Falastin!

Onions and Lemons   (Gaza: January, 2009)

gaza


I went to the market
and all I could find there
was onions and lemons,

said Um Adel Abu Nahil,
resident of a Gaza camp,
trapped between Israeli tanks
and page A14, column 5
of this morning’s newspaper.

I went to breathe
but all I could find,

said another, was fire.

Every poet in Israel
lay down by the riverside
and beat their electronic swords
into shares of the New Israel Fund.

Thousands of Gazans became poets
and lay down in the dust,
waiting for water. The least
among them, children unlike yours and mine,
the blessed of the shelled Earth, the salt
of the blood-drinking Kevlar warriors,
lay down beside the corpses of their mothers.

I would gladly give up my home
a woman told me last week
and my land, in Maryland,
if I could trade it for peace over there.

A woman as kind as you or I, perhaps,
but wiser than a thousand ministers or
as was said of Hiroshima:
brighter than a million suns.

To kill, we send other peoples sons
for the most part. Blessed are the Refusers
for they shall see some bored officer,
or some conflicted officer, or some superior fool
commander with the commandment: Thou shalt kill.

You may leave your conscience at home,
but you shall go and lie down in the dust
with the children of Palestine, and embrace
their many aunts and uncles; they are the Chosen.

Honest journalists shall commit suicide
and be resurrected as witnesses. Poets
who cannot bite their tongues will be dragged
by their tongues, by Israeli colonels,
until we are turned completely inside out
so that all may see our revolting insides.

I would give my house. I have given my heart.
Neither giving nor forgiving will sate the beast of war.
We went down on the knees of our tongues in the desert
and tried not to look at the children with their dead eyes
and their dead mothers and their tortured fathers
and their enraged uncles. Would those children permit us
to become their aunts and uncles? No.
They have Abu Nahil. They have onion fields.
They have a vast paradise of lemons.

They have the self-righteous leaders
of “the only democracy in the Middle East.”
They’ve had a succession of US Presidents
and Secretaries of State, one at a time,
proffering their good offices in places
where even a gravedigger would hide his shovel in shame.

A Mordent Christmas to You


A Mordent Christmas, 2002

That was the year the warfugue was huge
and I felt like Scrooge. Bach to the Future!
Peace, peace, peace, whispered the preludes.
the children, the buddhas, the lowly trinity
inhabiting lonely infinity – and only two newspapers
listened. To be direct: What did you expect?
It was a turn of notes and current events
no one dared predict. The President would prevent,
pre-empt, interdict – godnose why and what next.

They’re dreaming of a whiteboy Christmas,
Bingle bells, jingo bells, gracenotes wasted
on an Open Fire. Terrorists wasted… tourists wasted…
Tra la la… Deck Saddam… blows of folly…
Tra la… Sleighbells glisten, Blackhawks hasten…
We wish you a mordant Christmas
and that you listen
with a happy new ear.


another stubbed manifestoe

Hendryjk

He worked at the invisible
and then the visible;
it seemed indivisible
and divisible. It was
not. Either.

He worked and he played
benighted and dazed
in sunshine and shadow.
Hendryjk Shmentdrik.
Bobo arrastado.

CABERNET OBAMA and the Grapes of Education

Vintage Clinton. Chateau Gates. Estate-bottled Geithner. Finding Obama’s appointments hard to swallow?  Well, take a deep breath and try these for the scoop on Arne Duncan, our Secretary-of-Ed to be:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/12/16/81510/577/681/673600

http://www.truthout.org/011909L

and follow that by looking on Truthout for  Marc Ash’s “Be the Change,” which is probably the last word on where “progressives” now stand ( as I stand inside the rain…), and certainly better than what I could write. But exactly what I’m trying to say.

Right On, Tolstoy

War and Peace

War and peas.
Rice and bones.
Sleigh bells jingling doomsday tones.

Tell me more, before
they break down the door.
Oh, shit; you snore.

How can it be that breakfast was served?
The light at the end
of an endless tunnel is curved.

Don’t die. Clean your glasses
on someone else’s tie. Truth.
Like a wall on a fly.

The blood, the beans, the sirens,
the rain. How can this be? Again,
again: soft brilliance, soft pain.

Early Christmas to you. Reflect on the zoo.
Love thy far neighbor
what evermore you do.

Letter to Bill Ayers

[For a more personal take, start with “Bienvenidos,” using the link at the right. Use the Truthout link to see what Bill Ayers had to say after months of being used as a Hillary-McPalin whipping boy against Obama. Looking forward: What, I ask Ayers, is his organizing perspective for these hopeful but perilous times?

no shame

no shame

DEAR BILL AYERS:

1. Educators and parents know that you are a dedicated teacher.
2. Progressives of all kinds, including the commentators here [the responses to Ayers’ Truthout essay] AND the Obamas (I trust) know that you are and have been a smart and hardworking progressive for many, many years.
3. Sarah Palin and her audience “know” that you are an unrepentant badguy and enemy. In addition, the McPailin campaign believed (foolishly, in the event) that you would make a terrific bogeyman. As did Hillary.

So now, my brother, my question/opinion for the “movement that is always busy being born when its not busy dying.”: Our traditional role has been to speak truth to power and anyone else who will listen. And to try to “make” truth- based realities (good schools, mobilized voters, collectives, etc, etc,). When that is compared to the pain and misery especially our country has created or helped along, many crazy and stupid things seem called for. You did some of those, and in a different mode so did I and many other folks.

Some of us were able to recover from our fanaticism (as you know, others died or were destroyed — perhaps with their own cooperation). So now — among “us” — you are a source of strength and encouragement — and ideas.

But what are your ideas for reaching Barack and the rest of those who elected him? I.e. those who either believe the myths of American exceptionalism or believe that “realism” means not challenging it. The economy and the ecology are in crisis. They will form a conjuncture with our military, quasi-imperial investments, probably headlined by Afghanistan/Pakistan.

The times, I expect, will be a’changin’ even more in the next decade than they were in the Sixties. The election campaign could have — but did not — help prepare Americans for that. We need “change” that affects and includes many folks who believe that their own hard work and American superpower benevolence are all that we need.

As you know,

it ain’t so.

Where to go?

Peace When?

Hope springs...

Hope springs...

Well, here we are, soon to elect a new President. Among folks I know there are about as many supporting Cynthia McKinney as supporting John McCain. For the vast majority, the question has become How much — or how little — can we expect from an Obama presidency?

That begs the question, How much courage will Barack have to lead? We already have a crisis nearly everyone failed to even imagine — the economy — plus the ones many remain in denial about  — the planet, and war/peace. During the campaign, Obama has not shown that much courage;  many explain this as the compromises necessary for him to get elected.

I reject that reasoning,  even though  my expectations are not too different from those Obama-supporters who use it.  And with apologies to the ghost of Nadezha Mandelshtam, I have to say that the prospects for great things AFTER an Obama victory are a case of “hope against hope”.

But it’s not over until the fat lady sings — and the skinny lady concedes. So I am actively campaigning for my very intelligent and cautious candidate.

AN IDIOT’S MANIFESTO

[Note:   If you want family, poetry, and medieval personal history first,
head to “Bienvenidos” from link at right.]
 
 
.
.
.
.
 

Imagine a world in which a baby born in Ecuador or Bangladesh has possibilities similar to one born in Potomac, Maryland or, say, various golden precincts of California. Impossible, many would say, or reserved for a distant galaxy in a different millenium.

Here’s what I say: This  vision — this utopia or New Jerusalem lacking all details except possibility — is the only worthwhile metric for thinking about current policy.  Our work, then, is learning and building in that direction. Crises, even existential crises, are not in this view pretexts for “realistic” solutions that increase inequality, deception and oppression.

In that light the 2008 presidential campaign is a failure .  An Obama administration — inshallah —  will not be.

Dead Afghan Kids (Collateral Damage)

.

The Washington Post, Oct. 9, 2008: Military Justifies Raid That Killed  Afghan Civilians.

Yes, I know it’s a cruel world. I also know that the “warrior ethic” lets you think and even weep, as long as that does not distract you from the Mission. The mission of the USA since 9-11 has been wrong, wrong, wrong. In the name of anti-terrorism we have conducted an orgy of military revenge and armored geopolitics. Bush was wrong, Cheney/Rumsfeld worse than wrong. McCain was and is wrong.

They are OUR children

They are OUR children

And Obama is wrong on this. He is campaigning for a bigger and more effective fighting force in Afghanistan, so we can do more than just kill civilians in air raids. He talks about killing Osama Bin Laden as if that  were one of the worst failures of the Bush administration. Yes, we must protect Americans, and help nations rebuild. But through the Defense budget?

The “truth” of this is small, but in appealing to our fear and unreflective, belligerent patriotism, Obama’s words have enormous consequence: How can we “change” the post 9-11 disaster of America’s role in the world when 1) we continue to deny that we do damage and increase emnity and 2) we appeal to the emotions that reinforce this denial ?

American imperial swagger (and coups and warfighting) did not of course begin in response to 9-11, or even in the Cold War. But hope lies in acknowledging that and working to establish America as a superpower for good — exactly what both McCain and Obama asserted in their last debate that we already are.

Radicals conclude from this that there’s not enough difference between the parties to make enough difference for the country or the world. I do not. Obama in ’08 — yes, but don’t expect to stop working for “change”.

“But I, being poor, have only my dreams” (click ‘Bienvenidos’ at right for the Yeats poem and more). My “dream” is that Presidents et al. would  know in their hearts FOR ALL CHILDREN the same love and pain that their mothers feel. . Never happen, you say?  Not literally, I say, but in a different sense, one of the few worlds worth working for. If you can take poetry in this context, you will understand why I am publishing here one of the poems I wrote in the months after 9-11:

.

In the Beauty of the Lilies

. Thou shalt love thy Afghani neighbor’s children as thyself

.
Already seen it.
From Glory to Hallelujah
from Fier Kashes to Four Agreements,
from ragas and Bach and Bob Dylan
to the coming of the joyous queers,
and their sad going.

My country calla su boca
sweet land of la vida loca,
sing life, sing death, read all
about it: collateral damage.
Deposit it on deep bunkers,
riverbanks and loan banks –
as if old men dreamed in darkness
and their dreams became spectacular cinema
and cinema became the fate of nations.
Now we brave gringos saw it
in the coming of the Boeings.

As when a baby, dreaming of the earthquake she has never known,
wakes to crawl unharmed from thunderous rubble,
so a tiny mercy is scratched with blasted girders
into our sunlight now
. bleached sunlight of common mourning
. plainlight of gathering,
. patchlight of human work.

And this precious child, her mouth filled with dust, has no one to meet her
but the astonished stranger who now must be her mother, father, sister, brother.

. David Almaleck Wolinsky

All Empires Rise and Fall: How about US?

We Americans think we’re different. Or that even if all empires are mortal that

a) we are not an empire, and
b) there is no reason to think life will be very different anytime soon. Soon is your lifetime if your under 40, otherwise what your kids might live to see.

Wrong on both counts. American democracy has many virtues, but a willingness to forego power, wealth or control has not been one of them. We were flexing muscles in the Spanish-American War and before, but two World Wars and their aftermath proved decisive. After World War II we were content to make pragmatic deals that gave Josef Stalin some latitude for his own (Soviet) empire-building.

But by the time Eisenhower was elected, we had The Global Struggle of Good vs. Evil 1.0. Fighting Communist expansion became the rational for all-out economic war. The Marshall Plan rebuilt — and stabilized —  Western Europe and beyond. But decades before anyone had heard of Salvador Allende, the CIA arranged the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran, and so replaced the British in the oily heart of the British Empire.

Attack Iran? Bad idea.

When we talk about terrorists, it’s good to realize that the United States has often played a despicable role in the affairs of relatively poor and small nations. This does not justify or create terrorists, but it provides the environment from which terrorists are recruited, and in which they draw varying degrees of support. It is well worth reading Kinzer’s book and its treatment of  “the roots of Middle East terror” alone, although it also provides serious historical and cultural depth on Iran in general.

Such reading might also allow any non-dogmatic person to understand how fatuous it is for US to make self-righteous demands on the Iranians, about nuclear matters or otherwise.

War. Terrorism. The world economy. The election campaign has been bitterly disappointing with respect to all these issues and more. . Would anyone like to do the homework, a la Kinzer, on why shifting our warfighting  priority to Afghanistan is a poor idea? It’s been done already. Use the Truthout link at the right, or perhaps Google Prof. (formerly Colonel) Andrew Bacevich.

As for the myth of the status quo, it is unfortunate that it’s replacement now (Oct. 2008) is fear of a new Great Depression. Will this be seriously discussed in tonight’s Obama-McCain debate?  ‘Nuff said.

My Own Private Election Campaign

My Own Private Election Campaign

I lost again.
The editorial electorate voted overwhelmingly against my poems.
Most of the rest of the universe was oblivious.
The tolerant few mingled with fewer listeners.

This is the place for the obvious.
Maybe sad, maybe the loss
of something I never had.
But as my TV ad said:

I promise
to do my best
to do my duty
to God and country
and obey the laws of the pack.

I will end garbage collection as we know it
but not garbage.

If nominated I will swerve;
If elected I will run like hell.

I am David Shmavid
and I approve this canard.

Two Poems from the Hedge Fund

*
*
I wrote these  poems last winter. Amazingly, no one used them  to prevent the crisis of credit and confidence among banks and others.

I,  for better or worse, still remain fully invested in poetry/music. I wouldn’t be surprised if David Petraeus, who has a pretty wide-ranging mind, has already read Brian Turner’s  2005 collection,  Here, Bullet.  It’s probably the best report from wartime Irag that we have — but only in the sense that the human race (as opposed to, say,  poets or English teachers) still doesn’t heed the ghost of Wilfrid Owen.

The talented Petraeus  — for better and worse — has a job to do. To do it well, he must even use the long view in service of the short- or medium-term view. Despite the PR, I don’t think he’s a surge type.

My job?  Well make what you may of this. Perhaps thinking of the shorter one as a quasi-synopsis of the longer (first) poem will help….

*
*
Death: The Return

.

Was he ever gone? you ask.

No blame. Who can complain
if worldly characters consume
The Post rather than Prokofiev  or Poe?
Sergei Who? Tu Fu? Anna Akhmatova? We know
of Rwanda, Cambodia, Buchenwaldia,
Stalin and all the rest of the dirty laundry
beneath the suits of tasteless leaders.
Compare us not, they bark, to puny commuters
lost in that Post or worse American idylls.

Worldly. Death
is not as Darfur away as we thought.
Kennst du das land?
It is hiding in your genes, off
the Arctic shelf, and in all the other
usual suspect places. No news there.

You are discerning,
yet you are disappearing
as one by one farmers die,
journalists die, schoolgirls die,
soldiers not one by one, babies,
spiritualists, realists and corporate crooks.
Nor will the irascible Bob Dylan
be with you when the deal goes down.
All the satellite sports channels
will go down simultaneously,
and later all the rest, one at a time.
The remote will lose control.

Things are that bad.
The positioned among us
will hop a plane to Vegas, the crafty
become entrepeneurs of crisis.
Anasazi ghosts will not comment on this.
What will I do?
I cannot say, nor even what I:
My tongue is crusty and when
the aliens come, it will be lunch meat.
I wanted to ask John Coltrane, John Constantine,
and Cavafy, but they too were lunchmeat.

I waited; the bell tolled; John Donne rose up
and yelled songs unfit for a family newspaper.
Death strolled through the renovated town homes
and ghost towns smiling like a realtor, whistling
a tune that Mozart ripped out of his Requiem.

*

*

The Burning of the Moon

.

It was near the end
of the year 2007
of the common era.
(Ay, madam….)

The Tower of Babel had been prologue.
The Industrial Revolution, precondition.

The new common era had begun
with World War One,

reaching a climax
with Polish smokestacks
and mushrooms clouding Japan.
The world did not stop turning.

We are moving on
in common direction,

and still
you be asking
Why is the night red?
Why is the moon burning?

Democracy: We get what we (sort of) deserve

Disclosures

1. For Marc Ash’s essential “Are we ready for change?” use the  Truthout link or http://www.truthout.org/article/are-we-ready-change. My (edited) response appears below

2.  For someone who is more optimistic about how we and Barack Obama may evolve than I am, Nancy Pace’s  thoughtful “epharmony”  can be reached from my Blogroll on the right.

HOPE? Michelle Obama spoke about this….

what should be, from what is

what should be, from what is

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Now… The Bush administration almost self-destructed in 2004

Dear Marc Ash:

Tanks so much…oops, an honest typo is more real than “reality”.

Besides, you hardly need thanks for your 9-15 piece in Truthout. It happens that I read it after seeing Part 2 of the Washington Post’s excerpts from Bart Gelman’s Angler.  Now all of “us” know that we almost got a self-destruction of the Bush administration just before he was elected to another term. Here’s my summary: The Prez was out of the illegal wiretapping loop, as Cheney led the charge  for uncritical “renewal” of the President’s authority. The director of the FBI, along with the entire leadership of the Justice Dept.was about to resign over this. Bush was saved at the last minute when Condoleeza Rice, herself mostly out of the loop, managed to warn him via a top reluctant resigner, aka a high Republican official with principals. Read the original at

washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/14/AR2008091401974.html?hpid=topnews

You cut to the “real” chase saying we will get from Obama only what we demand. Shakespeare, as usual, got there first, when Hamlet tells a scheming courtier “use every man after his desert, and who should ‘ scape whipping?”

A lot of good it would not do to be “right” about a country that votes against its own democracy and prosperity. I guess I’m just frightened. I’m the guy who thought Obama was good enough to take his cue from people like you, me (included for comic relief) and Cornel West — and the person who thought issues like your “Why 4,153 US Soldiers are dead and tens of thousands maimed for life? Why hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead?” could reasonably be an important part of this election campaign.

But I’m also one of the folks you had in mind when you wrote “Washington is Washington so don’t expect miracles.” Problem is, I’m not sure much less than miracles can prevent a version of what 1911 -1945 represented for so-called Western Civilization. The shadow of nuclear weapons, America as the new bully on the international block, and Dick Cheney have been nightmare enough.

I’m posting this — and inviting the advice of anyone who reads it. How can we help get a President Obama who does not represent the pragmatism and truth-avoidance of the campaign as it now stands. If issues like the basics of the economy or war goals are not seriously debated during the campaign, how will Barack be much more than a useful update on Bill? Granted that is “devoutly to be wished” (Hamlet again) but perhaps far less than an environment-economy-multipolar-world conjucture requires.

Do Prophets Run for President?

All my love/ none of my blood

All my love/ none of my blood

My grandson’s 5th birthday this week was a gathering of the tribe. Except there is no tribe; rather there’s a partially blended family. Lucas’s mom (and her mom, later to marry yours truly) came to the U.S. from Ecuador when she was four. Her husband was born in Baltimore, with Caribbean, and also older African roots. When they were married, I had been Jasmine’s stepdad for almost 20 years. You could say (if you have that sense of humor) that I am the token whiteboy in the family.

You could also say, truly, that Lucas has all of my love, much of my hope, and none of my blood.

How did this lead me to prophets and presidents? O course I would like Lucas to grow up in a happier and safer world than our present one. And sometimes I try to tell his mom that his future could reasonably play out in an America so ugly and damaged that it would make this one look like paradise. Or not play out at all. But that was not the discussion Saturday night.

I was planning to leave early (I am fighting some flu-like illness), when Jasmine’s brother checked in with me about Shakashvilli’s Georgia. Soon we were in an intense conversation about… Barack Obama. We were joined by my son-in-law’s cousin and his wife. Most of what follows started in the interchange with Khari and Matt. Poetry aside, dialog usually is my best form of thinking.

The bottom line is that I think Barack should replace half of his advisors (HYPERBOLE ALERT) with Cornel West. What I said  was that you can hear “the prophetic voice” in Obama’s earlier writing and speeches, but the “presidential” Obama parses and temporizes like a Clinton.

Now that’s not the worst thing in the world – and infinitely better than the present and would-be next Republican President. That’s why Obama can count on the vote of people like me (‘cept there ain’t none.) But jokes aside, is being better than the muscular Republicans good enough? Will it get us through 2012 – in a direction that also offers hope for Lucas and all of us?

This is not a trivial question, altho many people I know who ask that question are already involved the Green and other efforts. I do not think I can go there. And after listening to a contemporary who spent many years helping to build the Californian Green Party, that alternative is even less attractive. (Adrienne is supporting Barack.)

Look. We (and the Obama campaign, despite its Change mantra) act as if the world we know has existed for a long time, is pretty good, and will continue to get better as long as we are “realistic” as well as well-intentioned and smart about what we do. Not a useful assumption.

For one personal thing, civilization as both my parents’ parents (Central European Jews) knew it came to an end during World War II. The surviving descendants and immigrants are mostly here in the United States – and many of us are foolish enough to think that only Israel (meaning Jews) faces an existential threat.

Here in Frederick, MD (center of U.S. biochemical “defense” research) we were recently visited by to of the Hibakusha (MAKE LINK), survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bombs. Ota (FULL NAME) said: We are getting old, we are afraid That the world is forgetting and that it will happen again. Impossible? Just because we squeaked through 60 years of cold war, local war… and local genocide? Think again. And Google “Arkhipov”. (Russian sub nuclear sub commander who would have launched during the Cuban Missile Crisis, if he had followed his protocols.)

For another thing, serious discussion of black/white issues are still mostly taboo (Jeremiah Wright may have gone over the top at the end, but most of what he said what elementary once you take the blinders off.) And the history of us and the folks who lived here before Europeans is not a serious part of our “story” either. Genocide is not a modern invention; we’re just much better at it since it became industrial-strength.

Speaking of industrial strength, we may have to refer to this as the post-Gore era. Whatever else you might say, “An Inconvenient Truth” made “terracide” part of the conversation. Man’s unnatural abuse of nature is just as future-threatening as man’s inhumanity to man.

We have also been self-deluding (partially from leftover racism) about the part of American and corporate power in the continuing misery of poor people both here and abroad. We are quite happy to point to their failures (which are real, as in e.g. internecine murder in the Arab world, Asia, and Africa, or assorted gangsters and rhetoricians at home) but always with a self-exculpating finger.

And for the rest of y’all, who think this is a bunch of “radical exaggeration”: When the economy breaks down enough everyone suddenly realizes that our large “middle class” is hurting too (and becoming smaller). It is alway there, but now it’s easier to see that it is “us” as well as “them” in trouble.

Why must Obama do something about the prevailing self-righteous mythology that allows Americans to abuse less-advantaged Americans, and just about everyone else? I’m not saying he could or should take it all head on (even though he probably knows more about this than many of his supporters and most opponents). It’s just that “progressive” denial has already got a Democratic party that continues to be whipped in Congress by an unpopular lame-duck administration. It’s made the debate over Iraq into a question of efficiency (Petraeus gets better results than his predecessors) rather than the price Iraqis and ourself have already paid, after we went in under false pretense and imperial oil-lust (cf. the first CIA-oil adventure in overthrowing Mossadeh in Iran in 1953).

And isn’t McCain already calling Obama a defeatist?

So Obama is complicit in conducting a conversation whose assumptions diminish the possibility of democratic debate and decision-making. That could help McCain win, or result in an Obama administration represented by 50,000 or more G.I.s (and contractors and oil companies) in Iraq indefinitely, anchored by the most elaborate and expensive fortress-embassy the world has ever seen. Not exactly a beacon of liberty in the struggle for hearts and minds.

Or Obama could listen less to his most “realistic” advisors, and more to the prophetic voice he has already shown exists inside himself. Or if you don’t like religious language, Obama could depend more on his own intelligence, “idealism” and richly differentiated understanding of how good and evil function in the world. He could decide that a formidable candidate can be a formidable LEADER. We could sure use one.

No, prophets do not run for President (nor do they have to spend much of their waking lives raising money). Abraham Lincoln did not right all wrongs and solve most problems, but he clearly saw himself as a leader in a time of crisis. He suffered along with his countrymen. He knew that to lead he needed to listen to the prophetic voice, aka “the better angels of our nature”.

A cynic would say that if he was a candidate today, the Great Railsplitter would be run out of town on a rail.

And I would say tthis: It would be a great and glorious irony if the first President to really tap that vein of Americanism since Lincoln was a black man. Despite some of the evidence, I still believe that is possible. It won’t make everything hunky-dory or Messiah-like, but it will put hope and change back where they belong – in the discourse of practical possibility.

God help us if Obama talks the talk and triangulates the walk. She doesn’t take kindly to strutting, powerful men. Or, in the long run, to Empires.

Rainlight

It rained late this afternoon, leaving clean air, wet trees, and a slanting sun on clouds. I walked the beautiful Labrador, but after staring at one high-piled cloud, cut it short to go get my camera.

Our words and images reflect our minds, and our minds are changed by them. I will say no more, just that you can click to enlarge the pictures….

Fourth Amendment in Trouble

OPEN LETTER: Obama and the Democratic leadership have ‘compromised’ the Fourth Amendment

I submitted the following “comment” to the Obama campaign on July 9, as well as e-mailing it to a few dozen people.

“Obama/Dem capitulation on FISA:

Unconscionable by any reasonable perspective I can imagine.

Far more disturbing than much other “shift to center” stuff I’m also unhappy about.

If someone like myself concludes (certainly possible by now) that despite all his intelligence and moral depth, Barack has chosen to pair the rhetoric of hope with catastrophic “realism” (only way to get accepted, elected blah blah blah)….

…then its likely that many more centrist or even conservative-but-potential-Obama voters will suspect he is a slick faker, or has shaky principles at best.

If that happens, then his most pragmatic and realistic advisors will not only undermine any serious possibility of change, but perhaps even help elect John McCain in this seemingly most anti-Republican of times.

I hope someone out there is still listening, because there is a completely different way to put this: Barack must LEAD. That does not mean saying things I agree with. It does mean taking certain risks in using the campaign to promote serious democratic debate — about nasty realities from Irag/Afghanistan/Iran/Pakistan to hardcore poverty to uncivil liberties to the planetary economy.

These discussions can not be based on just what people already know, or think they know and believe. The worse things become, the more “triangulation” becomes pandering becomes incompetent (at best) leadership. That I should be raising these questions in reflecting upon the Obama campaign is already a deeply disheartening reality.

Please. How bad must things be before you act from an understanding that “transformation” is not some stupid lost-cause idealism, not some equivocal Clinton-like policy, but where the walk will meet the talk?

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