Green Zone handover: The farce of Iraqi sovereignty?

© copyright 2009 Michael Prysner.  Party for Socialism and Liberation

Originally Published, Thursday, January 8, 2009

Only end of occupation can restore self-determination!

The author is an Iraq war veteran.

On the heels of the Status of Forces Agreement, the Iraqi flag was raised for the first time since the 2003 invasion in a symbolic handover of the Green Zone to the Iraqi government.

The Green Zone is a 5.6-square-mile community along the west side of the Tigris River in central Baghdad. It is home to roughly 30,000 residents, including 14,000 U.S. and coalition forces. For nearly six years, the Green Zone has been used to paint a picture of stability and U.S. success in Iraq. When U.S. and foreign politicians visit occupied Iraq, they stroll around the Green Zone, being shown beautiful gardens and lavish palaces that paint a picture of a safe and successful occupation.

But the Green Zone itself is nothing more than a public relations prop and a headquarters for the military brass, private military contractors, and Western corporations to conduct their affairs in luxury. It is off limits to most Iraqi citizens.

Its relative safety is due to a 13-foot concrete wall, miles of barbed wire, machine gun nests every few hundred meters and tightly controlled entry points. Anyone entering the Green Zone is searched thoroughly with high-tech devices such as body scanners. While the Green Zone is frequently attacked from outside with rockets and mortars, there have been few attacks within its walls due to the overwhelming security measures.

The situation just outside the walls of the Green Zone is drastically different. The Green Zone sits in one of the areas where the Iraqi resistance is strongest. Residents outside its walls must cope daily with the severe manifestations of the occupation-extreme poverty and violence.

With U.S. officials coordinating every aspect of Iraqi governance from within its walls, the Green Zone has long been a symbol of U.S. colonial occupation in Iraq. But now, in a move to further tout the occupation, the Green Zone is being manipulated to become a symbol of Iraqi sovereignty.

The handover of the Green Zone, in fact, does nothing except place Iraqi guards in charge of security. Essentially, the “sovereignty” heralded by the handover only gives the Iraqi security forces backed by Washington the sovereignty to protect their occupiers as they continue business as usual within its walls.

Public spectacle changes nothing

Still, Iraq’s puppet president, al-Maliki, declared Jan. 1 a national holiday titled “Sovereignty Day.” A banner at the transition ceremony read in Arabic, “Receiving the security of the Green Zone is a major step toward full independence and the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.” Once the ceremony concluded, the banner was taken down, and behind it was a sign listing a set of rules created by the U.S. military. (Washington Post, Jan. 1)

While the Iraqi security force in the Green Zone-the “Baghdad Brigade”-has supposedly been put in charge, that too is a farce. The Baghdad Brigade is under direct control of President al-Maliki-a U.S. puppet whose government would collapse without Washington’s backing. Furthermore, U.S. forces will continue to be in direct control of security for the next 90 days, at which point the arrangement will be “re-evaluated.” While the Status of Forces Agreement mandates that U.S. forces in the Green Zone come under Iraqi control, U.S. officials have acknowledged that how and when that will happen is uncertain, and unlikely for the time being.

Even if the Baghdad Brigade does officially control security in the Green Zone, it will only be under the strict watchful eye of the U.S. forces. Baghdad Brigade commander Brigadier General Emad al-Zuhairi said, “The Americans will supervise us.” (Washington Post, Jan. 1)

Majid Mola, a resident of Baghdad, commented on how he viewed the newly gained “sovereignty”: “Where are the government services? Where is the electricity? People want practical things.” (Reuters, Jan. 1)

The handover of the Green Zone serves only to improve the public image of a brutal occupation that has killed more than 1 million Iraqis, displaced 4.5 million more, and plunged the Iraqi population into deep poverty. The symbolic handover should be seen for what it is: a public-relations ploy detached from the reality on the ground. While the Iraqi flag now flies over the hub of the occupation, nothing has changed for the Iraqi people.

Raising the Iraqi flag is a symbolic step that brings Iraqis no closer to sovereignty, but is a real step towards cementing U.S. imperialism’s geopolitical and economic goals. Real sovereignty requires an immediate end to U.S. occupation and intervention-a goal the Iraqi people have bravely been fighting for, and for which they deserve our full support.

Black History: The Greensboro Sit-Ins

© copyright 2009 Storm Bear Town Called Dobson


To view the original, please travel through Black History: The Greensboro Sit-Ins


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From Wikipedia:

The Greensboro sit-ins were an instrumental action in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, leading to increased national sentiment at a crucial period in American history.

On February 1, 1960, four African American students – Ezell A. Blair Jr. (now known as Jibreel Khazan), David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, and Franklin McCain – from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a historically black college/university, sat at a segregated lunch counter in the Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth’s store. This lunch counter only had chairs/stools for whites, while blacks had to stand and eat. Although they were refused service, they were allowed to stay at the counter. The next day there was a total of 28 students at the Woolworth lunch counter for the sit in. On the third day, there were 300 activists, and later, around 1000.

This protest sparked sit-ins and economic boycotts that became a hallmark of the American civil rights movement.

According to Franklin McCain, one of the four black teenagers who sat at the “whites only” stools:


Some way through, an old white lady, who must have been 75 or 85, came over and put her hands on my shoulders and said, ‘Boys, I am so proud of you. You should have done this 10 years ago.’

In just two months the sit-in movement spread to 15 cities in 9 states. Other stores, such as the one in Atlanta, moved to desegregate.

The media picked up this issue and covered it nationwide, beginning with lunch counters and spreading to other forms of public accommodation, including transport facilities, art galleries, beaches, parks, swimming pools, libraries, and even museums around the South. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandated desegregation in public accommodations.

In 1993, a portion of the lunch counter was donated to the Smithsonian Institution. The Greensboro Historical Museum contains four chairs from the Woolworth counter along with photos of the original four protesters, a timeline of the events, and headlines from the media.

Several documentaries have been produced about these men who sparked the sit in movement, including PBS’ “February One.”

The sit-in movement used the strategy of nonviolent resistance, which originated in Gandhi’s Indian independence movement and was later brought to the Civil Rights movement by Martin Luther King. This was not the first sit-in to challenge racial segregation. As far back as 1942, the Congress of Racial Equality sponsored sit-ins in Chicago, St. Louis in 1949 and Baltimore in 1952.

In a pre-cursor to the Woolworth sit-ins, on June 23, 1957, seven students organized by a local pastor were arrested in Durham, North Carolina at the Royal Ice Cream Shop for staging a sit-in in the “whites only” section.  After being convicted in North Carolina courts, the seven appealed their case all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which refused to hear their case.

On August 19, 1958, the Oklahoma City NAACP Youth Council began a six-year long campaign of sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, restaurants, and cafes in Oklahoma City. The Greensboro sit-in, however, was the most influential and received a great deal of attention in the press.

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A Rush to Judgment



Rush Limbaugh Hopes President Obama Fails

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Radio host, Rush Limbaugh recently reflected; Democrats rushed to judge him.  Those on the “Left” did not accept that they got it wrong.  Rush Limbaugh, fervent broadcaster who speaks of what is right, explained he did not say that he hoped  Barack Obama fails, although the transcript of his January 16, 2009 rant sits prominently on his website.  Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.

America’s Truth Detector; the Doctor of Democracy; the Most Dangerous Man in America; the All-Knowing, All-Sensing, All-Everything Maha Rushie; defender of motherhood, protector of fatherhood and an all-around good guy, professes his intent was to speak to the Democratic agenda.  However, millions, the magnitude that is the Rush Limbaugh audience heard the words.

If I wanted Obama to succeed, I’d be happy the Republicans have laid down.  And I would be encouraging Republicans to lay down and support him.  Look, what he’s talking about is the absorption of as much of the private sector by the US government as possible, from the banking business, to the mortgage industry, the automobile business, to health care.  I do not want the government in charge of all of these things.  I don’t want this to work.  So I’m thinking of replying to the guy, “Okay, I’ll send you a response, but I don’t need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.”

The Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee, awestruck, asked Americans to assess for themselves.  What did Rush Limbaugh say?  How might the nation address a Rush to Judgment

If you wish to speak out, express yourself, as I chose to do, please sign the petition.

Submit a comment if you wish to.  I share the thought I put forward.

Dearest Mister Limbaugh . . .

If “he” [Barack Obama] fails, America fails!  Please recall the proclamation of a Republican President, Abraham Lincoln; “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  Mister Limbaugh, please ponder the declaration attributed to our forefathers.  “United we stand.  Divided we fall and fail.”

In accordance with our ancestors, propose, we, as a country will not be successful if we see ourselves as part of only one, our won, political Party.

Whether you meant to imply, you hope the Democrats fail, or truly intended as you stated, you hope he, President Obama, fails, either equates to the fall of the United States.

Please tell me.  How might anyone who loves this country, as you claim to do, explain such a wish?  I cannot

I cannot condemn a man or the way one wishes to resolve matters of consequence, simply for the sake of argument.  For me, a Party win will never be the priority.  My country tis of thee, we.  It is through our union that we understand why this is the sweet land of liberty . .  for all!

Oh Dear Rush, I hope you will reflect.  Perhaps, my response, and those of many more might move you to love this country, to work to improve conditions, no matter who the leader might be.

Rush realities and resources . . .

Whitehouse: As We Look Forward We Must Also Look Back

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Millions in America were focused on the future.  Billions, worldwide, anxiously awaited change.  On January 20, 2009, the Presidential Inauguration was broadcast hither and yon.  Barely a television, radio, computer monitor, or big screen was turned off.  Most all tuned in to see Barack Obama take the Oath of Office.  Nary a one were as moved as they were on that occasion.  

Even several Republicans said they were excited.  For countless, it seemed a light was turned on.  Finally, the American people, our allies, and those who are often characterized as adversaries, had hope.  We, collectively, believe it was possible to walk through the din that had been our doom and envision an Earth united.

The world was wowed with thoughts of what would be, as were many Constitutional scholars, concerned citizens, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  Yet, there remained a persistent thought; our potential would not be fully realized.  Several understood, as Senator Whitehouse so solemnly expressed in a speech presented on the Senate floor, a day after the festivities,  As We Look Forward We Must Also Look Back.  Few had an opportunity to see or hear an oration that was perhaps as honest and historic as the Presidents.

Sheldon Whitehouse too saw the glimmer of light.  He spoke to, as Barack Obama did in his address the day before, a democratic republic, deeply scarred, cannot heal without a shared commitment to the principles that guide our country.  The Rhode Island representative, reflected on the notion, just as the Chief Executive had hours earlier, what was sanctioned in the past would not be wiped away by a more hopeful and ethical Administration.  He noted, no series of endeavors would expunge past misdeeds.  Nor could a solitary earthly being erase the clouds that now covered the Constitution.

The Rhode Island Legislator succinctly and eloquently expressed the concern others had hoped to communicate.  He said,  As the President looks forward and charts a new course, must someone not also look back, to take an accounting of where we are, what was done, and what must now be repaired.

For Senator Whitehouse, as for many legal scholars, Conservatives, such as Bruce Fein, and Journalist, Author, John Nichols, it seemed too clear; Americans, in Congress, and on the streets in every community have yet to learn from history.  Even the newly elected President, Barack Obama, did not wish to tread on traditions that obfuscate the thread, the United States Constitution, that for centuries has allowed America to prosper.  

The President, the Obama Administration, and most of America, has expressed a desire to bury the past.  Yet, there is reason to reflect if we are to see “that brighter day; forward to what Winston Churchill in Britain’s dark days called those “broad and sunlit uplands.”  To ponder the past does not mean to punish others for misdeeds.  A penalty cannot be the priority.  Reprimands will not realize a nation’s rebirth.

Indeed, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse reflects, “Our new Attorney-General designate has said, we should not criminalize policy differences.  I agree.”  The Rhode Island representative continues, “I hope we can all agree that summoning young sacrificial lambs to prosecute, as we did after the Abu Ghraib disaster, would be reprehensible.”  Sheldon Whitehouse asks only that “We hold this unique gift in trust for the future and the world.”

Please peruse the prose that might move us to provide a little bright, healthy sunshine and fresh air, to citizens of the world.  The children of today, and those who will survive Seven Generations from now need us to strengthen our democracy.  If we are to be, an educated population, empathetic to those who inherit the Earth we must, as Sheldon Whitehouse avowed, “show where the tunnels were bored, when the truth was subordinated; what institutions were subverted; how our democracy was compromised; so this grim history is not condemned to repeat itself; so a knowing public in the clarity of day can say, “Never, never, never, again,”

I thank you Sheldon Whitehouse for the wisdom and the words that break through the silence, and secure a brighter day.


Whitehouse: As We Look Forward We Must Also Look Back


January 21, 2009

I rise as we celebrate a new President, a new administration, a new mode of governing, and a new future for America.

Even in the gloom of our present predicaments, Americans’ hearts are strong and confident because we see a brighter future ahead.

President Obama looks to that future. Given the depth and severity of those predicaments, we need all his energy to look forward to lead us to that brighter day; forward to what Winston Churchill in Britain’s dark days called those “broad and sunlit uplands.”

But, as we steer toward this broad and sunlit future, what about the past? As the President looks forward and charts a new course, must someone not also look back, to take an accounting of where we are, what was done, and what must now be repaired.

Our new President has said, “America needs to look forward.” I agree.

Our new Attorney General designate has said, we should not criminalize policy differences. I agree.

And I hope we can all agree that summoning young sacrificial lambs to prosecute, as we did after the Abu Ghraib disaster, would be reprehensible.

But consider the pervasive, deliberate, and systematic damage the Bush Administration did to America, to her finest traditions and institutions, to her reputation and integrity.

I evaluate that damage in history’s light. Although I’m no historian, here is what I believe:

The story of humankind on this Earth has been a long and halting march from the darkness of barbarism and the principle that to the victor go the spoils, to the light of organized civilization and freedom. During that long and halting march, this light of progress has burned, sometimes brightly and sometimes softly, in different places at different times around the world.

The light shone in Athens, when that first Senate made democracy a living experiment; and again in the softer but broader glow of the Roman Empire and Senate.

That light burned brightly, incandescently, in Jerusalem, when Jesus of Nazareth cast his lot with the weak and the powerless.

The light burned in Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo and Cordoba, when the Arab world kept science, mathematics, art, and logic alive, as Europe descended into Dark Ages of plague and violence.

The light flashed from the fields of Runnymede when English nobles forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, and glowed steadily from that island kingdom as England developed Parliament and the common law, and was the first to stand against slavery.

It rekindled in Europe at the time of the Reformation, with a bright flash in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his edicts to the Wittenberg cathedral doors, and faced with excommunication, stated “Here I stand. I can do no other.”

Over the years across the globe, that light, and the darkness of tyranny and cruelty, have ebbed and flowed.

But for the duration of our Republic, even though our Republic is admittedly imperfect, that light has shone more brightly and more steadily here in this Republic than in any place on earth: as we adopted the Constitution, the greatest achievement yet in human freedom; as boys and men bled out of shattered bodies into sodden fields at Antietam and Chicamagua, Shiloh and Gettysburg to expiate the sin of slavery; as we rebuilt shattered enemies, now friends, overseas and came home after winning world wars; and as we threw off bit by bit ancient shackles of race and gender to make this a more perfect union for all of us.

What made this bright and steady glow possible? What made it possible is not that we are better people, I believe, but that our system of government is government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Why else does our President take his oath to defend a Constitution of the United States of America? Our unique form of self-government is a blessing, and we hold it in trust; not just for us, but for our children and grandchildren down through history; not just for us, but as an example out through the world.

That is why our Statue of Liberty raises a lamp to other nations still engloomed in tyranny.

That is why we stand as a beacon in this world, beckoning to all who seek a kinder, freer, brighter future.

We hold this unique gift in trust for the future and the world. Each generation assumes responsibility for this Republic and its government, and each generation takes on a special obligation when they do. Our new President closed his Inaugural Address by setting forth the challenge against which future generations will test us: whether “with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generation.” There are no guarantees that we will – this is a continuing experiment we are embarked upon – and a lot is at stake; indeed, the most precious thing of man’s creation on the face of the Earth is at stake. That is what I believe.

So from that perspective, what about the past? No one can deny that in the last eight years America’s bright light has dimmed and flickered, darkening our country and darkening the world.

The price of that is incalculable. There are nearly 7 billion human souls on this world. Every morning, the sun rises anew over their villages and hamlets and barrios, and every day they can choose where to invest their hopes, their confidence, and their dreams.

I submit that when America’s light shines brightly, when honesty, freedom, justice and compassion glow from our institutions, it attracts those hopes, those dreams; and the force of those 7 billion hopes and dreams, the confidence of those 7 billion souls in our lively experiment, is, I believe, the strongest power in our national arsenal – stronger than atom bombs. We risk it at our peril.

And of course, when our own faith is diminished at home, this vital light only dims further, again at incalculable cost.

So when an administration rigs the intelligence process and produces false evidence to send our country to war;

When an administration descends to interrogation techniques of the Inquisition, of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge – descends to techniques that we have prosecuted as crimes in military tribunals and federal courts;

When institutions as noble as the Department of Justice and as vital as the Environmental Protection Agency are systematically and deliberately twisted from their missions by odious means of institutional sabotage;

When the integrity of our markets and the fiscal security of our budget are opened wide to the frenzied greed of corporations, speculators and contractors;

When the integrity of public officials; the warnings of science; the honesty of government procedures; and the careful historic balance of our separated powers of government, are all seen as obstacles to be overcome and not attributes to be celebrated;

When taxpayers are cheated, and the forces of government ride to the rescue of the cheaters and punish the whistleblowers;

When a government turns the guns of official secrecy against its own people to mislead, confuse and propagandize them;

When government ceases to even try to understand the complex topography of the difficult problems it is our very purpose and duty to solve, and instead cares only for these points where it intersects with the party ideology, so that the purpose of government becomes no longer to solve problems, but only to work them for political advantage;

In short, when you have pervasive infiltration into all the halls of government – judicial, legislative, and executive – of the most ignoble forms of influence; when you see systematic dismantling of historic processes and traditions of government that are the safeguards of our democracy; and when you have a bodyguard of lies, jargon, and propaganda emitted to fool and beguile the American people…

Well, something very serious in the history of our republic has gone wrong, something that dims the light of progress for all humanity.

As we look forward, as we begin the task of rebuilding this nation, we have an abiding duty to determine how great the damage is. I say this in no spirit of vindictiveness or revenge. I say it because the thing that was sullied is so, so precious; and I say it because the past bears upon the future. If people have been planted in government in violation of our civil service laws to serve their party and their ideology instead of serving the public, the past will bear upon the future. If procedures and institutions of government have been corrupted and are not put right, that past will assuredly bear on the future. In an ongoing enterprise like government, the door cannot be so conveniently closed on the closets of the past. The past always bears on the future.

Moreover, a democracy is not just a static institution, it is a living education – an ongoing education in freedom of a people. As Harry Truman said addressing a joint session of Congress back in 1947, “One of the chief virtues of a democracy is that its defects are always visible, and under democratic processes can be pointed out and corrected.”

Entirely apart from tentacles of the past that may reach into the future, are the lessons we as a people have to learn from this past carnival of folly, greed, lies, and sabotage, so that it can, under democratic processes, be pointed out and corrected.

If we blind ourselves to this history, if we pull an invisibility cloak over it, we will deny ourselves its lessons. Those lessons came at too painful a cost to ignore. Those lessons merit discovery, disclosure and discussion. Indeed, disclosure and discussion is the difference between a valuable lesson for the bright upward forces of our democracy, and a blueprint for darker forces to return and do it all over again.

A little bright, healthy sunshine and fresh air, so that an educated population knows what was done and how, can show where the tunnels were bored, when the truth was subordinated; what institutions were subverted; how our democracy was compromised; so this grim history is not condemned to repeat itself; so a knowing public in the clarity of day can say, “Never, never, never, again;” so we can keep that light – that light that is at once America’s greatest gift and greatest strength – brightly shining. To do this, I submit, we must look back.

I yield the floor.

Geithner; Economic Expert?



Geithner Apologizes for Not Paying Taxes

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

There  are conventions, customs, and words, thought to be complementary.  Consider; Fat and jolly.  Short and sweet.  Tax-and-spend-liberal.  These words, while often far from tantamount, are in the minds of many, inexorably tied.  

I was fat.  However, I did not feel jolly during those days, months, and years.  I am short.  Sweet?  I am not especially so; nor am I sour.  Balanced might better describe me, which takes me to the next paired, or triad of adjectives.  I like my taxes progressive, my spending minimal, and I am a liberal.  

However, I do not support the oft-titled tax-and-spend-liberal Democratic President’s appointment, Timothy F. Geithner.  Perhaps, some would say, I do not appreciate the need for an economic expert.  This duo of descriptive qualifiers, I believe, can be an oxymoron, just as the others might be.  It seems those farthest “Left” on the political aisle may concur.

Russell Feingold [Wisconsin Democrat], Thomas Harkin [Iowa Democrat,] and Democratic Socialist, Bernard Sanders [Vermont Independent] voted nay when asked to approve Timothy Geithner for Secretary of Treasury.

The case of Timothy F. Geithner and his confirmation may enlighten Americans and alter conventions associated with language.  

The new Treasury Secretary, his history, and who approved his appointment might help Americans understand that conjoined words provide a contrary perspective.

Timothy F. Geithner has a troublesome history of unpaid taxes.  While he apologetically addressed this serious concern in Senate hearings, he could not negate the fact that he, an “economic expert” made more than a slight error.  A man who works with ledgers, looked past his own numbers.  For four years, he left levees unpaid.  Only an Internal Revenue audit, supposedly, helped him to realize his records were wrong.

The most Progressive Senators thought this tale difficult to swallow.  Legislators frequently labeled as the more extreme liberals, Feingold, Harkin, and Sanders pondered economic ethics.  For these few an awareness for dollars due is required if one is to serve as Secretary of the Treasury.  Hence, these Democrats decided the President’s selection for the Cabinet position was not a suitable choice.  

From their vote, it might be assumed, the three thought morals must be considered in the definition of monetary expert.  Perchance the Senators mused; if a fiscal guru is not immediately responsive to his or her own legal responsibilities, liabilities, how could that person be put in charge of the nation’s currency.

As one who is frequently characterized as a tax-and-spend-liberal, I know that moral values, and a code of consciousness concern me, especially when I consider Timothy Geithner as an economic expert..

I am exceedingly conservative, especially with money.  I may not be an expert; nevertheless, I believe legal liabilities must be paid.  Currency cannot be spent frivolously.  Coins, I believe are meant to be saved.  These pieces of eight add up.  

This tax-and-spend-liberal, me, thinks people, no matter their rank or royalties paid to them must be responsible for what they owe society.  The radical rationale I embrace dictates that as a part of the populace I must pay my fair share.

I think it vital that I, as a citizen, contribute to the greater good.  Unlike Timothy F. Geithner, President and Chief Executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since November 2003, and as of moments ago, Secretary of the Treasury., I would never withhold my taxes.  The idea of it troubles me as it does my fellow so-called tax-and-spend-liberals, Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin, and Bernie Sanders.  

An economic expert, I will never be.  Yet, I trust a levee, thoughtfully used, can strengthen the community.  Admittedly, I observe that in America, much money is spent with reckless disregard.  Witness, the credit crisis, and how a financial sage such as Timothy F. Geithner, does not sparingly dole out dollars.

That said, I remain secure in the knowledge that when we, the people, pool our resources, we can ensure that adequate educational facilities exist for all.  Fire and police protection can be provided for everyone.  When we pay the levees, libraries can be constructed, a supply of clean and fresh water flows, and waste is managed.  A cultured and civilized community can thrive.  

Tariffs afford us safety, sanity, and a sanitary environment.  With the help of fellow citizens, the good life that taxes allow for is possible, even for Mister Geithner, who pays his duties selectively.

The monetary expert who played a prominent role in the management of the financial crisis that has engulfed Wall Street, failed to pay federal taxes for Social Security and Medicare from 2001 through 2004.  

The fiscal sage had the funds.  The current Secretary Geithner was a gainfully employed Senior Official at the International Monetary Fund,

In 2006, after the Internal Revenue Service audited the esteemed economic guru, Timothy F. Geithner paid his taxes for 2003.  He presented a partial compensation for 2004.  Secretary Geithner was able to avoid recompense for 2001 and 2002.  The statute of limitations for these liabilities, fortuitously for the fiscal wizard, had expired.  Hence, he was able to retain the gains that might have helped pay for schools, streets, libraries, water and waste management.

Likely, this respected representative of the people spent the money on personal pleasures.  Now, with the authority vested in freeloader Timothy F. Geithner, he will have the ability to spend more of the tax dollars.  Money, the most liberal among us,  do not wish to squander.

The three tax-and-spend-liberal Senators, in practice, honored the adage, a book cannot be defined by it cover.  People must peruse the pages carefully if we are to comprehend the content.  The Democrats who did not approve of the appointment extrapolated and said, before we determine who is an economic expert, we must consider the ethical way in which that individual spends cash.  A Treasury Secretary must, at least, consistently attend to accounts payable.

Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin, Bernie Sanders, and I would say, perchance, it is time to examine conventions, customs, and words, thought to be complementary.  Perhaps, Americans could better define tax-and-spend-liberals and economic experts.  It would seem countless of those whose politics are more progressive pay taxes and do not wish to spend.  Those who think it fine to avoid the fees that contribute to the greater good of society, fritter the funds.  They are not more liberal, just more liable.  

Sources for spending . . .

“I won!”

IWn

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Update . . . A bell rings.  The sound reverberates.  A sentiment shared aloud resonates within the heart, mind, body, and soul of persons who heard the message.  No matter the actions taken afterward, sullen statements are not easily erased from memory.  

Days before Congress was asked to pass the stimulus package, the President uttered the now famous phrase; “I won,” Republicans, as could have been expected, expressed resentment.  Immediately, subsequent to President Obama’s statement Democrats were said to have followed the Chief Executive’s lead.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was asked if he thought Republicans might block the initiative.  Empathically, he replied; “No.”  Today we know differently.  In the House, the measure received no support from the Grand Old Party.  

As we await approval from the Senate we may wish to consider, the past.  Words that evoke division have a lasting effect.  

Please peruse a missive penned shortly after President Obama reacted to pressure from the “Right.”

Oh Mister Obama, please tell me it is not so.  Days ago, I read and heard numerous reports.  You made a declarative statement.  Many were shocked.  Anecdotally, Congressman and women stated, when pressed by Republicans who disagreed with your position on economic policy, you said, “I won.”  Will this mean, once again, Americans will be the losers?  

I fear for the future, for I remember when the words were “Yes we can!”  Has this assertion become but an old argot, now trivial or trite?  Please tell me.  Now that you sit solidly in the Oval Office is the achievement of one all that matters?  Perchance, with a “change” in climate, we, the Progressives have become the Party of arrogance.

It seems you personally have adopted an individualistic platform.  Peace and process talks will be less diplomatic.  Discussions will be more reflective of Obama rule or Democratic control.  After he left the White House, House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina was said to have “echoed” your sentiment.  He may not have used your exact words; nevertheless, the sentiment was clear, the Progressive Party will dictate the rule of law.  Congressman Clyburn said, “The American people didn’t listen to them [the Republicans] too well during the election.”  The implication being, so why should the Progressives who represent them.

My concern extends beyond the language.  It is the intent I lament!

I had hoped that sooner than later, the Obama Administration would recognize individualism, as we all saw, did more harm than good.  ‘I envisioned “Mavericks no more,” would be the mantra of an Obama Administration.  

As a Democrat, devoted to progressive platforms, I imagined peace was a prospect we would no longer ignore.  Admittedly, as I say this I cannot help but think of the quagmire that Afghanistan is, and I fear will be worsened

You may recall, President Obama, when we go for the unilateral kill, as we did in Iraq, innocents, foreign born and our own die.  The terrain is devastated.  The cost cannot be accurately calculated.  The price humans pay for victory is incomprehensible, at least it is to me.  I inquire; how does one place value on lives, limbs, and a sense of security, serenity, and safety lost.  It seems in America, most rarely do the math.  We want only to overcome, to be the victor.

Hence, with a note of superiority, supremacy, and self-importance, we say we, he, or “I win.”

I heard the reaction on November 4, 2008.  As the election results came in, your constituents chanted “We won!”  You too must have felt concern as the crowd cheered.  You spoke to such a perspective often.  A triumphal tune closes doors and ends discussion.  President Obama, these are your words.  “Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.”  

The electorate, I recognize is new to the novelty of inclusively, but you, Mister President.  What of your core beliefs?

President Obama, I could understand such a statement from a Republican, not yet ready, to put aside differences after what seemed to be a defeat.  Elections, by their very nature, are divisive.  However, even Conservatives for Change concluded this year was different.  Republican Senator Mitch McConnell even offered his open hand.  I suspect with word of your “win” that will not last.

Oh, Mister President, until I heard word of how you spoke of “your” feat, I truly believed that change had come.

I wonder, with all the work to do, has anyone won?  There has been too much despair, too much distress, disparity that is incomprehensible, and all this has existed for far too long.  

Please Mister President,  travel back, into the future, with me.  Do you recall the deregulations and the economic downfall?.  In the recent past, as a country, we experienced the dire effects of a Republican victory.  It seemed obvious, a conquest breed certain vanity.

Persons within the Grand Old Party are not alone when it comes to excessive pomposity.  Hence, my apprehension.  In modern times, Americans have seen the ill inflated egos can cause.  Democrats, equally haughty, ultimately embraced policies that ended an era of effective oversight.  Do the words Glass-Steagall Act remind you of how arrogant, those replete with power might be,  Does the taste of the Depression era law President Clinton repealed linger on your lips?

Those who no longer have a legal right to redeem a mortgage might caution against a prizewinning irrational exuberance.  

Perhaps you may recall predatory lending.  Winners on Wall Street thought this idea fine.  Home foreclosures flourished.  Bank failures became common.  Unemployment rates rose.  Workers received less benefits before businesses finally closed the doors.

It was not that long ago.  Think back.  During the Bush reign the Conservatives were in power.  For decades, Republicans won most every Presidential election.  On the one occasion when a Democrat occupied the Oval Office and Congress was mostly Progressive, defiant winners were only able to do so much.  Soon after, Democratic “control” was easily lost.  

Perhaps, the people felt the Administration to full of itself with the win.  You may remember President Obama, “The Republican Contract with America.”  In the past, a practiced politician or a Political Party may have said they won.  However, what really happened was America lost.

President Obama, you spoke of this in your more recent book, The Audacity of Hope.”  Remember?

“In the back-and-forth between Clinton and Gingrich, and in the elections of 2000 and 2004, I sometimes felt as if I were watching the psychodrama of the Baby Boom generation – a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago – played out on the national stage. . . .what has been lost in the process, and has yet to be replaced, are those shared assumptions – that quality of trust and fellow feeling – that bring us together as Americans.”

Mister President, you also addressed the issue of the ownership society.  You must remember this.  You stated what I often say; however, more eloquently.

Barack Obama these are your words.  “In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is – you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps – even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own. Well it’s time for them to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America.”

If someone, anyone wins or owns the rights to run the show, we are all doomed. Currently, we witness the woes of a win in our Health Care systems.   Medical coverage is a service available only to the privileged.  There is income for triumphant Insurers. Pharmaceuticals profits have paralyzed this country.  Disparity in healthcare devastates the impoverished, the ill, and the injured, millions of whom have no medical coverage.  More Americans are underinsured.  Even more are likely to lose what they have as the economy weakens.  In this country, cash divides winners and losers.  

Mister President, you might understand this.  Consider the dollars needed just to get a candidate elected, to have him or her heard.  Please also ponder what was once more important to you and the electorate than dough.  The community carried the message.  Without the strength of unity, we as a country crumble.

The deterioration has already begun.  President Obama, do you remember the dream?  You must recall; Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Junior taught us to believe in the dream of equality. Reverend King avowed, “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.  This is the way our world is made.”  Doctor King did not praise personal wins or commend clannish conquests.

Yet, today, in America, where a President proudly proclaims “I won,” children of all colors, their elders of every hue, are not afforded a chance to succeed.  In a country where Progressives posture, “We won,” we do not consider what a coup d’état mentality means to a country, or to the children who inherit a nation torn asunder.

Mister President and Progressives proud of what it means to win, please consider the ominous shadow cast by a Supreme Court decision, Parents v. Seattle and Meredith v. Jefferson,  The Court and the prideful parents who championed a cause ensured only the wealthy and the white would receive a quality education.  Separate and unequal services are again sanctioned in city schools.  The judgment sealed a subterranean deal that has long been in effect.  The rich triumph; the poor will not have equal opportunities.  

In America, we have seen the destruction wrought by our culture of conquests.  Yet, as a nation we continue to ignore what might be obvious.

Perhaps, this is why, as your proclamation filtered through the airwaves, Mister President, many Progressives applauded what was familiar and what they had waited for.  Republicans who had come to believe there was reason to hope for true change were struck by the divisive rhetoric.  Your disdainful remark was like a slap in the face, a stab in the back, or the statement that would bring resentment back to Washington, Those still bruised by the political battle never forgot that they wanted to be the ones, or at least “That one.”  

I recall history and recoil at what could be our future if we affirm as you did days ago.  “I won?”  

Oh please President Obama, remember your own reflection.    “What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night.  This “victory” alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change . . . ”

I beg you to consider, the power of words.  Ponder; can we be “victorious,” and will such a triumph leave many behind; or we can we be successful together.  Can one “I” prevail or will we, the people achieve when we unite.  

Please tell me it is true.  Government can be of, by, and for us all, or an Administration, and Americans can be partisan.

Please President Obama, let us not suggest that we, or “I won!”  I implore you to reflect or your own words.. “(The change we seek) that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.  It cannot happen without you (the American people).”  

President Obama, you did not win.  Progressives did not prevail when you were placed in the Oval Office.  We the people will not meet the challenges through conquest.  Nor will we be the change we can believe in if you, or any of us, declaratively deems, “I won!”

Americans did not vote for the arrogance we heard and saw for eight long years,  We had hope.  We had a dream.  In the White House, in the people’s house, in Congress, and in our local communities, we could become  genuinely united, integrated, and inclusive.  Yes we can, and I think we must.

References for realities that divide us . . .

The Wolf Barack Obama Feeds



Pt 1 – National Cathedral Message – Story of The Two Wolves

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

It was 11:22 Ante Meridian, on January 21, 2009.  I did as I rarely do.  I stood silently and watched television.  As one who listens to what is aired, and does so from another room, this was an unusual occurrence.  However, the Cherokee wisdom of wolves, an illustration that represents the internal strife within every human being beckoned me.  

Then, at the very same hour on the very next day, again I was compelled to do what is odd for me.  I did not say a word as I glared at humanitarian actions took place on the screen.  President Barack Obama proclaimed, by Executive Order, the United States would not torture.  Nor would we, as a nation, detain presumed “combatants” without a just trial.  On each occasion, I was in awe as I gazed upon what I had not imagined would come to pass.  Upon reflection, the two events seem to be related.

On Wednesday, the voice of the speaker was unfamiliar to me.  The narrative, she share was extremely familiar.  Perchance that is why I was drawn into the calm drama as it unfolded before me.  Reverend Doctor Sharon E. Watkins, in her candid manner, in the Inaugural Prayer, brought the Chief Executive of the United States to task.  With knowledge of The Obama Administration’s agenda, a plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan, Doctor   Reverend Sharon E. Watkins shared a allegory and directly addressed the analogy.  The President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) spoke to the President of the United States with intent.  Her prayer was meant to be more than a homily, easily left in the home of the Lord.  The passionate cleric conceded, the circumstances that exist today are dire.

What you are entering now, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, will tend to draw you away from your ethical center.  But we, the nation that you serve, need you to hold the ground of your deepest values, of our deepest values.

Beyond this moment of high hopes, we need you to stay focused on our shared hopes, so that

we can continue to hope, too.

We will follow your lead.

There is a story attributed to Cherokee wisdom:

One evening a grandfather was teaching his young grandson about the internal battle that each person faces.

“There are two wolves struggling inside each of us,” the old man said.

“One wolf is vengefulness, anger, resentment, self?pity, fear . . .

“The other wolf is compassion, faithfulness, hope, truth, love . . .”

The grandson sat, thinking, then asked: “Which wolf wins, Grandfather?”

His grandfather replied, “The one you feed.”

The congregation was spellbound.  The camera showed a meditative Barack Obama.  The President, with his head in his hand, seemed to consider the parable.  He looked as if he might ponder the parallel.  Minister Watkins continued.

The frank Theologian furthered the thought when she said, “There are crises banging on the door right now, pawing at us, trying to draw us off our ethical center – crises that tempt us to feed the wolf of vengefulness and fear.”  

President Obama, from his facial expressions, understood.  He knew the weight placed on his shoulders.  As he oft expressed, the decision to serve the public was his, and he would do so to the best of abilities.  Yet, Barack Obama often proclaimed, he could not do the nation’s work alone.  Indeed, he would need help from the public.  The Reverend was ready to lend a hand to the Commander-In-Chief.  In service to her country, and perchance, more significantly to the Almighty and the people, planet-wide Sharon E. Watkins submitted.

We need you, Mr. President, to hold your ground.  We need you, leaders of this nation, to stay centered on the values that have guided us in the past; values that empowered to move us through the perils of earlier times and can guide us now into a future of renewed promise.

We need you to feed the good wolf within you, to listen to the better angels of your nature, and by your example encourage us to do the same.

In the hours before the erudite religious leader spoke, much laid in the balance.  Doctor Watkins likely heard the whispers; President Obama might not close Guantanamo Bay Prison as quickly as he had promised.  When asked of the possible release of detainees Barack Obama was hesitant.  He discussed what logistically would be difficult.  

Doctor Sharon E. Watkins seemed to inquire as an ABC News interviewer had not.  Mister President; which path will you choose?  How will ethical principles shape your policies President Obama?  

She too may have marveled at the statement a pious man offered just prior to the inauguration.  On “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos, Barack Obama stated, homeland security is his top priority.  The “need” to fight back when terrorists threaten would be prominent features in an Obama Administration.  “We are going to have to stay vigilant, and that’s something that doesn’t change from administration to administration,” the then President Elect said.

Hence, in her homily Sharon E. Watkins invited the newly installed President Obama to obey the sacred principles he had oft professed to believe.

On Thursday, perhaps he did honor the ethical traditions.  As I again, listened to the television from afar, the baritone sounds that echoed in the next room were recognizable.  Barack Obama addressed a small audience of onlookers, each anxious to see him sign three Executive Orders.  Indeed, Commander-In-Chief Obama decreed that this country act on the “some” of the ethical standards the Minister spoke of only twenty-four hours earlier.

President Obama signed directives that authorize a Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities.  A Review of Detention Policy Options, and he approved an order that would Ensure Lawful Interrogations.

However, what the President has yet to act on the poignant matters that affect every American, in truth all human beings every day.  War.  As I situated myself before the screen to watch the invocation, I saw a pensive man.  Barack Obama, unlike most in the National Cathedral congregation seemed to study Reverend Doctor Sharon E. Watkins’ every word.  

The Commander-In-Chief appeared to recognize the depth of the sermon Reverend Watkins delivered. Indeed, that is what captured my attention.  While Doctor Watkins had command of her language, she commanded the person who is perhaps, the most powerful human being in the world.  This articulate Minister stood before the President, and eloquently presented parables and scriptures that spoke to the less than honorable and moral issue of vengeance.  

This uncommon; yet commoner, cleric addressed a reverent Barack Obama.  She welcomed reflections on stark realities in a manner that few might.  Doctor Reverend Sharon E. Watkins essentially confronted the new Commander and asked him to evaluate his ethics.  

Solemnly she said, “In international hard times, our instinct is to fight – to pick up the sword, to seek out enemies, to build walls against the other and why not?  They just might be out to get us.  We’ve got plenty of evidence to that effect.  Someone has to keep watch and be ready to defend, and Mr. President – Tag!  You’re it!”

The congregation laughed.  The air for them was light.  However, for Doctor Sharon E. Watkins, there was no humor in her words.  

G-d’s representative spoke of the change she, and I could, believe in.

While most Americans delighted in the news of today’s Executive Orders, I wonder if Reverend Doctor Watkins worried as I do.  Later, on Thursday afternoon, at 3:10 Post Meridian, when once again, I stood frozen in front of the “tube.”  I felt the futility of fight would be America’s fate.

The baritone, Barack Obama boomed, as if defiant of the deities.  “The world needs to understand that America will be unyielding in its protection of its security and relentless in its pursuit of those who would carry out terrorism or threaten the United States.”

I wondered.  Had Reverend Doctor Watkins heard the statement?  Does she now know as I do, which wolf Barack Obama will feed.

Update . . .

Two U.S. missile strikes kill 17 in Pakistan, sources say,

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — Seventeen people were killed Friday evening in two U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal region, said one government and two military officials.

They are the first such strikes since President Obama took office Tuesday.

Both hits were near the Afghan border, said local political official Nasim Dawar. The Pakistani military sources asked not to be named because they are not authorized to release such information.

The first strike, which killed 10 people, occurred about 5:15 p.m. (7:15 a.m. ET) in a village near Mir Ali in North Waziristan, the officials said. Seven people died in the second hit at 7:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. ET) near Wana, the major town in South Waziristan, 17 miles (27 kilometers) from Afghanistan, they said.

References for realities, real, and those imagined by vengeful, fearful, humans . . .

Neighborhoods, At Last, Have a Ball



Barack & Michelle Obama as their first dance as the new President and First Lady (Full Version)

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

If that is all there is, and there is more than we ever imagined, then let us keep dancing.  Let us sing, and have a ball.  If that is all, then we, as a country, have much.  We can see the errors of our ways.  We can change.  Yes we can.  

A Democratic society adjusts to situation.  We alter course when we have gone astray.  The people can choose another direction.  Neighbors unite.  Belatedly, as it may sometimes be, we can come together and work more wisely.  We have.  We are the American way, at last.  At long, long last, our love has come along.

The lonely days are over.  Life is like a song.  At last, the skies above are blue.  Our hearts were wrapped up in clover the night we looked at you, America reborn.

We found a dream that we could speak to, a dream that we can call our own.   The vision is one we will, share, forever.  America, you are our home sweet home.

Praise Song For the Day



Elizabeth Alexander 2009 Inauguration Poem

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

As Americans go about their day, they chortle, croon, and chatter.  Conversations are constant.  Hymns are hummed.  People sing even when there is no tune.  There is much said, and little heard.  Cries may strike a chord; yet, these too may be perceived as silence.  People talk.  They wail; and no one listens  to the lovely lyrics are sung.  

Everyone is hurried.  Most are worried.  They fear the mundane that threatens their very existence.  Moms, Dads, even teens who must help provide for the family anxiously ask, will I have a job tomorrow.  Singles are not exempt.  Children too are concerned for they feel the disquiet amidst the noise.  The murmur that moves us might be summed up in a sentence.  ‘Will there be money in my pocket today?’  

Society, it seems, is engaged in selfish pursuits.  Personal survival is a more significant motivator than service.  There is no harmony in the hullabaloo that surrounds us.  The hum of reverence remains hidden.

The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick-maker move through the day with one song in mind.  How might I provide food for the family, and find shelter from all the storms? What of schools for my children, and an education for myself?  In the pandemonium, the only sound that echoes is a irksome song,

Most citizens of this country know not what will come.  Nor do individuals recognize the love that was and is.  Thus, they do as was done before them.

Just as their parents did, the tired, the hungry, the poor and downtrodden, talk of a secure future.  They walk towards what they want, or try to.   Heads are held high.  People work in factories.  They stitch finery.   Some drive trucks or taxis.  Others teach.  Builders construct edifices that will be too expensive for them to occupy.

Countless serve .  As they do so many deeds, they sing the customary song.

Farmers plant crops for a country starved for nourishment.  Field-workers pick the harvest.  Waiters and waitresses dish out the chow.  Chefs cook.  The rewards are paltry.  The reality is stark. All have hope for a better day.  Each looks out on the horizon.

Everyone strives to see the grass that certainly must be greener on the other side of the street.

Few realize that today was tomorrow.  All that they have was given to them with thanks to yesterday.  Ancestral devotion, dedication to the Seventh Generation has served society well..

The blood, sweat, and tears of persons who toiled in the past, gave birth to a nation that believes in love, liberty, and the light that everyone seeks.  The truth is, the sound often muffled by expressions of personal misery were lovely songs.

Today, as citizens consider the crisis that has become common in American lives, they hope for change.  No one noticed within the noise, was transformation.  Fondness for a shared future originated a renaissance that, as a country, we celebrate today.  

Collectively, we, the people have inaugurated a President that taught Americas, “Yes they can; Yes we can!”  A Poet, Elizabeth Alexander, who stood on the stage with the nation’s newly installed leader helped the country to understand, that no one man could, or would do what the populace had already done.  In the name of love, on this very significant day, the American people could chant “Yes we have, and tomorrow we will again!”

Please peruse the poem, Praise Song for the Day.  Ponder what the American people have accomplished.  Imagine what we can achieve.


Inaugural Poem

By Elizabeth Alexander

January 20, 2009

The following is a transcript of the inaugural poem recited by Elizabeth Alexander, as provided by CQ transcriptions.

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp — praise song for walking forward in that light.

America Speechless; President Barack Obama Speaks



Presidential Inauguration 2009 – President Obama’s Full Inaugural Address – Part 1 of 3

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

“On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord..”

~ President Barack H. Obama [Inauguration Speech January 20, 2009]

There are no words to express what today means to many, to any, to you, or to me.  I cannot know what others think, or how they feel.  I have faith that each of us experiences every moment in a manner that is uniquely ours.  I do not presume to be able to articulate for others.  I barely know what is true for me on this historic occasion.  As Americans collectively stood speechless, President Barack Obama spoke.  The text of his oration overwhelmed millions.

Yet, there is more to consider than merely the United States.  Planet-wide, we are connected.  If each of us chooses, we can join forces, and walk hand-in-hand.  Fondness can flourish if only we ponder the acumen of a poet.  Elizabeth Alexander, bard of beautiful verse, enunciated welcome wisdom, on this historic occasion.  She gave voice to the lessons of love.  With profound insight she reminded the world of the need to be conscious of our connectedness.  (While I had hoped to offer her ode immediately after she shared such sweet sentiments, for now, the focus is on Barack Hussein Obama and his message.)

Eloquent and powerful prose proclaimed by the forty-fourth President of the United States, for now, is all that might be said, with the exception of one thought.  I thank you President Obama, wife Michelle, daughters Malia, and Sasha for your commitment to this country and the world.  I appreciate your shared willingness to serve and secure a prosperous path for the entire world.  I am grateful Ms Robinson for the warmth you bring to the White House.  You have taught the children, yours, your daughter’s, and as a model, every parent well.  Americans, I cannot tell you how much I value you all, everyone.

Please peruse the text of Barack Obama’s speech.  Ponder, and perchance, feel the pride of a nation too long divided, which on January 20, 2009 came together to celebrate a future most never imagined.


Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address

Following is the prepared text of President-elect Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, as provided by the Presidential Inaugural Committee:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

References for a new reality . . .