Thursday, March 20, 2008

Barack Obama: Rock Church, Rock

Chen-Lang approached Shih-Tou and asked: "What is the idea of Bodhidharma's coming from the West?""Ask the post over there," Shih-Tou said."I don't understand," said Chen-Lang."Neither do I," said Shih-Tou.Suddenly Chen-Lang saw the truth.
---Zen saying
There ain't no answer. There ain't gonna be any answer. There never has been an answer. There's the answer.
---Gertrude Stein
Let Him be only that He is and as He is, and make Him no otherwise. Seek no further in Him but subtlety of wit.
---The Cloud Of Unknowing
The photo shows the soundboard and interior of the Trinity United Church of Christ on the south side of Chicago. It appears at a blog entry by audio engineer Matt Satorius from last September. More about the church can be found at its website .
The response to Barack Obama's speech on Race In America has been all over the place. I thought the response would be almost as interesting and profound about us as the oration was about him. I needed some time to observe it and feel things settle inside my own being.
Nothing really confused me about the speech. I loved it. Some people know my own personal background with integration goes back to childhood---and I don't know why. My family didn't promote it particularly...and my mother discouraged relationships even with people who didn't have blue eyes, for Christ's sake! (I know some people from various races have blue eyes, but she didn't.) Once jazz entered my picture in the form of Benny Goodman's Sextet Session in 1947 or so, I knew integrated music was magnificent in every way---and represented democracy too.
I hadn't rushed right out to investigate Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons. I didn't need to. The man's name is Jeremiah, and I've read that book in the Bible. I grew into manhood hearing Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael. I lived on Chicago's South Side during the summer of 1961, and trained for Freedom Rides. I knew there were streets there that, if I crossed over and walked on the other side, I could encounter Black Muslims who might insist I get back where I "belong." I'm not shocked by black rage and understand where it comes from. I understand white rage too, and resentment from any group that senses preference granted to another. But I like integration better, and celebration of differences.
My own experience of Chicago clouded my impression of what Mr. Obama's church might be like. I pictured something old and dark and maybe run down. I had heard yesterday that many professional African-Americans are members, but I figured even if the congregation was upscale it still probably was a humble facility. This morning I finally visited the website. The joke's on me.
Americans know what black worship is like. Everybody's at least seen The Blues Brothers I hope. It's a jumpin' joyous business! A preacher in there is a jazz solo to me. The guy takes off and goes. If he honks on that tenor, falls down on his back, still blowin' with his feet kicking in the air, that's the way it's done sometimes. And if you're into that way of expression, you know white players and red players and yellow players all do it too. And when it's done, everybody's let off steam---and hopefully nobody got hurt.
So if Barack Obama didn't like what his pastor said sometimes, why didn't he leave and go to some other church? I know there are people who stomp out of a church because they don't like the minister. That's happening in the Episcopal church---except we're too refined for anybody to "stomp." Episcopalians just sort of fade away...taking their checkbooks with them. But most people don't change churches because of that. They don't go to as many services maybe and wait for the guy to retire, but the church tends to be more important than the momentary management.
No, all of this hints the same old swift-boating we've probably become too accustomed to. Swift-boating to me means slipping some distraction, as Obama called it, into a political discussion and hoping it stumbles up the opponent. Michelle Obama reminded her audience here in Athens that her husband is an experienced veteran of Chicago politics. You don't emerge from a struggle with that power structure unless you have some skills rising above some dirty fighting. It seems to be so far Barack Obama has fielded every wild pitch. And when he's at the plate, he knocks 'em out of the park. That happened Tuesday. Representative John Conyers told talk show host Ed Schultz that his staff considered it the greatest speech since I Have A Dream.
What follows is my own review of response you can access on the Internet. In Ohio, I tend to watch 3 of our papers. (I don't respect the Columbus Dispatch usually.) The Toledo Blade has supported Obama, and yesterday carried the straight Associated Press version of the story. The Cincinnati Enquirer surprised me yesterday with an in depth study of response in that city. The article's entitled Was Pastor Misunderstood, and interviews a black minister there about what it's like to get blowback from your congregation. There's also the interesting viewpoint of a student in Cincinnati at the moment, who's a lifelong member of Rev. Wright's church. Even the Cleveland Plain Dealer confided the positive elements of the Obama address. Columnist Kevin O'Brien yesterday gave I think a balanced view.
This morning's New York Times has done a terrific job of scouring the media and blogs for reaction. Of real significance is their notice at presstime that 1.6 million clicks have occured at YouTube's version of the Obama speech. They mention even the Fox foghorn, Bill O'Reilly, had to admit that race has been a problem for America. Of special interest in the article are interviews with clergy and university profs about reaction they're getting. The Times yesterday had a glowing editorial about the speech titled Mr. Obama's Profile In Courage. Maureen Dowd confessed some skepticism though. Nicholas Kristof has a column this morning about the whole dialogue this topic is creating.
Dan Balz gives us a fine analysis of the speech and Obama's future in this morning's Washington Post. The Los Angeles Times' Michael Meyers, a black columnist, titles his provocative column this morning Obama Blew It,0,4038350.story . The San Francisco Chronicle shares the view of an Asian-American columnist this morning.
Now I guess I'd better get myself to work and see what things are like there. Happy Spring!


Anonymous said...

Michael Meyers is executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition and a former assistant national director of the NAACP.

He also took a strong stance last year over the controversy about a hangman's noose left on a black professor's office door at Columbia University. His response link: "as a black American, I must dissent from the surge of racial histrionics and hysteria over the discovery of a hangman's noose at one of our campuses."

Mirror on America posted an entry about it: Michael Meyers Says Nooses Are No Big Deal

Michael Meyers probably feels that FOX News, ABC, MSNBC, CNN et all playing on a loop a collage of some of the most inflammatory segments of rev. Wright's sermons is no big deal either.

Who was it who said "What I will remember is not the words of my enemies, but the silence of my friends..."?

As Frank schaeffer put it link. "If the Clintons were authentic progressives, or even authentic patriots, or just ordinary decent Americans, or just members of the Democratic Party who wanted their party to win in November, they would have led a furious defense of Obama and his pastor by putting things in perspective. If the Clintons were decent people Obama would never have had to give a speech on being black and being a presidential candidate, let alone explain his pastor. The Clintons would have stepped up for him."

Michigan Republican chairman Saul Anuzis said last Monday that he usually get three or four emails a week bashing Obama, but that day he received more than 10 - all of them on Obama's minister.

Among the e-mails Anuzis received was a link to a mash-up video splicing together Wright's most extreme comments, Michelle Obama's statement, footage of Obama not putting his hand over his heart during the anthem at a political event and images of Malcolm X and the two black Olympians in 1968 who raised their fists in the "black power" salute set to the iconic rap song by Public Enemy "Fight the Power."

The video, titled "Is Obama Wright," is described as being produced by something called "NHaleMedia," apparently just a dummy Web site set up to produce anonymous and home-made videos.

In effect, the Clinton campaign has paved the road for the next step in this, and done essentially what many on the right, quivering even with the anonymity afforded by the online era, had hesitated over until now: thrust highly charged matters of patriotism and race from e-mail spam into the Main Stream Media.

Just as with John Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004, strategists view the Wright flap as deeply damaging to Obama because it strikes at the message, or set of principles, at the heart of his candidacy.

A line of attack, interestingly, that Michael Meyers is reinforcing in his column in the LA Times by lecturing Obama on his shortcomings in being the "forward-looking" and "visionary candidate" he said he was by delivering a speech which in Meyers's opinion, supposedly failed in "steering a perfect course away from the racial boxes of the past, to challenge racial labels and so-called black experiences."

Are you sure Michael Meyers's article was not written by the Clinton campaign?

Anyway, we are leaving interesting times indeed, when the decent response to the Wright-Obama smear end-up coming not from Democrats' quarters (whose silence has been deafening), but from Republicans like Mike Huckabee:

"[Y]ou can't hold the candidate responsible for everything that people around him may say or do," Huckabee says. "It's interesting to me that there are some people on the left who are having to be very uncomfortable with what ... Wright said, when they all were all over a Jerry Falwell, or anyone on the right who said things that they found very awkward and uncomfortable, years ago. Many times those were statements lifted out of the context of a larger sermon. Sermons, after all, are rarely written word for word by pastors like Rev. Wright, who are delivering them extemporaneously, and caught up in the emotion of the moment. There are things that sometimes get said, that if you put them on paper and looked at them in print, you'd say 'Well, I didn't mean to say it quite like that.'"

Later, Huckabee defended Wright's anger, too:

"As easy as it is for those of us who are white to look back and say 'That's a terrible statement!' ... I grew up in a very segregated South. And I think that you have to cut some slack -- and I'm gonna be probably the only conservative in America who's gonna say something like this, but I'm just tellin' you -- we've gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names..."

jazzolog said...

Thanks Anonymous for picking up some of my slack and giving us more info. There just is so much interesting stuff out there! Here's some more.

Comment continues in the major papers, but the most surprising to me arrives in this morning's Wall Street Journal. Wonkette describes Peggy Noonan as "Ronald Reagan’s favorite speechwriter," and goes on to say this about her: "We imagine Noonan lounging in $500 Bloomingdale pajamas on a rug made of endangered species, penning her elegant bullshit using, perhaps, a quill plucked from the still-warm skin of the last dodo bird." Others have noticed Ms. Noonan's recent disaffection with the Bushies, after years of promoting them at WSJ. Well, I say any of those people who want to repent and come over to the other side should be received with open and forgiving arms. Let's remember Arianna Huffington and not be so hard on them. Peggy Noonan's column today about Barack Obama shows a warm heart is in there and in bloom. She even mentions Faulkner!

I continue to focus on Ohio, because the extremes are so evident here...and we seem to be crucial to election results. I was curious as to why The Toledo Blade seemed hesitant to jump in more forcefully. Perhaps its editors took the time to think it over a bit more just as I did. But yesterday the editorial arrived, its title The Speech Of His Life, and it's excellent. The paper also did some digging around its black community for reaction, as The Cincinnati Enquirer had done the day before. Over in Akron, the editorial yesterday was lukewarm, but still positive. The most delightful comment though of any I've read showed up in Cleveland's Plain Dealer yesterday, and I'm going to share the whole thing~~~

Barack Obama did not go far enough in speech - Phillip Morris
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Phillip Morris
Plain Dealer Columnist

It was a great civil rights speech.

"Just the wrong presidential speech," I said to Beatrice, shortly after Sen. Barack Obama finished explaining his problematic spiritual adviser Tuesday afternoon.

"Obama seems to have tripped onto the wrong side of his hyphen for the first time. He sounded like a defensive African-American trying to simultaneously explain and denounce racism. Not the heralded All-American unifier, who transcends race."

"What are you talking about?" Beatrice practically yelled into the phone.

She used that old, Southern black woman voice she adopts whenever she pulls rank. It's the voice designed to inform that she knows more about the nefarious ways of white folks than I do.

It's the voice within a voice that says: "Young man, you write about lynchings. I've witnessed them. Watch what you say."

"Well, I thought he gave a powerful speech. But it didn't go far enough," I said, choosing my words a bit more carefully.

I didn't want Beatrice to start cussing. People sometimes mistake her sunny disposition for passiveness. Sometimes they get cussed out.

"I thought he sounded like a black man trying to explain the racist rants of his former pastor. That was good. He highlighted some continuing racial challenges.

"But he did not sound like a morally outraged American incensed by his spiritual adviser's apparent hatred for America. He didn't convincingly sound like a man who knows how to put a nation ahead of a really close friendship.

"He didn't create clear separation from Rev. Jeremiah Wright."

"You're not making any sense. He said the man was wrong. He said he rejected the language the reverend used," Beatrice hissed. "What did you want: A crucifixion? Did you want him to pledge never to speak to him again?

"I hope you never have to defend our friendship. You're about to make me mad, you Republican."

Beatrice is 75. She knows me well. She picks my daughter up from school and holds her until we get off work. She has done it for years.

She calls me a Republican whenever she's trying to throw me off stride. Sometimes I make believe it works. Not this time.

"I just think Obama missed a unique commander-in-chief opportunity. He squarely addressed his minister's racism. That was a no-brainer. But he didn't strongly address his anti-patriotism. You can't explain that away when you're one of three vying to become president. Assaults on the flag should be met with brass knuckles, not Harvard debate team soliloquies.

"Yes, the clergyman led Obama to Jesus. But when the same clergyman used his pulpit to say, 'God damn America,' Obama had the obligation to send him back to Jesus.

"He had to throw him under the bus."

"You're wrong. And you must not have good friends," Beatrice said with a tone that signaled the conversation was over.

"I respect Obama even more for sticking with his minister. He's loyal."

"Or maybe he's just keeping his enemies closer," I said into the dial tone, as Beatrice went to pick up my 9-year-old, who has recently taken to identifying herself as Mrs. Obama.

To reach Phillip Morris:, 216-999-5086
Previous columns online:
© 2008 The Plain Dealer

Anonymous said...

Speaking of patriotism, MSNBC reports that at a small VFW hall in Charlotte, NC, today, former president Bill Clinton contemplated a McCain/Clinton general election matchup, and said: "I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country" without "all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics."

I am confused... Is Bill Clinton suggesting perhaps that Barack Obama loves his country any less than Hillary Clinton or John McCain does?

Anonymous said...

But wait, I see that MSNBC has an update:

Apparently Bill Clinton spokesperson Matt McKenna clarified the former president's comment saying that "President Clinton was talking about the need to talk about issues, rather than falsely questioning any candidate's patriotism."

What a relief!

jazzolog said...

Uh...not so fast, Anonymous. Bill may have been having a flashback. Read on...

When this particular shrub in the Bush Dynasty started his campaign for more "security" (read that spying, since "intelligence" seems the entirely wrong word) for American citizens, we all still were shaking in our boots from 9/11. Here's a guy who's sworn allegiance, first of all, to the Government Is The Enemy group, but I guess nobody thought what follows are no-bid contracts for contributor friends at taxpayer expense. So the phone company turns over our calls to the CIA and our banks track our transactions for the FBI. Well, didn't we know anybody can find out anything about anybody anyway? Since the various UnAmerican Activities Committees, haven't we gotten used to the idea that Freedom means if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear? Just tell us what we want to know, and confess to what we've found out.

Then Shrub's group tells us we all have to get passports. Those of us from around Niagara Falls grew up skipping over to Canada and back just to see the view from over there. It was great. No more. Canadian immigration still smile at how uptight we are now when we go in, and at the lines of cars as we go out waiting an hour for the Army to rifle through everybody's possessions. Did anybody think the private contractors would get hired to process all those passport apps too?

Dana requested one of those free credit reports recently. I don't know why. I figure they're just one more phishing expedition. But she did, and she showed it to me. A dozen pages---and this is just for her! It goes back 20 years! We used to play around with credit cards back then. One day we were shopping at a mall and it started to rain. Some store was giving away umbrellas if you applied for its credit card. We didn't want to get wet going through the parking lot, so she signed up. Never used the card, but the transaction is on the report. Of most interest to me was the list of "authorized" companies who have accessed her report over the years. You wonder who gives out your name to all those credit card and insurance companies? The people who do that are the same people who are pocketing millions processing your passport application.

I used to work for the Social Security Administration 10 or 15 years ago. There was such a thing as an Alpha Query. You were supposed to get management authorization to do one, but there was no block on your computer if you tried it. What it did was find a person's social security number. If you had a couple pieces of authentic information about a person, the number would come up. Once you retrieved that number, you could find out anything. The police would call us up trying to get an SSN on somebody, but we weren't supposed to cooperate even with them. That was then.

Since that time, I never give out my number unless absolutely necessary---but I really haven't been careful enough. And I haven't protested enough to businesses that try to get it. Hollywood Video wanted it just to rent movies. I wouldn't do it and so I don't go there. I did advise the manager to protest this procedure.

So who are these companies that are looking into passport information, and why am I sounding my most major alarm about it? Most of the news sources telling us the story of security breaches into the passport files of our Presidential candidates remind us of a similar incident against Bill Clinton in 1992, by then-President George HW Bush. Remember him? The CIA millionaire dude we wanted to follow Reagan? Before we take even one more step I urge you, I insist that you review the incident in detail. The various Bush schemes happen to be the specialty of Robert Parry, and he takes us through it in revelatory fashion at ConsortiumNews. If you remember the '92 campaign, get ready to have some memories revived...and explained for you.

Now the stage is set to look at this situation. Every newspaper and news source is leading off with it today. If you need one, the Associated Press version seems pretty complete. You notice the private corporations we're paying to do this "security" work are Stanley Associates and The Analysis Corporation (abbreviated as TAC), both snuggled next to Washington, in Virginia.

Stanley's assets have doubled since they took on the passport work, the latest contract costing us 570 million dollars. MSN Money ("powered by Hoover's," a DGB company) describes Stanley's like this: "Stanley isn't afraid of big government. The company provides IT services -- including consulting, systems integration, logistics, outsourcing, and engineering -- primarily to military and civilian agencies of the US government. Its clients have included the Library of Congress, the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Department of State, NASA, and the Smithsonian Institution. Stanley was started as a consulting firm in 1966 by Admiral Emory Stanley."

TAC seems a little more tacky. CEO John Brennan tells us what they do: "For the past 16 years, The Analysis Corporation (TAC) has provided invaluable service to the U.S. Government's national security effort. Increasingly, and especially since 9/11, TAC has made its most important contribution in the counterterrorism (CT) realm, supporting national watchlisting activities as well as other CT intelligence and analytic efforts. Led by the former head of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and staffed by other former senior officials from the Intelligence Community, TAC is at the forefront of the fight to safeguard U.S. national interests.
"With depth and breadth of experience in the counterterrorism field, and through the integration of technology and analysis, TAC is able to provide the Government with technology, expertise, and intelligence support that enables CT activities and information sharing and advances the CT mission."

Specialists in watchlisting. Isn't that a field you want to encourage your son and daughter to get into? Watchlisting.

Look, here's what I can do with even that basic information in a file. I don't have to find out how many times Barack Obama has visited suspicious foreign destinations, if he ever did. I can take his numbers and I can apply for a credit card with them. With that credit card I can open accounts anywhere. I could open one at the equivalent of the Emperors Club...and then...and then... Oh let's just say I'm one of those fun-loving dirty tricksters: I could leak to the press that Barack Obama has that account. It should take up a little time in this important campaign.

Hey Condee! How about the names of those little subcontractors please.

jazzolog said...

Bush's War, Ferlinghetti, Moyers & Obama: how's that for an Easter basket of weekend goodies! There isn't much of a way to tie together these topics except that the day is dawning and here's what bobbed through the ice to the surface.

It's Lawrence Ferlinghetti's birthday and Garrison Keillor today not only gives us a beautiful example of his poetry called "The Changing Light," but also a portrait of Ferlinghetti's particularly fascinating life. I didn't know all these things about the poet's background~~~

In its own way, I suppose Barack Obama's life has been as varied and complicated as was Ferlinghetti's...but hopefully without so much potential heartbreak. Somehow the candidate's speech last week didn't seem to clear up, for the media anyway, the problems some people claim exist because of his association with his minister. I'd hate to think our media just likes to create troublesome headlines to sell newspapers, but "firestorm" continues to be a descriptive term as articles and comment prevailed over the weekend. A nice picture of folks going to services at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ yesterday will greet you at the Los Angeles Times website this morning. Staff writer Peter Wallsten has put together an article about Barack Obama's life, including interviews with a couple of radical friends from his high school days in Hawaii and organizing experiences in Chicago after college. It seems to be one of the more sensible pieces about him these days~~~,1,2482671,full.story

I've been reading the May 3-17, 2007, 40th Anniversary issue of Rolling Stone lately. It's the one that had a couple dozen interviews with various influential culture heroes who developed through those years. Bill Moyers was one of them, and his interview was conducted by Deputy Managing Editor Eric Gates. The interview caught fire briefly last year, because he was critical of Fox News in it and mentioned Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly, being the perfect gentleman he is, sent one of his people and a cameraman to accost Moyers on a city street and take him to task for it. What caught my attention though was his answer to Gates' question almost a year ago as to who might be "a key figure in the time ahead"~~~

"I wish I were wise enough to answer that question. Who would have thought that an obscure black preacher from Montgomery, Alabama, would become Martin Luther King? I believe that elites have to let go. Hillary Clinton would make a good president, but the same old crowd would come back with her. But when I look at Barack Obama, I think about John F. Kennedy, who leaped over Hubert Humphrey's generation to bring in fresh voices and fresh ideas. I keep thinking we need to let that happen again. People say, 'Obama is so inexperienced.' No, he's as experienced as Lincoln was when Lincoln went to the White House. Lincoln had two years in Congress and eight years in the state legislature. Obama represents a generational metaphor: He opens new gates so that younger people can feel that there's opportunity for them, that they can come in with him and create new possibilities. That's what's important."

Now a program note. PBS is resuming regular programming this week, and bashing in with a 4-hour Frontline documentary they've titled "Bush's War." Airing tonight and tomorrow, it may be a keeper!

Possibly along the same lines, yesterday's Washington Post carried a preview of a new book set for publication next month by Heraldo Munoz, Chile's ambassador to the United Nations. The book's title will be "A Solitary War: A Diplomat's Chronicle Of The Iraq War And Its Lessons." Hmmmm. What it chronicles, it turns out, is how the Bush Administration twisted ally arms to join the crusade in the weeks before we invaded~~~

Anonymous said...

What does "putting a sheet over one's head" mean?

Anonymous said...

I found that here (Another Bill Clinton Moment On The Campaign Trail) in a comment by G24:

"America's 'first black president' just put a sheet over his head," my father shouted from upstairs.

He was referring to Bill Clinton discussing a race between his wife and McCain in North Carolina Friday, in which he said that he thinks it would be great "if we had an election between two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interests of the country" so that people could focus on "who is right on the issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics."

"I just lost all respect I had for him," my dad finished. My father is exactly the demographic the Clintons are looking to appeal to with this characterization of Obama. And he saw straight through it.

Is this where the democratic party stands now? Is this what happens to a black candidate running for president, regardless of his resume, statesmanship, or ability to run a strong campaign?

The picture Bill Clinton was trying to paint of Barack Obama is of an angry black man. A candidate who is weak on the issues, hoping to lean on race instead. A candidate whose interests are furthering the black agenda first, with no loyalty to this country as a whole.

He knows there are deeply rooted fears of this running throughout the white working class community. He was attempting to play on these fears and further cement in the minds of those that are newly wary of Obama in wake of the Reverend Wright controversy the picture of Barack as an unpatriotic black man, disloyal to his country and unconcerned with white voters.

This is especially insidious when you look at how Mr. Obama found himself in such a position that he needed to address the issue of race in the first place, which was no doubt what Bill Clinton was refering to as "this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics."

Senator Obama did not enter this campaign raising the issue of race or even indulging the attempts of others to make it an issue. It continued to rear it's ugly head, not as much amongst the voters, as we all might have thought; but amongst politicians, campaign aids and the talking heads of the media. It has been an issue that he has tried to down play as the kind of silly distraction that discourages voters and detracts from the issues.

It has been clear to those closely watching this contest the pains Sen. Obama has taken in order not to play the race card.

He has brushed off Geraldine Ferraro's statements as a simple gaffe. He denied the idea that Clinton played with racial undertones in television ads, while even white male news anchors were convinced they were racist. He graciously accepted Hillary's claim that her camp had nothing to do with the photo depicting Obama in native African garb released to the Drudge Report, despite the fact that Matt Drudge himself states that Clinton's campaign gave him the picture.

This has all been in spite of the subtle and plausibly deniable though consistently present tones of race that lace Sen. Clinton's campaign.

Sen. Clinton has made intentionally curious statements about Sen. Obama not being a Muslim.... that she knows of. She has played television ads reminiscent of D.W. Griffith"s "Birth of a Nation," attempting to evoke fear in white voters of black men lurking in bushes and invading their homes. Her husband has compared the Senator to Jessie Jackson, then after apologizing for the comment, one of her top aids repeated the comparison. It has even been noted that in television ads she aired in which she includes clips from a debate, Sen. Obama's skin tone is significantly darker than in footage from all three of the major networks.

And when the issue of race had been pushed to the point that Sen. Obama had no choice but to give a speech addressing the issue, Bill Clinton pounced.

What does it say when racism is allowed to operate this pervasively as long as it is done with a degree of subtly? What chance does a black or minority candidate have when they are hounded and harassed by the issue of race until it becomes politically necessary to respond to it, only to be condemned for doing so? What about the media who crucified him for his ties to the black church, while leaving the association of both white candidates to religious figures with racist, offensive and anti-American views almost completely untouched? And what of our democratic party that this has been it's treatment of it's first truly viable black presidential candidate?

What does it say that the republican's treatment of the candidate has been markedly less offensive and more respectful?

This tactic on behalf of the Clinton campaign is brilliant, deliberate - and morally reprehensible. It will win them some votes. It will lose them others. But the mark left on the democratic party will run deep. A wound deeper and more difficult to repair than the damage inflicted by such a long primary, the debate over re-votes in Michigan and Florida, or the idea of 796 Super Delegates deciding the nominee. A wound carried not just by black voters, but democrats of all demographics, like my father.

Our country began to see itself in post-racial terms when a black man was able to appeal to over 50% of voters in polls between himself, a former first lady and a well respected war hero. To come crashing down to the reality that not even in our progressive democratic party will an exceptional minority candidate be allowed the same chances as a white candidate will be devastating. It will hurt and disenfranchise more deeply than what can be repaired with the simple passage of time or a new election in four years.

I still hope, but I am afraid that the only 'black president' that our media and political system are willing to accept at this time is a white man, who plays the saxophone and "just put a sheet over his head."

jazzolog said...

Maybe it means Bill Clinton has graduated from having his sex in a closet to actually getting in a bed where he can put the sheet over his head when something she does scares him. I heard Carville called Richardson "Judas" for endorsing Obama. These people are coming apart at the seams.

Chris Rock, in the new Rolling Stone, says, "Gimme anything but another white man, PLEASE! Black man, white woman, giraffe, anything!" I think even if I were black I wouldn't dare say the stuff he says. Of Barack Obama, who he supports, he says, "Man has two black names---you wonder, does he have a spear?"

Anonymous said...

"Barack Obama — he's a black man with two black names! Barack. Obama. He doesn't let his blackness sneak up on you. As soon as you hear Barack Obama you wonder, 'Does he have a spear?' . . . He's so cool, too, man. I don't think he realizes he's a black candidate!"
---Chris Rock

Well, if Obama didn't before, I bet he sure does, now.


I'll leave the last word on this to Chris Rock: "When you're the only black guy doing something, people expect you to take it up a notch. If you're the only black playing basketball with a bunch of white guys — they expect you to dunk!"

Meanwhile, we've also got Michael Moore's benediction Urbi et Orbi, in which he comments on how the Founding Fathers "believed it would be arrogant on their part to assume that God would single out America for a blessing," and on "what a long road we have traveled since then."

Michael Moore also took note---like jazzolog did---that Frontline on PBS this week has a documentary called "Bush's War":

"That's what I've been calling it for a long time. It's not the "Iraq War." Iraq did nothing. Iraq didn't plan 9/11. It didn't have weapons of mass destruction. It DID have movie theaters and bars and women wearing what they wanted and a significant Christian population and one of the few Arab capitals with an open synagogue.

But that's all gone now. Show a movie and you'll be shot in the head. Over a hundred women have been randomly executed for not wearing a scarf. I'm happy, as a blessed American, that I had a hand in all this. I just paid my taxes, so that means I helped to pay for this freedom we've brought to Baghdad. So? Will God bless me?

God bless all of you in this Easter Week as we begin the 6th year of Bush's War.

God help America. Please."

Amen to that!

Anonymous said...

In Proverbs 6:16 – 19, it is stated that "These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:" (quotes from "King James Version (KJV)" translation of the Bible). These are:

- A proud look,
- a lying tongue,
- and hands that shed innocent blood,
- A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,
- feet that be swift in running to mischief,
- A false witness that speaketh lies,
- and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Anonymous said...

In almost every list pride (or hubris or vanity) is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and indeed the ultimate source from which the others arise. Dante's definition was "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor."

Anonymous said...

Anne Duclos asks, "Are you proud to be an American?... It is a simple question......can you answer it with a yes or no, or does your answer include a "but" at the end? Do you still stand proud every time you see the American flag? Have you ever? These are questions that are easy to ask yourself, but may not be so easy for some to answer honestly."

U.S. President Ronald Reagan said: "I know I speak for all Americans in saying the radio editorial Gordon wrote in 1973 praising the accomplishments of the United States was a wonderful inspiration. It was not only critics abroad who forgot this nation's many great achievements, but even critics here at home. Gordon Sinclair reminded us to take pride in our nation's fundamental values"

In Anne Duclos's opinion, "If you have never heard "The Americans", you have indeed missed one of the best tributes to America from a non American ever written or that will ever BE written."

Anne Duclos feels very strongly about that.

She believes that "it stands true to this day," and that "a different war splits the American people, a different decade, in fact, a different century and it goes to show that history repeats itself."

This is the text:

Gordon Sinclair
Radio Station CFBR 1010
Broadcast June 5, 1973
CFRB, Toronto, Ontario
Topic: "The Americans"

The United States dollar took another pounding on German, French and British exchanges this morning, hitting the lowest point ever known in West Germany. It has declined there by 41% since 1971 and this Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least-appreciated people in all the world.

As long as sixty years ago, when I first started to read newspapers, I read of floods on the Yellow River and the Yangtse. Who rushed in with men and money to help? The Americans did. Thats who.

They have helped control floods on the Nile, the Amazon, the Ganges and the Niger. Today, the rich bottom land of the Misssissippi is under water and no foreign land has sent a dollar to help. Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy, were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of those countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.

When the franc was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. And I was there. I saw that.

When distant cities are hit by earthquakes, it is the United States that hurries into help... Managua Nicaragua is one of the most recent examples. So far this spring, 59 American communities have been flattened by tornadoes. Nobody has helped.

The Marshall Plan .. the Truman Policy .. all pumped billions upon billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now, newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent war-mongering Americans.

Now,I'd like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplanes.

Come on now... you, let's hear it! Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tristar or the Douglas 10? If so, why don't they fly them? Why do all international lines except Russia fly American planes? Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or a women on the moon?

You talk about Japanese technocracy and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy and you find men on the moon, not once, but several times ... and safely home again. You talk about scandals and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even the draft dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are right here on our streets in Toronto, most of them ... unless they are breaking Canadian laws .. are getting American dollars from Ma and Pa at home to spend up here.

When the Americans get out of this bind ... as they will... who could blame them if they said 'the hell with the rest of the world'. Let someone else buy the bonds, Let someone else build or repair foreign dams or design foreign buildings that won't shake apart in earthquakes.

When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both of them are still broke. I can name to you 5,000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble.

Can you name to me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don't think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.

Our neighbours have faced it alone and I am one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their noses at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles.

I hope Canada is not one of these. But there are many smug, self-righteous Canadians. And finally, the American Red Cross was told at its 48th Annual meeting in New Orleans this morning that it was broke.

This year's disasters .. with the year less than half-over… has taken it all and nobody...but nobody... has helped.

Anne Duclos wonders: "Why does it seem that it took a man from a different country to understand how great America is?"

Anne Duclos admonishes: "If you are one of those people he speaks about, SHAME ON YOU.... if you are sitting there after reading and/or hearing his words going "RIGHT ON"... nice to meet you friend isn't it great to be an American?"

And she leaves us with with one more of her favorites:

America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.

America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Anonymous said...

Correction: the author of the post is not Anne Duclos but Susan Duclos (sorry about that.)

Susan Duclos blogs on Wake Up America where "Opinions are welcome but Bush Bashing and anonymous posts are not tolerated."

A prevalent feeling amongst Wake Up America's contributors and visitors is that we lost our ways (our American and patriotic values) when we lost prayer in school and when we stopped saying "Merry Christmas" and started saying "Happy Holidays" instead. They argue that we lost it when we lost our resolve, as a nation, to win, that this happened sometime between Korea and Vietnam, "when we stopped listening to our own selves for leadership and started paying credence to the UN."

Wake Up America doesn't care much for the UN.

Most members feel that "we need to shed ourselves of the UN," that "they've done nothing but muck the world up. And us along with them in the process."

Anonymous said...

On the other side of the coin (e.g., the silver eagle dollar with the Eagle on one side and Walking Liberty on the obverse will do (but if you don't have one, I am sure that any coin of any currency will be just as fine, because this is not just about America, is it? Methinks that what we are talking about here is "human nature") there are those who believe that the day we lost our ways was the day we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

"It wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."
---Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander Allied Forces Europe, and later President of The United States.

Science for Peace (SfP) feels ( very strongly about this [link]:

When the atomic bomb was dropped, President Truman said that it was to make Japan surrender without losing large numbers of American lives in an invasion. This has long been the accepted truth. The release of documents and diaries now shows this story is false. In the months before the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Truman and his senior staff did not believe that it was necessary to drop the bomb to end the war with Japan. They believed that Japan could be brought to surrender without an invasion. Japan was militarily isolated and had no allies. They believed that bombing, blockade, and the entry of the Soviet Union into the war against Japan, would together force Japanese leaders to seek surrender on American terms. Most important, from diplomatic contacts and decoded Japanese wireless transmissions, they knew that the Japanese were seeking surrender. They believed that if they allowed the Japanese to retain the Emperor, as they later agreed to, the Japanese would accept American terms of surrender.

Why then was the bomb dropped? Historical research shows that Truman and his advisors believed that a demonstration of their willingness to use the bomb would aid them in negotiating with Stalin over the future of Eastern and Central Europe.

Other reasons, allegedly, such as a racist disregard for Japanese life, have also been suggested.

In SfP's opinion, "these facts are shocking," and "show that the post-war economic and technological order founded by America and its Allies started with an act of injustice to rival, in nature if not in scale, those of Stalin or Hitler," and "call into question the moral basis of our society."

SfP claims that "fifty years of brazen lying, misinformation, distortion, indirection, and partial or delayed release of documents by the Allied governments has suppressed these facts."

Are they part of the Trinity United Church of Christ’s congregation, you think?

Nah! Science for Peace is a charitable Canadian-based organization of natural scientists, engineers, social scientists, scholars in the humanities and lay people throughout the world. It brings together professors, graduate students and first degree students who are concerned about peace, justice and making an environmentally sustainable future. SfP has NGO status at the United Nations.

”It is time to set a higher value on our dreams than the war makers (economic or military) do. It is time to assert our collective capacity to transform our lives and our society. It is time to take responsibility for changing our situation through collective action… Peace means much more than the absence of war. It cannot exist without justice, nor can it be sustained in a deteriorating environment."

That statement was made on the occasion of an exhibition about Hiroshima and Nagasaki at Bethune College, York University on November 7 to 17, 1995.

Think the world has changed much in 12 years?

jazzolog said...

The world has changed plenty is the last 12 years! I'm looking for ways it has become better. Thanks Anonymous for these great comments. This week, Spring Break for us, is turning out to be very busy!

From that same May 2007 issue of Rolling Stone I mentioned Monday, here's George McGovern's answer to the same question put to Bill Moyers: Do you see anybody on the horizon who might be able to lead us into the future?

"Barack Obama. He's got a moral base that's quite clear---that seems, to me, genuine. He's a master at presenting constructive liberal ideas in a way that sounds quite reasonable to most people. I like Hillary, who worked hard for me in '72, but I can't abide her inability to say she was wrong about Iraq. The whole country knows it. Seventy percent of the country knows that the war is a disaster. Why is it so hard for her to say, 'Well, I walked down that trail once to give it a chance, but I realize now it's a disaster and I'm for getting out as soon as we reasonably can'? She's imitating the worst trait of men---belligerency and waving the flag---to make herself look tougher: 'I may be a woman, but let somebody cross me and they're going to get it in the teeth.'"

Quinty said...

“Wake up America” espouses commonplace rightwing boilerplate. And judging from Anonymous’s presentation they would be a good place to go for the mainstream right’s view of things.

I also profoundly agree with Anonymous presentation on Hillary’s failure to back Obama on the Reverend Wright matter. In a way, this incident demonstrates how racism has become institutionalized here in America., to the point that it is no longer even seen by white America. Expressions of black anger are regarded as disloyalty and reverse racism. If there were more understanding among white people there would have been more tolerance for the Reverend Wright’s words. And Hillary, wife of the first “black president,” could have surely helped in that regard.

The “swift boat” types will certainly go after Obama’s “loyalty;” his strangeness, his darkness, his odd “un-American” name. Will this sort of thing work this time? It always has in the past.

Whenever I consider use of the bomb in 1945 I try to go back to those times and see the world as most Americans did. And had I been the president of the United States then I probably would have used the bomb too on Japan.

The bomb hadn’t become the “bomb” yet. In 1945 it was a super weapon, one which cost billions of dollars to produce. The United States had been in a race to produce it, too, beating out the Axis: knowing had they developed it first they would have used it on us. They weren’t about to neglect or “squander” such a powerful weapon.

Suggesting that continued conventional bombing of Japan would have somehow been more humane is absurd. Especially when you consider that the fire bombing of Tokyo was more destructive than either the Hiroshima or Nagasaki atomic bombings. And that more people died in Tokyo than in Hiroshima.

The bomb was used, I think, before the world had fully grasped what it had: before the new age. Certainly there were scientists, such as Oppenheimer, who clearly understood what they had brought to the world. But to the politicians and military, at the time, it was simply a super weapon. One which could quickly end the war. I buy that argument. I think that is the way I would have thought at the time. And if it also had some other benefits, such as putting off Stalin, I would have seen that as all for the good.

As for the readiness of the Japanese to surrender, historians must differ, for I have often read that powerful Japanese military leaders still insisted on fighting to the end. That it was the bomb which finally broke their will. Certainly, it can't be denied, the Japanese were preparing for a mainland invasion.

Were the Americans racist? Certainly the interment demonstrated a degree of racism. And a basic lack of concern for Japanese lives must have played in the decision to use the bomb. But a far greater influence must have resulted from knowing the Japanese as opponents in war. The “Japs” fought furiously. They were extremely cruel to their enemies. I think the hatred stoked up by fierce and difficult combat and a desire to quickly end the war had more of an influence than any form of racial prejudice, which, indeed, must have been there. Look at the way the US treated blacks?

The war with Japan was extremely cruel and difficult. Both sides hated the other. Putting myself in their place in 1945 I can’t see not using such a poweful weapon at that time, before the bomb became “the bomb”

Today, of course, using any atomic weapon is totally unthinkable. (Except, perhaps, for Donald Rumsfeld? George Bush? Hillary Clinton??? John McCain???? Barack Obama????????)

Anonymous said...

"Let me say only this much to the moral issue involved: Suppose Germany had developed two bombs before we had any bombs. And suppose Germany had dropped one bomb, say, on Rochester and the other on Buffalo, and then having run out of bombs she would have lost the war. Can anyone doubt that we would then have defined the dropping of atomic bombs on cities as a war crime, and that we would have sentenced the Germans who were guilty of this crime to death at Nuremberg and hanged them?"
---Leo Szilard, 1960

Anonymous said...

"The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace. The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military point of view, in the defeat of Japan."
---Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet

"The use of [the atomic bombs] at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender."
---Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to President Truman

Anonymous said...

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) is an association of 35 Christian faith groups in the United States with 100,000 local congregations and 45,000,000 adherents. It is comprised, amongst others, of Mainline Protestant AND Orthodox Christians.

A 1946 report by the NCC entitled "Atomic Warfare and the Christian Faith," includes the following passage:

"As American Christians, we are deeply penitent for the irresponsible use already made of the atomic bomb. We are agreed that, whatever be one's judgment of the war in principle, the surprise bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are morally indefensible."

Anonymous said...

Is the use of atomic weapon totally unthinkable today?

That's a good question.

Are war still raging in the world in this day and age, and why, would be an ever better question, but this is another topic.

"I don’t believe that any president should make any blanket statements with respect to the use or non-use of nuclear weapons."
---Hillary Clinton (Aug. 6, 2007: the 62nd annual observance of the Hiroshima massacre.)

Hillary Clinton was essentially scolding Barack Obama for stating ( when asked if he would use nuclear weapons to go after terrorists in Afghanistan or Pakistan) that he would not drop nuclear weapons .....on civilians:

"I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance...involving civilians."

Kennette Benedict, of The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists, of Chicago, said:

"I think if he [Obama] would stick to that position it would be a great step forward.
We would have, like other countries such as China and the Soviet Union before the breakup, a policy that renounces first use of nuclear weapons."

Benedict also noted that "the U.S. has never had an explicit no first-use policy" and that "it was made explicit under the Bush administration that we would use nuclear weapons first even if not attacked with nuclear weapons."

Anonymous said...

I guess one could just look at it in terms of deterrence.

Which brings us to India and Pakistan:

India violated its peaceful use pledges by using U.S. American and Canadian nuclear aid to conduct its 1974 nuclear bomb test. President Bush compounded the nuke sell-out by agreeing to deal F-16 fighter jets to both India and Pakistan. The F-16 is capable of carrying a nuclear bomb so the two enemies will become only more fearful of each other than ever.

Former Sen. Larry Pressler, sponsor of a law in 1985 to stop the proposed F-16 sale to Pakistan, called the Bush policy reversal "an atrocity." But atrocity is too strong a word, MAD is more like it - i.e. Mutual Assured Destruction, a form of Nash equilibrium.

In game theory, the Nash equilibrium (named after John Forbes Nash, who proposed it) is a solution concept of a game involving two or more players, in which no player has anything to gain by changing only his or her own strategy unilaterally. If each player has chosen a strategy and no player can benefit by changing his or her strategy while the other players keep theirs unchanged, then the current set of strategy choices and the corresponding payoffs constitute a Nash equilibrium.

Hmmm...sounds a lot like our Global Economy, too, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

This gridlock model of our economy (there is only one rule and no-one dare change it) does most certainly put a different slant on the concept of Mutual Assured Destruction.

Yet another unrelated topic. Unless it is it to be seen, maybe, as a sign pointing to the interrelatedness of things.

As it is, it does offer a most fitting segway into jazzolog's next entry about Green Energy Development and the quote by Winona LaDuke:

"The essence of the problem is about consumption, recognizing that a society that consumes one third of the world's resources is unsustainable. This level of consumption requires constant intervention into other people's lands. That's what's going on."

jazzolog said...

There's a great deal to think about in what Anonymous has written for us yesterday. I guess I have to assume Anonymous is the same Anonymous he always is here, but then, who knows? And I guess that's the point.

Is the point dulled by the anonymity of the writer? I'm not sure. For some anonymity is the spiritual foundation. One of the greatest cultural evenings of my life was a concert by the Anonymous Four.

As for Winona LaDuke, I probably should have identified her better at the more recent entry. For those who could use an update, this woman continues among the most active speakers in America today, with a talk or a panel going on nearly every day. Last night she was at Bob Dole's Institute of Politics over at the University of Kansas, and her topic was “Indigenous Thinking in a Time of Climate Change.” Here's more information about her at what I guess we could call her website~~~

jazzolog said...

Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for her book The Color Purple. I guess she wrote this March 20th, and it got posted last week~~~

Lest We Forget: An Open Letter to My Sisters Who Are Brave
by Alice Walker

I have come home from a long stay in Mexico to find - because of the presidential campaign, and especially because of the Obama/Clinton race for the Democratic nomination - a new country existing alongside the old. On any given day we, collectively, become the Goddess of the Three Directions and can look back into the past, look at ourselves just where we are, and take a glance, as well, into the future. It is a space with which I am familiar.When I was born in 1944 my parents lived on a middle Georgia plantation that was owned by a white distant relative, Miss May Montgomery. (During my childhood it was necessary to address all white girls as “Miss” when they reached the age of twelve.) She would never admit to this relationship, of course, except to mock it. Told by my parents that several of their children would not eat chicken skin she responded that of course they would not. No Montgomerys would.

My parents and older siblings did everything imaginable for Miss May. They planted and raised her cotton and corn, fed and killed and processed her cattle and hogs, painted her house, patched her roof, ran her dairy, and, among countless other duties and responsibilities my father was her chauffeur, taking her anywhere she wanted to go at any hour of the day or night. She lived in a large white house with green shutters and a green, luxuriant lawn: not quite as large as Tara of Gone With the Wind fame, but in the same style.

We lived in a shack without electricity or running water, under a rusty tin roof that let in wind and rain. Miss May went to school as a girl. The school my parents and their neighbors built for us was burned to the ground by local racists who wanted to keep ignorant their competitors in tenant farming. During the Depression, desperate to feed his hardworking family, my father asked for a raise from ten dollars a month to twelve. Miss May responded that she would not pay that amount to a white man and she certainly wouldn’t pay it to a nigger. That before she’d pay a nigger that much money she’d milk the dairy cows herself.

When I look back, this is part of what I see. I see the school bus carrying white children, boys and girls, right past me, and my brothers, as we trudge on foot five miles to school. Later, I see my parents struggling to build a school out of discarded army barracks while white students, girls and boys, enjoy a building made of brick. We had no books; we inherited the cast off books that “Jane” and “Dick” had previously used in the all-white school that we were not, as black children, permitted to enter.

The year I turned fifty, one of my relatives told me she had started reading my books for children in the library in my home town. I had had no idea - so kept from black people it had been - that such a place existed. To this day knowing my presence was not wanted in the public library when I was a child I am highly uncomfortable in libraries and will rarely, unless I am there to help build, repair, refurbish or raise money to keep them open, enter their doors.

When I joined the freedom movement in Mississippi in my early twenties it was to come to the aid of sharecroppers, like my parents, who had been thrown off the land they’d always known, the plantations, because they attempted to exercise their “democratic” right to vote. I wish I could say white women treated me and other black people a lot better than the men did, but I cannot. It seemed to me then and it seems to me now that white women have copied, all too often, the behavior of their fathers and their brothers, and in the South, especially in Mississippi, and before that, when I worked to register voters in Georgia, the broken bottles thrown at my head were gender free.

I made my first white women friends in college; they were women who loved me and were loyal to our friendship, but I understood, as they did, that they were white women and that whiteness mattered. That, for instance, at Sarah Lawrence, where I was speedily inducted into the Board of Trustees practically as soon as I graduated, I made my way to the campus for meetings by train, subway and foot, while the other trustees, women and men, all white, made their way by limo. Because, in our country, with its painful history of unspeakable inequality, this is part of what whiteness means. I loved my school for trying to make me feel I mattered to it, but because of my relative poverty I knew I could not.

I am a supporter of Obama because I believe he is the right person to lead the country at this time. He offers a rare opportunity for the country and the world to start over, and to do better. It is a deep sadness to me that many of my feminist white women friends cannot see him. Cannot see what he carries in his being. Cannot hear the fresh choices toward Movement he offers. That they can believe that millions of Americans -black, white, yellow, red and brown - choose Obama over Clinton only because he is a man, and black, feels tragic to me.

When I have supported white people, men and women, it was because I thought them the best possible people to do whatever the job required. Nothing else would have occurred to me. If Obama were in any sense mediocre, he would be forgotten by now. He is, in fact, a remarkable human being, not perfect but humanly stunning, like King was and like Mandela is. We look at him, as we looked at them, and are glad to be of our species. He is the change America has been trying desperately and for centuries to hide, ignore, kill. The change America must have if we are to convince the rest of the world that we care about people other than our (white) selves.

True to my inner Goddess of the Three Directions however, this does not mean I agree with everything Obama stands for. We differ on important points probably because I am older than he is, I am a woman and person of three colors, (African, Native American, European), I was born and raised in the American South, and when I look at the earth’s people, after sixty-four years of life, there is not one person I wish to see suffer, no matter what they have done to me or to anyone else; though I understand quite well the place of suffering, often, in human growth.

I want a grown-up attitude toward Cuba, for instance, a country and a people I love; I want an end to the embargo that has harmed my friends and their children, children who, when I visit Cuba, trustingly turn their faces up for me to kiss. I agree with a teacher of mine, Howard Zinn, that war is as objectionable as cannibalism and slavery; it is beyond obsolete as a means of improving life. I want an end to the on-going war immediately and I want the soldiers to be encouraged to destroy their weapons and to drive themselves out of Iraq.

I want the Israeli government to be made accountable for its behavior towards the Palestinians, and I want the people of the United States to cease acting like they don’t understand what is going on. All colonization, all occupation, all repression basically looks the same, whoever is doing it. Here our heads cannot remain stuck in the sand; our future depends of our ability to study, to learn, to understand what is in the records and what is before our eyes. But most of all I want someone with the self-confidence to talk to anyone, “enemy” or “friend,” and this Obama has shown he can do. It is difficult to understand how one could vote for a person who is afraid to sit and talk to another human being. When you vote you are making someone a proxy for yourself; they are to speak when, and in places, you cannot. But if they find talking to someone else, who looks just like them, human, impossible, then what good is your vote?

It is hard to relate what it feels like to see Mrs. Clinton (I wish she felt self-assured enough to use her own name) referred to as “a woman” while Barack Obama is always referred to as “a black man.” One would think she is just any woman, colorless, race-less, past-less, but she is not. She carries all the history of white womanhood in America in her person; it would be a miracle if we, and the world, did not react to this fact. How dishonest it is, to attempt to make her innocent of her racial inheritance.

I can easily imagine Obama sitting down and talking, person to person, with any leader, woman, man, child or common person, in the world, with no baggage of past servitude or race supremacy to mar their talks. I cannot see the same scenario with Mrs. Clinton who would drag into Twenty-First Century American leadership the same image of white privilege and distance from the reality of others’ lives that has so marred our country’s contacts with the rest of the world.

And yes, I would adore having a woman president of the United States. My choice would be Representative Barbara Lee, who alone voted in Congress five years ago not to make war on Iraq. That to me is leadership, morality, and courage; if she had been white I would have cheered just as hard. But she is not running for the highest office in the land, Mrs. Clinton is. And because Mrs. Clinton is a woman and because she may be very good at what she does, many people, including some younger women in my own family, originally favored her over Obama. I understand this, almost. It is because, in my own nieces’ case, there is little memory, apparently, of the foundational inequities that still plague people of color and poor whites in this country. Why, even though our family has been here longer than most North American families - and only partly due to the fact that we have Native American genes - we very recently, in my lifetime, secured the right to vote, and only after numbers of people suffered and died for it.

When I offered the word “Womanism” many years ago, it was to give us a tool to use, as feminist women of color, in times like these. These are the moments we can see clearly, and must honor devotedly, our singular path as women of color in the United States. We are not white women and this truth has been ground into us for centuries, often in brutal ways. But neither are we inclined to follow a black person, man or woman, unless they demonstrate considerable courage, intelligence, compassion and substance. I am delighted that so many women of color support Barack Obama -and genuinely proud of the many young and old white women and men who do.

Imagine, if he wins the presidency we will have not one but three black women in the White House; one tall, two somewhat shorter; none of them carrying the washing in and out of the back door. The bottom line for most of us is: With whom do we have a better chance of surviving the madness and fear we are presently enduring, and with whom do we wish to set off on a journey of new possibility? In other words, as the Hopi elders would say: Who do we want in the boat with us as we head for the rapids? Who is likely to know how best to share the meager garden produce and water? We are advised by the Hopi elders to celebrate this time, whatever its adversities.

We have come a long way, Sisters, and we are up to the challenges of our time. One of which is to build alliances based not on race, ethnicity, color, nationality, sexual preference or gender, but on Truth. Celebrate our journey. Enjoy the miracle we are witnessing. Do not stress over its outcome. Even if Obama becomes president, our country is in such ruin it may well be beyond his power to lead us toward rehabilitation. If he is elected however, we must, individually and collectively, as citizens of the planet, insist on helping him do the best job that can be done; more, we must insist that he demand this of us. It is a blessing that our mothers taught us not to fear hard work. Know, as the Hopi elders declare: The river has its destination. And remember, as poet June Jordan and Sweet Honey in the Rock never tired of telling us: We are the ones we have been waiting for.


And with all my love,

Alice Walker
Northern California
First Day of Spring

Quinty said...

I just came upon these comments yesterday. (I haven’t looked over here in a while.)

I don’t think it matters much if “Anonymous” remains anonymous. As a high school teacher of mine, quoting Santayana, once told me, the source for an idea shouldn’t really matter when evaluating the idea’s worth. Which calls for a certain intellectual discipline, a readiness to deal with any opinion no matter what its source. (Even George Bush’s. Who believes corn ethanol is a good idea. Though George’s suggesting this “green” idea should also alert us.) “Anonymous” seems like a reasonable and fair minded person, so I’m going to try to give an answer.

When it comes to US history there appear to be two basic schools of thought.

One, the self-congratulatory “we are the American family” school, which often produces the best sellers. This is the approach which presents the American saga as basically decent, progressive, and somehow special. Perhaps somehow better than the rest of the world. And though we have had our villains the good guys always eventually win out.

The other school of history merely attempts to tell the truth, warts and all. Best sellers rarely appear here, though some of these historians eventually receive their due. But this approach often acknowledges our shared common humanity with the rest of the world, excluding a sense of American exceptionalism. “We saved Europe,” that kind of stuff.

In order to defend what I said earlier about the bomb I’m not going to back myself into a corner defending the use of the bomb. As a son of the Spanish Civil War I have always believed fascism needed to be confronted and fought, the sooner the better. And looking way back still support the US’s overall involvement in World War II, though I won’t go so far to call it “the good war.” A necessary (on our part) war perhaps, but certainly not in any way “good.”

The two quotes from the military leaders above are very powerful, and make me pause. It would be foolish of me to profess that whatever was being thought at the time in the White House was/is public knowledge. (Do we really know what was in Truman’s mind?) But considering the temper of the times I can still see how the bomb would have been used. If for no other reason than to recoup the cost of building it. What’s more in August 1945 the bomb was simply another weapon which could be used against Japan. (And in terms of sheer horror and destructiveness perhaps may not have even been as bad as the fire bombing a few weeks earlier of Tokyo. So called “conventional” bombing, after all, is horribly murderous and destructive too. I don’t think I would want to die in a fire storm.)

Let’s not forget. The bomb hadn’t yet become the “bomb” at the time. In August 1945 it was simply a “super weapon” which could hopefully quickly exert American dominance. Our modernday, widespread public consciousness of the horrors of nuclear weapons and war followed the A Bomb’s use, as these weapons became more destructive and terrible. And the possibilities for widespread destruction, even of the entire world, heightened and became more widely understood during the Cold War. Stanley Kubrick would never have made “Doctor Strangelove” in the summer of 1945.

If Truman played Machiavelli using the first two bombs he did so rather quickly, since he hadn’t even heard of the bomb’s existence until he took office a short time before. And there must have been a powerful consensus at the time to use them. Yes, there were those who had other ideas, but the former in July/August 1945 was far greater.

These arguments always seem to end up as “either/or” arguments. As if the basic question relates to whether to use the bomb or not. That’s not what I’m trying to deal with here.

All I have tried to do is put myself in the place of our leaders in 1945. In the place of most American citizens then. To see the world as they did.

If at that time I had thought that using this weapon could bring an immediate end to the war, then, in 1945, I would have used it. I would have considered it highly irresponsible not using it, if it gave the United States any advantage at all over Japan. War has its momentum too, and following nearly three years of ferocious war with Japan, diplomatic and humanitarian concerns were nearly non-existent. By then most Americans hated the Japanese as most Japanese hated Americans. After all, fire bombing Japanese cities was perhaps as cruel as dropping a nuclear bomb. But the American public mentality, if you will, at that time condoned and permitted it. And few Americans then cried for dead Japanese.

Horrible, true. But if we wish to understand the use of the bomb in 1945 we should perhaps try to remember how Americans, as a whole, saw the world then.

Anonymous said...

In one of the comments above there is that evocation (invocation, mayhap?) of "the silver eagle dollar with the Eagle on one side and Walking Liberty on the obverse." In that same comment, the author did make a point of adding that he/she is sure that any coin of any currency would have done just as fine, because "this is not just America that… we are talking about here" but "human nature."

I think the meaning is plain.

The comments pointing to Wake Up America and Science for Peace were equally plain, as they highlighted TWO different views of America---two views that are not mutually exclusive at all, regardless of what political spinsters (and those who thrive on division) may try to make of it.

It has been argued that the concept of unconditional love can be false, misleading, and a pervasive cause of authoritarian control in religion, relationships and families [cf. Kramer and Alstead]. More to the point, I think the same thing can be said of the love of one’s country:

One of the definition of True Love often is that it is “unconditional,” but another condition of True Love is that it cannot be deceitful either (or self-deceitful): blind love is not true love.

The civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was quoted as saying “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality”. Yet, Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t see the world or his country with rose colored glasses either.

True Love means comprehension and True Understanding, and true understanding also means honesty, and honesty means keeping oneself and one’s country "honest"---and especially so where one’s ideals and the principles one holds dear as a nation are concerned.

Jesus was all love, and yet he chased the merchants from the Temple (John 2:14-17)


”there were two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left hand.”
--- Matthew 27:44

And I think we all know how the rest of the story goes.

Well, actually we don’t. The Gospels disagree. But I like the Gospel of Luke’s version (Luke 23:39).

I also like the way playwriter Samuel Beckett plays with that theme in Waiting for Godot when Vladimir remarks "One of the thieves was saved." (Beckett also alludes to it in Murphy and in Malone Dies.) Beckett's take on this was inspired by a sentence from Augustine: "Do not despair; one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume; one of the thieves was damned."

St. Augustine warns Christians that they must neither presume that they are saved, lest they fall by the sin of pride, nor assume that they are damned, lest they sin by doubting the efficacy of grace and lose their means of salvation.

I don’t know, seems to me like good advice for Christians and non-Christians alike, especially in a nation whose unofficial anthem is “God Bless America.”

jazzolog said...

I'm not sure about getting into the dilemma about the 2 thieves. As usual the presumably dumber Estragon eases our anxiety with obvious proofs that it's better not to think about such things...or anything else for that matter. But we're still left with which of the 2 thieves should we elect? Here's where this week's polls lead us~~~

Poll: 2008 National Democratic Primary
Sponsor: Gallup
Pollster: Gallup

Barack Obama continues to lead Hillary Clinton in national Democratic preferences for the Democratic presidential nomination, now by an eight percentage point margin of 50% to 42%, the fourth consecutive day in which Obama has held a significant lead over his competitor in Gallup Poll Daily tracking. Obama has led Clinton by significant margins of between eight and 10 points in the last four Gallup reports, stretching back to April 4-6. Although the margin has varied, Obama has also led Clinton by at least one point in every three-day rolling average reported by Gallup since March 18-20.

Poll: 2008 National Democratic Primary
Sponsor: Rasmussen
Pollster: Rasmussen

In the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, Obama now attracts 48% of the vote while Hillary Clinton earns 41%. That’s the first time in nearly a week that Obama’s support has dipped below 50% but the sixth straight day that he has enjoyed a significant lead over Clinton. Clinton continues to hold a modest lead in Pennsylvania while Obama holds a huge lead in North Carolina.

Poll: 2008 National Democratic Primary
Sponsor: Associated Press
Pollster: Ipsos

Despite all the conflict surrounding Obama, the Democratic contest is unchanged from February with Obama at 46 percent and Clinton at 43 percent. But the heated primary is creating divisions among the electorate - many Clinton and Obama supporters say they would rather vote for McCain if their chosen Democrat doesn't win the nomination. About a quarter of Obama supporters say they'll vote for McCain if Clinton is the Democratic nominee. About a third of Clinton supporters say they would vote for McCain if it's Obama.

Poll: 2008 Pennsylvania Primary
Sponsor: Public Policy Polling
Pollster: Public Policy Polling

Hillary Clinton has taken back a small lead over Barack Obama in Pennsylvania, according to the newest survey from Public Policy Polling. Clinton has a 46-43 advantage in the state after trailing Obama by two points in PPP’s poll last week. Clinton’s improvement since last week comes almost entirely from her core demographics. Her lead among women improved from 10 points to 16, her lead among white voters went from 11 to 17, and her lead with senior citizens showed a gain from 16 to 21.

Poll: 2008 Pennsylvania Primary
Sponsor: Rasmussen
Pollster: Rasmussen

Following a month of declining poll numbers for Senator Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, the race has stabilized for the moment. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows Clinton leading Barack Obama by five percentage points in the Keystone State, 48% to 43%. That’s little changed from a week ago, but down from a ten-point lead two weeks ago, a thirteen-point lead in mid-March and a fifteen-point advantage in early March.

Poll: 2008 Pennsylvania Primary
Sponsor: Survey USA
Pollster: Survey USA

The results are almost identical to a SurveyUSA poll released one month ago. Then, Clinton led by 19. Today, 18. In between, however, in a SurveyUSA tracking poll released last week, Obama had closed to within 12 points. What happened in the past 7 days? Some of the men who flirted with Obama at the end of March have returned to Clinton. Other men have moved to the sidelines. Last week, Obama led by 7 among men. Men were 46% of likely voters. Today, Clinton leads among men. Men are 42% of likely voters.

Poll: 2008 North Carolina Primary
Sponsor: Survey USA
Pollster: Survey USA

In a Democratic Primary in North Carolina today, 04/08/08, four weeks to the 05/06/08 Primary, Barack Obama is 10 points atop Hillary Clinton, exactly where Obama was two months ago, according to a SurveyUSA tracking poll. SurveyUSA's interactive tracking graphs show remarkable stability within the sub-populations. Among men, over the past 2 months, Obama led by 18, by 13, and today by 15 points. Among women, Obama led by 2, by 3, and today by 6 points. Among whites, Clinton led by 19, by 17, and today by 22 points. Among blacks, Obama led by 65, by 61, and today by 75 points

Poll: 2008 North Carolina Primary
Sponsor: Public Policy Polling
Pollster: Public Policy Polling

For the third week in a row, Barack Obama is leading North Carolina by 18-21 points, according to the newest survey from Public Policy Polling. Obama leads Hillary Clinton 54-33 in the state. He is making in roads among white voters in the state, trailing Clinton just 47-38, while maintaining his customary large advantage with black voters 81-10.

Poll: 2008 Presidential Head to Heads
Sponsor: AP
Pollster: Ipsos

Republican Sen. John McCain has erased Sen. Barack Obama's 10-point advantage in a head-to-head matchup, leaving him essentially tied with both Democratic candidates in an Associated Press-Ipsos national poll released Thursday. The survey showed the extended Democratic primary campaign creating divisions among supporters of Obama and rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and suggests a tight race for the presidency in November no matter which Democrat becomes the nominee.

Quinty said...

Boost, don’t knock!


The third rail of American politics is the truth. Year after year we have seen politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, turn and run in panic for having trespassed into that most dangerous and toxic area.

For speaking truth is often seen as unseemly, impolite, a form of bad manners. Or even worse: as unpatriotic, un-American, treasonous.

Barack Obama is not some form of human sledge hammer for the truth. Far from it. He has a supremely keen political sense (which I see as an advantage) and generally knows where he can go. His campaign has been cautious and moderate, right down the center left line.

This week he may have slipped. Comments made in private to a group of supporters in Marin County included this: “You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them... And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

“And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

It’s unfortunate that Hillary jumped on this as “elitist.” One would expect that of McCain whose base includes the guns, religion, and anti-illegal immigrant crowd. But Hillary has pandered much and often to the right in Pennsylvania. On another occasion when the truth slipped out she badly failed too. This was over the Reverend Wright flap. What emerged here was a realistic vision of race relations in America. The truth. Hillary, wife of the “first black president,” put her political ambitions above this opportunity to begin a relevant - serious and truthful - dialogue on race. She could have allowed McCain to make the claims of reverse racism and America hating rhetoric. It is with the far right that such claims belong. But the Reverend Wright had expressed black America’s sufferings in those much quoted comments. A sympathetic response would have acknowledged all that.

Barrack Obama at least hasn’t turned away from his recent guns, god, and illegal immigrant comments. Rather they offered him an opportunity to reveal his incredible oratorical skills. I was enormously impressed watching him reply to his critics.

Does this mean Obama will speak truth, only truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from now on? Of course not. But truth does seem to come out from time to time in his campaign. And each time it does it is enormously controversial. In fact I too cringe when it happens for - perhaps like another elitist - I wonder how much truth the American people can take? Right wing pundits have already buried Obama for the “astonishing elitism” of his remarks, claiming he can not possibly win the presidential election having said these words. That’s what originally passed through my mind too. But Obama has hit back. And his response was bracing.

Huffington Post had an excellent follow up piece on this flap. It includes both a transcript and a video of Obama’s reply.

Here’s the link to the video of Obama’s reply....

Quinty said...

I see now that Obama has apologized.

Oh well, the truth is too toxic. It can sink a politician who doesn't come on as Hillary did today in Indiana - on live television - manipulating the dreams and aspirations of her listeners. She surely knows that America offered her all the great opportunities she's enjoyed. She knows we are the shining City on the Hill. None of that negative elitist stuff for her!

And she knows we have a new threat to fear. Here we are, stuck in a quagmire in Iraq, "Islamo fascism" closing in on us, the great vast dark of the Neocon soul encroaching, and what did Hillary say today?

That we have to watch out for China. That China is building up its military and will overtake us. Why hasn't the administration taken into account this vast military threat?

China! The new existential enemy!

jazzolog said...

This is going to be very tricky, but Mr. Obama is on to something, as we folks who've lived below the Bible Belt of the Heartland well know. Ms. Clinton is tightening her screws over this, preaching her wondrous love of the Christian tradition and the thrill of the foxhounds after the scent. Ahh, the crisp autumn air---after Sunday church of course. And the rightwing hasn't even gotten started. Unless he pulls off another speech on this, we'll be hearing it until November.

I hope he keeps on it, because what he's going after is the Reagan/Bush base and these people must be confronted sooner or later. These are the blood-and-thunder Pentecostals, their megachurches, their one-issue elections, and their fabulously well-organized voter drives. These are the blue collars who went against union advice and voted for Reagan, whose first action in office was to bust a union strike. They helped kill their unions and then watched the Company move their jobs overseas. And they've voted against their economic interests ever since, following the herd on abortion and war.

It's true, Democrats need to woo and soothe these people back into the ranks...and both senators need to get on it. Clinton's approach feels icky sweet, and I hope Obama spends today getting it together. Here's what the LA Times has on it at this hour~~~,1,6505389.story

Anonymous said...

Senator Clinton already told us that "as far as she knows," Barack Obama is not a Moslem, but... is he a Marxist?


Senator Joe Lieberman thinks it's a good question. LOL...

Well, Joe Lieberman wouldn't want to say so definitively—not "as far as he knows," and all that. But he does think that it's a "good question".

The following is from

In his New York Times column today, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol claimed that Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) now-infamous “bitter” remarks sound like Karl Marx’s “famous statement about religion.” On the Brian and the Judge radio show today, Fox News’ senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano asked Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) if Obama is “a Marxist as Bill Kristol says might be the case?”

“I must say that’s a good question,” replied Lieberman, before stepping back to say that he would “hesitate to say he’s a Marxist”:

NAPOLITANO: Hey Sen. Lieberman, you know Barack Obama, is he a Marxist as Bill Kristol says might be the case in today’s New York Times? Is he an elitist like your colleague Hillary Clinton says he is?

LIEBERMAN: Well, you know, I must say that’s a good question. I know him now for a little more than three years since he came into the Senate and he’s obviously very smart and he’s a good guy. I will tell ya that during this campaign, I’ve learned some things about him, about the kind of environment from which he came ideologically. And I wouldn’t…I’d hesitate to say he’s a Marxist, but he’s got some positions that are far to the left of me and I think mainstream America.

jazzolog said...

We've already had 2 terms of Harpo. Why not bring in Groucho? He's always refreshing. Groucho once said---and he could have been speaking of Lieberman---"He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot."

jazzolog said...

I love Maureen Dowd's column this morning. It's about time somebody tore into this scumbag...and her rage is just perfect for it~~~

The New York Times
June 25, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
More Phony Myths

Karl Rove was impressed with Barack Obama when he first met him. But now he sees him as a “coolly arrogant” elitist.

This was Rove’s take on Obama to Republicans at the Capitol Hill Club Monday, according to Christianne Klein of ABC News:

“Even if you never met him, you know this guy. He’s the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.”

Actually, that sounds more like W.

The cheap populism is really rich coming from Karl Rove. When was the last time he kicked back with a corncob pipe to watch professional wrestling?

Rove is trying to spin his myths, as he used to do with such devastating effect, but it won’t work this time. The absurd spectacle of rich white conservatives trying to paint Obama as a watercress sandwich with the crust cut off seems ugly and fake.

Obama can be aloof and dismissive at times, and he’s certainly self-regarding, carrying the aura of the Ivy faculty club. But isn’t that better than the aura of the country clubs that tried to keep out blacks? It’s ironic, and maybe inevitable, that the first African-American nominee comes across as a prince of privilege. He is, as Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic wrote, not the seed but the flower of the civil rights movement.

Unlike W., Obama doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder and he doesn’t make a lot of snarky remarks. He tries to stay on a positive keel and see things from the other person’s point of view.

He’s not Richie Rich, saved time and again by Daddy’s influence and Daddy’s friends, the one who got waved into Yale and Harvard and cushy business deals, who drank too much and snickered at the intellectuals and gave them snide nicknames.

Obama is the outsider who never really knew his dad and who grew up in modest circumstances, the kid who had to work hard to charm whites and build a life with blacks and step up to the smarty-pants set.

He might be smoking, but it would be at a cafe, hunched over a New York Times, an Atlantic magazine, his MacBook and some organic fruit-flavored tea, listening to Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks” on his iPod.

Rove was doing a variation on the old William Buckley line: “I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone book than by the 2,000 members of the Harvard faculty.”

Conservatives love playing this little game, acting as if the “elite” Democratic candidates are not in touch with people like themselves, even though the guys doing the attacking — like Rove, Limbaugh, O’Reilly and Hannity — are wealthy and cosseted.

Haven’t we had enough of this hypocritical comedy of people in the elite disowning their social status for political purposes? The Bushes had to move all the way to Texas from Greenwich to make their blue blood appear more red.

Everyone who ever became president was in the elite one way or another, including Andrew Jackson.

Rove and Co. are nervous because they see that Obama, in rejecting public financing, is not going to be a chump, like some past Democratic candidates.

For some of Obama’s critics, it’s a breathtaking bit of fungible principles, as though Gandhi suddenly donned a Dolce & Gabbana, or Dolce & Mahatma, loincloth.

But even as the Republicans limn him as John Kerry, as someone who is too haughty and too “foreign,” Obama is determined not to repeat what Kerry thinks was a big mistake: not having enough money to compete against the Republicans in 2004.

Charlie Black crassly argued in Fortune that a terrorist attack would “be a big advantage” for John McCain. And what’s scary is, Black is the smartest adviser McCain’s got.

It’s hard to believe that if Americans get attacked after all these years of getting strip-searched at the airport, they’re going to be filled with confidence at the performance of the Republicans on national security. And at least Obama wants to catch Osama and doesn’t think he’s getting his directions on war from “a higher Father.”

Rove’s mythmaking about Obama won’t fly. If he means that Obama has brains, what’s wrong with that? If he means that Obama is successful, what’s wrong with that? If he means that Obama has education and intellectual sophistication, what’s wrong with that?

Many of Obama’s traits are the traits that people in the population aspire to.

It looks as if Rove is on the verge of realizing his dream of creating a permanent position for the Republicans.

Unfortunately for him, it’s in the minority.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Anonymous said...

Hmm... I think that overall Maureen Dowd gives way too much credit to Karl Rove's "Myth-making" abilities. Homer Simpson got it right: "It takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen."

Drew Westen, here, got a point:

This year should be a perfect storm for a Democratic presidential candidate, particularly one with the rhetorical gifts of Barack Obama. McCain has literally every indicator political scientists enter into their models to predict electoral success or defeat working against him: He has repeatedly allied himself with the most unpopular president since the history of modern polling, describing Bush in 2006 as one of our greatest presidents and musing about having Dick Cheney in a McCain cabinet (two facts the Obama campaign has failed to advertise). He has embraced the most unpopular war since Vietnam. And in the summer before the election, the economy is arguably in its worst shape since the Great Depression, with American families spending a greater percentage of their income on basic necessities, home foreclosures at their zenith, and the ratio of job loss to job creation at its highest since the 1930s.

And those are just the beginning of McCain's problems. Every time he panders to the right he turns off moderates, and every time he takes a moderate position he reinforces the view on the right that he is not a "true conservative" and depresses voter turnout from his base And finally, whether the stress of tacking right and left so many times over the last two years has taken the wind out of his sails or whether he's just gotten too old and tired to take on the rigors of a presidential campaign, he has lost the sparkle that once drew many moderates and even many liberals to him, while running against the most charismatic leader to emerge on the political scene since Bill Clinton.

Yet now John McCain is tied with Obama in the Gallup polls, in a dead heat in the mid 40s for the third consecutive day.

So, what gives?

Drew Westen hit the nail square on the head: the candidates are" tied in the Gallup polls," "in a dead heat for the third consecutive day." It is as if nothing new had changed since 2000 or since 2004. In view of all the circumstances the author enumerated, how is that even remotely possible, one wonders?

Interestingly, and most relevantly, the same question was asked in 2004: here. The brief entry there (titled "54%") - but especially some of the follow-up comments on that thread - is very telling. It raises an interesting question: Where was the outrage then at the Bush administration? Where is the outrage now?

The mistake here might be in the postulate that such an outrage even exists or in the assumption that president Bush wouldn't win another election, were he allowed to run for a third term. The percentage of Americans who resonate with unilateralism, global domination, "cow-boy diplomacy," the "Bush Doctrine" and the project for the New American Century is higher than most pundits are (publicly) willing to acknowledge.

Were George Bush running today against Barack Obama, chances are that we would have the same virtual tie that the polls are reporting today between McCain and Obama. It is a phenomenon, I suspect, that has very little to do with either Bush or Kerry, or McCain or Obama, or whatever the particular (tired) negative rhetoric (rationalization/ alibi?) happens to be this time around. Way too much credit is given to Karl Rove and his ilks. It helps assuage our collective conscience as a Nation. But, there is no hiding form it: for better or for worse, once again America is going to be given the opportunity to show its true color. This election is not about Obama or McCain but about us: about who we are as a People, and what the polls are pointing to is rather scary. But then again, the unexpected rise of a candidate such as Obama on the political scene and the socio-political climate which made it possible is a testimony to the presence of another zeitgeist. How big that new zeitgeist is (The Times Are They A-Changin'?) is what this election will show.

In a recent article for the Telegraph, Billy Simpson reflecting on how "a philosopher once claimed that there is a little bit of Jesus in all of us. And a little bit of Hitler," commented that "appealing to what Abraham Lincoln called 'the better angels' of our nature can be a bit of a vote loser. It is usually cheaper to appeal to the inner bigot."

Sad but true - or certainly too close to home. In the end, it is ultimately "We The People" who speak, everything else--the Karl Rovian ads, the "talking points," or the lies and innuendo people pretend to believe, or not---is just mere rationalization.

"It takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen."

jazzolog said...

The speed of the Internet has provided just about everything anyone would want to learn about the relatively unknown presumptive (until Convention) Republican vice presidential nominee. The Wikipedia page on her is well researched (100 references) although if you click the Discussion tab you'll see people are haggling about various details.

At the time of this writing I don't see mention anywhere of a news article found by Tom Feeley at Information Clearing House. From the Anchorage paper back in 2006, we find her advocating the teaching of "creation science" in the classroom. She would allow evolution still to be in there too but if we include the creation stories from every religion and myth system there is, will there be time for anything else? And is the teacher allowed to profess some of these stories are wrong?

Most of the news sources today also seem to be picking up on one of the governor's 5 children who has Down syndrome. While I suppose it's good to have openness about such challenges, the point being made especially is that the couple had had the good fortune to learn during the fetal stage that this would be the result of continuing the pregnancy. As at least one paper is putting it, McCain has himself a female, gun-toting, pro-life Christian conservative. The Evangelical base is exultant.