Thursday, November 13, 2008

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.

21st Century Rodin

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

-Mark L. Lucker 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.

...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.

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

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? 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.

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