No More Apples
"Adam ate an apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It's a shame we ran out of apples." -- The Sage.
"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." -- John Kenneth Galbraith
"Reality has a liberal bias." -- Stephen Colbert
We are proud members of the resistance.
Friday, April 4
MARTIN LUTHER KING, 1929-1968
Forty years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.
He is one of my lifelong heroes. As a child, I was raised in the U.S. military life, the daughter of an Air Force officer. I went to my early years in elementary school to an integrated military school on a base in England. My class president in second grade was a seven-year-old Negro (that's what we called blacks in those days) boy who was the post popular kid in class -- he was also the smartest and the funniest. Our chaplain was a Negro Air Force Colonel, who remained close to my folks until he died. When I returned to the States to my segregated Southern hometown just as the civil rights movement was making traction, and discovered the controversy about letting five (FIVE) Negro students integrate the local high school, in my childish way I said, "What's the big deal?" When local Negroes held a sit-in at a local coffee shop (my friends' favorite for hot dogs and Cokes after school) because they couldn't eat there, I said, "Why can't they?" I joined an integrated musical group (the integrated part was that two Negro Airmen from the local base were a part), and counseled one of my pretty friends when she told me in confidence (because I was a weirdo hippie and probably would understand) that she felt an ATTRACTION for one of them. I snuck out one night and went to covertly watch a KKK meeting with a couple of my friends just to see if they really did dress up in robes and masks and burn fiery crosses. They did, and they did, and we lit out of there scared to death.
It was a time of upheaval, of fiery tempers, fears and barely-concealed hatreds. It could have all gone up in a fireball of violence. Yes, there was the occasional riot. But nothing like the sustained violence that has been experienced in spots across the world. I believe that was due to the efforts of one man, Martin Luther King, Jr., who along with his activism always preached nonviolence, who believed that progress could not be made at the point of a gun, but by changing people's hearts. He clung to that gospel even when challenged by hotter heads among his own movement, when suffering abuse at the hands of Southern bigots, when reviled and maligned by Hooverites as a Communist dupe or agent, when he witnessed his own home exploding and his family threatened. He refused to return evil for evil, and as a result achieved a level of greatness that has been recognized not only in his native land, but by peoples throughout the world.
A few years ago my husband and I were vacationing in England. On a walking tour of the great cathedrals in London, as we approached Westminster Abbey, we began looking at the statues of 20th century Christian martyrs that grace the west front entrance. Suddenly I couldn't believe what I was seeing. There was Martin among them. We were both thrilled that he had been honored in this way, that he was viewed by the world as the heroic figure he was. But he was also a man.
Who was he, really? Julian Bond wrote these lines 25 years after his death:
Today we do not honour the critic of capitalism, or the pacifist who declared all wars evil, or the man of God who argued that a nation that chose guns over butter would starve its people and kill itself. We do not honour the man who linked apartheid in South Africa and Alabama; we honour an antiseptic hero. We have stripped his life of controversy, and celebrate the conventional instead.
Young people may think of Martin as just leading marches, or for his passive resistance. It is good that they do so, for it shows how Martin combined his activism on behalf of social justice with his absolute adherence to nonviolent change, his focus on reconciliation and rejection of the politics of division. Martin was, at the bottom, a faithful follower of Christ -- the Christ who spoke out on behalf of all under threat of death, who forgave even his own assassins and betrayers, who would not bow to his attackers yet would not return their blows.
His social gospel approach insisted that Christians “must do more than pray and read the Bible” - society as well as individuals needed redemption. He was a politically concerned preacher rather than an activist, his speeches visionary rather than incendiary.
Martin was a lifelong admirer of Ghandi and his spiritual approach to non-violent confrontation. This was his way too, with the ultimate goal of reconciliation, “the creation of a beloved community”, rather than just winning.
This was the pattern for the rest of his life as he worked to promote freedom. Freedom for black Americans from the injustices of discrimination, racism, political and economic exclusion “to take their rightful place in God’s world”. Freedom for white Americans from their imprisonment in corrosive attitudes and unjust structures. It was a spiritual as much as a political imperative, a gospel based on the power of redemption - through suffering (including non-violent conflict), and through love. In spite of imprisonment, official harassment, public vilification, being stabbed, and constantly criticised for being too radical - or not radical enough - he always kept to that gospel. In ‘Forgive Your Enemies’ he wrote:
…Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform them. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption.
Martin was proof that progress is made not through division and fear, but through steadfast courage, faith and love. It was never about him. It was about his people -- and he considered that to be all mankind.
Thursday, April 3
CLINTON BEING HELD TO A DIFFERENT STANDARD
Trying to push a viable candidate out of the primary race is virtually unprecedented.
This past week, Vermont senator Patrick Leahy joined a growing chorus of politicians, pundits, bloggers, and Barack Obama supporters urging Hillary Clinton -- trailing by a little more than 100 delegates with a number of contests still to go -- to quit the Democratic race in the interests of party unity.
It is, in truth, an argument virtually without precedent in modern political history, at least at this stage of such a close race. And while it does have its origins in an effort to preserve party unity, it also has its roots in an odd and vitriolic crusade to purge the Clintons and hand the nomination to a candidate who has yet, after all, to win a single large state's primary (other than his own), let alone the nomination.
The author goes on to recite at least five times in recent history when primary campaigns have continued down to the convention wire, and in none of his examples were the challengers NEARLY as close to their opponents' tallies as is Hillary to Obama's.
But a larger factor is that Clinton is being held to a different standard than virtually any other candidate in history. That's being driven by Clinton fatigue, but it's also being driven by a concerted campaign that examines every action the Clintons take and somehow finds the basest, most self-serving motivation for its existence. Thus, in this case, when Clinton is simply doing what everyone else has always done, she's constantly attacked as an obsessed and crazed egomaniac, bent on self-aggrandizement at the expense of her party. Is there a fair amount of sexism in the way she's being asked to get out of the way so a man can have the job? You be the judge.
If Obama really wants to vanquish Clinton, he has several other options that can end the contest long before the August convention. He could win Pennsylvania at the end of April. Or he could win a string of primaries after that, or successfully woo enough superdelegates to win the nomination. His problem isn't that Clinton continues to run (after all, so did Huckabee); it's that she continues to win, much to his chagrin.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS KICKS MCCAIN'S BUTT ON HEALTHCARE
Whooee. You don't want to be flippant or condescending towards this lady when it comes to one of the issues closest to her heart.
I freely admit that I am confused about the role of overnight funding in repurchase markets in the collapse of Bear Stearns. What I am not confused about is John McCain’s health care proposal. Apparently Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a senior policy advisor to McCain, thinks I do “not understand the comprehensive nature of the senator’s proposal.” The problem, Douglas, is that, despite fuzzy language and feel-good lines in the Senator’s proposal, I do understand exactly how devastating it will be to people who have the health conditions with which the Senator and I are confronted (melanoma for him, breast cancer for me) but do not have the financial resources we have. In very unconfusing language: they are left outside the clinic doors.
Then she goes on to address the weaknesses in the McCain plan.
Hillary's plan for universal coverage is much closer to the Edwards' proposals than Obama's.
Wednesday, April 2
"RISE, HILLARY, RISE"
Yesterday morning, I got a $235 traffic ticket when I was just half a mile from work. I was in downtown Dallas, on my everyday route to my office. I was completely bewildered when the policeman pulled me over, since I thought I was barely moving.
It turned out that I was going 26 mph in a 20 mph zone.
"I take this way every day, and I never speed!" I protested to the very polite and attractive AA cop.
"it's always been a school," he said. I had the completely irrelevant (and upon almost instant reflection, I was ashamed of it) thought that, what if you knew that I regularly travel this part of town as a volunteer leader of Hunger Busters? My immediately following thought I spoke aloud, "Yes, I know, it's the Dallas Can! Academy, isn't it? I'm always careful!"
"I'm sorry, ma'am, but this time you weren't," he replied. He walked away, while I frantically called The Sage and asked where I could find the proof of insurance, since it wasn't in the glove compartment.
The very polite officer returned my driver's license, the ticket (!), and gave me directions how to get through the complex of one-way streets in downtown Dallas that would get me back onto my drive to the office.
Today, taking the same route through downtown Dallas as I have for the past four years, I was especially careful as I passed the place where the policeman pulled me over. I was astonished to find that the inner-city school I'd passed that so often had changed its name once again, and was now called the "Maya Angelou High School." I was thrilled, since Ms. Angelou is one of my favorite poets. Later in the day when there was a pause in my video editing while technicians tried to solve a glitch in the DNS, I quickly checked my email and the headlines of my favorite blogs. In one of those delightful but unexpected coincidences, I found this tribute from Maya Angelou to Hillary Clinton, which I want to share with you (h/t BlueSpot:
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
This is not the first time you have seen Hillary Clinton seemingly at her wits end, but she has always risen, always risen, much to the dismay of her adversaries and the delight of her friends.
Hillary Clinton will not give up on you and all she asks of you is that you do not give up on her.
There is a world of difference between being a woman and being an old female. If you’re born a girl, grow up, and live long enough, you can become an old female. But, to become a woman is a serious matter. A woman takes responsibility for the time she takes up and the space she occupies.
Hillary Clinton is a woman. She has been there and done that and has still risen. She is in this race for the long haul. She intends to make a difference in our country.
She is the prayer of every woman and man who long for fair play, healthy families, good schools, and a balanced economy.
She declares she wants to see more smiles in the families, more courtesies between men and women, more honesty in the marketplace. Hillary Clinton intends to help our country to what it can become.
She means to rise.
She means to help our country rise. Don’t give up on her, ever.
In fact, if you help her to rise, you will rise with her and help her make this country a wonderful, wonderful place where every man and every woman can live freely without sanctimonious piety, without crippling fear.
Tuesday, April 1
Monday, March 31
FIGHT ON, HILLARY
I heard Joe Scarborough this morning on Morning Joe referring to a Michael Barone article on the Democratic primary race, but I missed the substance and was so busy at work I didn't have time to chase it down. Here it is.
By my count, Clinton has won 14 states with 219 electoral votes (16 states with 263 electoral votes if you include Florida and Michigan) while Obama has won 27 states (I'm counting the District of Columbia as a state, but not the territories) with 202 electoral votes. Eight states with 73 electoral votes have still to vote. In percentage terms, Clinton has won states with 41 percent of the electoral votes (49 percent if you include Florida and Michigan), while Obama has won states with 38 percent of electoral votes. States with 14 percent of the electoral votes have yet to vote.
The Clinton campaign would do even better to use population rather than electoral votes, since smaller states are overrepresented in the Electoral College. By my count, based on the 2007 Census estimates, Clinton's states have 132,214,460 people (160,537,525 if you include Florida and Michigan), and Obama's states have 101,689,480 people. States with 39,394,152 people have yet to vote. In percentage terms this means Clinton's states have 44 percent of the nation's population (53 percent if you include Florida and Michigan) and Obama's states have 34 percent of the nation's population. The yet-to-vote states have 13 percent of the nation's population.
It's an interesting read. But I (and, I venture to guess, most Hillary supporters) don't need this kind of mathnasium. We know the following:
(1) This race is too close to call;
(2) If Clinton can't win the requisite number of delegates before the Convention, neither can Obama;
(3) There are still 10% of Democratic voters that haven't had the chance to cast their vote;
(4) Michigan's and Florida's votes must be counted, either in a revote or as they stand, else Democrats stand to lose both states in the General Election;
(5) If MI and FL votes count, that gives Hillary another boost in the popular vote;
(6) It's just possible that a enough superdelegates are going to recognize that their obligation is to select the most electable candidate in the GE -- and that's Hillary Clinton.
Alegre has a beautiful glimpse at this brilliant, gallant woman of whom we are so very proud. What a president she'll make!
Sunday, March 30
OBAMA LIKES GOP FOREIGN POLICY
Oh, for crying out loud. Obama wants to run foreign policy like Reagan and Bush I?
"The truth is that my foreign policy is actually a return to the traditional bipartisan realistic policy of George Bush's father, of John F. Kennedy, of, in some ways, Ronald Reagan, and it is George Bush that's been naive and it's people like John McCain and, unfortunately, some Democrats that have facilitated him acting in these naive ways that have caused us so much damage in our reputation around the world," he said.
Obama faced criticism in January from Clinton and then-challenger John Edwards for saying Reagan had changed the trajectory of American politics — and that Republicans had been the party of ideas for the last decade or more.
In one of the more heated moments of the Democratic debates, Clinton challenged him directly on the topic, saying those GOP ideas were "bad for America, and I was fighting against those ideas."
In his speech Friday night, the Illinois senator charged that Clinton, for all her criticism of the current President Bush, has too often gone along with his decisions.
Okay, you "progressive" bloggers and voters who so swoon for Obama and despise Hillary Clinton. Are you REALLY prepared to have a Democratic president who aligns himself with the "traditional bipartisan" policy of GOP presidents such as Reagan and Bush I? Do you want more Iran-Contra, Star Wars, Central American death squads backed by U.S. arms and money? Do you?
When you think "traditional bipartisan," do you remember how extremely "traditional[ly] bipartisan" the Authorization for the Use of Force in Iraq was? Did that make for a better decision?
"... [I]t's people like John McCain and, unfortunately, some Democrats that have facilitated him acting in these naive ways that have caused us so much damage in our reputation around the world." We know who he's talking about when he mentions "unfortunate Democrats" -- he's referring again to his "superior judgment" (as demonstrated by his making a speech half a decade ago before he joined the U.S. Senate, WHERE HE HAS FACILITATED GWB EVERY BIT AS MUCH AS THOSE DEMOCRATS HE DECRIES). In fact, of 85 votes on Iraq since he joined the Senate, he and Hillary voted the same in 84.
So go ahead, vote for Obama and when it turns out that he knows little or nothing about foreign policy but favors the GOP approach, and really has no opinion of his own at 3 a.m. but just does what his advisers tell him, don't expect us to weep for you. You'll be gnashing your teeth and wondering why you let yourself get suckered just as did all the good little Bushies for whom you had such contempt.
Or do you think Obama means nothing of the kind and is just pandering to Reagan Democrats and dissing Bill Clinton by omission at the same time? (Wink wink.) In that case, you remind me of nothing so much as the MSM and their love affair with John McCain -- who they clearly don't believe means half of what he says.
PANDERERS NEED NOT APPLY
Jonathan Rauch of National Journal discusses his reluctance to sign on to Obamaism and asks if BO's approach is really A New Politics? Or a New Pandering? (Emphasis mine)
I wonder if he understands that politics isn't a pillow fight and isn't supposed to be. He and his supporters complain so much about the mean, nasty Clintons. What I've heard from Sen. Clinton isn't the politics of personal destruction; it's legitimate criticism and contrasts. His readiness to be president is a major issue, so why shouldn't she question it? It's her duty, in fact. When I hear his supporters gripe about how roughly the Evil Clinton Machine is treating him, I hear an attempt to stigmatize the kind of robust give-and-take that politics is all about. It makes me wonder if Obama will crumple, as John Kerry did in 2004, when the full force of the Republican attack machine hits him.
So what's his plan? I consulted The Audacity of Hope, his political book, and found it full of rhetoric such as "what's needed is a broad majority of Americans -- Democrats, Republicans, and independents of goodwill -- who are re-engaged in the project of national renewal" and "we need a new kind of politics, one that can excavate and build upon those shared understandings," etc., etc. But how will he actually bring about this political transformation as president? He warns that it won't be easy. He says it will require "tough choices" and "courage." OK, but WHAT'S THE PLAN? "This isn't to say I know exactly how to do it," he writes. "I don't." Oh. I'm not sure if this is disarming modesty or outrageous chutzpah.
But there's also a kind of pandering in what Obama is doing. A few years ago, a pair of political scientists, John R. Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, looked at evidence from surveys and focus groups and drew some fairly startling conclusions. Most Americans, they found, think there are easy, straightforward solutions out there that everyone would agree on if only biased special interests and self-serving politicians would get out of the way. They want to be governed by ENSIDs: empathetic non-self-interested decision makers.
This is pure fantasy, of course. But indulging it is Obama's stock-in-trade. In today's Washington, the only way to get sustainable bipartisanship -- bipartisanship over a period of years, not weeks -- is with divided government, which Obama and a Democratic Congress obviously can't provide. True, Hillary Rodham Clinton can't provide that either. He might be better than she at working across party lines (although in the Senate she has been quite good at it, arguably better than he -- and John McCain has been best of all). But to promise "a new kind of politics" borders on chicanery.
There ARE no easy solutions to the myriad challenges we face. And while the media and many American voters clearly prefer personalities to policy wonks, it's the personalities (GWB, RR) who have created many of our problems while neglecting others, it's the wonks who have to step in from time to time and clean up the mess the personalities leave behind.
Since he first entered pollitics, Barack Obama has been running for the next higher office, largely on the force of his personality and rhetoric, without leaving behind much of a legacy of achievement. A man who says he doesn't know how to "transform politics" or bring about "national renewal," but talks about them all the time nonetheless, isn't my choice to lead in these difficult times. Someone who's thought about the "tough choices" for decades and is constantly on the prowl for new and better ideas to improve people's lives, THAT'S my idea of a leader -- and that person is Hillary Clinton.