Friday, October 9, 2009

What a Weekend, From Nobel Prize to Gay March

Paul Krugman
David Brooks
Dana Milbank

"Gender politics is always just beneath the surface in this town, because the inequality in power is stubborn and persistent."   - Dana Milbank
"There isn't a lot you can do without either Congress, Oprah or Goldman Sachs behind you."  - Bill Maher
"That language is something I haven't even heard in decades."  - Nancy Pelosi

I imagine a lot of pundits were awakened from sleep in the early morning, and had to churn out a column on Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize . It happened after most newspapers had gone to print, so my Denver Post and New York Times had no mention of it. He was given the Prize to make up for Chicago losing the Olympic bid. No, he actually was given the Prize for: "A vision for approaching the world's major conflicts through dialogue and engagement rather than confrontation – one seen to contrast starkly with that of the previous American president – won US President Barack Obama this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

In announcing its surprise decision, the Norwegian Nobel Committee cited Mr. Obama's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." The word "efforts" hints at the view from around the world – from laborers in Baghdad to world leaders – that awarding the prize to an American president in office just nine months was recognition more of Obama's aspirations than of any particular accomplishments."

Thanks to Obama's vision, and the ceaseless efforts by the State Department, there is a global climate for solving differences diplomatically. For the first time in many years, people living in places like North Korea, Burma, and Palestine have a hope for a more peaceful, less paranoid life. Even Iran is working with the IAEC, which alone is worth winning the Prize.
In the words of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who said the peace prize for Obama recognizes the "return of America into the hearts of the people of the world."
Nobody expected Obama to win anything so early into his administration, but his elegant speeches given in places like Germany and Egypt, increased the opinion of America and the warm reaction of world leaders is a welcome benefit.

Of course, this raises the bar awfully high, and makes near impossible challenges for the rest of his time in office. If George Bush could suck it up and congratulate Obama, he could easily work to end the bipartisan rift, get the Party Of No to become the Party That Works Together. After all, at the beginning of Bush's term he wanted to be a uniter, and if he had taken the path through peace instead of war, the path of negotiation instead of intimidation, he could easily have won the Peace Prize, too. What might have happened if Bush hadn't been dazzled by those rituals at the Bohemian Grove, where he ended up choosing Dick Cheney... Instead, we're left with a hokey War on Terrorism, and responsibilities in Iraq and Afghanistan that we can't just get up and walk away, no matter how attractive that option is.

MSNBC has some interesting reactions from around the world, a few are:
"The number of U.S. Army [troops] has increased here. The number of terrorist attacks increased here. I’m kind of confused whether that Nobel Award [is] for all those things." - Obaid Alum, Kabul, Afghanistan
"Is today April Fool’s Day?" - anonymous Chinese citizen
 "I completely approve of this decision."  - The Mayor of Hiroshima, Tadatoshi Akiba

if you don't ask...

This weekend the gays descend upon Washington DC, with a massive rally on Sunday. I'll be able to find more pictures afterwards, the one I found here is from 1979... Bill Maher on his show last night did a New Rule: "Everyone deserves equal rights. That's why they're called "equal" and "rights..."Don't ask, don't tell" has always been bad policy that was made out of a bullshit political compromise. You know, like you're doing now with health care..."

"The tea-baggers have taught us all an important lesson in modern politics: If you want to be taken seriously, act like a fucking loony-tune... In fact, let me explain how the right-wing mind works: wing-nuts get up in the morning, get their "news" from Fox or Drudge, and then spend all morning drinking coffee and getting all worked up about whatever Fox and Drudge tell them to get worked up about. "Mexicans - Grrr! Socialism - Grrr! Van Jones - I don't know who he is, but sure... Grrrrrr!" By the time Rush comes on at noon, they're ready to just start demanding we build a wall around Andy Dick. And when Glenn Beck shows up at five, they're seeing red - right through the blue from the Viagra."

I now live in a very very conservative town, flanked by many religious-right groups, and active and retired military, a volatile mix. This is where a home-schooled teenaged girl came up with the concept of "personhood" for an unborn fetus, and has used that as fuel for a political career. This is where a carpetbagger retired Colonel ran for office twice, thinking that we would react without thinking just like his soldiers did, and was surprised when he lost. This is where White Supremacist groups leave their literature on the doorsteps of liberal churches. This is where Focus on the Family has been laying off hundreds of employees so it could fund an anti-gay rights initiative in California. I'm much more used to living in a tolerant climate, having gay friends and working with them, too. I've lost my best friend to AIDS, and met people who have survived the virus; its like meeting someone who has come back from a dangerous planet and been quarantined for years of their lives.

I don't understand homophobia, just like I don't understand white male rage. I wonder if the latter isn't something that just comes over you as your hormones get old and worn out, perhaps I will soon be able to witness it first-hand. If Obama makes a presidential order banning the don't ask, don't tell policy this weekend, he will be one step further in earning his Nobel...

late night political jokes:

"President Obama's national security adviser just said that Obama is going to overturn the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' As a result, the signal for an enemy attack will change from 'incoming' to 'what's her problem?'" --Conan O'Brien

"In a global survey of the most admired countries, the United States went from number seven to number one. They don't admire us enough to give us the Olympics, but…" --Jay Leno

"And earlier in the week, President Barack Obama met with 150 doctors. He got all kinds of advice from them. This weekend, he's going to try out the tips they gave him on the golf course." --Jay Leno

"And over the weekend, the President and the First Lady celebrated their wedding anniversary. They went out to dinner. There were no gifts exchanged. They didn't exchange any gifts because, as you know, that would be socialism." --Jay Leno

"President Obama's national security advisor said the President will overturn the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy in the military. Well I think that's good. I think gay people should be allowed to serve in the military. It seems ridiculous if they're not. And listen to this. They'll be able to keep the same slogan, an 'Army of One — Singular Sensation.'" --Jay Leno

"Nobel Prizes in science were awarded yesterday, and the three winners in physics are known as the 'masters of light.' Not to be confused with Dick Cheney, known as the 'prince of darkness.'" --David Letterman

"Here is some very good news. At NASA, the countdown is on. After years of wasting taxpayer money on research to increase the quality of life here on Earth and all that rubbish, NASA is finally doing something cool. They're blowing up the moon!" --Craig Ferguson

"No, it is not a joke. I'm not kidding! Right now, a Centaur missile is hurtling through space, headed for the moon's south pole. And I for one would just like to say how awesome that is!" --Craig Ferguson

"We could make a ton of money if they find water on the moon. Can you imagine how much showbiz weasels in L.A. would pay for moon water?" --Craig Ferguson

"Today marked the eighth anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan. Dick Cheney celebrated by champagne boarding himself." --Jimmy Fallon

"So what NASA is doing, they're crashing a rocket, which will have the energy of two tons of TNT It's part of NASA's new strategy, 'What would Wile E. Coyote do?'" --Jimmy Fallon

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