Today, just as every Saturday, at a local intersection, I stood vigil for war veterans, civilians and soldiers. As I held a sign which reads “Love. Not War. Love,” I contemplated the combat overseas, the recent tragedy in Mumbai, India, the protracted wars in Iraq, Afghanistan. The situations in Israel and Iran, were not far from my consciousness. Threats and acts of terrorism, nations in turmoil; thoughts of a desired global tranquility filled my mind. I imagined, as I do daily, a transition, and a hopeful worldwide transformation towards peace.
As I pondered the profound, a man in a very large Sports Utility Vehicle stopped near me. He rolled down his car window. The gent was perhaps in his forties, well-groomed, and thankfully polite. Calmly, concerned, and a bit critical of what he seemed to think my naivety. this anonymous chap announced, “What would you do if they came on to our shores and attacked us.”
Without a thought I said, “Violence begets violence.” He repeated his query and expanded the thought. “Would you not fight back?” I reflected on what I observe to be true. People kill other people in the name of peace. Christians, Muslims, Jews proclaim a love of the Lord and all mankind, except when they define another as the enemy. I stated, “I would wonder of their reasons. Might they believe we had done them harm.” Agitated, the stranger shrieked, “Do you mean to say that we, Americans are to blame?” Without hesitation I responded, “No.” I than shared, “I believe as my grandfather taught me, ‘Two wrongs do not make a right.'” Seemingly in a huff, the man quickly sped away.
As an afterthought, I realized I might have asked as Andrew Wahl had more than two years ago; “Does It Matter?” (Archive No. 0626a) Does it matter who assaulted whom first or last. For me, it does not. Jew, Muslim, Christian, no matter the race or creed; a life is a life.
I thank you Andrew for the illustration that speaks more than a thousand words might.
Throughout America, the sun rises, sleepy souls awaken, and people turn to the media of choice. Millions move towards the radio. More power-up the television. Countless persons do as their parents did before them; they pick up newspapers, which lie in wait on the porch. People want to know what is the news across the nation, or at least they did just a short time ago. Today, perhaps surprisingly, most forms of media have far less appeal than they had just a few years ago. The ethnic press is still productive. What Wall Street classifies as “hyper-localism” appeals to the masses. It seems what survives and thrives in the press is personality and opinion. Unadulterated accounts are not of interest to those who think them selves highly informed.
In survey after survey, Americans state they know their community and are very familiar with happenings in this country. They watch television. The public listens to the radio. People in this country read. Yet, indeed, the evidence demonstrates despite a wealth of information accessible to most, if not all, citizens of this country grow increasingly ignorant, unaware of more than what a popular program or a chosen channel wishes to air. No matter the age of the audience, according to The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Americans know far less now than they did in 1989.
In recent times, a Presidential Election, consumed the constituency for near two years. Yet, the electorate, who thought themselves actively engaged, actually knew less about politics than they had in decades past.
Those who reside in the United States correctly speak of the incredible transformation; however, they do not wish to acknowledge Americans have been dumbed down. Sure, people may posit their neighbors are not as bright, but let no one question the quality of the facts the more fluid are familiar with.
Let us suppose, by some freak accident, change truly came to America. Would the public comprehend the climatic arrival of transformation? Might the people imagine the impossible had occurred. Would anyone in this country be the wiser? Probably not. There is reason to believe people would continue to be inspired by the trivial, the trite, the trials, and tribulations of a temptress, the taunts, all that can be seen in seconds on television, in a YouTube video, or on a social network site. The information revolution has not altered affairs, at least not for the better.
In the last half century, the Information Age has given birth to greater conformity. There are seemingly more options, and in actuality, fewer. Five-hundred cable or satellite channels translates to the abandonment of an honorable agreement ‘in exchange for serving the “public interest,” TV stations get to use the airwaves for free.
Currently, that creed is but a dream lost to the six major corporations, General Electric, Time Warner, The Walt Disney Company, News Corporation, CBS, and Viacom, serve as town criers. These organizations persuade, propose, pontificate, and profess to be without bias. Rarely do the reports attempt to be objective or reflective.
Why should these private, for profit industries report what may be most relevant to people who trust the press to inform when sex sells. Scandal sweetens the pot, or return on revenue. Smut can be spun, and it is always time for silly season.
American audiences, people of every age love what bring the broadcast business lots of loot. People are happy to absorb all the “news” transmitted by these radio and television stations. Citizens in this country seek entertainment, forms of escapes, and enthusiastically entrepreneurs furnish the fun. Media moguls call what titillates profound and the people buy the bull.
For the most part, the public is generally satisfied with the press. Most believe that the word they receive is fair and balanced or at least a reliable source of information. In 2008, stories of Sarah sizzled. Paris was a plus in the dull day of an average American. Lindsay looked good and then she appeared to be less lovely. Barrackamania was a beautiful distraction. The now President Elect proved to be the change America could believe in. However, as the country settles into a time of transition, some wonder what will they do for excitement.
A few murmur; might change have come and then left. Citizens, spectators, the American audience awaits the next trend. What will be the talk. They tune in, turn on, and hope talk radio, television, or the technological wonder known as a computer will bring the latest American Dream.
More and more, those anxious to consume the news, check out celebrity hype. People search for the stars. They soak up any and all information online. Too much technology is never enough. To few reliable references; well, typically that goes unnoticed.
Print is still thought profound, although there is less of it to be found. No matter the medium, the message is massaged and the words are probably, the product of a merger. One paper is as another. Each network is owned and operated by the very few persons who prosper from an ill-informed public. Knowingly or not, most Americans turn to familiar forms in search.
People peruse the titles prominently known papers produce online. They read blogger rants that reference mainstream media sources. Indeed, well over 1 in 4 Internet users in the United States blissfully log into AOL Time-Warner accounts. The world’s largest media corporation controls one fourth of media dissemination in cyberspace. While that may all be well and good, if the news were hard, and the audience hearty. Neither seems to be the case. Today, Americans view reality television, car chases, crash, or trash. Tune it in. In America, the people say turn it on, morning noon, and night.
In the competitive world of commercialism, in-depth, quality news coverage, has not survived. In a 2001 study, executed by the Joan Shorenstein, of the Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, dramatic changes in what was once critical journalism are documented. Did anyone notice? Was this topic covered on the news?
Soft news (that is, news that is typically more sensational, more personality-centered, more entertainment oriented, and more incident-based than traditional public affairs news) has increased sharply in the past two decades. News stories that have no public policy component have increased from less than 35% of all stories in 1980 to roughly 50% today. In the early 1980s, about 25% of news, stories had a moderate to high level of sensationalism; today, nearly 40% of news stories have this feature.??
Critical news (that is, news about the failings of leaders, institutions, and policies) has risen steadily in recent decades. Negative coverage of presidential candidates is an example. In 1960, about 25% of the evaluative coverage of candidates was negative in tone. In the past three presidential elections, more than 50% of the coverage has been negative
Negative or nonsense; that may be the truer assessment. The press pretends to enlighten; yet, for the most part it seeks to entertain. Few realize the folly of what has become the American way. In this country, the average Joe or Jayne consumes junk food and junk news.
In recent months, change was the theme. The issues of import during this recent election were those most frequently covered. Each day Americans awoke to eat it up. . . the goodies, the gossip, and what makes the public grunt.
10. Hillary Clinton citing Obama’s Kindergarten essay titled, “I Want To Become President”
9. Mike Huckabee’s ongoing “buddy cop movie” with Chuck Norris
8. Obama Girl
7. Paris Hilton for President
6. “Terrorist Fist Jab”
5. Hillary Clinton’s drinking beers and taking shots of Crown Royal
4. Barack Obama bowling, or, “The Altoona Massacre”
3. Wardrobe-Gate: Sarah Palin’s $150K (or more) clothing caper
2. Joe the Plumber
1. “Lipstick On A Pig”
In 2008, the electorate considered the profundity of these topics and then selected a President, or perhaps, the mainstream media conglomerates chose for them. Few knew more than what was delivered through airwaves, more than what was mentioned in print, more than the prominent six companies that comprise the press wanted them to know. Hence, Americans must wonder, if change were to come, would we the people read of the transformation, or might the possibility of a true revolution never be realized, or at least, it is likely not to be seen on a computer screen, heard on a radio, or watched on television.
Reliable Sources . . .
Introduction. The State of the News Media 2007. The Project for Excellence in Journalism 2007
We have been on message that the goal is to work for the students. For the K-12ers, this is a matter of kids and their families. We take this stance very seriously. We may even jump on people if they even slightly blow us off. And it’s because we actually know children and families who contribute to our society by their being in our classrooms. So, why shouldn’t we be a little pissed off when others seemingly don’t care about such or forget about such. I’m right there with you.
And in spite of my first paragraph, I don’t want to do it. I need to light my fire.
Sometimes when I can’t light my own fire, I can turn to the words of Elliot Judd, the 2006 TESOL president, who gave a plenary address in Tampa that spring on whether TESOL is a job or a profession. He reminds us that in order to be there for our students, we do need to attend to our professionalism. The plight of our students and our professionalism are tethered. Without our attention to professionalism, we cannot attend to the students in the ways we prioritize.
Elliot’s plenary was for the profession of TESOL, but I think his words apply to foreign language education in general. Hence, where you see “TESOL,” you might insert your own “foreign language education” alphabetization.
Elliot didn’t publish his speech, but Mark Algren–the TESOL president next year–took these notes. Together we’ve edited them. Be sure, though, that in the paraphrasing, we give full credit to Elliot for these thoughts. I turn to them often:
Elliot Judd, Associate Professor. University of Illinois at Chicago
The call! I get a weekly call from someone who wants to get into teaching ESL with no training or experience: “Can you give me a short article about TESOL? I just got a job and need to know what to do. Give me a 10 page article and then I can go out and practice.”
Asking the same question of other professions is ludicrous. Here are ten traits of a profession, and how TESOL relates to these.
10 traits of a profession
1. A profession has a professional body of knowledge.
The canon of the profession is a collection of professional beliefs; the latest view of beliefs and practices of a profession; our research body. Novice studies the canon through classroom or practice experience or both. You should also keep up with new developments and trends to stay up to date. TESOL has this. Research does matter even if you’re not engaged, you need to know it; otherwise you’re practicing intellectual alchemy.
2. A profession has a prescribed regimen and licensing of members.
Institutions are staffed by qualified professionals know the canon. Neophytes study the canon and then the professional institution awards a degree, licensing them and welcoming them to the profession. There is some state licensing. This assures quality and maintains standards in the profession. Others say this stifles, crushes competition. But the profession itself controls who enters. It assumes those who are in the profession respect the canon and hire only those who are trained. In many professions, you must have a license and not having one is a crime. TESOL has a mixed record. With the rise of teacher training institutions, many are quality programs. TESOL has policies against hiring unqualified professionals. But the practice continues.
3. A professions has a code of ethics and standards
A code of ethics protects the public from those who deviate. Those who violate the code and prescribed standards are censured and barred from the profession. For example, doctors can censure other doctors and remove their license. TESOL has started to create a set of standards for ESL instruction. So far, most have focused on a North American context. There is need to create more in the future that are sound but sensitive to local situations throughout the world.
4. A profession is respected for their authority and expertise.
Why? Because professions train and empower professionals. They remove those who are not qualified. The profession is seen as the supreme source of knowledge in the profession, and it is respected as the source both inside and outside the profession. The TESOL record indicates that more outsiders recognize us as a source of professional knowledge. But many outside the profession who don’t know we exist and do not seek our expertise. Within our institutions, many do not consult us on our area of expertise regarding language-learning issues. We must continue to educate others on who we are and what we do, especially those in policy making positions.
The year 2006 was a big start in that direction when the INS came to TESOL because they are designing a new English language test and they wanted 12 qualified professionals to design this. We need to reach out, so we are known to those outside our profession, so they know to come to us. We need to educate fellow teachers to talk to the local professionals in the building when you are teaching English to someone who is a non-native speaker.
5. A profession is autonomous.
The profession creates its own licensing, code of ethics, and so forth.
Independence is recognized by both outsiders and insiders. You can talk to others but come back to the professional. Autonomy is a professional right.
TESOL has endeavored to create autonomy. Other professions in education and lay people are beginning to acknowledge our autonomy. Others, however, deny us professional respect. We must educate on a personal level. We need to convince teachers that they have non- and limited-English speakers in the classroom and should talk with the ESOL professional about what is the best policy for that student. NCLB talks about need for qualified teachers, categories are listed – social studies, science, math, all of which are valid and autonomous. What is missing is a category called ESOL.
We need to keep pushing for professional autonomy. If we are not on the list of acceptable, qualified teachers, the clear message is we are not in the same league and do not have to be consulted. Listing us gives the same autonomy as others.
6. A profession has the power to influence.
There is internal power to train and certify and external power to influence others. For example, when establishing policy for doctors, then doctors are included in the discussions. Ultimately, doctors must accept the decision and will be required to implement it. It is a monopoly, there is no one else to turn to, for good or bad.
TESOL is lacking in power. TESOL does not have internal power to censure those who are unqualified. Anyone can open a language school with no qualifications, in many parts of the world and in the U.S. Anyone can be an English teacher. I have nothing against volunteers. But if I need brain Surgery, I don’t go to a volunteer. Many in my own profession hire unqualified teachers. We have no power to censure or disbar. No TESOL malpractice! We need the power to influence those outside the profession in ministries of education, and so forth. They make decisions that affect our daily lives and we have no power to stop it. A key future goal for us is to increase power.
7. A profession has status and prestige.
Professions have material status through salary. They also have non-material status in the form of respect based upon knowledge and expertise. For example, we may not like lawyers but they have economic power and status, and we have nowhere else to go.
TESOL? We don’t have the material status. We DO HAVE great status and love from our students and this keeps us in the profession. We get things back in non-material ways.
8. A profession is altruistic and serves the public
There exists an unwritten covenant between the profession and the public. We need public trust. If we are untrustworthy, then we are no longer a profession. We can no longer do the BEST possible for our client.
With respect to TESOL, we score highest in this area. No one questions the altruism of TESOL. We are trusted by our clients, our students. The rewards we get back from our students far surpass what we give our students; we are important in their lives. We are not selfish but a giving group of people – good, caring, giving. We care about our students and their world.
9. A profession is a full-time lifelong commitment.
Because of the training, rigor, we expect to practice it for our entire professional careers. Imagine a doctor who really has no office, works part time in 6 hospitals, and keeps tools in trunk of my car. I wouldn’t trust someone who says they are dabbling in medicine. I want a dedicated, full-time committed professional.
TESOL! We have a problem, Houston! A tragedy of TESOL! We are losing qualified professionals because they cannot get fulltime work in the field. If colleagues must leave TESOL for these reasons, no one can blame them, but it hurts the profession. It hurts all of us because members of our profession cannot secure work. This practice allows ill-trained or untrained people to enter the profession. I don’t have to hire qualified people when there is a pool of unqualified people waiting and when I do there is nothing you can do about it. We must advocate for the under- or partially employed for full time work and that they have the same rights and benefits of others.
10. A profession forms professional associations
Forming professional associations serve and protect professional autonomy, a face to the public. Through collective unity, we are stronger. We become visible. The association becomes our collective voice and advocate. TESOL is our professional association.
Still we have far to go and much to be done. but we have much to celebrate. We come here every year to gain sustenance.
1. TESOL must be in the forefront of presenting research findings. Our serial publications must present he latest research and informed classroom practices based on the latest research.
2. TESOL must issue professional standards that are both sensitive to local English language teaching situations and that reflect current research findings.
3. TESOL must be engaged in advocacy work to educate policy makers and other associations.
4. TESOL must insist that only well-trained, highly qualified individuals teach in English language teaching classrooms.
5. TESOL must lead the right that all ELT professional receive fulltime
employment and all the benefits that they are entitled to.
6. TESOL must speak out against those who hire unqualified personnel who should not be in ELT.
7. TESOL must be the voice in defending the rights of all ELT leaders.
8. Must endeavor to make all ELT professionals a member of the association.
My hope that TESOL will be generic that someday it means all ELT professionals.
Well, Elliot’s not doing so well. Some of you may know this. He’s been public about his illness. And Elliot has been a dear friend to us, and a tremendous leader his entire career, particularly these last few years. So, his words are very much on my mind as I try to grind through this work we’ve got this week.
And I will remember and cherish the contributions of Elliot Judd forever.
Oh Henry! For some the words may evoke thoughts of tasty fudge, peanuts, and caramel candy. Others might be reminded of the famed American author, O. Henry. The statement may stir an apocryphal debate. Did the writer’s work inspire the confection creator to call his chocolate bar “Oh Henry!” or did the strange name originate closer to home. Inventor of the sugary food, Tom Henry, may know for sure. However, while I trust the tale would fascinate many, on this occasion the use of exclamation is not meant to speak to sweets. I wish to offer my thanks to Cable News Network’s Ed Henry.
Minutes ago, in a Press Conference held in Chicago with President Elect Barack Obama, Correspondent Ed Henry asked the soon-to-be inaugurated change candidate what many Americans, or at least I desire to address. I paraphrase since the transcripts are not yet available. Mister Henry posed, ‘Countless announced Cabinet appointees seem to be persons from Clinton Administration. What happened to the change we can believe in?’
I thank you Ed Henry. You give me a glimmer of hope. Perchance, your courage will be the change I, or Americans, can have faith in.
For too long, I have been troubled. Others have also expressed a distress. Sam Donaldson, I recall, spoke of his perceptions post the Reagan Revolution. I remember Commentator Donaldson’s account of the earlier 1980 transition. Seven years later, after much experience with the esteemed Administration, the seasoned Reporter, in his book, Hold On, Mister President, recounted his familiarity with a Executive Office, which by design was inaccessible. Mister Donaldson penned words that warned of what has become the norm today. In 1981, and for the decades that followed Presidents have played the press as was done when the “Great Communicator” took command.
Years ago, the Reagan White House presented the daily, “Talking Points” to reporters. The Oval Office framed the discussion. The media became but a messenger. Few if any rattled the supposed ‘righteous’ positions. Rhetoric ruled; spontaneity in professional critical journalism slipped into oblivion. Near thirty years ago, candid questioners were placed far from the President. Over time, journalist accepted what was. They adopted conformist habits. Correspondents did not dare to do what they once were trained to do. Management within news corporations seemed to adopt a more presumptive position. The word in the pressroom was ‘do not rock the boat’ or rail against an Administration.
Today, Ed Henry, you held the reigns in a manner rarely seen in recent history. I applaud you. You spoke to what too many have chosen to tolerate. Even among Progressive persons, excuses are made. Collectively, constituents, for the most part, have given consent to a second Clinton term.
Persons who would not vote for one more Clinton Administration have become apologists. Much of the public has acquiesced. Americans proclaim or claim to be comfortable. Yet, you, Mister Henry were open and honest. You chose not to permit a popular President Elect to do what seemed contrary to his oft-stated vision. You questioned. You inquired. Ed Henry, you said, why?
The answer you, and we, the people, received was interesting, although for me, less than insightful. I hope that Commander-In-Chief Obama will continue to ponder the true Progressive position. Perchance, he will keep in mind that we, the people voted for a transformation.
The transition team, thus far, has produced re-threads. For many amongst the masses that came out to celebrate an Obama election, threads on the Clinton Administration, long ago wore thin.
Millions, as Ed Henry observed, wish to beseech the President Elect. Earnestly, more than one of the electorate longs to say as I will. Please, Chief Executive Obama, reflect further on your choices. Consider, the American people did not cast a ballot for the Clintons.
Many muse; had Hillary secured the nomination she would not have garnered the massive numbers of votes the President Elect did. Nor would the throngs of Americans, those who placed their trust in an inspirational Obama influence, have followed the New York Senator’s path.
Countless may yearn to share as Ed Henry suggested; the country, its citizens, placed their confidence in a novel vision, not in the Clintonistas calculations.
I implore President Elect Obama. Please, be the change we can believe in. Contemplate the words of Cable News Network Correspondent Ed Henry. If you would have his audacity, embrace his hope, and trust that for some, such as me, valor of convictions is the change I have faith in.
Mister Henry, you may not be a candy bar. Still, for me, your words were incredibly sweet and delicious. Hugs . . .
“The last Democratic administration we had was the Clinton administration.”
“So it would be surprising if I selected a Treasury Secretary who had had no connection with the last Democratic administration, because that would mean that the person had no experience in Washington whatsoever. And I suspect that you would be troubled and the American people would be troubled if I selected a Treasury Secretary or a chairman of the National Economic Council, at one of the most critical economic times in our history, who had no experience in government whatsoever. What we are going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking.”
“I think when you ultimately look at what this advisory board looks like, you’ll say this is a cross-section of opinion that in some ways reinforces conventional wisdom and in some ways breaks with orthodoxy in all sorts of ways.”
“And that’s the kind of discussion we want. We want ideas from everybody. What I don’t want to do is to somehow suggest that since you served in the last Democratic administration, that you’re somehow barred from serving again. Because we need people who are going to be able to hit the ground running.”
Hope for Hillary springs eternal. This deed is done. Numerous accounts say the documents are signed. The die was cast, perchance before the public knew what they might say or do. Change has come; yet, it has been thwarted with but a single statement. Hillary Clinton will be Secretary of State, according to news sources. Today, as more than a decade ago, First Lady Clinton is welcomed into the White House.
Senator Clinton spoke of her certainty on the campaign trail. She trusted, once again, she could and would sit in the most esteemed Executive residence. Indeed, the word heard on the streets is Hillary Rodham Clinton has succeeded. She found her way to the place she calls home. With the Chief Foreign Policy Officer appointment attained, a sense of her articulated desire is an action, a fait accompli,
Conventional wisdom is Hillary will realize her aspiration. For now, that prophecy is but a oft-expressed faith.
Years ago, the prominent First Lady crossed the threshold from the front. Today she enters from a side door. Tomorrow, or in 2012, the soon-to-be sanctioned Secretary intends to stride across the promenade, placed upon the path to the Oval Office. All the while Bill Clinton was, as he will be, by her side.
Americans may recall the day the duo initially appeared on the national scene. From the first, when the people gazed upon the potential co-Presidents, up until, and through the 2008 Primary Election, the coronation of the Clintons, together, and one at a time, was expected. Moments ago, when the announcement was made, few gasped in amazement. Citizens have always known; America is Clinton country. The periodicals only print what was a foregone conclusion. Hillary has arrived once more.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is Hillary Clinton’s castle. The people, throughout this global village, are hers. The former First Lady Clinton reigns. In our name, she will speak with world leaders, Premiers and Prime Ministers. Secretary of State Clinton will establish the rules. Hope for Hillary is more than a perpetual power. What she wants is realized. However, what others had yearned for may be lost with her appointment.
People may muse. When an individual freely expresses a desire to obliterate another nation, with what she thinks raison d’être, as Hillary Clinton has, that person does not define diplomacy as an ambassadorial arbitrator might. For those who crave planet-wide peace, a scornful Secretary of State Clinton could be the cause for much concern. Some say, with Hillary at the helm, world peace may remain the impossible dream. Her vision may be international doom.
No one can know with certainty what will be. Nonetheless, while the Obama Transition Team proclaims the terms of the contract have not been confirmed, others believe as was guaranteed, in the New York Times.
WASHINGTON – Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to give up her Senate seat and accept the position of secretary of state, making her the public face around the world for the administration of the man who beat her for the Democratic presidential nomination, two confidants said Friday.
The apparent accord between perhaps the two leading figures in the Democratic Party climaxed a week-long drama that riveted the nation’s capital.
Mrs. Clinton came to her decision after additional discussion with President-elect Barack Obama about the nature of her role and his plans for foreign policy, said one of the confidants, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the situation.
Mr. Obama’s office told reporters on Thursday that the nomination is “on track” but this is the first word from the Clinton camp that she has decided.
“She’s ready,” the confidant said, adding that Mrs. Clinton was reassured after talking again with Mr. Obama because their first meeting in Chicago last week “was so general.” The purpose of the follow-up talk, he noted, was not to extract particular concessions but “just getting comfortable” with the idea of working together.
A second Clinton associate confirmed that her camp believes they have a done deal. Senior Obama advisers said Friday morning that the offer had not been formally accepted and no announcement would be made until after Thanksgiving. But they said they were convinced that the nascent alliance was ready to be sealed.
Internationally everyone awaits further corroboration. Few doubt what seems pre-determined. Most have faith the coalition of challengers is complete. For now, Hillary Clinton will hold hands with Barack Obama. The President Elect can pull her up and into the White House, officially. His assistance may secure a forever achievement, a legendary legacy. The future, perchance, belongs to the First Lady, the Senator, the Secretary of State; the potential is eternal for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
We are born with an innate wisdom. Each step we take helps us to grow wiser, or more full of woe. The information we acquire often gives birth to anguish. Too much elucidation is never enough. As an infant, we yearn to learn. Babies gaze, grasp, and get what they desire. No harm comes to one who cannot move beyond, thus, thrives, in a protected environment. Those fresh from the delivery room do not harbor expectations. Few are placed upon them. Existence, for the newborn, is a game of anticipation. There are no rules, no regulations, and initially no reprimands. The littlest children believe and thus, they achieve.
As the babes develop, they explore beyond a crib. Tots crawl. They climb into this or that. A drawer prompts a dive. A pool promises a plunge. When a small one wanders, a caregiver knows not where a tiny youngster will go. Parents begin to place barriers in the child’s way, more are situated into the young one’s mind.
Cries of caution come from elders. “No!” Mom might say. “Do not do that,” Dad declares. “How could you?” sister may scorn. “Stop it!” the older son spurns. Babysitters bark. Guardians disapprovingly grunt. The smaller sweet soul shrinks back. He or she begins to understand knowledge is not power. It is not good to grow the gray matter. The more you recognize, the less you wish to realize.
“Curiosity,” a child is told, “kills the cat,” and research might end a relationship with the ones who once appreciated inquisitiveness. A tiny world traveler, as a toddler will talk. The most oft spoken word is “Why?”
The inquiry may tickle a mother, father, grandparent, or other older person, at first. However, after a time, grown-ups tire of what they perceive as too many questions. In truth, it may be an embarrassed elder does not know the answers, and will not admit to ignorance on any subject. Perchance, the person the youngster approaches believes the child does not truly care to gather details. A mature man or woman might surmise to the tot, investigations are but a game.
Frequently, folks who have lost interest in discovery, or determined it is best not to be open to the novel, turn inward. Fear of disdain from those a little one loves may have dampened a spirit. Disparagement, invoked by strangers, can also scar an vibrant scientist. An energetic essences is fragile in the face of foils. Too many disappointments teach individuals not to delve into discussions or dare to do as they once thought possible.
Yet, on occasion, a child is groomed to grow. A nipper snaps with ability not yet quashed. An innocent does not adopt inhibition. Reticence is not realized, for rarely; yet thankfully, a naïve creature is given permission to be, to believe, and ultimately, to achieve.
Some parents plum their progeny. An instructor may provide incentives. Inspiration can be caught, or taught. Five year-old Milan, who dribble three basketballs with ease might remind us that a vision is worth more than money. Words and wisdom that advance woe do not allow for accomplishments. As the Triple Threat Academy, amongst the teachers of tiny Milan express. “Every player has the potential to be great, not only on the basketball court, but in the game of life.”
An experience that encourages, will help a little one realize that lessons learned “on the court can help shape their lives off the court as well. Education is a fundamental element” if edification, enlightenment is to be enjoyable.
If wisdom is to be wondrous, those old, and sage, must promise to teach the children well. The more physically mature must practice as Author Napoleon Hill professed, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news this week: This will be the last Weekly Editorial Cartoon E-mail, at least for a while. After much soul-searching, I’ve decided it’s time to take an extended sabbatical from editorial cartooning. Several factors went into this decision, from financial (it was never really about money, but, in these tough economic times, my toons aren’t even supporting my comic-book habit anymore) to practical (the progressive media outlets that have supported my work are going to be less hungry for toons critical of the Obama administration) to inspirational (I’m sure Obama will make his share of mistakes, but I doubt he’ll ever fuel my fire like W.) All considered, it seemed like the right time to make a clean break.
I’m not sure exactly what’s next. I’m hoping to publish a collection of my Bush-era toons. There’s also a graphic novel or two on the backburner, as well as a couple of kids’ books. And I would never rule out a return to editorial cartooning, if the right opportunity arises. I’m going to spend the rest of the year finishing up my current semester of grad school and enjoying the holidays. Then I’ll turn my attention to the hard question of “What’s next?”
Before signing off, I pass along a hearty “thank you” to all of you: the readers of this e-mail and the editors who have supported my work. It has been a pleasure!
How do you stop a train that long ago left the station? How might you un-ring a bell that rang weeks months, or even years, before you knew the chord was struck? How can a countryman, or woman rewrite history? How might a Clinton, or two reclaim entrance into the White House? Perhaps, she [or he] has already done what, since Barack Obama secured the Democratic nomination, no one expected. The Clintons have found a way through the front door of the White House prior to 2012. Days ago, President-elect Obama met with Hillary Clinton to discuss her role, and her husband’s, in the Oval Office and in international affairs. Senator Clinton emerged as the candidate for Secretary of State.
While Americans voted for change in 2008, and millions cast aside even the politics of past Democrats, the Clintons included, Barack Obama calculated his choice for this most senior position would be his former antagonist, Hillary Clinton. Some reports say the New York Senator requested time to think. Other accounts suggest the Obama Administration asked only for her thoughts. What might Hillary Clinton wish to pursue. As the hours pass there is one certainty. “Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has engaged three prominent lawyers to help President-elect Barack Obama vet her candidacy for Secretary of State.”
Several within the President Elects inner circle were critical of the possible appointment. Advisers to the former First Lady said nothing is definite. Senator Clinton will weigh whether to take the job if President-elect Obama offers it. Yet, it seems the die has been cast. Senator Clinton and her spouse have secured the powerful position of Secretary of State.
Breathless with consternation, numerous inquire; is there a way for one small individual to sway a gargantuan group who controls what was and will be our government? Countless fear not. It seems the Clintons will once again control policy, people, and alter the political landscape planet wide.
Momentum builds. A rolling stone, or a rumor, gathers no moss. When a report is not immediately rescinded, we must accept, as frequently occurs, gossip grows into reality. Hence, scores conclude, Hillary Clinton will be the next Secretary of State.
The way is cleared. Only the justifications need to be formalized. Qualms need to be calmed. One cabinet job would put focus on “Two Clintons.” That circumstance cannot be corrected, and perhaps, the President-elect would not wish to alter what is. Some say the status of a former Commander, well-connected would benefit the soon-to-be current.
“He’s a former President of the United States. He’s been traveling around the world, and he’s got his foundation and a lot of foreign policy efforts going on,” proclaims Leon Panetta, Bill Clinton’s former Chief of Staff. The current Professor of public policy, Mister Panetta pronounces, “What they will have to obviously be careful of are the potential conflicts that might appear.”
Conflicts may extend to interests, investments, and the invisible hand of another American widely considered a world leader. In the past, the President may call upon another former United States Chief Executive for advice. He, or she might ask for counsel, or invite the previous President to serve as an envoy. However, if, as proposed, the once Head of State sleeps with and sings sweet nothings in the ear of the current Secretary of State, it may be a challenge for Premiers and Prime Ministers to determine which President presides. A nation in negotiations must be confident; the person they speak with communicates the preferences that take precedence in policy decisions.
Rogues often rise from rolls in the hay. “You want to be able to determine when you are going to make use of a former president in terms of foreign policy or trying to help on particular issues. That can be a very powerful tool if it’s used well,” Professor Panetta advised. “It has to be used with discretion. Delicate details in an intimate relationship cannot be ignored, particularly when more than passion is at stake. Lives can be lost on the turn of a phrase. A United States President, be his name Bill or Barack, must not forget how much influence he has in and out of the bedroom.
Charles Hill, a Professor at Yale, perceives a possible peril if Hillary Clinton is appointed Secretary of State. The scholar, Hill explained, the former President’s constant presence could lead some world leaders to question the authority of the new Commander-In-Chief. As he attempted to digest the dynamics, Charles Hill asserted, “He’s got to maintain his stature. He should not want Bill Clinton getting all the ink or Hillary Clinton.”
The ink may have already been put to paper and dried. Deeds may be done and decisions made. Hence, Professor Hill’s concern for supposed sins may only be academic. Nevertheless, he states, the selection would violate “one of the cardinal rules of foreign policy: “Secretaries of State don’t deal with ex-presidents. And if they do, the White House raps their knuckles.””
A slap of the hand, a slight blow to the wrist, a reprimand, or a retort will not change what has been a constant in the life of Hillary Clinton. Bill will not be removed; her resolve will also remain.
Hillary Rodham Clinton the oft-perceived to be a hawk, will deliver dictums if or when she chooses. As she told Barack Obama in a recent debate when he remarked, it was difficult for him to know who he was running against, Bill or Hill, she replied, “Well, I am here, he is not.” To that then Senator Obama said as Heads of States may say tomorrow, should Hillary Clinton become Secretary of State, “It is hard to tell who I am running against [or working with] sometimes.”
The sensibility expressed by Barack Obama in earlier times is not singular. It has been stated and said again. When an individual associates with the Clintons, direct dialogues are reported to be other than those involved thought the circumstances to be. Some might say, for the Clintons, the shortest distance between an ambition and an accomplishment is often an indistinguishable path.
As an assistant to the Senator, a former 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue aide stated, when First Lady, Hillary Clinton learned how to be effective as a “backdoor diplomat,” Now, through her characteristically tough talk, the once Presidential aspirant intends to acquire what might arguably be considered the keys to the second most powerful position in the world.
A few prominent persons at home and abroad may muse Senator Clinton is not the best choice. Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former First Minister of the province might say as he had in March when Senator Clinton and her supporters exaggerated her foreign experience record, this is a “wee bit silly.” Nonetheless, Barack Obama never asked the man who truly brought tranquility to his homeland of Hillary Clinton’s talents. Had he, he might have heard the tale,
“I don’t know there was much she did apart from accompanying Bill [Clinton] going around,” Lord Trimble reflected. In the Spring of this election year, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient pondered then recent statements about Hillary Clinton being deeply involved. His conclusion was, the rhetoric was “the sort of thing people put in their canvassing leaflets” during elections. “She visited when things were happening, saw what was going on, she can certainly say it was part of her experience. I don’t want to rain on the thing for her but being a cheerleader for something is slightly different from being a principal player.”
Perhaps, David Trimble is correct. However, Hillary and her adept assistant have capably adopted a different perspective; Senator Clinton mastered “a lot of the intricacies of these issues before ever joining the Senate’s Armed Services committee. She’s tough; she had meetings with some Prime Ministers and Presidents where she had to deliver some blunt messages for us.” Perchance, in the past, the world leader who received most of her brusque communications was her husband Bill.
This appointment would provide her far greater opportunities to be brash with world leaders. As benevolent as Barack Obama may wish to be in his appointments, as Lincolnesque as he longs to be, it may be wise to consider the wars Hillary Clinton welcomes, her words, and President Elect Obama’s own experiences of the dynamic duo of Bill and Hill. The actual person, the personality, and the prospect of what Senator Clinton brings to the world stage, may not be as magnificent as the former President-elect Obama, First couple, or their supporters would wish us to believe.
While granted, a team of rivals who work together may be reminiscent of the illustrious words of President Lincoln, “We are not enemies, but friends … Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection,” human emotions may not evoke “the better angels of our nature.” People, personas, and the power they seek may have wings, and wants more fragile than a seraph.
Confident in his current role, perhaps, the President Elect forgets. In May 2008, he bellowed, Hillary Clinton has the “bluster” of President Bush. It is she who was ready to obliterate Iran if provoked, or Senator Obama, if he stood in her way.
On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Hillary Clinton, not Bill, offered the statement “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran [if it attacked Israel].” The former Presidential challenger, when she thought she had a chance to sit in the Oval Office and commands said, “In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.” Given the opportunity to retract her words, the potential Secretary of State did not.
“Massive retaliation” is the message Hillary Clinton chose to cling to. The then Presidential hopeful did not waver. Hillary Clinton confirmed her truth, reprisals are needed. Talk of diplomacy was for Senator Clinton naive.
Then, the candidate the people chose to govern expressed a divergent thought. Barack Obama emphatically stated, “We have had a foreign policy of bluster and saber-rattling and tough talk, and in the meantime have made a series of strategic decisions that have actually strengthened Iran.” Being more sensitive to slights, Mister Obama offered, “[I]t is important that we use language that sends a signal to the world community that we’re shifting from the sort of cowboy diplomacy, or lack of diplomacy, that we’ve seen out of George Bush.” In what now appears to be ancient wisdom, the one, or that one that Americans elected to act with restraint affirmed, “[T]his kind of language is not helpful.” Tis true!
Barack Obama may wish to recall the rants and rage expressed by Senator Clinton not so long ago. The President-elect might ponder beyond Bill. Hillary Clinton, on her own, now wishes to serve in an alternative capacity. However, as she attested to through words and actions, she is her own master. She will posit her own positions, irregardless of who might be her President, Bill or Barack. Might it be mused, Hillary Rodham Clinton will officiate, cooperate, or obliterate, whatever she may choose.
Post Script . . .
I know not what to do with my frustration. Do I merely restate what others have said before I put pen to paper? I tried to, many times. In frustration, I have walked away from a composition that expounds upon futile arguments. I relent. Barack Obama offered Hillary Clinton a position in his Cabinet. He proposed she might be our next Secretary of State. Now he and his transition team vet the New York Senator and her spouse. However, in truth, as I assess recent history and recall that Hillary Rodham did not wish to be considered for Vice President unless . . . thus, I presume the mere consideration is a confirmation.
For days, the White House transition team told no tales. They did not confirm hearsay. Nor did they deny the talk. Hillary Clinton was offered a Cabinet position in the Obama Administration. Ultimately, after much speculation, word came down from senior sources unknown. The former First Lady is “under consideration.” Hillary Clinton will have to decide whether she wishes to abandon her Senate career and pursue another path.
The signs say she is interested. The smile at a Press Conference as she discussed the possibility, the saucy statements, the legal assistance she provided the transition team, all say ‘Sure, I would love to be Secretary of State.’. Hence, countless conclude. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the one, the person who will serve at the pleasure of President-elect Obama, and I can do nothing, but voice my apprehension aloud.
Should Senator Clinton become Secretary of State, America and the world will have to weigh each day what perchance, Barack Obama did not wish to, or thought would not be a problem. Bill and Hillary Clinton are forces not to be underestimated. Negotiations are not their forte. The two favor force and power. Peace is not the prospect they pursue. If this train leaves the station, and the bell rings, no one will be able to look back. The damage will be done. Perhaps, we will live the truth of the words oft cast, “Past is prologue.” Woe is me or we.
Sources of Scorn from the possible Secretary of State . . .
On Sunday night, November 16, 2008, twelve days after an historic Presidential Election, Americans watched the couple who represents the culmination of their efforts. Barack and Michelle Obama appeared on 60 Minutes. Journalist Steve Kroft sat with the President-elect and his partner and pondered all that had occurred and would possibly be. Television screens flickered. People felt elated, exhausted, energized, or just excited. Few knew what would come. However, most agreed, after the 2008 Presidential Election, everything was different.
Barack Obama was not yet in the Oval Office. The Illinois Senator’s promises of transformative policies are still not in place. The transition team had begun its work. Yet, until the President-Elect takes office nothing official can be done to bring about the pledge of change. Only hope reigned eternal. Nonetheless, the world had turned on its axis. All were altered by what had occurred the night before. The evidence was perhaps more obvious in the United States.
A friend, who lives in Chicago, Barack Obama’s hometown, said, as he drove to work on Wednesday morning, November 5, he could not help but notice sanitation workers wore smiles. Other commuters were more at ease. Persons in cars were happy to allow pedestrians the right of way. People on the road did not pass each other in haste. Genuinely polite postures were adopted on city streets.
The mad scramble, the race to nowhere, the need to rush was replaced by a pleasant amble. People on the streets were authentically more polite. It seemed to my champion in the Midwest, just as it did to me in the South East, America had done the unexpected, the unprecedented, the unpredictable, and for the most part, people were quite pleased with them selves and with the nation as a whole.
Some were shocked to discover a Black man could rise to power, and become President of the United States. Others were in awe that the man, Barack Obama had not been scared off. So many political opponents tried to intimidate him. Any excuse was used to slam and damn the man some thought was not Presidential material. Barack Obama was too thin, too fat, he did not associate with the “right” people; nor did he reside in a house that befitted his station.
Scandals were floated and filtered through the airwaves; the Illinois Senator was tied to the Chicago machine. The constitutional lawyer was called a Socialist, and a Communist. Those who misread reports in prominent periodicals avowed; the then Presidential hopeful palled around with American terrorists.
As if all that was not enough, the candidate’s complexion was too dark in color. Yet, for several, Barack Obama was not Black enough. Threats, from the first, were heard on the campaign trail. White supremacists, and those who merely believe themselves superior to African-Americans, attempted to put Senator Obama in what they thought to be, his place. Racism was perhaps the most recognized reason for a possible retreat. However, it was the one few wished to publicly broach. Prejudice was perchance the only issue posed that could not be denied.
All the rumors were proved wrong. Rants were rarely reasonable. Rage rolled off Barack’s back. Anger expressed against the person, Barack Obama was thought without cause. The individual who asked to be President did not personally revile his rivals. He did not antagonize his adversaries. Forever calm, Presidential aspirant Obama held his own. He captivated a country ready for change.
The person who emerged, Barack Obama, and the average people who endorsed him, helped build an American community so powerful, so full of pride, practical, and persuasive, they were able to elect a President.
That action was the change that transformed America. A supposed “celebrity” did not move millions to go to the polls. Eloquent speeches did not cause the country to suspend disbelief. Citizens of this country did not wait in long lines to cast a ballot for a boy wonder. Eighty-two year old men and women who had never voted in their lives did not register merely because they saw a man they could believe in. Hope did not enter hallowed halls and bring people to their knees.
What occurred on November 4, 2008 was the American dream. Apathy virtually ended. The people took back their power. Since Election Day 2008, average Americans anticipate that the man they appointed President would do as they desire. Common folks began to believe they were as the Constitution of the United States declares, equal. There was a genuine hope; the government was truly of, by, and for the people.
City laborers did not glow with glee as they reflected upon Barack Obama in the White House. Bus, train, plane, and subway riders did not rejoice merely because the son of a Kenyan scholar, and a Kansas student would take the oath of office. Nor did millions dance with delight as they pondered the other prideful parent, Michelle Obama, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. A country did not celebrate Grandmother Robinson’s possible move to Washington District of Columbia. Few found intense pleasure in the notion that the daughters, Sasha and Malia, and a new dog would romp around the Rose Garden.
Billions beamed throughout the globe for finally, everyday folks, at least in America, achieved the impossible. Common people created enthusiastic communities that together showed they cared. Masses knocked on millions of doors. More made telephone calls. All asked friends and family to have faith that change could come if we, the people, organized and acted together as one.
The hope was that if the public believed in them selves, as the Presidential aspirant, Barack Obama requested, common folk would overcome all obstacles. On November 4, 2008, many realized they had reached heights not attainable in year’s prior.
While Barack and Michelle Obama spoke of how the election had altered their lives, the audience trusted, in truth, what was transformed was not evident on the television screen. Change came through challenging work. Citizens accomplished more than they had. Harden hearts were replaced with a reason to believe again. On Election Day, the people and the nation were transformed.
On that special Sunday, more than a week after an extraordinary election, the people’s image of self, and others, were seen in the smiles donned by Broadcaster Steve Kroft, Barack and Michelle Obama, by street sweepers, bus drivers, school teachers, stylists, police persons, fire fighters, doctors, lawyers, nurses, and so many more Americans. Each grinned as they said to themselves, “Yes we can!”
As I was watching Hardball with Chris Matthews last night I couldn’t help but see the dust-up between Pat Buchanan and Mike Paul; a black Republican strategists. The exchange between the two highlighted the current state of influx for the Republican Party and the deep divisions that are becoming more pronounced with each passing day. What many are missing is not that the Republicans lost; it is how they lost and why they lost that should be examined. I am not sure that they have the willingness or the humility for self-examination and without self-examination there can be no change. The struggles within the Republican Party are not new; it is just that they were able to mask them behind their “cultural wars” and false patriotism. Now that those rhetorical arguments have been ignored by the electorate the party is being exposed for who they truly are.
The true nature of the Republican Party has been and remains exclusion versus inclusion. Rather than wanting to expand their base they want to continue to cling to a shrinking version of an America long since past. Listening to Pat Buchanan one is reminded of why the Republicans are becoming a regional minority party. Mr. Buchanan characterized the Latino and minority voters who by the way are the fastest growing block of voters as being “big government” proponents because they are looking for hand-outs. This is an insult to all of the hard working immigrants and minorities in this country and represents the type of insensitivity that was so evident in the last election. As Mr. Paul tried to suggest the country is changing and the Republicans need to change. Pat Buchanan’s answer was to stick his fingers in his ears and pretend it is still 1964. If this is going to be the Republican answer to the changing demographics in America then their fate is sealed.
I have heard the argument that we need the Republican Party to regroup and become a strong opposition to strengthen our democracy. While I agree that we must have other alternatives to one party rule that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be this party. If a party becomes irrelevant and opposed to change by its own design then another one will rise to replace it. Anyone remember the Whig Party, the Know-Nothings, or how about the States Rights Party? We have a long history of parties rising and falling in America and today is no different. There will always be an opposition party no matter who is the majority or governing party. When a party loses touch with the electorate and the important issues of that electorate then they deserve to become extinct like all other organisms that do not evolve. They may continue to press their agenda but if that agenda is not considered relevant by those who are being asked to support it in a democracy then the people will seal its fate.
America is changing and there are many Republicans and some Democrats alike who find that fact frightening and will continue to cling to their fears and try to stoke the fears of likeminded people, but make no mistake the genie cannot be put back in the bottle. We cannot turn the clock back to the “good old days” when power was concentrated in the hands of a few white men only nor should we. If the Republicans want to continue to run their national campaigns on issues like fear, abortion, and gay-marriage they have every right to and I for one will support their right to do so. However, if the electorate decides that those issues no longer resonate then the Republicans will have a choice to make. They are obviously not at the place where they are ready to make that choice. They continue at least publically to reiterate the same tired rhetoric that has failed them in recent elections. Let the ice age begin. Unless they have a plan to deport all minorities, immigrants, and people who accept diversity not as a necessary evil but as a desired outcome then they shall go the way of the Bull Moosers and good riddance.
The Republicans have maybe two more election cycles to either reach out to more Americans or become insignificant as a national party. They will always have their regional, cultural, and ethnic issues and the voters that these type of arguments appeal to. The problem is that this blocks of voters is becoming smaller and smaller. If anyone is willing to see beyond the numbers there is a gradual but perceptual shift in the American electorate. The problem with many Americans whether they be pundits, political experts, or the general public is that we refuse to accept something until it is right in our faces. It is this lack of foresight that allowed us to believe that there would be no consequences to invading Iraq, spending money like a drunken sailor, or removing the regulations on the greediest among us.
What the Republicans have to come to grips with is that it is not the face of the messenger that counts, it is the message stupid! So whether it is Colin Powell at the UN or Gonzalez at Justice if the policies are whack dressing them up with an acceptable messenger doesn’t make them plausible. Crap is still crap no matter who is spewing it.
How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.