November 5, 2008

We are one

I dreamt about Barack and Michelle Obama all night. I dreamt I was at the White House seated at the table with Michelle Obama sharing in the celebration. The evening felt electric and the gravity of the moment was not taken for granted.

Often, I wake after a particularly exciting dream with disappointment when I realize that, indeed, it is only a dream and that even continued sleep will not take me back to the relished moment of my dream state. But, this morning was unlike the countless other mornings that left my fulfilled dreams and aspirations in the memory of my slumber.

I woke up with the keen awareness that this day was marked by a significant change. I felt and continue to feel moved and inspired. The weight of the last 8 years, specifically the last few months, is noticeably lifted. I feel it in my bones, my heart and I hear it in the voices of my family, friends, students, radio commentators, international leaders and government officials in our own country that fought against Barack Obama.

Last night’s dream signifies the message of Obama’s campaign and the theme of last night’s speech: unity.  we CAN share and will share in this moment because it is our moment.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

And I know you didn’t do this just to win an election. And I know you didn’t do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

My partner and our friends gathered together last night over a communal meal and we sat riveted for hours upon hours as the numbers rolled in. In a matter of a few short moments the number of electoral votes for Obama jumped from 220 to 297 and CNN announced Barack Obama as the 44th president elect of the United States.

It took a second for the impact of that statement to process. We stood up, we cheered, we embraced, we cried, we felt relief, we smiled, we felt our hearts open and we knew that this moment was a moment with enormous implications.

I was impressed with the authenticity of Senator McCain’s conciliatory speech. Even he could not deny the power of this defining moment in our nation’s history.

In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.

This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.

I’ve always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too. But we both recognize that though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation’s reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.

A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt’s invitation of Booker T. Washington to visit — to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now — (cheers, applause) — let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth. (Cheers, applause.)

Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer in my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day, though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise.

Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

I urge all Americans — (applause) — I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences, and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

I felt particularly moved by my partner’s heartfelt and jubilant response to this victory. As a biracial man, he has experienced the cruelty and hatred that fear of difference has fueled. The future of our unborn son was clear in our view of the future as we watched the crowds cheer, tears stream down Jesse Jackson’s cheeks, flags and banners wave, and image after image of city after city across the nation pop on to the screen uniting us with other members of this nation and the global community. Moments like these are not trite or cliche. They are ripe and abundant. They are rare and precious. They remind us of our humanity, our collective spirit and our ability to unite and work together.

I appreciated Obama’s humble tone and his honesty.  I appreciated his message of unity and diversity.  I appreciated his emphasis on collective responsibility and the joint effort it will take to make change happen now that the opportunity for change has arrived. We have been divided for far too long and we have denied the power of community and solidarity.  The ethic of individualism and instant gratification that has been pervasive in recent history has not worked well for the majority of the nation’s citizens.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

That collective spirit brought us to last night’s historical moment.  I have never seen the dedication and drive to create change from the ground up in the way I have over the last year.  My students have mobilized.  My friends have become active in campaigns across the country.  I have seen more and more people seek out information and become conscious. It is unlike anything I have ever seen.  The activism of my early adult years pales in comparison to what has been accomplished in these final months.

As I drove to work, I savored the moment. I replayed the messages and conversations I had with my parents, my lover, my friends, and my students.  I smiled. I think we can all feel the sea change that is beginning to occur.  As opposed to riding the high and letting it drop, I am putting these feelings on a slow simmer and I hope that everyone that is riding the crest will do the same.  This buzz can not wane for everything that can be accomplished to come to fruition.

As I listened to Bush on NPR, I was inspired further by the tone of his speech, similar to the tone of McCain’s speech last night.

Bush called Obama’s win an “impressive victory” and said it represented strides “toward a more perfect Union.” He said the choice of Obama was “a triumph of the American story, a testament to hard work, optimism and faith in the enduring promise of our nation.”

The defeated leader of his own party, John McCain, won accolades as well, but not nearly so glowing.

“The American people will always be grateful for the lifetime of service John McCain has devoted to this nation, and I know he’ll continue to make tremendous contributions to our country,” Bush said.

To a country with monumental civil rights battles in its past, Bush said: “All Americans can be proud of the history that was made yesterday.”

He recalled the millions of blacks who turned out to vote for one of their own, saying he realizes many never fully believed they would live to see this day. But he also hinted that he has personal feelings of high emotion at this moment, representing the end of a controversial eight years in the Oval Office during which he tried, but failed, to attract more blacks to his party.

“It will be a stirring sight to see President Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their beautiful girls step through the doors of the White House,” the president said. “I know millions of Americans will be overcome with pride at this inspiring moment that so many have waited so long.”

As I strode on to campus today wearing my ObamaMama shirt, I was moved by the sight of the campus population in celebration and the pride that last night’s victory has instilled in so many.

I feel hopeful and committed.  I think we all recognize this moment for what is is: a watershed in history and an opportunity.

As my friend, Theresa, said in her text message to me this morning, “My inner child wants to hug everyone.” I concur.

November 2, 2008

Once again, hysterical.

Filed under: Media,Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — Melanie @ 12:54 pm

November 1, 2008

Brains versus brawn: who's got the political muscle?

Arnold Schwarznegger stumped with John McCain in Ohio yesterday, the state that hosts the Arnold Classic, a televised bodybuilding competition.

In true Arnold fashion, Schwarznegger decided to mock Obama’s physique as a sign of weakness.

“I want to invite Senator Obama because he needs to do something about those skinny legs,” he said to loud and amused roars. “I’m going to make him do some squats. And then we’re going to make him do some biceps curls to beef up those scrawny little arms.”

This is not the first time the Governator of California has utilized gendered tactics in politics that reinforces traditional notions of masculinity that emphasize muscularity and toughness as signs of true (male) leadership.

Who can forget his appearance at the 2004 Republican National Convention when he called “pessimists” of the economy  economic “girly men?” This is also not the first time that Obama’s masculinity has been called into question during the course of this campaign.

Naomi Klein comments on the continued gender war in politics from her op-ed piece in the New York Times in June:

Hillary Clinton may be out of the race, but a Barack Obama versus John McCain match-up still has the makings of an epic American gender showdown.

The reason is a gender ethic that has guided American politics since the age of Andrew Jackson. The sentiment was succinctly expressed in a massive marble statue that stood on the steps of the United States Capitol from 1853 to 1958. Named “The Rescue,” but more commonly known as “Daniel Boone Protects His Family,” the monument featured a gigantic white pioneer in a buckskin coat holding a nearly naked Indian in a death’s grip, while off to the side a frail white woman crouched over her infant.

The question asked by this American Sphinx to all who dared enter the halls of leadership was, “Are you man enough?” This year, Senator Obama has notably refused to give the traditional answer.

The particulars of that masculine myth were established early in American politics. While the war hero-turned-statesman is a trope common to many countries in many eras, it has a particular quality and urgency here, based on our earliest history, when two centuries of Indian wars brought repeated raids on frontier settlements and humiliating failures on the part of the young nation’s “protectors” to fend off those attacks or rescue captives. The architects of American culture papered over this shaming history by concocting what would become our prevailing national security fantasy — personified by the ever-vigilant white frontiersman who, by triumphing over the rapacious “savage” and rescuing the American maiden from his clutches, redeemed American manhood.

Funny, considering the state of the California budget (which is 10 billion out of balance with a deficit much higher than the one Davis left him with), his continued budget cuts in education and the national economy, in general, Schwarznegger’s biceps have not served him, or any of us, well.

George Monbiot wrote a great article that was posted on Alternet yesterday about The Triumph of Ignorance: How Morons Succeed in U.S. Politics that helps explain why someone like Schwarznegger is even able to stand at the podium and make such ludicrous statements and have audiences applaud.

How was it allowed to happen? How did politics in the United States come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance? Was it charity that has permitted mankind’s closest living relative to spend two terms as president? How did Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other such gibbering numbskulls get to where they are? How could Republican rallies in 2008 be drowned out by screaming ignoramuses insisting that Barack Obama is a Muslim and a terrorist?

As Monbiot points out, there are numerous variables that intersect and education is one of the most important.  Oh, yeah, right, the system that Schwarznegger himself has continued to gut during his time in office. For a nation that celebrates education as a value, there’s no support.  This is a classic example of ideal culture versus real culture or talking the talk and walking the walk.

In fact, politicians not only rip apart the educational budget to shreds but they mock at intellectual politicians.  How many times have we heard John McCain and his supporters question Obama based on his vocabulary and ability to articulate intelligent ideas?  How else can we explain why Joe the Plumber (who isn’t sick of this guy?) is on the campaign trail with McCain speaking on economic issues and foreign policy?  This is ludicrous!

As Monbiot points out:

It wasn’t always like this. The founding fathers of the republic — men like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton — were among the greatest thinkers of their age. They felt no need to make a secret of it.

So, not only is Obama’s intellect to question and be suspicious of but his lack of brawn reinforces the fact that he isn’t fit to lead: he isn’t a “real” man. Oy vey!  See where these “real” men have taken us?  Now, wake up.

2004 Republican National Convention:

In Ohio with John McCain:

October 29, 2008

Keith calls 'em out

Socialist! Socialist! “Redistributionist-in-chief.” Celebrity.

Oh, GOP. Keith calls you out on your double-standards. Swoon.

October 22, 2008

Eleanor Smeal to John McCain

Eleanor Smeal, president of The Feminist Majority Foundation, posted an open letter to John McCain on the Huffington Post today.

Dear Senator McCain,

This week you have lashed out against the “Feminist Left.” I understand your frustration. You see that women are not flocking to the McCain/Palin ticket and you don’t understand why. Allow me to illuminate you.

The truth is, Senator McCain, your candidacy is the worst for women in recent history. You thought that women would vote for you once you put a woman on your ticket. But women aren’t fooled by this tactic. Women, Senator McCain, vote on issues important to us, not on whether or not the candidate wears a skirt.

The problem, Senator McCain, is your voting record, platform, and policies. You have consistently voted wrong on issues that directly impact American women’s bank accounts, personal liberties and health.

• You voted 19 times against increasing the minimum wage (the majority of minimum wage earners are women) – before you finally voted for it because it included business tax cuts. You voted to gut the Family and Medical Leave act – and you oppose expanding its coverage.

• You oppose the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would restore women’s ability to fight wage discrimination in the courts – telling women our problem was that we needed to get more education and training.

• You voted NO on the Violence Against Women Act and NO on funding for the Office of Violence Against Women.

• You voted NO on starting the Army’s Breast Cancer Research Program which has funded hundreds of millions in breast cancer research. You voted NO on reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and supported Bush’s veto.

• You oppose a woman’s right to choose, and your running mate Sarah Palin opposes legal abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

• You voted to terminate federal funds for family planning and you have ducked questions on contraceptive insurance discrimination.

• You have stated that you admire the voting records of Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and John Roberts, and have stated that you would like to put Justices like them – Justices who want to overturn Roe v. Wade – on the Supreme Court.

We have compared the votes and platforms of Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin on women’s issues and the record is clear. No matter how you look at it – Obama/Biden score close to 100% and McCain/Palin approach a zero on women’s rights and issues.

If credit should be given for consistency, you deserve such credit when it comes to voting against women’s interests. Twenty-six years of voting against women’s rights and issues and you think women, when given a clear choice, won’t notice?

October 15, 2008

John Mellencamp on nationalism, the state of the nation and McCain's use of his music

Featured in yesterday’s LA Times.  Read full article here.

He thinks Barack Obama is too conservative, and every time John McCain plays his songs at a rally, the Republican nominee gets a call from a Mellencamp rep: Play the music if you want, but you better know what the lyrics mean.

According to Mellencamp, the words mean this: The government is corrupt, the war is unjust, the middle class is sunk, people are starving, racism is rampant, and those little pink houses? Couldn’t we do better for the working poor?

And if pols still don’t get it, Mellencamp’s wish for America is spelled out in his anthem-like “Our Country”: “That poverty could be just another ugly thing / And bigotry would be seen only as obscene / And the ones that run this land help the poor and common man / This is our country.”

The message seems to have gotten through; McCain has all but stopped playing Mellencamp’s songs, except for a few instances when the sound-booth guy accidentally cues the wrong track…

“I grew up in the late ’60s, early ’70s, during Vietnam, and so my liberal views were pretty much cast during that time period through the music that I was listening to,” he said. (His parents were also liberals, who encouraged him to speak his mind.) He has a single coming out this month: “Troubled Land.” It was officially unveiled during Mellencamp’s set at the Farm Aid concert last month. In the wake of the Wall Street woes, the song was eerily foreboding. It also underlines how Mellencamp secured his reputation as the heartland bard: “I’ve got many screaming children / Ten million rows to hoe / Bring peace to this troubled land / Deader than a hammer/ But I can’t let go / Bring peace to this troubled land.”

Mellencamp explains the song this way: “I have felt that the government has betrayed most people in turning their back on the working class.” He said, “Deregulation has destroyed so many things that worked so well, destroyed the airlines, destroyed trucking, destroyed, as we see now, Wall Street. . . .

“We’ve got to have guidelines, and strict guidelines, that are enforced by the government. That’s the government’s job. Now, their idea of making law is ‘We’re allowed to tap your phone, we’re allowed to enter your house without a search and seizure.’ That’s wrong.”

Mellencamp was one of the first musicians to oppose the war in Iraq, a position that made him unpopular in his hometown. Neighbors would row up alongside his lakefront house and shake their fists. Mellencamp’s wife was heckled in the grocery store.

The singer stayed firm in his beliefs.

“If you just step back and take all the particulars: We’re going to invade a country on the other side of the world, and we’re going to kill people and we’re going to have our people killed, and our information is tainted?” he said.

He blames the strong nationalism that clenched the country after Sept. 11.

“When people are for the country right or wrong, America right or wrong, it’s a lot like Germany. Nationalism is a bad thing. And when you have a mob mentality over a country, over a swastika, over the Führer, over the Iraq war, the outcome is not going to be good.”

Yup, I do love Keith.

This comes from Keith after more shouts of, “kill him” at at a Palin rally on Tuesday. Tonight could be interesting.

October 9, 2008

Oh, Jon.

October 3, 2008

McCain /Palin ticket does not equal maverick status

Filed under: Media,Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Melanie @ 7:51 am

This was a personal highlight for me.

October 1, 2008

Katie Couric and Palin speak on Sept. 29

Katie Couric interviewed Sarah Palin and John McCain on September 29.  Couric questioned Palin on abortion, gay rights and feminism.  It seems Palin has changed her position on a few items and contradicts herself repeatedly.

Case in point:

Katie Couric: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Sarah Palin: I do. I’m a feminist who believes in equal rights and I believe that women certainly today have every opportunity that a man has to succeed and to try to do it all anyway. And I’m very, very thankful that I’ve been brought up in a family where gender hasn’t been an issue. You know, I’ve been expected to do everything growing up that the boys were doing. We were out chopping wood and you’re out hunting and fishing and filling our freezer with good wild Alaskan game to feed our family. So it kinda started with that. With just that expectation that the boys and the girls in my community were expected to do the same and accomplish the same. That’s just been instilled in me.

Couric: What is your definition of a feminist?

Palin: Someone who believes in equal rights. Someone who would not stand for oppression against women.

I’m not sure how you can call yourself a feminist and define feminism as a belief for equal rights and a firm stance against sexism and oppression when your record clearly indicates that you have not supported equal rights and you are in favor of eradicating choices for women.  This woman exhausts me.  I’m ready for Thursday’s debate.

For the full transcript, read here.

For the clip, click here.

Go to 5:20 to here her response to Couric’s question asking her which publications she reads to inform her worldview.

Transcribed on the Huffington Post:

Katie Couric: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious: what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?
Sarah Palin: I’ve read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.
KC: But, like, what ones specifically? I’m curious.
SP: All of ’em, any of ’em that have been in front of me over all these years.
KC: Can you name a few?
SP: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news too. Alaska isn’t a foreign country, where, it’s kind of suggested and it seems like, ‘Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C. may be thinking and doing when you live up there in Alaska?’ Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.

Or, click here.