mm373: Repairing the world? Start at home!

May 8, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Three days after first published, this column by Thomas Friedman is still among the NYTimes’ most emailed stories. I’ve had it on my shelf since then, thought its time might have passed, but the fact that it’s still in such strong circulation made it the perfect candidate for yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s post no. 400 at this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©.

In all the noise of an endless political season, Friedman discerns a message that obviously resonates with his audience.

nytimes

Who Will Tell the People?

Op-Ed Columnist | By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN | Published: May 4, 2008

Traveling the country these past five months while writing a book, I’ve had my own opportunity to take the pulse, far from the campaign crowds. My own totally unscientific polling has left me feeling that if there is one overwhelming hunger in our country today it’s this: People want to do nation-building. They really do. But they want to do nation-building in America.

They are not only tired of nation-building in Iraq and in Afghanistan, with so little to show for it. They sense something deeper — that we’re just not that strong anymore. We’re borrowing money to shore up our banks from city-states called Dubai and Singapore. Our generals regularly tell us that Iran is subverting our efforts in Iraq, but they do nothing about it because we have no leverage — as long as our forces are pinned down in Baghdad and our economy is pinned to Middle East oil.

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mm365: Wright: "Dangerous nonsense"

April 30, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Is anyone listening, really listening hard, to what the eccentric Rev. Jeremiah Wright has been saying?

I admit to superficially following the headlines on this one. He’s made some outrageous claims from the pulpit, regarding the origins of AIDS and 9/11, and his one-time parishioner, Barack Obama, has been attempting to distance himself from the outrage for the past several months.

But Wright outdid himself Sunday speaking to the NAACP in Detroit, referencing an entire generation of soft-headed academic studies that purport to explain away African Americans’ failures to succeed educationally.

cityjournal-new

Poisonous “Authenticity”

Jeremiah Wright draws on a long line of Afrocentric charlatans.

Heather Mac Donald | 29 April 2008

The list of Afrocentric “educators” whom Reverend Jeremiah Wright has invoked in his media escapades since this Sunday is a disturbing reminder that academia’s follies can enter the public world in harmful ways. Now the pressing question is whether they have entered presidential candidate Barack Obama’s worldview as well.

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mm358: Federalists. Whigs. Democrats?

April 24, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

A funny thing happened on the way to Barack Obama’s coronation as the Democratic presidential candidate.

That’s if you consider Hillary Clinton funny.

She just keeps winning large elections in important states, the latest, Pennsylvania, the other day. It’s Hillaryus, to borrow an oft-coined a phrase.

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mm331: Obama at Cooper Union: Lincoln for our times?

March 28, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

He could have spoken anywhere; that’s what the communications age is all about. Perhaps he should have spoken in Pennsylvania; after all, its April 22nd primary represents the next towering challenge to his candidacy.

But, he spoke in New York City, because that’s where beats the economic heart of the country (and not too long ago, the planet). And his speech was about our economic distress, the Wall Street half of the equation, where “pain trickled up.”

An interesting site, new to Left-Handed Complement, “The Reality-Based Community” has been added to our blogroll with alacrity. There, yr (justifiably) humble svt found some incisive analysis, and, usefully, a transcript of this powerful statement.

reality-basedcommunity

Obama on the economy

March 27, 2008 | Posted by Mark Kleiman

Public images, once established, are hard to change, and it isn’t going to be easy for Barack Obama to escape the “pretty words, no substance” label that his opponents and some journalists have tried to pin on him. But if anything could do it, today’s Cooper Union speech ought to.

Those familiar mainly with the Obama of the stump speeches, the election-night speeches, and the Ebeneezer Baptist Church address on MLK Day — the Obama of the “Yes We Can” music video — will find the Cooper Union lecture a significant change of pace. No soaring images, not much poetry, few applause lines, lots of analysis and substantive proposals, only one Obama-esque turn of phrase in describing the current crisis in mortgage-backed paper:

“What was bad for Main Street was bad for Wall Street. Pain trickled up.”

The speech itself: workmanlike, serious, substantive.

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mm330: They’re ganging up on her!

March 27, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Can’t help it! It’s like a tennis match, this run-up to the Democratic convention.

Ooh, she hit a good one!

Swack! He got her good on that one!

Etc.

And, the happiest tennis fan in the stadium is John McCain, who sees the Democrats doing the heavy lifting for he and the until recently hapless Republican party. They’ve gotta be figuring that Clinton and Obama are dealing each other unrecoverable blows; they’ll be too exhausted to put up a defense against him come the general election, and McCain and the Republicans must be taking notes on what stroke aimed where is the most effective.

End of the tennis allusion; never my game, actually. (I was left-handed before left-handed tennis was glamorous.) But, you see its appropriateness.

He’s winning; she and her staff are working at fever pitch to stop him. Kind of ugly out there.

And the professional commentariat notices (as, of course, do we modestly talented amateurs):

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mm324: Obama speech on race: a statesman and patriot

March 21, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

It wasn’t just this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© and the NYTimes editorial board who were impressed with Tuesday’s Philadelphia declaration.

alternet12

alternet22

Obama Offers a Progressive Vision of Patriotism

By Drew Westen, Huffington Post. Posted March 21, 2008.

Obama’s brilliant discussion of race, class and patriotism shows substance unlike any politician in recent history.

I watched Barack Obama’s speech Tuesday morning intently. The “pre-game show” of cable commentators predicted a somewhat grim outcome. What could Obama say that could possibly overcome his association with the words of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright? Would he throw his pastor on the train tracks? And even if he did, would he still suffer from guilt by association?

But then, for 45 minutes, I saw a man who for days had appeared somewhat at sea, buffeted by waves that relentlessly pushed him off course, seem to find his compass and chart a course directly into the eye of the storm. I saw a man with the inner confidence, and the steadiness of a captain who knew he was sailing on uncharted waters but needed to go there anyway, take the nation with him and land them safely on the shore.

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mm321: Barack Obama tackles race in the U.S. head on

March 18, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

A defining moment in history? Please judge for yourself.

I had a difficult, tiring, news-free day today. Dragged myself home. Dealt with a clogged toilet. Ugh.

Thought I would “phone it in” as far as the blog was concerned.

Then, I encountered today’s speech, Barack Obama’s response to his pastor’s inflammatory sermons that have raised such a hullabaloo of late. Doesn’t seem to matter that McCain’s endorsements from Evangelical wingnuts are glossed over without comment.

The NYTimes was impressed, as you’ll see.

But, please click the “continue reading” link; I’ve posted the speech in full (YouTube version, thus in 4 parts).

Dare to invest the time, as I did. It will repay your 38 minutes.

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mm296: Symmetrical political writing: Raising hackles right and left.

February 25, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

You’ll recall the uproar NYTimes precipitated last week with their hazy “revelation” of a purported John McCain affair. We even deigned to notice it here in this  nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©.

That was the outrage-inducing lead of what actually was a reasonably good rehash of the good senator’s lobbyist affinity over the years. He apparently never met one he couldn’t do business with.

But sex sells even for the Gray Lady of Times Square, and that’s what McCain supporters zeroed in on, along with the rest of us.  The ferociously detailed dotted ‘i’s and crossed ‘t’s of McCain’s lobbyist dealings over the past 20 years thus easily became the 95% of the Times story that not enough people read.

Word was that the story has caused the Republican party’s loony wing to bury their concerns with McCain, in the immortal spirit of “the enemy of my enemy must be my friend.”

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mm291: White (haired) man speak with forked tongue

February 20, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Late start tonight; busy day led to a busy evening.

Did get time to step outside into the crystal clear 13°F night to gander at the lunar eclipse.

Very cool. Cold, actually, but fun to see.

Puts our everyday concerns into perspective, when you get that all too rare chance to slow down, pause and look up to see the cosmos working in its own time and rhythm.

To business.

As part of the NYTimes series of extended coverage of the presidential candidates, they’ve just published the following:

nytimes

For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk

By JIM RUTENBERG, MARILYN W. THOMPSON, DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and STEPHEN LABATON | Published: February 21, 2008

WASHINGTON — Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.

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mm284: A vote against Hillary is NOT a vote against women in high office

February 13, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

I’m a curmudgeon, but not a dope.

I believe in strong competent leaders. And I have absolutely no trouble with the concept that a strong competent leader is a woman.

The women in my life are strong, competent people. My wife, my daughter, my mother and mother-in-law: not one is a weakling or a coward.

For most of the past decade, by most measures by far the most remunerative in my 40+ years in the workforce [bar inflation, a subject of a future post], my supervisors, managers, directors and even one vice president / corporate officer, are all women. Strong, competent leaders, each of them.

Not all of them easy to work with or for, but that’s equally true of all of the men I have worked for all of these years.

Have I established gender neutrality credentials? Feminist (if a guy of a certain age is permitted to so classify himself) credentials? I hope so, because it’s how I lead my life.

Thus, I have absolutely no trouble with the concept of a woman ascending to the office of President of the United States of America. Long overdue.

But.

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