Friday, April 18, 2008

From Elizabeth in NY HBOI special on Obama and basketball!

((((((( The RBC Update: Obama, masculinity, blackness, and hoops ))))))) It's going to be hard to feminize a black candidate who plays a fine game of basketball.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

From Hank: An outraged watcher of worst debate in television history to quote Keith Olberman!

Shame on ABC”

Wednesday night’s Democratic debate was the most shameful use of TV air time I have ever seen. First rate journalists like Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous used their stage at the Independence Center to sweep the major issues of our time off the table, and encourage the candidates to air their dirty laundry before the voters in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country. The idea that voters are truly concerned with “baking cookies” and what some pastor said in a church, instead of how they are going to pay their bills, get healthcare for their families and send their children to college, is insulting the intelligence of every citizen of our country. Any American who enters a voting booth next November, and casts their ballot based on race, religion, gender or age, deserves exactly what they get. We did not need ABC to add fuel to the fire in a race between the first woman and first African American to run for the presidency.

Gibson and Stepanopolous were clearly out to sensationalize the debate by fanning the flames of an already contentious campaign between Senators Clinton and Obama, and thereby cheated voters who tuned in to see and hear a discussion of real issues. ABC’s top people steered the candidates into a corner on Iraq as well, by asking for ironclad commitments about troop withdrawals. They also added fuel to the fire with regard to taxes, asking each candidate for a solemn pledge that they would not raise taxes on those earning less than $200 Thousand Dollars per year.

As a result of their myopic handling of the debate, Gibson and Stephanopolous cheated the American people, and the two candidates, from a real discussion of the monumental problems either will face if elected President.

Froim Kathy in MO:

This is good. There is a Memoriam for George Stephanopoulos on YouTube, the end of a political hack. He deserves it. He is on the record on the air with Sean Hannity before the debate getting ideas for questions to ask. They say that Fox and the Clintons have been frustrated that none of the mainstream media had picked up the "scandal" with Obama and the Weather Underground. Now Georgie has made sure it is being discussed! Shameful. People are so angry about this and the way ABC conducted the debates that there is talk of boycotting ABC sponsors. I hope we do!
This youtube is great.

From Marcelline:

Dick Polman, Philadelphia Inquirer

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Actions speak louder than words

Focusing on his real audience - the unpledged Democratic
superdelegates, and the independent voters who will ultimately swing
the November election - here's what Barack Obama needs to say tonight
during the debate in Philadelphia (assuming he hasn't sufficiently
damaged himself already):

"...I'm glad that Senator Clinton has again brought up my remarks about
small-town America, because I do have a few things to say about that.
Obviously, as I have repeatedly admitted, I regret my choice of words
and intended no disrespect. Yet while we continue to fight over words,
we risk ignoring the real problem: that actions speak louder than
words. And it is the actions of several recent administrations - or
perhaps I should say inactions - that have put small-town hard-working
Americans so deep in the hole.

"I'm speaking not just of President Bush, of whom we naturally expected
so little, but also of my opponent's husband, of whom we expected so

"Senator Clinton has called my words 'elitist.' But where was she
during the '90s, when she was supposedly gaining White House
experience, when Bill Clinton took a series of actions that benefited
the elite at the expense of the small-town worker? It is a matter of
record that NAFTA, which President Clinton fought for and signed in
1993, without sufficient protections for domestic workers, has severely
hastened the exodus of jobs from so many of these towns, and worsened
the living conditions of the very people that Senator Clinton professes
to speak for today.

"In 2000, her husband also successfully pushed for giving permanent
trade privileges to China, again without adequate safeguards for
adversely affected American workers. Her husband also said, 'the
evidence is clear that not just in the long run but in the near run,
we'll have more job gains than job losses' out of these trade deals.
Well, tell that to the small-town workers in Pennsylvania and elsewhere
in America. In fact, one of the Democratic congressmen here in
Pennsylvania, Tim Holden, said a few years back that 'Pennsylvania has
been the most adversely affected state in the union as a result of
these trade agreements that we entered into.' Those were elitist
actions, and actions speak louder than words.

"You know, it was Henry Ford who once said, 'I gotta pay my workers
enough so there is somebody to buy the cars they are making.' But now
we have a situation where companies are firing their own customers.
They're shipping the jobs overseas, then goods get made overseas, then
the goods are shipped back here to be sold - but the problem is,
laid-off Pennsylvanians can't afford to buy them. That's all the result
of elitist actions, and actions speak louder than words.

"By the way, organized labor leaders noticed all this happening back
when Senator Clinton was partnering with her husband. Way back in 1995,
one top Democratic labor strategist said in the newspapers that
'there's a lingering feeling among many in the rank and file that you
can't quite put all your trust in this guy.' Another said, 'They
screwed us on NAFTA, what have they done for us?' I'd invite Senator
Clinton, who today champions the economic underdog, to tell us why she
never uttered a word of protest during her in-house training for the

"Yes, actions speak louder than words - and so do statistics. The
Census Bureau reported in 2000 that the income gap between rich and
poor actually widened during the Clinton years, and that every
household income category below $80,000 lost ground during the Clinton
years. The median wage, adjusted for inflation, was actually lower than
what it had been in 1989, when the first George Bush took office. And,
in fact, during the final year of the Clinton era, the average CEO
compensation at Fortune 500 companies was $37.5 million, while the
average worker salary of all companies was $38,000.

"So let's take a break from all this back-and-forth about bad wordplay,
and give this issue the context it deserves. I would expect John McCain
to make the 'elitist' charge, because it's a great way to divert
attention from his new economic plan - which offers fiscally
irresponsible tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, including CEOs,
at the expense of the small-town Americans whom he professes to revere,
and which offers huge new tax cuts to the same corporate sector that is
outsourcing these jobs I'm talking about. But I expected better from
Senator Clinton. The least she can do, right now, is to explain the
elitist economic actions of the Clinton era - explain and defend, or
reject and denounce. Unless she truly believes that actions are less
important than words.

"Senator? Go right ahead."

From Marcelline:

I Was There: What Obama Really Said About Pennsylvania

Posted April 14, 2008 | 11:54 AM (EST)

Last Sunday evening I attended the San Francisco fundraiser that has
been the center of recent political jousting. The next day, when asked
about the talk Obama delivered, I too commented about his answer to a
question he was asked about Pennsylvania. Over the past week, though, I
have had a Rashomon-like experience concerning those remarks.

Clinton, McCain, and media pundits have parsed a blogger's audio tape
of Obama's remarks and criticized a sentence or two characterizing some
parts of Pennsylvania and the attitudes of some Pennsylvanians. In
context and in person, Senator Obama's remarks about Pennsylvania
voters left an impression diametrically opposed to that being trumpeted
by his competitor's campaigns.

At the end of Obama's remarks standing between two rooms of guests --
the fourth appearance in California after traveling earlier in the day
from Montana -- a questioner asked, "some of us are going to
Pennsylvania to campaign for you. What should we be telling the voters
we encounter?"

Obama's response to the questioner was that there are many, many
different sections in Pennsylvania comprised of a range of racial,
geographic, class, and economic groupings from Appalachia to
Philadelphia. So there was not one thing to say to such diverse
constituencies in Pennsylvania. But having said that, Obama went on say
that his campaign staff in Pennsylvania could provide the questioner
(an imminent Pennsylvania volunteer) with all the talking points he
needed. But Obama cautioned that such talking points were really not
what should be stressed with Pennsylvania voters.

Instead he urged the volunteer to tell Pennsylvania voters he
encountered that Obama's campaign is about something more than programs
and talking points. It was at this point that Obama began to talk about
addressing the bitter feelings that many in some rural communities in
Pennsylvania have about being brushed aside in the wake of the global
economy. Senator Obama appeared to theorize, perhaps improvidently
given the coverage this week, that some of the people in those
communities take refuge in political concerns about guns, religion and
immigration. But what has not so far been reported is that those
statements preceded and were joined with additional observations that
black youth in urban areas are told they are no longer "relevant" in
the global economy and, feeling marginalized, they engage in
destructive behavior. Unlike the week's commentators who have seized
upon the remarks about "bitter feelings" in some depressed communities
in Pennsylvania, I gleaned a different meaning from the entire answer.

First, I noted immediately how dismissive his answer had been about
"talking points" and ten point programs and how he used the question to
urge the future volunteer to put forward a larger message central to
his campaign. That pivot, I thought, was remarkable and unique. Rather
than his seizing the opportunity to recite stump-worn talking points at
that time to the audience -- as I believe Senator Clinton, Senator
McCain and most other more conventional (or more disciplined)
politicians at such an appearance might do -- Senator Obama took a
different political course in that moment, one that symbolizes
important differences about his candidacy.

The response that followed sounded unscripted, in the moment, as if he
were really trying to answer a question with intelligent conversation
that explained more about what was going on in the Pennsylvania
communities than what was germane to his political agenda. I had never
heard him or any politician ever give such insightful, analytical
responses. The statements were neither didactic nor contrived to
convince. They were simply hypotheses (not unlike the kind made by de
Tocqueville three centuries ago ) offered by an observer familiar with
American communities. And that kind of thoughtfulness was quite
unexpected in the middle of a political event. In my view, the way he
answered the question was more important than the sociological accuracy
or the cause and effect hypotheses contained in the answer. It was a
moment of authenticity demonstrating informed intelligence, and the
speaker's desire to have the audience join him in a deeper
understanding of American politics.

There has been little or no reaction to the part of the answer that
was addressed to the hopelessness of inner city youth who have been
rendered "irrelevant" to the global economy. No one has seized upon
those words as "talking down" to the inner city youth whose plight he
was addressing. If extracted from an audio tape HuffPost Blogger
Fowler, those remarks could (and may yet) be taken out of context as
"Obama excuses alienation and violence by urban youth." But in context,
Senator Obama's response sounded like empathetic conclusions and
opinions of a keen observer: more like Margaret Mead than Machiavelli.

As the week's firestorm evolved over these remarks at which I was an
accidental observer, I have reflected upon the regrettable irony that
has emerged from Senator Obama's response to a friendly question: no
good effort at intelligent analysis, candor -- and what I heard as an
attempt to convey a profound understanding of both what people feel and
why they feel it - goes unpunished. Such insights by a political
candidate might otherwise be valued. In a national campaign subject to
opposition research, his analytical musing has instead created an
immense amount of political flak.

Now and "in this time," to invoke one of the candidate's favorite
riffs, such observations and remarks shared among supporters are just a
push of a record button on a tape recorder away from being spread
across the internet to be dissected by political nabobs. What struck me
immediately after the fundraiser as so refreshing turned out to be a
moment Senator Obama is forced to regret. Today we marvel at de
Tocqueville insights about American communities. Apparently, such
commentary is valued as long as it is three centuries old and doesn't
come from the mouth of a contemporary observer who might be elected

So much for the political ironies. But there is one more personal
observation that was missed.

I happened to be on the balcony when Senator Obama's vehicles arrived
and he emerged from the Secret Service SUV. Obama shouted the friendly
greeting "How are you guys up there doing?" to the group of us looking
down from the balcony and then said, "You have to excuse me, I need to
call my kids in Chicago now." All of us stood and watched the leading
candidate for the Democratic party nomination for president have a
short conversation with his kids before he entered a fundraiser to make
his remarks.

No tape of that conversation has emerged as yet. Who knows how casual
remarks of a father to his children or his wife on a cell phone could
be spun to support the argument that as a father speaking to his kids
two time zones away before they go to bed, his comments sounded as if
he "looked down" upon them. Given his relative height and the age of
his kids, he probably does. But that would be precisely as relevant to
his capacity to unite and lead this country as were the remarks at the
fundraiser that have been so deconstructed over this past week.

From Caroline in Westchester:

I just posted this comment on the ABC News website:

"Last night¹s presidential debate on ABC was a disgrace. How can it be that
a former leading campaign manager for Bill Clinton is allowed to ³moderate²
a debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama? It was clear to viewers
that Hillary Clinton and George Stephanopoulos had planned their joint
attack in advance about Obama and the Weather Underground. How can ABC News
viewers trust anything Stephanopoulos has to say in future? The folks at ABC
really need to listen up on this ­ viewers are already deserting TV network
news, and the biased coverage in last night¹s program is one of the reasons
why people are flocking to the web."

You have to register on first. There are nearly 12,000 other posts,
all expressing similar outrage as far as I could see.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Don't miss this one! Baracky!!!!!!

Hey guys… I’m a filmmaker and a major Obama supporter. I just released a
very cool digital short called Baracky that I think you’ll love. I just put
it up yesterday and it’s already generating a lot of buzz. As you may have
heard, Hillary Clinton recently likened herself to Rocky Balboa in connection
with the upcoming Pennsylvania primary on April 22. Well, many of us beg to
differ… and I believe the following is a far better comparison:

This presidential election is way too important to get caught up in a fight over
sexism, racism or any other “ism.” What is absolutely critical for our
future is that we choose the right person to lead our country forward.

This video has the chance to spread like the “Yes We Can” song… but we
need your help, so please pass it along to all your friends and any potential
Obama supporters!

Spread the word… and keep up the good work!

Yes, We're Bitter by Kathy from MO

This is my editorial that is being picked up by the KC Star.

Maybe people were shocked at Obama's remarks because they are not used to politicians telling the truth. Americans are bitter, angry, and frustrated. Why not? The middle class is shrinking. We have millions of people without jobs, without health care, with exploding mortgages, $4 a gallon gasoline, and no prospect of sending their kids to college. We have seen our economy and infrastructure crumble while lives and money have been wasted in Iraq. Our government does not listen to us. Yes, we are angry.
The remarks about guns and cultural issues are also true. In past elections, wedge issues, like guns and gays, were in every stump speech and even on the ballot. Politicians used them to divide and distract. They knew many people of faith would vote against their own self interest because of hot button issues. I am glad Obama brought them up. It allows us to discuss what really affects us. It empowers us so we won't be fooled again!
Kathy Butler
Parkville, MO

From my friend Joe Windish so proud of him!


I was invited to guest post at The Moderate Voice, a much larger blog than my own today. My piece is an interview with Syracuse University Professor of Television and Popular Culture Bob Thompson discussing Stephen Colbert's primary coverage in Philadelphia, Comedy Central, journalism and the news media. It was featured on Newsweek's "The Ruckus" group blog about politics for much of the day, was the number two hit for on Google news (its down to 5 now), and is called "one of the more thoughtful analyses of The Colbert Report that I can recall reading" by Ms. Interpreted on the Colbert fan/news site, The No Fact Zone.

I hope you might find it interesting. It's here:

Drop me a line and let me know what you think!

Monday, April 14, 2008

From Judy A in Westchester: Hillary's neighbors for Obama

You'll get a kick out of this video. The Obama staff put it together - won't win any prizes - but it shows the crowd, the buses, the signs, etc.. And yes, we all went out canvassing and tallied up about 1000 doors!!! It was a hoot!!!! Now I'm off to Scranton with my Hillary's Friends for Obama signs! Yes we can!!!! Judy

Friday, April 11, 2008

From Ed about his film!

Hi. For those who can live in NYC and can make it - please try and come and bring friends this April 16 at 6:30pm. It's the premiere US screening of a film I am quite proud of - that I produced-directed for Channel 4 UK on the Iraqi refugee crisis in Syria and Jordan. 2 million people including a large portion of Iraq's middle class have fled the country. Hope many of you can make it - RSVP if you can at More details on the attachment if you need. Regards Ed Robbins

Wednesday April 16 2008 from 6:30 to 8pm

The New School, 66 West 12th St NYC

Room 404


A film by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

and Ed Robbins

50 Minute film followed by Q&A with filmmakers

Free and open to the public: refreshments served

** **
*** RSVP at **

Thursday, April 10, 2008

This is Interesting....from Kathy from MO

After you read this op-ed from the April 3 Chicago Tribune, you might want to forward it to friends and family and even a few Republicans you might know. I found it very enlightening and the authors a bit surprising.
Kathy from MO

Subject: Well now... this is interesting.

From yesterday's Chicago Tribune:


Factor military duty into criticism

By Lawrence Korb and Ian Moss

April 3, 2008

In 1961, a young African-American man, after hearing President John F.
Kennedy's challenge to, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can
do for your country," gave up his student deferment, left college in Virginia and
voluntarily joined the Marines.

In 1963, this man, having completed his two years of service in the
Marines, volunteered again to become a Navy corpsman. (They provide medical
assistance to the Marines as well as to Navy personnel.)

The man did so well in corpsman school that he was the valedictorian and
became a cardiopulmonary technician. Not surprisingly, he was assigned to the
Navy's premier medical facility, Bethesda Naval Hospital, as a member of the
commander in chief's medical team, and helped care for President Lyndon B. Johnson
after his 1966 surgery. For his service on the team, which he left in 1967, the
White House awarded him three letters of commendation.

What is even more remarkable is that this man entered the Marines and Navy
not many years after the two branches began to become integrated.

While this young man was serving six years on active duty, Vice President
Dick Cheney, who was born the same year as the Marine/sailor, received five
deferments, four for being an undergraduate and graduate student and one
for being a prospective father. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush,
both five years younger than the African-American youth, used their student
deferments to stay in college until 1968. Both then avoided going on active
duty through family connections.

Who is the real patriot? The young man who interrupted his studies to serve
his country for six years or our three political leaders who beat the system?
Are the patriots the people who actually sacrifice something or those who
merely talk about their love of the country?

After leaving the service of his country, the young African-American
finished his final year of college, entered the seminary, was ordained as a
minister, and eventually became pastor of a large church in one of America's biggest

This man is Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the retiring pastor of Trinity United
Church of Christ, who has been in the news for comments he made over the last
three decades.

Since these comments became public we have heard criticisms, condemnations,
denouncements and rejections of his comments and him.

We've seen on television, in a seemingly endless loop, sound bites of a
select few of Rev. Wright's many sermons.

Some of the Wright's comments are inexcusable and inappropriate and should
be condemned, but in calling him "unpatriotic," let us not forget that this is
a man who gave up six of the most productive years of his life to serve his

How many of Wright's detractors, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly to name
but a few, volunteered for service, and did so under the often tumultuous
circumstances of a newly integrated armed forces and a society in the midst
of a civil rights struggle? Not many.

While words do count, so do actions.

Let us not forget that, for whatever Rev. Wright may have said over the
last 30 years, he has demonstrated his patriotism.

Lawrence Korb and Ian Moss are, respectively, Navy and Marine Corps
veterans. They work at The Center For American Progress. Korb served as assistant
secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

From Hank in NY:

Sent: Sunday, April 06, 2008 9:22 AM
To: ''
Subject: To The Editor

“Tet Happened, and No One Cared” – Frank Rich – April 6, 2008

All wars have defining moments, and the latest moment in Iraq was the Basra fiasco. While it is not surprising that the forces of Moktada el-Sadr almost brought the Malaki government to its knees, and that thousands of Iraqi soldiers laid down their arms and refused to fight, it is unbelievable that John McCain insists that “we’re succeeding”.

Even though Senator McCain admits that his chances to become our 43rd President are tied to the success or failure of our mission in Iraq, he is either blind or as out of touch with reality as Bush as to what “winning” and “success” really mean. While the Democrats battle to the death for their party’s nomination, and McCain hitches his wagon to the White House, American men and women are dying for a totally lost cause, and no one cares. If only there were a way to use an electric cattle prod on the Congress to force them to stop the madness!