In an interview at Splice Today, Nick Gillespie’s lays out the objectively correct response to Joseph Lowery’s crowd-pleasing inaugural benediction doggerel:
What the hell was that? An unpublished Nipsey Russell rhyme from a lost episode of The $100,000 Pyramid? Yellow will be mellow? When the Jew can drink Mountain Dew? The wop can be a cop? The kraut can give a shout?
I realize Lowery is an old man and I cut him some slack for all the crap that he and too many others like him had to deal with for far too long. But I think we’ve hit that day where black is not asked to go back. And Asians, those poor, sad-sack model minorities, don’t have to be any more mellow than the fans at a Ted Nugent concert. That’s good news.
And Nick’s rhetorical delicacy enables him to put into subtle perspective the proper place of politics in human life:
[W]e believe that politics—a rotten, zero-sum game in which the winners rub the losers’ face in dog shit like a schoolyard bully—should not be the primary focus of human activity. It should be squeezed into the smallest box possible so that individuals and the communities they form can get on with far more interesting and exciting and liberatory stuff.
So knit a sweater without a picture of the president on it, fools.
From The Politico:
Joe Lieberman has felt it. So has Joe the Plumber.
It’s the Obama Touch — the squeeze on the biceps, the pat on the shoulder or the tap on the back that signals the displeasure of the commander in chief. Let others turn on the deep freeze or lose their cool when they’re annoyed. Obama prefers to deal with problems by taking them in hand — literally.
Just ask Vice President Joe Biden, who made a joke about Chief Justice John Roberts flubbing the oath of office last week and immediately felt his boss’s disapproval, in the form of Obama’s fingers on his back.
“[Obama] was castigating him. There’s no other way to put it,” says Joe Navarro, a former FBI special agent specializing in nonverbal communication. …
Another member of the press, who witnessed a similar moment with a colleague during the campaign, recalls thinking the gesture seemed intended to regain control over the conversation — friendly on the surface but also a little intimidating.
This dual experience is no accident; in sensitive situations, Obama typically uses touch to control and console simultaneously.
Just ask Michelle!
If only Obama could touch enough consumers and investors, confidence could really take off and save the economy. It’s as good as the macroeconomist’s ideas!
[HT Dave Weigel via Twitter]
I couldn’t say it better, so I’m just going to cut & paste the entirety of Radley Balko’s post:
Credit where it’s due: Well done, Mr. Obama. I’m sure we’ll have our differences, but afer your first 40+ hours on the job, this libertarian couldn’t be happier.
Obama rescinded Bush’s 2001 executive order allowing former presidents, vice presidents, and their heirs to claim executive privilege in determining which of their records get released to the public. Even better, he’s requiring the signature of both his White House counsel and the attorney general before he can classify a document under executive privilege.
Issued a memorandum to all executive agencies asking them to come up with a new plan for open government and complying with FOIA requests. He is also instructing three top officials, including the U.S. attorney general, to come up with a new policy on open government. The new policy would replace the existing policy, infamously set by a 2001 memo from John Ashcroft that instructed federal agencies to essentially to take every measure they can to refuse FOIA requests.
Put a freeze on the salaries of top White House aides.
Suspended the military trials at Gitmo, and is expected to issue an order closing Gitmo as soon as today.
“For a long time now there has been too much secrecy in this city. The old rules said that if there was a defensible argument for not disclosing something to the American people, then it should not be disclosed. That era is now over. Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known.
The mere fact that you have the legal power to keep something secret does not mean you should use it. The Freedom of Information Act is perhaps the most powerful instrument we have for making our government honest and transparent and holding it accountable. I expect my administration not only to live up to the letter but the spirit of this law.”
Yes, it’s only been one day. But this is mighty impressive. Obama’s top priority upon taking office was to sign orders rolling back his predecessor’s expansion of executive power. Put another way, Obama’s top priority upon taking office was to institute limits on his own power.
That’s something even a cynic like me can celebrate.
This is all fantastic news, and a great relief. This is change I can believe in, in fact.
This blog post/essay by historian of religion Kathyrn Lofton is pretty amazing. A taste:
First, you need a name. Not just any name. A weird name: a Biblical misspelling, maybe, or an invocation of some distant land. No matter what: the name needs an O. The O will come in handy when you need to summon a common sphere, encourage chanting, or design a gentle logo. Never deny the utility of its replication, never avoid its allusion, and never miss a moment for its branding. An O is a space anyone can fill with anything.
You will possess a preternatural ability to give people what they want, to know what they need, to sell what they will buy. Prepare yourself for this. You have to get over any anxieties about your own assimilation, incorporation, and amalgamation. Be the commodity. Put your O everywhere. Your iconography is how you brace against the disappointments of your humanity.
You are, as everyone knows, a Protestant. But you dabble in everything, shying not away from the Koran or kabbalah, Jewish professors or Eastern spiritual advisers. You will entertain anything that might embolden your O. You are the ambiguity of your epoch, the middle that makes the mass, the crossroads of a country that excited your youth, raped your ancestral continent, and claps now for your children. You are a global distribution suffused with spiritual truth. You are motivated with missionary zeal to convert everyone, unrelentingly, to change. You make them believe their best lives are yet to come. You make it impossible to look away, to hate, to dissent, or to change the channel. You make us feel good, finally. You are our redemption. You are our favorite smile. And you are our satisfaction at the possibility of a secular that made it all so.
Strong. Do read the whole thing. I eagerly await Lofton’s forthcoming book on the gospel of Oprah.
[Via Jason Kuznicki.]