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Pres. Obama’s Inaugural Address

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President Obama, perhaps the premiere American orator of our day, could have thrilled the million on the Mall to goose-bumps.  That he chose a different approach suggests to me that he was after something deeper: words of substance rather than words of emotion alone.  Let’s see how they read.

The Speech
Image by Kaptain Krispy Kreme via Flickr

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.

Obama Inauguration
Image by john w via Flickr

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, 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. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 20, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Shinichi’s Tricycle

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We like to think wars are fought by nations. But what a tidy fiction that is! Nations lose no arms or legs or blood or sanity.
Kurt Vonnegut, I believe, said that we allow war because of “a failure of the imagination.” We simply don’t consider what we do when we yield to those pleas of our governments.

The story below might sub for some of that imagination. I’ve clipped just a bit, but I encourage you to read the rest from Doug at the link.  It is excellent.

And I hope you and I can be people who cling fiercely to reality when passions run high and facts seem clear and resistance looks like treason.  For in the end, a share of war’s price will be paid by little Shinichis who find themselves in the way of things others thought more important.

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Shinichi’s Tricycle

Shinichi Tetsutani was a three year old boy who loved to ride his new red tricycle. 63 years ago this day he was riding his trike in his front yard. He was playing with his friend Kimiko. It was 8:15 in the morning. A quarter mile away there was a bright flash in the sky. Shin was badly burned and buried in the debris of his house. He was still alive when his parents dug him out, his hands still gripping the handlebars of his trike. They were unable to get to his two sisters in time as the wreckage of their home burned. Shin died that night. The next day his parents buried their children in their front yard, they thought they were too young to be buried in a lonely grave far from home. Shin’s friend Kimiko had also been killed in the blast, so they were buried together, holding hands. Shin’s beloved trike was buried with him.
Killing children is a crime, not an act of war

God rest their little souls. God grant us the wisdom to never do this again. God help us all through the dark days ahead.
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Hat tip to Homeyra. Thanks, friend – you help me remember!

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Written by Monte

August 14, 2008 at 2:34 pm

In memoriam: Hiroshima, August 6, 1945

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Hiroshima mother and child

Hiroshima mother and child

August 6, 1945

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Written by Monte

August 6, 2008 at 7:29 pm

Posted in History, Terrorism

Jimmy Carter: Make peace with Iran

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Now here’s a startling idea: try to make peace with a nation before going to war against it! Imagine!
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Jimmy Carter calls for US to make friends with Iran after 27 years
“What happens if, in three years time, Iran has a nuclear weapon,” Mr Carter asked. “I’m not sure that is going to happen, but if it does, what do we do? They are rational people like all of us in this room. Do they want to commit suicide? I would guess not. So what we have to do is talk with them now and say to them we want to be their friends.
Twenty-five years ago we cut off trading with Iran. We’ve got to resume trading to show Iran we are friends.”
Mr Carter also criticised President George Bush, saying it was a “serious mistake and terrible departure” from the actions of previous US presidents not to engage with countries with which they differed. “The president of the administration in Washington is the first one to have ever done this and I think we close off ourselves from any sort of rational accommodation of the views of other parties in order to reach out on major goals,”
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Written by Monte

June 1, 2008 at 7:58 pm

Posted in Iran, Islam, Politics, Terrorism

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Juan Cole: Straight Talk Express derailed [and Iran update]

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As the battle for political truth plunges into the general election season, Prof. Juan Cole recommends this 3 minute video clip of John McCain. It’ll remind you of Clinton’s Tuszla landing, for here’s McCain saying on film what he says he doesn’t say. [UPDATE: See a stunner of McCain talking about Iran, just below]

[UPDATE #2: Huffington Post is reporting that this video, since its release last Sunday, has become the #1 most viewed video on YouTube, and the #2 story on the Digg election page! It’s been viewed over a million times, giving it “an audience that most cable news shows only dream of.” Some are hoping the corporate media will be shocked into a return to investigative journalism, abandoned during the Bush years out of fear of being labeled “liberal media.”]

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Whether these backtracks represent confusion or dishonesty, I can’t tell. Sen. McCain certainly seems like a likable guy, and was unquestionably brave 35 years ago.

But putting his finger on the nuclear trigger strikes me as a mighty risky enterprise. I want someone in the Oval Office who’s not this mixed up.

UPDATE: It’s worse than I thought.

Joe Klein of Time Magazine calls McCain on his misunderstanding of Ahmadinejad’s role in Iranian foreign policy (as Think Progress notes: “Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Iran’s National Security Council set Iran’s foreign policy.” The Iranian President is not the Commander-in-Chief.)

McCain’s response (with a smirk): “I think if you asked any average American who the leader of Iran is, I think they’d know.” Watch it:

Yow! He really doesn’t know! And he smiles wisely at the reporter’s ignorance!

Oh, boy.

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Written by Monte

May 20, 2008 at 1:55 pm

Posted in Iraq, Politics