Thursday, May 29, 2008

Be a Good Ancestor - A Moving Commencement Address

One of the unintended consequences of the World Wide Web is I get to read terrific and inspirational commencement addresses like this one by author and human-rights activist, Samantha Power.

A couple of the messages Power shared with Pitzer graduates...

There are great benefits to connectedness, but we haven't wrapped our minds around the costs. Comedy Central would happily hire a limo to take Steven Colbert to and from work every day. But he says he wouldn't be funny if he didn't drive himself home. On his drive from New York to New Jersey, he puts the devices away and lets his mind drift ... with side-splittingly funny results. Many of the best decisions you make in life will come from listening not to your parents, not to your horoscope, and not to your MySpace visitors. Your best decisions will come after you have placed a metaphorical stethoscope up to your gut and managed to listen to yourself. These days it can be hard to hear oneself amid the din, but try!!


Put one foot in front of the other for as long as you can afford to, rather than trying to map your way to the winner's platform...

Read the entire message here.

Read about Ms. Power's Pulitzer-Prize winning book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Clinton Aide Calls Obama a PooPoo Head!

Although she was my 5th or 6th choice at the start of the Presidential Primary season, I now support Senator Clinton over Senator Obama. However, the first Obama decision that impressed me was selecting Samantha Power as a foreign policy advisor. Power is a brilliant and courageous expert, scholar and journalist who speaks truth to power. (See her blog with video of recent television appearances)

Power's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, is fantastic and holds accountable the United States Congress and the Clinton administration for its inaction and deadly impact on the Rwandan Genocide. Power did some research about Senator Obama and offered to quit her Harvard job and do anything, including answering phones to help him. Isn't this the sort of democratic idealism on which our system is based?

Appointing someone of Power's stature to his campaign team offered me with hope about Obama's leadership ability and revealed Power's desire to work to make the world a better place.
But then IT happened!

In an off-the-record interview, promoting her new book, with the Scotsman newspaper in Scotland. Professor Power referred to Hillary Clinton as - wait for it - "a monster."

Monster... Should such a petty slur force a leading advisor to resign and apologize? Worst of all, Obama failed the leadership test by throwing his friend and advisor, Ms. Power, under the bus and refusing to defend or protect her. This is akin to when Bill Clinton abandoned his long-time friend Lani Guinier as the nominee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, despite her remarkable talents and accomplishments, because his enemies called her a radical.

Don't parents refer routinely to their toddlers as monsters? Isn't this the sort of harmless barb (or term of endearment) six year-olds exchange? When did we become such pathetic babies?

I suspect the truth is that members of Congress called for Power's dismissal because is an articulate fearless critic of their deadly effect of their policies overseas, not for her Clinton comment.

Politics ain't beanbag. NPR recently presented a story in which foreign correspondents covering our Primary elections were startled by the civility and post-debate hugging demonstrated between Obama and Clinton. After all, in many countries you murder your opponents and their supporters. Is calling someone a monster, off-the-record, a death-penalty offense? Should Billy Shaheen have been forced out of the Clinton campaign for saying that the Republicans will ask Barack Obama about his past drug-use, especially since Obama wrote about the issue in his own autobiography?

Loyalty toward friends and advisors is one of the character traits I look for in a political candidate.

Why are we so juvenile and thin-skinned? Can someone please dial down the fake outrage machine? The world is a dangerous place. I'd hate to think that we'd attack another country because its leader called our President "funny face."

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