Friday, January 23, 2009

Sorry for my absence

Gizzmo, the dog I didn't want (Daughter worked at a pet store and fell in love with the furball pup, who now runs my life)

pulled through Round 1 of emergency treatment for intestinal blockage, etc, but has round 2 of surgery for bladder stones as soon as stable.

Denial's not just a river in Illinois

CHICAGO – Illinois' embattled but defiant governor turned to the history books to describe the emotional strain on him and his family, comparing his arrest last month to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.

"Dec. 9 to my family, to us, to me, is what Pearl Harbor Day was to the United States," Gov. Rod Blagojevich told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. "It was a complete surprise, completely unexpected. And just like the United States prevailed in that, we'll prevail in this."

In Case this went Unnoticed

Few remarked on the poignant history and poetic relevance of Aretha Franklin's beautiful rendition of "My Country 'Tis of Thee." Except perhaps for Queen Latifah, who mentioned Marian Anderson briefly the day before amid the din of a star-studded concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

In 1939, the great African American opera singer Marian Anderson was barred by the racist "Daughters of the American Revolution" from giving a concert at the DAR hall. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt immediately cancelled her membership with the DAR and invited Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial.

In 2009, Aretha Franklin sang before millions of people, come to celebrate our first African American president. With the Lincoln Memorial shimmering in the distance, as if floating above a sea of humanity, the symbolism of the occasion could not be more beautifully drawn: We hold these truths to be self-evident a step closer across the generations. And a song.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quote of the day

From one of the executive orders President Obama signed today:

From this day forward, unless the Attorney General with appropriate consultation provides further guidance, officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government may, in conducting interrogations, act in reliance upon Army Field Manual 2 22.3, but may not, in conducting interrogations, rely upon any interpretation of the law governing interrogation -- including interpretations of Federal criminal laws, the Convention Against Torture, Common Article 3, Army Field Manual 2 22.3, and its predecessor document, Army Field Manual 34 52 issued by the Department of Justice between September 11, 2001, and January 20, 2009.

In other words, former President Bush - Go Jump in a Woodchipper!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Buh bye, George

It was such a joy to see George Bush leave forever (unless for his trial). And guess what, now that he no longer needs the phony "ranch" to be a phony "cowboy," he heads to Dallas?

I wonder how many nights Laura, pictured below, stays under the same roof?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ted in Duress?

Apparently Ted Kennedy was taken out after a seizure?

Memo to Ben Franklin

Ben, thanks for your insight. You wrote that "[t]hey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

The PRESIDENT today echoed your sentiment, when he said that "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals."

Memo to the Chief Justice

Learn your damn lines.


On the Bush administration's "accomplishments" below.

I was talking about this with a friend at work, and he had an interesting perspective. He saw nothing good from the Bush years except for one transformational aspect--the fact that Bush was so loathsome, was a failure on such a cosmic level, that he actually made possible the rise of Obama. If he had not sucked so very royally, then America might not have been able to embrace such a dramatic step. Because he was the Bob Beamon of worst presidents ever, not only breaking, but smashing the former record, Bush made this day possible. Without the absolute debacle of George Bush, the Democrats may well nominate a mediocre white candidate who loses to a mediocre Republican candidate. George made today happen, in effect.

My bad analogy was that W was the botulism-laden piece of meat that makes one a vegetarian.

God Bless America!


Hail, indeed, to the Chief.

Step One

Replace Dick Cheney with Joe Biden. Check.

That's a hell of a trade, right there.

A Stirring of Emotions

This quote from Robert Kennedy seems appropriate on this beautiful day.

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Robert Francis Kennedy

A warped, frustrated old man...

So Darth Cheney strained his back "lifting boxes." RIIIGHT. I believe he has people for that? I'm sure he was prostrating himself before his Dark Lord over his last official meal of Cream o' Wheat and kittens.

But anyway, the image of Cheney below

provides the perfect contrast to the young, strong and vibrant new president.

At least we won't have to see Dick again (please please please) until his trial.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Historical ramblings below

I have been pondering the significance of tomorrow for quite some time now. I am somewhat reluctant to join in the wave of hope and hyperbole, the myriad dreams that cannot help but go unfulfilled, but yet I cannot escape the sense that we are watching truly historic forces at play here. This is one of those rare moments in history where the republic may well invent itself.

There are very few such moments. You can count them on one hand.

The first obviously is our revolutionary founding, making something from nothing. Our revolutionary history is greatly misunderstood, I believe, and its heritage not fully appreciated. That comes in part from our romanticization of the "founding fathers" as well as from their own self-contradictions. They spoke of self-sacrifice, but for the most part were wealthy men. The most blatant problem, of course, was accurately penned by the wit of Dr. Samuel Johnson, who was amused that he heard the "loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes.”

Yes, they were conflicted and contradictory, but we should know the heritage they left us, of commonwealth and republic. Both basically mean the same thing, the "common good." For a rather old, but still brilliant exposition of this notion, see Bernard Bailyn's Idealogical Origins of the American Revolution. Revolution came from corruption. A once-sacrosant British constitution had been undermined by faction, greed and corruption. The antithesis of corruption was virtue. Virtuous citizens were not rapaciously acquisitive. No, they sacrificed for the common good, the res publica. The argument for revolution was that England was hopelessly corrupt, and to preserve the rights of Englishmen, separation was necessary.

Thomas Jefferson expressed this sentiment well, when he described the Louisiana Purchase as an "Empire for Liberty." He envisioned the purchase as the source of land for generations of yeoman farmers to come.

Unfortunately, res publica crashed into westward expansion, and self-sacrifice and virtue dissolved into acquisitive capitalism. However, transformation was not done.

The American Civil War, where millions of dollars of "property" in humanity became valueless, and the promise of the Declaration, postponed by an ambivalent and somewhat cowardly revolutionary generation, was set on its way to fulfillment. Abraham Lincoln, on January 1, 1863, committed the full force of federal arms to fundamentally reshaping American society.

It is 1933, and America confronts fear itself. FDR, an aristocrat who came into office wedded to a balanced budget, realizes the nature of the moment and commits government to doing something that had not been done to date. Government, in FDR's New Deal, existed to do POSITIVE GOOD in society.

And now, Barack Obama confronts the same challenge, the challenge to stand in his place as we re-invent America. He needs to seize and direct those elements of all the earlier seismic changes. The notions of the public good, virtue, self-sacrifice, the citizenry and personhood of all, and government as a transformational force, must all be celebrated as the defining values of what the new America will become.

Yes we can.

Twenty four

One day to go. I really am having trouble wrapping my wind around the idea that as of tomorrow at this time, they'll be gone.

Can you think of ONE accomplishment of the Bush administration?

Seriously. Just one thing they didn't screw up? I honestly can't.
I am a nerd, a total geek. Like our friend Lula, I also like to play in the kitchen.

It will just be the family, but tomorrow night I'm hosting a "state dinner" to celebrate this historic inauguration. All the dishes come from previous WH state dinners. I'm printing out the following menu, and downloaded (legally) Hail to the Chief, and great inaugural speeches for background music.

Inaugural Dinner
The White House

New England Lobster Bisque

Salade of Warm Pear and Bleu Cheese
Baby Greens

Medallions of Duck
Roasted Baby Beets

with Vanilla Custard

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Inauguration Concert, pt 2

I've always thought Garth Brooks' "We Shall Be Free" would make an awfully good song for a DNC event. It didn't make the connection, but Garth singing it at the concert today was pretty sweet.


There's going to be a lot of hoopla this week, but there are some moments that just look cool. Bruce Springsteen playing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of a throng filling the mall and surrounding the reflecting pool is one of them.

Although there was just a moment proving that not all skills are inherited. Martin Luther King III just introduced a clip of JFK's inaugural speech as his "Office of Oath."