Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Return of the Pickler

Nedra Pickler.

In case you're not familiar with the name.

Nedra filed a AP story Thursday that indicates she hasn't reformed her old routines and cut-downs of Democrats in power.
His choice Thursday for White House chief of staff — Rahm Emanuel, a fiery partisan who doesn't mind breaking glass and hurting feelings — is a significant departure from the soft-spoken, low-key aides that "No-Drama Obama" has surrounded himself with during his campaign.

And transition chief John Podesta, like Emanuel, is a former top aide to Bill Clinton and a tough partisan infighter, though less bombastic than the new chief of staff.

The selections are telling for Obama, who campaigned as a nontraditional, almost "post-partisan" newcomer.
And who got first question at Obama's first post-election presser? Nedra.

I leave it to other minds to decide if its coincidence.

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Friday, November 7, 2008


One of the things that I have appreciated about Obama is his ability to see things in a big-picture way and to anticipate possible difficulty and develop solutions long before the situation actually presents itself.

Obama is a big picture guy. That is what is impressive about him. He was not a "tactic" obsessed candidate like McCain, Barack Obama was completely strategically focused. The most telling moment in the debates was when McCain accused Obama of not knowing the difference between a tactic and a strategy - I think that everyone watching that debate knew that the opposite was true. I believe that that moment helped to sink McCain.

Josh at TPM points out just how "radical" that Barack Obama is. Radical enough to understand that the Constitution is the boss of them all.

Josh linked to the very thing that I like most about Obama and what I most look forward to in an Obama Administration. Planning, foresight, anticipation and transparency. He also demands involvement from us.

Obama is putting every plan and every idea up front for us to be a part of.

He has a page to share our vision.

He has a page to share our stories.

He is also taking applications!

He also prominently links to the GSA site that explains the presidential transition in detail.

Truthfully - can anyone - even ardent McCain supporters, imagine John McCain being this organized, inclusive and transparent? John McCain may be a number of things - but he is not a man of foresight. He does not see things in a big picture way. He would not include us in his Administration.

I have long believed that Barack Obama's strength as a Community Organizer, his belief that change happens from the bottom up, would lead to a presidency that would make it easy and demand that the people are involved. I have believed that he would demand that we pay attention to our government and stay involved - the opposite of which allows presidents to get away with the crap that GW Bush got away with. I think that this website is a start in that direction.

Damn. I am impressed.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

What's Up With That?

Yesterday I was actually moved by President Bush's statement congratulating Barack Obama. I felt that he was being "honest" and that Bush was actually really "impressed and proud" of Barack Obama and his victory.

I was confused by those feelings.

Now, this morning, Bush just spoke to his executive staff and Cabinet, talking about "cooperation" and "a smooth transition" and how a smooth transition is "a part of a functioning democracy."

Ya, he said all that stuff. Again I am impressed and confused by my feelings.

Honestly, I have been secretly prepared on some levels for Bush to declare Martial Law and stop the elections or stop the transfer of power or whatever. Now, his seeming cooperation and actual speaking the right words and appearance of wanting to do the right things confuses me greatly.

Is this a last ditch effort to try to redeem himself? Is he trying to preserve some of his legacy by hoping that history remembers how well he handled the transition instead of how poorly he governed? Is this all to calm us down and take away our angst in order to catch us off guard?

Seriously - I am really confused by his behavior. Somebody tell me please, what is up with that!?!?

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New Sort Of Beginning

Audio: Natalie Merchant, "Space Oddity (Live 1999)"

It is a new morning in America.

At 11:00 p.m. yesterday, the face of our country changed forever. After nearly two years of fierce fighting, a new President was elected, and that decision has altered our world. Barack Obama, a biracial man, a black man raised by a single white mother, a community organizer from the heartland of our nation, was chosen to lead us into a new century. I will never forget those final moments before the decision was handed down--me and my wife, sitting on the couch, holding hands, waiting for the polls to close on the West Coast. Then the silence, and Wolf Blitzer declaring "It is official." The headline at the bottom of the screen "BARACK OBAMA ELECTED PRESIDENT," and then a choking laugh, as my wife began to sob. The faces of thousands all across America, cheering, their throats opened in a shout of joy for all the world to hear.

And hear they did. With Obama's election, our world, our nation is given a second chance. Even his opponent, Sen. John McCain, was quick to offer his congratulations last night, giving a speech that showed more grace and class that I could have imagined possible. Even on FOX News, the sight of Juan Williams tearing up showed us all that, no matter where we stand, there can be no denying what this means for our country, our history, and our future. Years from now, we will all remember where we were at that exact moment. And in those years to come, those of us who supported Barack Obama will be able to hold our heads high and say:

"I helped to make it happen."

So what comes next? Well, that remains to be seen. The next President has a difficult journey ahead. Our economy is in ruins; our military is stretched thin; our image across the world badly tarnished. Even here at home, the victory of Barack Obama cannot gloss over the victories for ignorance, for fear, for hatred that took place last night. Sen. Ted Stevens, a convicted felon, still won the vote of his constituents in Alaska. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, defamer of war-heroes, remains in power in Georgia, amid accusations of his state not counting early votes. In California, the infamous Proposition 8 achieved a narrow victory, and has thus denied millions of GLBT citizens their rights. Even now, amidst all of this, conservative posters such as John Derbyshire rant about what a sad day this is, how this is only a victory for the "ruthless opportunism" of Barack Obama, and for "the unprincipled thuggishness of his supporters."

Make no mistake, America: this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But to paraphrase Winston Churchill, it IS a new sort of beginning.

In spite of all the ways in which we failed ourselves last night, let us not forget: A black man, the son of a foreigner, with an ethnic name and no familial legacy in this country, has proved his worth to lead us into the future. With his election, the people of our nation have said "NO" to endless war, to policies that favor the privileged. They have said "NO" to division and hate, and "YES" to the promise of what we ALL can achieve.

Truly, this is not just a victory for Americans, but one for all the world. In Kenya, a national holiday has been declared for Obama; in Sydney, Australia, thousands stood and cheered riotously at the news. And from France, an image comes to us of a celebration in Paris. The image is simple, stark, powerful: a young woman, her delicate features stretched in a grin, staring wide-eyed at a screen announcing the news. Her face is alight with a mixture of emotions--relief, hope, joy--and her alabaster cheeks are streaked with tears. It is this image, truly, which first set in the reality for me--that reduced me, too, to open weeping. Barack Obama is to be our President, and our country can at last begin anew. It is the end of an age of fear, of nationalism, and it is a new beginning for all of us; no matter our nationality, no matter what our political stripe.

America, you and I have had a difficult, fractious relationship. Our marriage has not always been of my choice, and frankly your abuses of my love have sometimes left me embarrassed, humiliated in the public sphere. But with this one simple gesture, you have given me hope that we can build anew. You have reminded me of what it is that makes us great. It falls to us now to find a way through the crises that face us, but I am confident that, together, we can work to create a better future--for ourselves, for our children, and for a world who needs us, now more than ever.

(Photo courtesy of The Huffington Post)

Go on, America. It's finally okay to Hope.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Shock and Awe...

My wife is crying right now on the couch.

Her words: "All those kids I worked with, every single one, can now look at a black man, and say to themselves, 'I can be President, too.'"

Me? I can still scarcely believe it.

For the first time in my adult life, I, too, am finally proud of my country.

We are Risen, America. We are Risen.

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Post Election Depression

I got up a few minutes after 5 this morning. It was not just adjusting to Daylight Savings Time, it is also the anticipation of VOTING DAY.

I seriously cannot believe that it is here.

For the last many weeks my life has been filled with pre-election and post-election plans. Everything that has come into my consciousness has been tempered with "that is after Election Day," or "before." Truly, it has been bizarre just how much energy has been invested in today. Extraordinary really.

What happens tomorrow? (Or, more likely, the day after tomorrow...because tomorrow I suspect that they will still be counting votes because there will be so many more votes than they have prepared for.) Back to the point, though, what will my life be like when there is no more election to obsess on?

I am not talking about a depression and anger that will occur if Obama does not win. I am not even going there. I am counting on him winning, and I refuse to go into the "what ifs" otherwise. What I am talking about is the natural letdown that always occurs when the end comes to a very large investment.

There is the after Christmas depression - which is always worse if I am the one who hosts the holiday because I have invested so much into it. There is the after a major test depression; remember finals, when there should have been relief, but instead there was an enormous feeling of "what now!?" There is the after the convention depression. Every time that I have ever attended a convention, for any purpose, there is always a depression - a let down - that occurs when it is over.

I think that this is natural human nature, that whenever we invest ourselves in something, when that event is over there is a chemical reaction to that excess energy. In other words, whenever we have amped up our energy level to deal with an event (even a good one) there is a reaction to that level of increased energy when it is no longer needed.

I think that this let down will be greater the more invested that people have been in this campaign. The more work involved, the greater the depression. I am assuming that there will be a tremendous amount of joy, excitement, relief (especially relief, that this one is not stolen too) but it will also be tempered with a funk. The degree of the funk proportional to the investment in the outcome.

So, please, friends, be gentle with each other. I know that certain people [me] are more sensitive to these kinds of adjustments than others. I suspect that I will be a little short with people, extra tired, perhaps on the couch for a while...trying to pull it together. I have been very ill lately but I have not allowed myself to really fall apart because I have an election to deal with. When this is over I am guessing that I might relax and actually experience the intensity of my sick.

Just a little warning of what might be going on with the people we love. Just a little warning of what might be going on with me. (Also, it is nice to write supposing the outcome that I am pulling for, even if the subject matter is a downer.) Be gentle, we are almost there.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

"I've Never Had to Forge My Own Signature Before"

So said my husband, as he scribbled his signature, over and over again as it appears on his driver's license, on scratch paper.

Our paranoia about this election being stolen and our votes being thrown out is palpable. We were especially wigged after husband's name was purged from the voter rolls, less than a month after he had voted in the primaries. This story just reinforced the fear.

You see, in Washington State, some Republican dumb ass got the great idea that if your signature on your absentee ballot does not exactly match the signature on your driver's license then they will pull your ballot, investigate and probably throw it out.

So, after my husband took great pains to make certain that he used the right pen and filled out every bubble perfectly, he attempted to make his signature look exactly like it does on his driver's license.

Voting should not be this difficult. The Republicans have always wanted to decrease the votes counted. Thom Hartmann always plays the clip from one of the founders of the neo-cons, speaking in a church, saying "all you Christians out there suffering from goo-goo syndrome, the "good government syndrome" need to understand that elections have never been won by a majority of voters....we don't want people to vote." (Or something to that effect, I was too lazy to look it up.)

My favorite State Rep says that elections are more about people who don't vote than people who do. This is true. If everyone who cannot get time off work to go vote, or everyone who suffers from the policies of bad government went to the polls, we would have Democratic landslides - always.

This study proves that Democratic Presidents raise the incomes of average Americans whereas Republican Presidents raise the incomes of the wealthy. Republicans do not want the people to figure this out, they do not want the people to be educated, they do not want the people to vote.

Although this article and its accompanying chart helped ease my paranoia, it did not change the fact that husband had to practice signing his own fucking name for fear that his vote would be thrown out. It should not be this way and I hope that the first thing that the Progressive Blogosphere pushes through the Congress is a new law to protect our vote, return to paper ballots and take away the involvement of private corporations in our franchise.

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Moday, "Just VOTE Already!" Happy Stuff

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
I shouldn't post before I'm awake - I put this up at Progressive Historians for about 2.5 minutes this morning.

This was at Deus Ex Malcontent. The Insufferable Comedy Snobs have snorted and admitted it was funny on occasion, but it didn't make them laugh. I however, am now hoarse.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cliff Huxtable's Serious Nephew for President

My wife, who grew up poor, sees a lot of the national problems in terms of class, and often race as a subset of class - which is a very white opinion. And this week's The Pain inadvertently hammers that point with a 12-lb demolition sledge. Barack Obama's appeal to whites is not because of race, but because of class. He is the serious Bill Cosby of the 21st Century.

I don't think it's any coincidence that The Cosby Show aired 16-24 years ago, and a number of other sitcoms featuring black middle-class families followed. It then becomes natural that a black politician without direct links to the black political establishment (which gives white America the heebie jeebies) could rise to the Executive Office; all those kids and young adults whom watched Doctor of Obstetrics Huxtable are voting or will vote soon.

The attacks on race against Obama - Arab or black or otherwise - simply don't stick with the majority of white voters polled because they see Obama as a bootstrapping high achiever. He is One Of Us, or what we aspire to be. The ads othering him, or claiming that he has a secret or not-so-secret plan to do something heinous to America (middle-class whites) simply don't work with those whom have more classism than racism in their hearts.

I've seen it in the reactions of this town of Mayberry, Iowa. I'm surrounded by insular white middle-age and younger people whom believe he's a secret Arab because he will redistribute all their wealth. They use race because they are classist. Not the other way around. Conversely, the older voters are more prone to follow the race-then-class argument.

Cosby has always acknowledged his race as part of his identity, but his identity - therefore his comedy - has always been rooted more in his class. He made being black acceptable by espousing middle-class 'American' values. And as he's aged and occasionally said some fairly nasty things about the other African-American entertainers rising in his wake, he's added another layer of shellac to his middle-class image.

The wiki article is pretty telling: "In a 1992 book, authors Sut Jhally and Justin Lewis use the results of an audience study to argue that The Cosby Show obscured the issues of class and race and reinforced the belief that African-Americans have only themselves to blame if they don't succeed in society and ignoring that racism still exists and can be a factor in society."

Simply put, appeals of racial (or radical) membership to infer that Obama would give away the country to blacks or arabs or another stereotyped evil group, simply ain't going to float unless you're prone to believe that anyone not a Republican will tax you into oblivion.

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