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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Flower Power, second in a series, gouache and spray paint on gessoed canvas, image and painting © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.











 

Mr. President:
Yes you can. Give peace a chance.
My message to you.













-related to posts This, That & The Other, The Making Of A Painting Painter, and haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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This.


Wistful for Wisteria, our wisteria vine about this time last year, right before a freeze zapped it, photo © 2008-2009 by ybonesy, all rights reservedThis is our wisteria vine just about this time last year, right before a hard freeze zapped the blooms.

We’re hopeful that we’ll see the wisteria go wild this spring, yet the vine’s tender young buds already froze once, last month, and a second set is barely sprouting anew.

This is the time of year when I can’t wait for the weather to make up its mind and choose warm over cold, calm over windy. It’s the time of year when I go crazy wanting to fast-track nature. I’m tired of the color brown and the dull tan of cottonwood leaves and old pine needles. I long to see sumptuous greens and every hue of purple imaginable.

I plant pansies in pots and spend too much money at the nursery. I tempt nature by pulling the geraniums out of the greenhouse, and the jade plant, too. Then nature pulls a punch, with a day of rain that almost turns to snow. And right when I think I’ve once again underestimated how cool these desert mountains of the Rio Grande Valley can be, the sun comes out and a rainbow, too.



 




That.


Spared, a Virgin Mary statue that my aunt Olivia painted for me, barely missed being crushwed when a tree branch broke from a storm, photo 2008-2009 by ybonesy, all rights reservedApril is a windy month in Albuquerque. You can sweep the elm seeds from the porch and in an hour open the front door to an entire elm seed colony waiting to swirl on in and see the place.

But I like April anyway. Good people are born in April. My youngest daughter. My sister. One friend I’ve known since junior high school and another I’ve known since our first job out of graduate school.

And there’s our friend and fellow writer/blogger/traveler “lil,” who recently celebrated a birthday and received an amazing poem from her husband, which she posted on C. Little, no less. Check it out.

Happy birthday to those all you Aries and happy blowy days to the rest of you!




The other.


       

    




Obama Peace, gouache on 12×12 canvas, painting © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved. (Trying to figure out if it’s finished.)

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Tossed away.

A subset of my doodles on FlickrIn fall of last year I had an opportunity. A gallery owner in New York City saw my doodles on Flickr and invited me to join a group show in spring 2009. (Several artists on Flickr were asked to join.)

I rejoiced in being invited yet hemmed and hawed about whether I’d accept. In the end I signed up, making a vague notation in my brain about April being a key month for getting the paintings done. Then I went on with my life.

Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went, as did the new year. I made the intention to Finish what I start. President Barack Obama was inaugurated. I rejoiced again.

I bought canvases for the art show, gessoed them, set them aside in my writing room. Looked at them most days, noted that it was time to begin painting, procrastinated.

In early February I decided to get serious about starting the pieces. I cleaned off my work table, filed three months’ worth of bills. We took on a Mexican exchange student from February 7-21. A pinched sciatica kept me in bed for almost two weeks.

By the time I sat down to paint, I had frittered away four months. I looked up the date when the paintings needed to be in Manhattan. February 28. The show was in early April. I missed the deadline. 


Second chances.

A subset of my doodles on FlickrI have a new opportunity. Our community, which boasts an inordinately large number of artists and craftsmen, holds an annual art studio tour. This year the tour happens the weekend of May 2-3. I will be showing in a gallery with a handful of other artists—real artists.

Here is my chance to make the leap.

When Obama was inaugurated, I did a quick doodle. As soon as I finished it, I knew I wanted to do a series of Obama faces on 12″x12″ canvases for the New York City art show. My problem was never a lack of ideas; rather, it was a lack of follow through.


Showing up.

I picked up the paintbrush in March. When I started, I painted to the tempo of a little voice saying, I don’t know how to do this. I’ve never painted on canvas. If gessoed, I figured, canvas should act similar to gesso on wood. I was wrong.

Painting is a process. This painting, the first in a series, is a work in process. I thought it was almost done, but then I realized that I hadn’t learned how to control—or, rather, let myself lose control—of the paintbrush. 

When I began thinking about painting on canvas, QM suggested that I do a post about my process. I agreed even though I had no idea if my ideas about process would work. I’m not done with this painting, but I can tell you this—it’s not the actual process that’s important. What matters is that you have one. 


Learning process.


My original "quick and dirty" Obama doodle, pen and ink on graph paper. I enlarge it to fit my canvas and drew the outline onto tracing paper.

My original "quick and dirty" Obama doodle, done with pen and ink on graph paper. I enlarge it to fit my canvas, add a background, and draw the outline onto tracing paper.





Step One: Transfer the image outline to canvas

I transfer the image outline to the canvas using good ol' carbon paper, the kind used in days past for typing mimeographs. This prep work takes a lot longer than I expect, about half a day.





Step 2: Paint first layer of gouache (watercolor) on canvas

I paint the first layer of gouache (watercolor) on canvas, starting with Obama's face. I don't like this color of blue; it's too purpley. I still haven't figured out how to mix colors to find the right one nor how to use my brush as a tool versus an obstacle.





Never working with watercolor on canvas, I'm afraid to make mistakes. I notice when I'm bold with color, I end up going too dark, such as the brick red portion of the circle behind Obama.

I paint slowly. I'm afraid to make mistakes, and I notice that when I go bold I end up adding too much paint, like in the orange portion of the circle beside his head. I need to dig in but I'm stuck at not wanting to mess it up. I procrastinate again.





I add more paint and texture to the face, going in dark and then using lighter paint to emphasize shadow. Now that the face is coming into focus, my ideas about the background are changing completely. Good thing gouache is maleable.

Finally, I pick up the brush after a hiatus. I add more and more paint and texture to the face. To create dimension---shadow and light---I go in dark with shades up to black and then use light paint to take away the dark. Now that the face is coming into focus, my ideas for the background are changing. Good thing gouache is maleable.





While watching American Idol, I find that I loosen up with the paint. I'm also trusting that I can fix mistakes, that nothing is permanent. I experiment with using the brush the way I would a pen.

While watching American Idol, I loosen up. I'm trusting that I can fix mistakes, that nothing is permanent. Also, if the room is kind of dim, I have a better time seeing contrast. I notice that I have too much light paint on the tip of Obama's nose. I'll go in next time and put in more shadow at the bottom.





In my original doodle I forgot to capture Obama's mole next to his nose. I got it this time, although I'm not sure if I'll change it to blue to match the rest of his skin.

In my original doodle I forgot to capture Obama's mole next to his nose. I got it this time, although I'm not sure if I'll change it to blue to match his skin. I notice his eyebrow is too dark, but I can go in, lighten it and add texture to make it look more natural. (Although, is "natural" a consideration when his entire face is bright blue?)





His mouth needs work; it's clownish looking to me, and I've barely touched his teeth and gums. But I am enjoying his cheeks and those deep crevices he gets when he smiles. Also, I experiment using the brush the way I would a pen. Amazingly, painting is not that different than drawing.

His mouth needs work; it's clownish looking to me, and I've barely touched his teeth and gums. But I am enjoying his cheeks and those deep crevices he gets when he smiles. Also, I experiment using the brush the way I would a pen. Amazingly, painting is not that different than drawing.




Overcoming fear.

Here’s what I know. I’m the only person who’s ever stopped me from realizing my dreams. I’ve gotten out of my own way this time. Next time I might be right back in the middle of the road with my hands out in front of me yelling STOP! But not today.

My goal is to paint six pieces for the early May show. I have less than a month to go, and I can only paint in the evenings and on weekends. I went to a carpenter and asked him to make me wood boards to paint on. Canvas works, but I still like wood best.


Just painting.


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Gouache postscript.

Thanks to QM’s curiosity, I’m adding these excellent links on the topic of gouache.

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Mr. President, pen and ink on graph paper, based on a photo
in Mother Jones, doodle © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





Elizabeth Alexander shared her poem, Praise song for the day.
Reverend Joseph Lowery offered his benediction.


What words do you have for the 44th president of the United States?
Share your poems, blessings, hopes, wishes, advice.



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Tickets, mural outside the vintage Riverview Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Tickets, mural outside the vintage Riverview Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, all photos © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



A few weeks ago, our monthly Poetry Group read the work of Elizabeth Alexander, the poet selected to read at the inauguration of Barack Obama. When we sat down to dinner the next day after work, Liz announced, “I took a half day off Tuesday. Want to go to the Riverview for the inauguration?”  It took a few seconds to sink in. Then, with no hesitation, I said, “Yes, let’s do it. I’ll ask for time off, too.”

Elizabeth Alexander, a 46-year-old professor of African American Studies at Yale, and author of five books of poetry, will be only the 4th poet to read at a presidential inauguration. Robert Frost was the very first during President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961. When it came time to read, Frost, blinded by the sun, could not see his notes and quickly moved to Plan B. He recited from memory another poem from his prolific body of work.

Maya Angelou read for President Bill Clinton’s first Inauguration in 1993. And for President Clinton’s second, he chose Miller Williams in 1997. It’s been a long 12 years since a poet has had the honor of reading at an inauguration. It’s important to notice this detail; it’s a strong indicator that the Arts matter to the upcoming administration.

I was moved by the poetry of Elizabeth Alexander. She was only a one year old on August 28th, 1963 when her father, a civil rights advisor to President Johnson, and her mother, Adele, brought her to the Lincoln Memorial to hear Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. On January 20th, 2009, she will read at the swearing-in of the first African American U.S. president.


I am obviously profoundly honored and thrilled. Not only to have a chance to have some small part of this extraordinary moment in American history……This incoming president of ours has shown in every act that words matter, that words carry meaning, that words carry power, that words are the medium with which we communicate across difference and that words have tremendous possibilities, and those possibilities are not empty.

Elizabeth Alexander from the Washington Post article, Selection Provides Civil Rights Symmetry



Riverview Marquee, outside the vintage Riverview Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Time Moves On, inside the vintage Riverview Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Under The Marquee, outside the vintage Riverview Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



We’ll hope to have free tickets and front row seats to the Riverview Theater’s screening of the inauguration (you can also watch it free at the downtown Minneapolis Central Library). The Riverview doors open at 9:30am CST with the viewing lasting until around 1pm. And on the wide Riverview screen, behind the original late 1940’s vintage curtains:



11:30am EST — If you have tickets to the Inauguration ceremony, you must have passed through security by this time.

  • Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks: Senator Dianne Feinstein
  • Invocation: Dr. Rick Warren
  • Aretha Franklin will sing
  • Vice President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office
  • Music composed by John Williams and performed by Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill.

12:00 Noon EST — As specified by the U.S. Constitution (20th Amendment), presidential terms of office begin and end at 12:00 noon on January 20.

  •  Barack Obama will take the oath of office, which is this simple, 35-word, statement: I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

12:05pm EST (approx) — President Barack Obama will give his inaugural address, speaking to the nation and world, for the first time, as President of the United States, followed by:

  • Poem: Elizabeth Alexander
  • Benediction: The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery
  • The National Anthem: The United States Navy Band “Sea Chanters”

 

It’s been almost two years since Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States in front of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois. For those who supported and voted for him, it’s the end of a long journey through a couple of grueling years of Presidential politics. For those who did not, it is a time-honored moment in our country’s history, and on the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, one you will not want to pass up.

I can’t think of a better way to honor the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. than to take time off of work on Tuesday to listen to Barack Hussein Obama II be sworn in as our 44th President. That we will be graced with a moment of poetry falling on the listening ears of millions of people across the world, offers the promise of poetic justice — another chance to keep the magic of poetry alive.


In that moment, really I am the vessel for the poem. It’s not about the poet at that moment, it’s about the poem.

— Elizabeth Alexander from the NPR interview, Poet Calls Writing Inaugural Poem A ‘Challenge’



Longfellow, mural outside the vintage Riverview Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Green, mural outside the vintage Riverview Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.3 Lights, mural outside the vintage Riverview Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Reflecting, inside the vintage Riverview Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



EPILOGUE


Poems were meant to be read out loud. That’s part of the joy of hearing others read live in a poetry group. Mende Vocabulary is one of the poems beautifully read by one member at our last poetry group and can be found, along with The Last Quatrain, and other poems, in Elizabeth Alexander’s piece, The Negro Digs Up Her Past: ‘‘Amistad’.”

The essay explores historical poetry and fiction through such works as Robert Hayden’s Middle Passage (which he first published in 1943 and continued to publish in revision as late as 1962), Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Arthur Schomburg’s 1925 essay The Negro Digs Up His Past.



Mende Vocabulary


by Elizabeth Alexander


they
my father
our father
your father
my mother
my book
his house
one ship
two men
all men
good man
bad man
white man
black man

I eat
he eats
we eat
they sleep
I see God
did I say it right?
we sleep
I make
he makes
they have eaten

this book is mine
that book is his
this book is ours
I am your friend
here
now
that
there
then



The Last Quatrain


by Elizabeth Alexander


and where now
and what now
the black white space



 

If we contemplate the Amistad as a ship without mothers, the utter absence of mothers in a violently formed society; if we wonder what people dreamed in their captivity, we might begin to understand what they lost, what it took to build themselves up again, and what it might take to move forward.

It is the unique potential of poetry to be able to locate and activate what is in the imagination. Art takes us to knowing that may have no other way of being found, and that is one of the very things we need in order to move more intelligently forward. 

— Elizabeth Alexander

– poems and final quote from an essay by Elizabeth Alexander on historical poetry and fiction, The Negro Digs Up Her Past: ‘‘Amistad’’ from The South Atlantic Quarterly 104:3, Summer 2005. Copyright©2005 by Duke University Press.




RESOURCES & READINGS


To read more about Elizabeth Alexander, Amistad, poetry, and the upcoming inauguration schedule, below are links to the resources used in this essay:

________________________

Presidential Inauguration at the Riverview Theater – Riverview’s page on their screening of the inauguration, Tuesday (Jan 20th): 10:30AM CST
Inauguration Day 2009 Schedule of Activities and Events — details and times for 2009 Inaugural Events, along with an hours, minutes, seconds countdown
Words on the Inauguration at the Poet’s Website, Elizabeth Alexander – “Words matter. Language matters. We live in and express ourselves with language, and that is how we communicate and move through the world in community.”

________________________

Inaugural Poet Part Of History – Again – part of the Road To The Inauguration Series on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric
The Inaugural Poet: Selection Provides Civil Rights Symmetry – article in the Washington Post by Michael E. Ruanein, Thursday, December 18, 2008
Poet Calls Writing Inaugural Poem A ‘Challenge’ — listen to the NPR interview with Elizabeth Alexander, December 18th, 2008
Weaving Words For The Inaugural Poem — listen to NPR Host Scott Simon ask Elizabeth Alexander for a sneak peek, January 17th, 2009

________________________

The Negro Digs Up Her Past: ‘‘Amistad’’ by Elizabeth Alexander The South Atlantic Quarterly 104:3, Summer 2005. Copyright©2005 by Duke University Press. — document from the author’s website, an excellent essay on the significance of historical poetry and fiction
The Amistad Comes to Life! — lesson planning article at Education World on teaching the story of The Amistad across all grades, a curriculum to bring life to the story of the revolt on the Amistad in the early 1800’s. Great links, one to the historic sites on the Connecticut Freedom Trail.
The Mende Language – a few word translations from the Mende language at Education World, part of the curriculum for the complete story of the Amistad (link above) and the role Josiah Gibbs, a language professor at Yale University in New Haven, played in finding a translator for the Africans so their side of the story could be told.



Circles Within Circles, 1950s lamp at the Riverview Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Casting Light, vintage 1950s lamp at the Riverview Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Circles Within Circles, Casting Light 1950’s lamp at the Riverview Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, all photos © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 19th, 2009, day before the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama

-with gratitude to Teri who took the leap and started our Poetry Group over a year ago, has provided strong leadership, and helps Keep Poetry Alive!

-related to posts: Out With The Old, In With The Old (Recycled Fashion Goes To Washington, DC), If You Can’t Say Something Nice…, Why It Won’t Matter To You That I’m Voting For Obama, The Politics Of Primary Season 2008 (A Presidential Primer)

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recycle-magazine-dress-updaterecycle-plastic-skirt-and-umbrella-updaterecycle-target-bag-carmen-miranda-update



Santa Fe designer Nancy Judd and her recycled “trashion” (trash fashion) are headed to Washington, DC, to Saturday’s Green Inaugural Ball honoring President-elect Barack Obama. Judd, a former Recycling Coordinator at the City Different’s Solid Waste Department and current owner of Recycle Runway, has expanded her gorgeous line of “Dumpster coutre” to include pieces inspired by Obama campaign throwaways.

The Wall Street Journal featured Judd on the front page of its January 13th issue, for having caught the eye of organizers of the $500-a-ticket all-organic pre-Inaugural celebration, which is expected to draw 1,000 environmentalists. Models will display Judd’s garments on platforms in the main lobby area.


Showing her stuff in the nation’s capital is a big step for a woman who used to put on a furry blue costume and sweat her way through parades as Carlos Coyote, Santa Fe’s recycling mascot.”

Using campaign paraphernalia she rescued from a dumpster outside an Obama campaign office, Judd has developed an elegant line of Obama-wear, so far consisting of these three pieces (photos were provided by Judd and are used with her permission):







Obamanos Coat

This man’s coat is made from Obama campaign paper door hangers that have been lacquered and stitched together. (Look closely and you can see lots of little smiling Obamas and Bidens.) It took Judd 200 hours to cut, paste, and sew the coat.

Judd tailored the coat to Obama’s measurements, which she found online. She is hoping he will stop by the event and try on the coat. She even managed to hinge the sleeves to give him a measure of mobility: “He can’t wave, but he can shake a hand.”








Maybe the mental image of that dress made from glass might make people think twice before they throw out a bottle next time.

~Jenna Mack, co-producer of the Green Inaugural Ball (from WSJ)




Obama Dress, Santa Fe designer Nancy Judd modeling a dress she made out of plastic Obama yard signs, photo © 2009 by Nancy Judd, Recycle Runway
Obama Cocktail Dress

Judd is shown here modeling an old-new take on the ubiquitious “little black dress,” this one made from plastic yard signs. She has no training in fashion, nor does she know how to sketch. She gets ideas from old paper dolls.

Her pieces are conceived as wearable sculpture and she doesn’t sell any of them. They are educational tools to help illustrate the problems facing our environment and to raise awareness.






You can’t be didactic or shaming or all gloom-and-doom…so you sneak in the back door.

~Judd, on how to talk to others about sustainability (from WSJ)



obama-swing-coat

Voter Swing Coat

This stylish suit is woven from strips of voter-registration posters.

For Judd, making dazzling garments to hit home a serious message about the earth is a labor of love. For the past two years, she has been living off of savings and a small business loan. She won’t be making money from the Green Inaugural Ball, either, although she is selling tote bags made from recycled campaign posters to cover trip expenses.






The children were amazed to see that something so beautiful could be created out of something we would normally throw away.

~Pat Bluett, assistant director of a Boys & Girls Club (from WSJ)



I’m relieved to know that some of the printed materials—door hangers and brochures that so many volunteers handed out during the campaign—have been “re-purposed” into such gorgeous pieces. (How she managed to cut the plastic yards signs, I can’t figure out. Those things are indestructuable—don’t ask me how I know.)

More than that, I am proud of this talented New Mexico designer for making it to Washington, DC and to an audience of prominent and influential environmental leaders. She’s created a unique and fabulous way to get across a vital message to people young and old—and people in power ought to see her work.

Speaking of people in power, would you say hello to Obama for me, Nancy? Just give him a big hug on my behalf as you’re helping him try on the Obamanos Coat. Thanks.

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Peace Be with US, a flag flies for peace during the rest of the election season, October 1, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




…don’t say anything at all.

Please.

It’s my plea to all passionate participants in our national elections.

If you can’t say something nice—about McCain, Palin, Obama, or Biden, and especially about and to their respective supporters—don’t say anything at all.

I’m tired of the bickering. The rage is wearing me down. I am a passionate person myself, and I don’t shy away from making my opinions known, but frankly, I can’t handle any more nastiness.


…you should just shut up and quit showing how stupid you are…

      -one commenter to another, on progressive The Huffington Post


…if anyone is a blathering idiot, it’s you…

      -one commenter to another, on conservative Michelle Malkin


Every morning I get up, grab a cup of coffee and scan my bookmarked websites to get the latest news on the presidential elections. I check all the usuals: AlterNet, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, msnbc.com, CNN.com, Politico, RealClearPolitics, and Washington Monthly. It soothes me to go to these sources as most have stories with a “blue-state” bent. News I can hang on to.

I don’t claim it’s a balanced approach—it’s not—but for someone like me, who can feel the anxiety rise every time I think about what might happen November 4, reading articles that confirm my world view keeps me calm. I get how venting about “the other side” can serve as a release and a way for like-minded people to bond. I find satisfaction there, too.

Well, I used to.

Even as much as I am guilty of seeking that kind of validation, I can honestly say I have finally OD’d.

I’m turned off by the meanness. Bloggers, pundits, columnists, candidates and their campaigns all set off the brawls with their claims and taunts. Then the spectators jump in. Behind the cloak of internet anonymity, they turn into hateful, rageful people. They attack. They say things I can’t imagine they’d ever say in person.

Internet rage has been around for as long as the internet has been around; who hasn’t received a flaming email at least once? But civil discourse has gone out the window, right at the time we need it most. We are losing our capacity to see one another as humans.

Right now, with tensions as high as they are, the last thing we need is to beat one another down. Right now, today, we need kindness and compassion. I need kindness and compassion.

Tonight is the vice-presidential debate. It promises to be a slugfest. Palin and Biden will be ferocious, and if they’re not, the internet and spin machines will fill in on their behalf. I, however, plan to swim against the current, and I’d like you to join me.

Before, during, and after the debate, I invite you to come here and say something nice about Palin or Biden or both. Anything. No sarcasm. No underhanded compliments. Find something you honestly feel the candidates have done well, even if it has to do with how they look. 

You’ll still get mad at the candidate you want to lose (or the one you want to win) and probably reach a point where you can’t believe what you’re seeing. I’m not asking you to be a saint. But find one nugget. See if it helps shift something inside.

I know this is silly. I know it’s more about me than it is the rest of you. But the way I see it, a lot hangs in the balance and it isn’t just who wins in November.

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