The Marc Steiner Show

Archive for Election

Political Roundtable: Iowa Caucus Results

24589983121_74924d1356_nFebruary 2, 2016 – Segment 1

We begin the show with a Political Roundtable on the results of the Iowa Caucus.  Sitting in is  Charles Ellison, political strategist and Host of The Ellison Report on WEAA and Lenny McAllister, Republican strategist, former congressional candidate and host of both Night Talk: Get To The Point on the Pittsburgh cable news channel and Get Right with Lenny McAllister on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA in Pittsburgh. We are also joined by Dr. Mileah Kromer, Director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Goucher College.

Local and State Election Roundtable

Larry HoganNovember 10, 2014 – Segment 3

We host a roundtable on the local and state election results. Our guests are: political activist and commentator Nicolee Ambrose, Republican National Committeewoman for Maryland; Laslo Boyd, higher education consultant and Center Maryland columnist;media and political consultant Catalina Byrd, co-host of No Hooks for the Hip-Hop Chronicles on WEAA; and the Rev. Dr. Heber Brown, community activist and pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church.


National Election Roundtable

Mitch McConnellNovember 10, 2014 – Segment 2

We have a roundtable discussion on the national elections, with: Brian Griffiths, blogger at Red Maryland and Chairman of the Maryland Young Republicans; Imara Jones, host of CaffeineTV, an online daily news brief, and Economic Justice contributor for; and John Nichols,Washington Correspondent for The Nation and co-author of Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.


Local & State Election Roundup: Governor-Elect Larry Hogan & More

Larry Hogan

November 5, 2014 – Segment 3

We turn to local and state elections, with: Dr. John Bullock, professor of Political Science at Towson University; Delegate Jolene Ivey, who represents the 47th district in the Maryland House of Delegates; and Dr. Richard Vatz, professor of Rhetoric and Communication at Towson University’s Department of Instructional Leadership and Professional Development, and the Rev. Dr. Todd Yeary of Douglass Memorial Church.

Pre-Election Roundtable: Baltimore & Maryland Candidates

electionNovember 3, 2014 – Segment 4

We host an election roundtable with: Charles Robinson, political and business correspondent for Maryland Public Television; ER Shipp, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and Journalist-in-Residence and Associate Professor of Journalism at Morgan State University; and Stephen Janis, award-winning investigative reporter for WBFF-TV and co-author of You Can’t Stop Murder: Truths About Policing in Baltimore and Beyond.

Russell A. Neverdon, Sr.: Write-In Candidate For Baltimore City State’s Attorney

Russell NeverdonOctober 30, 2014 – Segment 4

We close out the show with defense attorney Russell A. Neverdon, Sr.,write-in candidate for Baltimore City State’s Attorney, who joins us in-studio to talk about his vision for Baltimore’s future.

Maryland 43rd District Senate Race: Councilman Bill Henry

bill-henryJune 20, 2014 – Segment 5

This segment originally aired on June 19, but because of technical problems it did not broadcast, so we are replaying it today.

Baltimore City Council member Bill Henry, who is a running as a candidate in the 43rd Legislative District senate race in the June 24th primary elections, joins us to talk about his run for office. 


Baltimore City Sheriff’s Race

sheriffJune 20, 2014 – Segment 2

We look at the Baltimore City Sheriff’s race, with challengers: Donoven Brooks, Baltimore City Schools Police Patrol supervisor; and Richard Parker, businessman, community leader, and former U.S. Army Legal Specialist. Baltimore City’s current sheriff, Sheriff John W. Anderson, was also invited to join the discussion.


John Nichols & Robert McChesney – Dollarocracy: How The Money & Media Election Complex Is Destroying America

John Nichols and Bob McChesneySeptember 20, 2013 – Hours 1 & 2

We broadcast of an evocative discussion that Marc moderated Tuesday night at the 2640 Space in Baltimore, on the commercialization of U.S. elections. The discussion was centered on the book Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America, and you hear from the book’s authors:

  • John Nichols, Washington Correspondent for The Nation and Associate Editor of The Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin;
  • and Robert McChesney, author of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy and professor of Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


16 Arrested During Election Night Celebration in Charles Village

Here’s a letter that we received and wanted to share with everyone.  If anyone else would like to publicize first-hand information about the police misconduct in Charles Village on Election Night, or has other Election Night experiences they’d like to share, please post your comments here or email us at



During the night following the election, my roommates and I walked
down to 33rd and St. Paul and started celebrating the election of
Barack Obama. We quickly gained support of local students, and our
group of seven quickly grew to over 400. What was a beautifully
patriotic evening, filled with unity and gentle celebration, quickly
turned into fear and chaos as the Baltimore Police Department randomly
(and illegally) assaulted, intimidated, and arrested many members of a
peaceful crowd.

Last Spring, President Ungar invited you to speak at Goucher to a
group of Goucher students, faculty, and staff. President Ungar
personally invited me at the last moment, claiming it was essential
that I hear you speak. Your discussion inspired me to want to get more
involved with our city, and this semester several of my friends and I
moved down to Charles Village from Towson, in order to become true

On November 4, the six of us – all sophomores at Goucher, voted
for the first time. Sending in my absentee ballot to my native
California was one of the most exciting things I have ever done, and
we were all excited to partake in making history. Just a month before
hearing you speak at Goucher, I had the opportunity to shake now
President-elect Obama’s hand at an election rally in Wilmington. I
took the train up to Wilmington by myself, and I instantly befriended
a group of students from the University of Delaware. The feeling of
unity was overwhelming, and I instantly knew this campaign was unlike
anything else in history.

The night of Nov. 4th was no exception. My roommates and I had to get
outside to celebrate. People joined quickly and we were suddenly
flanked by members of the community, students from several
institutions, schoolteachers, and professors – all united and chanting
"USA! USA!". The Hopkins Campus Security respected the crowd and kept
it under control, and it became a truly beautiful event. I was
surrounded by people I had never met before, of all colors: black and
white, Muslim and Jewish, old and young, from near and far all
celebrating under American flags.

You have already heard about what the police did last night. They
arrested two of my roommates and another one of my friends, for
reasons that were never disclosed. I stood and watched while my
roommate, a 19-year-old girl from New Jersey, was grabbed by the
throat by two policemen twice her size and had her arms bound so
tightly behind her back, she was screaming in agony.

I have talked with Goucher President Sanford Ungar, and he has already tried to help us get our
voice heard. The fact is that this happens every night in this city,
without a single mention in the Sun  or on the local TV news. These
students and the professor that were arrested were never told their
rights and were fingerprinted, photographed, intimidated, and forced
to spend hours in cells with people charged with violent crimes.
Fortunately, my friends and the rest of these aforementioned sixteen
that were arrested are lucky enough to be backed up by institutions
like Goucher College and Johns Hopkins University.

I know this letter is far from brief, and I appreciate that you have
taken the time to read this. I was inspired by your discussion at
Goucher, and wanted to know what I could do to change something in
this city. I think Baltimore is a beautiful place buried in an
inconceivable amount of filth. Before election day I couldn’t fathom
how I could help, or what I could even help with. I now know the
intricacies of how the Baltimore Police Department detains citizens
without Mirandizing them, charging them, or respecting their basic
freedoms. I feel I can speak on behalf of everyone who witnessed
Tuesday night’s atrocities when I say that we want to help.

The sixteen people arrested last night were picked randomly. It could
have been anyone. I have spoken with and know personally several of
those arrested and can tell you that they were all respectable and
respectful citizens that have done so much already to make this city a
better place. Will these volunteers, public school teachers, artists,
and professors voices be drowned out?

I hope not.

Thank you again for speaking to us at Goucher. Baltimore needs you,
and is lucky to have you.

Thank you,

Nick Bourland
Goucher College class of 2011

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, 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

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).


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!”

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 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.


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…


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. 


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, 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. 


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

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.

Iraq Veterans Against the War

Here’s a guest post by Nick Morgan, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator for Iraq Vets Against the War (IVAW.)  He was a guest on The Marc Steiner Show while in Minneapolis for the Republican National Convention.  Click here to listen to that show.

As a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), my experience in the Twin Cities was a unique one. With our organization on the list of over 200 groups on a list studied by Minnesota National Guard and various police units, it was still no secret that our message was completely non-violent and direct. Our mission was to march in formation and in uniform to deliver a message to Senator McCain informing him of the issues veterans are facing today. As a fellow veteran, we were presumptuous to assume that the presidential candidate would listen to our simple message.

With a permit for our action on the opening day of the scaled-back RNC, no member of IVAW was arrested during our action (or the rest of the convention). We shared a certain level of lateral respect with the law enforcement at the RNC because we have all been placed in similar predicaments in the name of serving our country and democracy. Not to mention the fact that many of them were veterans as well and could relate to our logical viewpoints. The clear difference here is that these men and women are dealing with American citizens on American soil, hired as mercenaries for the RNC to the tune of a 50 million dollar liability insurance policy for their protection.

I have to say that I haven’t been in an environment so unsafe for average citizens since I left Baghdad in 2005. One notable difference is that the police in Minneapolis have better body armor and protection than American soldiers and Marines do in Iraq. It is a sad day for the United States when a kid on a bicycle is pepper sprayed in the face by a cop just for riding too close when there where no violent protests taking place. What does it say about this country when the police are arresting people with press credentials hanging from their necks just for recording and reporting the interactions between police and American civilians.

I hung out for a period of time with some independent media personnel who understandably added an additional level of anxiety to the air. Pardon my vagueness as I don’t want to divulge too much information about individuals. Many of them were just coming back from jail and were on high alert for near by police activity. At one point, myself and a few of my fellow IVAW members were beginning to loose the battle to subdue our PTSD. We decided it was best that we went on a drive outside of the city to get some fresh air and escape all the violence multiplied by paranoia.

Please take some time to consider the implications of the absolute police state that was enforced in the Twin Cities. When the people making the decisions in this country don’t want to hear the voices of the people they are making the decisions for, I am saddened. When the people’s voices are silenced with clubs, tear gas, rubber bullets, and zip ties, I am appalled.  This concludes my humble testimony of how I experience the RNC.


Nick Morgan
Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator
Iraq Veterans Against the War
OIF II, 458th En. Bn., Ist Cavalry Division

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

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

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

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,

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 .

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.

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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, .

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.

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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.

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!"

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…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 .

Richard Vatz reviews Sarah Palin’s Speech


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.

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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

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.

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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.


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 (

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.

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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…)


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 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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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!


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.

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 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

Is Bristol Palin Fair Game? from *UPDATED*

My very favorite blog,, 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.


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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.



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. 



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."



What do you think?

Richard Vatz on the Palin Pick, from RedMaryland.

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!

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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

“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, .

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.

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 .

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!

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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

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.

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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, .

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.)” 

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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,


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 (