Americans of faith, whether liberals or conservatives, have always wanted to elect leaders who will put in place caring governmental policies supportive of human life, from beginning to end—policies such as people-friendly health care, education, jobs, housing, transportation, and energy; equitability and opportunity; a small-business and worker-friendly economy; environmental stewardship; generosity toward the most vulnerable; representative, transparent politics, government, and taxation; and a peaceable foreign policy. Unfortunately, Republican partisan hacks continually manipulate our natural emotions and sympathies to galvanize us around single values-issues like abortion, and thus distract and divide us into voting against our own (and everyone else’s) best interests, against the very life-supporting and compassionate values we care so much about, values which the Democratic Party has always stood up for. The Democratic Party party is pledged to make abortion more rare, not more dangerous, and to promote healthy childbearing, family planning, contraceptive research, and comprehensive family life education. Look at Republican Party results and you will see that, once in power, they consistently put in place policies that move the bulk of the nation’s money away from the broad middle class and toward a small group of very wealthy people. The Republican Party isn’t what it used to be. This time, I hope Americans of faith will vote Democratic—for a change.
My big question today is: how will I manage to add on another new, time-eating priority (that is, taking mediation training, and then volunteering) while I’m already feeling over-committed to my many other current involvements, which I truly, dearly love and want to support, and continue, and finish?
I so love my husband and our life and time together. I love and am committed to supporting my children, parents, sisters, friends. I love inspirational and thought-provoking ideas and conversation, and having a regular spiritual practice. I want to establish a Department of Peace. I want to get Barack elected, end the war, and help him succeed in achieving his amazing agenda.
I want to keep working out, almost-daily. I dearly love writing my quirky personal take on breaking news for this blog (and sometimes for the local newspaper) and I love writing my (coming-along-nicely) “heartwarming, funny, and astonishing” (my words) memoir assessing the various impacts and implications of a military brat childhood upon my life and family (and upon others, and upon culture in general.)
I love Master Gardeners and our mission and activities. I love Women in Black and our peacemaking activities. I love keeping up with news and issues, reading about politics, reading non-fiction books and periodicals in all my favorite fields, and delighting in art and culture via Netflix and television. I love my dog, my home, my garden. I want to cook more often, and more healthfully and artfully. I sometimes need (and even fruitfully use) unstructured downtime (and sleep.) I love staying in the present moment, and being available and responsive and supportive to those I love and strangers alike, available to listen and help when things come up. I love sponsoring family visits and happy holidays.
I want to be gentle with myself, and to resist picking on myself about spreading myself too thin, about not “being there” when needed. True, I do too many things hastily and half-assed, but why waste time and energy judging myself? I don't want to waste my life feeling like I disappoint everyone, or fretting about health issues, poor discipline, or advancing age.
My answer for now? Trust. Surrender.
As Popeye says, I yam what I am. I accept forgiveness for myself, as I extend that acceptance to others who are also going 100% to do whatever most needs to be done, whatever most wants to be done.
I'll always do my best (which, granted, sometimes ain't so hot.) I'll focus on excellence in each small process, and I'll stay in the present so I won’t have to fret about my results, however wonderful, indifferent, or disappointing.
I'll make the time to start my day well, with humility, vision and heart.
I'll trust in God's strength and guidance to help me make healthy, loving choices, moment-to-moment, to help me live a good life.
I'll follow my love, energy, excitement. I'll remember that this approach generally works, if in characteristic fits and starts. (My husband sometimes kindly reminds me–as he goes, uncomplaining, to work each day–that no matter how many activities and relationships I choose—or how few—I’ll never get any of them “right”—to my satisfaction—because, after all, really, nobody ever gets anything or any relationship, finally, “right,” now do they?
Oh, what a relief to not have to worry about that.
True, I do let people down sometimes, and I hate failing others' expectations. Sometimes I collapse in a familiar heap, and sometimes I run away and hide for awhile.
But I’m not going to kick myself anymore. I'm just going to keep making the best choices I can, moment-to-moment, keep doing what I do, and adjust, as needed, and let that be enough. I'm going to remember to love me too, by letting me be me, and not beating me up. (And mediation training would be such a nice present to me….)
After all, I wasn't getting as much done these days as at some other times in my life, probably because I’m currently feeling bogged down and overwhelmed and uninspired and unsure how to juggle my already-competing priorities. Probably an exciting new involvement, by its nature, will synergistically fill in important blanks, open new mental doors, create missing links, help me integrate, energize and prioritize all my beloved activities–inform all of them, support all of them.
Because, just as army brats must (eventually…somehow…) learn excellence, loyalty, perseverence, and FINISHING STUFF, we musn't forget meanwhile that we also simply thrive on jumping into new opportunities, taking risks, enjoying novelty, adventure, new learning, new friends, excitement, expanding our spidery souls by ceaselessly venturing, seeking connection, tirelessly unreeling our threads out of ourselves, casting filament after filament out into the universe, 'til they catch somewhere, O my soul*….
See? My decision to take on mediation training (which I've longed to do for ten years) has already inspired me to write this new blog!
* inspired by and adapted from Walt Whitman's “A Patient, Noiseless Spider”.
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The McCain campaign would love for the American public to think this campaign is “about” being “for” or “against” Palin. It's not. It's about choosing between Obama and McCain on the issues that affect the American people. But the McCain campaign very much hopes we will forget about the issues, in the midst of all the Palin drama they'll keep stirring….
Palin will do a LOT to open feminism up to conservatives, so there is some good in that. She is in many ways a good, remarkable woman, just misguided and ill-informed. I admire her grit and her many abilities and accomplishments. However, I certainly do not agree with her politics, and she is in no way qualified to be either President or VP of the U.S. No major party would dream nowadays of nominating a man with such weak credentials, so they nominated her in part in hopes of stealing the women's and evangelicals' votes, and in part because she is a very talented, smooth political operative. I would not entrust such an important office to an unqualified woman, no matter how appealing, and I will vote for the ticket which is best-qualified and most likely to solve our many global challenges and right our economy, and make the rest of the changes we need here at home–Obama/Biden.
She knows almost nothing about national and international politics, and on several issues, she is a right-wing extremist clearly out of step with most Americans. Shame on McCain. His gambit may work, but it's cynical and self-serving.
The U.S. already twice elected a Palin lookalike–George W. Bush–a “pretty,” likeable, electable young face with an earnest, authentic voice, ideological convictions and good intentions, someone “real,” “like us,” who doesn't know much but you could have a beer with. And the American public trusted and hoped that those wiser would guide him as necessary. Consider where that got us.
Should Palin need to step up to the top job, her office will immediately be taken over by a committee of small, incompetent, warmongering political insiders who will once again run the country amok.
Palin is a good spokeswoman for Republican ideology, and certainly unique, and I wish her much growth. She has a bright future in conservative politics as a talking head for the powerful insider Rove/Limbaugh/Cheney puppeteer troupe (although they may find her harder to “handle” than Bush was–maybe not.)
But regardless of her politics, she is in no way ready to run our country in it's hour of greatest need.
Although admittedly, Palin is a big step up from Cheney….
Hillary and other feminists need to say, Yes, a qualified women for VP or President, but Palin is not qualified. I'm sorry, but Palin's face and style keep reminding me of Annette, the Mouseketeer. J-O-H N-S-M C-C-A-I-N! Sorry, Annette. But if it quacks like a duck….
I also think we need someone who will be a 24/7 President, as Obama has promised. He has pre-arranged the excellent care of his children with his wife, in-laws and friends, and they are counting on him to show up and be Daddy on occasion, but not to have any family responsibilities other than being a loving father, husband, friend. He does not have five children, one a special-needs infant, one heading to Iraq and one young, unmarried, pregnant and vulnerable.
Clearly, Palin's husband will be playing the traditional parent-at-home job, and I suspect he'll be good at it. If Palin is willing to turn the raising of the family over to him and others, as Barack has done, and leave herself only the responsibility of showing up to be loving Mommy on occasion, as Barack does, then she can be a 24/7 leader. Otherwise, we're gonna get cheated.
Both candidates should of course be with their families during major family crises, which arise more often in families of five children than of two children (see above). Presidents are also needed on-the-job during world crises. Enough said. I welcome the national dialogue that will occur on this issue, about just how much responsibility any parent of either sex can reasonably take on simultaneously at home and at the office, and still perform “equitably,” satisfactorily, laudably
Obama's judgment and patriotism is so evident in his choice of Biden, and McCain's seems ever more unstable, imprudent, impulsive. Certainly Palin was not thoughtfully vetted.
We desperately need national leadership, and we need a clear vision of where we are going and how to get there, not partisanship. We need someone who can give us good reasons to pull together, not someone whose extremism will tear us apart. McCain is all about scaring people into voting for him, and about making people think this election is about Palin, and not either-Obama-or-McCain.
By insisting that the media is to blame for critically vetting Palin, the Republicans are setting themselves up to excuse Palin from future unscripted media dialogue, interaction, and risky exposure. Palin's a maverick, it's true, but a maverick we know little about, who should not be protected from the press, nor left to cut her pretty teeth on the Presidency.
By the way, I understand McCain will soon be shipping Palin back to hide out in
When the only tool you know well is a hammer, all problems look like nails, and McCain's most familiar hammer is the military. None of the national and global problems the next President will face can be solved militarily (or by a rookie testing out her learning curve.)
I once enjoyed hunting too, my daughter was a very competitive basketball player, I admire strong, ambitious, talented women and I love to see them get ahead in politics. But really, Vice President? I don't think so…. This is a big decision, folks. Let's all do some serious thinking about its implications. Our lives, and our children's lives, our money, the fate of the nation, the world, our very planet, are at stake.
“ClaremontObserver” recently wrote:
> Only in Republican America would a black man with
> Bachelors degree in
> International Relations from Columbia University,
> a law degree from
> Harvard Law School, 10 years as a professor of
> Constitutional Law at
> the University of Chicago, 12 years in politics,
> four years on the U.S.
> Senate Foreign Relations Committee and manager of
> one of the most
> impressively flawless and forward thinking
> presidential campaigns ever
> not be ready for the presidency while a white
> female evangelical with
> 19 months in politics and a bachelors in
> journalism is considered
> “ready on day one.”
I copied this off a comments thread on www.realclearpolitics.com . “Claremont Observer” has a website called www.ClaremontObserver.com , so check it out! I thought the above was the most important observation on Palin of the day.
Two survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb recently came to my fair city to share their stories and plead for an end to nuclear weapons. I now am more persuaded than ever that powerful leaders who order the bombing of civilian populations are as misguided and ineffective in furthering their causes as are terrorists who set off suicide bombs in crowded marketplaces.
In the past, I believed that bombing civilian targets was sometimes necessary to end war and save lives, but now I see that Americans would never accept such a double standard if nuclear bombs were dropped on our cities.
We only ever have two choices in any personal or global conflict: We can choose never to give up trying to find positive solutions, or we can claim to have no choice but to accept negative ones. We can opt for unity, or we can retreat into defensive separateness. We can bravely reach out to come together as one—one couple, one family, one organization, one polity, one world—or we can retreat from the hard work of reaching agreement.
Proponents of “just wars” assure us that violence sometimes offers quicker, surer ways to prevent injustices and insure the survival of the “right” side. Yet this same moral argument is proffered equally fervently by terrorists, who also believe in the “rightness” of their causes. To both of these, I contend that to be “right,” whether individually or nationally, is to be in continuously valiant struggle to live up to the highest, most positive, peaceful, loving universal humanitarian ideals and values.
Sadly, many of us excuse our double standards and immoral choices, both at home and abroad, because “we’re right.” But we’re not “right,” regardless of our politics, religion, or history, unless we, our families, friends, organizations and nation resolve our conflicts generously, cooperatively, and non-violently. If our solutions to human conflict are violent, harmful and hurtful, we are no longer “right.”
Our justly historically proud and idealistic nation now controls most of the world’s nuclear weapons (making us by far the greatest weapons proliferator and threat to others around the world) yet we see no problem with that, because, after all, “we’re ‘right’.” We even justify a nuclear attack upon Iran, fearing that they may develop, use or proliferate such weapons—because we’re “right.” As the Bruce Ivins / anthrax case and the Air Force’s case of “misplaced” nuclear warheads have taught us, even well-intentioned weapons research and maintenance can be too easily sabotaged. Deadly bioweapons and nuclear devices quickly fall prey not only to human greed and guile, but also to weakness, illness, error, and confusion about the politically “right” thing to do. All this, while fueling ever more danger, fear, more arms races, and more likelihood of proliferation.
During the twentieth century, every peaceful, diplomatic effort that has ever received anything like the openhanded financial and political backing which war receives has been successful. Such political compromises, however frustrating and dissatisfying they may feel at the time, always seem presciently wise and politically courageous in retrospect.
Wars cannot prevent catastrophes; war itself is a catastrophe, as attested by all those whose lives are touched by war. Soldiers and soldiers’ families are always catastrophically exploited by war. Ninety percent of the victims of war are civilians. We who so proudly march into war have no idea what future injustices those wars will inevitably loose upon innocents on all sides.
The belief that war can prevent injustices is a powerful, well-funded myth. War may prevent a few specific, immediate injustices, but it always creates many more unpredicted and terrible ones. Tragically, we let every generation forget that, whether or fight or not, some great injustices inevitably are suffered, and some people die. Millions of Jews and other innocents died in WWII despite gargantuan war efforts on all sides, and many more died because of them. In wartime as in peacetime, countries come together and apart, tyrants rise and fall. The price of liberty—and its best guarantor—is never war, but eternal, active, courageous, peaceful vigilance. For what does freedom mean, if not the freedom to live and let others livein peace? Our God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—a right shared by all peoples everywhere—rests inevitably upon others’ good will.
War cannot keep us safe. War cannot prevent human injustices. Even under the best of circumstances, human nature being what is it and human conflicts being inevitable, life will always be fragile, difficult, and uncertain. In today’s (and tomorrow’s) fast-shrinking, intricately intertwined, and insanely violent world, life on earth itself is at risk.
The only moral choice about nuclear weapons that any nation has in today’s increasingly complex and violent world is to take the courageous lead in disarming. Such a decision is no different than any of the other difficult moral decisions we make every day. They all come down to one of two choices: whether to live positively or negatively, hopefully or cynically, bravely or fearfully, in faith or in despair.
Regardless of the size and nature of the conflict, whether personal or political, local or global, we can always choose cooperation over competition, unity over division, hope over cynicism, brotherhood over partisanship, and forgiveness over vengeance.
We can always choose faith, hope and love over fear, defensiveness, and retribution. We can choose whether to add to the sum of injustices by fearfully arming ourselves enough to destroy our beautiful blue planet many times over, mistreating our neighbors as they mistreat us, or we can support only peaceful leaders everywhere, seek compromises, listen to all viewpoints, and steadfastly reject that greatest injustice and attack upon freedom, which is war itself.
I’m not brave enough to be a total pacifist; I would defend my family, friends and neighbors from bad guys climbing in our windows and knocking down our doors, and maybe I’m wrong in this. But such scenarios are far less likely if we elect peaceful leaders who maintain strong local militias, and then spend the rest of our so-called “defense” budget redressing local, national and international injustices, and supporting great projects dear to the hearts of our so-called “enemies.” Everyone knows that the best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him a friend.
Albert Einstein famously warned us that no nation on earth can simultaneously prevent and prepare for war. Certainly, maintaining the mightiest military force in the history of the world has not prevented us from being continually embroiled in wars.
We are all conditioned to believe that being “right” about ourselves, our politics, traditions and religions, is more important than living and letting others live in peace. We have to be “right” about so many things—about who the bad guys are, who started it, who was at fault, what happened, who meant well and who didn’t, who did what to whom, whose ideology or form of government or religion is superior….
The truth is, in this confusing world, it’s difficult to find agreement even amongst our best friends and those most “like” us, about what life is all about—what we’re doing here, and how best to look upon the world, ourselves, and one another. Even the greatest scholars realize that the more they know, the more they know they don’t know. This is why, in every conflict, humility, acceptance, mutual respect, support, and yes, forgiveness, are the wisest guides to being “right.”
Some day, they will give a war and no one will come. Each of us will either continue to insist upon being “right” and in control (both illusions in this multicultural nuclear age) or hold ourselves to that highest universal standard, the Golden Rule, which treats all others kindly as we would wish to be treated. When more and more of us make this shift to respect and support for human life everywhere, we will enter a more harmonious age.
In this age of climate change and peak oil, the great work of peaceful global transformation is urgent. Wars over oil already rage in Iraq, Darfur, and Georgia, and other global scarcities such as water threaten increasing conflict. Our mother Earth is sick and reaching crisis. Einstein famously predicted, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Fortunately, researchers have learned a lot about how to resolve human conflicts peacefully. Amish and Quaker Christians and other historically peaceful communities have shown us that peaceful cultures are possible, and now, across the globe, great moral leaders demonstrate the proven arts and skills of peaceful conflict resolution. It’s time we learned what they know, and time to spread that knowledge around.
Hatred begets more hatred; this is immutable law. Until we lead the global paradigm shift away from division and toward brotherhood, exploiting the potential of our great institutions and media in the service of peace and justice, we and our progeny will increasingly be at risk for more crime, more injustices, wars and terrorism, more Holocausts, 9/11s, Hiroshimas and Nagasakis. Neither love nor fear are simple, obvious or guaranteed approaches to resolving human conflict, but at this late date, only one has any chance of succeeding.
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Barack is our most electable candidate in November. Here's why.
Nearly everyone in the country already supports the changes Barack embraces.
More and more citizens are confident that Barack is a good, knowledgable, experienced, strong leader and talented politician of great integrity, a devoted family man focused on helping the American people, talented, patriotic, Christian, and very capable of working his excellent good plan for bringing about real change in America.
Nearly everyone who gets to know Barack likes and respects him, and trusts his leadership.
Barack already has tons of money to campaign with, great ad-makers, and great fund-raising ability.
Barack is winning over the hearts and minds of his media critics, regardless of their previous stances.
Barack is completely focused on winning the general election in November, and what Barack focuses on gets done.
John McCain, a good and patriotic public servant, represents the wrong agenda, and has a big set of problems and weaknesses.
Barack is a brilliant, proven campaigner.
Barack’s campaign organization, staff and volunteers are highly experienced and effective.
Barack and his campaign organization and volunteers have learned a lot.
Barack’s many new supporters will contribute in countless ways to his campaign.
Barack’s 50-state voter-registration effort will bring in many more voters.
Barack is completely focused on convincing us that (with our help) he can bring about the changes we want
Barack dominates the media every day with his thoughtful responses to breaking news.
Barack has won the wholehearted respect and support of all party leaders, including Hillary’s supporters, all of whom are willing and eager to work with him.
Hillary supporters already support Obama’s agenda.
If Hillary interferes, Democratic party leaders will work in unanimity to convince her to end her campaign.
Barack too will persuade Hillary to wholeheartedly support his campaign by encouraging her to take a strong role in his administration.
Hillary will loyally and persuasively convince her supporters to vote for Barack, and will wholeheartedly and effectively campaign for him.
Barack will handle the issues, crises, setbacks, and eventualities which will arise during the campaign in his characteristic calm, thoughtful manner.
Barack will offer strong, persuasive, effective leadership concerning the problem of racism.
Barack has prepared both the media and the American citizenry to recognize and reject campaign distractions and dirty tricks, and the politics of division, hate, and fear.
Barack will select the best possible running mate, who will balance the ticket, help the Democrats win in November, and help Barack accomplish his agenda for change over the next eight years.
Barack Obama will win the presidency in 2008.
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I’m enjoying watching the Obama veepstakes unfold….
If Hillary doesn't want the job, which she isn't right for (although I love her) maybe Barack will pick either Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey or Jim Webb.
Obama and Casey like, respect and enjoy each other. How well they work together really is an important selection criteria in choosing a VP to help Barack move forward on America’s mandate for change.
Obama took Casey for a long test-drive as they campaigned together across Pennsylvania. Casey seems a bit low-key to me, but his mild demeanor seems to have grown on his loyal down-home constituents. Casey is experienced–if not day-one-experienced–in foreign policy. His interests, expertise and politics are very similar to Barack’s. Casey's solid, well-vetted personal background will contain few surprises, if any. He seems to have unshakeable integrity, quiet confidence, little ego, considerable calm and coolness, deep faith, wonky attention to detail, poise on his feet, and a lifetime commitment to challenges and service.
Casey was Jesuit-trained, which says to me he and Barack share values and perspectives. Both Obama and Casey served on the senate Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees together, so they know each other fairly well.
Bob’s father was a beloved Pennsylvania Governor, so he is not new to political life and its unpleasant realities. Bob’s four beautiful daughters and wife are very much an asset; they twisted his arm to get him to go ahead and support Barack. Barack said Casey’s endorsement meant more to him…as much to him… as any endorsement he’d received in his whole campaign. A telling comment indeed.
Casey is a devout Catholic and thoughtfully pro-life, which will bring in many new voters, including previous non-political voters, Hispanics, Evangelicals, religious voters in general, and Catholics. Pro-lifers will just have to settle for having a very liberal, pro-life president.
I think Barack is looking for a relatively youthful partner, a natural leader who will share leadership loyally beside him to achieve his agenda of change, and who might, having learned and earned the job over eight years, step into Barack’s shoes as he eases himself over to the Supreme Court when ready for a nice long useful, interesting rest.
Pennsylvania is a state Barack would like to win and Casey could get for him, although regional considerations are less important than all the above factors, since Barack cannot legitimately be said to “belong” to any single region of the U.S.
Casey is a populist who would appeal to Hillary’s current voters—particularly the blue-collar folk slow to see in Barack one of their own, who take a little longer to recognize his integrity, vision and trustworthiness, and might need some significant convincing to understand Barack's unique ability and credible plan to bring about the changes they want to see. Casey seems to be a good manager and a good debater. He's hard-working, productive, ambitious, and attentive to quality and detail.
Casey is a quietly authentic, genuine, natural leader who will help Barack get elected and won't hurt him. If he turns out to be the strong, complementary partner Barack needs to successfully move his agenda forward, if he learns and earns the job of president during the next eight years, then Barack will have exercised his own good judgment to make a selection in the best interests of the all the people, which is what Barack does best.
Both Casey and Obama have a few endearingly sweet but flitty mannerisms which demagogues will use to smear such a team (see Casey's endorsement announcement) so they'd have to be warned to avoid giggling enthusiasm and girlish delight when campaigning together.
I have adored Jim Webb since I read Fields of Fire when it first came out, and the man just keeps on getting more and more wonderful. Everything he touches turns to gold. He's such a uniquely powerful and thoughtful leader, and a great populist. But perhaps Obama wants someone younger, more religious, a little more like himself in his politics, and a little less-burdened with a strong personality, personal distractions, historical skeletons and wives. If these issues don't bother Barack, they won't bother me. I'm a bit concerned about Webb's health; despite his evident fitness, he just looks like a heart attack waiting to happen. I hope I'm wrong.
Each of the other impressive leaders currently exuding gravitas and national/international military/foreign policy experience (Al Gore, General James L. Jones, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson….) is either too old for the sixteen-year tough-hoeing job, or somewhat reluctant to take it on, although I suspect they would all agree to do whatever might be necessary for the good of their country and/or party. I still think Al Gore must be Barack's intended answer should the party try to foist Hillary on him. The name, Al Gore, is unfortunately still very polarizing to non-Democrat voters because of his past Clinton associations, but his internationally acclaimed environmental activism has made him less-so. Young people love him, and he's learned to be a more natural, relaxed campaigner and leader.
I like Mark Warner for many of the same reasons that I like Casey, but I really don't know anything about him that I haven't learned on the internet. He may not be sufficiently “with” the Obama program, I just don’t know. If Barack is confident of Warner's loyalty and integrity and their shared vision, then he is also a good choice for some–but not all–of the above reasons.
I just love Bill Richardson, who is morally courageous and upright, committed to Barack’s agenda, will bring in Hispanics, runs a tight ship, and gets it done. He's not a lightweight, but he's perceived by some to be one, congenial as he is, so that would have to be worked on. I can't imagine anyone saying Richardson wouldn't be ready on Day One, or not liking him, or finding skeletons in his closet, which is all good.
Another good choice for Barack right now, based, again, only on internet research and reading, is Kathleen Sebelius, also for many of the above reasons. If I knew more about her, or even more about Casey and Warner, perhaps she would be my first choice. She's had a lifetime in politics, and seems accessible, bright, admirable, hard-working, politically correct and savvy, low-key and appealing. She's powerful in distinctly feminine ways–a real plus–and future presidential material to be sure.
In recent history, both Presidents Bush, Clinton and Gore demonstrated how important and difficult it is to make a good VP choice. Choosing a running mate can be a thankless, nearly impossible task, one best made on one’s own terms and not, ultimately, by committee. Every VP choice inevitably comes with a certain amount of baggage and drawbacks. No single choice can compete with all the best arguments for all the other candidates, of course.
I’m enjoying playing this little veepstakes game along with the thousands of other people who are interested in playing it, too, so I thought I might as well share my conclusions and my reasons for having them (total value: about two-cents) with my loyal readers…..
…About whom I know little, although I’m now happily averaging 2,000+ hits a day, and recently reached 8,957 hits on one very nice day earlier this month. Who are you guys? Why do you read my blog? Where do you live? What would you like to hear more about? Any questions you’d like me to blog about? I would love to hear from any of you…. Please send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. And thank you for reading my blog…. JJ
Barack Obama recently disagreed with Jeremiah Wright’s statements equating America’s wartime efforts with terrorism. Wright had cited biblical passages wherein God condemns (damns) anyone who deliberately kills innocents, whether at Hiroshima or at Ground Zero (9/11).
Although I support Obama’s candidacy wholeheartedly, I disagree with him here, preferring Reverend Wright’s logic. With Wright, I see no moral difference between a weak, fallible organization (or individual) setting off a suicide bomb in a marketplace, and a big, powerful, fallible nation dropping an atomic bomb on a civilian population—except, of course, that powerful nations have more options. Both warriors and terrorists say they’re fighting for survival, and both often choose strategies which collaterally harm innocents over diplomacy and other alternatives because they think such violence a quicker, surer way to attain their goals.
Both soldiers and terrorists justify deliberately killing innocents by the rightness of their causes—the only difference being, of course, that powerful nations have access to huge armies and limitless lethal technologies, while less-powerful groups have weak armies, few weapons and little money. That’s why terrorists, hoping to maximize their impact, focus international media attention on their unaddressed grievances (and harass their oppressors) by strapping on cheap explosives.
Soldiers and terrorists alike feel they are forced into doing the bad things they do to prevent further injustices. Yet this argument for “just war”—that sometimes violence is necessary to prevent greater injustices and harm—is also a perfectly reasonable argument for terrorism.
Mind you, I don’t buy either argument. Positive, peaceful alternatives often work, if one only accepts that compromises, though disappointing, are never final and are changeable later, regardless of the unsavory present trade-offs necessary to prevent further catastrophes.
War doesn’t prevent injustices. War itself is always a grievous injustice to all involved in it. Most soldiers and their families are catastrophically exploited by war. 90% of the victims of war are civilians. Unfortunately, when citizens manipulated into vindictive indignation over present and past injustices march into wars, they rarely consider all the many future injustices which that war will inevitably inflict on both sides.
Whether or not we act violently, injustices occur. Whether we fight wars or rise up together in peaceful protest, some people will suffer unjustly, some will die. The Jews died in the Holocaust despite the war effort and perhaps also because of it. Europe is now united; tyrants come and go. No matter whether we choose peace, terrorism, or war, we cannot prevent all injustices. But we can avoid adding to their sum by accepting compromises, listening to all sides, and steadfastly rejecting the gravest injustice of all—war itself.
I’m not a pacifist. I would defend my family and neighbors from bad guys climbing in our windows and knocking down our doors—a scenario far less likely to happen if my government maintains strong local militias and promotes international good will by working for international justice and against war. I certainly would not travel to another country and throw my weight around, except as part of a globally-mandated UN peacekeeping force.
Violent solutions to conflicts, whether war or terrorism, always make problems more intractable in the long run. Violence sometimes seems appealing in the short-term, but not when both sides of the story are heard. Over time, just as in families, violent solutions stoke anger, resentment and vengefulness, and prevent and postpone just and lasting resolutions and peace.
Although there are always two sides to every conflict, loyal combatants often resist hearing out the ‘other’ side. Powerful greedy nations that initiate wars of conquest against weaker forces often refuse to negotiate with their enemies. Why negotiate when you can get what you want through attrition, slaughter and unconditional surrender?
When wars end, war-weary citizens on both sides, hearing the stories of the victims who bore the tragic consequences of the stubbornness, greed, ignorance, intolerance, hubris, vengefulness, anger and megalomania behind all wars and terrorism, finally realize that it was never the courageous, idealistic grandchildren they sent out to kill each other who were most to blame, but rather the safe, rich, hard-headed old leaders on both sides who failed to keep the peace.
Too often, we prefer being “right” to living and letting others live in peace. We think we have to be right about so many things—about who’s the bad guy, who started it, who’s at fault, what happened, who meant well and who didn’t, who did what to whom, whose ideology or form of government is superior, whose religion is true, who is weird and strange and cultish and backward and disgusting, who gets to be in control, who gets to be the one with the gold who makes all the rules….
The truth is that nobody yet has a clear picture of what human life is all about, what we’re doing here, and how best to look upon the world, ourselves, and one another. Even the leading scholars agree that the more they know, the more they know they don’t know. In every conflict, humility, acceptance and mutual respect are the wisest guides.
When we insist on being ‘right’ rather than making the compromises necessary to live together in peace, we are making the choice of terrorism/war over freedom. What is freedom, if not the freedom to live one’s life and pursue one’s dreams in peace?
Someday, they will give a war and no one will come. This will happen when we stop worrying about being right and in total control (both are foolish illusions in this nuclear age) and instead, hold ourselves accountable to the highest universal standards of treating all others as we would like to be treated, respecting and supporting human life everywhere. When this happens, we will enter a more peaceful, harmonious age.
We will, that is, if some of us are still here. The work of global peaceful transformation is so urgent. As Einstein famously predicted, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Since we can no longer completely control nuclear weapons, we must work now to transform ourselves and our own violent cultures into cultures of peace. Amish, Quaker and Buddhist families alike learn and teach gentleness successfully; they all enjoy unselfish, peaceful cultures. Why shouldn’t the rest of us learn, too?
Cultures change whenever individuals learn peaceful ways of dealing with their own personal conflicts, and then optimize their cultural institutions to educate others about harmonious relations, diplomacy, and global justice. Institutions such as public media (the airwaves and the internet) as well as private media, educational systems, charitable foundations, political and service organizations, private corporations, public agencies, and international cooperatives can all be exploited to promote peace.
People are realizing that war and terrorism are mirrors of each other. They are merely two forms of culturally-acceptable (in certain circles) violence we inflict on one another. Until more cultural leaders make the paradigm shift away from both war and terrorism—and the rest follow—we and all our children everywhere will be increasingly at risk for more injustices, more wars, more terrorism, more Holocausts, more Hiroshimas….
Someday, Barack too will see that this is true.
I was raised to think that fidgeting, shouting and mopping one’s brow when speaking in public was unrefined. My mom only meant to teach me how to act, but her instructions left me judgmental of other cultures and styles. I squirmed with her when Elvis Presley gyrated and grunted and sweated. Together we hated Hitler’s rants, and shrank in dismay from Khrushchev’s noisy shoe. Loud, angry, confrontive voices still do nothing for me. They feel rude and threatening. And I’m not alone in this.
Maybe it’s my Calvinist streak, but I like my leaders calm, cool, and collected, like my man Barack Obama. To be sure, I would wager that Barack could make any congregation anywhere jump out of the aisles and pour into the streets anytime he wanted, as Jeremiah Wright can. And certainly Reverend Wright, a caring if conflicted Christian, has demonstrated on Bill Moyers's show that he can do scholarly and cerebral analysis along with the best of them.
I was also raised to be snobbish about grammar and diction. But people learn to speak however their families speak. Changing one’s everyday speech is an unimaginably arduous, individualized, time-consuming transformation not “covered” in English classes. Nowadays, many pop and sports celebrities who've won fame with colorful urban dialects will hire highly-trained linguistic coaches to give them personalized instruction in accent, vocabulary, grammar, and cultural modifications.
Every human being alive would like to be able to switch occasionally into more felicitous professional, business and academic English dialects should occasion arise, especially if one's dialect reflects a limited, impoverished or unlettered childhood. People are just more comfortable being around people who sound like them; fewer doors slam shut, and more open. Unconscious linguistic prejudices may not always be deliberate, but they’re very real and very limiting.
I can assure you that if Barack started writhing and sweating and screaming street slang in my face, I wouldn’t be able to focus on his logical argument. No, I’d be too worried about whether he was in good-enough physical shape to let himself get so worked up, or if he might be about to have a heart attack, or fall off the stage, or embarrass himself linguistically, chase somebody around the room maybe, or shoot somebody.
And if people around me, black or white, start to sway and wave their arms and call out and fall out? Well, I’m just not used to that. There’s nothing wrong with such choices, but people in my stuffy childhood churches just didn’t do those things. Where I came from, such behavior was considered, dare I say it, uncivilized, primitive, even tribal.
But what's so wonderfully “civilized” about a culture with a long sad secret record of exploiting and even obliterating other, weaker cultures? Civilization is as civilization does. I like the way people from so-called “primitive” southern-hemisphere cultures so generously share their time, money, warmth and help with one another. That kind of behavior sounds like pretty advanced-civ to me, more advanced in many ways than the often cold, hostile, lonely, so-called “modern” cultures of today. Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of western civilization, said he thought it would be a good idea.
All I'm saying is, there is no one single “way” to “be” that is universally “right.” All cultures, young and old, techy and traditional, have much to learn from one another, and much to teach.
I’m finally getting used to all the shouting and signifying so many people delight in, and I certainly know there’s nothing wrong with it. My kids love the loud emotional unity of rock concerts, and even I have a bit of the wild thing in me at times. But my mom’s early strictures insured that I wouldn’t come around easily to accepting other people’s different stylistic expressions. It’s all about what you’re used to.
But it’s not, as my mom believed, about what is “nice” or “right” or “correct” or even “appropriate,” because styles vary from culture to culture. It's about different ways of being civilized (and uncivilized.) And it's about holding to the highest standard of respect and support for human life everywhere, the Golden Rule of treating all others as we would want to be treated. It's certainly not about some picky stylistic stuff.
I was a military brat, so my far-flung army-post classrooms were racially-integrated long before the civil rights movement nudged America toward living up to more of its ideals. My classmates were pretty much all courteous, well-spoken, middle-class students of a remarkable variety of races, because in those days, the military establishment required cultural, stylistic and linguistic conformity. Non-white families could find reasonable welcome in the military if (and only if) they could demonstrate that, aside from skin color, they weren’t any different from most middle-class whites. All my classmates back then, regardless of race, seemed indistinguishably mainstream.
I didn’t grow up around many poor or uneducated people, or around any charismatic preachers and congregations, for that matter, although happily, I've had broader exposure to the world’s diversity since then, thanks in part to more representative television programming. I try to remind myself that my own carefully-taught class and race prejudices are limitations I want to remedy, both as a Christian and as a caring citizen of the world. Fortunately for me, I’ve been privileged in adulthood to spend time with good, patient people from all backgrounds, and have become comfortable with a broader range of personal styles.
Like everyone else, I acquired my own personal and linguistic styles from my parents, peers, and “neighborhood.” My family was a WASPy, bookish clan which gifted lucky-me (through no particular effort on my own) with a style and dialect acceptable in most circles. But there are many other delightfully valid ways of being an American swirling around me today in this great country—native and immigrant styles from all over, academic and business styles, hip-hop and Hispanic, inner-city and down-home country, Islamic, Asian, Caribbean, and a whole slew of other newly-blended personal styles I can’t begin to keep up with, but my kids can.
But the thing about personal style is, nowadays, it’s a positive, fluid thing, individual, unique, interesting, entertaining, and not so tied to race or ethnicity or social class as it once was. And voters are finally figuring all this out.
It seems to me that despite all the fuss about the particular words that Jeremiah Wright used, demagogues replaying his sound bites over and over don’t really care what Wright thinks or means, but rather, they're bent on dividing us along prejudicial lines. The small-minded con-men guiding the anti-Obama smear campaigns are absolutely thrilled to jump on any available excuse to show us ad nauseum how Barack once befriended a black man whose personal style makes a lot of voters uncomfortable.
The hucksters replaying such tapes are hoping white voters will conclude that “those people” “like Barack” are different from “us,” that “we” will think we have little in common with “them, ” that Barack won’t understand us and can’t represent our interests. Dirty politicians manipulate our unconscious racism so that we will see only difference, separation and error, instead of our many commonalities, our shared American dreams and challenges.
Such politics of division, hate and fear have a long successful history of convincing Americans time and again to vote against their own best interests. But as Barack keeps reminding us, American voters are smarter than that now. We’re becoming more enlightened, more open-minded and inclusive, more loving.
Smears-by-association can no longer distract us for long from the common pressing issues we all face, the real threats which ignore borders and cannot be solved competitively, but only through global cooperation, like a faltering economy, a culture of violence, costly wars, growing energy demands, poverty, political corruption, inadequate access to education, weapons proliferation, organized crime, infectious disease, poor health care, environmental degradation, mass migrations, crumbling infrastructure, pornography, homelessness, natural disasters, addictions, injustice, hopelessness, hunger, greed, prejudice, civic alienation, and apathy itself.
Americans are finally seeing the relevance and possibility inherent in the American ideals which Jesus, Jefferson, Lincoln, Gandhi, King, Mandela and so many other great leaders have urged upon us with one voice. We are finally turning away from the mean-spirited thinking which created all our problems in the first place, and toward the higher shared consciousness of universal brotherhood that alone will save us and our tiny blue planet.
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I love Marianne Williamson (www.marianne.com). Like me, she believes in Barack Obama. We are both feminists. For me, feminism means being able to live your life in integrity with your own values and preferences and perspectives, not according to someone else's belief system about what is feminine or gender-appropriate.
For more insight on Marianne's wonderful take on feminism, read her great book A Woman's Worth. But for now–here's Marianne's endorsement of Barack Obama, a true friend of women and men alike:
“What! You're not voting for Hillary? But I thought you were such a feminist!”
If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times. So let me explain why I'm not voting with my vagina…
As a feminist, I believe nurturing and nourishing a world trying to be born is the most efficient way to counter the malevolent effects of a world that needs to pass away.
That is why I support Obama.
As a feminist, I believe inclusion is more powerful and life producing than is exclusion.
That is why I support Obama.
As a feminist, I believe tending and mending is a more effective way to deal with the world's stress points than is fighting or fleeing.
That is why I support Obama.
As a feminist, I believe having a vision for what I want the world to become is as important as solving problems that have arisen in the world that is.
That is why I support Obama.
As a feminist, I'm more concerned with creating a world my great-great-grandchildren can live in than in trying to make things better for me right now.
That is why I support Obama.
As a feminist, I am convinced that building authentic relationships is a more lasting, creative way to build peace than just strategizing to destroy enemies and manipulate alliances.
That is why I support Obama.
As a feminist, I relate more to the honest sharing of a wife who sometimes misses a note, than to the too-scripted sharing of a woman who never does.
That is why I support Obama.
As a feminist, I look forward to voting for the first woman president; but when I do, I want her to be one whose positions and policies reflect a feminine worldview.
That is why I support Obama.
As a feminist, I get that masculine armor is not our strength, our ability to love is our greatest power, and our urge to repair is our greatest calling.
That is why I support Obama, pray for him unceasingly, work to strengthen his chances….and will support whoever wins.
– by Marianne Williamson, February 2008, www.marianne.com
VOTE FOR BARACK OBAMA
More specifically, the nation must decide how to face the future racing toward us in the form of slumping home sales, unstable financial markets and increased joblessness – and staring at us from the Green Zone in Iraq and the beds at veterans hospitals.
Should Democrats choose someone who will employ hard-won – even bitter – experiences gained in a past Democratic administration, or reach beyond political truisms toward a new (and untried) model of governing?
Neither choice is obvious. Perhaps that's why the race has gone on for so long.
But the long slog through 44 primaries and caucuses has confirmed for us that Sen. Barack Obama's vision of change – and the way he plans to pursue it – is what we need right now. Badly.
This is a campaign that really began six years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001. Not only was the U.S. attacked and seriously wounded, it did not bounce back the way “the land of the free and home of the brave” should have. In fact, it still suffers from post-traumatic stress.
That day and its aftermath cried out for a revolution of values: a clear-eyed shared vision, a cooperative effort, a unified purpose. It cried out for a recognition that conventional warfare and conventional responses to domestic challenges in an era of globalization were not enough.
That cry was not answered.
Instead, the Bush administration embarked on an unconscionable plan to exploit the fear we all felt that day for political gain. It lied us into a disastrous war in Iraq, a staggering, record deficit at home, a weakening of the constitutional structure on which the country rests, and poisonous lines of division among Americans. It led us to a place where 81 percent of Americans say we're on the wrong track.
Contrary to Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign slogan, we believe Barack Obama is more likely to be “ready on Day One” to lead us in a new direction. Because of his experience.
Sure, Clinton has more “experience” of a sort. For one thing, she has 14 more years on earth. How much of this experience is directly applicable to the job of president is, at best, debatable.
We are frankly troubled by her assumption that her husband's administration and accomplishments were her own. And if her equation holds, that the first spouse is an equal partner in the administration, then the reappearance of Bill Clinton in the White House is a prospect we have a hard time reconciling with the work that needs to be done.
THERE IS a way to match Clinton's and Obama's performances on a relatively equal playing field: their campaigns.
A candidate's campaign may be the best indicator of how she or he will govern. If so, an Obama administration would be well-managed, inclusive and astonishingly broad-based. It would make good use of technology and communicate a message of unity and, yes, hope.
It would not be content with eking out slim victories by playing to the narrow interests of the swing voters of the moment while leaving the rest of the country as deeply divided as ever. Instead, an Obama administration would seek to expand the number of Americans who believe that they have a personal stake in our collective future – and that they have the power to change things.
It would motivate them to hold their representatives accountable for making it happen. That is, after all, the only way to get us out of Iraq, to address global warming, to make us energy-independent. It's the only way to resist the forces arrayed against providing universal health care, rebuilding our infrastructure and returning our schools to world-class status. It's the only way to give our children the means to compete with children in other parts of the world who are healthier, better-educated and have more opportunities than many of our own.
An Obama administration would be freer of the the corrupting influence of big-money donors and corporate interests. Obama has raised $240 million overall, with half coming in contributions of less than $200. People who contribute to political campaigns can feel they “own” a candidate and so Obama would owe allegiance to the wide swath of America that has financed his campaign.
Based on his experience in running a quarter-billion-dollar enterprise with thousands upon thousands of volunteers, we could expect an Obama administration to be well-managed and cost-effective, with the president choosing forward-thinking advisers committed to his program, demanding that they work as a team and pay attention to details.
He would be steady and calm, given neither to irrational exuberance or outbursts of anger. He would make mistakes, that's for sure, but he could be expected to recognize them, adjust, and move forward.
He would adjust his views to reality rather than trying to adjust reality to his views.
Obama's unprecedented appeal to younger voters is significant not only because it expands the electorate, which is vital. It's also a validation of his promise as a president to be free of the baby-boomer/Vietnam/segregation-era hangups.
Younger people are more egalitarian, more accepting of diversity, and more comfortable with rapid change. They also are less confined by old resentments or regrets.
AND AN OBAMA administration would lower the tone of the rhetoric that separates us.
As New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has said, Obama is a once-in-a-lifetime candidate who has the skill and eloquence to help us raise our eyes and our aspirations beyond individual, personal concerns, beyond religion or region or race or gender, beyond our well-founded fears to a shared destiny.
Most candidates claim that they will change the way business is done in Washington. Barack Obama has made us believe that, yes, he can.
GO BARACK! ROCK THE PENNSYLVANIA VOTE!
The long cruel media-bashing of Bill Richardson by Hillary Clinton’s attack-dogs, led by James Carville at his most offensive (which is saying a lot), was impeccably timed to stop cold the imminent bleeding of super delegates and other influential public figures to the Obama camp. Making an unfairly public example of Richardson–vengefully humiliating and marginalizing him–worked like a charm, though, and it’s still working. Leaders everywhere, the small and the mighty alike, are terrified now to defect to Obama, no matter how much they might want to. They’ve heard loud-and-clear the ringing message: “This is what will happen to you if you desert the Clintons!”
Bill Richardson has shown amazing integrity, grace and courage in standing up for what he believes to be best for all concerned. The Clintons deserve condemnation for pigheadedly insisting on loyalty to persons over loyalty to country.
Like many others, I have admired the Clintons greatly, chalking up their political relentlessness largely to their Christian compassion and desire to serve others. They’ve changed. They’re in it now more for the power than for the opportunity for service, and will apparently do whatever it takes to get back in the limelight. Power corrupts….
Regrettably, had the Clintons not fallen in love with themselves in power for eight more years, they would have been the first to jump at the chance to become Barack Obama’s most famous and influential supporters, because he’s exactly their kind of candidate. That opportunity for selflessness still lies ahead of them–an opportunity to reclaim the idealism which once so drew me and others to them when they truly were, as Obama is now, the future of the Democratic Party.
They'd better make up their minds soon, though, or instead of making twenty-first century history, the Clintons will be relegated to its periphery, becoming living anachronisms who leave only dinosaur footprints.
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