Posts Tagged ‘barack’

What should Barack read?

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

On November 1, the Chicago Tribune invited its two heavy-hitter writers, Aleksander Hemon, and Garry Wills, to come up with a list of required reading for the new president: five fiction, five non-fiction. You can see therelist here: It includes Thucydides, Al Gore, and Jose Saramago, among others. I have to confess, I was underimpressed with their recommendations.My own list:Non-fiction: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.  Barack will have policy wonks aplenty on specific issues but my physics friends say this should be required reading for anyone having to think seriously about nuclear weapons, proliferation, dirty bombs, and related policy issues.  Ahmed Rashid’s The Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia.  Rashid, a Pakistani journalist who covered the Taliban for years, wrote this important book right before 9/11.  We could have avoided a lot of mistakes in Central Asia if we had listened to him and experts like him.National Security, FBI and CIA Intelligence Briefings.  Given that the nation’s security apparatus had warned Bush and Condoleezza Rice of an imminent attack on U.S. soil in the summer of 2001, a great deal of the mess we’re in now could have been avoided had the president and his aides only read the briefings and acted appropriately.Women’s lives and bodies have been compromised by eight years of the Bush administration, in which access to contraception and abortion have been curtailed both at home and abroad.  Barack has announced support for Griswold and Roe, allowing people to return to the privacy of their  homes and doctors’ offices to make important choices, but the Catholic bishops are demanding that he abandon these views.  There are many books available on reproductive matters; one that is eminently readable is Abortion at Work.Finally, Helen Thomas’s Watchdogs of Democracy? is a timely critique of the way in which the Washington  Press Corps failed to ask the key questions needed for our citizens to understand what the Bush administration intended to do about war, peace, the environment, the economy, and our nation’s health.Fiction, PoetryIrina Ratushinkskaya’s Grey is the Color of Hope.  This memoir from the Soviet-era gulags tells readers about the human cost of power, and the human capacity for survival and hope.  The Brothers Karamazov.  A ripping good yarn about faith, families and murder.Richard II.  What happens when you let power go to your head.Melissa Benn, One of Us.  This novel about ambition and politics, by the daughter of one of England’s important labor leaders, is a gripping novel of the cost to the people who support the big kahuna on his/her quest for power.Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest. Shows what could happen when we let greed rule in the place of justice.
What do you think Barack should be reading?
P.S.  Heman couldn’t come up with any books by women; Wills had one.  Extra points for those who imagine women writers.

welcome to my world

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Why I Support Barack Obama

by Sara Paretsky


I grew up in rural Kansas, with the kind of Norman Rockwell, regular-gal childhood you hear a lot about these days: our two-room school’s baseball diamond was carved from a cornfield.  My dad, who held Army medals for marksmanship, owned two rifles.  I never killed a polar bear, or shot at wolves from a helicopter, but I took care of my share of rats at the garbage dump where we took our trash in those pre-green days.  It’s been a while since I held a rifle, but I used to be able to clean and fire a .25 pretty well.

Our family was typically American in other ways: we were a Heinz 57 mix of religions and ethnicities.  One of my great-grandfathers was a Hasid, an ultra-orthodox Jew in eastern Poland; another studied for the Catholic priesthood before realizing that life wasn’t meant for him.  Other great-great grandfathers were part of the generation of Puritan preachers who settled New England in the seventeenth century.

In my family, as in so many blended American families, our central holiday was the Fourth of July. On the Fourth of July, my father taught us the history of the country.  My mother had my brothers and me memorize sections of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution.  We learned:

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do establish and ordain this Constitution for the United States of America.


We the People.  Not, we the billionaires.  Not, we the believers in Creationism.  Not, we the oil industry lobbyists.  Not even, we the blogging novelists.   Just, we the people.

This is why I support Barack Obama for President of the United States.  He understands this mandate, and he has lived it during fourteen years of public service.

The Founders of this country could not have imagined our health care system when they wrote that they wished to “promote the general welfare.”  But they surely did not confuse “the general welfare” with the wealth and health of the few.  In America today, we taxpayers give the Republican president and his would-be successor free health care of the highest quality in the world.  When Mr. Bush returns to Crawford, and Senator McCain to Sedona, we taxpayers will continue to provide them this gold-plated health care.  Meanwhile, Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain have told us taxpayers to go to the emergency room when we’re sick.

Barack Obama, from the day he entered public life, has understood that we all share the blessings of liberty, and that we all share the costs and the benefits of those blessings.  As a state legislator in one of America’s largest states—with almost twenty times the population of Alaska—he worked with Republicans and Democrats to create affordable health care for Illinois children, so that when they were sick, or born with disabilities, their mothers didn’t have to line up in an emergency room.  He worked for the welfare of our oldest citizens, who  had given a life of service to this country, and did not need to spend their final years in poverty and indignity.  As a United States Senator, Barack Obama has continued that important, bi-partisan work.

When the Founders of our country talked about “establishing justice,” they wanted justice for all Americans without fear or favor.  We’ve lived in a poisonous atmosphere for the last eight years, where if you paid lip service to religion, you could buy and sell our natural resources while having cocaine and sex parties.  You could fire federal prosecutors for not supporting the president.  You could threaten to put librarians in prison for the crime of consulting a lawyer when the Department of Justice came calling at their libraries.

 This is also why I support Barack Obama for President of the United States.  He believes that justice means observing the law impartially for all, not just for the wealthy, not just for people who pay lip service to religious beliefs.

I have spent the last forty years working for women’s rights to be treated as full and equal citizens under the law.  And this is the final reason that I support Barack Obama.

I have a fourteen-year-old granddaughter, and like all grandmothers, my beloved granddaughter is dearer to me than anything else on this earth.  I want her to grow up in a world where she can make the most important decisions about her life in the privacy of her home or doctor’s office: her decisions about whether to become pregnant, whether to be a mother.  She doesn’t need a government telling her what to do. 

Governor Palin has demanded privacy for her teen daughter’s pregnancy, and for the Palin familiy’s decisions about sex education and contraception, but the governor, and Senator McCain, both want my granddaughter’s decisions to be the government’s business.

If Barack Obama is elected president, he will keep the government out of our bedrooms.   He will return our nation to the serious work the Republicans have abandoned for far too many years: providing for the common defence, promoting the general welfare, securing the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.


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