A Cautious Man
January 25, 2009
 
Sunday Night Springsteen
Obvious - "Working on a Dream" -



I don't know about the whistling ...

Our copy is arriving on Tuesday, with luck. I've listened to the album on the NPR First Listen. Lots of different musical styles on the album - but I still can't figure out "Outlaw Pete".

And, what the heck, the first time we all heard "Working on a Dream", at the Obama rally in Ohio. Kind of nice to know that this time, it all worked out okay.


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January 23, 2009
 
It's Hard To Be A Saint ...
Oh my sweet child how did you sleep last night
She said, "I dreamed I saw Saint Francis"
He came in the body of a lion and had tears in his eyes
"It don't have to be this way"


- Little Steven, Saint Francis

Now this is disappointing news:

Mother Teresa recited the simple prayer of St. Francis every day. Margaret Thatcher cited it upon becoming prime minister of Britain, and Alcoholics Anonymous included it in its “12 steps” book.

But something else is notable about the prayer that begins: “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith.”

St. Francis of Assisi, who was born in the 12th century, probably had nothing to do with it.

An article published this week in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, said the prayer in its current form dates only from 1912, when it appeared in a French Catholic periodical.

It doesn't make it any less a Catholic staple (its use has even been an occasion for conservative opinionators to demonstrate their confusion, about the fact that "liberal" and "religious" are not mutually-exclusive labels, as we've discussed here before). Still, "tradition" seems less "traditional" when it's not as old as first thought.

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Now, Where Did I Leave My Tiniest Violin?
Because these whiners inspire a tiny song -

On the plane, no longer Air Force One but now Special Air Mission 28000, they talked about the speech. George W. Bush, the former president, was heading home to Texas with his inner circle, having just left the Capitol, where his successor first thanked him for his service and then proceeded to discredit it.

The Bush team had worked assiduously to make the transition smooth for the incoming President Obama and stayed out of the way as he used the postelection period to take leadership of the economy even before being sworn in. And now, as far as some of them were concerned, the new president had used his inaugural lectern to give the back of the hand to a predecessor who had been nothing but gracious to him.

“There were a few sharp elbows that really rankled and I felt were not as magnanimous as the occasion called for,” Karen Hughes, a longtime Bush confidante, said in an interview. “He really missed an opportunity to be as big as the occasion was and, frankly, as gracious as President Bush was as he left office.”

Dan Bartlett, another top adviser, used similar language. “It was a missed opportunity to bring some of the president’s loyal supporters into the fold,” he said. Marc A. Thiessen, the chief White House speechwriter until this week, added: “It was an ungracious inaugural. It was pretty clear he was taking shots.”

And what were the "shots" that bothered these poor people?

Mr. Obama never directly mentioned Mr. Bush’s name after the ritual thank you at the beginning of his speech, but the context of some of his remarks was lost on no one. He criticized “our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.” He promised to “restore science to its rightful place.” He rejected “as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” He assured the rest of the world “that we are ready to lead once more.”


These people (and I include the reporter and a lot of commentators) just don't get it.

We're not going to torture our way to security.

We're not going to bomb our way to security.

We're not going to "regime change" our way to security.

We'll be more secure when more people in this world gain or re-gain their respect for, their support for, and their desire to emulate, these United States of America. The new President clearly knows this, and his Inauguration was the best time to let the rest of the world know this.

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January 21, 2009
 
"We Are Traveling In The Footsteps
Of Those Who've Gone Before ..."

This picture was passed along to me. It says a great deal about yesterday's event.


I have no idea who created this. If anyone visiting knows, I'll be happy to give credit where credit is due.

[Edited to add} Via Attaturk, found him!

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More On That Whole "Change" Thing ...
From the portion of the Inauguration Address quoted in an earlier post -

"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers ... our found fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake."

Today's news has a photo, which (I hope) serves as a metaphor for this change -


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Better Days
Now that we're almost 24 hours (at this writing) into the new Obama Administration, it will be interesting to see if there's any change in tone from the elite pundits. For example, I caught a glimpse of something a little more substative amongst the snark in Maureen Dowd's column today -

I grew up here, and it was the first time I’ve ever seen the city wholly, happily integrated, with a mood redolent of New York in the weeks after 9/11. The Obamas have made an unprecedented pledge to get involved in the real city that lies beyond the political Oz, and have already started doing so in many ways, including starting the night out at the D.C. Neighborhood Inaugural Ball.

Downtown was a euphoric pedestrian mall of commerce and communal kindness. The patience that America is extending to Mr. Obama, according to a Times poll, was reflected across the capital, as the cram of people sparked warmth rather than antsiness.

Maybe we could get more of that, and less of musings on how Bill Clinton is scheming to assert more influence through Hillary. Just a thought ...

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January 20, 2009
 
So, How Are The Reviews?
I don't know what others may think about President Obama's Inaugural Address, but these passages seem the most important, to me:

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

There are a lot of concepts, practical concepts, moral concepts in those passages, which we'll get a chance to see put into action now. And I'm hopeful that they really will be put into action, because they come from the same viewpoint that we first heard Senator Obama articulate back at the 2004 Democratic Convention:

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America - there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

So, on with the show!

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January 18, 2009
 
Sunday Night Springsteen
With MLK Day tomorrow, and the inauguration of Barack Obama as President the next day, we're going with "When The Saints Go Marching In".

Why? Check the lyrics. If you wait until the end of the song, this is what you hear -

But I'm waiting for that morning,
When the new world is revealed.


While this may not be what the writer may have intended, we're going to see what this new world will reveal, and that's a hopeful thing.

Not to mention the first lines of the song -

We are trav'ling in the footsteps
Of those who've gone before

We certainly are traveling in the footsteps of those who have been to the mountain top.



[Edited to add]

Bruce with Pete Seeger today, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial singing "This Land Is Your Land". Can it get any cooler?



[Edit on 1/21/09] The original YouTube link for Bruce & Pete & Co. was from the HBO broadcast, but HBO has somehow asserted copyright over images of a free, public concert. Thanks to Todd at Catholic Sensibility, who had a link to a non-HBO (anyone want to suggest what the "B" should stand for?) tape.

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January 15, 2009
 
A Haiku Before Listening To President Bush's Farewell Address Tonight
On Nine-Eleven
America stood as one
Bush threw that away

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A Change Is Gonna Come
I was amused when I read this account from conservative commentator Larry Kudlow, regarding a dinner the other night at George Will's house, where he and other conservative commentators broke bread with soon-to-be-President Obama:

Interesting thing. This is just generally speaking, he is so well-informed, and he loves to deal with both sides of an issue, and I'm not going to divulge what was said there and I'm not going to go into any of the specifics, but he enjoys the back and forth, and he is not, you know, tough, mean, insulting, snarling, none of that stuff, and we weren't either.

This was a good conservative group and we just had a great back and forth, and he wants to keep the dialogue going with conservatives. I would say I am honored to be at that dinner. I was honored to meet him. He is a very impressive man, and I wish him all the luck in the world because we've got some issues to deal with.

I found it amusing because I recall soon-to-be-ex-President Bush being described in less flattering terms, by someone who could hardly be described as a liberal. As we observed here a few years ago, Tucker Carlson experienced the crude side of Mr. Bush, when they discussed the Karla Faye Tucker case -

In the week before [Karla Faye Tucker's] execution, Bush says, Bianca Jagger and a number of other protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask.

Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them," he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with [Tucker], though. He asked her real difficult questions, like 'What would you say to Governor Bush?' "

"What was her answer?" I wonder.

"Please," Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "don't kill me."

What a guy. Better days surely are coming.

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January 11, 2009
 
Sunday Night Springsteen
Our man won a Golden Globe tonight for his song for "The Wrestler".

A date with Oscar again this year, perhaps?


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January 10, 2009
 
Is There Anybody Alive Out There?
I know, we haven't lived up to our New Year's resolution. We'll try to be more alive here, and if you're out there, leave a comment or send an email.

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