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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« Not Good. [UPDATED] | Main | Why Did Obama Stay in Wright's Church? [UPDATED AGAIN] »


Peter Hoh

I was able to listen to 15 minutes of it. I was impressed. He's quite articulate for a presidential candidate, isn't he?

Maxwell James

It was a great speech, and a bold one. It would have been easy for Obama to continue distancing himself from Rev. Wright - easy and cowardly, not to mention mendacious. It might have been his "Sistah Souljah" moment.

Instead, he fiercely repudiated his pastor's anti-Americanism, without demeaning the man or his church as a whole. And used that as a springboard to talk about just what the disconnect between black and white America looks like.

Who knows if it'll win him votes. But it was the ethical thing to do.

Michael Reynolds

It was impressive as hell. The guy is so smart, so quick on his feet, and boy can he deliver a speech. This was an aikido speech, taking the weight of the attack and using it against the attacker.

Very smooth work. It won't stop the Republicans, of course, but it will shore up his Democratic support.

Hillary sounds like a parakeet following Pavarotti on stage.


Hearing someone in that position speak the truth brings tears to my eyes it is so unusual these days.

Should we start printing the Re-elect President Obama posters for 2012?


Peter Hoh: LOL. And, yes!

As aa print person, I read the speech first -- the pre version that the WSJ had. In a way I'm glad, because I got the full brunt of the words without the distraction of the delivery. I'll watch it soon.

I think he's finally earned a donation from me (pathetic as it may be).

Simon Dodd

IMO, a commenter - not me! - at Ann's blog hit the nail squarely on the head: whether it was a good speech or not, it evaded the issue. "It's not about race. It's about kooks, and the judgment show by someone who would have such a kook as a mentor." I wouldn't have written that, but I couldn't put it any better.

Ruth Anne

I think he proved himself to be nothing much more than an able politician. He saw this coming from afar yet ignored it until his race was on the line. Political race, I mean.


"I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible."

Oh puh-leeze. I am so tired of this line, which seems to ooze out of the pores of Americans of every political stripe. "In no other country." Sheer and utter tripe. For what it's worth, it happens in Canada, it happens in Italy, in countries like Guyana it is absolutely standard (I had a friend at university form Guyana who had grandparents from three different races).

Let's get it straight. America is a great country. But it is nowhere near as special or as unique as the propagandists make out. It is only because of the geographic and cultural isolation of the United States that such things can be said in public with a straight face. But it is highly insulting to the many other places in the world where such stories are not only possible but frequent.


I thought he was done for, but the way he talked himself out of that hole just proved how smart and wise he can be. The whole idea that we can love and admire a person in some ways yet strongly disagree with them in others, and that this is normal and natural -- I really liked that. He seems to grasp the fact that our society is so free and we are exposed to so much contradictory information all the time, it's normal to live with confusion and contradictions.

Obama is not simple-minded and I do appreciate that.

Charlie (Colorado)

Walrus, having lived in Europe and Asia, I'm not sure I agree: it can be very tough to move out of one's "social class" even in Germany, which tries a lot harder than a lot of places. Let's not talk about Algerians in France --- it was a bit of an anomaly that someone who is half Hungarian got to be president --- much less "untouchables" in India or ethnic Chinese in Japan.

The thing that bothers me about Obama's speech is that, frankly, it does seem to be pretty much the standard political speech: he didn't have any apparent problem with Wright until it became a political issue for him.

I admit that I prefer this version --- I will repudiate the stuff he says, but not the man or my association with him--- to, say, Hillary, who will apparently throw anyone under the bus but Bill and Chelsea. But he was apparently comfortable enough with that stuff to let it go by unquestioned until now. I think it's a disqualifier in my book.


It was indeed a great message.

I'm a little troubled by the misdirection act, though.

There's still the issue of Obama's not just having chosen a divisive, racist church as his home for 20 years, but also having chosen as a "mentor" and "spiritual guide" (and until recently, member of his council of religious advisors) the man whose nasty, hateful beliefs he now says he rejects.


Charlie, I was thinking primarily of the racial issue. Intermarriage between races happens in a lot of countries and is starting to happen in places where it would have been unthinkable a generation or two ago. I could cite a personal example from a historic European country, but I don't care to go into that kind of personal detail on the Internet. Suffice it to say that the (only slightly) extended family contains five ethnic groups and two races in the last three generations (I'm in the second), that relatives in the "Old Country" have no problems at all with the mixed-race marriages, that in all likelihood the net will broaden even further in the next generation, and we're none of us American.

My church has people from 80 different countries attending, my children's high school probably more (and definitely more religions) and while racism is not extinct, it is not a central issue, much less than in the US.

That racism flourishes in many countries outside the US is undeniable and the very real progress made by Americans, especially over the last couple of generations is also undeniable. But that Barack-type stories can happen only in the US, well... I will grant you that the US is the only predominantly white country in the world where a black is a serious Presidential candidate, but that, I think, is due to two factors. 1) The US is much less white than it used to be and WASPs are no longer the majority. 2) Obama himself. He obviously has an ability to make people believe in him that is given to few politicians. Politics is an interplay between historic and personal forces, and both are at work here.

My original cranky point still stands though... ;o) America is not the only place where mixed marriages occur and where the offspring of those marriages can rise to dizzying heights. It may be part of your national myth, but it just ain't true.


I thought he did a good job in today's speech (like Annie, I'm pretty much disregarding the boilerplate stuff).

Here's an excerpt from a long e-mail I sent to Althouse earlier today:

I do believe he's operating from a dual perception, and I do believe he wants to move beyond the mire of individual hard stances and prejudices, on both sides. Whether he can do that or not is an entirely different question; whether he's realistic in believing that he can is also an entirely different question; and whether his eschewing of conflict as a good in and of itself is either realistic or ultimately healthy or even effective is yet another. (I'm also concerned that his ego is too tied to being perceived as a bridge, a peacemaker, a standard-bearer of transcendence .... because it's been my experience that this can take people into scary places, though I'm not saying it's inevitable.)

This is not to say I wasn't very upset specifically by the "G-d America" and "9-11" pieces of Wright's speeches (Sen. Obama's opinion of which is what I'm most concerned about) and offline I communicated that in various ways at various times. Anyone wanting to seen excerpt of one of those can go look at my 6:24 p.m. comment over there.


(Yep. Back a little early. 's ok.)

Simon Dodd

Ruth Anne:

I think he proved himself to be nothing much more than an able politician.
Quite. And for a candidate who has built his entire castle on the foundation of not being a normal politician, events that show him as being a very ordinary politician, allegations that any other politician could shrug off with nary a thought, are radioactive for Obama.

Khaki Elephant

I really thought it was a brilliant speech, especially considering that it was delivered in a political hurricane.

Like Pastor Jeff, I still have a hard time when I compare his eloquent words to his actions. And I wonder how many more connections from his past he will need to disavow before this is over.


It's a little sad how preprogrammed people's reactions are. Whatever we already believed gets corroborated by what we see. Believing is seeing.

Liberals are missing 1) that Obama still doesn't quite get why Wright's rhetoric is so damaging, and 2) that it takes more than oratorical brilliance to qualify for the presidency. And I think conservatives are missing how honest and revealing, and not excusing, Obama's characterization of the black community for a broader audience was. That part of the speech is landmark, to me. It's trying to get blacks who have been in the victim-grievance mindset to get past it. That is a much larger population than those who took the great leap right over that "group authority," like Shelby Steele. You might wish that more of the black community had made that leap instead of being "victim-ized" by their own exploitative leadership since the late '60s. But history was what it was, and Obama is offering those who have been trapped in it an honorable exit from that era.

Michael Reynolds

You have it exactly right. He's side-stepping the vehememence of Wright's rhetoric.

But for those who can't see past your partisan blinders, and the see the greatness of this speech, I honestly feel an unfamiliar emotion: pity.

When Ronald Reagan demanded that Mr. Gorbachev tear down that wall, I was able to look past my dislike for Reagan and realize that I was witnessing something great and significant.


Shelby Steele: "...the bargainer [Obama] presents himself as an opportunity for whites to experience racial innocence."

It's a subtle but essential point Steele makes. What is this psychological need that so many self-identifying whites have "to experience racial innocence?" As a "bargainer" and as a politician, Obama is exploiting that need. Doesn't that make him culpable also in its perpetuation? There is something covert, codependent, and pathological about it. I believe it lies near the heart of racism, somewhere near shame and fear.

Or am I mistaken? Could Obama be the bridge we have all been waiting for -- the bridge that can take us from the anger and bitterness preached by Pastor Wright to the love and redemption preached by Pastor Jeff?

I hope so. But I'm still not convinced that that qualifies Obama for the job of president any more than Billy Graham or Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been qualified to be commander-in-chief simply because they inspired and lifted our hearts and souls.

Simon Dodd

Michael, with respect, the difference is that you really were "witnessing something great and significant." Reagan sought to end the Cold War and free a significant percentage of mankind from the iron grasp of an evil empire that, though almost dead, yet clung in a death grip to its ensnared victims, determined to drag them under the waves with it. Obama wriggled to get off the hook. These are not comparable intents, in my view. Reading that speech, what jumped to my mind wasn't a Reagan speech - it was this.


from the anger and bitterness preached by Pastor Wright to the love and redemption preached by Pastor Jeff?



Annie, have you seen Cal's post tonight on the speech? (It even discusses Faulkner!) Also, note that he references a post of yours that he couldn't locate, which post I also remember seeing but can't find either. (Am I missing a search function somewhere here?) Maybe you can help?

Khaki Elephantk

In my sad case I will confess to cynicism rather than partisanship concerning this speech, and I'm not sure which is the greater sin. There is no doubt it was a brilliant and moving speech, but as powerful as it was, in the end it was just that -- a speech. Am I cynical? Yes, but with a belief that history bubbles with brilliant orators, armed with master advisors and talented speech writers, who have possessed the ability to move their audience beyond questioning motivation and expediency.

Obama’s speech made some wonderful observations, but they were precisely the comments he had to make to salvage his campaign. Had he portrayed African Americans as victims he would have lost the white vote. Had he ignored the country’s original sin of slavery and its echo in today’s racial inequalities he would have offended minorities. He said what he had to say to survive and it apparently worked on many who heard it. My initial comment reflects a concern that his message doesn’t necessarily match what we know about him. Why did I reach back to his associations and actions after a speech like that? Precisely because they were his associations and his actions. Who is the real Barack Obama? Most of us don’t know and this well crafted speech does not change that fact. Children tell us that actions speak louder than words. No matter how inspiring the words, I guess I’ll always be a child at heart.

Ruth Anne

Are there any other white folks who are wondering 'what the hell else do the black folks I know really think about me?' If Pastor Wright never spoke ill to white people he knew, whew! what a two-faced man. I think I really can't trust any of this.


right or wrong for the job, this candidacy refreshes the tree of liberty. Cal's post is beautiful. I wish I weren't on deadline right now of all times, I'd like to wade in deeper. But I can't.

(And that missing "post"? It may have been in the comments. Actually it was Obama's machine-pol wheeling and dealing with Daley, paired with his ability to inspire, that precisely reminded me of the Kennedys.)

Michael Reynolds

I think you're blind.


I don't think it matters what the black folks think of you, it only matters how you conduct yourself in your heart and your actions. If they then mistake you, it's their problem. As you become confident yourself, whether you're black or white, you become less affected by other people's projections. They stay in the other person, they don't stick to you.

Simon Dodd

Michael: not so much. And you can't even dismiss it as partisanship: MyDD's Jerome Armstrong, no conservative he, called it an "ugly and unfair" attempt to "pivot it back to Clinton vs Obama, and get the Republican attack on him through Wright off the table." Obama's campaign, he concludes, "has reached a new low."


And yet; and yet. I know white people--including extended family--who to my knowledge have never spoken ill to black people they know (and I would be shocked to hear they had), and in at least one case even employed and promoted a couple of African American employees for years, and yet I'm aware of their (the white people's) real attitudes about the black race generally. (I don't approve of those attitudes, but I'm aware of them; not due to assumption or inference, but due to explicit statements etc.)

And I certainly have known African Americans who have expressed that they can never really feel sure what the white people they have encountered really think. I strongly suspect this is not uncommon.

How different are the two things, if indeed they're different?

I also strongly suspect that this is an uncommon position for most white people to find themselves in; I just don't think that most us go around in that state of uncertainty and suspicion. The history generally isn't there to have engendered that, and, again for the most part, never got into that habit. Perhaps this is another reason why this seems shocking.

I'm not putting this well (and I'm out of practice, also), but I hope some of the point is clear, and also that this isn't directed in criticism at anyone, nor is it intended as a challenge in negative sense.


I should say that I have some very mixed feelings about this whole thing , with some quite strong ones in different directions. It's evolving, and I'm not entirely sure where I'm going to end up overall.

I do think, unequivocally, that Sen. Obama has to be able to, metaphorically anyway, be able to wholeheartedly and full-throatedly "sing" out "God Bless America" (though not view her as perfect, of course, by any stretch) in order to be fit specifically for the role of POTUS. And he will have to be able to convince significant parts of the electorate (and not just in his bases) that he can do so.

That, it seems to me, is currently the transcendent issue that trumps others, because without, the rest of it really doesn't matter--electorally speaking.

Peter Hoh

Yeah, actions speak louder than words. By the way, who is the real John McCain?

As for the overall climate at Obama's church, read what Martin Marty has to say about that congregation.

Simon Dodd

Although I have to say, Michael, you do call to mind Bierce, who reminded us that the definition of a cynic is a blackguard whose faulty vision insists on seeing things as they are. I join Annie's 11:29 PM comment, btw.


reader: you're right, of course. (Did you see all those flags at his speech?)


Liberals are missing 1) that Obama still doesn't quite get why Wright's rhetoric is so damaging, and 2) that it takes more than oratorical brilliance to qualify for the presidency.

It's true Amba, I don't quite get why Wright's rhetoric is so damaging. I can see why his style would turn off some people, but his saying "God damn America" in the context that he said it, was right on. The Reverend Wright is a gift to the right wing who look for that kind of stuff to reinforce their belief that they are better Americans. That is what I find damaging.

Michael Reynolds

I think you flatter yourself as a cynic. I think you're rather the opposite, a person who sees not what is, but what ideology requires him to see. I think you're a very intelligent person not yet possessed of wisdom. But as I said at your blog, I suspect that with a few years in the bottle -- always assuming there are no problems with the cork -- you will age nicely.


It was an impressive speech. Definitely better than all of Obama’s weaselly responses heretofore and better than I thought he could manage given the indisputable horror of Rev. Wright’s YouTube clips.

However, while I was reading Obama’s speech, I felt like a hobbit in the Lord of the Rings, listening to the traitorous wizard, Saruman. While Saruman speaks, he sounds so gracious and reasonable that you can’t imagine how you could have ever taken issue with such a wise and generous soul, but afterwards, assuming you can shake off the spell, you realize that it’s all verbal sleight of hand — a soothing, friendly tone of voice that always sounds like he is speaking from a lofty moral height and weighing all sides equally, but in reality he has dialed down the evil in which he has participated to a mere misunderstanding and exaggerated the faults of everyone else.

I don’t think Obama is evil like Saruman but the problem with Rev. Wright isn’t that Wright is angry, but that he is hateful and is inculcating that hate in others—including children, including Obama’s children. Screaming "God damn America" as a Christian leader from a church pulpit on Sunday is way beyond anger or just something political one may disagree with while sitting in a pew. It is outright hate. It is the ultimate religious curse against the land that Obama professes to love. Not to mention the Wright's vicious lies like the US government inventing the AIDS virus to kill blacks.

Obama doesn’t address this, he glosses over it and justifies it, makes it equivalent to other angers, then reduces the position of those who object to Rev. Wright to being just another part of the country’s problems that Obama’s campaign is trying to solve.


One tiny little point, since I've been hearing "the children" pop up here, there and everywhere, and sometimes in quite strident tones (Huxley, this isn't really about your comment; you were mild): do we actually know that Sen. Obama little girls--or anyone's--actually sat and listened to Wright's sermons week and after week?

I ask this because I suddenly thought last night--wait, how many sermons has my own son (almost 8, and a regular churchgoer from infancy) heard? And I realized--almost none! Why? Because he's been in either Church School or Children's Chapel (and before that nursery--or out in the hall with me pacing; whatever) during that time. Our church is liturgical with a full Eucharist, so the kids come in for the Communion portion of the service to the end, but pretty much miss everything else. (High Holy Days, such as Easter and Christmas, and some "special services," such as Maundy Thursday, etc. are exceptions.)

So I moseyed on over to the TUCC website and looked at their service schedule. Sure enough--they've got Youth Church scheduled at the exact same time as two of their three Sunday morning services, including the one that I suspect--if they're like most churches--which would be considered the "main" one (10:45, I think in their case).

Now, can anyone assume the kids aren't there for the sermons, either due to the scheduling or parental choice? Nope. Or that they're not brought in for the sermon? Nope. Or that the current posted schedule is the one they've always used? Nope. Insufficient information.

But we can't assume the opposite, either.

It's the assumption part, let me be clear, that leads me to bring up what no doubt many will see as a small thing.

But "devil in the details" works both ways. And I think it behooves everyone to be very careful, especially under circumstances such as these, about all of the assumptions.


I read as many of these comments as I could, and a couple of things jump out for their absence:

1) Are any of the commenters above African American?

2) Have any non African American commenters talked to an AA about this speech? Or the reality that gave rise to it?

An employee of mine was very upset at work on Monday. I asked him what was wrong? He said he appreciated my asking. He asked me to shut his office door and sit down. I did. And he spoke, very movingly, and with measured anger, about the whole Jeremiah Wright thing. About how people do not understand the AA experience and perspective. About how they're taking the motivating anger of a pastor -- a common rhetorical tool in churches -- and making it sound like jihad.

He talked about how -- despite the fact that virtually all AAs in this country have white blood, they are constantly, relentlessly, treated not only as different but as somehow vile and subject to constant, usually low-level discrimination based on stereotyping and ignorance.

He talked about how, in his perspective, many African Americans have come to repose enormous hope in Obama and in his candidacy, and how they see many of their worst fears and experiences about race being realized.

And yesterday he was very moved -- and felt vindicated -- by Obama's speech. He felt Obama both addressed the issue -- from both white and Black perspectives -- and then rose above it.

Has anyone else here talked to Black people about their reaction? Or thought about this whole issue from their perspective? Which seems to me to be just this: that Obama's candidacy is surfacing hopes and fears that most of us cannot understand: hopes that, at last, there will be some kind of parity, if not equality, not just in laws but in the way men and women treat each other; and fear that this hope has been raised and dashed before.


David: I am white, but otherwise yes.


Has anyone here spoken to a black person who is not their employee?


I think it behooves everyone to be very careful, especially under circumstances such as these, about all of the assumptions.

Everyone is so eager to find proof for whatever they already believe, or want to believe. And, life and people being the mixed bag they are, it's there to find.



I don't know -- have you?


I don't have any employees, aside from myself, and I already declared my race.

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)


Amba: Guilty as charged! ; ) (Though in my case they seem to be contradictory things.)

In any case, I'm trying hard to work against the natural human tendency.

To which I say to myself, ruefully and cynically: Good luck with that.


He talked about how, in his perspective, many African Americans have come to repose enormous hope in Obama and in his candidacy, and how they see many of their worst fears and experiences about race being realized.

Boy, isn't that the truth. This isn't going to end well. Obama is going to be attacked, for good reasons and bad. Even if he manages to win the nomination and be elected it's going to be ugly. And more likely Obama will lose.

Seeing Rev. Wright screaming on YouTube is causing many whites to see their worst fears and experiences about race realized too.

In any case, I believe Obama's candidacy will set back racial relations by decades. Or maybe we'll just unerstand that race relations have been worse than we'd hoped for some time.

Peter Hoh

Those who dismiss Obama's speech as mere words are, at the same time, urging others to evaluate Obama based on some of the words spoken by his pastor. You can't have it both ways. Either words matter or words don't matter.


Wow, what a microcosm. I think Amba sums it up best:

It's a little sad how preprogrammed people's reactions are. Whatever we already believed gets corroborated by what we see. Believing is seeing.


Everyone is so eager to find proof for whatever they already believe, or want to believe. And, life and people being the mixed bag they are, it's there to find.

So true. And yet listening to that speech I personally sensed a very noticeable absence of the usual bullshit candidates sputter when dealing with difficult situations such as this. And that bullshit is loud and clear whether I support the candidate or not. I found Obama’s response shockingly genuine and straightforward and therefore quite moving. I didn’t feel he sidestepped a thing. Of course there is some level of “calculation” every time a political candidate opens his or her mouth, but what would the people who criticize the speech have had him do? Declare Pastor Wright to be the devil incarnate? If I were running for President I shudder to think what would happen if some of the ravings of my childhood orthodox rabbi were released on YouTube. At least my current rabbi would be an asset to my campaign—except for the people who don’t approve of female clergy or lesbians.

Speaking of speeches, how about the pack of lies Bush spewed today about the war? At least he's consistent—his rhetorical skills AND his content are equally horrific.


All of these conversations are very sad to me. We do not have perfect candidates; never did. I have choosen Obama and will vote for him because I believe in his message, policies, plans and integrity more than in those of Clinton or McCain.

So I am turning off the commentary on TV, Blogs, written word and returning to the daily work of forging a little more justice and peace.
As white folks, most of us have good intentions, yet most of us have little idea of the devastating impact of too many of those good, but uninformed and insensitive, intentions.


I have a sinking feeling that Obama's candidacy is now doomed, precisely because he spoke nuanced truths yesterday, and this world full of gas-bags cannot abide nuance, or, in some cases, truth.


Well, that would be a sad commentary on the state of our nation -- not so much the degree of racism, but the degree of yahooism.

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