Saturday, November 22, 2008

A dark anniversary

BTW, I didn't want to forget that today is the 45th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Like many Americans, I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard it announced. I was a HS Sophomore at the time (Brooklyn Technical High School, total dork Class of '66), sitting in the Industrial Processes class taught by one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Starfield. The class was interrupted by a message that came over the loudspeaker above Mr. Starfield's head, to the effect that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas just a little earlier that day. In fact, we treated the announcement as a joke, and there was some nervous, uncomprehending laughter, which brought a furious rebuke from Mr. Starfield. Of course this made us realize the message was serious, and our mood turned immediately somber. It was still virtually impossible to believe, but our incomprehension was no longer of the amusing variety, to say the least. That this was only the first of several fatal blows to our youthful 1960s-era idealism I could not have imagined.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), R.I.P.

Clinton is a good choice

As someone who voted for Clinton in the Democratic primary, I've been following the recent news about Obama considering her for Secretary of State with great interest. It appears that this is really going to happen (Clinton Is Said to Accept Secretary of State Position, by Peter Baker and Helene Cooper, NYT, 21 November 2008). No doubt there will again be considerable handwringing among those who have already questioned Obama's decisions to bring establishment Democrats into his cabinet - not to mention among those who simply don't like Clinton - but I think it's an excellent move, Lincolnesque in both spirit and political wisdom. If Clinton really accepts, it will similarly show both a readiness for conciliation and a mature assessment of the post-election realities.
Yeah, it's certainly possible it won't work out; in fact there's a finite chance that nothing will work out over the next four years. Few newly-elected Presidents have had to face a pile of shit as deep as the one the US is buried in right now, which moreover appears to be getting deeper by the minute (Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job, The Onion, 5 November 2008). From the tone of some of the discussions I've seen around the web, Obama will have the shortest "honeymoon" period of any President-elect I can remember; seemed like it had already ended with more than 2 months to go before the inauguration. And this was coming from people who voted for him; I don't want to even talk about the shitstorm that's brewing from the extreme Right (although you can get a taste from recent posts at Orcinus if you want).
I'm just saying, Hilary will have a chance to do some good, to be the anti-Condoleezza to Obama's anti-Bush. This could turn out to be an inspired pairing; if it doesn't, well, Secretary of State is not an appointment for life.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Is it Morning Again in America?

Sorry, but I couldn't resist cribbing that line from the "Great Communicator", a guy I hated almost as much as the latest lame-ass lame-duck cowboy about to ride off into the sunset trash-heap of History. Don't let the swingin door hit you in the ass on your way out, George!
To mark the occasion, I stole a few images from HuffPost to put up here. I hope they won't mind my breach of copyright etiquette under the circumstances.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about the racial barrier as the headline message. It's clearly momentous in the context of the current historical arc, and given the suffering and sacrifice of countless beings that have brought us to this crossing, I can understand the emotional outpouring that must necessarily mark it, but it should be one of those things that will seem more and more trivial the further it recedes into the past. Some time in the not too distant future, I hope, we will mark this event with periodic celebrations, and at the same time wonder why anyone ever thought it mattered one way or the other. That, if I heard him correctly, is the world Martin Luther King Jr was talking about. On the other hand, it's clear we still have a long way to go to get there, and it would be difficult to deny that being African-American likely constitutes some important component of who Obama is, at this point in time.
In any case, what's momentous for me is that after 8 years of heading in the wrong direction, enough people have woken up to the absolute necessity of reversing the process to constitute a majority. The message would have been the same for me if it were Clinton or Edwards who got elected yesterday. I admit I didn't vote for Obama in the primary but, having said that, I really think he is a good man for this job, and I had no hesitation voting for him in this election. None whatever. In fact it's hard for me to comprehend why anyone would need further convincing once the primaries were over. I don't know how far Obama will take us but I am confident he will head out in the right direction.
Of course, he has a job ahead of him that will make the Labors of Hercules seem like a cakewalk. The good news is that he will have help, and he is smart enough to enlist capable advisors in the effort. The bad news is that there are some out there who would doubtless like to take his head clean off. I'm not the praying type, but I do have hope, and my hope is that Barack Obama will have a long life, and will be able to make those changes many of us have been waiting for.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Waiting for the Fat Lady

Well, it's almost over. I don't know what song the fat lady will sing, but sing she will.
It's the eve of Election Day, and just about every poll and computer simulation I've looked at on the web has Obama ahead by a comfortable margin.
In other words, it's too close to call. Given the recent comedy that's been the Republican Presidential Campaign, I was tempted to title this post something like "The Sinking Ship of Fools," but I decided that would be way too smug. Given the results of the past two elections (not to mention an even longer prior history of unpleasant surprises for liberals like me, e.g., the re-elections of Nixon in '72 and Reagan in '84), the comedy could in the end turn out to be of the dark variety. And so I find my imagination drifting to nightmare scenarios. Here are two:
1. Some of my more cynical neighbors in Nørrebro are sure that Obama will win the election−but will be assassinated before he can be sworn in. Given the vitriol that's poured out from some quarters at the very prospect of an Obama presidency, I've been hard-pressed to insist it can't happen. But as horrifying and tragic as that would be, I have an even more frightening dream:
2. McCain wins−and then he gets shot. Or about six months into his term, he goes down with a sudden "heart attack." Who's to know? Who would ever be able to prove that the death of the oldest President-elect in our history was anything but "natural" for a man his age? And thus a woman who is barely qualified to Chair a PTA meeting, who is so unschooled in basic principles of constitutional law she thinks the intent of the First Amendment is to shield politicians who spew bullshit from criticism by the press for it, becomes President of the US. Personally, I wouldn't put it past her. To those who think Obama is "scary"−welcome to my nightmare....