Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ghosts?

OK, I'm hooked, and I needed a mini brain-break from my recent obsession with the economic dealing in Washington right now anyway. So, what do you think? Is there a "ghost" caught working out on this security video clip?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

John McCain cancels with Letterman (he has to get back to Washington) but remains in New York, and just as he would have been going on stage with Dave (which he couldn't do, of course ... he had to get back to Washington), cameras from The Late Show actually (I swear, you can't make this stuff up!) actually find McCain in a nearby studio doing an interview with Katie Couric.

Nobody could tell it as well as Letterman does. Enjoy.


Too Much Risk

Lawrence Lessig takes up the challenge Palin set during her interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson on September 11 - to discover how her experience and qualifications compare to other Vice Presidents throughout history.

In only 12 minutes Lessig reviews and analyzes the qualifications of all 46 prior Vice Presidents to reveal that even in the most generous consideration, with the possible exception of only two Vice Presidents in the history of our nation, Sarah Palin is the LEAST qualified candidate ever to have been named to a national ticket.

I am distressed by this on so many levels, and not the least is as a woman working as hard as I do to command a voice equal to my male counterparts in determining the destiny of my nation, my community, and my world.

In Sarah Palin, the value of a woman is once again reduced to her ability to polish the man that stands beside her.

No press conferences? No unscripted questions? No answers?

"One heartbeat away" is not just a slogan: This is NO time to take such a risk!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

You've Got to Be Carefully Taught

A recent "Value Voters Summit" shines an unfortunate and unbecoming light on Christianity as represented by James Dobson and Focus on the Family. I offer this clip from "The View" for a short discussion:



A friend attending a recent Obama get-out-the-vote calling party was surprised to be confronted by the strength of this sentiment from one self-proclaimed life-long Democrat: "...no way in hell I'll vote a Black man into the White House." He wondered aloud how such a thing could be true in 21st century America. I wonder, too, and I hurt to know more of the answer than I want to know.

Mandy Patinkin sings the unfortunate reality of it all ...

House M.D.'s "Kutner" Wants YOU to Register and Vote

Kal Penn (Kutner) Asks Minnesota to Get Registered

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sometimes More Than You Want to Know

I now know more about the financial structures informing the economic web of our society than I have ever known before, and all this prompted by a Friday morning conversation between guest commentator on MSNBC's Hardball, Mike Barnicle, and Chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, Christopher Dodd.

The five-minute interview rocked my world as Sen. Dodd conveyed the gravity of the nearly catastrophic moment facing the nation, a moment conservatively expected to deliver an immediate 1.5 trillion dollar debt to American taxpayers.

Translated, that 1.5 trillion dollars comes to roughly $36,000 for every man, woman, and child in this country or nearly 2.5 times the cost of the entire Iraqi war leveled on the shoulders of American workers.

I've shared the highlights of that interview with family members and now record them here so as not to forget. With the bi-partisan act of congress apt to pass in the first days of the coming week, the U.S. national debt will rise to $11.5 trillion and more than $700 billion of "bad paper," loans in default, will be wiped from the records of major banking houses and taken up as the new property of the federal government - you and me.

They say we had no choice: it was this disastrous move or global economic catastrophe, a financial tsunami that would leave no one untouched and throw the world into depression. I exhale again just now, deeply, and know that I am willing to take up hope only in the anticipation of an Obama administration.

The conversation between Mike Barnicle and Sen. Christopher Dodd followed a late-night, Thursday night meeting between the leaders of the House and Senate and members of the president's economic advisory committee: Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve; Chris Cox, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission; and Henry Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury. Notably, at such a time as this, President Bush was not in attendance, explaining that he did not want to participate in a meeting where the outcome could have such significant ramifications for the impending national election.

My notes from the interview follow:

Mike: Senator, where's the justice in the impending bailout?

Dodd: There isn't any, and I'm angry about it. Someone once described the situation in a brief sentence, "We've reached a point where we are privatizing wealth and socializing debt," and that's where we are now.

Mike: What did, if anything, Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke say to you that scared you, if they did scare you? What did they say?

Dodd: They said, "Look, we're in a moment here - not a matter of weeks away or months away or years away - we're in a matter of hours away or days away from the largest collapse of the financial markets in the history of this country, and the effect would be a global effect." And this was a very sobering moment. I can't recall another moment as sobering as that one, and immediately thereafter was this 5 to 10 seconds where all the oxygen went out of the room - it took the breath away of everyone in that room.

What they describe happening would make whatever the cost of this program pale by comparison, so I'm not sure that at the end of the day we have any choice, as angry as we may be about how we got here, and I have some strong views about why we're here. ... This is literally a meltdown of the entire financial system.
Financial analysts who agree with Senator Dodd's assessment yet disagree with the proposed solution suggest the difficulty with the bailout lies in "the detachment between risk and the risk-taker, which is the fundamental principle keeping capitalism as a functioning system. ... If there's no potential accountability and realization of your own activities, people will continue to take undue risks."

The economic crisis due to be inherited by the next administration dwarfs any challenge yet faced in American history at the same time that the current solution, as necessary as it apparently is, threatens to detach the American electorate from its realization of the undue risk and subsequent overwhelming loss suffered by electing a Republican administration and George Bush to lead us into this mess. Without this realization, if the expert analysts can be trusted, American citizens become willing to make the same mistakes again.

Be sure of this: We will not survive as a nation with four more years of Republican leadership - this before you consider the frightful thought that the impending pressures could easily leave Gov. Palin in charge of the nuclear codes. Resist the impulse to vote single issues, and give your heart again to the call for a unified nation.

Vote hope.

Vote Obama.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Headlines

Bullet-point headlines drive home the timeliness of Obama's message as I read my Bloglines line-up this morning. This from NYTimes.com:

  • Lenders have become even less willing to part with their money, further crimping budgets and family spending.
  • Treasury will back the money market funds temporarilty up to $50 billion to ensure their solvency.
  • SEC temporarily blocks short sales of financial stocks.
  • N.Korea said it was preparing to restart its nuclear reactor because the US failed to fulfill its obligations under an international treaty.
  • The agreement with Iraq over our troops is at risk, the major point of contention being the US promised immunity from war crimes (note: The Federal government is currently blocking a law suit being brought by prisoners of war recovered from the first Bush war with Iraq; their case is subsequently being advanced through the legislative houses and is giving rise to the "risk" referenced in this headline.)
  • August unemployment rates in New York City show the largest monthly increase in more than 30 years.

As Obama and Biden keep saying: "I'm not making this stuff up." While the McCain/Palin ticket pepper audiences on the stump with platitudes at best, falsehoods at worst, and evidence of the lack of preparation for statemanship we would otherwise have believed only fundamental to the office of president, Obama speaks articulately and point-on to the headlines that announce a little more of the American dream is either gone or threatened again today.

America for ALL Americans: Vote Obama/Biden.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A New Sense of Unity and Shared Responsibility

We're reading Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions in my freshman writing class at Purdue, and as I prepare for a first discussion, I find connection between Vonnegut's recollection of Phoebe Hurty's hope for America and the new Obama ad slated to being airing nationally today.

Here's Vonnegut:

[Phoebe Hurty] believed what so many Americans believed then: that the nation would be happy and just and rational when prosperity came. I never hear that anymore: Prosperity. It used to be a synonym for Paradise. And Phoebe Hurty was able to believe that the impoliteness she recommended would give shape to an American paradise. Now her sort of impoliteness is fashionable. But nobody believes anymore in a new American paradise. I sure miss Phoebe Hurty.

Yes, you have to step past the nostalgia and a temptation to believe there were better days just a few decades ago - that's not it. What can be read in Phoebe Hurty is a willingness to fight for a better day where prosperity is coupled with justice and rationality, where the fruit of our labor secures well being for all Americans.

Phoebe Hurty used impoliteness to open the conversation of her day, to provoke an awakening to rationality. In this election season, such impoliteness has been co-opted and now redeployed with false "honor" to accuse, sensationalize, and distort wherever rational argument would seek audience.

I must believe that, in the end, it will not be so. I choose to believe that ...
"Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute new government. Laying its foundations on such prinicples and organizing its powers in such force as to them should be most likely to evince their freedom and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that governments long established should not be changed for light and tanscient causes, but accordingly, all experience has shown that mankind is more disposed to suffer when evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed; but when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing the same object, divines to reduce them to an absolute despostism, it is their right - it is their duty- to throw off such government and to devise new forms for their future security."

What Jefferson knew then, Obama knows now. He believes in a prosperity born of justice and rationality. He believes in an America that is "America" for all of its citizens.

Forgive me for compromising the language of The Declaration of Independence as I wrote it above: I write from seventh-grade memories, and that's a long time ago for me. I've held these words as among the dearest my citizen-birthright affords, even if they have morphed a little over time.

What I know is this: We aren't called to be America as a place where we all think alike; we're called to protect America as a act of freedom each of us lives into and works out as individuals - as the responsibility only an individual can carry to increasingly understand what life is all about. America is America because it protects that dream - that freedom - for as many of its citizens as it possibly can, and it commits its citizens to a sense of unity and a shared responsibility for building a nation where each and every one of us has the same opportunity - more than that, the shared responsibility - to become all that we were made to be by the very one who made us to be so (and you can drop the God part here if it doesn't work for you - your call).

McCain and Palin won't take us there.

Vote Obama.




Thursday, September 11, 2008

Protect Democracy

It has been four weeks today since John McCain has allowed himself to be interviewed directly by members of the press. It has been three weeks since he has held a public town-hall meeting. All appearances in those weeks have been staged, 15-minute presentations - sound bites and nothing more. (source: Fox News)

The Democratic process requires informed decisions if it hopes to work at all, and if McCain/Palin cordon themselves off from access, from inquiry, and from being called to explain their position on health-care reform, educational funding, troop deployments and veterans care, funding for science and innovation, civil liberty infractions, and more ... if all we have are sound bites, how does democracy survive?

It doesn't!




Debating then Mayor Palin in his bid for the Alaskan gubernatorial seat, Andrew Halcro reasoned his response to Palin's willingness to withhold civil benefits to same-sex couples along these lines:

"Democracy must be more than two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. We live in a country that means to protect its citizens and assure equal rights under the law to each and every one."
If this democracy matters to you, get involved NOW! The last time we gave the country to Bush, we promised the world that we wouldn't let it happen again. Let's keep that promise.

We can.

Yes we can!