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Measuring the distance between that American promise and that American reality

“The distance between that promise and reality has never been greater.” (click the link to see the full DailyKos blog post on this Bruce Springsteen concert)  I ran across this post about Bruce Springsteen.  He gave a concert in Philadelphia today for an Obama’s Voter Registration Drive.  Quite a moving post and video.

Bruce Springsteen speaks for a lot of active Americans who want their country back. Once again, I hear echos of Howard Dean, who inspired my wife and I to political action in 2003.

These opening words could not have been truer and it amazes me today that more Americans, particularly the so-called Independents cannot yet see it. It amazes me that even as Republicans do not agree with our vision, they can’t at least see the need to change the direction this country has gone down – to give liberals in this country a chance to lead it.  Take a moment to at least hear these words above – or read them below.

I’ve spent 35 years writing about America, its people and the meaning of the America promise. That’s the promise that was handed down right here in this city. From our founding fathers, with one instruction: Do your best to make these things real. Opportunity. Equality. Social Economic Justice.  Fair Shake for All of Our Citizens. The American Idea as a Positive Influence Around the World For a More Just and Peaceful Existence.

These are the things that give our lives hope and they give our lives shape and meaning. And these are the ties that bind us together and give us faith in our contract with one another. I’ve spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and that American reality. And for many Americans who are today losing their jobs and their homes, they’re seeing their retirement funds disappear, who have no healthcare, who have been abandoned in our inner cities, the distance between that promise and that reality has never been greater or more painful for people.

I believe that Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work. I think in his heart he understands the cost of that distance in blood and in suffering in the lives of everyday Americans. And I believe as President, I think he would work to restore that promise to so many of our fellow citizens who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning.

After the disasterous administration of the past 8 years, what we really need is somebody to lead us in an American reclamation project….

I’ve continued to find wherever I go, that America remains a repository of peoples’ hopes and possibilities and desires and that despite the erosion of our standing in the world accomplished by our recent administration, we remain for many, many people this house of dreams. And 1000 George Bush’s and 1000 Dick Cheney’s will never be able to tear that house down.

They will however be leaving office. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they will be leaving office dropping the national tragedies of Katrina, Iraq, and our financial crisis in our laps. Our sacred house of dreams has been abused, it’s been looted and its been left in a terrible state of disrepair. It needs care, it needs saving, and it needs defending against those who sell it down the river for power or a quick buck. It needs strong arms. It needs a citizenry with strong arms, hearts and minds. It needs someone with Obama’s understanding, his temperateness, his deliberativeness, his maturity, compassion, toughness and faith to help us rebuild our house once again.

But most importantly it needs you and me. It needs us. It needs us to rebuild our house with the generosity that is at the heart of the American spirit. A house that’s truer and big enough to contain the hopes and dreams of all of our fellow citizens. Because that’s where our future lies, and we will rise or we will fall as a people by our ability to accomplish this task. And I don’t know about you, but I want my house back. I want my American back. And I want my country back.

Bruce went onto sing this song:

“The Rising”

Can’t see nothin’ in front of me
Can’t see nothin’ coming up behind
I make my way through this darkness
I can’t feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far I’ve gone
How far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed
On my back’s a sixty pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile line

Come on up for the rising
Com on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Left the house this morning
Bells ringing filled the air
Wearin’ the cross of my calling
On wheels of fire I come rollin’ down here

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li

Spirits above and behind me
Faces gone, black eyes burnin’ bright
May their precious blood forever bind me
Lord as I stand before your fiery light

Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li

I see you Mary in the garden
In the garden of a thousand sighs
There’s holy pictures of our children
Dancin’ in a sky filled with light
May I feel your arms around me
May I feel your blood mix with mine
A dream of life comes to me
Like a catfish dancin’ on the end of the line

Sky of blackness and sorrow (a dream of life)
Sky of love, sky of tears (a dream of life)
Sky of glory and sadness (a dream of life)
Sky of mercy, sky of fear (a dream of life)
Sky of memory and shadow (a dream of life)
Your burnin’ wind fills my arms tonight
Sky of longing and emptiness (a dream of life)
Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life (a dream of life)

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li

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Cool to be dumb?

I just read an essay by Joe Conason, “The dumbing down of the GOP“.   It was an excellent analysis of this dumbing down phenomenon:

which appears to be the latest incarnation of this:

which in turn is the logical conclusion of where it all seemed to start from with this:

As Joe Conason concluded:

The ultimate irony of Palin’s rise is that it has occurred at a moment when Americans may finally have grown weary of pseudo-populism — when intelligence, judgment, diligence and seriousness are once again valued, simply because we are in such deep trouble. We got into this mess because we elected a man who professed to despise elitism, which he detected in everyone whose opinions differed from his prejudices. That was George W. Bush, of course. Biden was too polite and restrained to say it, but the dumbing down is more of the same, too.

What is it about our society that it sees those with intelligence as ‘not one of us?’ I don’t get it. Shouldn’t we all aim for the kind of intelligence that a Barack Obama or Joe Biden have shown in their political careers? Why is folksy and acting informally in situations that call for more formality such an attractive feature in a candidate?

I could take a guess at it. I think it’s definitely more complicated than this, but maybe our society, this country, is made up of a lot of relatively dumb people who need to tear down those which make them feel that way. They react to somebody who has something they don’t, and instead of modeling some aspect of that person’s life for their own, they make themselves feel better by being proud of their ignorance and shallowness.

Why is it that this is something one finds primarily with the Republican Party’s supporters. There are a lot of very smart people in that party, but their appeal, their appeal is to the folks that vote against their own interests! They chose Palin because that is their base! It’s really disconcerting to see one of this nation’s two parties get progressively more wingnut-stupid by going after these people’s votes. When will it end?

It’s a subject I’d like to revisit someday if I can find some of the essays and blog posts I’ve read on it over the last several years.

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After the FISA vote…a little Orson Welles perhaps?

Well the Democratic Party’s capitulation on the 4th Amendment of the Constitution took place today.

H.R. 6304 passed today in the Senate 69 – 28 with 3 not voting.

A bill to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to establish a procedure for authorizing certain acquisitions of foreign intelligence, and for other purposes.

It was a disgrace. That a President with such a low level of popularity in this country could still manage to cower the Democrat controlled Congress just does not compute.

Now would be a good time to watch this excellent video narrated by Orson Welles about “the indifference that makes people blind to the injustices around them”, especially when looking at what this nation was founded on.