Friday, October 31, 2008

Monster Mash!

Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Cryptkickers:

Fulfilling the Dream

Help protect affirmative action in Nebraska. Vote NO on proposition 424:

An "Idiot Wind": The New McCarthyism

In desperation, as his campaign bottoms out, John McCain has abandoned any shred he had left of dignity, honor, integrity and conscience.

Here is the latest attempt to smear Obama through the McCarthyite tactic of "guilt by association": for several days, the McCain camp and its surrogates have been in a tizzy trying to link the Democratic nominee with the foreign-sounding name to a prominent (American) Middle East scholar with a foreign sounding name, Rashid Khalidi. Of course, this is simply the latest in a not-so-subtle attempt to "other" Obama in the minds of white voters. Note the emphasis from Rethugs on Khalidi's Middle East connections, his Arab? Muslim? sounding name, his links to so-called terrorist groups (the P.L.O., in this case), suggestions that he is anti-semitic and violent for voicing criticism of recent Israeli governments, and even claims that he is a neo-Nazi!

Here is Michael Goldfarb, a right-wingnut blogger and McCain surrogate (and general jack-ass), getting embarassed on CNN after throwing around unsubstantiated charges of anti-semitism-by-association against Obama, which he cannot back up:

Yet, despite this ugliness from the McCain campaign, there are some hopeful signs: McCain is getting some serious push-back now from the media on this latest exercise in the low politics of hate and division.

For instance, in response to the above episode, Joe Klein wrote,
Here we have the McCain campaign’s execrable Michael Goldfarb slinging around accusations of anti-semitism—a favorite pastime, as we’ve seen this year, among Jewish neoconservatives.

Andrew Sullivan agreed, writing:
Michael Goldfarb, McCain spokesman, accuses Barack Obama of hanging around with anti-Semites – plural – on CNN. Asked to name one other anti-Semite other than his allegation about Rashid Khalidi, he can’t. He won’t. But he leaves it hanging, refusing to disown or retract the charge. This is pure McCarthyism. And it is the rotten core of McCain.

And Jo-Ann Mort commented:
It has come to this--the red baiting and the nastiness of the McCain/Palin campaign, in desperation to get Jewish support, is now baiting and bad-mouthing a notable Palestinian-American historian, Rashid Khalidi, for his and his wife's friendship with Obama. The Khalidi's know Obama from their time in Hyde Park, when Rashid was a professor at the University of Chicago.

Now at Columbia University, he is someone who has always reached out to all sides in the debate about the future of Israel and Palestine. He has been outspoken in his arguments against Arafat's ways of governing and terrorism and when he was at U of C, he was close to Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, one of the most important American Jewish figures of our time. For the Republicans to go after him is pure vial--they think that the Jewish vote is so stupid and racist that they will turn away from the Democrats solely on this type of slander. For someone like Daniel Pipes, quoted in today's New York Times story, to call him 'marginal,' is a joke. It's time to move the Center back to the Center--let's hope that happens as of November 5--for the sake of America, the sake of Israel and the sake of Palestine.

This morning, The Washington Post published a scathing editorial hammering John McCain over the Khalidi issue. Titled, "An 'Idiot Wind,'" the editors called this latest of McCain's "increasingly reckless ad hominem attacks" "a vile smear" and praised Obama as "a man of considerable intellectual curiosity who can hear out a smart, if militant, advocate for the Palestinians without compromising his own position. To suggest, as Mr. McCain has, that there is something reprehensible about associating with Mr. Khalidi is itself condemnable -- especially during a campaign in which Arab ancestry has been the subject of insults." Amen.

Similarly, over at Harper's, Scott Horton writes about the Khalidi smear, particularly an article at the conservative National Review by Andrew McCarthy, as a part of "the New McCarthyism." Horton acknowledges that the last weeks of presidential campaigns often see a lot of negativity, but that this year "the process has gotten nuttier and more malicious than usual." Horton knows Khalidi. Here is the portrait he paints:

This doesn’t sound much like the Rashid Khalidi I know. I’ve followed his career for many years, read his articles and books, listened to his presentations, and engaged him in discussions of politics, the arts, and history. In fact, as McCarthy’s piece ran, I was midway through an advance copy of Khalidi’s new book Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East. (I’ll be reviewing it next month–stay tuned.) Rashid Khalidi is an American academic of extraordinary ability and sharp insights. He is also deeply committed to stemming violence in the Middle East, promoting a culture that embraces human rights as a fundamental notion, and building democratic societies. In a sense, Khalidi’s formula for solving the Middle East crisis has not been radically different from George W. Bush’s: both believe in American values and approaches. However, whereas Bush believes these values can be introduced in the wake of bombs and at the barrel of a gun, Khalidi disagrees. He sees education and civic activism as the path to success, and he argues that pervasive military interventionism has historically undermined the Middle East and will continue to do so. Khalidi has also been one of the most articulate critics of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority—calling them repeatedly on their anti-democratic tendencies and their betrayals of their own principles. Khalidi is also a Palestinian American. There is no doubt in my mind that it is solely that last fact that informs McCarthy’s ignorant and malicious rants.

And here is John Judis of the New Republic on the subject:


Josh Marshall, of TPM, sums it up this way:
For McCain, personally, to compare Khalidi to a neo-nazi, it's just an offense McCain should never be forgiven for. It's right down in the gutter with Joe McCarthy and the worst of the worst. Khalidi is in this new McCain set piece for one reason -- as a generic Arab, to spur the idea that Obama is foreign, friendly with terrorists and possibly Muslim.

Let me underscore that Khalidi is American-born and Ivy educated and while his ideas are controversial to some (by the way, just about anyone who writes seriously and complexly about the Middle East is "controversial to some"), Khalidi is a complex, well-respected scholar of the Middle-East who advocates an end to violence there through a mediated solution. In fact, he has been involved, formally, in various peace negotiations.

Let me also write that underlying the obvious slime of this and other attacks is a profound, on-going assault on academic freedom, the free-flow of ideas in our democratic society and the whole idea of intellectualism. (Note how "well" this anti-intellectual philosophy has worked out over the last 8 years with the Boy Idiot King in charge of things in the U.S. Uh... not so good.) For a long time now, conservatives have played the anti-intellectual/anti-academia card in order to rally a populist, anti-elitist base to their thoroughly elitist economic policies. They demonize the very idea that it might make some sense to have folks with some know-how on an issue involved with that issue in government. They attack the notion that a studied knowledge of a subject is a good thing in government. And, this is the way of authoritarians: they rule with an iron fist, scared of any and all competing ideas, frightened at intellectual honesty and complexity, and so they move to crush it. They do not have faith in the power of their own ideas over competing ones, because the ideas they espouse are undemocratic and largely bankrupt.

It is important for all of us, every citizen, to understand that fundamental to institutions of higher education is the principle of academic freedom. The idea is that campuses are places where all kinds of ideas can get a hearing and be discussed, challenged and turned over openly and publicly, or in the mediated forum of a classroom. Campuses are places where competing ideas are pit against one another and students and the public alike are encouraged to engage them, grapple with them, and make decisions and judgments for themselves. This is the work we do, regardless of discipline, in academia. We are charged with developing young minds and helping them to critically assess all kinds of ideas and make informed judgments, based on evidence. This is the root of critical thinking and citizenship in a democracy, too! We have faith, on campus and in democracy, that the best ideas will win out in the end, if this free flow is unencumbered, if people have access to information and if they are equipped with some basic skills.

Like the 1st amendment, academic freedom means the most when it is extended to those opinions and views we might not agree with. It is here where we must be most vigilant in defending intellectual freedom.

I hope you will stand with me to defend academic freedom, the free flow of ideas and our basic liberties in the United States. If we do not, our democracy is truly imperiled...

Bruce Springsteen, the "New Jersey Devil"

Happy Halloween from Bruce Springsteen...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Remember Who We Are: A New Progressive Era?

This ad ran in the NYTimes:
(click image to enlarge)

Figuring Out the "Green Economy"

There has been a lot of talk this political season about the so-called "green economy." That sounds good and all, but what the hell is it and how should we be thinking about it? Here are a few good essays on various aspects of the green economy to help you on your way:

- Ben Jervey asks, "What Color is Your Collar: Toward a Definition of Green Collar."

- Adele Stan asks, What will the green economy will look like? "We all say we want to go green, but do we all see the same kinds of change when we imagine an eco-friendly economy?"

- Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser writes about the green revolution on campus. And here is a green spotlight on New York University.

- Preeti Mangala Shekar and Tram Nguyen want to make sure the "green wave" doesn’t leave out communities of color. Van Jones agrees.

- Jason Walsh and Sarah White, in "Global Green Jobs," suggest that "greater awareness of the promise of a green economy allows us to challenge the too-familiar "jobs vs. the environment" frame." Ian Kim similarly suggests "eco-equity" for all workers!

- Kevin Danaher argues that a new strategic focus for progressives must include a green economy.

- Jeremy Brecher and Tim Costello and Brendan Smith argue that "MLK, Jr. died fighting to make green-collar jobs good jobs." Now, others at Green For All have taken on his work. The same authors write about hopeful signs in the green economy. There are signs of life in the Oakland green economy, as well.

- Several authors, here, here and here, argue that the way out of the current global economic mess must be built upon a green economic model.

- Two good books on the green economy are here and here.

- The Ella Baker Center has some nice teaching tools on the green economy for those of you who want to integrate these issues into your classrooms.

- David Korten gave a very interesting presentation at the April 2008 Seattle Green Festival, "Navigating The Great Turning From Empire To Earth Community."

- Mark Harris debunks the green mythology surrounding Whole Foods.

- Here is Obama's plan for a green economy.

Do you know of any good resources to help understand green economics and the profound transformation we need to undertake if we are to live in healthy balance with the natural word? If so, please post them in the comments section...

Will Obama Surge Hurt Gay Rights At Ballot Box?

Susan Donaldson James of ABC thinks so. In short, her piece points out that a large number of minority voters are also social conservatives. Thus, the logic goes, the increase in participation among African Americans and Latinos will also drive up the number of anti-gay voters this cycle. The tension between social justice and conservative social values has also created some fragmentation within the black community between civil rights organizations, like the NAACP, and black churches.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Good Sheet: CO2 World

Here's the deal with CO2, the most prevalent greenhouse gas (click image to enlarge):
Thanks to the good people at Good Magazine for another interesting graphic...

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Violence is Golden, It Seems"

My friend Roger German has penned a response to the recent cancellation of Bill Ayers' visit to Lincoln. Recall that University officials claimed it was threats of violence that forced the "disinvitation." What is the lesson from all of this, asks German:
So, what have we learned today, students?

We have learned that Ayers was absolutely right back in the ’60s.

If you want something done in the United States of America, you need to resort to violence, or the threat of violence. That is the way you make your voice heard. You don’t discuss, you don’t vote, you don’t talk about it; you threaten and intimidate.

There are approximately 47,808 students in the University of Nebraska system in Lincoln, Omaha, Bellevue, Creighton and Kearney.

They all learned a very important lesson this week. Violence is golden.
Check out the whole thing...

Ever Wonder Why Everything Sucks So Bad?

If so, watch this and it will all make sense:

"Why They Hate Obama: Miscegenation and Other Nightmares of the Racist Political Imagination"

Stephen Ducat has a nice meditation on the white racist's political mindset.  The article places the emphasis NOT on Obama's blackness, but on his mixed-race background:
The frank comments of unapologetic anti-Obama racists across the country have recently gained a wide national audience. As Ricky Thompson, a pipe fitter from Mobile, Alabama, told a New York Times reporter, "He's neither-nor. He's other. It's in the Bible. Come as one. Don't create other breeds." Another denizen of the GOP's "real America" shared his spiritual insights with the same interviewer. Glenn Reynolds, of Martinsdale, Virginia pointed out, "God taught the children of Israel not to intermarry." Such shameless declarations of prejudice reveal something obvious but easily overlooked: It is not Obama's blackness that disturbs these pious bigots, but his grayness.
After going through a brief history of the strict racial divisions in our society, their social, legal, political, psychological and religious roots, and why mixed-race people confound and particularly threaten white supremacy, he writes,
Thus, the very visibility of Barack Obama - let alone his candidacy for the most powerful and, before Bush, the most esteemed job in the world - creates a category crisis of epic proportions. He not only mouths a rhetoric of transcending division, but is himself a seamless genetic integration of what should be immiscible. The decent, God-fearing racist must be plagued by unanswerable questions: What is this incomprehensible mutation of badness and goodness? How can the same person contain that with which I identify and which I despise? What does that make me?
It is well worth a read. I hope you will take the time to check it out. Then, leave a comment, if you feel so moved...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More Racist Shit from Ohio...

Good Sheet: Does Your Vote Matter?

The folks at Good Magazine want to make sure you understand how important your vote is...
(click graphic to enlarge)

Another Dumb-Ass in Ohio

Good lord. It is increasingly embarrassing to admit that I grew up in Cleveland...

This American Life: "Take a Negro Home"

Ira Glass's NPR program, "This American Life," is one of my absolute favorite radio shows. A great Sunday treat is to settle in and listen to the latest strange, but compelling, slice of humanity captured by Glass and his crew. Even cooler, there is now a TV version of the show on Showtime!

Anyway, my race and politics class just read Doug McAdam's book, Freedom Summer, which focuses on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee's historic 1964 summer voting rights project in Mississippi. The book focuses primarily on the roughly 1,000 affluent, white college-aged volunteers who came South for the summer to participate in this inter-racial experiment. One of the most interesting (and human) dynamics of this story, among many fascinating and important threads, was the relationships that were created across the color line and all the complexity that came along with those relationships. After a very energetic in-class discussion about this subject last Thursday, one of my graduate students mentioned a 2000 episode of TAL that featured a story about a white woman who married a black man during the civil rights era. Provocatively titled, "Take a Negro Home," here is how the website sets up the story:
Rich Robinson's father is black, his mother is white. They married during the civil rights movement, believing the whole nation was moving toward greater and greater integration. After having three children, they divorced. Rich's mom went back to her segregated white world. His dad returned to his segregated black world. In this story, Rich sets out to discover the role that race played in their divorce, and the role it played in their initial attraction. It's something he'd never discussed with them before. And he wants something more personal: advice on whether they think he should marry white or black. (27 minutes)
It is a fascinating yarn and well worth a listen. I hope you will kick back with your morning coffee and tune in to this fascinating story.

Thanks to Charles Kilntobe for letting me know about this program...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

BREAKING! Proof of Obama's Terrorist Links!!!!

BREAKING NEWS: 
I am sorry to have to be the one to break this news to all of you out there who believed in Barack Obama... The Obama campaign is all but finished, as new incontrovertible evidence has emerged linking him to domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers. The campaign has for weeks been trying to dodge and suppress the inevitable, at least until election day. But late yesterday afternoon, this explosive new "smoking gun" was delivered to the offices of Freedom Road and it has the Obama campaign reeling...

It appears true, after all, that a youthful Barry Obama, code name "The Hawaiian Lion," did, indeed, participate in the Weathermen's infamous 1969 "Days of Rage" campaign in Chicago:

(click image to enlarge)

Well, there you have it. Incontrovertible proof that Obama is a violent, communist-socialist, Muslim-Christian-liberation-theologist, elitist, drug-addled, tax & spend, America-hater! I mean, just look at him there. That is obviously the face of a hate-filled terror-monger bent on destroying the American Dream... And, if he did it once, he'll do it again, only this time from the White House!!! 

There's more...  accompanying the photographic proof that was delivered to our offices was an audio recording of Obama, JUST LAST WEEK, as he got ready to speak to a group of "community organizers," singing James Brown's subversive classic, "Funky President," and Parliament's incendiary, "Chocolate City," which features the militant black nationalist lyric, "They still call it the White House, but that's a temprorary condition" and the radical mantra, "Gainin' on ya!"...

We shoulda known all along it would come to this!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Progressive Writes About UNL's Decision to "Disinvite" Ayers to Campus

Well, there has been a controversy swirling at UNL over the last week after university administrators forced the education school to cancel a scheduled visit by WIlliam Ayers (yes, THAT Bill Ayers) in mid-November for an education conference. It is a very problematic move by the University in terms of academic freedom. I am an acquaintance of Matt Rothschild, editor of The Progressive Magazine, and after speaking with him about the flap, he decided to write a story on the issue for the magazine. Check it out here.

In addition, a group of academics, nationwide, has joined together to defend Ayers and support academic freedom. They have a petition, if you are interested in signing...

Good Sheet: Bill of Health

Another interesting graphic from the folks at Good Magazine, this time on health care costs:
(click image to enlarge)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Trailer: "Paprika" (2007)

I watched a very trippy and interesting Japanese animated film last night, "Paprika." This is definitely not a kids film. Here is a synopsis:
With PAPRIKA, Satoshi Kon (TOKYO GODFATHERS, MILLENNIUM ACTRESS) unleashes another eye-popping anime adventure. The visually striking thriller is set in the not-too-distant future, where doctors are developing a groundbreaking new psychotherapy treatment called PT. This coincides with the invention of a device called the "DC Mini," which enables researchers to enter the dreams of a subject and explore matters of the unconscious mind. But one day, a "DC Mini" prototype goes missing, and the doctors are thrown into a world of confusion. They realize how dangerous a turn of events this could be, and to ensure that things don't spiral out of control, they embark on a mad quest to track down the missing prototype. The pretty but timid Dr. Atsuko Chiba teams up with the food-loving Dr. Tokita to find his assistant, Himuro, who has disappeared. Unfortunately, it is at this time that Atsuko's boss, Torataro Shima, tries to commit suicide. Dr. Tokita calls in an old friend, Detective Konakawa, to help the team find an answer to the rapidly devolving problem. As the characters use their dreamworld alter egos to enter the dreams of troubled patients, the line between reality and unreality begins to blur, until no one knows for sure what is real and what isn't. An adaptation of a story by the acclaimed Japanese writer Yasutaka Tsutsui, PAPRIKA tells a tough-to-decipher, but spellbinding, tale. Kon's thought-provoking film features an absurdly catchy J-pop score and an unforgettable visual landscape.

Here is the trailer:


Here is the visually stunning parade scene from the film:


Check it out. It is definitely worth it...

Seen any good movies lately?

If Obama Wins, Will White People Riot?




That is the provocatively ludicrous question posed by Wendi Thomas over at The Root.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Levi Stubbs, R.I.P.

A few days ago now, Levi Stubbs, of the Four Tops, passed away. Stubbs was by far one of the most soulful, and perhaps under-appreciated, voices in Motown history. Take a moment and dig Stubbs:

1965: Four Tops, "Baby I Need Your Lovin'":


1965: Four Tops, "I Can't Help Myself" (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch):


Soul Train: Four Tops, "Am I My Brother's Keeper":


1978: Four Tops, "Ain't No Woman Like the One I've Got":

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Violence Against Women Act: Thanks, Joe...

When it comes to women's rights in this election, only one ticket measures up: Obama/Biden.

Here is a recent statement by Women for Obama:
Senator Biden will hold a conference call with 500 advocates and victims who are activists against violence against women to announce the 2 millionth call to the Domestic Violence Hotline that he helped create this afternoon.

Approximately 1,400 women a year – four every day – die in the United States as a result of domestic violence. And 132,000 women report that they have been victims of a rape or attempted rape, and it is estimated that an even greater number have been raped, but do not report it.

Biden wrote and passed the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which is the strongest legislation to date that criminalizes domestic violence and other forms of violence against women, provides victims with the support they deserve, and holds batterers accountable. Signed into law in 1994, the bill funds and helps communities, nonprofit organizations, and police combat domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

VAWA establishes a sexual assault services program and provides education grants to prevent domestic violence. Since VAWA was enacted, over 2,500 separate shelters, centers, and outreach offices have been established and the National Domestic Violence Hotline has received over 2 million calls. Shining a spotlight on this violence has resulted both in better supports for victims, and lowering the incident rate of domestic violence by 60%.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden will make ending violence against women and children a White House priority.

Chelsea Wilson was abused and because of the Violence Against Women Act, she was able to make sure that her abuser went to jail for 25 years. She now feels safe and can take care of her son without worrying about being attacked again. She shares her story in the video below...



Hotline advocates are available for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you or someone you know is frightened about something in your relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224. For more information visit www.ndvh.org.

The Daily Show Skewers "Real America"

Each of these segments is devastatingly funny...

• Priend or Pfoe:


• Wasilla's Main Street:


• "Are You a Real American?" quiz:

Countrypolitik: What's Right and What's Left About Country Music

Over at Popmatters.com, Bob Proehl writes,
At a first glance, country music seems traditionally allied with the sort of down-home, small-town ethics and values touted by the Republicans. But the politics of country music has never been a simple red or blue.
Intrigued? Read the article here...

Military Women Being Murdered in North Carolina


"In a way, it's surprising that there aren't more bodies piling up at military bases all over this nation"
- The Fayetteville Observer

In May, I wrote about the surge in rapes against U.S. military women, a story, like so many on the underbelly of the military today, that had gained little to no national media attention. Now comes a report from Truthout.org that there has been a dramatic surge in domestic violence, and even murder, against U.S. military women in North Carolina. Over the last 9 months, 4 military women have been murdered near Fort Bragg and Camp LeJeune. Back in 2002, 4 military spouses were murdered by their special forces husbands near Fort Bragg, as well. Reports of rape and domestic violence have also spiked. The Fayetteville Observer, which serves the base, recently editorialized about the link between domestic and state-sponsored violence:
"It's an old argument. We train men, and now women, to wage war, then we are baffled when they do that to each other. It is driven in times of war by a national culture that can extol violence, conflating it with patriotism. And don't overlook the general population raised on a steady diet of malevolence disguised as entertainment. In a way, it's surprising that there aren't more bodies piling up at military bases all over this nation. We are certain, nevertheless, that the demonstrators (at the gates of Fort Bragg) were on to something that we as a community need to address. This may become an epidemic that threatens us all. It is a problem we, as a community, military and civilian, can't ignore. It is also a problem that we have not, so far, effectively solved."
The editorial concluded:
The Observer editorial acknowledged, "The Army has made a good-faith effort to provide programs and services to prevent domestic violence and save lives. But it's not enough. The effort must be redoubled, the violence studied more carefully, and the intervention waged even more aggressively ... the recent spate of murders underscores the fact that domestic violence remains a significant problem here. Whatever preventive action is being taken at Fort Bragg, it isn't enough."
Add to this terribleness, another dirty little secret in the U.S. military that has failed to break the public consciousness: suicide rates within the military are stratospheric.

What the fuck, people!!?? This is shameful. It underscores the very real damage inflicted upon human beings when you turn them into killing machines and send them off to war. We are sensitive creatures and war messes people up. One need only survey military memoirs from across the 20th century and beyond to understand this fact. And, if we are going to send people off to kill in our name, then the nation better damn well be ready to provide ALL the resources necessary to take care of them when they return. I'm not talking about doing the minimum necessary, but rather the MAXIMUM necessary to help these veterans out. If we can find trillions to fight the war... If we can find trillions to bailout corrupt CEOs in our nation's financial system... Then we sure as hell can find the resources to take care of those who have given themselves up for our nation. That is the very LEAST we can do for them.

Shame on us...

Chomsky: It's OK to Vote Lesser of Two Evils

Noam Chomsky has been one of the leading critics of American foreign policy since the 1970s. In this video, he challenges head-on Ralph Nader's claim that there is no difference between the two major parties in the U.S. and argues that it is OK to vote for the lesser of two evils. According to Chomsky, there is indeed a difference between the two parties and their candidates, if a narrow one. While they both serve elites, he says, the Democrats, over time, help people:

Any thoughts? Do you think Ralph Nader is going to head up to MIT to kick Chomsky's ass?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

This is What Democracy Looks Like!

An estimated 100,000+ people turned out to see Barack Obama in St. Louis yesterday (photo below). Another 75,000 came to hear him in Kansas City the same day. That's a total of 175,000+ Obama supporters in Missouri in one day!

Don't let the desperate, condescending and elitist rantings of Republicans against democracy muddle your thinking or temper your enthusiasm in this election. We should all be proud of the incredible, historic grassroots support Obama is receiving. This is a sign of a much-needed reinvigoration of American democracy and citizenship. We need to keep that energy flowing through election day and BEYOND!

To that end, there are now only two weeks until election day. The polls are tightening a bit, as they usually do in the final stretch run. Don't get worried or negative. Get ACTIVE! Obama is still looking very good to win, but we should not be complacent. We should not underestimate the possibility that race is a shadowy obstacle in this election that might rear its ugly head on election day with a drop in support for Obama. We should not underestimate the various efforts Republicans are making to suppress Democratic votes among poor people and people of color. We have two recent elections (2000 and 2004) that should have taught us all we need to know about how serious and devastating these anti-democratic efforts can be. We cannot tolerate this agin in 2008. Obama needs to win big to put these types of efforts out of range. He also needs a large Democratic majority in Congress to pass his agenda; so work down ballot, too.

BE ACTIVE THESE LAST TWO WEEKS. Do something in your local community. If your community/state is all sewn up, travel to a nearby state for a few days to help out. Or, go to your local Obama headquarters and ask how you might get involved making calls to potential voters in important swing states. And, keep on talking about why you are supporting Obama to your friends and family, your neighbors and colleagues, and even strangers you meet along the way each day. Again, if you know people in swing states, TARGET THEM! They need to hear from you about why we all need Obama in the White House and why we cannot afford 4-8 years of McSame. And, finally, get active in your state's "get out the vote" effort for Obama and the Democrats. The outcome of the election hinges on Obama's ability to get his voters to the polls and to have their votes counted. If you can, offer to give people rides to the polls on November 4th. Take several of your friends and family to vote with you. Stand on a corner with an Obama sign! Do whatever you can...

On election day, if you notice any hijinx by Republicans around polling areas, notify election authorities. And, if you are voting on an electronic machine, MAKE SURE YOUR VOTE IS REGISTERED PROPERLY. There are already reports in a couple of states that electronic voting machines are switching Obama votes to McCain votes!

By positive. Be active. Let's bring home this victory. Our nation and our world needs us...

Spread the word...

The Spiritual Audacity of Abraham Joshua Heschel

It's Sunday, time for another exploration of some random aspect of spirituality that I find interesting! This week, I hope you might take some time to listen to an audio program by the people who create NPR's "Speaking of Faith" on Abraham Joshua Heschel. Who the heck is that, you ask? Here is what the folks at SoF write:
"Abraham Joshua Heschel insisted that the opposite of good is not evil, it is indifference. Born into an esteemed Hasidic family in Poland in 1907, he was a mystic who wrote transcendent, poetic words about God. At the same time, he marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and organized religious leadership against the war in Vietnam, embodying the social activism of the biblical prophets he studied. We explore Heschel's teachings and his prophetic legacy — his "spiritual audacity" — for people in our time."
Check out the whole program. Make it today's meditation. Heschel is a fascinating person with a relevant spiritual perspective for our desperate times...

Any thoughts? What lesser-known spiritual figures do you find insight from?

McCain/Palin Campaign Channeling Its Inner George Wallace?

Diane McWhorter, award-winning author of Carry Me Home, thinks so. She writes,
So how is Sarah Palin like—and not like—George Wallace? And how much is John McCain relying on tactics Wallace used? The answers: more than she can probably know and more than he appears to have admitted to himself.

Check it out...

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Debate: Batman vs. The Penguin

Sound familiar?
Thanks to Jared for this one...

Happy Friday!

Washington Post Endorses Obama

The Washington Post has issued a very strong endorsement of Barack Obama for president of the United States. Check it out and pass it along...

UPDATE: Two more big endorsements today for Obama, the L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune. Note that the Trib is Obama's hometown newspaper, but it traditionally leans Republican. In fact, they have not endorsed a Democrat for President since 1847! And, last weekend, Obama received 15 endorsements, McCain zero. And, with Colin Powell's scheduled appearance on Meet the Press this Sunday, speculation is rising that he will endorse Obama, too. Oh, and don't forget that back in September 6 women's group made an unprecedented move by endorsing Obama. Hell, even some conservatives are endorsing Obama!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

NYT: "In Voting Booth, Race May Play a Bigger Role"

Yesterday, the New York Times ran five good pieces on the role of race in the presidential election from a regional perspective...

Adam Nagourney suggests that despite some high profile moments where race was out in the open, on full display, that it is more often "found only in sentiments that are whispered, internalized or masked by discussions of culture or religion, and therefore hard to capture fully in polling or even to hear clearly in everyday conversation." He goes on, "Political strategists once assumed that polls might well overstate support for black candidates, since white voters might be reluctant to admit racially tinged sentiments to a pollster. Newer research has cast doubt on that assumption. Either way, the situation is confounding aides on both sides, who like everyone else are waiting to see what role race will play in the privacy of the voting booth."

• In a companion article on "the bi-racial factor" in the South, Adam Nossiter finds that for some white southerners, their uncertainty of Barack Obama "starts at racial identity." The piece begins: "The McCain campaign’s depiction of Barack Obama as a mysterious 'other' with an impenetrable background may not be resonating in the national polls, but it has found a receptive audience with many white Southern voters." He then writes, "Being the son of a white mother and a black father has come to symbolize Mr. Obama’s larger mysteries for many voters. When asked about his background, a substantial number of people interviewed said they believed his racial heritage was unclear, giving them another reason to vote against him."

• Closer to our neck of the woods, in Colorado, Kirk Johnson finds, "The debate over race — and for some, the soul-searching — that Mr. Obama’s history-making candidacy as the Democratic nominee has engendered are clearly present here, just different." One theme that emerged in Johnson's reporting is that "the lack of racial interaction made Mr. Obama’s race more of an intellectual concept, secondary to ordinary political considerations." Yet, "in a sign of the limits of tolerance, some white voters also expressed a vague fear that if they did experience daily life in black America, their opinion of black people might change for the worse."

• In Nevada, Jennifer Steinhauer found that door-to-door volunteers for Obama "face a complex issue" in race. A case in point, when one woman told a canvasser, “I don’t want to sound like I’m prejudiced... I’ve never been around a lot of black people before. I just worry that they’re nice to your face but then when they get around their own people you just have to worry about what they’re going to do to you.” The Obama volunteer responded: “One thing you have to remember is that Obama, he’s half white and he was raised by his white mother. So his views are more white than black really.” She went on to assure the woman that she was so impressed with Mr. Obama the person, that she failed to notice the color of his skin anymore." The exchange was posted online and it evoked outrage among many readers. “Amazing how even white people who support Obama and are canvassing for him default to classic white supremacist language,” wrote one reader. Another said, “What in the world is this volunteer thinking?” But, according to Steinhauser, the Obama canvasser's "efforts reflect the complex task that many volunteers canvassing for Mr. Obama face. While she and other Obama volunteers may feel offended by remarks like Ms. Mendive’s, an admonishment would not persuade a voter on the fence to pull the lever for Mr. Obama. So she often takes another tack."

• And, in a final article, reporter Shaila Dewan finds on campuses in Kentucky and southern Ohio that "In Generation Seen as Colorblind, Black Is Yet a Factor." She writes, "Throughout this campaign season, many commentators and politicians have proclaimed today’s youth to be a colorblind generation in which racial prejudice has receded and diversity is embraced. But in two days of interviews here and north of the Ohio River in Cincinnati, most young people acknowledged — or even insisted — that race was still a powerful if subtle factor among their peers." Citing statistical data, along with personal interviews, Dewan finds that while "most polls show that Mr. Obama is far more popular among younger voters than his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain... exit polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky this year [show] younger Democratic primary voters were no less likely to say that race had been an important factor in their vote than people 30 and older. And in two states — Georgia, where African-Americans dominated among younger voters, and Illinois — young voters were actually more likely than older ones to say that race had been important." Moreover, "Some data have also found that young voters are less likely than older ones to say the country is ready for a black president, though these data make it hard to tell whether the young are more influenced by race or simply more realistic about its power. In a nationwide New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in July, more than two-thirds of voters said the country was ready for a black president. Among voters 30 or older, 23 percent disagreed, compared with 34 percent of younger voters."

Taken together, what do these regional portraits of race and election '08 reveal about how far the nation has come and what work remains ahead? How might we situate these findings within the longer historical trajectory of race and politics? What has been your experience with issues of race and the presidential election?

UPDATE: More food for thought on race and election '08...

KKK flyers show up in OK newspapers.

• Al Jazeera reporter find racism at Palin rally.

San Bernadino GOP group makes fake bills featuring Obama, watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken.

Sacramento GOPers approve email that suggests waterboarding Obama and compares him to Osama bin Laden.

• Rush Limbaugh perpetuates radical right-wing offense, claiming Obama Arab, not African American.

Debate # 3 in Haiku

I've got two debate haikus...

this one is for John McCain:

seething sarcasm
grimacing, beady-eyed coot
scoff & sneer & sigh



this one is for Barack Obama:

Obama kept cool
duck, parry, spin, block and jab
the next president



What's your debate haiku?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Women for McCain

Palin As President





Click here and go poke around in the Oval Office with Sarah. Pass it along...

Purple America: Our Agenda

The folks over at Yes! Magazine have a nice feature that points out that despite all the bluster about America being divided into these distinct red states and blue states, between unbending conservatives and liberals, that, in fact, most Americans agree on a core set of issues and policies. Take a look at what most Americans agree on here and then spread the word. Positive, proactive, constructive solutions. I like that very much...

And, if you are interested in Yes!, poke around at their website.

New MoveOn Ad

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday Night Football in Cleveland!

(click any photo to enlarge)
My brother Chris and I went to see the Monday Night Football game last night in Cleveland between the Browns and the Giants. It was a perfect early Fall night, in the mid-70s throughout the game, and whadyaknow, the Browns pulled off a HUGE upset by defeating the defending Super Bowl champion Giants! In fact, it was a total drubbing. We had a blast. Here we are...
Here are some die-hard fans, faces painted and all, before the game started:
My brother and I have season tickets in the 4th row, at the 45 yard line, right behind the Browns bench. You are so close that when my brother gets obnoxious and yells at the players, they can hear him:
Here is one of the dejected Giants fans that sat in the row behind us after the Browns put the game away in the 4th quarter (those 16 beers he had didn't help, either):
Unfortunately, I mysteriously broke my camera lens at the beginning of the game, so I didn't really get many decent photos, other than the one of the stadium above and the Giants fan. The color/focus is off on all the others and the one of my brother and I was taken with my phone. Oh, well. The Brownies won and that was worth a broken camera lens, I suppose. For one night, there was joy in Mudville!

TED: James Burchfield Plays (Invisible) Turntables

Matisyahu ain't got nothin' on James Burchfield:

PBS Poll: "Is Sarah Palin Qualified to Be VP?"

You've probably all received an email in desperate tones asking you to go to the the PBS website and vote in an online poll answering the question in the title of this email. I've personally received it about 10 times and even got another one as recently as yesterday! Jeff Lieber over at Daily Kos has an excellent diary on this topic. Check it out HERE! Please... and then go forward that link to every single person who has ever sent you the poll email.

Tell McCain to Stop the Hate!

From Brave New Films and Color of Change:

They also have a petition, which states:
Dear Senator McCain and Governor Palin,

Time and again in America, people of all races and backgrounds have overcome division and fear, and come together to uplift the country and create a more equal and just society. It's part of what makes this country great.

With an African-American nominee running on a major party ticket and a woman on the Republican ticket for the first time in history, this campaign has seen Americans--men and women of all races--inspired to continue that great tradition, coming together to bridge the gaps that history has set between us in service of our national progress.

But let us be clear: while we have made great strides in this country when it comes to racial equality, we are not finished. Now, more than ever, we need leadership that understands that we live in complex times where too many are quick to judge another by the complexion of their skin or the sound of their name.

In the last few weeks, Senator McCain and Governor Palin, rhetoric at your campaign events has taken an increasingly dangerous tone that seems to ignore the precarious state of our progress when it comes to race and ethnicity.

Supporters at your rallies and other events have used hateful language and called for violence against Sen. Obama yelling "kill him!" "off with his head!" and "bomb Obama."

For the most part, you have stood by in silence. In addition, you have also repeatedly made statements that somehow connect Senator Obama with terrorism. Your surrogates have emphasized his middle name. This is problematic and dangerous, and we believe helps create the conditions that have given rise to these incidents of violent rhetoric from some of your supporters.

Today, we're standing together as Americans of all political persuasions to express our deep concern that the decisions of your campaign are contributing to a dangerous atmosphere of paranoia, division, and hate that, as we have already seen, has the potential to seriously harm our country and its progress.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

In these trying times, candidates seeking the highest offices in the land must call on the best in each of us, and call off the worst.

We urge you to join people of conscience from all races and backgrounds to reject the politics of division and fear, and come together to uplift the country and create a more equal and just society.

-- The undersigned --
Sign it here. Spread the word...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Correcting Columbus Day...



Well, it is Columbus Day and all. Here is a good piece from The Progressive.

Obama Goes Door-to-Door in Ohio!

This is why I love this guy. He is pulling away in the election and he is still out there going for the political kill. If he wins Ohio, there is almost no path to victory for McShame. The Obama campaign cannot be accused of coasting or taking it easy. As the campaign stated recently, "We plan to run through the finish line." Amen!

Good Sheet: Education Reform

Here is another interestinggraphic from the folks at Good Magazine. This one focuses on education reform, and in particular No Child Left Behind (click image to enlarge):

Pass it along to all of your friends and family in the education world.

Any thoughts/reactions?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Civil Rights Legend John Lewis Slams McCain/Palin Politics of Hate and Division

John Lewis, one of the great living legends of the civil rights era and a TRUE American hero, slammed the McCain/Palin ticket today for their role in stirring up increasingly hateful and racialized sentiments at their rallies over the last several days. Lewis, who participated in sit-ins, Freedom Rides and the historic voting rights campaign in Selma, and who now represents Georgia in Congress, said:

"As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign," Lewis said in a statement. "Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse."
He continued:

"During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama," said Lewis.
Lewis concluded with a wanring:

"As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better."
In response, the McCain campaign lamely attacked Lewis, a man McCain has previously called one of the "wisest" in Congress:

Congressman John Lewis' comments represent a character attack against Governor Sarah Palin and me that is shocking and beyond the pale. The notion that legitimate criticism of Senator Obama's record and positions could be compared to Governor George Wallace, his segregationist policies and the violence he provoked is unacceptable and has no place in this campaign. I am saddened that John Lewis, a man I've always admired, would make such a brazen and baseless attack on my character and the character of the thousands of hardworking Americans who come to our events to cheer for the kind of reform that will put America on the right track.

I call on Senator Obama to immediately and personally repudiate these outrageous and divisive comments that are so clearly designed to shut down debate 24 days before the election. Our country must return to the important debate about the path forward for America.
Obama issued this statement:

Senator Obama does not believe that John McCain or his policy criticism is in any way comparable to George Wallace or his segregationist policies. But John Lewis was right to condemn some of the hateful rhetoric that John McCain himself personally rebuked just last night, as well as the baseless and profoundly irresponsible charges from his own running mate that the Democratic nominee for President of the United States 'pals around with terrorists.' As Barack Obama has said himself, the last thing we need from either party is the kind of angry, divisive rhetoric that tears us apart at a time of crisis when we desperately need to come together. That is the kind of campaign Senator Obama will continue to run in the weeks ahead.

Palin's Body Language and Why It Should Worry You

Here is why - according to body language experts - Sarah Palin's body language should be of great concern to all citizens. Here is what they had to say about McCain's body language.

The Drift Toward Facism...

Here is Naomi Wolf talking about her new book, The End of America, and the U.S.'s drift toward fascism...

What do you think? Compelling or not?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Could North Omaha Win Obama One Electoral Vote in Nebraska?

That is the argument many folks around here are making. For those not in the know, North Omaha is the section of town where most black residents live. It is also the third poorest African American community in the entire nation and the very poorest in the U.S. for black children. A full 59% of all African American kids grow up in poverty here. You read that right: 6 out of 10 black children are poor in North O. And, the saddest reality is that most white Omahans, and most white Nebraskans, either have no clue about the desperate straights of North Omaha, or simply do not care. North Omaha is not an election issue. Politicians pimp for votes among the residents here, but they do it on the down low and never actually raise the pertinent local issues in their campaigns. Neither Scott Klebb, the moderate Democrat running for U.S. Senate against former Republican Governor and Bush Ag Secretary Mike "Snoozer" Johanns, nor Jim Esch, another moderate Democrat running against conservative Republican Lee "helmut hair" Terry, Jr., for a spot in the House of Representatives says much of anything at all about the offensive racial and economic inequalities evident in North O. It is a tragedy and a shame. So, for North Omaha to be the decisive balance that wins Obama an electoral vote here in Nebraska would be deliciously ironic. A downtrodden, and fairly poweless, community delivering for our nation's first black president! I'd love to see that come to pass...

... but even if it does, an Obama presidency, in itself, will do little to change the reality in North Omaha. For that, we need a grassroots movement to pressure officials in power at the local, county, state and federal levels. And for that, we will need a radical shift in consciousness among whites, a development that is unlikely, to say the least. There will need to be a new sense that the metro area is an organic whole, where we all bear responsibility to uplift those neighborhoods that are struggling most. Residents of all races and ethnicities will have to be willing to grapple with the reasons behind North Omaha's deterioration, the history and legacy of racial injustice, divestment, abondonment and neglect. And, it will take a massive infusion of resources, private and public, combined with vigorous effort/action, again privately and publicly, to revitalize this hard-hit area of our city. Nothing short of this will make a difference. And, keep in mind, this is not purely a local story. This is a pattern repeated in medium and large city after medium and large city across the country. There is a national urban crisis. This is a national tragedy, a national shame.

So, as much as election day, 2008, might be a nice day for residents of North O, if in fact they can deliver the goods to Obama, it is not the end of the story. In fact, it doesn't even scratch the surface of what needs to happen most around here and across the nation in poor, urban, segregated communities of color.

More Lunatics for McCain/Palin

This time, they are in Bethlahem, PA:

This is shameful. The fact that McCain and Palin stoke these flames and don't forcefully repudiate them is even more shameful than the actual comments. To trade in this stuff is dangerous...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ode to Sarah Palin

Hilarious:

Echoes of the Past

Two NYTimes economics writers discuss the similarities and differences between the current economic crisis in the United States and Great Depression. Check it out here.

"The Palin Mob": Strongsville, Ohio

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. There are many things I love about my hometown, but the pervasive and often overt racism and ignorance of many white people there is not one of them. This video, titled "The Palin Mob," gives a good indication of what I am talking about. The footage was taken recently outside a Palin/McCain rally in Strongsville, which is just South of Cleveland:

I'd be lying if I wrote that this stuff surprises me. Having lived in Cleveland, it does not. In fact, I hate to tell you that this is fairly mild compared to what you might turn up in this beleaguered de-industrialized city. It is a good indication of what the Obama campaign is up against not only in Ohio, but in many depressed or working-class communities across the country.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Donna Brazile: "I Ain't Going to the Back of the Bus"

Amen, sister:

Spread the word...

Coming to America

I really dig Good Magazine. They do these cool graphic pieces on important issues. Here is a recent one on immigration to the United States (click to enlarge):

What do you think? Does this graphic reveal anything about immigration that challenges the dominant narrative of the issue in the mainstream media today? Or, does it confirm the basic narrative?

WSJ: Labor Woos Whites for Obama

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting look at organized labor's attempts to bring white working-class voters to Obama. Check it out...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Debate #2 Haiku!

A boring debate
McCain unable to score
election over


Can you write a haiku about the second presidential debate? It's 5 syllables in line 1 - 7 syllables in line 2 - 5 syllables in line 3

Dangerous Radicals

In the wake of Sarah Palin's hypocritical attacks on Barack Obama's so-called (but widely discredited) "ties" to former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, David Talbot has an interesting story at Salon about the Palin's own links to a radical secessionist party in Alaska, the Alaska Independence Party (AIP).

The article starts with a quote from the secessionists: "My government is my worst enemy. I'm going to fight them with any means at hand." It then goes on to recount the scary history of these crazies, including Todd Palin's 7 year membership in the group and a bizarre story about founder Joe Vogler's alliance with Iran against the U.S. government at the United Nations. Vogler was assassinated by another looney secessionst in the 1990s. The essay also points out that earlier this year, Sarah Palin herself gave this unAmerican organization one of her Joe Six-Pack "shout-outs: "Keep up the good work," Palin told AIP members. "And God bless you." Talbot also quotes current AIP chairwoman Lynette Clark telling him that Sarah Palin is her kind of gal: "She's Alaskan to the bone ... she sounds just like Joe Vogler."

In conclusion, Talbot asks the money question: Imagine the uproar if Michelle Obama was revealed to have joined a black nationalist party whose founder preached armed secession from the United States and who enlisted the government of Iran in his cause? The Obama campaign would probably not have survived such an explosive revelation. Particularly if Barack Obama himself was videotaped giving the anti-American secessionists his wholehearted support just months ago.

So, who are the real "America haters," the Obamas or the Palins? Why isn't the mainstream press covering this craziness?

Ralph Stanley Comes Out Strong for Barack Obama!

Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley has cut a radio ad for Barack Obama that is playing in Virginia. Take a listen. This is great! The Obama folks should get this thing up throughout Appalachia, in VA, WV, NC, TN, OH, KY, PA, etc.

People are really hurting in Appalachia. Christy Hardin Smith, over at Firedoglake, quotes Mudcat Saunders (of all people), saying, "The Democrats don't come here [to rural America] and campaign, because they don't think they can win here. The Republicans don't come here and campaign because they take the votes for granted on cultural issues. What happens is there's no debate over rural America, and who gets hurt? Rural America...." and then goes on to write in her own voice, "What most folks around here want to know is two things: (1) Are you one of us? and (2) Are our issues and concerns important to you? We run on retail politics, and that means shaking hands and looking folks in the eye so they can take your measure. But a good surrogate can work wonders, and that Ralph Stanley ad is brilliant."

And, for good measure, here is WV's largest newspaper's endorsement of Obama!

If you know of any white folks out there that SHOULD be voting for Obama but can't get over the racial chasm, particularly in these battleground states, please send them this advertisement from Dr. Stanley. No one has as much cred among working white families as him...

And, just for the heck of it, here is Dr. Stanley jamming in his heyday with Pete Seeger looking on in awe:


Here's another, just because Stanley is so darn awesome:


I had the great fortune to see Stanley at the Bonnaroo music festival in 2007. He still has it!