But we had a great time. Played a little guitar, ate some great food, and enjoyed some lively conversation.
But I am back and resting up--and reading through the news. Couple of items caught my eye, and they deserve some attention. First was the arrest of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, and the subsequent furor from Obama's characterization of the arrest as the Cambridge cops acting "stupidly." Obama then acted presidential (imo) and admitted to using language that didn't help the situation and even calling the arresting officer. It really does sound like Gates over-reacted--though it is perhaps understandable after returning from overseas to be accused of breaking into your own house. It also sounds like the cop over-reacted and placed a man in cuffs who uses a cane. I am with Tapped's Adam Serwer on this, however, in arguing that white America is still not ready to talk about race.
All of this, mind you, during a week when a Florida neurosurgeon and healthcare reform opponent sent around an email depicting Obama as a Witch Doctor with a bone through his nose. To which, the Tea Bagger movement offered their unflinching support, and refuses to see the racism in their opposition to Obama. Or when MSNBC continues to put on Pat Buchanan after he argues that this country was built by white people, and that blacks were only discriminated against. What is more, he is sure that only whites died on D-Day or at Vicksburg. Or just a week past Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn saying "you would have some splaining to do" to our Puerto-Rican born Supreme Court nominee. And let's not forget, btw, the raging racism of the "birther" movement that claims that Obama is not American and therefore not their legitimate President--something aided and abetted by Liz Cheney and Lou Dobbs, and echoed by Republican House members.
This goes back to another point, the one where most Americans (white) seem to think that racism is dead, or only relegated to the extreme Klan members. I have seen this in discussions myself, where racism is defined very narrowly and very extremely, and individuals who still use racial stereotypes and admit they wouldn't be happy if their child dated someone of color--at the same time asserting that they are not racist or that there is nothing wrong with what they said. When racism is limited to those who burn crosses and shout the n-word, a lot of us (me included) get let off the hook for our own racism. I am a fan of Ta-Nehisi Coates and find him thoughtful on race issues. Like here:
"Again, I think this makes sense, if you believe racism to be the province of societal pariahs, not people who hawk their wares on MSNBC. But if you believe that we live with it every day, that the worst part of racism is how it hides in the hearts of otherwise decent people, than this is rather puzzling. If you've had friends who've looked you in the eye, and said something racist, you may feel differently."
We have made a lot of progress in this country on race issues. But when every other week a Republican sends out a racist picture of Obama and still thinks it isn't racist--I wonder.
Point two, and also very critical was the recent NY Times report on discussions inside the Bush administration about using the military against even American citizens. Greenwald weighs in and links to the original memo. Scary stuff. Yoo recommends, and evidently Cheney and Addington completely agreed, that during a time of war, the President had the discretion to use the military inside the country even to round up people who might be American citizens. His reasoning, and also his justification for getting around the Posse Commitatus Act of 1878, was that this would be using the military for military purposes rather than law enforcement. Further, Yoo said that both the First and Fourth amendments could be set aside during such situations.
As I read the memo, the constant refrain of the President's discretion jumped out, and that discretion was not bound by congress or the courts. It is, as I read it, a recipe for tyranny, and truly unbelievable. Credit, I must say, goes to Condi Rice and others who spoke out against this, and ultimately to George Bush for not allowing Cheney to further shred the constitution. Shame on him for allowing the conversation to even occur.
And can we finally dispense with the nonsense that Dick Cheney and David Addington are just good Americans doing what they thought was right for America?