Saturday, May 31, 2008

Does it all end today...?

Please, God! Liberate us from Hillary Clinton and the mess that has become the Democratic Party nominating process. Give the DNC folks debating the MI and FL situation the courage and backbone to do the right thing and end it... Pretty, please.

Apropos to the moment, here are The Beatles messing around in the stuido with "We Can Work It Out":

Since I am at it, Donna Brazille laid it down on all of this pretty nicely yesterday. Here is the short version. Check it out:
...It's time to rally around the nominee as soon as the fourth day of June breaks upon the horizon.

Why not? What would Democrats gain by taking this debate any further, especially when the party is now engaged in the kind of polarizing politics that we once denounced the GOP for using for partisan gain. What can be won by tainting the process, arguing the rules are now unfair, or worse, the Republican rule of winner-takes-all should have guided the Democrats as well? All this fuss is simply about saving face and waiting to see whether some awful thing tarnishes the presumptive nominee. It's shameful, short-sighted, mean-spirited and morally unacceptable. Now, I said it.

To my longstanding friends in the feminist community who have called out the media as being culturally sexist and misogynistic, it is time to help educate the American public about the corrosive impact of sexism in politics and elsewhere. But we can have this dialogue without using divisive language and political tactics that further threaten to divide our country and party. If another woman comes up to me in an airport and suggests Obama should wait his turn, I might scream, "Stop it!" This is not about who should be first, it's about who has the most delegates and who might make the best president of the United States.

The most tragic thing I have heard is this need to link the Obama camp to pundits inside the media who have used the "math" historically used to call an election with attempts to push Hillary out of the race. After all, when the senator held a lead in every national poll in 2007, the media described her groundbreaking campaign as being inevitable. No one called that sexist.

Obama will have earned the right to become the declared Democratic nominee once he has reached the 2,026 delegates he needs. If the party decides to amend the just and known penalty it swore to impose on states and those officials that put its voters in jeopardy of not having a voice at the convention by violating the rules, the adjusted number should not alter
the race. Instead, the amendment should allow the presumptive nominee to help bring the party together.

Speaking of unity, it's time that the same means used to stir up passions, donations and volunteer efforts for our all our party's presidential candidates be redirected to help mount a credible offense to elect Democratic candidates up and down the ballot this fall. This will require all the party's presidential campaigns to unite in urging their supporters to come together and stop the smear campaigns...

Democratic primary voters will need time for reconciliation, and the process needs to start sooner rather than later. Healing takes time.

Both Clinton and Obama agree that once preconditions have been met, speaking to foreign enemies is a necessary first step toward peace. This basic tenet of diplomacy is best practiced by first being able to speak to one's colleagues at home.

At the very least, however difficult, it's a good place to start. Come dawn on the fourth day of June, it will be high time to lay down arms, leaving hands free to pick up the olive branch and unite before going into battle.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Alex Steffen: Inspired ideas for a sustainable future

More great stuff from TED: In this clip, founder Alex Steffen argues that reducing humanity’s ecological footprint is incredibly vital now, as the western consumer lifestyle spreads to developing countries...

Thanks to my friend Justin for passing this one along...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

UPDATE: 1 in 5 White Americans Still Oppose Black-White Interracial Marriage, Though Overall Trend is Toward Acceptance

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an entry in honor of Mildred and Richard Loving, the Virginia couple whose court case led to the 1967 Supreme Court decision barring prohibitions on interracial marriage. A recent Gallup Poll on the subject illustrates how far we've come, but also underscores the remaining challenges:

• Among all Americans, 77% approve inter-racial marriage between black and white people, while 17% oppose it. In 1958, only 4% of Americans approved of such relationships, so you can see the sea change on this issue. 1983 marked the first time less than half of all Americans opposed interracial marriages.

• Among whites, 75% approve of interracial marriage between black and white people, while 19% oppose it. 1 in 5 is still a fairly large number of people opposing interracial romance between whites and blacks, so this is where we need to continue the struggle.

• Among African Americans, 85% approve of interracial marriage between black and white people, while 10% oppose it, or about 1 in 10. In all categories, African Americans show greater acceptance of interracial marriage.

• Not surprisingly, younger people are more accepting of interracial marriage between black and white people than older people:

• Interestingly, about 75% of all black-white interracial marriages feature a black man and a white woman. Only about one-quarter of those marriages include a white man and black woman. In part, this helps explain higher rates of opposition to interracial marriage among black women.

It would be interesting to compare these numbers with data on other combinations of inter-racial relationships (white-Latino; white-Asian; Asian-black; black Latino; etc.). Is the acceptance in these categories the same or significantly different than the data on black-white relationships? Why or why not? Also, inter-racial relationships are also a bit tricky in that many people say they don't have a problem with dating "across the color line," but they would not or have not done it themselves. So, does this indicate an underlying resistance that might not show up in the numbers? And, with all racial polling, we have to take the results with a grain of salt. White people, in particular, like to tell pollers what they think they want to here, regardless of what they actually might think.

Nevertheless, overall, positive data on this issue...

Any thoughts?

John Coltrane, "My Favorite Things" (German TV - 1961)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Three Cheers for (White) Guilt?!

Over at Slate, Ron Rosenbaum, in what he claims is a "defense of guilt," argues, "it's not wrong to favor Obama because of race." What do you think? Is white racial guilt a bad thing, or can it be a positive and constructive thing?

Here is how he lifts off:
When did "liberal guilt" get such a bad reputation? You hear it all the time now from people who sneeringly dismiss whites who support Obama's candidacy as "guilty liberals." There are, of course, many reasons why whites might support Obama that have nothing to do with race. But what if redeeming our shameful racial past is one factor for some? Why delegitimize sincere excitement that his nomination and potential election would represent a historic civil rights landmark: making an abstract right a reality at last. Instead, their feeling must be disparaged as merely the result of a somehow shameful "liberal guilt."

And later,
Since when has guilt become shameful? Since when is shame shameful when it's shame about a four-centuries-long historical crime? Not one of us is a slave owner today, segregation is no longer enshrined in law, and there are fewer overt racists than before, but if we want to praise America's virtues, we have to concede—and feel guilty about—America's sins, else we praise a false god, a golden calf, a whited sepulcher, a Potemkin village of virtue. (I've run out of metaphors, but you get the picture.)

Guilt is good, people! The only people who don't suffer guilt are sociopaths and serial killers. Guilt means you have a conscience. You have self-awareness, you have—in the case of America's history of racism—historical awareness. Just because things have gotten better in the present doesn't mean we can erase racism from our past or ignore its enduring legacy...

Of course, it's not enough just to feel guilty or to act on guilt alone. But guilt can often spur us to deal with the enduring consequences of the injustices of the past and force us not to pretend there are none.

And he takes on conservative anti-guilt, too:
It's especially surprising to hear "guilt" being disparaged by conservatives, since they present themselves as moralists; they are quick to decry liberals for seeking to abolish guilt over various practices conservatives deem immoral. But was slavery not immoral? For those conservatives who make a fetish of "values": Was not the century of institutionalized racism and segregation that followed the end of slavery a perpetuation of "flawed values" that the nation should feel an enduring guilt over? For those conservatives who are forever speaking of the way they value history and memory more than liberals: Should we abolish the history and memory of slavery and racism just because they're no longer legally institutionalized?

Do we abolish its memories and its effects? Do we abolish the very consciousness of the past and pretend we have a clear conscience? Pretend that on the question of racism, there is no problem anymore? America is impeccably virtuous? This sounds more like Jacobin "Year Zero" thinking than true conservatism...

No, it's not a Democrat or Republican issue; it's a liberal and conservative issue.

I'll leave it there and urge you to go read the entire, extended essay, which is bound to offer much food for thought.

If you do make it through, any reactions?

Monday, May 26, 2008

National Shame on Memorial Day: "Military Sexual Trauma"

(click cartoon to enlarge)

NOW, the fantastic news magazine that airs on PBS each week, has a shocking story about the surge in rape against female soldiers in the U.S. military.

Here is their set-up (emphasis added):
There are more women serving in the military than ever before, and they're in danger—but not just from combat. Last year, nearly 1,400 women reported being assaulted and raped by their fellow soldiers, in some cases by their commanding officers. The shocking phenomenon is called military sexual trauma, or MST.

Since NOW first aired its investigation into rape and sexual assault in the military last year, the Pentagon has released new reports in which one-third of military women say they've been sexually harassed. And the number of women reporting assault and rape has essentially remained the same—even though the military says it has invested serious resources to combat the problem.

This week NOW on PBS talks to women soldiers who signed up to defend their countries but instead had to defend themselves from assault and rape by their own fellow soldiers. How are these women picking up the pieces of their life after military sexual trauma?

To stream the program from your computer, click here.

To watch the original program on military sexual trauma, click here.

In addition to the streaming video of the show, each of the above links has a variety of other resources and information listed on this disturbing subject.

I'll add my own question to the above: why is this story not front page of every major newspaper in the country? Why are none of the presidential candidates, including the self-described feminist champion, Hillary Clinton, and the war hero, John McCain, as well as the front-runner, Barack Obama, making it a public issue? Is this the result of the Pentagon's control of information and infiltration of the media? Is it because we don't take such statistics seriously in environments that have historically been deemed "male"?

Seriously, what the fu*k!?!?!?!!? It is shameful enough that our nation has been overrun by militarism and hyper-nationalism, but it is mind-blowing that these chicken-hawks in power have such disdain for actual soldiers. We have this piece of horror, we have recent reports that in recent years soldier suicides have far surpassed troop deaths in Iraq, we have the VA hospital scandal, we have the lack of basic body armor for soldiers and their vehicles, we have the President and McCain opposing a new GI Bill of Rights, and on and on and on...

... Given all this and more, why the heck would ANY veteran or current military person vote for the Republican Party? The reality is that the Repubs love to run the nation into bad wars, but they don't like to take care of the troops.

It is Memorial Day. While we salute the service and sacrifice of all soldiers today, shouldn't we also take a good hard look at how our government is running the military and ask how we might do better by these men and women?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Obama, the Kennedy Mystique and the Call to Service

Barack Obama filled in for an ailing Ted Kennedy at the commencement exercise at Wesleyan University this afternoon. An estimated 25,000 attended and were said to be tremendously enthusiastic (that is 17,000 more than last year's 175th celebration, which was a pretty big deal at the school!).

In honor of Ted, Obama said:
"It is rare in this country of ours that a person exists who has touched the lives of nearly every single American without many of us even realizing it."

Then roaring, "Ted Kennedy is not done just yet!"

Obama's emotional salute reduced Ted's son Patrick to this:

And then Patrick regained enough composure to offer this powerful sign of approval:

Here is a crowd shot:

Here is Ted's step-daughter, Caroline:

Yet another really fine speech by Barack and a touching tribute to Ted Kennedy, as well as the whole Kennedy legacy. (Why are we not focused on this type of thing, rather than the latest silliness from the desperate Clinton campaign?) I sure hope My Man wins in the Fall and puts his money where his mouth is in terms of this call to service.

Enough militarism.
Enough materialism.
Enough selfishness.

More peace and compassion.
More resonance and depth.
More selflessness and interconnectivity.

We need to put the unity back in the community and reconnect with our higher purpose, which is to build a truly democratic, truly egalitarian and truly JUST society for ALL people. This is our noble charge, should we choose to accept it...

But for right now, ladies and gentleman, it is my proud honor to introduce the next President of the United States of America, Barack Obama:

(the speech runs 20 min. I hope you will take the time to watch.)

What is Your "Walk Score"?

Go to this website, type in your address and see what your "walk score" is. Do you live in a walkable neighborhood? This is the kind of thinking we need to do more of in the U.S. We need to develop strategies to minimize our dependency on cars and oil, encourage healthier lifestyles and build community. Walkable neighborhoods is one way. State-of-the-art public transportation is another. There are many others possibilities, too... but choosing a walkable neighborhood is a good start!

What do you think?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Utah Phillips, R.I.P.

Utah Phillips, renowned Wobbly, folky and story-teller, has passed away. I had the great fortune to see a fantastic evening with Phillips back in my Madison days among a crowd that had more than its share of radicals and Wobblies.

UPDATE: Here is a nice obituary...

UPDATE 2: Here is a tribute by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

Here is Utah telling "the funniest story I ever heard":

Vic Muniz: art, with thread, sugar and chocolate

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hillary Clinton and the "Possessive Investment in Whiteness"

Here is an interesting essay from Arica L. Coleman over at the History news Network, titled, "Hillary Clinton's Possessive Investment in Whiteness." She writes,
... while Hillary’s strategy [to play the race card] holds significance for the present, the precedence for her campaign tactic can be found in the late 19th century women’s suffrage movement as white women, in competition with black men for the vote, argued if they could not be given the vote because they were women, they should be given the vote because they were white.

And goes on,
Hillary in a last ditch effort to clench the nomination is spinning the election narrative to demonstrate her appeal to white Americans and to appeal to white Americans in staunch language which suggests that a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for whiteness. Because whiteness is constructed in this society as the norm, race is often viewed as something people of color have, but that white people do not. Hence, Clinton, throughout this protracted campaign has been given a pass on her race. As writer Alice Walker stated:

One would think she is just any woman, colorless, race-less, past-less, but she is not. She carries all the history of white womanhood in America in her person; it would be a miracle if we, and the world, did not react to this fact. How dishonest it is, to attempt to make her innocent of her racial inheritance.

Hillary’s attempt to claim her racial inheritance, by appealing to white solidarity, has its historical precedence in the 19th century suffrage movement led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. During Reconstruction, as the issue changed from abolition to equal rights, the question of racial equality and women’s rights became competing ideals in American politics. At this time, the 15th amendment was being considered which would grant voting rights to black men, excluding women regardless of race. Although white women had a gender disadvantage, they benefited from the patriarchical system of white supremacy, granting them a status in American society only second to white men. However, the ratification of the 15th Amendment, as white women saw it, would threaten that status. Therefore, it was upon the premise of race and not gender that the woman question emerged. If black men were enfranchised leaving white women disenfranchised what would be the status of white women?

While black women activists varied in their views concerning their support of the 15th Amendment, a majority were not ready to align themselves with white women in the name of gender solidarity. Women, such as Frances E. W. Harper, believed the plight of black people in general, and black women in particular would fare no better by locking arms with white women. She believed black woman's activism was based on the uplift of the race, while white women’s activism sought to uplift themselves. Harper saw this as counterproductive stating, "The white women all go for sex [gender], letting race occupy a minor position...but...being black means that every white, including white working‑class women, can discriminate against you" (Giddings 68).

Anthony and Stanton proved Harper’s assessment of black women’s double jeopardy to be correct. When it became apparent that Congress would not grant both black men and white women the suffrage, but rather would choose between the two, Stanton and Anthony laid claim to their racial inheritance by urging Congress to grant them the vote not because they were women, but because they were white. After the 15th amendment was ratified on February 3, 1870, Anthony published an article in a feminist newsletter, The Revolution, which she and Stanton launched with the financial backing of a wealthy Democrat stating:

While the dominant party [Republican party] have with one hand lifted up TWO MILLION BLACK MEN and crowned them with the honor and dignity of citizenship...with the other they have dethroned FIFTEEN MILLION WHITE WOMEN...and cast them under the heel of the lowest orders of manhood. (Giddings 66)

Anthony’s articulation of the defeat of women’s suffrage in such staunch racial terms was not uncommon in the 19th century and for much of the twentieth century. Her disappointment reflects not only her frustration of a dream deferred, but more important the failure of Congress to uphold the possessive investment in whiteness, to use George Lipsitz’s term, a racial inheritance that would be denied to white women for another fifty years. Yet, in this first decade of the 21st century, as America continues to struggle to come to terms with its racist past and present, Hillary’s use of the same overt language to garner support for the Democratic nomination has been widely criticized as reckless. Her statements violated a code of silence by articulating what many believe should remain unspoken. As Lipsitz states in his article “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness,” “As the unmarked category against which difference is constructed, whiteness never has to speak its name, never has to acknowledge its role as an organizing principle in social and cultural [and political] relations." (61-62) And either should it as Lipsitz further explains, “. . . since the passing of civil rights legislation in the 1960s, whiteness dares not speak its name, cannot speak on its own behalf, but rather advances through a color-blind language radically at odds with the distinctly racialized distribution of resources and life chances in U.S. society.” (80) Hence, the wide condemnation Hillary Clinton received for deploying nineteenth century Anthony/Stanton politics was not because she laid claim to her racial inheritance, but rather because she violated the code of modern day polite society by voicing it in public.

Whether the results of the current Democratic primary will parallel the results of the 19th century political schism between black men and white women remains to be seen. While black men indeed gained the suffrage before white women, the emergence of Jim Crow delayed their ability to exercise the franchise for almost a century. The struggle for women’s suffrage would continue for another fifty years before white women nationwide received the franchise with the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920. The pressure for Hillary to cede the race is mounting. Many believe the longer she remains in the race, the more she hurts Obama’s chances of defeating McCain in the general election. If that happens we will once again squander a historic moment which may take generations to recapture. Let’s hope not.

The Beatles in studio at the end of the line...

"Let It Be" (1970):

"The Long and Winding Road" (1970):

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Decline to Sign

Deceptive Tactics Continue in Anti-Affirmative Action Effort

The following entry is a reprint of an entry by Kyle Michaelis over at the New Nebraska Network blog...

This just in from a NNN reader in Columbus. It shouldn't come as any surprise that Nebraskans are seeing some very suspicious and outright deceptive tactics being used to gather enough signatures to place a constitutional amendment to end affirmative action on the November ballot:
Thought you might want to hear about petition gatherers tactics in the Columbus area.
I went to Wal-mart this morning (not my first choice of retailers but there isn't a whole lot to choose from here) and noticed a table set up outside one of the doors. The table had two small signs saying:

"Are you concerned about jobs?"

Then it had some smaller print that I couldn't read as I rushed past the table knowing what this person was trying to pull on the customers. When I came out of the store, I heard the pitch:
"Are you concerned about jobs in Nebraska? Sign up today to eliminate gender and race as a factor in hiring decisions."

The scruffy, homeless looking, mid-twenty year old was only making this pitch to white, middle-aged men.

In this instance, the petition gatherers appear to have completely obscured the fact that this amendment would only affect hiring decisions by the state and by those contracting with the state. Of course, there's a very good chance they didn't understand that distinction for themselves. Such matters are of little concern when they're just trying to make a buck and some misleading language playing on Nebraskans' economic fears can help them to that effect.

I'd assume this "scruffy, homeless-looking" gentlemen was one of the out-of-state, paid petition-gatherers those orchestrating this effort were so excited about bringing to Nebraska after it was reported they'd failed with similar efforts in Oklahoma and Missouri. If this story is any indication, it seems they've also brought with them the same types of deception and fraud employed in those other states.

It's up to us to remain vigilant and strong if such tactics are to meet with a similar fate, failing in Nebraska as well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Viagra for the Mind??!!?!?!!!??

Anyone heard of Provigil? It is a narcolepsy drug that, when taken by non-narcoleptics, is said to significantly improve concentration and memory function, and raise IQ. Some have dubbed it "Viagra for the mind."

Johann Hari has written an interesting essay about his experience with Provigil. "It’s not an amphetamine or stimulant," he explains. "It doesn’t make you high, or wired. It seems to work by restricting the parts of your brain that make you sluggish or sleepy. No significant negative effects have been discovered."

Here he describes his experience while on the drug:
I picked up a book about quantum physics and super-string theory I have been meaning to read for ages, for a column I'm thinking of writing. It had been hanging over me, daring me to read it. Five hours later, I realised I had hit the last page. I looked up. It was getting dark outside. I was hungry. I hadn't noticed anything, except the words I was reading, and they came in cool, clear passages; I didn't stop or stumble once.

Perplexed, I got up, made a sandwich — and I was overcome with the urge to write an article that had been kicking around my subconscious for months. It rushed out of me in a few hours, and it was better than usual....The next morning I woke up and felt immediately alert. Normally it takes a coffee and an hour to kick-start my brain; today I'm ready to go from the second I rise. And so it continues like this, for five days: I inhale books and exhale articles effortlessly. My friends all say I seem more contemplative, less rushed — which is odd, because I'm doing more than normal. One sixty-something journalist friend says she remembers taking Benzadrine in the sixties to get through marathon articles, but she'd collapse after four or five says and need a long, long sleep. I don't feel like that. I keep waiting for an exhausted crash, and it doesn't seem to come.

Hhhhmmm... any thoughts out there on something like this?

Here is a negative piece from the LA Times on Provigil... it is particularly critical of the drug-maker's direct-marketing campaign on television, in magazines and through direct mailers, etc.

Again, any thoughts or knowledge out there on this?

It does seem a little Aldous Huxley-an to me, like soma in Brave New World.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It's the Economy, Stupid!

Jared Bernstein has written a couple of good pieces on the failures of conservative economics and the need for a more fair economy. Check 'em out...

This one is an excerpt from his book and touches on what he calls the YOYO (you're on your own) economy.

One central goal of the YOYO movement is to continue and even accelerate the trend toward shifting economic risks from the government and the nation’s corporations onto individuals and their families. You can see this intention beneath the surface of almost every recent conservative initiative: Social Security privatization, personal accounts for health care (the so-called Health Savings Accounts), attacks on labor market regulations, and the perpetual crusade to slash the government’s revenue through regressive tax cuts — a strategy explicitly tagged as “starving the beast” — and block the government from playing a useful role in our economic lives. ...

... At the heart of the WITT (we're in this together) agenda is the belief that we can wield the tools of government to build a more just society, one that preserves individualist values while ensuring that the prosperity we generate is equitably shared. Importantly, under the WITT agenda, this outcome occurs not through redistributionist Robin Hood schemes, but through creating an economic architecture that reconnects our strong, flexible economy to the living standards of all, not just to the residents of the penthouse. As the pie grows, all the bakers get bigger slices ...

This one focuses on the failure of conservative economics and the prospects for a different path forward. In this piece, he concludes:

So there you have it: the great, neo-con economic experiment is over and the results are in. Outside of the top 1%, there's less income growth than in any past business cycle. The key macro-indicators, such as employment, GDP growth, and investment have also faired uniquely poorly. The anti-government, deregulatory agenda has led to fatal incompetence, a massive housing bubble, ailing global credit markets, and near-recessionary growth for the US. The "ownership society" is a cruel joke: homeownership rates are falling for the first time in decades.

The defenders of the status quo will howl in protest: the Democrats blocked us, the terrorist attacks and the war changed everything, we must stay the course to victory! But such rhetoric should be dismissed as what it is: the last, desperate gasps of a dying movement.

They've had their turn and they've failed. It is our turn now.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Barack Obama campaign rally, Portland, Oregon, May 18, 2008:

Jill Scott, "A Long Walk"

It's a beautiful Sunday in Omaha, Nebraska. Take a listen to this easy classic by Jill Scott and then go take a long walk through your neighborhood. Be sure to stop along the way and chat with some folks you see...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Juan Crow?

I think this article provides an important paradigm shift on the immigration issue. I hope you will take the time to give it a read:

Juan Crow: The Deep South's New Second-Class Citizens, by By Roberto Lovato, The Nation.

Here is the heart of the matter:
...younger children of the mostly immigrant Latinos in Georgia are learning and internalizing that they are different from white -- and black -- children not just because they have the wrong skin color but also because many of their parents lack the right papers. They are growing up in a racial and political climate in which Latinos' subordinate status in Georgia and in the Deep South bears more than a passing resemblance to that of African-Americans who were living under Jim Crow. Call it Juan Crow: the matrix of laws, social customs, economic institutions and symbolic systems enabling the physical and psychic isolation needed to control and exploit undocumented immigrants.

When we come at the immigration issue from a divisive and reactionary place, we dehumanize immigrants and, in the process, denigrate not only them but ourselves, too.

In Nebraska, we have had a number of recent examples. For instance, the Unicameral tried to pass legislation blocking in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants, a purely mean and punitive move designed to take away one of the key ladders to independence and self-determination. Or, our bone-headed Attorney General, John Bruning, has refused to enforce federal fair housing legislation because a couple of the cases involved undocumented immigrants, even though federal law is clear that immigration status does not justify discrimination. In both instances (and others), conservative politicians and their followers have forgotten the humanity of immigrants, instead opting to exploit them as symbolic pawns in an increasingly desperate political game.

People! Let us wake up to the humanity of others: Immigrants - documented or not - are PEOPLE, HUMAN BEINGS, and as such, deserve to be treated with compassion and justice, regardless of their status.

What does all this reaction say about us? What does it reveal about the soul of our nation?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Olbermann Skewers Bush...

If you haven't seen this, you really need to make 11 minutes to watch it. It is a full frontal assault on the President... Bombs away!

CIVIL RIGHTS ALERT! CA Supremes Do the Right Thing...

California's Supreme Court struck a blow for civil rights and full equality for all citizens today when it overturned that state's ban on gay marriage, making California the second state where gay and lesbian residents can marry. Kudos to the left coasters for getting with the program. 2 states down, 48 more to go...

Here is the L.A. Times article on the decision.

Here is the NYTimes article on the decision.

Here is the San Francisco Chronicle article on the decision.

The Police Live in Omaha

We went to see The Police this evening at the Qwest Center in Omaha. Elvis Costello opened up. We caught The Police last summer at Bonnaroo, which was a whole different affair, as it was outside with 80,000-100,000 people or something silly like that. We were in the third row then, at the front of a crush of humanity, while tonight we sat upstairs in the cozy confines of an arena. The band sounded a lot tighter this evening than last summer, no doubt the result of playing together for a much longer period of time. Stewart Copeland was masterful, as always, and Sting was Sting. It was Andy Summers, I thought, that really stood out at this show. His playing was great, and on those songs where he was free to really let loose, he ripped it up. I think he is a significantly underrated guitar player...

Here is the setlist (I've placed an asterisk next to the songs that I thought were the best this evening):

Bring On The Night
Message In A Bottle
* Walking On The Moon
* Demolition Man
* Voices Inside My Head
* When The World Is Running Down
Don't Stand So Close To Me
* Driven To Tears
* Hole In My Life
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
Invisible Sun
* Can't Stand Losing You

First Encore:
King Of Pain
* So Lonely

Second Encore:
Every Breath You Take
Next To You

(total time of concert: roughly 90 minutes)

Here is the Omaha World Herald review of the show.

For the fun of it, here they are at the mini-concert when they announced their reunion and tour doing "Voices Inside My Head > When the World Is Running Down"...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg Dies at 82

Famed artist, Robert Rauschenberg, has died. He was 82. Rauschenberg was one of the most prolific and controversial major American artists of the last half of the 20th century. He pushed the boundaries of what art is and thereby infuriated a lot of folks. People tend to love or hate his work.

Here is the NYTimes obituary. Here is an interesting lengthy review of a book about Rauschenberg and the "neo-avant garde." Here are several pieces of his work...

Here he is talking about one of his controversial pieces:

Hillary Wins West Virginia...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Racist Politics Alive and Well in the U.S. of A.

It is clear that Barack Obama is poised to become the Democratic nominee for president, making a historic run as the first African American to be nominated by a major party in U.S. History. It is also clear that the Democrats are in a great position to win in November, given how atrociously the Bush administration has performed over the last 7 years. Yet, there is one key issue that could derail Obama's historic run, and it is the age old bugaboo in American politics, RACE. This is a real problem only made worse by Hillary and Bill Clinton's coded exploitation of the issue throughout the campaign, as well as their more recent overt appeals to racism since the Indiana/North Carolina primaries. Think I am making a mountain out of a molehill? Check out these essays:

• Bob Herbert (NYTimes), "Hillary's Grotesque Insult to African-Americans"

Herbert writes that the Clinton's exploitation of the divisive race card is "a grotesque insult to African-Americans, who have given so much support to both Bill and Hillary over the years." He also asserts that "it's an insult to white voters as well, including white working-class voters. It's true that there are some whites who will not vote for a black candidate under any circumstance. But the United States is in a much better place now than it was when people like Richard Nixon, George Wallace and many others could make political hay by appealing to the very worst in people, using the kind of poisonous rhetoric that Senator Clinton is using now... to deliberately convey the idea that most white people -- or most working-class white people -- are unwilling to give an African-American candidate a fair hearing in a presidential election is a slur against whites." He concludes, "The Clintons should be ashamed of themselves. But they long ago proved to the world that they have no shame."

• Perhaps more distrubing is this recent article from the Washington Post detailing the overt racism faced by Obama volunteers in Indiana. The piece is by Kevin Merida and is titled, "Racist Incidents Give Some Obama Campaigners Pause."

Merida recounts,
In Muncie, a factory town in the east-central part of Indiana, Ross and her cohorts were soliciting support for Obama at malls, on street corners and in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and they ran into "a horrible response," as Ross put it, a level of anti-black sentiment that none of them had anticipated.

"The first person I encountered was like, 'I'll never vote for a black person,' " recalled Ross, who is white and just turned 20. "People just weren't receptive."

For all the hope and excitement Obama's candidacy is generating, some of his field workers, phone-bank volunteers and campaign surrogates are encountering a raw racism and hostility that have gone largely unnoticed -- and unreported -- this election season. Doors have been slammed in their faces. They've been called racially derogatory names (including the white volunteers). And they've endured malicious rants and ugly stereotyping from people who can't fathom that the senator from Illinois could become the first African American president.

Later, he offers another story: "Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, was on phone-bank duty one night during the Pennsylvania primary campaign. One night was all she could take: 'It wasn't pretty.' She made 60 calls to prospective voters in Susquehanna County, her home county, which is 98 percent white. The responses were dispiriting. One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn't possibly vote for Obama and concluded: 'Hang that darky from a tree!'"

Or this one: "Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, said she, too, came across 'a lot of racism' when campaigning for Obama in Pennsylvania. One Pittsburgh union organizer told her he would not vote for Obama because he is black, and a white voter, she said, offered this frank reason for not backing Obama: 'White people look out for white people, and black people look out for black people.'"

Or this one: "On Election Day in Kokomo, a group of black high school students were holding up Obama signs along U.S. 31, a major thoroughfare. As drivers cruised by, a number of them rolled down their windows and yelled out a common racial slur for African Americans, according to Obama campaign staffers."

Or this one: "The bigotry has gone beyond words. In Vincennes, the Obama campaign office was vandalized at 2 a.m. on the eve of the primary, according to police. A large plate-glass window was smashed, an American flag stolen. Other windows were spray-painted with references to Obama's controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and other political messages: 'Hamas votes BHO' and 'We don't cling to guns or religion. Goddamn Wright.'" After photographing the vandalism, one local Obama supporter tried to put an optimistic spin on the incident: "'The pictures represent what we are breaking through and overcoming,' he said. As the farmer, who is white, sees it, Obama is succeeding despite these incidents. Later, there would be bomb threats to three Obama campaign offices in Indiana, including the one in Vincennes, according to campaign sources."

Or this one: "Gillian Bergeron, 23, was in charge of a five-county regional operation in northeastern Pennsylvania. The oldest member of her team was 27. At Scranton's annual Saint Patrick's Day parade, some of the green Obama signs distributed by staffers were burned along the parade route. That was the first signal that this wasn't exactly Obama country. There would be others."

Or this one: "In a letter to the editor published in a local paper, Tunkhannock Borough Mayor Norm Ball explained his support of Hillary Clinton this way: 'Barack Hussein Obama and all of his talk will do nothing for our country. There is so much that people don't know about his upbringing in the Muslim world. His stepfather was a radical Muslim and the ranting of his minister against the white America, you can't convince me that some of that didn't rub off on him. No, I want a president that will salute our flag, and put their hand on the Bible when they take the oath of office.'"

Or this one: "Karen Seifert, a volunteer from New York, was outside of the largest polling location in Lackawanna County, Pa., on primary day when she was pressed by a Clinton volunteer to explain her backing of Obama. 'I trust him,' Seifert replied. According to Seifert, the woman pointed to Obama's face on Seifert's T-shirt and said: 'He's a half-breed and he's a Muslim. How can you trust that?'"

• Or, over at the New Yorker, George Packer recently penned a brief piece, titled, "The Race In Eastern Kentucky."

He writes, "'East of Lexington she’ll carry seventy per cent of the primary vote,” J.K. Patrick, a Clinton supporter, said. Kentucky votes on May 20. “She could win the general election in Kentucky.” I asked about Obama. “Obama couldn’t win.”

Why not?

“Race,” Patrick said matter-of-factly. “I’ve talked to people—a woman who was chair of county elections last year, she said she wouldn’t vote for a black man.” Patrick said he wouldn’t vote for Obama either.

Why not?

“Race. I really don’t want an African-American as President. Race.”

What about race?

“I thought about it. I think he would put too many minorities in positions over the white race. That’s my opinion. After 1964, you saw what the South did.” He meant that it went Republican. “Now what caused that? Race. There’s a lot of white people that just wouldn’t vote for a colored person. Especially older people. They know what happened in the sixties. Under thirty—they don’t remember. I do. I was here.”

Packer goes on, "Everyone knows that race is a factor in Obama’s low vote among older whites, though reporters say that no one will admit it personally. In Eastern Kentucky, people (and not just J. K. Patrick) admit it personally, without hesitation or apology. It’s impossible to say how much this has affected the primary or will affect the fall election. For voters like those I met in Inez, the objection to Obama has nothing to do with Reverend Jeremiah Wright or, God knows, Bill Ayers. There’s nothing Obama can do about it. He can’t even mention it."

Packer suggests, by way of a conclusion: "Rather than analyzing them [working-class whites] out loud, or pretending to be one of them, [Obama] should speak about the differences (and race is far from the only one) directly, candidly, in the blunt, personal language that made his Philadelphia speech so memorable. He should say that in spite of these differences, in spite of what he doesn’t know about or share in their life, he knows what Presidential leadership can do to improve their lives—as did Roosevelt, who was an aristocrat, and Kennedy, who was rich and Catholic. It’s a tall order. But Obama has a serious political problem. Until now, he and his supporters have either denied it or blamed it on his opponents. It’s not his fault, but it is his burden, and the way to begin lightening the load is to admit that it exists."

Welcome to America, everyone...

UPDATE: Another example of the loving, compassionate spirit that pervades white America when it comes to Barack Obama:

This racist shirt, which obviously trades in age-old stereotypes of black Americans, is being sold by what is described as an "ultra-conservative" tavern owner in an increasingly multicultural area of Marietta, Georgia. Here is the article.

Distinctly Jamaican Sounds

There are a number of awesome online "sharity" websites where folks post all kinds of music that is downloadable for free. If you like reggae, the "Distinctly Jamaican Sounds" website is a treasure trove of riddims.

Since we are laying down the rastafari groove, here is a nice live clip of Peter Tosh in 1979 at the Montreaux Jazz Festival doing one of my favorite of his tunes, "African":

Friday, May 09, 2008

Finland for Thought

My cousin Phil is an ex-patriot living in Finland. A few years back, he started an ex-pat blog, Finland for Thought, which has subsequently blown up into quite a popular site. Phil will be guest-blogging at Freedom Road in the near future, but in the meantime, head on over to Finland for Thought and check it out!

Spread the word.

PS: Phil is NOT pictured in the above photo. That's just a bunch of random naked Finnish guys enjoying a sauna! It's a Finnish thing, you might not understand... (smile)

Clinton Supporters Threatening Superdelegates

This from an unnamed superdelegate. It speaks volumes about Clinton and her supporters and how they are playing the endgame:

"I spent my entire life in the two reddest states in the entire U.S. so please excuse me if I fail to discern the nuances of the arguments sent my way this evening in what appears to be an orchestrated campaign to intimidate the remaining unpledged delegates by threatening to leave the party and vote for a third Bush term if I and others like me don't vote for Sen. Clinton," wrote the exasperated superdelegate. "I have been uncommitted throughout this campaign because I wanted to see how the candidates performed in a variety of settings. I am proud of them both. But I am horrified by this effort to threaten votes for McCain if super delegates don't vote for Sen. Clinton. I have received hundreds of emails from both sides - but I can say without exception that I have not received a single email from an Obama supporter that threatened a vote for McCain if I didn't support Sen. Obama. You really ought to be ashamed."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

NYTimes: "Sen. Clinton and the Campaign"

New York Times
May 9, 2008
Sen. Clinton and the Campaign

There is a lot of talk that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is now fated to lose the Democratic nomination and should pull out of the race. We believe it is her right to stay in the fight and challenge Senator Barack Obama as long as she has the desire and the means to do so. That is the essence of the democratic process.

But we believe just as strongly that Mrs. Clinton will be making a terrible mistake — for herself, her party and for the nation — if she continues to press her candidacy through negative campaigning with disturbing racial undertones. We believe it would also be a terrible mistake if she launches a fight over the disqualified delegations from Florida and Michigan.

The United States needs a clean break from eight catastrophic years of George W. Bush. And so far, Senator John McCain is shaping up as Bush the Sequel — neverending war in Iraq, tax cuts for the rich while the middle class struggles, courts packed with right-wing activists intent on undoing decades of progress in civil rights, civil liberties and other vital areas.

The Democratic Party must field the most effective and vibrant candidate it possibly can. More attack ads and squabbling will not help achieve that goal. If Mr. Obama wins, he will be that much more battered and the party will be harder to unite. Win or lose, Mrs. Clinton’s reputation will suffer more harm than it already has.

She owes more to millions of Americans who have voted for her (and particularly to New Yorkers, who are entitled to expect that if she loses, she will return to the Senate with her influence and integrity intact).

In addition to abandoning the attack ads, Mrs. Clinton must drop her plans to fight to seat the delegations from Florida and Michigan, which defied the Democratic Party and moved up the dates of their primaries. A lot of people voted in Florida anyway, but Mrs. Clinton should not pursue this nuclear option. It would make the Democrats look unable to control their own, just when they want to make a case that they can lead the entire nation.

Both candidates have been vowing in the last two days to unite the party, and Mr. Obama could do more to rein in his anonymous campaign aides and other supporters who spend their days trashing Mrs. Clinton.

The undeclared superdelegates should stop their coy posing. With few exceptions, there is no reason left (other than the hope of making back-room deals) for those whose states have voted to keep their positions private. The rest should state their allegiance as soon as their primaries are held in the next few weeks.

There is a lot that Senators Clinton and Obama need to be talking about in coming weeks, starting with how they will extract the country from President Bush’s disastrous Iraq war. A robust debate about health care and the mortgage crisis would remind all American voters of what is at stake in this year’s election. It would also prepare whoever wins the nomination to be a better debater and campaigner in the fall.

We endorsed Mrs. Clinton, and we know that she has a major contribution to make. But instead of discussing her strong ideas, Mrs. Clinton claimed in an interview with USA Today that she would be the better nominee because a recent poll showed that “Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again.” She added: “There’s a pattern emerging here.”

Yes, there is a pattern — a familiar and unpleasant one. It is up to Mrs. Clinton to change it if she hopes to have any shot at winning the nomination or preserving her integrity and her influence if she loses.

Quotes of the Day

Quote #1: Clinton just can't stop herself from playing the divisive race card...
"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

"There's a pattern emerging here," she said.
Yeah, the "pattern" that is emerging is Clinton playing the race card out of desperation. Gotta love the not-so-subtle rhetorical link between "working," "hard working" and "white Americans." You hear that dog whistle everyone???

Obama spokesman Bill Burton responded to these comments, saying that in Indiana, Obama split working-class voters with Clinton and won a higher percentage of white voters than he did in Ohio last March. He said Obama will be the strongest nominee because he appeals "to Americans from every background and all walks of life. These statements from Sen. Clinton are not true and frankly disappointing."

Larry Sabato, head of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said Clinton's comment was a "poorly worded" variation on the way analysts have been "slicing and dicing the vote in racial terms."

However, he said her primary support doesn't prove she's more electable. Either Democrat will get "the vast majority" of the other's primary election votes in a general election, he said.

So, the Clinton camp's so-called "nuclear option" apparently includes more than trying to ram through the completely undemocratic primary tallies in MI and FL. Perhaps she won't go quietly into that good night after all. If she doesn't cut this crap out, I hope party leaders step in to end it soon...

Quote #2: And this one from Bill Moyers to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!:
"You know, Mrs. Clinton has a very serious issue to wrestle with in the next seventy-two hours. Is this race about the country, or is it about the Clintons? "
Well, I think we all know that from the Hillary side of things this race has always been about the Clintons over the country, but now, with the handwriting clearly on the wall, Hillary has the option of exiting with some grace and dignity, for which she will be handsomely rewarded with a leadership position in Congress, or as a selfish jerk, thereby jeopardizing her and her husband's political future. Ultimately, I think she'll do the right thing, but apparently Bill is counseling her to force the issue all the way to the convention in Denver... Of course, party leaders won't let that happen.

What we are seeing is a classic political moment: power is quickly moving from one place (the Clintons) to another (Obama). Thank you for your contributions Bill and Hillary. Now, step aside for the new guy. Do the right thing... if for no other reason, than for your own selfish legacy.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Can You Break the Code?

Each year the design group Pentagram issues a small holiday book as a greeting to its friends and colleagues. The partners take turns researching and designing these books, which usually contain some kind of game or activity. The most recent edition is Decipher, designed by Harry Pearce, who chose as its subject cryptography, the science of writing, or encrypting—and breaking, or decrypting—secret code.

The book features 14 cryptograms of varying methodologies and difficulty that conceal short phrases; through symbols, numbers, patterns and simple letterspacing, the cyptograms challenge the reader to decipher their meaning. “It’s astonishing how much you can hide in type,” says Pearce.

Now they have adapted the book’s content online and are pleased to present the 14 cryptograms in a minisite here. This is the introductory text from that site:
Cryptography is the science of writing in secret code. It is an ancient art, practically as old as writing itself. There is an example of an Egyptian scribe using non-standard hieroglyphs to put his inscription into code over 4,000 years ago.

The main idea of using a code is that nobody can read a message except the person or people it is intended for—and they have to know the key.

The other way of reading an encrypted message is by breaking the code. This is a bit more difficult: you just get there by using your brainpower. Basically it is a matter of working out the series of logical steps that were used to create the code, and putting them into reverse.

Some of the codes here are more difficult to break than others. But there’s a clue for each one to get you started. Answers and explanations are revealed by rolling the mouse over each cryptogram.

Can you break the code?

History in the Making!

We should all, every one of us - whether you supported Obama or one of the other candidates, or heck, even if you prefer the Republicans or another third party over the Democrats - take a moment to acknowledge and reflect on what can only be described as a MAJOR historical moment in our nation's history, a moment that is much bigger than merely the 2008 election!


Seriously, let that sink in for a moment. Given our tragic history with racial injustice, this is monumental... We are witnessing history as it happens. It is a great day for the United States and a great day for the Democratic Party.

Hillary, do you hear something?

What's that music...

Or, perhaps you need Tim Russert to break it down for you...

Ok, Ok. I'm being obnoxious. Of course, this race was essentially done in February, when the wheels first came off the Clinton campaign. It has just been impossible for her to catch up...

So, this is really about the media and pundocracy catching up with the reality on the ground. The narrative does seem to have shifted against Clinton and for Obama as the "presumptive" nominee after last night...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Loving Mildred Loving...

Mildred Loving died on May 2. Along with her husband, Richard, Mrs. Loving was at the center of the historic 1967 Supreme Court decision which finally struck down laws that forbid inter-racial marriage, what was then known as "miscegenation." The Lovings are heroes of recent American history.

Thanks, Mildred and Richard. Thank you...

I hope you will take a moment and read Mildred's statement in 2007, on the 40th anniversary of the Loving decision:
Loving for All

By Mildred Loving

Prepared for Delivery on June 12, 2007,
The 40th Anniversary of the Loving vs. Virginia Announcement

When my late husband, Richard, and I got married in Washington, DC in 1958, it wasn’t to make a political statement or start a fight. We were in love, and we wanted to be married.

We didn’t get married in Washington because we wanted to marry there. We did it there because the government wouldn’t allow us to marry back home in Virginia where we grew up, where we met, where we fell in love, and where we wanted to be together and build our family. You see, I am a woman of color and Richard was white, and at that time people believed it was okay to keep us from marrying because of their ideas of who should marry whom.

When Richard and I came back to our home in Virginia, happily married, we had no intention of battling over the law. We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what marriage is?

Not long after our wedding, we were awakened in the middle of the night in our own bedroom by deputy sheriffs and actually arrested for the “crime” of marrying the wrong kind of person. Our marriage certificate was hanging on the wall above the bed. The state prosecuted Richard and me, and after we were found guilty, the judge declared: “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” He sentenced us to a year in prison, but offered to suspend the sentence if we left our home in Virginia for 25 years exile.

We left, and got a lawyer. Richard and I had to fight, but still were not fighting for a cause. We were fighting for our love.

Though it turned out we had to fight, happily Richard and I didn’t have to fight alone. Thanks to groups like the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, and so many good people around the country willing to speak up, we took our case for the freedom to marry all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And on June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men,” a “basic civil right.”

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

Here is an excerpt from the Supreme Court decision:
Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State...

The Supreme Court concluded that anti-miscegenation laws were racist and had been enacted to perpetuate white supremacy:
There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy.

Despite this Supreme Court ruling, such laws rested unenforced in several states until 2000 when Alabama became the last state to remove its law against mixed-race marriage.

Here is a very good NPR story on the 40th anniversary of the Loving decision (there are also several other related stories that are linked to this audio story; check 'em out!): "Loving Decision: 40 Years of Legal Interracial Unions"

Here is a great 3 minute documentary, featuring Julian Bond - the President of the NAACP - and his wife, on the 40th anniversary of the Loving V. Virginia decision. Please check it out:

And here is my former congressional representative in Madison, Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin, standing in congress to commemorate Loving v. Virginia. Tammy is an amazing woman, a fantastic representative and the first and only openly gay woman in congress. She is a pioneer and another courageous hero in our recent history. Check out what she has to say:

This decision has special meaning to Drea and I...

So, again, thank you Mildred and Richard Loving for paving the way for so many of us. You deserve your rightful place alongside Rosa Parks and all the other heroes of the modern civil rights movement...

Predicting IN and NC

Ok, I nailed Pennsylvania, so here is my prediction for the results of today's NC and IN primaries:

• Clinton will win Indiana by 5-8 points
• Obama will win the larger and more delegate rich NC contests by 10-13 points

I'd love to see Obama squeeze that Indiana number down to 2-3, but I'm not counting on it, nor am I holding my breath for an Obama win there. But, I also won't be surprised if Obama wins NC by more like 15+...

Hillary is running out of time and contests to make the big game-changer. So, if my above predictions hold true, expect the trickle of Superdelegates that have been consistently moving toward Obama to pick up steam over the next week...

UPDATE - 5/7/08: Well, it was better than I hoped. Obama won by 14 points in NC and nearly pulled off the epic upset in IN before losing by 2 points there. This pretty much ends it, folks. It's all over, thank you for playing the "2008 Democratic Nominating Process Game." There is a bit of an end game that will now play out, but we definitely have a nominee and his name is Barack Obama! Let's bring it together everyone. It was a tough primary with lots of bruised feelings, but we must now unify for victory over McCain in the Fall...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Bill Moyers Lays It Down on Obama, Wright and Race

Here is what Bill Moyers had to say about Obama, Wright and race in the U.S.

(If you are not familiar with Moyers' work, check out his television show on PBS.)

May 2, 2008
BILL MOYERS:Welcome to the Journal.

Many of you have asked for some rational explanation for Wright's transition from reasonable conversation to shocking anger at the National Press Club. A psychologist might pull back some of the layers and see this complicated man more clearly, but I'm not a psychologist. Many black preachers I've known - scholarly, smart, and gentle in person -- uncorked fire and brimstone in the pulpit. Of course I've known many white preachers like that, too.

But in this multimedia age the pulpit isn't only available on Sunday mornings. There's round the clock media — the beast whose hunger is never satisfied, especially for the fast food with emotional content. So the preacher starts with rational discussion and after much prodding throws more and more gasoline on the fire that will eventually consume everything it touches. He had help — people who for their own reasons set out to conflate the man in the pulpit who wasn't running for president with the man in the pew who was.

Behold the double standard: John McCain sought out the endorsement of John Hagee, the war-mongering Catholic-bashing Texas preacher, who said the people of New Orleans got what they deserved for their sins. But no one suggests McCain shares Hagee's delusions, or thinks AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality. Pat Robertson called for the assassination of a foreign head of state and asked God to remove Supreme Court justices, yet he remains a force in the Republican religious right. After 9/11 Jerry Falwell said the attack was God's judgment on America for having been driven out of our schools and the public square, but when McCain goes after the endorsement of a preacher he once condemned as an agent of intolerance, the press gives him a pass.

Which means it is all about race, isn't it?

Wright's offensive opinions and inflammatory appearances are judged differently. He doesn't fire a shot in anger, put a noose around anyone's neck, call for insurrection, or plant a bomb in a church with children in Sunday school. What he does is to speak his mind in a language and style that unsettles some people, and says some things so outlandish and ill-advised that he finally leaves Obama no choice but to end their friendship. Politics often exposes us to the corroding acid of the politics of personal destruction, but I've never seen anything like this — this wrenching break between pastor and parishioner. Both men no doubt will carry the grief to their graves. All the rest of us should hang our heads in shame for letting it come to this in America, where the gluttony of the non-stop media grinder consumes us all and prevents an honest conversation on race. It is the price we are paying for failing to heed the great historian Jacob Burckhardt, who said "beware the terrible simplifiers".

What do you think?

UPDATE: Frank Rich strikes a similar chord in his NYTimes column today. The heart of the matter for Rich is this:
"... it is disingenuous to pretend that there isn’t a double standard operating here. If we’re to judge black candidates on their most controversial associates — and how quickly, sternly and completely they disown them — we must judge white politicians by the same yardstick...

There is not just a double standard for black and white politicians at play in too much of the news media and political establishment, but there is also a glaring double standard for our political parties. The Clintons and Mr. Obama are always held accountable for their racial stands, as they should be, but the elephant in the room of our politics is rarely acknowledged: In the 21st century, the so-called party of Lincoln does not have a single African-American among its collective 247 senators and representatives in Washington. Yes, there are appointees like Clarence Thomas and Condi Rice, but, as we learned during the Mark Foley scandal, even gay men may hold more G.O.P. positions of power than blacks.

A near half-century after the civil rights acts of the 1960s, this is quite an achievement. Yet the holier-than-thou politicians and pundits on the right passing shrill moral judgment over every Democratic racial skirmish are almost never asked to confront or even acknowledge the racial dysfunction in their own house. In our mainstream political culture, this de facto apartheid is simply accepted as an intractable given, unworthy of notice, and just too embarrassing to mention aloud in polite Beltway company. Those who dare are instantly accused of “political correctness” or “reverse racism.”

An all-white Congressional delegation doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the legacy of race cards that have been dealt since the birth of the Southern strategy in the Nixon era. No one knows this better than Mr. McCain, whose own adopted daughter of color was the subject of a vicious smear in his party’s South Carolina primary of 2000."