Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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I'm just not that disturbed by what she said. Of course, I'm not disturbed by McCain's "100 years in Iraq" comment either which has turned into a major and majorly disingenuous attack against him. These people say millions of words over the course of an election, eventually they're going to slip and say something that's easily misconstrued.

Like you said, she spoke like she might to her friends. I don't for a minute believe she's never before been proud of her country and if she'd just changed the wording a little (said "I've never been so proud of my country" for example) this thing would likely be nothing.

Was it ideological arrogance or just ideological hyperbole? Maybe a little of both. But either way, I just don't think it's worth anyone getting upset about. But they will because false rage is one of more common parts of modern politics.


Well said, ASC. Mrs. Obama would do well to learn the lesson the Clintons should have caught onto by now: As the candidate's spouse, play only a supporting role and eschew making stump speeches yourself. Also, if you do insist on taking center stage, at least avoid waxing confessional. Nothing good can come of it so save it for your priest or therapist or your next al anon meeting.


In today's climate, you have to be superhumanly careful -- which is by definition impossible. We'll see how they do with damage control.


Probably better to have (mis-)said it now, rather than in October. By the general election, other things will have elbowed it off center stage. Not that the Republicans won't try to keep it in front -- unless something juicier comes along, of course. But it will be old news.

I suspect that the only lasting impact will be that Mrs. Obama gets a lot more careful about her phrasing. Oh yes, and if those words were actually from a speech writer, rather than ad lib, someone may be looking to spend more time with their family.


Amba, you may have hit it on the head! We want a whole brain, and the two parties want to do split-brain experiments on us!

Sissy Willis

I totally agree re Michelle Obama's intellectual arrogance. Her lack of self-awareness is breathtaking.

But in my view, it's naive to ask -- even rhetorically -- why we can't all just get along. The utopian/noble savage world view of the left is incompatible with the tragic view of human nature of the right.


You're right, of course, Annie. But I would point out that part of the problem with Michelle Obama's remark is that it once again belies her husband's claim to be practicing a new type of politics. "Those other guys have run this country into the ground and made me ashamed to be an American" is a very OLD form of politics.

As I pointed out here, to my mind, Obama's rhetoric follows a pretty typical pattern. He makes some swipes at President Bush and Republicans in general. This clues the audience in that "the politics of the past" is largely a reference to Republicans. Then he talks about the need to not "demonize" your opponent. To me, this comes across as a very sophisticated way of saying "I will NOT exploit my opponent's cross-dressing for political purposes. The fact that my opponent is a cross-dresser should have no bearing on anybody's decision to vote for her... I mean him. That anybody would make a political issue out of my opponent's cross-dressing is shameful."

By calling for a "new politics" that doesn't involve "demonizing" political opponents, Obama is in fact calling the current crop of politicians "demonizers." It's still name-calling.


If elections turn on shit such as this, then we deserve what we get. Yes, what she said was stupid (even though I completely relate, personally). But how are we ever going to get past the left-right divide if every misstep by either side gets caught up in every little echo chamber in the the new media world, and reverberates endlessly? Everyone I know makes stupid misstatements; probably several each day. How would you like every second of your life to be posted on You Tube? We ask too much of our leaders in areas that are trivial, and too little of them where it really matters. Sometimes I wish everyone would just shut the fuck up.


Ally asks "how are we ever going to get past the left-right divide if every misstep by either side gets caught up in every little echo chamber." I want to know how it is that anyone thinks we're ever going to get past the left-right divide, period. As Sissy alluded to above, left and the right represent genuinely opposed ways of looking at the world, and one's view of what is a problem and what solutions there are to a given problem is greatly influenced by that world view. So we're never going to get past the left right divide by any means other than the way Stalin got past the Kulak-Goodthinker divide. It's a flawed metric.


Amba, you said exactly what I think, almost. Except that I think some form of political antagonism is healthy. If we all basically agreed, that would be unnatural and weird.

The problem with the current Democrat - Republican antagonism is that it's so irrational. Obviously both sides are correct to some degree, and both sides go too far in some areas.

Yes I agree Michelle's comment was really dumb (I didn't hear it in context though). It betrayed that "we're so smart and good and wonderful and they're such jerks" mentality of extreme Democrats. That is NOT the kind of first family I would like to see. I dislike that attitude so much.

I wouldn't have any reservations about voting for McCain, except that he sees nothing wrong with the Iraq war, and he wouldn't mind continuing it forever.

Maxwell James

By calling for a "new politics" that doesn't involve "demonizing" political opponents, Obama is in fact calling the current crop of politicians "demonizers." It's still name-calling.

By that logic, shooting someone in self defense is equivalent to murder.

Randy (Internet Ronin)

I'm highly unlikely to ever vote for John McCain, but I do think his remarks about being in Iraq for a 100 years were closer to reality than any other candidate has been willing to go. Unless there is a 100% withdrawal of American troops within months of a new administration taking office, there will be permanent American bases in Iraq, just as there are in Germany, Britain, Korea, Japan, and Turkey. True, they may not last 100 years, as oour permanent bases in the Philippines didn't, but those are the exceptions that prove the rule. All McCain was really talking about was the settled American foreign policy paradigm of the past 60+ years. (Like Michelle Obama, an unfortunate choice of phrasing, but also like Obama, nothing really worth getting all that excited about in the end.)


RealPC said:

The problem with the current Democrat - Republican antagonism is that it's so irrational. Obviously both sides are correct to some degree, and both sides go too far in some areas.
That isn't "obvious[ ]" at all - it assumes the answer. The only way to make that comment coherent is to assume the correct position on any given subject and measure each side's deviation from it. And that gives the game away, because there's no platonic "correct" or purely "[ ]rational" standpoint in politics. There's just your opinion as to what the correct answer is. So really your comment boils down to asserting that you're right and they're wrong - partisanship of the middle turns out to be no different to partisanship of either side! ;)


"I wouldn't have any reservations about voting for McCain, except that he sees nothing wrong with the Iraq war, and he wouldn't mind continuing it forever."

Real- don't you think that McCain was grossly exaggerating to get his point across as to how devoted he is to ending this war w/victory? Even if it takes 100 yrs of occupation(as opposed to the war as we've know it thus far)? That's how i took it-- he's sticking it out for however long it takes. As for: nothing wrong w/the war--heh, we've had this deja vu discussion before on the beginnings of the Iraq War.

As for MObama-- her thinking was probably, as Ally said- pretty literally meant and felt. I think that's fine, but maybe she should have taken the time to say something gracious and ammenable(correct choice of word?)to soften the literalism. If she even noticed it.

If these people are going to be "The Deciders" then i think gracious accountability is the name of the game. Yeah, the microscope thing is probably way extreme, but-- so is Politics.


... and as for gracious accountability: wouldn't that be a REAL change?? From any of these Politicals?


Sissy and Simon (I'm still back there) -- I would venture to say that as we need the right and left brains, we need both those worldviews too. I know that they seem completely contradictory, but do you think either one has the whole truth, or could make the world go by itself -- without the other at least as a goad and provocation? Less is possible than utopian fools think; more is possible than conservative curmudgeons think. These are two archetypes in our collective psyche, Puer and Senex. To have only one would be like a world all of young people or all of old people.



I would venture to say that as we need the right and left brains, we need both those worldviews too.
I wouldn't challenge that at all - if anything, that's a different way to look at (or perhaps a different facet of) the very point I was making in my 02:46 PM comment, which is that trying to frame the debate in terms of "moving past" the "right and left," is really not a tenable position. And I'd go further and suggest that trying to move past "partisanship" is misguided too, to the extent that what's really meant is the same thing as "moving past right and left"; it assumes that there is an platonic, objective, non-partisan "truth" in all political questions, and thence misconceives the political process as the means of arriving at that "truth," i.e. (to move from paraphrasing to quoting from The Calculus of Consent) "some rationalist absolute which remains to be discovered through reason or revelation, and which, once discovered, will attract all men to its support." So the problem I had with Unity 08 is in fact the exact problem I have with the self-presentation of the Obama campaign, which is that its central premise is fatally flawed and in direct and irreconcilable tension with public choice theory.

So emphatically I'm not saying that we should get rid of right or left, I'm saying the complete opposite: that we can't "get beyond" them, as Ally says, for the same reason we can't get beyond, say, love, or self-interest, or art. These political differences arise from fundamentally different ways of looking at the world. And I suspect that Ally is actually pretty far to the left, at least in her intellectual presuppositions, because it tends to be the left that manufactures ideas that rest on the presupposition that human nature can be changed.


Ally's a he -- my brother Alan.

What's happened is that right and left have begun to try to destroy each other. They've also become more extreme (at their extremes) and fixed. Neither can see any good, any sincerity in the other. It's no longer a dialogue or a debate. Neither will actually hear what the other is saying.

I've moved from being (born and raised) a liberal to thinking liberals are fundamentally wrong about human nature. BUT, as Michael Reynolds pointed out in his very funny post, if everyone had what Sissy calls a "tragic" view of life, a lot less would be tried. There might be a lot less mistakes; there would also be a lot less discovery.

The conduct of the early Iraq war pretty much demonstrates that the right as well as the left have become idiots, and it's at least partly because they refuse to listen to each other. Instead, they move further and further apart until, like Pat says, they've gotten into a virtually religious Good vs. Evil head, only the reverse of each other.

The most valuable intellectual experience I have had was learning to see from the Right's point of view. Having been in both, I can be fully inside of neither -- I'm not a convert type (maybe because I was never that hard left, unlike, say, David Horowitz). A Burkean classical liberal sounds fine to me.


I tried to find out where I saw this quote from Churchill, but, alas, I could not. I won't forget it though; he thought the true difference between liberal and conservative was "the difference between the spur and the brake." Same rider, same horse...


Mea culpa on the gender - never have ran into an Ally who wasn't an Alison before!

I wouldn't characterize the conduct of the war in Iraq - that of the exective branch, that is, not that of our soliders - as being a problem of "right" or "left" or "listening to one another" - it was, flatly, a problem of total, utter, mindboggling incompetence and insularity of thinking, a problem that can raise its head no matter what one's politics are! :)


I think Simon is right to differentiate the question of the conduct of the war from the question of the, if you will, selling of the war initially.

One can be on either side of the second question (i.e. Was the war justified? Were the arguments used based on falsified data? etc. etc.). And still agree that the conduct of the war was, for the first several years, massively incompetent. In fact, while I can understand both sides of the second question, I find it extremely hard to understand how anyone can maintain that the conduct of the war initially was anything but incompetent. It is, after all, not a right/left question (for those who are wedded to that paradigm).


The more I think about it, the more I think there is a connection between the decision to go to war and the incompetence.

I think there was an arrogant neocon fantasy about how easy it would be that led to a blindness and a refusal to listen to informed warnings that was directly connected to the incompetence. That whole quote about "the reality-based community" sticks in my mind. I had a sense of what the real rationale for the war probably was, or one of them -- the wish to go on the offensive, not simply to sit around waiting for the Islamists to strike. That was arguable, and Saddam was the target of opportunity because he was a bad guy anyway, and weak enough to be vulnerable, so you could justify taking him out on moral grounds and maybe you could even accomplish it.

But anyone who was realistic enough to listen to the informed warnings and complexities probably would have decided it was too risky for too little national-interest gain to go to war at all. It took a certain arrogant blindness to even try it, and it took an understatement of the difficulty to sell it to the country and Congress at all. That is why I now think it was a terrible idea -- and yet I think just to pull out now would be two wrongs not making a right.


I should hasten to add -- that's not to say Democrats haven't had cockamamie nation-building ideas, or that all Republicans would have done what the Bush admin did. True conservatives, I think, would not have gone to war under those circumstances. The neocons were radicals.


To clarify further: to do it right would have required a commitment of manpower and resources that the American people and Congress would never have been willing to make without a more strongly proven direct threat from Saddam.

Of course, we've wound up having to make that commitment anyway, in order not to lose. If we'd made it up front things might have gone much better sooner, but I believe the country and Congress would never have agreed to make that large a commitment under the circumstances. In fact, the staggering size of the commitment is the main reason a lot of people now want to get out ASAP.


If Republicans are making too much of Michelle Obama's gaffe that "for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country" -- and well they might, because it could win them the election -- Democrats are making way too little of it. It could lose them the election.

It is amazing how the right wing took the quote from Michelle to make it sound as if they themselves, are more proud of our country. How shallow can one get? Show me one shred of evidence that show conservatives are better Americans. Do they think that because they put "support our troops" bumper sticker on their cars? I'm not always proud of America and will not apologies for saying it. Michelle Obama doesn't need to either, especially to self righteous right wing nuts.


Amba - perfectly stated.

Thank you.

It is amazing how the right wing took the quote from Michelle to make it sound as if they themselves, are more proud of our country.

You couldn't be more wrong. As a member of the "right-wing", let me tell you how I read that quote. Michelle Obama believes that America is fundamentally flawed but occasionally - like when people vote for her husband - it does good thing. Folks on the right believe exactly the opposite; America is a fundamentally good country that sometimes does flawed things.

I've found that much of the left holds the former view. Further, they believe, as Amba has pointed out, that even though America is basically broken, they can fix it if we'll just give them complete control of the whole place.

Ron J

It's pretty clear what Mrs. Obama Hussein meant. Words mean things. She's not proud of America, plain and simple. And what's the big surprise? Most Dem-Libs are not proud of America and they'll tell you so. What's it all mean? It means theres a very clear choice in November, whether you be left or right. The lines are drawn.


As Michelle Obama says America's Soul is Broken." At the same time, we are trying to grow up out of the adolescent stage. The Clintons still want to play got-cha politics, which people are getting tired of. They want Truth, they want Authenticity.
What we need is more Goodwill in this nation instead of the politics of Got-cha and tearing one's opponent down. The debate should be about the issues, not personal attacks and taking one's meaning out of context.

And, Barack Obama has had over 20 years of experience, plus a Natural Talent to organize and get things done, as evidenced by the successful running of his Campaign. Coupled with his inspirational oratorical skills and judgment evidenced by speaking out against the Iraq war when it was not popular and calling for people to unite in a common cause to bring about the Necessary Changes we need today or else Together we can all go down with the ship.


There are a sizeable number of Democrats who refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Hillary spoke for them when she said that she refuses to say the pledge for the country as it is, but rather, she says it to the country she hopes we will become.

20+ % of Americans (roughly half the Democratic party)consistently say that America is a negative force in the world.

Ms. Obama's comments are extremely damaging because they are part and parcel of the ugly side of her party. Half of the party DOES hate America. And reminding voters in the mushy middle of that fact is a great way for Democrats to lose the election.

rob sama

Her quote was, "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country"

That qualifier makes an enormous difference. It would behoove you to quote correctly when providing commentary on what she said.

Kevin Fleming

Amba, I appreciate the idea that one side needs to remain informed by the other, not walled off from it.

I do not believe, however, that there is a 'third way', meaning some path right down the middle.

Michelle Obama spoke the words she is quite used to speaking. And words have meaning. If she had meant something else, she would have said something else. This isn't playing gotcha, this is pointing out that the mask slipped (or, here, was not donned), and the truth came out. The mistake was not any miswording, but forgetting to obfuscate sufficiently for them who are not us.

Is the liberal world view, that Carteresque distrust of all of America's past -except that small island to which liberals lay claim- while the remainder is best seen in terms of regret and shame one that will join us together? (aside: actual disgust for America's past can make one a University chair)

Does the Obama embrace of a racist church, one that deplores 'middleclassness' and believes black men are in prison to continue slavery by whites in another guise a concern among those voting for President?

Apparently not for many.


rob sama -- corrected, thanks.


Please, someone point me to some good sources about the Obamas' church. I'm curious whether that's as bad as it sounds, or whether it's being overblown by one side in the same way Obama's legislative record is being overblown by the other.

Fred Baumann

I don't think the comparison with conservative Republicans in the Sixties quite works. There is something particular about the patriotism (and it is patriotism, of a kind) of the progressive Left, namely that it celebrates the America that could be, the ideal nation of perfect equality and justice, invariably at the expense of the real one. It is simply gauche in these circles to say much good about the real country; it makes you sound like a complacent reactionary. It is a kind of code that shows your utopian bona fides. It is ideological arrogance, sure, but it is also an ultimately self-regarding display of the badge of club membership: the club of the highminded.


You say, "Classy, you have to grant her that."

Oh do I?

I don't!

She's NOT classy, shes 100% phony.

She hates America?

OOPS! The truth slipped out!

Kevin Fleming

Copied verbatim from Trinity United Church of Christ website, and searching within it:

"We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian”
“We are an African people and remain true to our native land, the mother continent, the cradle of civilization.”

* A congregation committed to LIBERATION.
* A congregation committed to RESTORATION.
* A congregation working towards ECONOMIC PARITY

"The Prison Industrial Complex is nothing more than the re-creation of the slave plantation. In the slaveocracy of the Prison Complex, imprisoned people are rented by these For Profit Prisons. Therefore, what you have is an essentially free labor base to build an economy."

Disavowal of the Pursuit of “Middleclassness.”

* Killing [talented blacks] off directly, and/or fostering a social system that encourages them to kill off one another.
* Placing them in concentration camps, and/or structuring an economic environment that induces captive youth to fill the jails and prisons.
* Seducing them into a socioeconomic class system which, while training them to earn more dollars, hypnotizes them into believing they are better than others and teaches them to think in terms of “we” and “they” instead of “us.”
* So, while it is permissible to chase “middleclassness” with all our might, we must avoid the third separation method – the psychological entrapment of Black “middleclassness.”)


Pat HMV says: "If elections turn on shit such as this, then we deserve what we get."

Ummmm... such shit as BELIEFS?

Yeah, it would be HORRIBLE if we elected people based on their beliefs, right?


She a pandering con artist like her husband ...

Just another coattails wife who actually believes her success came from her skills and not her husbands political positions ...

Outside the liberal echo chamber their message wears thin very quickly ..


I saw her clarification, and I still see it as love with a big asterisk. But I don't care if everybody doesn't "love" our country; I just don't want one in the White House.

Her privileges "should be" available to all regardless of race or gender? They are! But if she admitted that, she would be a liberal Democrat without a platform, wouldn't she?


I have to say I was disappointed Michelle could not have straighten out the record on what it is "she meant" and had to hide behind hubbie to clear it up a day or two later. That was pretty feeble and reminds me of the whole clinton dysfunction thing where one or the other does or says something ill considered and then hides behind their spouse. That is's.


PJ: You're quite right. If she availed herself of those privileges, who couldn't? What made it possible for her? An intact family with strong pro-education values -- none of this bullshit about not "chasing middleclassness." (From the Trinity United Church of Christ website according to Kevin Fleming at 10:24 above.

Michelle does emphasize personal responsibility, hard work, and the importance of education, though.


"left and the right represent genuinely opposed ways of looking at the world, and one's view of what is a problem and what solutions there are to a given problem is greatly influenced by that world view."


However, I think that Michelle's comments perfectly illustrate an important difference between the two sides. It is the nature of those on the left to crave reconciliation. "Can't we all be friends?" You don't hear about "untiing the country" so much on the right as you do on the left. The left seems to crave the fantasy of unity much more than the right. Thus, they are more frustrated than the right by the reality of the siutation.

Generally speaking (of course) it raelly does cut to the bone of the difference between liberals and conservatives. They are brought up dofferently. It's a Venus and Mars siuation.

Being overly simplistic, the lefties are taught to "make friends" and the righties are taught to win. The righ tis p/o.'d whent hey lose - but NOT because the left doesn't come around to them. They are much more interested in defeating the left and "winning" - not trying to convince them to come around to their way of thinking. OTOH, the left is much more bothered that the right thinks the way they do.

If you were to simplistically represent the two sides, you could say that the right is the man and the left is the woman in this strange relationship. You see this in so many ways - how they relate to one another and teh world at large, the jobs/careers they choose, the causes they believe in, etc.

I don't think the analogy in this blog entry stands up. It's too easy to try to draw parallels. While it's true that both sides would be dismayed at the way things are while the other side has the major influence/control/power, I see an imporant and big difference in the way they deal with that reality. e.g. You really don't hear from the right side that tehre is a need to "bring the country together". That's the kind of thing you hear from the left (and the center).

Pros and cons to each side, but it's helpful to understand the differences between them. They are NOT two sides of the same coin.


"Same thing."

I will believe it's the same thing when the wife of a Republican Presidential candidate says what Michelle Obama said.

I expect that will never happen, and can't happen, because conservatives' love of country is unconditional, while any love liberals feel is fatally conditional: America will never measure up to liberals' standards to the point that they will defend her.


Ms. Barack Huessin is a Michael Moore Democrat and is a trained Harvard Lawyer, she knew exactly what she said and meant it just like when Michael Moore says the same thing. Attorneys are trained in the exactness of speech and she is apparently proud of her political beliefs and observations and she has the right to speak them. I would like to know just what other country or political ideology she would like to see the United States emulate. Maybe she can have Mr. Moore help her out, sounds like politically they are kissing cousins.

I see that she is now disassembling what she said and is telling us what what she meant like Bill Clinto used to do. Another attorney from Harvard telling the dunce's what "Is" means. She's lieing out of both sides of her face, she meant what she said, another Cadillac Liberal.


They are NOT two sides of the same coin.

Slick: But they are two halves of the same brain -- or else the country is like a surgical patient with a severed corpus callosum, or, to use your analogy, a species in which the two sexes are at open war. The former could not walk down the street, the latter would never reproduce.

What you say about the left wanting to "make nice" is true -- it is even truer with the rest of the world ("they hate us!") than it is with the right. However, what you are promoting is civil war. The right cannot totally win once and for all any more than the left can make the country perfect. Both these fantasies are pernicious. Both sides need the moderating influence of the other, even if the left needs it more.


America will never measure up to liberals' standards to the point that they will defend her.

Christian: that's just wrong. Plenty of liberals have defended the country. My uncle, who was offered a government internship by the Roosevelts that would have exempted him from fighting, joined the Naval Air Force anyway and was killed in 1943 -- not in combat, but test-piloting a defective plane that he tried to save instead of bailing out and saving himself.

I would agree with you that a segment of college-educated baby boomer liberals flirted with treason in their youth. They were and still are in the minority.


I'd be willing to let it off as a gaffe if the Obamas weren't relentlessly preaching such a grim view of America as an unfair, depressed, racist country and Americans as people whose "souls are broken." Not to mention their longstanding membership in a black radical church which characterizes America as a "captor society" preying upon blacks.

It seems to me that the Obamas are stealth radicals who love their vision of America...but America as she is--not so much.


Fred Baumann: a case of "the perfect is the enemy of the good," eh?

This does show, though, how in their less extreme manifestations, both "hemispheres" are needed. You need both pride and self-criticism. Just as the far left never acknowledges that America is "the worst country in the world, except for all the rest," the far right can degenerate into "My-country-right-or-wrong"-ism.

Mike in NY

The problem is that for Big Government Liberals, the government IS the country - or maybe vice versa. Thus, if the government is not to their taste, neither is the country as a whole. A conservative can still be proud of America in the 1990s because the country was still a damn good place to live and had many great things going for it despite the overly horny hillbilly in the oval office. America is too big and too vital - it should not be reduced to an avatar for one man or party. America in the 1970s had a lot of problems - most of them began during the Johnson presidency (or before) and continued through Nixon, Ford and Carter - some of them were externally imposed, some self-infleicted (Nixon's price controls come to mind). Despite all those problems, America was still guarding western Europe, Japan and Korea against Soviet aggression, American scientists were still winning Nobel prizes and racial integration was still proceeding. America was (and is) still the oldest continuing democracy in the world - where the Frogs are on their 5th Republic.

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