"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan
Imagine an educated person voting for someone who would state something so ignorant. But we did. And re-elected him President of the U.S.
I write this a few moments after watching President-Elect Barack Obama's first news conference. Folks, we have a very special man here. As he did all through his campaign for president, he was on-target, comfortable, intelligent, and the man exudes a presidential aura. As I reflect back over the last 60 years, I realize how limited, and in some cases inept, have been our presidents. The possible exception was John F. Kennedy. There was great hope with JFK, let us hope that nothing that terrible befalls our current president-elect.
Yes, we all know there are kooks on the right and on the left. But the dangers surrounding the first elected African American president are tremendous. And make no mistake about it, there are people in important roles in our society, people from the extreme right-wing, for example, who absolutely cannot accept such a president.
As we hopefully enter a new age, a new perspective, and new values in the United States, it will not be easy to get past our burdens of right-wing greed, bigotry, lack of altruism, parochial thoughts of America being better than any nation, ignorance of history, self-centered foreign relations, seeing war as a way to settle everything, equating wealth with intelligence, being afraid to challenge ourselves historically or currently, ad infinitum. Here are some past demons we must exorcise:
"It is time to turn from quarrels and to build our White ramparts again. The alliance with foreign races means nothing but death for us." -Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. [yes, THAT Charles Lindbergh, who also saw Hitler as a hero]
Ole, El presidente Obama!
Another group that influenced the latest presidential election: Hispanics. Get used to it. And get over the terrible anti-immigrant psychosis that has gripped America. How quickly we forget how past immigrants held onto their European languages and customs for not one, but several generations. In fact, laws had to be passed in some areas so that second and third generation German-Americans and others would finally allow students to have textbooks printed in English. Current immigrants are making a genuine effort to learn English in their first-generation arrival in the U.S. Along with the bigotry suffered by African Americans who were brought here as slaves by Anglos, the Hispanic immigrants have had to suffer through untold bigotry on their own.
GUANTANOMO- close the damn thing down, and prosecute those who need prosecuting in the U.S. Make a clear, outright statement that there will be no torture during an Obama presidency.
IRAQ- get out as soon as possible. This mess will be a long-time settling. Iraq never was a cohesive nation; it was glued together by European colonialism. The Shiites, Sunni, and Kurds problems will continue to fester for decades, and the fate of that "nation" will probably evolve under another strongman who will assume absolute control, or it will become three entities. There is now enough money and resources for the Baghdad government to be independent of the U.S. presence, or evolve into what the people in Iraq want. We have created a monster in Iraq. Neocon stupidity.
No matter how the Obama presidency plays out, the Karl Rove-type critics are waiting for his first slip. And if a slip does not occur quickly enough, they are loaded for bear to create their own interpretations on everything, and to hell! with real events or history. The anti-intellectual right-wing, now whimpering like spoiled brats, will continue on endlessly. Here is how they "see" what is playing out...
George W. Bush, though sinking around 26-28% approval ratings, is still beloved by the right-wing and is only being criticized by liberals. A-hem.
"Cross burnings. Children on a school bus in Idaho reportedly chanting 'Assasinate Obama.' Black figures hung from nooses. Racial ephithets scrawled on homes and cars. Incidents around the country referring to President-elect Barack Obama are dampening the postelection glow of racial progress and harmony, highlighting the stubborn racism that remains in America."
William Ferris of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill commented: "It's shaking the foundations on which the country has existed for centuries. Someone once said racism is like cancer. It's never totally wiped out; its' in remission." -above from Associated Press reports in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 16, 2008, page 8A
Let us hope that President-elect Obama is good to his pledge to change things in Washington. Congress and all facets of the federal government need a complete cleansing. Old patterns of cronyism and corporate pay-offs must end. But by far the biggest immediate need is to get the stink out of the White House. Left behind by George W. Bush and his administration are horrendous secrets, pay-offs, favoritism, military misadventures, snooping on private citizens, billions upon billions of hidden waste in Iraq and elsewhere, ad infinitum. The Free World awaits your action in this regard.
This cannot stand uninvestigated. To be put in place immediately should be inspectors general who can get at all the fascist-like government secrets used by the Bush administration for unsavory means. Two places to begin with I.G. action would be in the Pentagon and related agencies that squandered literally scores of billions of dollars in Iraq and elsewhere with no resultant benefit, and the Justice Department where the Constitution has been shredded.
It is difficult within the confines of a blog to thank all the people who have influenced and impacted my life. Of course my children and grandchildren. And as a very vulnerable little boy, there were two precious grandmothers who saved me. My friends. And I offer a deep expression of gratitude to the men and women who serve all of us in the military service. Perhaps most of all, I would like to take this opportunity to offer thanks to all the men and women who serve altruistically in an effort to help the underserved in society. There are many quiet angels at work in the world that we are rarely aware of as they go about their thankless service...many of these people serve for no thanks at all, and that is why they deserve it from us. We have become so materialistic in our society, seeing value only in things and the gateway to things. More than ever, those who serve outside that motivation, serve simply to help the human race, my deepest thanks go out.
Something very new is about to happen in the U.S. It is pivotal in many ways. While a change in administrations in Washington, D.C. always results in anger, sour grapes, jubilation, hope, or some other strong reaction, this change is more significant. Our new president is identified as an African American, though he has plenty of Caucasian blood as many African Americans do. That alone makes this significant. But there is much more. On the brink of economic disaster, fighting two wars of questionable outlook and unjustified cause, and a long and undemocratic trek into greed capitalism, the U.S. needs moral and ethical renewal very badly. It is time to put aside petty and not-so-petty prejudices and strong political beliefs, and join in the needed hope and support of the intelligent, noble young man about to rise to take the chair of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt.
"The care of human life and happiness...is the first and only legitimate object of good government." -Thomas Jefferson