The United States of Rabble

For all those who believe that Sarah Palin is qualified to be president, Obama is the anti-Christ who was born in Kenya not the United States, Medicare is socialized medicine, senior citizens will be euthanized under healthcare reform, insurance companies are a cancer patient’s dearest friend, gay marriage will destroy their own straight marriages, global warming is a scientific hoax, God created the world in seven days, and the Republican party cares about anything other than protecting the rich and regaining political power, this flag’s for you:

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Obama on Fire

Here are excerpts from Obama’s speech on the stimulus package that he gave to House Democrats at their retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia on February 5. Unfortunately, you’ll have to endure an introductory segment that’s 20 seconds of absolute corn but don’t give up: This is the leader we voted for.

Maira Kalman offers a lovely remembrance of Inauguration Day while paying homage to all that is worth celebrating:


This cover from the current issue of Mad magazine is priceless: as much a keepsake as any newspaper account of Inauguration Day. Unlike the New Yorker’s controversial fist-bump cover of Barack and Michelle as resident White House terrorists which I also loved, this one is all too real — except of course that Obama doesn’t seem freaked by anything. (One of the reasons he was elected!)

The inside feature detailing his first 100 minutes in office is pretty hysterical too, e.g., “00:01-02: Round up Michelle and kids, give finger to Bush and Cheney, head to Oval Office; 00:03: Remove stupid flag pin from lapel;” etc. etc.

I guess Obama’s presidency doesn’t mean the death of political humor after all.


Thanks to SG for the issue. I would probably have missed it completely.

Chapter One, Page One

Inauguration Day was filled with many memorable moments but the image that remains most poignant for me was the scene, as shown on TV, of the parade in the early evening. By this time, the Obamas stood almost alone in the reviewing stand. The bands, as far as I could tell, had marched through cold, dark streets until they arrived at the small, floodlit area in front of the presidential party; less than a minute later, they were swallowed by darkness again. The crowds had already thinned out considerably.

In spite of the upbeat music, there was something vaguely depressing about the picture: the reviewing stand seemed but a tiny, forlorn and impoverished outpost in an enveloping gloom devoid of warmth — aren’t parades supposed to take place in bright sunlight? And where was the entourage of family, friends and other dignitaries who were present when the parade began? Why had they deserted the First Couple? I found myself wishing Barack and Michelle could leave too: they had already put in a long, eventful day and still had a full night ahead of them. I suppose that protocol, and respect for those who came from afar at great expense to honor the new president, compelled them to stay. Perhaps they were even enjoying themselves.

But in another respect, it was also a metaphorical lesson about where the country is now. In this dark time, a tall, thin black man stands rooted in a vision of light, carrying an immense weight on his shoulders. Instead of flinching, he accepts his burden wholeheartedly. Who else would dare to take on this daunting challenge at all, let alone with so much grace, conviction, integrity, humility, intelligence, compassion, and coolness? Who else could inspire over two million citizens to come together for hours in frigid temperatures to witness this history-making moment? It’s ironic that a society still scarred by racism now looks to a black man for leadership and recovery. We must not let him carry the burden alone. Our fates are irrevocably linked.

Only Twelve More Hours

Sometimes when I reflect on George W. Bush’s presidency, I wish he had remained a drunk: he would have done a lot less damage down in Midland, Texas as an alcoholic than he did as a White House teetotaler. Whenever he or Cheney or Rice claimed that the world was better off without Saddam Hussein in power I couldn’t help thinking how much better the world would be if George W. Bush had stayed down South.

Two disastrous wars, an economy on life support, the Constitution shredded, the executive branch corrupted, and our international standing badly tarnished doesn’t leave one with much of a record to stand on. Indeed, all Bush could rely on in his exit interviews were spurious claims about making “tough” decisions (however dumb, ineffective, unrealistic, hypocritical, self-serving, or ideologically and politically based), keeping this country safe after 9/11 (as if his term of office didn’t begin until the following day and everyone has reason to feel secure now), and certainty that history will absolve him.

It must be next to impossible for anyone, let alone such a small-minded, petulant, spoiled brat, to acknowledge and take responsibility for the mammoth mess he’s left us — a hole so deep and filled with suffering that even Daddy and Daddy’s friends can’t bale him out this time. This was, after all, an administration who explained every failing with the excuse: “Who could have predicted (choose one): (1) airplanes would be used as weapons; (2) chaos and civil war would erupt in Iraq after we invaded; (3) Katrina’s storm surge would flood New Orleans; (4) questionable Wall Street practices would lead to an economic collapse.”

Many of us, of course, did know but who, eight years ago, could have predicted it would ever turn out this bad? That no one had any inkling is a measure of the epic ineptitude of #43.

Another Reason to Be Thankful

If anyone still lacks for something to be grateful about this Thanksgiving, here’s a seasonal news report from Alaska that should solve your problem: 


Sickening isn’t it, the disconnect between her levity and the scene taking place behind her? It’s like a video of George W. Bush extolling the virtues of democracy while someone else is being waterboarded in the background. 

On top of that, she can’t help repeating tired Republican clichés about “reigning in the growth of government” so it doesn’t impede the ability of “businesses to grow and progress.” Makes me wonder whether any of the news sources she consults (but can’t name) have reported on the federal bailout of banks, and possibly the auto industry too. At a time when there is nearly universal consensus that a major economic stimulus package is absolutely essential to avert disaster, it seems odd, does it not, to be trashing DC?

I have no doubt that Governor You Betcha will be first in line looking for a handout when the plummeting price of oil does its job on the Alaskan economy. No offense meant to Alaskans, but I think several tons of USDA surplus arugula and tofu would be the most appropriate response to any aid request emanating from her office.

If nothing else, this is what Obama’s victory saved us from: the nightmare of another reality-challenged lightweight in or near the White House. Luckovich’s cartoon sums it up nicely: