Sunday, March 01, 2009

Mr. Obama And The Money Changers

The photo shows Barack Obama on the campaign trail in Virginia last June. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty
There is something obscure which is complete before heaven and earth arose;
tranquil, quiet, standing alone without change, moving without peril.
It could be the mother of everything.
Not knowing its name, I call it Tao.


We have to get quiet. We have to be still, and that's harder and harder in this century.

---Jane Kenyon

When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him, "Whose?"

---Don Marquis

Yesterday the President gave the Weekly Address. I don't know when that tradition began, but I have to say even though I tend to have the radio on Saturday mornings I can't say I've ever heard one broadcast. Are there any stations that do it? Often the address makes news anyway, partly because nothing else may be going on during the weekends except sports, car crashes and murders.

The headlines are stark, more inciteful and insightful, and designed to "sell papers," as they say---in an industry where another newspaper seems to die off every week. The Los Angeles Times throws "class warfare" onto its front page, and Reuters calls the President "combative." The Chicago Tribune says he's playing "Robin Hood With The Budget." On television, ABC reports Obama is "ready to put 'em up over budget," and others claim he's trying to "talk tough" as Bush did(by way of Andover, Yale and Harvard). Many reactions quote Bush's "Bring it on!", so many in fact the address may get stuck with that label. HuffingtonPost has got it.

What's the point of this? We expect it, I suppose, from the Party of Nope. Republicans, apparently exhausted of a single innovative alternative, now accept Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin as their spokespeople. Thirty years of tax-cuts-to-the-rich trickledown wasn't enough? Giving hundreds of billions in unmarked bills to bankers and resisting loans and assistance to rupturing companies can't make sense to anyone who doesn't believe Wall Street players are in touch with some kind of divine guidance. Governor Jindal believes it. This is the nonwhite face the Repubs came up with to "respond" to the President's budget presentation to Congress. His claim to fame is turning down $100,000,000 in federal recovery money for a Louisiana that ranks 46th in high school graduations and 4th with children living below the poverty line.

Having elected Barack Obama on a platform of change, we now await our new appliance to chug into action and deliver the results. How long have the American people been trained to be consumers? When I tell people we used to study citizenship in school and had candidates debate each other in our assemblies, they barely can understand what I'm talking about. They nod gravely, especially social studies teachers, at such reminscences of ancient times. But we can't allow such participation now. Nobody knows how to have a moderated discussion about volatile issues. There would be discipline problems in the streets.

Increasingly I'm getting the impression that Mr. Obama understands these things. I could be wrong, but the man seems positively brilliant in perception beyond his years. He's been around the block. He's organized in the block. And with his address yesterday, he's announced he's back on the block. He reiterated his campaign promises. He showed what he's doing to fulfill them. Why suddenly is this combative?

Presuming the media isn't trying just to stir up trouble---and let's not put that past them: they do speak to the mob---if people are shocked by his shining a light on the lobbyists, it's because now it's real. This isn't empty rhetoric. He's doing it. Lobbyists are guys with jobs. They're like salesmen. Maybe they have experience in the halls of congress. Hopefully they know their products and whether they'll really work. Hopefully they are not out to defraud. Essentially Mr. Obama suggests we now see what they are, what they are made of. Are they part of citizenship or the consumer "culture"?

Please take a moment to go to the White House website to read the text of (or watch if you like) the whole address. It doesn't take long...and it's a classic~~~
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, February 28th, 2009


Lady Fizzlebottom said...

Happy Birthday to you!
I've wanted to leave a comment here for a while, but I am a very nervous rabbit who worries about hogging the conversation and looking a fool.
I'm very impressed with Obama, as well - the story of Jesus and the money changers in the temple has come to mind more than a few times for me. I'm also reminded of the scripture(I think it's John 1:5)," A light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
Hope you are having a wonderful day, spent in the company of family and friends - blessing to you!

jazzolog said...

Thanks Lady. I tend to get particularly enthusiastic around Palm Sunday. I wrote a piece about my feelings a few years ago, before I started with Blogger. It's over here~~~

I think you'll love the artwork accompanying.

jazzolog said...

I imagine Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich know each other, both working for the New York Times as they do. But whether they're friends or travel in the same circles I've never heard. Nor do I know if one phones or texts the other checking on what's the topic of the latest column. I don't know if an editor let's them know they're both writing the same thing for the same edition, but when they do (whether you like either of them or not) it makes a big noise at the Sunday breakfast or brunch table. And that's what happened today.

Ms. Dowd's column, entitled Cheney, Master Of Pain, concludes~~~

The more telling news last week was yet another suggestion about Cheney’s reverse-engineering the Iraq war. Robert Windrem, a former NBC News investigative producer, reported on The Daily Beast that in April 2003, after the invasion of Baghdad, the U.S. arrested a top officer in Saddam’s security force. Even though this man was an old-fashioned P.O.W., someone in Vice’s orbit reportedly suggested that the interrogations were too gentle and that waterboarding might elicit information about the fantasized connection between Osama and Saddam.
In The Washington Note, a political and foreign policy blog, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff at State, wrote that the “harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002 ... was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and Al Qaeda.”

More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when the Bush crowd was looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.

I used to agree with President Obama, that it was better to keep moving and focus on our myriad problems than wallow in the darkness of the past. But now I want a full accounting. I want to know every awful act committed in the name of self-defense and patriotism. Even if it only makes one ambitious congresswoman pay more attention in some future briefing about some future secret technique that is “uniquely” designed to protect us, it will be worth it.

Mr. Rich's is called Obama Can't Turn The Page On Bush, and finishes similarly~~~

The administration can’t “just keep walking” because it is losing control of the story. The Beltway punditocracy keeps repeating the cliché that only the A.C.L.U. and the president’s “left-wing base” want accountability, but that’s not the case. Americans know that the Iraq war is not over. A key revelation in last month’s Senate Armed Services Committee report on detainees — that torture was used to try to coerce prisoners into “confirming” a bogus Al Qaeda-Saddam Hussein link to sell that war — is finally attracting attention. The more we learn piecemeal of this history, the more bipartisan and voluble the call for full transparency has become.

And I do mean bipartisan. Both Dick Cheney, hoping to prove that torture “worked,” and Nancy Pelosi, fending off accusations of hypocrisy on torture, have now asked for classified C.I.A. documents to be made public. When a duo this unlikely, however inadvertently, is on the same side of an issue, the wave is rising too fast for any White House to control. Court cases, including appeals by the “bad apples” made scapegoats for Abu Ghraib, will yank more secrets into the daylight and enlist more anxious past and present officials into the Cheney-Pelosi demands for disclosure.

It will soon be every man for himself. “Did President Bush know everything you knew?” Bob Schieffer asked Cheney on “Face the Nation” last Sunday. The former vice president’s uncharacteristically stumbling and qualified answer — “I certainly, yeah, have every reason to believe he knew...” — suggests that the Bush White House’s once-united front is starting to crack under pressure.

I’m not a fan of Washington’s blue-ribbon commissions, where political compromises can trump the truth. But the 9/11 investigation did illuminate how, a month after Bush received an intelligence brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” 3,000 Americans were slaughtered on his and Cheney’s watch. If the Obama administration really wants to move on from the dark Bush era, it will need a new commission, backed up by serious law enforcement, to shed light on where every body is buried.

Under current financial realities for even this newspaper, it might be a good thing to pick up your copy at the local newsstand.