Monday, November 10, 2008

#108 Jefferson and Confucius and Obama

What higher cardinal virtue than Honesty?--

The whole of government consists in the art of being honest. (Letter to John Adams)

So far so good, for Obama. On the other, blood-stained hand, How many THOUSANDS and thousands of lives have been lost in Iraq because of the outright lies of the Bush/Cheney administration? The new President may want to look into war-crimes prosecution. But for sure keep to your timetable, Barack: you have a mandate from all corners of the earth now.

All is still not at full-functioning capacity at Daily Mosteller headquarters (see #105) ... but soon.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

#107 Obama's Confucian Imperative

Can the President-Elect do it?--

Good government consists in winning the loyalty of the PEOPLE NEARBY and attracting the PEOPLE FAR AWAY. [emphasis mine] (Analects 500 B.C.)

Clever, those Chinese ... but, Oh, how woefully far away we have strayed from that ancient ideal over the last eight years.

For everyone called to the government of nations and empires [that's us], there are nine cardinal directions to be attended to... (Ibid.)

The first and most important cardinal direction, not surprisingly for Confucius, was cardinal virtue:

Cultivating his personal conduct. (Ibid.)

So far, of ALL the potential leaders of this American Empire, Barack Obama has done it best. Kung Fu Tzu would have voted for him.

Friday, November 7, 2008

#106 Don Quixote the Libertarian

Miguel de Cervantes has his demented but idealistic--one might say quixotic--old knight state the bedrock First Principle:

The first thing I would do in my government, I would have nobody to control me. I would be absolute; and who but I: now, he that is absolute can do what he likes, can take his pleasure; he that can take his pleasure, can be content; and he that can be content, has no more to desire; so the matter's over. (DQ, Pt 1, 1605)

"Except for taxes, Senior," the more realistic Sancho Panza might have said.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

#105 Obama and Me--Grant Park Chicago [Bloggus Interruptus]

What a difference in the post-election speeches of the two candidates!?--well ... venue-wise, at least. Because, in fact, they were very much alike. Switch a few words relating to winning or losing, obviously, and each could have read the other one's speech without too much damage to essential content and tone. Both candidates were gracious and deferential...
I'll get back to this before the election turns completely ice-cold, but I can't go on right now. OK, without the drama--I mentioned "crashes of one kind or other" (#99) a week or so ago. Well, I haven't got the computer quite right yet (a.k.a. The Rise of the Machines), but its COO will have to take a semi-break because of yet another crash: a recurring neuritis/neuralgia (remember when this used to be a catch-all pain-condition for aspirin ads?) of the neck-shoulder-right-arm region, initially caused by a wrenching neck injury on the tennis courts two years ago. The SERVE in the sport of tennis is an inherently unnatural act--especially at my age. The problem is not so much in the keyboarding, but in the pausing--the at-rest, compose-hunt-peck sequence. I've got to keep the offending member elevated for extended periods. (What a Whiner!) It's just a "flesh wound," as Monty Python's Black Knight would say, and it's getting better ... and you now know more than you wanted to know about that.

But I hate not keeping up, so for a short while expect a minimum of thought and labor in the quasi-daily posts. Not much original programming. Sundries, notions, nostrums, and some favorite subversive quotations most likely.

Three cheers for President-Elect Obama!--Hip ... Hip ... Hoo!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

#104 Sunday Sundries

In no particular order...
  • Dumb and dumber. I didn't think it was possible, but the Mad Hatter's Beauty Queen of Hearts has outdone herself. I mean, this latest really smacks of the topsy-turvy, where-everything-means-what-it-doesn't world of Alice's Wonderland. A couple of weeks ago she was asked about the duties of the Vice President. With an arrogance bred of ignorance she said that the VP was "in charge of the Senate"--seriously ... IN CHARGE, "so that we can really get in there and do some real changin' as to what's wrong with this country [or some such]." Of course she was ruthlessly taken to task on this egregious Constitutional solecism. So what did she do about it? Made it worse last week by exposing even more of her ignorance: The Press was abridging HER First Amendment free-speech rights by attacking her ill-informed opinions. (Face it: despite her obvious political savvy, her six-venue, second-rate college career has left a third-rate brain woefully uneducated.) No need to tell you Myriads that she's got it perfectly ass-backwards. SHE'S the one treading on the First Amendment's guarantee of a Free Press--most especially in a case like this where the government (or its wannnabes) is claiming some sort of immunity from criticism. This is actually dangerous stuff. Stuff that leads to such things as Sedition Acts and Wiretaps. Our Founding Fathers were sooo wise.
  • But grudging kudos to her running mate for his desperation appearance on SatNiteLive. Here was a little of the "old" McCain--not the OLD cranky and crass and craven and cynical political beast he's turned into. He played his former persona expertly: charming, witty, self-assured--even in the midst of self-satire. Too late. I read the book; I admired the man; I've lost all respect.
  • In sharp contrast: How about them Obama volunteers?! Haven't seen such enthusiasm since the Sixties. We've been visited THREE separate times over the past few days by a cross-sectional panoply of poll-workers of all ages and colors and costumes--and I don't mean Halloweeners. Well, it's almost time to take them up on it ... by taking that yellow-brick road down to the Emerald City voting booth ... and electing that Man behind the curtains.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

#103 Barack Obama In the Land of Oz

Whereas McCain's political landscape has shrunk away almost to the Nothingness of the Wicked Witch in Frank L. Baum's story--somebody should have been throwing cold water on the hyper-thermic Republican at every opportunity--Obama's campaign (partisan alert) has seemed only to get BIGGER in the home stretch. Well, he simply has bigger and better ideas. As opposed to really none at all. Because of that, primarily, his team has been able to avoid the petty and petulant (and lately feculent) insignifica that the McCain gang must needs fling at their rivals.

I was cued into the Lewis Carroll story (last post) by way of the persistent drumbeat of the ridiculous but insinuation-freighted "Who is the REAL Barack Obama" over and over. It reminded me immediately of the Caterpillar and the poor shrunkedity-down Alice trying repeatedly to explain herself, in vain. Wait a minute, I thought, McCain is trying to lead us all Down the Rabbit Hole (the book's original title) into a world of cramped and crabbed nonsense, filled with Mad Hatters and Red-Queen divas. And Alice's adventures essentially end underground, out of the light of day, until she wakes up confused and unenlightened, but amused. Whatever fun we can glean from the nightmarish McCain campaign, let it rest in peace, under the ground forever.

On the other hand, The Wizard of Oz (think movie version here) is a "horse of a different color," as the wizard himself points out. Recall how wonderfully BIG this story is--the landscapes broadening out scene by scene from windswept Kansas through the stratosphere to endless forests and poppy-fields leading to the Emerald City and ultimately back home to wide-awake reality. Yes, the Obama/Democratic campaign has manifested that arc of expansiveness, figuratively, growing bigger and bigger as McCain's steadily shrunk (for the latter's last NC rally, I hear, 2000 school kids had to bussed-in, just to speak of numbers). Why?--because we're concerned here with the larger, POSITIVE humanitarian issues of peace, economic well-being, non-discrimination (pro-choice, gay rights, etc.), and so on. Compare that to the smallness of negative issues desperately being raised by McCain and company ... just to win.

To belabor the comparison, Obama is the Wizard here, exemplifying those virtues given out as medallions at the end of the story to Dorothy and her companions: intelligence, love, and courage--which they were possessed of, anyway ... as are we all. The McCain cabal has been pandering to the tiny-minded and mean-spirited among us. Obama and friends are appealing to the better angels of our nature. And that should bring us safely home to Auntie Em.