Monday, March 31, 2008

Oh No He Did'N!

Did Lou almost call a black woman, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice no less, a cotton picker? Lou Dobbs is trying to put the Daily Show, Saturday Night Live, and Colbert Report out of business by becoming his own satire of himself. Rendering them redundant. In the middle of bloviating about being afraid of addressing the issue of race because you may be accused of saying something insensitive, he almost said something insensitive.

And I used to think Olbermann was only half serious when he called people like Rush Limbaugh and his ilk comedians. And whether they write this stuff themselves, or it's improv, if they are doing this for laughs then it is absolute comic genius. Found this posted on Daily Kos. And one of he comedians there, Deoliver47 posted the video below in the comments. Interesting mash up if you play them both at the same time.

Happy Cesar Chavez Day

Video description from Youtube:
Cesar Chavez Day: United Farm Workers Co-Founder Dolores Huerta Reflects on the Life and Legacy of the Legendary Labor Activist

"Cesar Estrada Chavez, legendary labor activist, civil rights leader, and founder of the first successful farm workers union would have been 81 years old today. Events are planned across the country to honor his life and legacy. Thousands marched in his memory over the weekend and nine states recognize March 31st as an official holiday. We speak with Dolores Huerta."
More at Democracy Now.

Stuff Black People Hate

At first it may seem derivative of Stuff White People Like (SWPL). The concept certainly is. Frankly, the author, in his own words, does not give a sh*t. Before you dismiss Stuff Black People Hate (SBPH), expecting a clone of other sites of its ilk, check it out. The site is smart, funny, much angrier and a lot less politically correct than SWPL. This post is not in any way an attempt to give black people equal time. A friend forwarded it to me after I posted SWPL and I read it and it was damn funny. So now I'm posting it. That's my criterion period. Not white, black, yellow, brown, green or purple, just funny. Examples of SBPH:
Clubbing - The Bouncer: a bouncer is a large man whose life is utterly meaningless between Sunday and Thursday. But for two glorious nights, this meat popsicle holds the keys to your very soul. He controls your ability to enter the club, and he can ‘bounce’ you out of the club at any time and for virtually any reason. He feels cool because he gets to wear one of those little earpieces like Secret Service agents. If he wants to impress a girl by looking important, he’ll put his finger up to his ear and assume a concerned facial expression so it looks like he’s receiving critical information from a very important person - e.g. “drunk chick vomiting in the third floor bathroom, please respond” from the busboy with questionable immigration status.

Europe - Here are some of the things that suck, with teeth and dry tongue, about various European countries:

1. Spain: pickpockets, pickpockets, and more pickpockets.
2. France: Socialism. Ew.
3. England: bad teeth, bad food, and the constant threat of rain. And Hugh Grant
4. Czech Republic: they will throw you out a window, and they will not give a fuck
5. Portugal: a country full of dudes whining about their lost empire
6. Italy: the mob is their fault
7. Germany: Too easy.
8. Netherlands: for some reason, the Dutch have declared war on Islam

Abraham Lincoln - I’ve met a lot of white people who get pissed off when blacks seem ‘ungrateful’ for the things some of them have done for us. Now, these white people know they can blame Abraham Lincoln. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the things you do, it’s that we don’t trust you. It’s the same sentiment that a girl in a bar has toward a guy that buys her a drink. She appreciates the drink, but she’s pretty sure that his sneaky ass is up to something (and he almost always is).

Spelling and Grammatical Errors - You’d think that when debating some topic, the first thing you’d do in response to getting someone else’s opinion is to examine it for logical errors, invalid assumptions, lies, disingenuous or misleading statements, and other things that actually matter.

This is not the process we black people follow.

Instead, we will read your argument carefully - but the first time we go through it, all we’re doing is looking for is mistakes in your writing. We’re looking for spelling errors, dangling prepositions, sentence fragments, improper semicolon use, and other things that are extremely relevant to your argument. We don’t care that, after observing chimps in the wild for 30 years, you’ve discovered that some have learned to cultivate their own food: you spelled banana ‘bannana’ in your research paper, and therefore, you are only slightly more intelligent than the very creatures you study.
The last one is me at a much younger age. After years
of working with and around nerds, you learn that intelligence can't be measured purely in language skills, if at all. Though in some cases, such as a certain current president of the United States who shall remain nameless, it can be an indicator.

Al Gore Saves the Planet!

He's on a renewed campaign to save the planet. The Democratic Party, however, is on it's own. At least for now. Big Al has bigger fish to fry. In this interview with Leslie Stahl on CBS's 60 Minutes, Al, for the 100th time tells the media he's through with politics, and doesn't see himself running for President again. He's still an uncommitted superdelegate and won't say who he's for in the Democratic Primary. More importantly, he and Tipper have donated all the profits from An Inconvenient Truth and his Nobel Peace Prize toward an advertising campaign to stress the importance of doing something now about Global Warming.

If you listen carefully, it's an almost political answer when asked to confirm what one of his lawyers said about the Supreme Court's Decision regarding the 2000 election. He says "it doesn't feel right" to ascribe political motives to the five judges in the majority. I leave you to draw your own conclusion. One of the best quotes of the interview, he chuckles when Stahl tells him that one of the people who don't believe humans are the cause of global warming is the current Vice-President. He asks, "Dick Cheney?" And then goes on to say:
"I think that those people are in such a tiny, tiny minority now with their point of view. They’re almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the earth is flat. That demeans them a little bit, but it’s not that far off."
I'm glad he's saving the planet, but it's too bad we don't have an Al Gore helping to save the Democratic Party from itself. Maybe things will work out and he won't be needed, and that's a good thing because he's busy.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bill Maher: Hillary Clinton, Get Elected or Lie Trying

Gotta love Bill. And HBO for having him on and not firing him for what he says the way ABC did. The Hillary comments are just plan harsh, but really funny and true.

Bad Moon Rising: The King of America

Beyond the pure insanity of a nutty cult leader having the influence that Reverend Moon has, there are so many things so very wrong here I hardly know where to begin. But I'll force myself to start with what's been in the news recently. And I'll do it briefly because, as I've said before, this topic has been discussed to death in the corporate media. And now that I think about it, it's not that it's been discussed so much, but how it's been discussed, as an endless 20 second loop, that's the problem.

If you go back as far as I do, ask yourself when the last time was, or if you don't go back that far, ask yourself if you've ever, heard the Reverend Sun Myung Moon mentioned in the corporate media. I go back far enough to remember the John Belushi skit from the documentary when it first aired on Saturday Night Live. While Reverend Wright sound bites play on and endless loop in the corporate media, a man who has more political influence and is more dangerous than all the religious nut cases you can name combined, and I don't include Wright in that group, is rarely, if ever brought up. In fact, he's only been mentioned recently in the blogosphere from what I've seen, and I watch a lot of CNN and MSNBC. And while that might not be exhaustive coverage of what the media is reporting, googling his name for news stories on him finds only a handful. One by AlterNet, none by major media outlets.

It took a blogger to break the story of his "coronation" by congressmen in a federal building and 3 months for the corporate media to catch up. And that's the other part of this story. It's why what we have right here is so important. Without it all we would have are the sensationalist stories deemed worthy of the attention by the corporate media. The same nonsense, every day, over and over again until we are sick of it. Sandwiched between stories of She Who Must Not be Named (SWMNBN) and Britney freaking Spears.

While a multi-billionaire with the not at all secret goal of undermining democracy and Christianity, buys major influence in the party of the Christian Right and with an ex-president, the media is fixated on the racially incendiary and sensational. These are the kinds of stories and the people who expose them are the people who will have little if any exposure if net neutrality is not protected. And if giant media conglomerates are allowed to continue gobble up local and smaller media outlets as they have been by the FCC. The chances that we will know that the Reverend Sun Myung Moons of the world exist, and that we will be able to force the corporate media to cover them, will be almost nil.

The mainstream media don't deserve even courtesy of the "corporate" qualifier on their name. It gives them too much credit. They should be called, and I'll have to make an exception and name she who must not be named, the Paris Hilton Media, or the Britney Spears Media. Because it characterizes, if not all the content they cover, the style of their coverage, which is anything that can be sensationalized. When they aren't protesting that they hate the fact that they have to cover the latest Britney drama, and they wish they didn't, they are putting a dramatic spin on anything else they cover. Because their goal is to sell soap, and by soap I mean anything that advertisers will pay them to sell. And it's not the selling of soap, but that it is more important to them than informing the public, that makes them no different than a soap opera. Just because they call it news, doesn't make it so.

Yet another aspect of the documentary which touches on recent "news" is the origin of stories, complete propaganda or otherwise totally false, that start with the Moon owned Washington Post and move from there straight into the mouths of Fox News and other right-wing pundits. From there into the Paris Hilton Media (PHM) or if they are don't meet the low standards of credibility to make it that far, they end up as email forwards that at least 10% to 15% of Americans actually believe.

That is why it is important now, essential in fact, that people spread this story. Spread this documentary. That they force it into the PHM. So that we are seeing endless loops of Bush 41 endorsing the Washington Times and that people know that it is owned by Moon. People need to Digg stories about it to the front page of, if not this one then the video itself.
They should forward it to their friends and send links to it to the PHM. Reverend Wright and the preachers who've endorsed John McCain have been held up to much public scrutiny yet are harmless in comparison to Reverend Moon. Moon is actually dangerous and people should know who he is and the power he wields.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Net Neutrality's Quiet Crusader

There's an article in the Washington Post about Free Press' Ben Scott. Scott is described as "a driving force for 'net neutrality,' a concept that in policy terms has come to mean enforcement of open access online, so cable and telecom operators cannot block or delay content that travels over their networks." Free Press sent out a newsletter yesterday to let people know about the article, and also to tell us how hard it is for an organization that fights for our rights against corporate media, to get this kind of exposure on the front page of the business section of the Washington Post.

So check it out and learn something about the unlikely people who fight to keep the internet open and accessible to everyone equally. And who also fight against media consolidation that squeezes out diversity and competition, so that individuals, small organizations and small companies have access to media that is not filtered or censored by large corporations. The video gives a pretty good synopsis of why net neutrality is important. Monopolistic phone companies, without regulation, would have prevented the internet from happening. If they weren't regulated after the internet started, companies like Google, Facebook and Myspace would never have gotten off the ground. Now we need to continue those protections to make it possible for the next Google or Myspace to develop. Giant corporations like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, stifle innovation and competition that benefits all of us, in order to keep more profit for themselves.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Stuff White People Like

First there was Black People Love Us!, then Rent-a-Negro, and now there is Stuff White People Like. Viral blogs satirizing political correctness/incorrectness. And it's hilarious. My son forwarded the link to me and I've only read a few posts so far, but it is really funny and I will be a regular reader. Stuff White People Like says this about San Francisco.
The City of San Francisco has a very multicultural population that ranges from white to gay to Asian. Within white culture this known as “ideal diversity” for its provision of exotic restaurants while simultaneously preserving property values.
It has a regular feature, White People in the News, where readers email in news stories with stuff white people like in them. Like this one.
By Michelle Quinn
The Los Angeles, Times, March 22, 2008

“Wil Shipley, a Seattle software developer, uses his iPhone at the Whole Foods fish counter to check websites for updates on which seafood is the most environmentally correct to purchase. He quizzes the staff on where and how a fish was caught. Because he carries the Internet with him, “I can be super-picky,” he said.”

Sent in by Stephen, an English grad student living in Florida, who likes the British site BeThinking.
They get a shout out and a link to their blog for their troubles. And congratulations to blogger Christian Lander, because he just landed a book deal. There is one thing I find disturbing about the blog, there's a list of 92 things white people like and there's a lot of things I like on the list.
  • coffee
  • microbreweries
  • hating corporations
  • religions their parents don't belong to
  • wine
  • St. Patrick's Day
  • organic foods
  • San Francisco
  • Barack Obama....
The list goes on. I'm not sure what it means, but I'm concerned.

Battle of the Party Religious Nut Cases

Personally, I think the GOP is winning, thank god (pun intended). But then I may be biased. As I've said here before, I'm not one for quoting scripture. But there is one that is o-so apropos.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
Matthew 7:3
New International Version
The Republicans, Ok, let's be fair, the Fox News wing of the party started this spitting match. But to me, again, a partial observer, they have a lot more to loose in a head to head comparison of just who has the kookiest religious support. I have said before, this is an aside from the real issues that we should be addressing in this campaign. One is literally blowing up before our eyes as we speak. The surge that was working about a week ago, now isn't.

And there are stories like this one, about a wave of murders, 20 so far, in one of our largest urban areas among African American students. A story which isn't even on the radar this political season for two obvious reasons. Guns and race. You see if you start talking about things like this then Obama supporters will whisper that you are talking about things that will hurt his chances in the fall. If you mention gun control or focus too much on race, we'll lose the red states. So forget I mentioned it. We'll talk again in November.

Now I am not so sure, after the revelations previewed in the new book Bad Moon Rising, by Author John Gorenfeld, that this story is not just as important as some of the others I just mentioned above. And all of this stuff isn't new. There's a post on Daily Kos in which this quote is excerpted from the book:
...the [Unification] church has established a network of affiliated organizations and connections in almost every conservative organization in Washington, including the Heritage Foundation, the largest of the conservative think tanks and an important source of government personnel during the Reagan administration... "Most people are afraid to address the issue because they don't want to publicize the extent of the church's involvement," says Amy Moritz of the Conservative National Center for Public Policy Research. (Source -- U.S. News & World Report, 3/27/89)
This is about a religious cult that has infiltrated a major political party in our country. One that owns a major influential conservative newspaper. And one with the "oft stated goal of destroying both Christianity and representative government." The comments in the Daily Kos post are informative as well.

Moon is a multi-billionaire who pays millions to W's daddy to speak at Unification Church events as well as other Bush family members. His influence reaches far into the Republican Party and conservative movement. The video below is of Moon in the Dirksen Federal building being crowned King of Peace by two congressmen. One of them Democrat Danny Davis of Illinois??? To me Moon is far scarier than the words of Reverend Wright because he is truly
dangerous to our entire way of life. But then this kind of thing is emotionally driven for a lot of people and as much as I hate to bring it back to race, video of a shouting black man is a lot more dramatic and scary to a certain segment of the American people. Maybe I should let you draw your own conclusions.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wal-Mart Seeks Worst Public Image Ever

Wal-Mart made Keith's Worst Persons list again today, that clip is not yet available. This one's from yesterday. Keith is threatening to put them on the list every day until they relent. The clip below is a little fairer to Wal-Mart and gives their side of the story, such as it is. I can't see much good coming out of this for them no matter how they spin it unless they decide to change their minds. They'll get more than $400k worth of ill-will and bad PR from this move. And it isn't as if they didn't already have some PR problems to start with. Makes you wonder what goes on in the legal departments and board rooms of companies like this. Are there people there who are like cartoon evil villains? Scrooge, the Grinch and Cruella De Vil all wrapped into one. Or are they that disconnected from the public perception of their companies? It's hard to fathom how they rationalize this to themselves. One more reason to hate them and a good reason not to buy anything from them.

Breaking News: Siegelman Free Pending Appeal

Dan Abrams of MSNBC and Crooks and Liars are reporting that former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman will be freed tomorrow pending appeal. The initial 60 Minutes story is here. An indication that the judge in the case believes there were some irregularities in the bribery case that landed the governor in jail. Those irregularities point squarely in the direction of Karl Rove and the US Attorneys scandal. The scandal involves the politicization of the US Attorney General's office and lead to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The Politico is calling it a victory for the blogosphere.

Tables Turned on Hannity: Association with Neo-Nazi Exposed

I just watched about as much of Sean Hannity and I can stomach in one sitting. In fact I'd be glad never to have to watch another minute. Except that the Fox News commentator and host of Hannity & Colmes, has been one the most vocal stirrers of controversy over Barack Obama's association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. From what I read, and I don't watch so I admit I wouldn't know, the Wright video clips have essentially run on a constant loop on Hannity's show. In an interview recently he was called out by Malik Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party for his own past association with known Neo-Nazi Hal Turner.

I hate to give too much focus to this stuff here. I think it is a distraction and takes attention away from much more important issues like the war, the economy, health care, Darfur, and many others. Almost every other issue is more important than this stuff. Unfortunately it's the stuff that gets the most attention. I've posted quite a bit Wright stuff lately and I need to balance it out. I'm not going to post the Hannity video, because it focuses on too much that is negative in my opinion and frankly I think this stuff only hurts Barack Obama's campaign. But I couldn't resist posting because Hannity gets bitten by his own guilt by association rhetoric. The video is here if you can stomach it. There's a post at HuffPo with more links. And there's the complete story of Hannity's Soul-Mate of Hate Neo-Nazi Hal Turner at the Nation.

PBS' Frontline: Bush's War

This PBS Frontline special aired on March 24 and 25. So why am I telling you now? I may be a day late and a dollar short, but through the magic of the Internets, or when it's rerun, the magic of DVR technology, you can see it anytime. It's available anytime online here. Here's the video description from Youtube:
Watch FRONTLINE Bush's War online right now at

On the 5th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, FRONTLINE presents the definitive documentary analysis of "Bush's War"

From the horror of 9/11 to the invasion of Iraq; the truth about WMD to the rise of an insurgency; the scandal of Abu Ghraib to the strategy of the surge—for six years, FRONTLINE has revealed the defining stories of the war on terror in meticulous detail, and the political dramas that played out at the highest levels of power and influence.

Now, on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, the full saga unfolds in the two-part FRONTLINE special Bush's War, airing Monday, March 24, from 9 to 11:30 P.M. and Tuesday, March 25, 2008, from 9 to 11 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings). Veteran producer Michael Kirk ("The Torture Question," "The Dark Side") draws on one of the richest archives in broadcast journalism—more than 40 FRONTLINE reports on the war on terror. Combined with fresh reporting and new interviews, "Bush's War" will be the definitive documentary analysis of one of the most challenging periods in the nation's history.

Following the broadcast: a new TV/Web experience. View the entire "Bush's War" online, integrated with more than 100 video clips of key moments since 9/11, drawn from FRONTLINE's robust online video archive and integrated into a master annotated chronology of the war.
I wish they'd make the whole video available on Youtube, but they only post previews there. It would be nice to be able to embed them here and I think it would increase their exposure. They don't possibly because they want you to visit their site. I think people still would if they could watch the videos on blogs and other sites. I think it would increase their visibility not decrease it. But so far, they don't.

In any case it's an important documentary of one of the most important issues of this election year. Focus on the war is being lost to the economy, except that the war is a major factor in the coming economic recession. And focus is being lost to the nastiness of the Democratic Primary, which is theater and not really important at all. This may be a good time to refocus on it especially in view of John McCain's plans to keep our troops there for 100 years and the drumbeat for war in Iran. And especially today when it looks like the surge strategy that was "working" is threatening to unravel. It looks as if all hell is about to break loose and it won't be good.

NCMR 2008: Media Reform Starts Here

Video description from Youtube.
The next National Conference for Media Reform will be held in Minneapolis, June 6--8, 2008. Join fellow activists, media makers, educators, journalists, policymakers and concerned citizens in calling for real and lasting changes to our nation's media system.
One of the ways we can help change corporate media, and create and grow new media that informs and empowers us. The Wright controversy is a perfect example of why this kind of reform is needed. More info on the conference at

Bill Moyers Journal: Body of War

Video description from Youtube:
Bill Moyers interviews former talk show host Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro on the true cost of war and their documentary, Body of War, depicting the moving story of one veteran dealing with the aftermath of war.

With extensive excerpts from the film, the filmmakers talk about Iraq war veteran Tomas Young, who was shot and paralyzed less than a week into his tour of duty. Three years in the making, Body of War tells the poignant tale of the young man's journey from joining the service after 9/11 to fight in Afghanistan, to living with devastating wounds after being deployed to Iraq instead.
The complete Bill Moyers Journal program can be seen on the PBS site. Beyond this young man's both painful and uplifting story, it is an apt story for this election year. The footage of the Bush administration and congress sounding the drumbeat for war in Iraq, and the Republican talking points are going to sound eerily familiar. You could almost loop Iran and Ahmadinejad into the sound in place of Iraq and Saddam and apart from a few younger looking faces, you'd have news footage that could pass for something taped very recently. Especially for one presidential candidate. For another a short clip she'd rather not be reminded of.

Update: What Press Won't Show that Wright Said

I also posted on Daily Kos and got some comments there about Wright's quoting from, or paraphrasing of, Ambassador Ed Peck. No one has been able to find the actual appearance on Fox that Reverend Wright claims to quote. So there is some dispute that as to whether the words are actually Peck's. I still feel that the sound bite does not reflect Wright's intended meaning. It doesn't come close. The most salient comment I got there was this one:
Simple answer: the truth doesn't sell ads.
Scandal does. Plus, a 5 second sound-bite is easier to put on air than 5 minutes of a sermon.

by skrekk on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 05:40:23 PM PDT
Sound bite journalism doesn't serve the public at all. It gives us half truths and stirs up controversy that does not help us solve problems. In fact it creates problems. This kind of journalism serves the corporate media, whose motivation is profit, not truth. It creates controversy and spectacle that they can use to draw our attention and while we're there, try to sell us something. Not that selling something in and of itself is bad. We have ads here. But when it comes at the expense of truth and when spectacle is disguised as news in order to do so, it is a corruption of the purpose of the media.

I think corporate media is a more appropriate name for the MSM precisely for those reasons. It's a more accurate reflection of their real purpose and the reason they often fail to serve the public good they purport to serve.

-Fight the powers.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Colbert Report: The Word - The Gospel of John

Colbert skillfully draws parallels between the recent Obama religious controversy and John McCain's ties to right-wing religious nut cases Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Obama's Wright Response

What the Press Won't Show You That Reverend Wright Said

Sometimes I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone when I'm watching TV and I see the media version of what's happening in the world and I see a completely contradictory version of it somewhere else. Or, metaphorically, like Charlton Heston must have felt at the end of the movie Soylent Green when he finally realizes that soylent green is made from people. It's not that I trust the media so unquestioningly that I can't wrap my brain around the fact that their version of what is real is so far from what actually is real, but that I just can't believe that it would be possible to have any remaining shred of credibility or status among the people of this country if you got something so absolutely, incredible wrong so many times. Even if you give people very little credit for paying attention to or caring about what's going on. Or even if you think they are not very smart. It still doesn't make sense.

Just how is it possible that you keep your status as the supposed watchdogs of government, and reliable sources of information from around the world? How can you not be laughed at when you call yourselves, The Most Trusted Name in News, or The Place for Politics, or the best political team on television, or whatever else the various marketing departments dream up for their news organizations? When I watch the in context versions of the sermons of Reverend Jeremiah Wright and contrast them to the endless loops we've been seeing on the networks and cable TV news shows for weeks, they leave me with two views of supposed reality that just do not jibe.

Last night I heard commentators on CNN and MSNBC still speaking as if they had no idea that the loop they play of Wrights comments on 9/11 are in fact a quotation and not his own words. That to me seems like a relevant fact. Even the people I trust to tell me much more of the truth than the the networks generally do, people like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, are repeating the same mainstream media narrative. And if we extend the conversation to what's happening in the blogosphere, I have not heard Arianna Huffington (though I'm behind reading her posts) put this into perspective. Arguably one of, if not the biggest story of recent weeks, and only one show in the mainstream media has taken the time to actually listen to one of Wrights full sermons and put what was said in perspective. It was CNN's Rich Sanchez and he did a very poor job of it. He continually tried to move the focus back to the prevailing mainstream media narrative of Wright and Trinity United as wild-eyed angry black militants that should scare the crap out of the average American.

This story could have potentially derailed the chances of the only viable African-American candidate for president, ever. Yet no one who calls themselves a journalist took any time to look beyond the surface of 10 and 20 second sound bites. It took Trinity United itself to start their own Youtube channel and blog to start to get the truth out to people. And one of the great ironies of the whole story is that it may bring the church more serious attention than it would have ever gotten even if Obama does become president. I am not a religious person at all and that is not the relevant part of the story to me, but it is interesting.

One personal, but relevant irony for me is that I found the story in context by going to Wikipedia. Yes, Wikipedia, the icon for unreliable information in the mainstream media was where I found that the media was still not correctly attributing the statements made by Wright on 9/11. That they had still not said that Wright was "[Paraphrasing] Edward Peck, former U.S. Chief of Mission in Iraq, former deputy director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism under the Reagan Administration and former U.S. Ambassador to a number of countries." Wikipedia was my source for accurate information that the mainstream press had gotten wrong over and over again.

And to me that is the real story here. That through this very medium, through new new media, the people, both those misrepresented directly and those to whom the truth was misrepresented, have redress. From the editors of Wikipedia who have no motivation except to provide reliable information to people for free. Yes it is vulnerable to corruption, but it is self correcting and those who call it unreliable are no more reliable. And from the people at Trinity United who are just like you and me. Who saw their pastor misrepresented in the media and decided to become their own media and put their own story out so that people could make up their minds based on more than 20 seconds of sound out of entire career.

The career of a man who was a US Marine and served in the US Navy as a hospital Corpsman and who has a commendation from same for treating President Lyndon Johnson when he was hospitalized. The career of a man who traveled to Libya as part of an contingent which included Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan to free United States Navy pilot Lt. Robert Goodman, whose fighter jet had been shot down over Lebanon. And to bring that soldier held prisoner by a terrorist back home to America. I got that from Wikipedia too.

Maybe it is not that the people don't care, or pay attention when our news and view of the world is reduced to the 20 second sound bite, or that they aren't smart enough to understand it when it's not, but that they felt little power to do anything about it. Through new media they are starting to take back that power and the mainstream media should be paying attention. We the people are not only the government, we are the media too.

Please take the time to comment on this post, whether you agree or disagree. And please take time to pass it on to people who may not have seen Reverend Wright's comments in context. And finally, take time to write the mainstream media, whoever you get your news from and let them know that you are paying attention.

See update here.

-Fight the powers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Carnival of the Liberals: Call for Submissions

I guess I should issue a call for submissions seeing as I already have one and I intended to ask for posts around a theme. I wasn't really finished formulating that theme, but I thought I'd better blast something out before more stuff comes in. First, thanks Carol, points for being first. If you've looked at my blog you can see that most posts are accompanied by supporting videos. At first they were mostly from Youtube. Now TV shows, broadcast and cable news, and even movies can be embedded legally on blogs.

In making this post, I'm thinking about why I almost always include video. Maybe it's because I'm too lazy to write all the details. Maybe it's because most people are too lazy to read. Though I can't support it with facts, I think video is more viral than text alone. But I think I can rationalize it better than that. Obviously I enjoy reading and writing or I'd have a vlog and not a blog. This is kind of a hybrid of the two.

I honestly believe there is something extremely powerful about our ability to create our own media and share it around the entire planet in the way the Internet makes possible today. It's a truism that it's changed and is constantly changing our world. From the Abu Ghraib scandal that would never have had the impact it did on our perception of the Iraq war if it weren't for the ability to share those pictures instantly around the planet and to comment on them, through the guy who got tazed at the John Kerry rally who made, "Don't taze me bro!" a catch phrase, to the clips of Barack Obama's former pastor that had the potential to derail the candidacy of an almost certain presidential nominee, we are seeing the impact new media has on our perceptions and our world.

In the case of the latter we are seeing Trinity United Church of Christ answer the media storm created by Reverend Wright by creating it's own Youtube channel and putting out videos with Wright's statements in full context. A topic I plan to post on shortly. It's shocking the difference context makes and more shocking that no one in the MSM made any effort to do so. But it demonstrates the power we have to be our own media. It increases the impact even a single individual can have on the world. To be in effect a revolution of one.

New media has completely changed this year's presidential primary and I believe has made it possible for a new kind of candidate, one who may never have had a chance before, to emerge as the almost certain Democratic nominee. In the video above from a year ago Joe Trippi, the strategist and Internet guru who put together John Dean's surprising rise to leader of the Democratic pack in 2004, talks about the possibilities for this year's race.

So finally, I'd like to ask for submissions that either include, or are on the topic of new media, with special emphasis on video. I'll leave it as broad as possible, but topics could include anything from how new media has affected this years presidential campaign, or the war in Iraq, to citizen journalism around the world. As long as it somehow involves new media in some way. I appreciate this opportunity to host Carnival of the Liberals and I look forward to your submissions.

-Fight the powers.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pilot Barney Fife: Gun Discharges on Airbus

DENVER -- Federal authorities are investigating how a pilot's gun accidentally discharged in the cockpit on a US Airways flight from Denver to Charlotte, N.C.
From CNN. Feel safer now with armed pilots on airplanes?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Clinton's Own Fairy Tale: Politico Reports on the Clinton Myth

Friday reported on the myth being perpetuated by the Clinton campaign and the media that she still has a chance at all in this race. Remember back in the South Carolina primary when the press was reporting, mistakenly, that Bill Clinton said Barack Obama's candidacy was a "fairy tale." He may have been misquoted then, but now the same thing could truthfully be said about his wife's candidacy. The Politico article goes on to delve into the reason the Clintons, obviously, and the media continue to spread the narrative that this is still a close race and that Clinton still has a chance.

The article sums up her real chances thusly:
Her own campaign acknowledges there is no way that she will finish ahead in pledged delegates. That means the only way she wins is if Democratic superdelegates are ready to risk a backlash of historic proportions from the party’s most reliable constituency.

Unless Clinton is able to at least win the primary popular vote — which also would take nothing less than an electoral miracle — and use that achievement to pressure superdelegates, she has only one scenario for victory. An African-American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, the prize is going to someone else.

People who think that scenario is even remotely likely are living on another planet.

As it happens, many people inside Clinton’s campaign live right here on Earth. One important Clinton adviser estimated to Politico privately that she has no more than a 10 percent chance of winning her race against Barack Obama, an appraisal that was echoed by other operatives.
But what is really telling is their analysis of the reasons the MSM want to keep this race on life support.

The Truth About the Surge

The truth behind the surge strategy in Iraq. Why it appears to be working now and why that peace is fragile. From

Saturday, March 22, 2008

O'Reilly's Ambush of Huffington and Olbermann's Response

I have to say what irks me most in the video above is that Arianna runs from this clown as if she actually has a reason not to talk to him. Making it look to all who swallow O'Reilly's nonsense whole that she is what's being portrayed.

Though Arianna Huffington is in no need of a knight in shining armor to come to her rescue, she's tough enough to rescue her own share of knights, Keith Olberman sure looks like one in the video below.

Fox News Chris Wallace Criticizes Obama Bashing

Two Fox employees finally wake up and realize who they are working for. Amen to both Chris Wallace and Brian Kilmeade. I have to admit that I would never know what happens on Fox & Friends except through clips like these. I could not stomach watching myself.

Rolling Rock Shoots Logo on Moon with Giant Laser

As corporately evil as it may sound, it is actually possible though technically challenging to beam a company logo on the moon that would be visible on earth. Anheuser Busch, taking advantage of our willingness to view them as so crass as to actually do something so utterly insulting to the sensibilities of every inhabitant of earth, has created an ad campaign around the idea. By posting on the topic I realize I'm being sucked in by their advertising ploy. However I'd like to take this as an opportunity to state the Inverse Law of Beer Quality. The law goes as follows.
The quality of any beer is inversely proportional to the coolness factor of any advertising for that beer.
That is to say by example if beer company X makes an ad for beer Y and the ad is way super cool, the law states that the quality of beer Y is super crappy. Without mentioning names or dogging any particular brand, let me say that there are several beer companies out there whose advertising is clever and entertaining, occasionally rising to the level of true art. But when it comes to their beer, I'd rather drink an entire pitcher of warm piss.

I leave you to draw your own conclusions about the Rolling Rock ad campaign featured at, where you can leave your own message on the moon. I think it takes a day or so for your message to show up. I challenge you to find mine.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Video: Richardson's Endorsement of Obama

Video from MSNBC of Governor Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama.

Why the US Sees Iran as a Threat

Real and plausible strategic reasons the Bush administration keeps up the drumbeat for conflict with Iran. As opposed to the neo-con, chickenhawk, politics of fear reasons put forth for the benefit of American public. Not terrorism or WMD. In this video Aijaz Ahmad explores the geopolitical and global economic reasons the US views Iran as a threat. In particular the relationship between dollars and oil and how Iran threatens that relationship.

The video below was posted as a video response to the one above on Youtube and tells us why we should be concerned that military action against Iran may be imminent. Some very good analysis of the situation in Iraq as well.

Spitzer in Sex Addict Therapy: The Modern Confessional

The Huffington Post has a link to a NY Post story about Eliot Spitzer going into therapy to explore the possibility that he has a sexual addiction. To be honest, I didn't read most of it. Not that I don't feel Eliot's pain. But it's his own private problem, or should be, and personally I've go schtuff to do. OK? It's become the standard reflex of those in the public eye who get their proverbial teat caught in the ringer to issue a statement that they are in therapy and working through their problems. You have to wonder if this is the modern replacement for the confessional. A way to publicly seek absolution for their sins. I could go down a representative list of public figures who screwed up and went into therapy, but I will save us both time because we know who they are and we both have schtuff to do. Ok?

Basically what most of them got caught doing was being human, and doing the kinds of things, not all, but a lot of us would do if we had their money, power and popularity. If we had access to all the luxuries and had to deal with all the stresses and temptations they do, and could get away with what they normally get away with. In the old days they'd probably have gone to a minister or a priest, made a confession, been seen in church regularly, and over time people would get the idea that they had mended their evil ways. Or got smarter and sneakier about hiding what they do.

In the modern age the high priest has been replaced with Dr. Phil. Not everything modern is progress. In Spitzer's case I honestly think the line between old horny guy with enough money
to buy high priced poon, and sex addict, is a thin one. I have a simple one word definition for sex addict: Guy. It's about as accurate as any clinical definition. But, I haven't done any double-blind studies. In this case those could turn out to be kinda kinky. But what do I know, I'm just a guy.

Governor Bill Richardson Endorses Obama

New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson is endorsing Barack Obama for president. From Huffington Post:
"I believe he is the kind of once-in-a-lifetime leader that can bring our nation together and restore America's moral leadership in the world," Richardson said in a statement obtained by the AP. "As a presidential candidate, I know full well Sen. Obama's unique moral ability to inspire the American people to confront our urgent challenges at home and abroad in a spirit of bipartisanship and reconciliation."
Richardson, the nation's only Latino governor is endorsing Obama despite his ties to the Clinton's. He was ambassador to the U.N. and secretary of the Energy Department during the Clinton administration. Richardson will speak at an Obama campaign event today in Portland, Oregon.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Barack Obama's Passport File Breached Illegally

MSNBC is reporting that two state department contract employees were fired today for accessing the passport file of Barack Obama without a need to. The unwarranted access took place in January of 2008 and tripped a automatic system that notifies supervisors that the file was access. Files are automatically checked, according to the report, to be certain that the access is for a legitimate purpose. The two employees were working for the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

The Obama campaign has demanded to know who access the files and for what purpose and why the access was not reported until now. A similar breach was reported of unwarranted access to Bill Clinton's passport in 1991 when the current president Bush's father was president.

A third employee is being reported as having been disciplined for the breach in security.

Keith Olbermann is now reporting the access was made on three separate occasions. The accesses were out of "curiosity". There is no indication that information was used in any way. The passport was accessed on January 9, February 21. The individuals who access it were fired. And again it was accessed on March 14 and that individual was disciplined.

Andrea Mitchell is suggesting that there should have been some kind of investigation into the access of the passport. That there should not have been any attribution of the reason for accessing it without investigating. How can one trust any reason put forth unless there was an investigation.

The Inspector General was not aware of the breach until today.

Update from NY Times:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was told of the security breach, which was first reported in The Washington Times on Thursday evening. Mr. McCormack said security measures used to monitor records of high-profile people like Mr. Obama worked properly in the three instances to alert department officials of the breaches.

“This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years,” said Bill Burton, an Obama campaign spokesman.

Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management, said that he and other top officials at the State Department found out about the breach Thursday afternoon, after [State Department spokesman, Sean D.] McCormack received a telephone query from a reporter.

Five Years of War - So

The vice-president's response to Martha Raddatz is the most telling statement uttered by anyone in the Bush Administration in their seven year reign. In a single word it sums up their attitude toward the opinion of the American people, toward the opinion of the Iraqi people, toward other governments of the world and their people. Indeed at times toward our own military leaders and anyone else who dares voice any opposition to their catastrophically, cataclysmically, failed and flawed polices. So indeed. When you strip away all the rhetoric, all the ever changing rationalizations for the war, all the excuses for failure and continuing in spite of it, what it all boils down to is one big fat so in the face of the entire world.

For nearly the duration of the Bush Presidency, they have shown that they feel no need to be constrained in their policies or actions by the will of the people, by the will of the congress, or by the constitution. From warrantless spying, to extraordinary rendition, to torture of prisoners, to using the US Attorney's Office politically, to no-bid defense contracts to the Vice President's former company, to continuing an endless war that should never have been fought, they have shown complete contempt for anything but their own goals misguided by blind adherence to neo-con philosophy. In essence they are saying to all of us:
Nearly 3992 American soldiers dead.
29314 American soldiers wounded.
89,760 Iraqi civilians dead.
Over 500 billion dollars spent.
A devastated US and Iraqi economy.
$4.00 gasoline.
Reputation of the US destroyed in the Middle East and around the world by torture and rendition scandals.
Civil rights of US citizens violated by warrantless spying.
Osama Bin Laden still at large.
This is indeed the Imperial Presidency. They know what's best for us and it just doesn't matter what 66% of us think. I simply cannot fathom how the American people aren't angrier than they are about the war. Now, on the anniversary of five years of war in Iraq, Dick Cheney has just added insult to injury.

Barack Obama: On Iraq and National Security

Barack Obama's speech yesterday on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war. Partial text below, the full text can be found here.
Just before America's entry into World War I, President Woodrow Wilson addressed Congress: "It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war," he said. "...But the right is more precious than peace." Wilson's words captured two awesome responsibilities that test any Commander-in-Chief – to never hesitate to defend America, but to never go to war unless you must. War is sometimes necessary, but it has grave consequences, and the judgment to go to war can never be undone.

Five years ago today, President George W. Bush addressed the nation. Bombs had started to rain down on Baghdad. War was necessary, the President said, because the United States could not, "live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder." Recalling the pain of 9/11, he said the price of inaction in Iraq was to meet the threat with "armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities."

At the time the President uttered those words, there was no hard evidence that Iraq had those stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. There was not any evidence that Iraq was responsible for the attacks of September 11, or that Iraq had operational ties to the al Qaeda terrorists who carried them out. By launching a war based on faulty premises and bad intelligence, President Bush failed Wilson's test. So did Congress when it voted to give him the authority to wage war.

Five years have gone by since that fateful decision. This war has now lasted longer than World War I, World War II, or the Civil War. Nearly four thousand Americans have given their lives. Thousands more have been wounded. Even under the best case scenarios, this war will cost American taxpayers well over a trillion dollars. And where are we for all of this sacrifice? We are less safe and less able to shape events abroad. We are divided at home, and our alliances around the world have been strained. The threats of a new century have roiled the waters of peace and stability, and yet America remains anchored in Iraq.

History will catalog the reasons why we waged a war that didn't need to be fought, but two stand out. In 2002, when the fateful decisions about Iraq were made, there was a President for whom ideology overrode pragmatism, and there were too many politicians in Washington who spent too little time reading the intelligence reports, and too much time reading public opinion. The lesson of Iraq is that when we are making decisions about matters as grave as war, we need a policy rooted in reason and facts, not ideology and politics.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Full Text of Obama Speech: A More Perfect Union

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans — the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know — what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.
[End of speech text.]

Video and my comments.