Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yes we did

Yes We Did

Party like it's 2009, 'cuz baby, now the real work begins

This is no time for gloating.

This is no time to get carried away by some sort of rapturous rose-colored ROTFLMAO celebration full of streamers and confetti and blissful weeping in the streets, all wrapped in a big creamy ribbon of stunned disbelief, the overwhelming sense that, oh sweet God in heaven, our wary and battered nation has finally agreed, after all these years and seemingly all at once, to grow the hell up.

Is that not the feeling? That we as a country just did the impossible, just chose to get a little bit serious with ourselves, to actually attempt to right our myriad wrongs and rid the national body of our Republican toxins and oh yes by the way make a huge, shocking jolt of unprecedented history while we're at it? You're damn right it is.

The best news of all: Despite all vicious rumors to the contrary, it turns out that we are not too collectively stupid to know a rare and historic opportunity when we see one, no matter what his middle name. I mean, thank God.

So then, a warning, a caution, a hard-bitten piece of buzz-killin' advice, right here right now, before it's too late and you get all ecstatic and naked and drunk on the sheer WOW-ness of it all:

Put down the kazoo. Hold off on the champagne. Do not get too cozy. Do not let President-elect Obama's stunning victory go to your progressive thoughtful oh-my-God-I-Can't-believe-it's-true liberal head. This is not a time for cocktails and screaming and dancing in the streets (that comes about six paragraphs down. Shhh).

After all, there is much work to be done. There is a staggering pile of damage so deep and so wide it would take a hundred Obamas and three trillion dollars and a forklift the size of Shiva to even make a dent.

That is no joke. Did you notice? Buried beneath the avalanche of Obama stories, this bitter hunk of gristle: Right this minute, the Bush admin is trying like the Devil's own biotoxin to sneak through a whole slew of last-minute rollbacks and deregulations, a final parting gift to Bush's corporate cronies and a parting sucker punch to the country.

It's like the world's worst chef spitting on your food one last time before sending it out, cold and limp and full of as much MSG and rat feces as he can jam in there because, well, why the hell not?


McCain's verdict on Palin: more trouble than a pitbull

The British ambassador reveals what the defeated presidential candidate really thinks of his running mate

So now we know what John McCain really thinks of his running mate Sarah Palin – and that's not just because of the awkward body language between them during his concession speech in Phoenix, Arizona.

An exasperated McCain has been telling friends in recent weeks that Palin is even more trouble than a pitbull.

In one joke doing the rounds, the Republican presidential candidate has been asking friends: what is the difference between Sarah Palin and a pitbull? The friendly canine eventually lets go, is the McCain punchline.

McCain's joke is a skit on Palin's most famous line after she was picked as his surprise running mate. Palin delighted the Republican base when she said the only difference between a pitbull and a hockey mom was lipstick.

We owe the new glimpse into the tense McCain/Palin relationship to Sir Nigel Sheinwald, the British ambassador to Washington. Sheinwald recently wrote a lengthy assessment of McCain in a telegram that winged its way across the Atlantic to Whitehall.

The jaws of senior mandarins dropped when they read Sheinwald's account of McCain's thoughts on Palin which the ambassador reportedly picked up from a military friend of McCain's. The telegram was restricted to an even smaller group of people than usual for fear of another embarrassing leak. "We took one look at this and hid it away," one Whitehall source said.

Morning Again in America

By Robert Scheer

It's time to gush! Later for the analysis of all the hard choices faced by our next president, Barack Obama, but for now, let's just thrill, unabashedly, to the sound of those words. Heck, both he and we deserve a honeymoon, at least for a few paragraphs of this column.

It is "Morning Again in America," to reclaim and revise the slogan from the 1984 campaign of President Ronald Reagan, only this time the promise of an American renewal is in the hands of a moderate post-Cold War leader who embraces, rather than denies, the diversity and complexity of the modern world. It is difficult to imagine Obama ever asserting the arrogant jingoism that has come to mark Republican stewardship of this nation in the eyes of the world.

How refreshing for Americans to have elected a leader who was among the first to reject the imperial hubris that led this nation to invade Iraq over the objection of most of our allies. A leader who had the courage in the midst of a hotly contested primary election campaign to refuse to play the inveterate hawk in order to qualify as commander in chief, and instead had the audacity to advocate efforts at dialogue even with those we despise. The dead hand of Joe Lieberman has been lifted from the party that he betrayed. It is hoped it is also the end of the road for the neoconservatives who had rallied around John McCain as their last best hope for establishing a Pax Americana.

On the all-important domestic front, with our economy crumbling, it is reassuring that the man whom what's-her-name from Alaska derided as a "community organizer" does indeed have that background. It is not a guarantee that he will be mindful of those suffering most in this economic downturn as he turns to deal with the banking mess, but it is a start.

The Reagan Revolution of rampant deregulation of the economy in the interest of big business is over. Not because Obama has anything to do with the "socialist" label that the Republicans attempted to stick on him, but rather because a decisive role for the federal government is at the heart of the Bush bailout and the vastly expanded military economy a President Obama will inherit.

Big government is now officially a partial owner of big banks, and although we might bemoan that state of affairs, our collective credit card has already been swiped. The pressing issue is: What do we taxpayers get in return for bailing out Wall Street? Will the goal be to make the financial swindlers whole at the expense of ordinary homeowners? Or will it be the reverse of what the Bush administration has been doing? What is not in doubt, after the banking meltdown, is that the state will play a decisive role in the economy; what must be decided is: Whose interests will it serve?

The Whole World is Watching !!!

by Al Rodgers

You don't belong to us anymore.


Now you belong to the country, now you belong to the world, now you belong to the ages.

We can't even call you Barack anymore.

Congratulation to you, to your family, and to you staff on your LANDSLIDE victory, Mr. President.

We stand behind you and your mandate.

Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. – The 44th President of the United States of America !!!

This land was made for you and me


As the mighty tide swept the land on Tuesday night, I was transfixed. As the pundits pondered red states and blue states, projections and exit polls, I was swept with emotion. Not because America was "electing its first Black president." That comes a little late in the day. It was because America was electing the right President.

Our long national nightmare is ending. America will not soon again start a war based on lies and propaganda. We will not torture. We will restore the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of privacy, and habeas corpus. We will enter at last in the struggle against environmental disaster. Our ideas will once again be more powerful than our weapons. During the last eight years, the beacon on the hill flickered out. Now the torch will shine again.

We will bring our troops home, in the right way. Am I against the war? Of course. Do I support our troops? Of course. They were sent to endanger their lives by zealots with occult objectives. More than 4,000 of them have died. Even more lives have been lost by our coalition forces than by our own.

Do I blame George Bush? At the end of the day, I don't know that I really do. I agree with Oliver Stone that Bush never knew he had been misled until it was too late. I blame those who used him as their puppet. The unsmiling men standing in the shadows. On Tuesday the righteous people of America stood up and hammered them down.

Lots of people stayed up late Tuesday night. They listened McCain's gracious, eloquent concession speech. He was a good man at heart, caught up in a perfect storm of history. He had the wrong policies and the wrong campaign. At the end, let me tell you about a hunch I have. In the privacy of the voting booth, I think there is a possibility that Condoleezza Rice voted for Obama.

I stayed up late. As I watched, I remembered. In 1968 I was in the streets as a reporter, when the Battle of Grant Park ended eight years of Democratic presidents and opened an era when the Republicans would control the White House for 28 of the next 40 years. "The whole world is watching!" the demonstrators cried, as the image of Chicago was tarnished around the world. On Tuesday night, the world again had its eyes on Grant Park. I saw tens and tens of thousands of citizens with their hearts full, smiling through their tears. As at all of Obama's rallies, our races stood proudly side by side, as it should be. We are finally, finally, beginning to close that terrible chapter of American history

President Obama is not an obsessed or fearful man. He has no grandiose ideological schemes to lure us into disaster. He won because of a factor the pundits never mentioned. He was the grown-up. He has a rational mind, a steady hand, and a first-rate intelligence. But, oh, it will be hard for him. He inherits a wrong war, a disillusioned nation, and a crumbling economy. He may have to be a Depression president.

What gives me hope is that a great idealistic movement rose up to support him. Some say a million and a half volunteers. Millions more donated to his campaign. He won votes that crossed the lines of gender, age, race, ethnicity, geography and political party. He was the right man at a dangerous time. If ever a president was elected by we the people, he is that president.

I Didn't Vote For Obama Today

by Boyd Reed 

I have a confession to make.

I did not vote for Barack Obama today.

I've openly supported Obama since March.  But I didn't vote for him today.

I wanted to vote for Ronald Woods.  He was my algebra teacher at Clark Junior High in East St. Louis, IL.  He died 15 years ago when his truck skidded head-first into a utility pole.  He spent many a day teaching us many things besides the Pythagorean Theorem.  He taught us about Medgar Evers, Ralph Abernathy, John Lewis and many other civil rights figures who get lost in the shadow cast by Martin Luther King, Jr.

But I didn't vote for Mr. Woods.

I wanted to vote for Willie Mae Cross.  She owned and operated Crossroads Preparatory Academy for almost 30 years, educating and empowering thousands of kids before her death in 2003.  I was her first student.  She gave me my first job, teaching chess and math concepts to kids in grades K-4 in her summer program.  She was always there for advice, cheer and consolation.  Ms. Cross, in her own way, taught me more about walking in faith than anyone else I ever knew.

But I didn't vote for Ms. Cross.

I wanted to vote for Arthur Mells Jackson, Sr. and Jr.  Jackson Senior was a Latin professor.  He has a gifted school named for him in my hometown.  Jackson Junior was the pre-eminent physician in my hometown for over 30 years.  He has a heliport named for him at a hospital in my hometown.  They were my great-grandfather and great-uncle, respectively.

But I didn't vote for Prof. Jackson or Dr. Jackson.

I wanted to vote for A.B. Palmer.  She was a leading civil rights figure in Shreveport, Louisiana, where my mother grew up and where I still have dozens of family members.  She was a strong-willed woman who earned the grudging respect of the town's leaders because she never, ever backed down from anyone and always gave better than she got.  She lived to the ripe old age of 99, and has a community center named for her in Shreveport.

But I didn't vote for Mrs. Palmer.

I wanted to vote for these people, who did not live to see a day where a Black man would appear on their ballots on a crisp November morning.

In the end, though, I realized that I could not vote for them any more than I could vote for Obama himself. 

So who did I vote for?

No one.

I didn't vote.  Not for President, anyway. 

Oh, I went to the voting booth.  I signed, was given my stub, and was walked over to a voting machine.  I cast votes for statewide races and a state referendum on water and sewer improvements.

I stood there, and I thought about all of these people, who influenced my life so greatly.  But I didn't vote for who would be the 44th President of the United States.

When my ballot was complete, except for the top line, I finally decided who I was going to vote for - and then decided to let him vote for me.  I reached down, picked him up, and told him to find Obama's name on the screen and touch it.

And so it came to pass that Alexander Reed, age 5, read the voting screen, found the right candidate, touched his name, and actually cast a vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Oh, the vote will be recorded as mine.  But I didn't cast it. 

Then again, the person who actually pressed the Obama box and the red "vote" button was the person I was really voting for all along.

Death Cab For Sarah By Ted Rall

Will the Re-Election of Convicted Felon Ted Stevens Lead to Sen. Sarah Palin?

by Meg White

Yesterday's election was historic in many ways. The shock and joy here in Chicago over our own Sen. Barack Obama becoming the first black president in the history of the United States was tangible in the streets. But there were local races that made history right alongside Obama. For example, Anita Alvarez hit a double-whammy in Chicagoland as the very first Hispanic and first woman to be elected Cook County State's Attorney. Little ripples of historic change just like Alvarez's followed the Obama win all over the country.

Much of this allows for a huge grin and a sigh of, "Only in America." But there is a dark side to history-making as well, and it rears its head this morning in Alaska. That state is likely to be the first to return a convicted felon to the U.S. Senate.

Though Sen. Ted Stevens hasn't yet been confirmed as the winner of the Alaska Senate race, as of today, CNN has Stevens up over Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich by more than 3,000 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

Stevens, who was convicted on all seven counts of failing to report improper gifts, has appealed the decision reached last week, and is not expected to be sentenced until after the appeal is settled.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has stated that Stevens will not serve in the Senate as a convicted felon. He said Stevens will face an ethics investigation and eventual expulsion from the Senate. There's no law disallowing senatorial service by a convicted felon, but with a two-thirds majority, the Senate can vote to remove Stevens from office.

What is to come is somewhat difficult to tell, mostly because Alaskans keep changing the rules. Each state has the power to determine its own rules of succession. The only thing that is clear is that Alaska requires a special election to be held between 60 and 90 days after a vacancy arises.

Obamas' first puppy: 'Homeless animal'

by Mark Silva

CHICAGO -- The first puppy must be a rescue puppy:

Among all the demands of interest groups placed upon the next president of the United States, the demand for a rescue puppy -- make that "a homeless animal'' -- in the new White House may stand out among the demands on the Top Dog..

President-elect Barack Obama, who had promised his two young daughters a puppy if the family won the White House, announced at his acceptance speech last night that he will be making good on that promise.

But that doesn't mean breeders should be sending their calling cards. Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society of the United States, reminds the Obama family today that they previously have spoken of making that puppy a rescue puppy.

Now, that doesn't rule out AKC pedigrees -- many dogs of pure lineage end up at shelters. But it suggests that the first pooch may not look like Barney and Miss Beazley, the Bush family's little Scotties. Unless, of course, the local pound has a show-dog ready to go.

Pacelle says the first family's pick of a puppy will send "a real message of hope and change for all the dogs in shelters waiting for a loving home and those currently suffering in abusive puppy mills.

Crisp. Sweet. Satisfying. Neoconservative tears.

The man who knows too much

And then there is Hersh himself, a splendid sight. After My Lai, he was hired by the New York Times to chase the tail of the Watergate scandal, a story broken by its rival, the Washington Post. In All the President's Men, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's book about their scoop, they describe him - the competition. He was unlike any reporter they'd ever seen: 'Hersh, horn-rimmed and somewhat pudgy, showed up for dinner in old tennis shoes, a frayed pinstriped shirt that might have been at its best in his college freshman year and rumpled, bleached khakis.' Forty years on, little has changed. Today he is in trainers, chinos and a baggy navy sweatshirt and - thanks to a tennis injury - he is walking like an old guy: chest forward, knees bandy, slight limp in one leg. There is something cherishably chaotic about him. A fuzzy halo of frantic inquiry follows him wherever he goes, like the cloud of dust that hovers above Pig Pen in the Charlie Brown strip. In conversation, away from the restraining hand of his bosses at the New Yorker, the magazine that is now his home, his thoughts pour forth, unmediated and - unless you concentrate very hard - seemingly unconnected. 'Yeah, I shoot my mouth off,' he says, with faux remorse. 'There's a huge difference between writing and thinking.' Not that he has much time for those who put cosy pontification over the graft of reporting: 'I think... My colleagues! I watch 'em on TV, and every sentence begins with the words: "I think." They could write a book called I Think.'

What a Relief - America Survives

I figured out why I was so relieved last night. It's because I have spent the last six years (that's when I realized how radical the Bush administration was) on pins and needles that we were going to lose America and do tremendous damage to the world. Bush could do something monumentally wrong at any moment. But even more important was that Cheney had so degraded the American system of government that for the first time in my life, I wondered if the idea of America would survive.

Would they fix the elections? Would they make up some fake emergency to stay in power? Would they find some nefarious way to make sure John McCain won the elections? Did the powers-that-be secretly control these things? Was our democracy real? These are all thoughts I would not have entertained eight years ago. I would have found them laughable. But after seeing what Cheney and Bush were willing to do in the last eight years, it seemed that nothing was beyond them.

But it didn't happen. What tremendous relief! And joy. America survives!

As Obama said in his victory speech, it's okay to dream again. For the rest of the world to believe again. The beacon of light is back. The shining city on the hill is back. We sent a loud and clear message to the rest of the world - you are all Americans again.

We docked the ship on shore. We're back to normal now. We can have our fights about domestic policy. We can disagree slightly on foreign policy. We can go back and forth on all the issues. But the constitution stands. Some crazy neo-cons won't convince an idiot president to start another reckless war. And we can all sleep well at night again.

Next time