Monday, January 19, 2009

Stephen Views the News 1/19/09

* Intangibles – On Saturday, in between errands and chores, I followed on television the Barack Obama train ride from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. Reminiscent of the night that Obama was elected I watched the faces of people in large gatherings and listened to some of their comments that celebrated the rise of the next leader of America. The pride, hope, relief and renewed spirit were palpable. With a glistening eye I shared in this historic moment and the aspirations for a better future for my country. All eyes will be on the tangible programs that the Obama administration will try to implement to energize the economy, heal our environment, correct foreign policy and make affordable health care available to all citizens – something I believe is a right within our national community. The challenges are daunting but not insurmountable. The spirit of the American people is so often noted in political speeches that it had become a tagline. The failures and errors of the last eight years have brought Barack Obama and the American spirit to the forefront. I expect that each will be a vital force in America going forward.

* Tangibles – “The goal is to take those who volunteered during the president-elect's campaign and organize them to "work for change" in communities.” This is how USA Today described the initiative announced by Obama during his weekend train ride – “Organizing for America.” Obama said, “I'm asking people like you who fought for change during the campaign to continue fighting for change in your communities." By visiting and one can learn more about taking a role and responsibility in Our communities.

* Transitions – On Sunday the Meridian Star, a Mississippi newspaper, published a remarkable editorial that offered an apology for its past coverage of civil rights issues. "There was a time when this newspaper – and many others across the south -- acted with gross neglect by largely ignoring the unfairness of segregated schools, buses, restaurants, washrooms, theaters and other public places…We did it through omission… That was wrong. We should have loudly protested segregation and the efforts to block voter registration of black East Mississippians.” The entire editorial can be read at this link. While America has been one of the noblest and most successful experiments in freedom it has not been without ignobility. It is a proud time to be alive in America witnessing the gains we are making to form a more perfect union. While perfection is an ideal perhaps never realized, we have taken another step closer.

* Our tax dollars at work at the Department of Agriculture ~ more seed was being planted than the Department knew. “A former USDA statistician in Kansas City is accused of running a prostitution ring from her work computer,” according to federal prosecutors. Yes, there is merit to the old saying about the taxpayer getting screwed. One trial defense could be that the federal worker took it upon herself, in such a bad economy, to create windfall jobs. A positive note we can take from this is that there are at least some government employees that can multi-task, even as they lay down on the job.

* Fear that is well-founded ~ a glimpse at recent history – For decades the Republican Party mantra has been that government is the enemy and should be minimized, balance the budget and strictly adhere to the rule of law. Following Republicans controlling congress from 1992 to 2006 and holding the White House for the last eight years one can see why Republicans are afraid of government. During this period they exploded the national debt. They expanded government and especially its invasiveness. They sold government policy to special interests and alms-like handed over a portion of the government agenda to religious fundamentalists. If you were not either wealthy or a member of a narrow group of ideologies your interests were abandoned in Washington D.C. Almost every principle Republicans claimed they stood for imploded like the World Trade Center on 9/11. Republican fear of government is well-founded, especially when it is under their control.

* There is a new posse in town – On Sunday Chris Wallace of FOX News interviewed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Wallace kept coming back to the question whether Democrats were being bi-partisan in legislative proposals. Are they listening to the Republicans? He mixed in Republican talking points that we have heard for the past eight years. If Mr. Wallace had watched other stations besides FOX News he would have noticed that the American people have rejected Republicans and their failed policies. The political transition to Democratic Party control began in the 2006 congressional elections and continued through the 2008 elections. Democrats now control the House, the Senate and the White House. Republicans have been rejected while conservative thinking was proven defective in areas such as economic and foreign policy. If bipartisanship means watering down progressive initiatives needed to restore our wounded country than I say leave the Bush Republicans whimpering in their shrinking ideological corner until their constituents vote them out of office and put them (and us) out of misery.

If there are still some doubters as to Republican ineffectiveness and incompetence look at the administration of the $350 billion recovery stimulus package that congress approved in the fall. Under Bush and former Goldman Sachs executive and current Treasury Secretary Paulson the money went to the financial institutions that played a protagonist role in the economic implosion with the following results: the money did not get into the hands of homeowners and borrowers, it was doled out in secrecy with no apparent accountability, the person appointed to assure the funds were used productively and responsibly was shut out of being able to police the funds. At least for a while I am not buying bipartisanship. Republican snake oil hucksters will have to re-earn my patronage.

* “Proud” Moments in History ~ Achtung! – “On April 17, 2005, at the southern California Anaheim Angels sports stadium thirty thousand Saddleback Church members, more than ever gathered in one spot, assembled to celebrate Saddleback's 25th anniversary and listened as Rick Warren announced his vision for the next 25 years of the church.” Anti-gay activist Warren will deliver the invocation at Obama’s inauguration. Let’s hope that his words differ from that spoken to his flock four years ago when he said, “be as committed to Jesus as the young Nazi men and women who spelled out in mass formation with their bodies the words ‘Hitler, we are yours,’ in 1939 at the Munich Stadium, were committed to the Führer of the Third Reich.” The above link has the video. Anyone not fitting the mold of this religious fundamentalist’s world view should be wary as Obama so “graciously” provides Warren with a world stage. There are analogies that further one’s point and then there are analogies as odiferous as week-old bratwurst left sitting in the southern California sun. I wonder if Jesus is holding his nose while recalling that 55 million people died as a result of Hitler-generated hysteria. Achtung!

* Derriere Orifice of the Week ~ aka, Bring in the Clowns – Meet Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). During the primary this southern end of a bull “predicted Al Qaida would be ‘dancing in the streets’ if Barack Obama were elected president.” He told the Associated Press that Obama’s middle name was among the reasons Islamic terrorists would rejoice over his election. This week the deep-thinking Hawkeye told Geraldo on FOX News that he doesn’t like the fact that the president-elect will be sworn in using that middle name Hussein during Tuesday’s Inauguration. Imagine being some down on his luck resident in Iowa who can’t pay his mortgage or maybe his medical bills or perhaps find a viable job and learn that your congressman is concerned about the next president’s middle name.

* "Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed."
Abraham Lincoln August 21, 1858
* "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1956 sermon


Sue Katz said...

The meatiest, wittiest "View" yet, Stephen. I love waking up to you on my screen. I mean, "More seed was being planted than the [Agriculture] Department knew" and employees who "lay down on the job." I nearly choked on my orange juice. You take the week and douse it with such wonderful wordsmithing. And you always tell me stuff I didn't know.

Ruth Z Deming said...

No fair! Sue Katz got up earlier than me & was the first to comment on your always witty provocative posts!

May I 'ditto' everything she said? Like you, Stephen, I too have been bitten - or smitten - by the 'hope bug' that is our next President with all his glorious three names.

Thanks also for reminding us, as did JFK & now BHO, that all of us proud American citizens bear responsibility to raise up our great nation from the ruination wrought by the previous administation.

Let freedom ring!