Does Barack Obama Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?

9 10 2009

I was really excited to hear who the Norwegian Nobel Committee would choose today to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Would it be Three Cups of Tea author and Afghanistan and Pakistan builder of schools for girls Greg Mortenson (see my post on Greg here)? Or Dr. Denis Mukwege, the Congolese gynecologist who has repaired the damage done to 21,000 gang raped women and given them hope? Both were incredibly deserving and could certainly put the $1.4 million prize money to good use helping women and girls.

President Obama at UN Security Council Mtg (Doug Mills, NY Times)

President Obama at UN Security Council Meeting in September 2009 (Doug Mills, NY Times)

I was as stunned as anyone to learn upon waking today that President Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The committee received 205 nominations and created a short list of between 5 and 20 nominees. A group of academics who are permanent advisers to the Nobel Institute examined these candidates, gave their input, and the committee made the final decision. They had this to say about why they awarded President Obama the prize:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had this to say about President Obama’s win:

We are entering an era of renewed multilateralism, a new era where the challenges facing humankind demand global common cause and uncommon global effort. President Obama embodies the new spirit of dialogue and engagement on the world’s biggest problems: climate change, nuclear disarmament and a wide range of peace and security challenges.

There are many naysayers, though…mostly in the U.S….who ask what has he done to deserve this prestigious prize? After all, he’s only been president for 9 months. Go back even to the over two-year election period and you can see him already at work as a peacemaker. Some examples?

  • John McCain called him “that one” in an election debate and Obama turned the other cheek and did not react. He has been very gracious toward McCain and included him in many high-value decisions since he’s been president.
  • Hillary Clinton was snide and mocked Obama repeatedly during the election and Obama never responded in kind toward her. After her vitriol (and Bill’s) toward him, he had the grace to ask her to be his secretary of state.
  • Throughout all the Bill Ayers, Reverend Wright, and Acorn debaucles and Palin hate mongering rallies, Obama said repeatedly that he trusted the American people to see what was really important and not to get sidetracked or misled.

Not once did he let all of the ugliness directed at him cause him to act ugly in return. Many people saw him as weak and thought he surely would not win the election because he didn’t go on the attack, but the American people decided they wanted someone who was peaceful, positive, and projected a quiet calm.

Besides how he conducted himself during the campaign, President Obama, in just a few short months has already done a lot to promote peace. A few of his efforts include:

  • A commitment to nuclear disarmament even in the face of North Korea’s threats and launching missiles
  • Meeting with President Dmitri Medvedev to begin repairing relations with Russia
  • Meeting with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan to improve relations between their countries
  • Giving a major speech aimed at the Muslim world in Cairo where he spoke of a fresh start and a new relationship based on mutual respect and understanding
  • Working to restart peace talks by meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine

Obama responding to Nobel Peace Prize win - Stephen Crowley - NYTimesPresident Obama’s spoke this morning about this honor; here are some of his remarks:

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.

That is why I’ve said that I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations and all peoples to confront the common challenges of the 21st century. These challenges won’t all be met during my presidency, or even my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it’s recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.

This award — and the call to action that comes with it — does not belong simply to me or my administration; it belongs to all people around the world who have fought for justice and for peace. And most of all, it belongs to you, the men and women of America, who have dared to hope and have worked so hard to make our world a little better.

President Obama will go to Oslo, Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10. He has announced that he will donate the prize money to charity.

Kenyan Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, said:

Many people are waiting for miracles, when miracles have already happened. The getting of the senator into the Senate, the way he conducted his campaign, the way he won… In America it may not look as big a thing as it was to the rest of the world, the hope and the aspiration it provides for the rest of the world.

Think back to election night and inauguration day. Barack Obama…even before he became president…lifted not only the American people, but people all over the world. He gave them hope, he made them believe again in decency, respectfulness, dignity, honor, honesty, openness, civility, inclusiveness, and the power of trusting and communicating with people all over the world. To me, these are the hallmarks of what creating peace is all about.

Alfred Nobel stated in his will that he wanted the Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded to…

the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.

Does Barack Obama deserve the Nobel Peace Prize? For me…and the committee upholding Alfred Nobel’s wishes…the answer is YES, he does. I cannot think of a single other person who is more the active embodiment of what Alfred Nobel sought in a peacemaker worthy of this award. Congratulations, President Obama and thank you for your example and your peaceful tone as a man and as our president.

Here’s Geir Lundestad, Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, speaking to senior editor Simon Frantz about why President Obama was chosen for this high honor.





Using the Lost 2016 Olympics Bid to Sow Hatred in America

3 10 2009

Ha ha ha! We didn’t get the bid for the 2016 Olympics. What a loser that President Obama is. That’s what we’re hearing from many conservatives today. Here are some actual statements made today with derisive gleefulness:

  • Rush Limbaugh – “Our president, Barack Hussein Obama, has been running around the world for nine months telling everybody how much our country sucks…. Why would anybody award the Olympics to such a crappy place?…Obama demeaned the office of the presidency, going on this sales pitch….He doesn’t understand how delighted the world is to make him look foolish in order to take a swipe at our country. We’ve got a two-year-old manchild with a Mars-sized ego, which today crashed and burned.”
  • The Drudge Report - “THE EGO HAS LANDED. WORLD REJECTS OBAMA: CHICAGO OUT IN FIRST ROUND”
  • The National Review Online – “Wow, what an embarrassment for Obama. If he can’t work his personal magic with the Olympians, why does he expect it to work with the Iranians?”
  • Michelle Malkin – “Goodbye, ‘Yes We Can.’ Hello, ‘No, You Can’t.’ Like Icarus, President Obama’s giddy ego flight has ended with melted wax and fallen wings.”

This is downright disturbing to see Americans gloating because the U.S. lost the bid for the 2016 Olympics and laughing out loud at President Obama because of it. Lately there have been a lot of outrageous, mean-spirited, derogatory, and frankly anti-American statements made that indicate the speakers of those words hope our country and President Obama fail; Limbaugh even outright said so.

If you are one of the people laughing at our president and hoping our country fails, do you call yourself religious? Do you claim moral authority? Are you a member of the party whose election campaign motto was “Country First”?  If so, I ask where is your decency, your Christ-like spirit, and your caring for and loving fellow Americans including BLACK ones like our president? When you ask the question What would Jesus do? do you seriously think he would behave this way?

Instead of gleeful derision, why not celebrate with Rio de Janeiro on their win today? Why not be grateful for a president who made a huge personal effort and sees this as an opportunity to reestablish relations with people all over the world after they were so damaged by the previous president? Why not be thankful to all the people who spent countless hours putting together the bid for Chicago to host the Olympics? Wouldn’t all that be more Christian, more decent, more American?

I’m really tired of certain factions…incited and egged on by certain media personalities…doing everything they can to tear down our country. Consider the source of your information….it is from opportunists who don’t care about our country and the people in it. These opportunists make a lot of money being outrageous and hateful. They worship the almighty dollar.

Instead of what we saw today, I’d like to see glee being shown when people extend kindness, lift each other up, care for one another, and contribute to the good in the world. 13th century Persian poet Rumi says it so well:

Tender words we spoke to one another are sealed in the secret vaults of heaven. One day like rain, they will fall to earth and grow green all over the world.

What words are you saying? Are they kind? Encouraging? Caring? Loving? Will they fall to the earth and grow green all over the world or scorch the earth with dissension and hatred?

UPDATE 10/5/09: Paul Krugman has an excellent New York Times Op-Ed on this entitled “The Politics of Spite,” which was published 10/4.





Hatred in Action at the Holocaust Museum

10 06 2009

Tragic. Today an 88-year-old white supremacist walked into the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. and killed a 39-year-old security guard before being fired on by other guards. The Holocaust Museumkiller was known to hate Jews, Catholics, and African-Americans and on the radar of those who study fringe extremists who devote their lives to hatred. He wrote a book denying the Holocaust and praising Hitler. He spent more than five years in prison for the 1983 conviction on charges of attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board with a hunting knife, revolver, and 12-gauge shotgun. He even invoked others to kill people who threatened what he saw as the supremacy of white people.

These kind of people terrify me more than any Taliban or jihadist. These are people living on our own soil who at any moment in any location and without provocation can take someone’s life…or many lives. These people walk amongst us. They look like us. They may be our grandfather, our son, our uncle, our boss. We usually don’t have a clue as to the level of depravity and hatred they harbor. Their souls are dark places where light never enters.

And yet people like Palin, Limbaugh, Cheney, O’Reilly, Beck, and Hannity fuel the flames that burn in these in-grown terroists’ hearts. These very public people tell lies and make insinuations that inflame the ignorant, the uninformed, the uncurious, and the gun-toting racists. They speak with seemingly innocent irresponsibility and then act surprised and are in denial when their words produce predictable results.

I am disgusted with the talk of these people and the talk of any person who promotes hatred. I am alarmed and saddened by the results of their hate talk.

Credit: MSNBC.com

Stephen Tyrone Johns Credit: MSNBC.com

Stephen Tyrone Johns was the man killed. He had worked as a security guard at the Holocaust Museum for six years. He was doing his job to protect the school children and others who come to the museum to remember the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. He didn’t deserve to die.

The other news today? Carrie Prejean, Miss California, was fired by Donald Trump. She is the contestant in the Miss USA pageant who spoke out against gay marriage and preached intolerance toward gay people. Is it any accident that these two incidents headline the news in the same day? I think not. They, along with the killing last week of the abortion doctor by a right-wing extremist, speak of intolerance, of people claiming their way is the only right way, of excluding others who are not like you.

We need healing, love, and inclusion. These are what President Obama is practicing and teaching. Why are these positive principles so threatening to those who hate? We must hold the light and shine that light into the dark corners of the extremist corners of the dark hearts in our society. Our country, its citizens, and the citizens of the world need our light.

Here’s “This Little Light of Mine” sung by the African Children’s Choir. I heard them sing in Austin a few months ago. These children shine light and love into our hearts with their singing, dancing, and ebullient spirits. We can learn a lot from children…they remind us to be about joy and love.





Stand By Me

30 04 2009

Who do you stand by? Today. Right now. A child? Spouse or significant other? Best friend?  Maybe yourself? Is that about it? Hmmm. Too busy, too frazzled, or just don’t give a damn to stand by anyone else? Do you even think about others outside your primary relationships? Of course you do…right?

You are like a cell in the total of the human(ity) body. For this every-human-on-the-planet body to be healthy and functioning, each cell needs to be healthy. Think those women being children and women being raped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo don’t affect your life? You have a deadly cancer…good luck. Think Chinese women being forced to abort 9-month-old fetuses to comply with the one-child law doesn’t affect you? You lost your sight…how does that feel?

globe-in-hands-smallerEspecially in the U.S. we have had this notion that we are independent and not connected to the rest of the world…that global body. Look what happened with the economic crisis here…it brought down economies around the world. Our greed, self-centeredness, and narcissim infected others and caused the global body harm.

Now look at the power of what one person can do. President Obama has such a positive, calm, comforting, reassuring, thoughtful, and attentive demeanor and he is lifting us all up. Our global cells are starting to hum and vibrate with hope again.

We are all interconnected. It starts with one person…and then another…and then another…and then another… Who do you stand by? Who do you stand with? Who do you connect with? The answer to that last question? EVERYONE.

 We all need each other. Stand by me. I stand by you.

 From the award-winning documentary “Playing for Change: Peace Through Music”…enjoy!





LGBT (Gay) in America…LGBT in Iraq

13 04 2009

gays-holding-hands1As gay marriage, gays in the military, gay teachers, gay friends, etc. become mainstream, we must not forget that LGBT people still suffer. A gay couple was thrown out of the beautiful Four Seasons hotel downtown in Austin (a very gay-friendly town) recently because one guy sat on the other’s lap in the lobby. Students are still harrassed in school.

To bring attention to this, the Day of Silence is being celebrated throughout the U.S. on Friday, April 17. According to the website:

Founded in 1996, the Day of Silence has become the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Students who participate in this stay silent the entire day to bring attention to the silence faced by LGBT students in the face of name calling, bullying, etc. According to the GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), 61% of students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.

If you’d like to encourage Congress to support the National Day of Silence, go to this Gay Rights page on the Change.org website and sign the petition.  The resolution was introduced to the House of Representatives on April 2nd.

The White House and President Obama support several LGBT initiatives, which can be found by going to this whitehouse.gov civil rights page. On June 1, 2007, candidate Barack Obama said the following:

While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It’s about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.

We are making great strides in treating LGBT people with respect, but there are still hate crimes and murders here. And while our government is struggling with how to treat LGBT equally, police here are at least not hunting down LGBT people as they are in Iraq.

Is there anyone to help me before it is too late? That’s the urgent plea in a handwritten note released last weekend from a member of the Iraqi-LGBT who is being held for execution because he is gay. In an April 7, 2009 article, the New York Times reports:

In the past two months, the bodies of as many as 25 boys and men suspected of being gay have turned up in the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City, the police and friends of the dead say. Most have been shot, some multiple times. Several have been found with the word “pervert” in Arabic on notes attached to their bodies, the police said.

The police have been working to “clean up the streets” of beggars and homosexuals lately. A gay subculture has sprung up with the increased freedom in Iraq, but homosexuality is still against the law. The Times speaks of the fatwa that was issued against homosexuals in Iraq:

In 2005, the country’s most influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a religious decree that said gay men and lesbians should be “punished, in fact, killed.” He added, “The people should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.” The language has since been removed from his Web site.

Below is a disturbing report from CNN about gays being targeted in Iraq. One young man interviewed says he would rather commit suicide rather than admit to his family that he is gay. So when you walk down the street and think of the freedom that you have to love who you want and hug your partner, remember that if you were lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgendered, it could put you in danger in an American school or get you killed in Iraq.

 





International Free the Slaves Awareness Day

26 03 2009

Did you know that there are 27 million slaves worldwide today? Shocking, isn’t it? March 27 is International Free the Slaves Awareness Day. Free the Slaves is a not for profit organization that “… liberates slaves around the world, helps them rebuild their lives and researches real world solutions to eradicate slavery forever.” They have a 25-year plan to eradicate slavery. Here are facts they list about slavery:

slavery-facts-from-free-the-slaves2

Think slavery doesn’t exist in the U.S.? Think again. Slaves are harbored in 90 U.S. cities. An estimated 50% of the over 14,500 – 17,500 slaves trafficked into the U.S. each year are sex slaves; the other 50% are in the agriculture, domestic service, manufacturing, and other industries.

The largest numbers of slaves – as many as 18 million - are in Pakistan, Nepal, and India. The Free the Slaves website has an interactive map you can click on to find out about slavery in any part of the world.

President Obama calls human slavery a “top priority.” In a March 24, 2009 White House press release, “President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Luis C. de Baca as Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the State Department.” If you want to help, Free the Slaves has a whole page of suggestions.

You can read other posts I have written about slavery/trafficking:

The average citizen in the U.S. can possibly save a person being held in slavery by being alert to things that don’t seem right and being inquisitive. A slave may even be a teenager living with their family and being coerced into sexual slavery as is the case in the post mentioned above.

Watch this excellent video from Free the Slaves with personal stories of people enslaved under false pretenses. The resiliency and spirit of people who have been through this horror is amazing. Join Free the Slaves and the many other excellent organizations such as isanctuary.org and FreeGirl Foundation that work to stamp out human slavery and trafficking. We all bear responsibility for our brothers and sisters all over the world.





Finally…Moral Leadership and NO MORE TORTURE

22 01 2009

Finally. An ethical President. When we hear “The U.S. does not torture,” this time it will not be a lie. Today President Obama (I love the sound of that!) issued an executive order that orders that any prisoner being held at Guantanamo must be be treated humanely in accordance with the Geneva Conventions (which Bush totally ignored). He also ordered the closing of Guantanamo no later than one year from today. Some prisoners have been held there as long as 7 years without a trial.

Obama with Retired Generals Signing Order on 1/22/09 to Close Guantanamo

Obama with Retired Generals Signing Order on 1/22/09 to Close Guantanamo

 One of the retired generals accompanying President Obama as he signed the orders was Retired Major General Paul D. Eaton. He was interviewed by Keith Olbermann and Eaton had this to say about today: “It’s been a blockbuster day. The performance of our President was nothing less than terrific…great courage. It was a wonderful, wonderful session with him.” He also said that he and other retired generals and admirals  have been working with Human Rights First on how to restore our moral standing in the world. He said a critical component of that is how you handle your detainees.

Eaton also said that the Bush Administration “…allowed Guantanamo to become a recruiting poster for Al Qaeda.” This statement is similar to one made by “Matthew Alexander” (an assumed name) who is a former U.S. interrogator. I wrote about him in this post and his assertion that as many Americans have died because of the U.S. practice of torture as died in 9/11.

Obama also signed today an executive order to establish an interagency task force on detainee disposition to “… identify lawful options for the disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations.”

A third executive order President Obama signed was “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations.” He revoked previous regulations issued to or by the CIA from 9/11/01 to 1/20/09, which gave them power to ignore the Geneva Conventions and other U.S. laws regarding treatment of prisoners and torture. The executive order asserted that detainees are not to be tortured and are to be interrogated using the Army Field Manual guidelines.

Yesterday President Obama ordered that military prosecutors halt all Guantanamo war crimes tribunals for 120 days so that the cases can be reviewed. The military had been serving as judge and jury in these cases.

I have written several blogs about torture after hearing New Yorker writer Jane Mayer speak in Austin and then reading her riveting book “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.” I had a recent conversation with my mother about how Bush and Cheney had personally authorized torture and she seemed to be totally unaware this was going on. I’m sure there are millions of other Americans who have been blissfully unaware. They are most likely the same people who voted for Bush for president again in 2004…the same year the photos of the abuse at Abu Ghraib came out.

President Obama is a different man. He is caring, compassionate, has a strong moral compass, and believes there are other ways to deal with our enemies rather than torture them to partial or complete death or to bomb them and go to war on false pretenses.

Finally the U.S. can begin to assume our position as the leader in human rights and equal rights for all people. It’s about time.





A Brand New Day – The Inauguration of Barack Obama

20 01 2009

Instead of a rah-rah campaign speech, Barack Obama’s inaugural address was one of a leader during difficult times…sobering, direct, forceful, confident, and often parental.

obama-taking-oath-of-office

Instead of trying to make us feel good, he spoke to us honestly about the challenges ahead and of how we must all do our part. The massive crowd seemed a bit stunned. They were in a party mood and wanted to cheer during his speech. They had a few opportunities…but mostly listened somberly to his call to each of them…to each of us. If you didn’t see or hear the speech…or just want to watch it again, here it is.

 

The interviews with people who came to the inauguration were heart-warming and tear-producing. They each had a personal story to tell of why they had to come to the inauguration, no matter the hardships in getting there or the discomfort of standing in 15 degree cold for hours.

Barack and Michelle…now the President and First Lady…and Vice President and Mrs. Biden showed courage (another trait of leaders) in walking several blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue on a day when many feared for their safety.

Obama was gracious in thanking Bush for his service, but appropriately did not gush and did not mention Cheney. The sight of Cheney bowed in a wheelchair…the formerly all powerful vice president…now not able to walk on his own two feet seemed apropos. The sight of Bush leaving in a government helicopter while the crowd booed and sang “Na Na Na Na, Goodbye” also seemed apropos. The two war criminals were diminished and dismissed by a people eager to get on with forgetting the destruction they left behind.

Senator Kennedy, even with brain cancer, looked fit and delighted as he took his seat in the viewing stand at the swearing in…and later suffered a seizure at lunch. He, like so many of us, was so moved by Obama that he put his own (health) issues to the side and showed up, which is what Obama is asking us all to do.

Malia and Sasha were poised and charming and their mother Michelle was beautiful, elegant, lovely, graceful, and supportive. Barack was intimate with his wife and children and made the day as much about them as it was about him.

The planning of the day was superlative…except that more wiggle room could have been built into the schedule. It was a beautiful day, a memorable day, a joyful day, and a day to remember.

Celebrities such as Beyonce (beautifully and tearfully singing “At Last” as the Obamas danced their first dance), Alicia Keys, Oprah and Steadman, Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Will.I.Am (he of the incredible video that contributed so much to the campaign), Mary J. Blige, Faith Hill, Usher, and so many more were thrilled to participate in the day and at the balls. Aretha Franklin sang “My Country Tis of Thee” masterfully during the swearing in ceremony.

Barack Obama brought change today…to our country, our minds, and our hearts. I leave you with Will.I.Am singing a song so appropriate for the day…”It’s a New Day”…a day an African American became the most powerful person in the world and moved into the WHITE House…built on the backs of black slaves.





Going Out in a Blaze of Revisionism, Denial, Blaming

14 01 2009

Bush, Cheney, and Palin are all on their I-didnt-do-it-it’s-those-people’s-fault 2009 Revisionism, Denial, and Blaming Tour. One wonders how they keep a straight face when being interviewed. The words that come out of their mouths are so surreal when compared to the facts of what actually happened.

Cheney still denies that waterboarding is torture and flatly asserts that torture and Guantanamo Bay were and are necessary. He believes that he participated in an administration that accomplished a lot and he’s proud of what he’s done. He may just be one of the most dangerous people who has ever served in an administration. He says that the torture, detention, and renditions that he personally authorized were done legally. Of course, his chief of staff David Addington was the person who was in charge of getting Gonzales, Yoo, and others to pen whatever legal chicanery they could to cover their asses.

And Bush…this man is probably the most unaware person I have ever observed. He seems to have no conscience at all. He led us into a war on false pretenses, but maintains it was necessary. He asks in a press conference what else could he have done to help out during Katrina and says he couldn’t land his helicopter there because that would’ve taken resources away from rescuing people…as if that was his only choice for what to do. He, too, insists that torture was necessary and finally…after many years of denying it…admits that he did authorize torture of the master mind of 9/11.

And then there’s Palin. She blames the McCain people for keeping her quiet during the election (there’s a reason for that as has become quite evident). She whines that bloggers were smearing her and the media was biased against her due to class issues. She looks for any opportunity to be in the national spotlight while many of her own people in Alaska are having to choose between heating their homes or eating due to the high cost of heating oil…and she does nothing. At least John McCain has the decency to not blame others and has kept quiet. Palin could learn a thing or two from him.

So what’s the message we get from Cheney, Bush, and Palin? It’s okay to do whatever you want to do and you don’t have to listen to or consider the people you serve. Lie if it will save your ass. You can treat people however you want as long as you smile and wave the flag of being a good Christian or family values person. Intelligence is overrated. Manipulation is underrated.

Barack Obama is a breath of fresh air. He tells us the truth…even when it’s painful to hear. He gives us hope. He gathers the smartest people he can to advise him and help him govern…he values intelligence and is incredibly intelligent himself. He has real family values…the affection he has for his wife and children is undeniable. During the election and after he takes office he has made it a policy that those working with him need to take time off to be with their families. He denounces torture and will reverse that policy and many others that Bush and Cheney have put in place…ones that have destroyed the respect that so many people have had for the United States. Obama will get things done to lift us up rather than destroying our country as Bush and Cheney have.

Human rights will once again be important in the U.S. and for those we touch. Bush and Cheney assumed absolute power and took away so much of our freedom in the name of keeping us safe.

Cheney, Bush, and Palin, your time on the national stage is over. You have done enough damage. Let our country heal now under the leadership of Barack Obama. Yes we can…have hope and honest and intelligent leadership…finally.





Barack Obama Spontaneously Speaks to Southside Chicago Schoolchildren

27 11 2008

I guarantee that this video of Barack Obama speaking to schoolchildren yesterday will put a smile on your face. He, Michelle, Sasha, and Malia helped hand out food to homeless people at a Catholic church food center. School children had posted a sign about him in a nearby window and spontaneously he decided to go in and talk to the children. The school gathered all the children and they sat on the floor in great anticipation. When Obama entered the room, the children screamed and were wildly exhuberant.

Obama spent over 7 minutes talking to the children. He let them ask questions and asked the name of the questioners. He hugged many children. What a delight to see these children in the south side of Chicago light up with excitement. They saw someone who looks like them who shows them that anything is possible. Obama even told them that one day maybe they will be president and they screamed with delight and possibility.

The Obamas are beautiful in their personal touches, their warmth, their caring, and their reaching out and literally touching and hugging people. Michelle even picked up a young child and held her. The warmth that they share as a family they share with all of us. It is so refreshing to see this love and this example in our soon-to-be First Family. They lift us all up.

Thank you, Barack, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha. It makes me proud to call you First Family. Here’s the video. It’s not high quality, but it’s so worth watching. Enjoy!

 





Obama Will End the Bush Administration’s Sanction of Torture

16 11 2008

We’ve had 7 long and shameful years of torture instituted and sanctioned by George Bush and Dick Cheney. Obama said on 60 Minutes tonight that he will close Guantanamo Bay and ban torture in order to “regain America’s moral stature in the world.” Most people have heard about Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and know that we have held terrorist suspects there, but most – myself included - haven’t known the extent to which Bush and Cheney have gone to take away human rights in the name of keeping our country safe.
CLICK HERE to read more





President-Elect Obama’s Election Night Speech

5 11 2008

Obama started his electrifying election night speech by reminding us that America is STILL a land of possibility and the realization of dreams. He spoke of us being a diverse people while seeking to unite us by saying that we are not a collection of red and blue states…we are the UNITED STATES of America. CLICK HERE to keep reading





From KKK crosses to a black president

4 11 2008

As a white child growing up in east Tennessee in the 1950s and 1960s I remember seeing huge KKK crosses burning. I didn’t fully understand what I was seeing, but I did feel shame as a white person. My grandfather had a farm and hired several black men as farmworkers. He always referred to them as “niggers” and that term felt uncomfortable to me then. It was a way of talking about people that was demeaning…that meant they were less than in his eyes.

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A Change is Gonna Come

4 11 2008

A song for today. Seal doing more than justice to Sam Cooke’s song.





Let’s Go Change the World

4 11 2008

This video is so inspiring. We can change the world today. VOTE.





11/4/08 WE CHOOSE A NEW AMERICA

3 11 2008

11/4/08 we choose a new America. McCain and Palin did everything they could in this election to divide the country, create hate, inflame racism, lie, cheat, hide, deny, smear, and more. ENOUGH. 11/4/08 WE CHOOSE A NEW AMERICA.

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Rachel Maddow and Barack Obama

30 10 2008

I watched Dr. (and Rhodes Scholar) Rachel Maddow interview Harvard Law Review President Barack Obama tonight on her show. This was two highly intelligent, engaging, and informed intellectuals going head to head. There has been (by the McCain campaign) so much emphasis put on Obama being someone who can give a good speech and draw crowds. It’s easy to forget that Obama is also a tremendous scholar. CLICK HERE to keep reading





Obamamercial

29 10 2008

What did you think? Love it? Lukewarm? Didn’t like it at all? Here’s what I think:

  • It was incredibly well-executed. It was directed by Davis Guggenheim, the director and executive producer of former Vice President Al Gore’s global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and producer and director of the HBO series “Deadwood.” Guggenheim also directed Obama’s convention video.
  • It was heart-felt, moving, and according to many Twitter posts, had lots of people in tears.
  • It showed ordinary Americans with big problems due to the downturn of the economy, lack of health care, and more. Those people are everyman. He drove it home to us…made it personal.
  • It was totally positive. It was all about what Obama could do for America, not what’s wrong with America.
  • John McCain or Sarah Palin were never mentioned. Again, the focus was on the positive and not bashing the other guy (or gal).
  • Obama came across as presidential. He was commanding yet caring, knowledgeable and intelligent, confident yet accessible.
  • Obama said in this video “You can trust me. I understand you. I want to help you. I care about you.”
  • Bravo! Well done!

If you didn’t see it or want to watch it again, you can watch it here. Enjoy!





Why So Angry? Afraid You’re Losing YOUR America?

29 10 2008

You’ve seen them. Those angry people at rallies and being interviewed on TV. I’ve seen them in commentary on this blog and in hateful blogs of their own. Why are people so angry?

Any psychologist – even an armchair one – will tell you that anger often masks fear. In other words, if you display anger, you’re probably fearful about something. The Republicans may fear the loss of the election and Congressional seats. That’s understandable.

But I think there is more going on here than a fear of losing power. Often people are threatened by those who are different from them and Barack Obama is different. He has a funny (to our ears) sounding name, he has an African father and a white mother, he looks black, etc. Also, Obama is super intelligent, thoughtful, and is measured in how he makes decisions. This seems foreign to a lot of people, especially those who don’t value intelligence and education and are married to some rhetoric that tells them how to think and what to do. They say they don’t trust him because they just don’t understand that kind of intellect and ability to analyze and make judgments.

There are also a lot of people afraid of losing what they see as the normal America…the white America, the evangelical America, the dumbed-down America, the bellicose go-to-war and fight-fight-fight America, and the our-country-is-supreme America. What these factions don’t seem to understand is that while Bush and Cheney were the face of that kind of America and tried to perpetuate that facade, the real America (and I’m not talking about the real America Palin talks about) has moved on as has the rest of the world.

We are black, white, Asian, Indian, bi-racial, Muslim, Arab, Jewish, Hispanic, Christian, atheist, and more. We realize we are well behind other industrialized countries in education and need to catch up. More and more of us believe that peace is possible and don’t believe in spending $12 billion a month in Iraq. And we are owned in large part by China and other countries and will go the way of England or Spain and lose world leadership if we don’t bring our focus back to our internal problems and begin to fix them.

We can’t afford anger, hatred, divisiveness, self-appointed moral authority, finger-pointing, and tearing down each other and the country. This is not what our country needs. We need inclusiveness, understanding, working together, building each other up, and hope.

Thanks to HealThisNation.org for the tip on their ads about people wanting real change and hoping for a better future. Here’s one of their great ads. Others are posted on their website and on YouTube.





Barack Obama: Inclusiveness in a Time of Divisiveness

17 10 2008

The endorsements for Obama by typically Republican newspapers, columnists, and media speak of how Obama brings inclusiveness when our divided country desperately needs it. Here are a few excerpts from endorsements for Obama by CONSERVATIVE newspapers and columnists:

  • Chicago Tribune – “We know first-hand that Obama seeks out and listens carefully and respectfully to people who disagree with him. He builds consensus. He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. He has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions.”
  • Washington Post – “Mr. Obama is a man of supple intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at conciliation and consensus-building. But Mr. Obama’s temperament is unlike anything we’ve seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view. He has inspired millions of voters of diverse ages and races, no small thing in our often divided and cynical country. We think he is the right man for a perilous moment.”
  • Seattle Times – “At a time of huge challenge, the candidate with the intelligence, temperament and judgment to lead our nation to a better place is Sen. Barack Obama.”
  • Christopher Buckley, who resigned from the National Review (which his father started) over his endorsement of Obama – ” Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for. So, I wish him all the best. We are all in this together. Necessity is the mother of bipartisanship.”
  • Michael Smerconish, Philadelphia radio host – “He’s better suited to be a unifier.”

These are some of the typical Republican mouthpieces that are crossing party lines to endorse Barack Obama because they see him as the man who can help the entire country rise out of the major crises we are facing now.

The electrifying keynote speech that Obama gave at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which introduced him on the national stage to most people, rings even more true today to what our country needs. In part, he said:

“It is that fundamental belief — it is that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: “E pluribus unum,” out of many, one.

Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”

He goes on to say that “We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”

The polls reflect that people are tired of the divisiveness that Palin and McCain tout at their rallies and in their inflammatory ads and campaign letters and calls. Their inciting near-riots and mob lynches at rallies – particularly Palin – are reprehensible, irresponsible, and downright dangerous. This talk of Obama as being “not one of us” is racist, divisive, and exclusionary. Palin even questions the loyalty of some Americans and praises certain areas of the country for being more patriotic.

Our country will be well served by a president who truly puts country first, rises above what separates us, looks for ways to connect us, and invites us all to join him to make this a better country. Barack Obama is the one we’ve been waiting for…the one we need to lead us and unite us.








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