Today in My History
2000:This One Takes the Cake
2001: There's No Place Like Home
2002: Notes to Myself
2003: With Friends Like This...
2004: The God of All Fruit
2005: My Travel Secret
2007: We have VIDEO again!
2008: New Toy
Midsummer Night's Dream
Books Read in 2009
"The Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency"
Recipes for Cousins Day Drinks
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I THOUGHT THE DEPRESSION WAS OVER
22 May 2009
You remember the two days. Everybody saw them. November 7, 2008 in Grant Park in Chicago. Everybody was there, and nobody even paid any attention to Oprah. All attention was focused on Obama. Our long national nightmare was finally over. An intelligent, articulate, principled man stood in front of us and reiterated his campaign promises to right all the wrongs that had been wrought in the past eight years. "Yes we can!" we chanted over and over again, heaving a huge sigh of relief.
Then again, January 20, 2009. It was SRO all over Washington DC as everyone strained to see the first African-American President and everyone roared their approval as the former holder of the office slunk out of town, never to be heard from again (if only his vice president had done the same thing).
But I remember waaaaay back decades ago, when my friend Helen campaigned for the Davis School Board. She won the election easily, went on to be president of the school board, then was elected to the County Board of Supervisors, then became Chair of the County Board of Supervisors, then state Assemblywoman, and now, at the conclusion of her term in Sacramento, back in Yolo County as County Supervisor again.
Helen has accomplished a lot of good things during her tenure in public life, but I will never forget her telling me, right after she had been elected to the school board, that she didn't realize how much her hands would be tied by rules and regulations after her election, when it came to campaign promises. She had to learn her way around those rules and regulations, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
I am certain that everybody elected to public office, no matter how lofty or how lowly, truly believes that s/he can deliver on all the promises. "If you only let ME in there, I know how to fix it all."
I suspect we all have, within us, that simplistic notion out of one of my favorite movies, Dave, that if you give some corner store accountant a crack at the national budget, you can quickly sweep away the excess and balance the budget over a pizza and a couple of beers.
Little Buttercup said it best in HMS Pinafore: "things are seldom what they seem..."
Understanding all that, I still find it disappointing to find all these crumbled bits of clay lying about the Obama pedestal, and getting thicker by day.
We would enter a new era of transparency, release photos of torture, close Guantanamo Bay, and make sure we know who was responsible for any wrongdoings to detainees.
We were going to restore the moral fiber of this country.
I was proud. I could hold up my head again. Finally there was someone who understood all the bad things that had been done in my name and was going to make me proud to be an American again.
But gradually, those promises have been chipped away. No photos. No investigation. Nobody held accountable. We were going to move forward and not look back. Well... o..kay. I guess I can kinda sorta understand the point of that. There are so many problems to solve and so little time to dedicate to something that is behind us. But more and more stories start leaking out and it seemed that with each new horrible thing that people are confessing, the administration is claping a tighter lid on any investigation, seemingly in direct opposition to what Obama seemed to stand for, and why I was proud to vote for him.
Today we hear about the new policy of "prolonged detention," where in a prisoner can be held in prison indefinitely because he might represent a threat to the United States. Obama wants to take this, if possible, even further than George Bush did. If I read this right, it seems that he wants the government to have the ability to arrest someone on suspicion of possible future terrorist activity and just keep them. Forever.
The man who we all thought would restore the principles of habeus corpus stood in front of the Constitution and seemed to stomp on it once again.
As I watched the report on the Rachel Maddow show tonight, and the stupified, barely concealed ire in the voice of Vincent Warren, from the Center for Constitutional Rights, I felt this huge lump forming in my stomach.
It was one thing when George Bush said things like that because he was, well, not too intelligent (or perhaps it was more "I'm not really an idiot, but I play one on TV") and the only thing that kept me going was the hope that the cavalry would ride in on their gallant horses, wipe out the evil-doers and restore hope to America.
I thought the Obama administration was that cavalry. Now I have this nagging feeling that just maybe I was....wrong.
In the meantime, a fluent Arab speaker is given his walking papers from the Army, after years of meritorious service because he admitted to being gay while the president who promised to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell does not address the issue.
And I'm just hoping that these are settling-in issues, much as Helen found when she attended her first School Board meetings, because I desperately want to hold onto that hope that I had on November 7, 2008. But with all that has gone before us, I just am starting to feel very depressed yet again. Maybe it's going to be business as usual all over again.
Except now Dick Cheney is talking, which makes it all so much worse.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Like mother, like daughter!
MILES TO NOWHERE: 106 miles