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.

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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.





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!





The Chimp Cartoon and Rampant Hatred

19 02 2009

The chimp cartoon in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post has caused a tremendous outcry and outrage. It is hateful and seems to incite violence against our president, who is depicted as a chimpanzee. African-Americans have been deridely depicted as monkeys over the years so this seems to be an outright racial slur. Rupert Murdoch is a billionaire who launched ultra-conservative Fox News amongst many other ventures. Fox News repeatedly spews hatred and racism (especially on Sean Hannity‘s show) such as during the campaign calling Michelle Obama a “baby momma” (a racial putdown), saying that Stalinists worked on Obama’s campaign and that Obama might have been a sleeper agent, likening Obama to a heroin pusher, and the list goes on and on.

Cartoon in NY Post Feb 18 09

Cartoon in NY Post Feb 18 09

Ann Coulter is one of the biggest spewers of hatred on the planet. She thrives on it. She advocated for a white supremacist group (they exist to hate) in her latest book. She repeatedly referred to Obama as B. Hussein Obama during the campaign as part of her repeated attempts to link him to terrorists.

Coulter wrote in her book “Godless: The Church of Liberalism,” that a group of New Jersey widows whose husbands died in the World Trade Center act “as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them.” She calls four 9/11 widows “self-obsessed broads; millionaires – reveling in their status as celebrities.” This quote from Coulter is just beyond hatred and is the one that sticks out in my mind as one of her most vile, vomited utterings:

I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much . . . And by the way, how do we know their husbands weren’t planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they’d better hurry up and appear in Playboy.

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News and radio host Rush Limbaugh are also at the top of the list of hate spewers. Limbaugh even had the audacity and stupidity to say recently on his radio program that he hopes that President Obama fails.

Look at what Sarah Palin did in the election. She whipped up mostly white men who attended her rallies into near lynch mobs with the hatred she spewed. One man yelled “kill him” in reference to Barack Obama during her speech.

I have had the most controversy over my post on corporal punishment in schools of any I’ve written. It has been written about on other forums that promote spanking in schools. One such forum said that many teachers who do it enjoy it. Where does this hatred come from that teachers are so sadistic that they enjoy beating (and if you saw the photos of the damage it does to many children, you’d concur it was beating) children they are charged with educating?

Why do people do and say these things? Why do they hate their fellow men, women, and children so much that they would want to hurt them, ridicule them, incite and encourage violence against them, and encourage others to hate?

We worry about destroying and/or stopping terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. so they won’t come to our country again. We fail to see that we have terrorists who live amongst us. People who practice hatred and incite it in others are a form of terrorists. They terrorize others with their dangerous words and actions. They may not be actively recruiting suicide bombers, but they are recruiting others to hate, which can and does often lead to violence.

We need to wake up to the danger in our own country of allowing people with a platform and the means to act out in hatred and speak in hatred. Yes, we have the First Amendment and it is a free country, but freedom also means that we are free of threats from dangerous people who encourage, incite, and practice hatred.





Iraq War: The Cost of Bush Lies and His Influence of Not Being Accountable

1 02 2009

UPDATED 3/15/2013

From a Reuters report on a Watson Institute study:

NEW YORK, March 14 (Reuters) – The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said.

The war has killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number, according to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war’s death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said.

See the full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/14/iraq-war-cost-more-than-2-trillion_n_2875493.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009.

ORIGINAL POST I WROTE

George W. Bush reasons for the Iraq War: WMDs, Iraq’s ties to al-Qaeda, and liberate Iraqis from Saddam Hussein and create a democratic government. His refusal to accept or admit any accountability for the results of his misleading the American people have had tremendous cost to Iraq and to the U.S.

I just finished reading the riveting “War Journal: My Five Years in Iraq” by Richard Engel, NBC News Middle East Correspondent. Richard says none of those reasons for starting the war are true, and that the war in Iraq “…has always been more about geography, religion, and power than democracy. If you see where Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds live, it’s easy to understand their struggles for dominance.” Bush never understood that…and frankly didn’t care. He did what he wanted to do and what he wanted to do has been…and continues to be…extremely costly.

Here are some statistics on what the Iraq war (taken from think tanks such as the Brookings Institute and from the media) has cost the U.S. as of 1/21/09 due to Bush’s folly of inserting us in the middle of a civil and religious war:

  • 4,231 U.S. soldiers killed; 30% of them younger than 22 years old
  • 30,984 U.S. soldiers injured, with 20% of them having serious brain or spinal injuries
  • 30% of U.S. soldiers develop serious mental health problems within 3-4 months of returning home and suicide rates in the U.S. Army hitting an all-time high in 2008
  • One TRILLION DOLLARS (that’s $1000 billion) through  October 2009 in U.S. taxpayer money (this figure was updated 10/25/09)
    • $390,000 per year to deploy just ONE U.S. soldier
  • 142,000 – 148,000 (depending on whose statistics you use) troops in Iraq currently
  • 513,000 U.S. troops deployed since 2003; 197,000 of those more than once and 53,000 more than 3 times
  • According to February, 2007 Congressional hearings (and that was two years ago so the number is probably much higher now) an estimated $10 billion wasted and mismanaged in Iraq

Now add to those staggering numbers the impact on the Iraqi people:

  • An estimated more than one MILLION Iraqi citizens killed as of August, 2007 (according to the Opinion Business Research survey); the official documented number around 100,000
  • 2.25 million Iraqis displaced inside Iraq and 2.25 million Iraqis who are now refugees in Syria or Jordan as of May 2007; an additional 840,000 people displaced since May 2007 – a total of well over 5 MILLION Iraqis displaced
    • A note: Syria has refused to allow the 1.5 million who came there to work so many of the refugees have been forced to send their daughters – even as young as 5 or 6 – to clubs to dance to get money unofficially, becoming the family breadwinners. The girls make usually $20 to 30 per day in the clubs and the fathers of these girls act as pimps for work outside the club. These girls and their families are casualties of the U.S. War on Iraq.

Bush used the fear that the Iraq War would disintegrate into chaos to get re-elected in 2004. The cost to the American people of having four more years of Bush as president has been immense. He used fear again to continue to justify the now $12 billion per month the U.S. spends to keep our troops there. This is triple the burn rate of what we spent in the early years of the war. John McCain used fear about the war to try and get elected president and said he would never take our troops out until we had won. Only Barack Obama seems to understand that we are in a war we should never have started and that we cannot win.

The fear the Republican warmongers have perpetuated is that Iraq would descend into civil war if we leave. It has been happening for years now. Richard Engel cites countless atrocities that Iraqis have committed against other Iraqis during the Iraq War, continuing the torture and violence of Saddam Hussein:

  • A father’s beautiful 17-year-old daughter is kidnapped. The father talks to the kidnappers and convinces them to let him speak to his daughter. He asks her if she has been violated and she says yes. He tells the kidnappers to keep her…that he doesn’t want her back in that condition. The kidnappers execute the girl.
  • A family refuses an order to move from their home and their two-year-old boy is kidnapped, split open, stuffed with rice, roasted, and delivered to their doorstep.
  • People are executed and thrown in the streets as a warning to others to not cross the executioners.
  • Body parts are everywhere, bombings are commonplace, and women in particular hide in their homes in fear.

Some infrastructure improvements have been made since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. Phone subscribers have increased from 800,000 to over 14 million. Internet users have increased from 4,500 to around 850,000. Those improvements do not negate the fact that the cost of the Iraq war has been very high…for the U.S., other countries, and especially for Iraqis.

Bush’s lies have caused unbelievable destruction, death, injury, harm to the U.S. reputation around the world, increase in terrorists and terrorism, U.S.-sanctioned use of torture, and money. And we wonder why our country is in the place it is now. We had an immoral, destructionist, lying, and above-the-law president who felt he was accountable to no one. The American people followed suit…we felt we could do anything and not pay a price. We are paying now…both as a country and individually.





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.





U.S. Torture Has Caused As Many U.S. Soldier Deaths as 9/11

3 12 2008

They got it all wrong. Bush, Cheney, Addington, Rumsfield, and Gonzales authorized torture to “keep us safe” after 9/11. I wrote about this in a 11/16/08 blog.

Today Keith Olbermann interviewed “Matthew Alexander” on torture. “Matthew” (not his real name) served 14 years in the U.S. Air Force and is still in the Reserves (thus the assumed name). He has written a book called “How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq.”

Alexander went to Iraq in March, 2006 for a 5-month stint as a senior interrogator. He witnessed the U.S. using torture to try and elicit information from terrorist suspects. He conducted 300 interrogations and supervised 1,000 interrogations, and refused to use those methods. Instead, he built a rapport with the suspects, showed an understanding of their culture, and used criminal investigation techqniues to elicit the information he sought. His interrogation methods gathered information that led to the bombing and killing of Abu Masab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

“Matthew” says that torture is “extremely ineffective and is counter-productive to what we are trying to accomplish.” He says that you get unreliable information from torture and that al-Qaeda uses the fact that we torture people to recruit new members. He says we need to outlaw torture immediately when Obama takes office.

In a 11/30/08 Washington Post article he wrote, which was entitled “I’m Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq,” Alexander says that:

I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners.

He also makes this startling declaration:

The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me — unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.

LET THAT SINK IN FOR A SECOND. We have lost as many soldiers due to torture as we did in 9/11. We are supposedly FIGHTING a war on terror. Instead, we have CREATED terror with our torture policies…terror for our own soldiers and terror produced by new recruits who came to fight directly because of our torturing suspected terrorists.

Here’s Keith Olbermann interviewing “Matthew Alexander” on “Countdown” today:

Alexander is hopeful since Obama has said he will outlaw torture. Obama’s top legal advisors met today with 12 retired generals to talk about banning torture. Torture is just so unnecessary…and IT HAS TO STOP.





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





Dear George Bush and Henry Paulson

14 11 2008

Bush and Paulson have misled the American public about the bailout and continue to do so. The market declined from 13,058 on May 2nd to 10,825 on September 24th, the day McCain suspended his campaign to rush back due to the emergency in Washington. Why was there all of a sudden THAT WEEK an emergency? The market was the same as it had been since July. CLICK HERE to continue reading





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.

CLICK HERE to keep reading





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.

CLICK HERE to keep reading





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.