Saturday, April 19, 2008

Get on board the Change Train!

On Saturday, Barach Obama took the train west from Philadelphia, stopping in a number of small towns along the way. Crowds of up to 6,000 people waited for him and heard his message.

The day ended in a rally in Harrisburg, where the unofficial estimate of one participant was 10,000.

Here's a great fast slide show of one stop, with a summary of other Obama campaign activities Saturday. Videos from other stops are here and here. I've taken this train route many times--it's beautiful and a lot of fun. Although I never got to pull the train whistle!

Over the past two weeks, every major newspaper in the Commonwealth has endorsed Obama. So has Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers; Bruce Springsteen, former Senate Armed Services Committee chair Sam Nunn and former Senate Intelligence Committee chair David Boren, former Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, 9/11 Commission and Iraq Study Group co-chair Lee Hamilton, former Senator and Governor Lowell Weicker, as well as a number of PA office holders who joined PA Senator Bob Casey (who was on that train today, together with his family) in bucking the Rendell machine, in declaring their independence from the old politics.

Hey, Pennsylvania, your time is now.

The Pennsylvania primary is Tuesday.

Update: Barack Obama closed his Saturday in Harrisburg. This video clip
from that event is one of the better brief
summaries of the core of Obama's message in two and a half minutes.

Posted by Picasa

Obama in Philadelphia

On Friday night, Barack Obama spoke to a crowd officially estimated at 35,000 which may have been tens of thousands more. It was in any case the biggest crowd of the campaign.

These photos show the crowd gathering, and then the event itself.
Obama unveiled a new speech, which has become the template for his closing speeches across PA today.

After the event, some 5,000 participants
went on a spontaneous march through
downtown Philadelphia. One reporter
saw them still at it a mile away. Here's an eyewitness account by a participant.

And I finally figured out what that t-shirt says, worn by the young woman in the middle in the first photo: Muggles for Obama.

Posted by Picasa

Two American Presidents

One was an actor playing a fictional American President in a 1995 movie. The other is running for President for real in 2008. But something that Barack Obama said in that abominable excuse for a debate Wednesday reminded me of the climactic speech in that movie, called The American President--one of my favorite movie moments.

Michael Douglas plays a President towards the end of his first term, looking towards re-election but being attacked by his opponent, Bob Rumson, on the right wing "character" issues familiar in the late 1990s: flag-burning, membership in the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as the main plot point, his girl friend. (He's widowed.) If you substitute wearing a flag-pin, knowing a former 60s radical and a former pastor who made inflammatory statements, you'll see the relevance to Wednesday's debate. Michael Douglas as that fictional President makes his statement towards the end of the movie, when he shows up unexpectedly at a press briefing. I've edited what he said for relevance, and matched it with something Obama said during the debate, both in the post below. You can see the movie speech in full here.

Posted by Picasa

For Serious People

President Andrew Shepherd in An American President (written by Aaron Sorkin, who went on to create The West Wing:)

"Being President of this country is entirely about character...America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You got to want it bad because it's going to put up a fight...

We have serious problems to solve and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you Bob Rumson isn't the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who to blame for it.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle-aged, middle class, middle income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and character...

We've got serious problems and we need serious people. And if you want to talk about character, you better come at me with more than a burning flag and a membership card. If you want to debate character and American values, fine. Just tell me where and when and I'll show up. This is a time for serious people, Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up."

Senator Barack Obama, in the Philadelphia debate Wednesday, from the transcript:

I think what's important is to make sure that we don't get so obsessed with gaffes that we lose sight of the fact that this is a defining moment in our history. We are going to be tackling some of the biggest issues that any president has dealt with in the last 40 years. Our economy is teetering not just on the edge of recession, but potentially worse. Our foreign policy is in a shambles. We are involved in two wars. People's incomes have not gone up, and their costs have. And we're seeing greater income inequality now than any time since the 1920s.

In those circumstances, for us to be obsessed with this -- these kinds of errors I think is a mistake. And that's not what our campaign has been about. What our campaign has been about is offering some specific solutions to how we move these issues forward and identifying the need to change the culture in Washington, which we haven't talked at all about, but that has blocked real reform decade after decade after decade. That, I think, is the job of the next president of the United States. That's what I intend to do. That's why I'm running.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Earth Does Not Belong To Us

It is a deep difference, expressed in
the saying "The Earth does not belong
to us--we belong to the Earth." This is
a mask by noted Native artist Duane
Pasco, honoring the Tsimshian story
"The Prince and the Salmon People,"
about the adventure of a boy who ultimately
returned to his fellow humans and taught
them how to respect the salmon, and ensure
their return in the future.

What we clearly are not doing is ensuring
the return of the salmon. Here in northern
California, the ban on salmon fishing because
of an acute shortage caused by thoughtless
actions, greed, arrogance and disrespect, and yes--
the Climate Crisis-- is a spiritual as well as
economic disaster. It is only one of many,
and they are happening more and more.
We cannot live without respecting life.
That is one fundamental lesson to remember
on Earth Day. Posted by Picasa