The Braden Files
Curiosities of mathematics, history, parachuting, etc……

The Michelle Factor

(Scary stuff from a speech by Michelle Obama in North Carolina, just before the primary election.)

…But we’ve also learned something else this year, something that we’ve all sort of felt at some point in our life, that we’re still living in a nation, and in a time when the bar is set, I talk about this all the time, they set the bar. They say look, if you do these things, you can get to this bar, right? And then you work and you struggle, you do everything that they say, and you think you’re getting close to the bar and you’re working hard, and you’re sacrificing, and then you get to the bar, you’re right there, you’re reaching out for the bar, you think you have it, and then what happens? They move the bar. They raise it up. They shift it to the left and to the right. It’s always just quite out of reach. And that’s a little bit of what Barack has been experiencing. The bar is constantly changing for this man.

And when you live in a nation where people are struggling every day to reach an ever-shifting and moving bar, then what happens in that kind of nation is that people are afraid, because when your world’s not right, no matter how hard you work, then you become afraid of everyone and everything, because you don’t know who’s fault it is, why you can’t get a handle on life, why you can’t secure a better future for your kids. And the problem with fear is that it cuts us off. Fear is the worst enemy. It cuts us off from one another and our own families, and our communities, and it has certainly cut us off from the rest of the world. It’s like fear creates this veil of impossibility, and it is hanging over all of our heads, and we spend more time now in this nation talking about what we can’t do, what won’t work, what can’t change. See, and the problem with that kind of thinking is that we passed that on to our children, because see, the thing I know as a mother is our children are watching everything we do and say, every explicit and implicit sign, they are watching us. And our fear is helping us to raise a nation of young doubters, young people who are insular and they’re timid. And they don’t try, because they already heard us tell them why they can’t succeed. See, and I don’t want that for my kids.

But the truth is, right now, that little nugget of a dream that was my life is getting further and further out of reach for most Americans because of that bar constantly moving. You know, jobs like my father had those blue collar jobs where you got pensions, vacation, all that, they’re dwindling. They’re drying up. They’re disappearing, going overseas. And if you’re lucky enough to have a job, nine times out of ten, your salary’s not keeping up with the cost of living. Barack and I met with a family of railroad workers, union folks. They said for eight years, they hadn’t seen a pay increase. For eight years, zero pay increase. Eight years. No increase. Gas prices going up, food going up, rent, insurance, own a home, what’s going with the mortgages? That’s going up. It’s all going up, and salaries are staying stagnant.

And [Barack] has spent every ounce of his time running over the decisions in his head – do I…when graduating from college, do I work on Wall Street? Make a lot of money, that’d be better for me, or do I go work in a community as an organizer? Well, what did Barack do? He became a community organizer, working in some of the toughest neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago, worked for years in neighborhoods where people had a reason to give up hope, because their jobs had been lost, steel mills shut down, living in brown fields left by those closed steel plants, unsafe streets, schools deteriorating, grandparents raising grandkids. Barack spent years working with churches, busing single mothers down to City Hall to help them find their voice, building the kind of operations on the ground just like he’s doing in this race, block by block, person by person. Now you tell me whether there’s anybody in this race who can claim to have made the same choice with their lives. You tell me, but I think that Barack Obama is the only person that can claim that kind of choice.

“So trust me, we’ve seen it all. Barack has seen it all.”

from Townhall.com

Father of the Year Award

An Austrian man named Josef Fritzl “fathered seven children with his daughter while keeping her imprisoned in his cellar,” London’s Daily Telegraph reports:

Fritzl . . . has complained of receiving a bad press and not being given credit for keeping his dungeon family alive for more than two decades.

Fritzl, 73 claimed that media coverage was “unfair” and “entirely one-dimensional”, given the fact that he did not kill his daughter and the children he produced with her during 24 years of sexual abuse in a subterranean bunker in Amstetten.

“I am no monster,” Fritzl said though his lawyer Rudolf Mayer, according to the German tabloid newspaper Bild.

“I could have killed all of them, and no one would have known. No one would have ever found about it.”

This is a rather unpersuasive defense. In fact, it reminds us of that joke about the definition of chutzpah: a man who kills his parents, than pleads for mercy because the media failed to report that he’s an orphan.

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