"Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre." ~ Joe Klein
"You must be the change you want to see in the world."
~ Mahatma Gandhi
"Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that
you, too, can become great."
~ Mark Twain
Thanks to politifact.com for supplying their Truth-O-Meter and Obama promise research.
Occasionally I re-read and ponder Lakoff's impressive little book Don't Think of an Elephant, which helps progressives understand
how to communicate their values effectively, and not always think or debate within misleading frameworks created by conservatives.
For example, as a way of discussing taxes (which few love but which have their uses) he suggests reminding people that taxes
are a way of paying our dues: "Our parents invested in the future, ours as well as theirs, through their taxes. They invested
their tax money in the interstate highway system, the internet, the scientific and medical establishments, our communications
system, our airline system, the space program. They invested in the future, and we are reaping the tax benefits, the benefits
from the taxes they paid. Today we have assets -- highways, schools and colleges, the internet, airlines -- that come from
the wise investments they made." There are lots of other books with more details about the missteps of the Bush Administration
and the unfinished work of the Obama Administration, but Lakoff is unusually good at suggesting ways forward, out of our mess,
including development of positive progressive messages. Upchange.com will suggest various projects through which we can help
(such as voter registration), as future elections approach. Let's get ready. This book is short (124 pages), insightful and
encouraging. If you live in the U.S. and care about your future, check out Don't Think Of An Elephant!/How Democrats And
Progressives Can Win -- Book and DVD package.
My guess is that the health care reform legislation passed by the U.S. Congress will be somewhat better than nothing, and
mostly worthwhile in developing a framework which will be improved over time, and whose flaws can later be dropped. As often
noted, in our country, we spend more per capita on health care, yet live less long than do people in the other industrialized
countries. Insurance companies stirred up the same kinds of irrational fears of government involvement that scuttled health
care reform when Bill Clinton was President. Remember, folks, Medicare is a fully government-administered program which is
rather popular, and its overhead costs are less than a tenth of those of private insurance companies; and anyone who can afford
it can still acquire or keep private insurance -- but now without being dropped because of "pre-existing conditions".
An especially worthwhile book on the subject of US health care and diverse worldwide approaches is The Healing of America:
A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, by T. R. Reid. In a June 9, 2009 Q&A interview on C-SPAN,
Reid discussed this subject movingly and with remarkable insight, and described his own worldwide quest for a cure for a health
problem -- check the c-span.org site to see that interview.
Thoughts about Iraq -- Unlike several Senate Democrats (and all Republicans), I'd not have supported the resolution
authorizing Bush to use force in Iraq, and through the years of the Clinton presidency I'd not have kept bombing Iraq while
refusing to talk with Iraq's negotiators. Several weeks before George Bush attacked Iraq, the Iraq government handed over
to the UN several volumes and CDs with documentation of how it had disposed of its weapons of mass destruction, and US leaders
scoffed and refused examine that evidence. Maybe it was bogus, but how could we know without going through it and trying to
verify or debunk it? Are US leaders illiterate or just too obsessed with trying to resolve problems through killing, and with
seeming tough, to control their impulses? Before the first Gulf War, Bush senior said he'd attack Iraq if they didn't agree
to negotiate before a stated deadline, and then when Iraq Foreign minister Tariq Aziz quickly said that he was ready and eager
to talk, Bush senior broke his word and refused talks, even though his deadline had not arrived. We need to negotiate with
those with whom we have problems. No US President has had enough sense or self-confidence to negotiate with Castro. When
the often wise Jimmy Carter was President, he foolishly fired Andrew Young as UN Ambassador after Young talked with Palestinian
representatives. Negotiation doesn't need to mean yielding or weakness. Through talks sometimes one can change minds, dispel
misconceptions, create unexpected wise solutions, or learn things. In many ways, in many regions, too many humans are too
immature to try anything but violence. My recommendation re Iraq now: encourage Iraq's neighbors and internal factions and
the UN to continue to develop security arrangements for the whole region; get the US military out; and lead governments worldwide
in fostering peaceful solutions -- see this web site's Agenda page for my further suggestions.)
Worth seeing: a movie which is occasionally on TV nowadays, or which can probably be rented: The Girl in the Cafe (2005)
- in which a timid bureaucrat stumbles into a relationship with a wise young woman, who dares suggest, during social gatherings
at an economic summit to which he invites her, that leaders do more to help the poor, the sick, the starving, the dying. Her
idealistic words shock, shame and ultimately inspire the recklessly formal leaders to act with big-heartedness instead of
easy, habitual, token gestures. A fine exploration of daring to act with love, and of being awake when others around you are
practically asleep. The film ends with these words, by Nelson Mandela, printed on the screen: "Sometimes it falls upon a generation
to be great. You can be that generation."
See this website's agenda page for some suggestions re government. When you realize the importance of switching to Democratic
leadership in the House of Representatives, help them win -- don't be a mere spectator. Don't say the Democrats propose nothing,
until you have studied what they do propose (see links on this page, and the Democratic Platform which follows my own proposals
on the agenda page). And encourage others to keep informed and register to vote. Under these circumstances, to refrain from
voting, or to vote for one of the minor parties, or even to vote for Democrats while shirking further efforts to help them,
is an evasion of responsibility. Government is just one of several significant aspects of life, but when the people devote
insufficient attention to it, the result tends to be incompetence or chaos.
"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." - Plato.
"It is NOT a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society."
-- J. Krishnamurti
A still-relevant discussion of US policies and politics, and how counterproductive military spending can cripple our ability
to meet essential needs, can be found in J. William Fulbright's The Price of Empire -- first published in 1989. During the Vietnam War, Fulbright was Chairmain of
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and in early 1967 he released his excellent The Arrogance of Power, which described our country's tendency to believe in its own goodness and wisdom a
little too much, leading many of us to feel superior to distant people about whom we know almost nothing -- people from whom
we could actually learn a thing or two. These books are relevant today, and should be found in good libraries. On the My
Path page of Upchange there's some description of Fulbright's influence in my early years (my mother was once his
Here are some quotations, from various wise people, which may help you think through our current situation:
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger
and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
-- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough
for those who have too little."
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt
"They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
-- Benjamin Franklin
"The Bush-Cheney administration is a rarity in American history - it is simultaneously dishonest and incompetent....
President Bush has stolen the symbolism and body language of religion and used it to disguise the most radical effort in American
history to take what rightfully belongs to the American people, and give as much of it as possible to the already wealthy
-- Al Gore, Oct 18, 2004
"In the year 2000 the country failed abysmally in the presidential election process.... There's no doubt in my mind that Al
Gore was elected president."
-- Jimmy Carter, Sept 22, 2005
"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."
~ James Madison
"The only thing certain about a war is that nothing is certain about a war."
-- Winston Churchill
"It's awfully easy to get into war, it's awfully tough to get out."
-- Lyndon B Johnson
"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the
name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"
"Of course the people don't want war... Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor
in America, nor for that matter in Germany... that is understood... But voice or no voice, the people can always be brought
to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists
for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
-- Hermann Goering to Gustave Gilbert, author of "Nuremberg Diary"
"Together, we can save a life."
-- motto of The American Red Cross
When you communicate with members of Congress, urge them to drop the deep Bush tax cuts for the wealthy (those making more
than $250,000 per year). Given recent, current and coming emergencies, it makes little sense to bloat the bank accounts of
the rich, plunging our nation into deeper debt and inability to fund projects which will keep our people healthy and safe.
Contact your State's Democratic Headquarters
for info or to volunteer or contribute:
I tested the above links, and had to adjust a few.
Some may change again, so please tell me if any fail.
U.S. leaders watching live video of the mission that got bin Laden
"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."
~ Winston Churchill
"Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way... you become just by performing just actions, temperate
by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions."
"Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding."
~ Albert Einstein
"I believe this would be a good time for a beer."
~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on signing the 21st amendment
Some of the thougts of 2004 Democratic Presidential candidate, John Kerry:
"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" -- Statement on Vietnam before the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, April 22, 1971
"I saw courage both in the Vietnam War and in the struggle to stop it. I learned that patriotism includes protest, not just
"I'm glad the President finally found an economic development program. I'm just sad that it's only in Baghdad."
"I will never conduct a war or start a war because we want to; the United States of America should only go to war because
we have to."
"I'm going to make available to every American the same health care plan that Senators and Congressmen give themselves."
"This president has created an economy that feeds the special interests, the powerful and the corporate power, and he has
not helped the average American worker advance their cause. I will."
"We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance."
"We need a commander in chief and a vice president who puts the interests of our troops and our taxpayers ahead of their big
"We need a new approach to national security - a bold, progressive internationalism that stands in stark contrast to the too
often belligerent and myopic unilateralism of the Bush Administration."
"We do not need to divide America over who served and how. I have personally always believed that many served in many different
ways. Someone who was deeply against the war in 1969 or 1970 may well have served their country with equal passion and patriotism
by opposing the war as by fighting in it."
"What I've always said is - and I defended Bill Clinton's position, and I would defend the president's choice with respect
to going into the Guard. I've never made any judgments about any choice somebody made about avoiding the draft, about going
to Canada, going to jail, being a conscientious objector, going into the National Guard."
"We were sent to Vietnam to kill Communism. But we found instead that we were killing women and children."
See whitehouse.gov for information on Obama's latest activities, proposals and thoughts.
Thanks, my country, for electing a more reasonable President, bringing renewed hope to the world. Life remain unsettled in
some ways (probably always true, in various ways and degrees), yet we're still here, most of us, and there are still possibilities
for progress. Upchange.com enthusiastically endorsed Barack Obama in the general election (after siding with Hillary Clinton
in the Democratic primaries, after Kucinich and Richardson dropped their campaigns). Barack is marvelous in several ways,
but like all of us he's limited and imperfect, and cannot accomplish every good deed by himself, so let's do our parts to
renovate our lives, our communities. Let's recognize and act on our own responsibilites to learn and serve".
Below is the full text of Barack Obama's speech in Chicago, election night, November 4, 2008, after winning the Presidential
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders
if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people
who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be
different, that their voices could be that difference.
It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native
American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just
a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.
We are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what
we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment
change has come to America.
A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain. Senator McCain fought
long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices
for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless
I congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to
renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew
up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States,
And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years the rock
of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady Michelle Obama.
Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to
the new White House.
And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss
them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've
given me. I am grateful to them.
And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the best political
campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.
To my chief strategist David Axelrod who's been a partner with me every step of the way.
To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for
what you've sacrificed to get it done.
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.
Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of
Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.
There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage
or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for their child's college education.
There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America,
I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.
I promise you, we as a people will get there.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president.
And we know the government can't solve every problem.
But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.
And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221
years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.
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.
Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while
Main Street suffers.
In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship
and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.
Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House,
a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.
Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure
of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.
As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained,
it must not break our bonds of affection.
And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices.
I need your help. And I will be your president, too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around
radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American
leadership is at hand.
To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support
you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true
strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our
ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.
That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives
us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's
about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice
heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone
like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle
and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and
reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New
Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness
and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who
told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.
And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America,
through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.
Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves
-- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper,
what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.
This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and
promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one;
that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will
respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.
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