Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.

Because debate only has 2 vowels.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Plagiarism, Fuzzy Plagiarism!

About that last statement everyone seems to have loved

Dumb [overasked] closing debate question in essence: What crisis have you gone through that makes you prepared to handle a really bad crisis in our nation? [Unspoken: like 9/11?]

Hillary: "Well, I think everyone here knows I've lived through some crises and challenging moments in my life. People often ask me "How do you do it? How do you keep going?" And I just have to shake my head in wonderment because, with all of the challenges that I've had, they are NOTHING in comparison to what I've seen in the lives of Americans every single day."

Hillary’s exactly right about words being nothing without actions. She just says what sounds good and then does whatever she wants. I keep wanting to like her and respect her and even feel bad for her, but then she goes and says another Line. I thought that part [listen to the whole thing {link at the top} to get the tone of it, complete with stories of her being the only D candidate invited to speak to Iraq war veterans with their limbs blown off] was so literally incredible–I could hear Mark Penn and Howard Wolfson and her going over those lines.

She sounded good, but she didn’t answer the question, really. But if you want to analyze the implications of her answer, were it to be relevant to the question, they were bad.

1) Yeah, soldiers in Iraq definitely have it worse than her. Because of a war she helped authorize yet blames Bush wholly for, refusing to take responsibility for her poor judgment.

2) Yes, she's lived through a lot of crises. And a lot of them were the result of her own bad judgment and sketchy actions. How does that make her ready for a crisis as president? None of her reactions to those crises were particularly laudable or without some duplicity. If she said that those crises taught her how to take responsibility for her choices and how the choices of someone in power affects so many people, then okay, that would have been a relevant and good answer I could respect. But no. She goes into that voice-coached fuzzy-inflection mode…

Update from a blogger from The Economist:
10:05 : Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson takes Hillary's debate-closing love-fest with Mr Obama and runs with it in a suspiciously prompt e-mail sent to reporters:

"What we saw in the final moments in that debate is why Hillary Clinton is the next President of the United States. Her strength, her life experience, her compassion. She's tested and ready. It was the moment she retook the reins of this race and showed women and men why she is the best choice."


Ben Smith of Politico.com mentioned something about Hillary borrowing some words from John Edwards about being "fine" at the end. Well, okay. . .I see the similarity here. But this is just silliness! Hillary's 'best' line was totally lifted Bill's from 1992. Almost word-for-word.

And that's all for tonight, folks.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Michelle Obama and the Evil of Sound Bites

I have a lot to say about this whole nutty media freak-out over Michelle Obama saying ". . .for the first time in my adult life, I'm proud of this country. . ." People are condemning her after reading this sound bite like she's a big America-hater, and Bill O'Reilly couldn't help himself from uttering the term "lynching party."

But I will refrain. I'd just like to post her actual words before the statement:

Now for the actual words (and note the blipped out 'really' just for the record, if that really matters):

Now, please watch the beginning of this statement in an interview about what she said. If you read the soundbite they've been printing today, she sounds defensive and lame. But watch this and see 0% defensiveness. Listen to her words that have no pretense, unlike Some People.

If you want to quote this, I transcribed it since I couldn't find the text anywhere at all.

Reporter: Is there any clarification that needs to be made?

Michelle: I think the clarification has been made. What I was clearly talking about was that I'm proud in how Americans are engaging in the political process. I mean, everyone has said what I've said, which is "We haven't seen these record numbers of turnouts, people who are paying attention, going to rallies, watching the debates." For the first time in my lifetime, I'm seeing people rolling up their sleeves in a way that I haven't seen [before] and really trying to figure this out. And that's the source of pride that I was talking about.

Reporter: So then you hear Senator Clinton and Mrs. McCain saying, "Well, I've always been proud of America." Have you always been proud of America?

Michelle: Absolutely. I mean, you don't...

Reporter [FYI: he's white]: When we abandon the people in Rwanda? When there's disparity between the rich and poor is growing...

Michelle: Well let me tell you--I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the possibilities of America. And I've talked about that. My father was a city worker. I went to Princeton and Harvard with scholarships and loan support. Barack and I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the greatness of this country. That doesn't mean that we don't have challenges. That doesn't mean that we can't work for change and that any talk of change is unpatriotic. You don't run for president of the United States and put yourself and your family through this if you don't feel some level of deep pride, and possibility for your country. I love my country. I wouldn't be in this if I didn't care deeply and didn't believe that every possibility that I had as a kid should be available to every single child.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Now, how again did Hillary get off the hook?

People, everything you need to make your friends & associates step back and perhaps rethink their vote for Hillary Clinton is right here.

Yes, it's come down to this. I'm willing to stoop to this level of making a dirty laundry list. I can no longer stand silent. Hold me back! Hold me back!

In his recent New York Times op-ed, Nicholas D. Kristof discussed the electibility factor of both Democratic rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He was generally objective, but then he made this curious statement: "It’s also true that Mr. Obama has received more gentle press scrutiny than Mrs. Clinton, and if he were the nominee, he would be buffeted, investigated and swift-boated in a way that he hasn’t been (but that Mrs. Clinton has).”

I would rephrase this. Mr. Obama has not received as much pertinent backlash from press scrutiny than Mrs. Clinton because he has a relatively clean slate, and what isn’t clean from his 47 years as a human being has already been written or spoken about—even some of the sillier fine points that have been made big deals of already. (“HE WANTED TO BE PRESIDENT IN KINDERGARTEN EVEN THOUGH HE SAID HE DIDN’T BECOME AN ILLINOIS SENATOR 11 YEARS AGO! LIAR! HE DID DRUGS AS A COLLEGE KID! EVIL! HE DID 5.5 HOURS OF WORK AS A JUNIOR LAWYER FOR SOMEONE WHO LATER BECAME A SLUM LORD! SCANDALOUS!”)

And, problematically, when someone asked at a Q&A if he “inhaled,” he replied, “I thought that was the point.” And then, when the supposed “slum lord” who donated some money to Obama’s campaign got charged for something or other, Obama’s camp acknowledged that and then gave that money to charity without scathingly decrying the guy’s existence. He’s still sketchy on that kindergarten thing, however.

The comparison to what might possibly come up from Obama’s past to the absolutely bullet-riddled conglomeration of Hillary and Bill Clinton’s past is frankly ludicrous. If Obama was guilty of even one of their countless skeletons, say, purposefully lying in court or concealing documents at the cost of millions of taxpayer dollars, it would still technically pale in comparison. Yet, we all know that that one sin would cost him everything at the hands of the media.

As to why Mrs. Clinton’s former press scrutiny (and the vast body of documented crookedness, hunger for personal power, poor judgment, and disregard for others) somehow counts as presently irrelevant to today’s press attention is beyond me. Caught off guard at my own sudden, surprisingly indignant descent into Clinton distaste after the ridiculous ruckus they raised over Obama this winter, I said in total bewilderment to my boss, “How in heaven’s name did we so quickly and willingly and completely get over all the schmarminess and crookedness of the Clintons’ past? It’s like all that drama never existed for us between 2000 and now.”

“Easy,” she said. “George W. Bush.”

Okay, true. Forgot about that little factor. But then this: why in heaven’s name has there been such limited “press scrutiny” on behalf of the forgetful public about Hillary Clinton’s claim of “35 Years of Experience” that we seem so eager to believe? Oh, I’ve heard some clarity here and there on it. But not much. I did hear one commentator point out simply that her math is odd, considering that Obama has actually spent far more time as an elected lawmaker than her (11 years to her 7), and arguably more real, hands-on public service. But few echoed him. I did hear a few distant voices saying something or other about her years as First Lady not quite counting for all she’s actually counting them as. But those voices were generally drowned out. After all, we must remember her words, “We are the president.” Two-for-one! One-for-two!

Honestly, I’m utterly baffled as to why the mainstream press is not so interested in reminding the amnesiac public of her murky past. Perhaps they want to respect our memories—surely we haven’t forgotten, correct? Or are they perhaps afraid to do so? No one wants the ClintonsChelsea. Well, I won’t go so far as to suggest that. Perhaps they just don’t want to be accused of joining in with the scary neo-con bilge-spewing machine that has already compiled volumes upon volumes of the Clinton’s Scariness. Perhaps the Club of Clinton Hatred has hamstrung the effectiveness of their arguments by way of the bilge-spewing factor. Name-calling seems to have that effect on good arguments.
threatening to boycott their televised debates due to an announcer’s rude comment relating their campaign’s use of

Thus, I’m going to ruin my blog by desisting from my previous decision to desist from all preoccupation with the negativity that the Clintons so disarmingly inspire. I feel I must for the health and well-being of what’s left of voting America. There’s just so much out there, but I feel somehow obligated to remind us all of just a few tidbits I’ve gleaned that I sincerely wish would get aired out more publicaly for voters to reconsider, lest they keep saying anything so foolish as “You wouldn’t want someone who’s only driven for 3 minutes when you can get someone who’s been driving for 20 years.” (Oh God, spare me from this pain!)

Point #1: Just Ask the the Lil People
First, we turn to some very depressing quotes as easily recalled by former White House staff and Secret Service guys (the people who would know about Hillary’s experience in the White House better than anyone). I apologize for the abusive and distasteful use of the uppercase number key symbols. But they prove a major point: sheer hypocrisy. The fact is that Hillary cares nothing for “the little people.” She cares most about herself. That potentially spells more trouble than even George W. Bush, who cared most about Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

"Where is the G*d@mn f**king flag? I want the G-d@mn f**king flag up every f**king morning at f**king sunrise."
- Hillary to the staff at the Arkansas Governor's mansion on Labor Day, 1991 (Inside The White House by Ronald Kessler, p. 244 )

"F*#k off! It's enough that I have to see you sh#t-kickers every day, I'm not going to talk to you too!! Just do your G*d@mn job and keep your mouth shut."
- Hillary to her State Trooper bodyguards after one of them greeted her with "Good morning."
(American Evita by Christopher Anderson, p.90)

"If you want to remain on this detail, get your f**king @$$ over here and grab those bags!"
- Hillary to a Secret Service Agent who was reluctant to carry her luggage because he wanted to keep his hands free in case of an incident. Many other instances like this! (The First Partner by Joyce Milton, p.259 )

"Where's the miserable c*ck s*cker?"
- Hillary shouting at a Secret Service officer
(The Truth About Hillary by Edward Klein, p.5 )

"Put this on the ground! I left my sunglasses in the limo. I need those sunglasses. We need to go back!"
- Hillary to Marine One helicopter pilot to turn back while en route to Air Force One (Dereliction of Duty by Clinton military aide Robert Patterson p. 71-72)

"Stay the f**k back, stay the f**k away from me! Don't come within ten yards of me, or else! Just f**king do as I say, okay!!!?"
- Hillary screaming at her Secret Service detail
(Unlimited Access, by Clinton FBI Agent in Charge Gary Aldrige, p.139)

"You know, I'm going to start thanking the woman who cleans the restroom in the building I work in. I'm going to start thinking of her as a human being."
-Hillary in a moment of enlightenment (The Case Against Hillary Clinton by Peggy Noonan, p.55)

Point #2: More Enlightening Hillary Quotes Speak for Themselves
No comment necessary.
"The only way to make a difference is to acquire power"
- Hillary Rodham Clinton to a friend before starting law school (I've Always Been A Yankee Fan by Thomas D. Kuiper, p.

"We just can't trust the American people to make those types of choices…Government has to make those choices for people"
- Hillary Clinton to Rep. Dennis Hastert in 1993 discussing her expensive, disastrous taxpayer-funded health care plan (I've Always Been A Yankee Fan, p.20)

"As women and as lawyers, we must never again shy from raising our voices against sexual harassment." - Hillary Clinton, at a 1992 American Bar Association luncheon praising Anita Hill

“Who is going to find out? These women are trash. Nobody’s going to believe them.” –on Bill Clinton’s so-called “bimbo eruptions”

“We’re all going to have to rethink how we deal with the Internet. As exciting as these new developments are, there are a number of serious issues without any kind of editing function or gate-keeping function.” —First Lady Hillary Clinton in 1998, days after the Monica Lewinsky story was reported on The Drudge Report

"I'm not some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette" — Hillary Clinton while being questioned about Bill Clinton's infidelity

“If I didn’t kick his ass every day, he wouldn’t be worth anything.” –on Bill Clinton

"I'm not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president" - Hillary Clinton commenting on the release of subpoenaed documents (Blood Sport:The President and His Adversaries by James B. Stewart)

“Every nation has to either be with us, or against us. Those who harbor terrorists, or who finance them, are going to pay a price.”
- Hillary Clinton after September 11, 2001 when President George W. Bush and the war had high approval ratings

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members … It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002, in spite of having never read the intelligence reports

“He ran a gas station down in St. Louis... No, Mahatma Gandhi was a great leader of the 20th century.” –introducing a quote by Mahatma Gandhi

"I have said that I'm not running and I'm having a great time being pres –being a first-term senator" — Hillary Clinton on her presidential ambitions

"God bless the America we are trying to create."

Point #3: A Few of Them 35 Years of Bad Experience in Bullet Points
Third, we turn to a brief laundry list of Hillary’s track record included in her 35 Years of Presidential-Like Experience. Preface by the succinct Laura Hubka, a “little person” from the demographic that Hillary likes to think of as her guaranteed supporter.
“HRC has been telling America that she is the most qualified candidate based on her 'record,' which she says includes her eight years in the White House as First Lady and her seven years in Senate. Here is a reminder of what that record includes:

  • As First Lady, Hillary assumed authority over Health Care Reform, a process that cost the taxpayers over $13 million. She told both Bill Bradley and Patrick Moynihan, key votes needed to pass her legislation, that she would 'demonize' anyone who opposed it. But it was opposed; she couldn't even get it to a vote in a Congress controlled by her own party. (And in the next election, her party lost control of both the House and Senate.)
  • Hillary assumed authority over selecting a female Attorney General. Her first two recommendations, Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood, were forced to withdraw their names from consideration. She then chose Janet Reno. Janet Reno has since been described by Bill himself as 'my worst mistake.'
  • Hillary recommended Lani Guanier for head of the Civil Rights Commission. When Guanier's radical views became known, her name had to be withdrawn.
  • Hillary recommended her former law partners, Web Hubbell, Vince Foster, and William Kennedy for positions in the Justice Department, White House staff, and the Treasury, respectively. Hubbell was later imprisoned, Foster committed suicide, and Kennedy was forced to resign.
  • Hillary also recommended a close friend Craig Livingstone, for the position of director of White House security. Livingstone was investigated for improper access of up to 900 FBI files of Clinton enemies (“Filegate”) and the widespread use of drugs by White House staff, both Hillary and her husband denied knowing him.
  • FBI agent Dennis Sculimbrene confirmed in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing 1996, both the drug use and Hillary's involvement in hiring Livingstone. After that, the FBI closed its White House Liaison Office, after serving seven presidents for over thirty years.
  • In order to open “slots” in the White House for her friends, the Thomasons (to whom millions of dollars in travel contracts could be awarded), Hillary had the entire staff of the White House Travel Office fired; they were reported to the FBI for 'gross mismanagement' and their reputations ruined. After a thirty-month investigation, only one, Billy Dale, was charged with a crime mixing personal money with White House funds when he cashed checks. The jury acquitted him in less than two hours.
  • Another of Hillary's assumed duties was directing the so-called 'bimbo eruption squad' and scandal defense:
    • She urged her husband not to settle the Paula Jones lawsuit.
    • She refused to release the Whitewater documents, which led to the appointment of Ken Starr as Special Prosecutor.
    • After $80 million dollars of taxpayer money was spent, Starr's investigation led to Monica Lewinsky, which led to Bill lying about and later admitting his affairs.
    • Then they had to settle with Paula Jones after all. (And Bill lost his law license for lying to the grand jury.) (And Bill was impeached by the House.)
    • And Hillary almost got herself indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice, avoiding it mostly by repeating 56 times under oath: 'I do not recall,' 'I have no recollection,' and 'I don't know.”
  • After Hillary left the White House, but later had to return $200,000 in White House furniture, china, and artwork she had taken with her. Oops. (This may seem trivial, but it seems to represent her documented ‘owning’ of the White House and all therein.)
  • Hillary decided to seek election to the Senate in a state she had never lived in. Few disagree that this was clearly with the intent to seek a path to presidential candidacy. (Yes, this seems out of place in this list, but the point is that her most viable experience can’t escape the questionable motivation that seems to consistently mark each step of the way.)
  • In the campaign for the Senate, Hillary played the 'woman card' by portraying her opponent (Lazio) as a chauvinistic, sexist bully picking on her.
  • As the junior Senator from New York (strange how she never gets referred to as such by the press; only Obama gets this “junior” title), Hillary has passed no major legislation. She has deferred to the senior Senator (Schumer) to tend to the needs of New Yorkers, even on the hot issue of medical problems of workers involved in the cleanup of Ground Zero after 9/11. (Note: In the San Francisco debate, she attempted to pwn Obama by saying that she “co-sponsored” a bill on the environment before Obama was even in the US Senate. The jolly applause that followed was straight-up weird. A smart law school student in his mid-20s calmly pointed out what anyone else who knows anything about Senate bills knows: “Do people know how easy it is to co-sponsor something? There, I co-sponsored 5 things. Done.”)
  • Hillary's one notable vote; supporting the plan to invade Iraq, she has since disavowed.
  • The Clintons demanded that the National Archives withhold from the public until 2012 many records of their time in the White House, including much of Hillary's correspondence and her calendars in spite of ongoing lawsuits to force the release of those records.

In his article "Clinton Amnesia," columnist Andrew Sumereau lists more of the better known 'scandals,' easily identified by just a few words each:

  • Whitewater,
  • Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan,
  • Rose Law Firm,
  • 1000% profit Cattle Futures,
  • Castle Grande,
  • The McDougals,
  • Web Hubbell,
  • Tyson Foods,
  • Lippo Group,
  • Vince Foster,
  • David Hale,
  • Paula Jones,
  • Jim Guy Tucker,
  • Chinagate,
  • James Riady,
  • Mike Espy,
  • Billy Dale,
  • John Huang,
  • Ron Brown,
  • "No controlling legal authority,"
  • FBI filegate,
  • Missing subpoenaed Rose Law firm files reappear in White House,
  • Charlie Trie,
  • Bruce Babbitt,
  • Maria Hsia,
  • Kathleen Willey,
  • Sidney Blumenthal,
  • Vernon Jordan,
  • Juanita Broderick,
  • Pardongate,
  • Marc Rich.
"Each scandal attached to each of the above names and events is both serious and abounding with investigative possibilities," Sumereau says. "And so many remain unresolved. Surely a rich harvest awaits the intrepid journalist investigator, but major news media will never take on the Clinton record. The treatment of Sandy Berger's theft of classified pre-9/11 documents is only the most recent and egregious example of a media scandal written in water [and never mind that he's currently one of Hillary's foreign policy advisers--the whole crew is just itching to be back in the White House]. Former associates and supporters of the Clintons that prefer Obama are catching on to the media double standard with chagrin. Poor Bill Bradley has been reduced to begging ineffectually on MSNBC for the list of donors to the Clinton Library to be released. He is metaphorically talking to a wall. For the pugnacious and relentless foes of Scooter Libby, the Clinton Administration scandals simply did not happen.

Again, Laura Hubka: “Quite a resume. Sounds more like an organized crime family’s rap sheet.” I think that's enough for one mile-long post.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Meaning of It All

MLK Day: It's more than the events; it's about coming to a new understanding of what we can learn from Dr. King's words--and his legacy

Today I participated in only my second MLK Day march in the space of five years. This is partially because for the last three I actually, scandalously haven't had the day off from work (I took a vacation day today) but mostly because I'm lazy. The 'point' of the march is different for different people; some go specifically to remember Dr. King; some go to expose their kids to the reality behind the holiday; some go to be a voice for their particular human rights or justice-related cause; some go to dress up weird and march in a parade and be on TV.

Last time I went, I got to hear Coretta Scott King speak and had some lovely interaction with fellow marchers. Last time, the big issue was the impending Iraq war, and a record number of white folks came out to protest that. This time, the most visible 'issue' was the impending primary elections, the outcome of which may just have as far-reaching results as our failed Shock&Awe campaign.

Generally, everyone's outward behavior was quite civil (including--technically-- the very silent man on the Auburn St. sidewalk with the sign saying "Jesus is Lord Hell Awaits You"--as were the amazing bystanders standing peacefully around him). I walked behind a group of Fired Up Ready To Go Obama supporters (of multiple races and ages) who had nifty chants and creative signs, and even when The Hillary People came next to us, we just waved and smiled pumping our signs (I had an Amnesty Int'l sign for Troy Davis), and as far as I know, none of them breathed fire or shot us the evil eye or anything. It may have, indeed, been the first time recently that I've seen the two camps seem just fine with letting people have whatever opinions they choose to have.

But one experience that is a repeat from my last march is this: afterward, lying on my bed, all my limbs aching with exhaustion from the day, I'm still thinking about Dr. King and what he really stands for, beneath all of the weird pop culture garlands we've buried him with. Excuse me if I say that for many, his name has almost the equivalent magic of the Miss America Answer ("World Peace!"). In other words, if you're white and don't want to appear racist, say how much you love MLK. If you're black and want to talk about civil rights, MLK is a sure bet, whereas you have to sweat over whether to quote Malcom X or not. It's easy to put Dr. King up on a mural or put his face on the bulletin board during Black History Month.

We all know "I have a dream..." but many of us don't know the layers and layers of deep, rich substance and tension that lay beneath those often-glibly quoted words.

And that's why I think that revisiting Dr. King's life and his writings and sermons and speeches is part of the holiday still acting as a catalyst for change in our lives.

Here are some generally famous words of Dr. King that usually aren't used in sound bytes or sermons. I saw them quoted today on a blog that was saying how relevant the words are to the '08 election at hand. (That conjecture was a bit hard for me to see. But I'll get to that in a minute.)

I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. . . . .

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking.

But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.
. . . .
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

. . . .

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically
believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
. . . 

[We] who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with an its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

Remember, these words were being applied to the present election. Time periods from totally different planets, I would say. Yet--we're so thirsty for meaningful existence as part of our postmodern landscapes that, in a way, we can't be blamed for drawing comparisons between the huge tragedies or hardships referred to in the Bible with our light daily trials (such as getting a ticket or watching our favorite American Idol contestant go b-bye).


All this to say, I was thinking about something today: how soft we all are. We freak out over stupid things and have no patience or resolve or selflessness. And then we want credit for every good thing we do or for every 'hard' thing we go through.

We like to hail MLK and sing the refrain of the familiar stories that have images splashed onto our minds forever, like the fire hoses & the dogs; the marchers on the bridge and the police; the freedom rides and the people walking in droves; the speech on the Washington mall. We like to rewind and repeat the images and sound bites for their emotion and their reassurance of our present safety and freedom.

But we forget the long hours and days and nights and weeks and months of suffering, whether the public and private indignity diffused throughout the Southern landscape, both city and country--or the days in that dark, cramped cell, not knowing how much longer.

We forget the sleepless nights or the fear for one's children; the decision to be willing to forfeit one's relative 'peace' that seemed so hard-won for the chance of greater and truer freedom.

So--the problem is that we regard our freedom too cheaply, in concept rather than by way of blood-stained experience. I remember these hidden images not as something my life is directly connected to, but rather, just one face of the experience I feel the people of our generation lack perspective of. I could make more lists of images, but tonight those are the ones that stick with me.

Monday, January 14, 2008

My Last Will and Testament to the Clintons

A Confession: My week of initiation into the camp of Clinton-hatred was enough to depress me right out of civic participation

It all started for me right before the New Hampshire primary. You know the events: every bit of the Clinton & Clinton Circus’ antics has been dissected and made into temporary national monuments by the media at this point: Bill’s “Fairy Tale” rant; Hillary’s alleged tears and “Some of us are right and some of us are wrong” speech. It got worse in the days following the bizarre and overblown surprise primary win: the weird MLK/LBJ comment; the Bob Johnson I’m a Brother So I Can Diss Him intro speech; the shuck and jive and assorted cocaine crap; the Aha! We’re Finally Forcing You to Allegedly Play the Race Card! volleys. Indeed, all overblown, tabloid-style headlines.

But back to that first fateful day of the tears and the fairy tale: something unraveled in me said fateful day. I think I reacted so violently because I lost what respect I still had for the Clintons that fateful day, and that was a sad thing for me. No, there was nothing new about them that really came out that fateful day, but I’d still managed to draw a line objectively between what I disliked about them personally with what I respected them for in terms of talent, confidence, and ambition.

Suddenly, my starry-eyed summation of the whole landscape (Obama was winning by a landslide and confounding Everybody because We, the People, were Taking Back America) devolved back into the kind of politics that I’d previously shrunk away from, distastefully doing my duty on election day every few years and voting for the lesser of two evils. Like many ordinary Obama supporters, getting involved and being genuinely, personally interested in politics was not something I'd chosen to do for quite a long time—until Barack came along.

But somehow, I got caught up in said devolution around me. I'm pretty passionate about injustice, and blinded myself to what was happening: I was falling for the silly old game of superficial American political drama. (As in Did she really cry? Did he really say he didn’t mean cocaine? while Pakistan’s elections are being further sabotaged by suicide bombings.) I armed myself like any novice blogger, with my sharp-edged analysis and obsessive linkage; I reported any and every bit of legitimate, recent, and self-created dirt the Clintons' deserved to be held accountable for on Digg, and I'm ashamed to say that I rather enjoyed putting my spin on things at times. I sounded like a broken record to myself, but I didn't care. I was mad, and I was on a mission to make sure that the press didn't spin things too far into the Clintons' corner. I was obsessed with the wisdom of my own astute perceptions and persuasive analysis.

All this took its toll on me, just like negative politics will for anyone (I guarantee you that people like Sean Hannity and the like suffer from chronic constipation--and I mean this in the most sympathetic and self-deprecating of ways, God bless his soul). I was getting depressed. I was getting wild-eyed and sleep-deprived from nights of obsessive reading and blogging and digging and such. Hyperbolic language was beginning to slip into my once-careful political vocabulary. I was beginning to call Bill and Hill names. Gratuitous names. Just like the ranks of over-zealous opinion-obsessed Americans I once thought I was above. I was getting doomsday about the future of America in general and harping to God and myself (yes, I was talking to myself) about how evil always wins. I was getting a crick in my neck.

Well, it all came to a head tonight as I was driving home. Instead of music, I was listening to POTUS (incessant talk radio about the elections) on my trusty XM radio, and NewsHour with Jim Leher was on (although a certain Judy was standing in for Jim, I must note). Just like this morning, they were yakking about the whole “racial tensions” thing that’s been straining Senator Obama and The Clintons this week. A sign of my waning emotional energy: some of the very incidents that have gotten me so hopping mad (although I’ve disagreed with much of the media spin on them) were being discussed, and I was already feeling burned out on it and resentful that I was actually still listening like an addict.

But then I perked up. A familiar raspy voice came on, one I haven’t heard since Coretta Scott King’s funeral last year: the Reverend Joseph E. Lowery, a wonderfully feisty old saint whose only transgression in my eyes was having a notorious street in my neighborhood named after him that we’ve confused for years with its old name. “Judy” was asking esteemed Rev. Lowery (one of the founding civil rights leaders and close friend of Dr. King) what he thought of the whole Clinton statement about MLK and LBJ and the brouhaha that has trailed it. Then another voice came on the air: it was my (*MY*) esteemed representative, John Lewis (junior civil rights movement veteran and friend of MLK). Definitely perked up.

Now, I must make this clear: I love John Lewis. I mean, the man (the very definition of a good incumbent) has been working his tail off in Washington for ages on behalf of my neighborhood here in Atlanta. He (well, his staff, of course) will take your complaints about your agricultural rights (although I can’t say that we have much to plant out here…and I’m not about to report my neighbors siphoning out their laundry water into my tomatoes) or testy government agencies who are not dealing with the mosquito-infested city creek or the disgracefully potholed MLK Blvd (which, after a ludicrous 5-year drama, has finally been repaved to our great shock). He regularly sends me letters (even form letters are appreciated) in response to my form letters and petitions about supporting Darfur aid or voting yet again against drilling in the ANWR and other such crunchy environmental concerns. I respect the man deeply. So, to make a long story short, I found myself having devolved to the point that I was cussing at him in the car.

Now, I must note objectively that he somewhat deserved it. He was rudely cutting off Rev. Lowery (his senior, hello) every other minute, for one. And then, after droning about how he was BFF with MLK and sort of kind of BFF with LBJ (thus making him the final judge on the situation), he unfairly used the situation to endorse and defend Hillary and Bill as the First and Rightfully Second Black Presidents of the United States and blame Obama for trying to make them out to be racist when they’d been working hard with the black community while a certain “inexperienced” yet "articulate" young man was allegedly smoking crack. Okay, he didn’t use those words, but he might as well have, or so I thought. My blood pressure was sky-rocketing as usual.

So there I was, shamefully cussing at him and so mad that I kept almost shutting off the radio. But I had to hear out Rev. Lowery, who was the voice of the calm, collected sage, saying (in so many words), “If Mrs. Clinton says she meant no disrespect, I’m perfectly willing to accept that, and now…LET’S MOVE ON to the important issues of this campaign and quit all this ridiculous divisiveness.” And, the shred of reason within me kept thinking I had to hear out Lewis, who might redeem himself.

(Disclaimer: I understand that John Lewis has a long history with the Clintons, and is absolutely entitled to be loyal to his friends and feel strongly about a situation where they seem to be coming under fire from part of Black America. But reason is not the point here. Remember? I’m still a wild-eyed insomniac at this point...)

When I got home, I dove straight onto my computer to tap out a calm and respectful letter to my esteemed representative. I was disappointed in his comments and handling of the situation.

I did not think he was being fair to blame Obama’s “camp” for supposedly stirring things up (Lowery countered that the media was the real culprit, from all he’d observed) due to some defensive memo, as though the Clinton “camp” doesn’t send out any sort of negative memo meant to attack Senator Obama.

I thought it was unfair for him to say that “no right-thinking” person would misconstrue Hillary’s words as being offensive. I thought he should know that, while I agreed with him that Hillary did not intend to say anything to directly diminish MLK or bring out the race card, we also had the right to take issue with what she said for our own reasons.

I wanted him to know that, not only was he ignoring what Obama in fact did take issue with—nothing to do with race (Obama says he felt she was elevating legislative power over the power of the people to come together and bring about change)—he was dismissing what I took issue with: that she was showing her utter lack of understanding of what it means to actually BE a minority in America.

I took issue because, while I don’t discredit the Clintons’ work or interest in African American interests (and I will not comment on their motives but rather, will assume they’re all golden), they simply cannot claim to know anything about the experience of a minority in America. They somehow think that they, like supporter and billionaire BET mogul Bob Johnson (who amazingly claimed he was allowed to call Obama an “young articulate black man” because he himself is black) are allowed to say whatever they want because they’ve done this and that for black Americans for a bazillion years or however long they claim to have lived.

I take issue (and I promise you, this will end, and definitively so) that, even in retrospect, Senator Clinton did not (or would not?) see why perhaps some folks would be taken aback by her glib comparison within the context of topic on hand. So, while I don’t think she was saying that LBJ was way more of a hero than MLK (although, as Salon editor Walter Shapiro aptly notes, it’s “never a good sign when a Democratic candidate feels compelled to stress, ‘Dr. King is one of the people I admire most in the world’"), the statement ultimately reveals the bottom line: the Clintons have a problem when they are not the center of attention, whether the competition is An Articulate Black Man stealing some limelight or the ever-untrumpable icon that Martin Luther King Jr. is. (As was it the bottom line of their New Hampshire meltdown—and yes, I do believe the tears were very real—for this very reason.)

And therein ends my last paragraph devoted to What is So Totally Wrong With The Clintons. My little car-bound mouth-off to someone I would normally treat with the same deference reserved for my grandmothers (and don’t misinterpret that—in my culture, you do NOT badmouth your grandma no matter what) snapped me back into reality.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. When you find yourself in the same sorry state of eye-stabbery (as in the Biblical plank-in-eye hypocrisy hyperbole) that so disgusts you about the person/“camp” you’ve decided is your “enemy,” it’s time to admit you’ve been scammed by the ole devil hisself. As in ye olde deville who likes to kill as many birds as possible with a single arrow (nope, sin isn’t enough—if you can be self-righteous—and thus, even blinder to your own problem at the same time as carrying out said sin, all the better!!!).

So tonight I give up my veiled celebrity worship of the Clintons. (After all, people say they hate Paris Hilton, but if they didn’t idolize her by loving to hate her, she wouldn’t be the #1 most celebrity celebrity.)

Tonight I swear off as much gossip, slander, and non-constructively negative news in general about the candidates. Because really, if I’m this tattered and manic after a week or two of this—then, if and when Obama wins the nomination, how the heck am I going to handle the barrage of scary neo-con poo about being a liberal Muslim extremist that will be inevitably flung the poor man’s way by Hannity and his ilk?

No, really, we all must desist this pointless whinery and sniveling and hiss-n-claw action. We talk about the Republican party only being united by a potential Hillary nomination; but we really should be talking about a potentially divided Democratic party if these hysterics don’t desist (I know I for one, originally thought I’d vote for Hill if she won, as did many other independent-leaning Democrats like me—and now we’re all threatening to vote for the potentially disastrous John McCain).

That’s why I swear it all off tonight and instead swear to spend my energy on the stuff that matters the most: our country’s current demise and the potential of doing something about it as a nation, as progressively united as we possibly can be in the coming days.

Tonight I return to what originally drew me into being obsessively interested in American politics for the first time in my life: hope. Good ole harried and battered hope. Yep, the good ole—or should I say “new”?—politics of hope. Because really, when do you ever have this many everyday, normally-disgusted-with-politics Americans come teeming out of the woodwork in mind-boggling numbers? When have this many non-politically-geeked-out Americans willingly flocked to community centers to volunteer to phone bank or canvass?! I mean, when was the last time people even knew what “canvass” means?

Barack Obama—and much more importantly, Barack Obama’s message, which is quickly being embraced and embodied by Americans cut from every kind of cloth—is certainly something worth talking about.

As Reverend Lowery pointed out tonight, we have too much to do to get stuck on these weird and divisive nitpicking squabbles based on words, words, and more worthless words. Time to get to work.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Weird Capital-E Experience Mantra

It's all about Experience...but really, what kind are we talking about?

God bless him, blogger and CNN contributor Roland Martin has finally pointed out that Hillary's math is completely...weird. Indeed, we're forgetting that if we're talking congress, Obama has 11 years as an elected lawmaker as opposed to Hillary's 8. And that's not the whole of it either.

I keep wondering why no one from the Clinton camp claims (just to be consistent) that Laura and Barbara Bush have all this experience that would've made them capable of being the best senators ever. Why is actually working on ground level with normal non-elite-type people (in other words, real Americans) for years and years without much credit and then working with the nitty-gritty of state government not as important as attending bruncheons with gold-rimmed china and flying in private jets and engineering failed health care plans? The math says that Barack has been in government office 4 years longer than Hill. If she denies that state government counts as Experience, she's saying Bill didn't really have enough experience to be president of the US of A.

Of course, I personally count Obama's unsung years of experience as a community organizer as being just as important as his years in Congress, and I'm glad that he does, too. What other candidate has had the generally invisible experience of working in the trenches with a community, for a community? None. That's why they have no clue what its value is--the value of rolling with the punches day in and day out, trying to unify people who think they're enemies, learning step by step to empower a unique group of individuals to find solutions and bring about the change they need for themselves. But really, would it be so risky for us to have a president who actually has lived like a normal American and worked for communities without any other motive than to actually (gasp!) empower a community to bring about change for themselves...all without even looking for a photo op?! Heaven forbid!

Next thing we know, Hillary will be claiming to be the Second Black President of the United States just because she's eaten junkfood and McDonald's with Bill and listened to him playing the sax (you know, since Toni Morrison claimed that those were the prerequisites for being a bona fide black person).

I console myself by assuming that the voices who are regurgitating the whole Experience Mantra have just not had the chance to really hear from Obama beyond the usual sound bytes. (Or sit down and do the math.)

And then there's the whole I Have the Most Foreign Policy Experience contest. Rudy Guiliani already revealed the pointlessness of this dehydrated peeing contest by claiming the title for himself due to his Ground Zero photo ops that put him in close vicinity to the 9-11 terrorists. Perhaps this whole Most Experience thing without the missing, ever-important qualifier (i.e. what kind of Experience?) is just the Wrong Question, period. After all, everyone knows that John McCain has more notches on his belt in terms of years in this category than Hill or Rudy or Barack.

So...new question: Who has the Most ______Experience?

I choose "Insanely Practical" as the qualifier.

Does someone who's only visited other countries in the context of staged tours or talks with a country's elite really know the outside world better than someone who has lived as an integrated foreigner outside the US--and has lots of family members living on other continents?

Here's a little example. My boss recently visited a country I once lived in. It was a staged tour and she met with elite-government types who wanted to give certain impressions of their country. This wasn't at all an invalid experience. In fact, she got more experience than I did within the realm of Powerful People with Agendas--who are also a very real part of the country. This can be genuinely helpful experience. But did she get a broad picture of the public and their worldview or culture? Does she understand how the common person in that country thinks? She'd have to go back for another visit to get a taste of that.

As for me, my experience was limited, too. I was a younger adult then, and I didn't live there long enough to start thinking like the average citizen even though I was immersed in their culture; I was, of course, always going to be a foreigner. But I lived in a non-expat mixed-income neighborhood (the mix all being on the low side)--and had close relationships with my neighbors. I knew what it was like to not enjoy civil liberties that the country claims are given and, while I was a foreigner with more freedoms than others, I had friends who had to deal with human rights abuses on a daily basis. Did my boss see any of that--did this tour allow any of those real life issues to be pondered or understood close-up? We both had limited experience, but I don't think anyone would say, "Oh yeah, your boss' week-long trip gave her a better understanding of the country's culture and needs and worldview."

In this sense, I give Hillary's claims way less credit and Barack's WAY more.

People who are saying to Obama's statement (about his family and his childhood years in Indonesia outranking his senate trips), "Oh puh-leeze, I visited Paris, and that doesn't make me a foreign policy genius" don't get his point only because, like most Americans, they haven't really lived outside the country in an integrated way (i.e. not the same thing as study-abroad, yo.). Having grown up outside America in yet another part of the world, I know that living somewhere before the formative age of ten is absolutely huge in shaping your worldview, and everyone I know who, as a child, has had to be a cultural outsider trying to fit in another culture gets this. (And sorry, being an insulated military dependent doesn't compare to Obama's childhood experience, as has been ignorantly suggested. The kid was in put local schools, for goddness' sake!)

No matter what sort of cultural dissonance you struggle with as a child, your appendages stuck in different worlds like a seemingly impossible Twister pose, you learn to respect people different from you--and learning real respect like this as a child gives you priceless experience that shapes the rest of your life. You learn to recognize that not everyone thinks like you and that they deserve to be understood within their own context--just as you'd want them to try to understand you. For that matter, a Third-Culture Kid's intimate knowledge that more than one valid context (not just your own) actually exists is, in and of itself, experience that a majority of Americans have the luxury of avoiding. But as deceptively simple as this kind of experience may appear to the kind of American that Hillary was shaped to be, we'd all have to agree that this is way more experience than our last few decades of presidents could hope to claim.

At the end of the day, all this talk of Experience alone will continue to be pointless (and weird) unless we--average Americans that we are--start caring more about the missing fill-in-the-blank qualifiers preceding this ever-needful quality. And at the end of the day, the kind of experience we choose in a leader will largely determine what kind of experience we will have of the world outside our borders--and the kind of experience that outside world will have of us.

Monday, July 30, 2007

That's just not the way we do things around here

Hello, McObama? We don't talk to our enemies, remember?

Barack Obama has made some "irresponsible and frankly naïve" statements. At least, that's the buzz I'm hearing in response to his statement in the CNN-YouTube debates that, were he to be elected, his hope and intent would include dialog without precondition with some of America's worst fans. Including "dictators." Particularly those who play around with nuclear power or don't let us control their oil (or both).

Clinton's people and Obama's right-wing opponents set out from the beginning to paint him as an idealistic greenhorn (hence, "Obambi"). And for voters just beginning to get acquainted with him, it's not hard to assume that Hill has way more of the experience that actually counts, seeing that she's already lived at the White House for longer than twice Obama's time in Congress—and, of course, she would theoretically have the most important friends on her myspace page (well, minus David Geffen, of course). And, she's BFF with none other than America's First Black President (help, us Lord).

It's undeniable: Hill has experience.

But I wonder what kind of experience is most desperately needed at this point in our nation's history. I wonder if, perhaps, there might just be wisdom in a simpler, less seemingly tried-and-true (sorry, I meant "tried-and-tried") understanding of where a new administration would actually need to start out, were they to actually do something constructive in that obnoxious realm of foreign policy.

Still, it's undeniable: Clinton sounds good and rational, playing the part of the wise veteran, admonishing her junior colleague and opponent that she thinks the obviously judicious approach when it comes to dictators is caution. It's also undeniable that such a wise, rational statement is a bit too convenient and wonderfully non-committal. Politically speaking, her response was smart. She wins that round of Jeopardy! But I wonder if, perhaps, we should actually be puzzling over a completely different category of answers and their respective questions.

Perhaps, for too long, American foreign policy has been brazen and arrogant in all the wrong areas and only cautious and non-committal and conveniently tripping over red tape when Washington is uncomfortable, its mouthpieces and wizards-behind-the-curtains worried about personal reputation/careers/assets/special interest groups/etc. Sure, caution sounds pretty great to us these days as the war trudges on and we reap the consequences of our lack of caution. But perhaps we're too quick to embrace so-called caution when we really don't want to step outside our comfort zone.

Perhaps Obama has not made a "naïve" statement after all. Perhaps we're quick to write off his perspective because it seems the rational thing to do. But I have a hard time believing that such a statement came out of a naïve idealism when his track record reveals someone with a broad scope of multi-faceted intelligence and passion for learning—and an understanding of non-American culture that no past president has acquired through personal life experience (that is, outside the realm of diplomacy and politics).

Perhaps, instead, he's recognized the place at which America must start over when this current administration, bull-in-the-china-shop that it's been, moves out with its wake of burned bridges and smoldering crops left trailing behind. Perhaps, just perhaps our only hope for picking up the pieces and building something new will be this: a willingness to be humble and shrewd enough to begin by engagement—by persistently pursuing the dialogue that eventually leads to relationship building.

In fact, it's naïve to imply that Obama is unaware that that Kim Jong-Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are unlikely to ever be buddy-buddy with the U.S. Rather, Obama is merely recognizing that a position of real, substantive, constructive, and lasting "power" within the global community will stem out of a more subtle disarming which, in the long run, actually is more efficiently developed through relationship—again, built upon an ongoing human-to-human dialogue.

He seems to understand that, rather than retreating behind the standard mouthpieces and all their monotone, loaded words sprung from behind closed, locked doors, an effective head-of-state will have to proactively engage with our world, continuously deepening his/her experience-based understanding of that world. As naïve as I might sound, I wonder how things might change, were our leaders to practice shrewd but authentic engagement within their political world rather than retreating behind the walls of politics the way we're used to doing them. As a friend once said, would 9/11 have happened if George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden met twice a year for coffee and chess?

Most of us (including the right wing) are aware that we as a country are probably not in very good standing with the rest of the world. And the most committed patriot would (hopefully) see that it would be preferable for our neighbors to see us as real people—equal humanity worthy of basic, mutual human respect—rather than merely the one large, slick-faced commercial for capitalism that much of the world has been led to believe America is.

I hate to "go there," back to our most collectively sore spot—but one has to wonder if the young men turned Al-Qaida terrorists would have felt so righteous in destroying the World Trade Center (something they saw as the face of America's immorality, greed, etc.) had they instead been acquainted with the true faces of the thousands of people who filled that shell—people who might have surprised them, had they been given a voice and been allowed to show a real, human face for the world to see and hear.

From what we now know of Al-Qaida (and other such cults that seem to prey on frustrated, idealistic (or hopeless), and often sheltered young men), in spite of their time spent in the West, the 9/11 terrorists had already developed a very cold, distant image of the US and what they believed it stood for long before they shaved their beards to go incognito—before they decided that defeating this selfish, steel-and-glass, pleasure-obsessed "monster" was a mission worth dying for. One must wonder how things might have been different, had they grown up knowing of America as an engaged country with an engaged leader, who, despite massive differences, related to their world with at least a cordial, authentic respect for it and doggedly sought to keep the conversation going in spite of tension or setbacks on either side.

Now, I recognize that, had some American (or other Western) neighbors invited these young men to dinner or at least sought to engage with them in some sense, it would not have been enough to avoid September 11th. Even at best, someone else would have taken their places, because this chasm between their world and ours has been eroding tirelessly and growing deeper for a very long time. But this is where, if we want to see change in our country's direction and change in the deeply troubled landscape of our world, we have to embrace a certain amount of simple wisdom—even if it be derided as naïvety.

We as Americans are an impatient people, as distinctly illustrated by our initiation of this war that we're still mired in years later. We were certain that Shock & Awe would take care of our apparent "problem" as quickly and completely as a Starbucks Triple Venti Vanilla Latte is supposed to make us happy and keep us awake and headache free, all in the time it takes to steam the 2% just so and present itself through the drive-through window for merely an half-an-hour's work pay!

So, for years and years, we've avoided the seeming "long route"—certainly a sometimes arduous and demanding and frustrating one—of dialog and relationship building, because it just takes too long. The results just can't be accounted for at the end of each week. We don't go back to school to exchange our career for the one we dream of because it'll take 4 long years, and we'll be 50 when we graduate; or we don't take up dance or surfing because most good dancers or surfers begin as children. Yet the adage holds fast: "Well, if you don't, you'll still be 50 in four years and you still won't have the degree and you still won't know how to dance."

Likewise, perhaps Obama recognizes that, if we don't start at square one any time soon, the next four years will come and go and we'll still be in the increasingly distressing predicament we're in as a nation today. So with that in mind, I think I'd like to warn Hill & Co. that they'd better think again. Perhaps, just perhaps, that greenhorn Obama is opting for a perspective that indicates far more experience and discernment when it comes to so-called "bad people" than what those pat answers we're so used to might actually imply. Perhaps it's time to redefine "responsibility."