Richard Blanco, 2013 Inaugural Poet

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Richard Blanco, chosen by President Obama to deliver the Inaugural Poem. Photo (c) 2013 Craig Dilger for The New York Times

From the New York Times:

From the moment Barack Obama burst onto the political scene, the poet Richard Blanco, a son of Cuban exiles, says he felt “a spiritual connection” with the man who would become the nation’s 44th president.

Like Mr. Obama, who chronicled his multicultural upbringing in a best-selling autobiography, “Dreams From My Father,” Mr. Blanco has been on a quest for personal identity through the written word. He said his affinity for Mr. Obama springs from his own feeling of straddling different worlds; he is Latino and gay (and worked as a civil engineer while pursuing poetry). His poems are laden with longing for the sights and smells of the land his parents left behind.

Now Mr. Obama is about to pluck Mr. Blanco out of the relatively obscure and quiet world of poetry and put him on display before the entire world.

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With Friends Like These…

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President Obama and the Unhappy (impossible to satisfy?) Left. From Jonathan Cohn, a senior editor at The New Republic via NPR:

Not surprisingly, conservatives are unhappy with President Obama. Somewhat surprisingly, liberals are too — or, at least, a lot of liberal commentators.

On July 4, Robert Kuttner spoke for many of them when he wrote, on the Huffington Post, that “we voted our hopes that events could compel Obama to govern as a progressive. We are still waiting.” Bob was primarily upset about Obama’s failure to push through a new stimulus package. But he also criticized Obama over health care (for not getting passionate about it until the last minute) and the Gulf oil disaster (for not taking a harder line on British Petroleum).

Bob is my old boss and mentor, not to mention a good friend. I share his frustrations over the policies that have (and haven’t) come out of Washington lately. But to suggest that Obama hasn’t governed as a progressive seems pretty wrong to me.

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President Obama Admits He’s Black

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FOX News remains very disappointed by this reality.

It is official: Barack Obama is the nation’s first black president.

A White House spokesman confirmed that Mr. Obama, the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, checked African-American on the 2010 census questionnaire.

The president, who was born in Hawaii and raised there and in Indonesia, had more than a dozen options in responding to Question 9, about race. He chose “Black, African Am., or Negro.” (The anachronistic “Negro” was retained on the 2010 form because the Census Bureau believes that some older blacks still refer to themselves that way.)

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What Happens Next Is What Matters

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Presidential Address for Jan 23, 2010

The President vows that "as long as I'm your President, I'll never stop fighting to make sure that the most powerful voice in Washington belongs to you."

This passage from Andrew Sullivan is also worth repeating:

This is about more than health reform and we have to see it in that context. This is about a cynical nihilist attempt to break this presidency before it has had a chance to do what we elected it to do by a landslide vote. It is an attempt to destroy a majority’s morale, to break a president’s foreign policy autonomy, to prevent engagement in the Middle East peace process, to stop action on climate change, to restore torture, to increase tensions with the Muslim world, to launch a war on Iran. We cannot delude ourselves that if Obama fails, this is not the alternative. It is.

And we have to re-engage as powerfully as we did in the campaign to fight back against these now emboldened forces of reaction. I think this is true not just for the sake of the country but also for the sake of the GOP. The nihilist obstructionism and rhetoric they have embraced makes constitutional democracy close to impossible. Their total lack of any workable alternatives to dire problems is a form of degeneracy we have to avoid empowering.

Read the rest of “Now, Fight!

Haiti Brings Former Adversaries Together…

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…to work for healing and reconstruction.


WASHINGTON – JANUARY 16: US President Barack Obama (L) former President Bill Clinton (C) and former President George W. Bush (R) walk to the Rose Garden to speak about relief for Haiti on January 16, 2010 in Washington DC. President Obama spoke about how the American people can help in the recovery and rebuilding effort going forward in Haiti. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

I’m sure Rush, Beck, et al, will find a way to demean this humane gesture.