Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I'm not sure how I feel about it. I'll probably need a day or two to think about it. In some respects I think she would serve the country better to become a strong Senator, a statesman such as Senator Ted Kennedy became after his defeat in Presidential bid many years ago. She has an agenda that she could pursue as the Junior Senator from New York, and eventually she would be the senior Senator from New York. She could be of great service to an Obama administration by working behind the scenes to facilitate his agenda in the Senate (and House, I expect.)
I'm wishing for a Secretary of State who would seek advice from some of the Middle East experts. As I have listened to Kerry, Richardson, and others under consideration, in comparison to Friedman and Fareed Zakaria, who have spent a lot of time over there, I'm left uncertain that just traveling over there on an occasional junket gives enough background in culture and all of the political issues to do an effective job as Secretary of State.
President-Elect Obama has a strong economic advisory team; I hope he has an equally strong one on the Middle East.
An American Moment
The story of the campaign and this historic moment has been your story. It is about the great things we can do when we come together around a common purpose. The story of bringing this country together as a healed and united nation will be led by President-Elect Obama, but written by you. The millions of you who built this campaign from the ground up, and echoed your call for the change you wanted to see implemented by the Obama Administration - this process of setting up that new government is about you.
This transition is about selecting a new staff and agenda that will help reclaim the American dream and bring about positive lasting change to this country. In order to do that, we want to hear from you.Tell us your story and the issues that matter most to you. Share with us your concerns and hopes. – the policies you want to see carried out in the next four years. - from www.change.gov (the official transition web site).
I don't have to think even one minute about how I feel about President Bush's blanket pardon and his Executive privilege being extended past January 20th. I know exactly how I feel. Forget about it! While I'm not sure that President Obama will be able to delve into it to the extent I'd like to see - he's got too much else of critical nature on his plate - I'd like him to have the power to do that should the spirit ever move him or the Congress to investigate and bring a few people of the Bush administration to justice, I'd surely like to see that happen.
One major policy I'd like to see carried out involves some of the overreaching of Presidential powers abused by the Bush administration. That is one of the reasons I had hoped for impeachment proceedings. Impeachment of this President might have provided a deterrent to any future president continue the assumed powers of this President. This "war on terror", undeclared and unending, has meant that this past seven years we have as citizens lost more than an economy, more than 4000+ lives of our young men, more than our reputation abroad. I'm more worried that someone is watching and keeping track of the books I buy from amazon.com, the websites I read, the books I check out at the library, and the e-mail I receive from overseas than I am from terrorists. This isn't the America I grew up in. It's not the America I want for my grandchildren. It's vaguely reminiscent of another country in another time.
This is an American Moment...a time to reclaim the American dream.
P. S. Max's water polo team won their semi-finals game today in Lodi. On to fight again another day - finals Saturday: Davis vs. Jesuit on Saturday (Elk Grove, I think.)
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Unfortunately he'd not gone yet; it's not yet time to say goodbye. We do not have a new president until January 20th. However, on the economy and related problems, it does seem that this President has essentially checked out. We have an economy floundering, a Secretary of the Treasury who admittedly doesn’t have a clue about what to do with the 700 billion dollars that has been allocated to try to solve the economic woes of the country, an auto industry on the brink of bankruptcy, and no one who knows what to do about it. The trillion dollars that has thus far been allocated to bail out the economy is charged to our children and grandchildren’s VISA cards. They will have to one day pay the bill. We should right now hold Congress accountable for being sure that the money is well spent – not used for bonuses for incompetent managers of banks, AIG, and auto industry.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
We had thought perhaps Connor would join us, but he had gone to a concert in Chico Saturday night, and didn't arrive back in time. Never mind. We had lots to talk about as we hadn't been in each other's presence since the election.
One thing led to another. First, what did we think about the Raum Emanuel pick as Chief of Staff. I had a definite opinion about that, having seen him and his two brothers interviewed by Charlie Rose some weeks/months back and been impressed by his sense of humor and the warmth shown with his brothers. While he may be thought of as aggressive and abrasive by some, his true self I believe showed a different side with his brothers - a warmth he may not always display in his direct side. Obama knows him well. Obama doesn't seem afraid to have people with whom he may disagree surround him. He strongly believes, "We can disagree without being disagreeable." I think it will serve him well to have someone perceived as the "attack dog" in his stable. He can remain "No drama Obama!" and let his Chief of Staff do the heavy lifting.
Laurie commented that before the election, one of her colleagues had asked her how she felt about Proposition 8, the California gay marriage ban question. I had assumed "opposed", but Laurie said, "No, ...'mixed.' This led to a lengthy discussion, because my (and Ed's) feelings had been that whether a homosexual couple marries and calls it "marriage" does not in any way affect our marriage and that they should have equal rights. For us, it was a no-brainer.
Able to look at both sides of the issue, Laurie put forth what I suppose is a logical reason for the "mixed" opinion. Disagreeing without being disagreeable, we concluded that the best of all worlds would be that everyone, heterosexual as well as homosexual couples wishing to be joined in some kind of legal union should apply for a "domestic partnership" license with the state(s) and have whatever kind of spiritual/religious ceremony they wish to have. The vows they would take would be of their own choosing. The domestic partnership would entitle equal benefits, privileges, and legal status to each. No difference. The words "husband" and "wife" could remain with the heterosexual couples as currently used - or not.
Remember back in the beginnings of women's lib when being identified as "my wife" somehow seemed to infer entitlement or chattel? Although this was not part of today's discussion, I'm wondering when that changed. Two of my daughters and my daughter-in-law chose not to give up their maiden name when they married. It seems clear they wanted to maintain their own individuality, their own identity separate and apart from their legal domestic partner. Did they give up their right to their own identity when being identified, as in somebody's "my" anything? Just saying.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
It is understandable that this contingent would be disheartened and disappointed by a loss such as they endured this past week. I remember what it was like when Gore and Kerry were defeated. However, not one word was said today indicating that they would take a look at what Obama proposes and see if it is good for the country and the people. He's not yet even been inaugurated and they talked only of how they could work together to prevent anything he proposed just because it might reflect good on the Democratic party. Working across party lines - what a concept! I wanted to phone in and suggest that they get some much needed rest, come out in a few weeks renewed with the spirit of a patriot interested in making a difference by serving a cause greater than their own self-interests. As President-Elect Obama has said repeatedly: The country needs you!
Ed reminded me the other day of an older comedian who said he felt these people's parents had said once too often over the years, "Now don't you get smart!" and they had taken it to heart.
A friend e-mailed me yesterday how elated she was at the election of an African American president: "What a night on Tuesday! I don’t care how anyone voted, they had to be moved by the historic moment that an African American was elected our President. As Whoopi Goldberg said on TV, “I have always loved America but now I feel I have finally put my suitcase down.” I can only imagine what it must feel like to our black population, knowing we have officially erased the color divide.
"It wasn’t long ago that I talked with my childhood friend, Florence. We both remembered when we were kids in South Pasadena and two African American boys came to our town swimming pool, the Plunge, to swim. They were kicked out by the lifeguards and our pool was closed for days in the middle of summer while the pool was drained and scrubbed to get rid of the pollution. Blacks were not allowed to live in our town. When one family bought a home, our city council asked them to leave and bought their house. "
I wrote her that Ed had told me about that swimming pool incident, too. His father had forbidden the family from using the segregated pool after that. He said that if the black children would not be allowed to swim in the pool neither would his children.
My friend wrote back: "His family was much more enlightened than mine. I remember being upset by the discrimination, but I happily swam in the pool anyway after it was “decontaminated.” I am so glad we have grown and changed as a country, although I feel very hurt at how hostile my Republican friends have been. One good friend said, “I won’t accept this election as being legitimate.” I have been skewered for my opinions, which I have tried to keep moderate. I thought of Abraham Lincoln’s comment, “A man is my friend as long as he is walking my way.” I have been realizing that some “friends” may no longer be friends. As one supposed Republican friend said during the elections to me, “I don’t want your communist ideas polluting my computer screen.” Gee, I never knew I was a communist. I thought I was a nice little old lady from South Pasadena. "
I know that I've undoubtedly sent some political commentary e-mails to friends - perhaps some offensive to our Republican friends. Can't blame a girl for trying to convert a few. Or can you? I've always subscribed to the notion that, s Obama said many times during the campaign, "We can disagree without being disagreeable." I was married for 25 years to a "devil's advocate", who loved to create discourse by taking a side of an argument that he knew would get a rise out of me. I learned to love a good discussion.
Alice Walker said in her Open Letter to Barack Obama, (see below)"We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise." Hopefully, our friendships are strong enough to override our political differences. Hopefully also, the losers in this election will realize and accept the idea that - just perhaps - a new day of cooperation, a fusion of the two parties, might create a few patriots, as opposed to politicians. My hope is that in order to create a more perfect union, President-Elect will nominate a few Republican patriots to his cabinet. It could make all the difference.
P. S. An Open Letter to President-Elect Obama from Alice Walker
"I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance."
"...I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion.We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise." - Alice Walker
Friday, November 7, 2008
Yesterday the first day after the election with a dismal job report just out, the stock market took a 500+ dive. Today the market reacted to Obama's apparent swift action (or perception that things would be better) with a couple hundred point recovery.
I spent much of yesterday and this morning finishing The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 by George Soros. I should have read it in May when it came out! However, since I'd rather have a root canal without anesthesia than read about economics, I had put it off until the situation became desperate. I really needed a translator for some of what he described. One of the main points I got from the book is that "perception is reality and it is unpredictably dynamic and unreliable." Of course, I've known that for a long time. Warren Buffet sneezes and the market goes down. When he's smiling or when Greenspan (or now Bernanke) indicate lower interest rates, market goes up. Better than expected earnings reports and market goes up. Two cents lower than expected - down. Go figure! Confidence is everything.
I understood before I read the book about the millions of foreclosures and trillions in credit losses. I've a glimmering of how the market works. I've known that it is all a matter of perceptions and confidence. I also knew about the bailout - excuse me, that's not what it's being called now, is it? This book talks about derivatives and all kinds of foreign sounding words to my ears. And George Soros does not paint a rosy picture for the next few months or even years. This book is not reading for the faint of heart!
It was reassuring after this grim reading to know that our new President-Elect is on the job...and that he is surrounding himself with economic gurus. Rumors are rampant about who he will select to be the new Secretary of the Treasury. Never in my memory has that been such a hot item in the news this early in the game or of particular interest to the general public. Now, it seems with 401K's and people's jobs and livelihood at stake, everyone seems to care. My checking Schwab's daily report clearly shows my interest!
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As I opened yahoo tonight, an article in Truthout by Bill Ayers popped up and caught my interest. He remained remarkably silent during the election, but here now three days after the election is an article you may want to read. He says, "It has been a wild ride!" http://www.truthout.org/110708R
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On a more personal note, I received an e-mail from a friend that included a Face Book post from today about our friend, Dick Brunelle, who suffering from dementia and is currently in Sierra Convalescent Hospital.
The young man, a former student of Dick's, wrote a touching tribute to a dedicated teacher of music who had more than casually touched his life. Indeed. My son, Mark, sang in his Madrigal choir for three years. Valerie played violin in the concert orchestra under his tutelage. He inspired many. A fitting tribute took place a few years ago when a massive reunion choir from all of the years of the Davis High School Madrigal Singers gathered for three days of rehearsal, and sang a concert at Mondavi Center in his honor. He clearly enjoyed the event and seeing old friends. The new performing arts center at the high school has aptly been named in his honor.
Just as President-Elect Obama cannot pick the place his story begins, neither can we pick the place our story ends.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
This afternoon when I came home from my writing group where we had shared our joy at the outcome of the Presidential election, although sadness of the defeat of the equality of marriage act of California, I found an e-mail inviting me to follow the transition team activities on-line - already up and running the day after the election. http://www.change.gov/
Heading that site a quote read: "Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today." - President Elect Barack Obama
Listed below I found an ambitious agenda:
Revitalizing the Economy
When I had first walked in the door, I had turned on the TV, Channel 38, to check the DOW, S & P, and Nasdaq. I'd been threatening to make some strategic sells should the market get back up to 9500. Oops! too late! Should have done it Tuesday...now down another 400 points or so, the biggest two-day drop. Oh, well! Confidence...that's all we need. But a sad job loss report today indicates the stimulus package shouldn't wait until January 20th. But is sending another check to people or giving them a tax credit really going to make an impact? Me thinks we'd be better off to get a WPA-type project going building bridges, roads, and whatever other infrastructure needs shoring up - creating jobs, jobs, and more jobs. Perhaps add on some incentives for "invent, Baby, invent" instead of "drill, Baby, drill," hoping that some talented and inventive young people in a "silicone valley" of the United States will come up with a new invention to help us solve one of the existing problems related to energy and/or global warming. Tied into this is the dire need for encouraging our young people in science, engineering and math. One thing leads to another and this suddenly brings us to education, doesn't it. We need more qualified teachers, and they should be paid commensurate to the awesome responsibility and burden we place upon them - teaching and guiding our children during the major part of the waking day. (I do get carried away. But little wonder that our President Elect was not all smiles as he took on the tremendous task ahead of him! All of this seems tied to just the first item on the agenda!)
Ending the War in Iraq
Oh, yes, Peace in the Middle East! You may have heard the old joke, which I'll never remember correctly...I'm great at remembering punch lines. The gist of it is that God (I think it was God) was granting one wish to the person. The person asked for a bridge to Hawaii (I think it was Hawaii!). God said, "That's impossible. It's xxxxx miles away. You can't build a bridge that far. What's your next wish." So the guy thinks for awhile and then says, "Well, how about Peace in the Middle East?" God thinks for a minute and then says, "Let me think about the bridge again."
Providing health care for all
This is another big one, especially given the economy, and how complicated this issue is. I can't begin to comprehend how this is going to happen without a lot of study, bipartisan effort, involvement of pharmaceutical companies, as well as medical profession. And I'm guessing that doctors will be the first to agree that it is no fun to be a doctor anymore. They're certainly going to be ready to see something change.
Renewing Global LeadershipThe last two seem linked together. It was heartwarming to see videos of people around the world elated at the prospect of an Obama presidency. There will hopefully be a honeymoon period in which he may be given a bit of space in which to tend to pressing domestic issues. I'm hopeful that he won't wait until the end of his second term to work on the "peace in the Middle East" Israel-Palestinian issue, however. Because it is difficult is not a good reason to place it on the back burner for too long. It seems that U.S. leadership will be essential if a solution is ever to be found.
Is it any wonder, Obama had a somber look about him? I've thought all along during the past two years..."Why would anyone want to be President now - now of all times? The Democrats should let a Republican have it...Let them clean up the mess!" Who knows? Maybe that's why the Republicans ran such an erratic campaign. Maybe they knew that McCain had a long shot at winning - considered him expendable, a throw-away candidate. Let the Democrats win - let them clean up our mess! Cynical, you say? Possibly. It's been hard not to be cynical lately.
It's going to be a nice change. A literary, literate, thoughtful, and inquisitive President, and one who promises to use the Internet to keep us involved, thus providing a transparency we've not seen in our government in a long time. I plan to check in on http://change.gov/ frequently. There's even a way to add your two cents worth when the spirit moves you.
I'm expecting much more of a trickle down effect from President Obama's intelligence and ability to articulate his thoughts in a coherent manner than from any of the past administration's "trickle-down" economics. I expect that a new generation may learn to pronounce (and thus spell) nuclear, for instance! And perhaps "elite" will no longer be a dirty word!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I've been so nervous for so long. Florida's "hanging chad" in 2000 and Ohio's computer glitches and/or snitches in 2004 had caused me to lose faith in an electoral system I had never doubted before. How, I wondered, would the Republicans find a way to turn the tides this time. Were those electronic voting machines going to give us a fairly accurate vote this time? Could we trust them?
Then we waited for the October surprise? The 24 hour news cycle reminded us hourly of the Rovian threat, and they surely tried the weekend before the election with the Kenyan aunt living in this country illegally and with Sarah Palin revving up her vitriol in every stump speech in an every more passionate voice. John McCain's certainty the last week that he was going to win - a certainty that caused my anxiety to rise in spite of Obama's calm and steady demeanor. So tension built...thus tears of relief last night, as well as joy!
Michael Moore went on in his letter this morning: “In a nation that was founded on genocide and then built on the backs of slaves, it was an unexpected moment, shocking in its simplicity: Barack Obama, a good man, a black man, said he would bring change to Washington, and the majority of the country liked that idea. The racists were present throughout the campaign and in the voting booth. But they are no longer the majority, and we will see their flame of hate fizzle out in our lifetime.”
Someone said this morning on TV, "Yes, we know there are racists - in every neighborhood, sometimes subtle." And he related them to mosquitoes..."they're there, we know they're there." While I'm not sure they will ever be totally eradicated - mosquitoes or racists - I believe with each generation removed from that earlier time, with each victory won, however small, "the flame of hate" grows dimmer.
Thomas Friedman in his Op-Ed column, “Finishing Our Work”, in this morning’s New York Times wrote: “This moment was necessary, for despite a century of civil rights legislation, judicial interventions and social activism — despite Brown v. Board of Education, Martin Luther King’s I-have-a-dream crusade and the 1964 Civil Rights Act — the Civil War could never truly be said to have ended until America’s white majority actually elected an African-American as president.” He concluded his column with: “…Obama’s campaign tapped a dormant civic idealism, a hunger among Americans to serve a cause greater than themselves, a yearning to be citizens again.”None of this will be easy. But my gut tells me that of all the changes that will be ushered in by an Obama presidency, breaking with our racial past may turn out to be the least of them. There is just so much work to be done. The Civil War is over. Let reconstruction begin. “
We moved to New Orleans in the late 60's when the administrator of Touro Infirmary recruited my husband to be his associate with the express purpose of integrating the hospital. At that time, Touro treated black patients as out patients, but if they needed to be hospitalized, they were transferred to Charity Hospital across town. A black patient had never shared a room with a white patient at Touro Infirmary. There was much to be done. In the process, we encountered a lot of racism. Much more annoying and even deadly than the mosquito, although just as common. Our children were labeled "nigger lovers", ugly graffiti was painted on our front door by neighborhood children, our church was fire bombed. We were moved to march in protest when James Reeb was murdered.
Today is a big day - but not just because Barack Obama is a black man. It's a bit of that, true. But it is much more. I'll admit, frankly, that I am a political junkie. I Tivo Charlie Rose and watch it every morning without fail. I watch Bill Moyer's Journal and Fareed Zakaria. I read every book recommended by any of their guests. When I heard the now famous speech Obama made at John Kerry's nomination convention, I said to my husband, "That man should be President one day." I was inspired to tears at his words. He spoke of the country I wanted this country to be; not the one I feared we were destined to have if George Bush were to be reelected. (My derisive and prophetic political coffee mug said, "George Bush in 2004 'cause it takes 8 years to ruin a country!"}
And then I read his first book...and his second, the Audacity of Hope. I listened to interviews where he promoted his book. And I began to hope. "Run, Obama, Run!" Even David Brooks, a conservative New York Times columnist wrote an article with that title. Black friends questioned his running - I think they dared not hope. They feared for his safety, as do we all...
Last night before he walked out on stage, he wrote an e-mail to his supporters - a letter of thanks, of course, but more than that. He said he'd be sending more of those, asking for more of our help. He's a community organizer. I believe that is in his DNA. I have the audacity to hope that he will ask the American people to help him get this country back to its standing...standing not only in the eyes of other countries, but in our own eyes. It's a new day! Let the reconstruction begin!