Sunday, March 25, 2007

The best I can do

in the face of our history is remind myself that it has not always been the pragmatist, the voice of reason, or the force of compromise, that has created the conditions for liberty. The hard, cold facts remind me that it was unbending idealists like William Lloyd Garrison who first sounded the clarion call for justice; that it was slaves and former slaves, men like Denmark Vesey and Frederick Douglass and women like Harriet Tubman, who recognized power would concede nothing without a fight. It was the wild-eyed prophecies of John Brown, his willingness to spill blood and not just words on behalf of his visions, that helped force the issue of a nation half slave and half free. I'm reminded that deliberation and the constitutional order may sometimes be the luxury of the powerful, and that it has sometimes been the cranks, the zealots, the prophets, the agitators, and the unreasonable--in other words, the absolutists--that have fought for a new order. Knowing this, I can't summarily dismiss those possessed of a similar certainty today--the antiabortion activist who pickets my town hall meeting, or the animal rights activist who raids a laboratory--no matter how deeply I disagree with their views. I am robbed even of the certainty of uncertainty--for sometimes absolute truths may well be absolute.

--Sen. Barack Obama, 'The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream,' p. 97.

19 comments:

Chris Rywalt said...

Obamarama sez:
I am robbed even of the certainty of uncertainty--for sometimes absolute truths may well be absolute.

That sums up how I feel, not just politically, but in my whole life.

prettylady said...

Chris, for those of us who love you, this comes as no surprise.

Crom said...

Dude has a great speechwriter. No doubt about that. However, if Mr. Barack indeed believes the things he is saying here, then why is he running for President for a party that personifies government excess, welfare and subsidies? Barack's party is the party of cowardice, political correctness and the voluntarily undeducated masses who gleefully line up every first of the month for their paychecks to stay home and watch television and breed.

Save it, Obama - for you have allied with those who would crush those absolutists you are heralding here with political correctness, and judicial activism. The hypocrisy here is astounding, although I cannot say I am even remotely surprised.

prettylady said...

"I've never been entirely comfortable with the term "special interests," which lumps together ExxonMobil and bricklayers, the pharmaceutical lobby and the parents of special-ed kids. Most political scientists would probably disagree with me, but to my mind, there's a difference between a corporate lobby whose clout is based on money alone, and a group of like-minded individuals--whether they be textile workers, gun aficionados, veterans, or family farmers--coming together to promote their interests; between those who use their economic power to magnify their political influence far beyond what their numbers might justify, and those who are simply seeking to pool their votes to sway their representatives. The former subvert the very idea of democracy. The latter are its essence."

--i.b.i.d., p. 116

Desert Cat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Rywalt said...

Crom sez:
However, if Mr. Barack indeed believes the things he is saying here, then why is he running for President for a party that personifies government excess, welfare and subsidies?

That's it, Crom. You failed the Turing Test. You are clearly not an actual human being, but a computer programmed to vex me.

You seem so intelligent and yet you so easily fall prey to knee-jerkism. I'm not saying that the Democratic Party isn't one prone to government excess; I'm just amazed that you can portray them as being special in that regard. Is there a major political party which isn't the personification of government excess, welfare and subsidies? If Obamarama wanted to join the party of fiscal conservatism and careful retreat from the financial and social lives of its citizenry, which one should he join? The Green Party? Is there an electable politician anywhere in America in such a party? Because I know there's no way you think the Republicans are like that, because you have more than two neurons to rub together.

Bobert said...

Label me whatever, but I have grown tired of two things:

-1)Blacks--given an audience-- never fail to bring up slavery.

-2)Jews--given an audience--never fail to bring up the holocaust.

Perhaps blacks(none of those who live in America today have ever tasted slavery) because of their racial history, are a bit less blind to the rising slavery problem throughout the world today.

And Jews(none of those who in live in America today have ever been jailed, beaten or abused by a Nazi storm trooper) because of their racial history, are more aware of the rising intolerance and injustice in the world today.

But I don't think so.

Blacks endlessly bring up the slavery issue because--in a guilt-ridden America--it gives them preference and power.

And the Jews endlessly bring up the holocaust because--in a Jewish dominated America, most assuredlty so in religion--it gives them preference, sympathy, money, and power.

So whenever a black brings up slavery or a Jew brings up the holocaust, think money, think power--not for you--but for them.

Crom said...

"That's it, Crom. You failed the Turing Test. You are clearly not an actual human being, but a computer programmed to vex me."

My CPU is a neural-net processor. A learning computer. The more contact I have with humans, the more I learn.

I could write a similar screed against the Republicans but instead of talking about political correctness and welfare I would talk about corporate favoritism, our porous borders and empire-building in the Middle East.

"If Obamarama wanted to join the party of fiscal conservatism and careful retreat from the financial and social lives of its citizenry...

I would recommend either the Libertarian or Constitutional Party. Neither one of these parties has a prayer of winning anything, but at least you won't be whoring your integrity by voting for a "lesser evil." Speaking as one who voted against candidates these past four elections, I know of what I speak. No more. The line must be drawn here.

Of course, this is all academic. Hillary will win in a landslide in 2008, and cover all the lands in a second darkness.

So, I am recommending that everyone buy flashlights, waterproof matches and scary black rifles, while you still can.

Anonymous said...

... party that personifies government excess, welfare and subsidies...

The Republican Party has done an awesome marketing job, making "tax-and-spend liberal" as well-known a phrase as "Coke adds life" or "when E.F. Hutton talks, people listen." (I'm dating myself with these examples for a reason - bear with me).

Over the last 30 years, Republican presidential administrations increased the federal budget, Democrats decreased it or at worst, grew it more slowly. Didn't Bush Jr. inherit a balanced federal budget, and then send it into the stratosphere? Didn't Reagan do something similar?

Didn't Clinton enact welfare reform? It's almost like his administration actually learned from its predecessors' mistakes. Weird.

While Republican administrations, apparently, can spend as much money as they want, as long as they lower taxes at the same time. Because they're not the "tax and spend" party. (Is "borrow and spend" really an improvement, I wonder.)

The Democrats got a reputation for excess back in the 1980's, when they'd been in power in Congress for decades. When anybody has that much power for that long, it's going to lead to excess. But I think that's an inherent attribute of whatever party is in power for too long, not the Democrats in particular.

Complain about actual Democratic party actions, legislation, and consequnces all you want. Teach me something. I can't say I think it's a particularly illustrious institution.

But calling them "the party of excess, welfare and subsidies" is a truthy sound bite that hasn't had much factual teeth since the early 1980's. But apparently this sound bite doesn't need teeth, 'cause it's got great legs. Hee, hee.

Beck

prettylady said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Beck and Chris, for saying what I would have liked to say, but was unable to phrase politely enough.

Because as long as people are more concerned with winning debates, and putting 'the other party' completely in the wrong, darkness will continue to cover the land. If a person is incapable of imagining that someone who disagrees with him politically is, by definition, lacking any capacity for personal integrity, no conversation is possible.

The reason I'm reading, and loving, Obama's book is that he points this out. He is doing his utmost to re-institute the paradigm of political debate into a focus on shared values, and on getting it away from the 'truthy sound-bites', petty squabbling, and hyperbolic rhetoric that has characterized it in recent years.

Whether or not he wins the election, in my view, is much less important than the fact that he's in the election and calling for some honesty and integrity in the way we practice politics. He doesn't talk about his specific stance on specific policies for a reason; he's re-framing the political paradigm. He's asking the question 'What is government for?' before he asks the question 'What should government do?'

So all I hope is that he continues getting so much attention that both Hillary and the Republicans are forced to pay attention, too.

Crom said...

Beck,

Nice spin, I haven't seen English on the cueball like that since George Stephanopoulos. Well done, sir.

Examine the election map, you will see that the blue states trend heavily towards urban population centers. With urban populations you get the unusual mix of the highly educated vs. the uneducated. The dropouts vote Democrat to keep the spigot of free money flowing, and the highly educated vote Democrat out of misguided but genuine altruism, and social conditioning (read: brainwashing) at the left-leaning colleges. What they do not understand is that the "noble poor" are not on welfare for three generations. One perhaps, but not three.

I have volunteered with many organizations, from Habitat for Humanity to radio reading for the blind. The benefactors of these organizations in my experience are hard working people who have experienced misfortune. They don't make excuses, they are trying to improve the quality of their lives, not sitting around in a cloud of fragrant green smoke watching Springer and bitching about the president.

I have seen the other side as well. There was a popular rap song by Bone Thugs N Harmony who wrote the first ghetto anthem, "The 1st of tha Month." This song exhorts it's listeners to "cash their checks and come on" to get their hair done and get drunk, celebrating their welfare status. We are assured that rap is the CNN of the 'hood, so I have little doubt that this song effectively described this mindset.

Republicans have many times many faults as well, and I resent giving my tax money to Halliburton as much as I do the thugs on Crenshaw Blvd. Still, the voting block speaks for itself.

prettylady said...

Well done, sir.

I will HAVE YOU KNOW that that is 'ma'am,' to you, SIR.

Chris Rywalt said...

What is government for?

This, I think, is an excellent question. Asking this and answering it for myself has changed entirely how I view government. I used to sound like Crom, actually. This is back in high school, early college. I was conservative, libertarian. Thought Democrats sucked.

Then I was leaning towards anarchy, because I decided all authority just sucks. But living in a small town (in a very crowded, populous area) I've begun to learn what government is on a practical level. I mean, when you meet the mayor in the supermarket, and your councilman is a fellow soccer coach, it's no longer the State of the Union from the Top of the World government it used to be.

So I started asking myself that question: What is government for? And answering that question leads to a political stance which cannot be called right or left, libertarian or communist, Democrat or Republican. It leads to an entirely different, very practical view of government. One which sees government as a tool, a tool used by a collective of humans, to achieve goals they can't achieve individually.

Taking away the trash is an absolutely perfect example, because everyone agrees the trash will continue to be created and will need to be removed. No one is pro-leave-it-in-a-big-pile-in-your-yard when it comes to trash. Government is a tool for taking away the trash. For putting out fires. For making sure large groups of people with guns don't start shooting people and calling themselves Presidente for Life.

Once we agree on what government is for, we may disagree on how to use it. But at least we're starting from somewhere. And that somewhere is America.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that Mr. Obama's reading of history is severely limited. It was the Friends Church (Quakers) who were primary movers to outlaw slavery in the US northern states and, more importantly, Great Britain. This caused the legal importation of slaves from Africa to cease. It also happened through peaceful means. I suppose that one might call Quakers fanatics, but since they were pacifist, I don't think they fit Mr. Obama's profile.

In fact, except for the power-mad US South, the abolition of slavery has been mostly nonviolent worldwide, at least as a legal convention. Actual physical ending of the slave trade did require some some violent enforcement, but almost entirely as law enforcement in the First and Second Worlds.

Crom said...

I think, Chris, that you and I are dangerously close to agreeing on something.

However, I think that the role of the federal government should be limited to providing infrastructure and a standing army/navy and that the majority of laws should in fact be determined at the state level. The centralization of power of the federal government has grown exponentially under the current presidency, and while I understand security better than most, the liberties lost are far more important than the small measure of safety their loss has brought.

I neither want or need the federal government to keep me safe. I can handle that on my own, thank you very much. The police are in my opinion a deterrent only to law-abiding people who are tempted to do something wrong, and outside of that they are the janitors of crime, they arrive afterwords and pick up the pieces.

I admit that I love the trash removal service, although my city government doesn't pay for it, I do.

Crom said...

I think, Chris, that you and I are dangerously close to agreeing on something.

However, I think that the role of the federal government should be limited to providing infrastructure and a standing army/navy and that the majority of laws should in fact be determined at the state level. The centralization of power of the federal government has grown exponentially under the current presidency, and while I understand security better than most, the liberties lost are far more important than the small measure of safety their loss has brought.

I neither want or need the federal government to keep me safe. I can handle that on my own, thank you very much. The police are in my opinion a deterrent only to law-abiding people who are tempted to do something wrong, and outside of that they are the janitors of crime, they arrive afterwords and pick up the pieces.

I admit that I love the trash removal service, although my city government doesn't pay for it, I do.

Chris Rywalt said...

I actually don't have a strong opinion on federalism versus states rights. It's something I know very little about. I tend to be suspicious of centralization of anything just on principle, but otherwise I'm fairly ignorant in this area.

I feel that the division into states is mostly arbitrary, but then I feel that the division into countries is pretty arbitrary, too. I sometimes think what we need is a One World Government, but then again that's just way too huge an attraction for corruption.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes think what we need is a One World Government, but then again that's just way too huge an attraction for corruption.

And therein lies the reason the concept of one world government causes so many gray hairs. Who is left to watch the watchers? What would govern the governors?

One-worlders have not shown any inclination toward the "natural rights" basis of the US Constitutional system. Absolute power *would* corrupt absolutely.

Chris Rywalt said...

On the other hand, concentrating all the bureaucratic and political stupidity into one hare-brained, half-assed government might be helpful. It would keep them all busy while the rest of us got on with our lives.