Roger Cohen, “A Realist Called Obama”

Op-Ed Columnist NYT
By ROGER COHEN
Published: February 18, 2008

NEW YORK —­ Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic wrote a simple sentence recently that cut to the quick of this U.S. election: “What you think of a presidential candidate is in large measure determined by what you think of the world.”

In an eloquent column, he argued that “We are heading into an era of conflict.” From Waziristan to Gaza City the world of the next U.S. president will be one of foreboding. The threats, he suggested, were of a nature a neophyte senator called Barack Obama, who’s long on hope and short on hardness, is ill-prepared to confront.

I share the concern that the feel-good conciliation propelling the Obama bandwagon is light on fierceness. Change is great but constancy can be greater, especially when the threat is mortal. Readiness to talk to everyone, enemy dictators included, does not a foreign policy make.

When Obama says that in a globalized world the security of Americans is tied to the security of all people, he sounds pleasing. But this won’t help when U.S. security imperatives prove distinct, even inimical, to those of others, as one day they will.

I also find Obama’s commitment to a 16-month timetable for withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq rash: a free and stable Iraq is now inextricable from long-term U.S. security interests. How that can be squared with flicking the switch at Camp Victory in 2010 is a mystery to me and to most U.S. generals.

And yet, I disagree with Wieseltier. I disagree about the nature of the world the next president will face. Because of this, I believe Obama is the candidate best placed to grasp and exploit a transformative moment in global affairs.

Far from Wieseltier’s era of conflict, I see an era of tremendous global potential for advancement in which the jihadists — ­ force-multiplying internet invective notwithstanding —­ are marginalized.

George W. Bush has shown a talent for burying progress and squandering opportunity (not least with Iran) in a torrent of vituperation. But even the Great Alienator can’t hide the fact we’re hardly in the Dark Ages.

As Bush’s war on terror has unfolded, one third of humanity in Asia has been busy joining and bolstering the world economy. Hundreds of millions of people, from the Mekong Delta to central China, have emerged from poverty. Huge problems remain, but the emergence of India and China does put the caves of Waziristan in perspective.

China holds a lot of U.S. debt, counters U.S. talk of freedom with talk of no-strings-attached “harmony,” and cares nothing for a nation’s politics if it can grab that nation’s riches (Burma, Sudan, Zimbabwe).

But China is also tied at the hip to the United States, whose market it needs, and hell-bent on stability for the next half-century. Its cooperation with Washington on North Korea is more significant than its ideological confrontation.

In Africa, strong growth, spreading democracy, and growing regional cooperation have naturally ceded the headlines to doom in Darfur and Harare. But the progress is no less real for that.

Throughout the world, the access technology provides is connecting people in ways that make governments less relevant. Terrorists benefit from such networks. But the linking of a humanity in flux is of deeper historical significance. An era of conciliation is more persuasive to me than an era of conflict.

The fight between Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination is increasingly portrayed as one between romantics and realists.

But a realistic view of Obama would be that he is best placed to seize and shape a new world of such possibilities. He has the youth, the global background, the ability to move people, and the demonstrated talent for reaching across lines of division, even those etched in black and white.

He would, as Andrew Sullivan has written, “rebrand” America. Wieseltier dismisses such rebranding. But even the Papacy was rebranded in our times, by a Pole, and Poles then precipitated the fall of the Soviet empire.

A romantic view of Clinton might be that she has the guts and savvy to free herself of her husband’s coterie of the world’s rich and famous, with its dubious deal-making from Kazakhstan to Colombia, and ensure that a White House with a president and ex-president in it projects U.S. renewal rather than the tawdrier sides of Clintonism.

I’m just not enough of a romantic to believe it.

Obama is the expression of a hybrid world whose promise outweighs its menace. He needs to recall what he once said: “No president should ever hesitate to use force ­ unilaterally if necessary ­ to protect ourselves and our vital interests when we are attacked or imminently threatened.”

If he does, and a tough foreign policy team would help, hope and hardness will in time find a fecund balance confounding even to Iran’s mullahs.

Blog: www.iht.com/passages

ATTORNEYS NEEDED FOR OBAMA IN VIRGINA

See below. Please forward to attorneys, law students, and BLSA chapters in VA.

Hello my friends -

CALLING ALL ATTORNEYS AND LAW STUDENTS

The Barack Obama campaign is looking for lawyers and
law students to staff its voter protection program on
the day of the Virginia primary (Tuesday, February
12).

As the Primary Season continues, we have been seeing
an EXTRAORDINARY turnout of voters at the polls. We
expect this turnout to continue and we need to do all
we can to make sure voters’ rights are protected!

We all remember the voter suppression that has taken
place in the recent federal elections - especially in
this area with the deceptive flyers in VA and MD
giving misleading endorsements and racial profiling at
the polling place of minority and immigrant voters.
With so many new voters coming out for the primary, we
ne ed your help!

If you haven’t already - NOW IS THE TIME TO GET
INVOLVED. Speaking from experience, this type of work
is INCREDIBLY rewarding. The electoral process should
be inclusive not exclusive. Senator Obama’s campaign
is about change and we need your help to make this a
reality.

A strong voter protection program will ensure that the
Democratic Primary runs as smoothly as possible so
that all of Senator Obama’s supporters have an
opportunity to cast their ballot. While having
experience with elections and election law is great,
it is not necessary. The Obama staff will conduct
brief but comprehensive trainings the week before
primary day (both live and by phone) and will have a
network of experienced election lawyers on call to
address complex problems that may arise.

Primary day is fast approaching, so please sign up
today to help. This is one of the most important
contributions that you can make to the Ob ama
Campaign—protecting access to the ballot in Virginia
and ensuring that every vote is counted. Share this
email with your friends and colleagues in the Virginia
area who are Obama supporters. We would like to
recruit as many lawyers and law students as possible.

If you are interested in helping the Campaign, please
send an email to Chris D’Angelo, VA Voter Protection
Coordinator, at cmd279@gmail. com. Please include
your full name, email address and cell phone number in
the text of the email.

Thank you in advance for your assistance. We hope to see you soon!

Hope to see you!

Tanya Clay House, Esq.
tanyaclay@earthlink .net

Velvet D. Johnson, Esq.
Member of the State Bar of Georgia and the District of
Columbia Bar
Johnson.Velvet@ gmail.com

Milwaukee’s “Activist of the Year” Endorses Obama

It’s worth considering, about Obama, that the African American
community has vetted this man, and is warming up in support. I liked
Obama from the start, had the usual questions about his depth, his
readiness, wondering if this was just my nostalgia for Martin Luther
King. I was wary of supporting him if I thought he would be the
“white guy’s Black” (not a Clarence Thomas, but someone a bit outside
the pale of the best Democratic party traditions - there are many.)

But I’ve tipped to him. I also see Bill’s campaign intrusions as the
kind of damage to the campaign that would give Republicans a “Swift
Boat” that Hillary could not really defend herself against: “Who will
be in charge if she is elected?”

My well meaning friends have said I should not vote for him because
he lied about a nuclear regulatory bill he worked on in Illinois. The
only information I have on that point is from a writer named McIntire
(who does not much like Obama) and who claims Obama said the bill
“passed” when it only “passed” the legislature in part, and got
caught up in the parliamentary wrangle. They have also advised me not
to vote for him because the Democratic party is corrupt. Corrupt? Omigod.

Yes, I could choose not to vote. But as Will Rogers said, ‘I’m not a
member of any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.’ And I am
less organized than Rogers, as I quit the party when he was a mere
child. We will always have a messy Democratic party, messier when it
is on the upswing because more voices get involved.

So, is the other choice to NOT vote?

Well, Not voting is the most popular thing you can do these days.
MOST people don’t vote. Incumbents LOVE non voters. Feb.19 is a day
when we get one vote to help the process.

You will be voting, or you will be…. Let us know.

Bill Sell

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-loeb/hillary-heeds-hawks-how-_b_85853.html

Hillary Foreign Policy Advisors Contrasted With Obama’s by S.F. Political Scientist

In their focus on the electoral horse-race, the media have ignored a key difference between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton—the positions of their foreign policy advisors on the Iraq war. As political scientist Stephen Zunes points out in “Foreign Policy in Focus,” Clinton’s key advisors overwhelmingly supported it, while Obama’s opposed it. The differences in their positions on whether to go to war mirror those of the two candidates. They also give a sense of how Clinton and Obama are likely to deal with the immensely difficult foreign policy challenges they’ll face if elected, including dealing with Iraq.

Zunes’s article, revised and shortened for HuffPo:

The President makes the decisions, but who advises the President? We know Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle insisted to Bush that American forces would be treated as liberators if we went into Iraq. McCain has surrounded himself with people likely to encourage him to follow a similar disastrous path if he becomes President. But what about Obama and Clinton?

A major difference stands out among those they are likely to appoint to key posts in national defense, intelligence, and foreign affairs: Almost everyone in Senator Obama’s foreign policy team opposed the U.S. invasion. By contrast, most of Senator Clinton’s foreign policy team, which largely comprises veterans of her husband’s administration, strongly supported George W. Bush’s call for a U.S. invasion of Iraq.

It should come as no surprise that during the run-up to the Iraq invasion, Obama spoke at a Chicago anti-war rally while Clinton went as far as falsely claiming that Iraq was actively supporting al-Qaeda. And during the recent State of the Union address, when Bush proclaimed that the Iraqi surge was working, Clinton stood and cheered while Obama remained seated and silent.

Clinton’s advisors are confident in the ability of the United States to impose its will through force. This is reflected to this day in the strong support for President Bush’s troop surge among such Clinton advisors (and original invasion advocates) as Jack Keane, Kenneth Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon.

Clinton’s top foreign policy advisor – and her likely pick for Secretary of State – Richard Holbrooke, insisted that Iraq remained “a clear and present danger at all times.” He rejected the broad international legal consensus against such offensive wars and insisted European governments and anti-war demonstrators who opposed a U.S. invasion of Iraq “undoubtedly encouraged” Saddam Hussein.

Clinton advisor Sandy Berger, who served as her husband’s national security advisor, insisted that “even a contained Saddam” was “harmful to stability and to positive change in the region” and insisted on the necessity of “regime change.” Other top Clinton advisors – such as former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright – confidently predicted that American military power could easily suppress any opposition to a U.S. takeover of Iraq.

By contrast, during the lead-up to the war, Obama’s advisors recognized as highly suspect the Bush administration’s claims regarding Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” and offensive delivery systems capable of threatening U.S. national security.

Now advising Obama, former Carter National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, for example, argued that public support for war “should not be generated by fear-mongering or demagogy.” Brzezinski seems to have learned from mistakes like arming the Mujahideen. He warned that invading a country that was no threat to the United States would threaten America’s global leadership because most of the international community would see it as an illegitimate act of aggression.

Another key Obama advisor, the Carnegie Endowment’s Joseph Cirincione, argued that the goal of containing the potential threat from Iraq had been achieved as a result of sanctions, the return of inspectors, and a multinational force stationed in the region serving as a deterrent. Meanwhile, other future Obama advisors – such as Susan Rice, Larry Korb and Samantha Power – raised concerns about the human and material costs of invading and occupying a large Middle Eastern country and the risks of American forces becoming embroiled in post-invasion chaos and a lengthy counter-insurgency war.

These differences in the key circles of foreign policy specialists surrounding these two candidates are consistent with their diametrically opposing views in the lead-up to the war, with Clinton voting to let President Bush invade that oil-rich country at the time and circumstances of his choosing, while Obama was speaking out to oppose a U.S. invasion.

Taken together, they support the likelihood that a Hillary Clinton administration, like Bush’s, would be more likely to embrace exaggerated and alarmist reports regarding potential national security threats, to ignore international law and the advice of allies, and to launch offensive wars.

By contrast, as The Nation magazine noted, a Barack Obama administration would be more likely to examine the actual evidence of potential threats before reacting, to work more closely with America’s allies to maintain peace and security, to respect the country’s international legal obligations, and to use military force only as a last resort.

In terms of Iran, for instance, Cirincione has downplayed the supposed threat, while Clinton advisor Holbrooke insists that “the Iranians are an enormous threat to the United States,” the country is “the most pressing problem nation,” and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is like Hitler. This is consistent with Clinton’s vote for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment that opened the door to a potential Bush attack on Iran, and with Obama’s opposition to it.

Given the problems exemplified by the tragic legacy of the current administration, primary voters should recognize that Obama’s promise of change is the most prudent course in these dangerous times.

Web Links to Obama’s Legislative Accomplishments

Obama’s record of legislative accomplishment. I found several articles
summarizing his record in the Senate and the Illinois State House. I have
attached the links below, in case you are interested. I found that he has
accomplished far more than he is usually given credit for, but you can
judge for yourselves.

Love,

David

http://www.progressivepatriots.com/senate/senObamaIL.html

http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2006/10/barack_obama.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/03/AR2008010303303.html

http://wizbangblue.com/2008/01/04/some-of-obamas-legislative-record-in-illinois.php

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jfwiTMvbxKZec4z-ouww5y_5zfhgD8U753I80

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=388x275

Viva, Obama: Community Organizer

We, life, need community
To survive and live!
Much of our famed individualism
Is also a source of our profound vulnerabilities
And surplus suffering.

Our physical and mental health
Has been deeply damaged by the
Challenge of life without supportive
Family clans, neighborhoods,
Close-in community professionals,
Spiritual and social institutions.

This yearning for community, for immersion in daily rounds,
In an unfolding and welcoming network of neighborhoods, associations,
Small business and professional exchanges, face-to-face commerce, politics and—
Life—is a recurring theme in our culture creations.

We, many of us, are atomized like wandering exiles
The depth of our roots in organic, local communities of people
Who look out for one another, or families and clans available when needed,
Is quite a bit more shallow than in more traditional, organic, and
Free-from-future shock societies and attendant cultures.

This yearning for belongingness, for community, for organic society,

This quest for community has something to do with the Obama Movement.

Obama, at his deepest public level, is a great community organizer,
Perhaps the greatest community organizer this nation has ever known.

His oratory and Harvard level mind and organizing skills,
His hip, good looks, natural manner, his authenticity:
These are very significant resources he and we profit from.

But I submit that his experience as a community organizer,
Which I’m sure he approached with intense energy and thoughtfulness,
Taught him lessons, and gave him character defining experiences,
Which play a great part in explaining “the Obama phenomenon.”

  • Obama knows how to listen.

  • He knows how to make people at ease.

  • He knows how to help stimulate the highest level of discourse with the groups he works with.

  • He is not quick to say “I have the answer,” but more likely to dialog with people about visions, strategies, corrective, close-in,

Intermediate, and long term goals.

  • He is not one to make grand promises that are “beyond the possible”

And thereby set people up for a collective sense of failure.

  • He is an in-the-trenches worker with vast quantities of energy

  • A modesty as great as a kind of “greatness.”

At a time when the need to create community,
To co-create, to “organize” our communities,
Is as great an imperative as at any time in
The long journey of the species human..

Viva, Obama the Community Organizer!

Olde
February, 2008

Betting a Farm Would Work in Queens

By ROBIN POGREBIN
Published: February 7, 2008

A model of the proposal by Work Architecture that won this year's Young Architects Program at the P.S. 1 Contemporary Arts Center in Long Island City, Queens.
A model of the proposal by Work Architecture that won this year’s Young Architects Program at the P.S. 1 Contemporary Arts Center in Long Island City, Queens.

One can only imagine how the judges reacted when the architects walked in lugging the kind of hulking concrete-pouring cardboard tubes used at construction sites filled with flowering heads of cabbage.

Jacob Silberberg for The New York Times
Jacob Silberberg for The New York Times

Dan Wood and Amale Andraos with elements of their design, which includes growing heads of lettuce and harvesting them.

The proposal by Dan Wood and Amale Andraos, the husband-and-wife duo behind Work Architecture, was clearly a departure from previous design proposals to transform the courtyard of the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, Queens for a summer. But the urban farm concept — including an abundance of fresh produce and a genuine harvesting plan — was apparently just too darn offbeat to pass up.

“It’s just so unlike anything that’s been done before,” said Barry Bergdoll, the chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, which jointly sponsors the annual Young Architects Program with P.S. 1. “It’s the first one that’s not canopies or party spaces. In some ways it’s almost in counterpoint to the program.”

The seven-year-old competition calls for creating an outdoor social space for dancing and drinking in the summer months. Ms. Andraos and Mr. Wood were chosen over four other finalists, all of them based in New York: Matter Architecture Practice; su11 architecture & design; Them; and Monad Architects, which also has an office in Miami.

The Work team’s presentation — which included Mr. Wood’s donning of a pouffy green gardening skirt with specially designed pockets for his trowel and gardening gloves — made an impression.

“The two of them looked like stock actors from the background of a Mozart troupe where they needed some rustic peasants,” Mr. Bergdoll said.

On Tuesday at Work’s East Village offices, Ms. Andraos, 34, and Mr. Wood, 40, and their staff raised a glass of Champagne to celebrate their winning design for a rural oasis in Queens. Mr. Wood described the project as “kind of a folded farm with a pool carved out of the middle.”

“We’re interested in the surrealistic object,” he explained.

Yet the architects’ creative process started with the more traditional P.S. 1 courtyard concept of an urban beach, focusing on themes like the striped bathing costumes of a 1928 photograph called “La Plage.” They moved from there to contemplating “Sous les pavés, la plage” (roughly, “under the paving stones, a better life”), a slogan dating from the 1968 student riots in Paris. Finally they arrived at the notion of “Sur les paves la ferme,” meaning, “Over the pavement, the farm.”

“We wanted to find what our generation’s symbol would be,” Ms. Andraos said, “embodying our preoccupations, our hopes for the world.”

In working out their design, the architects also kept in mind the movement from industrialization to postindustrialization, from global to local, from the free market to the farmer’s market, and from sand to hay.

“This is one of those designs that is both a homage to and a critique of the architecture of the ‘60s and ‘70s,” said Glenn D. Lowry, director of MoMA. “But it also has a playful and whimsical dimension.”

To organize the space they chose the heavy cardboard tubes — the largest is a yard in height, and in diameter — in part because of the shadows they would cast and because of their resilience. Columns will be bolted together to form a span that rises on either side of a pool like a large V.

Each tube will play its own role. Some will contain plantings on dirt shelves equipped with liner bags to prevent leakage.

There is a fabric tube that people can enter through a curtain “where you can hide from the party, if you’ve had enough,” Ms. Andraos said.

There will be two sound columns — one that plays farm sounds when you sit down, another in which you can look upward, see stars and hear crickets. There is a phone-charging column, a children’s grotto of columns with swings, an herb-growing column with circulating fans dispersing scents like basil or lavender, and a juicer column where fresh juice will be made and sold.

“It kind of hits a tenor of the times,” Mr. Bergdoll said. “It’s both a real and humorous response to sustainability.”

The architects also threw in a stand-alone bundle of spiraling columns that they refer to as “a mini Tatlin’s Tower,” a tribute to a Constructivist building envisioned by the Russian architect Vladimir Tatlin for Petrograd that was conceived after the 1917 Revolution but was never built.

“For us it’s an opportunity to create an exciting structure,” Ms. Andraos said of the project, “but also to talk about issues and ideas — to be engaged with the world.”

The couple met in 1998, when Mr. Wood was working at the Rotterdam headquarters of the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas; Ms. Andraos took a job there a year later. They started their firm in 2002, and their projects include the recently completed new headquarters for Diane von Furstenberg in Manhattan’s meatpacking district. The architects are also working on the master plan for the BAM Cultural District in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

As is typically the case with such projects, the architects will have to scale back their vision. They have imagined growing everything from mint to peas, fennel and pumpkins. Mr. Wood said he hoped to grow fresh tomatoes for bloody marys “and barley and hops, so we can make P.S. 1 beer by October.”

The ultimate result, of course, is likely to be more modest. The project budget is $85,000, although the architects said they hope to raise $60,000 more in funds and in-kind donations of materials to cover additional costs.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the plant palate changes a bit,” Mr. Bergdoll said. “But its conceptual infrastructure is so strong — it’s such a radical and on some level outlandish idea — that these modifications don’t fundamentally change it.”

The architects said they had consulted with the Horticultural Society of New York and with the Queens Botanical Garden and were open to adjusting their plans. “We’re talking about combining it with a real farmer’s market,” Mr. Wood said. “We’re not sure what’s going to grow.”

From The New York Times
Back to top

Renewing American Soil to “Re-Spirit” Our Industrial Cities

From Rust Belt to Greening Cities

Prudence dictates that we reexamine the ways in which we feed ourselves. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are endemic in the U.S.A. The effects of poor nutrition are impacting more of us at earlier ages. Further, our health care system isn’t really focused on health. Rather, it is all about disease intervention. Successful bypass surgery may extend the life of an individual, but it has had no positive effect on improving the average life expectancy of the general population. Management of diabetes is becoming more sophisticated, but the incidence of new cases is skyrocketing. Failures abound, yet no significant reallocation of resources toward “prevention” is in the offing. Instead, political candidates debate about new ways to pay for the same old thing.

ON AMERICAN SOIL

by Howard Hinterthuer

Above bedrock and beneath the blackness of space there exists a thin layer of basically three things; air, water, and soil. Look at the big blue marble from the moon and those are the things you see. Even the bedrock that punctures the soil is soil-in-the-making, just an eon or two from being worm habitat.

The environmentally aware have a long-standing concern for the degradation of our air and water, two key elements in our life support system. Those who aren’t concerned are either already dead or spiritually vacant. For all practical purposes, Al Gore succeeded in silencing those who question global warming and mankind’s contribution to it. A few remain, too embarrassed to admit to their own complicity in discounting the overwhelming evidence. To them I say, “Get over it. There’s work to do. All are welcome. Go and sin no more.”

The work we face with regard to air and water is international in scope. After all, the air is everywhere, crossing international boundaries with impunity. Likewise water has no regard for nationhood. It goes where it wants. Even the Hoover Dam is temporary. Don’t kid yourself. Addressing air and water pollution issues requires international cooperation and an acknowledgement that we need each other. It may be that nations must sacrifice a measure of sovereignty as a necessary step to saving humanity’s life support system. I pray we will have leaders who have the courage to place American interest secondary to the cause of human survival. To leaders who cling to power I say, “George Washington proved his greatness at the moment he relinquished power.”

I fear for the U.S.A. Our stature in the world has been frittered away by dull people, people without vision. Manufacturing has moved offshore. Currently a substantial portion of the service sector resides in India, and more will migrate to China when the Chinese master English. China has been importing English teachers for decades. The writing is on the wall, from left to right, top to bottom.

What will be left? What will be our contribution to the new world order?

We have soil—humongous amounts of it. We have tracts of agricultural land so large that a person can stand in the middle and not see a building in any direction. “Enough to feed the world” people used to say. But it turns out there are problems—huge problems with our current over reliance on industrial-scale agriculture.

Entire regions of North America are devoted to vast expanses of single crops like corn and soybeans. The plants themselves are genetically identical. Many may soon be grown from terminator seeds, assuring they can’t be planted again next year because subsequent generations of seeds will not germinate. Instead farmers will be on the hook to purchase seed next season and every season thereafter. The concern is that these plants cross pollinate with heirloom varieties, terminating many of them as well. As a result, we will lose genetic diversity, the rich array of genetic traits that help to assure species survival.

“Same-ness” is attractive because it is predictable. It is the concept that drives cloning. Livestock producers are able to predict weight gain, milk production, butter fat content, wool quality and more. When consumers cry out, “We don’t know the consequences of eating cloned meat,” the FDA counters with studies showing there are no ill effects.

“Rest easy,” says the FDA and may be right about consuming cloned critters. But the bigger danger is loss of genetic diversity. “Same-ness” increases vulnerability. When grasshoppers or stem rust attacked the wheat crop in Alberta, the economy collapsed. When blight struck the potato crop in Ireland, starvation soon followed. Nematode worms in the soil can ruin a corn crop. Monoculture, massing identical plants on large tracts of land, is an invitation to disaster. http://www.ratical.org/co-globalize/terminator.html

Staving off the demons requires excessively large inputs of chemical fertilizer and pesticides, all of which are very bad for the soil. After all, healthy soil is a complex and living thing. It is mixture of minerals like sand, fiber and nutrients from decaying organic matter, clay, microorganisms like fungi and bacteria, worms, shrews, bugs, reptiles, mammals, and more, all living together in mutually dependent ways. When a farmer pours on the nematode worm killer he is also wiping out other organisms and those that depend upon them. It is like gassing New York City. Manhattan would still look like a city from thirty-thousand feet, but there would be no life left in it.

Chemical fertilizer and pesticides are also bad for our national security. Most are made from oil and/or natural gas, in whole or in part. Additionally, mechanized agriculture requires massive energy use for production, transportation, processing, refrigeration, and more. If the oil dries up literally or politically, our ability to produce food profitably on a large scale using current methods goes away.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

Prudence dictates that we reexamine the ways in which we feed ourselves. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are endemic in the U.S.A. The effects of poor nutrition are impacting more of us at earlier ages. Further, our healthcare system isn’t really focused on health. Rather, it is all about disease intervention. Successful bypass surgery may extend the life of an individual, but it has had no positive effect on improving the average life expectancy of the general population. Management of diabetes is becoming more sophisticated, but the incidence of new cases is skyrocketing. Failures abound, yet no significant reallocation of resources toward “prevention” is in the offing. Instead, political candidates debate about new ways to pay for the same old thing.

Feeding ourselves in healthy ways seems to boil down to individual and unified action at the grassroots level. Here are guiding principles that will help to save our own lives as well as our nation’s place in the world.

Strategy #1: Produce Locally

Plant a garden. It is an optimistic thing to do, especially in an urban environment where air quality, aesthetics, and one’s sense of well being will benefit immensely. It doesn’t take a large area. All that’s required is good soil (we’ll get to that later) and sunlight. People garden in window boxes. Some may have only one tomato plant on the fire escape, but that one plant makes a huge statement to the world. It says, “I will not be defeated.”

A small back or side yard can produce a substantial amount of nutritious and tasty food—food that doesn’t have to be shipped from California or Chili, or even Oostburg for that matter. Think of all the oil that will be saved; no ships, no trucks, no refrigeration, no packaging. Plus, and here’s the really great part, it will be ripe.

You can do this by yourself. Gardening requires physical effort at times, but not so much that one has to be in great condition to start. Unlike soccer players who have to be finely honed at the whistle, gardeners are able to play themselves into shape. Plus you get to set the pace. Gardening is idyllic. That’s one of the charms.

Or you can garden with others. Swap labor with your neighbor. Share seeds. No one needs an eighty-foot row of zucchini. My friend did that. It was a nightmare. All you need are one or two plants, and even then you may end up with too much. Community gardens are great places to grow vegetables, and they are also fantastic places to grow “community.”

The required tools are simple and relatively inexpensive; a pointy shovel, maybe a cultivating fork, a garden trowel, an iron rake and a hoe. My favorite hoe belonged to my grandfather. The left and right ears broke off sometime during the last millennium. Someone, probably my dad, smoothed the edges with a file. Now it’s shaped like and Russet potato. It’s small enough to get between closely placed plants in a tight space.

Opening-up a garden by turning over the soil with a shovel may be the most physical task of all. The first season can be difficult. Hire a teenager. Once the shovel-size clumps are piled-up, breaking them into smaller chunks with a cultivating fork is an easier task. Next chop-up those lumps with a hoe. Finally use the rake to push the loosened soil where you want it.

Each year it gets easier, especially if you use every opportunity to amend the soil. “Amend” means adding things to make it better, like the Amendments to the Constitution.

Strategy #2: Build-up the Soil

Strategy #3: Cherish and Protect Genetic Diversity

Scrutinize laws allowing the ownership of genetic material. The genetic diversity of the planet must always be a resource held in common by mankind. Collective ownership of the genome assures that we are more likely to feel a responsibility to protect it.

Farmers must be allowed to own their own seeds

Strategy #4: Downsize

Strategy #5: Cooperate/Educate

Tool banks

Grace Lee Boggs’ “MLK’s Visionary Legacy”

By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan citizen, Feb. 3–9. 2008

I’ve learned a lot from MLK celebrations over the years.

For example, during the 15th annual University of Michigan
celebration in 2002 I participated in a “Futuring” conference
designed by my old friend, School of Natural Resources and the
Environment Professor Bunyan Bryant, to encourage us to dream, as MLK
did, of the world we would like to live in. Bunyan believes Hope can
be generated by “rehearsing the future.” Through stories, images
and role plays, we broaden our consciousness to imagine ideas we might
otherwise never consider.

The conference agenda included time for each of us to create our own
vision of the future. In 2003 these stories were published in a
little book entitled The Future: Images of the 21st century, edited by
Bunyan Bryant.

My story was about how life for Detroiters in 2032 had been
completely transformed because, inspired by Detroit Summer youth and
elders, we were growing our own food and producing goods and services
in neighborhood shops and offices. Young people felt needed and were no
longer alienated because productive work for the community had been
incorporated into the school curriculum.

That vision still motivates my activism in the Detroit-City of Hope
campaign.

The next year I was the keynote speaker for the University of
Michigan 16th annual MLK symposium. The theme was Gandhi’s iconic
statement “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” To
prepare my speech I re-read Gandhi and discovered how much MLK had
been influenced not only by Gandhi’s concept of non-violence but by his
rejection of unlimited economic growth and western strategies of
revolutionary struggle.

The abundance created by unlimited economic growth, Gandhi warned,
would make it almost impossible to distinguish between Needs and Wants.
So we would end up enslaved by the temptations of material wealth and
luxuries or what we now call “consumerism,”

The struggle for independence, Gandhi also warned, should not be mainly
a struggle for state power but should revolve going to people at the
grassroots, encouraging them to think for themselves and to create
self-reliant local communities based on Work that preserves rather than
destroys skills and encourages cooperation rather than competition, and
on Education whose goal is building community rather than increasing
the status and earning power of the individual.

Last Friday night I participated in the monthly film/speaker series at
Marygrove College created by IHM Sisters Kim Redigan and Liz Walters.
Following the reading of MLK’s “Breaking the Silence” speech by poet
Karega Ani and introductory remarks by me, we counted down into
small groups of eight, to grapple with the questions posed in “The
Fierce Agony of Now” Call issued by the Beloved Communities
Initiative: Creating Healthy Communities, Sustainable Living,
Immigration, Justice (see Michigan Citizen, January 13, 2008 or
boggscenter.org)

The reports from the small groups were transformative. For example,
most groups proposed that in order to build healthy communities we
need to sponsor potlucks, study circles.,urban gardening. We can
sit on front porches, talk to our neighbors, and walk and talk in our
neighborhoods, Although these activities are simple, they are not
easy in today’s world when many of us enter our homes through our
garages.

The next day, at a family and community visioning meeting in my
own neighborhood, I recalled how friendly we once were with our
neighbors, running errands and baby sitting for each other. Now we
are more afraid of one another, and especially of young people, than
we used to be of wild beasts. How do we recover that sense of
community? How do we bring the neighbor back into the ‘hood?

As we brainstormed around these questions, I was reminded of MLK’s
bequest to us the night before he was assassinated. Desiring longevity
but recognizing that his time was running out, he remained true to his
visionary self. “The nation is sick,” he said. “Trouble is in the
land. But I know somehow that only when it is dark enough can you see
the stars.”

Wikipedia List of Notable Community Organizers in U.S. History

Definition and History of Community Organizing

Obama, Community Organizer, Community Co-Creator

We are intensely in need of communities
To nourish our lives.

The Great Atlantic Migrations, some totally forced by
Repulsive levels of violence, e.g. the slavers,
Some forced by virtue of homeland catastrophes, e.g.;
The enclosures of British commons; the potato famines
In Ireland, and also Germany; the push from population pressures
Off the rural regions of most of Europe,
Or, in varying degrees, the lure of easier access to land,
Employment, and escape from old Mediterranean and European patterns:

All of these great movements find a good measure of the “American character”
Marked with a yearning for community, for immersion in daily rounds,
In an unfolding and welcoming network of neighborhoods, associations,
Small business and professional exchanges, face-to-face commerce, politics and—
Life!

We, many of us, are atomized like the wandering ostracized and exiles
Of the ages in all lands but in some people more than others.

The depth of our roots in organic, local communities of people
Who look out for one another, or families and clans available when needed,
Is quite a bit more shallow than in more traditional, organic, and
Free-from-future shock societies and attendant cultures.

This yearning for belongingness, for community, for organic society,
For locally produced goods and services,
For local food!

This quest for community has something to do with the Obama Movement.

Obama, at his deepest public level, is a great community organizer,
Perhaps the greatest community organizer this nation has ever known.

At a time when the need to create community,
To co-create, to “organize” our communities,
Is as great an imperative as at any time in
The long journey of the species human.

Viva, Obama the Community Organizer!

The immigrant people of North America,
From the Spanish, French, and British migrations
(And, for several hundred years, “conquests”)

See also List of organizers Category:Community organizers

  • Jane Addams
  • Saul Alinsky
  • Gale Cincotta
  • Daniel Berrigan
  • John Calkins
  • Edward T. Chambers
  • César Chávez
  • Bert Corona
  • Dorothy Day
  • John W. Gardner
  • Ernesto Cortes
  • Samuel Gompers
  • Myles Horton
  • Jesse Jackson
  • Mother Jones
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • John L. Lewis
  • Fred Ross, Sr.
  • Joe Szakos
  • Shel Trapp
  • Barack Obama 1983–1987

Community organizing is a process by which people are brought together to act in common self-interest. While organizing describes any activity involving people interacting with one another in a formal manner, much community organizing is in the pursuit of a common agenda. Many groups seek populist goals and the ideal of participatory democracy. Community organizers create social movements by building a base of concerned people, mobilizing these community members to act, and developing leadership from and relationships among the people involved.

1880 to 1900

People sought to meet the pressures of rapid immigration and industrialization by organizing immigrant neighborhoods in urban centers. Since the emphasis of the reformers was mostly on building community through settlement houses and other service mechanisms, the dominant approach was what Fisher calls social work. During this period The Newsboys Strike provided an early model of youth-led organizing.

1900 to 1940

Community organization was established distinct from social work, with much energy coming from those critical of capitalist doctrines. Studs Terkel documented community organizing in the depression era, perhaps most notably that of Dorothy Day. Most organizations had a national orientation because the economic problems the nation faced did not seem possible to change at the neighborhood levels.

1940 to 1960

The emergence of the distinctive approach of Saul Alinsky spurred new thought and new blood into community movements. Those influenced by Alinsky were (and still are) concerned with social justice without having socialist thought as their primary framework. Alinsky promoted greater awareness of community organizing in academic circles, and those affiliated with Alinsky trained a generation of organizers, including César Chávez.

1960 to present

The American Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war movements, the Chicano movement, the feminist movement, and the gay rights movement all influenced and were influenced by ideas of neighborhood organizing.

continued…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_organizing

I was wrong - the Obama Yes We Can video is posted on YouTube

at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjXyqcx-mYY

Here’s the transcript of it:


Song & video, featuring a star cast, by Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas. Inspired by Barack Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’ speech.

http://www.yeswecansong.com

http://www.barackobama.com/

http://factcheck.barackobama.com/

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.

Yes we can.

It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom.

Yes we can.

It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.

Yes we can.

It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballots; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.

Yes we can to justice and equality.

Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity.

Yes we can heal this nation.

Yes we can repair this world.

Yes we can.

We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.

We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics… they will only grow louder and more dissonant… We’ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.

But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

Now the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea -

Yes. We. Can.


Celebrities featured include: Jesse Dylan, Will.i.am, Common, Scarlett Johansson, Tatyana Ali, John Legend, Herbie Hancock, Kate Walsh, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Adam Rodriquez, Kelly Hu, Adam Rodriquez, Amber Valetta, Eric Balfour, Aisha Tyler, Nicole Scherzinger and Nick Cannon
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Sweet Red Cherry Tomatoes From Your Harambee Garden

Have you ever wished to venture forth beyond
Your primal ancestral circles
And see what’s up in the village
Across the river from your own?

Have you ever longed for sweet red cherry tomatoes
So fresh and juicy the old world
Protestant or Catholic in you worries that
Eating them might be some kind of carnal sin?

Have you ever felt the joy of sacred fatigue
At the end of a workout in rich soil
Hands in the dirt, good sweat, and

Joyous work laughter moments with friends?

Have you ever imagined that…

Your nation gave rise to a movement
With other nations you are learning to love,

With an eye, strong body, and heart
Fixed on the prize of
Ten thousand backyard city farms.

With 4 chickens (no rooster) each
(Roosters visit from the early rising towns)

Eyes on the prize of…

Ten Thousand community farms and gardens,
In old industrial city neighborhoods,

Transforming themselves into

Planetary villages of grace, beauty, and health?

And the nation chose a leader
Who could understand all this!

Olde
Too Much Snow and Rain to Roof 2008

Stephanie Philipps, founder of the Harambee Reclamation Garden, meets with one of the initiators of Shorewood High School’s Parking Lot Into Urban Farm Demonstration Project, Eric Gietzen

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Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” Now NYT Best Seller

Obama Campaign Only One to Solicit His Views on Link Between Broken Health System and Toxic Industrial Agriculture

It is only a matter of time before the Obama movement’s top policy workers awaken to the enormous possibilities of urban agriculture for self-reliance/job development, community building/despair busting!

In Milwaukee a rainbow group is slowly gathering to create a Will Allen inspired and soil furnished community garden in Harambee. Good food and beauty at backyard farms and community gardens will bring the people from different “urban villages” together!

Sweet Red Cherry Tomatoes at Your Harambee Garden

Have you ever wished to venture forth beyond
Your primal ancestral circles
And see what’s up in the village
Across the river from your own?

Have you ever longed for sweet red cherry tomatoes
So fresh and juicy the old world
Protestant or Catholic in you worries that
Eating them might be some kind of carnal sin?

Have you ever felt the joy of sacred fatigue
At the end of a workout in rich soil
Hands in the dirt, good sweat, and
Joyous work laughter moments with friends?

Won’t it be grand when Obama’s movement
Awakens to the promise of urban farming and community gardens?
When political parties are linked to growing, harvesting, and …
Community feasting parties!

Some Exerpts from Pollan’s Book

Drawing upon a buried study in 1939 by Weston Price, a dentist
With a passion to learn about humans’ “bio-chemical requirements,”
Dentist/researcher Weston A. Price published the results of long research in
“Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.” Here are some key findings:

“Wherever he found an isolated…race that had not yet encountered the ‘displacing foods of modern commerce’…refined flour, sugar, canned and chemically preserved foods, and vegetable oils, he found little or no evidence of ‘modern degeneration’--…chronic diseasecancer, heart attacks, diabetes?, tooth decay, and malformed dental arches

…the processing of foods typically robs them of nutrients, vitamins especially. Store food is food designed to be stored and transported over long distances, and the surest way to make food more stable and less vulnerable to pests is to remove the nutrients from it.. In general, calories are much easier to transport—in the forms of refined grain or sugar—than nutrients, which are liable to deteriorate or attract the attention of bacteria, insects, and rodents, all keenly interested in nutrients.(More so, apparently, than we are).

Greetings from Polyglot Working Class Sacramento:

We are a multi-ethnic, mult-generational ad hoc group which came together to oppose the view of Blacks and Latinos as permanent adversaries and to stand together with Whites who oppose racism. As part of our efforts, we have recorded statements about why we support Obama, supplemented by a Hip Hop contribution and an original song written, performed and recorded to make clear that we plan to work for Obama’s election and to work with him after his election. We hope that you will listen to our CD, whick is attached in an mp3 file, then consider forwarding it to others across the country. We also hope that as you forward it, you will add your own positive comments and encourage others to do the same. We are people of the grassroots and working class. Some of us are or have been homeless. Many of us have many years of education and experience, yet still face job discrimination based on age, gender, orientation, age, disability and veteran status. But no matter what personal struggles we are enduring, we recognise that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the masses to gain control of our government, our lives and our futures.

Many years ago, millions of Americans, on a Sunday, learned that President Nixon had fired Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox in an effort to stop the criminal investigation. On that same Sunday, 5 million of us, myself included, sent telegrams to Washington, DC demanding the appointment of another prosecutor. Leon Jaworski was appointed, the investigation continued and Nixon was forced from office. As one of those 5 million, I know that every voice and every vote counts. It doesn’t matter what the party regulars want, in their own interests. It doesn’t matter that our votes are sifted through the Electoral College (we can eliminate that in 2009). It doesn’t matter if there are some issues on which we disagree. What matters is that we must survive or nothing else is possible. Our survival is on the line. The power elite and their overseers, who look like us but are not like us in visions and goals, did not take Obama seriously. They did not believe the masses could fund his campaign. They did not believe Whites would vote for a Black president. They thought they could bank on all Whites being racist. They did not believe the young would participate in government. On all of these issues they were wrong.

If 5 million strangers, in the era before the Internet, could change the course of this country in a day, then surely with all the technology at our disposal and with the knowledge and wisdom we have gained through the years, we can change history again. We cannot throw away the greatest opportunity for our country in its history, the chance to live according to the principles we say we believe in. The time has come to walk the talk with freedom and justice for all.

A note to those working on urban gardens: I am originally from Philadelphia, PA and began work with Viola Bethea on urban gardening there in the 1960′s and know its great value. I also know from experience how much the land grant universities could and should do to support this work. Viola and I and other community women also developed the first Police Athletic League for girls in this country and Girls, Inc. We’ve been at this and other tasks including peace work with World Without War, American Friends Service Committees, Philadelphia and Media (PA) Fellowship Houses, Fellowship Farm, National Town Meeting on a Sustainable America and much more. It is our intention to work together in unprecedented ways, facilitated by Obama’s election, because for the first time as activists we will not have to fight our government but can participate in it and direct it. No, it won’t be easy. Ending slavery wasn’t easy and isn’t finished but progress comes only from struggle. An ugly part of the struggle has become painfully obvious. Many who we thought were civil and human rights advocates for us, were in fact working for personal aggrandisement. We thought they were on our side but they are in the boat of the power elite, and have abandoned us. Obama’s election will be unprecedented progress, a major stride toward freedom. More than anything, it will make clear that we can define our own destiny through our own activism. They can take away they boats and leave us behind, but we can swim and, if need be, we will learn to walk on water. No one can make us give in or give up but ourselves. We are entitled to be free and we will be free if we accept nothing less.

With good wishes for the work you do and with the vision of new coalitions between our organizations.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Brooks, CEO
International Association for Women of Color Day (Women of Color Day - March 1st, in its 22nd year)
(a social entrepreneurship: business working in the interest of the community)
3325 Northrop Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95864
http://www.womenofcolorday.com
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Riverwest Raised Seeton Hall Law Professor Rachel Godsil Collection of Articles re Obama Campaign

From friend James Forman:
A lot of my friends sit somewhat (very far?) to the left of the mainstream Democratic Party, and some in this group really struggle with what to do in this election. Kucinich and Edwards appealed for awhile, and now they are gone. Obama is not perfect, as many point out to me, and his record in the Senate has been more centrist than the solidly progressive views that those who knew him in law school and Chicago remember. So people worry, including Christopher Hayes, Washington bureau chief for our country’s most consistent voice from the left, the Nation. But after thinking it through, he’s with Obama. In this new piece, he makes the most compelling argument I have yet read for why the left should agree. (“The question then becomes this: which of the two Democratic candidates is more likely to bring to fruition a new progressive majority? I believe, passionately and deeply, if occasionally waveringly, that it’s Barack Obama.”) The piece is a must forward for anybody you know on the liberal/left who hasn’t made up their mind yet. It is here: http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20080218&s=hayes

This article makes some GREAT points:
The question of who can best build popular support for a progressive governing agenda is related to, but distinct from, the question of electability. Given a certain ceiling on Clinton’s appeal (due largely to years of unhinged attacks from the “vast right-wing conspiracy”), her campaign seems well prepared to run a 50 percent + 1 campaign, a rerun of 2004 but with a state or two switching columns: Florida, maybe, or Ohio. Obama is aiming for something bigger: a landmark sea-change election, with the kind of high favorability and approval ratings that can drive an agenda forward. Why should we think he can do it?

The short answer is that Obama is simply one of the most talented and appealing politicians in recent memory. Perhaps the most. Pollster.com shows a series of polls taken in the Democratic campaign. The graphs plotting national polling numbers as well as those in the first four states show a remarkably consistent pattern. Hillary Clinton starts out with either a modest or, more commonly, a massive lead, owing to her superior name recognition and the popularity of the Clinton brand. As the campaign goes forward Clinton’s support either climbs slowly, plateaus or dips. But as the actual contest approaches, and voters start paying attention, Obama’s support suddenly begins to grow exponentially.

In addition to persuading those who already vote, Obama has also delivered on one of the hoariest promises in politics: to bring in new voters (especially the young). It’s a phenomenon that, if it were to continue with him as nominee, could completely alter the electoral math. Young people are by far the most progressive voters of any age cohort, and they overwhelmingly favor Barack Obama by stunning margins. Their enthusiasm has translated into massive increases in youth turnout in the early contests.

Finally, there’s the question of coattails. In many senses there’s less difference between the two presidential candidates than there is between a Senate with fifty-one Democrats and one with fifty-six. No Democratic presidential candidate is going to carry, say, Mississippi or Nebraska, but many Democrats in those states fear that the ingrained Clinton hatred would rally the GOP base and/or depress turnout, hurting down-ticket candidates. Over the past few weeks a series of prominent red-state Democrats, most notably Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, have endorsed Obama. When I asked a Democratic Congressional candidate in the Deep South who he preferred at the top of the ticket, he didn’t hesitate: “Obama is absolutely the better candidate. Hillary brings a lot of sting; he takes some sting out of them.”
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Another from James Forman
An old friend of mine, on this email list, sent me this column with a note saying “Idon’t think I’ve ever forwarded a Wall Street Journal op-ed, but there’s a first time for everything…” That about sums it up. The column writer has credibility, being a former defender of Clinton’s position that doing a few hours of legal work as part of a fraudulent deal during Whitewater was de minimus and not blameworthy. Yet Clinton, who has long (and accurately) challenged the right for pursuing baseless charges for political gain, has now turned around and is doing exactly the same thing against Obama. This piece lays out the facts and exposes the hypocrisy. In South Carolina we saw that her and Bill’s distortions of Obama’s record backfired; hopefully this will too. I’ve bolded the money quotes below.

P.S. I’ve gotten a bunch of emails back in the last 48 hours from folks on this list saying that you are forwarding these pieces along, and some Clinton, Edwards, and Kucinich supporters and undecideds are becoming Obamans. Glad to hear it. Keep up the pressure. About 20% of folks decide in the last day or 2, so there is still time for reason, good arguments and passion to carry the day.

Here’s the key excerpt from the WSJ Op Ed:
No one who has ever practiced law, let alone Mrs. Clinton, could argue, with a clear conscience, that these five hours on behalf of a church group that partnered with a man who at a later point in time would be alleged to be a scoundrel equated to knowingly representing a Chicago slumlord. Yet she could not resist leveling the accusation.
I suggest that this provides a window into Mrs. Clinton’s character because notwithstanding the enormous suffering she had to endure when accused of wrongful conduct in her representation of Madison Guaranty - a representation that appears to have been no more than a routine business transaction - she is willing to behave no differently than did her Whitewater accusers if she can gain politically. She appears to have learned no lessons from the Starr investigation.

Mrs. Clinton’s willingness to ignore the truth for short-term political advantage is exactly what breeds the partisanship that’s paralyzed Washington for too many years, and the cynicism felt by so many Americans, especially the young. Getting ahead by any means possible is the strategy. Once elected, the candidate falsely believes that he or she will be able to set things right and govern differently. All that was said in the campaign is rationalized - it will be forgiven and forgotten as part of the hyperbole of the election process.
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This is incredible!

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama raised a staggering $32 million in contributions for January, his campaign reported Thursday, and will use the massive haul to finance a broad radio and television campaign in most Super Tuesday states and seven others holding contests in February.
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A nice endorsement in the Jerusalem Post by Mel Levine, a former Congressman:

You wouldn’t know it from the flood of hysterical emails we have all seen, or from a fair amount of the commentary, but there is a groundswell of Jewish American support for Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. That should hardly be surprising, for it is a reflection of the nature of our community. When he speaks - with eloquence, unmistakable authenticity, and passion - for the values we hold most dear, he renews our hope for America in these difficult times.

As a state legislator, a congressman, and a private citizen, I have been politically active in Jewish causes, including pro-Israel causes, for over 40 years, and have observed many presidential candidates. But Barack Obama is the first to so thoroughly capture the imagination of Jewish Americans.
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Dan Gerstein with an Op Ed in the NY Daily News last week, encouraging Obama to be more bold.

Give the teachers unions an ultimatum: Either you are with the kids or against them. For Obama to be credible on special interests, he has to show he is willing to fight some on his side. The obvious candidate would be the teachers unions, which have been the nation’s biggest obstacle to educational change for years. Conservatives in Orange County and single mothers in Bushwick would both rejoice if a progressive black man drew a line in the sand - work with me to reward the best teachers and fire the bad ones, or get out of the way.
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A well-deserved smack of Bill Clinton for his recent behavior:

Last week, Clinton was blasted by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, an Obama supporter, for taking “glib cheap shots” that are “beneath the dignity of a former president.” He was excoriated by Ed Schultz, the nation’s top liberal radio talk host, for “lying about Barack Obama’s record” and “embarrassing” the Democratic Party. Tom Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader who has endorsed Obama, warned that Clinton’s “overt distortions” were “not presidential” and could “destroy the party” if not checked.

A past chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party charged the Clintons with practicing the “politics of deception” and likened the former president to Lee Atwater, a Republican operative who became infamous for his ruthless political warfare.

“The Clintons play dirty when they feel threatened,” wrote William Greider in a scathing piece for The Nation, a leading journal of the left. “The recent roughing-up of Barack Obama was in the trademark style of the Clinton years in the White House. High-minded and self-important on the surface, smarmily duplicitous underneath, meanwhile jabbing hard to the groin area. They are a slippery pair and come as a package. The nation is at fair risk of getting them back in the White House for four more years. The thought makes me queasy.”…

If recent weeks have made one thing clear, it is that the current Clinton campaign is as much about returning Bill to the White House as about making Hillary president.

Bill Clinton’s angry outbursts, his lack of self-control, his overpowering presence in the public arena are surely a preview of what a Clinton Restoration would be like. Hillary might be the president, but Bill would still be, as he has always been, the dominant Clinton. To whom would he be answerable in a second Clintonadministration? Not to the woman whose political career is a derivative of his, that’s for sure.
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The Choice, by CHRISTOPHER HAYES

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080218/hayes
The Nation, February 18, 2008

It’s gotten to that time in the primary contest where lines are drawn, camps are solidified and conversations around dinner tables grow heated. My friend Dan recently put it this way: “You start talking about the candidates, and next thing you know someone’s crying!” The excellent (and uncommitted) blogger Digby recently decided to shut down her comments section because the posts had grown so toxic. The recent uptick in acrimony is largely due to the narrowing of the field. While once the energy was spread over many camps, it is now, with the exits of Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards, concentrated on just two, leaving progressives in a fierce debate over whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would make the better nominee, and President.

According to polling data as well as my conversations with friends and colleagues, progressives are evenly split or undecided between the two. This is, to me, somewhat astonishing (about which more in a moment), but it also means that at a time when other subgroups within the Democratic coalition are leaning heavily toward one candidate or the other, progressives are at a moment of maximum leverage.

Insofar as the issues discussed during a presidential campaign are circumscribed by the taboos and pieties of the political and media establishments, they tend to be dispiriting for those of us on the left. Neither front-runner is calling for the nation to renounce its decades-old imperial posture or to end the prison-industrial complex; neither is saying that America’s suburbs and car culture are not sustainable modes of living in an era of expensive oil and global warming or pointing out that the “war on drugs” has been a moral disaster and strategic failure, with casualties borne most violently and destructively by society’s most marginalized and—a word you won’t be hearing from either candidate—oppressed. And yet, this election is far more encouraging (dare I say hopeful?) than any in recent memory. The policy agenda for the Democratic front-runners is significantly further to the left on the war, climate change and healthcare than that of John Kerry in 2004. The ideological implosion of conservatism, the failures of the Bush Administration and, perhaps most important, the shifts in public opinion in a leftward direction on war, the economy, civil liberties and civil rights are all coming together at the same time, providing progressives with the rare and historic opportunity to elect a President with a progressive majority and an actual mandate for progressive change.

The question then becomes this: which of the two Democratic candidates is more likely to bring to fruition a new progressive majority? I believe, passionately and deeply, if occasionally waveringly, that it’s Barack Obama.

Had you told me a few years ago that the left of the Democratic Party would be split between Obama and Clinton, I’d have dismissed you as crazy: Barack Obama has been a community organizer, a civil rights attorney, a loyal and reliable ally in the State Senate of progressive groups. For the Chicago left, his primary campaign and his subsequent election to the US Senate was a collective rallying cry. If you’ve read his first book, the truly beautiful, honest and intellectually sophisticated Dreams From My Father, you have an inkling of what young Chicago progressives felt about Obama. He is one of us, and now he’s in the Senate. We thought we’d elected our own Paul Wellstone. (Full disclosure: my brother is an organizer on the Obama campaign.)

That’s not, alas, how things turned out. Almost immediately Obama—likely with an eye on national office—shaded himself toward the center. His rhetoric was cool, often timid, not the zealous advocacy on behalf of peace, justice and the dispossessed that had characterized Wellstone’s tenure. His record places him squarely in the middle of Democratic senators, just slightly to Clinton’s left on domestic issues (he voted against the bankruptcy bill, for example). As a presidential candidate, his domestic policy (with some notable exceptions on voting rights and technology policy) has been very close to that of his chief rivals, though sometimes, notably on healthcare, marginally less progressive.

But while domestic policy will ultimately be determined through a complicated and fraught interplay with legislators, foreign policy is where the President’s agenda is implemented more or less unfettered. It’s here where distinctions in worldview matter most—and where Obama compares most favorably to Clinton. The war is the most obvious and powerful distinction between the two: Hillary Clinton voted for and supported the most disastrous American foreign policy decision since Vietnam, and Barack Obama (at a time when it was deeply courageous to do so) spoke out against it. In this campaign, their proposals are relatively similar, but in rhetoric and posture Clinton has played hawk to Obama’s dove, attacking from the right on everything from the use of first-strike nuclear weapons to negotiating with Iran’s president. Her hawkishness relative to Obama’s is mirrored in her circle of advisers. As my colleague Ari Berman has reported in these pages, it’s a circle dominated by people who believed and believe that waging pre-emptive war on Iraq was the right thing to do. Obama’s circle is made up overwhelmingly of people who thought the Iraq War was a mistake.

Clinton’s fundamentally defensive conception of how to defuse the Republicans on national security (neutralizing their hawkishness with one’s own) is an example of a larger problem, rooted in the fact that so many of her circle served in her husband’s Administration. Their political identities were formed in the crucible of crisis, from the Gingrich insurgency to the Ken Starr inquisition. The overriding imperative was survival against massive odds, often with a hostile public, press or both. Like an animal caught in a trap that chews off its leg to wriggle away, the Clinton crew by the end of its tenure had hardly any limbs left to propel an agenda. The benefit of this experience, much touted by the Clintons, is that they know how to fight and how to survive. But the cost has been high: those who lived through those years are habituated to playing defense and fighting rear-guard actions. We know how progressives fared under Clintonism: they were the bloodied limbs left in the trap. Clintonism, in other words, is the devil we know.

Which brings us to the one we don’t. A President cannot build a movement, but he can be its messenger, as was Reagan. Part of what tantalizes and frustrates about Obama is that he seems to have the potential to be such a messenger and yet shies away from speaking in ideological terms. When he invokes union organizers facing Pinkerton thugs to give us our forty-hour week, or says we are bound to one another as “our brother’s keeper…our sister’s keeper,” he is articulating the deepest progressive values: solidarity and community and collective action. But he places more rhetorical emphasis on a politics of “unity” that, read uncharitably, seems to fetishize bipartisanship as an end in itself and reinforce lame and deceptive myths that the parties are equally responsible for the “bickering” and “divisiveness” in Washington. It appears sometimes that his diagnosis of what’s wrong with politics is the way it is conducted rather than for whom.

In its totality, though, Obama’s rhetoric tells a story of politics that is distinct from both the one told by Beltway devotees of bipartisanship and comity and from the progressive activists’ story of a ceaseless battle between the forces of progress and those of reaction. If it differs from what I like to hear, it is also unfailingly targeted at building the coalition that is the raison d’être of Obama’s candidacy. Consider this passage from Obama’s stump speech:

I’ve learned in my life that you can stand firm in your principles while still reaching out to those who might not always agree with you. And although the Republican operatives in Washington might not be interested in hearing what we have to say, I think Republican and independent voters outside of Washington are. That’s the once-in-a-generation opportunity we have in this election.

Obama makes a distinction between bad-faith, implacable enemies (lobbyists, entrenched interests, “operatives”) and good-faith ideological opponents (Republicans, independents and conservatives of good conscience). He wants to court the latter and use their support to vanquish the former. This may be improbable, but it crucially allows former Republicans (Obama Republicans?) to cross over without guilt or self-loathing. They are not asked to renounce, only to join.

Obama’s diagnosis of the obstacles to progress is twofold. First, that the division of the electorate into the categories created by the right’s culture warriors is the primary means by which the forces of reaction resist change. Progress will be made only by rejecting or transcending those categories. In 1971 a young Pat Buchanan urged Richard Nixon to wield race as what would come to be known as a wedge issue. “This is a potential throw of the dice,” he wrote, “that could…cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half.” Obama seeks to stitch those halves back together.

Second, that the reason progressives have failed to achieve our goals over the past several decades is not that we didn’t fight hard enough but that we didn’t have a popular mandate. In other words, the fundamental obstacle is a basic political one: never having the public squarely on our side and never having the votes on the Hill. In this respect the Obama campaign is uniquely circular: his political appeal is rooted in the fact that he’s so politically appealing. This means that when he loses, the loss affects him worse than it would other candidates, since it also cuts against his message. But when he wins, particularly when he wins big, as he did in Iowa and South Carolina, the win means more because it reinforces the basic argument of his campaign.

The question of who can best build popular support for a progressive governing agenda is related to, but distinct from, the question of electability. Given a certain ceiling on Clinton’s appeal (due largely to years of unhinged attacks from the “vast right-wing conspiracy”), her campaign seems well prepared to run a 50 percent + 1 campaign, a rerun of 2004 but with a state or two switching columns: Florida, maybe, or Ohio. Obama is aiming for something bigger: a landmark sea-change election, with the kind of high favorability and approval ratings that can drive an agenda forward. Why should we think he can do it?

The short answer is that Obama is simply one of the most talented and appealing politicians in recent memory. Perhaps the most. Pollster.com shows a series of polls taken in the Democratic campaign. The graphs plotting national polling numbers as well as those in the first four states show a remarkably consistent pattern. Hillary Clinton starts out with either a modest or, more commonly, a massive lead, owing to her superior name recognition and the popularity of the Clinton brand. As the campaign goes forward Clinton’s support either climbs slowly, plateaus or dips. But as the actual contest approaches, and voters start paying attention, Obama’s support suddenly begins to grow exponentially.

In addition to persuading those who already vote, Obama has also delivered on one of the hoariest promises in politics: to bring in new voters (especially the young). It’s a phenomenon that, if it were to continue with him as nominee, could completely alter the electoral math. Young people are by far the most progressive voters of any age cohort, and they overwhelmingly favor Barack Obama by stunning margins. Their enthusiasm has translated into massive increases in youth turnout in the early contests.

Finally, there’s the question of coattails. In many senses there’s less difference between the two presidential candidates than there is between a Senate with fifty-one Democrats and one with fifty-six. No Democratic presidential candidate is going to carry, say, Mississippi or Nebraska, but many Democrats in those states fear that the ingrained Clinton hatred would rally the GOP base and/or depress turnout, hurting down-ticket candidates. Over the past few weeks a series of prominent red-state Democrats, most notably Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, have endorsed Obama. When I asked a Democratic Congressional candidate in the Deep South who he preferred at the top of the ticket, he didn’t hesitate: “Obama is absolutely the better candidate. Hillary brings a lot of sting; he takes some sting out of them.”

Whoever is elected in November, progressives will probably find themselves feeling frustrated. Ultimately though, the future judgments and actions of the candidates are unknowable, obscured behind time’s cloak. Who knew that the Bill Clinton of 1992 who campaigned with Nelson Mandela would later threaten to sanction South Africa when it passed a law allowing the production of low-cost generic AIDS drugs for its suffering population—or that the George W. Bush of 2000, an amiable “centrist” whose thin foreign-policy views shaded toward isolationism, would go on to become a self-justifying, delusional and messianic instrument of global war? In this sense, Bill Clinton is right: voting for and electing Barack Obama is a “roll of a dice.” All elections are. But the candidacy of Barack Obama represents by far the left’s best chance to, in Buchanan’s immortal phrasing, take back the bigger half of the country. It’s a chance we can’t pass up.
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Hillary’s Smear Campaign
By MICHAEL ZELDIN
January 31, 2008

Beginning with the South Carolina debate, and continuing as an applause line in many stump speeches thereafter, Hillary Clinton has accused BarackObamaof representing an inner-city slum lord while practicing law in Chicago.Of all people, Sen. Clinton should know better.

During the Whitewater investigation, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr investigated the legal work performed by Mrs. Clinton, then a partner in the Rose law firm, on behalf of Jim McDougal and his bank, Madison Guaranty. Mr. Starr believed that Mrs. Clinton helped orchestrate the fraudulent land deal known as Castle Grande. He subpoenaed her billing records, hauled her before a grand jury, and relentlessly pursued her.

In her defense, Mrs. Clinton and her attorneys asserted that her involvement in the matter was de minimus. As one of independent counsels who preceded Mr. Starr, I was interviewed repeatedly on the subject. I wholeheartedly defended Mrs. Clinton.

I believed that the evidence revealed that Mrs. Clinton, who spent a total of only 60 hours of work on the case over a 15-month period, was not substantially involved in the matter and did nothing improper in her work on behalf of Madison Guaranty. In the end, no charges were brought against Mrs. Clinton because there was insufficient evidence to prove that she knowingly assisted anyone in the perpetration of a fraud.

Yet, when an opportunity presented itself in the debate, Mrs. Clinton, without so much as a blink of an eye or the slightest blush, denounced Sen. Obama for representing “Tony Rezkoin his slum landlord business in inner-city Chicago.” Her accusation invites scrutiny. Not so much for the truth of the accusation (the facts are quite straightforward and completely benign) but as a window into Mrs. Clinton’s character and as a lens with which to see whether a Clinton presidency will be a vehicle for change.

The facts are well documented: Upon graduation from Harvard Law School in 1991, Mr. Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law review, could have named his job at any law firm or corporate legal department in America. Instead, he selected a boutique civil rights law firm, Miner Barnhill & Galland, where he represented community organizers, discrimination victims and black voters trying to force a redrawing of city ward boundaries.

During his tenure at Miner Barnhill, the firm accepted the representation of the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corp., a nonprofit group that redeveloped a run-down property on Chicago’s South Side. Mr. Rezko, not the client of the firm, was assisting Woodland with City housing redevelopment projects. As a junior associate, Mr. Obama was asked by his supervising attorney, William Miceli, to do about five hours of basic due diligence and document review. That began and ended his involvement in the case.

No one who has ever practiced law, let alone Mrs. Clinton, could argue, with a clear conscience, that these five hours on behalf of a church group that partnered with a man who at a later point in time would be alleged to be a scoundrel equated to knowingly representing a Chicago slumlord. Yet she could not resist leveling the accusation.

I suggest that this provides a window into Mrs. Clinton’s character because notwithstanding the enormous suffering she had to endure when accused of wrongful conduct in her representation of Madison Guaranty - a representation that appears to have been no more than a routine business transaction - she is willing to behave no differently than did her Whitewater accusers if she can gain politically. She appears to have learned no lessons from the Starr investigation.

Mrs. Clinton’s willingness to ignore the truth for short-term political advantage is exactly what breeds the partisanship that’s paralyzed Washington for too many years, and the cynicism felt by so many Americans, especially the young. Getting ahead by any means possible is the strategy. Once elected, the candidate falsely believes that he or she will be able to set things right and govern differently. All that was said in the campaign is rationalized - it will be forgiven and forgotten as part of the hyperbole of the election process.

Sadly, it just isn’t so. No one forgets and no one forgives in Washington. (Ask John Kerry if he has gotten over the Swift boat smear campaign.) How you get elected defines who you will be once in power. Mrs. Clinton has shown us with this one simple, baseless accusation why it will be hard for her candidacy to represent a change. She appears too comfortable with the politics of personal destruction if she can gain a political advantage.

Mr. Zeldinis a former independent counsel and federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. He has volunteered for Barack Obama in the Democratic primary campaign.
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Obama Fund-Raising Soared In January, Campaign Says
By CHRISTOPHER COOPER
January 31, 2008 6:13 p.m.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120179531437532259.html

LOS ANGELES - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama raised a staggering $32 million in contributions for January, his campaign reported Thursday, and will use the massive haul to finance a broad radio and television campaign in most Super Tuesday states and seven others holding contests in February.

If cash is a measure of popularity, Mr. Obama, a U.S. senator from Illinois, may be catching up to Democratic front-runner, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, who holds a polling edge in several of the largest Super Tuesday states. Super Tuesday is Feb. 5, when Democratic candidates will compete in 22 states for 1,700 party delegates and a potential big edge in the nominating battle.

In a conference call with reporters, David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, said the January money came from 170,000 new contributors who donated in “remarkably consistent” fashion throughout the month. Mr. Plouffe said the biggest contributor day came shortly after Mr. Obama lost a close battle for New Hampshire on Jan. 8. “We took a lot of encouragement from that because it showed the resolve of our existing donor base,” Mr. Plouffe said.

It’s unusual for a campaign to release contribution figures on anything but a quarterly basis, as required by the Federal Election Commission. But with Mrs. Clinton leading in popular polls in large Super Tuesday states such as California, New York and New Jersey, the Obama camp clearly saw the cash haul as an effective momentum tool.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign declined to release a similar accounting. “We put out our numbers quarterly,” campaign spokesman Phil Singer wrote in an email.

To be sure, both candidates have blown the doors off fund-raising totals this political season. Both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama had banked about $100 million apiece through the end of the year. The Center for Responsive Politics in Washington said all candidates had raised $450 million through the three quarters of 2007 alone.

The two campaigns have also spent a lot of money. Both reported spending about $40 million before the first voter had cast a ballot. That rate of spending eclipses the entire year’s fund-raising for most of the Republican field.

Contribution levels have been more disappointing this political season for Republicans. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the most well-heeled Republican candidate, had raised about $44 million through October 2007 and had plowed an additional $17 million of his own money into the campaign. And the campaign of Arizona Sen. John McCain, the front-runner on the Republican side, said earlier this week that it had raised a comparatively paltry $7 million through the first three weeks of January. The campaign reported raising $36 million during 2007.

Though the relationship between cash and voter popularity may remain a loose one, as evidenced by the current Republican field, there’s no doubt that it comes in handy for candidates competing on Tuesday, when an unprecedented number of states are holding nominating contests. Advertising analysts say that buying time to air television and radio ads in all of those states could cost upwards of $30 million. Mr. Plouffe said the campaign’s cash flow would allow it “to advertise in just about every Feb. 5 state at pretty high levels.” He added that the campaign was planning a separate ad buy in seven states holding nominating contests shortly after Super Tuesday. Some 500 Democratic delegates will be at stake during a 10-day stretch in mid-February.

Mr. Plouffe said the campaign expected the race with Mrs. Clinton to go on for several more months, calling the nominating schedule “a very challenging calendar.” Both Mr. Obama and his campaign surrogates have cast themselves as big underdogs in the Tuesday contests.

Laying Mr. Obama’s January contributions aside, the Center for Responsive Politics said that as of last fall, the money race in Super Tuesday states was relatively even, at least technically. The nonpartisan, nonprofit group said Mr. Obama slightly beat Mrs. Clinton in these 22 states, trumping her 12–10. But Mrs. Clinton had the edge on the biggest states: New York, New Jersey and California raised more money for the Clinton campaign, where she also holds a decided edge in recent polls. Mr. Obama took fund-raising honors in Illinois, Colorado and Massachusetts. He leads in the first two states but continues to trail in Massachusetts despite the recent endorsement of several members of the Kennedy clan, including Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Campaign officials say Mr. Obama’s landslide win in South Carolina last week has helped tremendously in the money race. Indeed, after a scheduled televised debate Thursday evening in Los Angeles, Mr. Obama was expected to attend a high-dollar fund-raiser that the campaign expected to attract about 1,000 attendees. Mr. McCain was also in California Thursday evening, slated to attend a Hollywood fund-raiser hosted by MGM studio head Harry Sloan.

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1201523778582&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
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Why I support Obama, by Mel Levine, THE JERUSALEM POST

Jan. 28, 2008

You wouldn’t know it from the flood of hysterical emails we have all seen, or from a fair amount of the commentary, but there is a groundswell of Jewish American support for Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. That should hardly be surprising, for it is a reflection of the nature of our community. When he speaks - with eloquence, unmistakable authenticity, and passion - for the values we hold most dear, he renews our hope for America in these difficult times.

As a state legislator, a congressman, and a private citizen, I have been politically active in Jewish causes, including pro-Israel causes, for over 40 years, and have observed many presidential candidates. But Barack Obama is the first to so thoroughly capture the imagination of Jewish Americans.

The reason, in my view, is that American politics for far too long has been dominated by partisanship, hate-mongering, and influence-peddling. The results are everywhere to see - a country where divisiveness thrives, whether it is between races, religions, or the haves and have-nots. (The top 2% of Americans earn 50% of America’s income now - and decent health care and a quality education are beyond the reach of many Americans.) Now, into this polarized nation comes Barack Obama - with a strikingly different message, and a history of bridging divides and crossing frontiers, through his 25 years of political activism.

As a community organizer and leader in Chicago and New York, and throughout his 12 years in public office, he has epitomized the notion of tikkun olam (“repairing the world”). Barack Obama understands that we can only surmount our greatest challenges by finding common ground and nurturing an inclusive style of politics - in a radical break from the polarization which plagues our polity. More than most, Jewish Americans have benefited from progressive ideas and inclusive politics, and no candidate better represents that tradition than Barack Obama.

SOME, INCLUDING in these pages, have raised questions about whether Barack Obama is truly committed to maintaining the United States’ support for Israel. In his speeches and public statements, his legislation and his voting record, he has proven himself to be a stalwart friend of Israel, committed to helping Israel in its search for peace with its neighbors, while standing strong with Israel against those who do not share this vision.

“I start with the premise that Israel is a stalwart ally of ours and their security cannot be compromised,” Senator Obama pledged last year to an AIPAC audience in a widely-praised speech that described his travels in Israel, confirmed his unwavering commitment to the Jewish state and laid out his vision for protecting American interests in the Middle East. He understands the threats Israel faces, especially from terrorism and Islamist radicalism. “Our job is to never forget that the threat of violence is real,” he told AIPAC.

In addition to burgeoning grassroots support, many Jewish leaders and pro-Israel activists are also joining the Obama campaign. “I am proud to say that he is unyielding in defending Israel’s security,” said longtime Jewish leader and philanthropist Lester Crown, “Obama’s conviction holds fast whether the threat comes from Gaza or Teheran.” In the United States Senate, Barack Obama has led the charge to tighten sanctions against Iran and make it easier for state and local governments to divest from companies that do business with the radical regime in Teheran - a high priority of the pro-Israel community in all 50 states. Consistently - before non-Jewish audiences as well as Jewish - Senator Obama insists that Israel must remain a Jewish state and strongly condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Semites.

Barack Obama has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Jewish community in raising the alarm about genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. “We must also consider using military force in circumstances beyond self-defense,” Obama wrote in Foreign Affairs, including cases of genocide and mass atrocities. Unlike our current leaders, Barack Obama will confront the destabilizing and debilitating impact of America’s reliance on imported oil.

Closer to home, Jewish Americans support Senator Obama because of his dedication to other bedrock causes in our community: promoting strong families and women’s rights, including advancement in the workplace, protecting a woman’s right to choose, and maintaining the separation of church and state. “I don’t think that people of any faith background should be prohibited from debating in the public square,” Obama said in a recent presidential debate, “But I am a strong believer in the separation of church and state. By the way, I support it not just for the state but also for the church, because that maintains our religious independence and that’s why we have such a thriving religious life.”

Barack Obama is a rare combination of an uncommon intellect, extraordinary decency, and proven leadership. Jewish Americans are understandably anxious about the direction in which our country is headed - both at home and abroad - and are eager for change. Barack Obama’s unifying message, experience and life story promise to lead America toward a new and better future, renewing our community’s faith in government and restoring our nation’s standing on the world stage.

The writer is a former Member of Congress from California and a former member of the board of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
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Obama, you say you want a revolution? Then prove it
By DAN GERSTEIN
NY Daily News, Wednesday, January 23rd 2008, 4:00 AM
http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2008/01/23/2008-01-23_obama_you_say_you_want_a_revolution_then-2.html

As the Democratic primary campaign has taken fuller shape over the past several weeks, many Democrats I have talked with are still wrestling with the same head-heart conflict. They are seduced by the possibilities of Barack Obama but not yet ready to abandon the security of the Clintons.

For most of the campaign, that split was due in large part to doubts about Obama’s readiness. Now, it seems, Obama has less of an experience problem than an expectations problem. He is so inspiring and his rhetoric so grandiose that many voters come in anticipating a comparably breathtaking agenda - only to walk away shaking their heads at the dearth of status quo-shaking ideas.

No 21st century equivalent of the New Deal. No moon shot. No ending welfare as we know it. Nothing yet that truly breaks the mold, exceeds our imagination or challenges Democratic orthodoxy.

Is it audacious to hope for more than conventional solutions from such a transformational figure?

Like a lot of uncommitted Democrats, I am excited by Obama’s promise. But he ought to know he’s in trouble when his opponent is stealing her strategy from Walter Mondale - Hillary Clinton actually revived the famous “Where’s the beef?” line at one point - and it’s working. If this keeps up, we may soon see there is a thin line between hope and hype.

Obama still has time to close the deal with the fence-sitters - provided he has the guts to take some stands that match the scope and force of his rhetoric. Here are five big leadership acts that could prove Obama means business about changing the way Washington works:

1) Call for a series of “unity” debates with the Republican nominee this fall. Before he was killed, John F. Kennedy had secretly worked out a plan with Barry Goldwater, his possible opponent in the 1964 campaign, to charter a plane together and hold a series of Lincoln-Douglas-style debates around the country. This idea is tailor-made for Obama - it would cement his place as the natural heir to the New Frontier and demonstrate that he is not going to wait to be President to elevate our democracy.

2) Commit to veto any legislation until Congress passes a credible climate change bill. As things stand now, Congress is not going to approve legislation to cap greenhouse gases without external pressure - i.e. the presidential leadership President Bush has failed to exercise. Obama could use the unique power he has to force them to behave like adults, act quickly - and show the world our seriousness about this existential threat.

3) Give the teachers unions an ultimatum: Either you are with the kids or against them. For Obama to be credible on special interests, he has to show he is willing to fight some on his side. The obvious candidate would be the teachers unions, which have been the nation’s biggest obstacle to educational change for years. Conservatives in Orange County and single mothers in Bushwick would both rejoice if a progressive black man drew a line in the sand - work with me to reward the best teachers and fire the bad ones, or get out of the way.

4) Promise to convene a bipartisan congressional war council on Inauguration Day. Relations with Capitol Hill will determine the fate of Obama’s change agenda. By making House and Senate leaders a formal part of his advisory circle on Iraq, Afghanistan and other terrorist hot spots from day one, Obama can quickly rebuild the cross-party and crossbranch bonds of trust that Bush helped destroy.

5) Pledge not to run for reelection if Osama Bin Laden is not killed or captured. What better way to differentiate yourself from Bush as well as your 2008 rivals than to hold yourself accountable for holding the greatest mass murderer of Americans accountable? This promise will show that Obama puts the national interest above his personal ambition - and show the Republicans he is not going to be out-toughed on terrorism.

Gerstein, a senior adviser to Joseph Lieberman’s vice presidential and presidential campaigns, is a Democratic strategist in New York.
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THE DOMINANT CLINTON
By Jeff Jacoby
The BostonGlobe
Sunday, January 27, 2008
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/01/27/the_dominant_clinton/

On the day a new president is inaugurated, the outgoing president traditionally keeps a low profile, slipping away quietly after the swearing-in and leaving the spotlight to his successor. Not Bill Clinton. His first order of post-presidential business on Jan. 20, 2001, was a 90-minute rally at Andrews Air Force Base, complete with honor guard and a 21-gun salute.

“I left the White House, but I’m still here!” Clinton exultantly told the crowd. “We’re not going anywhere!”

Like most Americans, I was ready for the tawdry and tiring psychodrama that was the Clintonadministration to finally be over. But something told me he wasn’t being rhetorical.

“He means it,” I wrote at the time. “He *isn’t* going anywhere. Yes, he packed his bags, zipped his pants, and turned the White House keys over to the new tenants — but he’s still here. There are more grotesqueries to come from our ex-president. There will be more truth-twisting, more money-grubbing, more scandal. Even out of office, he will find seamy new ways to degrade the presidency. Just wait.”

So here we are, seven years and one week later, and what do you know — Clinton is back in the news, his angry rants and political attacks casting a shadow over the presidential campaign. Once again the only elected president to face an impeachment trial is generating waves of outrage and dismay. A Rip Van Winkle newly awakened from 10 years of slumber wouldn’t be surprised to find Clinton under fire for spreading falsehoods and behaving disreputably. But he might do a double-take upon discovering that Clinton’s critics now aren’t Republicans. They are fellow Democrats and liberals recoiling from his attacks on Senator Barack Obama, who has had the effrontery to challenge Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination.

Last week, Clinton was blasted by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, an Obama supporter, for taking “glib cheap shots” that are “beneath the dignity of a former president.” He was excoriated by Ed Schultz, the nation’s top liberal radio talk host, for “lying about Barack Obama’s record” and “embarrassing” the Democratic Party. Tom Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader who has endorsed Obama, warned that Clinton’s “overt distortions” were “not presidential” and could “destroy the party” if not checked.

A past chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party charged the Clintonswith practicing the “politics of deception” and likened the former president to Lee Atwater, a Republican operative who became infamous for his ruthless political warfare.

“The Clintonsplay dirty when they feel threatened,” wrote William Greider in a scathing piece for The Nation, a leading journal of the left. “The recent roughing-up of Barack Obama was in the trademark style of the Clintonyears in the White House. High-minded and self-important on the surface, smarmily duplicitous underneath, meanwhile jabbing hard to the groin area. They are a slippery pair and come as a package. The nation is at fair risk of getting them back in the White House for four more years. The thought makes me queasy.”

What a pity that liberals and Democrats weren’t as plainspoken about the Clintons’ shamelessness and dishonesty back in the 1990s. In fairness, a few were: Former senator Bob Kerrey famously characterized Bill Clinton as “an unusually good liar — unusually good,” and Jesse Jackson once described him as “immune to shame,” someone who at the core consisted of “absolutely nothing… nothing but an appetite.” But far too often the Clintons’ habits of mendacity, anger, and self-pity, their constant blame-shifting, their stop-at-nothing pursuit of power were excused or minimized by the left.

America’s political culture might never have grown so embittered if Democrats then had been a little more outraged by the Clintons’ lack of ethics and a little less zealous about demonizing those who criticized them.

If recent weeks have made one thing clear, it is that the current Clintoncampaign is as much about returning Bill to the White House as about making Hillary president.

Bill Clinton’s angry outbursts, his lack of self-control, his overpowering presence in the public arena are surely a preview of what a Clinton Restoration would be like. Hillary might be the president, but Bill would still be, as he has always been, the dominant Clinton. To whom would he be answerable in a second Clintonadministration? Not to the woman whose political career is a derivative of his, that’s for sure.

Hillary likes to claim she is “running to break the highest and hardest glass ceiling,” but with Bill back in the White House, would it ever be clear just where the lines of authority really ran? What could possibly check and balance the extraconstitutional power of a presidential spouse who was also a former president? Anytime he wants it, Bill Clinton can have the spotlight. In a revived Clintonpresidency, would he be content to remain in his wife’s shadow? Or would she continue - as she continues even now - to be in his?
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Obama Nation; james Forman’s take on the debate;

Catching up on a collection of great stuff sent around by James Forman over the past couple of weeks…

1) A great article, attached, by Jonathan Chiat in The New Republic. Here are James’s comments:
A thoughtful piece on how Obama’s calls for unity are not capitulation to the right, but instead an attempt to bring in non-Democrats to enact liberal goals (which Obama correctly identifies as being supported by a majority of Americans). This provides an excellent rejoinder to the deluge of Krugman columns attacking Obama from the left, and is worth sending to any lefty friends convinced that the number of indys supporting Obama means that he must be a closet DLC guy.

2) James’s take on the debate:
I don’t normally watch the debates. Partly because it seems like such a weird forum; once they are President they don’t debate like that, so I’ve never been convinced that having debating skills, especially the soundbite length answers they are normally allowed to give, tells me much about whether they will be a good president. Speeches for me are a better (if not perfect) way to analyze candidates, since as President they often set the terms of the debate through their major speeches. I also normally pay little attention to who “won” the debate. This is mainly because I have at least a decade’s worth of experience reading reporters say that my candidate won, but then voters seem to disagree, or not care (Bush was always lame in the debates, yet he’s been with us for 8 years now).

But I did watch last night; both candidates were good, but Obama was better. If you didn’t watch, check out Daily Kos http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/2/1/01336/71094/85/447397 which helpfully combines excellent analysis with 4 or 5 short video clips of the high-lights, so you can see for yourself. The best thing that Obama did was connect his good instincts about the war in Iraq to his larger claim that he has the judgment and worldview that will avoid future disasters like Iraq. This was summed up in his awesome argument, delivered gracefully, that while Clinton had the experience to be “ready on day one,” he had the judgment to be “right on day one.” That sums it up for me.

Obama was substantive and detailed, and also appeared in charge and presidential. He outlined not only his differences with Bush, but showed why, including on the Iraq issue, he is the clear choice for Democrats who want to win against McCain (or Romney). Obama is right about this, and I wish the campaign would focus more squarely on the electability argument. Dems are afraid of Clinton v. McCain for lots of reasons, but one of them is that the match-up neutralizes a potentially huge issue for the Dems. The overwhelming majority of Americans think Iraq was a mistake and want out. McCain thinks it was right and wants to stay. If Clinton challenges him he will make mincemeat of her, since she voted to authorize the war. McCain gets to say that he is consistent and she is a waffler. But Obama can connect his initial opposition to what he wants to do now. So he is consistent, and right, and in line with the majority of Americans. Plus, as he helpfully is starting to argue more forcefully, his opposition on Iraq is evidence of a mindset that will avoid future Iraqs, which is what matters most of all at this point.

Finally, Obama was really strong and principled on immigration. They quoted a black woman who wrote in a question saying that Latinos are taking our jobs, and why isn’t anyone talking about that. Of course, the media being what it is, they said, let’s ask the black guy about that, see if we can stir up some black-Latino division, and Obama was faced with the question. I was delighted when he opened and closed with a crystal clear statement that we could not use illegal immigrants as a scapegoat for our economic woes. The job losses are real, people are hurting, but don’t lay that at the doorstep of immigrants. That is a courageous answer, made all the more so when Clinton followed up and tried to exploit the advantage (trying to win back the black voters she and Bill lost with their tactics of the past 2 weeks?) by finessing and suggesting that we had to be “honest” about the fact that immigration is part of the explanation for the pain this woman was facing. Both candidates felt the woman’s pain. But Obama was principled in standing up against the scapegoating.

One stop shopping if you missed the debate, or want to read good analysis: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/2/1/01336/71094/85/447397

3) James’s comments on this article:
The indispensable Rosa Brooks has another excellent piece. Some of you have emailed me with questions about 1) Obama’s experience and 2) legislative accomplishments. Brooks takes those on directly, as well as the issue of judgment, which for me is the most important of all.

Key excerpts:
Obama has good judgment, which trumps mere experience every time. On Iran, he called for engagement and a toning down of bellicose rhetoric. Clinton was instead fanning the flames by voting for an amendment favored by the Bush administration that called the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Obama’s judgment was vindicated when the National Intelligence Estimate asserted that Iran had already stopped its nuclear weapons program. On Pakistan, Obama consistently raised questions about the unqualified U.S. support for Pervez Musharraf — and was vindicated again as it became increasingly clear that Musharraf was neither a democrat nor a reliable U.S. ally against extremism.

Obama has solid legislative accomplishments under his belt too.

4) And this one:
Gregory Rodriquez was a colleague of mine at the New America Foundation and is now an LA Times columnist. This is a great article documenting that Latinos in fact will vote for black candidates, and have done so in local elections around the country (see bolded text below). He also shows how the Clinton spin suggesting otherwise is simply an attempt to create a real divide by purporting to describe one. A false and divisive racial tactic (once again).

Obama is going to have to work his butt off to get Latino votes in light of his lesser name recognition with that community. But I agree with Rodriguez it is not because Latinos won’t vote for him on race grounds.

Key line:
University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto has compiled a list of black big-city mayors who have received broad Latino support over the last several decades. In 1983, Harold Washington pulled 80% of the Latino vote in Chicago. David Dinkins won 73% in New York in 1989. And Denver’s Wellington Webb garnered more than 70% in 1991, as did Ron Kirk in Dallas in 1995 and then again in 1997 and 1999.

5) A beautiful letter to Sen. Obama from Toni Morrison:

In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don’t see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can’t train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace—that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.

When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country’s citizens as “we,” not “they”? Someone who understands what it will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself, what it desperately needs to become in the world?

6) More comments from James:
This from Jonathan Alter takes apart the Clinton attack machine’s distortion of Obama’s comments regarding Reagan. And most importantly, it makes the argument that the lies might not work, even in the primary. Earlier tonight I wrote about how this would backfire in the general election by pissing off voters Clinton needs if she wins. But I am worried that it will work in the primary. Alter makes a strong argument that the bogus attacks shouldn’t work, and won’t. He says voters are too smart to fall for it. I am not as confident, but I sure hope he is right.

Key excerpts:
The Republican story goes back to an interview Obama did with a Nevada newspaper in which he praised the way Ronald Reagan communicated with the public and changed “the trajectory of American politics.” He added that, unfortunately, the Republicans had some fresher ideas than the Democrats in recent decades.

These are completely ordinary comments. In fact, as Obama pointed out in the Myrtle Beach debate, Hillary is considerably more effusive about Reagan in Tom Brokaw’s new book, “Boom.” Bill has also made many statements over the years that were much more complimentary toward Reagan. Nobody paying attention thinks either Obama or the Clintons likes Reagan’s right-wing politics.

But instead of moving on to another line of attack with more grounding in what Bill Clinton called “indisputable facts,” the Clinton campaign decided to bet that this Reagan horse could be flogged for more votes among less educated voters in South Carolina who might be inclined to believe Hillary’s preposterous version.

7) Last but not least, James shares some stories from South Carolina. The last lines are especially poignant, as James’s father (also named James Forman) was one of the leaders of the civil rights movement (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Forman ):
The results are coming in. The votes are matching the exit polls. Obama is winning everywhere. People have lost it with excitement. “Fired up, ready to go” is the call and response. Paul Zimmerman is on his blackberry, reading out tepid NY Times headlines that talk of Obama winning by “a substantial margin.” “Call it a rout! Call it a rout,” screams Paul at his handheld and whoever else will listen. “He won women, he won every county but 2, this is a landslide!”

8:45pm Exit polls: Obama wins 50% of whites under 30, and that is in a 3 way race that includes a white man from S. Carolina. Everyone is begging the media to lose the stupid race coverage. “He won in Iowa, he was neck and neck in NH and Nevada, he’s winning tons of white votes in S. Carolina, can’t they see people like him for what he stands for,” a woman next to me is shouting at the screen. The crowd starts chanting, “race doesn’t matter,” and Tom and I talk about how the complexity of the issue can’t be captured in one phrase, but we totally understand why people are chanting that. South Carolinian whites are tired of being pigeon-holed as unreconstructed rednecks, damn it. The South isn’t just Confederate flags and lynchings and segregated schools. Even if race does matter in our society, and will for a long time, we get what the chant is capturing. Tom starts his own chant, just for us, “Race doesn’t matter (but we still need affirmative action).” Less catchy, we agree.

9pm U2 starts playing. Barack and Michelle arrive. Delirium.

9:05pm Turns out we got a good space on stage. Text messages start to arrive from people around the country telling me and Ross and Henry and my mom that they can see us, stand straight.

9:30pm Speech is over. Best speech ever, everybody is saying. We won it with community organizing and volunteers is the mantra. Even though the source (the volunteers) has an incentive to push this narrative, it seems right too. Clinton has name recognition and a machine. But Obama has passion and an army of fired up/ready to go folks. The marching band is still playing. They have a rhythmic version of Oooo-baaa-maaaa.

10pm Obama-mania takes over the bars of Columbia. Obama is stopping by to talk to volunteers and others who didn’t get in to the convention center.

1:30am To bed. Per usual, I’m one of the earliest. Sam Starks and Christian Lamar plan to be up all night, and the party rages on Jervais St.

Sunday, Jan. 27, 10am. Driving out of state, new wind in our sails. Tomorrow, Monday, my mom and I will be at the Library of Congress where they will be announcing our gift of Jim Forman’s papers to the Library. He wasn’t alive to see South Carolina, but I believe he felt it. Thanks dad. You made it happen. We love you.
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Obamania in action

His good judgment and experience are winning over party stalwarts.
Rosa Brooks, LA Times
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-oe-brooks31jan31,0,4257994,print.column

January 31, 2008

Is endorsing Barack Obama the new cool? Not long ago, Hillary Rodham Clinton was the seemingly inevitable front-runner for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Obama was the insurgent. He was pulling in young voters, independents and new voters, but he lacked the blessing of the party’s heavyweights.

That’s changed. Obama’s success in moving beyond the traditional party base — combined with serious Clinton fatigue — is leading many seasoned Democratic leaders to rethink their earlier assumptions. John Kerry, Patrick Leahy, Claire McCaskill and Tom Daschle, among others, have lined up behind Obama, and the last few days brought Obama a surge of new, high-profile endorsements from such luminaries as Ted Kennedy and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison.

His endorsers are right to see Obama as their party’s best hope for 2008. Though skeptics contend that Obama lacks “experience,” this concern makes sense only if you think you have to be a Washington insider to be qualified to run for president. Obama began his career as a community organizer and civil rights attorney in Chicago — relevant background for someone who will have to deal with tough economic and social justice issues as president. He was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996 and the U.S. Senate in 2004; in all, he’s spent 11 years being directly accountable to voters (that’s four more than Clinton).

Is that “enough” experience? Remember that if you never develop good judgment, racking up “experience” just tends to make you older, not necessarily smarter. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were “experienced,” and they brought us the Iraq war. Clinton, who’s billing herself as the “experienced” candidate, voted for that war.

Meanwhile, Obama, as a D.C. outsider, said in 2002 that a war in Iraq would be “a dumb war. … A war based not on principle but on politics.” He predicted, accurately, that the Iraq war would distract the U.S. from domestic priorities (such as the economy) and from our more pressing national security priorities (going after Al Qaeda, nuclear nonproliferation, forging a better energy policy).

Obama has good judgment, which trumps mere experience every time. On Iran, he called for engagement and a toning down of bellicose rhetoric. Clinton was instead fanning the flames by voting for an amendment favored by the Bush administration that called the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Obama’s judgment was vindicated when the National Intelligence Estimate asserted that Iran had already stopped its nuclear weapons program. On Pakistan, Obama consistently raised questions about the unqualified U.S. support for Pervez Musharraf — and was vindicated again as it became increasingly clear that Musharraf was neither a democrat nor a reliable U.S. ally against extremism.

Obama has solid legislative accomplishments under his belt too. In the sink-or-swim Illinois statehouse, he brokered compromises on politically sensitive issues such as children’s health coverage, racial profiling and tax credits for the working poor. In the U.S. Senate, Obama sponsored ethics reform legislation, legislation to ensure accountability of private military contractors and — with Republican Sen. Richard Lugar — a successful bill on securing global stocks of conventional weapons. That wasn’t glamorous, but it was important. Conventional weapons, not WMD, kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Equally important, Obama’s background and message are enabling him to reach beyond any narrow demographic slice of the electorate, and this bodes well — both for his ability to beat a GOP rival and for his ability to lead effectively and without divisiveness once elected. Obama’s high-powered endorsers also may have noticed something the mainstream media seem largely to have missed: If you add up the delegates won in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, Obama’s ahead, so far, with 63 delegates to Clinton’s 48.

True, Clinton still has more super delegates — those are the Democratic Party elites who each get a vote at the August convention and are not bound by the votes in their respective states — but that’s a vestige of her former status as the “inevitable” establishment candidate. Most of those super delegates came out for Clinton months before the primaries and caucuses began, and they’re a notoriously fickle lot. With Edwards out, it’s down to Obama and Clinton. And if Obama continues to win real delegates in real primaries, many of the super delegates in Clinton’s column may instead join Kennedy in endorsing Obama.

There’s been such a rush to endorse Obama that I’m starting to feel a bit left out. Admittedly, I’m not a senator or a Nobel laureate, but … I’m starting to think I should endorse him myself. Why should Ted Kennedy get to have all the fun?


Clinton’s Latino Spin

The Clinton campaign’s assertion that Latinos historically haven’t voted for black candidates is divisive - and false.
Gregory Rodriguez
LA Times

January 28, 2008

If a Hillary Clinton campaign official told a reporter that white voters never support black candidates, would the media have swallowed the message whole? What if a campaign pollster began whispering that Jews don’t have an “affinity” for African American politicians? Would the pundits have accepted the premise unquestioningly?

A few weeks ago, Sergio Bendixen, a Clinton pollster and Latino expert, publicly articulated what campaign officials appear to have been whispering for months. In an interview with Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, Bendixen explained that “the Hispanic voter — and I want to say this very carefully — has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates.”

The spin worked. For the last several weeks, it’s been on the airwaves (Tucker Carlson, “Hardball,” NPR), generally tossed off as if it were conventional wisdom. And it has shown up in sources as far afield as Agence France-Presse and the London Daily Telegraph, which wrote about a “voting bloc traditionally reluctant to support black candidates.”

The spin also helped shape the analysis of the Jan. 19 Nevada caucus, in which Clinton won the support of Latino voters by a margin of better than 2 to 1. Forget the possibility that Nevada’s Latino voters may have actually preferred Clinton or, at the very least, had a fondness for her husband; pundits embraced the idea that Latino voters simply didn’t like the fact that her opponent was black.

But was Bendixen’s blanket statement true? Far from it, and the evidence is overwhelming enough to make you wonder why in the world the Clinton campaign would want to portray Latino voters as too unrelentingly racist to vote for Barack Obama.

University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto has compiled a list of black big-city mayors who have received broad Latino support over the last several decades. In 1983, Harold Washington pulled 80% of the Latino vote in Chicago. David Dinkins won 73% in New York in 1989. And Denver’s Wellington Webb garnered more than 70% in 1991, as did Ron Kirk in Dallas in 1995 and then again in 1997 and 1999.

He could have also added that longtime Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley won a healthy chunk of the Latino vote in 1973 and then the clear majority in his mayoral reelection campaigns of 1977, 1981, 1985 and 1989.

Here in L.A., all three black members of Congress represent heavily Latino districts and ultimately couldn’t survive without significant Latino support. Five other black House members represent districts that are more than 25% Latino — including New York’s Charles Rangel and Texan Al Green — and are also heavily dependent on Latino voters.

So, given all this evidence, why did this notion get repeated so nonchalantly? For one, despite the focus on demographic changes in America, journalists’ ignorance of the aspirations of Latino America is pretty remarkable. They just don’t know much about the biggest minority in the nation. And two, no Latino organizations function in the way that, say, the Anti-Defamation League does for Jewish Americans. In other words, you can pretty much say whatever you want about Latinos without suffering any political repercussions.

Unlike merely “exuberant” supporters, whose mushy grasp of facts Clinton has explained by saying they can sometimes be “uncontrollable,” pollsters such as Bendixen most certainly work — and speak — at the whim and in the pay of the candidate.

So what would the Clinton campaign have to gain from spreading this misinformation? It helps undermine one of Obama’s central selling points, that he can build bridges and unite Americans of all types, and it jibes with the Clinton strategy of pigeon-holing Obama as the “black candidate.” (Witness Bill Clinton’s statement last week that his wife might lose South Carolina because of Obama’s growing black support.)
But the social costs of the Clintons’ strategy might end up being higher than the country is willing to pay. According to Stanford Law professor Richard Thompson Ford, who just published “The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse,” such political stunts can be “self-fulfilling prophecies.”

“It could make black voters more hostile to Latinos,” he said. “And Latinos who hear it might think that they somehow ought to be at odds with blacks. These kinds of statements generate interracial tensions.”

At the Democratic presidential debate in Nevada, Tim Russert asked Clinton whether the New Yorker quote represented the view of her campaign. “No, he was making a historical statement,” she said. “And, obviously, what we’re trying to do is bring America together so that everybody feels like they’re involved and they have a stake in the future.”

Really?
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ToniMorrison endorses Obama

Dear Senator Obama,

This letter represents a first for me—a public endorsement of a Presidential candidate. I feel driven to let you know why I am writing it. One reason is it may help gather other supporters; another is that this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril. I will not rehearse the multiple crises facing us, but of one thing I am certain: this opportunity for a national evolution (even revolution) will not come again soon, and I am convinced you are the person to capture it.

May I describe to you my thoughts?

I have admired Senator Clinton for years. Her knowledge always seemed to me exhaustive; her negotiation of politics expert. However I am more compelled by the quality of mind (as far as I can measure it) of a candidate. I cared little for her gender as a source of my admiration, and the little I did care was based on the fact that no liberal woman has ever ruled in America. Only conservative or “new-centrist” ones are allowed into that realm. Nor do I care very much for your race[s]. I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or because it might make me “proud.”

In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don’t see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can’t train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace—that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.

When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country’s citizens as “we,” not “they”? Someone who understands what it will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself, what it desperately needs to become in the world?

Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.

There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time.

Good luck to you and to us.

ToniMorrison
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The Clintons’ Patronizing Strategy

The latest attacks on Obama insult voters’ intelligence.
By Jonathan Alter
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 11:29 AM ET Jan 24, 2008

The last major presidential candidate from Illinois, Adlai Stevenson, was approached by a voter in the 1950s. “Governor, you have the vote of every thinking American,” she said. “That’s nice,” Stevenson replied. “But I need a majority.”

Politics, as Bill Clinton said Tuesday in South Carolina, is “a contact sport.” And while Barack Obama is trying hard to shed his professorial and all-too-Stevensonian air, he’s just not a good enough eye-gouger at the line of scrimmage, especially with two people teaming up against him.

Obama’s best hope is that Democratic voters aren’t as dumb as Hillary and Bill Clinton think they are. The outcome of the primaries depends on whether, amid their busy lives, voters can get a general fix on who is more often telling the truth about the barrage of charges and countercharges.

This is ironic, because the way Bill Clinton survived impeachment was by betting on the intelligence of the American public. Now he’s betting against it.

In South Carolina, Hillary is airing a radio ad that goes back to a theme she pushed in the debate there Monday night: that Obama liked Republican ideas. As Obama pointed out in his response ad, this is “demonstrably false,” as referees from ABC News to the Washington Post to factcheck.org have established. (The Obama response ad ends with a new tag line that Hillary will “say anything and change nothing.”)

The Republican story goes back to an interview Obama did with a Nevada newspaper in which he praised the way Ronald Reagan communicated with the public and changed “the trajectory of American politics.” He added that, unfortunately, the Republicans had some fresher ideas than the Democrats in recent decades.

These are completely ordinary comments. In fact, as Obama pointed out in the Myrtle Beach debate, Hillary is considerably more effusive about Reagan in Tom Brokaw’s new book, “Boom.” Bill has also made many statements over the years that were much more complimentary toward Reagan. Nobody paying attention thinks either Obama or the Clintons likes Reagan’s right-wing politics.

But instead of moving on to another line of attack with more grounding in what Bill Clinton called “indisputable facts,” the Clinton campaign decided to bet that this Reagan horse could be flogged for more votes among less educated voters in South Carolina who might be inclined to believe Hillary’s preposterous version.

Less educated? Yes, downscale voters are their target group. Obama is stronger among well-educated Democrats, according to polls. So the Clintons figure that maybe their base among less educated white Democrats might be receptive to an argument that assumes they’re dumb. Less well-educated equals gullible in the face of bogus attack ads. That’s the logic, and the Clintons are testing it in South Carolina before trying it in Super Tuesday states. They are also road-testing major distortions of Obama’s positions on abortion, Social Security and the minimum wage.

I’m all for aggressive, even negative, campaigning, but I’m not so sure this patronizing approach will work for Hillary down the stretch. Let’s take the battle in New Jersey, a delegate-rich state that votes on Feb. 5. Hillary will almost certainly win there, in her backyard, but the question is by how much. New Jersey delegates are awarded proportionally, which means that if Obama can come within five or ten points, he’s ahead of the game in the delegate hunt.

As the Reagan ad aired in South Carolina, Hillary was campaigning in New Jersey. That gave the Obama campaign an excuse to assemble a rapid response team to create a little backlash in the Garden State.

Cory Booker, the inspiring mayor of Newark, is especially popular with white liberals in the suburbs. Here’s what he said about the Clinton ads, beyond calling them “outrageous” and “dishonest”:

“We’re trying to offer an alternative to the Republicans’ fear and smear campaigns, and now we’re being dragged down to their level by the Clintons.”

I live in New Jersey and can attest that plenty of Democrats there will be responsive to Booker’s argument, as well as that of New York-area newspapers blasting Hillary for the Reagan shot. Disgust with this kind of thing may help bring Obama closer than expected.

Bill Clinton rightly complained in the 1990s about the politics of personal destruction. In both 1992 and 1996 he managed to run general election campaigns against George Bush and Bob Dole that mostly stayed on the high road. Then, in 1998, he survived a withering assault by relying on the common sense of average people.

On the day his testimony about his sex life was being replayed on TV—arguably the most embarrassing day in the history of the presidency—I slipped into a reception for Clinton in New York.

He was amazingly serene. With enough time and information, the president told me, the American people figure out the truth. They aren’t as dumb as [former House GOP strategist] Tom DeLay thinks, he suggested. “The people always get it right,” Clinton said.

They did then, supporting Clinton against a witch hunt. But will they now?
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Ect
Hey everyone, just back from South Carolina. I promised I would send out some stories. Here they are:

Jan. 25, 4:50pm Arrive Palmetto State. We are a multi-racial, multi-gen group in my car, my mom, me and Monique, a Georgetown Law Student. Over 350 volunteers are coming in from DC alone, and about 50 from the law school. Obama signs in our window, buttons on, everyone fired up. As I cross the border keep thinking of my mom’s memories from the 60′s, talking about how SNCC workers couldn’t ride in inter-racial groups, how whichever race was the minority had to ride on the floorboard of the car under blankets, how she felt driving for hours and hours lying on the floor of a car, in a world that wouldn’t recognize the justice of her cause. There we are in the welcome center at the border, me and Monique joking around without a care in the world, having fun with the beyond-friendly folks offering us maps to everywhere, including all we could want to know about places like Pee Dee County. I hug my mom, happy for how much has changed, and how she and SNCC and others like them in her generation made that happen. This trip is already worth it.

Jan. 26, 9am. Lexington County, South Carolina. The Georgetown group has been split up around the state. The profs (O’Sullivan, Lazarus, Henning) are all over, the students in 2 main groups. One is in Williamsburg, rural and 2 hours east of Columbia. My group is in Lexington, and last night at dinner a local politico told me that Lexington is heavily republican, mostly white, and isn’t sure Obama is going to find too many votes there. He asks me why we have been sent there and I tell him the truth, I have no idea, I’m a volunteer going where they told me to go. In Lexington at our Obama staging area we have about 15 Gtown students volunteering; the Lexington county folks are running the show. They are young, old, black, white, all local. About 10 of them are from the local 2,500 student high school, where they started a Lexington High for Obama club and even though almost the whole school is Republican, they say, laughing “we are more active and more organized, maybe because we are the oppressed minority.”

9:30am They are ready for us. Some of us are sent out to canvass, going to homes of identified Obama supporters and reminding them to vote, giving them numbers if they need a ride, asking them to call their neighbors and friends who support Obama and tell them to vote too. Me and my mom are on the phone call team; our list is not as good as the canvassers, which I realize when some people I call tell me that they already voted in the Republican primary, and one guy tells me that he is “100% Ron Paul.”

10am. Gotta love the south. Big plates of grits are being cooked up for all the volunteers. First round of phone calls is done, and I’m talking to Sandra, who is running the kitchen and keeping us fat and happy. She tells me that she has voted Republican all her life, and was going to do so this time too. Her daughters told her to ck out Obama, she went to see him speak, and she came back sold. “He says what I believe, that working together is the only way out of our problems, that even people of different parties have a lot in common.” This is one of the things I love about Obama, and why I think he is most likely Democrat to win in November. The Democrats need to move beyond the core base to win, and this woman and others like her are a constituency that likes Obama but would never vote for Clinton.

1pm. Out canvassing. The canvassing list is fabulous. If Obama is this organized around the state, he’s in good shape. Some people have moved, some aren’t home, but we find a lot of people, and almost to a person they are pro-Obama and proud of it. Many people answer their doors wearing their “I voted” sticker, which my mom says you never see in New York. People don’t much like being called on the phone, but they are happy that you take the time to come to their door. The addresses are a little confusing, 102 Allen Lane is on our list, along with the name and age of the voter, but when we get to 102 Allen there might be 3 or 4 trailers. Which is 102? After a few times we realize that they all are, but you only have to find one person home, because they will tell you if they voted and they tend to know about the rest of them. “Mrs. Quick, I think she voted this morning. And Johnnie and Jean over there vote all the time, for sure they will vote, but not till this evening.” And on it goes, us checking off our forms so we can report back to our canvassing captain, a high school senior, about how we are doing.

2pm. Still canvassing, have to get back in time for the 2pm count when we turn our list over to the next group of canvassers who will go back and visit any houses where we could not confirm that the people voted. One last time, because Tom Smith, Gtown law student in our group, notices that one address we haven’t found has 7 people supposedly living in it, all with different last names. We see why we missed it; it is the county detention center. Henry and my mom and I are ready to go back, but Tom will not be deterred. He and Ross head to the detention center. A very helpful sheriff talks to them and reviews the names. Yes, the 7 guys are all inmates. Tom is in my Race and Crime class; he knows about felon disenfranchisement. These guys all have misdemeanors, the sheriff tells him. Well, in light of that, says Tom, they should be able to vote. “Is there anything we can do,” he asks. “Maybe a weekend pass? Or a day pass? Just long enough to vote?” Friendly but firm, the sheriff says that is a no go.

3pm. Also in Lexington County are Lisa Greenman and Sandy Levick from Public Defender Service and another lawyer friend of Rachel Kaul. They have been doing election protection work, and tell a story of a woman who was turned away from the polls 4 times because of a felony conviction, and even though her voting rights had been restored she couldn’t get anyone to accept that. But I know Lisa and Sandy, have seen them litigate at PDS, and am not at all surprised when I find out how they overwhelmed the polling station with legal and equitable arguments and finally get a provisional ballot that allows the woman to vote.

4pm. Our staging area is actually over-volunteered, just slightly. Enuf so that a group of us are sent out to a major intersection to wave signs and jump up and down as cars go by. “Visibility event” is the official sounding name the campaign gives it. We have a great time. Our unofficial polling data: Blacks love Obama; they are honking and waving and giving us the thumbs up. But not just them. Tons of young people of all races give us the honk. And not just young people. We are getting some middle aged guys in pick up trucks too, a demographic we didn’t start out counting on. Near the end of the day we even get a Hummer honking for us, and we lose it with excitement. It’s multi-racial, for real.

6:50pm. Polls closing in a few minutes. We had been let go early because we had enough volunteers. I’m in line at the convention center, where Obama is supposed to speak later. I want to be inside, win or lose.

7:01 “CNN called it!” “We won, we won!” Everyone’s cell phone starts to ring at what seems like the exact same moment. Dimitri Christakis is on the line, yelling that the exit poll results are solid, it’s a win. The networks are calling it for Obama before counting any votes. I remember 2000. I’ll wait to see some numbers.

7:10. Unclear if any of us are going to get in. We don’t have tickets, even though we worked all day. Massive confusion, Obama people are being nice about it, but nobody knows what is going on. Behind me in line is a black couple, in their 20′s, from rural South Carolina. They voted early this morning, canvassed all day, then came here. They have their 3 year old son with them, who keeps saying something about not getting in. I can’t really hear him, but the dad keeps saying, almost like a mantra, “we’re going to get in, we’re going to see Obama, we’re going to get in, we’re going to see history.” He is purporting to reassure his son, but I think maybe he’s convincing himself.

7:30 Still no assurance of getting in. Then Gtown student somehow scores coveted wristbands for all of us, this is even better than tickets, you get right to the front of the line. Happiness interrupted when my friend from the line comes over, sees what is going on, and asks me if I have any extra tickets. Heart is sinking here, I only have one, he and his family should be able to get in before me. They need to see this. But I can’t get any more, I tell him, which is true, and I’m so sorry, also true, and I’m sure he’s going to get in too. That one might not be true, but I really hope it is.

7:45pm. The “no tickets” line starts to move. We are all going to get in. My mom and I have our armbands, enter, and she is spotted by person doing the staging and asked “do you mind standing behind the stage?” She says of course not, and we are ushered back there, but not before the staging person sees me and is clearly confused, as most people tend to be, about what we are doing together. I guess my demographic is less needed behind the Senator than the 65 year old white lady. As it turns out, they could have picked any random 100 people from the crowd and put them behind Obama. They didn’t need any staging. The audience was that diverse. We go towards the stage. As we do, I see my friend from the line. He’s in, with his wife and son! I run over and we exchange a high five. He says everyone is getting in now.

8:30pm CNN is up on a huge screen. The results are coming in. The votes are matching the exit polls. Obama is winning everywhere. People have lost it with excitement. “Fired up, ready to go” is the call and response. Paul Zimmerman is on his blackberry, reading out tepid NY Times headlines that talk of Obama winning by “a substantial margin.” “Call it a rout! Call it a rout,” screams Paul at his handheld and whoever else will listen. “He won women, he won every county but 2, this is a landslide!”

8:45pm Exit polls: Obama wins 50% of whites under 30, and that is in a 3 way race that includes a white man from S. Carolina. Everyone is begging the media to lose the stupid race coverage. “He won in Iowa, he was neck and neck in NH and Nevada, he’s winning tons of white votes in S. Carolina, can’t they see people like him for what he stands for,” a woman next to me is shouting at the screen. The crowd starts chanting, “race doesn’t matter,” and Tom and I talk about how the complexity of the issue can’t be captured in one phrase, but we totally understand why people are chanting that. South Carolinian whites are tired of being pigeon-holed as unreconstructed rednecks, damn it. The South isn’t just Confederate flags and lynchings and segregated schools. Even if race does matter in our society, and will for a long time, we get what the chant is capturing. Tom starts his own chant, just for us, “Race doesn’t matter (but we still need affirmative action).” Less catchy, we agree.

9pm U2 starts playing. Barack and Michelle arrive. Delirium.

9:05pm Turns out we got a good space on stage. Text messages start to arrive from people around the country telling me and Ross and Henry and my mom that they can see us, stand straight.

9:30pm Speech is over. Best speech ever, everybody is saying. We won it with community organizing and volunteers is the mantra. Even though the source (the volunteers) has an incentive to push this narrative, it seems right too. Clinton has name recognition and a machine. But Obama has passion and an army of fired up/ready to go folks. The marching band is still playing. They have a rhythmic version of Oooo-baaa-maaaa.

10pm Obama-mania takes over the bars of Columbia. Obama is stopping by to talk to volunteers and others who didn’t get in to the convention center.

1:30am To bed. Per usual, I’m one of the earliest. Sam Starks and Christian Lamar plan to be up all night, and the party rages on Jervais St.

Sunday, Jan. 27, 10am. Driving out of state, new wind in our sails. Tomorrow, Monday, my mom and I will be at the Library of Congress where they will be announcing our gift of Jim Forman’s papers to the Library. He wasn’t alive to see South Carolina, but I believe he felt it. Thanks dad. You made it happen. We love you.

Friends, come help make more history:

If you are in DC, the next big push is going to be this upcoming weekend, where we will do work in Delaware in prep for next weeks primary. If you want to get involved in some way, let me know. A Georgetown law group is organizing to do stuff, and everyone is invited, Gtown or not. Just let me know and I’ll hook you in.

Also, if you are in DC and want to volunteer pls pls click this link and in 60 seconds you will have told DC for Obama who you are, what you are interested in doing, and when you are generally free. They will follow up. http://www.surveymethods.com/EndUser.aspx?EFCBA7BDE8A9BDB4

If you aren’t in DC, check out your local activities here: http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/statepages
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Please join us for the Northeast Side Plan Open House

Date: Wednesday, February 13th, 2008
Time: 11:30 am - 2:00 pm or 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Location: Alterra Cafe, 2999 N Humboldt Blvd

The event is open to anyone who lives, works, or has a vital interest in the future of the Northeast Side. We’ll kick off each session with a presentation about key concepts and catalytic projects. A draft of the plan will be available for comment. We hope to see you there.

http://www.mkedcd.org/planning/plans/Northeast/index.html
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Does Obama Yet Know That Madison Wisconsin Citizens Can Now Legally Raise Chickens!

by: “Megan Laws”

Thanks for bringing it to our attention that Milwaukee’s Dept. of City Development is doing more to support urban farming!

I have a related question about this recent victory for urban farmers in nearby Madison:

In the Spring of 2004, Madison, WI passed a law allowing single-family homes the right to raise poultry in the back yard. Previous to this law, poultry was allowed inside the home, but not outside. Coops were not permitted, nor was raising poultry inside the garage. Today it is legal to have 4 hens (no roosters) in a coop, no closer than 25′ from the nearest neighbors living quarters. Butchering within the city limits is still not allowed.

My question is: does anyone forsee this being a future possibility in Milwaukee? Is there already a process started to get it going?

Thanks for anything you know.
Megan
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MoveOn Members Endorse Obama

Dear MoveOn member,
With hundreds of thousands of ballots cast across the country, for the first time in MoveOn’s history, members have voted to endorse a presidential candidate in the primary: Barack Obama.

A few weeks ago, MoveOn members we surveyed were split. But with John Edwards bowing out, progressives have been gravitating toward Senator Obama. Obama won over 70% of the vote yesterday, and he’s moving up in polls nationwide.1 Here’s how Patricia S. in Wisconsin put it:

“While I’m impressed with Clinton and believe she would make a very good president, I’m actually MOVED by Obama. In the end, I believe if Obama is elected he has the potential to bring the country together behind him.”

To be clear, we won’t always agree with all of Senator Obama’s positions. And MoveOn members said overwhelmingly that, regardless of who wins the Democratic nomination, we’ll work hard to win the White House in 2008. Whatever happens in the primary, we’ll push the Democratic nominee to campaign progressively and then we’ll push them to fulfill their promises after they win.

Here’s some more of what MoveOn members see in Obama:

This country needs real, progressive transformation. Barack Obama is the candidate who gives us the best hope of uniting and inspiring the nation to move in that direction, while also restoring America’s dignity and standing as a member of the global community. - James M., Connecticut

He was right on the biggest question of the era—opposing the war from the start. -Jacob S., Washington, D.C.

I support Barack Obama for the same reasons I support MoveOn.org: the more people are inspired to get involved, the better the outcome for our country. Senator Obama has demonstrated a unique capacity to inspire participation and to make public service ‘cool’ again. He is also sound on all the issues that matter to me and my family. -Liz B., New York

I live in a red state, and I see my conservative neighbors and friends showing a positive interest in Barack. They like him. They are ready to be swayed. And I see my Democratic friends and family members getting excited like never before…With Barack as our candidate, I am convinced that we can win in a landslide in 2008 and usher in a new era of progressive politics. -Desirina B., Georgia

Beyond this vote, it seems clear that progressive momentum has been building around Senator Obama. Earlier this week, John F. Kennedy’s daughter Caroline Kennedy said Obama is the first presidential candidate to be as inspirational as her father. Yesterday, progressive magazine The Nation said that electing Obama is “a chance we can’t pass up.” And then DailyKos.com, the most widely read progressive blog, announced Obama won 76% in a reader poll this week.
That said, not all progressives agree. The important thing is, we will stand united in our drive to end the Bush era and win the White House in November. Thanks for all you do, and will do to change our country for the better in 2008.

Eli, Wes, Joan, Justin, Adam G., Adam R., Ilyse, Karin, Nita, Noah, Marika, Laura, Peter, Anna, Matt, Daniel, Carrie, Tanya, and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team

P.S. As we were about to click “send” we received the following response from Senator Obama. We wanted to share it with you: “In just a few years, the members of MoveOn have once again demonstrated that real change comes not from the top-down, but from the bottom-up. From their principled opposition to the Iraq war—a war I also opposed from the start—to their strong support for a number of progressive causes, MoveOn shows what Americans can achieve when we come together in a grassroots movement for change. I thank them for their support and look forward to working with their members in the weeks and months ahead.”
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Milwaukee’s Northeast Area Plan Adopts Urban Farming Plank!

Urban Farming is in the Northeast Area Plan. If you read the Draft, Chapter 3: Policies and Strategies, Page 4. This is in the draft:

  1. Support urban farming (small scale intensive farming, an updated modern version of “victory gardens”) in residential and mixed use neighborhoods as a way to:
    1. Build self reliance for those who grow healthy, fresh food for themselves and their families.
    2. Provide extra family income for those who create food for sale in neighborhood farmers markets.
    3. Advance community building, as neighbors enjoy the beauty of urban farms and gardens, participate in growing community and food together, and provide gainful work for neighborhood residents, especially the young and the old.

Click here to view the rest of the plan
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Urban Farming, Our Broken Health System, and The Western Diseases

Michael Pollan has re-introduced the concept “Western Diseases” in his brilliant new book, “In Defense of Food: an Eater’s Manifesto.”

“In the early decades of the 20th century,’ he writes, “a handful of dauntless European and American medical professionals working with a wide variety of native populations around the world began noticing the almost complete absence of the chronic diseases that had recently become commonplace in the west. Albert Schweitzer and Denis P. Burkitt in Africa, Robert McCarrison in India, Samuel Hutton among the Eskimos in Labrador, the anthropologist Ales Hrdlicka among Native Americans, and the dentist Weston A. Price among a dozen different groups all over the world(including Peruvian Indians, Australian Aborigenes, and Swiss mountaineers) sent back much the same news. The compiled lists, many of which appeared in medical journals, of the common diseases they’d been hard pressed to find in the native populations they had treated or studied: little or no heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, hypertension, or stroke; no appendicitis, diverticulitis, malformed dental arches, or tooth decay; no varicose veins, ulcers, or hemorrhoids.

Several of these researchers were on hand to witness the arrival of the Western diseases in isolated populations…Some noted that the Western disease followed closely on the heels of the arrival of Western foods, particularly refined flour and sugar and other kinds of 'store food.'

Pollan on today’s western diet: “Instead of food, we’re consuming ‘edible foodlike substances’—no longer the products of nature but of food science.

Pollan’s Response to the Diet Based Western Diseases: Eat Real, Well-Grown, Unprocessed Food, and Mostly Plants!

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants…real food—the sort of food our great grandmothers would recognize as food…real, well-grown, and unprocessed food.”

“Our personal health cannot be divorced form the health of the food chains of which we are a part.”

Natural Next Step to Repair Our Broken Health System? Replace Our Toxic Food Systems!

And one way to start?

Urban Farming!

Edible Playgrounds!

In the Democratic Platform for 2008!

http://www.milwaukeerenaissance.com/Main/ObamaCampaign

http://www.milwaukeerenaissance.com/GrowingPower/HomePage

If you would like to advance this cause, send an e-mail to

UrbanFarming@milwaukeerenaissance.com
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Rally the Locavores

I hope you will team up with 100 locavores
To awaken the nation to the promise of urban farming
To address some of the problems of our
Broken Health and Toxic Food Systems.

Ideas include the following:

Join Yahoo Group on Urban Farming

Rally Friends to Send E-Mails to:

(l) Mayor Daley of Chicago

(2) Mayor Barrett and President Hines of Milwaukee

(3) Convener of the Obama Urban Policy Team

Action Steps

(l) Send e-mail to your friends asking them to send e-mail supporting urban farming for the national campaigns of both parties to

UrbanFarming@milwaukeerenaissance.com

(2) These e-mails will be put into a web site at this location:

http://www.milwaukeerenaissance.com/Main/WisconsinPresidentialPrimary

(3) They will also be bundled and forwarded to Mayor Daley, Barrett, President Hines, and Rachel Godsil, Convener of the Obama Urban Policy Team

Viva, Urban Farming!

Godsil
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American Planning Association’s Call for Local, Urban Agriculture

Link to Their Policy Guide on Community and Regional Food Planning

Back in May 2007, I sent a message citing the American Planning Association’s new Policy Guide on Community and Regional Food Planning. If you want to access it, go to:

http://www.planning.org/policyguides/ and click on the new policy guide on food planning.

It’s got some stuff on urban agriculture, recommending that planners play a more supportive role and giving some specific ways they could.

The APA Policy Guide on Community and Regional Food Planning was adopted at the APA national conference in Philadelphia in mid-March. The American Planning Association has 40,000 members. It’s a big breakthrough to get this major planning organization to put food issues on their radar screen. Yes, I was one of the principal authors of the document. Another hat I’ve been wearing in my spare time for the past few years.

Jerry Kaufman
President of the Board, Growing Power
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Author Toni Morrison Endorses Obama

January 28, 2008 7:23 AM

ABC News’ Rick Klein and Sunlen Miller Report: Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison - who famously declared Bill Clinton to be the nation’s “first black president” in a 1998 essay - today endorsed Barack Obama for president, via letter from Morrison to the Illinois senator.

In it she writes, “this opportunity for a national evolution (even revolution) will not come again soon, and I am convinced you are the person to capture it.”

Morrison writes of her admiration for Hillary Clinton but says she “cared little for her gender as a source of my admiration”.

“Nor do I care very much for your race[s],” Morrison continues to Obama, “I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or because it might make me ‘proud.’ “

“In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don’t see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom.

“Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.

“There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time,” she concludes.

In an October 1998 essay in The New Yorker, Morrison wrote: “Years ago, in the middle of the Whitewater investigation, one heard the first murmurs: white skin notwithstanding, this is our first black president. Blacker than any actual person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime.”

Morrison’s endorsement letter to Obama comes as Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., also announces his support for Obama on Monday, at a rally in Washington.
See original article here
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Ted Kennedy Backs Obama!

See the video of this historic moment

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2005/04/12/VI20050412
01139.html
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Another Excellent Essay by Conservative David Brooks on Obama: “The Kennedy Mystique”

The Kennedy Mystique

By DAVID BROOKS

Published: January 29, 2008

Something fundamental has shifted in the Democratic Party.

David Brooks

Last week there was the widespread revulsion at the Clintons’ toxic attempts to ghettoize Barack Obama. In private and occasionally in public, leading Democrats lost patience with the hyperpartisan style of politics — the distortion of facts, the demonizing of foes, the secret admiration for brass-knuckle brawling and the ever-present assumption that it’s necessary to pollute the public sphere to win. All the suppressed suspicions of Clintonian narcissism came back to the fore. Are these people really serving the larger cause of the Democratic Party, or are they using the party as a vehicle for themselves?

And then Monday, something equally astonishing happened. A throng of Kennedys came to the Bender Arena at American University in Washington to endorse Obama. Caroline Kennedy evoked her father. Senator Edward Kennedy’s slightly hunched form carried with it the recent history of the Democratic Party.

The Kennedy endorsements will help among working-class Democrats, Catholics and the millions of Americans who have followed Caroline’s path to maturity. Furthermore, here was Senator Kennedy, the consummate legislative craftsman, vouching for the fact that Obama is ready to be president on Day One.

But the event was striking for another reason, having to do with the confluence of themes and generations. The Kennedys and Obama hit the same contrasts again and again in their speeches: the high road versus the low road; inspiration versus calculation; future versus the past; and most of all, service versus selfishness.

“With Barack Obama, we will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion,” Senator Kennedy declared. “With Barack Obama, there is a new national leader who has given America a different kind of campaign — a campaign not just about himself, but about all of us,” he said.

The Clintons started this fight, and in his grand and graceful way, Kennedy returned the volley with added speed.

Kennedy went on to talk about the 1960s. But he didn’t talk much about the late-60s, when Bill and Hillary came to political activism. He talked about the early-60s, and the idealism of the generation that had seen World War II, the idealism of the generation that marched in jacket and ties, the idealism of a generation whose activism was relatively unmarked by drug use and self-indulgence.

Then, in the speech’s most striking passage, he set Bill Clinton afloat on the receding tide of memory. “There was another time,” Kennedy said, “when another young candidate was running for president and challenging America to cross a New Frontier.” But, he continued, another former Democratic president, Harry Truman, said he should have patience. He said he lacked experience. John Kennedy replied: “The world is changing. The old ways will not do!”

The audience at American University roared. It was mostly young people, and to them, the Clintons are as old as the Trumans were in 1960. And in the students’ rapture for Kennedy’s message, you began to see the folding over of generations, the service generation of John and Robert Kennedy united with the service generation of the One Campaign. The grandparents and children united against the parents.

How could the septuagenarian Kennedy cast the younger Clintons into the past? He could do it because he evoked the New Frontier, which again seems fresh. He could do it because he himself has come to live a life of service.

After his callow youth, Kennedy came to realize that life would not give him the chance to be president. But life did ask him to be a senator, and he has embraced that role and served that institution with more distinction than anyone else now living — as any of his colleagues, Republican or Democrat, will tell you. And he could do it because culture really does have rhythms. The respect for institutions that was prevalent during the early ‘60s is prevalent with the young again today. The earnest industriousness that was common then is back today. The awareness that we are not self-made individualists, free to be you and me, but emerge as parts of networks, webs and communities; that awareness is back again today.

Sept. 11th really did leave a residue — an unconsummated desire for sacrifice and service. The old Clintonian style of politics clashes with that desire. When Sidney Blumenthal expresses the Clinton creed by telling George Packer of The New Yorker, “It’s not a question of transcending partisanship. It’s a question of fulfilling it,” that clashes with the desire as well.

It’s not clear how far this altered public mood will carry Obama in this election. But there was something important and memorable about the way the 75-year-old Kennedy communed and bonded with a rapturous crowd half a century his junior.

The old guy stole the show.
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Obama Urban Policy Paper

Here is the offical urban policy fact sheet for the Obama campaign. Please feel free to share with those who are interested in urban policy issues!
Attach:upfs.pdf
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Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: “A Child of Our Best Movements!”

A “Son of Riverwest, Northside, Southside, Eastside, Westside!”

South Carolina Primary Night
Saturday, January 26th, 2008
Columbia, South Carolina

Over two weeks ago, we saw the people of Iowa proclaim that our time for change has come. But there were those who doubted this country’s desire for something new – who said Iowa was a fluke not to be repeated again.

Well, tonight, the cynics who believed that what began in the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a different story by the good people of South Carolina.

After four great contests in every corner of this country, we have the most votes, the most delegates, and the most diverse coalition of Americans we’ve seen in a long, long time.

They are young and old; rich and poor. They are black and white; Latino and Asian. They are Democrats from Des Moines and Independents from Concord; Republicans from rural Nevada and young people across this country who’ve never had a reason to participate until now. And in nine days, nearly half the nation will have the chance to join us in saying that we are tired of business-as-usual in Washington, we are hungry for change, and we are ready to believe again.

But if there’s anything we’ve been reminded of since Iowa, it’s that the kind of change we seek will not come easy. Partly because we have fine candidates in the field – fierce competitors, worthy of respect. And as contentious as this campaign may get, we have to remember that this is a contest for the Democratic nomination, and that all of us share an abiding desire to end the disastrous policies of the current administration.

But there are real differences between the candidates. We are looking for more than just a change of party in the White House. We’re looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington– a status quo that extends beyond any particular party. And right now, that status quo is fighting back with everything it’s got; with the same old tactics that divide and distract us from solving the problems people face, whether those problems are health care they can’t afford or a mortgage they cannot pay.

So this will not be easy. Make no mistake about what we’re up against.

We are up against the belief that it’s ok for lobbyists to dominate our government – that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we’re not going to let them stand in our way anymore.

We are up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as President comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor, and judgment, and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose – a higher purpose.

We are up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together to make college affordable or energy cleaner; it’s the kind of partisanship where you’re not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea – even if it’s one you never agreed with. That kind of politics is bad for our party, it’s bad for our country, and this is our chance to end it once and for all.

We are up against the idea that it’s acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election. We know that this is exactly what’s wrong with our politics; this is why people don’t believe what their leaders say anymore; this is why they tune out. And this election is our chance to give the American people a reason to believe again.

And what we’ve seen in these last weeks is that we’re also up against forces that are not the fault of any one campaign, but feed the habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation. It’s the politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon. A politics that tells us that we have to think, act, and even vote within the confines of the categories that supposedly define us. The assumption that young people are apathetic. The assumption that Republicans won’t cross over. The assumption that the wealthy care nothing for the poor, and that the poor don’t vote. The assumption that African-Americans can’t support the white candidate; whites can’t support the African-American candidate; blacks and Latinos can’t come together.

But we are here tonight to say that this is not the America we believe in. I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina. I saw South Carolina. I saw crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children. I saw shuttered mills and homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from all walks of life, and men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. I saw what America is, and I believe in what this country can be.

That is the country I see. That is the country you see. But now it is up to us to help the entire nation embrace this vision. Because in the end, we are not just up against the ingrained and destructive habits of Washington, we are also struggling against our own doubts, our own fears, and our own cynicism. The change we seek has always required great struggle and sacrifice. And so this is a battle in our own hearts and minds about what kind of country we want and how hard we’re willing to work for it.

So let me remind you tonight that change will not be easy. That change will take time. There will be setbacks, and false starts, and sometimes we will make mistakes. But as hard as it may seem, we cannot lose hope. Because there are people all across this country who are counting us; who can’t afford another four years without health care or good schools or decent wages because our leaders couldn’t come together and get it done.

Theirs are the stories and voices we carry on from South Carolina.

The mother who can’t get Medicaid to cover all the needs of her sick child – she needs us to pass a health care plan that cuts costs and makes health care available and affordable for every single American.

The teacher who works another shift at Dunkin Donuts after school just to make ends meet – she needs us to reform our education system so that she gets better pay, and more support, and her students get the resources they need to achieve their dreams.

The Maytag worker who is now competing with his own teenager for a $7-an-hour job at Wal-Mart because the factory he gave his life to shut its doors – he needs us to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship our jobs overseas and start putting them in the pockets of working Americans who deserve it. And struggling homeowners. And seniors who should retire with dignity and respect.

The woman who told me that she hasn’t been able to breathe since the day her nephew left for Iraq, or the soldier who doesn’t know his child because he’s on his third or fourth tour of duty – they need us to come together and put an end to a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged.

The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white.

It’s about the past versus the future.

It’s about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today, or whether we reach for a politics of common sense, and innovation – a shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.

There are those who will continue to tell us we cannot do this. That we cannot have what we long for. That we are peddling false hopes.

But here’s what I know. I know that when people say we can’t overcome all the big money and influence in Washington, I think of the elderly woman who sent me a contribution the other day – an envelope that had a money order for $3.01 along with a verse of scripture tucked inside. So don’t tell us change isn’t possible.

When I hear the cynical talk that blacks and whites and Latinos can’t join together and work together, I’m reminded of the Latino brothers and sisters I organized with, and stood with, and fought with side by side for jobs and justice on the streets of Chicago. So don’t tell us change can’t happen.

When I hear that we’ll never overcome the racial divide in our politics, I think about that Republican woman who used to work for Strom Thurmond, who’s now devoted to educating inner-city children and who went out onto the streets of South Carolina and knocked on doors for this campaign. Don’t tell me we can’t change.

Yes we can change.

Yes we can heal this nation.

Yes we can seize our future.

And as we leave this state with a new wind at our backs, and take this journey across the country we love with the message we’ve carried from the plains of Iowa to the hills of New Hampshire; from the Nevada desert to the South Carolina coast; the same message we had when we were up and when we were down – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people in three simple words:

Yes. We. Can.
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Must Reading for Obama Campaign Policy Teams: “Waving Goodbye to Hegemony” by Parag Khanna

Parag Khanna is a senior research fellow in the American Strategy Program of the New America Foundation. This essay is adapted from his book, “The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order,” to be published by Random House in March.
Published: January 27, 2008

These are some of the key concepts and sentences from this excellent NYT Sunday Magazine article.

What we have today, for the first time in history, is a global, multicivilizational, multipolar battle.

“Frenemies”: America, Europe and China’‘’.

The Big Three are the ultimate “Frenemies.” Twenty-first-century geopolitics will resemble nothing more than Orwell’s 1984, but instead of three world powers (Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia), we have three hemispheric pan-regions, longitudinal zones dominated by America, Europe and China.

European Union One of Three Superpowers

It may comfort American conservatives to point out that Europe still lacks a common army; the only problem is that it doesn’t really need one. Europeans use intelligence and the police to apprehend radical Islamists, social policy to try to integrate restive Muslim populations and economic strength to incorporate the former Soviet Union and gradually subdue Russia. Each year European investment in Turkey grows as well, binding it closer to the E.U. even if it never becomes a member. And each year a new pipeline route opens transporting oil and gas from Libya, Algeria or Azerbaijan to Europe. What other superpower grows by an average of one country per year, with others waiting in line and begging to join?

The E.U.’s market is the world’s largest, European technologies more and more set the global standard and European countries give the most development assistance. And if America and China fight, the world’s money will be safely invested in European banks.

While America fumbles at nation-building, Europe spends its money and political capital on locking peripheral countries into its orbit. Many poor regions of the world have realized that they want the European dream, not the American dream. Africa wants a real African Union like the E.U.; we offer no equivalent. Activists in the Middle East want parliamentary democracy like Europe’s, not American-style presidential strongman rule. Many of the foreign students we shunned after 9/11 are now in London and Berlin: twice as many Chinese study in Europe as in the U.S. We didn’t educate them, so we have no claims on their brains or loyalties as we have in decades past. More broadly, America controls legacy institutions few seem to want — like the International Monetary Fund — while Europe excels at building new and sophisticated ones modeled on itself.

China the Third Superpower

The East Asian Community is but one example of how China is also too busy restoring its place as the world’s “Middle Kingdom” to be distracted by the Middle Eastern disturbances that so preoccupy the United States. In America’s own hemisphere, from Canada to Cuba to Chávez’s Venezuela, China is cutting massive resource and investment deals. Across the globe, it is deploying tens of thousands of its own engineers, aid workers, dam-builders and covert military personnel. In Africa, China is not only securing energy supplies; it is also making major strategic investments in the financial sector. The whole world is abetting China’s spectacular rise as evidenced by the ballooning share of trade in its gross domestic product — and China is exporting weapons at a rate reminiscent of the Soviet Union during the cold war, pinning America down while filling whatever power vacuums it can find. Every country in the world currently considered a rogue state by the U.S. now enjoys a diplomatic, economic or strategic lifeline from China, Iran being the most prominent example.

Without firing a shot, China is doing on its southern and western peripheries what Europe is achieving to its east and south. Aided by a 35 million-strong ethnic Chinese diaspora well placed around East Asia’s rising economies, a Greater Chinese Co-Prosperity Sphere has emerged. Like Europeans, Asians are insulating themselves from America’s economic uncertainties. Under Japanese sponsorship, they plan to launch their own regional monetary fund, while China has slashed tariffs and increased loans to its Southeast Asian neighbors. Trade within the India-Japan-Australia triangle — of which China sits at the center — has surpassed trade across the Pacific.

And in the former Soviet Central Asian countries — the so-called Stans — China is the new heavyweight player, its manifest destiny pushing its Han pioneers westward while pulling defunct microstates like Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as oil-rich Kazakhstan, into its orbit. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization gathers these Central Asian strongmen together with China and Russia and may eventually become the “NATO of the East.”

The Second World Swing States

The main battlefield is what I call “the second world.”

Lying alongside and between the Big Three, second-world countries are the swing states that will determine which of the superpowers has the upper hand for the next generation of geopolitics. From Venezuela to Vietnam and Morocco to Malaysia, the new reality of global affairs is that there is not one way to win allies and influence countries but three: America’s coalition (as in “coalition of the willing”), Europe’s consensus and China’s consultative styles.

The geopolitical marketplace will decide which will lead the 21st century. The key second-world countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia are more than just “emerging markets.” If you include China, they hold a majority of the world’s foreign-exchange reserves and savings, and their spending power is making them the global economy’s most important new consumer markets and thus engines of global growth — not replacing the United States but not dependent on it either. I.P.O.’s from the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) alone accounted for 39 percent of the volume raised globally in 2007, just one indicator of second-world countries’ rising importance in corporate finance — even after you subtract China.

Second-world states won’t be subdued: in the age of network power, they won’t settle for being mere export markets. Rather, they are the places where the Big Three must invest heavily and to which they must relocate productive assets to maintain influence.

While traveling through the second world, I learned to see countries not as unified wholes but rather as having multiple, often disconnected, parts,
some of which were on a path to rise into the first world while other, often larger, parts might remain in the third. I wondered whether globalization would accelerate these nations’ becoming ever more fragmented, or if governments would step up to establish central control. Each second-world country appeared to have a fissured personality under pressures from both internal forces and neighbors.

Second-world countries are distinguished from the third world by their potential: the likelihood that they will capitalize on a valuable commodity, a charismatic leader or a generous patron. Each and every second-world country matters in its own right, for its economic, strategic or diplomatic weight, and its decision to tilt toward the United States, the E.U. or China has a strong influence on what others in its region decide to do. Will an American nuclear deal with India push Pakistan even deeper into military dependence on China? Will the next set of Arab monarchs lean East or West? The second world will shape the world’s balance of power as much as the superpowers themselves will.

Russian Economy No Larger Than France’s

Russia lost its western satellites almost two decades ago, and Europe, while appearing to be bullied by Russia’s oil-dependent diplomacy, is staging a long-term buyout of Russia, whose economy remains roughly the size of France’s. The more Europe gets its gas from North Africa and oil from Azerbaijan, the less it will rely on Russia, all the while holding the lever of being by far Russia’s largest investor.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development provides the kinds of loans that help build an alternative, less corrupt private sector from below,

Diffuse Governance, Global Interests for a Global Equilibrium

from the demise of American hegemony into a world of much more diffuse governance

to set in motion a virtuous circle of policies that lead to a global equilibrium rather than a balance of power against the U.S.?

never use the phrase “American national interest.” (It is assumed.) Instead talk about “global interests” and how closely aligned American policies are with those interests. No more “us” versus “them,” only “we.” That means no more talk of advancing “American values” either. What is worth having is universal first and American second. This applies to “democracy” as well, where timing its implementation is as important as the principle itself. Right now, from the Middle East to Southeast Asia, the hero of the second world — including its democracies — is Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore.

We have learned the hard way that what others want for themselves trumps what we want for them — always. Neither America nor the world needs more competing ideologies, and moralizing exhortations are only useful if they point toward goals that are actually attainable. This new attitude must be more than an act: to obey this modest, hands-off principle is what would actually make America the exceptional empire it purports to be. It would also be something every other empire in history has failed to do.

Regional Diplomacy

Diplomacy, too, requires the equivalent of geographic commands — with top-notch assistant secretaries of state to manage relations in each key region without worrying about getting on the daily agenda of the secretary of state for menial approvals. Then we’ll be ready to coordinate within distant areas.

weekly secure video-conferences. Regional institutions are thriving in the second world — think Mercosur (the South American common market), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the Gulf Cooperation Council in the Persian Gulf. We need high-level ambassadors at those organizations too. Taken together, this allows us to move beyond, for example, the current Millennium Challenge Account — which amounts to one-track aid packages to individual countries already going in the right direction — toward encouraging the kind of regional cooperation that can work in curbing both terrorism and poverty. Only if you think regionally can a success story have a demonstration effect. This approach will be crucial to the future of the Pentagon’s new African command. (Until last year, African relations were managed largely by European command, or Eucom, in Germany.) Suspicions of America are running high in Africa, and a country-by-country strategy would make those suspicions worse. Finally, to achieve strategic civilian-military harmonization, we have to first get the maps straight. The State Department puts the Stans in the South and Central Asia bureau, while the Pentagon puts them within the Middle-East-focused Centcom. The Chinese divide up the world the Pentagon’s way; so, too, should our own State Department.

The Marchmen, American Civilians Creating a Diplomacy of the Deed

Third, deploy the marchmen. Europe is boosting its common diplomatic corps, while China is deploying retired civil servants, prison laborers and Chinese teachers — all are what the historian Arnold Toynbee called marchmen, the foot-soldiers of empire spreading values and winning loyalty.

We need a Peace Corps 10 times its present size, plus student exchanges, English-teaching programs and hands-on job training overseas — with corporate sponsorship.

The secret weapon must be the American citizenry itself.

diplomacy of the deed,”

A Diplomatic-Industrial Complex

we must build a diplomatic-industrial complex. Europe and China all but personify business-government collusion, so let State raise money from Wall Street as it puts together regional aid and investment packages. American foreign policy must be substantially more than what the U.S. government directs.

American foundations and charities, not least the Gates and Ford Foundations, dwarf European counterparts in their humanitarian giving; if such private groups independently send more and more American volunteers armed with cash, good will and local knowledge to perform “diplomacy of the deed,” then the public diplomacy will take care of itself.

Technology Platforms and Public Infrastructure

Given our deficits and political gridlock, the only solution is to channel global, particularly Asian, liquidity into our own public infrastructure, creating jobs and technology platforms that can keep American innovation
ahead of the pack. Globalization apologizes to no one; we must stay on top of it or become its victim.

…technology to China in exchange for fewer weapons and lifelines for the Sudanese tyrants and the Burmese junta. And make a joint effort with the Europeans to offer massive, irresistible packages to the people of Iran, Uzbekistan and Venezuela —incentives for eventual regime change rather than fruitless sanctions. A Western change of tone could make China sweat. Superpowers have to learn to behave, too.

Fifth, convene a G-3 of the Big Three. But don’t set the agenda; suggest it. These are the key issues among which to make compromises and trade-offs: climate change, energy security, weapons proliferation and rogue states. Offer more Western clean technology.

Taken together, all these moves could renew American competitiveness in the geopolitical marketplace — and maybe even prove our exceptionalism. We need pragmatic incremental steps like the above to deliver tangible gains to people beyond our shores, repair our reputation, maintain harmony among the Big Three, keep the second world stable and neutral and protect our common planet. Let’s hope whoever is sworn in as the next American president understands this.

Mayor Tom Barrett hosts a South Carolina Primary Watch Party

Dear Friends -

I wanted to make sure you all saw that South Carolina’s largest newspaper endorsed Senator Barack Obama for President in this Saturday’s important South Carolina Democratic Primary. See the link-
http://www.thestate.com/opinion/story/293153.html
Obama most likely Democrat to unify America

Mayor Barrett is hosting an event to support Barack Obama for President and watch the South Carolina primary results this Saturday night — I hope you can join us!!!!

Please RSVP Below, and please share with your friends, family, neighbors and peers!!!

Please join us on Saturday, January 26, 2008, as Mayor Tom Barrett hosts a
South Carolina Primary Watch Party in support of Senator Barack Obama

Where: Hi-Hat Garage (1701 N. Arlington Pl, Milwaukee, WI 53202)

When: Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 6:30pm

All Contributions Gratefully Accepted

Your gift of $25, $50 or $100 will help Barack Obama spread his message of Hope, Unity and Change across America.

RSVP HERE

Authorized and paid for by Friends of Tom Barrett. Catherine Shaw, Treasurer.

135 W Wells, Suite 540
Milwaukee, WI 53203
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Grace Lee Boggs Extols Milwaukee’s Growing Power Building the Beloved Community

Building the Beloved Community in the City
By Grace Lee Boggs
Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education
2006 Congress on Urban Ministry
Chicago, March 24, 2006

Thank you, Bill Wylie-Kellerman, for that thoughtful introduction and for the years of struggle that you, Jeanie, Shea and I have shared in Detroit.

This is the second time that I have spoken to a SCUPE Congress. The first was eight years ago in 1998 when I was 82 years young. It is good to be back, somewhat less mobile, with more powerful hearing aids, fewer teeth but with most of my marbles.

I am often asked why I remain so active and alert at my age. I think it is because in the last 65 years I have had the privilege of participating in most of the great humanizing movements of the second half of the last century – Labor, Civil Rights, Black Power, Women’s, Asian American, Environmental Justice, Anti-War. Each was a
tremendously transformative experience for me, expanding my understanding of what it means to be an American and a human being, and challenging me to keep deepening my thinking about how to bring about radical social change.

However, I cannot recall any previous period when the issues were so basic, so interconnected and so demanding of everyone living in this country, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, gender, age or national origin. At this point in the continuing evolution of our country and of the human race, I believe that everyone needs to stop thinking of ourselves as victims and to recognize that we must each become a part of the solution because we are each a part of the problem and because human beings have never had to face questions of such depth and at any previous period in history.

The the questions we face are:

How are we going to make our livings in an age when Hi-Tech and outsourcing have brought us to the point where the number of workers needed to produce goods and services is constantly diminishing? In a society that is becoming increasingly jobless, where will we get the imagination, the courage and the determination to reconceptualize the meaning and purpose of Work as something that is done to produce use-values and develop our humanness, as distinguished from a Job or Employment which is done in industrial societies, capitalist or socialist, mainly for wages or exchange values?

What is going to happen to cities like Detroit that were once the arsenal of democracy? Now that they’ve been abandoned by industry, are we just going to throw them away? Or can we rebuild, redefine and respirit them as models of 21st Century self-reliant, sustainable multicultural communities? Who is going to begin this new story?

How are we going to redefine Education so that 30–50% of inner city children do not drop out of school, thus ensuring that large numbers will end up in prison? Is it enough to call for “Education, not Incarceration” as the Black Radical Congress has done? Or does our “command and control” educational system, created a hundred years ago to prepare the majority for factory work, bear a large part of the responsibility for this ongoing destruction of young lives?

How are we going to build a 21st century America in which people of all races and ethnicities live together in harmony, and Euro-Americans in particular embrace their new role as one among many minorities constituting the new multi-ethnic majority?

What is going to motivate us to start caring for our biosphere instead of using our mastery of technology to increase the volume and speed at which we are making our planet uninhabitable for other species and eventually for ourselves? Can we create new ways to live more simply so that others can simply live?

And, especially since 9/11, how are we to achieve reconciliation with the two-thirds of the world that increasingly resents our economic, military and cultural domination? Can we accept their anger as a challenge rather than a threat? Out of our new vulnerability can we recognize that our safety now depends on our loving and caring for the peoples of the world as we love and care for our own families? Or can we conceive of security only in terms of the Patriot Act and exercising our formidable military power?

When the chickens come home to roost for our invasion of Iraq, as they are already doing, where will we get the courage and the imagination to win by losing? What will help us recognize that we have brought on our defeats by our own arrogance, our own irresponsibility and our own unwillingness, as individuals and as a nation, to engage in seeking radical solutions to the growing inequality between the nations of the North and those of the South? Can we create a new paradigm of our selfhood and our nationhood? Or are we so locked into nationalism, racism and determinism that we will be driven to seek scapegoats for our frustrations and failures - as the Germans did after World War I, thus aiding and abetting the onset of Hitler and the Holocaust?

We live at a very dangerous time because these questions are no longer abstractions. Our lives, the lives of our children and future generations, and even the survival of the planet depend on our willingness to transform ourselves into active planetary and global citizens who, as Martin Luther King Jr. put it, “develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual society.”

The time is already very late and we have a long way to go to meet these challenges. Over the decades of economic expansion that began with the so-called American Century after World War II, tens of millions of Americans have become increasingly self-centered and materialistic, more concerned with our possessions and individual
careers than with the state of our neighborhoods, cities, country and planet, closing our eyes and hearts to the many forms of violence that have been exploding in our inner cities and in powder kegs all over the rest of the world – both because the problems have seemed so insurmountable and because just struggling for our own survival has consumed so much of our time and energy.

At the same time the various identity struggles, while remediating to some degree the great wrongs that have been done to workers, African Americans, Native Americans and other people of color, women, gays and lesbians, and the disabled, and while helping to humanize our society overall, have also had a shadow side in the sense that they have encouraged us to think of ourselves more as determined than as self-determining, more as victims of “isms” (racism, sexism, capitalism) than as human beings who have the power of choice and who for our own survival must assume individual and collective responsibility for creating a new nation that is loved rather than feared and that does not have to bribe and bully other nations to win support.

These are the times to grow our souls. Each of us needs to undergo a tremendous philosophical and spiritual transformation. Each of us needs to be awakened to a personal and compassionate recognition of the inseparable interconnection between our minds, hearts, and bodies, between our physical and psychical well-being, and between our selves and all the other selves in our country and in the world. Each of us needs to stop being a passive observer of the suffering that we know is going on in the world and start identifying with the sufferers. Each of us needs to make a leap that is both practical and philosophical, beyond determinism to self-determination. Each of us has to be true to and enhance our own humanity by embracing and practicing the conviction that as human beings we have Free Will; that despite the powers and principalities that are bent on objectifying and commodifying us and all our human relationships, the interlocking crises of our time require that we exercise the power within us to make principled choices in our ongoing daily and political lives, choices that will eventually although not inevitably (there are no guarantees), make a difference.

How are we going to bring about these transformations? Politics as usual, debate and argument, even voting, are no longer sufficient. Our system of representative democracy, which was created by a great revolution, no longer engages the hearts and minds of the great majority of Americans. Vast numbers of people no longer bother to go to the polls, either because they don’t care what happens to the country or the world, or because they don’t believe that voting will make a difference on the profound and inter- connected issues that really matter. Even organizing or joining massive protests against disastrous policies and demanding more progressive policies fall short because although they may demonstrate that we are on the right side politically, they do not provide a transformative vision of the changed world and the changed human beings that are now both necessary and possible. What we urgently need in this period are the kinds of self-transforming and structure-transforming direct actions moving us towards the radical revolution in values advocated by Martin Luther King in the last three years of his life, when he was faced on the one hand, with the reality that our government had become the greatest purveyor of violence in today’s world and on the other, with the escalating violence of angry and desperate blacks in our northern ghettos.

In Gandhi’s words, we must be the change we want to see in the world.

Thankfully, that is what people coming from many different backgrounds in countless and widely scattered places in this country and around the world, are beginning to recognize, not because of what Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. said, but because, as we enter the 21st century, present and impending disasters in our relations with one another, to the Earth, to other species and to other peoples of the world are encouraging this kind of cultural creativity.

For example, Paul Hawken of the Natural Capital Institute estimates that at least 130,000 self-healing civic groups of various sizes have emerged in response to globalization in countries around the world. Most are in the two-thirds of the world that we used to call the “Third World.” But they also exist in this country.

For example, Detroit, my home town, was once the shining example of the success of American capitalism, encouraging and reinforcing the conventional wisdom that technological progress is the key to social progress. Over the last thirty years, however, it has become a wasteland, a symbol of the coming collapse of American urban civilization. A population which reached two million in the l950s when I came to the city now hovers around 900,000. Physically the city is more devastated than Dresden, Berlin and Tokyo after the massive bombings of World War II. Buildings that were once architectural marvels, like the Statler Hilton and the Book Cadillac hotels, Union Station and the Michigan Theatre, lie in ruins, earmarks like the Roman Colosseum of the decline of an empire. On city planning maps white spaces now outnumber black ones, reminders of the hundreds of thousands of housing units that have vanished in the last thirty years. Many of the institutional structures that remain are fenced in, and in most neighborhoods people live behind triple locked doors and barred windows. Our public school system is in shambles. Almost 50% of teenagers drop out or are pushed out before graduation, many of them drifting into lives of crime and incarceration. Because each dropout represents a loss of nearly $7000 in state funding, schools are being closed down and teachers laid off.

Under these circumstances, it would be easy to abandon all hope for Detroit’s future - or to be satisfied with pseudo-solutions like casinos and luxury sports stadia. Yet precisely because physical devastation on such a huge scale boggles the mind, it also frees the imagination, especially of activists/artists/artisans, to perceive reality anew; to see vacant lots not as eyesores but as empty spaces inviting the viewer to fill them in with other forms, other structures that presage a new kind of city that will embody and nurture new life-affirming values in sharp contrast to the Materialism, Individualism and Competition that have brought us to this denouement.

This new kind of city can’t be built overnight. To create it is going to take time and struggle, including political struggles over opposing policies and directions. It can’t be built from the top down by politicians reacting to crises or by developers seizing opportunities to make megaprofits. It must emerge organically from the initiative, imagination, commitment, passions and cooperation of a lot of different people with diverse skills and gifts, putting their hearts, heads and hands together to make a difference.

That is what has been happening since the mid-1980s when crack came to Detroit and with it a tremendous increase in violence. In the summer of 1986 47 kids under 16 were killed and 365 wounded. The problem, according to Coleman Young, our first black mayor, was an economic one, the lack of jobs Therefore his solution was also economic: a casino industry that would provide 50,000 jobs. To defeat him we joined Detroiters Uniting, a broad coalition including blue and white collar workers, cultural workers, clergy, political leaders and professionals. However, in the course of the struggle (which we won) he called us “naysayers” and demanded that we come up with an alternative.

Recognizing the legitimacy of Young’s challenge, my late husband, Jimmy Boggs, made a speech entitled REBUILDING DETROIT; AN ALTERNATIVE TO CASINO GAMBLING (see boggscenter.org) in which he pointed out that our concerns were not only with the economy but with “how our city has been deteriorating socially, politically, morally and ethically.” Therefore we need to envision a new kind of city in which Detroit citizens “take responsibility for creating the local enterprises that would ensure our livelihoods, instead of continuing to depend on and beg corporations with no loyalty to the city or its residents to provide us with jobs.”

To give a sense of how that new kind of city could be built, in 1992 we founded Detroit Summer, a multicultural, intergenerational youth program to rebuild, redefine and respirit Detroit from the ground up. Since1992 Detroit Summer has been involving young people in a variety of activities: planting community gardens, painting public murals, rehabbing houses and creating Back Alley Bikes, while also expanding their minds and imaginations through workshops and intergenerational dialogues.

Detroit Summer’s community gardening brought us into immediate contact with the “Gardening Angels,” a loose network of elders, many of them born and raised in the South, who were already planting gardens on vacant lots. They were doing this, they explained, not only to produce food but to prevent crime and give youth born and raised in a pushbutton world a sense of process.

I cannot overstate the significance of this gardening. As we enter the 21st century the conviction is growing, especially in the generation born before World War II, that we must bring the country back into the city in order to heal ourselves from the psychological, ecological and philosophical effects of four centuries of Western industrialization and urbanization.

Thus, within walking distance of my house on the city’s east side, Brother Rick from the Capuchin Monastery has created Earthworks to produce food for WIC mothers. Approximately five miles west, the Catherine Ferguson Academy, a public high school for teenage mothers, not only provides a nursery for the students’ infants and toddlers but engages the mothers in life-affirming activities like gardening, growing a fruit orchard, building a barn and caring for farm animals. As a result, 80% of these students go on to college.

All kinds of people, urban planners, architects, journalists, filmmakers come from around the world to study how Detroit is grappling with deindustrialization. Hundreds of students from neighboring universities, especially the University of Michigan, participate in community-service learning programs in the city or spend a week or summer or their Alternative Spring break on our rebuilding projects. Every year a few students decide to settle in the city after graduation because it offers them a unique opportunity to participate in creating the future.

As a result, we now have a well-organized Detroit Agricultural Network which not only provides training in gardening and food preparation skills but organizes neighborhood cluster groups. Every August the Detroit Agricultural Network organizes a tour to visit community gardens. Three years ago we needed two buses to transport about 80 people on the tour. Last year we needed eight buses.

An increasing number of schools are also planting gardens to introduce children to life-affirming activities. For example, Rahiel Housey, a teacher at the Holbrook School in Hamtramck (a small municipality inside the boundaries of Detroit where immigrant families from the Mideast have settled) decided to build a school community garden because she was sick and tired of the children walking across a vacant lot full of dead cats, discarded tires and old mattresses to get to school. Her efforts were rewarded one day when a little girl. who was suspected of being a mute because she had never uttered a word, suddenly held up a radish and said, “Mrs. Housey, this is a radish.”

One of the most exciting aspects of our work in Detroit is the synergy that has developed between the community and the university. An example of this is the Adamah vision created by students in the Architectural Department of the University of Detroit Mercy, under the leadership of visiting architect Kyong Park and department head Steve Vogel. Adamah, which means “of the earth” in Hebrew, is a vision, inspired by what was already going on in Detroit, for rebuilding a 2–1/2 square mile area in one of the city’s most devastated on the east side of Detroit close to the Boggs Center. The vision begins with unearthing Bloody Run Creek which had been covered over and absorbed into the city’s sewer system around the turn of the century and turning it into a canal for both recreation and irrigation. It includes greenhouses, grazing land and a dairy, a tree farm and lumber mill, a community center, community gardens, a shrimp farm and windmills to generate electricity and living and work spaces in the former Packard auto plant.

The meaning of what we are doing in Detroit can be summed up in the slogan of the 1999 National Black Farmers Conference: “We can’t free ourselves until we feed ourselves.” Or as my friend Michelle Brown puts it: “It is only by providing for our most basic needs that we are empowered to make our own choices.”

I was reminded of these truths when two weeks ago Shea Howell and I participated in a two day training session of Growing Power, a two acre urban farm on the northwest side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

It was an unforgettable experience for us and the approximately seventy other participants who included youngsters and oldsters from all over the country and from many different backgrounds.

For example, I was in a project planning workshop with Wesley, a 13-year old African American middle schooler from the neighborhood, and Hank, a middle-aged Puerto Rican psychiatrist interested in organizing a similar urban farm in his Rochester, New York
neighborhood.

Growing Power is the realization of the imagination of 6′7″ Will Allen, the first African American to play basketball with the University of Miami. Raised on a farm in Maryland, Will never forgot the sense of extended family and community that he experienced as a child because his family always had plenty of food and took it for
granted that they should share with those in need. So, after a pro basketball career and working in sales and sales technology with Proctor & Gamble, he decided in the early 1990s to buy a two acre plot in “Greenhouse Alley,” a stretch of small farms that fed Milwaukee in the early decades of the 20th century.

Will began with a Vision – a Vision of Independence, independence from poverty, independence from chemicals, independence from far-off food sources, independence from farming techniques that are no longer viable given our ever dwindling supply of farmland and fossil fuels, and also independence from the illusion that community can exist without individuals accepting responsibility.

As a result, Growing Power has blossomed into a model food system concentrated in five greenhouses on two acres which now includes

  • An aquaphonic system in which mosquito size fishlings enter a tank at one end of the greenhouse and emerge as 2–1/2 pounders at the other.
  • 10,000 pounds of compost, produced weekly through combining redworms with food waste, to remediate the soil of Growing Power and other gardens.
  • A Rainbow Coalition of African American, EuroAmerican and Hmong farmers who supply local restaurants and families with weekly Market Baskets.
  • A Youth Corps Farm program which starts kids out when they are eight or nine and works with them until they go to college. This program gives kids what the schools don’t but should provide. They work hard, learn how to think on their feet, and are challenged to solve problems instead of giving up and complaining when something doesn’t work out immediately. To save our public schools and our young people I am convinced (as I point out in this pamphlet “Freedom Schooling: Bringing the Neighbor back into the ‘hood”, compiled from my weekly columns in the Michigan Citizen) that this is the kind of education our children need from K-12. It is also the kind of self-and structure- transforming project education that in the last three years of his life Martin Luther King was advocating for young people “in our dying cities.”

We’re not just growing food, the folks at Growing Power say. We are growing community.

These examples from Detroit and Milwaukee are two glimpses of the future that are springing up in the United States.. As members of Beloved Communities Shea Howell, Nelson Johnson and I are seeking out and connecting other examples of people growing community. They are mostly local, small, unconnected, and unrecognized, but as organizational consultant Margaret Wheatley explains in her book LEADERSHIP AND MODERN SCIENCE (p.44):

“From a Newtonian perspective, our efforts often seem too small, and we doubt that our actions will contribute incrementally to large-scale change. Step by step, system by system we aspire to develop enough mass or force to alter the larger system.”

But a quantum view explains the success of small efforts quite differently.

Acting locally allows us to be inside the movement and flow of the system, participating in all those complex events occurring simultaneously. We are more likely to be sensitive to the dynamics of this system, and thus more effective. However, changes in small places also affect the global system, not through incrementalism, but because every small system participates in an unbroken wholeness. Activities in one part of the whole create effects that appear in distant places. Because of these unseen connections, there is potential value in working anywhere in the system. We never know how our small activities will affect others through the invisible fabric of our connectedness. I have learned that in this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question of ‘critical mass.’ It’s always about critical connections.”

In Detroit and Milwaukee we are making these critical connections.

  • We are viewing the crises in our communities in our schools and in our city not only as a danger but as an opportunity.
  • We have taken very seriously MLK’s recognition in the last three years of his life of our need for a radical revolution in values, not only against racism but against materialism and militarism, and his advocacy of self-transforming and structure-transforming projects for young people “in our dying cities.”

Last night when Shea Howell and I arrived at the hotel, we ran into Ed Rowe, our good friend who pastors Central Methodist Church in downtown Detroit. In the course of our discussion we concluded that it is very difficult to turn around a huge educational-industrial complex like the public school system but that at this stage pastors in every city can begin to accelerate that turnaround by creating afterschool and summer programs in which school children and youth engage in community-building activities like maintaining neighborhood streets, planting community gardens, recycling waste, painting public murals – and thus, almost overnight, begin making our neighborhoods safer, livelier and healthier.

In 1954, Martin Luther King Jr. was only 25 years old when he became pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, armed with his faith in Christianity, the dialectical ideas of Hegel (who was his favorite philosopher), and the example of Gandhi’s leadership in the struggle to liberate India from British colonialism. One year later, he was leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the struggle which inspired the great human identity and ecological movements of the last century because it was rooted in the concept of two-sided transformation, of ourselves and our society.

That is the kind of conviction and commitment it is going to take to build beloved communities in our cities.

‘Hope is a kind of birth; it doesn’t come out of what went before; it comes out despite what went before. Hope means that another world is possible, not that it is guaranteed.” Rebecca Solnit
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Transcript Of Amy Goodman Interview with Grace Lee Boggs re Obama

Key Concept: Obama as Healer and Spark for Bottom-up and Youth Energies

And though I consider myself a feminist, I have to look at what Hillary stands for in terms of top-down leadership. And I have to understand—have to look at Obama and see that younger people, a new generation is emerging and looking for the kind of healing that this country needs, that he has unleashed that, though his policies are not that different from Clinton’s. But he has unleashed an energy in the young people particularly, which has great promise.

AMY GOODMAN: Grace Lee Boggs, there has been a debate over the last few weeks among the presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, about the power of King. Also, last night they debated in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. For the first half, they were really going at it. Then they sat down, and they agreed on a lot of things. And one of the things that Barack Obama said when asked whether—you know, who would Dr. King endorse, something like that—the debate happening on Dr. King Day—Barack Obama said he wouldn’t endorse any of us. He was speaking as a presidential candidate. He said he would be leading a movement to pressure us. Can you talk about how you’ve seen this debate play out over the last few weeks and where you stand?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Well, I think that—I think it’s wonderful, by the way, that both Hillary and Obama are running and that they’re frontrunners in this campaign, because I think they help us to see that it’s not a question of race or gender, it’s a question of whether we encourage the movement and unleash the movement of people from below or whether we try to run things from above, from the White House. And though I consider myself a feminist, I have to look at what Hillary stands for in terms of top-down leadership. And I have to understand—have to look at Obama and see that younger people, a new generation is emerging and looking for the kind of healing that this country needs, that he has unleashed that, though his policies are not that different from Clinton’s. But he has unleashed an energy in the young people particularly, which has great promise.

And he has also helped to unfreeze the unity that existed among blacks. He has helped us to see that all blacks are not the same. I think that people have become—that in the interest of unity, blacks who have not actually been in the same place—some of them are in the White House and some of them are in the Supreme Court and some of them are in the Congress, and others are groping with very fundamental questions of daily life. And that that split actually exists in the country, that it actually exists in the community, but this campaign has helped us to see, to begin to grapple with that difference.

AMY GOODMAN: Grace Lee Boggs, you’re not—

GRACE LEE BOGGS: That’s a very important development, not just for the black community, but for this country. There was an unfreezing that began to take place in the Jackson administration when the Federalist Party died, and we had the beginning of the birth of the Democrats. That same kind of unfreezing is going on right now.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Grace Lee Boggs. She is in Detroit, Michigan. You are not usually deeply involved in electoral politics, yet here you are deeply believing in the significance of what’s happening this year. What has changed? And did you ever have hope in other electoral years, in other presidential—times of presidential elections?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I’ve never had this much hope. I’ve never had—because I think this one is unique. You know, policy-wise, I think Dennis Kucinich is much more on the right track. In fact, I support him. But he does not have that particular combination of a Kenyan father and a Kansas mother that can help unleash different energies. You know, sometimes—he can’t help it, of course, but sometimes it takes a certain person to do that. And I don’t think—it’s not—to me, it’s not so important, the electoral politics. How they will develop, I don’t know. But when I felt that energy of young people, and I feel it around here, and I think of what Fanon said about each generation emerging out of obscurity must define its mission and fulfill or betray it. We’re living at one of those tide times.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think are the key issues right now? And for people who are grassroots activists, as you are, what do you think their role is in this year of a presidential race that you think is so key?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Well, Barack Obama used a phrase in his speech at Ebenezer, which I think we have to sort of embrace. He said we have to lead “by example.” That’s what we have to do. He can do it—maybe he can. I don’t know. But we had charismatic leaders in the ‘60s, and they almost all got gunned down. And if we depend so much on charismatic leaders, not only are they in danger, but we do not exercise our capacities in relationship to our situations to create the world anew. And that’s where we are. If you want—

AMY GOODMAN: What about Barack Obama’s stance on healthcare, which is not very different from Hillary Clinton or John Edwards?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Oh, not at all. I mean, his is just as much in sort of the box of the insurance companies as Hillary’s. That’s why I think that Kucinich’s policy of a single-payer system is much more progressive, not only for the health of our bodies, but for the health of our minds and our spirits.

But that—it’s not a question. This is not a question. We are not at a time where we debate policy. I remember when I was in the radical movement, how we’d debate policies, how we had this phrase “critical support.” And we were actually trying to vie with other people for leadership. And I don’t think that’s where we are now. I think we’re redefining leadership. We’re understanding that leadership has within it the complexities of followship and that followship is not what we need, that we have to become the leaders we’re looking for in relationship to our local daily circumstances.

AMY GOODMAN: Last night in the debate in Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, Hillary Clinton said to Barack Obama, “Yes, you admirably opposed the war in 2002, yet you took the speech that you gave in your fierce opposition to the war off your website, and then you ultimately voted again and again for funding for this war.” Your response to that, Grace Lee Boggs?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Well, that’s the sort of thing that, if I were concerned with Obama and supporting him, that’s one—also if I were competing with him—that’s the sort of thing I would do, too. But I’m not. What I’m trying to do is encourage the capacities, the energy, the creativity, the imagination, that exists in people at the grassroots to redefine and rebuild our society. If we want to live in freedom from terror, we have to begin looking at ourselves, redefining who we are, redefining who this country is and reassessing what it is within our capacity to do.
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On Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” Grace Lee Boggs Exhorts Us To Understand Deeper Meaning of Obama Phenomenon

Last night on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now Grace Lee Boggs urged the nation to awaken to the vast possibilities for positive change sparked by Obama’s charismatic appeal to new young voters. She exhorted us to partner with the Obama movement, even if our policies, like hers, are closer to Kucinich. Obama has something special this country needs: the ability to inspire, mobilize, and heal! But most importantly, to support movements that will find people becoming their own leaders…the leaders we are waiting for are us! Obama “gets that!”

Had she a bit more time she would have also urged Obama’s key staffers and policy advisers to read this essay and incorporate urban farming for self-reliance and community building into his platform!

Click here to go to video

Perhaps Milwaukee’s trailblazing role in the emerging urban agriculture and locavore movements will find Obama shaking hands with Will Allen at his magical urban farm at 55th & Silver Spring, drawing attention from the world entiere!

http://milwaukeerenaissance.com/GrowingPower/HomePage

Obama Urban Policy Platform Cries Out for Urban Agriculture for Millions of Locavore Voters
The “Quiet Revolution” in Detroit

By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, Aug. 12–18, 2007

It’s three years since I’ve been on the August Garden Tour. At that time we only needed two buses. This year there were so many participants and so many gardens that it took six buses, some visiting gardens on the west side of the city and others on the east side. It also included a bike tour.

The Westside garden tour , according to a young woman who has lived here only one year, included a lot of the city’s newer gardens that really showcased the growing trend in community gardening, the different aspects of organizing that are incorporated into gardening, and the involvement of everyone across racial and ethnic lines and across age groups. It was amazing to see so many youth proudly explaining the work they had done on their garden and interacting with elders who are still excited about learning! The entire experience was truly inspiring and served to remind many of the tour participants why we love Detroit.

The first stop was the Brightmoor Community Garden, which was started just one year ago in the Northwest corner of the city. Tour participants were in awe of the gardener’s own expansive personal garden, with everything from bees and melons to tomatoes and flowers, but even more impressed by the positive transformation of vacant land into a space where community members beautified abandoned houses adjacent to the garden and have successfully deterred criminal activity. The “D-Town Farm” garden is also new, just under two months old! The gardeners of this Black Community Food Security Network Garden seek to address food insecurity issues in Detroit’s black community by providing fresh vegetables and fruit. It was here that I learned from another tour participant about unique ways to grow potatoes in stacks of tires!

Romanowski Farm Park is an amazing collaborative effort between the Greening of Detroit, MSU Extension, Capuchin Soup Kitchen, American Indian Health and Family Services, Latino Soccer League, and two neighboring public schools! An Americorps volunteer who coordinates the effort remarked that some youngsters recalled that just three years ago,there was nothing there. Now there are apple and pear trees, beautiful sunflowers, and vegetables and fruit ranging from okra to collards! One girl who lives in the neighborhood and attends the nearby school gave a few of us an informal mini-tour of some of her favorite parts of the community garden. She proudly informed us that anyone can help and eat from the garden! She remembers when she was just in third grade and, through her class, started to help out with the garden.

We drove by the garden at American Indian Health and Family Services,which features berries used in coming-of-age ceremonies and tobacco used to educate youth about health issues. Our final stop was the Birdtown Garden in Cass Corridor, where we were greeted by chickens, samples of honey, and yet another inspiring story of community members coming together.

A Detroiter who retired recently from her job in the City County Building was on an Eastside bus. “I got a sense,” she told me, “of how important community gardens are to our city and how we need to replicate them all over the city. They reduce neighborhood blight, build self-esteem among young people, provide them with structured activities from which they can see results, build leadership skills, provide healthy food and a community base for economic development, People, especially young people, not only learn where food comes from but how to prepare healthy food.

“We drove down one street where the residents had contacted the Detroit Agricultural Network about the vacant lots on the block. Now, after planting a community garden, the grass is cut on every lawn. There is no litter on the street. People have become more neighborly The garden brought the children together and the adults together. They had discovered a new use for the Land.

“One community garden, grown without pesticides, provides enough healthy food for 25.families. There were a lot of young people on our bus and I thought of the many young people who say they have nothing to do and who only eat fast food.”

“I see this as the ‘Quiet Revolution.’ It is a revolution for self-determination taking place quietly in Detroit.”
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Grace Lee Boggs Interview With Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman

Legendary Detroit Activist Inspired by Obama’s Electrifying Impact on Youth of America

Calls For Us To Influence Obama’s Policy and Work With New Political Actors He’s Mobilizing

Click here to go to video
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Dialogue With Obama Campaign by Creating Your City’s Obama Campaign Yahoo Group

Help Obama Team Learn From the Grass Roots, Especially the Urban Organic Food Movements

Locavore’s Awaken Obama to Horror and Stupidity of Oil Based Industrial Agriculture Industry

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Alex’s Ginger, Tofu, Noodle Soup for Obama’s Milwaukee Staffers

No More Fast, Junk Food Poisoning Core Citizen Activists

Sponsor a $6 Quart of Healthy, Tasty Food for Obama’s Milwaukee Staffers

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Hillary, Barack, Experience

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: January 20, 2008

With all the sniping from the Clinton camp about whether Barack Obama has enough experience to make a strong president, consider another presidential candidate who was far more of a novice. He had the gall to run for president even though he had served a single undistinguished term in the House of Representatives, before being hounded back to his district.

That was Abraham Lincoln.

Another successful president scorned any need for years of apprenticeship in Washington, declaring, “The same old experience is not relevant.” He suggested that the most useful training comes not from hanging around the White House and Congress but rather from experience “rooted in the real lives of real people” so that “it will bring real results if we have the courage to change.”

That was Bill Clinton running in 1992 against George H. W. Bush, who was then trumpeting his own experience over the callow youth of Mr. Clinton. That year Mr. Bush aired a television commercial urging voters to keep America “in the hands of experience.”

It might seem obvious that long service in Washington is the best preparation for the White House, but on the contrary, one lesson of American history is that length of experience in national politics is an extremely poor predictor of presidential success.

Looking at the 19 presidents since 1900, three of the greatest were among those with the fewest years in electoral politics. Teddy Roosevelt had been a governor for two years and vice president for six months; Woodrow Wilson, a governor for just two years; and Franklin Roosevelt, a governor for four years. None ever served in Congress.

They all did have executive experience (as did Mr. Clinton), actually running something larger than a Senate office. Maybe that’s something voters should think about more: governors have often made better presidents than senators. But that’s not a good Democratic talking point, because the candidates with the greatest administrative experience by far are Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee.

Alternatively, look at the five presidents since 1900 with perhaps the most political experience when taking office: William McKinley, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush. They had great technical skills — but not one was among our very greatest presidents.

The point is not that experience is pointless but that it needn’t be in politics to be useful. John McCain’s years as a P.O.W. gave him an understanding of torture and a moral authority to discuss it that no amount of Senate hearings ever could have conferred.

In the same way, Mr. Obama’s years as an antipoverty organizer give him insights into one of our greatest challenges: how to end cycles of poverty. That front-line experience is one reason Mr. Obama not only favors government spending programs, like early-childhood education, but also cultural initiatives like promoting responsible fatherhood.

Then there’s Mr. Obama’s grade-school years in Indonesia. Our most serious mistakes in foreign policy, from Vietnam to Iraq, have been a blindness to other people’s nationalism and an inability to see ourselves as others see us. Mr. Obama seems to have absorbed an intuitive sensitivity to that problem. For starters, he understood back in 2002 that American troops would not be greeted in Iraq with flowers.

In politics, Mr. Obama’s preparation is indeed thin, though it’s more than Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledges. His seven years in the Illinois State Senate aren’t heavily scrutinized, but he scored significant achievements there: a law to videotape police interrogations in capital cases; an earned income tax credit to fight poverty; an expansion of early-childhood education.

Mrs. Clinton’s strength is her mastery of the details of domestic and foreign policy, unrivaled among the candidates; she speaks fluently about what to do in Pakistan, Iraq, Darfur. Mr. Obama’s strength is his vision and charisma and the possibility that his election would heal divisions at home and around the world. John Edwards’s strength is his common touch and his leadership among the candidates in establishing detailed positions on health care, poverty and foreign aid.

Those are the meaningful distinctions in the Democratic field, not Mrs. Clinton’s spurious claim to “35 years of experience.” The Democrats with the greatest Washington expertise — Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson — have already been driven from the race. And the presidential candidate left standing with the greatest experience by far is Mr. McCain; if Mrs. Clinton believes that’s the criterion for selecting the next president, she might consider backing him.

To put it another way, think which politician is most experienced today in the classic sense, and thus — according to the “experience” camp — best qualified to become the next president.

That’s Dick Cheney. And I rest my case.
Click here for original article
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Grace Lee Boggs On Obama, MLK, and Ourselves

Grace Lee Boggs is a legendary Detroit activist who, At 92, has been in the center of Detroit’s social movements Since the 1950s, including civil rights, peace, nbd. development, And now urban farms and gardens.

Bill Moyers interviewed her in 2007.
I met her at Growing Power in 2005 or 2006.

LIVING FOR CHANGE
OBAMA & MLK
By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, Jan.20–26 , 2008

The new energies being unleashed by Barack Obama hold great promise.In his person and prose Obama embodies the achievements of the movements of the 20th century and the hope that we can become the change we want to see in the 21st century.

To build the movement for change will not be easy. The challenges we face demand profound changes not only in our institutions but in ourselves. To become part of the solution, we must recognize that we are a large part of the problem.

That means we can’t leave it all to Obama. Instead of being followers of a charismatic leader, we must be the leaders we’ve been looking for. This is the best way to make Obama less vulnerable to corporate funders and lobbyists. It is also the best way to protect him from the assassins who gunned down so many charismatic leaders in the 1960s.

We don’t have to start from scratch. As we celebrate Dr.King’s birthday this month and commemorate the 40th anniversary of his assassination this year,we can look to the vision that he was creating at the height of his awareness before he was taken from us.

In the last three years of his life Dr. King recognized that “the war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit. We are on the wrong side of a world revolution because we refuse to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.”

“We have come to value things more than people. Our technological development has outrun our spiritual development. We have lost our sense of community, of interconnection and participation.”

In order to get on the right side of that revolution, he said, we must undergo a radical revolution of values against the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism.

“A true revolution of values will look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth… It will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: ‘This is not just.’ The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach and nothing to learn is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

The urban rebellions had also made King acutely aware of the needs of young people. “This generation,” he said, “is engaged in a cold war with the earlier generation. It is not the normal hostility of the young groping for independence. It has a new quality of bitter antagonism and confused anger which suggests basic values are being contested.”

“The source of this alienation is that our society has made material growth and technological advance an end in itself, robbing people of participation.”

To overcome this alienation we need to change our priorities. Instead of pursuing economic productivity, we need to expand our uniquely human powers, especially our capacity for the Love that is ready to go to any length to restore community.

This Love, King insisted, is not some sentimental weakness. “We can learn its practical meaning from the young people who joined the civil rights movement, … putting on overalls to work in the isolated rural South because they felt the need for more direct ways of learning that would strengthen both society and themselves.”

What we need now “in our dying cities,” King said,are ways to provide young people with similar opportunities to engage in self-transforming and structure-transforming direct action.

King was assassinated before he could discover and implement ways to nurture this two-sided transformation. Forty years later, that is the mission of a new generation.

We have to create the momentum for these changes at the grassroots level. Instead of being seduced by Walmart’s low prices, refusing to acknowledge that these bargains exist because multinational corporations outsource U.S. jobs to Chinese sweatshops, we need to create local sustainable economies that not only reduce carbon emissions but provide more opportunities for our young people to be of use. Instead of viewing success in terms of more consumer goods, we need to devise ways to live more simply and cooperatively, thereby not only making it possible for others to simply live but also discovering positive and even joyful ways to grapple with our own increasing economic hardships.

Because Detroit has been so devastated by deindustrialization, we have embarked on a five year Detroit City of Hope campaign. Out of necessity we are becoming the kind of leadership by example which is now needed.

Obama can become a great President only if we become a great people. We must grow together.
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Fast and Real Slow Food from Organic Food Mobiles?

Sara Beam, Brydie Godsil, and James Godsil are responding to Michael Pollan’s call for “fast slow food outlets” and Megan Jeyifo’s call for the development of “Orgnaic Food Mobiles.”

Here is the first memo:

Here is a list of ingredients to make a great veggie dish
For the campaign workers at the Obama Wisconsin Headquarters.

Bridie wrote the memo.
Sara will be going to Outpost for the ingredients,
She will sautee these veggies today in virgin olive oil and fresh cut garlic
Put that into plastic bags.
Later we’ll add rice, pasta, spices, and other goodies.

$5

  • Green Peppers
  • Red Peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Ziploc Bags and bigger ones
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Vanilla Granola
  • TP

$3

  • Fresh cut garlic

We’re going to start this experiment by creating tasty veggie meals for the campaign staffers of the Obama for President Campaign.

Sara Beam cut and bagged these Growing Power, Outpost, and Riverwest Co-op veggies to be used for a fast slow meal that’s tasty and healthy for the Obama campaign workers.
Carrots, onions, green and red peppers, mushrooms, and garlic will be sautted in virgin olive oil, then mixed with brown rice and cabbage kimchee.

Veggies sautted in virgin olive oil and garlic, mixed with brown rice and Kimchee

Sara Beam, Bridie Godsil, and Megan Godsil Jeyifo celebrating the end of the first day of the Fast Slow Food and Organic Food Mobile for presidential campaign worker experiment.

Here is the veggie/rice/kimchee dish to be delivered to the Obama staffers the day after the Grand Opening of the Obama Wisconsin Primary Campaign Office.

There is a “Shepherd Express” iconic issue which introduced Milwaukee to the great work of Will Allen and his Growing Power team in front of the fast slow food dish.

Will has figured out how to grow fresh cold weather veggies year round in outside hoop houses heated by composting and winter sun.
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Over 200 Show Up for Grand Opening of Obama’s Wisconsin Presidential Primary Office

Official Campaign Web Site

www.barackobama.com

Best Selling Real Food Writer, Michael Pollan, Devestating Critique of Industrial Agriculture for 600 At Alverno College Who Braved the Cold

Says Only Obama Campaign Has Contacted Him to Learn About “The Human Omnivore,” “An Eater’s Manifesto” and Local, Organic Food Movements

Dear All,

I just came from an inspiring speech by Michael Pollan on his new best selling book, “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” to a near sell-out crowd of 600 plus at Alverno College tonight, despite the bitter cold! Schwartz Book Store’s Nancy Quinn was the key organizer of this great event.

http://www.milwaukeerenaissance.com/DailyAgoraAnnouncements/HomePage , or,
http://www.milwaukeerenaissance.com/Main/GreenWeeklyUpdates
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Milwaukee’s Urban Agriculture Movement Has Mayor Barret’s “Ear”

Does Pollan ‘Have the Ear” of Any Presidential Candidates?

I tried to ask this question before the audience: “Will Allen’s Growing Power, the Urban Ecology Center, Slow Foods, UW-Extension, Mary Ann Ihm’s Wellspring, Jerry and Larry Adams’ Walnut Way, Kim Lee’s Foundy’s Market, the Milwaukee Urban Agriculture Network(MUAN), Outpost Natural Foods, the Riverwest Food Co-op, and others have earned the Milwaukee local organic urban farm movement “the ear” of Mayor Barrett, who is on board this great movement!

Do you and the movements you are connected with across the country have the ear of any of the current presidential candidates? Have any of them tried to connect with you and learn what you have to say?

There was not time for this question before the assembled throng, but I did get to ask it of Michael during the book signing period(for $30 we got the speech plus his new book personally signed).

Only Obama Campaign Has Called Pollan!

Pollan’s answer: Only the Obama people have called me.

I did not get to speak with him any more than that so I don’t know what happened as a result of that call.

But I do know that I very much hope that the Obama campaign will learn about Milwaukee’s trail-blazing role in sparking an urban farm movement in North America and helping spark as much as well in Africa, Europe, and pretty soon the entire planet.

One Million “Locavore” Voters Await a Candidate Who “Gets” the Buy Local Organic and Slow Food Movements

It is my deep conviction that one million votes across the country would go instantly to the candidate who goes to the last city farm in Milwaukee, Will Allen’s Growing Power, on 55th & Silver Spring, and witnesses the magic made by tons of urban waste products, e.g. brewers’ yeast from Lakefront Brewery, coffee grounds from Alterra, veggie wastes from grocers, wood chips from the Department of Public Works, cardboard from wherever, composted, fed to worms, processed, turned into black gold, the richest soil in the world, fertile enough to sustain four season veggie harvests in hoop houses only warmed by compost heat!

Seeking Campaign Volunteers for Minnesota Visits Next Few Weekends and Phone Bank Work Now!

The Obama campaign now has an official office at the SEIU Labor Council – 633 S. Hawley Rd., in Milwaukee WI, a field director named Nick Meyer, and a full-time staff including Megan Smith, Dave Vorland, Hy Safran, and Mike Reyerntson.

If you would like to help out with any of the following, please let me know and I will connect you with Megan Smith, who will be organizing these activities.

  • Phone Calls at Campaign Headquarters to Minnesota for Feb. 5th Primary

  • Phone Calls at Your Home for Upstate and Madison Primary

  • Travel to Minnesota on Weekends

Viva, the movement!

Key Concept From Obama’s Speech at 2004 Democratic National Convention

“true genius is faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles.”

Obama’s Historic Victory Speech in Iowa

Many say this is one of the great political speeches of our times.

http://my.barackobama.com/iowaspeech

Wisconsin Voters for Obama

Here is a place to record for the ages your commitment to this historic campaign.
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Why We Are Supporting Obama

  • Obama strikes me as a brilliant but modest man who would have been very much at home attending Riverside High School, UWM or Madison, Riverwest 4th of July celebrations, working in the trenches of our neighborhood, civil rights, and environmental movements.

There are many spirits in the major movements constituting Milwaukee’s renaissance that are kindred with Obama. He embodies the best of the emerging Great Lakes and Mississippi River Valley cultures, countervailing the worst aspects of the hegemonic east coast and west coast culture industries and “systems.”

This country jailed Ali for opposing the war in Vietnam. I can imagine this country hailing Obama for his early opposition to the Iraq war. Evidence for evolution and quite a bit more than a simple miracle, in my mind.

Godsil

Last edited by tyler schuster.   Page last modified on August 03, 2008

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