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Showing posts from December, 2010

Huge success for the US National Nuclear Security Administration

Early in his administration, President Obama established a goal to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years -- a task that encompasses locking down materials in 35 countries.

Yesterday, Rachel Maddow had an exclusive interview with Andrew Bieniawski, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration's associate deputy administrator for global threat reduction, on the fact that over the holidays, the NNSA has succeeded in removing 111 pounds of highly enriched uranium from Ukraine and sent it to Russia where it will be blended down, making it useless for bomb-making.

All the movement has to be done in secret and coordinated with other nations, he said.

Four nations were involved in the Ukraine operation, he said.

"Pulling this off is a huge challenge," he said.

The removal operation completed Thursday involved 21 specially designed casks for the uranium to be flown on five flights from three cities, officials told The Associated Press. The oper…

Mameen - by David Whyte

Be infinitesimal under that sky, a creature
even the sailing hawk misses, a wraith
among the rocks where the mist parts slowly.
Recall the way mere mortals are overwhelmed
by circumstance, how great reputations
dissolve with infirmity and how you,
in particular, live a hairsbreadth from losing
everyone you hold dear.

Then, look back down the path as if seeing
your past and then south over the hazy blue
coast as if present to a wide future,
recall the way you are all possibilities
you can see and how you live best
as an appreciator of horizons
whether you reach them or not,
admit that once you have got up
from your chair and opened the door,
once you have walked out into the clean air
toward that edge and taken the path up high
beyond the ordinary you have become
the privileged and the pilgrim
the one who will tell the story
and the one, coming back
from the mountain,
who helped to make it.

New Year's Resolution - Abandon

Last year at this time I wrote about why I hate new year's resolutions. The process itself signifies so much that my journey in this life has been about changing.

What I remember more than anything growing up is hearing "the rules" about how I was supposed to live my life. And that if I just had enough discipline or willpower, I'd be the "good girl" that God and all of the other adults in my life told me I should be. I tried. As a matter of fact, I tried with every fiber of my being. But ultimately, I always failed in some way. And of course, that failure was a result of my short comings - so then there's the guilt and shame to add to the failure.

But then one day, with the help of some very wise people, I began to realize that I was looking in the wrong direction. In other words, I was looking "out" at what the rules were instead of "in" at who I already was. While absorbing that was eventually a life-changing experience, it didn'…

On second chances

I haven't been blogging much the last few days so I missed the whole controversy over statements Obama made about Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick. But the subject hits home for me in several ways.

First of all - I am a mega dog-lover and what Vick did positively turns my stomach. Secondly, I really hate the attention and resources we tend to lavish on professional athletes. But with all that said, I don't know when I've been more in agreement with our President.

He said, 'So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance. He was ... passionate about it. He said it's never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail. And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.''

I've spent most of my professional life working to give a second chance to young people who've made mistakes. As is the case with Vick - who spent 18 months…

Obama goes electric

I'm not going to have the time over the next couple of days to think - much less write anything coherent.

But Dennis G over at Balloon Juice has a GREAT article titled Going electirc... He's noticing that the frustrati on the left seem to be the most angry at Obama over his process (rather than outcomes) and that - as I've talked about several times here - its all about the "long game."

The main objection seems not to be about the goals as they seem to be shared between Obama and those who rage at him from the left—but rather to be about the way Obama moves towards these goals in the short term and in the long term. And it is Obama’s focus on the long term that seems to be at the root of most of the rage.

Dennis then compares this rage to what many felt when Bob Dylan "went electric" and sums up the comparison this way:

From the moment Obama announced his run for the White House to now he has been following his own process and priorities—strategies and tact…

Who is this Jesus?

At this time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I like to take some time to reflect on the life he lived. No one has summed that up better for me than Kid Oakland in an article he wrote back in 2004 titled a christmas message.

Let me tell you something about the Jesus that I know.

He was a real man. Born in a poor region to working poor parents. He loved learning, he loved his mother and his father.

But he left them and spent his life with the poor, the outcast, the rejected, the defiled, the sick, the sinners, the bedraggled, the bereft, the self-hating, the lonely, the banished, the foul, the miserable, the desperate and finally, those sick with their own power.

He did this, not because of his ideology or his creed. He did this not because of his doctrine. He did this, quite simply, because he loved them. He preferred them.

Their company, their stories, their lives, their environs, their plight and their faith.

And they loved him. Because he touched them. He looked them …

He's always had game, Howie

Howard Fineman is starting to catch on.

People who play basketball with Barack Obama say he's more dogged than flashy, more determined than skillful, more adaptable than unique. He'll trash talk on a dribble-drive with Reggie Love, but in the old days he was a studious, unselfish passer with classroom colleagues at Harvard Law.

And often, they say, he ended up with more points than you thought he'd have. No one noticed until it was over.

As in basketball, so it is now: his life on the court is a parallel to the first two years of his up-and-down-and-now-sort-of-up-again presidency.

It hasn't been pretty; it certainly hasn't been easy. Pundits, including this one, have dismissed him as a lousy negotiator, a dreamy academic or worse. He's been a New Dealer one minute, Reaganite the next. He's been rigidly partisan one minute and too eager to cut a deal with the Republicans leadership the next.

He's been called a Socialist by the Tea Party and a Wall Street toa…

Dancers

(Dancer - my niece Dani. Photographer - my brother Don.)

To return to harmony...we must realign our gestures into those of dancers. We must become beings who do not wish to control life, but only to listen to its music, and dance it.

- from The Great Cosmic Mother by Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor

Mele Kalikimaka

With the ratification of the Start Treaty and passage of the 9/11 Health Care Bill today, the only thing left to do is wish Obama "Mele Kalikimaka" and safe travels to enjoy your holidays with the family in Hawaii.

You Belong

This morning President Obama signed the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." A few pictures from the event speak volumes about what it means to be told "you belong" after years of exclusion.









It reminds me of another moment two years ago when that same message reached a different group of people.





We are not a nation that says don't ask don't tell. We're a nation that says out of many we are one.

- President Barack Obama, December 22, 2010

Lame Duck? No Problem!

The Swan - Rainer Maria Rilke

The labouring through what is still undone,
as though, legs bound, we hobbled along the way,
is like the awkward walking of the swan.

And dying - to let go, no longer feel
the solid ground we stand on every day
is like his anxious letting himself fall
into the water, which receives him gently
and which, as though with reverence and joy,
draws back past him in streams on either side;
while, infinitely silent and aware,
in his full majesty and ever more
indifferent, he condescends to glide.

Obama's Long Game

With the repeal of DADT, some of the talking heads are starting to recognize Obama's long game.

Andrew Sullivan has seen it for a while now. Here's how he described it on another issue.

My point is rather that he has a clear pattern of behavior that is acutely tuned to the longterm. He lets things take their course. Rather than tipping his hand early and decisively, he tends to hang back, aloof, distant, watching. Only when events have occurred that have proven the pointlessness of options he doesn't favor does he forthrightly present his own. And quite often, he almost seems intent on orchestrating such public failures of others' (and his own apparent) options - even at his own short-term cost.

More particularly related to DADT repeal is this by Greg Sargent.

Obama had been criticized for months on don't ask don't tell, with advocates complaining that his administration aggressively defended DADT in court and that he wasn't doing enough to rally the Senate to …

Where did the anti-nuke progressives go?

Now that DADT is repealed and (sadly) the DREAM Act failed this time, the next big thing on the agenda for the lame duck session is ratification of the Start Treaty. Here's Obama today.



I concur with BooMan on being a bit mystified about the relative lack of passion we're seeing on this one from progressives.

progressives have become almost completely disengaged from the issues of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and are far more invested in other issues that are important but, let me say, of less monumental importance. I don't want to engage in a war of "my issue is more important than your issue," because the Senate is debating a range of important issues that include progressive taxation, the budget, gay rights, immigrant rights, nuclear issues, and bilateral relations with Russia. I will just say that I am not happy that there is almost no evident interest or angst from the progressive community about the outcome of the START ratification effort. When…

Does anyone actually listen to what Republicans are saying?

I ask the question in the title because a few of them have been saying some pretty outrageous things over the last couple of days.

For example, here's what Senator Corker said about DADT repeal.

What’s happened is it’s poisoning the well on this debate, on something that’s very, very important….I’m just hoping that saner minds will prevail and that these issues that have been brought forth that are absolutely partisan, political, issues, brought forth to basically accommodate activist groups around this country. I’m hoping that those will be taken down or else I don’t think the future of the START treaty over the next several days is going to be successful, based on what I’m watching.

We'll ignore the fact that Corker just claimed that this country's military establishment is bringing forth partisan political issues, because what's even more appalling is that he's suggesting that Republicans would avoid dealing with national security legislation because they want to t…

Waiting...

Wait

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven't they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Wait.
Don't go too early.
You're tired. But everyone's tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

- Galway Kinnell

Too cute!!!!!

The Tortoise and the Hare

Republicans seem to have a love of short-term thinking. Whatever they see as helping their cause in the next election seems to be their guiding principle.

Today, Republican Presidential contender Mitt Romney demonstrates this by criticizing the tax cut deal and ends with this:

President Obama has reason to celebrate. The deal delivers short-term economic stimulus, and it does so at the very time he wants it most, before the 2012 elections.

He's admitting that the deal will deliver "short-term economic stimulus" and thinks that's a bad thing (?)...because it helps Obama in the 2012 election.

Charles Krauthhamer made pretty much the same argument a couple of days ago.

In the deal struck this week, the president negotiated the biggest stimulus in American history, larger than his $814 billion 2009 stimulus package. It will pump a trillion borrowed Chinese dollars into the U.S. economy over the next two years - which just happen to be the two years of the run-up to the next …

Just sayin...

A couple of items of note:

Numero uno:

Its not just lefties who think Obama needs to man up. (warning...RedState link) Kind of amusing thinking about conservatives having a "man crush" on a commie, isn't it?

Numero dos:

Just when I lose sight of the impact race has on the constant critique of Obama, something like this comes along. John Cole quoted from this great column by Ishmael Reed. And what's the response? I'll let John describe it. (warning...extreme language)

Just look at this thread. I post a piece telling how a lot of African Americans feel regarding the over the top treatment of Obama. A number of African American commenters chime in and say, “Yes, we don’t think they are racist, but we don’t think other politicians have been treated this way, and we feel that Obama is being treated differently.”

So what do the members of the dickhead colony do?

Loudly scream “Fuck you for feeling that way and fuck you for calling me racist and fuck Obama for being such a wea…

Obama's North Star

This kind of critique of Obama is nothing new. We've been hearing it almost since day one of his Presidency.

It seems to me that the outcome of the process isn't something he has a vested interest in ensuring. He says, often in fact, that "all options are on the table" or "I'm willing to listen to anybody." ... He doesn't see himself as an advocate, but an arbitrator. The worst thing for President Obama to deal with is not a bad outcome, but a bad process. It is a mistake to believe that the president doesn't have a preferred outcome and that it isn't often progressive. He does, but he isn't willing to disrupt the process over it with political fights. He believes that whatever a calm, orderly process produces is what is best, even if he disagrees with the results. Even if it occurs in backrooms. Perhaps this is why so many Democrats are scratching their heads trying to figure out what the president believes. What his motives are. What h…

Fresh Eyes

A few years ago at work I was talking to a potential funder about some innovative work we were doing with our public libraries. Many urban youth are beginning to use the libraries more often. It might be because they are one of the few places left that are safe for kids to go to. Or perhaps its because they can get access to computers...who knows?

But being loud, boisterous and mostly youth of color, the (often white female) librarians were having trouble with these kids...behavior was escalating and without seeing other options, the cops were often called to intervene.

So we were training librarians on how to better interact with these kids. Hold them accountable..yes, but also engage them. This was producing amazing results when you looked at the police calls to the libraries.

When I got done explaining all of this, the woman I was talking to suggested that perhaps we should talk to a similar program. It turns out this other program was offering tutoring for kids in the libraries.

I rea…

No more drama!!!

This is another day when reading the news about our political situation can only be summed up with this.



We know the Republicans are obstructionists, intent on destroying Obama's presidency and doing all they can in the process to help their wealthy friends cash in on the goodies.

But did you see the latest from congressional Democrats?

Incensed over President Obama’s tax compromise, House Democratic leaders are showing signs of abandoning the administration and going their own way on critical issues such as national security.

In a striking move, the Appropriations Committee late Wednesday attached a provision to a $1.1 trillion resolution to keep the government funded next year that would prevent Obama from spending any funds to try terrorism suspects in civilian court instead of military commissions.

The language would essentially prevent the closing of the detainee prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba.


So in order to punish Obama for negotiating with the Republicans on the tax deal - th…

Listen to the man!

A few months ago, Ezra Klein wrote a column titled People don't listen to the President. I think he's right. President Obama gives hundreds of speeches and other than the SOTU - who ever really watches or listens to them? Even many political junkies just read a few reactions to what he had to say from sources that tend to share our viewpoint - and therefore confirm what we already thought.

I'd like to suggest that anyone who wants to comment on Obama - his thoughts and/or strategies - watch his press conference from today. I don't believe he's ever been so open, clear and passionate. Its also the first time I can remember him talking directly about how he thinks about political strategy. Like it or not - he lays it all out there for you to see if you take the time to listen.



There are many powerful moments, but here's how he ended.

So, my job is to make sure that we have a North Star out there, what is helping people live out there lives; what is giving them more …

"Man Up"

As I read and hear criticisms of Obama, there is a theme to some of them that I find pretty fascinating - especially when it comes from liberals and Democrats. Here are some examples that I think will be telling:

Obama needs to:

man up
grow some balls
take off the pink tutu

There are others, but you get the point.

The message is clearly that Obama is too feminine.

I suppose that if he had been unsuccessful, there might be a reason to look at a critique like that. But the truth is, he has accomplished more in 2 years than Clinton and Carter did in 12.

I know there are some who are not happy with his accomplishments, but that's a disagreement on substance and not style. The examples I listed above are clearly a critique of his style.

So is Obama "too feminine?" If so, what does that mean? And what does it say about us that so many have a problem with it?

These are questions I'm asking myself these days as I listen to the political discourse. I don't have a lot of answers yet…

Some of the things I found interesting today

From the NYT, Cables Depict Range of Obama Diplomacy.

The cables suggest that Mr. Obama’s form of engagement is a complicated mixture of openness to negotiation, constantly escalating pressure and a series of deadlines, some explicit, some vague...

While WikiLeaks made the trove available with the intention of exposing United States duplicity, what struck many readers was that American diplomacy looked rather impressive. The day-by-day record showed diplomats trying their hardest behind closed doors to defuse some of the world’s thorniest conflicts, but also assembling a Plan B.

On that bad report on jobs from the Dept. of Labor, Time says we might need a job recount. That's because the published numbers are seasonally adjusted - which means that retail employment numbers were adjusted down to accommodate the holiday season. Actually, instead of retail loosing 28,000 as the report indicated, that sector added 350,000 jobs in November.

From This & Such, Weak Tea, Brewed in Cold Wat…

Flash Mobs - Dancing a Revolution

We've all heard that Emma Goodman quote..."If I can't dance - I don't want to be part of your revolution." Well, I'll bet Emma would love flash mobs.

Wikipedia defines flash mobs this way:

A flash mob is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual act for a brief time, then disperse.

If you want to see what that looks like - or you just want to brighten your day - watch these examples.

Here's one of my favorites. From the youtube description:

Kim MacGregor organized this flash mob of 200 dancers to launch the "feel good" movement, "I Believe She's Amazing" in honor of her friend Erika Heller who passed away May 28th, 2009 at 31 yrs. old...this is her living legacy.



Or how about this one from Oprah's 24th Season Kick Off Party.



But flash mobs aren't just about dancing. How about some singing?



Or maybe just a "freeze frame?"



Some flash mobs are just for fun, but corporate advertisers …

Summing things up...

I've been reading the news around the internets and wanted to write something. But this is one of those moments when a picture is worth a thousand words. Here's what I'm hearing...



Thanks to Chipsticks at The Obama Diary for the image.

Responding to the Republican's "lose/lose" Game

With the Republicans toying with sabotage over the New Start Treaty and holding the Senate hostage unless they get exactly what they want on tax cuts, what is a reasonable strategy for Obama and Congressional Democrats to pursue?

Mistermix over at Balloon Juice nails it in Playing Cards with Judas.

...Ezra Klein thinks that Obama’s a bad poker player. He may be right, but the analogy isn’t helpful. Poker is a win/lose game. Negotiation is a win/win game, because both parties get something when a deal is struck. Republicans aren’t playing poker or negotiating. They are playing another game, call it “You Must Lose”. They’re happy with win/lose, if they win, but they’ll tolerate lose/lose as long as Obama loses.

The only analogy that springs to mind when I look at the Republicans’ recent behavior is a bad divorce. Think of a situation where Lisa and Bob are getting a divorce, and Bob is so hell-bent on hurting Lisa that he doesn’t care about their kids or their bank account. Bob will deploy…

Remembering December 1, 1955

Obama Consistency

Whether you agree with Obama's approach or not - you have to give him credit for consistency.

Here's what he said (via email) after the White House meeting with Congressional leaders.

Now, none of this is going to be easy. We have two parties for a reason. There are real philosophical differences -– deeply held principles to which each party holds. And although the atmosphere in today’s meeting was extremely civil, there’s no doubt that those differences are going to remain no matter how many meetings we have. And the truth is there’s always going to be a political incentive against working together, particularly in the current hyperpartisan climate. There are always those who argue that the best strategy is simply to try to defeat your opposition instead of working with them.

And, frankly, even the notion of bipartisanship itself has gotten caught up in this mentality. A lot of times coming out of these meetings, both sides claim they want to work together, but try to paint the …