Saturday, January 26, 2013

"We [the GOP] must stop being the stupid party."
--Bobby Jindal

"Stupid is as stupid does."
--Gov. Ed Rendell

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Speech (Continued)

I should have known that if I wanted something useful on the Inaugural Address I'd best go to the New Yorker.  Editor David Remnick found a historical parallel with FDR: In 1933, F.D.R. came into office with an Inaugural Speech calling for fearlessness in the face of horrific adversity; four years later, with greater confidence, he outlined the framework of a liberal state—“the need to find through government the instrument of our united purpose to solve for the individual the ever-rising problems of a complex civilization.” That seemed to be what Barack Obama was after Monday, an echo of F.D.R. in 1937—a reassertion of government, of commonality.

I see Remnick's point in how Obama's two speeches contrast.  But in this speech President Obama did what he has been doing since the weeks before the 2012 campaign began, and all the way through it: redefining the center, the common sense space where most Americans agree.  Most Americans support Medicare, equal pay, immigration reform, addressing the climate crisis--even gay rights and gay marriage, and everything he has proposed on guns.  Most Americans even want the government to regulate commerce, safeguard public health and fix the damn bridges.  What is so controversial, except with a shrinking minority of loudmouths?  

Also at the New Yorker, Amy Davidson noted a transfigured echo of Lincoln's second Inaugural in this section from Obama's: "Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together."  It's the lash and sword sentence.  She didn't need to point out that "half-slave and half-free" are also Lincoln, as in the echo of "anew."  JFK echoed the "anew" in his Inaugural, and quoted the "half slave and half free" line on another occasion.  The "by lash" is of course a reference to slavery, and it is a reference of particular power from the nation's first black President, as well as his recognition of a past unforgotten in the black community.

Early in the speech, he linked the Constitution ("We, the people") and Declaration of Independence ("most evident of truths" etc.) to Martin Luther King's famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial which in essence was simply that: a link from the Founding assertions to the future:

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

Well, that has special meaning for me because he was talking about my footprints--I was in that crowd on the Mall .  We were 400,000 strong that hot August day.  This year they were a million (including Mike and Alice) from all over the country and the world.

Amy Davidson moves smoothly from the Inaugural Address to the only piece I've read all the way through on the First Lady's Inaugural Ball dress, and her sense of style.  Cool.

The Daily Noodle

The Speech.  I've seen the Inaugural Address, listened to the frequently played excerpts, listened to and read commentary--most of which doesn't seem to be about the speech I saw and heard.  I mean from anybody.

I definitely heard the vocal timbre, the cadences and delivery of Obama's most famous speeches--his 2004 Dem convention speech and his "Yes We Can" speech after the New Hampshire primary in 2008.  There were clear echoes of both in the content.  So what is surprising people?  I even went back to a 2005 speech he gave at the commencement at Knox College in Galesburg, where I once roamed but did not commence.  It's more specific but along the same lines, and even some of the vocabulary and repeated phrases are similar:  "We chose to act, and we rose together."  Action, act, together--very prominent anchors in the Inaugural.  Actually I'll bet he's sorry if he forgot that specific 2005 phrase, it's got the kind of music to it you'd want to play again.

I'm sure he's sincere about leading on responding to climate change.  But the conventional wisdom that he's going to approve the Keystone pipeline is depressing. 

The South is Rising Again.  Here's the perfect example: on Inauguration Day, the Virginia senate took advantage of the absence of one of the Dems--a Civil Rights era hero who attended the Inaugural--for a blitzkrieg passage of a redistricting plan nobody had seen before, that gerrymandered the state further so the Dems would be in a perpetual minority.  Then they adjourned--not in honor of the Inaugural, nor in honor of Martin Luther King Day, but in honor of the birthday of the Confederate general Stonewall Jackson.

This is where it's going: the GOP is becoming a white supremacist party located ideologically as well as mostly geographically in the Confederacy.  They're busy trying to turn their deep South sections of PA, Ohio etc. into rural fiefdoms that will not only take control of the states but of the nation for the white supremacist minority.  And if you try to get in their way, well, what do you really think all those guns are for?  The federal government they see as the enemy is the one that enforces Civil Rights, voting rights and related laws.  They're openly talking nullification even more than secession. The Party of No, the rigidly ideological party that had worked hard to make political positions out of recognizing or not recognizing facts, it's all just media prep: it's the war between the states of reality.

Roe. On the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Rachel's latest report on abortion in America focused on the primary fact that has almost always gotten lost in the debate: before abortion was legal, death by botched illegal abortion was a leading cause of death for American women of childbearing age.  Today, legal abortion is safer than childbirth, and isn't even in the top 100 causes of death in that age bracket.  Illegal abortion was a public health nightmare, and we don't need to reacquire one.  We're going to have enough public health problems in the climate crisis future, even if we don't yet recognize the ones we have in the present.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared."

President Barack Obama  2nd Inaugural Address   January 21, 2013

Inauguration 2013

Two stellar warm-up acts for Beyonce at the Inaugural Monday, seemingly working off the same American page: President Obama's Inaugural Address, and a poem for the occasion by Richard Blanco.  That scene is the photo below.  Above: the first of several dances at several Inaugural balls.  If you can call them dances--they were makeout sessions, just what the nuns warned us about. Click on the photos to get their width. By the way, as I predicticated, crowd estimates were misunderestimated.  At least a million happy citizens were there.