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His Holiness the Dalai Lama: War is Out of Date

December 4th, 2008

The Power of Power

To continue our discussion of different kinds of power, I am thrilled Obama has brought Samantha Power, who was forced to resign from Team Obama during the campaign for calling Hillary Clinton "a monster," back on board as part of the transition team--for the office of the Secretary of State. 

If you don't know about Samantha Power, here is an excerpt from Esquire:

Power, a journalist and now a professor at Harvard, who won a Pulitzer prize for her 2003 book on America's response to genocide, A Problem from Hell, and who helped kick-start the Save Darfur movement, has a vision that will help shape 21st-century American foreign policy. What Norman Podhoretz is to the neocon movement Power is to this as-yet-unnamed force. (Neo-internationalism? Moral interventionism? Machiavellian idealism?) She espouses talks--firm talks--with rogue states, a respect for international law, and a moral and pragmatic duty to intervene--with troops if necessary--in cases of genocide.

I'm happy she's back for a number of reasons: she's passionate about human dignity and has a complex and pragmatic view of how to secure it. In other words, she's tough and smart. Heart and head. Has a plan. A view. And her Pulitzer Prize winning book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, is endlessly relevant, and gives her unique insight into seemingly intractable hostilities, like the one between Israel and Palestine.

Though she's been lambasted by Zionist groups who say she wants to do everything from fund islamic terrorists to invade Israel, apparently her official position is the US should engage in an immediate and intensified involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In her view, the situation "has to be resolved first of all for the benefit of the parties involved, but also to prevent "cynical Arab leaders" from exploiting the conflict as a tool for justifying their policies."

I'm no expert, but this sounds like a rational approach to me. 

But mostly I feel good about Power's return because Obama's ability to bring her back in a leadership role in HRC's realm says he feels free as POTUS to make controversial decisions and continue to mix up ideological perspectives in the hopes of reaching different conclusions. He's apparently using the power vested in him to follow his agenda of change, rather than kowtow to personal gripes, party lines, or general consensus.

Power should be an excellent and necessary counterpoint to Hillary. Obama appears to believe the two women, though different in approach, are stronger together than apart.

What do you think?

December 1st, 2008

Shift Happens: Preparing our children for the 21st century

Deep.

November 30th, 2008

House vs. Field Negro Controversy, from Italy's Corriere della Sera

November 21st, 2008

A journalist from Corriere de la Sera called yesterday with an urgent request for an interview about the Al-Qaeda claim that Obama is a house negro. My comments hit the first page--with full spread on page 3.

Translation below the Italian.

November 29th, 2008

What Michelle Obama is Giving Up: A Question of Power

Hey all,

I have an essay in The Root today about Michelle Obama and feminism.

Yesterday afternoon, in tandem with the essay on Michelle Obama, I joined a group of exceptional women including Anna Perez, the former Press Secretary for Barbara Bush, Leslie Morgan Steiner, the editor of the best-selling anthology Mommy Wars, and Jolene Ivey, co-founder of Mocha Moms, on Michel Martin's NPR show Tell Me More to talk about:

What Michelle Obama is Giving Up.

It was a fascinating conversation, but five intense women talking about Michelle Obama for thirty-five minutes? We could have been there for hours. I left the studio thinking about all the things I wished there had been more time to say.

I wish the show had been called "What Michelle Obama is Gaining."

There was certainly more to say about the question of "power" vs "influence." It's my view that Michelle has the opportunity to have a tremendous amount of power--political, personal, ideological, symbolic, financial, social, maternal, emotional, psychological-- but Anna Perez opined Michelle will have influence, but because she can't write legislation and doesn't have a vote on key issues, she won't have power. 

But there are different kinds of power. Laws change administration to administration, but transforming the consciousness of a generation is forever. Did Martin Luther King, Jr. have power or influence? Did Jackie Kennedy want more power and less influence? How about Eleanor Roosevelt? And what about our former First Lady, Hillary Clinton? She almost because POTUS in large part as a result of her "influence." What about the Nobel committee? Do they have power or influence? Freud and Jung? Moses?

I was taken aback by Anna Perez's view, her privileging one realm, the political, over what could be called the personal or communal, a view that has disempowered women for centuries. And I was struck by how difficult it seemed for many of the women in the conversation to see Michelle as anything but a victim. Incredibly, they seemed to think she was more powerful as a hospital administrator than First Lady.

We denigrate Michelle by denigrating her choices. Projecting an idea of her as a deer in the headlights rather than a lioness on the plain reflects a crisis of the imagination, and speaks volumes about what we think is possible for a woman, or any human being, to negotiate.

People working to create a better world dismiss their accomplishment at their own peril. They resign themselves to a lifetime of disappointment.

What do you think? Do you have power or influence, power and influence, or no power and no influence?

How do you define power? 

November 28th, 2008

The Art We Make, The Love We Give

Just watched The Lives of Others.

I have always wondered what I would do for art. For love. For the freedom that making your art and loving your chosen one symbolizes. Would I die for it? Become an informant? Or much, much worse? 

Watching the film, I felt that art is the fire. The work we make, the love we give is the flame we pass from one to the other to stay warm. To stay alive. Awake.

Tonight, let it burn.
November 24th, 2008

The First Review

There are few things more unnerving than writing a book and introducing it to others. When it finally goes out, some writers sit back and second guess the whole shebang. It's genius, we think one minute. It's awful, we think the next. And then the first review comes in and if it's good we let out a HUGE sigh of relief. Or at least I do. And guess what my friends? That review has come in and it's, well, fantastic!

Needless to say, I'm thrilled. 

Pre-order and then send stories about your unique families for posting.

November 22nd, 2008

Why I didn't buy Tenzin an Obama shirt.

wang obama

So of course I love this shirt, and contemplated buying it for Tenzin during the campaign.

But I didn't.

Because I don't want to politicize Tenzin's body any more than it is already. Because he didn't choose Obama himself. Because he is not a walking billboard for my beliefs.

Because it just didn't feel right.

Because politics is a divisive, winner takes all paradigm. Because while I engage and vote, I do not view the world in terms of sides or camps, and would like to allow my son the same freedom for as long as possible.

Because even though I believe in Obama, I am not certain that inculcating my son into the spectacle, the theater, of politics is actually in his best interest. 

Et vous? What did you do? 

November 17th, 2008

Alma de Fuego--Soul of Fire

I love reading black femi power at Alma de fuego. She asks an important question today, referencing a Diego Rivera painting. Here is an excerpt of my comments. You can find the whole thing on the post.

What I like about this image, and many by Rivera is the portrayal of women and men working together to carry the burden. That is what seems to be lost in so many contemporary critiques-- this idea of partnership as a soul maintenance program in the face of empire. Even more, as a mechanism through which accomplishment can be achieved. In that way it is actually a redefinition of success. Success here is the way in which the two are not at odds--their union, the tenderness of it in the face of unspeakable brutality, is more "successful" than any financial gain.

November 14th, 2008

Samadhi

Boy in Samadhi

 Story.

Interesting. What do you think?

November 14th, 2008