent per year."

OWNERSHIP OF STOCK IS A CONDITION OF MEMBERSHIP IN THE FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM. where hyperlinks to his sources are sprinkled throughout.

As for DR. Edwin Vieira, we'll turn to the Washington Post, also a couple years ago, for a view of him~~~

And the Verdict on Justice Kennedy Is: Guilty
By Dana Milbank
Saturday, April 9, 2005; Page A03

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is a fairly accomplished jurist, but he might want to get himself a good lawyer -- and perhaps a few more bodyguards.

Conservative leaders meeting in Washington yesterday for a discussion of "Remedies to Judicial Tyranny" decided that Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee, should be impeached, or worse.

Phyllis Schlafly, doyenne of American conservatism, said Kennedy's opinion forbidding capital punishment for juveniles "is a good ground of impeachment." To cheers and applause from those gathered at a downtown Marriott for a conference on "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith," Schlafly said that Kennedy had not met the "good behavior" requirement for office and that "Congress ought to talk about impeachment."

Next, Michael P. Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said Kennedy "should be the poster boy for impeachment" for citing international norms in his opinions. "If our congressmen and senators do not have the courage to impeach and remove from office Justice Kennedy, they ought to be impeached as well."

Not to be outdone, lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his "bottom line" for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem,' " Vieira said.

The full Stalin quote, for those who don't recognize it, is "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem." Presumably, Vieira had in mind something less extreme than Stalin did and was not actually advocating violence. But then, these are scary times for the judiciary. An anti-judge furor may help confirm President Bush's judicial nominees, but it also has the potential to turn ugly.

A judge in Atlanta and the husband and mother of a judge in Chicago were murdered in recent weeks. After federal courts spurned a request from Congress to revisit the Terri Schiavo case, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said that "the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior." Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) mused about how a perception that judges are making political decisions could lead people to "engage in violence."

"The people who have been speaking out on this, like Tom DeLay and Senator Cornyn, need to be backed up," Schlafly said to applause yesterday. One worker at the event wore a sticker declaring "Hooray for DeLay."

The conference was organized during the height of the Schiavo controversy by a new group, the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration. This was no collection of fringe characters. The two-day program listed two House members; aides to two senators; representatives from the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America; conservative activists Alan Keyes and Morton C. Blackwell; the lawyer for Terri Schiavo's parents; Alabama's "Ten Commandments" judge, Roy Moore; and DeLay, who canceled to attend the pope's funeral.

The Schlafly session's moderator, Richard Lessner of the American Conservative Union, opened the discussion by decrying a "radical secularist relativist judiciary." It turned more harsh from there.

Schlafly called for passage of a quartet of bills in Congress that would remove courts' power to review religious displays, the Pledge of Allegiance, same-sex marriage and the Boy Scouts. Her speech brought a subtle change in the argument against the courts from emphasizing "activist" judges -- it was, after all, inaction by federal judges that doomed Schiavo -- to "supremacist" judges. "The Constitution is not what the Supreme Court says it is," Schlafly asserted.

Former representative William Dannemeyer (R-Calif.) followed Schlafly, saying the country's "principal problem" is not Iraq or the federal budget but whether "we as a people acknowledge that God exists."

Farris then told the crowd he is "sick and tired of having to lobby people I helped get elected." A better-educated citizenry, he said, would know that "Medicare is a bad idea" and that "Social Security is a horrible idea when run by the government." Farris said he would block judicial power by abolishing the concept of binding judicial precedents, by allowing Congress to vacate court decisions, and by impeaching judges such as Kennedy, who seems to have replaced Justice David H. Souter as the target of conservative ire. "If about 40 of them get impeached, suddenly a lot of these guys would be retiring," he said.

Vieira, a constitutional lawyer who wrote "How to Dethrone the Imperial Judiciary," escalated the charges, saying a Politburo of "five people on the Supreme Court" has a "revolutionary agenda" rooted in foreign law and situational ethics. Vieira, his eyeglasses strapped to his head with black elastic, decried the "primordial illogic" of the courts.

Invoking Stalin, Vieira delivered the "no man, no problem" line twice for emphasis. "This is not a structural problem we have; this is a problem of personnel," he said. "We are in this mess because we have the wrong people as judges."

A court spokeswoman declined to comment.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

The sad Libertarians and rightie wingnuts cower alone in the caves they claim they rule by their grip on the nearest shotgun. Only their irrelevance thus far accounts for why the larger society hasn't yet just swept them away into the rubbish heap of other American crackpots.  

19 Dec 2008 @ 10:47 by ursula : It's the same old
same old, Jazz. Yes, we did land on the moon, yes income taxes are very real - and if you have a legitimate income, just try not paying them and not having a special designation by the IRS to not pay them, there is no evil Illuminati running the entire world for some secret agenda that the conspiracy theorists still can't seem to figure out, and oh yes - contrails are not evil and we're not all doomed because of them, and global warming is not due to humans. BUT (and that's a big BUT) fearful, powerless people need an enemy, so they will fabricate one so they don't have to take personal responsibility or do anything about anything (other than bitch about it).  

19 Dec 2008 @ 11:19 by vaxen : .

19 Dec 2008 @ 11:51 by martha : Good
".. I'm done with your charade." That is great vax. I hope you mean it and leave


As I mention above, at a Quinty comment, it appears Vax has stopped by to edit the record. Boo hoo, if we won't play his little game, he won't play at all.


19 Dec 2008 @ 15:54 by vaxen : .

19 Dec 2008 @ 16:13 by martha : Darn
I guess he isn't done! LOL
"Ah, all those millions of murdered Iraqis "
i had no idea millions of iraq's were killed in the recendnt conflict. Oh maybe he means over thousands of years. One gets onfused with all the stuff he babbles on about.  

19 Dec 2008 @ 17:07 by jazzolog : We Shouldn't Complain
Essentially NCN was created by very conservative people with a particular philosophy to celebrate. Those who became disaffected from the cult or sect are like many disenchanted: still hoping for the values but embittered by the clay feet of the leadership. Thus torn, they move to the deserts and caves to pull a raid or 2 on innocent caravans. About all that's left of NCN is the ticking technology and a few wild people. Mad Max could move in.  

19 Dec 2008 @ 17:28 by quinty : Mad Max
on that flying machine of his?

Now he knew how to fight! I can't wait for the games to begin. (As we used to say at the library at opening time.)  

19 Dec 2008 @ 17:39 by quinty : "Let the games begin,"
that is.

We had some very crazy people who would show up. The thing about a public library is that you can't throw the crazies out. We couldn't throw stinky people out too because they were protected by the law. Even if the smell was high enough to shame a limburger cheese.

On the one hand, we felt sorry for these people. After the Reagan revolution took hold the homeless in San Francisco had few places left to go. So the public library became their stomping ground and club. The head of security kept the weapons he took off some of these people, putting them up on a wall in his office. They were quite impressive. You never saw so many shanks, killing tools, murderous homemade pistols, knives, garrotes, clubs, razor blades and other dangerous paraphernalia in your life. His name was Gary Kong, a stout, muscular Chinese fellow. We called him King Kong. No more need be said.  

19 Dec 2008 @ 18:06 by jazzolog : That's What We Need Here
Maybe Gary Kong can be talked into joining this sad site. Wouldn't it be great to have him take all the killing tools off Vaxen Var? (We'd leave sweet darling Rolland Douglas alone of course.)  

19 Dec 2008 @ 18:31 by quinty : Unfortunately,
Gary was promoted several years ago to head of security at the De Young Museum. I suppose chasing art thieves was more appealing to him than disarming explosive crazies in the library. And he took his collection of weapons along with him. (There was this bench by the staff entrance to the library where “suspects” would be chained as they waited for the San Francisco police to come pick them up. And we would have to step over their legs and feet as we went in and out of the building.) But then maybe this site might present a challenge to Gary, that is if he’s tired of chasing art thieves through Golden Gate Park.  

19 Dec 2008 @ 19:26 by vaxen : .

19 Dec 2008 @ 20:12 by vaxen : .

19 Dec 2008 @ 22:02 by Quinty @ : So,
when the Chinese buy US bonds how do they pay? In Yuan or in Dollars? If it is in dollars then the bills don't merely come in off the printing presses.

A huge eight hundred billion dollar stimulus, properly targeted (forget Paulson), will prime the economy. This is smart, practical economics, devoid of ideology. Pure Keynes, who was proven right by World War Two through a practical application. This (and government programs) led to the boom of the fifties.

Greenspan didn't believe in regulation. He thought markets could regulate themselves. He recently apologized for that error.  

19 Dec 2008 @ 22:52 by vaxen : .

19 Dec 2008 @ 23:31 by Quinty @ : Well,
where your summary of the mechanics of deficit spending falls apart is - - -

where you run off on the spendthrift speculative practices of the past years in your final paragraph.

For a stimulus can be injected into the economy without engaging in corruption. I.e., done properly and competently the money wouldn't go to banks, ala Paulson, which don't even need it, but rather to sectors which will strengthen the economy. The "bundles" you speak of are only a part of today's problems: and reflect the deep corruption which brought us here. Through, yes, those who don't believe in regulation but have argued for laissez faire.  

20 Dec 2008 @ 12:45 by jazzolog : Worse
the banks just are sitting on the money, not a dollar of which is being disclosed to the taxpayer as to its whereabouts or for which what regulatory measures are in place to track it. Businesses still can't get loans. Regulation is the issue. The country voted in Reagan on the platform Government Is The Enemy, and it's been party-time for Wall Street ever since. And people like Ron Paul argued, especially in the last several years, even for less government. Left unbridled, we get what Jefferson warned about, as Vaxen points out, and Lincoln saw happening...and Eisenhower reported as a fait accompli. My opinion is bureaucracy is a pain (more because of its politically appointed managers than those people who have to work it) but I'd rather keep track of a bureaucracy than a corporation---which always can tell us they can't tell us. Trade secret, ya know. I'm sure this is what the banks are saying right now: client confidentiality.

PS An aside to Jolly Rolly: it's always a pleasure to learn from the links and information of your comments...even when I disagree with the content. I welcome diversity---which is a wonderful trait of the anti-fascist I think. My advice is just tell Paul and the rest of us about FOREX. If we don't know about it already, no need to imply a taunting of stupidity. If we do know about it, no harm done in repeating something obvious. The good thing about stupidity is one always can get smarter. The bad thing about fascism is one never gets smarter. The rigidity makes it impossible. The brainwashing that fascists find necessary to inflict spreads that rigidity. I worry, as a different kind of administration comes in (one that is proceeding with great caution in this regard I believe---that is, standing before a somewhat brainwashed electorate) that people, who are not welcoming with celebration, are on the brink of snapping. It's the taut wire that snaps. Very little to be done with fascists except throw them out (of clubs, businesses, websites), toss them in (jail, asylums, etc) or squash them like bugs.  

20 Dec 2008 @ 20:26 by vaxen : .

26 Dec 2008 @ 12:13 by jazzolog : The Shoes Are Off Both Feet  

26 Dec 2008 @ 17:27 by quinty : I watched, for awhile,
Bush's former head of "faith based" programs - a prof at U of Pennsylvania - on CSPAN last night.

He was somewhat critical of the Bush administration but at one point advised his fellow scholars not to make any undue early judgements of the Bush administration. That that would be intellectually dishonest and unworthy of true academic scholarship. That in future years Bush may turn out to be proven far better than he appears today.

So what are we supposed to do? Ignore everything that has happened over the past eight years? I admit my view of some past presidents has changed over time and that with more information about the Bush White House it may also change about him.

But if there is one reason, and one reason alone (among many) why we should comfortably condemn the Bush administration it can be found in the nature of the Bush team's current attempts to write Bush's legacy. If they had anything to be truly proud of they wouldn't still be lying, bending and twisting, in a childish manner, the most basic facts of what actually happened under his watch.  

26 Dec 2008 @ 18:38 by jazzolog : Bartender, Let's Have Another!  

10 Jan 2009 @ 12:56 by jazzolog : Obama Wins My Confidence At Last!
With all the stuff facing this man, he has gone out on a limb to take the biggest step any married man can take: he's invited his mother-in-law to live with them. Talk about a transparent administration!
Hey, look again: they ARE holding hands.
David Katz/Obama for America, via Reuters

The story's in this morning's NY Times. She's never left Chicago, so she may not do it.  

10 Jan 2009 @ 18:36 by vaxen : .

19 Jan 2009 @ 11:38 by jazzolog : Tomorrow, The Real Deal!
At Long Last, Ready for the Real Deal

By Maya Angelou
Sunday, January 18, 2009; B05

In September 2008, I was invited to introduce Michelle Obama at an event in Greensboro, N.C. I had met her fleetingly during the Democratic National Convention in Boston, but I had no real sense of her personality.

I telephoned Oprah Winfrey, aware that she knew the Obamas, and asked, "What is your take on Michelle Obama?"

Oprah answered promptly and with conviction, "She is the real deal."

I waited backstage in the Carolina Theatre wings. Mrs. Obama arrived, and we sat and talked for 45 minutes. We spoke about family, the economy, youth obesity, television, music, cooking and men. I was completely won over. She neither postured nor preened. I sensed no subterfuge in her conversation. She said what she thought and said it clearly, without bombast. When I was cued to go onto the stage, I shook hands with her warmly and went to the microphone. The theater was packed, and there was no standing room. I told the audience of some of Mrs. Obama's accomplishments, and then I told them of the conversation that I had had with Oprah. I ended my introduction by saying, "Now ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 'real deal.' "

The room exploded with the tumultuous sound of whistles and shouts, feet stamping and hands clapping. In the midst of all that explosive sound, Mrs. Obama took the time to thank me as she passed on her way to the microphone.

I stood in the wings, amazed and even perplexed. The welcoming roar did not lessen, and I looked back at the assemblage. Three-quarters of the audience were white women and white men; only about 20 percent were African American men and women. I am sure that I saw some Latino and Asian faces. The composition of the group staggered me. I sat reviewing Carolina history as it had been lived for the past five decades.

The original sit-ins, which became a part of the civil rights movement, took place in Greensboro in 1960. The Ku Klux Klan has been known to live in many parts of North Carolina. In 1979, the Klan was charged with fatally attacking a group they accused of spreading communist beliefs.

Sen. Jesse Helms appeared to rule the state of North Carolina from 1973 to 2003. He appeared to speak for all white Carolinians. Yet what I had just seen was Michelle Obama captivating an audience of white Carolinians who supported her husband. They were still shouting as I struggled to comprehend the event. The noise abated as Mrs. Obama stressed her husband's desire for fair play for all Americans. He had included whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans in his vision for our country. As Michelle Obama spoke, the assemblage showed its approval by applauding, standing and shouting out encouragement. "That's right, you say it," some called out, and a few even added, "You go, girl."

I went home quietly and sat alone, giving myself time to understand the optimism I'd seen on the faces of all the people in that theater.

Over the past five decades, our national spirit has ebbed, our self-confidence has waned. The presence of Barack Obama seems to return us to our national motto: "Yes, I can. I am an American."

In the 18th century, Alexander Pope wrote, in his poem "An Essay on Man":

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast:

Man never is, but always to be blest."

Many believe that this time, our nation has been blest.

Maya Angelou is a poet, author, playwright and civil rights activist.  

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