Great War

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the Armistice which ended World War I, a cataclysm which, among other outcomes, destroyed many of Europe’s monarchies and two of the world’s largest empires (the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman), bankrupted Britain, allowed the emergence of international communism as a powerful social movement, created a model for technologically-driven total warfare, and made the U.S. into the world’s leading industrial power. The Great War also killed about 20 million people, created several states which still trouble the world today (Yugoslavia, Iraq), and of course led to a flawed “peace” which only led to an even greater war 21 years later.

Amazingly, there are still a few veterans of World War I among us. At least ten men who served in the war are still alive, including the American doughboy Frank Buckles. Several of these servicemen are also their country’s oldest known citizens, and several – including Buckles – also witnessed the violence of World War II. It’s not suprising, given the way the histories of wars are written, that there’s is no parallel list of the women who witnessed the war.


The New Yorker just published a great set of “visual commentaries” on the Obama victory. All seven illustrations are worth checking out (Obama as Jackie Robinson! as Adam?), but as a die-hard New Dealer, I like this one most:


Leaving aside the cigarette holder, since Obama stopped smoking a few years ago, I think it’s apt. Obama would look good in a top hat.

Five Obama Pieces

I can’t say I’m much less elated now – 48 hours after Election Day – than I was then. I am, however, immersed in media related to what is now being called the Obama Administration.

I. A lot of Obama headlines.

II. Global reaction to Obama’s victory in the Times and on MPR.

III. A quote from a great piece in the Times from Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, which sums up why I voted for BHO:

People went to the polls and elected Barack Obama because they believed the fact not only that he could do what he said, but that he would try to do what he said.

IV. A funny op-ed piece on the importance of having a Skinny Black Guy as president.

A lot of bigots woke up yesterday to the reality of our modern world. To them I say, just because you have a high metabolism, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a fierce moral vision and the right ideas to fix this country. It just means that you don’t gain weight easily.

V. A great graphic from Patrick Moberg’s graphics blog:

All the Presidents

(Via my friend Matt – who’s using his blog to put up audio from the Grant Park rally.)

And one on Palin: a schadenfreude-filled story on the infighting that weakened the GOP’s ticket.

Live Obama Blogging

6:58 am: The final electoral-vote map shows a near-landslide for Obama: 338-161 or 63%/37%.

6:36 am: It looks like Coleman has won the senate race by 1,118 votes, or 0.046% of the vote. That’s an automatic recount.

12:09 am: Okay, I think that’s enough for tonight. The Franken-Coleman race is still chugging towards something like a conclusion, but my main hope has been realized. The Times is showing a 334-155 electoral vote count.

Now comes the hard part.

12:06 am: A sweet realization: that vicious Obama-Wright ad that the GOP started running on Sunday had no effect.

12:02 am: Great editorial in the (yes) Times: “He saw what is wrong with this country: the utter failure of government to protect its citizens.”

11:49 pm: I love the “Election Wordtrain” on the Times website, showing readers’ one-word summaries of their current mood. Clicking on the McCain tab to see what my fellow citizens was enlightening. They’re bumming.

11:47 pm: Rice County had 87% turnout. We love our elections down here in the windbelt.

11:45 pm: Ah yes. Palin: worst VP pick ever? Yes or yes?

11:44 pm: I can’t stop refreshing the SoS website to check the Franken-Coleman numbers, but they’re telling me on the teevee that the actual numbers don’t matter: in a race this close, a recount is (all but?) mandatory.

11:41 pm: Fired up! Ready to go! To bed.

11:35 pm: The election has broken the internet.

11:33 pm: Franken and Coleman are giving dueling speeches. The latest SoS numbers have Franken down again…

11:27 pm: Those chumps at the local NBC station are using old numbers for the senate race. Jeebus, check the damn Secretary of State website. Here’ the URL: You’re welcome.

11:26 pm: The true believers at Coleman HQ are chanting, “Yes Norm Can.” Wha?

11:23 pm: Franken in the lead by 105 votes with two-thirds of the precincts reporting! One one-hundredth of a percentage point separating them.

Continue reading Live Obama Blogging

Skies of America

It’s been a warm, overcast, humid day here – more late May than early November. Around two, the clouds thickened and cast a dusk-like pall over the campus. Around then, I clicked on some link somewhere and watched this incredible bit of an Obama speech last night. No lie: as the video culminated with the riveting call-and-response (around 4:30), the clouds parted and a golden beam of sunlight came right through my office window.

Pop Quiz

1. Name the person who, when asked in 2000, “Are we getting closer and closer to, like, socialism and stuff?” responded, “Here’s what I really believe: That when you reach a certain level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.”

a. Karl Marx
b. Eugene Debs
c. Leon Trotsky
d. John McCain 

2. Name the person who, in summer 2008, defended her home region’s unique wealth-spreading mechanism by saying, “We’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively [we who] own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” [sic]

a. Karlotta Marx
b. Eugenia Debs
c. Leonora Trotsky
d. Sarah Palin 


Palin Around with an Expense Account

From this morning, a little eye-opener:

“RNC Paid for $150,000 for Palin’s Clothes”

Politico went through the financial report the RNC just filed with the FEC and discovered that the Republican National Committee has spent $150,000 for clothes and accessories for Sarah Palin since she was tapped for the VP slot in late August. One shopping trip to Neiman Marcus cost them $75,062.63, for example. They also spent over $4700 on her hair and makeup. Remember how the Republicans howled at John Edwards $400 haircut (which included a house call by the barber)? Google for: Edwards “$400 haircut” and you’ll get 27,000 hits. That was major news for a week. That aside, a far more damaging effect of this revelation is that Palin keeps saying she is just an ordinary small-town hockey mom. It is likely that if Joe-the-plumber’s wife were to rack up $150,000 in clothing expenses in a single month, Joe might ask how she was planning to pay the credit card bill since the median annual salary for plumbers is $37,514. Palin is already being ridiculed all over the place, and this provides more fodder for the comics.