In the trenches.
Ninety years ago, the stupidest and wickedest war in human history came to a formal end. I say formal end because even as the surrender was signed, millions continued to go hungry and intermittent conflicts plagued Europe and Asia. And in fact, the botched peace would lead to a larger and more murderous war.
While it’s fit and proper to remember those killed and maimed during the war, soldiers and civilians alike, we shouldn’t forget the criminal policies that led to the bloodshed.
I think this should belong in the catagory of “too good to be true” (or at least too good if you’re me). But there is some evidence emerging that Obama is a comics fan. The Daily Telegraph reports he collects Spider-man and Conan comics.
I was inclined to skepitcal because the Telegraph isn’t the most reliable newspaper around (it’s bad even the low standards of the British press).
But a much better paper, the Guardian, carried this report from a childhood friend who remembers “Barry” being a good artist:
Grandpa bought me all the DC Comic books, and I was the only one who had them, so Barry and Yanto would borrow the books and copy pictures of Batman and Spider-Man out and ask me to judge which was better. Barry was always better than Yanto. Even Yanto always agreed with that. Barry had a great eye.
And during the Al Smith dinner in October, when the candidates took turns doing stand up comedy, Obama made a joke about the high expectations he’s facing, saying “I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-el, to save the planet Earth.” The reference to Jor-el is fairly insider-ish.
We know that America is ready to have a black president. The question now should be, is America ready for a fan-boy president?
Brent Scowcroft is as establishment a Republican as they come: a retired general who served as National Security Advisor for the adminstrations of Gerarld Ford and the senior George Bush, he also was a functionary in the Nixon and Reagan adminstrations. So it’s interesting to hear him talk about the need for reviving the Palestinian peace process with Fareed Zakaria on CNN.
During the interiew Scowcroft implicitly compared the “injustice” suffered by the Palestinians with the “injustice” of America’s racial past. Drawing out the implications of what Scwcroft’s statements, one could say, “As Selma was to us, so Ramallah is to Israel. Just as we have moved from segregation to an Obama presidency, so Israel must deliver justice to the Palestinians.” Pretty radical stuff for an 83 year old Republican.
Apart from whatever else Obama does as president, the simple fact that he’s made it to the White House is causing people to see the world in a new way. It’s given a new currency to the idea that the world can change.
Here’s what Scowcroft said:
And I would start that process with the Palestinian peace process as a way to psychologically change the mood of the region, and get the region to start working together rather than at cross purposes, because the Palestinian issue, while it’s not important to many states in the region, it’s nonetheless — it gives the members of the region a deep sense of injustice.
And we have removed in this country, with this election, a lot of that sense of injustice in this country. We ought to try to do it in the Middle East.
“Well, Andy, he did it.”
“What’s that, old boy?”
“He ran them off their feet.”
– Chariots of Fire (1981)
He did indeed do it, carrying not only the presidency but also the Senate and the House for the Democratic Party. He did it with a generational push redolent of the mythology around JFK — of 18 to 29 year-olds, a full 66% voted for him — and with an almost equally strong push from women, 56% of whom supported him. He did it with a wave of new voters adding onto what became the largest voter turnout (by percentage) since 1908. In the midst of two wars, in the midst of a financial crisis worse than anything since the Great Depression, and — catalyzed by these events, certainly, but also catalyzed in no small part by the man himself — in the midst of a mighty swell of “this really matters now” civic-mindedness, he did it. He ran them off their feet.
Stanley and Madelyn Dunham with their grandson.
Imagine if your writing a novel about a young man whose parents separated when he was very young, leaving him under the care of his grandparents. Although these grandparents are very different from the boy they raise him with love. Over time, the boy rises in the world, become a distinguished political figure. As he hits middle age, his closest guardians die one by one, leaving him only with a grandmother. And then, two days before he’s about the be elected President of the United States, his grandmother dies.
Via Mark Kleiman, this heartening song:
O’Leary, O’Reilly, O’Hare and O’Hara
There’s no one as Irish as
(Performed by Shay Black, a modified version of song written by the Corrigan Brothers).
We’ve made note of various Republican slanders and lies in the current election, so to be fair we should consider a case where the left has been equally bad. Mitch McConnell has been a Republican senator from Kentucky since 1984. A staunch conservative, McConnell has been dogged throughout his career with rumors that he’s a closeted gay or bisexual. In particular, there is a longstanding rumor (almost certainly false) the McConnell was discharged from the army in the 1960s as a result of his sexual orientation. As Mark Kleiman notes on his blog Same Facts an independent political group in Kentucky (not the Democratic party) is playing up these stories in order to defeat McConnell’s reelection bid. (For a particularly vile ad, see here).