Thursday, November 27, 2008

President-Elect Obama's Thanksgiving Message


Remarks of President-elect Barack Obama

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Good morning.

Nearly 150 years ago, in one of the darkest years of our nation's history, President Abraham Lincoln set aside the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving. America was split by Civil War. But Lincoln said in his first Thanksgiving decree that difficult times made it even more appropriate for our blessings to be -- and I quote -- "gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people."

This week, the American people came together with family and friends to carry on this distinctly American tradition. We gave thanks for loved ones and for our lasting pride in our communities and our country. We took comfort in good memories while looking forward to the promise of change.

But this Thanksgiving also takes place at a time of great trial for our people.

Across the country, there were empty seats at the table, as brave Americans continue to serve in harm’s way from the mountains of Afghanistan to the deserts of Iraq. We honor and give thanks for their sacrifice, and stand by the families who endure their absence with such dignity and resolve.

At home, we face an economic crisis of historic proportions. More and more Americans are worried about losing a job or making their mortgage payment. Workers are wondering if next month's paycheck will pay next month's bills. Retirees are watching their savings disappear, and students are struggling with the cost of tuition.

It's going to take bold and immediate action to confront this crisis. That's why I'm committed to forging a new beginning from the moment I take office as President of the United States. Earlier this week, I announced my economic team. This talented and dedicated group is already hard at work crafting an Economic Recovery Plan that will create or save 2.5 million new jobs, while making the investments we need to fuel long-term economic growth and stability.

But this Thanksgiving, we are reminded that the renewal of our economy won't come from policies and plans alone -- it will take the hard work, innovation, service, and strength of the American people.

I have seen this strength firsthand over many months -- in workers who are ready to power new industries, and farmers and scientists who can tap new sources of energy; in teachers who stay late after school, and parents who put in that extra hour reading to their kids; in young Americans enlisting in a time of war, seniors who volunteer their time, and service programs that bring hope to the hopeless.

It is a testament to our national character that so many Americans took time out this Thanksgiving to help feed the hungry and care for the needy. On Wednesday, I visited a food bank at Saint Columbanus Parish in Chicago. There -- as in so many communities across America -- folks pitched in time and resources to give a lift to their neighbors in need. It is this spirit that binds us together as one American family -- the belief that we rise and fall as one people; that we want that American Dream not just for ourselves, but for each other.

That's the spirit we must summon as we make a new beginning for our nation. Times are tough. There are difficult months ahead. But we can renew our nation the same way that we have in the many years since Lincoln's first Thanksgiving: by coming together to overcome adversity; by reaching for -- and working for -- new horizons of opportunity for all Americans.

So this weekend -- with one heart, and one voice, the American people can give thanks that a new and brighter day is yet to come.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Our President HAS Taught Us Some Important Life Lessons...

Learning from our president that the "Failure Is Not An Option" syndrome makes failure inevitable.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Robinson and Herbert

Quote of the Day

Even if he wanted to make a real run at righting the economy, at this point Bush has neither the energy nor the credibility to make it happen. Frankly, he comes off as less a lame duck than a cooked goose.

-- Eugene Robinson, Washington Post

New York Times: Not a Moment Too Soon, Bob Herbert

The idea that the nation had all but stopped investing in its infrastructure, and that officials in Washington have ignored the crucial role of job creation as the cornerstone of a thriving economy is beyond mind-boggling. It’s impossible to understand.

Impossible, that is, until you realize that bandits don’t waste time repairing a building that they’re looting.

One of the reasons the U.S. is in such deep trouble is that it has stopped being smart — turning its back on excellence, sophistication and long-term planning — in its public policies and corporate behavior. We’ve seen it in Iraq, in New Orleans, in the fiscal policies of the Bush administration, in the scandalous neglect of public education, in the financial sector meltdown, the auto industry and on and on. We’ve lionized dimwits. And now we’re paying the price.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Coffee Thoughts and Links

More of Patton Dodd at BeliefNet

The Power of Negative Thinking

For many years, I believed it was foolish and faithless to acknowledge all that is wrong with my life. I believed I was a new creation, and admitting anything less was not acceptable. I missed seeing a lot that was wrong with my community, my family, and myself because I thought the Christian thing to do was to emphasize the positive, glory be to God.

But Jesus came for the sick, not the healthy--by which he surely meant that he came for those who know they are sick, and not those who, being sick, nonetheless claim they are healthy.

StoryCorps is declaring November 28, 2008 the first annual National Day of Listening.

home-feature-image This holiday season, ask the people around you about their lives — it could be your grandmother, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood. By listening to their stories, you will be telling them that they matter and they won’t ever be forgotten. It may be the most meaningful time you spend this year.

A Worthy Debate. Did the New Deal Work?

David Brooks, George Will, Ariann Huffington and Bob Kuttner on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, debate steps that the new administration should take to guide the economy back to health.

Listen and consider carefully David Brooks' observations on the different choices that should be made because of the particular needs of a service economy. He makes good points, I think.

Watch Bob Kuttner takes George Will to school on the New Deal on This Week.

For more on whether the New Deal was effective in healing the economy of the 1930's, see Lessons from the Great Depression Blogging at Grasping Reality with Both Hands.

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I have never been able to make any sense at all of the right-wing claim that the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression by creating a "crisis of confidence" that crippled private investment as American businessmen feared and hated "that Communist Roosevelt." The crisis of confidence was created by the stock market crash, the deflation, and the bank failures of 1929-1933. Private investment recovered in a very healthy fashion as Roosevelt's New Deal policies took effect.

The interruption of the Roosevelt Recovery in 1937-1938 is, I think, well understood: Roosevelt's decision to adopt more "orthodox" economic policies and try to move the budget toward balance and the Federal Reserve's decision to contract the money supply by raising bank reserve requirements provide ample explanation of that downturn.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Severe Honesty

"For many years, I believed it was foolish and faithless to acknowledge all that is wrong with my life. I believed I was a new creation, and admitting anything less was not acceptable. I missed seeing a lot that was wrong with my community, my family, and myself because I thought the Christian thing to do was to emphasize the positive, glory be to God. But Jesus came for the sick, not the healthy--by which he surely meant that he came for those who know they are sick, and not those who, being sick, nonetheless claim they are healthy. Since I took up the habit of lamenting, my life has not improved, at least not directly. But life improvement isn't the goal. The goal is faithfulness and servanthood--becoming like the image of God in Christ. I've come to believe meeting that goal involves severe honesty, self-awareness, and nakedness. There is power in honesty, because it removes any hint of deception, and puts us before our God as we really are," - Patton Dodd, Beliefnet.

HT: Daily Dish

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hold On! Help is On the Way!

This Week's Address from the President-Elect: 2.5 million New Jobs

New York Times: Time for Him to Go, Gail Collins

We have an economy that’s crashing and a vacuum at the top. Bush — who is currently on a trip to Peru to meet with Asian leaders who no longer care what he thinks — hasn’t got the clout, or possibly even the energy, to do anything useful. His most recent contribution to resolving the fiscal crisis was lecturing representatives of the world’s most important economies on the glories of free-market capitalism.

Can I see a show of hands? How many people want George W. out and Barack in?

Saturday Morning Randomness

A doxology (from the Greek doxa, glory + logos, word or speaking) is a short hymn of praise to God in various Christian worship services, often added to the end of canticles, psalms, and hymns. The tradition derives from a similar practice in the Jewish synagogue.

An Annotated Doxology

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Blessings of justice, grace and mercy;
salvation, justification, sanctification and glorification.
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
All creatures of our God and King,
Lift up your voice and with us sing, "Alleluia!"
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet,
and with two he flew. And one called to another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Hosts;
His glory fills the whole earth"
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Two Quotes for the Day

The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best - and therefore never scrutinize or question.
Stephen Jay Gould
US author, naturalist, paleontologist, & popularizer of science (1941 - 2002)
We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, 1953
US science fiction author (1920 - )

Dummies!

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Washington Post: Detroit: Get a Clue

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The truth is that the chief executives of the Big Three automakers could have hitchhiked to Washington to beg for alms and they still would have been raked over the coals. But the fact that they came in their corporate jets was a bit much.

What, they couldn't have piled into a tricked-out Malibu and taken turns at the wheel?

Richard Wagoner of General Motors, Robert Nardelli of Chrysler and Alan Mulally of Ford should begin the inevitable cost-cutting by firing their public relations consultants. They left Capitol Hill empty-handed, but they're bound to get some kind of federal help, however grudging.

If not, well, the Big Three execs can always come back to town -- by more modest means of transportation, one hopes.

If there's anything beneficial in this predictable melodrama, it's that contemplating a taxpayer-funded rescue of the auto industry might make Americans realize the extent to which their government already puts its big, fat thumb on the scales of free enterprise. The idea that the U.S. economy is based on unfettered free markets is, and has long been, a cruel joke.

It's more of a joke now, arguably, than at any time since the Great Depression. Our government has already pledged well over $700 billion -- it may go over $1 trillion -- to save the financial industry from its own greed-fueled excesses. That, in the end, is why the automakers have to be given some kind of multibillion-dollar handout. Yes, it's galling to reward industry management that has such a track record of failure -- and that inspired so little confidence while testifying before Congress. But politically it's just not tenable to bail out a bunch of Porsche-driving investment bankers and then slam the door on legions of lunch-bucket-toting workers.

Instead of openly "picking winners and losers," which is anathema to pure-of-heart free-marketeers, we hide our industrial policy in the tax code. The tax code is littered with that kind of targeted largess. This is a big part of what lobbyists do -- get tax breaks for their clients.

Detroit blames its situation on the financial and economic crisis. It's true that demand for cars has fallen off a cliff, largely because many would-be buyers are unable to get financing. It's true that the auto industry claims to have seen the light about making energy-efficient cars. But it's also true that these newly enlightened executives spent years defending their industry's obsession with SUVs -- and pooh-poohing the idea that times, and tastes, would ever change.

They should be given the money -- and then be shown the door to make way for management that can see past the hood.

IAVA: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Friday, November 21, 2008

Blog Itch is Proud

Blog Itch has been away from the computers today and has depended on the Blackberry and the Axim to feel the comforting connection of technology. (Isn't that sad?)

The forecast was for flurries where I was this morning - the mountains of Western North Carolina north of Asheville. We went up yesterday for a special concert last night at Mars Hill College.

Have you ever known someone so overtaken with their life passion that it seems to even ooze from their pores? Have you ever known someone is so constantly aware of their surroundings that they have the ability to catch and file away in their memory and imagination thoughts and happenings that pass by most of us? Have you ever known someone whose thinking style is so global that they are able to synthesize everything that they are taking in with the passion that inhabitants their being to produce incredible new ideas?

No?

Then meet my son.

The concert we attended last night premiered his composition for low brass ensemble entitled "Landscape." It was a first for him...and us...as he risked a product of his passion...his soul...to others. Understandably, he was excited but apprehensive at dinner before the concert. He kind of reminded me of an expectant father watching his wife receive a Petosin drip to induce labor.
His piece was the second of a four piece set programed for the college's eight instrument  Low Brass Ensemble. Three euphoniums, three trombones and two tubas. I had asked him a couple of weeks ago if he planned to conduct. No. He played his tuba. He loves to play music. If it happens to be in the context of performance, that's just a bonus.

What we heard was the fruit of the blend of characteristics I described above. Depicted on the page in lines and dots that make up the written language of music, passing through the air that was vibrating with sound waves, the essence of my son's very being was on display inviting everyone in earshot to join him. To join him for just a few minutes in his deepest conception of imagination, of thought, and of sound.

I'm proud of him. Proud of him for conceiving. Proud of him for imagining. Proud of him for executing. Proud of him for making himself so vulnerable. Proud of him for succeeding.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mows!: Prethinking

Mows!: Prethinking



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Thursday Coffee Stops

lieberman

The Atlantic Online: Presidents and Heretics, Ross Douthat

obama-cross If you're following the interesting debate over whether Barack Obama is a Christian, one thing to keep in mind is the extent to which heresy of various sorts pervades American Christianity at this point - and, moreover, the extent to which it cuts across confessional, cultural, and political lines. The Obama interview that provided the grist for this conversation does indeed suggest, as Larison puts it, that our President subscribes to some sort of semi-Arian conception of the nature of Christ, which isn't surprising at all given that he entered Christianity through the liberal-Protestant gate.

Now it's true that if he had been asked about Christ's nature, Bush - or Ronald Reagan, to take another conservative President with an idiosyncratic religious sensibility - might have given a more Nicaean answer than Obama did in the interview in question. But then again maybe not! (And God only knows what John McCain, the most pagan Presidential contender we've had in some time, might have said.) Given the muddled way in which most Americans approach religion, and the pervasiveness of heterodoxy, I suppose I'm basically with Alan Jacobs: I think that figuring out exactly what sort of things Obama believes about God and Christ and everything else, and how those beliefs may affect his Presidency, is ultimately a more profitable pursuit than arguing about whether he should be allowed to call himself a Christian. Or put another way: I expect my Presidents to be heretics, but I think it matters a great deal what kind of heretics they are.

Thanksgiving Economy  - Nick Anderson

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Newsweek: Land Of Contradictions, Mark Gellman

I hope the election of Barack Obama allows us to look behind the ugly masks of identity politics to the real American interests that bind us. I hope his election will enable us to truly hear the arguments we offer to the great moral issues of our time and let go of the insulting degradation of those arguments as doctrines of another faith or another people.

When the slaves left Egypt, the Bible (Exodus 12: 37-38) calls them in Hebrew, an "erev rav" which means a mixed multitude. Barack Obama and Marcelo Lucero are both a part of the mixed multitude that is America. My deepest hope and prayer is that we can find each other and hear each other as equal participants in our great but uncompleted exodus to a land of freedom that I believe is this land.

A legend from my teachers, the rabbis: why did God only make one person, Adam, at first? The reason is to teach us that in the time to come no one should be able to say, "My ancestor was greater than your ancestor."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Prayer for the Day

A HAVEN
Lord, take this song
and fill it with Your presence.
Let it bring a word of hope
to weary care-full hearts.
Take this song
and fill it, Lord.
Fill it with Yourself.

Lord, take my life
and fill it with Your praises.
Let me speak a word of peace
that Jesus brings in me.
Take this life
and fill it, Lord.
Fill it with Yourself.

Lord, take this place
and fill it
with Your blessing.
Let it be a haven
where the
poor in spirit
sing.
Take this place
and fill it, Lord.
Fill it with Your praise.

Northumbria Community

Tuesday Coffee Stops

My conservative friends say, "Obama has the most liberal voting record in the Senate." Maybe. Depending on who's doing the counting and whether Fixed News is your only source of "information" (read 'propaganda'). Only take a look at what liberals are saying:

Firedoglake: The Lieberman-Obama Pony Plan, Ian Welsh

Obama's going to do a lot of good things. He's going to repeal a lot of Bush's worst executive orders, he's going to close down Guantanamo (though how he'll deal with the inhabitants remains up in the air and is more important than where they're stored); he's going to overturn a lot of the worst orders on the environment, and so on. He'll probably pull out of Iraq, though he may double down in Afghanistan.

But things like giving in to Joe Lieberman; making sure there are no real consequences for Joe, are what Obama's about. Obama keeps telling people who he is. He's postpartisan. He thinks Reagan was fundamentally right about liberalism. He voted for FISA. He hired Rahm as his first hire. He thinks Joe sticking a shiv in his back is no big deal. He not just voted for the bailout bill, but whipped for it. His healthcare plan is not universal.

As Glenn Greenwald notes, its understandable that everyone's euphoric the age of Bush is over and wants to think that Obama is going to be the ultimate liberal pony provider. But there's very little evidence that Obama is liberal in most important respects and if liberals decide that they can take a vacation for the next 4 months, like they did when Dems took Congress, and give him the "benefit of the doubt" I fear the results are going to be the same as they were for the Congress of 07 and 08.

Washington Post: Keep the BlackBerry, Ruth Marcus

PH2008111803158 Obama is unique in his warp-speed transformation from obscure state senator to 44th president in just four years. The obvious downside is his lack of experience, but the potential advantage is his unusual proximity to normality. In the isolation chamber of the White House, it can be useful not only to know real people but to have been one yourself in the not-so-distant past.

"I actually think that we are as close to what normal folks go through, and what their lives are like, as just about anybody who's been elected president recently," Obama told Kroft. "Hanging on to that is something that's important."

...In "The Audacity of Hope," he described watching Bush hold forth before a mostly fawning group of senators. "I was reminded of the dangerous isolation that power can bring."

'd argue that Obama should cling to his e-mail as a 21st-century way to pierce the White House bubble. After all, Gore did it as vice president, BlackBerry included.

The arguments to the contrary will pile up like so many unread messages.

The lawyers will wring their hands over the prospect of disclosure down the road, if not sooner, invoking the specter of congressional investigators poring over presidential e-mails. So what? Everyone who uses e-mail should think twice before writing something embarrassing.

Jonathan Alter agrees:

Newsweek: Keep the Blackberry, Jonathan Alter

Before Obama gets to "Yes, We Can," he has to start with "Yes, I Can." And the only way he can be successful in the presidency is if he can stay connected to the world beyond the "splendid isolation" of the presidency. To succeed, he must be constantly exposed to a wide variety of opinions—not just from advisers, experts, pundits and polls, but from his friends.

Obama's hero, Abraham Lincoln, called it "a public opinion bath." He got it corresponding with ordinary people and by flinging open the doors of the White House to anyone who wanted to come by for a visit. These "baths," Lincoln knew, were critical to his success.

Lincoln's approach doesn't work any more. The world's too big. But technology now offers a way to circumvent the stifling chain of command and help a president get at least a little closer to the truth.

One question a lot of Texans ask these days is, "What happened to the George W. Bush we used to know?" The answer, in part, is that Bush foolishly listened to the security people who made him give up his email account in 2001. The result was that old friends suddenly found they had no way to get through to the president. More than a few watched in horror as he drove the country over the cliff.

Now I'm not arguing that email would have necessarily saved Bush from disaster. It's not as if Bush would have read a message from, say, Brent Scowcroft when the former adviser to Bush "41" was arguing in vain against the Iraq War. But maybe Scowcroft would not have had to infuriate Bush by going public in the Wall Street Journal if he had been able to get through to the president by email. (Scowcroft's efforts to see the president personally were blocked by White House aides).

The Blackberry decision is symbolic of so many calls Obama will have to make. Some official will always be telling him why something cannot be done for this reason or that. His response should be to press them hard on why things cannot be done differently.

Mr. President-elect, hanging onto your Blackberry would free you a bit from the gilded prison of the White House. It would help you keep it real amid the stifling air of unreality that will soon envelop you.

And if you think giving up smoking is hard, wait until you go cold turkey on the Blackberry. You'll be bumming handhelds from your aides all day long. Might as well keep your own.

An interesting thought from:

AlterNet: How to Stop the Looming Depression Without Lining Fat-Cat CEOs' Pockets, Mike Davis

We are now at a crash site, and our priority should be to save the victims, not change the tires or repair the fender, much less build a new car. In the triage situation that now confronts the president-elect, keeping local schools and hospitals open should be the first concern, rebuilding bridges and expanding ports would come next, and rescuing bank shareholders at the very end of the line.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Finally Feeling American

vetsgwac I met an older African-American man who told me, almost in passing, that the election of Barack Obama as president made him reconsider his hyphen. He said that although he had been identifying himself as African-American for years, he now was going to drop the hyphen and get rid of the qualifier. From now on, he would simply describe himself as "American."

He said he never believed so many white people would vote for a black man for president. Exit polls showed that Obama won 44 percent of the white vote, more than Democrats John Kerry, Al Gore or Bill Clinton received in their presidential bids. So Obama, who also received an overwhelming percentage of the black vote, as well as large chunks of the Hispanic and Asian votes, won with a true rainbow coalition.

-- Exploring Race from The Chicago Tribune

Well Said!

Many times I hear people argue that the working class or poor should just stop expecting so much and be smarter with their money. You can't just orphan that thought out there! Such a venture, if it's undertaken with respect and integrity, has to mean real changes to our culture. We live in a culture that doesn't just value material wealth or affluence, but revels in excess, brags about largess and profligacy, makes a virtue of ostentation and a fetish of the most obscene and useless expense. That has to change, if we're going to accept the idea that we should all be happy with less. I know people kind of detest the language of compassion in politics, but it is a cruel thing, a cruel thing, to live in a culture that values wealth and only wealth, and then turn around and tell someone that they are irresponsible and wrong to be bent on acquiring it. It's easy to tell other people to delay gratification. It's much harder to actually be the one delaying it, when VH1 and the E! network are telling you everyday that you're nothing if you don't get that purse or that blouse or that g**d*** enormous television. I'm all for endorsing a modified American dream, but modifying it means a lot more than being a scold.

L'Hôte

UPDATE: New York Times: The Formerly Middle Class - David Brooks

At the beginning of every recession, there are people who see the downturn as an occasion for moral revival: Americans will learn to live without material extravagances. They’ll simplify their lives. They’ll rediscover what really matters: home, friends and family.

But recessions are about more than material deprivation. They’re also about fear and diminished expectations. The cultural consequences of recessions are rarely uplifting.

In this recession, maybe even more than other ones, the last ones to join the middle class will be the first ones out. And it won’t only be material deprivations that bites. It will be the loss of a social identity, the loss of social networks, the loss of the little status symbols that suggest an elevated place in the social order. These reversals are bound to produce alienation and a political response. If you want to know where the next big social movements will come from, I’d say the formerly middle class.

What if Starbucks Marketed Like a Church? A Parable

Beyond Relevance

HT: Mark Bowers

Tuesday Coffee Stops and Another Cartoon

Washington Post: Some Abortion Foes Shifting Focus From Ban to Reduction - Jaquiline L. Salmon

Frustrated by the failure to overturn Roe v. Wade, a growing number of antiabortion pastors, conservative academics and activists are setting aside efforts to outlaw abortion and instead are focusing on building social programs and developing other assistance for pregnant women to reduce the number of abortions.

Some of the activists are actually working with abortion rights advocates to push for legislation in Congress that would provide pregnant women with health care, child care and money for education -- services that could encourage them to continue their pregnancies.

Their efforts, they said, reflect the political reality that legal challenges to abortion rights will not be successful, especially after Barack Obama's victory this month in the presidential election and the defeat of several ballot measures that would have restricted access to abortions. Although the activists insist that they are not retreating from their belief that abortion is immoral and should be outlawed, they argue that a more practical alternative is to try to reduce abortions through other means.

"If one strategy has failed and failed over decades, and you have empirical information that tells how you can honor life and encourage women to make that choice by meeting real needs that are existing and tangible, why not do that?" said Douglas W. Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University who served in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. Kmiec, a Catholic who opposes abortion, was criticized by some abortion foes because he endorsed Obama.

Time: White House Won't Use Half of Bailout - David Epso

The Bush administration has told top lawmakers it does not plan to use at least half of the $700 billion bailout fund that Congress approved this fall to aid the financial industry, congressional officials said Monday.

These officials said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson passed the word over the weekend that he intends to leave $350 billion untouched when the administration leaves office on Jan. 20. That would mean the incoming Obama administration would decide whether and how the funds should be spent.

The Nation: Paulson Plays While We Pay - Nicholas von Hoffman

With his latest policy switch to buying stock in banks and other companies, Henry Paulson has more zigs and zags to his credit than a fox trying to escape a pack of hounds.

The fox and the hounds, of course, have a clear idea of what they want to do and how they want to do it, which is more than you can say of Paulson. Sums of incalculable size are being spent or pledged by Paulson and his playmate, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, and nobody outside their organizations, or maybe inside them either, knows who got what, how much they got and under what conditions they got it.

In the past couple of months Bernanke has loaned out $2 trillion to unnamed companies under eleven different programs, all but three of which have been slapped together in the past fifteen months of financial crisis. To repeat, we do not know who got this money or what collateral was put up in return for the loans or what conditions were attached to them.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Pray and Give

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

You are precious and honored in my sight...I love you        Isaiah 43

Go to CaliforniaVolunteers.org

    (Pictures from the LA Times)LA2 LA6 LA3 LA5 LA4

Monday Coffee Stops

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What Are They Thinking!?!?

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The American Family Association brings back images of the Jim Crow south with this gem of a Christmas decoration. For only $81.85, you, too, can celebrate the season with a five foot replica of a cross set afire by the KKK.

I need some feedback on this. Am I overreacting??

HT: Firedoglake

UPDATE: This is particularly interesting in view of Frank Rich's must read observations in yesterday's New York Times.


AlterNet: Former News Radio Staffer Spills the Beans on How Shock Jocks Inspire Hatred and Anger - Dan Shelley

To begin with, talk show hosts such as Charlie Sykes – one of the best in the business – are popular and powerful because they appeal to a segment of the population that feels disenfranchised and even victimized by the media. These people believe the media are predominantly staffed by and consistently reflect the views of social liberals. This view is by now so long-held and deep-rooted, it has evolved into part of virtually every conservative’s DNA.

To succeed, a talk show host must perpetuate the notion that his or her listeners are victims, and the host is the vehicle by which they can become empowered. The host frames virtually every issue in us-versus-them terms. There has to be a bad guy against whom the host will emphatically defend those loyal listeners.

• In the talk show world, the line-item veto was the most effective way to control government spending when Ronald Reagan was president; it was a violation of the separation of powers after President Clinton took office.

• Perjury was a heinous crime when Clinton was accused of lying under oath about his extramarital activities. But when Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s top aide, was charged with lying under oath, it was the prosecutor who had committed an egregious act by charging Libby with perjury.

• "Activist judges" are the scourge of the earth when they rule it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the rights heterosexuals receive. But judicial activism is needed to stop the husband of a woman in a persistent vegetative state – say Terri Schiavo – from removing her feeding tube to end her suffering.

To amuse myself while listening to a talk show, I would ask myself what the host would say if the situation were reversed. What if alleged D.C. Madam client Sen. David Vitter had been a Democrat? Would the reaction of talk show hosts have been so quiet you could hear crickets chirping? Hardly.

Or what if former Rep. Mark Foley had been a Democrat? Would his pedophile-like tendencies have been excused as a “prank” or mere “overfriendly e-mails?” Not on the life of your teenage son.

Suppose Al Gore was president and ordered an invasion of Iraq without an exit strategy. Suppose this had led to the deaths of more than 4,000 U.S. troops and actually made that part of the world less stable. Would talk show hosts have dismissed criticism of that war as unpatriotic? No chance.

Or imagine that John Kerry had been president during Hurricane Katrina and that his administration’s rescue and rebuilding effort had been horribly botched. Would talk show hosts have branded him a great president? Of course not.

Truthdig: YouTube Goes to the White House

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President-elect Barack Obama is bringing the fireside chat to the Web, using the technology at his disposal to address Americans online in a new twist on the check-in pioneered by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Welcome, as The Washington Post put it on Friday, to “The YouTube Presidency.”

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's Nighttime, There's No Coffee, But Here Are Some Stops + a Cartoon

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Christianity Today: Hagan drops lawsuit over Dole's 'godless' ad - Adelle M. Banks

Kay_Hagan Senator-elect Kay Hagan, the North Carolina Democrat who ousted Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole, has withdrawn a defamation suit over a Dole ad that linked Hagan with a 'godless' group.

It's clear that the people of North Carolina have rejected personal attacks aimed at dividing people of this state instead of bringing them together to solve the problems at hand," said Colleen Flanagan, communications director for Hagan's campaign.

"This lawsuit would just continue the focus on a very personal and negative attack against Kay, instead of focusing on the people of North Carolina."

In the suit, Hagan charged that Dole and her campaign maligned her reputation with an ad that "falsely implies that (Hagan) shares the views of an entity that calls itself the Godless Americans PAC."

New York Times: The Moose Stops Here - Frank Rick

Will the 2008 G.O.P. go the way of the 1936 G.O.P., which didn’t reclaim the White House until 1952? Even factoring in the Democrats’ time-honored propensity for self-immolation, it’s not beyond reason. The Republicans are in serious denial. A few heretics excepted, they hope to blame all their woes on their unpopular president, the inept McCain campaign and their party’s latent greed for budget-busting earmarks.

The trouble is far more fundamental than that. The G.O.P. ran out of steam and ideas well before George W. Bush took office and Tom DeLay ran amok, and it is now more representative of 20th-century South Africa during apartheid than 21st-century America. The proof is in the vanilla pudding. When David Letterman said that the 10 G.O.P. presidential candidates at an early debate looked like “guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club,” he was the first to correctly call the election.

The Republicans did this to themselves, yet a convenient amnesia can be found in conservatives’ post-Election Day soul searching. There’s endless hand-wringing about Bush and McCain blunders and Abramoff-Stevens corruption, but there’s barely any mention of the nasty cultural brawls that defined the G.O.P. campaign narrative this year as the party clung bitterly once more to its 40-year-old “Southern strategy.”

In defeat, the party’s thinking remains unchanged. Its leaders once again believe they can bamboozle the public into thinking they’re the “party of Lincoln” by pushing forward a few minority front men or women. The reason why they are promoting Palin and the recently elected Indian-American governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, as the party’s “future” is not just that they are hard-line social conservatives; they are also the only prominent Republican officeholders under 50 who are not white men. The G.O.P. will have to dip down to a former one-term lieutenant governor of Maryland, Michael Steele, to put a black public face on its national committee.

All That is Within Me

MRI3

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul;
         And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
         And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
         Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
         Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103 (KJV)

Sunday Coffee Stops

Washington Post: The Center-Right Nation Exits Stage Left - Tod Lindberg

Tod Lindberg is a fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and the editor of Policy Review. He was an informal foreign policy adviser to the McCain campaign.

If you'd asked me a year ago whether the United States is really a center-right nation, I would have said yes -- after pausing for a second to contemplate the GOP's big congressional losses in 2006. At the time, Republicans cheered each other up by assuring ourselves that the worst was over: If you were running for Congress and survived 2006, you could hold your seat forever.

Tell that to Christopher Shays. After 2006, he was the sole surviving GOP House member from all of New England, but he went down this year, 51 to 48 percent. We are now two elections into something big. This month's drubbing is just the latest sign that the country's political center of gravity is shifting from center-right to center-left. Republicans who fail to grasp this could be lost in the wilderness for years.

Here's the stark reality: It is now harder for the Republican presidential candidate to get to 50.1 percent than for the Democrat. My Hoover Institution colleague David Brady and Douglas Rivers of the research firm YouGovPolimetrix have been analyzing data from online interviews with 12,000 people in both 2004 and 2008. It shows an overall shift to the Democrats of six percentage points. As they write in the forthcoming edition of Policy Review, "The decline of Republican strength occurs by having strong Republicans become weak Republicans, weak Republicans becoming independents, and independents leaning more Democratic or even becoming Democrats." This is a portrait of an electorate moving from center-right to center-left.

In 2004, Republicans and Democrats each constituted 37 percent of the electorate. In the 2006 congressional election, Democrats outnumbered Republicans 38 percent to 36 and won big. This year, the Democrats made up a stunning 39 percent of the electorate, compared with just 32 percent for the Republicans. Add the painful fact that Obama outpolled McCain among independents, 52 percent to 48, and you have a picture of a Republican Party that has lost its connection to the center of the electorate.

True, the percentage of voters describing themselves as "liberal" and "conservative" has held relatively constant over many election cycles, with self-described liberals checking in at 22 percent this time around (up one percentage point over 2004) and self-described conservatives at 34 percent (unchanged from 2004). The numbers may not have changed, but the views behind those labels certainly have...In 1980, having a teenage daughter who was pregnant out of wedlock would have ruled you out for the No. 2 spot on the Democratic ticket. This year, it turned out to be a humanizing addition to the conservative vice presidential nominee's résumé.

New York Times: Say Goodbye to Blackberry? Yes He Can, Maybe - Jeff Zeleny

16blackberry_span Sorry, Mr. President. Please surrender your BlackBerry.

Those are seven words President-elect Barack Obama is dreading but expecting to hear, friends and advisers say, when he takes office in 65 days.

For years, like legions of other professionals, Mr. Obama has been all but addicted to his BlackBerry. The device has rarely been far from his side — on most days, it was fastened to his belt — to provide a singular conduit to the outside world as the bubble around him grew tighter and tighter throughout his campaign.

Mr. Obama’s memorandums and briefing books were seldom printed out and delivered to his house or hotel room, aides said. They were simply sent to his BlackBerry for his review. If a document was too long, he would read and respond from his laptop computer, often putting his editing changes in red type.

His messages to advisers and friends, they say, are generally crisp, properly spelled and free of symbols or emoticons. The time stamps provided a window into how much he was sleeping on a given night, with messages often being sent to staff members at 1 a.m. or as late as 3 a.m. if he was working on an important speech.

But before he arrives at the White House, he will probably be forced to sign off. In addition to concerns about e-mail security, he faces the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review, and the threat of subpoenas. A decision has not been made on whether he could become the first e-mailing president, but aides said that seemed doubtful.

Oxdown Gazette via Firedoglake: Maddow vs. Lieberman

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A New Spirit of Service and Sacrifice

For the first time, the weekly Democratic address has been released as a web video. It will also continue to air on the radio.

President-elect Obama plans to to publish these weekly updates through the Transition and then from the White House.

This and so much more is available at change.gov, the website of the Office of the President-Elect.

Today's address from the President-elect concerns the current economic crisis. I've posted the transcript following the video:

 

Remarks of President-elect Barack Obama

November 15, 2008

Today, the leaders of the G-20 countries -- a group that includes the world's largest economies -- are gathering in Washington to seek solutions to the ongoing turmoil in our financial markets. I'm glad President Bush has initiated this process -- because our global economic crisis requires a coordinated global response.

And yet, as we act in concert with other nations, we must also act immediately here at home to address America's own economic crisis. This week, amid continued volatility in our markets, we learned that unemployment insurance claims rose to their highest levels since September 11, 2001. We've lost jobs for ten straight months -- nearly 1.2 million jobs this year, many of them in our struggling auto industry. And millions of our fellow citizens lie awake each night wondering how they're going to pay their bills, stay in their homes, and save for retirement.

Make no mistake: this is the greatest economic challenge of our time. And while the road ahead will be long, and the work will be hard, I know that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis -- because here in America we always rise to the moment, no matter how hard. And I am more hopeful than ever before that America will rise once again.

But we must act right now. Next week, Congress will meet to address the spreading impact of the economic crisis. I urge them to pass at least a down-payment on a rescue plan that will create jobs, relieve the squeeze on families, and help get the economy growing again. In particular, we cannot afford to delay providing help for the more than one million Americans who will have exhausted their unemployment insurance by the end of this year. If Congress does not pass an immediate plan that gives the economy the boost it needs, I will make it my first order of business as President.

Even as we dig ourselves out of this recession, we must also recognize that out of this economic crisis comes an opportunity to create new jobs, strengthen our middle class, and keep our economy competitive in the 21st century.

That starts with the kinds of long-term investments that we've neglected for too long. That means putting two million Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, and schools. It means investing $150 billion to build an American green energy economy that will create five million new jobs, while freeing our nation from the tyranny of foreign oil, and saving our planet for our children. It means making health care affordable for anyone who has it, accessible for anyone who wants it, and reducing costs for small businesses. And it also means giving every child the world-class education they need to compete with any worker, anywhere in the world.

Doing all this will require not just new policies, but a new spirit of service and sacrifice, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. If this financial crisis has taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers -- in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people. And that is how we will meet the challenges of our time -- together. Thank you.

This Is What the Our "Free Market" System Has Been Depending On...WOW.

To this day, the willingness of a Wall Street investment bank to pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars to dispense investment advice to grownups remains a mystery to me. I was 24 years old, with no experience of, or particular interest in, guessing which stocks and bonds would rise and which would fall. The essential function of Wall Street is to allocate capital—to decide who should get it and who should not. Believe me when I tell you that I hadn’t the first clue.

I’d never taken an accounting course, never run a business, never even had savings of my own to manage. I stumbled into a job at Salomon Brothers in 1985 and stumbled out much richer three years later, and even though I wrote a book about the experience, the whole thing still strikes me as preposterous—which is one of the reasons the money was so easy to walk away from. I figured the situation was unsustainable. Sooner rather than later, someone was going to identify me, along with a lot of people more or less like me, as a fraud. Sooner rather than later, there would come a Great Reckoning when Wall Street would wake up and hundreds if not thousands of young people like me, who had no business making huge bets with other people’s money, would be expelled from finance.

-- read more if you dare try to stomach it

Saturday Coffee Stops

Christianity Today: The Song of Larks - John Stott

Perched on some conspicuous twig, with beak lifted high and throat vibrating violently, a bird will seem to sing its head off. Scripture even says, metaphorically speaking, that it is engaged with all nature in worship:

Praise the Lord from the earth, … wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds … Let them praise the name of the Lord (Psalm 148:7, 10, 13).

But of course this is a pure anthropomorphism. Singing birds have no idea what they are doing. And we must not copy them in this. Bishop John Jewel of Salisbury saw this clearly in his Second Book of Homilies (1571). In the homily entitled "Of Common Prayer and Sacraments" he wrote that we must sing "with the reason of man, not with the chattering of birds." To be sure, he continued, "ousels and popinjays and ravens and pies and other such like birds are taught by men to prate they know not what; but to sing with understanding is given by God's holy will to the nature of man."

We cannot sing with joy and gratitude to the Lord unless we sing with understanding.

More Coffee Poetry from Cocoajava.com

Realignment
by Karen Suriano

coffee sniff the spying eyes of sunrise find
me stumbling bumbling to the kitchen blind
coherent thought is undermined
sleep slugs, grey matter intertwined
lurch on undaunted, the freezer is mined
of roasted nirvana for electric grind
scoop and measure the unrefined
then water, heat and bean combined
hiss and gurgleshout most unkind
but aroma kisses with peace of mind
before first sip, much was maligned
but after, my outlook is realigned

Time Magazine: My Spiritual Journey - Barack Obama

This link is for those of you who are frightened you might be accused of being a terrorist because you are seen handling a copy of Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope. Time Magazine excerpted the chapter on Faith and published it in full online.

In the black community, the lines between sinner and saved were more fluid; the sins of those who came to church were not so different from the sins of those who didn't, and so were as likely to be talked about with humor as with condemnation. You needed to come to church precisely because you were of this world, not apart from it; rich, poor, sinner, saved, you needed to embrace Christ precisely because you had sins to wash away--because you were human and needed an ally in your difficult journey, to make the peaks and valleys smooth and render all those crooked paths straight.

It was because of these newfound understandings--that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world that I knew and loved--that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized. It came about as a choice and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Have to Agree!

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Mows.com

"Ouch!" That Smarts!

Mark Galli, is senior managing editor of Christianity Today. Interestingly, in light of the topic of his article, Christianity Today is also the parent organization which publishes Leadership Journal.

Linked with a warning to all of my colleagues across the nation:

The Leadership Cult

In our culture, leadership has become a "cult" — in the sense of an obsessive or faddish devotion. And Christians have been initiated into it. Besides the books that sit before me, there are many others authored by big-name pastors — or former pastors, since some pastors have managed to parlay their leadership insights into whole careers. Christian colleges are all about "developing future leaders." And there's the famous Leadership Network. And Leadership journal. And on it goes.

When Leadership came on to the scene in 1980, not many Christians thought about what it meant to lead an organization. Managing was more the rage. And few people saw the pastor as a leader. Today, it is the rare pastor who does not think of himself first and foremost as a leader who must employ leadership skills to lead his people. Gone are the days when pastors thought of themselves as, well, ministers — those who "attend to the wants and needs of others" (American Heritage Dictionary).

-- read more

Remembering Yesterday, a Poem and Coffee Stops for Friday

Yesterday, I ranted a bit because I was having to do my Coffee Stops without my coffee because of a test scheduled for a bit later in the morning. I'm over that now...because I have a fresh cup of coffee beside me right now and I'm making up for lost time!

What was worth depriving a sadly addicted man from his fix of Maxwell House? The test is call a transesophageal echocardiogram.

echocardiogram

You're probably familiar with the term echocardiogram. I had one of those, too, several days ago. That thing is no big deal. All I had to do for that one was bare my manly chest, lie down on my side on a table, allow a tech to smear goo on me and run a transducer around me like I was carrying a baby somewhere under my left nipple. Like I say, no big deal. (For those of who don't know me well, that's not me in the picture.)

So let's get back to this word, transesophageal. The fact that what they call the test requires a modifying term might alert you to the fact that this animal is different all together in it's "big dealness." Add to that the reality that you're told not eat or drink after midnight before the procedure should alert you to it's potential grossness, as well.

probe_1 To cut to the chase, the lay translation of transesophageal is "colonoscopy from the the other end." In a lab with a cardiologist, a RN, a radiology technician, and an echo technician, a probe like the one on the left (it's about the diameter of my middle finger) is greased liberally and introduced through the mouth into the tee1 esophagus in order to visualize the heart much closer than a standard echocardiogram allows resulting in images like the one below.

Echocardiogram_4chambers

 

Notice from the drawing above that if the probe is inserted far enough into the stomach, the heart can be visualized from the bottom as well and the side. TRUST ME ON THIS. They can do it!

Because the there is no camera on the probe, it was necessary to get the probe into the esophagus BEFORE the introduction of a miracle drug call Versed  into the I.V. line

Why in the world would I subject myself to such? The standard echocardiogram from several days ago, ordered by a physician as a prudent measure considering other health issues, came back suspicious. Since it looked to the cardiologist that evaluated the data that there might be a problem with the aortic valve, the physicians wanted to take a closer look.

Well, by golly, take it from me. THEY GOT THEIR CLOSER LOOK!

Results? Everything looks fine. Thank the Good Lord. But.....eeeeeyyewwwww!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How appropriate for me, then, that the meditation today from the Daily Office from the Northumbria Community site reminded me thus:

THE FIELD
Every curse becomes a blessing
to the people of God's choosing.
He who spoke it shall perform it.
He shall bring on us the blessing,
though the enemy may fight.
My Jesus has done all things
right.

In the dry and desert places
Jesus is our souls' oasis.
He will give us of His plenty,
fill the vessels once so empty,
pour His waters on the ground,
living waters gushing round.
See the land so black and barren;
God will make a watered garden:
fruitfulness where once
was parchedness,
light to break into the darkness,
upper springs
and nether springs
in the field
that Father's given.

Satan tries, but cannot block it,
powers of Hell could never stop it.
Darkness flees as light is given.
God establishes His heaven
in our hearts, and in this place
shows the radiance of His face.
Reflections on Judges 1:14-15;
Numbers 24:1-10; Psalm 26:3-4

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Nakedpastor: Another Dream: War - David Hayward

David shares a description of a dream he experienced leading to an intriguing, sometimes dicey, string of comments on love and doctrine.

Blog Itch: "And All God's People Said, 'Amen'"

I want to reiterate this post from L'Hôte, an interesting young writer, on the importance of words entitled many a morn, I mourn my lost language of specificity and sight-sound, the meaning drained to nothing, dead and undone

Washington Post: A Post-Evangelical America?

Lisa Miller, a Senior Editor at Newsweek and Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary, engage in a dialogue on evangelicals and politics in light of the recent election

Lisa Miller: For at least four decades, white evangelicals have been the religion-and-politics story in this country. Their power, their rhetoric, their numbers, their theology--all have been so dominant that many of us in the media had forgotten that religious faith could be expressed any other way.

Richard Mouw: After a week or so of basking in the afterglow of the presidential election, I am starting to get a little grumpy. It's not about President-elect Obama. Like many other Americans I wept tears of joy when he addressed the nation on the evening of November 4. What is irritating me is much of the post-election analysis, especially as it focuses on religious issues. Lisa Miller's Newsweek piece, "A Post-Evangelical America," is one of the things that has put me in a foul mood.

The Daily Dish: Vindication - Andrew Sullivan

Peter Schiff, President of Euro Investment Capital, has been ringing the warning bell on the upcoming, now current economic crisis since the end of 2006. The other economic talking heads on Fox News have been poo-pooing him all along. Peter has been spot on.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Puppycam!!!


Puppycam: For When You're Sick of Politics - TIME



Posted using ShareThis

A Ridiculous Republican Talking Point Refuted by the Facts

Throughout the recent campaign, whenever tax policy was topic, the Republican representative would complain that corporate tax rates were too high. If we would simply remove that onerous burden, the economy would be healed and job creation would trickle down to those below. I would have to restrain myself from screaming at the TV that, while the tax code may call for a rate of 35% to be assessed on corporate America, the loopholes woven into law and regulation through the collusion of lobbyests and legislators reduced their burden dramatically.

This Government Accountability Office report states that between 1998 and 2005, about two-thirds of the corporations operating in the United States PAID NO TAXES.

corporate-taxes

Today we read:

Now, new IRS data shows typical American companies paid only 25.3 percent of their U.S. book income in federal corporate taxes in 2005.

U.S. companies “reported about $1.35 trillion in pretax U.S. book income to their investors in 2005, but about $1.03 trillion to the IRS — a difference of about 23%.”

A quick back of the envelope calculation shows that the difference between paying 35 percent on $1.03 trillion in income and $1.35 trillion in income is approximately $112 billion — enough to finance more than half of CAP’s ambitious “Green Recovery” plan to jumpstart a clean energy economy.

Some differences between book and reported income are legal and legitimate, but they can also be a sign of sheltering and abuse. Effective tax reform would first broaden the tax base by closing loopholes and eliminating shelters, before considering a lower statutory corporate rate.

HT: The Wonk Room

"And All God's People Said, 'Amen'"

Words have value in their ability to distinguish and to discriminate. And they are only ever damaged in one direction: they become more abstracted, more broad, less specific, less forceful, less memorable, less powerful, more middling, less individual. When people misuse "anticipate" to the point where it is identical to "expect," there's nothing to cheer for anyone. Why? Because where we once had two words for two concepts, we now have two words for the same concept-- and no word that means "anticipate". You and I are rapidly losing that wonderful word. In it's place is a vague shell. Irony is a fantastic concept, wonderfully precise. The word "ironic," at this point, is close to having no individual meaning whatsoever. When "ironic" can mean any kind of sort of strange, sort of funny happenstance, we no longer use that word to access a specific and incisive idea.

L'Hôte

Coffee Stops for Thursday (without the coffee)

I'm headed out this morning for one of those tests ordered by physicians that requires no eating or drinking after midnight. So I'm sitting here at the laptop WITHOUT a steaming cup of black coffee to massage my disposition and outlook for the day. I've said so often that I'm glad that my addition is socially acceptable. If they made coffee drinking like cigarette smoking, I'd be sitting in the sipping section of the restraurant (I can never spell that word right the first time) or shivering outside on a cold winter's day catching a quick cup during a break.

So without further ado, I pay tribute to the object of my addiction by linking to this site of poetry written in honor of this liquid gift from God.

Cocoajava.com

21st Century Rodin

The upper right-hand
corner of my desk blotter;
a fresh, stark canvas
this morning, now a sepia
montage of concentric
accomplishments.
I sip,
I Think.
I sip,
I think.
I sip…
I think.
Sip.
Think.
Sip.
Think.
Sip
Big sip
sip sip sip
sip sip sippppp.
Ahhhhhhh.
Final sip, cup down.
A caffeine-laced
still life of a Slinky.
Boy-oh-boy-oh-boy-oh-man
was-I-ever productive
today!

-Mark L. Lucker

Beliefnet.com: 2004 Interview on faith and religion with then candidate for Senate, Barack Obama

The most detailed and fascinating explication of Barack Obama's faith came in a 2004 interview he gave Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani when he was running for U.S. Senate in Illinois. The column she wrote about the interview has been quoted and misquoted many times over, but she'd never before published the full transcript in a major publication.

Because of how controversial that interview became, Falsani has graciously allowed us to print the full conversation here.

OBAMA:
...the most powerful political moments for me come when I feel like my actions are aligned with a certain truth. I can feel it. When I'm talking to a group and I'm saying something truthful, I can feel a power that comes out of those statements that is different than when I'm just being glib or clever.

FALSANI:
What's that power? Is it the holy spirit? God?

OBAMA:
Well, I think it's the power of the recognition of God, or the recognition of a larger truth that is being shared between me and an audience.

That's something you learn watching ministers, quite a bit. What they call the Holy Spirit. They want the Holy Spirit to come down before they're preaching, right? Not to try to intellectualize it but what I see is there are moments that happen within a sermon where the minister gets out of his ego and is speaking from a deeper source. And it's powerful.

There are also times when you can see the ego getting in the way. Where the minister is performing and clearly straining for applause or an Amen. And those are distinct moments. I think those former moments are sacred.

Washington Post: Bailout Lacks Oversight Despite Billions Pledged - Amit  R. Paley

foxhenhouse In the six weeks since lawmakers approved the Treasury's massive bailout of financial firms, the government has poured money into the country's largest banks, recruited smaller banks into the program and repeatedly widened its scope to cover yet other types of businesses, from insurers to consumer lenders.

Along the way, the Bush administration has committed $290 billion of the $700 billion rescue package.

Yet for all this activity, no formal action has been taken to fill the independent oversight posts established by Congress when it approved the bailout to prevent corruption and government waste. Nor has the first monitoring report required by lawmakers been completed, though the initial deadline has passed.

"It's a mess," said Eric M. Thorson, the Treasury Department's inspector general, who has been working to oversee the bailout program until the newly created position of special inspector general is filled. "I don't think anyone understands right now how we're going to do proper oversight of this thing."

The New Yorker: The New Liberalism - George Packer

obamavelt In September, 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Democratic nominee for President, was asked by a reporter for his view of the job that he was seeking. “The Presidency is not merely an administrative office,” Roosevelt said. “That’s the least of it. It is more than an engineering job, efficient or inefficient. It is preëminently a place of moral leadership. All our great Presidents were leaders of thought at times when certain historic ideas in the life of the nation had to be clarified.” He went down the list of what we would now call transformative Presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson. (He also included Grover Cleveland, who hasn’t aged as well.) Then Roosevelt asked, “Isn’t that what the office is, a superb opportunity for reapplying—applying in new conditions—the simple rules of human conduct we always go back to? I stress the modern application, because we are always moving on; the technical and economic environment changes, and never so quickly as now. Without leadership alert and sensitive to change, we are bogged up or lose our way, as we have lost it in the past decade.”

Barack Obama’s decisive defeat of John McCain is the most important victory of a Democratic candidate since 1932. It brings to a close another conservative era, one that rose amid the ashes of the New Deal coalition in the late sixties, consolidated its power with the election of Ronald Reagan, in 1980, and immolated itself during the Presidency of George W. Bush. Obama will enter the White House at a moment of economic crisis worse than anything the nation has seen since the Great Depression; the old assumptions of free-market fundamentalism have, like a charlatan’s incantations, failed to work, and the need for some “new machinery” is painfully obvious. But what philosophy of government will characterize it?

Truthdig.com: President Obama Can Redeem the White House - Amy Goodman

When Frederick Douglass, the renowned abolitionist, was young, he was enslaved on a plantation on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, called Mount Misery, owned by Edward Covey, a notorious “slave breaker.” There, physical and psychological torture were standard. That property, today, is owned by Donald Rumsfeld, the former secretary of defense who was one of the key architects of the U.S. military’s program of torture and detention.

With the stroke of a pen on Inauguration Day, President Obama could outlaw torture. It would be a tribute to those slaves who built his new home, the White House, a tribute to those slaves who built the U.S. Capitol Building, a tribute to those who were tortured at Mount Misery.