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The Barackalypse is upon us.

71c1e6eea7_042806limbaughNot unexpectedly, Rush sounds off to energize the Far Right base, this time proclaiming his hope that President Obama fails. Despite Al Franken’s assertion that Rush is a big fat idiot, he’s more showman than pundit. He loves to make outrageous statements and then invite those more liberal than he, approximately 98% of the country, to engage in a rhetorical pissing contest. It’s easier than actually thinking. Just ask Ann Coulter.

But to those on the right, the past week has been simultaneously depressing and energizing, a bipolar mix of news:

  • Gitmo is to be closed within a year. 
  • Obama repealed the “Mexico City Policy,” which was reinstated in 2001 by Bush. The policy prohibited U.S. money from funding
    international family planning groups that promote abortion or provide
    information, counseling or referrals about abortion services. It also banned any organization that receives family planning funds from the U.S. Agency
    for International Development from offering abortions or abortion
    counseling.  According to some, if you educate people about abortion, everyone will want one. 
  • The President ordered that interrogators adhere to the Army field manual, essentially outlawing torture. Imagine that, the country that believes it always holds the moral high ground is outlawing torture.

To the Right, this means that the barbarians will be at the gate next Tuesday, sooner if there’s a tailwind.

And Limbaugh, with that stogie hanging out of his mouth, looks like Lassie squeezing out a big doot.

In a previous entry I commented, in the context of a discussion of racism, that I kept forgetting Obama is black. (Spare me the tedious arguments that he’s “only half black.” Thank you.) Watching the inauguration Tuesday, I must update my comments.

obama-lincolnThe Admiral had the good sense to DVR the inauguration ceremony so that we could watch it after work. After fixing a Bombay Sapphire and tonic, we started the recording and settled in to watch. We live less than a hundred miles from DC and had been hearing cautionary stories about travel into the area, bridge closings and general chaos.  I was impressed at the number of people willing to to face all of the challenges, not the least of which was the expected shortage of porta potties. But all of that evaporated as we watched the ceremony itself.

We watched the VIPs being escorted through the White House to their seats, half expecting to see Joan Rivers ask each one, “who are you wearing tonight?”  Then there was the quartet playing (and later we learned, syncing) “Airs and Simple Gifts,” a rather tepid piece by John Williams, the Walmart Greeter of Contemporary Composers. Oh well. It beats Sousa music and Itzahk Perlman, my favorite violinist, was looking pretty buff. On the other hand, Duh-bya was looking a bit worse for the wear and largely overlooked, as though he had received a last minute invitation largely as a courtesy.

What was more enjoyable than Obama’s speech, which we thought was moving if not sobering, was the ecstatic look on the faces of the attendees, especially African Americans. It was impossible to overlook the significance of what was happening,  just as it was impossible to not feel proud of what America has finally done. And in the midst of a steady stream of bad economic news, it was the first time we have not just hope, but confidence that there is someone in the White House who can lead us out of this mess.

I’ve always wanted a president who was smarter than I am. Believe me, I’m no rocket surgeon, but Bush 43 made me feel brilliant. Obama leaves me feeling grateful that finally there’s someone in the White House who READS (imagine that), values science and not doctrine, and is decisive and focused. Is he equal to the job ahead? You bet. Will he be dodging slings and arrows for the next four years? Of course. I may even toss a few myself. But the bottom line is, I have confidence in the president that I haven’t had for eight years.

It’s a refreshing feeling.

In a move that would embarrass Jimmy Olson of the Daily Planet, Sam Wurzelbacher, AKA “Joe the Plumber,” has turned in his monkey wrench and butt-crackin’ toolbelt  to become a reporter in Israel, covering the fighting in Gaza. He is quoted by the Washington Post as saying, “I have thousands of questions but I can’t think of the right one.”

Coincidentally, I also have thousands of questions and I can actually summon up a few:

1. Where did you go to journalism school?
2. Were you on your high school newspaper or yearbook staff?
3. Did you know that the citizens of Israel are called “Israelis” and not the “Israel people?”

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As Alaskans endure their long winter’s night, one in particular is howling at the moon. Just when you thought (or hoped) you’d heard the last of Sarah Palin for a while, she pops back up with more complaints about her alleged shabby treatment by the press. The relationship between the press and Caroline Kennedy, whose closet not only lacks skeletons but much of anything, seems to have prompted the diatribe.

no whiningIn a recent interview reported by the Washington Post, Palin described some of the press coverage she and her family received as “very scary.” Without question, some of the coverage was tasteless and vicious, such as suggestions that Palin’s baby was actually her daughter’s. She also cited reports that her daughter Bristol and her putative fiance, Levi Johnston, were high school dropouts. With respect to the latter, she’s on shaky ground. Johnston recently was dismissed from an apprenticeship program because he lacked a diploma or equivalent. Apparently there was some dropping out somewhere.

Then there were the famous interviews in which Palin stammered, dodged, and darn it, and made it breathtakingly clear that she was utterly clueless about the vice presidency and just about everything else. Now she blames the campaign for sending her back to Katie Couric for an attempt at redemption. I suppose she has a point. The campaign surely recognized by that time that she was hopelessly unequipped to think on her feet. Still, keeping Palin under wraps wasn’t a winning strategy. Palin was the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” candidate.

Palin seems to forget that others in the campaign were also targeted by attack bloggers on both sides of the aisle. Obama was characterized as a Moslem sleeper terrorist who was born in Africa. McCain had his own headaches, including a NYT story that a former lover had to be kept at a distance by staffers, a story that still has legs since the alleged lover has now filed a lawsuit against the Times. And let’s not forget the stories about his temper, gambling, and wife Cindy’s drug history.  However, neither Obama or McCain have publicly pouted about their treatment. Both have the good sense to ignore what they cannot change or disprove, and that is one of the qualities that makes them better leaders than Palin.

While Palin has a point, it’s lost in the whining in which she always seems to package it. This approach  may play well with the Hard Right, but let’s be clear, the rest of America has moved on and is far more interested in how we’re going to solve tough problems than in Palin’s family problems. If Palin wants to prove herself a leader she needs to focus on being an effective governor. If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, then blaming the press is the last refuge of the incompetent.

Many gay and straight people who support gay marriage are furious with the President-elect for asking Reverend Rick Warren, who has expressed negative views about gays and gay marriage, to give the inaugural invocation. They see it as a betrayal of their support of Obama and believe that it is an unnecessary accomodation to the evangelical right. Warren has made some disparaging comments, comparing gay marriage to pedophilia and polygamy. He denies making these comparisons. Like any other person in the public eye he should be held accountable for his opinions. However, those opinions we disagree with should not solely define who he is and what he means to us progressives.

While I support gay rights and gay marriage, I also supported Obama because he has the ability to build coalitions between groups of people with competing interests. His willingness to stick his neck out on an issue before he is even inaugurated is exactly why many of us voted for him. Rather than howl, let’s think.
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