Blog Archives

A quote for the day… from 68 Nobel Prize Winners

68 former Nobel Prize winning scientists have endorsed Barack Obama for the Presidency. Their feelings were published in “An Open Letter to the American People.” Here is a quote from that letter:

“America’s economic future, the quality of our health, and the quality of our environment depend on our ability to continue America’s proud legacy of discovery and invention. As winners of the Nobel Prizes in science, we are proud of our contribution to the extraordinary advances American science has made in recent years. But we’re deeply concerned that without leadership and continued commitment to scientific research the next generation of Americans will not make and benefit from future discoveries.

“President Obama understands the key role science has played in building a prosperous America, has delivered on his promise to renew our faith in science-based decision making and has championed investment in science and technology research that is the engine of our economy. He has built strong programs to educate young Americans in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and programs to provide Americans the training they need to keep pace with a technology-driven economy.

If you believe, as we do, that America’s future is bound in essential ways to science and innovation, we urge you to join us in working to ensure the reelection of President Obama.”

You can find the entire letter here. I would urge you to read it… and pass it around.

 

My apologies for not posting…

After putting up the Joseph Stiglitz piece yesterday, the trackpad on my MacBook started playing games on me… going where it wanted to go, not where I did, and opening windows and folders I didn’t want to.

I spent most of the day cleaning the pad, trying all the downloads recommended on the help boards, loading and unloading applications, changing administrative sign-ons, etc., but it was only late in the evening that it started working more-or-less correctly again.  So far this morning there is no problem.

The non-working computer also kept me from finishing the article on the arts in Shepherdstown, WV, that I am writing for the new Fluent magazine… so that will take up a lot of my day today (assuming this baby keeps on course.)

So come on back later this afternoon and I hope something will be here for you.

-Bill

Cheers for Joseph Stiglitz…

In a section of his book, “The Price of Inequality,” printed in Salon, Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz gives a thorough analysis of why the top 1% is able to manipulate the rest of us by “brainwashing” us about inequality:

Joseph Stiglitz

The fact that the 1 percent has so successfully shaped public perception testifies to the malleability of beliefs. When others engage in it, we call it “brainwashing” and “propaganda.” We look askance at these attempts to shape public views, because they are often seen as unbalanced and manipulative, without realizing that there is something akin going on in democracies, too. What is different today is that we have far greater understanding of how to shape perceptions and beliefs — thanks to the advances in research in the social sciences.

It is clear that many, if not most, Americans possess a limited understanding of the nature of the inequality in our society: They believe that there is less inequality than there is, they underestimate its adverse economic effects, they underestimate the ability of government to do anything about it, and they overestimate the costs of taking action. They even fail to understand what the government is doing — many who value highly government programs like Medicare don’t realize that they are in the public sector.

Stiglitz compares the perceptions of Americans to citizens in other countries and discovers polar opposites in experience of  inequality and fairness. It is worth reading the whole article (HERE) to get his opinions on how beliefs effect reality,

Quote of the Day – While the Republicans scream to cut back, intelligent voices are saying something else:

“We will see in the next two years the real cost of there not being a second round of stimulus. We will see the economy slow down at a very high economic cost.”

– Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz

Here’s an upcoming danger you may never have thought of…

Robert Richardson, professor of Physics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, co-chaired an inquiry into the impending shortage convened by the US National Research Council, an arm of the US National Academy of Sciences. The results of the inquiry posts a shortage problem (a waste problem, actually, as are most of our misuse situations) you may be surprised by.

The telegraph has an article that you can start here… but go in and read it all:

clipped from www.telegraph.co.uk

The world’s reserves of helium are running out the Nobel Prize-winning
scientist Robert Richardson, has claimed.

World reserves of helium are running out, Nobel laureate prof Robert Richardson has claimed
Experts have warned that the inert gas is being sold off far too cheaply and that resources could run out within 25 to 30 years.
Prof Richardson has called for America to reconsider its policy to sell off its helium reserves by 2015 as a result.
A US law, passed in 1996, has ruled that the US National Helium Reserve, located in Amarillo, Texas, should be sold off within 20 years.
Helium, a non-renewable resource, is used in MRI scanners (which are cooled by the gas), airships and also by anti-terrorist authorities who used it for their radiation monitors.
It is created by the radioactive decay of terrestrial rock and most of the world’s reserves have been derived as a by-product from the extraction of natural gas.
Around 80 per cent of the world’s reserves are in the American South-west.
However, because the gas is sold so cheaply there is no incentive to recycle it.
blog it

Professor Richardson also believes that party balloons filled with helium are too cheap, and they should really cost about $100.00 to reflect the precious nature of the gas they contain.

In his words:

“Once helium is released into the atmosphere in the form of party balloons or boiling helium, it is lost to the Earth for ever, lost to the Earth for ever.”

A Quote for the Day – Paul Krugmann on Global Warming

“Keeping world markets open is important, but avoiding planetary catastrophe is a lot more important….”

– Paul Krugmann in the NY Times

You deserved the Nobel Prize, Krugmann. Keep reminding us what the results of our inaction will be.

Obama Nobel Speech: We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend.

December 10, 200

By Barack Obama

Prepared text of President Barack Obama’s Nobel Acceptance Speech.

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations – that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize – Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela – my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women – some known, some obscure to all but those they help – to be far more deserving of this honor than I.

But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by forty three other countries – including Norway – in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.

Still, we are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict – filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.

These questions are not new. War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease – the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences.

Over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers, clerics, and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a “just war” emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when it meets certain preconditions: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the forced used is proportional, and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.

For most of history, this concept of just war was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God. Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations – total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred. In the span of thirty years, such carnage would twice engulf this continent. And while it is hard to conceive of a cause more just than the defeat of the Third Reich and the Axis powers, World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.

In the wake of such destruction, and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another World War. And so, a quarter century after the United States Senate rejected the League of Nations – an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this Prize – America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, and restrict the most dangerous weapons.

In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together. Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty, self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.

A decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.

Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states; have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today’s wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sewn, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, and children scarred.

I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago – “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life’s work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak –nothing passive – nothing naïve – in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

I raise this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter the cause. At times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.

Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions – not just treaties and declarations – that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest – because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another – that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier’s courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause and to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.

So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths – that war is sometimes necessary, and war is at some level an expression of human feelings. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. “Let us focus,” he said, “on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.”

What might this evolution look like? What might these practical steps be?

To begin with, I believe that all nations – strong and weak alike – must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I – like any head of state – reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards strengthens those who do, and isolates – and weakens – those who don’t.

The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense. Likewise, the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait – a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression.

Furthermore, America cannot insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don’t, our action can appear arbitrary, and undercut the legitimacy of future intervention – no matter how justified.

This becomes particularly important when the purpose of military action extends beyond self defense or the defense of one nation against an aggressor. More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.

I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That is why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.

America’s commitment to global security will never waiver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. This is true in Afghanistan. This is true in failed states like Somalia, where terrorism and piracy is joined by famine and human suffering. And sadly, it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come.

The leaders and soldiers of NATO countries – and other friends and allies – demonstrate this truth through the capacity and courage they have shown in Afghanistan. But in many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public. I understand why war is not popular. But I also know this: the belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice. That is why NATO continues to be indispensable. That is why we must strengthen UN and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries. That is why we honor those who return home from peacekeeping and training abroad to Oslo and Rome; to Ottawa and Sydney; to Dhaka and Kigali – we honor them not as makers of war, but as wagers of peace.

Let me make one final point about the use of force. Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it. The Nobel Committee recognized this truth in awarding its first prize for peace to Henry Dunant – the founder of the Red Cross, and a driving force behind the Geneva Conventions.

Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe that the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America’s commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not just when it is easy, but when it is hard.

I have spoken to the questions that must weigh on our minds and our hearts as we choose to wage war. But let me turn now to our effort to avoid such tragic choices, and speak of three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace.

First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to change behavior – for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure – and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one.

One urgent example is the effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and to seek a world without them. In the middle of the last century, nations agreed to be bound by a treaty whose bargain is clear: all will have access to peaceful nuclear power; those without nuclear weapons will forsake them; and those with nuclear weapons will work toward disarmament. I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I am working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russia’s nuclear stockpiles.

But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.

The same principle applies to those who violate international law by brutalizing their own people. When there is genocide in Darfur; systematic rape in Congo; or repression in Burma – there must be consequences. And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.

This brings me to a second point – the nature of the peace that we seek. For peace is not merely the absence of visible conflict. Only a just peace based upon the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting.

It was this insight that drove drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War. In the wake of devastation, they recognized that if human rights are not protected, peace is a hollow promise.

And yet all too often, these words are ignored. In some countries, the failure to uphold human rights is excused by the false suggestion that these are Western principles, foreign to local cultures or stages of a nation’s development. And within America, there has long been a tension between those who describe themselves as realists or idealists – a tension that suggests a stark choice between the narrow pursuit of interests or an endless campaign to impose our values.

I reject this choice. I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear. Pent up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence. We also know that the opposite is true. Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace. America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens. No matter how callously defined, neither America’s interests – nor the world’s –are served by the denial of human aspirations.

So even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal. We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran. It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation. And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear to these movements that hope and history are on their side

Let me also say this: the promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach – and condemnation without discussion – can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

In light of the Cultural Revolution’s horrors, Nixon’s meeting with Mao appeared inexcusable – and yet it surely helped set China on a path where millions of its citizens have been lifted from poverty, and connected to open societies. Pope John Paul’s engagement with Poland created space not just for the Catholic Church, but for labor leaders like Lech Walesa. Ronald Reagan’s efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe. There is no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement; pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.

Third, a just peace includes not only civil and political rights – it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.

It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine they need to survive. It does not exist where children cannot aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.

And that is why helping farmers feed their own people – or nations educate their children and care for the sick – is not mere charity. It is also why the world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and activists who call for swift and forceful action – it is military leaders in my country and others who understand that our common security hangs in the balance.

Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All of these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about. And yet, I do not believe that we will have the will, or the staying power, to complete this work without something more – and that is the continued expansion of our moral imagination; an insistence that there is something irreducible that we all share.

As the world grows smaller, you might think it would be easier for human beings to recognize how similar we are; to understand that we all basically want the same things; that we all hope for the chance to live out our lives with some measure of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves and our families.

And yet, given the dizzying pace of globalization, and the cultural leveling of modernity, it should come as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish about their particular identities – their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we are moving backwards. We see it in Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden. We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines.

Most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint – no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or even a person of one’s own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but the purpose of faith – for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature. We are fallible. We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil. Even those of us with the best intentions will at times fail to right the wrongs before us.

But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached – their faith in human progress – must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.

For if we lose that faith – if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace – then we lose what is best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.

Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, “I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him.”

So let us reach for the world that ought to be – that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. Somewhere today, in the here and now, a soldier sees he’s outgunned but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, who believes that a cruel world still has a place for his dreams.

Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of deprivation, and still strive for dignity. We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that – for that is the story of human progress; that is the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.

A Nobel Peace Prize Quote of the Day

“The goal is not to win a popularity contest or to get an award, even one as prestigious as the Nobel peace prize. The goal has been to advance America’s interests.

“If I am successful in those tasks, then hopefully some of the criticism will subside, but that is not really my concern. If I am not successful, then all the praise and the awards in the world won’t disguise that fact.”

– President Barack Obama

I watched Obama receive the award this morning and thought he handled himself very well. Now I am listening to his Nobel Lecture. I imagine most of you are as well.

This puts America in a much improved position in the World… something that George W. Bush worked eight years to defame.

You know, Ghandi was nominated 18 times for the Peace Prize, but was never a receiver of the award… something I am told the Nobel Committee is deeply embarrassed by. That Obama is awarded at this very early point in his relationship with the world as a whole is unusual and is probably being done for a barely concealed purpose.

He is discussing “just wars” right now… and how little the concept is observed. Perhaps this will help him eventually get us out of all this mess… eventually. We’ll see.

…and a Quote for Sunday Morning:

“The right in the U.S. objected to Obama getting the Peace Prize on the alleged grounds that he had not yet done anything to deserve it. But the right in the United States is to peace as velociraptors were to vegetarianism.”

Juan Cole in Salon

Thanks for the post, Juan. This was a very good view of Rupert Murdoch and his coterie of true anti-Americans. And why we are letting an Australian hatemonger run an entire aspect of American politics in order to make big bucks is beyond me.

Get Off Obama’s Back …second thoughts from Michael Moore

I received this e-mail from Michael Moore. Perhaps you did, too. If not, read on… he makes a good point:

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

Friends,

Last night my wife asked me if I thought I was a little too hard on Obama in my letter yesterday congratulating him on his Nobel Prize. “No, I don’t think so,” I replied. I thought it was important to remind him he’s now conducting the two wars he’s inherited. “Yeah,” she said, “but to tell him, ‘Now earn it!’? Give the guy a break — this is a great day for him and for all of us.”

I went back and re-read what I had written. And I listened for far too long yesterday to the right wing hate machine who did what they could to crap all over Barack’s big day. Did I — and others on the left — do the same?

We are weary, weary of war. The trillions that will have gone to these two wars have helped to bankrupt us as a nation — financially and morally. To think of all the good we could have done with all that money! Two months of the War in Iraq would pay for all the wells that need to be dug in the Third World for drinking water! Obama is moving too slow for most of us — but he needs to know we are with him and we stand beside him as he attempts to turn eight years of sheer madness around. Who could do that in nine months? Superman? Thor? Mitch McConnell?

Instead of waiting to see what the president is going to do, we all need to be pro-active and push the agenda that we want to see enacted. What keeps us from forming the same local groups we put together to get out the vote last November? C’mon! We’re the majority now — the majority by a significant margin! We call the shots — and we need to tell this wimpy Congress to get busy and do what we say — or else.

All I ask of those who voted for Obama is to not pile on him too quickly. Yes, make your voice heard (his phone number is 202-456-1414). But don’t abandon the best hope we’ve had in our lifetime for change. And for God’s sake, don’t head to bummerville if he says or does something we don’t like. Do you ever see Republicans behave that way? I mean, the Right had 20 years of Republican presidents and they still couldn’t get prayer in the public schools, or outlaw abortion, or initiate a flat tax or put our Social Security into the stock market. They did a lot of damage, no doubt about that, but on the key issues that the Christian Right fought for, they came up nearly empty handed. No wonder they’ve been driven crazy lately. They’ll never have it as good again as they’ve had it since Reagan took office.

But — do you ever see them looking all gloomy and defeated? No! They keep on fighting! Every day. Our side? At the first sign of wavering, we just pack up our toys and go home.

So, at least for this weekend, let us celebrate what people elsewhere are celebrating — that America now has a sane and smart man in the White House, a man who truly wants a world at peace for his two daughters.

Many, for the past couple days (yes, myself included), have grumbled, “What has he done to earn this prize?” How ’bout this:

The simple fact that he was elected was reason enough for him to be the recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Because on that day the murderous actions of the Bush/Cheney years were totally and thoroughly rebuked. One man — a man who opposed the War in Iraq from the beginning — offered to end the insanity. The world has stood by in utter horror for the past eight years as they watched the descendants of Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson light the fuse of our own self-destruction. We flipped off the nations on this planet by abandoning Kyoto and then proceeded to melt eight more years worth of the polar ice caps. We invaded two nations that didn’t attack us, failed to find the real terrorists and, in effect, ignited our own wave of terror. People all over the world wondered if we had gone mad.

And if all that wasn’t enough, the outgoing Joker presided over the worst global financial collapse since the Great Depression.

So, yeah, at precisely 11:00pm ET on November 4, 2008, Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. And the 66 million people who voted for him won it, too. By the time he took the stage at midnight ET in the Grant Park Historic Hippie Battlefield in downtown Chicago, billions of people around the globe were already breathing a huge sigh of relief. It was as if, in that instant, one man did bring the promise of peace to the world — and most were ready to go wherever he wanted to go to achieve that end. Never before had the election of one man made every other nation feel like they had won, too. When you’ve got billions of people ready, willing and able to join a cause like this, well, a prize in Oslo is the least that you deserve.

One other thought. The Peace Prize historically has been given to those who have worked to throw off the yoke of racial discrimination and segregation (Martin Luther King, Jr., Desmond Tutu). I think the Nobel committee, in awarding Obama the prize, was also rewarding the fact that something profound had happened in a nation that was founded on racial genocide, built on racist slavery, and held back for a hundred-plus years by vestiges of hateful bigotry (which can still be found on display at teabagger rallies and daily talk radio). The fact that this one man could cause this seismic historical event to occur — and to do so with such grace and humility, never succumbing to the bait, but still not backing down (yes, he asked to be sworn in as “Barack Hussein Obama”!) — is more than reason enough he should be in Oslo to meet the King on December 10. Maybe he could take us along with him. ‘Cause I also suspect the Nobel committee was tipping its hat to all of us — we, the American people, had conquered some of our racism and did the truly unexpected. After seeing searing images of our black fellow citizens left to drown in New Orleans — and poor whites seeing their own treated no better than the black man they had been raised to hate — we had all seen enough. It was time for change.

Thank you, Barack Obama, for giving us the opportunity to redeem ourselves. Now for the tasks ahead. We need you to do all that you promised to do. We need it. The world needs it.

My prediction for the future? You become the first *two-time* winner of the Nobel Peace Prize! Yeah!

Fred (that’s Norwegian for “Peace”),
Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com

Why Obama? Why the Peace Prize?

I’ve been listening to columnists and pundits and, oh, television stooges commenting all day on whether or not Obama’s winning of the Nobel Peace Prize was a joke, or a mistake, or a bit too early, or a sign of relief that Bush is gone, etc., etc.

Yet few have commented on how he actually is a good choice, that he has done good things and that he is deserving – especially as a symbol of our country and what we can do.

Diane Marie Amann, Professor of Law and Director of the California International Law Center at UC Davis, wrote a piece in HuffPo that said why Obama is deserving of the prize. Here’s a clip (but read the whole post):

clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com

Some are questioning the decision to give this award a scant nine months after the onset of this Presidency. Such questions ignore just how much Obama and his administration in fact have accomplished in that short time. By way of a few examples, they have:

  • Immediately upon taking office, ordered the closure of the detention camp at Guantanamo, and labored since then to make this happen;
  • Simultaneously ordered an end to unlawful interrogation practices;
  • Reiterated a vision for a nuclear-free world and pressed for nuclear arms reduction through U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, strengthening of the existing framework, and negotiation of new treaties;
  • Taken part in the first high-level face-to-face talks with Iran in three decades;
  • Pledged U.S. contribution to global combat against climate change; and
  • Joined the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.
  •   blog it

    I agree with her and I think this is a good thing that, if used well, could help in many of Obama’s current programs. There’s more in her post. To read it all go HERE.

    And, if you are not certain about the matter and want to see the cockroaches crawl out from under the molding, HuffPo has also published The 8 Most Outrageous Attacks On Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.

    Hey, did you guess who they all were before you looked?

    Now this is the way to greet the morning… Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize!

    clipped from sroblog.com

    APTOPIX Nobel Peace Prize Obama

    OSLO (AP) — President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in a stunning decision designed to encourage his initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism.

    Nobel observers were shocked by the unexpected choice so early in the Obama presidency, which began less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline.

    White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama woke up to the news a little before 6 a.m. EDT. The White House had no immediate comment on the announcement, which took the administration by surprise.

    The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided not to inform Obama before the announcement because it didn’t want to wake him up, committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said.

    “Waking up a president in the middle of the night, this isn’t really something you do,” Jagland said.

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    I got this notice from the Snow Report Blog (sroblog.com) this morning. Certainly makes for a great start of day… As the first sitting President since Woodrow Wilson (and only the third sitting President ever) to be in this position, I hope it DOES influence his decision on what to do in Afghanistan.

    Obviously, Obama didn’t expect this (nominations for the Peace Prize closed only 12 days into his Presidency). This might be seen as a nudge from the International community to push Obama in the right direction… or as Dylan Rattigan (MSNBC) said this morning, maybe it was just the Nobel Committee saying “Thank God George W. Bush is no longer President.”

    I can’t wait to see how the Radical Right attacks this award. It should be a whole day’s entertainment. But it means wasting one’s time watching Fox News. As Nancy Pelosi said, if Obama walked on water, they’d complain that he couldn’t swim.

    Here’s the announcement being made by the Nobel Committee: