Friday, November 21, 2008

100 Years and Too Few Words

Today I went to the funeral for a woman who was 100 years old. I didn't know her. I knew others who knew her, but I didn't know her and had never met her. Its a strange thing to go to a funeral for someone you don't know. Its even stranger to walk away feeling like you still don't know the person.

I think funerals should tell a story, and too often they are reduced to touching or funny soundbites strung together as poor representations of one's life. Too often the minister doesn't know the deceased or doesn't know them well enough to do most of the talking. I realize these are religiously based rituals, but why do we insist on hearing mostly from a stranger when family and friends are the true vessels of truth?

The minister today told a few short stories, but they revealed very little about who this woman was. I kept thinking, "She lived for a hundred years! Can't you think of something better than that??" What I did learn was that she was a deeply religious woman, a woman of faith and family, and a kind and caring person. She was always there for everyone else. I suspect her greatest gift was always being present in a steady, reliable way for everyone. And her family counted on that from her. Always there. It explained why her four children (all 70 years old or more) were talking brightly at the beginning of it being a blessing, and were sobbing like forlorn children at the end. Always there was no longer there. Can you imagine having your mother with you, strong in body and clear in thought, until you are 70 years old? I both envied them, and felt touched by their sorrow.

All this to say: think about what you want people to say about you at your funeral. Will anyone really adequately put you into words? Does anyone truly get you? Does anyone know your passions, your loves, your feelings to the core? If not, why not? If not, maybe you should leave a few hints in your own words.

Ethel's life was summed up in words she wrote in the front of her Bible:

What I have, God owns
What I need, God provides
What I give, God multiplies

Rest in peace, Ethel.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


By Garrison Keillor

Published: November 13, 2008

Be happy, dear hearts, and allow yourselves a few more weeks of quiet exultation. It isn't gloating, it's satisfaction at a job well done. He was a superb candidate, serious, professorial but with a flashing grin and a buoyancy that comes from working out in the gym every morning.

He spoke in a genuine voice, not senatorial at all. He relished campaigning. He accepted adulation gracefully. He brandished his sword against his opponents without mocking or belittling them. He was elegant, unaffected, utterly American, and now (Wow) suddenly America is cool. Chicago is cool.


We threw the dice and we won the jackpot and elected a black guy with a Harvard degree, the middle name Hussein and a sense of humor - he said, "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher."

The French junior minister for human rights said, "On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes." When was the last time you heard someone from France say they wanted to be American and take a bite of something of ours? Ponder that for a moment.

The world expects us to elect pompous yahoos and instead we have us a 47-year-old prince from the prairie who cheerfully ran the race, and when his opponents threw sand at him, he just smiled back.

He'll be the first president in history to look really good making a jump shot. He loves his classy wife and his sweet little daughters. He looks good in the kitchen. He can cook Indian or Chinese but for his girls he will do mac and cheese. At the same time, he knows pop music, American lit and constitutional law.

I just can't imagine anybody cooler. Look at a photo of the latest pooh-bah conference - the hausfrau Merkel, the big glum Scotsman, that goofball Berlusconi, Putin with his B-movie bad-boy scowl, and Sarkozy, who looks like a district manager for Avis - you put Barack in that bunch and he will shine.

It feels good to be cool and all of us can share in that, even sour old right-wingers and embittered blottoheads. Next time you fly to Heathrow and hand your passport to the man with the badge, he's going to see "United States of America" and look up and grin.

Even if you worship in the church of Fox, everyone you meet overseas is going to ask you about Obama and you may as well say you voted for him because, my friends, he is your line of credit over there. No need anymore to try to look Canadian.

And the coolest thing about him is the fact that back in the early Nineties, given a book contract after the hoo-ha about his becoming the First Black Editor of The Harvard Law Review, instead of writing the basic exploitation book he could've written, he put his head down and worked hard for a few years and wrote a good book, an honest one, which, since his rise in politics, has earned the Obamas enough to buy a very nice house and put money in the bank. A successful American entrepreneur.

The last American president to write a book all by his lonesome self, I believe, was Theodore Roosevelt, who, on graduation from Harvard, wrote "The Naval War of 1812," and in my humble opinion, Obama's is the better book for the general reader, but you be the judge.

Our hero who galloped to victory has inherited a gigantic mess. The country is sunk in debt. The Treasury announced it must borrow $550 billion to get the government through the fourth quarter, more than the entire deficit for 2008, so he will have to raise taxes and not only on bankers and lumber barons.

His promise never to raise the retirement age is not a good idea. Whatever he promised the Iowa farmers about subsidizing ethanol is best forgotten at this point. We may not be getting our National Health Service cards anytime soon. And so on and so on.

So enjoy the afterglow of the election awhile longer. We all walk taller this fall. People in Copenhagen and Stockholm are sending congratulatory e-mails - imagine! We are being admired by Danes and Swedes! And Chicago becomes The First City. Step aside, San Francisco. Shut up, New York. The Midwest is cool now. The mind reels. Have a good day.

h/t to Di

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What Will We Do With Our Outrage?

There is talk in the blogosphere that certain fixtures of the Bush administration may not survive the Obama era. We're not talking about Karl Rove or K Street here. We're talking The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Countdown with Keith Olbermann, among others.

I mean, think about it. If Keith Olbermann is still finding reasons to be outraged on a daily basis during the Obama administration, we've got a problem! And what's Jon Stewart going to poke fun at? Biden gaffes? Cute puppy stories? I know we've all worked and prayed and begged for this day to come, but don't we run the risk of being bored?? What will we write about? What will fill the blogs? What will we be angry about?

Oh, I know. People like Rush Limbaugh and Fixed News will give us a little grist for the mill, but I just don't think it will be the same. Is it possible that we will look back at this time as both excruciating as well as exciting? Will we grow nostalgic for righteous indignation?

Or will we finally get to exhale, relax a little, let our guards down, trust our leaders and love our government as well as our country without reservation?

Maybe it won't be the best time for dissent. But hopefully, it will be a great time to be an American.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Scene From Grant Park on Election Night--AWESOME!

Lieberman, Part 2

A Lieberman aide was quoted yesterday in Politico as saying "His position is he wants to remain in the (democratic) caucus but losing the chairmanship is unacceptable." The CW now is that Reid is buying time to see what happens in the other Senate races still to be decided, before he ousts Lieberman.

Another angle on this is that Lieberman may be threatening to leave the Democrats, but he won't find a lot to cheer about if he goes further over to the dark side. He will likely not get any chairmanship, will be in the minority party, and will have even less clout than if he stays with the Democrats and gives up his chair without a whimper. So, for good reason, many Dems are saying "Let him go!"

Bottom line is that the Dems may not need his vote if we pick up another Senate seat. With Maine's moderate Republican senators, its likely that they would support President Obama on moderate issues, and would break the Republican's threats for filibuster. They both saw which way the wind is blowing, and doubt they will repeatedly vote against their constituents wishes on major issues like the Iraq war and the economy. Lieberman may have just threatened his way into irrelevance.

Come Together, Right Now, Over Me

The white boy at this rally in Manassas, VA had an Obama sign and the black boy didn't. The pictures capture the story as they figure out how to solve the problem. Even these little guys got Obama's message.

(Photos taken by Nida Vitudis, 17 yrsold)

Click on photo to enlarge.

What To Do With Lieberman?

Everyone seems to be getting in on this act. Harry Reid has sent strong signals that Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will be stripped of his chairmanship of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. He is furious (and rightfully so) at Lieberman's ardent support of McCain that crossed over into attacks against Obama. It was one thing to support his old friend, John McCain, quite another to go after Obama, speak at the Republican Convention, tour with Sarah Palin, and still expect to caucus with the Democrats.

Bloggers everywhere are calling for readers to contact their senators and recommend Lieberman lose his chair. Its certainly tempting to punish the turncoat. Its also tempting to be and act better than him and model bipartisanship, by accepting an apology from him. But now Lieberman and McConnell (R-KY) are making noise about Lieberman joining the Republican caucus. That kind of talk makes it tempting to kick him to the curb.

But remember the old saying "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer"? Perhaps there is wisdom in keeping Lieberman where the Democrats can keep a close eye on him, so to speak. If he proves to be less than an effective Independent/Democrat, I assume he can be booted from the Democratic caucus later. Perhaps it is better to have Lieberman owing something to the new President rather than watching him spearhead the opposition on the other side. Whatever President Obama decides to do (because I have to assume Harry Reid is not acting completely without higher counsel here), will be very telling. Yeah, there's a big part of me that wants to see the traitor walk the plank, but the more mature part of me wants to see if real political reconciliation can work, and wants to see if President Obama can use it strategically to move his agenda forward.

30 Days | 30 Reasons : My Kids (#1)

This is a late addition, but worthy of the title "Why I Voted For Barack Obama".

Obama's Victory Covered Around the World

The following link will take you to an interesting collection of front pages around the world. Click on any cover to see it up close.

Click here: Obama Grabs Headlines

(h/t to Di N.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Centrist, You Say?

The map here shows the areas of the US where Democratic voting went up in this year's election. Right-winged pundits like to claim that we have all moved to the center, as their way of claiming "victory" in the midst of a resounding defeat. But the map doesn't lie.

What right wingers don't want you to think about is that the definition of "centrist" has actually moved to the left from its original meaning. We talk openly about race. We talk openly about the options of gay marriage vs civil unions. We voted to approve medical marijuana in some states. What part of this sounds "centrist"? Is there anything "centrist" about electing an African American liberal, Democrat to the highest office in the land at one of the most critical times in our nation's history? That's what we just did. Sounds more like progressive thinking is becoming the norm, that is, "progressive" is the new "centrist".

George Bush and the Preamble to the Constitution

Won't it be nice to have a President who actually taught the Constitution and knows it backwards and forwards? Someone who is more Andy Griffith than Barney Fife?(apologies to the late, great Don Knotts whow as a comic genius)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What I'd Like To See in the First 100 Days

In no particular order, I'd like the following items on President Obama's "must do" list:

  • A national physical fitness and good nutrition program for kids, run in the schools, with awards given to kids much the way President Kennedy's program did.
  • A neighborhood beautification volunteer corp that works in every city or town that wants to join, designed especially to re energize depressed or deteriorating communities.
  • A national infrastructure renovation/construction program that would also revitalize the national parks buildings and structures.
  • An immediate commitment to build wind farms in the west within 6 months.
  • A bailout of American car companies who meet strict guidelines for more fuel efficient cars, with a further commitment to alternative fuel vehicle options within 3 years.
  • A nationwide call for citizen energy conservation, with tax credits for smaller ticket items and recommendations for improved conservation.
  • A freeze on mortgage foreclosures for 6 months.
  • Increased emphasis in the public schools on math and science, with a special emphasis on computer technology.
  • Close Guantanamo.
  • Undo the Patriot Act.
  • Focus on a nation of shared responsibility. Expect citizens to be responsible for themselves, their money, their children, etc.

More to come...your ideas and comments are very welcome!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President-elect Obama About to Speak in Grant Park

Sweet Victory

Our friends had this specially made for the big night tonight! As soon as President-elect Obama is done speaking, we'll eat cake, washed down with champagne!

PRESIDENT OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




We have our country back.

God Bless Barack Obama and the country he now leads.

The Biltmore vs. Grant Park

That pretty much sums it up. Massive numbers of humanity are streaming into a public park on Chicago's lakefront to witness history. On the McCain side, they are sitting at their ritzy hotel, getting wasted and hoping for the best, fully expecting the worst (for them). Charlie Crist has already jumped ship from the USS McCain and is headed back to Florida for "an urgent matter". Yeah, right. (At least he can rest easy that drilling will not begin off his shores on Januray 21, 2009!)

The pulse of the nation is now beating from the heart of the midwest. Sounds strong, doesn't it?

207 and Counting

We are well on our way. Can someone pinch me? This is starting to feel surreal and I want desperately for it to feel real. I know it will feel real on January 20, 2009, but I want to feel it now. So maybe I'll stop drinking beer and start sobering up for the greatest moment in modern American history.

Its time for all of the Republicans to spin the future before McCain's carcass is even cold. Alex Castellanos (Republican pundit) just summed it up, "All we need is 9 votes on the Supreme Court and we could pull this thing off." :) Not this time, pal.

There Is A God!

I guess the Godless Americans and their distant cousins, the Christians of the Tarheel state, came out en force to put Kay Hagan over the top! No surprise that the people of North Carolina know when someone speaks the truth in God's name and when someone is just using God to make a point. Way to go Tarheel state!

MSNBC, NBC and ABC Call PA For Obama!!!

The polls just closed and its looking VERY good for Obama. We only need a few more electoral votes along with our reliable blue states to cinch this. Looks like Maine, NH (YES!), Vermont, all of New England, and Illinois are in our column. Now we wait for the rest of the blue Midwest and hold out for New Mexico and Colorado. Maybe by the time the west reports, it won't matter! :)

Barack and Michelle Vote In Chicago

What a thrill it must have been for all the poll workers there to greet the Obama family, hand them their ballots and shake hands.

The Big Day

I went to the polls at 6am this morning. There was already a line. Amazing. In a state with early voting (Illinois), and living in an area that is not too densely populated, there was still a line. I don't think it was just for the free cup o' Starbucks. I was starting to think that the 'long lines' fear was being overstated, but now I'm not so sure. Hopefully, folks can afford to miss work if they're stuck in line.

The other interesting thing was that about 95% of the voters at my polling place were bypassing the available touchscreen machines in favor of waiting in another line for paper ballot voting booths. Its pretty clear that people are cherishing their right to vote this time, and they want their vote to be counted. While that's always been true, of course, its never been so important. What an unbelievable day.

Ten more hours.

Yes We Can - TODAY

Monday, November 3, 2008

The anonymous call from Texas

The phone rang this afternoon, and I hesitated to answer the call, identified only as "Texas call". I started to hang up on the canned voice until I heard her identify herself as the voice of Rasmussen Polling. So I bit.

After 8 minutes of answering questions, I understood better why some polls read one way while others clearly show different trends. I never thought a robotic call could disagree with me, but this lady actually paused and asked me 'was I sure I wanted to vote for Obama?'. Maybe this was their way to make sure I'd hit the right number, but it sure sounded like she was doubting my choice. There was another question that asked if I thought Obama would be a big "tax and spend" liberal? (I answered 'no'). They may have regretted calling this liberal in a conservative Republican county. The questions were clearly designed from a conservative perspective, and seemed to want a particular response. Sorry to disappoint:)

American Tune

One more day. Hang on. And vote.

Obama's Grandmother Dies

The Unprofessional McCain Campaign Strikes Again!

Would someone please get these guys a spellchecker? Yet another example of the McCain campaign's lack of professionalism. How much more does one need to see to be convinced that the McCain campaign is a full-time gaffe machine?

Final Newspaper Endorsements

The Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs

Santa Fe Reporter, New Mexico

Madison Capital Times, Wisconsin

Huntington Heral Disptach, West Virginia

The Columbian, Washington

Pasadena Star-News, California

Aspen Daily News, Colorado

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia

Raleigh news-Observer, North Carolina

Providence Journal, Rhode Island

Joplin Globe, Missouri

Canton Repository, Ohio

New Haven Register, Connecticut

Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming (Cheney's hometown paper)

And too many more to name!

What The Children Know

Kids are uncanny at being able to sense kindness, authenticity and genuineness. No surprise that kids love Obama. I've heard plenty of stories about kids who want him to be their next president, and it all seems to boil down to trust. They see in him something they haven't seen in the leader(s) of their short life times. Maybe we all need to listen to and look at the children.

One more day.

(h/t to Di N.)

Joe and John Separated at Birth

Ah yes, kindred spirits in the limitless quest for self promotion. Joe has actually surpassed McCain in crowd appeal, which is probably why McCain has tried to co-opt Joe as a surrogate, rather than have yet another rival spokesman(read Palin)vying for the adoration of the angry rabble. Problem is, Joe is as dumb as a stump and wouldn't know a socialist if he kicked him in his proletarian ass. And McCain is even dumber for being the filling in this bull**** sandwich.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My Predictions

I'm going to go a bit out on a limb here and say this: as Virginia goes, so goes the nation. Call it a gut feeling, but I think if Virginia turns blue this year, other states like Colorado, Nevada and North Carolina will follow. NC may not happen this time, but its one of many states heading in that direction. I'm not saying that Obama will win all of the toss up states, but I think he will win Virginia, Nevada and Colorado. We will know early in the evening if its trending that way, when Virginia results come in.

As for other races, Liddy Dole is history. You don't "bear false witness" in North Carolina and get away with it. People are pretty serious about that kind of thing there and Liddy would know that if she spent more time in her home state. Shame on her.

Mitch McConnell will barely scratch out a victory in Kentucky. SNL, er Franken, will win narrowly in Minnesota (don't laugh, those folks voted Jesse Ventura for governor!) Chambliss will eke out a victory in Georgia, thanks to all "his people" (whitey). Udall will win in Colorado and will emerge as a strong leader in the Senate over the next few years.

Other races are more predictable. But this is the year we have to win, so nothing is predictable. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the year that Democrats resist the urge to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Just keep breathing.

Two more days.

Conservative Canvasser In Charlotte Gets It

Jonathan Curley, a banker in Charlotte, NC went canvassing for Obama recently at his wife's behest. He had the same experience I had in Wisconsin. Here is his article in The Christian Science Monitor:

The Economist Endorses Obama

Yes, that bastion of free market capitalism has given a very thoughtful and thorough reasoning for their decision. Here it is in part:

Oct 30th 2008

America should take a chance and make Barack Obama the next leader of the free world.
IT is impossible to forecast how important any presidency will be. Back in 2000 America stood tall as the undisputed superpower, at peace with a generally admiring world. The main argument was over what to do with the federal government's huge budget surplus. Nobody foresaw the seismic events of the next eight years. When Americans go to the polls next week the mood will be very different. The United States is unhappy, divided and foundering both at home and abroad. Its self-belief and values are under attack. For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. THE ECONOMIST does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly(italics added): the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America's self-confidence.

Read the rest at:

And if you want to see how the rest of the world would vote, if it could, check out this site:

30 Days | 30 Reasons : After Obama (#3)

GOTV in Wisconsin

Today, I spent a few hours in one of the poorest sections of Beloit, Wisconsin, canvassing for Obama. Generally speaking, things like door-to-door canvassing and making calls is a pretty thankless job. You get a lot of people who've been called or visited before and are just tired of the whole thing.

But today was a little different. People driving by saw us canvassers and honked their support. Others stopped by in their cars and asked us for details about how to register late (which is legal in Wisconsin where they have 'same day' voting). Of course there were a few irritated folks, but the general feeling was one of hope. People were smiling with anticipation. These are people who don't look like they've had a lot to smile about or hope for for a while. Suddenly, all of us total strangers were sharing in something much bigger than ourselves. How often can you say that?

Two more days.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Many Roads To Victory

Its been suggested by various pundits today, including Norah O'Donnell on MSNBC, that Obama's campaign moving into North Dakota and Arizona is a sign of arrogance. David Axelrod, of course, knows its about creating multiple pathways to victory. Setting North Dakota and Arizona aside, for the moment, here is my take on the more probable roads to victory.

Assuming Obama wins what are considered "solid blue" states right now, he will have a solid 238 delegates. Those states are:


Here are some possible options:

[PA 21 or OH 20 + VA 13= 33/34]


[PA 21 or OH 20 + CO 9 + NV 5 or NM 5= 35]


[NV 5 + CO 9 + NM 5 + VA 13 = 32]

(Note: This doesn't even include Florida, North Carolina, Missouri or Indiana!)

The point is twofold. Obama can actually win without Florida, Ohio or Pennsylvania. If he takes any one of those, its virtually impossible for him to lose.

But only if you VOTE.

30 Days | 30 Reasons : He's Asking More (#4)

Sarah Palin Got Pranked

Yeah, she's a quick study allright. Caught on real quick, didn't she? That the campaign would even accept an unverified phone call and pass it on to their candidate is a reflection of their total lack of polish and professionalism.

Arnold, Arnold, Arnold...

Do you really want to go there, dude? Do you really want to mock Obama for having "skinny legs" and "scrawny little arms"? Have you looked at your guy, lately? Or for that matter, yourself?

In case you hadn't noticed, this isn't a pissing contest. Leave it to a former bodybuilder to reduce this to body parts instead of intellectual ability, temperament, character and judgment. But don't despair, Arnold. If you're really nice to Maria, maybe President Obama will still invite you to a friendly game of one-on-one at the White House basketball court and kick your little girlyman ass!
(Or he can just embarrass you at the beach)

Rendell Speaks for Us All

From the Pocono Record, Dan Berrett quotes Governor Ed Rendell, talking about McCain-Palin, "They've run the most deplorable, despicable campaign I've seen in 31 years." Berrett went on to cite Rendell's recollection of his past 14 elections, and how he has always been able to have empathy for the other side. He then stated, "I'm competitive, but I've never been spiteful. This time, ladies and gentlemen, I want to crush them."

CRUSH THEM. I must confess, after the last 8 years of Bush's ignorance and Cheney's arrogance, and the Republican's general tendency to act as if they have cornered the market on righteousness, I do like the sound of that. But if that's all we do, then we are no better and no different from them. Perhaps a football metaphor will work here. Every team has a linebacker that explodes through the line and decks the quarterback or running back from the opposing team. And sometimes, after he's pulverized the other guy, he reaches down and helps him up, and they continue to play. That's what we need to do: pulverize the other side and leave no doubt who is the victor, and then reach out to them when it is done.

Three More Days