The Marc Steiner Show

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Tengella’s Take: Out in Brown, Policing in America

tengellaJuly 8, 2016 – Segment 1

We host our regular weekly feature Tengella’s Take with Center for Emerging Media Satirical Commentator Koli Tengella. Koli is President of Tengella Edutainment, an instructor and creator of the Positive Social Change Performing Arts Program at Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts High School, and he was a 2010 Open Society Institute Fellow.


Mayor Dixon Announces Her Resignation

Mayor Sheila Dixon’s pending resignation is a real tragedy both politically and personally.   

We don’t know the details of the bargain she made with the judge and the prosecutors, although that will all  come out shortly. My guess is that there will not be another trial and that she will fight to keep her  pension. I predict that she may run again in the future.

It is hard to say what a Stephanie Rawlings-Blake administration will be like. The hope is that she will  keep on some key personnel to make the transition easier for our city. However, rumors abound that Frederick  Bealefeld’s tenure as police commissioner will be short under acting Mayor Rawlings-Blake. Many feel that  the pending acting Mayor, along with her ally Governor Martin O’Malley, did want to see Bealefeld named  commissioner, that they favored former D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey. The commissioner believes that  public safety comes first and that massive arrests are not the way to ensure the safety of the public. He is  a tough, smart cop who needs the years ahead of him to turn the culture of the department around.

I have questioned Mayor Dixon about her integrity on my program on such issues as voting on the Board of  Estimates to give contracts to Utech (a company that employed her sister), taking free tickets to an event  at 1st Mariner Arena, and awarding a computer contract to her campaign manager–if you remember, a contract  paid out in sums small enough to not have to be disclosed officially. But she was not indicted for any of  those events. She was indicted for perjury because she did not disclose fur coats given to her by her  boyfriend, albeit a contractor. She was found guilty of taking less than $600 in gift cards. What happened  in the state prosecutor’s office that they could not indict her on issues of substance?!  

The mayor has made some bad personal blunders. But I don’t think they merit her going to jail or having to  resign. She should have apologized to this city, and the whole mess should have been a matter for an ethics  hearing that could have forced her to repay the money and face the voters. I find using gift cards meant for  poor children to be abhorrent, but it’s hardly an offense worthy of resignation.

Having said that I do not think Mayor Dixon should go to jail over these offenses, I want to add that I  don’t think anyone else should, either. Thousands of people have languished in the Baltimore Detention  Center for stealing far less than the mayor did. This should be a call to reform our entire justice system.  

We will see what the administration of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake brings to us. More importantly, I hope we  see the people of this city bring something to her, to force some creative thinking about the problems we  face and to build our own dynamic future.


Marc on Last Night’s Elections

photo by Michael Cantor

Last Night’s Elections

 

Woke up this morning to the headlines about last night’s elections. Republican wins for Governor in New Jersey and Virginia, gay marriage overturned in Maine and the much ballyhooed battle over the 23rd New York Congressional District was a lesson about the future of Republican conservatism.

 

The elections in NJ and Virgina should be a wake up call to the Obama White House and Democratic leadership. I fear they won’t be. American voters put Obama into office because they had real hope that it was not going to be politics as usual. Many feel their hopes are being dashed.

 

In Virginia, enough of a portion of Obama’s base among progressives, young people and African Americans stayed home to hand a defeat to an uninspiring and lackluster Democratic candidate and campaign.

 

In New Jersey, a Democratic Governor with deep ties to Goldman Sachs and Wall Street (much like Obama’s inner circle) went down to defeat in a failing economy, unemployment, distrust of corporate capitalists, and disappointment in the hopes that he was a reformer.

 

In New York City, Bloomberg barely won for the exact same reasons that Corzine lost.

 

It is interesting that even though most Americans say they are satisfied with their health insurance, a majority of Americans, 56% at the least, want a strong public option. A majority of Americans are upset or very angry at a bail out and stimulus that seems to be going to the financial industry and not touching the lives of ordinary people. Citizens are worried about their jobs, paying for the needs of their children, the rising cost and intensity of just living normal lives day to day. The economic issues, not health care, are the issue gripping America.

 

The defeat in New York shows that, even in Republican districts, the harsh, mean spirited, hate-filled, conservative, Fox-fueled, Limbaugh, crippled point of view is an anathema to most Americans.

 

What Obama and the Democrats need to learn from this is that many Americans are upset that he has come into office and conducted things as his predecessors would have done. He is surrounded by Wall Street and the financial industry interests seem to be cleaning up with our money, killing new regulations to safeguard people, and none of the stimulus money is going to jobs or saving our homes from foreclosures.

 

What they need do have done is to have fought for a public option to counter the interest of insurance and pharmaceuticals. A very simple, straight forward message of health reform that would have inspired Obama’s millions to back him and force Congress to respond.

 

I fear the message they will hear from this is to play the same conciliatory game even harder than they have done before. The uninspired will not inspire us to support them.

 

Gay Marriage Referendum

 

We have come a long way since we thought sweet Uncle Harry was a little light in his loafers and spinster Aunt Peggy was just a little different than the rest of us. A majority of Americans have come to accept an open gay and lesbian world and support equal rights for gays and lesbian. But most of our citizens are not ready for gay marriage. It might have passed in Vermont, or San Francisco, or New York City, or Eugene, Oregon, even in Salt Lake City. The young and the urban cosmopolitan worlds are there. The battle will continue, it just might take a little longer.


A First-Person Account From Iran

(WARNING: You may find the images of death and violence contained below disturbing.  Please do not scroll down if you do not wish to see them.)

I received this post from our colleague, William Kern, the Managing Editor of WORLDMEETS.US, last night, before the images hit the newspapers this morning.  It is part of this continuing dialogue with his friend and colleague in Iran.  Below is their very moving and telling conversation via Skype.

While the world of the web, Twitter and Facebook, may be driving this Iranian revolt in ways we could not imagine forty years ago, or even 5 years ago, it is part of a tradition that is much older and deeper.

In my lifetime it is connected to the 1956 revolt in Hungary against the Soviet Union’s domination of their nation.   The world watched in awe, but that is all we did was watch, as the Soviet troops and tanks mowed down the resistance fighters and crushed their revolution.  The same thing happened again in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1968, when lovers of freedom stood up against the Soviets demanding freedom.   At that time it was part of a worldwide revolutionary movement for change that grew out of the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960’s here in America.   We had our own standoffs with the police and the establishment powers of our nation, which used its federal power through efforts like COINTELPRO to intimidate and murder those who stood against the war and racism.

In recent years, we have seen Tiananmen Square and the demonstrations in China in 1989, the bursts of Burmese resistance in 2007 against their own tyranny, and the Tibetans demanding freedom from the Chinese government.   We could see all these as defeats; I suppose in their immediate aftermath they felt like stunning losses.

Having been part of movements like this in my past I understand the intensity, passion and power of those moments.   How quickly events change around you.   How the spirit of resistance kept your spirits high enough to face any response.   Even when you knew the moment was lost, you could not back down to the might around you.

If the Iranian rebellion is crushed, it will not be a defeat.  It is a part of a continuum of resistance to tyranny and working to create a culture of justice and human rights in our world.   Every such powerful moment widens the cracks in the weakening walls of oppression.  It sows seeds for the power of change in generations to follow.

Already in Iran we are seeing deep divides, even within the ruling circles of the theocracy.  Who knows how all this will unfold in the days ahead?

The photograph and Skype dialogue below shows us the power of this moment.  The photo itself should sear itself into the consciousness of the world as a symbol of why we stand for freedom.

-marc

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Happy 90th Pete Seeger!

photo by Michael Cantor

Pete Seeger turned 90 on May 3rd. They threw him a 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden. He is an American icon, a national treasure that embodies the heart of the great American soul of liberty and justice for all.

For more than 70 years he has been singing about freedom, justice, civil rights, human rights, for the workers, for the environment. Wherever someone struggled for freedom in America, Pete was there. On Barack Obama’s Inauguration he sang with Bruce Springsteen and closed out the event with every stanza of “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie. He fearlessly and to the glee of the revelers included the long unused stanza that called for the “breeching of the wall of private property.” He bounded off the stage like a man forty years younger. He was hugged and greeted by the new President.

He lives his beliefs as he sings them. When Senator Joe McCarthy and his dreaded House Un-American Activities Committee came after him, he refused to cooperate. He was blackballed and banned for ten years. He said “I don’t give a shit about my career.” When he returned, the Smothers Brothers brought him back to TV. He sang the anti-war and freedom folk song “Waste Deep in the Big Muddy.”

When he helped make Huddie Leadbetter’s, (aka Leadbelly’s), “Good Night Irene” into a hit, he made sure that Leadbelly got the royalties. He did the same for the family of Solomon Linda who wrote the African Freedom song that everyone sang in the fifties, sixties and seventies that became a rock‘n’roll hit, “Wimoweh.” He could have stolen the proceeds of the royalties and kept them for himself, as so many of the unscrupulous did to Black performers. Not Pete Seeger; he lives his life by his word, by work, by his politics, by his beliefs.

I first saw him as a young civil right worker singing with the Freedom Singers in Mississippi, a young Bob Dylan by his side. I grew up with his folk music because my mother always played him.

They say he has memorized more songs than any performer alive. Whenever he hears of a struggle for human rights in America, for the poor, for the infirmed, for our earth, he is there at 90. On his banjo, that he has had for over 60 years, are written the words “this Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces it to Surrender.”

He has become a sage. When asked why, in the face of so much opposition, of so many backward turns and some say the hopelessness of the causes he believes, why does he keep singing, pushing and fighting for justice, he gives a New Testament parable about a soldier who with his sword slashes open a bag of seeds. Some fall on the rocks and die, some seeds drown in the water, some are crushed under foot, but some fall onto fertile ground. They sink into the soil and grow a thousand fold. That is who we are he says. He knows the fight for freedom, for a just world is endless, and that every song we sing, every word we write, every story we tell, every oppression that is pushed aside brings more people to a better world and one day the fertile soil will win.

Peter Seeger, one of the few heroes I have in life …. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


Save Baltimore’s Small Performance Venues

Christina here – I’m one of the interns on the show, and wanted to spread the word about a piece of legislation making its way through the City Council that would have a huge effect on small performance venues in Baltimore City.

The legislation’s stated intent is to make it easier for clubs to open all around the city – instead of the current system, where there are specific zones for live entertainment, the bill would move to a permit-based model. That is, every venue that offered live entertainment would have to apply for a license from the city, and then would have to apply to renew that license annually. The bill establishes an oversight board that would review the license applications, and hear any grievances about the clubs.

Now, on the face of it, the legislation isn’t all bad. It’s obvious that the bill’s backers want to make it easier for large venues to open in the city, to keep, as the Council’s web page states, Baltimore’s citizens from traveling to New York and Philadelphia to spend their entertainment dollars. But look a little closer and the legislation would achieve any gains in that area at the expense of the existing small venues that are the heart of Baltimore’s thriving local music and performance scene.

The devil is, as ever, in the details. The bill is written in terms so broad that it leaves open the possibility that everything from a dive bar with a karaoke machine to the neighborhood book store will be subject to the license fee – live entertainment, as defined in the legislation, includes karaoke, “participatory dancing,” “poetry recitals or book readings,” as well as musical acts, comedy, and theater. And, of course, circuses. What’s more, to pacify those who are justifiably worried about a loud venue drawing a raucous crowd to their neighborhood, the bill states that if 10 people who reside within a 10 block radius of a venue complain within a year, the case automatically goes to mediation and the license is in danger. That number of complaints within such a huge radius would be a cake walk for anyone to put together.

The amount of the licensing fee isn’t stipulated in the bill as written, but the fees would be calculated to cover the expense of the department that would oversee the licensing. The city finance department estimated that the annual cost would be $315,600, or around $1,500 a license if 200 business applied. For a large venue, that’s pocket change. But for small or collectively owned venues like some of my favorites – The Zodiac or The Hexagon on Charles Street, 2640 at St. John’s Church on St. Paul Street, the Red Room on 31st st, or the 14 Karat Cabaret downtown, to name only a few – the expense could be enough to close their doors.

Opposition is mounting to the bill. Owners of small live arts venues have organized to fight it, and groups of artists and performers are coming together to mobilize against it, but the fight will be tough. City Council President Rawlings-Blake introduced the bill and is pressing for its adoption. You can see her argument for the bill on the Council’s website, along with the full text of the measure.

If you’re interested in helping to preserve performance in the city, contact your City Council representative, write a letter to the Sun, which has barely covered the story, or attend one of the upcoming community sessions. The next is Tuesday, the 31st, at the Communications Center of Morgan State University, from 6:30 to 8:30. Check up on meeting times here.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all, and to my Mom, wherever your spirit is floating around.  I am sure you are having a Guinness and shot.   She is the reason that I am so Irish.   Well, she was Irish by immersion.   Maisie Anne Round Steiner grew up in the north of England, the daughter of North Country miners and a Scotswoman of the MacPherson clan.   She was a wild, unruly, alive renegade whose mother sent her to a Catholic convent (though she was Protestant of Baptist/Methodist roots) in the mountains of Wales.  It turned out that the nuns were a bunch of Irish pro-IRA radicals who embraced my mom as she embraced them.

So we were brought up on the legends of ancient Irish warrior kings like Brian Baru, IRA revolutionaries like James Connolly, the first Jewish Mayor of Dublin Robert Briscoe and the great Irish poets and writers who graced our bookshelves.  The nuns imbued in her a sense of social justice.  As a young British woman she embraced the IRA, anti-colonial struggles and love for humanity and human rights.  Her mother sent her away to be disciplined and straightened out, so she could act more like an English lady.  Instead, she came back with the fire, soul and love of life of the Irish.  She passed it on to her children and breathed it deeply with each breath she took.  She found four leaf clovers and had conversations with the leprechauns and the spirits.  Though Eire did not flow in her veins, it lived in the depths of her being.

Thanks Mom, for making me Irish.  I’ll have a Guinness and a shot for you tonight.


Andres Alonso Blasts Michael Steele

Michael Steele is making numerous headlines today for his apology to Rush Limbaugh.  Locally, he is also making headlines after being called out by Baltimore School’s CEO Andres Alonso at a public forum which also featured Governor Martin O’Malley last night at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore.  Alonso demanded an apology from Steele for promises he made to that school in the past, which he never kept.


Our reporter Melody Simmons was there.  Click the podcast player to hear her recording of Alonso’s remarks on Steele, and also on Governor O’Malley.



Farajii R. Muhammad on The Lessons That Were Never Taught

Assume it’s poetic justice. Assume it’s sweet revenge. Just don’t assume that young people are always the problem, because that would be far from the truth.

A February 3rd article titled Teacher in assault pointed to as instigator demonstrated that what we thought we knew about the attack on Baltimore City Public School teacher Jolita Berry was only part of the story. On April 4, 2008, Baltimore City and the rest of the country was shocked to see videos, taken by cell phone, of a student sitting atop her teacher assaulting her vigorously while other students looked on. The fight and video made local and national headlines, and the assaulted teacher was even a guest on NBC’s Today Show, where she instantly became a symbol of the victimized teacher.

However, after further investigation and several key witnesses coming forward, it turns out that Ms. Berry was the one who started the fight, not the student. Why did Ms. Berry decide to paint a biased picture about what really happened that day? The melee between the student and Ms. Berry sparked a nationwide conversation about teacher-student relations and classroom safety.

Around the city, the incident caused an uproar, from North Ave to City Hall to the streets. School and city officials tried to respond quickly by assuring the city that Baltimore City Public Schools were safe. We heard the barrage of responses from politicians, teachers and union officials about how teachers should be “protected” in the classroom. There were cries for more school police and the need for better training so teachers should know how to handle “problem children” in the classroom. And with all of the fanfare and rash judgments, assumptions were made, attitudes were hardened and the city’s youngest member was once again left out in the cold, without being heard. There was hardly a whisper about the view of the students compared to the chorus singing about the protection of teachers.

In my conversations with students at a local west Baltimore middle school, a few days after the incident, there was the attitude that a situation like this was bound to happen. These students shared their stories of how some teachers just did not respect students. They said these teachers had a tendency to use profanity at them and in the classroom in general. Plus, the teachers themselves had attitude problems and instead of trying to diffuse tense moments, they resorted to using language that both demeaned and instigated  conflict. So where is the justice for students who are confronted with this behavior from their teacher?

Based on the article, Ms Berry pushed the student, used obscenities, yelled, and clearly prepared herself for a physical confrontation. Given all these indicators a fight was going to happen, the student should have reported Ms. Berry right then and there. However, this was a case where the student clearly felt disrespected by the teacher and refused to accept it.

I know it is easier to blame a teenage girl for poor judgment rather than a grown woman but, in a day and time when teachers are having intimate relationships with students, political corruption runs rampant, and other issues affects those at the top, assumptions can no longer be made that authority figures always exercise proper judgment. So incidents of this nature should not be viewed from the lens of who is involved but based on what really happened. And even though, the young girl was wrong for fighting her teacher, Ms. Berry was even more liable for instigating the situation and making the whole city believe she was a victim.

If the school system and the city truly want to build a stronger relationship with young people, then truth and justice must be the foundation of that effort. The authority figures i.e. politicians, police offices and school officials, have to be willing show young people that truth and justice is the cornerstone for governance and authority. As a city, we should not be so quick to judge about the things we hear regarding young people without getting the full truth, because quick judgments in a limited circumstance can sometimes be more destructive than the circumstance itself.

If Ms. Berry would have had a more peaceful attitude, things would have been different. If she would have seized the moment to show that good judgment is the best way to resolve conflict, things would have been different. If she would have been honest about what happened, then this incident would have been a step forward for the city to have a different relationship with young people. However, none of this happened, and unfortunately, those lessons were never taught.

Farajii R. Muhammad serves as President of New Light Leadership Coalition, Inc. and host of Listen Up! on public radio WEAA88.9 FM


Charles Blow on why black children still face enormous challenges

Charles Blow, the visual op-ed columnist for the New York Times, is our guest today to discuss his most recent column titled “No More Excuses.”

From The New York Times:

For the presidential inauguration, blacks descended on Washington in droves with a fanatical, Zacchaeus-like need to catch a glimpse of this M.L.K. 2.0. “Ooo-bama!” For them, he was it — a game changer, soul restorer, dream fulfiller. Everything. Ooo-K.
Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, the majority whip, tapped into the fervor Monday night at the BET Honors awards in Washington when he proclaimed, “Every child has lost every excuse.”
What? That’s where I have to put my foot down. That’s going a bridge too far.
I’m a big proponent of personal responsibility, but children too often don’t have a choice. They are either prisoners of their parentage or privileged by it. Some of their excuses are hollow. But other excuses are legitimate, and they didn’t magically disappear when Obama put his left hand on the Lincoln Bible.
Representative Clyburn and those like him would do well to cool this rhetoric lest the enormous and ingrained obstacles facing black children get swept under the rug as Obama is swept into power. For instance:
• According to Child Trends, a Washington research group, 70 percent of black children are born to single mothers. Also, black children are the most likely to live in unsafe neighborhoods. And, black teenagers, both male and female, were more likely to report having been raped.
• According to reports last year from the National Center for Children in Poverty, 60 percent of black children live in low-income families and a third live in poor families, a higher percentage than any other race.
• A 2006 report from National Center for Juvenile Justice said that black children are twice as likely as white and Hispanic children to be the victims of “maltreatment.” The report defines maltreatment as anything ranging from neglect to physical and sexual abuse.
Most of these kids will rise above their circumstances, but too many will succumb to them. Can we really blame them?
Malcolm Gladwell probably said it best in a November interview with New York magazine about his new book, “Outliers”: “I am explicitly turning my back on, I think, these kind of empty models that say, you know, you can be whatever you want to be. Well, actually, you can’t be whatever you want to be. The world decides what you can and can’t be.”
So black people have to keep their feet on the ground even as their heads are in the clouds. If we want to give these children a fighting chance, we must change the worlds they inhabit. That change requires both better policies and better parenting — a change in our houses as well as the White House.

President Obama is a potent symbol, but he’s no panacea.


Marc reflecting on this historical moment

I have been thinking non-stop, as have many of you, about the Inauguration and coming Presidency of Barack Obama.   Leaving behind for a moment all the political arguments from the left and right, from those who voted for him and those who did not, this is just an amazing moment.   I look at the Obama family and can’t keep from breaking out into a smile.  We are facing the worst of times yet hope is the operative emotion that is coursing through the veins of this nation.   You can read it in the latest polls but more importantly you can feel it when you listen to people, talk to your friends or when people of all stripes discuss this moment.  I have never experienced anything close to this in political annals of our nation.    The closest was JFK, maybe RFK but still, this moment is different.

Over the weekend I could not get Mack Parker out of my head.  Who is Mack Parker?   Fifty years ago he was lynched.   He had been accused of raping a white woman.   Subsequent investigations revealed he was most likely innocent.   But that is not important.   He was lynched by a white mob.   White judges in Mississippi who were part of the White Citizen’s Councils (a refined version of the KKK) refused to do anything about the crime.   His brutalized chained body was found floating on the Pearl River ten days after the mob dragged him from his cell.   I can only imagine the fear and pain he suffered.

When I was almost thirteen years old I opened a Life Magazine.   The picture in the center of the Magazine was of a pair of work boots neatly placed under a cot in a prison cell.   They were Mack Parker’s boots left behind where he put them before a mob dragged him out to be tortured, mutilated and murdered.

I kept that picture on my wall for years.  It haunted me.   It reminded me why I fight for a new America that belongs to all of her citizens, breathing in, and living, the same air of equality.

Now Barack Obama is standing there fifty years later, an African American man about to become President of the United States of America.    Many people have written that just because we have elected an African American President of the United States of America does not mean that racism will end.   They are right, but I deeply believe that it is having and will have a profound effect on American consciousness.

It is an amazing time.    I can’t believe we are here.   The hope is palpable.  Let it be real.

What are you feeling now?

-Marc


Civil Rights Tour

With Martin Luther King Day around the corner, we’ve been thinking about how we can commemorate the day a little differently than usual.  Our friend and frequent collaborator, Director of Pride in Faith and Program Director of the Maryland Black Family Alliance Lea Gilmore, suggested we cover a civil rights tour that she is taking part in.  We decided this would be a great story to build a show around, which we’ll host from 5-6pm on The Marc Steiner Show on WEAA 88.9 FM on Martin Luther King Day, January 19th.

The trip began in Atlanta yesterday, and will be on the road through this Sunday.  Here’s a dispatch from trip participant Charlie Collyer, professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island, where he also works with the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies.

 

Lawrence Carter speaking

part of the group at the King Center

 

Here’s a brief summary of Thursday on the tour.

Our group gathered at the Atlanta airport this morning.  The group comes from all over – Carroll County MD, Baltimore, Rhode Island, California, Seattle, Texas, and a few other places.  A happy, upbeat mood took hold, as friends introduced friends and strangers introduced themselves, becoming friends quickly.

We boarded a tour bus and drove to the King Center complex.  We had an hour or so to explore the museum (a National Parks Service site) and visit the King Center itself.  The King Center bookstore is the best place for teachers to find good source material on civil rights history.

There is never enough time at any of the stops on a civil rights tour.  We were rounded up and rode the bus again to Morehouse College, where Dr. King once studied as an undergraduate.  There, by chance, we met Lawrence Carter, for 30 years the Dean of Morehouse’s Chapel.  Lawrence gave us a riveting hour off the cuff – the story of Morehouse and its distinguished place in American history, its traditions and famous alumni.  Morehouse was the place where the Gandhian tradition of nonviolence connects to the King tradition: Gandhi to Howard Thurman (from Morehouse, on a visit to India in the 30s) to Mordecai Johnson (at Morehouse, lecturing on Gandhi just after his death) to King (at Morehouse, listening to Johnson and then buying a handful of books on Gandhi).

More connections today: Lawrence Carter did not have us on his schedule, but came down to meet the group upon hearing that his old colleage Dr. Bernard LaFayette was leading the tour.  We go in to the locked Chapel thanks to Thomas Coverson, Dr. LaFayette’s nephew, who is a freshman at Morehouse.  And so it goes.  Tomorrow we are off to Alabama, with a first stop in Tuskegee.

– Charlie Collyer

 

Sookyung Shutoff thanking Lawrence Carter on behalf of the group


City Hall Indictments – Mayor Sheila Dixon Indicted

Update: We just received news, at 2pm today (Friday January 9) that Mayor Dixon has been indicted on 12 counts.  Read more in the Sun.

We will see what the day brings but the rumor mill has it that Sheila Dixon will be indicted today, just as Helen Holton and Ron Lipscomb were indicted yesterday.

My feeling is that if she had just declared those coats she would not be in front of a grand jury. If she had just recused herself from voting for a company her sister worked for there would be no investigation.

If Helen Holton had declared that Ron Lipsocmb paid for her poll then how she voted or what she pushed for would not be an issue.

It is not what they did but how stupidly they played the game. That for me is the issue.

Like Governor Blagojevich they were too blatant and not slick enough to get it done. Sure it was greed on some level but many politicians are greedy. Many participate in a life full of graft and influence buying but do it on the edge of the line of law so they get away with it. Notice I wrote many politicians not all. There are many men and women who are highly ethical in this business of politics. Most start that way but some get lost in the power.

Two articles recently in the New York Times brought home for me the glaring reality of it all. One was about New York Senator Chuck Schumer. He was accused of being one of the culprits in deregulating banking and Wall Street that led to this economic disaster we are facing. The article pointed out that Wall Street billions backed his campaigns and campaign fund/. In Congress he did their bidding.

The other article was about the junior Senator form New York, now Secretary of State designee, Hillary Clinton.
She helped push through legislation that aided contributors to her husband’s foundation and library.

All this was all legal influence peddling. The corruption in the marriage of corporate wealth and political power is insidious. It must be exposed at every turn and reformed. It is how we ensure the survival of a real democracy.

Our local elected officials played the same game but on the wrong side of the thin but sturdy line of legality.


Reflecting on yesterday’s show on education

Yesterday I interviewed two educational leaders from different ends of the ideological spectrum who had written open letters to President-elect Barack Obama.

I always love interviewing Howard Gardner (listen to our interview by clicking here). He is one of the most important educational thinkers in the world. He is just so clear in his analysis, research and thinking. In the past, we have had discussions where we paired him with leaders of educational systems to talk about how to translate his ideas into practice in our city and county public schools. On this show, he came on to talk about his open letter to President-elect Obama, which you can read by clicking here.

It is clear that changing our culture through the bully pulpit of leadership to respect and embrace education, along with treating teaching as a real, respected and well paid profession is the only prescription for success. Within that, we can make all kind of rules and regulations, but without anything implemented, it becomes meaningless and redundant.

Now, my second guest yesterday, Charles Murray, wrote a book I intellectually loathed, The Bell Curve (listen to our interview by clicking here). I just wanted to disagree with his latest New York Times op-ed (read it by clicking here) but I couldn’t. I love it when I am so challenged that I have to change my thinking or admit that life is more complex than simple ideological answers.

My show over the years has taught me that truth lives in all corners of our life. While I might disagree over some of his assumptions, Charles Murray is right. College is highly overrated. Why should someone who wants to be a computer programmer, interior designer, actor, marketing executive, software designer or hundreds of other jobs I could mention, have to take physics, European literature or required gym courses to graduate? If we restructured our world of post-secondary education, it would save money, time and produce a creative population that will build a great nation.

Charles Murray, years back I took on one of your intellectual mentors at Hopkins over the Bell Curve, but your advice to President Obama is dead on.


Howard Gardner tells President Obama to do nothing

One of our guests on today’s program will be the celebrated educational theorist Howard Gardner.  Scholastic Magazine recently invited leading educational thinkers to offer advice for President-elect Obama in open letters.  Howard Gardner will be our guest to discuss his advice, which is published below.

From Scholastic Magazine (click on link to read other great advice from other leading thinkers):

 Many individuals will advise you about what to do. I suggest that you not do anything, at least for a while. Don’t pay attention to the so-called experts who have reflexive views on issues like merit pay and a national curriculum. Rather, try to understand the demands of today’s world, and what we should prioritize in terms of future citizenry. Only then should action be pursued.
With this warning, here’s my recipe: Begin with what kinds of human beings we would like to have. I submit that we want to have both Good Workers—excellent technically, personally engaged, and ethically behaved—and Good Citizens—well informed, with a disposition to act and a desire to do the right thing by others. We’ve had too many years of people behaving selfishly. You will not be able to bring about change with a populace like that.

Clearly, these goals can’t be achieved by schools alone; they are a community affair. But in the 21st century, they won’t be achieved unless the educational system supports them.

Next, consider the kinds of minds that need to be cultivated in the future. I’ve identified five:
The disciplined mind is familiar with the major ways of thinking (scientific, mathematical, artistic, historical); has mastered one profession; and continues to learn. You have a disciplined mind yourself.

The synthesizing mind knows how to organize information, so we can hold onto it and communicate it to others. You excel in this area as well.

The creating mind goes beyond the disciplines to conceive of new questions and solutions. I hope that at least some of your advisers have these traits.

The respectful mind acknowledges the enormous differences among individuals and strives to make common cause. You have exemplified this trait like few others in current public life.

With the ethical mind, one thinks of oneself as a worker and as a citizen, and tries to behave responsibly in both roles.
No singular national policy could possibly satisfy Jesse Helms, Jesse Jackson, and Jesse Ventura. Our affluent suburbs have entirely different opportunities and challenges than do inner cities or our vast heartland. Learn from our admired, amazingly varied college system. Avoid using a hammer when many scalpels are needed; that’s the fatal flaw of NLCB.

As President of a country where education has traditionally been local, don’t try to orchestrate the details. Identify model programs and help people who want to learn from those models. In a democratic society, only those who want to learn will do so effectively. You can’t mandate quality, only facilitate it.

Last point: Excellent educational systems can differ dramatically from one another. Compare Finland and Korea, Sweden and Singapore. What they share are not national standards or merit pay. They share teachers who act and are treated like professionals, and families that respect education. Use your singular pulpit, and your profound insights into our history, to look deeply for solutions—around the world, but equally, within our own national fabric.


Charles Murray on undermining the bachelor’s degree

Charles Murray, the controversial author of The Bell Curve among other works, is going to be a guest on the show today.  He will be discussing a recent op-ed he wrote for The New York Times in which he argued that the bachelor’s degree should not be used as a job qualification.

From The New York Times:

Op-Ed Contributors | Transitions
Should the Obama Generation Drop Out?
By CHARLES MURRAY

Washington

BARACK OBAMA has two attractive ideas for improving post-secondary education — expanding the use of community colleges and tuition tax credits — but he needs to hitch them to a broader platform. As president, Mr. Obama should use his bully pulpit to undermine the bachelor’s degree as a job qualification. Here’s a suggested battle cry, to be repeated in every speech on the subject: “It’s what you can do that should count when you apply for a job, not where you learned to do it.”

The residential college leading to a bachelor’s degree at the end of four years works fine for the children of parents who have plenty of money. It works fine for top students from all backgrounds who are drawn toward academics. But most 18-year-olds are not from families with plenty of money, not top students, and not drawn toward academics. They want to learn how to get a satisfying job that also pays well. That almost always means education beyond high school, but it need not mean four years on a campus, nor cost a small fortune. It need not mean getting a bachelor’s degree.

I am not discounting the merits of a liberal education. Students at every level should be encouraged to explore subjects that will not be part of their vocation. It would be even better if more colleges required a rigorous core curriculum for students who seek a traditional bachelor’s degree. My beef is not with liberal education, but with the use of the degree as a job qualification.

For most of the nation’s youths, making the bachelor’s degree a job qualification means demanding a credential that is beyond their reach. It is a truth that politicians and educators cannot bring themselves to say out loud: A large majority of young people do not have the intellectual ability to do genuine college-level work.

If you doubt it, go back and look through your old college textbooks, and then do a little homework on the reading ability of high school seniors. About 10 percent to 20 percent of all 18-year-olds can absorb the material in your old liberal arts textbooks. For engineering and the hard sciences, the percentage is probably not as high as 10.

No improvements in primary and secondary education will do more than tweak those percentages. The core disciplines taught at a true college level are tough, requiring high levels of linguistic and logical-mathematical ability. Those abilities are no more malleable than athletic or musical talent.

You think I’m too pessimistic? Too elitist? Readers who graduated with honors in English literature or Renaissance history should ask themselves if they could have gotten a B.S. in physics, no matter how hard they tried. (I wouldn’t have survived freshman year.) Except for the freakishly gifted, all of us are too dumb to get through college in many majors.

But I’m not thinking just about students who are not smart enough to deal with college-level material. Many young people who have the intellectual ability to succeed in rigorous liberal arts courses don’t want to. For these students, the distribution requirements of the college degree do not open up new horizons. They are bothersome time-wasters.

A century ago, these students would happily have gone to work after high school. Now they know they need to acquire additional skills, but they want to treat college as vocational training, not as a leisurely journey to well-roundedness.

As more and more students who cannot get or don’t want a liberal education have appeared on campuses, colleges have adapted by expanding the range of courses and adding vocationally oriented majors. That’s appropriate. What’s not appropriate is keeping the bachelor’s degree as the measure of job preparedness, as the minimal requirement to get your foot in the door for vast numbers of jobs that don’t really require a B.A. or B.S.

Discarding the bachelor’s degree as a job qualification would not be difficult. The solution is to substitute certification tests, which would provide evidence that the applicant has acquired the skills the employer needs.

Certification tests can take many forms. For some jobs, a multiple-choice test might be appropriate. But there’s no reason to limit certifications to academic tests. For centuries, the crafts have used work samples to certify journeymen and master craftsmen. Today, many computer programmers without college degrees get jobs by presenting examples of their work. With a little imagination, almost any corporation can come up with analogous work samples.

The benefits of discarding the bachelor’s degree as a job qualification would be huge for both employers and job applicants. Certifications would tell employers far more about their applicants’ qualifications than a B.A. does, and hundreds of thousands of young people would be able to get what they want from post-secondary education without having to twist themselves into knots to comply with the rituals of getting a bachelor’s degree.

Certification tests would not eliminate the role of innate ability — the most gifted applicants would still have an edge — but they would strip away much of the unwarranted halo effect that goes with a degree from a prestigious university. They would put everyone under the same spotlight.

Discrediting the bachelor’s degree is within reach because so many employers already sense that it has become education’s Wizard of Oz. All we need is someone willing to yank the curtain aside. Barack Obama is ideally positioned to do it. He just needs to say it over and over: “It’s what you can do that should count when you apply for a job, not where you learned to do it.”

Charles Murray, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author, most recently, of “Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality.”


Blogs from Gaza

On todays show you are going to hear an interview with Martha Myers from CARE International. For 14 years, CARE has been implementing programs in Palestinian communities in agriculture and natural resources, economic development, education, emergency relief, health, water and sanitation and civil society strengthening.  Meyers spoke to us from Jerusalem, but CARE has a lot of their staff in Gaza.  Staff members have been sending blog entries to CARE and we’ve republished one of the most moving below. More to come, we hope!

Care Project Manager Jawad Harb writes:

While the Gaza strip is currently facing some of the toughest challenges in the Palestinian territories, I’m writing my own very personal story. But it is also the story of 1.6 million Palestinians living in Gaza.

The 28th of December, 2008, was a day to remember. It was 4:30 p.m. I was sitting with my six kids at my house which is 500 metres away from the Egyptian border. The darkness was surrounding us like a monster, and a few candles were lighting our path to the kitchen and bathroom. It was a moonless night, full of unpredictable, unknown fear. I was telling my kids stories to distract them, when suddenly it was like an earthquake – six consecutive air strikes shook the house up and down. The house was like a piece of paper swinging in the air. The kids were screaming, running in all directions, seeking to escape the chaos of the airstrikes. It was uncontrollable panic every where. What made the situation more complicated was the screaming of kids all over the quarter. It was the only thing you could hear after the airstrikes. All the children in the neighbourhood ran downstairs to the main road, crying and screaming in such away I have never witnessed in my whole life. The street was full of parents trying to find their kids and bring them back home. Among this chaos, I barely gathered my own children and went back home.

We sat again in darkness and I started talking to them again in an effort to calm them down. Yazan, my 12-year-old son suddenly asked, “Dad, are we ever going to live in peace again? I like to climb, I like to swing like a monkey, and I like to fly like a bird. Why can’t we play like those children we watch in kids’ TV programs every day?”

A burning teardrop rolled down on my face, and all of a sudden, I was not able to say a word.

Yazan continued, “Isn’t it Christmas holiday now dad? Are we not supposed to have a party and eat some cake?”

As I was trying to answer him, another air strike shook the house again, and this time all of my kids snuggled to me like small birds. My body was grabbed by small hands everywhere, and I wished, at that moment, that I had ten hands to hug them all, because this was exactly what they needed.

The last thing I said to them, with pain: “This is temporary.” My 16 year-old-daughter replied, “Dad, yes, it is temporary forever.”

Posted here.


Begin 2009 by supporting independent voices in media!

Dear Friends:

 

Times are tough.  Our job is to follow the news very closely so we know as well as anyone just how much people are struggling.  

 

Maybe 2008 wasn’t, as far as the economy goes, the best time to try and launch  the new phase of a non-profit organization.  But, you have to play the cards you are dealt in life and approach everything as an exciting new opportunity.

 

That’s what we have done at the Marc Steiner Show during the past year.  We haven’t folded in the face of adversity.  We’ve flourished in spite of it.  We’ve not only kept creating new content, we’ve done things we have never done before-like broadcast live from the Democratic National Convention and launching a website where you can stream all our shows and talk with other listeners.

 

The team at the Marc Steiner Show believes in the mission of public radio.  That is why we are all still working to bring you the best in news analysis, arts and culture.

 

But we need your help.  75% of our production costs are not covered by WEAA.  And the troubled economy means that charitable foundations and corporations have less money available to support nonprofit organizations like ours.

 

So your support is more essential than ever.  We know you value The Marc Steiner Show.  Your emails, phone calls, and letters to the editor have demonstrated that.  And now we are asking you to help us continue bringing you what you value in 2009. 

 

If at some point this year, you have said you were going to support The Marc Steiner Show but never got around to it, now is the time!  End this year by making clear that you value and support independent voies in media. 

 

Just click here to find out how to make your contribution to The Marc Steiner Show

 

.  Your support means to much to us.

 

 

Thank you to all of our listeners and supporters.  Best Wishes for a bright New Year!

 

 

 

Marc Steiner                     Clare Gorman                   Jessica Phillips        Justin Levy

 


President &                                  Executive Director                     Producer                          Producer   
Executive Producer


Marc on Mayor Dixon’s raise

We all deserve a raise. City workers, police and fireman, got their small increase but lost much of their overtime. Police patrols of our city streets have been curtailed.  City middle management will not get raises because of the city budget deficit.  We are in a time of deep financial crisis.  The news in January promises to be even harsher.  I think we will see some of the city’s largest developers selling off property like crazy in their rush for liquidity and to pay off debts.  Many working class folks may lose their homes because of the mortgage crisis. This will disproportionably affect the African American and Latino communities.  It is an insane time, and one that calls for frugality-substantive and symbolic. 
 
Click READ MORE below! 
 

This is why it so hard to understand Mayor Dixon’s agreeing to take a salary increase, along with members of the Baltimore City Council.  Sure, it is only 2.5% and sure the increases for our top city officials are less than a drop in the bucket of our total city budget.  But is now the time?  Couldn’t she behave like Howard County Executive Ken Ullman and some of our city council members, who have said "I am going to defer this or give to charity until we are solvent again." 
 
I suppose it was the sheer arrogance of her anger at being questioned that bothered me the most.   She deserves a raise, we all do, but a public official living in a land of deficits and furloughs should be a shining example of leadership and inspiration.   She appears so petty and greedy at the moment.  I think she is better than that.  We all have kids, mortgages, college tuition but most of us don’t make $151,000 a year with a chauffeur and the perks of being a Mayor. 
 
And, if as she claimed, she believes that this raise was fair and justified at this moment, why then did the Board of Estimates do everything they could to keep the sunlight off these raises?  Not only did they vote on these on the day before Thanksgiving, but they also coded the raises as "salary adjustments" and instead of referring to the positions directly they called them "position job categories 88E, 887E, 83E and 81E", without any indication of what those referred to.  As the Baltimore Sun pointed out, other personnel items on the agenda included job titles as well as job categories.  And finally, there was no discusson at the pre-board meeting or the board meeting during which this vote took place.  If Mayor Dixon believes that these raises are appropriate at this time, why did the Board of Estimates do everything they could to keep these raises from being noticed?  It seems like they tried to sneak this one by us.  Why?
It is not near as bad as the actions of Governor Blagojevich of Illinois but what they have in common is the hubris that political power seems to breed in some. 
 
-Marc 

Can Swiss drug program work here?

In her latest article, Page Croyder takes a look at a drug program in Switzerland.  Could it work here?  Click here to find out more.


Bailout for nonprofits

On today’s show, we are welcoming Teresa DeCrescenzo, who is the executive director of GLASS Youth and Family Services, based in Burbank, Calif. She wrote an opinion piece titled "Where’s the Bailout for Nonprofits?" that first appeared in the Los Angeles Times and then reprinted in the Daily Camera Boulder.

Where’s the Bailout for Nonprofits?

by Teresa DeCrescenzo

I am a social worker, not an economist, and what I know is this: The stock market is in free fall, financial organizations are being bailed out and the Detroit automakers might yet get financial help from Washington, D.C. But what about those of us in the nonprofit world? Where’s our bailout?

Nonprofits depend on government funding and the generosity of business and individual giving, and those of us in the health-care field are facing the bleakest of landscapes. Where is the storm of media coverage, the persuasive rhetoric, the public outcry to save critically needed services, such as child care, assisted living, home health care and hospital services? Who is documenting our agony? Where are the desperately needed cash infusions to help us restructure in this troubled economy?

My child-care agency, supported largely by government contracts — federal and state dollars partially matched by county funds — went nine years without an increase in the rate of funding it receives. During those years, the cost of a child-care worker rose from $23,000 a year to $29,000 a year. Multiply that figure by our 100 child-care workers, and we are facing a $600,000 shortfall in just one job category. No industry in the public or private sector could have survived nine years of flat funding.

How will we make up that shortfall? Fundraising? Unlikely, in this economy. And investment losses have had a profoundly negative effect on endowed organizations. We need a bailout.

Earlier this year, the venerable River Oak Center for Children in Northern California announced the closure of its 42-year-old residential facility. Calling the closure heartbreaking, River Oak President Mary Hargrave said that the nonprofit agency has lost money on the residential care facility for years — $1 million last year alone. In October, Kids First Foundation closed its residential child-care site in Los Angeles. Hathaway Children’s Village, Vista del Mar, Hollygrove and other Los Angeles-area agencies have either eliminated or cut back the number of residential beds available.

State and county officials claim that foster homes and kinship care can absorb the children no longer in residential care. A national study, however, found that foster parents are paid less than the cost to kennel a dog, according to a 2007 lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of foster parents and the children they serve.

Unlike some of the executives whose companies are getting bailed out, I have never received a bonus, although I did lend my pension money to my agency a few years ago to stave off insolvency. That money is all gone now. Maybe I could serve as a role model for the guys getting the $20-million golden handshakes. They could give back a couple of million to help their companies survive.

American Express has just informed me that the $100,000 balance on my corporate credit card is now my personal responsibility. That balance represents payments to house homeless children in $40-a-night motels while case managers searched for permanent housing for them. American Express said something about all corporate chief executives being personal guarantors of the company charges. I never really thought of myself as a corporate CEO. They even took away my accumulated points, despite the fact that the points were earned from fully paid card balances. Those miles are the only way I can afford to travel. Unlike the Big Three automakers, I don’t have a corporate jet.

Sometime soon — probably within the next 60 days — our agency will file for bankruptcy protection. Nearly 200 employees, including child-care workers, case managers and social workers, could lose their jobs. The hundreds of children we serve will lose the protection we have provided for them. They are homeless, abused, abandoned and neglected. It would take $3 million to $4 million to save the day. That’s million, not billion.

Where’s my bailout?
© 2008 The Daily Camera


Marc on the killing at Lemmel Middle School

THE STABBING

In 1962 there was a sixteen-year-old kid who had to survive in the streets of this city, terrified.  

He was a confused kid in a lot ways.   He read Hemingway, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, Spinoza, Bertrand Russell and Marx.    He was a non-violent warrior in the civil rights movement who experienced the terror of violence by white mobs and cops.   He was also a street corner boy.   A jitterbug with his 20-inch pant cuffs with pleats, banlon shirts and porkpie hats.    Drinking wine, shooting nine ball, looking for parties, talking shit and sometimes getting into trouble.   All over the place he was, in the midst of violence but not violent, going for bad because you had to and standing up even when you knew you would be hurt.   You had no choice on the corner. 

This kid hung out on the Heights, the next neighborhood over was the Junction.   Now the boys on the corner from the Heights and the Junction knew each other, didn’t war, walked through each other’s zones, intermingled and went to the same parties often but had different corners they owned and different pool halls and basketball courts they played on. 

One day he went into Arundal’s Ice Cream parlor on the Boulevard, that long stretch of street that connected the two corners.   Arundals was in Heights territory.  They always had better spots on the Heights.   Big Hand Bey and Blue Eyed Plu and the some of the boys from the Junction were hanging out there.   As was custom, this kid walked up to Bey, a titular top dog from the Junction, and held out his hand palm down to slap five with Bey.   Bey didn’t offer his hand, just a glare with a broke down mug that signified something was up and it wasn’t good.   The other boys with him just postured and stared.

So, this kid knew something bad was going on and that these guys meant him some harm for some reason.   He remembered just months before when Big Hand Bey beat down Blue Eyed Plu into submission on the corner.   It was a bad beating but Plu now ran with Bey.   At this point discretion was the better part of valor and that ice cream soda could wait a while.

Later that day he went over to the elementary school yard where the boys from the Heights hung to talk, play basketball, shoot craps and do whatever.   When he got there Ronald said he should split because Bey and them had been up here earlier looking for him with a .45.   All the brothers in the yard turned their backs on him, because he was a marked man and no one would stand with him.  

It was a terrifying moment.  He was alone.   He turned to his walking partners Scott and Methu.   They called Phillip Methu because he looked so much older than everyone else. Methu was short for Methuselah.   Even though he was 16 he could pass for 21 and often bought the wine and malt liquor everyone loved. Methu was scared of no one. 

At any rate, he turned to Methu and Scott and to his best friend Little Billy for help.   He knew Scott and Methu would stand, or he hoped they would.  Little Billy had taught him how to dance, fight with a knife, talk to girls and survive the streets.   There was a deep bond between the two.  All three said they would stand with him, as would Taz and Jerry.   Taz was Ronald’s brother.   Where Ronald was mean and a terror, Taz was sensitive, smart but a brave stand up guy and Jerry was cool.  Always dressed cool, knew how win the ladies over and was a damn good boxer and a bit country to boot.   Against Bey and them that wasn’t many guys but you knew they had your back. 

They said we need a war council, so they all met at his house.   To his surprise two of the older heads on the corner who were also two of the baddest boys around, period, Benny Lee and Meathead, showed up at the council that was held in the basement of his house.  

Most of them thought that the only way to avoid a throw down with a much bigger force was to have him fight Big Hand Bey straight up, one on one.   That was a terrifying thought.   Bey was big, strong and bad.   He had seem him fight before and knew that he could not win and would be badly beaten in a face off with Bey.   He knew he may have no other choice. 

If it came down to it on the corner or at a party everyone would throw down with him, come whatever.     He knew they would stand with him, have his back, but his loyalty to them did not want to put them through it.   The meaning of real and true friendship was defined as never before.   That definition would define his life from that moment on.

He couldn’t understand why all this was happening?   What was it?   What had he done to incur the wrath of Bey and those boys!? 

A few weeks earlier everyone had thrown in some money to buy some wine and malt liquor up at the bowing alley.   This boy, Binky, took the money to buy everything.  When he returned empty handed he gave some of the money back to everyone but him.   So he said to Binky, where is my dollar?  Binky said he wasn’t going to give him his dollar.   Fuck you, Binky said.   So, he said, Boy you are going to give me my money back.   As Binky took off his coat he knocked him out with a flurry of punches.   Then took a dollar from Binky’s pocket and walked away.   He thought he was cool but Binky was one of Bey’s boys.

Then there was that night a month or so before when there was a party over on Bentalou.  One of those blue lights in the basement parties.   He was slow dancing with this girl who this other boy wanted but he kept on with her.   He pulled her not the other dude.   They went off together but the other boy threatened to fuck him up.   He payed that no mind, the girl was just too fine, phat and willing to be with him to worry about that threat.  Didn’t know the boy but he might have been one of Bey’s boys, he thought.

Or, was it because he was white?  The only white boy on the corner, there weren’t too many like him.    An easy mark for many … boys who did not like him, the cops or other white folks who saw him as a traitor and a freak.

Probably it was all of that but being white didn’t help … did not help at all …

One night he was going to visit his girl friend.   The same girl he met at the party.  Beatrice, really beautiful girl who was down from Harlem for the summer to visit her aunt.  It was late.  He was walking down a street with few lights but a peaceful, warm, quiet night.   Earlier, he was going to go to a dance at the hall in his neighborhood but Scott and Methu said the Junction boys were there and it be best if he did not go.  So, he split to see Bea.  

As he walked a couple of blocks past the club on a residential street, a car slowed down.  He could feel it sliding slowly over his left shoulder.   He was aware of it, very conscious of everything around him, then a shot rang out, then another.   The boys in that car were shooting at him.  

He took the hat from this head and ran hard.   Through the bushes, leaping a fence, another shot rang out, he leapt another fence was then faced by a Doberman, but he kept running, the Doberman hard at his heals, but he leapt another fence over into an alley as another shot rang out.   He hid, then ran, then crept, knowing they were driving around looking for  him.  He saw them, but hid in the shadows behind a garage in a dark alleyway. 

Then he made a dash for it down the alleys, around the corner and down another alley.  He got to Bea’s crib, banged on the door, she answered, he pushed her inside, panting and out of breath, disheveled, socks falling down around  his shoes, pants torn, drenched in sweat and fear.  He spent the night there in her basement curled up beside her.

Little Billy had given him a switchblade.   He wanted a gun.   He carried the switchblade everywhere.   At night he would walk with it open, up his sleeve.   The handle of the knife rested in his palm, the blade resting on the underside of his forearm as he bopped with that pimp walk that was  how you did back in the day.    He was keenly aware of every shadow, every movement and would walk out into the street when he got to alleyways.    He would turn to look down the alley, always terrified, always nervous and jumpy, leaping with fear at the slightest abnormality or sound.

One night he was coming home from a party.   Scott and Methu peeled off to head in the opposite direction to their homes, Taz and Jerry walked a way but then they too left, walking west to get to their houses.   He was once again alone for the next seven blocks to his house, switchblade open against the sweat of his forearm, head pounding with fear that made the eyes and throat dry and tight.  

As he passed an alleyway he sensed some movement.   A figure darted out, grabbed his left arm, spun him around.  Then another figure punched him hard in the right side of his head, sent him twirling, almost losing his feet from under him.   They were on him.  The switchblade slid down his palm twisting the blade end out,   He lashed out stabbing and slashing blindly as fists swung around him.   He felt the knife hit something hard then soft, it was sickening sensation.    He kept slashing and stabbing, one boy fell to the ground, and a knife skidded from his grasp down the alley.   The other boy staggered back down the alley.   He heard screaming and moaning as he glanced at the scene before turning on his heel to run.   Run, he ran hard, scared, not stopping for blocks until he got to his house.   The knife still in his hands as opened the front door.   He ran to the phone, dialed the Operator, said two boys were stabbed in an ally, then hung up the phone quickly.  He stumbled into his room, falling into his bed.   His hands were covered with blood, his shirtsleeves were red with blood, blood all over his clothes.

What the fuck had he done.   What was he going to do?    Had he just killed someone?   What was he going to do?

I stayed awake all night thinking about those boys.   Did I kill somebody?!   What was going to happen next.   I knew they would find me, my hat was in the alley, they would snitch, one of them would die.   I would go to jail forever, no one could save me, just like no one, not my parents, not the cops and not my brothers on the street could save me from the Junction.  

COMMENTARY ON THE KILLING AT LEMMEL

I could not get this story of my past out of my head after reading about that 14-year-old child who was stabbed and killed at Lemmel Middle School on Friday.   My first reaction was wondering what happened.  What fear drove them to carry weapons?   What madness lived under the reason for the killing?

At first people were saying it was gang-related.   Now, one of the stories surrounding this young man’s death is that he was a bully and the kid who killed him was one of his victims.   The child who did the stabbing turned himself into the police. 

Many people do not understand the fear that so many of our children in the inner cities of America live with every day of their lives.    I would venture to say that the vast majority of young people who carry weapons, be they knives or guns or clubs, do so out of fear and self-protection.   You have to live with a mask of neutrality and fearlessness on your face at all times.   That joy of youth that so many children in our nation enjoy cannot be allowed to blossom for most inner city kids.  When gentleness can be a weakness, the hard cover you are forced to wear keeps the joy at bay.  

So, if it is true that the poor boy who died was a bully, and this kid who stabbed him then turned himself in was in a corner with no where to go but slashing his way to escape, then what should our response be as a society who judges actions of others like this?  

What do we do with this boy who took a life perhaps defending his own in a world where no one can protect you but yourself?   What are we as a society and our government willing to do to invest in these children to be able to learn, live and find joy in their schools?   Will we send an army of counselors and therapists into that school to help the children and their teaches cope with what just happened?   Will we teach alternatives to violence?  Will we invest in recreation centers staffed with counselors to reach out to street kids?   Will we invest in the green economy to put their parents to work so we can build stable families?

Can we show we care?   Can we build a society that cares enough to put people to work, to eliminate poverty and invest in our children the way we do highways, McMansions and prisons?  

We can if we have the will.  We can’t lose another child to the streets.


Day After the Election by Marc Steiner

Last night, I went to my daughter Chelsea’s home to watch the returns.   She was having a watch  party.  It was the perfect venue for that night for many reasons.     Chelsea’s mom, Sayida Stone, my first wife and a dear friend, is African American.   Chelsea is a Black woman, a mixed race child of America.   She has three children, my grand children.  Their father, Ebon, a schoolteacher, martial artist and musician, is Afro-Italian-Puerto Rican.   From the beginning, Chelsea was deeply moved by Obama’s candidacy.  It was their time, it was their day, and it is their time now. 

Chelsea’s sister, Alana, her mom’s daughter with her husband who is Jamaican, is 21 years old, a brilliant artist and a junior at MICA.   I call her my daughter once removed, she calls me Saba, which is Hebrew for grandfather.   Alana was there with a dozen of her classmates.  Young, African American, Latino, Asian, mixed race and white who worked for this campaign, who believed in this message of hope.

Chelsea’s friends who were there ranged from 28 to their early forties, every color of the American rainbow.  Her mom, her husband Jenel, and others of our generation were there, as well.

The feeling in her home was electric and explosive, but explosive with peace and hope.   When Obama was announced the next President of the Untied States of America, there was a pandemonium of joy, screaming, shouting, hugging, singing and champagne corks popping.  

I looked around realizing this was their day.  These young people believed so deeply and were so full of what the future might bring to us all.  

While watching television it was hard not to notice the contrast between the Obama supporters in Grant Park in Chicago and the McCain supporters.   Obama’s in a public park with thousands of people of every generation and race in America and McCain’s in a private club for the wealthy and all, well not all, but almost all, white.  

This was an election of the two Americas from which we were born and in which we still live.   Our great nation has no state religion.   Our state religion is our democracy, our belief in freedom and liberty.   The USA was founded on liberty and slavery in the same breath.  Imagine that and think about that for a moment.   Liberty and slavery are the foundations of our nation.   The roots of the contradiction and the hope that dwell uneasily together in our nation’s soul were alive and palpable last night in this election.  

Maybe the tenor is about to change.   Race and racism hurt America.   It is a deep wound in the Black American spirit.  It is a burden of pain in white America, as well.  

The man who was voted in to become the 44th President of the United States of America may be changing the tenor and tone of our nation.  In the spirit of the civil rights warriors, he was unbowed and non-violent in his stand against his tormentors in this campaign.   When Barack Obama was faced with lies and low blows dealt by his opponents, the Republican Party and their independent advocates, he responded with dignity, strength and love.  So many of his supporters screamed that he should fight back, blow for blow  and spit in their eye.  Barack Obama chose to hold his head and his sense of morality and ethics high, so he kept walking straight ahead amidst the verbal blows and lies.  He set a standard for his supporters and the America he believes in.  The roots of that way of responding politically come from Martin Luther King, the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s that they gave birth to and that gave birth to them.   It bodes well for what we may be able to do in America together.

I am not naïve about the difficulty that lies ahead of us.  Barack Obama is not the savior; he is the embodiment of hope for many Americans.  The struggle is now on to define our future.  We can now fight for something rather than against it.   We will have a seat at the table for the debate on our nation’s future.   We have serious work ahead of us.

Good gumbo, too, last night… A gumbo of America in the room, a gumbo of America who voted Obama,  and a great gumbo in the pot.


Change We Cannot Quit On by Stavros Halkias

Here are some thoughts written late last night by CEM intern and UMBC student Stavros Halkias.  We’d like to encourage everyone to send in their post-election thoughts.  Post comments here, email us at cem@centerforemergingmedia.org, or call us on the air today between 5-6pm at 410-319-8888.

Voting for the first time in my life was legitimately exciting. From the moment I entered my polling place, which happened to be my elementary school, I was overcome with emotion. In the building where I first learned what the office of the president was, I would have a hand in choosing the next person to occupy that office. Even better, I was supporting a candidate I actually believed in and held incredible hopes for. My nerves and elation were held together by an overarching sense of purpose. I was part of a societal change, with my ballot serving as tangible proof. Why can’t I feel like this everyday? Why can’t every day be Election Day? 

Despite these feelings, as I walked out of that polling station I couldn’t help but wonder “What’s next?” Barack Obama had the kind of campaign and following that was unprecedented in this nation’s history. His campaign deposed Democratic royalty in the primaries, broke all kinds of fundraising records, and truly inspired vast numbers of people for the first time in decades. The sobering realization I came to was that campaigns and administrations are two very different things. Historically, the energy campaigns create largely dies after the immediate goal of election is met. We can’t allow that to happen this time. All the people who voted for Barack Obama on Tuesday, all the people that were part of the historic movement for change in our country, must challenge themselves further.  To borrow a few words from the President elect’s victory speech, “This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.”

So, don’t let things go back to the way they were before Barack came along. Don’t rely solely on his administration to make change. Let Barack Obama’s election be the beginning–not the end–of your efforts. Become more civically involved. Start helping your community in any way you can. Identify problems and work towards them yourself. Volunteer. Tutor at-risk youth. Protest injustice. Support more change-minded politicians. Study social change movements. Do something! Take the energy you put into the campaign and move it to your community, don’t let it go to waste. Don’t just get excited and wait for change– make change and make everyday Election Day.

-Stavros Halkias


Impressions from Obama Rally

We got the two following emails in from local listeners who traveled to Virginia last night for Obama’s final rally.  Thought we would share them with you!

Click READ MORE below!

 Yesterday afternoon I got wind of a small caravan of cars leaving Baltimore for Barack’s Obama’s final campaign rally at the Prince William County fairgrounds in Manassas. My friend Valerie rode with me and came prepared with provisions of trail mix, chips & chocolate. Scheduled to leave at 3, we finally got on the road at 4. The gates were to open at 5 with event starting at 9 pm. But at around 7:30 pm, we were still in our cars at a dead stop on Rte. 234 about a mile from the fairgrounds.  So we did a u-turn, parked on the sidewalk, and walked the rest of the way — but promptly lost our caravan group in the process.

In the fairgrounds at 8:15; Obama finally came on around 10:30.  Valerie & I were 2 of about 100,000, and as short people, we were constantly on our tip toes dodging the heads in front of us.

Did I really see Obama?  Yes but he was this tiny fuzzy image in a cloud of fog & dust.

Was it worth it?  Absolutely!  Even after dealing with poor logistics, a rude state trooper and not arriving back home until 3 a.m.  Being in the presence of the first African-American president (we hope, go vote), whose talking points I was long familiar with, had me awe-struck.

 And as enthusiastic as the crowd was during the rally, everyone was equally polite and congenial leaving (despite feeling like a herd of cattle squeezing through the exit gates). It was an amazingly diverse crowd — black, white, hispanic, muslim, babies, teens, families and grammies like me.

It was a good and worthy 12-hour adventure.

                                              -Clare

 
I went down to Obama’s final rally, in Manassas, last night. It was so amazing – the energy was beautiful. The message of hope, moving forward, civility, and how one voice can change the world was reflected in the genuine respect that each person there showed every other person. (Under less than desirable conditions!) Young black “yo boys” next to white-haired grandmothers next to round-faced Latino workers next to Muslim women in scarves.

I had heard the words many times, but being in that crowd I understood – down to my bones – how positive sentiments of truth, peace, and love can transform (in this case, 100,000 people). It was a reminder of the lesson I am grappling with each day, to let go of the negativity of the past and surrender to the extraordinary potential of this day.

                                                                   -Valerie


Troy Davis Granted Stay of Execution

On Tuesday’s show, we discussed the case of Troy Davis, who’s on death row in Georgia after having been convicted of the murder of a police officer.  Today, the federal appeals court in Atlanta issued a stay of execution.  Read more about it here.

 


Another job for Steiner?

While the idea of Marc being even busier fills his producers and no doubt his lady Valerie with horror, we were pleased to see this very kind article by Examiner columnist Gregory Kane in which he suggests that someone should give Marc a second job as a teacher of the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

Who will give Marc Steiner that second job?

By Gregory Kane
Examiner Columnist | 10/17/08 1:19 PM

Last Monday I had the pleasure of appearing on Marc Steiner’s radio show, the one he’s hosting on WEAA, Morgan State University’s station.

We chatted for a while about my Examiner column on the late City Councilman Kenneth Harris, and about how no one who knows the person or persons responsible for Harris’ murder has given up the miscreants who did it. But before we got into all that and about Baltimore’s “Stop Snitching” culture, I told Steiner how glad I was he was back on the radio.

Honchos at WYPR gave Steiner the boot earlier this year. His being off the air was like Dunbar High School’s basketball team or Johns Hopkins University men’s lacrosse team having losing seasons. It was a sign of the Apocalypse, a disturbance in the Force, a foreboding sense of something terribly amiss in the universe.

Steiner’s loyal fans at WYPR protested for several weeks in a futile attempt to get him back on the air at WYPR. Now that wiser heads at WEAA have seen fit to make things right with the world again by giving Steiner another show, maybe his former supporters at WYPR can get to work campaigning for Steiner to get that other job he deserves: As a college professor teaching about the civil rights era.

After the show ended I told Steiner that’s exactly what he should be doing, in addition to his job at WEAA.

“Who would hire me to do such a thing?” he asked me.

Oh, any college president or administrator with even a scintilla of a clue, I’d imagine. Steiner’s a natural for the job. On the matter of civil rights, he’s more than a talk show host; he’s a Maryland resource. I can’t pick up a book about the civil rights era in Maryland and not stumble across Steiner’s name.

He’s in Peter B. Levy’s book “Civil War On Race Street,” a historical account of the 1960s civil rights movement in Cambridge, Md. Levy mentions Steiner of page 77 as “the youngest individual” convicted of participating in one anti-segregation demonstration in the Eastern Shore town.

Steiner’s Cambridge activism is also mentioned in C. Fraser Smith’s “Here Lies Jim Crow: Civil Rights in Maryland.” But his arrest during the 1963 Gwynn Oak Amusement Park desegregation demonstrations could have been mentioned as well. So might Steiner’s making the enemies’ list of the late former Baltimore police Commissioner Donald Pomerleau, who was more suited to be a KGB apparatchik than the head of any police force in a constitutional republic.

Not making either book is Steiner’s account of how he attended and then departed Baltimore City College in the early 1960s. I graduated from City College in 1969, from the stage, seventh in a class of a few hundred.

Steiner’s exit from City College several years earlier was more comparable to that of a parole. It involved his dispute with a faculty member whose racial views indicated the teacher had taken in one too many viewings of “Birth of a Nation.” It’s classic stuff, but only Steiner’s recounting of the story does it true justice.

It’s the sort of tale today’s college students might enjoy, if not cherish. I’m a visiting professor in the Writing Seminars department at Johns Hopkins University, and I can’t count the number of times students have told me that they weren’t familiar with a particular topic before I assigned it. Often, that topic is about the civil rights era.

Steiner won’t be some professor who learned about the era through textbooks and writing dissertations. He LIVED the era. He could bring it alive for today’s college students like no other professor could. Having professors who can hand out reading assignments about the arrest of civil rights demonstrators is, I suppose, pretty much OK. But I’d rather have one who could tell me first-hand what it was like.

So get busy, Steiner fans. You stood up for him when those philistines at WYPR kicked him to the curb. Start that letter-writing campaign to local college and university presidents today. Get Steiner in a college classroom teaching students about the civil rights era in Maryland.

Frankly, I can’t think of anyone who’s more qualified.


New Commentary from “Best of Baltimore” Winner Page Croyder!

Former Assistant State’s Attorney Page Croyder, who recently won a "Best of Baltimore" award from Baltimore City Paper for "Best Insider Perspective", is back with a brand new article.  She’s taking a look at how judges are-or in some cases, aren’t-held accountable when they are found guilty of breaking a law.

 

Click here to read her latest article!

 


Remembering Lucille Robinson

Deborah Sarsgard introduced us to Lucille Robinson, a grandmother in Baltimore who was raising a house full of grandchildren on her own.  We had Lucille and some other grandparent caregivers discuss their lives and the challenges they faced on The Marc Steiner Show.  Then we decided to spend more time with Lucille, and the interviews we recorded became the first three episodes of Just Words.  We’d like to thank Deborah for sharing some of her thoughts and memories of Lucille with us, which you can read  by clicking here.

Lucille Robinson was my hero and her death, although not entirely unexpected, leaves me with a mixed bag of feelings: profound gratitude that she allowed me to enter her life yet deep anger at the systems that forced her to expend her dwindling energy fighting just to subsist.  During the six years I was a social worker with the Grandparents Family Connections program, I worked closely with Lucille and the grandchildren she was raising.  Her grace, feistiness, earthy elegance, and compassion will always remain with me.  She was my teacher about the human spirit, my inspiration, and my dear friend. 

Baltimore should be putting up banners honoring Lucille and all the other grandparents who are raising the city’s children.  Instead, every obstacle imaginable was placed in her path from the day she got the call from the Department of Social Services that the first grandchild she took in was about to be placed in foster care.  She did not hesitate for a second to take him in or to answer the calls to pick up the next five grandchildren.  They were turned over to her without as much as a can of formula or a box of diapers.  She went through the arduous process of becoming a foster parent (an option denied most grandparent caregivers who take the children directly from DSS rather than through the courts) so she would have enough money to meet their basic needs, but was soon disqualified because her home—like most in inner-city neighborhoods–did not pass the agency’s inspection.  Her food stamps were constantly cut off because she did not attend reconsideration hearings (the letter would arrive two days after the hearing was scheduled).  Even when she was tethered to an oxygen tank, she’d have to spend an entire day at DSS waiting to see a worker, to be told the mistake would be corrected the next month (and what were the children to eat until then?).  I went with her whenever I could and we talked about how differently she was treated when a white professional woman was with her.  She was profoundly aware of classism and racism, yet never expressed bitterness.  She believed “we reap what we sow.”

It was much the same story with her medical care.  Somehow she had been convinced to sign up for a Medicare opt-out HMO plan.  The doctors who had the expertise to treat her lung disease and might have prolonged her life would not accept this plan and few of the drugs she needed were covered.  Once again, it was only when I was able to accompany her to medical visits that a token effort was made to ease some of her symptoms.  She saw one of these doctors the day she died and was told she was “fine”; she knew she wasn’t.  These doctors could have learned so much about the resiliency of the human spirit and the wisdom that comes from a life of struggle had they looked up from their files into the face of the human being before them and listened to her story.  Had they only “seen” her, I know they would have at least tried to save her life.

I will never forget how excited Lucille was when Marc and Jessica came to interview her for “Just Words.”  She could not believe that her humble life was “newsworthy.”  I will always remember, as well, the outpouring of kindness from the Baltimore community that followed the three broadcasts.  Jessica asked me if I would be the intermediary for those who wanted to make holiday donations to the family.  I drove all around the city and county picking up donations and met up with people in mall parking lots and pizza parlors to collect gift baskets and envelopes stuffed with cash.  Some were wealthy, but most were working people who knew they were one paycheck away from being in Lucille’s shoes.  People’s generosity and willingness to be moved by her story made these wonderful holidays for me as well as Lucille.

Lucille was profoundly distressed by the violence that plagues Baltimore and tried to “talk sense” into the young men on the corners.  She lost one of her grandsons to the drug culture.  Before he was incarcerated, she said to me, “You know, I wish he didn’t have a record so he could go to Iraq.”  I knew Lucille was against the war and asked what made her say that.  She replied, “I know he’s going to be killed by a gun anyway, and I’d rather him die a hero in Iraq than be gunned down on the streets of Baltimore and be just another statistic.”  Her other grandchildren are doing well and, in fact, her 21-year-old granddaughter has stepped up to raise the two young boys who remain at home. 

Lucille was far more comfortable helping others than admitting she needed help.  When she found out I was leaving Family Connections and did not yet have another job, she was worried.  “Honey,” she said, “I don’t have much, but if you ever find yourself without a roof over your head, I have a double bed and you can share my yogurt and crackers.”  That was the last time I saw her.  That was Lucille.

Deborah Sarsgard
Baltimore, MD

 To read Marc’s tribute to Lucille, click here.


In Memory of Lucille Robinson

I just got the news that Lucille Robinson passed away. Lucille was the first participant in our Just Words series about the working poor in Maryland. Hers was the story of a grandmother who is raising her grandchildren. Her daughter and son were missing in action, gobbled up by the seduction of the streets. Because of her husband’s death and her own illness, she lost her middle-class life in Columbia, Maryland and found herself back in the inner-city, raising children as she struggled through her seventies.

She was an angel, a lovely soul, with the deepest passion and commitment for children and for the well being of those with even less than she had. She told her grandchildren that they may not always have what they want to eat, but they will always eat in her home. She shared her morsels with those on her block who, if not for her, would go hungry.

She died. She should be alive. If she were not poor and Black, living in the inner city, she could have gotten the health care she needed to care for her lungs. She would still be ill but probably not dead. If she had not had to endure working conditions where she breathed in chemicals and asbestos when she was a young woman, this non-smoker might still be breathing and laughing among us.

She was a shining light. She inspired me. She inspired her grandchildren who loved to show her what they learned in school each day. When those kids, five of them, came home from school, they got their snack, then it was off to the basement to study before they went out to play. They are wonderful children. Who will care for them now?

When I interviewed Lucille around Christmastime 2006, she was struggling desperately to make ends meet on her meager social security and retirement income. She was so worried about what would happen to her children if she passed. She knew she was ill, and was holding on to life for all it was worth.

She struggled financially because the state will not support grandparents who are forced to raise their grandchildren. The state will pay for foster care parents and juvenile incarceration but not for families struggling to save their own children. Pro-family rhetoric is just that, rhetoric, with no substance in the real world.

The federal government can find almost a trillion dollars overnight to bail out wealthy Wall Street bankers but can’t afford to help strengthen the families of America. This is not the America I love.

The America I love came out in droves to help Lucille Robinson when they heard her story in December 2006. The America I love has a compassionate government which helps those who struggle to help themselves and their families.

Lucille Robinson, whose home was so warm and comfortable, did not ask for much. She just wanted enough to keep the lights on, keep her children fed and for her streets to be safe. She could take care of the rest.

Now, she is at rest.

Listen to Lucille Robinson’s story on the first 3 episodes of Just Words:

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3


More Follow-up on Protests and Arrests During RNC by Sonia Silbert

Sonia Silbert, Co-coordinator of the Washington Peace Center, wrote last week with updates on the mass arrests and detentions by police of activists during the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities.  Here are some more reports from her from later in the week.  You can also listen to her interview with us during the RNC on The Marc Steiner Show – click here.

Click here to read more!

In The Jail – treatment and abuse.

Tuesday morning we called the jail and learned that Jonathan and Kari were being held on felony charges, which blew us all away.  There was no way they could have the evidence to back that up, so we were sure the charge would be reduced when they finally saw a judge, but it meant that they would be held another night in jail.

As of Tuesday evening, our friends had been in jail over 24 hours.  Kari, the 20-year old, had managed to call her mom in Pennsylvania, who called the legal line in a panic.  I got her phone number and called her back to reassure her regarding why she got arrested (photographers are scary, I guess), how she would be treated (kept with the protesters, not the general prison population, and I didn’t tell her about the rumors of prisoner abuse that were seeping out of the jail), and what would be the repercussions of this (she’ll be freaked out, but there’s no way she’ll be convicted of a felony…Inshallah).

JAIL SUPPORT

Wednesday afternoon, I went down to the jail where people had been doing a vigil all day.  Everyone who had been arrested on Monday had to be charged and released by today since it had been 36 hours – it turned into many more hours than that, but they started the process at least at the 36 hr mark.  Our friend Tobin, the minor, had gotten out that morning and his dad had flown him back home.  His police report basically just said that he was recognized at an earlier action and that was all the evidence provided – we were all pissed that the public defender didn’t ask for the charges to be dismissed.  He has a court date back in Minnesota in October.

There were about 100 activists sitting in the grass outside the jail talking, playing guitar, eating, etc.  Needless to say, we were surrounded by riot cops, some on horseback, on all four corners.  They continued to group and regroup throughout the afternoon and evening, letting everyone know we could be raided, detained and arrested at any time.  Our crimes?  Some kind of felony I would guess.  Talking too loud or something.

One by one, arrestees were meeting with public defenders, standing in front of  a judge, getting (most of) their possessions back and then being released.  We went into the court building which was surrounded by wire fencing and guarded by National Guard. 

Our friend Aaron, who is an Iraq vet from Chicago, pointed out that even here you could see a huge difference between city cops and the National Guard.  The RNC had $50 million to spend on policing the Twin Cities and every cop had brand-new full-body riot gear – padding from shoulder to toe, helmets, gas masks, tools and toys bulging out of every pocket so they had a hard time walking too fast.  The Guard, on the other hand, were wearing their camo (so they couldn’t be seen in the city?) and a flak vest without any protection in it.  Even in a case like this, the funding doesn’t go to the members of the military.  Funny, because it sure feels like a military state out here.

Kari finally went in front of a judge and got her charge reduced to a misdemeanor, just like Jonathan.  However, for some reason her judge gave her $300 bail, while Jonathan had none.  Some of the main organizers who had been locked up all week were being held on $70,000 bail, which they negotiated down to $1000 bail.  Apparently bail bondsmen usually only charge 10% (this is information I now know), but for the RNC protesters they were raising their charges a lot.  We were told we’d have to pay $200 to get a bondsman to pay her $300, so the 5 of us from our affinity group went to an ATM and split the amont and pay her bail. 

Hours later, I got a collect call from Ramsey Co. Jail on my cell phone from Kari.  I knew that I’ll only have 45 seconds before they’d cut me off and demand money, so I quickly told her that we had paid her bail and were all waiting outside for her.  She said that the money hadn’t shown up in the system yet and they were transferring her back upstairs to another cell. 

She sounded so scared and sad, as if she was never going to get out.  I felt the same – if they had lost the bail money (which had to be cash and we had been given no receipt) or were just going to take forever to process it, she’d have to spend another night in jail, this time without many of the activists she had been in with all week. 
 
About half an hour later – about midnight – a group of arrestees are released all at the same time and everyone rushed over to applaud them and see who it is.  We are all kinda glum, knowing it wouldn’t be our friends, when through the crowd I see Lily, Ryan and David grinning the most honest and joyful smiles I’ve ever seen, and I peak over the heads and I see Kari!  She’s been released and has no idea why and is so happy to be out of there. 

Within minutes Jonathan and a group of guys are walking down the fenced walkway and there is a beautiful Hollywood moment when Kari and Jonathan run towards each other and he picks her up and spins her around with one arm while flipping off the jail with the other hand.  It was pretty great.

The riot cops have backed off – perhaps we’re not as scary when everyone is so happy.  At one point, 2 cops weave their way through the celebration and folks start chanting “You’re sexy, you’re cute – take off that riot suit!”
 
ABUSE IN THE JAIL

As more people get out, we hear more stories from inside the jail that are pretty awful.  There are two guys who have been beaten up pretty badly by the guards inside – one has been released, one they couldn’t find in the system.  The one they couldn’t find was James, Lisa’s friend and a member of the Pagan Cluster.  Jonathan said the 5 or 6 cops went into his cell with batons and beat him up and then moved him elsewhere.

The one who was released was a 19-yr-old named Elliot.  He later spoke at a press conference detailing what had happened.  He and others had been chanting for medical attention and 5 or 6 cops came into his cell, punched him unconsceiounce, then banged his head against the floor, waking him up.  They took him to a separate cell where they put a hood over his head with a gag and used pain compliance holds on him for about an hour and a half – this included disconnecting his jaw and bending his ankles all the way backwards.  He had bruises and scrapes on his face and was obviously still traumatized. 
 
A friend of mine who I was watching the press conference with broke down while listening to Elliot’s testimony – he had had similar pain compliance holds used on him by the cops 4 years ago.  I had felt traumatized enough being detained at gunpoint and feeling vulnerable on the streets – this intense torture by government officials is something that I don’t know if you ever recover from.

Watch Elliot’s testimony here.

On The Streets: harrassment and more mass arrests

Police harassment and arrests continued throughout the week even though the main protests that were designed to block the conventioneers were only planned on Monday.  The police presence and abuse throughout the week is hard to overstate.  Veteran activists said they hadn’t been so scared or seen such police activity since Miami in 2003 – the FTAA protests notorious for its brutality.  That mobilization sent many activists I know into support roles because they couldn’t be on the street anymore. 

This kind of police aggression is not the norm for mobilizations – even when “those scary anarchists” are involved.  It’s amazing how quickly it becomes normalized though – just don’t walk alone, take off that black hat, oh, there’s another row of 40 riot cops, let’s cross the street.  People get used to everything, but this was a rapid normalization of an extreme police state.  “Minnesota nice” was out the window.

TUESDAY

Tuesday afternoon, there was an all day peace concert at the state capital – Rage Against the Machine was going to make a surprise appearance at the end of it, but the cops wouldn’t let them play for some reason.  So the band stood in front of the stage and passed one bull-horn back and forth and sang some of the crowd’s favorites…  they then led the crowd down to join the Rally for the Poor Peoples’ Economic Human Rights Campaign that was started out further down the hill.  The riot cops were out in force and seemed to be looking for a fight I guess.  In any case, they tear gassed and pepper sprayed the crowd again – the Poor People’s March organizers got out of there as the cops started escalating their tactics.

I was at an action in downtown Minneapolis at a party thrown by the American Petroleum Institute for Republican delegates and lobbyists.  We were doing a parady, dressed up as oil execs and thanking the Republicans for supporting more and more drilling.  Billionaires for Bush have now become Lobbyists for McCain and they came to the celebration.  A lone polar bear also made an appearance and got in a death match with Sarah Palin who, as all have been hearing, is pretty tough in situations such as this.  The bear didn’t fare too well.  While we were greeting party attendees, we also were getting text messages that our friends were getting beat up and tear-gassed in St Paul…  our crew got out okay.  Funnily enough, our cynical chants of “Drill!  Drill!  Drill!” were echoed inside the RNC later in the week, but I guess those folks were serious.

Later that night we found out that the Bedlam Theater, a local music venue in Minneapolis that had a punk show on that night, was also surrounded by riot cops.  I think about 100 people were arrested at that show.  It seemed like the cops were using this week to harass local activists or venues they’d had their eyes on for awhile.

WEDNESDAY

I went to Peace Island, a local peace conference, that was perhaps the stereotype of a peace conference – lots of lovely grey-haired aging hippies.  One of them raised her hand and said that she was outraged at the police brutality and harassment throughout the week and how they were targeting protesters based on their appearance.  She suggested that all the grey-haired folks in the audience put on bandanas and black hoodies and go out in the street and protect the activists!  Everyone applauded, but no one rushed outside. 

I still felt uncomfortable walking around in my own black hoodie, even though the temperature had dipped into the 60’s and it was needed.  The targeting based on appearance was scary and continued all week.  I suppose it’s cliché to say, but it’s an amazing reminder of what I think it’s like to walk around as an African-American young man…

RAIDING THE LEGAL OFFICE

As I was leaving the conference, I got a text that the legal office was being raided and was calling for observers.  By the time I got there, the cops were gone and media cameras were everywhere.  The legal office’s location had been kept pretty secret from the general public – you had to be escorted there by someone who was working there – because the consequences of its being raided would be really awful.  They were in the same building as I Witness Video, which was filming the convention.  At the RNC in NY 4 years ago, I Witness’s footage had proven the innocence of a lot of protesters arrested by NYPD. 

The cops showed up at that building because they claimed they had received a phone call from someone in the building being “held hostage by an anarchist”.  They didn’t have a warrant and weren’t let in, but the building almost evicted the legal office and they were restricted to having only 8 people in there at a time after that.  Given that the phone was ringing off the hook from calls from the street and the jail, there were piles of info from those calls that needed to be entered into the database, and lawyers were operating out of that office to collect statements, challenge the use of force by the cops and work to get folks released, this was a big hinderance. 

MORE ARRESTS

On Thursday, most of my affinity group left town, including Jonathan and Kari.  The cops hadn’t returned most of their property, including Kari’s camera, but they had to leave that place.  I agreed and avoided downtown St Paul.  It was the last day of the convention and there was a student anti-war protest.  Apparently they were a little slow on their march and had reached the end of the time on their permit around 5:00 or so and the cops trapped them on a bridge.  My friend who was there said he had never seen so many cops – not this week, not at other protests.  There were lines of riot cops, cops on horses, bicycle cops, and then a row or two of National Guard, plus snow plows and dump trucks to block streets.  The students sat down on the bridge and the cops used tear gas and concussion grenades and arrested about 400 of them.  400!  This included about a dozen journalists, including a Democracy Now!  producer who who had been arrested at Monday’s protests as well.

That night, IVAW member Adam Kokesh and two CODEPINKers got into McCain’s speech and interrupted him.  The CODEPINKers said it was incredibly easy to get into the convention.  There was no way they could’ve gotten into the DNC because the security was so tight, but the RNC was a piece of cake.  All three interrupted McCain’s speech and none were arrested. 

As of Friday, I believe everyone has been bailed out, many though generous donations from allies.

OVERALL

Overall, about 800 people were arrested this week – after seeing the judge, only about 30 of the 130 felony charges are still standing.  There are many civil suits being discussed; I think Amy Goodman and the 30 or 40 or so journalists who were arrested are doing their own suit, and the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild are both planning suits as well.  It’s funny to think back on Friday night and how shocking that original raid of the convergence space was.  It seemed so outrageous and worthy of its own civil suit all by itself.  And then the week began and we realized that was just the beginning. 

HOW TO HELP

Donate to the legal support fund for general arrestees and for the lead organizers who are being charged with pretty serious charges.  Also donate to the Welcoming Committee for organizing all logistics for the weekend.  Links to donate are at www.nornc.org.

Get some media attention!  The police brutality was barely covered in the mainstream media, even more liberal outlets such as NPR or the NY Times.  Call your local station, write a short letter to the editor, and demand coverage of such extremism. 

Also, hug an independent journalist!  Check out Democracy Now! and your local Indymedia site for the news the other guys don’t want you to hear, then forward all this info on to any other caring folks you know.

Read Sonia Silbert’s blog here.


Yes He Can! The Moving Acceptance Speech of John McCain, by Richard Vatz

From RedMaryland;

 

John McCain gave a powerful acceptance speech tonight, devoid of artificial drama and devoid of gimmicks. More on that later.

Leading up to his speech was a moving tribute by his wife Cindy, a tribute which left no one in doubt about the genuineness of their union and both of their commitments to public service.

Preceding that address was a specific appeal which this critic found tremendously convincing.

Click READ MORE below!

The Senator from South Carolina, Sen. Lindsay Graham, made a clear, unambiguous focus of this convention the one available operational definition of the difference in military policies between John McCain and Barack Obama: the “Surge” in Iraq.

Sen. Graham said simply “The Surge has worked.” He cited Sen. McCain as the politician who led the fight to support Gen. Petraeus and his successful war strategy, while Sen. Obama and the Democrats almost succeeded – and came within 2 votes – in de-funding the war. The Democratic Senator who was the difference, according to Graham? Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has been threatened with political retaliation from his own Democratic Party for criticizing Sen. Obama as callow.

Sen. Graham convincingly argued that the “Surge” was a critical milestone in the war against terror, for its loss, about which Sen. Obama and the Democrats appeared to be sanguine, would have led to an al Qaeda success and the loss of any United States military credibility in the war against terror.

Devastatingly, Sen. Graham referenced the frequent iterations of Sen. Obama of how he “appreciates” the United States military, characterizing such protestations as disingenuous and “playing politics with our national security.”

His conclusion? Sen. Obama is a man who loves his country, but one who just “doesn’t get it.”

The lengthy but memorable acceptance address by Senator John McCain was the last speech of the convention, of course.

His appeal to conservatives already seemingly solidified through his Vice Presidential nominee, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, he seemed to focus on centrists of both parties and independents, a natural historic constituency of his.

Sen. McCain, amid constant – sometimes too interruptingly constant – cheers of “U-S-A;U-S-A,” pledged to be an active President whose primary missions would be to restore fiscal discipline, return prosperity and keep the country safe.

He pledged an honorable-but-tough campaign against a formidable opponent, Sen. Obama, whom he would not demonize, but also from whom he would not shrink from criticizing.

Assuring his audience that he picked the “right partner,” Gov. Palin, perfect in substance, vision and style [but lacking foreign policy credentials and knowledge to deal with the resurgent imperial Russia described to be on his radar during his presidency, as well as the continuing threat of al Qaeda], he pledged to fight prolific spenders, corrupt politicians and promised to make public the names of legislators supporting pork barrel spending. He pledged to stop the hemorrhaging from our treasury monies that go to potential foreign enemies who sell us oil. These arguments may work to, as the Senator implied, expropriate the concept of “change” for the Republican Party.

Sen. McCain’s signature line that he would rather “lose an election than lose a war” was detailed in his support of the “Surge,” a successful military tactic that he claimed believably may lead to an indisputable victory in the Iraq War. The Surge, he argued, as have all major speakers in the Republican Convention, was opposed by Sen. Obama and the Democrats in general and to this day has not been acknowledged as a military success. This was a major reason cited by Sen. McCain of his needed stewardship of the United States military and foreign policy. In a series of rousing rhetorical contrasts of public policy differences, Sen. McCain crystallized the powerful differences between Sen. Obama and hinself.

Sen. McCain reassured the country that he “hates war” because he has experienced war, and he took us through some of his experience as a P.O.W. to show the power of fellowship.

He ended his speech with a powerful crescendo of “Fight,” “Fight” and “Fight” for America…

When the ethos of the speaker is consistent with the message, a long speech does not disappoint; it energizes, and the convention hall and presumably most Republicans and maybe even most Reagan Democrats who witnessed this powerful address were excited by the rhetoric of “change,” the \Republican\ rhetoric of change.

Professor Richard E. Vatz teaches Political Rhetoric at Towson University


O’ Say Can WHO See? from Dr. Eric Durham

Let’s begin with the topic of CHANGE.

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I noticed a phenomenon during the early portions of the Democratic
primary. A young man by the name of Barack Obama introduced himself as
an agent of CHANGE. He kept this topic as a recurring thesis in his
stump speeches; and he also placed the word on his campaign placards.
This one word became the goal, motto, direction, and purpose that he
ran on. THEN Hillary Clinton adopted CHANGE and put a "little twist" on
it by coupling it with experience. (Which, by the way, begin to signal
the disorganization of her campaign.) Then you begin to hear more and
more of the Democratic candidates squabble about who could be best to
bring about CHANGE. Now, I see the Republicans are doing the SAME
THING. Which baffles me, because, once they begin talking about CHANGE,
they come close to admitting that what they have done for eight years
is so messed up that it needs to be CHANGED. In short, I think it’s
very important to note that CHANGE has become so attractive that
everyone has decided to adopt it. Why?…because this is what the
American people have said they want: CHANGE. …and Barack Obama, in
his judgement and experience, knew it from the beginning.


Small note on Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery:

Over the course of the last two days, several Republican speakers
mentioned that THEIR party (the Republican Party) ended slavery. This
mention, just like their appropriation of CHANGE, is pure pandering.
Let me explain something to the voters of America. The constituents of
the Republican party that ended slavery are the same demographic of
people who constitute the contemporary Democratic party. The "political
ancestors" of the people we saw in the ExCel center over the last
couple days belonged to the "Dixiecrats," "Yellow Dog" democrats…the
members of the Solid South…those who wanted slavery…fought
Reconstruction…and I don’t think is much of a leap, supported the
terrorists activity of the Ku Klux Klan upon other (black) Americans.
With FDRoosevelt’s Public Works Programs enacted, the demographics of
the two major parties started to shift (1933-1945). Which is why a lot
of Blacks, some other ethnic groups, and liberals belong to the
Democratic party and fiscal and social conservatives are now
Republicans. So, for those that didn’t know this bit of U.S. History,
now you do…don’t be fooled by the petty pander. THEIR party was the
party of Herbert Hoover…but they didn’t mention that last night.
Remember the "Hoover Pockets" of the Great Depression? I think it would
be a wonderful American fashion statement to bring back now…"Bush
pockets."


The Dissenters in the audience:

Not even the chants of "USA" could drown out the dissenters against the
War last night. By the way, one dissenter wore a shirt that read
VETERANS AGAINST THE WAR. This, I understand, as quite a "trump card."
…and I forget the number right now, but Obama has GROSSLY out-raised
McCain among troops in Iraq. So, as much as the RNC attempted to
"decorate" war and military service through their video productions,
let us not forget, THIS IS AN UNPOPULAR WAR. And the issue of the
"surge" is so laughable to me, I won’t discuss it. Okay, one sentence
(question) on the surge: Are you seriously going to use a "surge"
(that’s a couple months old) to speak about a 5-6 year poorly managed
war?

I think it’s important to note that DNC didn’t have any vocal
dissenters. And was the case, despite the fact that they didn’t come
off as intimdating, sarcastic, or condescening. And by my count, the
Republicans had FOUR vocal dissenters last night…and ONE the night
before.

McCain’s speech:


"We’re all Americans….and that’s an association that means more to
me, than any other." And the audience roars?!?!! How do you clap so
enthusiastically as a result of this "cooperative rhetoric" when you’ve
been so enthusiastic about the "divisive rhetoric" (Palin, Romney,
Giuliani)?

There were parts of the speech where McCain was laying blame on his
party…but he kinda muddled that…then he said BOTH parties messed
things up….but, WE lost their trust. It was so muddled, I don’t even
know how to talk about. But, I will say, as a "scrutinizer of men," I
believe John McCain is a decent guy. I like him better than a lot other
people he’s surrounding by. …and I believe there were parts of his
speech that were muddled because he has to pander to different elements
within his party…and he’s trying his best to do that…and "stick to
his guns." Yet, in still, I applaud him for seeming courageous enough
to tackle the task. In short, I saw this as him attempting to
honorable…but he’s surrounded by a den of wolves! Tough task.

-Dr. Eric Durham

Dr. Durham is a Professor at Loyola College He blogs as the Good Doctor at http://drericdurham.blogspot.com/ .


From Lea – Not About the Issues, huh? and “The Mirrored Ceiling”


As I try and recover from the most derisive, hateful and misleading (Rudy Guiliani representing the joys of family values and small town America?) convention I have ever had the non-pleasure to witness, I’m sitting and pondering about the next few weeks and trusting that the actual issues and not I’m-a- hockey-mom-and-you’re-not-you-elitist-rich-non moose-eating Democrats, will make way to discussing our soaring unemployment rate, our bizarro trade deficit, our over 40 million fellow citizens with no health insurance, poverty, HIV-AIDS…shall I continue?

Click READ MORE below!


Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager said this week, “This election is not about issues.” “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” That is unbelievably frightening. Issues don’t matter, huh? The last time we elected a president we wanted to have a beer with, we descended into eight years of hell.


So, I decided to torture myself just a bit more and check out the mainstream media web sites, and as I clicked across net-land, I came across this blog entry by Judith Warner for the New York Times. She brilliantly states my beliefs, and I wanted to share:

The Mirrored Ceiling
by Judith Warner
http://warner.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/04/the-mirrored-ceiling/?em

It turns out there was something more nauseating than the nomination of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate this past week. It was the tone of the acclaim that followed her acceptance speech.


“Drill, baby, drill,” clapped John Dickerson, marveling at Palin’s ability to speak and smile at the same time( http://www.slate.com/id/2199250/) as an indication of her unexpected depths and unsuspected strengths. “It was clear Palin was having fun, and it’s hard to have fun if you’re scared or a lightweight,” he wrote in Slate.


The Politico praised her charm and polish as( http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0908/13147.html) antidotes to her lack of foreign policy experience: “Palin’s poised and flawless performance evoked roars of applause from delegates who earlier this week might have worried that the surprise pick and newcomer to the national stage may not be up to the job.”
“She had a great night. I thought she had a very skillfully written, and very skillfully delivered speech,” Joe Biden said, shades of “articulate and bright and clean” threatening a reappearance. (For a full roundup of these comments go here: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0908/13147.html)


Thus began the official public launch of our country’s now most-prominent female politician. The condescension – damning with faint praise – was reminiscent of the more overt misogyny of Samuel Johnson.
“A woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hinder legs,” the wit once observed. “It is not done well; but you are surprized to find it done at all.”


Palin sounded, at times, like she was speaking a foreign language as she gave voice to the beautifully crafted words that had been prepared for her on Wednesday night.


But that wasn’t held against her. Thanks to the level of general esteem that greeted her ascent to the podium, it seems we’ve all got to celebrate the fact that America’s Hottest Governor (Princess of the Fur Rendezvous 1983, Miss Wasilla 1984) could speak at all.


Could there be a more thoroughgoing humiliation for America’s women?
You are not, I think, supposed now to say this. Just as, I am sure, you are certainly not supposed to feel that having Sarah Palin put forth as the Republicans’ first female vice presidential candidate is just about as respectful a gesture toward women as was John McCain’s suggestion, last month, that his wife participate in a topless beauty contest.


Such thoughts, we are told, are sexist. And elitist. After all, via Palin, we now hear without cease, the People are speaking. The “real” “authentic,” small-town “Everyday People,” of Hockey Moms and Blue Collar Dads whom even Rudolph Giuliani now invokes as an antidote to the cosmopolite Obamas and their backers in the liberal media. (Remind me please, once again, what was the name of the small town where Rudy grew up?)
Why does this woman – who to some of us seems as fake as they can come, with her delicate infant son hauled out night after night under the klieg lights and her pregnant teenage daughter shamelessly instrumentalized for political purposes — deserve, to a unique extent among political women, to rank as so “real”?


Because the Republicans, very clearly, believe that real people are idiots. This disdain for their smarts shows up in the whole way they’ve cast this race now, turning a contest over economic and foreign policy into a culture war of the Real vs. the Elites. It’s a smoke and mirrors game aimed at diverting attention from the fact that the party’s tax policies have helped create an elite that’s more distant from “the people” than ever before. And from the fact that the party’s dogged allegiance to up-by-your-bootstraps individualism — an individualism exemplified by Palin, the frontierswoman who somehow has managed to “balance” five children and her political career with no need for support — is leading to a culture-wide crack-up.
Real people, the kind of people who will like and identify with Palin, they clearly believe, are smart, but not too smart, and don’t talk too well, dropping their “g”s, for example, and putting tough concepts like “vice president” in quotation marks.


“As for that ‘V.P.’ talk all the time … I tell ya, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me, What is it exactly that the ‘VP’ does every day?” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9poCWnGIb8 )Palin asked host Lawrence Kudlow on CNBC sometime before her nomination. “I’m used to bein’ very productive and workin’ real hard in an administration and we want to make sure that that ‘V.P.’ slot would be a fruitful type of position.”


And, I think, they find her acceptably “real,” because Palin’s not intimidating, and makes it clear that she’s subordinate to a great man.
That’s the worst thing a woman can be in this world, isn’t it? Intimidating, which appears to be synonymous with competent. It’s the kiss of death, personally and politically.


But shouldn’t a woman who is prepared to be commander in chief be intimidating? Because of the intelligence, experience, talent and drive that got her there? If she isn’t, at least on some level, off-putting, if her presence inspires national commentary on breast-pumping and babysitting rather than health care reform and social security, then something is seriously wrong. If she doesn’t elicit at least some degree of awe, then something is missing.


One of the worst poisons of the American political climate right now, the thing that time and again in recent years has led us to disaster, is the need people feel for leaders they can “relate” to. This need isn’t limited to women; it brought us after all, two terms of George W. Bush. And it isn’t new; Americans have always needed to feel that their leaders were, on some level, people like them.


But in the past, it was possible to fill that need through empathetic connection. Few Depression-era voters could “relate” to Franklin Roosevelt’s patrician background, notes historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. “It was his ability to connect to them that made them feel they could connect to him,” she told me in a phone interview.


The age of television, Goodwin believes, has made the demand for connection more immediate and intense. But never before George W. Bush did it quite reach the beer-drinking level of familiarity. “Now it’s all about being able to see your life story in the candidate, rather than the candidate, with empathy, being able to relate to you.”


There’s a fine line between likability and demagoguery. Both thrive upon manipulation and least-common-denominator politics. These days, I fear, this need for direct mirroring — and thus this susceptibility to all sorts of low-level tripe — is particularly acute among women, who are perhaps reaching historic lows in their comfort levels with themselves and their choices.


Just look at how quickly the reaction to Palin devolved into what The Times this week called the (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/02/us/politics/02mother.html?em) “Mommy Wars: Special Campaign Edition.” Much of the talk about Palin (like the emoting about Hillary Clinton before her) ultimately came down to this: is she like me or not like me? If she’s not like me, can I like her? And what kind of child care does she have?


“This election is not about issues,” Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager said this week. “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” That’s a scary thought. For the takeaway is so often base, a reflection more of people’s fears and insecurities than of our hopes and dreams.


We’re not likely to get a worthy female president anytime soon.

 

Thanks Judith.

Just my opinion folks, and you know what is said about those…

-Lea


Whatever you sellin’, I ain’t buying, by Guest Blogger Ronnie Djoukeng


It’s the economy stupid! The famous words from Democratic political strategist James Carville flashed in my mind while Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin gave her speech. The McCain ticket is gambling big time that the trifecta: toughness, Iraq, and military service will pre-occupy voters mind. There’s something Reaganesque about the McCain approach too – it’s tried, true, and tired.

Click READ MORE below!

Here we are in the 2nd millennium and the Republican National Convention is homogenous and monolithic—it lacked diversity.  The cowboy stance of fighting terrorism isn’t currying favor with Americans or the rest of the world and Republicans couldn’t be more indifferent.  The RNC permitted Guiliani the glib speaker to be a man of contradictions.  In order to elevate Palin, he shot himself in the foot.  In order to contrast Palin and Obama’s political upbringing, Guiliani chose the words cosmopolitan and flashy to describe Barack and Chicago since Palin is from a dull small-town of Wasila with a scant population less  than 10,000. During his speech,  one had to wonder what descriptive language Guiliani would have used to portray  New York City in all of its glory?  If Guiliani was supposed to be selling Palin, it was more akin to window shopping—ogling at the shiny merchandise from the window but never enticed to actually purchase.  And if Palin was supposed to be selling the need for the McCain/Palin ticket, she demonstrated their ticket constitutes a want not a need.

The rhetoric might have felt good last night, but it is unclear what role if any  Palin would play  to ensure  Americans feel this way for the next 4 years?  Palin deliberately chose not to articulate any policy positions. The feel good mainstream references and false aphorisms she spoke will have to resonate with the rest of America and independents before the elections take place.  The most celebrated mainstream axiom of all – “where’s the beef”— fittingly describes Palin’s speech. Palin touched on job creation vis-à-vis her position on energy, but the scope of her detail appeared esoteric to Alaska excluding the steel plant workers of Ohio or motor city assemblymen of Michigan.

It is unclear what direction McCain’s speech will take tonight. If he is trying to sell his patriotism, he doesn’t have too – Americans are aware that he is a decorated veteran.  Although, he should wonder how patriotism will resonate with voters considering his Party dismissed his war record during the 2000 elections. And it was his Party that selected a candidate without a veteran record in the form of George W. Bush. And don’t forget it was his Party that trivialized the patriotism of another war hero’s candidacy for president.  Indeed, Hillary was right last week when she declared – “McCain is more of the same” this is Bush III after all.

 

Ronnie Djoukeng

 

Ronnie Djoukeng is a Maryland blogger who can be found at her group blog, http://5andapossible.blogspot.com/ .


Marc’s Reflections on the Republican Campaign

Besides the usual tax and big government and vitriolic attacks against their opponents, several themes arose last night that may be the battlegrounds of the next two months.

Remember in 1992 when Clinton campaign chiefs Paul Begala and James Carville coined the phrase "It’s the economy, stupid?" It worked for Clinton. They tapped into the American angst of that moment.

 

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Now I think it is "It’s your wallet, stupid." The housing crisis and oil prices have people very worried. People are terrified about the high price of gas, the diminishing value of their paychecks, the insecurity of their jobs, fear that oil prices are being controlled by foreign powers. We are worried about the future.

While polls indicate that most Americans want solar, wind and alternative energy for our future, they also put the need for new energy sources ahead of environmental concerns. Over 60% of American support drilling. So, both McCain and Obama have changed their positions on off shore drilling. At one time, they were both opposed, now they are behind the idea.

Even though our own Department of the Energy says we cannot drill our way of this mess, people are more worried about their wallets, their money, the cost of oil and the Democrats have not made their case about how this new Green Economy will work. Americans are comfortable with oil. It is part of the American persona and mythology. We are addicted to it. We know our cars, not mass transit. We are reluctant to give up our lifestyles. If we think that drilling will make gas for our cars, and oil and electricity for our homes, less expensive, as well as keep us secure from our enemies and provide jobs, then that is what we want. People want to keep more money in their wallets and want to know we will not be at the mercy of "foreign devils" that control our oil.

The Democrats have to make their case, and it can’t be complicated. How do we make this transition to the Green Economy? People want it, but want to understand simply how we get there. How will it work? Is it real or fantasy? What about our jobs?

While most Americans think it was a mistake to go into Iraq, polls show the American electorate is divided on whether the surge worked and whether we should pull out now or stay till the job is done. The Republicans are pushing the idea that the surge worked, that we are winning.


The Democrats’ opposition to the war has been tepid, at best. The American people were lied to about why we had to go to war. More and more evidence ties this war to a debatable geopolitical position in the Middle East and to securing Iraq’s oil. Over the last five years the Democrats have not pushed their opposition to the war; they have not demanded investigations of the beginning of the war or the complicity of big oil. Now they have to come up with a plan that stirs as much passion and interest among the people as the Republican message that McCain was right and the surge is working.

So, tonight we hear McCain. We can talk about that tomorrow together, right here.


Fact Checking Palin’s Speech

The following article from the Associated Press takes a look at some of the claims Sarah Palin made in her speech last night.  We grabbed it from Yahoo News.

 Click READ MORE below!

 

 

 

Attacks, praise stretch truth at GOP convention

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press WriterWed Sep 3, 11:48 PM ET

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her Republican supporters held back little Wednesday as they issued dismissive attacks on Barack Obama and flattering praise on her credentials to be vice president. In some cases, the reproach and the praise stretched the truth.

Some examples:

PALIN: "I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending … and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress ‘thanks but no thanks’ for that Bridge to Nowhere."

THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a "bridge to nowhere."

PALIN: "There is much to like and admire about our opponent. But listening to him speak, it’s easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform — not even in the state senate."

THE FACTS: Compared to McCain and his two decades in the Senate, Obama does have a more meager record. But he has worked with Republicans to pass legislation that expanded efforts to intercept illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and to help destroy conventional weapons stockpiles. The legislation became law last year. To demean that accomplishment would be to also demean the work of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a respected foreign policy voice in the Senate. In Illinois, he was the leader on two big, contentious measures in Illinois: studying racial profiling by police and requiring recordings of interrogations in potential death penalty cases. He also successfully co-sponsored major ethics reform legislation.

PALIN: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."

THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama’s plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain’s plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.

Obama would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families.

He also would raise income taxes, capital gains and dividend taxes on the wealthiest. He would raise payroll taxes on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000, and he would raise corporate taxes. Small businesses that make more than $250,000 a year would see taxes rise.

MCCAIN: "She’s been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America’s energy supply … She’s responsible for 20 percent of the nation’s energy supply. I’m entertained by the comparison and I hope we can keep making that comparison that running a political campaign is somehow comparable to being the executive of the largest state in America," he said in an interview with ABC News’ Charles Gibson.

THE FACTS: McCain’s phrasing exaggerates both claims. Palin is governor of a state that ranks second nationally in crude oil production, but she’s no more "responsible" for that resource than President Bush was when he was governor of Texas, another oil-producing state. In fact, her primary power is the ability to tax oil, which she did in concert with the Alaska Legislature. And where Alaska is the largest state in America, McCain could as easily have called it the 47th largest state — by population.

MCCAIN: "She’s the commander of the Alaska National Guard. … She has been in charge, and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities," he said on ABC.

THE FACTS: While governors are in charge of their state guard units, that authority ends whenever those units are called to actual military service. When guard units are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, they assume those duties under "federal status," which means they report to the Defense Department, not their governors. Alaska’s national guard units have a total of about 4,200 personnel, among the smallest of state guard organizations.

FORMER ARKANSAS GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Palin "got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States."

THE FACTS: A whopper. Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayor’s election, and got 909 in her 1999 re-election race, for a total of 1,525. Biden dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses, but he still got 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia where he was on the ballot during the 2008 presidential primaries.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: "We need change, all right — change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington — throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin."

THE FACTS: A Back-to-the-Future moment. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate.

___

Associated Press Writer Jim Drinkard in Washington contributed to this report.


The Best Response to Palin’s Speech

 

No offense to other responses to Palin’s speech at the RNC last night, including all of the great ones on this site, but this one takes the cake.  It’s a "Reasonably Hand-Drawn Facsimile of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s Jet" for sale on eBay, described as follows:

You are bidding on a "reasonably hand-drawn facsimile" of the Westwind II Jet sold by Sarah Palin on eBay in 2007 for $2.1 million.

I look forward to selling my jet on eBay and garnering the same praise and admiration that Sarah Palin received.

ALL the proceeds of this auction will go directly to The Obama/Biden Campaign.

Let’s try to raise more than $2.1 million!

The drawing was crafted with crayon, pencil and marker and measures 8.5" x 11". It is hand-signed and dated by the artist and comes in a wooden frame.

Proof of donation to campaign will be provided.

Happy Bidding!


Marc’s Response to Palin’s Speech

The Republicans really kicked it out last night.      They laid out their battle plan and came out swinging a message that will resonate with that portion of the American public that could go either way in the election.   Their votes could be the ones who will decide who becomes the next President of the United States.

Palin proved herself a combatative, tough, smart and savvy politician last night, and those who spoke before her provided a powerful build up to her speech.     On Tuesday night, I thought well,  these guys are boring and have no spark.   I was surprised knowing how smart, and at times underhanded, their campaign strategists can be.    They have the Karl Rove team in place, after all.

Click READ MORE below!


Well last night they pulled it off.    First, former Md. Lt. Governor Michael Steele spoke and gave the conventioneers a new slogan that caught on like wild fire.    Remember when McCain, in North Carolina I believe, said we have to “Drill now, Drill here?”   Well, Steele came out with a play on that shouting “Drill, Baby, Drill!”  which itself was a play on the sixties slogan, "Burn, Baby, Burn!" that people chanted in the inner city riots of 1965 and 1968.     The delegates ate it up and chanted  this new slogan all night long.   It will be a campaign cheer to whip up the crowds from here on through November 4th.  Ahh, some white folks just get so titillated at hip Black speak.

When former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke, the crowd spontaneously broke out in the cheer "Drill, Baby, Drill!".   First it was clear the Rudy had not listened to the Steele’s speech because he smiled, repeated the phase with an incredulous laugh.   It showed the rallying power of that slogan, but it also showed how no one in power listens to Steele.   He is their symbol with so little real substance.   They don’t have many African American voices so his role is important to them.

In between Steele and Giuliani, former presidential candidate Governor Huckabee of Arkansas spoke.   He was the soft opening.   His was a pleasant kind voice during an evening of non-stop assault on the Democrats.   He spoke of hatred of racism, growing up poor and coming from proud working class roots.  His line of the night was that he decided to work his way out of poverty and not wait for the government to pull him out.

Rudy Giuliani was a pit bull.   He stoked the crowd, belittling Barack Obama and the Democrats in general.    I thought he would never end but he did his job.    He loved being up there, the bad boy New Yorker taking on his Democratic neighbors.

Governor Sarah Palin clearly will be the one who go for the jugular against the Democrats in this campaign.    She told America that she has a loving family with all the foibles and problems of every other family.   She was the every woman of hard working mothers.   Yeah, my baby has Down Syndrome, I love him and I have to keep going and working.   I will be the advocate for Special Needs families in the White House.

One of the central themes of the campaign emerged, as Sarah Palin and the other speakers took the stage. They will argue that McCain’s POW experience, serving America, not bending in front of his evil (and that was one of the word of the night) tormentors at the Hanoi Hilton is the kind of courage and integrity America needs.   They will argue that the Democrats are untested, Palin has a run a state and McCain stands up for what is right and they will take on the Beltway establishment.

Their themes were clear:   

  • McCain was right about the War and the Surge.    He had the courage to fight and we are winning the war in Iraq because of it.  The Democrats are defeatist with no understanding of victory.
  • The Democrats want to raise taxes on small business and on all of us to make government larger, which is not what we need for the economy and the 21st century.
  • America needs to be energy independent, which means drilling for oil, and we will use alternative energy too.   Democrats don’t get it; we can have our own oil and not be dependent on the world.   

They touched that part of America’s soul that is conservative.   They did it deftly with a saber, while belittling the Democrats and their candidates.

The war is on.   Obama may have the lead now, but you can see where the blood will be drawn in the next two months.

McCain’s turn tonight.   We will see what he does and how the Democrats respond.

 

What did you think?

-Marc


Lea Gilmore – Sarah Palin Speaks

Sarah Palin speaks. Lets give it to her, she was phenomenal. Her presentation, her engagement, her fiery delivery wowed the Republican base, and a new conservative mega-star was born.

As the loudspeakers played the Sly Stone dance maker “I’m Everyday People,” there was a moment of irony for me. Because unlike the Democratic convention, I didn’t see the rainbow of “everyday” people I know. I saw an overwhelming white audience, oh yes they did find some black Conservatives and Latino delegates to be within camera shot.


Click READ MORE below!


Palin’s speech vehemently energized the Republican base. But will the searing attacks on Obama and so-called liberal ideals speak to Independents? That being said, her role has clearly been defined as the “attack dog.” Joe Biden will have to step lightly when “attacking” back given the obvious dynamics, a fact that I am sure was taken into consideration during the vetting process that produced this unlikely nominee – a 72 year old heartbeat away from being the next leader of the free world.

Palin hit this speech out of the proverbial ball park.

It looks like it is time for Hillary to practice the glowing support she gave Senator Obama last week. By passionately speaking out now, Hillary can end the comparisons and stop the McCain camp in it’s tracks for going after her “18 million supporters.” Silence from her will just be giving permission that those oh so important voters are fair game. Hillary can make it known that just because two powerful, dynamic politicians share the same internal plumbing, women are not interchangeable and to believe so is an insult to us all.

Back to the speech…

Going for Obama and those who have questioned her small town experience Palin stated, "Since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities." Ouch.

Palin delivered a populist message, referring often to her young family. She also touched on the theme of the day – Reform. "Here’s how I look at the choice Americans face in this election," Palin said. "In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change."

With her family sitting in the audience, thousands of cameras focused on her 17 year old daughter Bristol and her fiance’, and now with the world focused on Palin, we are being thrown into a campaign of ‘your style versus my style’. I would much rather it be ‘your ideals versus mine’.

I may adore her new shoes, but I fundamentally disagree with most of Palin’s ideology. The former is not how I choose my vote. The issues matter, and the dressing of the messenger doesn’t, and that goes for both political parties.

McCain speaks tonight.

-Lea


Obama Speaks Well, but…by Dr. Eric Durham

Hello America,

This is The GoodDoctor reporting once more….and I have shifted my attention that of the Republicans this week. As we know, their convention got off to a slow start due to Hurricane Gustav. (It seems that God answered their prayers to rain out Obama’s speech one week too late.) But, now it seems they are "ready to go on the attack!"

Click READ MORE below!


…and what’s the favorite attack line this political season? Barack Obama speaks well…but it takes more than speech to be a president. Now, this particular attack irked me when Clinton used it in the primary, and I am still somewhat puzzled by it. What else to politicians do during campaigns besides speak? Everyone who is vying for the White House is speaking. And if we are honest, American history shows that most of their words are LIES anyway. It seems to me that because Bararck Obama speaks better than his adversaries, that now speaking (rhetoric) has now become some sort of malformation. SPEAKING IS WHAT IS REQUIRED AT THIS STAGE OF THE GAME. …and by the way, Obama’s rhetoric seems to be borrowed by several Republican speakers. I’ve just listened to Romney and Huckabee talk about CHANGE in their speeches at the RNC.

All the speakers tonight (9/3/08) mentioned Democrats wanted to raise OUR taxes. Okay, the Democrats are running on taxing corporations that have not shared wealth, and lowering taxing on the middle-class. So, is the middle-class THE AMERICAN PEOPLE or the the corporations? Listening to the Republicans…and considering their POLICIES you would have to assume that CORPORATIONS ARE AMERICA.

Now, to Rudy Giuliani…he was utterly DISRESPECTFUL. His sarcasm intolerable. If anything was made present tonight, it was that the Democratic ticket has A LOT MORE CLASS. He laughed…he snickered…he poked fun at Obama’s role as a community organizer. Rudy, honestly, YOUR PRESIDENT has driven middle-America into the shape that it is in now! Who can be more incompetent than GEORGE BUSH? One point out of many mis-leading points…. "We’re the party that ended slavery." Rudy, the constiuents of your contemporary Republican party were in the Democratic party during the Republican initiatives. They were called "Yellow Dog Democrats" of the Solid South. Rudy, you should know this history. So, I’m assuming you’re being "slick."

My opinion of Sarah Palin is now that she is ready for the taking. It’s time to take out the "guns" because she’s a "Hockey Mom," and by her own words, their "pitbulls with lipstick." Alaska gets more federal assistance than any other state in the nation. So, Alaska is a WELFARE state. I wonder why Mississippi, Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, or the Carolinas don’t get that much Federal assistance? Something worth thinking about.

I would also say that the Democrats should put their gloves on…because it is going to take a fight to beat these Republicans. When did CHANGE become the goal that the parties share? Obama has been talking about CHANGE from the beginning. Did you all consult with him on sharing this task, Sarah?

As I assumed, it’s going to be a VERY INTERESTING political season. Bring it On.

-Dr. Eric Durham

Dr. Durham is a Professor of Communications at Morgan State University. He blogs as the Good Doctor at http://drericdurham.blogspot.com/ .


Richard Vatz reviews Sarah Palin’s Speech

From RedMaryland.Blogspot.com:

All I can say is “wow.” And when John McCain ascended the stage after Governor Palin’s speech, he said “wow” too.

What an amazingly auspicious speech for an aspiring Vice President candidate to give. In the Geraldine Ferraro era, all of the rhetoric of a major female candidate had a defensive cast. This speech was a confident, aggressive speech by a female candidate for Vice President who knows what she thinks and knows from what values her assertions come.

Click READ MORE below!

A little lead up, if I may – if I must. Governor Mitt Romney’s speech and Governor Mike Huckabee’s speeches were not bad, although I must say Gov. Huckabee is an acquired taste. Gov. Romney said Washington has changed, and the real change would be a move to conservatism. He also rang some good notes on the Democrats’ love of dependency and aversion to seeing evil when it occurs. Gov. Huckabee took some good shots at the effete quality of Senator Barack Obama and added an effective allegory involving soldiers who teach children what it means to earn something.

Now to the Republican Rhetorical A-team. Rudy Giuliani is a brilliantly convincing and persuasive speaker, and one feared that he would be so compelling that Gov. Palin would pale (no pun intended) by comparison. He emphasized all of the right matters: that Governors as executives must make decisions, while senators are all persuasion with little or no real-world reality testing. He hit on the “surge” issue, as almost all Republican convention speakers have done, with the notation that Democrats in the one visible test of leadership in the past 2 years failed on the decision, failed on the follow-up, and failed to recognize the surge’s success. Sen. Giuliani emphasized Sen. Obama’s contrasting indecision and took a neat shot at one of Majority Leader Harry Reid’s irresponsible remarks, “This war is lost.” If the Republicans ever run out of Reidian dumb mots, they need new and better researchers.

Sarah Palin not only hit her speech out of the park, but she first went through the Democrats’ mitts. Women should be proud that their first presidential or vice-presidential candidate had all of the strength and aggressiveness-without-offensiveness required of candidates for the vice presidency. Gov. Palin was consistent in her praise, but never in awe, of Senator McCain. His impressive war biography, best articulated by Sen. Fred Thompson last night, was mentioned by all speakers tonight.

Gov. Palin’s attacks on Barack Obama were all fair game, in acceptable political taste, some with great humor – and \telling\. She said that while her former job as Mayor was derided by some Democrats, it was sort of like being a “community organizer” (Obaman claim to fame) , but with “actual responsibilities.” This line of argument had several iterations, and she also detailed the devastating list of liberal values that would undermine a president who put America first: negotiating with Iran, terrorists, and ignoring our need to “drill now.”

She used her own Reidism, “I can’t stand John McCain,” to further promote her presidential nominee. Thank God Reid is the poison well that never stops giving.

Gov. Palin detailed her own willingness to curtail financial corruption, whatever the party that commits it. Her prioritizing of honesty and integrity in government came through loud and clear. Her fluency in discussing energy policy was reassuring. The only thing lacking in her speech was evidence of sophistication in dealing with Islamic radicalism, resurgent Russian imperialism, and the complex challenges of China.

I usually rank elocution as the least important variable in a speech, but Gov. Palin’s had to be exquisite, and it was. Surely, the outcome of this powerful, moving address was to erase doubts regarding her viability from many low intensity supporters on the right and on the left.

Richard Vatz is professor of Political Rhetoric at Towson University
rvatz@towson.edu


Oh No She Didn’t, by Dr. Mary Washington

Believing, as Barack Obama, that “We are not as divided as our politics suggest, that we are one people and One Nation,” has never been more challenging than it was last night. As I listened to Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, I became increasingly despairing of the power, the fear, the hate mongering and the delusional self-congratulatory platitudes that peppered her speech and gave comfort to a culturally and economically insecure public. Her words were cast out to embolden the xenophobia of a frightened country, words that were so irresponsible given the external and internal challenges we face. Clearly, the Republican Party has come out of the closet about their plan to exploit and deepen our traditional differences and create and shine light on ones lying beneath the surface.

Click READ MORE below

On MSNBC Chris Matthews referred to Sarah Palin as a “torpedo that the Republican Party has aimed directly at Barack and Michelle Obama.” Well, it was also aimed at me, my family, my friends and all that I hold dear today and the dreams I have for the future. Obama has warned us for nearly two years that this day would come, that the Republican Party will pull out the stale tactics and rhetorical strategies that have worked before. These ploys worked because the Republican Party’s cooptation of the language of social change feeds into the “cynicism we feel about government.” But I’m afraid their devices also feed into an isolationism and distain for “others” that is reminiscent of the post WWII and the “Eisenhower years” Palin referenced in her speech. The militaristic rhetoric of the extreme right satisfies a desire, a hunger for simple answers and familiar solutions tied up in a pretty bow that has razor-sharp edges. What can you say about a vice presidential candidate that scoffs at the idea of “healing the nation and repairing this world” and exalts the fact that she will send her eldest son to war to protect US interests in oil and gas? What can you say to people that believe as she does? They are indeed strangers to me and they appear formidable. I thought to myself “Oh no, not again and they have even gotten better at it.” By the end of the speech I felt tears but I did not shed them.

So instead, I went online to listen to Barack Obama’s 2004, 2008 DNC and “Yes We Can” speeches. I was especially restored by the “Don’t Tell Me Words Don’t Matter” address the eve of the Wisconsin primary. I listened and watched videos of these and others for about an hour as I wrote this response. I can’t say that the lump in my throat has completely disappeared and that my despair at the prospect of not only a hard but dirty battle has completely dissipated. However, I no longer believe that Palin’s words tonight had the power over me and others that they did two hours ago. And, I will continue to choose to believe that the Republican Party has chosen a wrong path toward a victory and those arrows the they will aim at Barack Obama using Sarah Palin as their quiver will not hit home with the number of Americans that they will need to win a majority of the electoral college. I have hope.

Palin asked this country last night to join the cause of electing John McCain to get us through the next 4 years. But we must counter by saying we are not interested in a lifeboat encircled by oil riggers, we are interested in learning to swim for a century in an ocean of prosperity and peace. So more than believing in the wrongness of John McCain’s message, I believe in the rightness of Barack Obama’s mission that he has asked us to join him in transforming America and make it and the world as it should be. For that I am still able and willing to “hold firm and without waiver” and state again that we are one nation, we are one people and . . . we choose hope over fear, and unity over divisions.” This is Our America. Let’s go get it. Yes We Can. We must.

-Mary

Dr. Mary Washington is a former candidate for delegate in Maryland. Dr.
Washington received her Ph.D. is sociology from the Johns Hopkins
University. She lives in Baltimore City and works as an Assistant
Director for a Baltimore-based environmental education, stewardship and
community revitalization organization She also helps people buy and
sell their home as an agent for City Life Realty (www.cityliferealty.net).


Marc on Sarah Palin and the St. Paul Protests

My producer Jessica Phillips just wrote a wonderful and intriguing blog that I agree with completely. It is abhorrent and abominable the way some are treating Sarah Palin. It is both sexist and classist (to coin a phrase). I have a known a lot of families like theirs in the rural worlds I have lived in over my life. She is no different than urban feminists, other than she knows how to shoot and dress a moose or that she drives her kids to hockey games rather than playing tennis and golf and driving kids to soccer games. She is a professional woman married to a working class guy. I think they are actually kind of cool. I am looking forward to hearing what she has to say tonight. I have never heard her speak. I want to see what she has to say for herself.

Click READ MORE below!

I am more concerned about what she stands for politically than what her lifestyle is about. She seems to be a climate change denier who thinks intelligent design should be taught in classrooms and Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Now, those things bother me. While I could tromp through the Alaska tundra with them we would fight all the way about those issues.

Let’s see what happens tonight. Let’s hear what comes out of her mouth during interviews and in her speeches. I could care less about the rest.

On the Streets

What I do find appalling is the behavior of the police in St. Paul. There was a police riot in 1968 in Chicago but in St. Paul the police riot was about preventative detention. They violated hundreds of our citizens’ constitutional rights. It is madness. It was something out of the fiction and reality of totalitarian societies.

I was hoping the Republicans would say something. The Democrats too for that matter.

Homes were raided, people handcuffed, some beaten, many arrested on specious charges. It is hard to believe that no one in officialdom is raising hell about all this. I have a feeling this will have a life beyond the convention. We will certainly keep watch. Some of our local non-violent citizens have been arrested, some charged with felonies. We will find out why and more.

So, far it seems the Democrats put on a grander Broadway production for America. We will see what happens over the next two nights. Both conventions are doing a fine job of revving up their troops.
Now it is our turn, as the American voter to decide who wins in what I think is one of the most crucial elections of my lifetime.

-Marc


Jessica Phillips with a Young Feminist’s Take on Sarah Palin

Palin, Palin, Palin. The mainstream media is obsessed and the feminist blogosphere has been very interested in the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate. On many feminist blogs you’ll see questions like "Is Sarah Palin a feminist?" or "Can someone who was given a free ride break a glass ceiling?" and an old favorite "Can someone who doesn’t support reproductive choice be a feminist?" The Palin pick may cause a feminist identity crisis just as the Obama-Clinton primary season did.

Click READ MORE below!

The response to the Palin pick from some self-described social liberals and feminists has been appalling. I’ve witnessed some such people decry Palin for choosing to ambitiously go after the second highest office in the land instead of staying in Alaska with her newborn child who has Down’s Syndrome. I’m dismayed at this kind of scrutiny over Palin’s work-life balance. It’s nothing like what we would see if a man with a similar situation was running. And even if a male was questioned on work/family balance issues, as John Edwards was for his decision to campaign after his wife’s was diagnosed with cancer, it would be much less strident and the candidate in question would eventually be seen as some kind of self-sacrificing hero. And while some women are criticizing Palin for not supporting reproductive choice, they’re forgetting that she represents something very rare: a woman who has not only reached high achievement in her professional field, but done so while being a mother to a large and seemingly normal and happy brood who just seem like an average American family. Palin has managed to have a great career and a great family. Is she the evidence that women can, in fact, and after long-last, "have it all?"

I doubt we are quite there yet, and of course Palin’s life isn’t perfect. Some are pointing to her teenage daughter Bristol’s pregnancy as evidence that her family was sacrificed to her ambition, but this is clearly stupid. Plenty of stay-at-home devoted mothers have teenage daughters who become pregnant. Anyway, there is nothing shameful about being a teenage mother. It may have unpleasant outcomes on a woman’s later earning power and as such may be something that career-minded teenagers want to avoid, but there is nothing inherently immoral or shameful about it. Basically, Sarah Palin has seemingly achieved what feminist women say they want to be the reality for all women: not having to choose between having a career and having a family. And that in itself makes her a very interesting figure to young feminists like me, who are keenly aware of the decisions we are going to have to make in the near future and how they are going to affect the rest of our lives. Studies show that spending three years out of the work force results in losing as much as 40% of your earning power. I hate the idea of spending my 20’s building my career only to lose a large chunk of my professional currency if I have a child and for whatever reason do not work for the first few years. For these reasons, the Sarah Palin’s of the world intrigue me.

As for the question of whether a woman can be a feminist while also being against reproductive choice, I personally believe that you can, but with certain conditions. I did not always feel this way. This is a controversial thing to say, but just as I have come to respect (and usually agree with) horrified animal rights activists who believe innocent creatures with an inherent right to life are being tortured and murdered all around them, so have I come to respect (while disagreeing with) those who view abortion as mass murder of innocent creatures who have an inherent right to life and as something that must be stopped. I can understand the world view of people who oppose choice though I vehemently disagree with it because I understand that most of these people are motivated by a kind of love. And if that person also supports the funding of pro-family programs like state and federally funded childcare and health care for children among other programs to help families and women be successful, I think they can oppose reproductive freedom and still call themselves a feminist. And obviously Sarah Palin does not support programs like that, and has a history of cutting such programs during her time as Governor of Alaska, including slashing funding for programs that supported teen mothers (okay, so there is some debate over whether or not what she did counts as slashing funding or not. Regardless, the Republican agenda isn’t promoting the idea of expanding federal funding for these kinds of programs). So my own criteria would seem to count Sarah Palin out as a feminist, though I still find her admirable in many ways.

As a young feminist, the idea of a female vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket seems like the kind of thing I’d be over the moon about. But honestly, it hasn’t excited me in any real way. The Palin pick doesn’t represent an authentic shift in the gender power balance in Washington. It seems to obviously be a purely political choice designed to help McCain win the election. He has picked a running mate instead of someone he would like to have as a partner for the next four years. I made the reverse criticism about Obama, who failed to make the best, most politically shrewd choice for running mate, focusing instead on who would be the best partner once he was elected. I’m not sure which of them made the best choice-I guess the next few months will tell.

But until we find out who made the best choice, I hope the mainstream media and the frenzied blogosphere can both calm down a bit over the Palin pick and try to froth at the mouth a little bit less. (I won’t be holding my breath…)

-Jessica


Former Republican Governor of Maryland Robert Ehrlich

Click the podcast player below to hear former Republican Governor of Maryland Robert Ehrlich’s thoughts on the upcoming elections, including McCain’s choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, Obama’s current lead in the polls, and more.  Marc and Governor Ehrlich also discuss the Congressional race in Maryland’s first district, where Ehrlich has supported Andy Harris, who beat the incumbent Congressman Wayne Gilchrest in the Republican primary.  Andy Harris is running against Democrat Andy Kratovil in the district that has been one of two in Maryland with a sitting Republican Congressman, while the other six districts are all held by the Democrats.


Updates on Protests and Arrests at RNC by Sonia Silbert

Sonia Silbert is co-coordinator of the Washington Peace Center. She’s at the RNC, organizing and demonstrating for peace. Here are her first-hand accounts of the week so far.

8/30/08 – Cops Raid RNC Protests (already)

I’ve never had a gun pulled on me, and I wasn’t expecting that to happen last night, days ahead of the planned protests against the RNC in Minnesota. But last night the St Paul police department raided the convergence space, guns drawn, bashed down doors and detained everyone in there for hours.

I was at the convergence space with probably about 40 other people. I was sitting in the corner working on a training I’m supposed to put on today when cops burst in, guns pointing to the ground, and demanded everyone lie down on the ground. We demanded to see a warrent and speak to a lawyer – neither of which happened the whole time we were held. We were all hand-cuffed and searched. The cops went upstairs and broke down some locked doors and detained anyone they found up there as well.

The spirit downstairs was good – everyone was scared but also happy that we were all together and tried quickly to work out some solidarity techniques. They were basically taking all our info, searching our bags and releasing us one by one. They claimed they were searching for "things that would be used" at the RNC, but I never figured out what they were actually looking for. Later, someone outside was shown the search warrent, though no one was given a copy as they are legally required to do, and apparently they were looking for things that could be made into weapons – such as jars for molotov cocktails.

We were in a big group downstairs and were worried about people being alone upstairs – we also didn’t like people being released one-by-one without any way to check on the folks being left behind. Some folks agreed not to give their names and info until we were assured about the people upstairs and were released as a group so that anyone they might target wasn’t left alone in there.

I was finally released after about 3 hours of being handcuffed. They searched my belongings and took my photo, writing down info about my tatoo. I asked the last cop who was searching my bag if we were going to be allowed back into the building, and he said no that they were closing the building. He claimed there was a fire code violation and a fire door was blocked so it would be closed down. Correct me if I’m wrong, but usually if there’s a fire code violation the fire department issues a ticket – the cops don’t show up with guns drawn and detain everyone in the building for hours.

When I was released there were over 100 people waiting outside cheering, offering hugs and water, plus legal representatives to take statements and press to give interviews to. A great way to be welcomed!

This morning (Sat), three activist houses were raided – 2 houses of organizers of the RNC Welcoming Committee, 1 house of Food Not Bombs folk. We have four confirmed arrests and believe more will follow. The identities of the four arrestees are known, and we understand that they are being charged with conspiracy to riot, and other conspiracy charges.

We had two days of trainings and meetings planned for today and tomorrow in that space and we are scrambling to find community space to continue with these important events. The cops did this very strategically to disrupt the weekend that was going to build and strengthen the actions this week as well as the movement as a whole.

Dont’ worry though – we won’t let that happen. We’ve found parks to do our trainings and meetings in – there’s a press conference going on right now and then a mass meeting in an hour, with trainings planned after that. Check www.washingtonpeacecenter.net for more details as the days go by.

Click here for NY Times article re raid

8/31/08 – Update on RNC protests:

We woke up Sat morning to the news that three houses had been raided early in the morning. Two were houses of lead local organizers and one was a house of Food Not Bombs folks – they were all awaken to cops raiding their houses with guns drawn and were all detained while the cops went through the houses. Everyone in the houses was released except for 3 or 4 main local organizers – they were arrested and are being held without bail for "conspiracy to riot", "conspiracy to commit property destruction" and (my favorite) "conspiracy to plan civil disobedience".

Friday night at the convergence space there were two activist parents with their 5 year-old son with them during the raid. He was understandably frightened out of his wits at the sight of all these cops with guns handcuffing his dad and all their friends. Unfortunately, he and his parents were staying at one of the houses that was raided Sat morning, so woke up to the sight, once again, of cops, guns, and parents being handcuffed.

Throughout the day, houses of local organizers continued to be raided by the cops – six houses in all. The cops in the raids were all accompanied by building inspectors who tried to find code violations that would shut down the homes. They got as far as to start boarding up one privately-owned home that they claimed had code violations. Apparently the only person who could talk to them about this plan was the house owner – unfortunately, she was in jail, being held without bail. Activists mobilized quickly to respond to these raids and get neighbors around to witness the cops raid and search. The house that was being boarded up got unboarded and reopened due to community pressure as well as many calls to the City Council members by local allies.

Also throughout the day, individual activists were targeted on the street. 2 more local lead organizers with the RNC Welcoming Committee were snatched walking down the street, arrested and are being held without bail through Tuesday or Wednesday. 6 local organizers are being held in all – 5 were members of the Welcoming Committee and were leads of the actions being planned. Stories continued to flood in of people being pulled over in bikes and cars, being searched, detained and released.

I was helping make props Sat afternoon when my friend Alexis called me from the street – she said she had just turned the corner and saw a bunch of cops who had pulled over a white van and had guns drawn and were making activists in the car walk backwards away from the guns. I gave her the legal hotline number and Sam and I ran down the street to where she was. There were 4 or 5 cop cars with lights flashing surrounding 5 activists kneeling on the sidewalk handcuffed. We got all their names (including an old ally from New Orleans who I haven’t seen in years – funny where you run into people) and called them into the legal hotline and gave them some water and whatever support we could. They said they had been driving and were being followed by an unmarked truck for about 30 min until they were finally surrounded and pulled over at gun point. One of them was separated from the rest and they hadn’t seen him since – it turned out he was in a car being questioned by the cops. Their car was searched and all of them were searched and IDed and released after about 30-45 minutes. There was no explanation given – it’s just pure fear tactics. Everyone is feeling insecure traveling around and making sure we all stay in groups and be smart – especially locals who were lead organizers in this.

The amazing thing is that the infrastructure that the Welcoming Committee and others have put so long into organizing is functioning amazingly well, despite the leads being in jail. Within 10 minutes of our calling in the above incident there were legal observers on the ground, taking pictures and statements. After lots of pressure on the City Council and negotiations, the convergence center was reopened yesterday afternoon and meals continue to be served there. There are still computers and free wireless and they have found more programs and informational handouts for all.

The legal collective has been amazing and very responsive, the communication system is up and running – we all receive text messages of any updates – and the medics are everywhere. At the spokescouncil last night I was amazed at all the affinity groups who stood up with plans prepared, knowing where they were doing actions and with who. Perhaps the saddest thing about all the lead organizers being in jail is not that we need them right now to ensure the success of their actions – their hard work has prepped us for that – but they can’t see that all their incredible efforts are paying off.

On a slightly different note, I caught the end of the Vets for Peace/Iraq Vets Against the War banquet last night during their national conferences, and they are planning great things over the next few days and year. People should check out IVAW’s great action at the DNC last week, and stay tuned for actions this week.

The latest update is that Bush and Cheney are not coming to the conventions tomorrow – they want to prep for a photo-op in a disaster zone or McCain doesn’t want them around or they’re afraid of the protests – and we are all thinking of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast as Gustav approaches. It’s hard to be prepped for one emergency situation while thinking that a major disaster might be about to hit. We’ll see what happens over the next day and where our energies are directed. For now, I’m glad that I’m safe and I’m thinking of my friends at the other end of the Mississippi from us and wishing them safety and health as well.

For my story from Friday night’s raid at the convergence center, go to www.washingtonpeacecenter.net.

9/3/08: Report from Monday’s actions at the RNC

The number of riot cops on the streets of St Paul on Monday was overwhelming. In the quiet neighborhood where I’m staying with a friend, 3 miles from downtown, there were lines of cops in full riot gear – helmets, pads, pepper spray, batons, etc – lined up because the student contingent was marching from nearby Macalaster College. Those students are pretty scary I guess.

IVAW:

I started the morning supporting Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) as they marched to the Excel Center to demand a meeting with McCain’s staff over his awful record supporting veterans issues, health care in particular. About 70 vets marched in uniform and full formation – one representative was escorted inside and was denied a meeting by the McCain staff. Despite being a vet and claiming to "support the troops", McCain has an awful record on vets issues – he votes with the vets on veterans issues only 20% of the time. Obama votes with them 80% of the time – way better but still pretty lousy given how much they all claim to be friends of the veterans.

It was a pretty intense action to watch, and even more so to be a part of it seems. A lot of the vets had emotional reactions to being back in uniform and marching again – some of them said it brought out an anger and arrogance they’ve tried to expunge from themselves when they returned from Iraq. Others were even more upset later on seeing how the cops treated protesters – one said that he had enough experience taking away people’s rights and hated seeing others doing what he had done and now rejected.

ON THE STREET:

Afterwards I formed an affinity group with about 10 people who wanted to provide support for blockades and other direct actions but wanted to avoid risking arrest. We headed into the streets ahead of the large, permitted march that was still rallying behind us. Within three blocks we came across dozens of riot police blocking streets and donning gas masks – one person had been pepper sprayed and was sitting in serious pain being treated by friends. There were no protesters in sight, only a few dozen people (some with children) sitting on grassy lawn watching the cops march back and forth. As we kept walking, the city seemed deserted – the only people out were small bands of protesters and large groups of riot cops dressed all in black and blue groups of bicycle cops. We left the spot where the riot police were and headed to a report of a blockade and arrests a little ways away – as we walked we saw "Funk the War" the protest dance party organized by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) come towards the cops and realized that that’s who they had been waiting for. This was about 15 minutes after leaving the permitted space and we got the text message that the SDSers had been tear-gassed and pepper sprayed within minutes.

Soon we heard reports that the National Guard was on the street and we saw them soon after – camouflage tanks were rolling down the streets and National Guardsmen (and ladies) were in full camo, with helmets and rubber bullet rifles.

We spent the next few hours going from blockade to blockade, watching the cops search, detain and arrest people. We got to one of the main entrances for delegates right when many were walking and busing in. We had heard there had been a blockade there and would be one again. We met up with the Pagan Cluster, a group of about 20, and what remained of Funk the War, which was two big sound systems on wheels and perhaps 15 dancing folks. All of them walked right into the street in front of the delegate entrance and started dancing and spinning balls of yarn around so that delegates had to maneuver over and under a maze of yarn in order to reach the entrance. The delegates were mostly on foot and weaved through us in order to get in, passing right next to us in an odd opportunity for us to ask them to support our troops and let them come home.

Soon the cops brought out horses and stood around looking tough. Once they realized that the delegates were actually having to interact with the crazy protesters, they shepeared them all together and tried to keep them separate from us, but the dance party would just move to be in front of them. Then, in the weirdest decision, the cops on horses created a V and walked straight through the dance party, pushing all the protesters with the horses and keeping the delegates in the middle of the V up against the horses’ butts. The protesters were all pushed over and scared by the horses, but the delegates were in the middle of this big mess, squeezed by the horses, and looked frightened out of their wits – some of them looked like they were in High School.

The police and horses got more and more confrontational, pushing people around as the dance party continued and the pagans started doing a spiral dance in the middle of the street. We got reports that they were diverting all delegate buses to another entrance on the far side of the Excel Center, and that there were other actions in need of support, so my group headed off.

Throughout the day we heard reports and met people (including journalists) who had been pepper-sprayed, tear-gassed and saw the cops use rubber bullets and concussion grenades.

ILLEGAL ARRESTS:

We came across a mass arrest around 4 pm – arrests were happening on all three street corners. My buddy team stayed with 2 people face down in a parking lot with National Guardsmen standing over them with rubber bullet rifles. I went over and asked if they were okay and if anyone had called Legal yet – they were grinned at me and said they were Legal. They were members of the legal collective and I don’t know why they were arrested – they looked a little too scruffy. When I called in their arrests, I asked the Legal line if anyone had called in the mass arrests across the street yet – There probably 50 riot cops and 30 or so arrestees, as well as 20 or so spectators being held back by the line of cops. The arrestees were handcuffed and sitting in a line in the sun (it’s about 90 degrees) and I can see one guy’s head is bleeding, even from 20 yards away where we’re held. The arrestees start chanting "We need medics! We need medics!" but no medics are allowed in. Within a half hour, I see one of the medics that had asked to provide medical care arrested and handcuffed with the rest of the protesters.

Next thing, we realize that two members of our "non-arrestable" affinity group are being held with the other arrestees as well. Kari had been taking pictures all day and her buddy Jonathan stuck with her and were her eyes while she was in her camera mode. They had gotten swept up in that mass arrest and was taken away. We later found out that they were being charged with felonies – today is Wednesday and they still have not been released. Kari got one quick phone call to her mother who was freaking out. We’re not in touch with her mom and we’re hoping they’ll be arraigned and released today. The felony charges are pretty wild though – they were with the 10 of us all day and hadn’t been near any of the actions, let alone any violence.

My buddy pair stuck together and walked up to find the rest of our group – as we did, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! ran past us – in the 5 minutes it took for us to walk around the block to where Jonathan and Kari were handcuffed, Amy was arrested along with two other producers of DN. The two producers were also charged with felonies. I know Amy is accredited and award-winning and everything, and her arrest was utterly illegal and unacceptable, but Jonathan and Kari are unaccredited journalists in their own right and their arrest while taking photos is just as illegal and unacceptable. Amy and her producers were released later that evening, as well they should’ve been, but our friends are still in jail.

After Jonathan and Kari’s arrest, another buddy pair, David and Tobin, went up to a parking garage across the street to get a better view and see if we knew any other arrestees and could call their names into Legal. They were followed in by a gang of bicycle cops, detained and searched. We went to find them and were threatened with arrest by the cops also and crossed the street. David has short hair, tucked in shirt, etc, and they released him after searching him and his bags. Tobin is 17 years old, has long hair and baggy pants, and the cops claimed they recognized him from actions earlier in the day. Again, Tobin had been running with us all day long and we’d been doing our best to avoid any action that was vaguely arrestable. The cops cuffed Tobin and walked him across the street with the rest of the mass arrest and took him away as well. We didn’t see him again. He’s a juvenile, no record and did nothing wrong except fit a profile. It’s now Wednesday and he too is still not out of jail – two nights spent there. His freaked-out dad took a plane here at 6 am the next morning and is anxiously stalking juvenile jail.

We waited a few hours to watch our friends be booked, photographed and taken away. While handcuffed, Kari managed to get the memory card out of her camera and hide it in a crack in the cement where she was staying. Jonathan then called over to us, in super-secret code language – that his "red car" had a "flat in the back right tire". We waited till all the cops had left, went searching and found the card! Now all we need is Kari and her camera to get released and we’ll get to see documentation of hours of police harassment and illegal activities.

OVERALL:

About 280 people were arrested that day and 130 of them were charged with felonies. This is an absurdly high number of felonies – usually their will only be 10 or so felonies in a group that size. If people like Jonathan, Kari and the producers of Democracy Now are being charged with felonies, it’s not wonder the number is that high. I think they are charging us with felonies to justify the excessive amount of riot cops, peppers-spraying and tear-gassing that was going on. It might also be a tactic to get arrestees to plea bargain, and also to make it scarier to risk arrest in the future.

I have to run to a "peace conference" now (remember? we’re here to work for peace!) but will write an update on jail solidarity soon. Suffice to say, most of the arrestees have not been charged or released and many have been denied medical attention. There are reports of one person who wasn’t given water to wipe the pepper spray off here body and now has 1st degree burns and is still not getting medical attention. The men are apparently on hunger strike for medical care as well as to demand that they are either charged or released. Police harrassment, tear gassing and arrests have continued throughout yesterday (Tuesday). I will give more details and and update soon. Check back to www.washingtonpeacecenter.net.

HOW TO HELP:

If you want to help, Coldsnap Legal Collective is asking for people to call the jail and the mayor and demand that all arrestees receive proper treatment and access to medical services. Additionally, we demand that all protesters are immediately released and that all charges are dropped.

Ramsey County Jail — 651.266.9350

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman — 651.266.8510

Ramsey County Sheriff’s office — 651.487.5149


Crooks at the Convention? Garrison Keillor thinks so!

From Slate.com:

Sep. 03, 2008 | The Republicans are meeting down the hill from my house, helicopters are pounding the air, and there are more suits on the streets and big black SUVs and a brownish cloud venting from the hockey arena where the convention is assembled. A large moment for little old St. Paul, which is more accustomed to visitations by conventions of morticians and foundation garment salesmen and the Sons of the Desert, and so we are thrilled. It makes no difference that the city is Democratic. What matters is that, for a few days, TV will show a few pictures of the big bend in the Mississippi, the limestone bluffs, the capitol and cathedral, and a tree-shaded avenue or two, and some of the world will know that we exist.

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Too bad that the Current Occupant and Mr. Cheney canceled their St. Paul appearances so they could focus on hurricane-threatened New Orleans and lend their expertise to rescue operations. As it turned out, they weren’t needed, which has been generally true for a long time. Their reporting for duty now only served to remind everyone of what happened three years ago. And Mr. McCain, as of this writing, seemed torn between coming to St. Paul to address the convention and comforting hurricane victims in Mississippi, if any could be found

Meanwhile, he posed a stark question for voters to ponder: How much would you like to see Sarah Palin of Wasilla, Alaska, as the next president of the United States? And what does the question say about Mr. McCain’s love of the country that she might suddenly need to lead? No need to discuss these things at length, really. The gentleman played his card, a two of hearts. Make of it what you will.

The challenge for Republicans is how to change the subject from the dismal story of Republican triumph the past eight years and get voters to focus on, say, the old man’s war record or Mrs. Palin’s perkiness or the oddity of the skinny guy’s last name. If they can succeed there, they can win this thing.

The Senate race in Minnesota is a good example. The Republican, Norm Coleman, has scored points by whooping up a couple tiny scandalettes — some old jokes that, like a lot of old jokes, aren’t so funny, and a tax snafu by some bookkeeper with dandruff on his shoulders — against Democrat Al Franken, which may yet succeed in distracting voters from Coleman’s important role as whistle-plugger in the $23 billion Iraq scandal.

From 2003 to 2006, Coleman was chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is responsible for investigating, among other things, "fraud, waste, and abuse in government contracting," and on his watch, the subcommittee held no hearings on the disappearance of billions of tax dollars into "reconstruction projects" in Iraq that didn’t seem to reconstruct anything whatsoever. Bundles of newly minted $100 bills on pallets in Baghdad that simply vanished. No-bid contracts lavished on people with connections. What may be the biggest case of war profiteering in the history of buzzardry.

The PSI is a big hammer. It’s the subcommittee Joe McCarthy used to go after the U.S. Army and Sen. John McClellan used to go after labor racketeers with the young Bobby Kennedy as chief counsel, but as the Coleman subcommittee it went after federal employees who were traveling business class instead of economy, meanwhile money was pouring out of the Treasury for any Republican who could write "Iraq" with fewer than two spelling errors, and an old Bush retainer was appointed special inspector general to oversee the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund, but without authority to oversee money spent on reconstruction by the Pentagon, which was where most of the money went. All of this Sen. Coleman watched with a cool eye, and he now calculates that Minnesota voters won’t have the attention span to read a story with a lot of dollar amounts and acronyms like PSI and IRRF and SIG. Maybe, maybe not.

The simple truth is that, while more than 4,000 Americans gave their lives in the war in Iraq, the war was an enormous financial opportunity for neocons and their friends, and Sen. Coleman was a passive observer of one of the biggest heists in history. The cynicism is staggering to the normal person. He was the cop who busted the hot dog vendor for obstructing the sidewalk while the McGurks were cleaning out the bank. This is no joke. A crook is walking around looking for votes. And the truth is marching on.

-Garrison Keillor


Jonah Goldberg on how Sarah Palin got Republicans excited about McCain

From the National Review:

 

St. Paul, Minn. — The biggest “prize” so far in the quest to destroy Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s vice-presidential candidacy is the “news” that her unmarried daughter is pregnant. I have little to say about that because I don’t think the press should be saying much more about it.

But what is remarkable is how little that or other revelations matter to the GOP rank and file. Simply put: They love Sarah.

Click READ MORE below!

 

This is my sixth Republican National Convention, and I’ve never seen anything remotely like the excitement Palin has unleashed. Some compare it to the enthusiasm for Ronald Reagan in 1976 or 1980. Even among the cynics and nervous strategists, there’s a kind of giddiness over John McCain’s tactical daring in selecting the little-known Alaskan.

Readers of National Review Online — a reliable bellwether of conservative sentiment — flooded the site with e-mails over Labor Day weekend. The messages ran roughly 20-1 in almost orgiastic excitement about the pick. On Friday, one reader expressed Christmas-morning delight over the gift of Palin, proclaiming that McCain had just “given us our Red Ryder BB gun.”

Hundreds of NRO readers announced that they were finally donating to McCain after months of holding out. Many had hard feelings toward the senator, who too often defined “maverick” as a willingness, even an eagerness, to annoy conservatives. They weren’t kidding: Between the Palin announcement Friday and Monday morning, the McCain camp raised $10 million. This enthusiasm reflects how, although the party wants Barack Obama to lose, it is just now getting excited about a McCain win.

The naysayers argue Palin undermines McCain’s core message so far: “experience” and the necessary foreign-policy expertise for a dangerous world. They say choosing her was a gimmick that runs counter to McCain’s mantra about country before politics, particularly given his age and health record.

If Palin fumbles badly in the next few weeks, the critics will surely be proved right. And one doesn’t have to be obsessive about liberal media bias to recognize the media’s desire to Quayle-ize her.

But what if she doesn’t fumble? What if McCain’s gut was right?

Then, picking Palin just might go down as one of the most brilliant political plays in American history.

The experience theme was not going to carry McCain to victory. This is a change election. Hillary Clinton, after all, ran on experience and got beat by Obama, a former community organizer and state senator. McCain weakened Obama with the “not ready to lead” line, but to win he needed to promise change — i.e. “reform” — too.

But the reform message would have sounded implausible with almost any other VP pick, save perhaps Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal or Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Moreover, although the GOP base generally agrees with McCain’s fiscal conservatism, it doesn’t get excited by his reformer shtick. Palin reinforces the reform theme but, at the same time, reassures the base enough to give McCain maneuvering room to woo moderates and independents.

Not surprisingly, the bulk of attention has been on the fact that she is a woman (though few have noted that the party’s enthusiasm for her runs counter to the caricature of conservatives as irredeemably sexist) and on the supposed effort to sway Clinton voters. That’s been oversold. As much as anything, the Palin pick is a response to the Democrats’ effort to cast themselves as change agents and friends of the middle class.

Last Wednesday in Denver, Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, gave his stemwinder about families huddled around their kitchen tables trying to make ends meet. The next day, McCain settled on Palin, who can actually claim to be part of such a family. Her husband is a member of the United Steelworkers. She got her start as a PTA activist and “hockey mom” who took on the corrupt Alaskan political machine. Unlike Obama, who played ball with the notorious Chicago machine, Palin took dead aim at the bosses of her own party.

The Obama campaign smugly — and foolishly — ridicules Palin’s work as a small-town mayor. But who can better empathize with the plight of working families: Biden, a trial-lawyer-friendly senator since the Jurassic era, or a woman with five kids and a blue-collar spouse? Obama performed badly with working-class rural voters in the primaries. Joe “the Pride of Scranton” Biden is supposed to help on that front. Ridiculing small towns might not help the cause.

Meanwhile, many recently moribund Republicans here are hopeful that the party has successfully rebranded itself with Palin.

The enthusiasm may not last. But for now, she’s the life of the party.

— Jonah Goldberg is the author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.


September 3, 2008

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin joined Marc live in the studio to discuss the issues facing America today. They discussed the 2008 Presidential election, the budget crisis, energy policy, the economy, and more.

And then, Marc spoke to people live in St. Paul at the 2008 Republican National Convention. First, he spoke with Iraq War Veteran and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War Nick Morgan and Sonia Silbert from the Washington Peace Center.  They have each been involved the protests in St. Paul, where over 300 protesters and some journalists have been arrested and 128 people held on felony charges.  Then he spoke with onetime Republican candidate for Maryland Comptroller Anne McCarthy, who is serving as an alternate delegate in Maryland’s delegation to the RNC, and with Don Rush, the news director of WSCL public radio Delmarva on Maryland’s Eastern Shore (hear more of Don Rush’s coverage here)

CEM regrets that due to an engineering error, the first several minutes of Marc’s interview with Senator Cardin were not recorded and we are unable to offer them for podcast or streaming. 


Joe Lieberman Takes Center Stage by Lea Gilmore

 

“What after all is a Democrat like me, doing at a Republican party like this…,” stated Senator Joe Lieberman, a former Democrat and now Independent, opening his speech to the Republican National Convention last night.

Man oh man, what a difference eight years makes.

Just eight years ago, Joe Lieberman, a proud Democrat, was grasping the hand of then Democratic Presidential candidate Al Gore as Gore’s choice to be his Vice-Presidential running mate.


Click READ MORE below!

Ready for prime-time and speaking with as much energy that he can muster, Lieberman went on attack. "Sen. Barack Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead," Lieberman said. "But my friends, eloquence is no substitute for a record — not in these tough times for America."

Well, isn’t that interesting. Let’s think this through a bit “eloquence is no substitute for a record.” Can these same words not be applied to Governor Sarah Palin? The Republicans, including shadow Republicans like Lieberman, are walking a slippery slope when they attack Obama on the experience issue. Especially taking into consideration a 72 year old presidential candidate who has fought off four occurrences of cancer, Governor Palin is literally a heartbeat away from being the most powerful leader in the known world. I would lay off the experience thing when Palin’s six years at the helm of Wasilla, Alaska population 7,000, combined with her 20 months as governor of Alaska doesn’t actually scream of the potential to negotiate with Putin and the bunch.

Last night, Lieberman either showed political courage, or pandering opportunism – maybe a bit of both. Click here for Lieberman’s speech.


Lieberman continued with an attempt to get those voter’s leaning on the fence, "Tonight, I want to ask you, whether you are an independent, a Reagan Democrat, a Clinton Democrat, or just a plain old Democrat: This year, when you vote for president, vote for the person you believe is best for our country, not for the party you happen to belong to.”

This rhetoric has understandably enraged Democrats.

When Lieberman stated in his speech that "In the Senate, [Obama] has not reached across party lines to get anything significant done, nor has he been willing to take on powerful interest groups in the Democratic Party." 

A swift reaction was given by Obama campaign advisor Robert Gibbs calling that a “flat out lie.” According to CNN.com, Gibbs cited Obama’s work with Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists and with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, on the government budget.

My 17 year old son said last night “how does that guy sleep at night?” I’m thinking, quite comfortably. He has placed all of his bets at the McCain/Palin table, and he believes America, no matter how disaffected and angry, just isn’t quite ready for that other team for a myriad of obvious and coded reasons.

If the Democrats win, Lieberman may just find himself in a political no-man’s land, but that’s OK too. Because, he will make millions on the conservative lecture circuit expounding on how he stood up to those “big bad liberals.” Ironically, it seems the “big bad Republicans” didn’t have the same courage he has displayed when he was at the very top of the list to become McCain’s Vice-Presidential running mate.

Tonight – Governor Sarah Palin speaks, and we will be listening.

Oh yeah, by the way I am so sick of hearing the term “maverick” used. It’s like calling Andy Williams “that new teen sensation.” If the term no longer applies, drop it.

Lea Gilmore


Richard Vatz blogs on the RNC’s second night

We’re bringing you another blog post from Towson University Rhetoric professor Richard Vatz, who is currently blogging over at the site RedMaryland.blogspot.com. Go check it out–lot’s of interesting commentary from Maryland conservatives.

In this post, Vatz blogs about the events at last evening’s Republican National Convention.

 

Click READ MORE below!

From here:

From the one beloved figure of the Bush leadership team, the utterly sincere Laura Bush, to a tape on Ronald Reagan to former Senator Fred Thompson’s powerful rhetoric to a profoundly convincing address by Senator Joe Lieberman, much of which was aimed at Democrats and Independents, the first night of the Republican National Convention was a memorable one.

In a short speech broadcast to the convention President George W. Bush praised Sen. McCain’s courage as a P.O.W. , his support of the then-unpopular surge and his resulting reputation as one who would rather lose an election than a war. To those who see Sen. McCain as a yes-man to President Bush, the President countered that "I know!" that he is "not afraid to disagree."

Leaving aside the question of “where was this great speechmaker in the 2008 presidential campaign,” Fred Thomson’s speech was the kind of speech that not only solidified support for John McCain, but one which made some surely wonder, “How could a serious American voter not support Senator John McCain over Senator Barack Obama?”

Sen. Thompson said he was not focusing on the vision, but “the man behind the vision.” His praise of Sen. McCain’s judgment, experience, courage and policies was compelling, especially as he contrasted Sen. McCain with Senator Barack Obama, "the most liberal and most inexperienced nominee to run for president," as a man who “doesn’t think protection of the unborn is above his pay grade,” as Sen. Obama demurred in his only debate thus far with Sen. McCain.

Sen. Thompson also contrasted Sen. McCain’s courageous support of the unpopular, but ultimately successful “surge” in Iraq, an issue left virtually unaddressed at the Democratic convention. The “now we’re winning” claim has no opposing argument evident from the Democratic conventions.

Sen. Thompson’s powerful, detailed salutes to John McCain’s character as evidenced in his courageous suffering of torture for five-and-one-half years – including beatings, heat torture and isolation torture, when he could have accepted an offered early release, the refusal of which brought him more torture. As Sen. Thompson pointed out, the torture per se doesn’t qualify him to be president, but it reveals the character we want in our presidents. He also detailed how Sen. McCain’s family walks the walk with 2 sons in — or going to — Iraq

Along the way Sen. Thompson punctured some liberal shibboleths, like the false, misleading dichotomy of taxing individuals or corporations, wherein it is merely a question of whether one wishes to pay taxes directly or indirectly.

Senator Joe Lieberman gave perhaps the most effective “reluctant testimony” speech since Zell Miller at the Republican National Convention in 2004 and beyond. The former Democrat and Vice Presidential nominee just 8 years ago, who still caucuses with the Democrats, even engendered applause for Bill Clinton (!) as he contrasted President Clinton’s willingness to challenge Democratic ideological orthodoxy (e.g. welfare reform), unlike Sen. Obama. Sen. Lieberman too brought up the surge as the representative event that demonstrated Sen. McCain’s political courage which has, the ex-Democrat implied, no counterpart in Sen. Obama’s policies.

To the indisputable fact that Sen. Obama is a powerful and effective speaker, Sen. Lieberman simply said, “Eloquence is no substitute for a record.” The lack of Democratic references to Sen. Obama’s accomplishments, as noted here previously, stands out as an indictment of his inexperience.

To the Democratic charge of Sen. McCain’s election being tantamount to four more years of Bush, Sen. Lieberman resoundingly emphasized the phrase, “John McCain is his own man.” To those Democrats who detest the Republican Party, Sen. Lieberman urged such voters to go beyond party labels and understand that “country matters more than party.” If the election by-word is “change, both speakers argued, Sen. McCain is the real thing

The only layer of missing confidence, the only discordant note, in the entire evening could be inferred from the praise of Gov. Sarah Palin, whose credentials as Governor, card-carry conservative, reformer and “breath of fresh air” seemed inadequate to compensate for her lack of foreign policy experience. But the emphasis was rightly this night on the top of the ticket, Sen. John McCain.

In rhetoric we look for the “good man speaking well,” which modified for today would be the “good person speaking well.”

Tonight’s political oratory included good people who spoke well and convincingly in praise of the Republican maverick, Sen. John McCain.

Professor Vatz teaches Political Rhetoric at Towson University


Maryland Dem Leaders at the DNC

Click below to hear Marc Steiner interviewing Mike Cryor, the Chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, and Quincey Gamble, the MD Dems’ Executive Director.  It was recorded on the convention floor during the DNC.  Running time is 3:53.


Is Bristol Palin Fair Game? from Jezebel.com *UPDATED*


My very favorite blog, Jezebel.com, is a group blog with many contributors. Two of the writers disagree about whether or not the pregnancy of Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s 17 year old daughter Bristol is fair game for discussion.

 

Click READ MORE below

 

 

 

Megan says Bristol’s pregnancy has no role to play:

In order to rebut the aforementioned rumors, and (more likely) to save her daughter the humiliation of even worse headlines, Sarah Palin today released a statement that her 17-year-old daughter Bristol Palin is five months pregnant and plans to marry her boyfriend. The McCain campaign reportedly knew about the pregnancy but didn’t plan to disclose it to the world or think that it disqualified Sarah Palin (Bristol’s mother) from running for the Vice Presidency. Naturally, this has led many of the same people who spent the weekend trafficking in the rumors about Trig Palin — Sarah’s infant son with Down’s Syndrome — to crow wildly about how Bristol Palin, a fucking seventeen-year-old girl, if you’ve forgotten — is the new anti- poster child for abstinence-only education. Of course those claims are well-researched.

Because, for one, most schools in Alaska do teach comprehensive sex-ed, and the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development offers schools a choice of curricula that include programs focusing on abstinence without endorsing a specific program. In fact, there have even been debates in Alaska since the start of Palin’s tenure whether exempting children from comprehensive sex ed is constitutional. Palin’s statements on abstinence-only education date to one questionnaire from a right-wing group during her campaign in 2006 when asked the following question:

Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?

In answer to that leading question which conflates comprehensive sexual education with condom and Pill distribution, her campaign answered:

   Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.

In the last year and a half, searches of her office’s website and the Guttmacher Institute revealed no abstinence-only initiatives by her administration. Simply put, Sarah Palin is by no means the world’s biggest promoter of abstinence-only education, as some people are claiming.

Is it possible that she supports it (or supported it)? Sure, it’s certainly a Republican initiative. But there’s no evidence that I can find that she yanked Bristol out of sex ed classes or denied her contraceptive education. To make a 17-year-old girl who didn’t likely choose either to be pregnant or to be some political football the new poster child for attacking her mother’s policy positions doesn’t leave any better a taste in my mouth this afternoon than I had this morning.

On a more personal note, though, let those of us who did remain abstinent in high school (and thereafter) and always practiced safe sex throw stones. I lost my virginity at 16 not because I wasn’t exposed to comprehensive sex ed or because my parents were too religious or even too permissive. I chose to have sex with my high school boyfriend because I loved him deeply and because I wanted to. The two of us were honors students, tops of our classes, responsible and reliable and I’ll be damned if I can sit here and swear that we were the safest sex practitioners on God’s green earth. That we didn’t end up pregnant had likely a lot more to do with luck than it did a rigorous adherence to what Ms. H. taught us in health class. And, had we gotten pregnant, I would’ve strongly preferred to get an abortion — but I don’t think he would’ve been quite as enthusiastic about that alternative.

I can only imagine the courage it took for Bristol to go to her parents, pregnant at 17, and lay out one of the most personal aspects of human life — her sexual activities — and the consequences of those activities and that she was choosing to keep the child despite the high probability of political embarrassment that would be laid at her mother’s doorstep. And all of that was before her mother was about to be made VP. She didn’t by any means choose the easy path here, and everyone probably fully expected that this big reveal would happen at some point rather soon. That it has doesn’t make my bile rise any less with every post I read about how, ha-ha, look what happens when you promote abstinence. Once again, even for this great lover of Schandenfreude, my lips are curling in a little disgust with the glee shown by some of my political compatriots at this news.

Yes, we need to have a rational conversation in this country about striking the balance between providing students with age-appropriate sex education and a rational discussion about moral values and their role in making sexual choices. I am a full and complete supporter of comprehensive sex ed — which includes information like "there is no such thing as blue balls" and "no means no" and "saying no to sex can be a sign of respect for both of you." But clapping our hands in joyous rubbernecking over Bristol Palin’s being in the family way is not going to be the start of any discussion. It makes us look as judge-y as we accuse Them of being, it makes us look like abortion-promoters instead of choice-respecters (it does mean both choices, after all) and it makes us look like we think a 17-year-old target is easier to hit than a 44-year-old target. Sex education will be a great topic for discussion and reform in an Obama Administration, and it wouldn’t — and shouldn’t — involve the now rather-public embarrassment or shaming of a 17-year-old girl.

-from Jezebel.com

 

Jessica says the pregnancy is fair game:

When Sarah Palin gave her introductory speech on Friday in Dayton, Ohio, she spent a minute or two thanking the McCains and uttering various pleasantries about her nomination before launching into a several minute spiel about her family — about her snowmobilin’ husband, Todd, and about her oldest son, Track, who enlisted in the army on September 11th and will be deployed to Iraq on the same day this month. After that, she talked about what a great man and patriot John McCain is. In the nearly 20 minute speech, we learned literally nothing about Palin’s policy, except that she "never really set out to be in public affairs," adding,"I was just your average ‘Hockey Mom’ in Alaska." And let’s be honest: were Palin not a woman, and not a mom, she wouldn’t be anywhere near the Republican ticket. Her motherhood is the crux of her public image. Which is why I must respectfully disagree with Megan that Bristol Palin’s pregnancy should be off-limits.

Of course, I agree that Bristol should not be shamed for having sex, nor should she be judged for her choice to keep her baby. However, how can any pundit worth his or her salt not mention this pregnancy when talking about John McCain’s abysmal record with sex education? As CBS News notes, "In 2006, McCain joined fellow Republicans in voting against a Senate Democratic proposal to send $100 million to communities for teen-pregnancy prevention programs that would have included sex education about contraceptives."

One of the few things we know Palin’s stance on is abortion, and as has been noted before, Palin wants to eliminate reproductive choice in this country. Which makes it curious, then, that as Rebecca Traister over on Salon notices, the language of choice still pervades the party’s public statements about Bristol. "According to the New York Times story, ‘Bristol Palin made the decision on her own to keep the baby, McCain aides said.’ That’s just peachy in its presumption that Bristol had a choice about whether or not to continue her pregnancy," Traister writes. "It’s true that in 2008, she certainly does have a legal choice. But she wouldn’t under the proposed administration of her mother and John McCain, both of whom oppose abortion rights and tell us they would work to overturn Roe."

Like it or not, especially in this election, the personal is political: the fact that Palin had a baby with Down syndrome is already being used as a Republican talking point. Timothy Shriver notes in Newsweek, "Trig could be a high-profile example of how wonderful it can be to choose life, even in adversity, even when the conditions aren’t perfect. After all, the conditions are never perfect, but the promise of a newborn baby is that God’s love is. Somehow, despite everything, love is triumphant. The message: Love life. Choose life." And you can be sure as hell that Palin and the Republicans would be happy to use Trig’s existence to push their anti-choice message. How does the logic work then, that while 17-year-old Bristol should be protected, a four-month-old baby boy is fair game?

Also. There is evidence that McCain did not thoroughly vet Palin before offering her the VP spot, and that "top aides were vague on Monday about how and when [McCain] had learned of the pregnancy, and from whom." If Palin was trying to hide Bristol’s pregnancy, who knows what other shady business she has hiding in the bushes. In addition, McCain’s mere cursory vetting of Palin shows that his decision-making on important things is incredibly rash. Do we really want a man in charge of our military who is prone to making such knee jerk choices?

It seems that Obama has already started using this pregnancy to his advantage without explicitly naming Bristol. According to Politico, Obama is already running radio ads hitting McCain on abortion rights. But! At the end of the day, I think Democrats should not use Bristol Palin directly in any way, shape or form, and not because they should be above it, but because it detracts from the real issue at hand: the fact that Palin is entirely inexperienced and has barely any defined stances on any issue. Bristol and baby Trig are just smokescreens. At the end of the day, it will be far more satisfying and fruitful to attack Palin on her entirely wobbly platform than the productiveness of her womb. 

-from Jezebel.com

 

Earlier today, Jessica added this post, which I found thought provoking.

It’s been about 48 hours since Bristol Palin’s pregnancy was announced, and pundits of all stripes have weighed in on the significance of a single, underage, fertile female. In the Washington Post, columnist Courtland Milloy writes, "We are ambivalent about what to do once a girl becomes pregnant. But once that choice is made — and it is a personal choice — what the girl needs most is love and support. If the public can’t offer that to Bristol, the least we can do is leave her alone." No, Courtland. The least the public can do is take Bristol’s mother to task for not supporting teen pregnancies that occur outside her immediate family.

The WaPo is reporting that, as Governor of Alaska, Palin slashed funding for a program that benefited teen moms.According to the WaPo, "Palin reduced funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 percent, cutting funds from $5 million to $3.9 million. Covenant House is a mix of programs and shelters for troubled youths, including Passage House, which is a transitional home for teenage mothers…[where, according to Passage House’s website] ‘young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives.’"

And since we’re all on board with not prying into the circumstance of Bristol as an individual, let’s take a look at the fate that lies ahead for most other teen mothers, shall we? Linda Hirshman, writing on Slate’s XX Factor blog, runs through what the average American teen mom experiences, and honestly, it’s bleak. "Even controlling for social and economic backgrounds, only 40 percent of teenage girls who bear children before age 18 go on to graduate from high school, compared with the 75 percent of teens who do not give birth until ages 20 or 21" Hirshman notes. "Overall, teenage mothers—and their children—are also far more likely to live in poverty than females who don’t give birth until after age 20. Two-thirds of the families begun by a young unmarried mother are poor. These families are more likely to be on welfare and to require publicly provided health care." And we know what Palin thinks about publicly provided health care: She thinks it shouldn’t exist!

Even Seventeen editor Ann Shoket has something to say about Bristol’s pregnancy and what it means for the American teen. "No matter how you feel about her politics, Sarah Palin is a shining example of the potential and power of women," Shoket notes in the Huffington Post today. "And in one hot moment with her boyfriend, her daughter gave away her power to make the decisions about how she wanted her future to play out."

Pretty harsh words coming from the editor of a usually soft and fluffy teen mag. And here’s the thing. Individually, Bristol Palin will be fine. But despite what her mother’s campaign would have you believe, the Palins are not regular folk. They are a gubernatorial family with the resources and the connections to help support a teen pregnancy. Obviously, a teen pregnancy is not the end of the world, nor is it anything to be ashamed of. However, it is something that should be prevented as much as possible, and considering Palin’s stance on abortion, it seems she’s only concerned about the individual pregnancy of her daughter and not the pregnancies of our nation’s daughters. Linda Hirshman says it better than I can: "For the millions of women each year who do not want to make that choice, and for the parents who do not want that fate for their daughters, the cruelty of the Republican position on abortion rights is now graphically laid bare."

            -from Jezebel.com

 

What do you think?


Richard Vatz on the Palin Pick, from RedMaryland. blogspot.com

Richard Vatz, a professor of Rhetoric at Towson University who often appears on the Marc Steiner Show, is blogging during the Republican National Convention for Red Maryland, a blog of great writing from conservative thinkers in our state.  His last blog post for them, titled
Political Instincts, Senator John McCain, and the Republican National Convention, is posted below.  Please visit Red Maryland for some great writing on the Republican Convention, all this week!

Click READ MORE below!

from here:

Just a few, quick observations on the presidential race and the Republican National Convention, observations I have stated in comparable terms on Maryland radio:

1. The choice of Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin was dispiriting to say the least. Senator John McCain, for whom I shall be voting in the presidential race, chose a wonderfully accomplished Governor whose values are exemplary for the vice presidency. She may even satisfy – I’m not sure here – the criterion of making him more electable. It is the other issue – how well can the Vice President govern if need be – that worries me.

Unfortunately, Sen. McCain, who has called radical Islam the preeminent
challenge of our time and has stated that his key criterion in selecting his
running mate would be whether the individual is the “most prepared to
take my place at a moment’s notice,” has let his country down. If
experience has any value at all, Gov. Palin’s lack of foreign policy
expertise makes a mockery of the seriousness with which Sen. McCain
has movingly and convincingly contrasted himself with the unready
Democratic candidate, Senator Barack Obama.

2. The complexity of foreign policy in an age of the war on terror combined with the newly assertive imperial Russia exacerbates all of the complexity and significance of choosing a Vice President who is ready at a moment’s notice to take the helm. The public has 2 months to vet Gov. Palin , and she has 2 months to prove her foreign policy mettle. Say it ain’t so, John.

3. For all of the foregoing disappointment, to have a hyper-liberal, unready, untested man, Sen. Obama, be elected president on November 4 should be unthinkable. Again, suppor here for Sen. McCain — with concern.

Finally, the better half of Sen. McCain’s instincts: political, not governmental: Sen. McCain and the Republicans’ tamping down of the over-exuberance of their convention in the face of Hurricane Gustav reveals exquisite sense, taste, and political understanding. The Senator’s perfect statement is as follows: "This is a time when we have to do away with party politics and act as Americans…I will take off my Republican hat and put on my American hat. We’re going to suspend most of our activities except those that are absolutely necessary. I hope and pray we will be able to resume some of our normal operations as quickly as possible."

What such reactions reveal about Sen. McCain’s political instincts is what moves those of us who are his political supporters; the V.P. choice is unmoving to say the least.

Richard Vatz is a professor of political rhetoric at Towson University
rvatz@towson.edu


“The Gambling Game” Guest Blogger Ronnie Djoukeng examines McCain’s Vice Presidential pic

The announcement of Governor Sarah Palin as vice-presidential nominee to the GOP ticket took the political world by surprise. And not because she is a woman.  Although, the chances were probably slim that McCain would actually pick a woman.  It’s the type of woman selected that has left the average Joe and Jane with much to say.

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Palin is a mother of 5, soon-to-be grandmother of 1, mother to a son of Down’s syndrome; oh and the pundits won’t let you forget she’s a former beauty queen. She’s pro-life, pro-guns, pretty much a tried and true conservative. As chief-executive of Alaska she seems to be well-versed in energy issues. A plus, one would assume. But with 9 weeks remaining and only 1 vice-presidential debate scheduled –  you have to wonder will the American public be able to digest all that she is…

Perhaps, McCain is gambling on his maverick label to buffer the criticisms assailed on his VP pick. McCain is gambling on burned Hillary voters to still feel singed and not whole-heartedly accept her speech; although Hillary asserted explicitly in her speech, if the bitterness still exists where was your allegiance all along? McCain is gambling on the notion of “executive experience” to resonate with voters, thereby undermining Obama and Biden’s job experience. And we can’t forget age or can we, McCain is gambling on reclaiming Reagan’s glory and being the second oldest US president. But what McCain didn’t gamble on was Hurricane Gustav ravaging through the Gulf Coast at the same time as the Republican Convention was underway and reminding millions of voters of the failure of the sitting president and casting a pall over his own candidacy.

November 4th will determine whether the gamble was worth it.

-Ronnie Djoukeng

Ronnie Djoukeng is a Maryland blogger who can be found at her group blog, http://5andapossible.blogspot.com/ .


Republican National Convention Coverage

The Center for Emerging Media is excited to bring you coverage of the 2008 Republican Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul. We’ll be bringing you original blog posts as well as linking you to the best writings we’ve found on the web. And don’t miss our podcasts with Republican leaders and thinkers like former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich and former Republican candidate for Comptroller Anne McCarthy who is serving as an RNC alternate delegate. And don’t miss the Marc Steiner Show on Wednesday August 3rd at 9 am when we will speak to people in St. Paul and hear from some of the protesters about the over 300 arrests that have taken place.


How did Dr. Mary Washington sleep last night?

My nephew, Logan, was born in March of 2007, just about a month after Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the Democratic Presidential nomination. I desperately want to use his 17 months on the planet as a metaphor for this 2008 primary season. But I won’t. Instead, I will simply say that after hearing Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, I slept like Logan.

 

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My sister tells me that last night, Logan watched the entire speech, mesmerized. He hasn’t really gotten into TV so it rarely holds his attention, but last night he pointed at the screen, talked and looked back at her and my brother-in-law and smiled. I’d like to think that in looking at the face and eyes of the man that would dare to be president, Logan saw the same bright future that I and his parents wish for him and his sister, Ryann. When Logan fell asleep, he was grinning ear-to-ear and so were we.

I slept like Logan last night, not because I think Barack Obama has this election in the bag. Indeed, quite the contrary. The Obama campaign and its allies will have to work even harder because, as Obama made clear in his speech, the 2008 election is not just a competition for the White House, but is more importantly and more lastingly a competition for the hearts and minds of the American people and our way of life. Last night, in just under 40 minutes, the improbable reality that the Democrats could very well win this thing became very real for a lot of Bush Republicans. They will not take this laying down.

I slept soundly, despite the fact that I know that the Rove machine will redouble its efforts and that the McCain campaign will seek to galvanize the too many people in our Nation, who are reliably swayed by their fear and prejudice, their self-interests, and their out-dated world views. That they, in sharp contrast to Barack Obama, will appeal to the basest of instincts that inspire a narrow-minded cronyism and simple unwillingness to truthfully engage the real threats to American security that has destroyed our moral authority in global arena.

I spoke to many of my friends and family and they also reported sleeping well last night, despite knowing that there is so much to do and so little time to do it. With the stakes so high it would seem natural like-minded Democrats, Independents and Republicans committed to Obama’s election would feel anxious about making the personal sacrifices necessary to conduct massive voter registration drives, raise tons of money, volunteer thousands of hours to go door-to-door canvassing and being a part of a Get Out the Vote effort like no one has ever seen in electoral history.

And yet, millions of us went to bed with a smile on our faces because for the first time in a very long time we stopped holding our breath and exhaled. We relaxed because once again, the Barack Obama campaign demonstrated in the acceptance speech and throughout the Democratic Convention, the temperament, judgment and leadership needed to win this election. We just have to believe and follow. Not a hard thing to do on the 45th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. We slept peacefully, because we knew our candidate and campaign was ready. No more preparation was needed. It was time for a good night’s rest because in the morning the real work would begin.

Mary


Marc, Blogging live from Invesco Field!

10:14

This stadium is hushed during this documentary about Barack
Obama. His is an American story. Yes, there are many things from
FISA to his lack of willingness to take on the financial industry but
his story is the American story. I look at my three daughters age 40,
38 and 11 and how much they are moved by him. My two oldest are women
of color who are Obama. My youngest is enthralled by him. He looks
like so much of her family.

America is changing. The mythology of America was blown up in the
fifties and sixties with the battle to end segregation, and Vietnam War.
Now, it is seems they want the dream of America to be its reality.

So, no matter who wins this election, America has made a turn. I
only hope we can redirect ourselves to save this nation, this earth
and life for my children. We can’t give them a heaven on earth but we
can’t leave them with this hellhole of environmental and human disaster for them to wade through. `

 

He is walking on stage …let’s see … we will talk together later

 

9:31 I guess most of you who are reading this have been watching or
listening to all of this. I am curious about your thoughts on Gore’s
speech. I thought he told it like it is. I want this planet to
survive for my kids and grandkids and their kids w when they get here.

Gore like Bill Richardson who attacked the integrity, honesty and
capability of the administration of the last four years. It is one of
the keys to there ability to win.
gotta save the power for Obama and later…

 

 

8:41 It is amazing I am not sure if I am concert or a convention … actually it is a celebration of Democrats. This is one joyous diverse smiling crowd. Stevie Wonder is singing.

Crowd on its feet … hard to move around and will be almost impossible for me to call into the show tonight on WEAA. So, I will blog for as long as the computer holds out. No outlets here, just people … lots of people …

You know if Obama wins Maryland could make out like a bandit. Two Marylanders would have serious access to the President, Congressman Elijah Cummings and Attorney General Doug Gansler. They came out for Obama early and it is remembered.

If you go to DNC on this site you will be able to hear the interviews we have been doing in Denver, some of which were on WEAA. I think my interview with Elijah is up now. It is moving and telling … I asked him what he wanted to get out of this if Obama wins. He said "to be able to pick up the phone and call the President and say this is what Maryland needs, this is what the city needs, this is what America needs."

Well, more later … hope the computer holds out .. forgive the typos .. writing fast and furious as Stevie Wonder jams

write back .. what do you think of all this?

 

 


Lea – LIVE FROM INVESCO FIELD!

8:22PM – Well here we are! There are thousands upon thousands upon thousands here to mark, celebrate and take in this historical moment. 

I am in the stands that are filled to the rafters.  My fellow stand sitters are staring at me like I am nuts sitting here with a lap top 😉

We walked and walked for over a mile in the blazing sun and it was worth every moment.

Gov. Bill Richardson just concluded to rousing applause.  The lights are blinking and the sounds of Bon Jovi are in the background.

I will not be able to give a play by play as much as I would like, but make sure you listen to WEAA’s live coverage.  88.9 FM! 


at mile high, we’re on the air!

We’re live on the air from Mile High Stadium, home of the Broncos, and home of Obama for tonight.  Trying to put up a picture of our view, but my wireless connection is sooo slowww that I don’t think that’s gonna happen.  Sitting next to Lea Gilmore, while she broadcasts via cell phone.  Marc is down on   the field with the Maryland delegation, or might be actually looking for a quieter place to be on the air from.  Someone is giving a speech, but it’s hard to tell who from here.  You have a way better view from home, I’m sure..

So, tune in on WEAA 88.9FM.  We’ll be on from 8-11pm EST, the last night of our week of DNC coverage, culminating with Obama’s speech.


Marc Steiner on this historic moment, and the power of big business

A Historic Moment


On August 28th, 1963, I was among the hundreds of thousands on the mall in Washington marching for "Jobs and Freedom Now!" I will never forget the exhilaration of that day. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech brought all of us to our knees.
We have parsed his speech from that day down to four words: “I have a dream.” His speech was so much more than that. That day was the culmination of a hundred years of struggle. It was a moment built on the back of three years of sit-ins, freedom rides, community organizing and voter registration. It came after thousands had been jailed, beaten, killed and injured in the struggle to end segregation in our country. It was the most amazing moment of my young life as a teen-age civil rights activist.
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Tonight I will see a black man, an African American, be nominated for President of the United States. It is an amazing moment. It is numbing. I just think how far we have come in a generation. This is a very emotional moment. Every time I interview an African American about this moment their eyes well up and voices become choked with emotion. After 400 years of slavery, a hundred years of segregation and intimidation and forty years of struggle for a seat at the table in an America based on equality, Barack Obama is going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party and may be the next President of the United States.

When he stood up on stage I broke out into a huge grin. He is standing there on the shoulders on all those who sacrificed to create an America that brings truth to liberty and equality that our nation was founded upon.
I think about my friends who died in the struggle for freedom and those who sacrificed their well-being to fight for human rights. I think about my African American and white children and grand children. This is their moment. We fought hard and bled to see this moment.
Tears are welling up now in my eyes as I write. It is so difficult to convey in words how powerful and wonderful a moment this is not just for me but also for all of America.

Two Conventions


There are two conventions going on here in Denver, as there will be for the Republicans in Minneapolis. One is for the well connected and the well off, and another for everyone else.

Lobbyists are everywhere. They are having private receptions for all kinds of political figures and their wealthy patrons. Now, I have nothing against wealthy patrons and supporters of good work in America but what is going on here is unseemly.

An ABC reporter was arrested and really roughed up by Denver police when he tried to film and question guests going to one of these events. He was grabbed around the throat and manhandled. Other reporters have been threatened and roughly pushed by private security guards and police offices for trying to report this news.

DNC delegates are given bags with the logo of AT&T emblazoned on the side. AT&T threw a huge party for the Blue Dog Democrats on the first night to thank them for voting for FISA and ensuring that corporation could not be sued for eavesdropping. Democracy Now! reporters were pushed around by private security for trying to talk to people walking to the entrance.
Barack Obama and John McCain have profoundly different visions for America. The elephant in the room is the corporate political alliance that has access to power that the citizens of this country could never imagine.

The Democrats should be leading the charge against this. Perhaps if Obama is elected the other part of this democracy, the community and political activists who believe in a more open government will have a voice.

We have to hope so.
Talk to you all tonight…
-Marc Steiner


Police Parade

 

 

 

 

Looks like the police are having their own protest, doesn’t it?  Top one is just outside the security perimeter around the convention last night, bottom two are just outside of it.  Can’t get through without credentials.. which we’ve been lucky enough to have one or two of a day..


Dr. Eric Durham On What Obama Must Do To Win

The speeches of Day Three’s DNC were good. Bill Clinton, and Joe Biden, and John Kerry did well at setting the stage for Barack Obama. But, it’s time for some "fighting words." As a registered Independent, who has consistently voted Democrat in presidential elections (voted for Ralph Nader in ’04), I grow weary of Democratic candidates taking the high road…especially when more aggressive speech is appropriate.

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People are hurting! …and we have been hurting for the last eight years. I moved to Washington, D.C. in the Fall of 2001 (at the age of 23) to pursue graduate education in the Nation’s Capital. The attacks of September 11th occured one month after I moved to the city. From that time until now, I have lived on meager income…and struggled with poverty. Of course, most of that time I was in graduate school…but in the two years since I finished my graduate education, decent salaries and healthcare have still been hard to come by.


Now, consider this, I have more education than most people on the job market, and yet I’ve endured (and am still enduring) tough times in the job market. I can only imagine what those with less than me are experiencing. It truly baffles me. Truly. What is a person supposed to do to survive? …and that’s a particularly sad question, because aren’t we supposed to be more concerned with THRIVING? But, instead, we concentrating on SURVIVING. …and it goes beyond John McCain’s housing lapse. Because you know that Bush and Cheney…and all the other cronies have made just as much money over the last eight years through manipulating the system to their favor. It is a tragic situation…that continually breeds frustration, distrust in government, animosity, and apathy among the masses.

These feelings are very real to the majority of Americans. So, Democrats, SAY THAT…and you don’t have to be so polite about expressing this sentiment, either. You do not want "regular folk" to miss your point. Trust me, if you can connect with Americans on these real issues…then the White House will be yours. Make it plain! We have been duped by Bush-McCain Republicans…we have manipulated by color-coded terror alerts…we have been misled into supporting wars of "profit for the few"…we have been prostituted…we have been lied to…we have been abused….we have been incarcerated…we have been cheated out of the wealth that America has gained. Make it plain! Make it plain! Make it plain!

Barack, assume the position of the warrior…and we will fight to get you to the White House…and keep you there! Assume the position of the triumphant Muhammad Ali poster that hangs behind your Senate office desk! Assume the position of the President who will aggressively shape America into the country that is SHOULD be instead of the place that it is. We have too hungry to accpet anything less.
God Bless….

-Dr. Eric Durham

Dr. Durham is a Professor of Communications at Morgan State University. He blogs as the Good Doctor at http://drericdurham.blogspot.com/ .


Lea Gilmore – I’m Taking This Moment


Well, after the crescendo of Barack Obama’s acceptance to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States this evening, we will be ushered into what promises to be one of the most aggressive, to say the least, campaign seasons we will experience in our lifetime. There is much work to be done, many hearts and minds to be healed and won, many doors to be knocked, many grass roots to be fertilized and much more.


But today , August 28, 2008 – I celebrate. We celebrate.

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Right now, I’m going to take a few moments to convey just what this day means to me. Void of political analysis and void of ideological musings, I am speaking as a woman, an African American, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, an activist and a colleague; and maybe even an enemy to some.


I am typing this blog at 5:30am. I like to do this before I check out the mainstream media’s madness. I understand, know, reflect upon and respect today’s political realities, but again today, my brothers and sisters, I am going to revel in this moment deeply and with unapologetic, unadulterated joy.


As I type these words, the emotions are deep. I so wish my parents could be here to see Barack Obama stand up before the world and accept the Democratic nomination for the President of the United. States. Of. America. Man oh man, even saying it is stunning.


My dad…wow. This was a man born so poor in the segregated South of the 1920s that he had to quit school in the third grade to take care of his mother and brothers and sisters. A sharecropper, my dad’s hands were stained yellow from picking tobacco in the hot North Carolina sun. Barely able to read or write, he decided he would move “up North” to make a better life for himself. In Baltimore, he met my mom. My mom was the oldest of ten kids (and I’m an only child, so guess those siblings wore her out!). Also from North Carolina, she realized early while attending the Rockingham Colored High School that education is the “great equalizer” and became the first black woman to graduate from her studies in microbiology at the college she attended. Even given my dad’s limited education, he was the most brilliant political pundit I knew. He was even a Reagan Republican. I chose not to follow that. 🙂

He should be here for this moment.


This man, who had to cross the street if a white woman was coming down the opposite direction, just in the case he may glance at her, and would suddenly “go missing.” This man worked and worked along with his wife to create a middle-class world, full of hope and opportunity for their one child. I thank them.


They should be here for this moment.


Yet many of my parent’s generation ARE here to be a witness. In good health and bad, they are making their way to INVESCO field, sitting in front of their televisions, or laying in a hospital bed with a radio at hand – they are listening and reveling. Even the most ardent and stoic are shedding tears in the realization that dreams can come true, and I’m about to be a witness. I can hear a song playing in my mind and soul right now “My Soul Looks Back in Wonder on How We Made it Over.”

This is a great day for the United States of America. Let’s give ourselves permission to enjoy it. Don’t let the naysayers steel your joy. FOX News Network will be there tomorrow.


I have also been moved by the grace shown by Hillary Clinton. Ultimately, this is not a story about white women losing and black people winning – America has won.


This country will never ever be the same. We can’t go back. History has been made.


This is the same country, whose immense wealth was built on the backs of slaves and sharecroppers. This is our country, where the highest court in the land once legislated bigotry and racism by saying black folks had no rights that white folks need respect (Dred Scott v. Sanford, 1856). This is our country, that separated the races by law (Plessy vs. Fergurson, 1896), and then took 58 years with the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) to have the law reflect what so many knew so well already– separate is inherently unequal. This is our country that turned what would have been a mild natural disaster into a disaster of negligence and inhumanity when the New Orleans levy system snapped, out of neglect, and utterly destroyed an entire working class black community, and created urban refugees who many are still in dire straits.


And this is OUR country that we will see an African American become the presidential nominee of a major political party. Eternal vigilance is truly the price of liberty.


Today, if only for a moment before the real hateful campaign games begin, we see a country that has risen above its demons (yeah, we know those demon types are still running rampant), but for this moment, we will watch a man with a name like Barack Hussein Obama, a product of a Kenyan father and white American mother, stand proud, stand strong and accept the Democratic nomination for the President of the United States. I can’t say that enough.


There is a party going on in heaven. Sojourner Truth, Dred Scott, Fannie Lou Hamer, W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T.Washington, Frederik Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Mott, Malcolm X, Mahalia Jackson, those nameless slaves, freedom fighters, heroes, sheroes, and my mom and dad, will be visiting INVESCO Stadium tonight with the best seats in the house.


And finally, how amazingly appropriate that today, August 28, 2008, is the 45th anniversary of the “I Have A Dream Speech” given by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:


I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.


For Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and all rational humans, this is a monumental night.

As Americans and citizens of the world, let’s be proud.


Lea in Denver – Jesse Jackson at The Nation

A surprise guest is now speaking at the Progressive Democrats of America event sponsored by The Nation Magazine – the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Rev. Jackson is currently speaking on the importance that no matter how progressive the Presidential administration is there is always a need for activism.

When Rev. Jackson arrived, the audience stood and gave a grand ovation.

As he continues, he speaks of the importance that America honor its promissary note of equality and justice.  

He says that to move from freedom to equality it recquires investment: shoring up the levies in , books for our children, ALL of our children…

"In 2008, we must outwork them and not let them steal our vote!" 

It is crucial that we get more people o color to register to vote.  

"Out register, out work, end poverty – end the war!" 

Rev. Jackson ended on that note with huge applause.

 

 

 


Lea – Gallup Poll and Quick Thoughts

The Gallup Daily Tracking Poll today gives Obama 45% and McCain 44% of
support.
http://www.gallup.com/poll/109873/Gallup-Daily-Race-Still-Close-Obama-45-McCain-44.aspx.
This is a statistical dead heat. 

There is an element of concern here, in that the numbers are so close even
during the hype of the convention.  

Another thing, the Democrats, not realizing that Obama would raise an
enormous amount of funds, moved the convention up a while back to use primary
funds as long as possible. Well, an unfortunate error.  With only a week
between conventions now, there is really no time to enjoy the post
convention bounce given that the McCain campaign is set to announce his VP
choice, and the media will be moving on to the Twin Cities as soon as they shut
the lights on INVESCO.

There is an interesting issue out there for the Republicans – a hurricane is
forging towards New Orleans.  Given the disastrous and inhumane way the
Bush Administration handled post Katrina relief, the last thing they will be
wanting is a hurricane raging towards New Orleans during their big show.

 

From the Gallup Poll Editors Blog: Interesting…

Given the apparent adulation around Hillary Clinton in the convention
hall last night, it’s worth noting that the percentage of Obama primary voters
nationwide who harbor negative feelings about Clinton (32%) is much higher than
the percentage of Clinton primary voters who have a negative view of Obama
(18%).
  http://www.gallup.com/tag/Editors+Blog.aspx

The above has not been something we have discussed.  We have focused on
the vocal minority of Clinton supporters who refuse to support Obama. This
offers some perspective. 

 Post convention, Democrats have to work hard at the grassroots level
to strengthen their base.  They have the goods.  The Obama campaign
is a tight machine with little internal dissension. In a united front, it is
time to reach those conservative democrats with straight talk about why they
will make your life better in America, and the Republicans will continue to
bring more of the same.  

Your thoughts?


Dr. Eric Durham on “Hill and Bill; The Clinton Factor’

People like Hillary Clinton!

This is obvious based on crowd reaction during her speech last night, and the reaction of the punditry as well. I both enjoyed and appreciated the fact that it was a TACTICALLY sound speech. She illustrated a sincere disengagement from the politics of the McCain campaign; she was clear about her unwillingness to be used as a pawn by the McCain campaign to draw votes away from Senator Obama. Her acknowledgment of the hard work of her campaigners, her acknowledgment of Susan B. Anthony (and the Seneca Falls Convention), and her reference to Harriet Tubman, signaled a Senator who understood her contribution to American History. …and at the same time, she expressed her unwavering support for Senator Barack Obama. This was the magic of Hillary Clinton’s address!


Click READ MORE below

 

People like Bill Clinton!

Yes, Bill is still a favorite among the electorate. He is still regarded as one of the better presidents of the late 20th century. …and yes, Black people still like Bill. As an African American, myself, I did not feel betrayed by Bill during primary season. I feel that he was victimized by the mass media….hungry for a dramatic story. His linking Obama’s campaign to that of Jesse Jackson’s campaign in South Carolina was not racist…and I believe the media played racism up. Honestly, I don’t remember what his remarks were…but I know that as I watched them, I didn’t feel anything racially disparaging was being said.


Now, are there some pride issues at play between the former President and the newcomer (Barack Obama). I’m sure it might be. I heard two radio pundits suggest that some "Alpha Male" issues were at play. I believe this to be true. But, Bill Clinton will prove himself to be an even more stellar public figure if he is able to tap into that charisma…and deliver the speech no one believes he can. Personally, I enjoy his speech making abilities more than I enjoy Hillary’s…so if he can conjure up the 1990s swagger that coaxed the American people into falling in love with him….he’ll not only do the Democratic party a favor…but the Clinton legacy a favor as well. Sure, it tough….and pride will have to be put to the side…but it is achievable. …and I believe he can do it.

-Dr. Eric Durham


Marc, liveblogging Wednesday night at Pepsi Center!

9:13 pm Clinton is here. This is wild-pandemonium. People are cheering louder and longer and madder than ever .. screaming yes yes yes" " .. waving American flags …

"I am here first to support Barack Obama" … wild cheers …

Clinton is amazing. Love him or hate him, he engaged at once.


Click READ MORE below


He smiles and bites that lower lip and the crowd swoons ..

Offered Obama their 18 million votes … that we will see if they come through with a commitment after Labor Day.


He is talking about Obama being the leader the world needs ..

OK OK Bill .. where you gonna take this?

His subtext is Hillary did want to be VP … this is a stronger endorsement than Hillary gave him …

10:07 pm "People are more impressed by the power of our example than the example of our power"… great quote from Bill Clinton.

Well he is not equivocating .. and Bill is lapping it up … but folks

people yell yes he can and he says "first we have to elect him"

He is outlining all the beliefs of the Dems and how to wage the
battle against the Republicans. The question is can the Democrats get
this message with this passion and succinct specificity to the people
of America ..

WOW … during the primary they said Barack was too inexperienced
but now he says that what he says that it wrong to say that about Obama
as it was when it said about him in 1992 …

He is undoing or seeming to undo all the negative things he said and did during the primary …

BUT WHY HE IS NOT STAYING ON THURSDAY …

double message?

OK, he did it short sweet hard and to the point … these Democrats can’t be more pleased …

WHAT DO YOU ALL THINK .. Write BACK

10:30 pm First, the military speakers were good and effective especially
Tammy Duckworth who was shot down in Iraq while piloting a Blackhawk
helicopter. She was real, not canned. Someone who had seen battle,
been badly wounded, met Barack Obama while wounded and made the
decision that as a military person the nation needed Barack Obama. As
Bob Sommerby said tonight on our radio show, the Democrats have no
shortage of stars. But can they do the trick after Labor Day. We will
see.

Beau Biden really did a job introducing his Dad. Here he comes.
THey just hugged and kissed. So, now we have the best Dads in the
world ticket.

 

10:49 pm The state of deleware … the state of corporate America ..

When he introduced his mom and her face came up .. the crowd around me just said aww .. this is an aww moment …

They’re preaching, these speakers .. everyone is equal and no one is
greater than me … these guys are going to run on the American dream.

I never really heard Biden speak before but he does really know how to relate to hard working Americans.

But Joe, then why did you kowtow to MBNA in Delaware to support and
work for that bankruptcy reform bill that screwed millions of working
people, blue and white collar, in this country? Why did this son of the
working class from hardscrabble Scranton let himself be bought by the
corporate state of Delaware?

Everything he is saying about making this country right for working
people is right. Hope it is true from this man from the state of
Delaware … the state of corporate America.

He is on the attack .. More of the same is the campaign theme…Will it work? Does it work for you?

Barack Obama will cut taxes for 95% of the people … that is the
change we need. Is there a contradiction here talking about all this
investment in our country for alternative energy, for schools, for more
cops on the street, social security … and cut taxes …

The dream is great and McCain’s plan will drive us into greater debt than Obama’s but change cost change ..

Rumor has it that Barack is back stage…you heard it here

10:52 All the cameras have turned in the same direction and all the media studios below us are a buzz …

If he is here what is left for poor Bill Richardson to say

10:55 pm There he is …

10:59 I am smiling. I know I shouldn’t be, I am supposed to be objective … but there is something about this guy, about this week. Unity is what they want and they are working for it… diversity, working people, jobs,health care and new energy free of
oil ..

And there is a poor stadium guy trying to clear people off the steps and out of the arena .. good luck … poor guy .. let it go

11:04 ‘We are family’ is playing it is over poor bill richardson has been pushed till the morrow

night you all

 

-marc

 


Lea – Live Blogging from Maryland Watch Party – Day Three!

10:58 – There they are folks. Barack Obama and Joe Biden standing together as the Democratic ticket for President and Vice-President.  Biden’s large family has now joined him on the stage. Barack is smiling and shaking hands.

WOW. WHAT A NIGHT – ON TO MILE HIGH STADIUM!

10:54 – SENATOR BARACK OBAMA HAS JUST WALKED ON THE STAGE! The crowd is going crazy. Truly a SURPRISE GUEST!

10:42 – Joe Biden has begun to pull out the big guns and is now going for John McCaine, intensely showing how his policies are "just not change, it’s more of the same," as the crowd chants.

"These times require more than a good soldier, it requires a wise leader."

He is now detailing what Barack will do to make this a better country saying – "that’s the change we need!"

10:32pm – Joe Biden has just accepted the Democratic nomination for the Vice President of the United States.

In a very moving moment, Senator Biden introduces his mom. He is truly a son who is thankful for the influence of both of his parents.

10:28 – Joe Biden is coming to the stage with the song "Ain’t that America" playing in the background.

10:25pm – After a film on his life, Senator Joe Biden’s son Attorney General of Delaware Beau Biden, is introducing his father. Beau Biden is also a member of the Delaware National Guard.

10:03pm – A moving film in tribute to US troops in the military is now playing.

9:24 pm "America must always be a place called Hope…" After this statement Clinton ends his speech to great applause while the band plays "It’s a Beautiful Day."

He did what he came to do. Personally, as a young woman, I was in awe of Bill Clinton. I met him while an intern on Capital Hill. He is a striking presence. This election broke my heart, when I saw a bitter, spiteful man… This man who was a hero to me.

Tonight I believe he is moving back in the right direction.

A further analysis later.

 

9:22pm – HAH! Bill Clinton references when he was first runnuing for President, the Republicans said he was too young and too inexperienced to be elected President. Sound familiar?

The crowd loves him. He has a magnetism that few share….

 

9:15pm – The rest of the world has always been more influenced "by the power of our example, then by the example of our power."

Clinton lists the myriad of ills that the Republicans have created the last eight years. "Are these the family values the Republicans keep telling us about?"

The crowd yells a chorus "Yes He Can!"

Bill says, "Yes, he can, but first we have to elect him.

Clinton respects the work and experience of John McCain, but associates him with the extreme philosphies of the last 25 years.

 

9:12pm – The moment that many were waiting for, Clinton stated "Barack Obama is ready to become President."

 

9:06pm – Bill Clinton just stated that he will do everything he
can do to elect Barack Obama. He soundly encouraged Hillary’s 18
million voters to vote for Obama.

Clinton says "our nation is in trouble…America is undersiege." He
continue to lists the ills that we Americans are experiencing.

9:00pm – President Bill Clinton has now taken the stage. The crowd, waving American flags, are giving him an incredible ovation. He says "Y’all sit down, we gotta get on with the show." The audience still continues to cheer.

 

7:46 – Miami Mayor Mani Diaz is now speaking in English and Spanish. Born in Cuba, he states that he believes in the American dream because he is the product of it. "We are all Americans. We all want the dignity that comes from a hards day work…we must defend the dream for all Americans."

 

7:41pm – US House of Representatives Majority Whip Jym Clyburn is now speaking. The Majority Whip is the second most powerful position, behind the Speaker of the House. For the first time in history, the Speaker is a woman, Baltimore born Nancy Pelosi; and the Majority Whip African American.

 

7:38pm – Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings took the national stage and just gave a rousing and inspiring message to the convention attendees.

 

 

7:05pm – It’s official Senator Barack Obama, by acclimation, has been nominated as the Democratic candidate for the President of the United States. In a move for unity building, Hillary Clinton released all 1700 of her delegates and suspended the roll call.

Clinton stated ""It is traditional that we have nominations, that we have a roll call,
that we have candidates who look for ways to make sure we come out of
here ready to win in November," she said. "As part of that tradition, I
am here today to release you as my delegates."

From the Maryland Watch Party, cheers and tears rang out. One man was just pumping his fist in the air in joy.

This is a moment that I wish my parents had been here to see. They would never have believed it was possible. It IS possible and we are experiencing a great moment in our country. No matter what our political stripes, America should be proud.


Lea from Denver: It’s Official: Barack Obama Nominated for President!!

 FROM CNN.COM:

It’s official: Democrats nominate Obama

    * Story Highlights
    * NEW: Obama nominated by acclamation
    * Hillary Clinton asks to cut roll call short
    * Clinton releases delegates; criticizes Republicans
    * Headlining speakers include former President Clinton, Biden

DENVER, Colorado (CNN) — Democrats Wednesday officially nominated Barack Obama to be their candidate for president.

Sen. Hillary Clinton asked to cut the roll call short saying, "With eyes firmly fixed on the future, and in the spirit of unity with the goal of victory, with faith in our party and our country, let’s declare together with one voice right here, right now that Barack Obama is our candidate and he will be our president," she said.

Delegates then affirmed Obama as their choice with cheers.

Clinton and Obama were on the ballot at the party convention on Wednesday.

The states announced their votes in alphabetical order. The voting was to continue until a candidate received 2,210 delegates — the threshold needed to secure the nomination.

While most delegates cast their votes for Obama, some were voting for Clinton.

There were a few boos at one point — when Massachusetts cast its vote and gave a nod to its sports teams, the Red Sox and the Celtics, the current baseball and basketball champions.

As Obama arrived in Denver, Clinton released her delegates Wednesday afternoon, allowing those who had been pledged to her to vote for whomever they choose in a roll call vote later in the day.

"This was such a competitive primary season," Clinton told her delegates in a packed ballroom at the Denver Convention Center, "I want you to know this has been a joy. Boy did we have a good time trying."

Clinton engaged in a bitter primary battle with Barack Obama until the last contest in June before conceding. On Tuesday night, she delivered the headline address to the party’s convention in Denver, which was intended to heal any rift that the contentious campaign had caused.

"I believe that as Democrats and as Americans we will leave Denver united," she said on Wednesday.

Clinton told the delegation that she had waited to address them in one place so she could address them all before releasing them.

"It is traditional that we have nominations, that we have a roll call, that we have candidates who look for ways to make sure we come out of here ready to win in November," she said. "As part of that tradition, I am here today to release you as my delegates."

Controversy has surrounded the role of Clinton’s nearly 1,700 pledged delegates. Last month, she said allowing them to cast a vote for her in a roll call at the convention could provide a "catharsis."

Clinton said Wednesday she signed her ballot for Obama.

As Clinton addressed her delegates, she also took the opportunity to take a swipe at the opposition party, telling her supporters that Republicans "should apologize to the country."

Clinton has strongly urged her backers to support Obama, but some appear to be backing Republican John McCain in growing numbers. A CNN poll taken at the end of June indicated that 16 percent of Clinton’s supporters intended to vote for McCain.

A new CNN poll, conducted Saturday and Sunday, showed that 27 percent of her voters now said they supported the Republican candidate.

Clinton made her case for Obama Tuesday night, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, will step into the spotlight Wednesday. VideoWatch more on what Bill Clinton will say »

Bill Clinton is expected to speak before the convention shortly after 9 p.m. ET. Sources told CNN earlier this week that the former president was unhappy with his assigned speech topic for the convention, national security. He reportedly would have preferred to discuss the economy — the issue that, more than anything else, helped propel him to the White House 16 years ago.

Democrats on Wednesday also will officially nominate their presidential ticket and yield the podium to former President Clinton and the presumptive vice presidential nominee, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.

The lineup of speakers for Wednesday evening — with the theme of "Securing America’s Future" — features a roster of Democratic foreign policy and national security heavyweights.

Biden will be leading the attack on McCain’s foreign policy.In his acceptance speech, Biden is expected to outline why he believes McCain’s and President Bush’s world views have ignored the most dangerous threats facing the United States, said a Democratic source involved in crafting the speech for the six-term senator.

Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, widely is believed to have been chosen for the Democratic presidential ticket based on his foreign policy credentials.

Obama’s perceived weakness compared to McCain on foreign policy and national security issues has been a concern to Democratic strategists, especially since Russia’s conflict with Georgia intensified this month.

According to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, 78 percent of registered voters said they believe McCain can handle the responsibilities of commander in chief, while 58 percent said they thought Obama could shoulder those responsibilities. View poll results on national security »

The poll, conducted Saturday and Sunday, also found that 60 percent of voters said they believe McCain would better handle the issue of terrorism, whereas 36 percent have more faith in Obama. A majority also said it believes McCain is more likely than Obama to be a strong and decisive leader.

The poll, conducted Saturday and Sunday, also found that 60 percent of voters said they believe McCain would better handle the issue of terrorism, whereas 36 percent have more faith in Obama. A majority also said it believes McCain is more likely than Obama to be a strong and decisive leader.

The vice presidential candidate also will focus heavily on his personal biography and Senate experience during his speech, the source said.

Others who will speak on foreign policy include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Sens. Evan Bayh and Jack Reed, who are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee; New Mexico Gov. and former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson; retired Army Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy; and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth.


Lea in Denver – The protest that wasn’t (photos included)


There are so many events happening around Denver…

It is a beautiful day here. I have been walking the city talking to everyday folks about the convention, how they are dealing with the invasion of 50,000 extra “residents,” and recording their reactions. I am typing this in Civic Center Park where a very large protest against the war is scheduled. I know I am in the right place. It seems that someone forgot to send me a memo. Instead of protestors, I am sitting across from mounted riot police in full, intimidating gear.

Click READ MORE below for Lea’s pictures from Denver!

Not only that, the park is fully secured, surrounded by a chain link fence keeping all out. The proverbial “they” are saying that it is because the foodie festival “Taste of Denver” is being set up for the weekend, but the locals I spoke with insist the preparations are way earlier than usual.


I spoke with several wandering souls who were walking up and down the downtown streets looking for the action. Some of the most interesting I had the chance to talk with were a group of high school students who were covered in peace pins and pink stickers that read “Make Out, Not War.” (Love that). Note: Being the mom of a teenager, I sure am not promoting "making out!" 

 

 

The teens and I were standing in the park watching the riot police (looking like escapees from the cast of Robocop) and watching people’s reaction, when one of the students, a 15 year old boy named Chris said, “Man, when the government messes with that free speech thing, it’s just way un-cool. “ Yeah, Chris you’re right. It is way un-cool in a big way.


Yesterday, the police and protestors clashed resulting in over 100 arrests. Those arrested faced charges for violating city ordinances including failure to obey a lawful order, obstructing a public roadway and interference. Pepper spray was also used on a few protestors .


This past Monday, an 80 year old man walking from the library to the bus stop was gassed and cuffed by officers, although he had nothing to do with the protests or confrontations. Yep, 80 years old. Go here for the full story: http://www.myfoxcolorado.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail?contentId=7296208&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=1.1.1


I completely understand the need for intense security during the convention – especially this convention. But you know, I get suspicious when 80 year old men are gassed, and chain link fences surround pre-arranged protest areas without warning.


There were concerns back in May of this year when the ACLU of Colorado successfully sued to protect protestor’s constitutional rights when requests for parade permits were going unanswered and denied.


So now, I am going back out on the streets to find the peaceful protests and marchers. There are many, but I just have to keep searching.

I will keep you posted.


Marc Steiner with more on the Hillary divide…

Well, it is the day after Hillary’s speech. She did what she was supposed to do, encouraging her supporters to come out and vote for Barack Obama. It was a stirring speech.
While she was unequivocal in her support and insistence that John McCain not be given the Presidency she did not do anything to renounce the negative pronouncements she made about Obama during the primary.

That not withstanding, Hillary Clintons non-keynote keynote, if it was act, was a damn good act.

Click READ MORE below!

Her PUMA supporters do not appear assauged at the moment. What’s PUMA? It is a slightly derisive depiction of the most die-hard Hillary supporters that stands for Party Unity My Ass. I think this goes a lot deeper than many realize and has complex reasons that go back to the divide between early suffragettes and abolitionists. Most things have their historical roots. And progressives, radicals and reformers do have a tendency to eat their young.

Still, I think, as Tom Schaller, Salon columnist and UMBC political science professor, said in an interview with me this morning, that most of them will come into the fold come Election Day.

But Bill Clinton’s decision not to be in Denver on Thursday night when Barack Obama accepts the nomination at Ivesco stadium seems to once more prove this is about the Clintons and nothing but the Clintons.
The reality is that there was no conspiracy. Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean did not conspire to give the election to Obama. The Clintons (yes, plural) lost this election on their own. They had more money and were 30 points up in the polls. They squandered their money on old-fashioned techniques, like direct mail fundraising. Hillary Clinton’s organization was dysfunctional from the top down. Hillary and Bill ranted and raved at staff and their campaign went into panic after the initial Obama surge. They were not prepared and did not know what hit them. They lost control of the party to a new vision and broadening base. They won’t give up easily.

For the sake of the right to choose, ending this war in Iraq, getting health care to citizens and leaving room for populists and progressives to join the debate, ardent Democrats are hoping that party leadership will get their act together by November.

-Marc Steiner


Lea – Couple of Photos from Denver

Hey folks.  I just want to share a couple photos with you.  The first taken outside of a popular local restaurant and the second of a Northern Colorado protester I spotted at an event held by The Nation Magazine.

I will definitely be adding more as we go from place to place.  I am officially convinced that we need 28 hours to the day — give or take.   Lea

 

 

 

 


Ladies First, by Ronnie Djoukeng

The Democratic National Convention is steamrolling the competition with women at the vanguard.

I believe Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton have provided a sturdy foundation for men to take it to the next level. On Monday night, Michelle discussed her roots and upbringing reminding and informing everyone that she’s American as apple pie. Women were allowed to see the construction of her pie’s latticework—motherhood, sisterhood, and marriage. These attributes that make her who she is reminded women that you can be all things and be proud to be all things. The affirmation of womanhood was a theme that ran through Michelle’s speech as well as Hillary’s.


Click ‘Read More’ below!

Hillary was steadfast and resolute-unequivocal in her position, unforgiving in her statement, and unapologetic in her support for Barack Obama. There was so much history imbued in her speech—civil rights and women’s rights— reminding all Democrats that this moment is monumental. Her speech reunited two important constituencies—blacks and women– of the Democratic party.

Tonight, we will hear from vice presidential nominee, Senator Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton. Biden’s speech should discuss foreign policy and undermine John McCain. President Bill Clinton’s speech needs the same gravitas as his wife, yet the focus should be on attacking McCain and raising the profile of Barack Obama—thereby passing the baton. As the Democratic National Convention reaches its peak on Thursday with Barack Obama’s speech, Democrats should feel invigorated to push forward for the remaining 10 weeks.

The women have done their part and men need to seal the deal. It is now Act II of the Democratic National Convention, men it is up to you to make the women proud.

I’ll be back tomorrow to evaluate tonight’s performance. Stay tuned…

-Ronnie Djoukeng

Ronnie Djoukeng is a Maryland blogger who can be found at her group blog, http://5andapossible.blogspot.com/ .


The Divides That Bind Us, by Dr. Mary Washington

What is Unity? It seems that the theme within the convention is  “from many one.” And yet do some in both the leadership and the rank and file of the Democratic Party find an uneasiness seeking to place us behind a candidate that embraces the diversity of opinion and strategies that is characteristic of a progressive and dynamic constituency? Do we deep down in our hearts believe the pundits and naysayers that see this cacophony of voices as a failure to stay on message and that we are fool hearty to have the audacity to speak of unity at the foot of the Tower of Babel?
 
Denver must come to symbolize the big tent and yes, we must learn to fight together toward many goals. Does the Democratic Party contradict itself to claim America to be “One Nation.”  I think the answer is “Yes” and it should be as Walt Whitman put, “Very well then I contradict myself,  (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” 
 

Click ‘Read More’ below!


I think the Democratic Party, indeed this country needs to become more
comfortable with the simple fact—that we don’t always agree—that its
not always pretty, but we must keep it together enough in the face of a
common enemy to prevail in the name of our common good.

Monday night Michelle Obama said it this way . . .



He’ll achieve these goals the same way he always has – by bringing us
together and reminding us how much we share and how alike we really
are. You see, Barack doesn’t care where you’re from, or what your
background is, or what party – if any – you belong to. That’s not how
he sees the world. He knows that thread that connects us – our belief
in America’s promise, our commitment to our children’s future – is
strong enough to hold us together as one nation even when we disagree.

Democrats must not allow McCain to use our strength against us. I’m
grateful that everyone appears to be down-playing the “rift” between
Obama and Clinton delegates and supporters  (everyone but the media), 
but that means now more than ever Hillary has got to be convincing;
even more convincing than Michelle Obama—whose shares the ambivalent
Patriotism that many African –Americans know all too well.  So while an
unfortunate gaff for some—I think it was just that it is hard to convey
the complexity of her relationship to this country.  But she did her
job and she did it very well.

“Ah Michelle, Michelle, ma belle. Sont les mots qui vont très bien
ensemble, Très bien ensemble.I love you, I love you, I love you.
That’s all I want to say.”

Until next time,

Mary

Dr. Mary
Washington is a former candidate for delegate in Maryland. Dr.
Washington received her Ph.D. is sociology from the Johns Hopkins
University. She lives in Baltimore City and works as an Assistant
Director for a Baltimore-based environmental education, stewardship and
community revitalization organization She also helps people buy and
sell their home as an agent for City Life Realty (www.cityliferealty.net).


Lea from Denver – Reflecting on Hillary Clinton’s Remarks and More


It’s 3:43 a.m. and I want to give my brief reflections on Senator Clinton’s historic address before I turn on CNN and glance at the New York Times, and be told how she didn’t go far enough and blah blah mainstream press bizarre focus on dissension blah.

Click ‘READ MORE’ below!


Here in Denver, I am with the Maryland Delegation that is watching the festivities from the Maryland Watch Party at the Renaissance Hotel. We were watching on the big screens and as the cameras panned the massive audience there was much Hillary love in the house. There were Hillary banners, funny little (and big) hats, buttons, streamers and those long stick things that are at every convention being enthusiastically raised. The crowd that was just waiting for her to speak history.


The atmosphere on Monday evening seemed one of excitement and deep emotion with the speeches of Senator Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama, but the atmosphere Tuesday night was electric. You could feel the anticipation.
We also saw that President Bill Clinton is still a superstar in the Democratic world. Sitting next to a young African American man, he smiled easily and clapped often. When he arrived in the arena the audience went wild and the cameras seemed to be focused all on him, even though someone else was speaking.


Tonight, Bill speaks and the world will be listening. He is expected to sound the same note of healing and reconciliation. Man, after such a divisive primary season, I’m so ready for it. Bring it on.


I was pleasantly surprised by the rousing and unifying comments made by Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana who spoke directly before Hillary. We just may have witnessed a future presidential candidate?


Oh yes, Dennis Kuchinich gave a serious wakeup call in his ready for primetime speech to the delegates earlier in the evening. This unimposing looking man is one compelling speaker. The crowd went crazy when he said, "Up with peace! Up with prosperity! Up with the Democratic Party! Up with Obama!," he shouted, pumping his arms. "Wake up America!" Durn, he was good. You can check out his comments here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv0smG7ptcM


Last night Hillary’s speech was not just for Barack Obama, but it was for Senator Clinton as well.


This was the speech of her life, and she delivered it with gusto, passion and most of all – I believed her. I believed her when she enthusiastically stated, “"Barack Obama is my candidate.” "And he must be our president.” She also did not hold back on her words and went there when she said that even though Senator John McCain is her colleague and friend, this country cannot accept another four years of the same ole same ole. "No way," Clinton said. "No how. No McCain."


As I stated last night in the live blog, this was a Hillary I don’t think I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She was passionate. She meant what she said and she said what she meant. She evoked the spirit of Harriet Tubman when she urged Democrats in the face of adversity to “Keep Going!”


Hillary was a class act who showed humility by rallying her supporters around Barack Obama.


Did it close the deal? Who knows?


There will always be folks who are just completely, totally, and entrenchly (I know that’s not a real word, but you know what I mean) be angry at the outcome of the primary. So much of their hearts, minds and hopes were invested in Senator Clinton’s historic candidacy. We can deeply respect that, but please stop.


There is so much at stake here.


Please remember how hard we fought for women to keep the government out of making choices on what we can do with our bodies. Please remember all of those women who died so young in back alley abortions gone wrong. Please remember that we are just one Supreme Court Justice away from being stuck with a generation long deeply conservative Court who is ready, willing and able to make scary ideologically based decisions that become the law of the land.


This in itself trumps all the understandable frustrations.

If you value reproductive justice and so much much more, you will not stay home on Election Day. You will not rally for the other side.  Of course the two parties have so many just plain bad similarities, but the differences are glaring, and that is what counts.


I hope Clinton’s speech was a cathartic moment for her supporters and a healing moment for the Democratic Party. She urged her supporters by saying, "Whether you voted for me or you voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We’re on the same team and none of us can afford to sit on the sidelines."


When referring to next week’s Republican convention she held back no punches, "It makes perfect sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together in the Twin Cities because these days they are awfully hard to tell apart."


Can we move forward now? Will the mainstream media let us? Let’s all promise to think for ourselves.


Republicans are looking for every opportunity here in Denver to exploit the divisions and perceived divisions of the Democrats. Last night when I turned on the TV, I saw the one billionth campaign commercial sponsored by the Republican National Committee. On the screen was a grainy Hillary Clinton making a comment stated during the primary season that “Senator John McCain has a lifetime of experience. I have a lifetime of experience, and Barack Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.” Ouch. It ended with saying something like, “Was she right?”


Come on folks, let’s get to uniting and full speed ahead!

 

Tonight’s theme for the third day of the convention "Securing America’s Future."

 


Marc Steiner on the wrath of Hillary supporters

The Hillary resistance within the Democratic Party runs very deep. Many women who supported her feel that they would have defended Obama from racist attacks but that he did not say a word when Hillary Clinton was under sexist attacks and ridicule by the media. They felt that fraud took place in the primaries, that the party tried to get her to drop out even as Clinton kept winning primaries, and they are furious that Obama did not offer Clinton the VP spot. Click ‘READ MORE’ below.

Click ‘READ MORE’ below.

Hillary’s grassroots supporters are furious that they have been asked
to get over it. They sense or sensed themselves as much part of the
movement as Obama’s primary supporters felt. They want to be included
and feel they have not only been spoken with and in fact they say the
party and Obama’s leadership have spoken down to them.


One third of the Clinton delegates say they are not yet committed to
voting for Obama. One poll found 27% of the 18 million who voted for
her may not vote for Obama.


Many say that it is only now that the Obama people and the party are
paying attention to them because recent polls and surveys show the
depth of the anger from some of Hillary’s supporters. That situation
makes them feel more belittled and angrier.


Barack Obama and the Democrats have a problem on their hands. These
working women, blue collar and white collar voters, are part of the
Democratic base. If they lose them in the significant numbers that some
feel is possible, it could make a difference in toss up states like
Colorado and Michigan, to name but two.


All the seemingly logical arguments like McCain appointing anti-choice
judges or his winning the election are not holding water. The Democrats
better heal this wound quickly before it festers out of control making
the entire body ill.

-Marc Steiner


Marc, blogging live from the Convention on Tuesday night!

Here we are Hillary night. Right now there is a Barack in New Hampshire video playing. There is palpable excitement in this room. But tension as well. I have seen Hillary delegates sharing their passes to get her supporters into the hall. What that means I don’t know.

Music is loud, good and rocking …

OK getting to go on the air and back later.

 


Lea – Live Blogging From Maryland Watch Party in Denver – Day Two!

11:16pm – This was a Hillary I don’t think I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She was passionate. She meant what she said and she said what she meant. She evoked the spirit of Harriet Tubman when she urged Democrats in the face of adversity to “Keep Going!” I think she closed the deal, or we are at least a lot closer. Now let the pundits bicker!

Click ‘Read More’ below!

10:52 pm – I will now listen to Senator Clinton’s speech. You can listen to a live feed at weaa.org.

10:50pm -Hillary thanks her supporters – "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits." 🙂

10:46 pm – This is amazing. Hillary is speaking. The crowd here at the Maryland Watch Party is watching the monitors with such intensity. She said "No way, no how, no McCain" – the folks here are on their feet yelling to the tv screen!

10:40pm – Chelsea Clinton introduces Senator Clinton. The crowd is on it’s feet cheering. Hillary is waving with a broad smile wearing a striking orange suit

10:37pm – A film introducing Senator Hillary Clinton is being played.

10:15pm – Which may have been the most gavanizing speech of the convention so far was enthusiastically delivered by Governor Brian Schweizer of Montana.

9:41 – Governor Mark Warner or Virginia has now taken the stage to give the keynote address.

9:04pm – Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, who was on the short list for vice-president, is now speaking. She is linking the family values of Obama’s family with her own. The Governor stated that Barack Obama has a plan to save the dream of home ownership and more for working Americans. She has made a stark contrast between John McCain providing more of the same and Obama offering real hope in change.

8:00pm – We will be beginning live on-air coverage on WEAA radio 88.9.

7:47pm – John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO introduced senior blue collar workers who have suffered with lost jobs and illnesses. These people cannot afford four more years like the last eight years. What happened to the promise of a better America? That’s why they want Barack Obama for President of the United States. "Brothers and sisters, this is our chance to create much needed change, and help rebuild this country that we all love."

p>
7:42pm – The representative from California spoke of the need to let all of America’s workers that they are appreciated. He stated how after the many have left the Pepsi Center there will be people there working through the night. The past eight years have seen these workers lose their jobs, houses gone in forclosure and on and on, because of the failed policies of the Bush Administration. "If that what we mean by conservatism, then we will take no more of the con they are serving."

 

7:32 – Governor Ed Rendell linked John McCain to Bush’s failed energy policies. He says that an Obama administration will bring "everyone to the table" to reduce our demand for "old energy sources."

7:25: Following Senator Barbara Mikulski, the Democratic women of the US Senate spoke passionately about health care, Katrina relief, keeping jobs at home, energy independance, fiscal responsibility, and the needs of the middle class. The final speaker ended encouraging and urging the women of America to support Barack Obama for their and their families sake.

As they left the stage, the band began playing, "Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves."

7:12pm – Introduced by video tape by Senator Hillary Clinton, Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski has taken the stage with loud applause. With great enthusiam, Mikulski says we must select Barack Obama so we can finally get equal pay for equal work.

Welcome to day two of the Democratic National Convention! There are a great number of speeches, and I will try and reflect as much as possible.

We will begin live coverage on WEAA 88.9 at 8:00pm EST


“This is going to be a tough election”-Marc Steiner

I am sitting here in a church that is the headquarters of the Progressive Democrats of America. Feels like I am back in the sixties. It looks and feels like the old days. But it is unfortunately a new day with some of the same issues facing with this war in Iraq. Progressives, though most support Obama, want him to push harder for the end of the war, withdraw troops now and tie it to the economy.

Click "Read More" below!


It ain’t gonna happen but they need to push. Obama has a tough opponent. Last night on Jay Leno, Jay tried to humorously ask McCain about his houses, and McCain said, "I was a POW." We are in a war, McCain says we are winning, the press for the most part are not disagreeing or questioned, and he is a POW, a tough man for a tough time.

This is going to be a tough election.
-Marc Steiner

 


Diana Veiga’s reaction to Michelle’s speech

I listened to Michelle Obama’s speech on the radio last night. Yes, I had to take it old school because I had to make an airport run. There’s nothing like listening to a speech on the radio, especially a speech of this magnitude. There I was driving down the highway and envisaging Michelle’s outfit, her hair & make-up, her gestures, the venue, the colors, the audience’s reactions. I depended solely on the cadence of her voice and my imagination to tell the story that was unfolding, the history that was being made.

Click "Read More" below!

I heard her speak of her father with respect, Barack with love, and her country with pride. I heard thunderous applause when Michelle spoke Hillary Clinton’s name and said Clinton had shattered 18 million glass ceilings. There was more thunderous applause when Michelle declared that she is proud to be an American. The speech was everything it was supposed to be: a loving and supportive wife presenting her husband to the nation, a professional woman diligently working to shed the angry black woman image, and reaffirmation in the reality of the American Dream.

I could feel the energy of the audience, pulsating throughout and beyond the venue, into the veins of everyone watching and listening. Michelle’s words were beautiful, moving and honest. And I figured that plenty of tears had been shed by people of all races and colors. Turns out I was right. My girlfriend called after the speech and said, “I was crying right along with the other women in the audience. Barack took Michelle out for ice cream. Black love does exist.” Yes, Michelle’s words touched different nerves for different reasons. My mother started crying when Michelle described Barack driving their daughter home from the hospital and promising to give her a father’s love he never had. My grandmother already had her tissues at the ready because after 82 years of being on this earth, of being jailed for fighting for civil rights, this moment was finally happening.

Michelle’s words were just the start of what will emerge from this convention. It felt like the audience was literally on the edge of its seats, holding its breath, waiting for more, pleading for more, desperate for more. More hope, more change, more unity, more peace, more, more, more of something else, anything else that is different from what we’ve had for the past eight years. That’s definitely an understandable feeling. Let’s just hope this momentum continues through November. Hopefully the best is yet to come.

-Diana Veiga

Diana Veiga blogs at http://5andapossible.blogspot.com


Marc’s reaction to Michelle’s speech

Well, it was fascinating sitting in the Pepsi Center last night. It was something I never experienced before.
Watching Michelle Obama so much came to mind. Some positive and some troubling.

Click "Read More" below!

I harkened back that time when I was 18 years old at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City. It was 1964 and Blacks were being killed, injured, and arrested for trying to live free as Americans. They forced to live under apartheid in America’s south.
Out of that in Mississippi came an African American woman, a sharecropper who had been beaten and arrested for fighting for her civil rights Her name was Fannie Lou Hamer and she led the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. We were at the Democratic National Convention demanding to be seated in the hall. MFDP was the true representation of freedom in America. She gave an impassioned speech from the heart of living under the vilest oppression in America.

And there was Michelle Obama standing there beloved by so many. Vilified by those who may never get it and for whom the African American life and experience is so foreign.
Yet here we are at a moment when America’s first lady may be Black. Tears came to my eyes with just the sheer joy of how far we have come.
It was a handing of the mantle to a new generation in that party, from Jesse Jackson to Caroline Kennedy to Chelsea Clinton to Craig Robinson to Barack and Michelle themselves. Ted Kennedy handed off the baton to the next generation while holding to the values he believes the Democrats should hold.

It was, for that party, a historical and moving moment.
There is a lot to question here, though. The power of large corporations loom large over this convention from their logos on the bags delegates receive to the expensive receptions they underwrite. Big Coal is everywhere trying to clean up their image and buy the votes and minds of delegates. Anti union and right wing Coors Beer flows freely for thirsty delegates.
So, while change is soaring through the air, some things have not changed.
More later.
Back to the streets and to the Dems.

-Marc


Hillary Clinton to Address Democratic Women’s Caucus on Tuesday

Hillary Clinton to Address Democratic Women’s Caucus on Tuesday
LIFETIME Networks to Host Opening and Closing of the Democratic Women’s

Caucus in Denver
– MICHELLE OBAMA TO ADDRESS THE CAUCUS –
– Caucus Guests: Fran Drescher, Executive Director, Cancer Schmancer Foundation and Rosario Dawson, Co-Founder, Voto Latino –
– Women’s Equality Day Falls on First Day of the Caucus –
– More than 3,000 Delegates and Elected Officials to Attend "Women Making History" and "Women Shaping History" Events –


DENVER,
Aug. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As part of the award-winning,
nonpartisan Every Woman Counts campaign to encourage women to speak out
on issues, vote and run for office, and to commemorate Women’s Equality
Day, LIFETIME is celebrating women’s leadership by hosting the opening
and closing of the Democratic Women’s Caucus in Denver. The Caucus
takes place on Tuesday, August 26 (Women’s Equality Day) and Thursday,
August 28. Events on both days will run from 10 a.m. until noon at the
Four Seasons Ballroom in the Colorado Convention Center. More than
3,000 delegates and elected officials are expected to attend.
"We
are so excited to have Lifetime’s involvement in what will be a
historic caucus, said Mame Reiley, Democratic Women’s Caucus Chair.
  Tuesday, August 26, 10 a.m. to noon

  "WOMEN MAKING HISTORY"
  Four Seasons Ballroom, Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th St., Denver

  Thursday, August 28, 10 a.m. to noon
  "WOMEN SHAPING HISTORY"
  Four Seasons Ballroom, Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th St., Denver

  Speakers will include:
  —  Michelle Obama
  —  Senator Hillary Clinton
  —  Senator Barbara Boxer (CA)
  —  Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN)
  —  Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL)
  —  DNC Vice Chair Susie Turnbull
  —  DNC Vice Chair Linda Chavez-Thompson
  —  DNC Convention CEO Leah Daughtry
  —  DNC Secretary Alice Travis Germond
  —  Andrea Wong, CEO and President of LIFETIME Networks
  —  Meredith Wagner, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at
      LIFETIME Networks
  —  Cecile Richards, celebrating anniversary of her mother Ann Richard’s
      Keynote Address
  —  Actress Fran Drescher, Executive Director of Cancer Schmancer
      Foundation
  —  Actress Rosario Dawson, Co-Founder of Voto Latino
  —  Political Strategist Donna Brazile
  —  Ellen Malcolm, President and Founder of Emily’s List
  —  Senior Obama Campaign Advisor Dana Singiser
  —  Sheila Johnson, Owner, Washington Mystics

Women’s
Equality Day (August 26) was established by Congress in 1971 to
commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution,
granting women the right to vote. Women’s Equality Day also calls
attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.
About Every Woman Counts


Every
Woman Counts is the only public service campaign dedicated to
encouraging women to speak out on the issues they care about most, vote
and run for office. For the first time, the 2008 Every Woman Counts
initiative will leverage the power of the #1 and #2 television networks
for women — Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network (LMN) — and include
the most extensive on-air programming, digital content and grassroots
efforts to date. To expand the effort and reach women everywhere they
live, work and play, Lifetime launched the first-ever Every Woman
Counts media and advocacy coalition in partnership with REDBOOK,
CosmoGIRL, Marie Claire, celebrities, experts and hundreds of women’s
nonprofit organizations representing more than 15 million women from
all sides of the political spectrum.

About Lifetime
LIFETIME
is the leader in women’s television and one of the top-rated basic
cable television networks. A diverse, multi-media company, LIFETIME is
committed to offering the highest quality entertainment and information
programming, and advocating a wide range of issues affecting women and
their families. LIFETIME Television, Lifetime Movie Network, Lifetime
Real Women and Lifetime Digital (including myLifetime.com) are part of
LIFETIME Entertainment Services, a 50/50 joint venture of Hearst
Corporation and The Walt Disney Company.

Source: Lifetime

 


Marc is inside the Pepsi Center in Denver!

Inside the Pepsi Center. It is loud, man I mean loud. Not a place to think just applaud and enjoy the scenery For those, like the young people speaking now it is wonderous moment. The youth here are amazing. They are energized in a way that I have not seen for forty years.

It is almost surreal. This the anointing of the winner. This is not the conventions of my youth where it was hard fought until the last gavel.

Delegate Michael Buckley just walked up with a huge smile on his face. He is joyous and overwhelmed by what he feels in this hall. He is a partisan soldier who will work to put Obama in the White House. Smiles abound.

We are all awaiting Michell Obama. I am really curious as to what she will do. There are so many who cannot stand her. Don’t understand her. Think she does not adore her husband.

So many Americans are fascianted by, imitate, fear and loath Black people. Black women like Michelle Obama are threatening. I am not sure that she will convert those folks.

But most of America is not like that. Our nation has changed. Michelle Obama has to bring those in doubt to her and her husband tonight.

Well, I am going to wander the hall. Get some pictures and stories.

be back in a minute.

marc


Lea – Live Blogging from Maryland Watch Party

9:29pm – After a moving tribute produced by award winning filmaker Ken Burns, Senator Ted Kennedy has taken the stage and the crowd has gone crazy.  He has stated that nothing was going to keep him away from being here to support Barack Obama for President.  "We have never lost our belief that we are called to a better country and a better world." 

 

8:22pm – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the first woman speaker and the first Italian, calls Barack Obama a "21st Century Patriot who sees beyond the years…."  Pelosi was rallying the crowd by giving a call and response of "Barack Obama is right, and John McCain is wrong!" 

 

7:32 – John Legend and the Agape International Choir are now performing.

 

7:14 – Attorney General of Illinois Lisa Maddigan spoke on how she was only one of five elected Democratic women in the state of Illinois when she worked with Obama.  She spoke on how Obama worked to expand health care for working women, as well as training for women who needs jobs.  She ended with saying that he will continue to work hard for working families in America.

 

7:03pm – Reg Weaver, President of the National Education Association speaks on Obama’s commitment to education for ALL children.  Weaver states that Obama will not only trust generalized test stores, but provide resources so that every child succeeds.  Mr. Weaver passionately stated that Obama "is a man with a plan" for success. 

 

6:55 – Amanda Kubik from North Dakota is speaking on behalf of the young delegates.  She says that young people feel a "sense of urgency" and states that Senator Obama understands the reach of our young citizens.  Kubik states that young people have been galvanized and she says "this may be the first time that young people will have a desisive vote, but you can bet it won’t be the last time." 

 

6:53pm – NARAL Prochoice America’s President and CEO is conveying the importance of supporting Barack Obama when Senator McCain has spent the 25 years opposing a woman’s right to choose.  

 

6:49pm – In English and in Spanish members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus gave inspriring speeches on why they and their communities should support Barack Obama. One congressman put our current condition in perspective when he stated that as a congressman he "represents the poorest congressional district in the nation, the South Bronx in New York City,  in the richest city in the United States.  Change must happen.

 

5:00pm – Howard Dean has raised the gavel and the convention has officially began!

 

 


Lea asks: What if McCain chooses a woman?

 What if he chooses a woman?

 by Lea Gilmore

Yesterday, while on a panel of political analysts and veteran campaign experts, the subject of  Senator Barack Obama’s choice of Senator Joseph Biden as his Vice Presidential  running mate was discussed in great detail. 

Let’s ponder this for a brief moment. Is the vice presidential choice really relevant when closing the deal? Has Vice President Cheney’s powerful “presidency” redefined the office? In the end, will people even care who Senator Obama selected? 

The conversation turned and we began to discuss who John McCain may pick for his running mate.  Then someone asked, what about a woman?  Whew.  A hush. What ABOUT a woman?

Click Read More below! 

With so many Clintonistas still angry with the primary loss, what will be the impact if Senator McCain chooses a woman?  If she is pro-choice and even mildly moderate what are the implications? If she is of the same generation of Senator Clinton, will this matter? Who would even be the choices? 

Way back in February which seems eons ago, Alan Katz of the Alan Katz Political Blog http://alankatzpolitics.wordpress.com/2008/02/12/mccain-and-a-woman-vp/   offered some choices:

•    Senator Susan Collins (Maine)
•    Senator Elizabeth Dole (North Carolina)
•    Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas)
•    Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
•    Governor Jodi Rell (Connecticut)
•    Senator Olympia Snowe (Maine)

There’s a short list to give some thought…

What do you think?


“Doing better this time around” by Dr. Mary Washington

 Doing Better This Time Around

by Dr. Mary Washington 

So here we are just hours before the start of the 2008 Democratic Convention. The candidates have been at it for over 20 months. When this all began Gallup Polls showed Senator Hilary Clinton as backed by 29% of national Democrats followed by Senator Barack Obama at 18% and former vice presidential candidate John Edwards at 13%. And today, the presumptive presidential nominee, Barack Obama leads presumptive, Republican Candidate John McCain in the polls and the electoral map. My, what a difference 602 days has made in the political life of this country and the lives of those of us fortunate enough to see it. However the tumultuous seas of change that the Obama campaign have been riding so expertly until now have appeared to calm as they approach Denver and some fear that the Democrats will fall short of the horizon. Democrats will need to show the Republican Party leadership and the public that all hands are on deck and that they are comfortable and confident with Barack Obama at the helm.

  Click "Read More" below!

For nearly two years, regardless of their political affiliation, millions of Americans and indeed the rest of world watched the Democratic Primary contest that emerged between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. Millions more gave of their time and money because the energy and excitement generated by this clash of titans breathed life into an electoral process that had been deadened by the cynicism of pundits, valueless wars and hard times. Encouraged by change we could believe in, many of us made the decision to volunteer for Barack Obama because we were impressed by the candidate and were moved to action by the choices he has made time and time again throughout his life to defy expectation and defend the vulnerable. At the time, I personally believed that Senator Clinton, was equally convicted in her desire and ability to navigate the challenges facing our nation with intelligence, compassion and strength. I said to many of my friends, “choosing between Obama and Clinton is a good problem to have.” I believed that Obama had the ability to bring the best out of those around him—even his distracters. For the first time in a long time I enjoyed and learned something from the televised debates, keeping score as I have done in recent weeks during the Olympics between our favored team and a strong and worthy competitor. The level of discourse we had in that mid primary election cycle was unprecedented in my memory. I was proud of us.But something changed and a match that had such a brilliant start to a new way of doing politics devolved by the end to not be the shining moment for the Democratic Party that I had hoped. While I did not support those that looked for an early concession from Clinton before the last state had voted, I was disappointed that the desperation of the professional class of the democratic party sought to destroy what it could not control and did not understand. I was disappointed that they returned to the old school strategy of divide and conquer along the open wounds of race, gender and class in this country, that they returned too comfortably to the tactics that have lost high stakes campaigns time and time again and ultimately made my dream ticket (Obama/Clinton) an impossibility. The return to that common and belittling script also placed doubts in the minds of many and fed the prejudices of a significant portion of the Democratic base. How can Democrats find their way out of this sinkhole? I think Barack said it best in his New Hampshire “concession speech.”

“What’s stopped us from meeting these challenges is not the absence of sound policies and sensible plans," he said. "What’s stopped us is the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics — the ease with which we’re distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle big problems."

Denver we have a problem.

This week’s convention should not be simply about setting the stage for a Democratic victory in November. It must be about tending to the soil that provided such fertile ground for grassroots movements and organizing in kitchens and store fronts across the country. The words and action of the delegates and nominees must inspire us to claim our responsibility as citizens and residents of the United States of America seriously and to demand that we do better this time and for all time. So I will watch, listen and pray that a belief in and resolved for change that has been weakened by the fear and poor judgment of some of our candidates, the calculation of strategists and whispering of political commentary can be re-harnessed today and over the next 79. I’ve read and listen to all of Obama’s tide-turning speeches. They still give me goose bumps. Whenever the nation had doubt in his abilities or in his campaign, Barrack’s words and deeds set us straight on the task at hand. But this time, it’s going to take a village to right this ship, set us on a good course and in Shirley Chisholm’s words “demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo.” I and millions of others still stand ready to believe in the audacity of hope.

Until next time . . .

-Dr. Mary Washington

Dr. Mary Washington is a former candidate for delegate in Maryland.  Dr. Washington received her Ph.D. is sociology from the Johns Hopkins University. She lives in Baltimore City and works as an Assistant Director for a Baltimore-based environmental education, stewardship and community revitalization organization She also helps people buy and sell their home as an agent for City Life Realty (www.cityliferealty.net).


justin meets an almost president

John Kerry touched my shoulder earlier tonight in Denver.

It was in the basement of the strange-looking, modern-pyramidesque Renaissance Hotel, where the Maryland delegation is staying, which isn’t too convenient for them because it’s on the other side of the city from all of the action. Congressman Elijah Cummings hosted a reception there tonight, while the Massachusetts folks were partying upstairs.

Shortly after entering the large ballroom, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around, thinking it was someone I knew, only to see the distinctive looking former presidential candidate right behind me. It looked like he was trying to shake as many hands as possible, while leaving the room at the same time… very presidential.


Lea – Dawn at Denver – And So it Begins!

 And so it begins!

by Lea Gilmore 

It’s 5:00am here in Denver and after a total of four hours of sleep and some serious adjustment to this altitude where it seems oxygen is in short supply, we are about to begin an amazing journey.  So glad that you are here to join us.


Yesterday (Sunday), after barely making my flight, I boarded an unbelievably full Southwest  Airlines flight to Denver.   Passengers included Maryland delegates, elected officials, media media media, and vacation folks wondering what in the world is happening  (I am not kidding;  a man actually asked me “what’s going on in Denver?”  Whew! Thank goodness he was holidaying from Italy!).  

Click "Read More" below! 


I sat next to a senior political reporter from the Boston Globe and a blogger for the Daily KOS and AFL-CIO.  They were chatting about what a “smart move” Obama made choosing Senator Joe Biden for VP and that this just may be the unifying moment, etc.  Rest assured, I will check out the Boston Globe today.


One thing for sure, there is immense excitement in the air.  After a turbulent landing that I can hardly describe, because it is still freaking me out, we arrived in the Denver terminal. I was met by DNC greeters, attendees, and just thrilled Democrats who just wanted to tell us “welcome to history.”  I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore…or maybe White Marsh where I live.


The weather was awesome upon arrival. As soon as I got to the hotel and checked in, fifteen minutes later I was on a WEAA radio program, The David Brown Show, with Marc Steiner discussing what we have to look forward to this week, as well as a bit of political analysis.


Sunday evening, we headed towards the Maryland Delegation’s reception at the Renaissance Hotel, where I will be reporting from each night from 8pm – 11pm on WEAA 88.1. I will be “imbedded” (just always wanted to say that) at the Maryland Watch Party, while Marc reports from the floor of the Pepsi Center where the Maryland Delegation sits and the major speeches take place.


The reception was a ball of kinetic energy. Elected officials, lobbyist, volunteers, media types all laughing and talking and just waiting for the big show to begin.  The folks I spoke with were just full of hope, including the Clinton Delegates, for what is about to happen.


Fifty thousand extra people are in the city of Denver for the convention.  This includes media from all over the world, protesters, delegates, lobbyists, and more.


Denver is only 8% African American, but the vibrant majority black neighborhood of Five Points will be hosting a myriad of events for the week, including a jazz and blues festival, Spoken Word, walking tours, and more. We will bring you reports from here as well.


Protests are also significant this week.  The protesters have set up a place called “Tent State University” (a play on Kent State…), and a larger area called “The Freedom Zone.”   Yesterday, hundreds protest against the war starting at the state capital bldg and ending at the doors of the Pepsi Center. The protest concluded in a mild confrontation with pro-war protesters, but was overwhelmingly peaceful.


 Some protesters are focused on the progress, or lack thereof, in a post-Katrina New Orleans.  They are especially concerned about Government funds that have not yet been received by the actual people that need them for housing and more, while there has been a great land grab by wealthy entities and many have secured lucrative contracts.


There is so much to see and so much to cover!  In addition to our daily coverage of the Maryland Delegation and convention events, CEM will be covering these protests and speaking with those involved.  We will be walking and talking with everyday folks and recording their impressions of the week.


At 3:00pm (5:00pm EST) Howard Dean will raise the gavel and this unprecedented moment in time begins. Tonight’s theme is “One Nation.”  The keynote speech is by Michele Obama.  CEM will be there.
It’s 6:15am – Time to get going!


Marc on what’s important at the DNC

What Really Matters

by Marc Steiner, in Denver at the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Everyone is fulminating over Biden. Was he a good pick, should it have been Hillary, the negative things said about Obama in the past …Will Obama have a bounce after the convention .. will it be nullified by the RNC. blah blah blah …The election starts after Labor Day. The one mystery in this convention will be answered on Tuesday and Wednesday nights when Hillary and Bill speak, respectively. Will they behave, will they support Obama unabashedly and fully? And even more important, will they stand with him on Thursday and pledge to campaign with him. That is the biggest question of this convention. It will be the substance that will make or break this convention, Obama’s anticipated awe-inspiring acceptance speech on Thursday, not withstanding. All the rest is pundit window dressing.

What makes a difference now is whether Obama can stimulate the undecided voters who are not racist and would vote for a black man. The Change theme may have worked in the Democratic primary but he has to bring hope with substance to the larger electorate. He has to inspire with creative ideas about how he will rebuild Detroit, create jobs that pay to build new energy, give us our public schools back, and get us out of Iraq with dignity. American voters are as equally divided now as they were in the last four elections. There are more folks than the polls show who would never vote for a Black and can’t stand Michelle Obama as strong Black woman but the demographics have changed. There are more Latinos, Blacks and young people in the population and voting. If he cannot inspire his base to stay with him and come out to vote while convincing those unsure that his message of hope has substance, then welcome John McCain to the White House.

 

-Marc 


It’s Party Time! by Dr. Eric Durham

Okay GoodPeople,

It’s time to get this party started! …and by the way, let’s have fun…it’s a joyous occasion, regardless of what the Republicans and the critics have to say.

The Number #1 reason to celebrate with absolute fervor is that this convention will be of historical magnitude! Senator Barack Obama, who has already made history in a number of ways, will address yet another arena-sized audience who is eager to hear more about a "different type of politics." No matter how the Republicans try to spin his ability to draw large crowds as a weakness…please "party-goers" rest asssured that if John McCain was able to do so, he would! …and besides what do the large crowds symbolize? An intelligent person would go beyond Obama’s oratory…and find that Americans are actually hungry for sincerity and relief from the "trickle-down" economic policies of the wealthy.

Click "read more" below for the rest of this entry!

The Number #2 reason to party all night long is to witness the maturity and commitment of Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton. I believe that Senator Clinton will illustrate a strong and sincere commitment to the policies of the Obama Administration. I do not believe she is as involved with factions like "PUMA" (Party Unification My Ass) as the media might lead you to believe. During the primary season, Senator Obama pledged that she would be instrumental in his Healthcare Adminstration and I believe that there are other avenues for her to participate with dignity and comfort.

Reason #3: Joe Biden is the perfect co-host! He provides the perfect compliment to Barack Obama. He is seasoned, experienced with insider-politics, and a bit more unadulterated in his rhetoric. What you have in the leadership of Obama & Biden is a dialectical tension. As a rhetorical scholar, I understand that some of the best things are created from dialectics; rhetoric/language being one of them. Obama does not have a "yes-man" in Biden nor does he have a philosophical twin. (That in itself is quite refreshing when you consider the Bush/Cheney team and all of its cronies.) In Obama/Biden you have two men who will be honest with each other, and America, in the way in which they govern this country.

I’m looking forward to 1.) Michelle Obama’s speech, 2.) Hillary and Bill’s speeches, 3.) and, of course, Barack Obama’s address (Thursday). I’ll be providing commentary on a whole hosts of issues (media coverage, race, economics, "change", global perspectives, elitism).

Stay tuned….

-Dr. Eric Durham

Dr. Durham is a Professor of Communications at Morgan State University. He blogs as the Good Doctor at http://drericdurham.blogspot.com/ . Tune in to WEAA 88.9 FM Monday night at 8:00 pm to hear him join Anthony McCarthy on-air for three hours of live coverage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.


marc in Denver

Hello Denver!

by Marc Steiner

We arrived in Denver. Safe and sound .. all set up and ready to go. Biden is in but there are more important things going on. Justin and I will be moving around Denver going to the Big Tent where the progressive movement is meeting, then we go to Maryland delegation headquarters to interview state chair Mike Cryor and have a discussion with Clinton and Obama delegates, bring sounds and stories from the convention floor and out in the streets. Lea Gilmore will be arriving today so our whole crew will be here.Stay tuned … write often .. listen every night from 8 to 11 on WEAA 88.9 FM ,and we will blogging and sending all kinds of stories on this website.Off to some of our sites now..back in a bit,marc


Lea Gilmore – “Off to Denver”

Off to Denver

by Lea Gilmore

Lea Gilmore

In less than 24 hours, I will be on my way to cover the Democratic National Convention in Denver for the Center for Emerging Media (CEM) and public radio WEAA 88.9 FM. Wait, I need to say that once more: I am on my way to cover the Democratic National Convention in Denver for the Center for Emerging Media and WEAA! Forgive me, I had to say it twice so the enormity of it all could sink in.

Just for a bit of trivia here, did you know that the first ever Democratic Convention was held in Baltimore in 1832 where President Andrew Jackson was nominated? http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/conventions/chicago/facts/convention/index.shtml

Go and throw that fact out the next time you are sitting in Jimmy’s having breakfast with the morning java crowd and watch them be impressed at your political acumen, or something like that.

Click Read More Below!

For we political junkies, and policy wonks, covering the National Democratic Convention is like going to the Major Leagues and being told you are going to pitch for The Yankees (maybe not the thing to say being the consummate Baltimorean I am). Or for we singer types, this is our debut at “The Met.”

All conventions have their drama. This convention? The word DRAMA should be typed in 50 font, caps and bold with underlines (I won’t freak you out by doing so, but you get my drift.)

Will the choice of Senator Joseph Biden, Chair of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee and thirty-six year veteran of the U.S. Senate, as Obama’s Vice-Presidential pick (more on this later) usher in a much needed party unity? Will the mainstream press continue to fan the flames of dissension, and we continue not to notice that that is what they are doing? Heck, conflict sells. Will the Obama-ites acknowledge the Clinton supporters with the respect that is deserved and due? Will the Democrats be critical of Obama and his policies without being destructive? It is all yet to come.

CEM will be bringing you up-to-date progressive analysis of events. Let us be your one stop shop for timely information. We will be covering protests, topical roundtable events and seminars, talking with the Maryland delegation, blogging throughout the day and evening, and presenting live coverage every evening of the convention on WEAA 88.1 from 8pm – 11pm.

Now, please allow me to take a moment to get personal.

As a black American woman, this is one magic, unbelievable, breathtakingly amazing moment in time. I see Michelle Obama walk across the stage, passionately speaking to thousands, being handed flowers by a small child in Iowa, and even being a guest host on that gab fest “The View,” and I say to myself “this elegant woman just may be the Next. First. Lady. – wow.”

I have also had some moments of personal frustration (haven’t we all) during this loooong campaign season. It really kills me when I hear pundit types state with authority that “all African Americans believe this about that…,” or “African Americans say that they want this to be that…” It’s like one day all of us gathered around one enormous dinner table at Aunt Sarah’s and decided how we all think about well – everything. In fact, this is just far from the truth and far from reality.

We are not a monolith and thank God for that. There are some African Americans who are not besides themselves with support for Senator Obama. There are some who actually voted for the other folks with pride and conviction that we need to respect.

But I feel safe in saying, that on August 28, 2008, exactly 45 years to the date of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s life-changing “I Have A Dream” speech at the Mall in Washington DC, African Americans of all idealogical stripes, will be gathered around televisions, radios, and all forms of media that didn’t even exist in 1963 to watch this African American become the Democratic nominee for the President of the United States of America. Even typing it gives me the chills. I was not yet born to personally witness Dr. King’s brilliant, poignant and moving orations, but I will be in the house to experience history first hand this time. I wish to heaven that my dad, born a sharecropper and functionally illiterate until he was 30, and possibly the wisest and most politically astute man I have ever known, was here to be a witness with me. This event did not happen in his lifetime, but it happened in mine and my sons’.

So, even in some our hesitance to support Senator Obama’s policies or politics, even when we doubt that any system could be truly fair to those who continue to scream for justice on Washington’s deaf ears, we know and understand at a profound level that when Obama says “this is our moment…this is our time” it means so much to so many of us.

Yes, It is ALL of our moments and ALL our time.

We know that race and class are still powerful dividers in this land of ours, and we know that there will be folks who will never ever vote for a black man. Period. But one thing for certain, this country has made some serious strides to have this son of a Kenyon father and white American mother be just a few steps (still rather large steps) from becoming the leader of the free world.

And the world wants him. And yes, that matters. I travel often to Europe and live and work closely with everyday folks. This past March, I was staying in a small hotel in Brussels called The Hotel Mozart near the Grand Place This hotel was decorated with the most incredibly gaudy stuff (but still cool in a crushed red velvet kinda way) circa 1750. There were big gold framed paintings of Mozart and his contemporaries all over. And in between the paintings, there were huge posters saying “Obama for America!.” “Obama for President!” When I went to check-in, the owner heard my accent and immediately started talking to me about the election. “Obama gives us hope,” he stated. “I wish we could all vote for him,” he continued. The 60-something French tourist behind me joined in the chorus of “We need him for America and we need him for us.” So, even though this may be idealistic, for the past eight years these were not the kind of words I have been hearing. Believe me on that one.

This man with the that funny name that’s just a bit too close to that other man’s name (who we still have yet to find) was offering something to the world that the world needs as much as we do – hope.
Yeah, we know hope is not enough. But the absence of it is deadly.

I am still a healthy skeptic, but I am not swayed by these empty arguments such as “is he elitist?” “Is he rich?” “Will he be ready on day one?” Heck, they are all rich and went to the most elite schools in the world, and how do you gage if anyone is really and truly ready “on day one?”
We know that Obama must bring the goods. We must keep him accountable to the people who put him in the position he is currently in. We must make sure that he doesn’t bend too much that he snaps his integrity and our belief in him at the same time.

I’m tired though and I am hungry for change.

I’m just tired of this war and the lies and more lies being quietly exposed around it. I’m tired of when someone is is given the “smart” label that that is actually spun by the great spinning machines as a fault. I don’t want a president I can have a beer with, we see what that got us. I want a president who truly does believe that diplomacy works or at least gives it a try. I want a president that recognizes that an isolationist foreign policy is not the way to go in a world that has become increasingly global. I want a president that does not believe we need to “Americanize” the world, but in his or her own leadership represents what is best about a democratic political system, as well as be a serious vocal champion for human rights. I want a president who will not stack the Supreme Court with Justices who are ready, willing and able to wipe-out reproductive justice for a generation of women, after a prior generation of women fought so hard for us to legally own our bodies and make our own choices. This is what I hope for and so much more.

Maya Angelo in her poem “And Still I Rise” said to folks in her breathtaking poem:

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

Senator Obama you are “ the dream and hope of the slave,” as well as the same for so many others – women, men, and children of all hues.

Now Mr. Obama, mean what you say, and say what you mean. We’re listening.

I will see you all soon in Denver!


Thankful to be a witness: a guest blog from Diana Veiga

 
As part of our coverage for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, we’re excited to bring you a series of posts from guest bloggers.  We’re thrilled to begin with Maryland Blogger Diana Veiga, who blogs over at 5andapossible.blogspot.com, which is a great group blog written by five young women (we’ll be meeting another of their contributors later during the convention).  Enjoy!

 

If you believe what the polls say, I am probably one of the few black people who is not ardently supporting presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama.  When I mention my hesitation about Obama to an avid supporter (and they are all around us), I am often met with dropped jaws and disappointed looks.  Apparently this is the black race’s one and only chance, so I better get on the bandwagon.  “But what’s he going to do for us,” I ask them.  “Girl, he’s not running for President of Black America, he can’t just cater to us,” they say.  Perhaps.  And then like any good believer would do, they “school” me on Obama’s credentials and end with, “and he’s going to change the nation.”  We won’t go into the fact that when I ask how, I have heard some of the craziest responses, including, “We’re finally going to have a black angel on the National Christmas tree.” OK, that’s change I can believe in.

 

Click Read More below!

So believe me, thanks to the media and the masses, I know this man’s life story and résumé.  Abandoned by his Kenyan father.  Raised in Hawaii by his white mother from Kansas.  Spent his adolescence and college years struggling to find his identity.  Harvard Law Review President.  Turned down lucrative jobs and became a community organizer on the mean, cold Southside Chicago streets.  Worked across the aisle as a State Senator of Illinois.  And on and on. I get it.  But something has never sat right with me. Maybe it was that I couldn’t see past the flowery rhetoric.  Yes we can! Can, what?  Change!  Change, what?  We are one America!  In whose eyes?  Maybe it’s because when it came down to policies, Obama and Hillary were essentially the same person.  But thankfully he was able to stand apart because of his what?  Rhetoric.  Can’t knock the hustle.  

This is not to say that I am not impressed with Obama.  I am.  He is charismatic, sharp and beyond brilliant.  And he’s clearly a man with a plan. I mean let’s not act like any of this is happenstance.  And it’s not that I don’t think that Obama is capable to lead this nation.  I think he’s beyond capable.  I just can’t buy what he’s selling.  And maybe I can’t get into believing in one person that wholeheartedly.  Of course I have already been called cynical.  But I prefer to think of myself as both a skeptic and a realist who understands that all politicians (Obama included) no matter how noble walk that tightrope of sticking to their convictions and saying the right words to the right people to get elected.

However, having said all this, I can’t ignore or deny the phenomenon that is happening right now in my lifetime.  This week Obama will accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States.  This is more than a monumental occasion for African Americans in this country.  It’s powerful.  It’s mind bending.  It’s something many thought they’d never live to see.

My mother is from Selma, Alabama. She grew up during the Civil Rights era and she, her siblings and parents were literally bloodied and beaten in the fight for equality.  They were on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday.  My mother who attended high school in Montgomery was nearly expelled for participating in the Selma to Montgomery march. My grandparents were jailed multiple times.  My great grandmother marched on the courthouse steps and finally voted for the first time at the age of sixty.  She then voted for any and every local, state, and national election until her death. And so I understand what this moment means to black people, young and old, those who remember the arduous past, those who are hungry for a vibrant future, and everyone in between.

And so on Thursday, August 28, 2008, exactly forty five years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his I Have a Dream Speech from the Lincoln Memorial, Obama will take center stage and accept his party’s nomination.  It will be historical.  Unprecedented.  Groundbreaking. Breathtaking.  And honestly, I too wait with bated breath.  I with the rest of the black race, with the rest of the nation, with the rest of the world, plan to be on my couch, in front of my television captivated by the moment, hanging on to Obama’s every word.  I will be smiling.  I will feel proud.  I will save my newspaper to show to my children and grandchildren.  I mean I may be a skeptic, but I’m no fool.  This might be a Halley’s Comet moment right here.  Once in a lifetime.  Or it could be just the beginning.  A preview of what’s to come.  Whatever it is, I’m thankful that I’m a witness to it all.

-Diana Veiga


Maureen Rowland – New Contributor on Rethinking Criminal Justice

Click here to read a post by Baltimore Assistant Public Defender Maureen Rowland!


Marc on Obama and Race in America

Last week I wrote a blog about Obama. I originally wrote in my essay that 30% of the people in America would not vote for a Black man for President. Jessica Phillips, one of my producers, challenged the stat, asking me where it came from. Well, I could not pin point the source, if there ever was one. Maybe it was an amalgam of things or that 30 odd percent of Americans would always vote Republican. There is an element in that number for whom it would be anathema to vote for a black man. But then again, I have met a number of traditional Democrats who have blatantly and without flinching said the same thing. So, why was that in my head?

This morning I was watching Fox News while I was working out at the gym. It is really the only time I watch that channel. I don’t watch TV much to start with. At any rate there was one time Bush right hand, yet to be indicted, slick as a slippery eel Karl Rove waxing forth on Obama. He commented that given the economic state of the nation, the war and the President’s poll numbers there is no way this race should be so close. He said it clearly showed that the American people had doubts and did not trust Obama.

OK, that may have some merit. Senator Barack Obama is not the be all end all for America’s future. He is a politician who wants to get elected, who could use more specifics, and has altered or nuanced his position in order to remain on top of the electoral heap. So, in that I am not sure how different he is from McCain other than public perception or media projection.

There is one glaring difference other than their political vision. RACE.

I know what the polls said but let’s look beneath the polls. Attitudes about race in America are more nuanced and subtle. They are subterranean and not spoken about in the open.

The New York times polls often cited also says, as Ball pointed out in his NYT column last week, that 16% of Americans think Obama will favor Black over whites and almost 20% think racial relations will get worse (that again could have many political interpretations and meanings). The poll also said that 48% of voters oppose any preferential treatment for minorities. Now that is striking and deserves greater exploration.

A third do not know or work with someone who is Black, a quarter think America is not ready for a Black president, more than a quarter feel they have been discriminated against because they are white and 27% say too much is made of problems facing black people in America.

OK, so maybe I have no scientific or polling evidence to say what I almost wrote last week, but something is going on here. Race is a reason a majority of Black folks will vote for Obama and why a deeply significant number of White people will not vote for Obama whether they are open about it or not.

We are not in a post racial world; people and institutions are not color blind. It is not really more nuanced but it is more complex. It involves wars of class and generation in the Black world, as well as changing attitudes about race in younger generations. Race in America is beyond black and white and is Mexican, Latino, Asian, immigrants, and it is still in white America wrestling with itself and our collective national legacy.

Maybe we are in a perfect moment to have a really different and open look at race and ourselves as a nation. It won’t be in our schools or our churches; they are mostly made up of one race or other. Won’t be in the media, much too substantive not to mention frightening for their bottom line, which is not our well-being.

Where? I don’t know. Maybe we will have to start it together.


Page Croyder intensifies her examination of Judge Nathan Braverman

We’ve got a brand new article from Page Croyder.  Click here to read!


A Tale of Two Galaxies – Exxon Mobil and the Rest of Us, by Lea Gilmore

“Oh my God, I just can’t afford this,” frustratingly exclaimed the woman in front of me in the supermarket line as she watched her food bill go off into the stratosphere. As each beep registered item after item, she finally turned to me, a complete stranger who seemed an obvious ally to her pain, and she said, “You know, I can no longer afford gas to get to work, but if I don’t go to work, I can no longer afford food to feed my family. ” I, and the guy with two small children begging for a Snickers bar behind me, gave our collective “amens,” deeply understanding her dilemma from a very personal place.

On that same day, the Exxon Mobil Corporation announced record second quarter profits of 11.68 billion (yeah, million but with a “B”!) dollars. This is the largest profit ever recorded by an US corporation, a profit margin surpassing their own previously astonishing record.

Let’s really think about that and offer some perspective: These profits do not reflect a calendar, fiscal or even astrological year, but are a reflection of a mere three months of operations. And yet, this still did not meet Wall Street’s earnings expectations resulting in Exxon stock shares actually falling.

It’s like living in some fantastical economic twilight zone.

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards always spoke of there being “two Americas.” It seems even deeper and more profound than that — more like two alternate galaxies.

In one galaxy the inhabitants are ruled by the gods of speculation, and Wall Street provides the entrance to the diamond encrusted gates where the streets truly are paved with gold. The royalty here (commonly referred to as corporate CEO’s and the like) make millions as their kingdoms collapse around them – Modern day Neros. In this corner of the universe, the one known as Phil Gramm, a former US Senator, economist and BFF (teenspeak for "best friend forever")  of John McCain, informs us that all of our economic pain is just in our heads. We are just a nation of “whiners” experiencing a “mental recession.” Yes, this is a scary place, made even more frightening by the insane amount of power the inhabitants here use and abuse.

Meanwhile back in the galaxy that I inhabit, many middle class and even upper middle class families who once enjoyed vacations and weekend getaways, now shop for groceries at the food bank . Turn off notices, foreclosure statements, pink slips and medical bills have replaced pay checks. In fact, this is where living pay check to pay check has become an accomplishment, because it means you actually have the money to keep going. As that venerable poet and stark observer of the human condition Marvin Gaye sang to us, “this ain’t living.”

So given all of this, it is not a big leap to understand why ordinary folks just can’t wrap their heads around any one business, not even a sovereign nation, making 11.68 billion dollars in three months. No matter how we intellectualize it, explain it and explore it, it just hits us in the gut.

And at the center of all this madness – oil.

Oil dominates our lives and the lives of others all over the world. In fact, even the immense humanitarian crisis in Darfur region of The Sudan is steeped in the politics of oil.  In particular, China remains hush hush as atrocities against black Africans continue to abound in the region. The Chinese government has reaped billions in profits as they have become The Sudan’s number one trading partner. According to an NPR report, The Bank of Sudan estimates that the country sells well more than 80 percent of its crude to Beijing.

The US has appropriately called the hell in Darfur genocide, but even with the limited US sanctions that have been implemented against the government, there seems to be a hesitance in taking China to task — due to oil access and more — even though the Chinese government has the most leverage to affect change.  It is not the first time that a barrels of oil seem to trump human lives.

So what gives?

There seems to be a collective frustration when reason after reason is given for the remarkable rise in energy costs. Is it purely supply and demand? Are we being manipulated by the manipulators?

Even the so-called facts are relative based on the ideological  bent of the messenger. With the media infected with sound bite-itis, it’s hard to get the facts. It seems even more impossible in an election year. What happened to the “Straight Talk Express? ” It feels kinda twisted to me. Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, just give us that elusive thing called the truth.

Maybe I am setting the bar too high.

We hear terms that we only sorta understand. This is what I have been able to infer so far: “Windfall profit tax” – good. “Big oil” – bad. “Renewable energy” – good. “Offshore drilling” – Bad (I think). What does it all mean? One thing we do know is that there are a group of people getting unbelievably wealthy and wealthier in the midst of our confusion.

My ignorance in these matters frustrates me, so I have been doing my own research. One thing I have been able to ascertain is that offshore drilling is actually – not good. It is not the great panacea we are being lead to believe. It will take years to impact the price at the pump. The environmental implications are dire, and according to many experts, we don’t even have the hardware out there for immediate implementation. Yet still, according to a Rasmussen report this past June, 67% of voters believe that drilling should be allowed off the coasts of California, Florida and other states. Only 18% disagree and 15% are undecided. Sixty-four percent (64%) of voters believe it is at least somewhat likely that gas prices will go down if offshore oil drilling is allowed, although 27% don’t believe it will have an affect.

OK, I get it.

When people are suffering, they will support almost anything just for some relief, no matter the long term implications (let’s say it all together now – “Bush tax cuts”). That being said, I was proud of my American sisters and brothers when they didn’t seem to be swayed by the pandering proclamations of a “gas tax holiday” pushed by the Clinton and McCain campaigns during the presidential primaries.

Alas, you can bet that gimmick will be back.

The other truth is that our dependence on oil is chilling. Gasoline, home heating oil, kerosene, asphalt and road oil, aviation fuel, lubricants, still gas and even more stuff is produced from one barrel of crude oil. The US imports around 50% of our oil, with 50% of that coming from OPEC nations. According to a Time magazine article published this past May, oil imports now account for most of the U.S. trade deficit, which was running at an annualized pace of $717 billion, or 5.05% of GDP, in the first quarter of 2008. Our addiction to oil is costing us in a big way.

There are alternatives, but it requires investment of resources by the government and patience from the electorate. There are no quick fixes. Even T. Boone Pickens, the oil billionaire and financier of the Swift Boat smear campaign that was instrumental in derailing the presidential hopes of Senator John Kerry in 2004, has embraced renewable energy by investing his gazillions in wind power (see, told you it is like the twilight zone…). Isn’t this investment something our government should be doing?

Other forms of renewable energy such as tidal power, solar power, geothermal power, hydropower, as well as biomass (using living or recently dead biological material like hemp and corn and converting it into fuel) are also options. Something tells me that those oil lobbyist types aren’t feeling so warm and fuzzy about these choices and will pull the big guns out (Hah! Too many easy jokes to make here) to slow the process of implementation.

One of the greatest advantages in using renewable energy is obviously the reduction of greenhouse gases produced by our massive usage of fossil fuel. That being so, one of the greatest disadvantages at the micro level is that it is often prohibitively costly for everyday folks to embrace alternative energy choices. Although most of us would love to convert our homes into bastions of solar efficiency, we don’t have the big dollars to do so. It seems the people that can least afford to pay the exorbitant costs of installing solar panels and backyard windmills, are the ones who would benefit the greatest from the energy savings. Yet another dilemma.

Businesses are also in distress. Due to the high costs of energy, tightened access to credit, and housing troubles, employers seriously restricted hiring in July. The Labor Department released a report on August 7 reporting that the national unemployment rate unexpectedly hit its highest level in more than six years. No jobs means no consumer spending. No spending means the economy falters even more. But Mr. Gramm told us it is all in our heads, so why worry?

In this atmosphere where people are hurting on so many levels, and gloom and doom is thrown at us “every weeknight at 5 and 11,” there seems something obsessively obscene about energy companies enjoying record profits, at a time when many of us feel like we are on a sinking ship, with the lifeboats already occupied by oil executives making sure their bonus checks don’t get wet.

Jeesh, it is just so easy to get discouraged by the unfairness of it all. That unfortunate helpless feeling starts nagging and it seems that no matter what we do, things just won’t change. Well, that’s not so true. There is one thing we can all do – VOTE.

Lea Gilmore

Friday, August 8, 2008


Marc on Legalizing Pot

It is such a beautiful, unseasonably cool August morning, crisp, cool and a tad cloudy.  I picked up the Sunday papers on my way back in from walking our dog, Charley.  I opened the Times, put it down and glanced at the front page of the Sun, below the fold on the right hand side.  “Community in shock over Harford man’s drug charges … Ecologist, decades long teacher revered by residents.”

 

My gut told me this was not some heroin dealing, gun toting, cocaine smuggling outlaw swaggering through the Harford County landscape posing as a mild mannered teacher of our children.  I was sadly right, as I read the story.  Sadly right and really, really pissed off.  

 

A sixty-two-year-old man who spent his life teaching kids about nature, our environment and love of life.  He smokes marijuana and it appears as if he might consume some psilocybin mushrooms sometimes.  He must really be an evil man.  Pretty soon, all the kids in Harford will be smoking dope, dropping acid, snorting cocaine, having sex and god knows what else.  Known as Ranger Bob to all the kids, why, if there ever was a contrived name, Ranger Bob is it.  Look, he even has a beard and plays Santa Clause on his Christmas tree farm.   That’s how he snares all those kids.  The devil in disguise.   You think he is really teaching about the earth, nature and our history, respecting life and the planet we live on…

 

OK, enough with the sarcasm, but this is just madness.   I don’t think anyone should go to jail, or have their home or children threatened with seizure, or livelihood taken away from them for smoking, growing or even selling marijuana.   Most Americans who are 62 and lived through the counter culture world of hippies, slogged through a rice paddy in Nam, were active in the anti-war movement, in some non-combatant military role or alive in 1968 smoked a joint.  Presidents did it.   Some folks still do it that lead functional, successful and productive lives.  

 

Most people I know, at some point in their lives, smoked dope.   There is a reason why we call it dope.   So, most of us don’t do it anymore.   Most of us don’t get drunk anymore.   We have more important things to deal with then people’s personal behaviors. 

 

People should not go to jail for using marijuana.  We should legalize it, tax it and let it be.   Grow hemp so we can stop cutting down trees for paper, and let marijuana bloom like we grow tobacco for cigarettes and hops for beer and barley for whiskey.    Many Indian reservations want the chance to grow hemp for industrial uses.   It could help our environment, create new jobs and new industries.  

 Every 45 seconds someone is arrested on a marijuana charge, and most of those for mere possession.   In 2003, the last statistics I could find, there was an all time high (no pun intended) of 755,186 with 88 percent of those arrests were for possession, not the manufacture or distribution, of marijuana.  The cost in imprisonment of these offenders’ amounts is conservatively $1.2 billion each year.   If you are arrested for growing over 100 marijuana plants you go to jail for a minimum of five years.  That is longer than for manslaughter or for grant theft auto.  Conservatively, it costs $1.5 billion a year to incarcerate these folks.  If you add in law enforcement and courts along with imprisonment, it may be as high as $15 billion a year. We could have spent that money to build new schools, to open homeless shelters or veterans’ hospitals, to preserve the environment or even to fund anti-drug programs in schools. 

Harvard Economist Dr. Jeffrey Alan Miron produced a highly acclaimed study, "The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition," which was endorsed by hundreds of economists, including conservative leaders like

Dr. Milton Friedman of the Hoover Institute, Dr. George Akerlof of the University of California at Berkeley, and Dr. Vernon Smith of George Mason University.  He concludes that “replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of legal regulation would save approximately $7.7 billion in government expenditures on prohibition enforcement — $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels for a combined savings of $10 to 14 billion dollars."

 Everyone has statistics.   This argument has been going on for a long time.  The bottom line is that chasing down pot smokers is a waste of our time, energy and money.   People should have the right to have as they wish, consume what they want and pursue their pleasures as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others, harm our children or the environment.   

Bob Chance, by all accounts from the former Mayor of Bel Air to the head of their county library, is a good soul who loves children and a defender of our environment who loves teaching.  He should not have his life destroyed because he likes to smoke pot on his own time.  He should be able to wake up on this unseasonably cool August morning not worrying about going to jail or losing his beloved farm.