* Change You Could Believe In – I have never paid much attention to the multiple Inaugural Balls that follow the swearing in of a new president. The little that I recall from four years ago was that the cost was considerable. I am confident that the special interests made sure to inject their ample resources into these extravagant hooplas. I would like to suggest the following to President-elect Barack Obama: Following your inauguration ceremony immediately proceed to the Oval Office with your Cabinet and begin addressing our nation’s serious problems. Cancel the balls and parties, the regalia and pomp and get to work. If you do a good job over the next four years you will be re-elected. That will be the time to take a breather and celebrate. Knowing that George W. Bush has left the White House is a party in itself - for the entire nation.
* Change We Hope We Can Believe In – Obama’s cabinet is being called by many pundits “smart, experienced, non-ideologues”. It will be quite a while before we have a sense of impact of Obama’s presidency, his policies and appointments. He certainly seems to have gotten off to a good start. I personally ignore the drama surrounding Hillary Clinton’s probable nomination for Secretary of State as well as the minutiae being mined about other appointees. This country desperately needs leaders who are smart, experienced, non-ideologues. The person we elected to lead us through this period of grave crisis should select the talent he deems prepared and capable to develop and implement the requisite policies and programs. Now is not the time to carp and critique.
* Change We Can Participate In – I received an email on Monday from MoveOn.org asking for a monthly donation of $15.00. The objective - to offset the influence of huge amounts of money special interests will spend through their lobbyists to impede bold Obama initiatives on healthcare and energy. Anyone is welcome to use their financial resources to assist America moving forward. However, this is a belting-tightening time for most Americans and I would like to suggest an economical and perhaps more substantive way to influence our country’s path. It is called “activism.” Much of the money lobbyists have funneled to elected representatives has been used for re-election campaigns. If nothing else, politicians want to be re-elected. That is where you and I enter the dynamic. Since we are the ones that cast ballots, if we are sufficiently vocal, we have an excellent chance of gaining politicians’ attention. The website VoteSmart.org enables one to identify their Senators and Representatives and how to contact them. As a group we have the potential to be more powerful than the lobbyists and their masters. It requires each of us to take an interest in our self-interest. If we as citizens are not engaged, the government becomes an oligarchy of demagogues and special interests. The last eight years is testimony to such a fate.
To be an activist requires knowledge. The Dailey Kos political blog is launching a new website Congress Matters. The objective of the blog: “By watching, learning, analyzing and discussing the daily activities of the Congress, we hope to improve our effectiveness as advocates and activists. We'll pull back the curtains on how Congress conducts its business, both public and "private" (i.e., within the party caucuses and conferences), explain floor procedure and rules, and even throw in a little gut feeling when appropriate to try to get a better picture of what's going on, and more importantly, what we can do about it.”
Some of the organizations/websites that I feel are resources for people seeking to be better informed:
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
People for the American Way
Center for American Progress
Human Rights Campaign
Amnesty International USA
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
League of Conservation Voters
Corporate Accountability International
This list is far from inclusive. In the future I will suggest additional organizations I deem worthy of consideration.
* Quote of the Week – “This isn’t about big government or small government. It’s about building a smarter government that focuses on what works.” Barack Obama, November 25, 2008
* Hallelujah ~ I have found a new Pastor! – Seven Days of Sex was the title of the sermon that Pastor Ed Young gave his congregation earlier this month. “Young challenged his parishioners to have sex with their spouse every day for a week to see how it benefited their relationship.” The Baptist pastor bases his “sexperiment” on Christian ideology – that God created sex for husband and wife. I can’t wait to show the video of the sermon to my rabbi – an ecumenical action on my part that is in tune with the new effort in our country to identify areas of common interest and move away from more recent divisiveness and isolation. I would like to suggest a new rallying cry for America – “Sex, Patriotism and Rock and Roll.”
* Speaking of “ecumenical” – “President and First Lady Bush recently sent Jewish community leaders invitations to a Hanukkah reception at the White House next month. But as the New York Post reports, the invitations “raised more than a few eyebrows” because the image on them was that of a “Clydesdale horse hauling a Christmas fir along the snow-dappled drive to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.” Ho, ho ho! Oy, oy, oy!
* Being dragged into the 20th Century – “State (South Carolina) GOP chairman Katon Dawson, who is campaigning to lead the national Republican Party organization, has resigned a 12-year membership in a whites-only Columbia country club… Dawson said he began working to change the club’s admissions practices in mid-August after reading about the deed in an article in The State.” After being a member of a club with racist policies and no black faces on members for 12 years, it took an article in a newspaper to alert Mr. Dawson to the situation. Maybe when other members were saying no “Coloreds” allowed, Mr. Dawson thought they were saying no “collards” allowed. Apparently the Republican Party has not reached rock bottom in spite of its considerable efforts.
* Being dragged into the 21st Century - Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman Tuesday declared that Florida's 50-year-old ban on gay adoptions unconstitutional. Judge Lederman said, ''It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent.''
* I love contests – The Nation magazine has a contest for readers to offer suggestions, in 25 words or less, what President Bush should do after he leaves office. The response I submitted: “Nothing”!
* Intelligent and responsive governance – Two weeks ago I noted a report by Pro Publica (Journalism in the Public Interest) how gas drilling is resulting in carcinogens entering our water supplies. This week New York City and state politicians called for the state Department of Environmental Conservation to hire an outside consultant to evaluate the impact gas drilling could have on the city's watershed, and to hold public hearings in New York City and in the watershed region. It seems appropriate that we each ask our city and state representatives what respective local governments are doing to ensure the safety of the water we consume. Over the last eight years the federal Environmental Protection Agency saw its mission as protecting industry. I hope and optimistically expect this will change in an Obama administration but, some of the responsibility should be assumed by each of us to pressure and hold accountable our representatives. Our dependence on the “other guy” to do it came up short.
* No pardon in this season for a duck – An article by Joe Klein of Time Magazine summarizes the presidency of George W. Bush. It should be read in its entirety for its incisiveness and as precursor of assessments that will follow in the days and decades to follow. One sentence from this article, that generates more pathos for America than for Mr. Bush, Klein writes, “At the end of a presidency of stupefying ineptitude, he has become the lamest of all possible ducks.”
* “Consequences, Schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich.”
Daffy Duck in 1957 film Ali Baba Bunny