Archive for the ‘Barack Obama’ Category
One of the recurring themes of pieces on Obama at UP@NIGHT is the nature of his pragmatism, which is as much philosophical as it is purely political. With three months or so to go before the election, I thought I would collect here several links to discussions of Obama’s political thought and politics from the past few years at UP@NIGHT.
The entries most relevant to philosophical pragmatism are listed first. There are a couple of critical pieces further down the list. But I think it important that we understand with whom we are dealing as we criticize Obama or his administration. We should not fault him for seeking the possible when the more desirable was out of reach.
And for those who may still not have had enough, there is a discussion of Obama’s pragmatism and cosmopolitanism in an online (read, free) “Afterword” to my new book, Transcendence: On Self-Determination and Cosmopolitanism (Stanford University Press).
It has been over a year and a half since I began UP@NIGHT and my career as a pundit, for lack of a more refined label. I suppose part of the challenge was to see how a philosopher by trade might do in the prediction business. How I would stack up against the pundits in the media. You know, mano a mano.
I thought that it would be fitting and fair to readers, and myself, to look at blogs in which I predicted the outcome of events in the political world to see if my track record was any good. Low and behold, I discovered that if I had been a betting man, I could have made some good money. So, without further ado, and no false modesty, here are the predictions. Roll Over Nostradamus.
The titles are linked to the original blogs.
Semi-correct, although not a exactly a prediction:
Obama, Spock, and the New Star Trek Nation, June 6, 2008. (UP@NIGHT was one of the first blogs, if not the first, to make the connection between Obama and Spock on the Web. It has now become a commonplace.)
The Twelfth Cylon Revealed, May 30, 2008 (I claimed that McCain is the 12th and missing Cylon on the TV show Battlestar Gallactica. I still hold to the proposition that he may prove to be a Cylon. The new series should reveal the truth.)
It’s Going to be Webb for VP, Probably, May 16, 2008
Still up in the air:
Obama’s Pragmatism (or Move over Culture Wars, Hello Political Philosophy), December 14, 2008; reposted April 7, 2009 (Argues that Obama is a philosophical pragmatist, not merely a political one, and that his approach will have an impact on the culture wars. See also, Obama: Conservative, Liberal, or Ruthless Pragmatist?, May 7, 2009; Bronx on the Court, Empathy, and Obama’s Pragmatism, May 27, 2009.)
GOP, Inc. to be Permanently Downsized, January 30, 2009
Leaving aside the Cylon revelation, looks like UP@NIGHT was right about 90% of the time. So I ask you, can you afford not to read UP@NIGHT?
[First posted December 26, 2009. Reposted January 3rd, 2010 to start off the new year and add "Obama's Pragmatism." ]
UPDATE, January 22, 2010.
With the unexpected victory of Brown in Massachusetts I am going to have to amend what I claimed above, namley, that health care will not be stopped by a filibuster in the Senate. It wasn’t stopped, but now it would be. Nevertheless, I am not pulling the original prediction about health care (yet). The Democrats can’t afford not to pass it, which was the thrust of the original blog. No one knows what form it will take at this juncture, or when it is going to happen, but the Democrats will get something they can crow about.
Chicago lost a big one last week, the 2016 Olympics. This week, one of its sons won a Nobel Prize. Chicago has once again proven to be the city of big shoulders.
Some rejoiced last week when Chicago lost its bid, because it was seen as Obama’s failure. Many of the same folks are criticizing his recent “win.” The man can’t seem to please some people.
The criticisms, hours after the announcement, are already taking shape: He didn’t deserve it. It’s too early in his tenure as president. It just goes to show that he is more concerned about the world than troubles at home, etc.
Let’s clear up a few misconceptions. The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded for various reasons. There isn’t a single criterion. Some individuals have won for helping to end a war (Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Kissinger), for humanitarian work and conflict resolution done over the years (Jimmy Carter), for seeking to improve international relations by supporting an international organization (Woodrow Wilson). It can also be given to the individual who has done the most in the past year to bring about world peace. The latter is the reason cited by the chair of the Nobel Committee, and former prime minister of Norway, Thorbjorn Jagland, for honoring Obama. The New York Times reports:
“The question we have to ask is who has done the most in the previous year to enhance peace in the world,” Mr. Jagland said. “And who has done more than Barack Obama?”
He compared the selection of Mr. Obama with the award in 1971 to the then West German Chancellor Willy Brandt for his “Ostpolitik” policy of reconciliation with communist eastern Europe.
“Brandt hadn’t achieved much when he got the prize, but a process had started that ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall,” Mr. Jagland said. “We have to get the world on the right track again,” he said. Without referring specifically to the Bush era, he continued: “Look at the level of confrontation we had just a few years ago. Now we get a man who is not only willing but probably able to open dialogue and strengthen international institutions.”
But wouldn’t you know it. Instead of experiencing some pride in the fact that a sitting American president has won the Nobel Peace Prize, which certainly sends a positive message to the world, like the conservatives who rejoiced at Chicago losing the Olympics, Republicans can’t wait to criticize the man for winning a prize he wasn’t even seeking. Listen to Michael Steel, chairman of the Republican Party. (From The New York Times , Oct. 9, 2009)
“The real question Americans are asking is, ‘What has President Obama actually accomplished?’ It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights,” Mr. Steele said in a statement. “One thing is certain — President Obama won’t be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action.”
This is cheap and mean spirited. Its concern with scoring domestic political points is on a par with those who thought embarrassing Obama over the Olympics was worth more than the benefits of an Olympics to Chicago and America.
Obama won the prize in part because he is a genuine cosmopolitan, in the best sense of the term. His politics look to the world stage and America’s place on it, not behind or above it. But it appears that many Americans simply don’t realize the extent to which his words during the election and his approach to international relations–one which emphasizes the idea of respect–have transformed perceptions of America. (Perhaps America might really be interested in decreasing violence around the world, in decreasing nuclear weapons, etc.)
Leading America, the most powerful nation on Earth, out of the moral and political myopia of the last eight years is surely worth a Nobel Prize. In this regard, who has done more for world peace this past year than Barack Obama?
There appears to be a growing cottage industry that is addressing whether Obama is merely a pragmatist, in the narrow sense of the term–that is, one who places strategic considerations first–or whether he is philosophical pragmatist. In my view, Obama is indeed a philosophical pragmatist. If you are interested in understanding what makes Obama tick and how he might maneuver politically, this question is worth your time. And for your convenience, there is now a site dedicated to discussing the issue of Obama’s pragmatism. (See “Barack Obama’s Pragmatism.”)
In several blogs on UP@NIGHT and on other sites, I have mentioned that Obama’s mother studied with the granddaughter of John Dewey, perhaps the most famous pragmatist of the twentieth century. Of course one would not want to make too much of this connection. On the other hand, it is not meaningless, especially when Alice Dewey addresses Obama’s pragmatism in the context of his idealism. The passages below are from an article in the Star Bulletin (Hawaii), “Strong Women Lead Obama.”
At his homecoming rally Friday, Barack Obama paid tribute to his late mother, a single mom who sacrificed to ensure he received the best education. His next stop was to visit his 85-year-old grandmother.
These two strong women each were pioneers in their fields and helped shape the presidential candidate’s outlook on life. “Like his mother, Barry is a pragmatic idealist,” said Alice Dewey, an emeritus professor at the University of Hawaii and family friend. “If you have ideals and want to accomplish things, you’ve got to be pragmatic about it.”
…. “Ann’s work was almost entirely in villages,” said Dewey, her friend and thesis adviser. “Barry found his feet in the streets of Chicago. It was urban, but it was the same thing, get out there to talk to people, listen to their needs and try to put together something that will work. Like Ann, he was thinking, how do you help the folks who need it?”
If these statements were coming from someone other than the granddaughter of John Dewey, and from someone who was not academically trained, I would be inclined to equate “pragmatic” with “strategic,” and to view the phrase, “try to put together something that will work,” in the same light. And surely this is part of their meaning. But given that Alice Dewey knew that she was being interviewed for a newspaper article and not an academic audience, and that she used the phrase “pragmatic idealist,” which sounds like an oxymoron to most of those unaware of the tradition of philosophical pragmatism, I suspect that this was her way of telegraphing that Obama is not merely a strategic pragmatist. He is something more. Perhaps a philosophical pragmatist. (Yes, she could have meant that he was merely a smart idealist, but the passage discussing what “works” counters this interpretation.)
Ultimately the evidence for Obama’s philosophical pragmatism will have to come from his words and deeds. For those interested in pursuing this connection, check out the web page on Obama mentioned above and click “links.”
P.S. For those who read Spanish, you may be interested in a piece that appeared recently in the most important paper in Lima, Peru on Obama, pragmatism, and John Dewey. “Obama contextualiza decisiones” by Gregory Pappas.
Moral Hazard and Mortgages (or don’t worry, you won’t become a bad person if the government assists you with your mortgage)
Moral Hazard. If you haven’t already heard about it, be prepared. It’s a monster epithet. The Republicans will be hurling it at those attempting to develop plans to assist defaulting home owners. Namely, one President Obama. I can already see Eric Cantor, the House Whip, parting the clouds to hurl his epithet from on high. He’s positively giddy, I am sure, to be getting an opportunity to condemn liberal (or perhaps even socialist) politicians seeking to help people who have been “irresponsible” about their finances.
Moral Hazard refers to situations in which organizations or individuals are tempted to break or modify a contract if the risk associated with the agreement can be transferred. With regard to the current mortgage crisis, if we set aside high rolling institutions, it boils down to this: home owners with mortgages agreed to pay lenders back on certain terms. If the government now assists those who can’t keep up their side of the bargain, that is, make their mortgage payments, they are creating an incentive for future bad behavior. The government is creating a moral hazard. When viewed in these terms the so-called moral hazard issue can be understood as akin to the slippery slope dilemma. Once you do X, say, have a beer, before long you will become an alcoholic. Doesn’t sound plausible? Okay, here is a more common one: if we provide birth control to young people, it will lead to rampant promiscuity. Likewise, if we provide assistance to those who have gotten in over their heads by having mortgage payments that are too expensive, it will lead to people running around and buying things that they can’t afford (assuming that they will be rescued). It will lead us (as a nation) to become irresponsible about our finances. QED
Ah, wait you say. You think that this horse has been out of the barn for quite some time. I couldn’t agree more. I don’t think that helping a few million people (out of a population of 300 million) who are going to lose their homes is going to create a culture shift, that is, get the horse back in the barn. Perhaps Cantor and friends believe that by drawing a (Maginot) line in the sand they will begin a great transformation of our culture. We will halt financial irresponsibility, etc. There are labels for people who believe in magic of this sort: radical right wing utopians. Change just doesn’t work this way. Further, these utopians would love to mislead us about what’s actually happened and frighten us about an imminent moral collapse.
1) Such radicals might say that people should have known better. Many/most people who are in dire straights acted in good faith when they took out a loan to buy or refinance a home. There was supposed to be a process in place that told them whether they were qualified or not. Now you can say, well, they shouldn’t have listened to the banks that wanted to lend them money to buy a home. But this would have been counterintuitive for most folks. If a bank wants to lend me its money, it must know what it is doing. It’s the bank’s money, after all. Why would they give it to me if I were a risk? That’s a reasonable assumption. And it’s one that the banks wanted us to accept.
2) I haven’t seen the banks, credit card companies, or mortgage houses doing anything to help inculcate the proper attitudes toward financial responsibility in the populace. Quite the contrary. They spent millions (billions) to advertise the virtues of easy credit. The economy road on this paper tiger for years, and the bankers laughed all the way to their banks regarding how much debt that they could get people to absorb by offering items such as “teaser rates.”
3) Does anyone really believe that many folks are going to run out and start taking mortgages that they can’t afford, because they think that they can depend on the government for a rescue sometime in the future? These are extraordinary times. Help that may come from the government now is not something that people will be able to depend on in the future. Hell, they can’t even be sure that they will get it now.
4) The phrase “Moral Hazard” sounds very serious and terribly scary, as if the entire moral sky will fall if we succumb to granting aid. Right wing radicals would love us to believe that the notion of “Moral Hazard,” and their contractual understanding of morality, should be at the center of all of our ethical and political deliberations. It is the talisman that can hold big government at bay. However, the kind of personal responsibility that it refers to is a piece of the moral puzzle that is our lives, not the whole puzzle.
We must keep our guard up to defend against a Moral Hazard tempest in a teapot (dome). Republican discourse about MH associated with mortgages tends to focus on individuals. They want to make sure that individuals are not rewarded for bad behavior. But when one lives in a society in which wealthy individuals, rich bankers, CEO’s, etc, are regularly rewarded for bad behavior, it’s unproductive to start scolding the little guy. There are bigger fish to fry. And further, perhaps more importantly, holding fast to worries about MH in the current economic crisis is like saying that we should let the ship sink–and we are altogether in a ship of state on this one–so as not to reward the shipbuilders for having done a lousy job. People like Cantor will argue that if we plug up the holes, we will just be doing the builders a favor. And if we give home owners assistance, we will just be rewarding them for lousy planning and disrespect for contracts. Even if this were true and things were this simple, which I dispute, we would still need to assist these homeowners in order to help stop the bleeding in the economy. Their losses will continue to become our losses if we don’t stop the death spiral in the real estate market.
Deep commitments to broad stroke principles–for example, never create a situation in which you seem to reward someone for behaving irresponsibly–must not get in the way of common sense. This is why we must all be pragmatists now.
McCain: A Blast from the Past….He might have seen an Alien (and this is just one more thing that Sullivan doesn’t know)
[Here's a scoop that you won't find on Andrew Sullivan's site. He isn't sufficiently in tune with this stuff. Too much Oakeshott.]
Sometimes the familiar reveals itself in strange and wonderful ways when viewed in hindsight. Here is John McCain’s (in)famous anti-Obama ad “Celeb.” Not only does the line of attack seem even more ludicrous after the election, but take a good look at McCain’s picture as it “morphs” at the end. (Freeze framing the image is helpful here.) Tell me if you don’t think that he has just had a close encounter of the third kind, that he has come face to face with a “benevolent” alien? (His present claims about the stimulus package certainly suggest that he is out of touch, in a serious way. “What we need are more tax cuts, especially for the wealthiest aliens.”) Of course, it could simply be that Obama strikes him as an alien. I mean, he did refer to him as “that one.”
And while we are at it, let’s not forget how closely the Republicans, and John’s soul mate, George, have been to the aliens. When Obama gets through cleaning out the Justice Department, he should really have his people check this out.
“SPACE ALIEN BACKS BUSH FOR PRESIDENT”
Obama Photograph by Jonas Karlsson in Vanity Fair
We know that the contrast between Bush and Obama could not be more stark. But I have just come across a distinction that may trump many of those with which we are already familiar, for example, that Obama has studied history, while Bush has become an object lesson for historians.
As reported in Politico:
Bush famously arrives at the Oval Office by dawn, leaves by 6 p.m. and goes to bed by 10 p.m. Dinners out are as rare as a lunar eclipse.
Obama, by contrast, stays up late. He holds conference calls with senior staff as late as 11 p.m., and often reads and writes past midnight. Ahead of the Democratic National Convention, he spent consecutive nights holed up in a Chicago hotel room, working on his speech until 2 a.m.
Why, you ask, might this be important? Night owls are often viewed with suspicion by day-timers, the morning people, the early risers, etc. Base prejudice. The list of productive night people is long, from Voltaire to Kafka to Winston Churchill. As a matter of fact, it seems that the odds of being creative increases if one is a night owl, at least this is what one recent study demonstrates.
Not a morning person? Take solace — new research suggests that “night owls” are more likely to be creative thinkers.
Scientists can’t yet fully explain why evening types appear to be more creative, but they suggest it could be an adaptation to living outside of the norm.
“Being in a situation which diverges from conventional habit — nocturnal types often experience this situation — may encourage the development of a non-conventional spirit and of the ability to find alternative and original solutions,” lead author Marina Giampietro and colleague G.M. Cavallera wrote in a study to be published in the February 2007 issue of Personality and Individual Differences.
If you are interested in the world of night folks, the final frontier, you can try the web site Night People. According to Night People: You Know You’re a Night Person If...
- Sunrise comes as an unpleasant surprise.
- You call someone on the phone to just chat and discover that they’ve been asleep for six hours.
- You do your best work at 2 a.m.
- You finally force yourself to go to bed at 1 a.m. and then keep having brilliant ideas that you have to get up and write down.
- People who are perky or sharp in the morning appall you—and can run rings around you before noon, too.
- Birds start singing about the time you fall asleep.
Here is a prediction: the culture wars will be left by the wayside as we enter a seemingly new land, the land of the tactically minded chief executive, whose tactics are the tip of a philosophical iceberg. The executive is Obama and the iceberg is Pragmatism.
Comments regarding Obama’s pragmatism constitute something of a cottage industry. These discussions usually involve contrasting Obama’s pragmatism, for example, in choosing his cabinet, with the ideological approach of Bush and the neo-cons. Here the term pragmatism is meant to denote political flexibility, comfort with the expedient, and a willingness to compromise. For critics it is meant to suggest an unprincipled orientation toward questions of great moment. Given Obama’s willingness to label himself a pragmatist, many have been mystified by his commitment to specific values, finding him not only unclassifiable in accepted political categories, but mystifying as a person. For example, in a recent article in Harpers, “The American Void,” Simon Critchley treats Obama as, well, a void. He just can’t figure the guy out. In fact, as I have noted elsewhere (PBS site), there is nothing strange about Obama’s political views for those who are familiar with the American philosophical tradition of Pragmatism or the Social Gospel Movement. Interestingly, Critchley makes much of Obama’s mother being an anthropologist, but what he fails to mention is that Ann Dunham’s thesis director was Alice G. Dewey, John Dewey’s granddaughter. (John Dewey was perhaps the most famous Pragmatist of the twentieth century.) This is no accident. Obama’s thought and practice can be located in the tradition of American Pragmatism (pragmatism with a capital P) and in the liberal Social Gospel Movement that was influential in Chicago during the early part of the 20th century. The latter is still influential in some Chicago churches and community groups, especially those that would have most engaged Obama’s attention as a community organizer.
One of the few commentators who has begun to tease out the differences between Obama’s pragmatisms is Chris Hayes. He writes in The Nation, “Pragmatism in common usage may mean simply a practical approach to problems and affairs. But it’s also the name of the uniquely American school of philosophy whose doctrine is that truth is pre-eminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief. What unites the two senses of the word is a shared skepticism toward certainties derived from abstractions–one that is welcome and bracing after eight years of a failed, faith-based presidency. . . . And if there’s a silver thread woven into the pragmatist mantle Obama claims, it has its origins in this school of thought. Obama could do worse than to look to John Dewey….For him, the crux of pragmatism, and indeed democracy, was a rejection of the knowability of foreordained truths in favor of ‘variability, initiative, innovation, departure from routine, experimentation.’ ” The Nation, Dec 10, 2008
Hayes is moving in the right direction. I would take his claims a step further. There is no understanding of Obama without an understanding of Pragmatism. Take for instance the question of whether one can have principles and still be a pragmatist. From the vantage point of philosophical Pragmatism, the question is non-starter. The use of principles to address philosophical and political issues extends back to Plato and Aristotle, and migrates through Kant’s deontological ethics into the twentieth century. But the Pragmatist wants to bypass this mode of thinking, one that requires us to believe that affirming values requires a principled affirmation of values. Principles are in fact problematic and counterproductive. Dewey, for example, railed against Kant during WWI, claiming that the rigidity of his ethics of principled imperatives was reflected in the dictatorial and undemocratic mindset of the German regime. People who believe in democracy should be suspicious of permanent truths and principles. As Hannah Arendt argues, debate is at the heart of political life, and Truth (with a capital “T”) kills debate. (Obama’s father was a man of principle to the point of stubbornness. He had a failed career and a led a troubled life. It is hard to read Dreams of My Father and not conclude that Obama came away from his “journey” with a lasting distaste for principles. His mother, on the other hand, was the epitome of a Deweyan in her love of experience, experimentation, novelty, change, and belief in the transformational power of education.)
In the “Epilogue” to Dreams of My Father, Obama reports a conversation that he and his sister, Auma, had with Dr. Rukia Odero, a professor of history. A central question in the discussion: how should Africans adapt to the values that Westerners have brought to Africa? That Obama chose to report the conversation is telling. Rukia, I would argue, is meant to give voice to Obama’s views. She states, “I suspect that we can’t pretend that the contradictions of our situation don’t exist. All we can do is choose.” And after discussing the complexities of the issue of female circumcision, she goes on to say, “You cannot have rule of law and then exempt certain members of your clan. What to do? Again you choose. If you make the wrong choice, then you learn from your mistakes. You see what works.” (Dreams from My Father, New York: Crown, 2004, p. 434) “Seeing what works” is indeed the mantra of Pragmatism. Yet as in existentialism, this doesn’t mean that one doesn’t feel the weight of moral and political decisions. It means that one can’t appeal to principles in advance to justify one’s decisions or “what works.”
But doesn’t being a pragmatist, in both senses of the term, just make Obama a relativist? No doubt for the ideologically committed, those who fear a leader without a moral compass, this would be a central concern. But once again this is to frame the issue in the wrong fashion. Relativism is a problem for moral absolutists. Without a lasting commitment to absolutes, there isn’t a problem of relativism. Instead there is the problem of deciding what values to hold. To frame the discussion in terms of absolutism versus relativism is already to accept the framework of the religious right, which is what the Republicans have been notoriously successful in doing for two generations. However, the choice is not between absolutism and relativism. It is between different values. Commitments to values arise from numerous sources, including thoughtful deliberation and prudential considerations. And it is in the realm of “prudence” that one finds a symmetry between upper and lower case pragmatism. For the Pragmatist prudential considerations do not always trump other values, but sometimes they do, because prudence or tactical maneuvering may be required to realize successfully a greater good. As a matter of fact, a thoughtful political agent doesn’t make dogmatic, read absolutistic, decisions in advance regarding what values and tactics may be the most vital and relevant.
The culture wars have depended on disagreements over specific values and the belief that principles are central to morality. Or at least this is the way that the religious right has sought to frame the controversy, a perception that neo-cons have used to reinforce their political agendas. When Obama speaks of being post-ideological, of being a pragmatist, I read him as trying to address logjams over values by avoiding divisive discourses based on principles. How does one accomplish this? Well, one way is to sound as if one is not ideological, for example, by showing flexibility on specific moral and political questions. By so doing Obama is not simply maneuvering. He is not being disingenuous. He is behaving as if he is a committed Pragmatist, and as such he is seeking to change the ground rules for political discourse.
Obama may very well succeed with a little help from his (several million) friends, and realities on the ground, namely, a serious financial crisis that suddenly has life-long, dogmatic free-marketers running for cover. He may also succeed because he is attuned to something very basic about the American psyche. It is no accident that Pragmatism is the most significant philosophy that America has produced. There is something deeply American about it. But is it Left, Right, or Center? Once again, this is to ask a misleading question. Its tent is large enough to contain persons from across the American political spectrum, if one judges political commitments by specific values. Yet in an American context Obama’s Pragmatism presents a much greater challenge to the ideological Right than to the ideological Left. How so? If the conversation is shifted away from absolutes, the Right in America will lose the ground from which it has hurled its most potent missiles. Some on the Right are beginning to recognize the threat that Obama poses. Some still believe that they can bring back the days of the culture wars. The latter, however, are predicated on the “principled versus pragmatist” distinction, one that is becoming less consequential with each passing day. So, I wish the dogmatic Right lots of luck. They will need it. As for the non-dogmatic Right, if debate is crucial to a thriving democracy, I wish them well, and so does the Pragmatist Obama.
Obama on pragmatism (with a small p) and the dangers of certainty (which relates to philosophical Pragmatism).
UPDATE, January 5, 2010: I discovered through a reader’s comment that this video is no longer available. I don’t know when it was made unavailable or why its presence on YouTube constitutes a use violation. I assume that NBC must have pulled it. It was a nice clip because it showed the kind of fallibilist sensibility that one finds in Pragmatism.
Through careful investigative reporting, I now have an exclusive for readers of UP@NIGHT. Here are eleven facts that the MSM is simply not reporting (yet):
1. Sarah Palin returned to Alaska from the lower forty-eight by clicking her new red Pradas together three times and repeating, “There is no place like Nome.”
2. Osama bin Laden’s code name among his compatriots is, “Joe the Plumber.” And in one of the most bizarre twists in the election, it turns out that McCain’s “Joe the Plumber” is a hairless Osama look alike.
3. John McCain will be playing Saul Tigh in the last episodes of Battlestar Gallactica, if and only if he is willing to call himself a Cylon and not a Ceylonese.
4. The software program that the Obama campaign used so effectively on its web site is called Hawaii 5.0.
5. The name of Bill O’Reilly’s show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” actually refers to the role that Bill (as a double agent) hoped to play in an Obama victory; namely, Bill hoped to become the major factor in turning voters away from four more years of Republican rule.
6. George Bush was just joshing us when he kept mispronouncing the word, “nuclear.” It turns out that George has a wicked sense of humor. The last (almost) eight years have actually been a prank that he has been playing on the country. It seems that he was never The Decider, aka, the president. (The guys up in Canada who “pranked” Palin will tell you that they learned everything they know from George.)
7. John McCain secretly divorced Cindy just before he selected Sarah Palin for his VP. As part of the settlement, she agreed to stand 20 paces behind him at every campaign rally for the next six weeks and smile. In return Cindy got to keep all of their homes. John now has no where to live. (Hence, a good reason for him to stop confusing Cylon and Ceylon, see Fact #3, because he needs the extra money that an equity acting job will bring him.)
8. Dick Cheney’s identical (and evil) twin, Clyde Cheney, has actually been VP. Dick was removed from office two weeks after the inauguration when it became clear that he simply couldn’t tolerate Rovean tactics, sweet man that he is. The real Dick Cheney has been living as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago and is known in the neighborhood as My Man DC. (That’s the real Dick below.)
9. Obama’s first name is not Barack, and it’s not even Barry. It’s “Arthur.” But ever since he decided to become president in kindergarten, he has worried that having the name Arthur might lead envious opponents to refer to him as “King Arthur.” Bad news for a black dude. Thinking ahead, as he is wont to do, he asked his school teachers to call him Barry. And then at just the right strategic moment to make his run for president, he settled on the name Barack in college.
10. Idaho, the birthplace of Sarah Palin, was never admitted to the Union. We pretended to admit Idaho because we felt sorry for it due to its name and shape, and we wanted its potatoes. So Sarah Palin couldn’t have become VP even if McCain had won. You Betcha! (If you don’t believe this fact, look it up. There’s going to be a new Wikipedia entry explaining the whole scam.)
11. Joe Lieberman’s middle name is “Loyalty,” Joe Loyalty Lieberman; and he is actually a Klingon, albeit a confused one, confusing John McCain with the Klingon Empire.
Stay tuned for more facts as they become available…..
A window in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, November 4th, 2008, near where my wife and I had the privilege to vote:
Speaking of hope and America, in words not pictures, from the other side of the Gulf Stream, sentiments shared by many around the world:
They did it. They really did it. So often crudely caricatured by others, the American people yesterday stood in the eye of history and made an emphatic choice for change for themselves and the world….Mr Obama will take office in January amid massive unrealisable expectations and facing a daunting list of problems….These, though, are issues for another day. Today is for celebration, for happiness and for reflected human glory. Savour those words: President Barack Obama, America’s hope and, in no small way, ours too. The Guradian, November 5th, 2008. President Obama, guardian.co.uk