Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 49,283
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 49,283
Florida Atlantic University, April 10
Posted by bigtree | Wed Apr 11, 2012, 11:39 PM (2 replies)
Christopher Charles Tuck II, 7, of Westchester N.Y., wears a t-shirt with the image of U.S. President Barack Obama at an Obama campaign fund raising event in Hollywood, Florida, April 10, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Posted by bigtree | Tue Apr 10, 2012, 08:55 PM (6 replies)
President Barack Obama reads a book "Where the Wild Things Are" alongside first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia during the annual White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington, April 9, 2012 (REUTERS/Jason Reed)
The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another his mother called him “WILD THING!” and Max said “I’LL EAT YOU UP!” So he was sent to bed without eating anything.
That very night in Max’s room a forest grew and grew- and grew until his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around . . . And when he came to the place where the wild things are they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes . . .
Max said “BE STILL!” and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once and they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all . . .
The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws . . .
Posted by bigtree | Mon Apr 9, 2012, 01:39 PM (10 replies)
President Barack Obama walks hand-in-hand from the White House to an Easter church service with his wife Michelle and their daughters Sasha and Malia in Washington April 8, 2012.
Posted by bigtree | Sun Apr 8, 2012, 12:44 PM (24 replies)
(This is a re-post of mine from earlier years . . . hope it's not too familiar)
I remember Easter as a child. Mom would take us to Charleston, West Virginia every year to visit my grandfather for the Spring holiday.
Granddad lived in a huge two story house off of Main Street, and there, he rented out the upstairs to a few folks that I never really saw much, and a room off of his kitchen where a dapper garbage man slept. Granddad was a short, strong man, dark as night, with a hearing aid for his deafness that happened when he worked in the glass factory after WWI. He'd turn it down when my mom would lecture him about something or another, and whenever he fell asleep in his red reclining chair with the red duct tape covering the cracks, while he watched the baseball game turned up way loud. He'd wake up every now and then to spit his tobacco in his brown ceramic spittoon and record the score on his TV guide.
Bobo, his faithful mixed border collie who would bark whenever the phone rang or the door chimed, laid and slept by his side as he slept. Bobo would never fail to bite me almost every visit, sending me three times to the doctor for stitches, the last time after taking the other half of a cookie I gave him from my hand. Besides that, nothing much at all happened in that town for us young ones. The biggest thing was when the huge car carrier pulled up on the other side of the street. My sister and I would run outside on the porch and sit on that rough painted metal rocking chair and bench and watch as the man unloaded the new cars one by one until the very last.
Charleston was like a large retirement community to me, with a Dairy Queen where I sometimes got to go to by myself to get mom her butter almond, and an all night laundromat where we sometimes went after dark to wash our clothes. There were a bevy of old relatives who we would visit with Mom, walking for endless miles in the heat in our new spring wear. There was a lady with who had been stuck in bed for years (I never saw her get up) who was always in her nightgown and robe. Mom said she tried to get up one morning and found she couldn't walk. She was a kind woman with several pictures of Jesus on the wall. There was a lady who took care of her who had a huge goiter on her neck. The bedridden lady always gave my sister and I some change before we left.
Then, there was Mrs. Gilmore who lived in a huge brownstone with a funeral parlor in the basement that her husband had left her. Everyone in town brought her their business when someone passed away. She had a wide painted smile with her hair pulled back so tight that it seemed stuck on. She had long fingers with the longest nails I had ever seen. Years after she died the National Park Service made her home a landmark because of her work as a civil rights activist in Charleston and elsewhere.
There was Annie Joe, my mom's best friend who would do her hair with the hot combs heated on the kitchen stove, and her mom, Cousin Gussy and Uncle Moore who lived across the Kanawha bridge in one of a suite of plaster houses with sunken floors. They had two trees with white washed trunks and red mites that crawled up and down. We'd salt the slugs on the walkway for fun and climb the trees to wait for them to shrivel. The railroad tracks were just a few feet from the house and the train would barrel by occasionally. We'd leave pennies on the track and collect them flattened when the train rolled over them. Gussy would cook up a Sunday meal that I'll never forget with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and greens that would melt in your mouth while Mr. Moore watched the ball game.
Easter Sunday was a great pain for a small kid like me. Mom was a terror as she got us ready for church. She'd scrub me, brush my hair raw, and dress me in this powder blue, Lord Fauntleroy suit with shorts and a beanie cap. She'd hustle us outside as Granddad carefully backed his gold Oldsmobile out of the garage with the shed on the side which had a ton of pipe parts, motor parts, nuts and bolts and everything wonderful. I smoked my first cigarette there one Sunday before church, a Pall Mall without a filter. Granddad would stop at the wide gate he had built at the end of the long driveway (with pipe parts) which had a pulley and a rope with a brick tied on that slowly shut the gate by itself until it clicked surely into its handmade latch.
We'd arrive early at the First Baptist Church and sit in the pew as the parishioners would stream in. First Baptist was a huge church with a wall of stained glass windows on both sides and a pulpit that towered above us all with room for its large choir. The church on Easter Sunday was always packed full and humming from the rich, sickly perfume of the women there. The smell was unbelievable. And the hats . . . wide brimmed monstrosities with feathers and such, atop processes and wigs. There was this one large lady who owned and lived in a dubious consignment shop along Main Street with a few dust-covered ceramic figurines and plastic flowers on the window shelf who would always arrive at the last minute. She'd saunter down the aisle with her silver tipped cane, and her hat was always the largest, most outlandish one there, with fake birds, fruits or something amazing on top. She'd make her way down to her reserved seat in the front row. She was the only holy roller I think that was allowed in First Baptist. I understood that she had been informed that she'd have to tone down her shouts of praise to the Lord which, nonetheless, still echoed through the hall at several key points in the service.
Granddad always left us to take his place up front. He was a longtime deacon who would fully memorize the passage he would get to read before the congregation. I'd be stuck on that hard bench for the full 3 hours that the service ran on Easter Sunday. Mom would do her best to keep me still and quiet throughout the service with gum, or some starlight mints and butterscotch candies. A few of the stained glass windows swung open to let in whatever breeze could be had, but it was always sweltering hot. Almost everyone (but me) had a hand fan with a wooden handle and a picture of Jesus and a lamb on the front and a picture of the church on back. You could hear the fwap, fwap of the parishioners waving them back and forth in vain attempts to ward off the heat. I always fell asleep several times throughout, taking advantage of Mom's arm, probably the only time that she didn't terrify me.
The First Baptist Church was led by the Reverend Moses Newsome, a towering, light-skinned black man with a deep baritone and kind eyes. He would lead the congregation through prayers, through acknowledgments and death and sick mentions. He would stop in between and sit as the choir belted out some rollicking gospel tune, rocking, bobbing, and clapping their hands in unison as they rocked the house. They had an unbelievable sound. And folks would rock along with them. There was nothing subtle about the choir. They were loud and righteous. Whew! The one holy-roller up front would be on her feet, shouting out, " Praise glory!" she would cry. "Thank you Jesus!"
Then came the sermon. One hour long. An eternity. I'd have a sore butt by then and the candy just wouldn't cut it anymore. Reverend Newsome would speak in a low, measured tone as he counseled the congregation on the vestiges of evil and the virtues of good. His long arms reached out from under his flowing robe and he firmly grasped the lectern on both ends as he glared down on the flock. Sweat poured off of his freckled brow while he cautioned us about the Devil and warned us to look everywhere for Christ's coming.
Somewhere near the end, you would get a whiff of the food cooking in the church kitchen for after the service. The smell of fried chicken and gravy, beans, cornbread, and greens wafted uncontrolled into the great hall. Folks got restless, but they were mostly patient and still until, at once, the Reverend's voice would rise to a fevered timbre as he brought on the end of his sermon. Folks would shift in their seats and sit upright again as the Reverend boomed out his ending.
Then came the benediction, that wonderful benediction that signaled the end of the service. And then it was over. There were Easter baskets full of jellybeans and chocolate waiting at home, and the sun was shining full outside as we filed past Reverend Newsome and he grasped my small hand with his giant soft ones. "You be good now, you hear?" the Reverend would say. "I'll be good sir." I'd answer, as I pushed out into the Spring air to soak up another Easter in Charleston.
Posted by bigtree | Sat Apr 7, 2012, 10:14 PM (17 replies)
THE Supreme Court can do great harm to the presidency. but the president can do very little of significance to affect the Court -- outside of nominating replacement justices. That's what makes all of the hyperventilated hissyfits from lawmakers and others about the President's use of the word 'unprecedented' such opportunistic nonsense.
Even if you just completely ignore the years and years where conservatives have railed against 'activist' judges and warned them against playing politics with their decisions, these republican critics of President Obama couldn't be more transparent in their political opportunism on this; or more inane.
This court challenge of the health law that lawmakers spent so much political capital to craft and enact is a dagger hanging directly above the heads of the American public; not just the President.
There's nothing that the White House and Congress can do about that except just wait, hope, and cajole from the outside. They can also start over and craft new laws, but that would be at the expense of millions of families, in this case, who are already invested and dependent on important and sustaining provisions in the new health law.
The President is correct in strongly defending the legislative process that the Court so callously and recklessly threatens to undo with an intellectual, imperious wave of their unelected hands. Overturning this health law might not actually be 'unprecedented' but it would be an unusual and earth-shattering rebuke to the authority and provenance of the other two branches of government.
That threat from the Court would seem to demand a more forceful response than a few choice words of warning from the Chief Executive. That's a challenge worth defeating in the only way available to the President and Congress; through their political activity and legislative impetus. If one discordant and confrontational word can cause so much angst among the Court's defenders, then that would appear to call for even more sharp reminders of the primacy of the efforts of our elected representatives.
Political activity is what the other branches of government are designed for. Not so with the Supreme Court. They are supposed to decide these cases dispassionately, without regard to the political din outside of the actual legislative process which produced the bill under judicial review. That's their lot. If they don't decide this case fairly -- even as the President reminds them of the boundaries of their roles in making that decision -- their independence doesn't really deserve defending.
Now, who's really threatened here?
Posted by bigtree | Thu Apr 5, 2012, 04:47 PM (5 replies)
THIS has to be the earliest Spring blooms in my memory. The trees and bushes are already leafing out and flowering. The daffodil and tulip bulbs are up and blooming. The hostas have come up and are unfolding into proud stands of bright white and green to contrast with the rest of the emerald and burgundy explosions of color.
It's a welcome end (a tentative end) to the winter's bleakness and relative cold. There are certainly broader environmental implications and consequences to ponder and worry over in this unprecedented change of climate. Those can't completely quash my enthusiasm for shedding my heavy jackets and sweaters and venturing out, barefoot and in shorts.
I can't be dissuaded from my joy in the unexpected events of sprouting and bloom which are unraveling before me. I am a giddy fool, basking in the incidental sunlight and warmth; much of its early arrival presumably generated by the abuses and neglect of our industries regarding the atmosphere. My ecological conscience is (almost) undone by the betrayal of my arthritic bone's warming to the beauty and promise of this early Spring. I can't wait to see what comes up next!
This election year is much like our unusual weather. There's so much unprecedented in the atmosphere and landscape of our party's upcoming defense of our Democratic presidency. There's the obvious historic nature of this current president who's race is being deliberately (if not mindlessly) highlighted and framed by many of his bigoted, republican opponents and their supporters; so far, mostly to the advantageous effect of mobilizing and energizing our Democratic base to his heightened defense and support.
I'm mindful that it was just months ago that both the economy and President Obama's appeal was teetering on a precipice of indifference in his re-election to an outright wave of opposition from his own base of supporters. A combination of a populist appeal and some executive action has attracted enough of an early buzz regarding the president's re-election from his party regulars and others that he has effectively placed himself firmly into the vital role of our party's political champion.
It's a welcome end of term of a operationally defensive presidency caught up worrying about smoothing out every republican-induced bump in the legislative roadway. Free from any significant or noticeable primary challenge -- and advantaged by the distracted republican field still fighting it out over their eventual nominee -- President Obama has been able to appeal to both the traditional factions of our party, and to many more progressive interests, as well, and position his supporters to rally against the extremes coming from his republican opponents.
It's been a perfect storm of opposition which has inspired many passionate defenses of this presidency from potential Democratic voters; of its agenda; and of its legislative accomplishments. The opposition party has muddied up what had just recently augured to be a dry referendum from them on the struggling, incumbent President.
I am a giddy fool in my unquestioned, enthusiastic, energetic support for the re-election of Barack Obama; basking in the glow of his excellent character, his steady and progressive logic, and in his warm and embracing appeal to our core Democratic principles; reveling in the bold contrast he offers against the bleak and caustic republican opposition. I am a dedicated and loyal toiler against his demagogic attackers.
My natural aversion to the reflexive moderation and unnerving compromises which marked much of his first term is undone (almost) by the warmth, strength, and beauty of this Democratic President's substantive and inspiring campaign and office.
I can't wait to see what comes up next!
Posted by bigtree | Sun Mar 25, 2012, 08:31 AM (11 replies)
U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama talk as they wait to receive Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha as they arrive for an official dinner in their honor at the White House in Washington, March 14, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha after arriving at the White House for a State Dinner held in their honor March 14, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Posted by bigtree | Wed Mar 14, 2012, 08:11 PM (80 replies)
Are you lifting the oxcart out of the ditch? Are you tearing up the pea patch? Are you hollering down the rain barrel? Are you scraping around the bottom of the pickle barrel? Are you sitting in the catbird seat? -- Thurber
A familiar sound in the air today . . . a lone catbird has arrived in the neighborhood, back from its winter refuge, enabled in its early return by the unseasonable winter's warm end. It's a song known to every lonely creature who's ever searched longingly for their lost companions and loves. It repeats its signature refrain in a loud and uneven, but recognizable pitch, as it broadcasts the announcement of its untimely arrival to all corners of the block.
"Yes, we hear you're back in town, familiar friend," we answer back, cautious to avoid becoming its only conversational friend for the remainder of the season; for the remainder of its time in residence. Now, its melodious plea is becoming even louder and more insistent in its desperate longing for companionship and for the social order it had become accustomed to finding here.
Eventually, soon, our anxious catbird will be joined by all of its friends, acquaintances, and rivals. Until then, it will have to find a happy medium to its searching songs. We'll all understand and sympathize today; tomorrow we'll all expect a bit more temerity and patience -- at least a level commiserate with the rest of our temporary exiles and expatriates from the winter chill -- and a little more dignity as we all wait and watch as Spring completely unfolds before us.
My catbird talks to me all throughout the day, all season long.
He's been coming back to my yard for years and years. It's been so long that I suspect it's been more than one bird learning our songs from the other. He's pretty aggressive in his singing, but I haven't seen any aggressive moves to bother anything larger than the bothersome Blue-Jays who like to try and bully their way around (and steal eggs).
He didn't come the year after my father died, but the following year he came back, and, perched on a low branch above me, we both shared our year's experience together (in crazy song) for about a half-hour until I was exhausted. He never tires of singing out, though. And he's louder than the rest. He's taken to spotting me at the window at my computer, and, last year I startled him away from our outside gazebo because he was just so loud and annoying I couldn't hear myself think.
I called out to this little fellow when I first moved into my house and put the woodland garden together, because I had had a mockingbird friend years before and the call sounded just like his.
The bird that I had a relationship with many years ago had woken me in the middle of the night outside my courtyard townhouse window, a little fellow, I think. I tried to coo him back to sleep, but he'd found the friend he'd been looking for. He awoke every single night afterward and would just disrupt the neighborhood until I talked to him (and that took a while at that to shut him down). He was a night singer for years afterward - returning for three successive summers, until one year when he didn't return. He wasn't missed in that courtyard by many (I missed him).
The next summer I heard a call outside the window -- it was weaker than my friend's, but unmistakably in the range of our songs. Then I heard his call and I realized at once that he'd brought back a mate who had adopted parts of our melody. Lots of noise from them both outside in the trees for that day and then night fell.
Hours into the night, I heard the unmistakable song of my catbird friend coming from an alcove across the street and echoing like never before throughout the neighborhood. He wasn't just singing, he was trilling in several octaves at once like something out of Star Wars.
I went to the small tree where my friend was and he just exploded in the most incredible song I have ever heard. He wouldn't let me make a sound over his own incredible one and it was so overwhelming that I ended up on my butt in tears.
He was speaking of love - that was unmistakable - but also, there was a bittersweet sadness in his melody which cut right through me. It went on, seemingly forever, until he just stopped abruptly and flew away. I never heard from him again. What a lucky man I was to have experienced that.
Mockingbirds and catbirds do obsess on us when we interact with them. Best not to attract too much of their attention, I think. Better to let them get on with the business of interacting appropriately with their bird partners. Best to not encourage too much of our own compromised humanness in their expression. Better to just listen to them.
Posted by bigtree | Sun Mar 11, 2012, 06:39 PM (11 replies)
from Buzzfeed: http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/the-first-time-obama-was-elected-president
Mar 10, 2012 5:53pm EST
Barack Obama's election as President of the Harvard Law Review was a historic event for African Americans. A proud moment for people of color, the election garnered a ton of coverage from the back media. The following excerpts come from three publications Jet, Ebony, and Crisis Magazine, showing the extent the young law student and author was heralded in the black community.
A 1990 interview with Ebony Magazine reads:
Barack H. Obama has an arabic first name that means "by the grace of God," which could exlain why he looks so humbly upon success. The Harvard University law student made history this year when he became the first Black President of the 104-year-old Harvard Law Review. "The fact that I've been selected shows a lot of progress, but it's important that stories like mine aren't used to say that everything is okay for Blacks," says the son of a Kenyan economist. Obama has a bachelor's degree in political science from Columbia University.
A February 1990 edition of Jet Magazine read:
Barack Obama, a 28-year-old second-year law student, was elected in balloting by last year's editors. Obama, a native of Hawaii, said his election shouldn't be seen as a sign social barriers have been broken down.
"I wouldn't want people to see my election as a symbol there aren't problems out there with the situation of African-Americans in society," he said. "From experience I know that for everyone of me there are hundred or a thousand Black and minority students who are just as smart and just as talented and never get the opportunity."
In 1995, the young Obama, now an accomplished author, reflected on his election, race, and his book in Crisis Magazine:
CRISIS: Will race relations get better?
OBAMA: Not in the short term. We're moving out of a period of American preeminence on the world economic stage. Global competition means increasing economic uncertainty for the majority of Americans, black and white. Unfortunately, politicians in this country find it convenient to define these problems in racial terms— affirmative action, immigration and so on. It's always easier to organize people around tribe than around principle."
Posted by bigtree | Sun Mar 11, 2012, 08:49 AM (6 replies)