Conservative think tank workers cancel July 4th Vacations

novacationDeclaring this past week “an emergency,” conservative think tank thinkers have canceled July 4th vacations so they can use the time to come up with new ideas for the future of our country.

“We lost same-sex marriage, health care, and the rebel flag — all in one week,” said the head of RTTCTOA.

“And Obama looks a lot less Muslim now, after he sang Amazing Grace from the pulpit of a Christian church.

“It’s time to regroup. We have plenty of money with which to spread our ideas, but we need some new ideas to spread.”

Some of the ideas under development are

– Making Hillary Clinton look like a murderer

– Making Hillary Clinton look like a thief

– Making Hillary Clinton look like she’s brain damaged

– Making Hillary Clinton look old

“All of these ideas have potential, but they are underdeveloped. We need a comprehensive strategy, clear talking points, and a few rehearsals before we launch.

“It takes time to convert an idea into the truth. That’s why we’re working over the fourth.”

My theory on the debate

I watched the debate. While it was going on, I thought Obama did fine.

Romney suddenly changed from a right winger to a moderate — pitching to the middle. The only surprise there is that he didn’t do it sooner in the campaign.

Obama didn’t blast back. But he did point out the flip flops.

From my point of view, Romney was being Romney — a pragmatic candidate who will change his views when he needs to. A tough politician who plays to win.

Obama was being, well…Presidential. He was respectful. He explained his positions and didn’t apologize for his record.

With divided government, filibusters, no deal making, etc., critical matters (education, infrastructure, energy) aren’t getting handled anyway. So I found it all the talk a little moot — a little boring.

Then the debate is over and the analysis beings. The talking heads begin to talk. That’s when I found out Romney had kicked Obama’s ass.

Could it be that Obama is being dumb like a fox?

Perhaps he’s looked at the situation and sees that he’s going to win. Incumbent Presidents rarely lose. Romney’s got to sweep the swing states to pull it off.

Maybe Obama is thinking ahead, to the possibility of governing more effectively in the next four years. When the drama settles, history will show that he’s been extraordinarily effective so far.

But what if he gets a little Republican support going forward? What would that be like? He won’t be running again. Maybe he’ll get a year or two of bipartisan workability after this election. Anything is possible.

So maybe he wasn’t tired or sad or preoccupied with no-telling-what was going on the in world during that time. Maybe he was being a statesman who thought it might not be in the country’s best interest to crush the opposition on stage.

Just a theory…

Lehrer a lifetime appointment?

I understand why Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life.

And I think Jim Lehrer is a national treasure.

He’s always been soft spoken.

But he’s 78, it seems his voice was too soft for the room he was in tonight — and that didn’t work.

I’d rather see a debate with no moderator than what we saw tonight.

All I’m hearing is that Romney was tough and Obama was weak.

That’s not how it occurs to me.

It looked to me like Romney was pushy and forceful.

Just like Obama did in 2008 debates (and has made an effort to do as President, even though he hasn’t been characterized this way), he completely respects his opponent.

He respects his elders.

He attacks hard in ads and with drones — and refuses to attack in conversation.

And he wins elections.

Obama's Tucson speech

If a book or story or movie or speech moves me to tears, I stop and ask myself:  is it that good, or could I be depressed?

Last night, the memorial service in Tucson moved me to tears.  Twice.  And I’m not depressed.

The first time was during the opening prayer, when Dr. Carlos Gonzalez asked God to let us bless many people and things, including:

“the families of those that have lost their loved ones… the family of those that are healing…those people that are here today… those that are outside in greater Tucson, in Arizona and in our country… our fellow creatures. Those that stand. Those that blow in the wind. Those that are tall and stately. Those that crawl on the earth. Those that slither on the earth. Those that live under the earth…”

But it was this line, dropped in among the many, that, for some reason, hit me hard with emotion:

“Oh, Creator — if I may, my son is in Afghanistan. A little blessing to him, too.”

This really got me, the personal prayer, so meaningful to him — and so out of place among the other collective, communal blessings.

Many bloggers and talkers have questioned his rambling, non-Judeo-Christian prayer.  Brit Hume on Fox said it was “most peculiar.”

I found it quite moving and refreshing.

I was moved by Obama’s entire speech because he was so much The President.  Barack Obama inspired many millions of us to work quite hard to help him get elected, only to watch his opponents (many of whom did not lift a finger to canvass their neighborhoods for McCain-Palin in 2008) relentlessly whine about the election’s result and try to disqualify him for the office he rightfully holds.

Last night, Obama made things quite clear.  The entire speech was a much needed symphony of healing.

But with all the lyrical, powerful passages, including the plea to make America as good as 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green imagined it to be, it was this simple line that got me:

“And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and first responders who worked wonders to heal those who’d been hurt. We are grateful to them.”

Why, with so much poetry, did this simple statement punch my buttons?

I don’t know.  Experience creates memories that become mysteries of our experience; it’s not always possible to explain.

Obama’s gratitude reminded me of one of my favorite passages in literature, from Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist. She asks what a martian might think if he came to Earth and happened to land at the entrance to the emergency room, seeing all the people rushing to help someone in need.

“‘Why,’ he’d say, ‘what a helpful planet, what kind and helpful creatures.’ He’d never guess we’re not always that way; that we had to, oh, put aside our natural selves to do it. ‘What a helpful race of beings,’ a Martian would say.  Don’t you think so?'”

I well remember listening to Reagan’s Oval Office address in 1986, after explosion of the The Challenger.  Christa McAuliffe, a teacher, was aboard.  I was a teacher then, at West Rowan Middle School, where I watched The Challenger and crew and teacher burst into flames along with roomful of children.

That night I watched Reagan’s address with my father.  Dad was a good, liberal Democrat who, without an ounce of animus, completely disagreed with Reagan’s conservative stand.  As was the custom back then, he respected the person and the office.

It seems to me that politics was not so much a competitive sport in those days, but a way of looking at the world.  An education in civics.  History in the making.  When Nixon resigned, before the days of VCRs, I remember my father and I setting up a reel-to-reel tape recorder and putting it in front of the TV so we could tape the audio.

My father tried to see humor in almost everything.

After Reagan’s Challenger speech, Dad said “You know, he would have been great during World War II.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt was his reference point for what a President could do and be.

These days, Obama gets criticized for “just giving speeches” with a “bunch of rhetoric.”

For my father, who quit Columbia University the day after Pearl Harbor in order to join the United States Air Force, that was a primary part of a President’s job:  giving speeches.  Displaying a mastery of rhetoric.  Using words to lead a nation.

I remember being in the car with my father one night in March of 1968 when he told me to stop talking and be quiet so we could listen to the President.  Lyndon Johnson was announcing that he would not seek reelection.  My mother was a journalist who reminded us that today’s news is tomorrow’s history.  These were moments which required our attention.

And yet, this morning, I saw friends on Facebook express their gratitude for the President’s speech, only to be answered by those who said he was chastising his liberal base.  One person wrote that it was just a crazy person in a grocery store — something that happens every day — and because a member of Congress was involved, Obama…

Such bull.

Obama could thank God for the sunshine and Fox News would say that he’s not a Christian because he’s worshipping the planets (I know, the sun is a star, not a planet; it doesn’t matter).

Arizona has been through a tough time with the politics of racial profiling.  Many of us in North Carolina lived with Jessee Helms for many years; we know how it feels.

And now this.

If ever a place hungered for a speech, it was Tucson last night.

And they got one.

This is just to say that Obama may have won reelection last night.  Not because he played a political move, but because it’s hard to beat an incumbent — and last night it was clear to both sides that he fully embodies the office he holds.

Other moments that transformed presidencies:

Bill Clinton’s Oklahoma City Speech

George W. Bush’s Bullhorn Speech

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

to the right wing purists who are so giddy these days…

I just had a discussion on Facebook.  All I did was post a video I thought was funny, but a couple of right wing friends got sort of emotional about it. This was one of my answers and thought I’d go ahead and make a blog of it.  (Hint to those who have friends on the right and want to remain friends:  they take Sarah Palin and Fox News seriously).

American politics is a pendulum that swings back and forth.  The Republicans had control of two branches for six years.  It was split for two years.  Democrats have two branches now.  It will probably be split again after next week.  My guess is that the Presidency will shift back and forth, as will the Congress, for many years to come.

This is the way it has been, and the way it will be.

Rather than focusing on these wonderful, pure thoughts that you believe so strongly (ie. pure capitalism is great; pure socialism is evil) — why not be realistic? It’s a pluralistic system.  Obama is not a socialist.  We have a huge country and it requires a huge federal government in order to function.  Somebody must be the CEO of this giant corporation, and some people must make spending decisions.  It doesn’t mean they’re evil.  It’s a hell of a task.

Your ideologies are wonderful for dormitory bull sessions and Fox News stockholders, but why not be real and put forth some ideas that can make this a better place to live, for us, our children, and grandchildren?

Sooner or later, your political party will prevail and have the opportunity to govern — as they did throughout the past decade.

I wish they could be a little more responsible with the budget, national security, and public discourse. The last time they had complete control — from 2000 through 2006 — they blew up the deficit, sliced and diced races and religions, neglected infrastructure, and spent our prosperity on war and extreme wealth for the very richest of the rich.

Waterloo. Call me corny — but I've always liked Abba

“If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”
South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint

Call me corny, but I’ve always liked Abba.

I’m also glad health care passed — and I don’t understand why anybody would not want universal health care.

Dear Senator Bayh,

Dear Senator Bayh,

You say that the Congress is full of good people, but that the ‘system is dysfunctional.

Might I suggest the opposite is true? The system is good and some of the people are dysfunctional.

If your wife works for the health insurance lobby and you stand with her rather than with people in need — then who or what is not functioning?

Senator Evan Bayh
Senator Evan Bayh

If you begin — right after Obama’s election — to throw the Democrats under the bus every chance you get by joining Republicans in speaking trash about programs that are desperately needed by the American people, then who is not functioning?

Were you hoping he would pick you for Vice-President?  Disappointed?  Just asking.

If you raise $13 million for a Senate re-election campaign and then wait until the last second to announce you will not run again, thereby preventing anyone else in your party from preparing for such a campaign, who is not functioning?

The Republicans in Congress appear to be the ones who are not functioning, and you’ve helped them not function. One minute they say what the party tells them to say. Another minute they say what lobbyists tell them to say. One minute they sponsor a bill. The next minute they are against the same bill. One minute they vote against spending and rail against it. The next minute they rejoice in the money it provides. The next minute they rail against it again. One minute they want to help people in their district in hard times. The next minute they vote against health care for all Americans.

The system may need some tweaking, but it’s been around a lot longer than you.  But it’s the current Republican leaders in Congress who have been dysfunctional — INTENTIONALLY!  It is their strategy not to function.  And, like you, they are paid by big business to be dysfunctional.  And you’ve given them a helping hand.

Sam

P.S. I really liked your father.

Trusting Obama

Today, I delivered Coffee News to restaurants in Concord, NC and listened to NPR the whole time.

They reported Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech — playing clips, analyzing, and parsing.

Interesting stuff — waging war and seeking peace.

I haven’t had time to read or watch the whole speech, but it sounds like it’s destined to become an historic document.

I really trust Obama — both as a President and as a politician.

I’d like to see him step on some of the opposition’s ridiculous ideas a little harder (especially ideas about creating jobs by reducing the budget deficit –  ideas put forth, hypocritically, by those who put the D in Deficit).

But I think he will step on those ideas soon enough.  At this point, he’s doing a little governing, which is a better political strategy than campaigning (which so many can’t seem to stop doing).

Is Obama a mature, responsible President?

It was a couple of weeks ago, and I can’t remember his name or the name of his book, but I heard a guy on evening talk radio, on NPR, say that Obama has made a big political mistake by not blaming the weak economy on George W. Bush.

According to this author, Franklin Roosevelt constantly reminded Americans that he inherited a mess that Herbert Hoover’s policies had created.

He always framed his initiatives as efforts to clean up the mess made by Hoover.

The joke was, he said, that Roosevelt ran against Hoover four times.

By contrast, Obama has not even mentioned George Bush’s name since he took office.

It’s hard to believe that this is true. Certainly he’s said “President Bush” at least once in the past eleven months.

I’ve heard Obama say that he inherited this mess, but I don’t recall hearing him say Bush’s name or refer to him at all. Whether or not such an observation is accurate, the spirit of what he said is very true.

Obama has paid a price, because he’s allowed Republicans to blame him for a lot of problems that he did not create and has tried to fix.

Why?

Certainly there are political reasons. He is showing respect for the office he now inhabits and lets other people in his party do the dirty work.

But it might also be an intentional effort to usher in the age of responsibility he has spent much time talking about.

Politics is inherently irresponsible. Republicans blame Clinton, Johnson, Kennedy, and even Roosevelt for many of the problems we face today.

When the economy thrived under Clinton, Republicans gave credit to Reagan. When the economy lost jobs under George W. Bush, Republicans blamed Clinton.

As a liberal Democrat, I blame Bush and Reagan for many of the problems we have today.

Jimmy Carter inherited a terrible economy.  It got worse.  He blamed the American people.

In politics, blame is the name of the game.

Perhaps Obama wants to play it different.

The economic collapse happened during Bush’s presidency, and all the economists predicted recovery would take years, not months — regardless of who was elected President.

Nobody was certain what would happen or what measures would work — and it’s clear Obama is trying. I trust our President and think he will succeed, but hasn’t had enough time yet.

But it seems that politics is inherently immature. Blame the other side for all problems.

If something is not true, then simply change the facts.

Reagan exploded the deficit while saying that government spending was the root of all our problems.  Bush did the same.

They blamed the Democrats for “taxing and spending,” while they taxed and spent more than Democrats.

At one point, the Bush administration actually had the majority of Americans thinking that Iraq was responsible for 9/11. Not true — but the truth didn’t matter. I had conversations with folks who said that inaccuracy was a matter of opinion.

I’m sure many people think Obama is responsible for the economic collapse that took place before he became President. In the next election, the year of the collapse could become a matter of opinion.

We all know, however, that we cannot change the past. We can only do something today, take responsibility for it, and thereby take responsibility for creating the future.

This seems to be Obama’s perspective.

He doesn’t attack the opposition or blame Bush. He even tries to create bipartisan activity in Congress — even though Republicans will have no part of that.

Am I naive, or is this a sign of maturity and responsibility — Obama trying to practice what he preaches?