Wait a Minute, Haven’t We Seen Him Before?

Best Seen, Heard, and Read

Hampton Roads Talks About Race Before Virginia Beach Rally

I thought that this was an interesting extra piece that The Virginian-Pilot did in the long wait before Senator Obama took the stage at his appearance in Virginia Beach yesterday. For me, his race has always just been an afterthought, truthfully. I have always been drawn to his intelligence, his insight, and his abilities as a speaker. Even though he is not as experienced as some of the other Democrats he faced, I believe that his other qualities will serve him well. The fact that he happens to be half black is about as meaningful to me as the fact that I am half Filipino. Oh well.

However, I do not kid myself. I realize that I am not like most people, or some people or a lot of people. But it was nice to see this piece, so I thought that I would share it with you. 

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Just a Funny Aside

Last night, a phone number showed up on the caller ID that looked vaguely familiar, so I answered it. Turns out it was someone from the Barack Obama Headquarters wanting to speak with Corey to see if he wanted to volunteer his time. I politely told the woman that he already volunteered his time and that, in fact, we both did and that we would be in the following evening to work the phones. Corey said, “what do you want to bet she calls back and wants to speak to you?” About a minute later the phone rings, and sure enough, same thing. I said, “Hi. Just talked to you. We’ll both be in tomorrow night.”

I know that it’s not nice to screw around with phone bank people, but really, it was during the beginning of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” so you understand.

Joe the Plumber, Again?

I really didn’t think this guy would have a shelf-life of more than a couple of days, but it seems that Sarah Palin isn’t the only one with pit bull tendencies. I almost felt sorry for John McCain yesterday when he called out for Joe the Plumber, and the bald-headed nonplumber didn’t respond from the crowd. I said almost.

Seems someone forgot to let Joe know that he was supposed to be there. He was probably at home shaving his head. Personally, I think that he’s losing some brain cells every time he cleans that dome because he certainly isn’t getting any smarter with each appearance, but that’s just my opinion.

Seems Joe has gotten himself a publicist, is looking for a book deal,* a country record deal, and has absolutely no qualms about answering off-the-cuff political policy questions on camera. I’m sorry, but perhaps everyone else knows something about this man that I don’t. When he first arrived mise en scène, McCain heralded him as an everyman (21 times an everyman) who would be devastated by Obama’s tax plan and be unable to buy the business he so wanted to buy. Well a reveal of the facts showed that Samuel J. Wurzelbacher never had the money to buy any business and, in fact, would benefit from Obama’s tax plan.

Never let a fact stop McCain. He has trotted Joe the Plumber around the nation, and JTP has eagerly joined the campaign trail, and now, like Palin, answers his own questions sans handlers. Take this exchange in Ohio just a few days ago: A Jewish McCain supporter asked him during an election rally in Ohio if he believed that ‘a vote for Obama is a vote for the death of Israel.’ JTP replied: “I’ll go ahead and agree with you on that.” In response to Joe’s insightful commentary, the McCain campaign issued a statement saying “while he’s clearly his own man, so far Joe has offered some penetrating and clear analysis that cuts to the core of many of the concerns that people have with Barack Obama’s statements and policies” (Haaretz.com).

They’re kidding, right? They’re not kidding? Holy smokes, Batman. Someone needs to send out the Bat signal because Gotham has gone bonkers. Relying on the “penetrating and clear analysis” of Joe the Plumber”? I think that Bill Kristol may have had something when he suggested (strongly) that McCain fire his campaign. Well, at least someone at Fox (yes Fox) skewered Joe the Plumber for his nincompoop comments. Shepard Smith, in what turned out to be one of the best “you’ve gotta be kidding me” moments of the campaign hammered the pseudo plumber, and then finally gave up and closed the interview with a disclaimer. I won’t even try to summarize because it’s something best viewed in person:

 

 

On that note, more later. Peace.

*By the way, what to you want to bet JTP does get a book deal, and the rest of us working writers keep struggling for years just to get noticed? Ah, the ironies of life . . .

Amber Waves of Grain

After 9/11, More Justifications and Some Pre-Election Reflections

Someone Needs To Remind W. That Lame-Duck Means No More Global Pissing Contests

Why aren’t more people up in arms about Syria? Granted, I myself am late in posting anything about this latest questionable move by the Bush administration, but the Sunday incursion into sovereign territory, namely Syria, is getting hardly any media coverage. Why? Is it because it was on Bush’s watch, and no one wants to go there? The White House refuses to comment on the raid.

The few details that I can find are from the following AP report:

U.S. military helicopters attacked an area along the country’s border with Iraq, causing casualties, Syria’s state-run television and witnesses said Sunday.

The TV report quoted unnamed Syrian officials and said the area is near the Syrian border town of Abu Kamal. It gave no other details on Sunday’s attack.

Local residents told The Associated Press by telephone that two helicopters carrying U.S. soldiers raided the village of Hwijeh, 10 miles inside Syria’s border, killing seven people and wounding five.

An unnamed U.S. official claims that the target was Abu Ghadiyah, an Iraqi from Mosul, and supposedly a key figure in smuggling fighters into Iraq. Syria has protested to the UN Security Council, and Iraq has denounced the attack, saying that it does not want its land used as a launching pad for attacks on neighboring lands.

According to an article in the New York Times, the raid is in keeping with what many are calling the Bush Doctrine II, which in essence, allows for an “expansive definition of self-defense that provided a rationale for strikes on militant targets in sovereign nations without those countries’ consent.” Bush elaborated on this expansion of his doctrine during his speech to the U.N. General Assembly last month:

“As sovereign states, we have an obligation to govern responsibly, and solve problems before they spill across borders,” Mr. Bush said. “We have an obligation to prevent our territory from being used as a sanctuary for terrorism and proliferation and human trafficking and organized crime.”

As with all things George Bush, the frightening part is that a) He believes it, and b) He means it. Hence, we cross the Iraqi border with Special Forces helicopters and carry out a raid on Syria.

You know those lines on maps? Pshaw, they don’t really mean anything to us. We’re Americans. We can go where we want to. It would almost be funny if it weren’t true.

America the Beautiful

Bear with me here while I ask you to follow me on a little bit of a journey, a journey into Lola logic. I will get to my point, which is about Barack Obama’s thirty minutes of ready-for-prime-time, but I have to start with 9/11. Trust me, it will work.

In those days immediately following the collapse of the Twin Towers, when Americans were feeling the collapse of everything we took for granted—security, safety, normalcy, the sanctity of the very ground beneath our feet—many of us flocked to our places of worship in that first weekend following the destruction that unfolded in real time. Our family did; we went to our church, which was, quite literally, standing room only. This is saying a lot since our church is quite a large, old, stately church, which seats hundreds of people.

Normally, I do not do well in crowds, and I begin to fidget when I am pressed in closely next to people for more than a few minutes, but that Sunday, I really didn’t notice. Most of the hymns that day were patriotic, and one of the first was “America the Beautiful.” Now I have always loved this song, preferred it over the national anthem, not just because it is much more adaptable to any voice, but also because it is more prosaic. And on that Sunday, by the time I got to “amber waves of grain,” I had tears running down my face as did numerous people around me. I suspect it was because many of us were unsure if our America would ever again be that beautiful, unsullied land of which we were singing.

Cut to last night at 8 p.m. and the opening shot of Barack Obama’s thirty-minute, strategical media buy, and what did I see but a field of waving, golden wheat, and for just a moment, I was back in that church, surrounded by those people, singing that song, being buoyed by not just a room but a nation that was sustaining each other in a common cause, in our grief, in our fear, in our despair, but also in our resolve to hope and to be the country that we knew that we could be, no matter what fate had handed us.

All of this went through my body in just a nano second and gave me a chill, and I knew in that second—call me the hopeless romantic that I am—that Barack Obama would be elected president and that we would move out of the quagmire of the past eight years and come together as a country again and become the country that the world knows and respects as a nation. I felt down to my soul that this country can move beyond its differences, can move beyond the ugliness, can move beyond this time of feeling helpless and desperate and lost. This one man and his vision and his sincerity and his true hope for this counry is the right person to do this. And all of that was just from the opening scene.

So kudos to whoever produced that segment. Was it a good media buy? Was it worth the $5 million or so? You betcha, gee golly, bless yer little heart. Right up to and through the last 60 seconds when it cut to live in Florida, it was flawless, and you know the McCain campaign was gritting their collective teeth that they didn’t have the funds to produce their own gnarly rebuttal. Obama has elevated campaigning to a whole new level. He has raised the bar so high that everyone who comes after is going to be hard pressed to live up to this kind of presidential campaign. But then again, everyone who comes after is going to be hard pressed to live up to this kind of candidate.

More later. Peace.

Muckraking, Mud, and Mickey?

Hello? Is Anyone Out There With a Brain?

Dirty Tricks—A New Low

Someone has distributed a flyer in Hampton Roads that bears the official state seal and the seal of the State Board of Elections. The flyer advises that Republican party supporters should vote on Tuesday, November 4th, and Democratic party supporters should vote on Wednesday, November 5th.

The State Board of Elections has issued an official rumor-busting document telling voters to disregard the fake flyer. Distribution of the flyer has included the Hampton Roads cities of Virginia Beach, Hampton, and Newport News.

Pretty despicable stuff, huh? Now, I know that there are those of you out there who would say that anyone foolish enough to fall for something like this deserves what they get. But remember, there are people who are voting for the first time ever, for the first time in decades, for the first time in this country, not to mention the people who are already a little paranoid about voter fraud and don’t want to do anything wrong.

We’re dealing with a whole new body of voters, and the point is not to make assumptions, or worse, to be condescending. I cannot help but remember the first free elections in South Africa and the lines that those people stood in for days for their chance to participate in Democracy for the first time in their lives. Well, I don’t mean to overreact, but I’ve talked to people who are in their eighties, their eighties, who haven’t participated in the democratic process for years because they saw no point, and for the first time in a long time, they actually believe that their vote will count. What if one of these individuals received this flier and became confused? What if one of these elderly voters were to believe this heinous piece of idiocy, this malarkey. We cannot sit back and allow them to be stripped of hope just when they have found it again.

And yes, the typos should be a tip off, but I’ve seen government documents with typos. Nevertheless, the whole thing is incredibly lame and desperate, and it leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I should very much like to find the perpetrator(s) of this bilge, and just ask them why. Why? Do they believe that this is humorous in some way? Do they think that this is scoring one for their side? Do they understand what Democracy in a free society means? Do they not realize how much is being sacrificed for this very act right now? And then . . . well, I would very much like to hand them over to Richard Simmons for one week of Sweatin’ it to the Oldies. (It was that, or something illegal, and hey, they aren’t worth it.)

(Go to http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/28/fake.sbe.flyer.pdfto see a full-sized copy of the fake flyer.)

Obama’s Tuesday Campaign Trail No Place for Sissies

Obama supporters proved themselves diehards in Pennsylvania and Virginia on Tuesday by braving the elements to see the man who would be president. The Senator’s first stop in a key swing state was a brutal one. Cold winds and icy rain in Hershey, Pennsylvania didn’t stop a crowd of approximately 9,000 supporters from turning out to see Obama at Widener University in Chester. Television clips showed the crowd covered in rain ponchos and garbage bags, and the Senator standing there in a rain jacket, still delivering his message: “if we’re willing to reach deep down inside us, when times are tough, when it’s cold, when it’s raining, when it’s hard — that’s when we when stand up.” 

 Meanwhile McCain and Palin bailed on their planned stop in Quakertown for an outdoor rally yesterday morning because of the weather. You have to wonder about that decision. But, what do I know?

And then the big rally in Norfolk last night brought in an estimated 20,000 Obama supporters—12,000 in the seats, and then another 8,000 on the field. I wasn’t one of them, unfortunately; I was left watching the live cast on my computer. Temperatures at Harbor Park were in the 40’s, and the wind was blowing off the Elizabeth RIver. I made the right decision, between the bright stadium lights and the bracing wind, my head would have exploded, and aliens would have popped out. And even though the Senator’s speech still wowed the crowd, watching it from home, I could tell that the poor man was tired. Who wouldn’t be? Three stops in one day, one in the pouring rain?

That makes nine visits to Virginia, and he has one more planned on Thursday in Virginia Beach. Am I planning to go? You betcha, gee golly. I’m hoping President Clinton will be tagging along for this one since the duo is doing stops together this week. Now that would be worth waiting for.

The Big Wednesday Night Television Appearance

It seems that Barack Obama doesn’t impress everyone. Obama’s 10-year-old daughter isn’t that excited about it, so said Michelle Obama on Leno on Monday Night. Malia overheard her father talking about the thirty-minute spot and was a bit put out: “You’re going to be on all the TV? … Are you going to interrupt my TV?’” Michelle Obama recalled. “He said, ‘No, we didn’t buy time on Disney and Nick.’ And she said, ‘Oh, good.’ And she got up and walked away. She was just like, ‘Don’t mess with my TV.’”

That’s why you have children. They keep things in perspective and keep you humble, even when you are running for the highest office in the land.

More on the big show later. Peace.