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.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

McCain Gets Facts Wrong on Iran

McCain is Worst Person in the world on Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Financial News

Advice: Don't get financial advice from Jim Cramer.

Colbert Inteviews My Hero

Stephen Colbert interviews my hero, Samantha Power on the Colbert Report.

Governor's Gone Wild

These days it's hard to tell the political coverage from the entertainment news. The new NY governor, David Patterson, admits to a marital affair in his past only a day after taking office. Makes you long for the days when the press would hide this stuff from us. Or wish there was at least one way we were more like the French. Their president divorced his wife and married an Italian supermodel who says she's not into monogamy. And nobody bats an eye. Seems at little more mature, or at least realistic. Personally I like the French. I think they get a lot right that we get wrong. Bill Clinton would never have been impeached by the French. And George Bush would have never been elected in France.

No Third Bush Term

Found this at Daily Kos.

Barack Obama's Speech: A More Perfect Union

This is one of America's few remaining chances to live up to the creed it espouses and the principles it holds dear. If it fails to take this chance it will be extremely disappointing. Disappointing before the world and before those who still believe that America can live up to its doctrine and ideology despite past, current and almost certain future failings. Disappointing to those who have invested themselves for the first time, or have reinvested themselves in the process of democracy.

The American electorate has a clear choice here of a politics that on one hand seeks to exploit popular opinion and sentiments, motivate by fear and prejudices, and one on the other that seeks to inspire, challenge, uplift and most importantly to lead. If you could take the essence of Barack Obama, his principles, uplifting tone and inspiration and supplant it in one of the other candidates, and simultaneously supplant their essence in him, I would vote for the candidate with Obama's essence. Whether that candidate is a man, woman, black, white, Asian, Latino, gay or straight. Whether it was Hillary Clinton or bat crap crazy John McCain. That is the question for every American: Can you say that about your candidate? That you would vote for them if their essence could be inspired into anyone else?

That is America's choice and she will show her true essence in making that choice. For those who are so invested in their own particular goals, to see a woman elected, or simply to keep Republicans in power despite what their performance has been to date, or any other goal than simply what is best for the country, shame on you. And for those that are willing to use any tactic, whether lies, fear, prejudice, race, or appeals to any other loyalties, a great and especial shame on you.

This candidacy of Barack Obama's is one of America's greatest tests and in succeeding or failing will tell the world whether she is in deed a great democracy. Whether she can truly be a more perfect union.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tracy Morgan on SNL: Barack Gets Equal Time, Finally

Lorne Michaels has been denying allegations that Saturday Night Live has a pro-Clinton bias. Whether or not it was intentional, there seemed to be one. This response to Tina Fey by Tracy Morgan starts to even the score. Right on Tracy!

-Fight the powers.

Winter Soldier: A Tale of Two Hell's

In this first video, this Iraqi citizen's comparison of the hell of Sadaam and the hell of the American occupation should tell Americans all we need to know about how Iraqis feel about the war. Both videos are from Winter Soldier, eye witness accounts of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan by the soldiers who served there. Ironically May 15 was the 40th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam. I don't know if Winter Soldier's event was coordinated to coincide with it. I see no mention of that fact on their site.

When you listen to the stories it sounds as if My Lai has happened over and over again in Iraq and Afghanistan. As it did in Vietnam. I don't think Americans have been told everything about the way the war was conducted in Vietnam. Most believe there was only one My Lai. And they certainly don't realize what's happening in the current wars or they would be over. You can see as the soldiers tell the stories how difficult what happened was for them. It's no wonder that so many of them suffer from PTSD, and find it hard to reintegrate into society. And many end up homeless, which should never happen.

The other irony in looking back at My Lai and comparing it today is that with the embedded press, managed by the military, stories like My Lai are not very likely to be exposed. Except by these soldiers who are brave enough to tell the truth. Every time we hear the phrase, Support the Troops from chickenhawk pundits and politicians who really mean, support the war, we should think of people like this.

St. Patrick Dissed This Year by Catholic Church in England

The BBC has a story about St. Patrick's Day being canceled because it falls during something called Holy Week. Ireland, not having any of that, moved it up two days and celebrated on the 15th in order to avoid the conflict. The History Channel has more information about St. Patrick's Day than most people have any desire to know. Apparently St. Pat was a real saint and not the dude who invented green beer. Who knew? I'm not Catholic and all I need to know about it is where's the pub?

Shameful Appalling Video: BTW, Happy St. Paddy's Day

Warning: Material in this video may be offensive to more sensitive viewers.
I find the video above shameful, appalling and insensitive. This woman wasted an entire beer. A green St. Patrick's Day beer. It's alcohol abuse and it's unconscionable. Hope it didn't spoil your day. Erin go Bragh!

-Fight the powers.

Revolutionary Night at the Movies

You say, "movies on a blog? No way." I say pop a bag of Orville Redenbacher in the nuker and gather around the small screen my children, because it's Revolutionary Night at the Movies and you're in for a treat. This movie is being presented here with limited commercial interruption to recognize the work of actor Paul Giamatti, who plays revolutionary John Adams in the HBO miniseries event of the same name.

Unfortunately our budget is smaller than the tiny rectangle you'll be watching the movie in, so we couldn't get the actual John Adams movie. So like the low budget cable TV networks, we are putting on whatever we can no matter how loose the connection. Hey, it's free. It would cost you $4 bucks on iTunes.

But that's not all. If you've been here before you may have noticed that we've also added a news feed of top stories from around the world in the right panel just under the new Weather Channel link. By now you're saying to yourself, movies, news, weather, and humorous, insightful and thought provoking commentary, is this a blog or a giant worldwide media mega-conglomerate? No people, it's A Revolution of One. Enjoy. And as always....

-Fight the powers.

Real Time With Bill Maher - Full Episode from March 7, 2008

In this clip above MSNBC's Morning Joe describes the pressure that MSM journalists are under to go easy on the presidential candidates. The language he uses is telling, that someone from the network will "take them in the back" and say you can't go after Hillary too much. He's revealing more than he realizes.

You can see a completely legal and HBO authorized full episode of this program on HBO's channel on YouTube. Unlike this unauthorized version above from a thieving bastard on Youtube who goes by the name vericool88. And who'd probably also steal a woman's handbag.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Making History Ugly

When this Democratic primary season began I was a hardened cynic. Hardened by the past nearly eight years of Democratic party history. By Al Gore laying down when the 2000 general election was stolen from him. And by his not winning by enough to allow it to be stolen. Hardened by John Kerry's allowing himself to be swiftboated out of the 2004 election. And I suspect that election was stolen from him as well. This time without hanging chads or a paper trail. Not to mention that the last Democratic administration ended in impeachment on the basis of an offense that was hardly impeachable, especially in view of what we have now. With impeachment "off the table."

I was always an Obama fan, but I never expected him to be a real viable candidate. Not many people did. I expected that he might win a few primaries. As much as I hate to borrow from Hillary Clinton's campaign rhetoric, I thought he would give some inspiring speeches. I thought he'd get people excited, bring people into the process who had never participated or who haven't in a long time. All of which would give us a better chance to win the general election. Then I expected I would have to swallow hard and vote for Hillary Clinton. And I would have.

I held out hope that someone would save us from the fate of Clinton inevitability. But I never thought it would be Obama. And the reason I could not get excited about her is that after 8 years of Bush, I simply hated the idea of having to vote for someone who sounded like Bush lite. Who voted for the war. Who supported it up and until it got unpopular to do so and still couldn't admit that voting for it was a mistake. Inability to admit to a mistake was a quality that also reminded me of the 8 years I would soon like to forget.

Obama did all the things I thought he would, and a lot more. After our long national nightmare, to hear a Democrat who is actually inspiring, who generates real excitement, who talks about hope and sincerely believes in it. Someone who gets young people fired up and involved, and brought the cynical and apathetic back into the fold. I have to admit that I was starting to actually believe something truly miraculous was happening. And I do honestly mean miraculous. Because in 2003 if someone had said that a black man with a funny first name, and a middle name of Hussein, would be winning the nomination for president at this point in 2008, I would have asked them what they were smoking. And to please don't bogart it, because I want a hit. I mean that only metaphorically of course.

And if another miracle cancels out this one out, and Hillary Clinton is the nominee, Democrats are still poised to make history. Democrats, in fact, are already making history. And that's why all the ugliness of this campaign is all the more disheartening. Even to a cynic like myself. The race baiting, the politics of fear, the dirty tactics and the fact that Senator Clinton has actually endorsed her Republican rival over the person likely to win the Democratic nomination, is almost tragic.

I thought a bit about this post and I wondered if there was someone out there with the ability, and with the influence to appeal to our better natures. This is our chance to make history and we are making it ugly. When we look back on this we may have as much to be ashamed of as we have to be proud of. I was going to write it yesterday and I wondered who and how someone could appeal to our better natures and make this something we will not be ashamed to look back on.

All day yesterday I watched the cable news shows, the best political team in show business, and that other one that I guess is not, show Obama's former pastor over and over again with the most damning sound bite that although it is not defensible, is certainly taken out of its context and chosen for it's incendiary effect. And I had to admit that in the case of Geraldine Ferraro, though I totally disagreed with her and thought her comment was racist, that they did the same thing to her. That what she'd said wasn't as bad, taken in full context as the sound bite. Yet it was played over and over again, just the most damning part.

I never got around to writing about what happened yesterday and when I was thinking about it again this morning it occurred to me that if there was someone who could, or something that could appeal to our better natures, if we had better natures that could so easily be appealed to, it wouldn't have taken until 2008 for an African American and a woman to have a chance to be president. If I think back to when history was made in my lifetime, and I was very young then, too young to realize exactly what was happening, it was not much different than now.

It was when Martin Luther King was doing something that at the time was even more miraculous, desegregating the south. Challenging Jim Crow and racism and making a real difference. He made history, but the whole thing was very ugly and many things happened then that we'd like to forget, and often do forget in the retelling. Somehow by the time a lot of history gets into the books we think of it as all, or at least mostly high minded and civil, but in every case it is absolutely the opposite. Even the history that resulted in this Democracy that we are continuing to improve, there were dirty tricks, and there was back biting, back stabbing and nastiness.

In fact, earlier in the week I saw a clip of Paul Giamatti in an interview about his role as John Adams in the HBO series which premiere's tonight and he said that Adams was contradictory, and sometimes too truthful and not a very good politician. Which is the PG way of saying he was kind of a dick. Also in the clip below, the show's producer, Tom Hanks talks about the very nastiness I spoke of above when our nations constitution was being drafted. Maybe this is precisely what it takes to make history. And we do it, because it is the right thing and as John Kennedy said of the space race in the early 60's, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.