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      I woke up last night feeling like I was suffocating, because in my dream I was. It began in a church, or an old university lecture hall. Antique. And everyone in attendance was being asked to say little prayers honoring Jesus. Everyone was reciting little prayers that are common among the devout. But when it was my turn, I stood and exclaimed: Jesus was a ph […]
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Hillary Goes to Foggy Bottom and Channels… Galadriel?

Hillary got an enthusiastic welcome from more than 1000 State department employees at Foggy Bottom this morning and gave short speech.  You can find the entire text of the speech at her new State Department website.  The speech was noticeably short on the hopey-changey shtick, to the relief of many.  Instead, she talked about the three legs of US Foreign Policy: Defense, Diplomacy and Development.  State is in charge of the last two

And we will make clear, as we go forward, that diplomacy and development are essential tools in achieving the long-term objectives of the United States. And I will do all that I can, working with you, to make it abundantly clear that robust diplomacy and effective development are the best long-term tools for securing America’s future. (Applause.)

She also let them know that they were dealing with a completely different management style than they’ve been used to.  She emphasizes collaboration and thinking out of the box.  My French colleagues would call it audacity:

This is going to be a challenging time and it will require 21st century tools and solutions to meet our problems and seize our opportunities. I’m going to be asking a lot of you. I want you to think outside the proverbial box. I want you to give me the best advice you can. I want you to understand there is nothing that I welcome more than a good debate and the kind of dialogue — (applause) — that will make us better. (Applause.)

We cannot be our best if we don’t demand that from ourselves and each other. I will give you my very best efforts. I will do all that I can, working with our President, to make sure that we deliver on the promises that are at the very core of what this new Administration and this new era represent. So we need to collaborate, and we need to have a sense of openness and candor in this building. And I invite that. Now, not everybody’s ideas — (applause) — will make it into policy, but we will be better because we have heard from you.

Among the many conversations that I’ve had with the President and with the Vice President, over years, but certainly much more astutely and in a concentrated way in the last weeks, we want to send a clear and unequivocal message: This is a team, and you are the members of that team. There isn’t anything that I can get done from the seventh floor or the President can get done from the Oval Office, unless we make clear we are all on the American team. We are not any longer going to tolerate the kind of divisiveness that has paralyzed and undermined our ability to get things done for America.

Take *that*, Condoleeza!

Then she finishes up with a Tolkeinish twist.  As many of you may know, Sean Astin was a very effective surrogate for Hillary during primary season.  Sean played Samwise Gamgee, the little hobbitt who could.  But it was Galadriel who I was thinking of as she greeted the fellowship after a series of unfortunate events.  “Do not let your hearts be troubled”, she said.  And here is the way Hillary ended her pep rally:

So this is going to be a great adventure. We’ll have some ups and some downs. We’ll face some obstacles along the way. But be of good cheer — (laughter) — and be of strong heart, and do not grow weary, as we attempt to do good on behalf of our country and the world.

Yeah, team!

Tune in tonight to Conflucians Say on PUMA United Radio at 10PM EST.  Oh, an if you have a couple Lincolns sitting around, consider donating them to PUMAPac.  They’re having a fundraiser and their goal is $50,000.  Hey, maybe you can’t foot the entire bill, but if 10 of you give $5,000, we could end this sucker tonight.  If 100 gave $500, that’s even better.   If 1000 of us gave $50, we’d be done in no time.  And if 2000 of us gave a measly $25 smackaroos, well, then we could put this baby to bed ad start another fundraiser.

Blogospheric Badasses

We seem to have a couple of wannabe thug trolls trying to act scary and intimidating.  They are about as authentic and dangerous as the guys in this clip:

Yeah, I’m shaking – from laughter.

This is an open thread

2009 Oscar Nominations

From USA Today:

Best Picture: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,Frost/Nixon,Milk,The Reader,Slumdog Millionaire.

Actor: Richard Jenkins, The Visitor ; Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon ; Sean Penn, Milk ; Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ; Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler.

Actress: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married ; Angelina Jolie, Changeling ; Melissa Leo, Frozen River ; Meryl Streep, Doubt ; Kate Winslet, The Reader.

Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, Milk ; Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder ; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt ; Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight ; Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road.

Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Doubt ; Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona ; Viola Davis, Doubt ; Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ; Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler.

Director: David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ; Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon ; Gus Van Sant, Milk ; Stephen Daldry, The Reader ; Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire.

Clint Eastwood and Gran Torino got robbed.  They should have been nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director.

Things I just don’t get

Parts of the past year remain a total mystery to me.  For instance, what made Barack Obama more of a Change!™ agent than Hillary Clinton?  Did everyone REALLY think that she was going to escort Bush to the door and then just slide behind the desk in the Oval Office, picking up business like nothing had transpired?  Which one of you stupid Obots thought that was going to happen?  Speak up so we know who to taunt in the future.

Ruffles, good.  Stick to ruffles.

Ruffles, good. Stick to ruffles.

Of course Hillary would have brought Change.  From what I gather, it would have been more dramatic than Obama’s version.  She was ready with some pretty radical policy changes on the Paulsen Bailout Bill last September.  They were so out there that the only person who seemed to have paid any attention to them was John McCain.

That’s another thing I don’t get.  According to the CNN article, it was John McCain who seems to have taken a real shine for Hillary since the primaries.  The two of them worked together on the Armed Services Committee and they’re good friends now.  Maybe it’s because she can drink him under the table, I dunno.  It was John McCain who pointed to the urgency of confirming Clinton as the Secretary of State yesterday.  The country is in a vulnerable period of transition with a green president and the GOP was going to hold things up to get one last shot in?  How stupid is that?  When all was said and done, only 2 Republicans voted nay on her confirmation, making themselves stand out like crybabies for insisting on an unnecessary spectacle to parade her clean laundry in front of the world-again.

I will never understand the vitriolic viciousness of the Villagers or the Republicans for the Clintons.  I will never understand how one skipped cocktail party at Sally Quinn’s house escalated to such a mindless, frenzied 16 year onslaught on two dedicated public servants.  They aren’t perfect.  Not by a long shot.  But they fall so short of being the vile human beings as they are portrayed that the conventional wisdom about them is a joke now.  Perhaps Vince Foster had it right.  In Washington, ruining people “is considered sport”.  It was nothing more than cliquey viciousness that spread and was fueled by a right wing cabal of spiteful elves.  Maybe it was because they arrived in Washington based on their merits, not some aristocratic machine that greased the skids for them.  Maybe without the protection of their “clan”, they were open to the volleys from the courtiers who made their living from the continuity of the political class.

Whatever the initial reason behind the offensive, it eventually spread to Hillary’s own party and infected its hierarchy with the delight of all things petty and mean.  The pervasive nature of the game worried the leaders who were simultaneously reveling in  it while becoming fearful that the media and Villagers would never let up.  The sport fed upon itself.  The original reason for the game was lost long ago.  It was just the thing they did.  Beat up on the Clintons because they are there.  They will not go away so we will continue this silly game until they do.

No amount of so-called “arrogance” on Hillary’s part justified this ridiculous behavior from the Washington establishment.  Without self-confidence and a healthy ego, she couldn’t have come this far.  But it didn’t stop the clique from finding fault in everything she did.  Still, it should be time to put it aside now.  She has triumphed over them.  They’ve been beaten.  Oh, she’ll never be president.  They’ve seen to that, to our detriment.  But she will be one of the most powerful Secretaries of State we’ve ever had.  As the Boston Globe pointed out, Barack Obama needs someone with the experience and stature of Hillary Clinton to take his place on the foreign stage while he deals with domestic issues.  She will be as close to a foreign president as we have ever had.  And anyone who doesn’t think this is exactly what she asked for is dreaming.

Still, I just don’t get why the pettiness and snobbery continues.  Like, what’s up between the Carters and the Clintons that resulted in the incident below?  Is this the way we treat successful former presidents and their honorable wives these days?

There’s a history there, no question.  But what it’s all about is a mystery to me.  It’s a bit of Pride and Prejudice that I don’t understand, where the people you once admire turn out to be meanspirited meddlers with their own agendas.  It’s hard to know what to believe except that integrity can be found in how closely a person’s actions match their words.  And so far, my inclination is to trust Hillary.  She is as good as her word and Obama, who could stand to learn a thing or two about integrity, is very lucky to have her.

One more thing: Consider this your Morning Funnies.