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"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

...............................................................Thomas Jefferson

Monday, June 30, 2008

Breaking: Obama in Fargo Thursday

Meet the Press noted Obama is slated to appear in North Dakota Thursday, then 4th of July in Montana. New — Obama will appear in Fargo. Details pending. Brace yerself, Chuck Todd, we may have a surprise in store for you come November.
UPDATE: Obama's appearance reported as an invitation-only gathering with military and families at Yunker Children's Farm, near the airport mid-day. Will Obama's 50-state strategy mean more than 50 minutes on the ground in ND for this visit?

Clark Tells Truth

Retired General Wesley Clark spoke truth Sunday on Face the Nation, but the Vapid Vapors Media are in full handwringing mode, doubtless much to the delight of the McCain campaign. Their minions in the media are performing right on cue.

Well, here's my word on Wesley. You go, General. Keep on a-talkin'. No, being shot down and held as a prisoner of war does not qualify one to be president.

Arguably years of service in the Senate on military-related committees would be a notch of qualification, but let's face facts. The McCain campaign isn't talkin' about that, isn't tear-jerkin' about that in their teevee advertising. [Sorry, Bob Shieffer, Andrea Mitchell, Jake Tapper, Rick Sanchez...I know, facts are such troubling things when you've got a good spin cycle going.]

They're showing McCain, the p.o.w.

And that seems to be pretty much the sum total of what they're sellin'.

Nobody dishonors McCain's service except those who are exploiting it now to try to insure the Third Term of Bush. That's dishonor.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Kiss My Arse

Sources say that Bill Clinton stays bitter about Obama, telling close confidantes that Obama will have to "kiss my ass" to get Bill Clinton's support.

Well, Bill, as one of millions of Americans who stood by you while you made a jerk of yourself over a cheap thrill in the Oval Office. One who joined in urging the country to MoveOn. One who voted for you twice... Kiss my ass.

Your shoddy race-card tactics may have served you well getting elected in Arkansas or in the Old South in the 20th Century. But the country's grown past you. You are an ex-president.

Your petulance is unbecoming.

Especially because it's patently obvious this has a lot less to do with whether or not Hillary won the nomination, and a whole lot more to do with the reality that you are not the top dog any more.

So you can sit on the sidelines in your own poo, petulant and pouting, or you can suck it up and act presidential. Post-presidential.

Because whether or not Obama wins in November—and I'll be working with millions of other Americans to try to assure that he does—the Clinton Era is over.

And good riddance.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Too-of-a-kind Coincidental


Ever notice how sometimes things happen like a duet and it just doesn’t seem possible that it’s a coincidence? I had one of those experiences today, see what you think.

Driving to the tall timber this morning, once the Fargo stations faded away, we switched to the Park Rapids radio station―notable because its owner makes the astronaut radio station owner in Northern Exposure seem like a leftwing hippie.

So owner Ed Delahunt is in control of the microphone for his daily coffeetime call-in show which virtually never gets any calls. And with the patented reichwing tactic of prefacing his reading with “I don’t know this to be true, I don’t know if I believe this, but….” Delahunt launches into reading selected quotes from Michelle Obama’s Princeton paper and right-from-the-Rove- playbook-style editorial comments attacking Michelle Obama.

The whole litany read to me like the booga-booga scare tactic of Michelle Obama in the White House is gonna get you, white woodtick northern neighbors of mine.

Guess Ed decided not to heed the “lay off my wife” memo.

Now Ed’s not exactly known for his intellectual curiosity around these parts, and word around here is Clear Channel has a hand in his operation these days, so my red-flag radar went off. Just where did Ed get this stuff? The McCain campaign? A surrogate McCain group?


And then this evening, since it was still dripping from the thunderstorm outside, we were watching Countdown, and Keith Olbermann’s top story #3 was all about Grover Norquist and his “John Kerry with a tan” comment to the L.A. Times. Keith and his guest talked about whether Norquist was the designated hitter to launch the race card―was this a “trial balloon”?

Forget race card. I think today signaled the McCain campaign and the Usual Republican Suspects have decided to drop the whole damned deck. Little fluttery race cards spilling out all over the country, in environments large―like Los Angeles. And small―like Park Rapids, Minnesota.

So what’s the candidate who pledges to run a campaign of honor because he’s a man of integrity have to say about the conduct of his surrogates?

And did the Rethuglicans decide to shift their attack against Michelle Obama to the same kind of under-the-radar tactics used against McCain in South Carolina about his adopted daughter?

Like I say, it could all be coincidence, happening on this same day. Yep. Coincidence. That’s what it must be. Or not.


Something's Gotta Give

Michael Kinsley issues an invitation this morning on Huffington Post, with a link to his new website conversation about Creative Capitalism. Taking the structural selfishness of capitalism and turning it to a greater good.

Bill Gates is about to do that full time. With the same zeal he put into becoming arguably the world's most important capitalist ever, he's about to step full time from businessman to philanthropist.

We worry about the cost of gas at the pump and what's happened to the 401K with yesterday's 350 point drop in the market. Oil is up over $140 a barrel. We're killing people in Iraq for Bush and his cronies' oil profits. Sorry sorry times indeed.

We wring our hands. What can we do. Our leaders blow us off as advocates while they "lead."

We can vote. In November. But for now, let's get to work. Or for starters, get to know the problems, so we can be part of the solution.

Yesterday, while making my carefully charted out route of errands [no backtracking!], mindful of my carbon footprint, I heard a report on Minnesota Public Radio about the state of nonprofits in rural counties and communities.

It's not good.

The high price of oil, the rising prices of everything that oil goes into—transporting food, anyone?—are not only reducing grants and personal contributions to charities and nonprofits, they're cutting down volunteer hours. Volunteers can't afford to drive the long distances in rural areas. They're going back to work, or working longer hours, just to pay their own price at the pump.

Looks like a rainy weekend coming up in Prairie Country, I'll be learning more about this Creative Capitalism business, because it seems to me there's a whole new mindset in this that could affect not only philanthropy, but also the way we all live on this planet together.

Because plainly, something's gotta give...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Meet the Pres

Wednesday's press conference with Barack Obama was a perfect example of a campaign team at the top of its game.

Consider if you will, a president who gives thoughtful, reasoned answers to difficult questions.
.....Barbeque sauce, sir, hot and tangy or original recipe?

Or a president who does not hide behind a press secretary whose sole function is to obfuscate and obliterate those oh-so-nuisance questions and answers while he Deciderates with his gut and the chip on his shoulder.
.....Iraq or Iran, sir, one bomb-bomb-bom...or two?

Yes, just imagine.

Which I imagine those people who saw even a portion of Obama's meet with the press yesterday, an extended press conference [carried live on CNN...] on challenging issues, not always giving the answers I would have hoped for, but yet.... responding in detail to reporters' questions on wide-ranging topics from the economy to urban crime thru the lens of cities like Chicago to the war. Thoughtful answers, reasoned, and with a comfort factor that the country will be in good hands led by Obama.

I can see this guy as the Pres.

Expect to see a regular series of these news conferences in upcoming months, because that's really what Wednesday's press event was all about.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Dodd's Speech"

Remember when Senators stood up on principle and said "enough"?

Nope, me neither, unless I happen to stumble across an ol' uncolorized Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Well, brace yerself and take a look at this. Because Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd has taken the floor to remind his colleagues and all of us what Democracy is supposed to look like.

Christy has commentary at Firedoglake, you'll find links there to other bloggers as well. Because reporting on the vote on FISA and telco immunity—for actions to peek into every American's privacy that began before 9/11 and have continued for years...without warrants and in defiance of the Constitution— is too important to trust to the Very Self-Important Media and its all infauxtainment alla time.

Big Oiiillll. Big Bad Oil.

Derrick Jackson in The Boston Globe on Big Oil. A reality check.

No, Virginia, it wasn't about showcasing the establishment of Democracy in the Middle East.

And it wasn't about fighting the terr'rists.

Long before there was a 9/11, there was a mission...and a malleable, messianic megalomanic Deciderer who could be easily manipulated.

And it was about the Cheney Energy Task Force...and Halliburton profits...and getting back those nationalized Iraqi oil contracts.

Just remember, next time you gas up the Big Guzzler. Next time you buy anything in plastic. Next time you watch the nightly news...oh, wait, guess not... Corporate infotainment media doesn't like to talk about the war no more 'cause it's, you know, messy.

How's that little Spears baby comin' along?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Atrios said...I went...he's right. What digby said on Sell-out Steny.

Politics of Purity

Just when you thought the machinations of the healthcare industry couldn't be more frustrating, along comes Elizabeth Edwards at Thinkprogress to point us to another layer of sunshine on the number-crunching that makes already-stress-full circumstances—living with chronic disease—even more of a challenge. For women.

Please, follow the link and learn more, I'll wait til you get back...
Health insurance actuaries actually sit down and push the beans around and decide that those of us who are estrogenally blessed should pay more for the privilege. Kinda fits that whole ying-yang of insurance companies paying for Viagra, but not birth control.

Edwards rightly takes McCain's health care plan to the woodshed for simply reinforcing more of the same ol' same ol'...with different labels.

So I gotta ask, why haven't you endorsed Obama yet, Elizabeth?

You say his plan isn't what you want? Not good enough? Doesn't go far enough?

As wife-of-a-cancer survivor to cancer survivor, though, Elizabeth, I gotta say, past is prologue. And it may be nasty to mention, but we've seen how McCain and fellow Republicans like the re-emergent Newt Gingrich treat women suffering major healthcare crises.

These guys are the real cancer, for all of us.

I hope you'll endorse Obama soon. His plan may not be perfect. He may need nurturing and encouraging people around him (like the medical teams our families have entrusted loved ones to). But like that first day out of bed after surgery, ya gotta take the first step.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Contemplating Mortality

We learned this morning of the too-swift passing of comic George Carlin, soon after the abrupt death of Tim Russert. Unexpected, both, though likely predictable, given their health histories.

Deaths happen abruptly every day. And all you who stop by here from time to time readily recognize those names. If not, go google...

Because right now, I'm contemplating mortality in a much more personal way. Friday evening I got one of "those" calls...a dear cousin, now half a continent away, had died from a massive stroke.

We're too young, we baby boomers think. Such does not happen to us. And yet it does...

Before she was a mom and a wife and a grandmom and a watercolorist and all the other things that formed her adult years, Mary Jo was Aunt Irene's little girl, the only girl with four brothers, Sandy's year-younger cousin—our birthdays only hours apart from being the same date. We shared growing-up years in the way cousins do, family gatherings and holidays, but also walking together to the old Fairgrounds, and sitting on her mom's bed to giggle over who was the cuter Beatle, Paul or George. I still say George.

At 59, she was far too young to go.

There are a lot of families who think those thoughts. The statistical 850 a day who die abruptly from heart attacks. The victims of car accidents or urban violence or the violence we have allowed to be inflicted in Iraq based on lies. The flag-draped coffins coming home under cover of darkness—too young to go.

Some say be patient, just wait, there's change coming, as Frank Rich posited about the future, whoever gets elected, this morning on the Imus Show. But there is also the fierce urgency of now.

There are things that can be done now. There are things that must be done in the future. FISA's immunity for telcos must be stopped now. Democracy where people are valued for more than the money in their wallets must be renewed, and I'm one that doesn't think that can happen without truth and full accounting and accountability for these years.

Our legacy, Mary Jo's and mine, was grandparents who immigrated from Germany long enough ago that we qualify as a Dakota Territory pioneer family, my dad fought in WW II as a Marine. The legacy I crave for my grandson, for her grandchildren, is one of honor and wisdom and the restoration of the promise that drew our ancestors to this land.

Mary Jo Yales...cherished and missed by those who knew and love her still. JoY at her heart, and so I will remember her.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Kabuki? Or Real Change?

Unity is the mantra of the Barack Obama campaign.

But the upcoming Senate debate on FISA/telecom immunity [just passed by the House] is the first real test of Barack Obama's unity leadership. He says he'll work to strip telecom immunity from the bill. For the man who would be our next president, more is expected than "work."

A two-step process.

Immunity for the telecoms cannot be part of the bill that goes to the Deciderer. First, it must be stripped from the Senate version. And it cannot, must not, be restored in conference.

Leadership matters. Accountability matters. We look forward to more of both. And that's no small change.

Friday, June 20, 2008

independently yours....

Sell-Out Steny, Cave-in Congress and the lobbyist culture have united in quisling lockstep to give Contemptible George all that he wanted and then some on the FISA/telco immunity vote in the House.

Stomping on civil liberties and the Constitution to CYA Chee-knee and his cronies.

Heckuva job, Nancy Pelosi. Heckuva job, Collin Peterson. Heckuva job, Earl Pomeroy.

All that's left now is to choose...choice is still a right, isn't it? Or did that slide away under cover of the obtusers, too?

Anyway, as I was saying, do I choose to leave the North Dakota Democratic Party, just quit? Do I choose to take up residence in Minnesota, make a move? That does hold some appeal...I could vote for Franken for Senate...and my wee cabin in the tall timber is in Oberstar's district, not Peterson's.

Change comes in all sorts of guises.

And I could still be a supporter for Obama. An independent supporter for Obama.

Or, an Independent....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Confidential to Cindy

Perhaps a step back would be in order for you, Cindy, and the rest of the rightwing smear machine, of which you have now made yourself deliberately, repetitively, a part.

"Let she who is without sin cast the first stone."

Wise philosophy...wise political strategy, too. Just sayin'.

Fatherhood: Teachable Moments and Uncomfortable Truths, Part III—Letting Go

We began this week's conversation on Fatherhood with Tiger Woods' example of role-modeling by his own actions the best of what a child can emulate and strive for...in the crucible of championship golf, a phenomenal victory despite injury and pain, and, in the media, the picture of a father's loving embrace of his little girl.

But Fatherhood isn't just about being a figurehead, as Barack Obama reminded us in his Sunday speech, calling on absent fathers to be present and responsible in their children's lives. A poignant reminder that he knows whereof he speaks...growing up without the presence of his father in his life, his own bond with his daughters is obviously loving and grounded in appreciation for his responsibility as well as joy of being a father.

The hardest part of the fatherhood bond comes with the time for letting go. And this week, we have been witness to that in myriad ways, large and small, as the two families of Tim Russert, the uberfather, had to do that in the full glare of the media.

His son, Luke, spoke repeatedly about his father in teevee appearance after teevee appearance. He did it with grace and far more patience than the hyperbolic media deserved. Small wonder that his dad preferred to spent time tailgating in Boston with his son than mixing with the movers'n'shakers of the Village's Very Important People.

But let's not kid anyone, Russert was, himself, one of the VIPs. And there are hints of the uberfather, the helicopter parent, in his relationship with his colleagues in the media that extended beyond NBC/MSNBC. The ebullient man, the larger-than-life superstar was the funnel through which all conventional wisdom in Washington must flow. What Ben Bradlee was in the days of Watergate, Russert and Meet the Press had become.

The time will come when that authoritarian power will be analyzed as history rather than hagiography. And how wisely or well that power was wielded or directed. Because just as there were two families mourning a deep loss this week, there were two venues of fatherhood, the family patriarch in charge.

We live in a world of father figures, patriarchies, "Our Father"s, dictatorships, Deciderer's—"Daddy knows best." But the real challenge of Fatherhood—the imprecation we are reminded of in "raise up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it..."—has an irreplaceable codicil. Prepare the child to carry on as an adult without the crutch of your presence. To stand on his own two feet.

Having seen clips of Luke Russert's grace immersed in his obvious grief, we have no doubt that his father's daily reminder "you are loved...you are loved, but not entitled..." will sustain him through some tough times ahead.

For Tim Russert's coterie at the Washington Bureau of Meet the Press and in the larger Village where he reigned, I hope for different sustaining words.

We do not know the whys or wherefores yet that informed and conformed Russert's philosophy as bureau chief of the news division of a humonguous global corporation. [Who would really argue that Russert was no less than the bureau chief of the whole place, not just Washington.] Perhaps Maureen Orth, a noted journalist at Vanity Fair, when the time is right for her, will tell us with the same unvarnished candor she brings to her other writings. My Tim is a book I would read.

But in the meantime, there are those sustaining words. Words that only speculation now judges whether Russert himself lived up to, in the crucible and coziness that is the nation's capital. Words that his colleagues now must carry on as they move forward. Words that are both tribute and sorrow.

Words that stand, for the soldiers who come home under cover of darkness, in flag-draped boxes. Or struggle to put back together a life while grievously maimed or mentally scarred, perhaps beyond repair.

Words that stand, for the families who are losing their homes, their jobs, their resources...to disaster, to corruption, to incompetence, to a government philosophy that does not work.

Words that stand, for the families who are bankrupted by medical costs, denied treatments, or without hope because the science was stymied these long years.

For the media "children" as well as the son of the father, this has been a week of memorialization, now slipping into memory. A time of reflection and letting go.

The time for all of us—but especially the media who are charged with the First responsibility to be a free press, watchdogging our liberty, not just parroting the words of the patriarchies like dutiful children—to put away childish things.

The time is coming for all of us when we must show the responsibilities of adults, not children or reactive adolescents. For each of us, to be not just a "go-to" guy, but an examiner, a thinker and a questioner. For history will come soon enough, the future is tomorrow's problem.

In the meantime, Today, "Go get 'em, guys."

The Internet is chock-full of remembrances and memorializing and pontificating about Tim Russert. This is one commentary that caught my eye: Eugene Robinson on Russert

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Morning Notes

A couple of interesting things on the Imus Show this morning that deserve repeating.

Sunday evenings on WABC Radio, Richard Cohen (married to Meredith Vieira) hosts a radio conversation building on his chronicle of people living with chronic diseases, Strong at the Broken Places. We're seeking further information regarding schedule and availability, will keep you posted. [We have confirmed that the show airs from 6-7 p.m. Sunday evenings on WABC am 770 in NYC, and it will be streamed online.]

Cohen's personal story of living with multiple sclerosis was the basis of his earlier Blindsided and he is a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist. Constrained by serious illness, Cohen has chosen not to be contained, and this new venture at WABC Radio holds hope for giving voice to others who deserve their stories told and their concerns discussed.

Col. Jack Jacobs has retired from two different careers, the first, obvious, being military. The second on Wall Street, and he has the cred to talk candidly about both. Which he does, and in the doing, shows to those who will see the linkage between Big Oil's war in Iraq and the current state of our economy. He's equally blunt discussing wind farms off Cape Cod and Gitmo.

On Guantanamo and the management of the war. "...we gotta be able to show...either we show why we've got these guys in jail...or win the war. We decided to take the easy way out [my bold] and that's why they're in Guantanamo. If we'd done the right thing in the first place we wouldn't be in this problem.

"The guys who dreamed up that strategy had no more idea than the man in the moon and thankfully they're not in business anymore."

On the economy and the state of the stock market, Jacobs is equally unequivocal. "I'm surprised it's as high as it is" which he attributes to big institutional buyers. It's gonna get worse, predicts Jacobs. Wouldn't be surprised if it drops below 10,000...America's in a worse situation than a lot of the rest of the world because the dollar is so weak. [We'll be watching for a link for the entire interview and update.] UPDATE: Here's the conversation between Imus and Jacobs today.

We decided [over the protestations of too many ordinary Americans and not enough of the Very Important Americans] to take the easy way out. Sounds like the model for the entire BushCo way of governing.

I hope Barack Obama has reached out to Col. Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient, Vietnam veteran, successful investment banker in international residential development. This is the kind of counselor, informal or in a seat of government power, who would give him real straight talk, reality based, and demanding of standards. I have no idea what his politics are, but his credentials in economics and military issues are strong. Sure would give the McCainiacs pause if he were, oh, say, a veep or SecDef prospect. And he's the kind of action-oriented thinker who could clean up the Chee-knee culture in the Pentagon.

He strikes me as a man who'd relish the challenge...if he can be talked into taking the pay cut.

A viewing note: Kerith Foster mentioned to Imus that Michelle Obama will be a guest host today on "The View. " Not sure what the program and guests will be covering today, but one guest I'd like to see: Mary Joe Matalin. Imagine these two Chicago-style strong women as Ms. Matalin tries to b.s. her way through the Rethuglican spinpoints. Maybe they can discuss their roots among the "little people" as Matalin calls them. Telling it is that Obama celebrates her roots, Matalin...?

UPDATE: Here's Michelle Obama on The View via Huffington Post. I tried to link to the original source, honest I did, but The View's website is...well, visit for yourself, if you dare....

We'll update with links as they become available. Part 3 of our series on Fatherhood is in the works....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fatherhood: Teachable Moments and Uncomfortable Truths, Part 2–Accountability

Barack Obama chose the setting of the other African American Chicago mega-church to deliver his Father's Day conversation about dads and accountability. He had held his own spiritual father, the man who guided him to his faith, at long last accountable and walked away.

Some say he waited far too long. But letting go, as we see in many venues in the world as well as our own lives, can be a hard thing to do, no matter how difficult the circumstances.

Consider the many families where the dad, beset by alcoholism or chemical dependency, falls short of what he could be as a father and a man, and still the family rallies around him, organizing treatment, doing whatever they can to try to help him heal. We see it in the tabloids, but it's a too-harsh reality in too many families. Made worse by recession and joblessness and catastrophe and loss.

Did you know that Fedex Ground truckers are independent contractors and it's coming out of their pockets at the gas pump...not Bushie's, you know, base. Dads, working long hours, rigorous jobs, carryin' on their shoulders the burden so the corp executives don't have to trouble their beautiful minds worrying about their stock options.

Obama spoke of Accountability for fathers who abandon their children. "Any fool can make a baby." It takes a man, said he, to raise one.

And he spoke with authenticity, too. For he is a man raising two daughters in a strong family and marriage. A man who knows what it is to be abandoned by one's father, to lack the connection to half your life, half your heritage. A man who, on graduation day, could not look out across the audience and see a dad's beaming pride.

Obama speaks to all of us, not just the black community, although that is where the statistics say the greatest problems are. But if you are a child being raised without a dad, it doesn't matter the color of your skin.

Some say, well he's just a political opportunist havin' a Sister Souljah kinda moment. Sorry, that won't wash. It's the authenticity, man. And the reality that his life's work has resonated with the community activism which builds strong families.

Or, Bill Cosby was saying the same thing and he was castigated for his pains. Maybe it was the wrong voice. Maybe he lacked the street cred because of his own shortcomings about family, maybe the time was not yet ripe.

Surely, for problems so great, many voices, many hands, many hearts must draw together to make change happen. And if the best leader to achieve that change is a younger man, in the fullness of strengthening his own family while building strong community, rather than the older man, so be it.

Change won't come easy. Not on this problem, not on too many of the other problems this great nation faces. America is the abandoned child of a self-indulgent ideologic drunk-on-power father these days, a man who blithely ignores the havoc he has created in the American family fabric as he parties on. It will take the rest of us to nurture up the child and guide her to greatness despite the father.

With the guiding hand of a loving man who values and understands all the realities of this nation and says, we can do better.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fatherhood: Teachable Moments and Uncomfortable Truths, Part 1–Sportsmanship

We saw a trifecta of teachable moments provided by larger-than-life figures in their own fields this weekend. And the plan is to talk about each of them in coming days. I suspect you can readily name which public figures I'll be writing about, but just in case, they are: Tiger Woods, Barack Obama, and Tim Russert.

Or rather, since a gazillion words and videominutes have been devoted to Mr. Russert already in all quarters, the lesson of the Friends of Tim.

Sunday, Tiger Woods played familiar ground in the U.S. Open, but it was ground that had been altered. The course "toughened up" to challenge all the players, not just Woods. Tiger had been "toughened up" too—walking the course on a surgery-ed knee that some said was not yet ready for the rigors of a championship game.

Mr. Sunshine reminded me of a time when Tiger's father reminisced about the hours they played together when Tiger was a boy, how he'd drop things just as Tiger was about to swing or putt, or make noise. And when Tiger complained, he'd tell him that nobody else would be better prepared to play, when the time came, than Tiger.

That showed in Sunday afternoon's play, in the moments when sports announcers muttered darkly about why did he aim that way, what happened to that swing...and even the moment when Tiger's own temper was on full display as he smashed down a club.

And yet, he played on, red-shirt dogged with the drive of competition.

He was behind Rocco Mediate at the 18th Hole. Rocco already in the clubhouse watching on teevee.

And yet, the character of a true champion resonated with each swing as Tiger showed a living lesson in playing through pain, in striving for excellence, in never giving up, in being an athlete showing all who seek to emulate him what true sportsmanship is, in being a new father giving his own child a worthy role model on Father's Day.

And then he made that last putt, a birdie, to tie up the game, set up today's playoff. He knew it was going in and the exuberance, the celebration, was itself an act of beauty. Already a winner, always a champion.

UPDATE—and it's almost anticlimactic, isn't it: Tiger Woods wins the U.S. Open sudden death playoff on a birdie.


Until the next time, some thoughts worth your time:
On Barack Obama, by scarecrow at firedoglake.
On Tim Russert, by egregious.

And I'll have more to say, as well.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Father's Day brings both poignance and joy in memory and in the experiences of life. Treasure today the joys...and reach out and hug the dad in your life. Sometimes, he's gone faster than you can imagine.

The airwaves this weekend are chockfull of remembrances for a man among the best known dads of our times, whose ebullient love of his own father and his son inspired the writing of two books. Tim Russert is being remembered by his colleagues for his professional achievements and acclaim.

Not knowing him personally, I find the greatest honor in his fatherhood. Telling his son every day, you are loved. You are loved, but not entitled.

As a child, as a parent, I find great wisdom and parenting in those simple words.

Remembering this day, Clarence and Lyle.

Friday, June 13, 2008

RIP, Tim Russert

May heaven's road rise up to greet you...

and may your family and media family and colleagues all draw comfort in the knowledge that your last moments were alive doing the work you so demonstrably cared about deeply.

Stormy Weather


Spring’s being a tad harsh in Prairie Country these days, with thunderstorms and lightning lighting up the darkened skies, and tornadoes up to F3 force rampaging through the pines, leaving damage in their wake.

Even worse for the folks just south in Iowa, where a tornado wreaked death and destruction amid what should have been a time of comraderie and working for leadership goals by Scouts at the Little Sioux Scout Ranch. And Cedar Rapids where the downtown is now flooded, with water rising. Other portions of Iowa coping with such hazards as well.

Hardly seems fair for a state that had to endure long weeks, months even, of being flooded with politicians and pollsters and pundits and media [Ha! You thought I’d say press, didn’t you?] as the first state in the primary process.

Today’s news notes that the National Guard has been called out to help. This is where we think of our National Guard at its best…state by state, ready when duty calls. Serving their fellow citizens in times of disaster or emergency.

Too many of them have not been well served by the rest of us, or the governments they serve.

An op-ed piece in our local newspaper this week got me to thinking. Michael A. Ross calls to task Gutless Governors for abrogating their responsibilities to the National Guard and the citizens of their states.

We are quick to castigate the Congress for not tending to their responsibilities of oversight, of allowing this President to exercise dictatorial control over the country. But the governors, the states, have responsibilities, too. States rights? Or is that quaint like the Constitution? Some damned old piece of paper, as Bush called it?

Might be nice to see that quaint ol’ concept used for good, for restoration of yet another segment of rule of law, instead of its nasty ol’ incarnation pushing discrimination.

We need the right kind of change this campaign season, one candidate for President tells us, promising not to be the same as Bush…in front of a pre-screened, controlled-access town hall gathering.

He says it’s “not that important” when our troops come home. Tell that to the families who have hugged and said good-bye never knowing whether they’d ever reunite again―one, two, three, four, five, six, seven….times after times, tearing apart families, tearing apart communities.

You’d better be damned sure you’ve got it right before you send men and women into harm’s way…and leave so much of America to harm with inadequate defenses―from nature, from neglect, from serious internal dangers meant to do us all harm.

Stormy weather has beset the nation. And too little attention is being paid these days to the war our troops are weathering.

But oh, didn’t it look nice and green and serene for Bushie in the Vatican Gardens today.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

FOX = Racist, Misogynistic "News"

First [in this latest go-round] there was the "terrorist fist jab" courtesy E.D. Hill now being replaced, according to reports, by Laura Ingraham...what? E.D. wasn't coded enough?

In response to Imus' bringing up the incident with Chris Wallace this morning, Wallace's clipped "well, she apologized" begged the question. WTF is Fox News up to?

Quick on the well-rounded heels of that bit of catapulting Rethug slime tactics was the screen text calling Michelle "Obama's baby mama." An insulting derogatory demeaning term for a successful woman who has lived the American dream of going to the highest levels based on hard work, intelligence, dedication, and strong integrity.

Not a wealth-inheriting fortunate son or daughter riding on the laurels of daddy's power and/or wealth.

Let's be blunt. These attacks on Michelle and Barack Obama and their strong marriage and family are attacks on all our families, on all families who are working daily to make better lives for their children and the larger community that is America.

Which pretty much fits in the pattern of the Rethuglican pro-Fatcat, anti-Family Agenda.

Sure, they tout family values...during election season...but then they go back to business as usual...tearing down families with their personal deeds and their legislative agenda.

These misogynistic tactics may be business as usual for a propaganda network where exploitation of women and pushing the lowest sleaze as "entertainment" tabloids with "news" to create the media equivalent of something I'd use to line the bottom of the cat litter box.

FOX "News" and Roger Ailes ['cause you know this stuff doesn't just pop out of the mouths or keyboards of the hired help] and Rupert Murdoch all owe Barack and Michelle Obama—and all of us—an apology.

A real apology this time. One that's coupled with "we get it." Even if "we get it" means they at long last understand we are not going to take this crap any more.

It is racist. It is misogynistic. It is anti-family. It is anti-American. It is anti-democracy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"I Voted"

Prairie Country had an election yesterday—not to worry, no presidential races on the ballot. Yes, the presidential primary season is truly over. We were voting for City Commissioners, County Commissioners, School Board, Park Board. And a primary at the state level, but no cross-overs allowed, so that doesn't indicate a whole lot. Oh, yes, and whether we can smoke in bars.

Some results gave me pause, so let's talk about 'em a bit, because even small elections can be microcosms of the macro-election coming this fall.

Women incumbents were voted out of City Commission seats in both Fargo and West Fargo, one, the largest city, and the other, among the the fastest-growing cities in North Dakota [sidebar to Chris Matthews: Tweety, you came to North Dakota and you didn't call? You didn't write? I'm not feelin' the luv... and you looked so gosh-darned cute in that black cowboy hat. What's the metaphor, Chris?]. We are now back to business as usual in both cities—greying white males with boosterism and sports arenas in their hearts and guts. Chalk up one in each city for the Fatcats.

Was there a Hillary Factor? Unquestionably both were targeted by the business [bar and restaurant owners] crowd. Will there be a backlash against women candidates after Hillary's campaign—the law of unintended consequences coming into play? I don't know, but it's something I'm chewing over.

The pro-smoking crowd lost bigtime and this morning their spokesman predicted they'll need to gear up statewide in the future against a likely campaign by those awful charities with their nasty mortality statistics and campaign dollars. Chalk up one for Families and better, proactive health management. Wait a sec. Management, isn't that a bigbiz kinda thing? They should be happy about that.

Across the river in Minnesnowta over the weekend, Al Franken won the Democrats' endorsement to run against former Democrat-turned-Republican-turned Opportunist...nah, that's not right...Opportunist-Democrat turned Republican [yeah, that fits] Norm Coleman.

Don't know what Minnesota's Republican Governor Tim Paw-plenty was doing over the weekend [*cough* McCainiacism *cough*]...sure wasn't showin' up for his job. In the true spirit o'Katrina, it took until Monday morning for P'lenty to do a fly-over in the North Country/Hubbard County after the force-3 tornado blew through Friday morning. Heckuva job, Timmie. Guess he wants to show his chops for that veep slot on the McCain ticket.

Now we turn to the General. Come November there will be clear choices. You might find a few here on the distinctions between Republicans and Democrats.

Or, in the weeks to come, expect to be flooded with screed. That Obama woman, she's too proud, she's not proud enough, she's...why, she's...

"Yes"? The strong mother of a loving family, a wife who truly cares about her husband and his campaign and his causes which are all our causes.

Or, that wacky Cindy...was she proud stealing drugs from the charity she was working for? Proud that she could buy herself a political rising star? Proud that she could be holier than thou in the best tradition of hypocritical Republicans? Think anybody will ask her?

Or, in the state elections, like Minnesota, will it be about how racy Franken's writings were back in the day? Or how racy Coleman's little woman's poses were back in the Washington Post?

Or could we maybe—with the help of a shamed press corps that will no longer allow themselves to be used for political, partisan propagandizing—talk about the real policy differences that separate us, and work for and vote for the candidates at all levels of government who will work to restore the "US" in USA.

Nah, I'm not holdin' my breath, either.

Brace yourselves, America, it's gonna be an epic battle.
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, just sayin'.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Fatcats or Families?

The general election season ratchets up this week as Barack Obama begins a two-week tour in North Carolina, focused on the economy. And MSNBC's reporting that John McCain is focused on the economy, too--his own, as he intensifies his fundraising.

With gas prices already pickin' up speed past $4 a gallon, all Bush can talk is the BigOil party line: more oil, dig for more oil, Continental Shelf, what-me-worry?

Higher oil prices are driving up the cost of everything from baby's disposable diapers to the food on the table to the plastic we store it in.

And John McCain's answer is [paraphrased] my lobbyists tell me that it's good for America to keep sucking the money out of the pockets of ordinary Americans so we can subsidize the multimillionaires and their yachts and Hamptons hideaways.

On Election Day, ordinary Americans get the say, each and every one of us, with how we cast our votes. So what do you think? Who shall it be?

Fatcats? Or families?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Enronizing the Rest of Us.

And in other news this weekend (yes, there was other news than Hillary's speech) ... the price of gas at the pump hit a national average of $4 a gallon. With the outlook for $5 a gallon gas in the not-too-distant future. Words like "stag-flation" starting to be bandied about like music, man.

Remember back in the good ol' days, when it was just California that was getting gouged and, frankly, robbed by Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling and the gang? Yep, the good ol' days, when war was just a conspiracy in the minds of Team BushCo.

Meanwhile, let's give mega-tax-breaks to buyers of gas guzzlers, drive up the demand for product. Then toss in a little War by Lie in eye-raq, and you've got the makin's of an eight-year bonanza for the pirates partyin' in the Big Oil hoo-rah.

And now that the fun's winding down, why not get in just a wee bit extra for ol' times' sake. Shades of Enron economics.

Kinda makes you wish for the attentions of a steely-eyed U.S. attorney with a reputation for goin' after crooks and racketeers and nailin' 'em, bigtime.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Thank you, Hillary

ou go along cruisin' life's highway, in your prime, headed toward great expectations, when Wham-O! Life slams a giant timbered gate shut in your path and sends you careening off in a totally different direction.

What seems the worst day of your life ends up opening the door to possibilities far beyond what you might have imagined.

Today, thank you Hillary Clinton, for the toughest speech you've ever had to give. And arguably, the best.

Today, you stand with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman, a pioneer, a leader, a role model...a daughter, a wife, a mom. You transcend titles and labels and stand shoulder to shoulder with the icons of American history and the advancement of women.

You did good today, Hillary.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Remembering RFK


This morning, in a compelling conversation on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Pete Hamill noted that Bobby Kennedy had a compassion for ordinary Democrats and a keen sense of the urgency of now [my paraphrase] that has been lost for all these years. He further noted the Kennedys are a rich family with a passion for public service when they could have been living well in the south of France.

This morning, Bill Eppridge—author of The Time It Was, Bobby Kennedy and the ’60s―described the moments when he captured history. His was the iconic photograph of the busboy at Kennedy’s side, on the floor, moments after Kennedy’s victory speech that long ago night in Los Angeles.

It is tough to talk of that night.

Whether or not you are old enough to remember firsthand those times, I recommend this book to you, sight unseen. Because I intend to read it, myself. I think, after this long arduous primary campaign―which has renewed so many memories to me of that time, that night, MLK, Chicago―it is a book that will help those of us who must be part of a unified Democratic Party going forward from this week to heal.

I was a green kid who suspended her sophomore college year to work for Gene McCarthy, and when Bobby Kennedy joined the campaign, a late-comer in our eyes, a snatcher of the groundwork that McCarthy had done, there were resentments.

In Los Angeles that night we were at a different campaign’s election night event, then left and walked in the quiet darkness with co-workers through the long blocks to the McCarthy headquarters in Westwood, talking resolve and determination, coming to the red flashes of police car lights and the news.

Were there not that tragedy 40 years ago last night, lingering into the next day, those resentments would have been healed, the disparate party groups would have been reunited, and ….

Oh, but there was that tragedy.

And as much as it was the loss of one inspiring leader, it was also the breakdown of the best of what the Democratic Party can be, as Hamill noted. A breach that allowed "other priorities" to seize control, to take away that focus on the common good that serves ordinary Americans, and cede instead to the will of the fatcat global corporations and lobbyists. That is long past needing restoration.

That signal year began a long, slow slide into what we see now…Iraq and the grievous wounds that lies have brought us to, the corruption of the bedrock principles of justice of our government, the laid-off workers, foreclosures, Katrina, recession, hunger and homelessness … the list is long … you know it.

Right now, in this need-of-healing-and-unity time, we have another leader who has shown time and again his ability to inspire and lead and take charge to bring us together for a common, noble purpose.

It’s tempting to find metaphor in the Biblical journey of Moses…we have been wandering in our own wilderness these last 40 years.

For now, let’s reflect on what we lost, but only in the context of what we have yet to achieve, now, this fierce urgency of now. Let us pick up the threads of purpose that have lain in discord and distraction too long and set about rebuilding the best of what this nation can be. All of us united.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Still They Gather


We are watching penguins this morning. Black and white noisy penguins. On the Planet Earth channel on HDTV.

They're gathering at sunrise, contemplating the pounding surf off the barren point a world away at Punta Tombo, Argentina.

The rhythmic sound of the surf is backdrop to the squawks and bawling as guanacos drift in as well.

Occasionally the penguins engage in little bill wars, even drawing blood. Here and there, feathers litter the ground. But still they gather, in larger and larger numbers, preparing to face the dangers of the sea together.

Yep, there's a metaphor in that.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

This Is Our Moment

For all of us, children of immigrants whether one, two, three or more generations back, who are in this land because of its promise, Barack Obama's win—and it was a win—marks a new moment of promise.

All the rest, today, is dissonant clutter.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Prairie Recommends Today:

tristero over at digby has a terrific post up that's must reading: Fear of Bush. People were scared, and he was determined to be dictator.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Long War


War Talk takes on many forms. "Shop, shop, shop..." Or, this morning on CNN, Admiral William C. Fallon telling Kyra Phillips his recent (forced? ya think?) retirement isn't the story, confidence in the chain of command is. Or last night, on The Daily Show, John Stewart grilling Scott McClellan about the intent to mislead as pretty much the prime directive of George Bush and his administration, and ultimately Bush's ability to deceive himself. Mary Cheney shootin' off 'er mouth to the rightwing AIPAC organization about confronting Iran....

Today, on the final primary day of the Democratic nominating process, the attention is understandably focused on whether Barack Obama will lock in the nomination tonight. Will the speech in Minneapolis be "the" speech that kicks off the general election campaign.

But we need to take a moment and consider again why these votes all matter so very much.

This morning, Marine sergeant John (D.J.) Guerrero is undergoing his second surgery on the amputation of his right foot at Fargo's VA hospital. It's been a long, often painful journey that this old soldier has made. First, from the barrio of Sacramento to service in the Marines. And then, when schrapnel shot up the left side of his body, embedded, and took part of his left hand, life brought him to Fargo, where he found a home.

And where he became a good neighbor to a whole community. Tirelessly volunteering for organizations like the NDSU Teammakers and the ND Special Olympics. Co-authoring a series of books with Father William C. Sherman on the various immigrant groups who settled our state. Looking forward to the next book in the works, from the diary of a long-ago immigrant across the plains.

Visiting John yesterday, we chuckled over old times--the peaceniks and the Marine sergeant--for our friendship goes back decades.

John calls himself a poster child for the consequences of Agent Orange, because it's been some 40 years that he has, with too many other servicemen and women like him, struggled for acountability for the damage that weapon of war inflicted upon him...40 years, while it silently ate away at his body.

John was recently at the reunion of A Company, First Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment in Albuquerque when he went to the local VA hospital because his foot was in pretty tough shape. We know about such matters, even if their origin was not war. Rather than staying in Albuquerque for the necessary surgery, he had them bind him up, and he drove the long drive back to Fargo. Back home.

So today, we see the great tapestry of life weave some interesting strands. Two men, old friends, commiserating on the long road of disability ahead. Two men, who when they were young, vagabonded from Fargo to San Diego on a long ago quest for adventure. Now, timeworn and life-tested. One a disabled American veteran. One, my own sunshine.

When a certain politician jokes about Iraq and says 100 years, why not... just remember, even if we're not there in combat, the consequences are indeed that long. It's been four decades, and the consequences of Viet Nam still live within us, all of us.

So send some good karma to prairie country for John Guerrero today. And for all the John Guerreros this current war is making.

Cross-posted today at NorthDecoder.

Teddy's Surgery

While the rest of us are bustling about our busy lives today, Senator Ted Kennedy will be on a surgeon's table for some six hours responding to the surgeon's questions as he undergoes a process meant to remove the tumor from his brain.

The surgeons and oncologists at Duke University face a daunting task. And our hopes and good wishes and prayers go out to Senator Kennedy, his family, and his medical team.

There is nothing about cancer that is easy. It is a dragon that shadows your days and nights from the first diagnosis. It it the great equalizer, knowing no boundary between rich and poor, young and old, black and white. But the quality of care may not be so egalitarian.

Senator Kennedy will have the finest of care, Duke's reputation is outstanding. As Senator John Edwards has noted about his wife, Elizabeth, his family have the best of care for her, too, where she receives medical care.

The network anchors recently announced they will be hosting a telethon to raise funds for cancer causes.

While the Bush Administration has cut cancer research over the past seven years.

A statement from Senator Kennedy says he is looking forward to getting through his treatment process so he can get back to the Senate and to doing everything he can for the election of Barack Obama.

You can't separate who you vote for from the everyday realities of your life. Right now, some Clinton supporters threaten to vote for the Republican if she doesn't get the nomination. I ask you, how can you vote for the party that takes away medical research; fights and obstructs against stem-cell research; stonewalls scientific reports when it can't edit and distort them into fitting their selfish policies; tears down education advancements; pours trillions of dollars into a botched and corrupt war of choice in Iraq....

Anyone tells you it doesn't matter who gets elected is lying.

It is a matter of life and death.

UPDATE: Senator Kennedy's surgery completed in 3-1/2 hours. The surgeon, called a thought leader in the field of surgery on malignant gliomas, said the procedure today was "successful and accomplished our goals."

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Summer Broke Out

In all its bright, sunshine-y glory, summer burst through this weekend. Birds are breeding, marigolds are bloomin' in the marshes, and despite occasional thunderstorms with a little added hail, the big, wide, wonderful world beckons.

So I've got a couple suggestions for you for summer weekends to come.

Jason Linkins over at Huffington Post liveblogs among the Sunday morning gasbag shows so you don't have to watch and does it with a sublime touch. Mandatory reading. Exactly the critique the shows' denizens deserve. And I bow to anyone who can actually, at this stage of the Democratic nomination marathon, still muster the intestinal fortitude to watch any show featuring either McAuliffe or Icky Harold.

And speaking of the overexposed...Wolf Blitzer, he of the interminable five breaths questions, has finally maxed out his airtime, one hopes. He is not the host of CNN's new foreign affairs show on Sunday.

Fareed Zakaria, GPS launched Sunday with an in-depth conversation with Tony Blair. Tony has not worn the Bush years well. But then who among us have? A roundtable conversation notably showed that yes, Dougie Feith truly is as awful as we believe. Thank you, Christiane, for educating him that one uses both carrots and sticks.

Dougie is like that schlub on the grade school playground whom neither team wanted to choose for kickball so he contented himself going over by the fence and plucking the wings off butterflies.

Oh, and, China? Owns us all.

What I learned this morning (yes, Manhattan, it's still morning in the rest of America when GPS airs, there is a world west of the Hudson....):

that intelligent journalism and commentary can actually happen when one moves one's own ego, spin, and "balance" out of the way. (And if you happen to be a Sunday morning gasbag denizen, and don't think I'm talkin' to you, go read Linkins)

Putting GPS on my auto-tune. Thanks, CNN.