Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sitting at the table with Mama Taye'

I love to cook. I never expected that I would. I love to see people eat the food I prepare. I love to entertain. I love to hear the sounds of happy people.

I have been cooking almost full-time for the past five years, after my layoff. Prior to that, my husband was the master chef of our family and I was the one who cleaned up. My cooking forays were limited to the holidays when I would make the dressing and baked goods while he would make the greens, macaroni & cheese, and sweet potatoes. We would both doctor up the turkey and he would top off the meal with his fantastic lemonade and peach cobbler. There was a system and since we both loved having lots of family and friends around, we developed a rhythm that served anywhere from our family of 7 (now 5) to a crowd of 20 or more.

Then one day, probably after my daughter was so violently ill and just before when I discovered the local farmer's market, I discovered the wonderful herbs. I love thyme and rosemary. I pulled out pots and pans and experiment with these and slowly added dill and lavender and basil. I played around with dried spice mixes until I found the pantry staples I loved. Whole Foods Market became my favorite place. Here in St. Louis, I'm in love with Trader Joe's. Extra-virgin olive oil stays in my pantry as well as fresh garlic and red onions. I keep jasmine and basmati rice as well as organic chicken broth. My favorite pasta shapes are the penne and bow-tie. I loved those organic, canned tomatoes at Whole Foods Market and the entire array of frozen vegetables at Trader Joe's. I had found this amateur chef's creative paradise. I discovered several smooth and creamy white cheeses and found the joy of grilled portabella mushrooms.

I love color. I love to flavors. I love to see different colors and taste the dance of many vegetables on my tongue. I am not a big fan of lots of sauces, my favorite is just olive oil, perhaps Sun Dried Tomatoes or Basil Pesto from Trader Joe's. I might do a butter and herb toss, but for the most part, I'm not the sauce one. Now my husband, he makes a mean spaghetti and a mean fettuchine with broccoli, but he uses sauces. They are creamy, good, and crowd favorites with the kids. Me, I like the beauty of the greens, reds, and yellows mixing together on the platter. Taste begins with the sight and I want to make the eyes twinkle and the mouth water with the meals I create.

The economic downturn of recent years has allowed me to create inexpensive and filling dishes. One of my favorites is "Sunshine." This happened by accident. I was in my big kitchen back in Lee's Summit, Missouri. Dinner was always at 6:30pm. My son's friends always knew when to come over and there was always plenty for an extra plate or two. I had been in the house all that day and hadn't made it to the market. What was in my pantry? Chicken broth and some rice. In my refrigerator was some fresh spinach and pineapples. I had a couple boneless chicken breasts in the freezer. A few seasonings here, a squeeze of garlic there, and a sprinkling of red onion on top and a family favorite was born. There weren't any leftovers! The same now goes for my chicken and rice soup, my beans & rice, and anything I make with pasta. My one secret is that I use very little meat. I can't go entirely meatless with my crowd, but I have been known to take one boneless chicken breast and feed all five of us.

My love of creating has brought my cooking with love to the local Obama office. The volunteers and staffers are working long hours and I got tired of seeing the young college students with so many McDonald's wrappers at their desks. I took on the project of feeding them and coordinating meals in the final days of the election. There is something magical about food, it brings out the happiness of people. It makes me feel good to know that not only my family, but now, many others, have sampled a little bit of the fare sitting at Mama Taye's kitchen.

Here is my recipe for Sunshine
Take one cup of basmati rice and add 2 cups of chicken broth
Stir and bring to a boil, stir and put the top on, turn to low, simmer 20 minutes
Take one or two chicken breasts or 3-4 portabella mushroom tops, season to taste
Saute these in a wok or deep skillet with about 2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
When the chicken is finished (about 10 minutes on each side), cut into little cubes (also for mushrooms if these are used, except these should be sliced and diced first, then sautee for about 5 minutes)
Put the meat back in the pan, add a bag of fresh spinach, about 1/2 red onion finely chopped, and squeeze one garlic clove - two if they are small, if you don't have a garlic press, just chop finely
Add about 1 cup of fresh pineapples or 1/2 bag of frozen - just eyeball this, let the juices get into the spinach also
The rice should be finished by now, take off the eye, fluff with a fork and add about 1/2 cup per person to the pan with the chicken, spinach, and pineapples.
Sautee for a little while longer, mainly to just toss all the ingredients together
Serve on a platter
A nice accompaniment is a side salad with balsamic vinegar and flat bread. This recipe also works nicely with tomatoes and pasta instead of rice!

Bon appetit!

A New And Better America Awaits

I am bubbling over with excitement this morning, even as I groggily sip a soy vanilla latte.

In exactly one week, we have the opportunity to invent a new and better America. The future awaits. The air rings with the bells of change. The wind blows with the scent of possibility. I can't wait.

This morning is exactly 7 days from when the polls in my state, Missouri, opens. I expect to see people in line even before this 7:19am hour. I hope people take the day off work so they won't feel the pressure of the time clock, one day's pay is worth it for this day's newness. My van will hope to be filled with my daughter and any one else who needs a ride to the polls. I will use my latte money to buy a big thermos of hot chocolate and to-go cups, I want to help keep the people in queue warm and ready. To me, on that day, it won't matter if you are old or young, male or female, educated or uneducated, white collar or blue collar, union or non-union, Catholic or Protestant, Jew or Muslim, mother or father, black or white, it will only matter that you are an American and you are standing in line to do what makes us great, vote.

Joshua, my youngest son, is equally enthusiastic about the election. He went to canvass on Saturday morning and worked the phone banks on Monday afternoon. He watched the debates with me and has kept up with all the issues. He wrote an article about 16-year-olds voting because he could feel the rush of energy from his classmates. He plans to stay up all night to watch the results.

The girls know about the candidates and have their opinion of who should be president. The youngest eagerly helps me deliver meals to the local campaign office and even earned herself a nametag. The older one talks about the election on the playground. The girls are only 7 and 4 1/2, somehow, they know how we are standing on the cusp of a great move and shift in the trajectory of tomorrow. They have given their dad ideas about our family election night watch party.

It has been a long journey to just one week away. I have met people I never would've met. I talked to people I probably wouldn't have approached before. I shed the lens of my color at times to look through the lens of humanity and see what immigrants and Third World nations see in America. In our ideals, in our democracy, in our freedom lies the earnestness to make this a good and accepting people. We have the best document after our holy creeds, the United States Constitution. Finally, there sits in the not-too-distant future, on the horizon, a spotlight that is us, a new and better America.

In this new America, I know my daughters will be grandmothers when there will be an evening out of the races, there will be a celebration of cultures, there will be rich colors and delicious foods and the glorious ring of many tongues. In this new America, it will be possible for my daughters to serve their community and in turn, earn their college diploma in the field of their choice. In this new America, teachers will be exalted to their rightful position as the keepers of knowledge for the new generation. In this new America, my elderly citizens won't have to decide between dinner and doses. In this new America, mothers will not be punished for having children and taking time away from their careers. In this new America, every man who applies himself will have a good job that pays for hard work. In this new America, the few won't control the many. In this new America, possibility will be a true word and not a lofty ideal.

A new and better America awaits, it is almost like being nine months pregnant and the doctor says the baby could come at any day, except we know the day of delivery. November 4, 2008 we will elect a new President of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and on that new day, I will sing and dance my way to the polls and cast my ballot for Senator Barack Obama. I can't wait.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The other day, while listening to the news, I thought of something.

The right-wing faction of the Republican Party has hijacked my faith.

I thought about all the sermons I sat through as a preacher's kid. I thought about all the Bible studies, choir rehearsals, prayer meetings, and my generally conservative upbringing.

My beloved Grandmother went to Mass every day. She could always be found at the "Rock" church on Grand Avenue in St. Louis. That little 4"3" dynamo was a mountain of faith and love of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Daddy was equally devout in his Baptist beliefs as a young man and instilled in me a love for God's word, study, and accepting God's grace. He was a graduate of Moody Bible Institute back in the 50s. He was ordained back-in-the-day when black ministers were grilled on everything from their statement of faith to their exegeses to their understanding of Greek and Hebrew. Daddy went on to earn his Master's in Church Administration and doctorate in Theology. He spent the last years of his life as pastor of Second Christian Church in Jefferson City, Missouri. Daddy was ordained twice, first in the National Baptist Congress and later in life, in the Disciples of Christ.

My faith foundation is very strong. I always had an understanding of God and accepted him as my savior when I was around 13. Of course, I am not perfect and it really wasn't until my late 20s that I had a full acceptance of Jesus Christ. I devoured the word of God at that time and it became alive to me. I wore out one Bible and made my way to Moody Bible Bookstore to get another one. I now have a collection of Bibles that would rival any theologians.

Yet, as I listen to the pundits and recall the last eight years, I am deeply disturbed by the Pat Buchanans, Sarah Palins, William Bennetts, Lenexa Christian Centers, Michelle Bachmanns of the world. The neo-con movement is dangerous. Under the guise of Christianity, they have deeply polarized this nation. To me they are like the Pharisees that Jesus spoke against.

Jesus also taught: "Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished." Mark 12:38-40NLT

Further in Matthew, Jesus again talked about these religious leaders.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, "The teachers of religious law and the pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don't follow their example. for they don't practice what they teach. They crush people with impossible religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. Everything they do is for show."

Jesus spoke harshly against these religious leaders and Pharisees because of the power of persuasion they had over the people. The Americans I know who love the Lord look to their pastors for spiritual guidance. The problems came when the neo-cons, mostly Republicans, saw an opportunity to exploit the goodness of people. They especially played on the most base fears and stereotypes to further their agenda of fear. Through their fear-mongering they also presented themselves as the only ones who could save them from ...( fill in the blank be it, liberals, feminists, homosexuals, blacks, immigrants, terrorists, elitists, college-educated professors, etc.). In doing this, they dumbed down the "working class American" to less than an 8th grade reading level. Sarah Palin demonstrated this with her Katie Curic interview when she couldn't even name one newspaper she read. The neo-con movement and Republicans made it a "sin" to be intelligent, educated, critical thinking, thoughtful, and tolerant. They hijacked my faith and I am tired of it.

I thought about this and about what Jesus said to them.

In the Word of God, Jesus called them blind guides in vs. 16, hypocrites in vs. 23, whitewashed tombs in vs. 27. He said that outside they appeared clean but inside you are filthy - full of greed and self-indulgence. He said "inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness." He told them that while they are so careful to tithe down to the smallest amount, they "ignore the more important aspects of the law - justice, mercy, and faith." And that the is the main problem I have with the entire neo-con, mega-church, uber-Christian, far-right, Republicans of today.

Jesus came to save the lost and hung out with those "sinners" and those who were reviled with society. He told his disciples to go out into the world. The story of the Good Samaritans illustrates how Jesus felt about stereotypes and racial discrimination. He shamed the many leaders who were so pious that they wouldn't help the man in the street. That is no different than today when the Republican party seeks to cut funding for early childhood education, medical care for the mentally ill or disabled like Governor Matt Blunt of Missouri. They walk around as if they are heir-apparent of the kingdom of God and everyone else is a sinner. The way they say "liberal" and "Democrat" sounds more like a curse. They falsely accuse their neighbor and look for the most base ways to spew their verbal venom. It sickens me.

What happened to what Jesus said were the greatest commandments? If these neo-cons truly loved the Lord, wouldn't they serve the poor, build communities, take care of the widows and orphans? Yet, they are the ones behind the Wall Street greed, bailouts, and CEO golden parachutes. The TV ministers have made millions off the tithes of the people and are now "Republican strategists" on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. Some of the so-called, religious right, spew so much hatred on the radio like Rush Limbaugh and on the television screen like Sean Hannity that it is enough to make me throw up my vanilla latte. Enough.

So, where are the real Christians? I think they are the ones coming out in droves to volunteer, canvass, cook, call, and pray. I would never say that God is a Democrat, He isn't, but guess what, He isn't a Republican either. Jesus told us to render to Caesar what is Caesars (i.e. pay your taxes, even the rich Republicans) and He told us to love our neighbor as ourself after He told us that we must love God with all our hearts and minds.

All of it makes me angry when the factions seek to divide. The worse part is the ugliness of the Republican Party campaign this year. There are the robocalls, the attacks personally against Senator Obama, Mrs. Obama, and the little girls. It was so bad that there is a Michelle Obama watch to keep people abreast of the negative images and stereotypes against this accomplished and beautiful, unashamedly black woman.

The other thing that makes me angry about all this is that with Jesus there isn't division. He came for all men. "For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only begotten son that WHOSOEVER believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16. The only qualification was that we believe in Him, not that we have to belong to a certain political party, dress a certain way, read or not read certain things, watch or not watch certain things, eat or not eat certain things. Just believe and receive. Simple.

I wish all this was simple again. It has brought out the best and the worse in people. I've seen old people and young people, black people and white people, Christians and Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and Hindi's and Agnostics and every other belief come together with a united purpose. Commonalities can bring about collaboration and cohesion. We are more alike than we are different.

I'm taking back my faith. I hope you do also.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Simply Amazing!

First, I have to send my well wishes and thoughts to Senator Barack Obama as he prepares to fly to Hawaii to see about his beloved Toot. I wish her good health and recovery so she can see her grandson reach the highest office in the land.

Second, I have to say it was simply amazing to be part of the sea of humanity at the Gateway Arch. I was 1 of 100,000 and it took me a few days to let sink in what really happened. It was America, true America. Black and white, brown and tan, young and old. There were families and there were singles. All of the beauty of this country met in St. Louis, Missouri on a gloriously sunny Saturday to lend our collective voices to our choice for the next President of the United States. The emphasis is on the UNITED STATES and no more of the fear-mongering, divisive politics of the last eight years and of the candidates of a certain right-wing party. I want peace and there was a wave of excitement and peace in the air. Part of it was for Senator Barack Obama, but I believe, the other and greater part of it was that WE, THE PEOPLE really knew it was possible for an individual to make a change in this great country.

As a picture speaks a thousand words, here are the pictures from that amazing moment, I hope my children will remember they were there.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hot Button Issues

This election is historic, let's put that on the table. Regardless of which party wins, we are in the middle of history. We have the first black candidate to make it this far as the nominee of a major political party. We have the oldest candidate, we have a female vice-presidential candidate, all poised to potentially be in the White House.

Other things make this election historic. Take the economic crisis and all the news that has bombarded us in the last few weeks. Government is set to essentially take over the nation's banks with Henry Paulson's recent meeting with the heads of the remaining major banks. The $750 bailout-rescue-save-their-behind billions for the AIGs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch's of investment banking has given my four-year-old a debt she can't repay. The hundreds of thousands of new voters ready to make their mark in the election booth. The usage of social networking, email, blogging, digital, interactive, and Internet advertising as alternative methods to get political messages out has been unprecedented. Yet, there is something nagging at me in this election.

First there is the race-baiting and hateful rhetoric at the McCain/Palin rallies. The black camera-man called the Jim Crow era derogatory "boy." There are the calls for basically killing Senator Barack Obama. The "socialists are taking over the country," verbal barrage of a man at a Palin rally and the old lady's insistence that Barack Obama is an "Arab" coupled with the uniformed police officer in Florida using Barack Hussein Obama as a slur. It all is a melting pot for violent social unrest and has the potential to turn this country into the era of the 1960s with attack dogs and water hoses.

Second, there is the misappropriating of my faith. I consider myself conservative when it comes to issues like teen sex, responsibility, accountability, finances, things like that. I am a hybrid in that I do believe God created the world but I also believe that God gave man intelligence to figure out the science behind the creation. I believe some would call that Intelligent Design. I tend to believe that it is the parent's right and responsibility to raise their children without governmental interference. I've listened over the past eight years as the neo-con movement has infiltrated my faith and uses codes such as "American" to signify that anyone who is not like them is not with God. It turns my stomach every time I hear a "pastor" say things like if you vote Democratic, you are not Christian, or telling their churches how to vote. There is separation of church and state in this country. Which leads me to the hottest of the hot button issues. Abortion.

The right-wing party tends to bring this up as a divisive issue. The Democratic nominee will be best for the economic interests of the middle class, church going, white family in say, Kansas, but because of abortion, they would vote Republican. This, despite the fact that the Republican president and the Republican led congress from 1994-2006 DID NOTHING to overturn Roe v. Wade. Why? Because the fundamental issue of the Supreme Court Decision is CHOICE. We have freedom in America and nothing is more basic than the freedom of body.

Do I personally want to see women get abortions? No, that is a painful choice that many women come to because of rape, incest, illness, or finances. We are not there when she makes that decision.

For the proponents of right-to-life, I have a question, where will you be when that poor, white or black teen gives birth? What kind of life will they have if the mother is economically strapped and uneducated because of been a teen? Will you put your money where your mouth is and support this young mother? Or do you believe it is just punishment for having sex before she got married? Or is it just punishment because you denied her the right to birth control and proper sex education through your faith-based abstinence only education? In my book, it is hypocritical.

I work with a group of teen girls as part of a group of Christians mentoring, tutoring, and disciplining at-risk youth. None of my girls are sexually active yet. I said yet because the possibility exists. We are in a country that is delusional about sex. One on hand it is condemned (think gays, lesbians, teens, etc) and on the other hand it is celebrated (think television ads, magazines, movie stars).

There are mixed messages sent to the teens. What I do with the girls is give them all the facts and my phone number. I told them the real deal about sex and the choices available. I am not giving them abstinence-only education because that doesn't work. If they are going to have sex, I want them educated, aware, and prepared. As part of my work with them, I told them about condoms (male and female) and showed them what a male condom looks like and demonstrated with a small roll of garbage bags how to put one on. I carry the bag in the glove compartment of my car if one of the girls wants one. Why do I do this? Because I want them alive and healthy without diseases or unwanted children. I believe, like Senator Barack Obama has stated, the discussion of abortion needs to be before-the-fact.

God, guns, and gays are the other three hot-button issues. The neo-cons have attempted to speak for God and say which candidate He would endorse. God is not a man that He should lie, neither is He the son of man that He should boast. God is not American, He is not Democrat, He is not Republican.

Guns are a big wedge issue. Like Senator Obama, I don't want to repeal the Second Amendment. Like him, however, I do believe there are very different issues between a hunting rifle in rural Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, or Montana versus an AK-47 or other assault rifle in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Detroit, or Washington, D.C. The NRA and the like try to tie together the flag, guns, the Bible, beer, and God.

Gays. This sends neo-cons into a tailspin. Who cares what grown people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms? They are not bothering me and are not bothering them. It is between them and God. They are not the ones who are heavily into pornography that destroys marriages nor are they the ones preying on young boys and girls as the neighborhood pedophile. Just another wedge issue to get the holier-than-thou-segregated-church-crowd all riled up.

The real issue in this election knows no religion, no race, and no sexuality. It is the economy. People are hurting. That is what I want to hear. This is the hot button issue and it is green.

On Obama, Lewis, and McCain

I came across this article the other day while doing my usual news search.

I was disturbed by the way the media, John McCain, and pundits were seeking to denigrate veteran civil rights leader, John Lewis. John Lewis knows about the language and rhetoric that insights whites, particularly poor, undereducated whites, working class whites, to resort to violence when faced with the opportunity to give blacks and other minorities their civil rights. He was hosed, beaten, and had dogs attack him as he stood with Dr. King for nonviolence and justice.

The Civil Rights Movement was more than a social movement, it was an economic movement and that is what scared the conservatives of that day. Senator Obama's run for the presidency scares them today. Terms like "Uppity" and "elitist" along with "socialist" have been bantied around about this young man because he dared to be the promise of America.

The article by Adam Serwer says it best:

What Right Wingers Mean When They Call Obama a "Socialist"

Right-wing attempts to paint Barack Obama as a socialist aren't just disingenuous. They're rooted in a history of conservative smears against black leaders.

| web only

On Saturday, Georgia Congressman John Lewis went nuclear on John McCain, releasing a statement that seemed to compare McCain to segregationist George Wallace. "George Wallace never threw a bomb," Lewis wrote. "He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who only desired to exercise their constitutional rights." The civil rights con continued, "Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed one Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama."

Lewis accused McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division." He was referring to the angry tone of recent McCain rallies, where cries of "kill him" and "off with his head" have made many people anxious about the potential for violence against the Democratic nominee.

It's no wonder that the tone at McCain rallies remind Lewis of the bad old days. In recent months, conservatives have sounded increasingly retro with their attempts to paint Obama as a socialist or communist. In some ways, this accusation is typical far-right boilerplate. Obama certainly isn't the first Democrat running for president to be accused of communist sympathies. And as usual, the accusations are rarely linked to policy specifics. But the difference with Obama is that, in the eyes of the right, it's not just his political affiliation that implicates him as a socialist. It's his ethnic background.

The hysterical accusations of socialism from conservatives echo similar accusations leveled at black leaders in the past, as though the quest for racial parity were simply a left-wing plot. Obama may not actually be a socialist or communist, but his election would strike another powerful blow to the informal racial hierarchy that has existed in America since the 1960s, when it ceased being enforced by law. This hierarchy, which holds that whiteness is synonymous with American-ness, is one conservatives are now instinctively trying to preserve. Like black civil-rights activists of the 1960s, Obama symbolizes the destruction of a social order they see as fundamentally American, which is why terms like "socialism" are used to describe the threat.

This phenomenon extends beyond Obama's candidacy. The conservative explanation for the mortgage crisis falls neatly into this narrative, too; the country is at risk because Democrats allowed minorities to disrupt the natural social order by becoming homeowners. Never mind that this defies all data, logic, and history, the narrative resonates because it allows Obama, a living symbol of black folks rising above "their station," to become a focus for conservative economic anxieties.

Conservatives, now and in the past, have turned to "socialism" and "communism" as shorthand to criticize black activists and political figures since the civil-rights era. In The Autobiography of Malcolm X as written by Alex Haley, Malcolm recalls being confronting by a government agent tailing him in Africa, not long after his pilgrimage to Mecca. The agent was convinced that Malcolm was a communist. Malcolm spent years under surveillance because of such bizarre suspicions. Likewise, J. Edgar Hoover spent years attempting to link Martin Luther King Jr. to the communist cause. King, for his part, welcomed everyone who embraced the cause of black civil rights, regardless of their ideological ties. This included communists and socialists, but the idea that a devout man of God like King saw black rights as a mere step in a worldwide communist revolution was absurd. Malcolm was a conservative. King was a liberal. To their enemies, they were simply communists.

The feeling that black-rights activists were part of a front for communism and socialism was widespread. Jerry Falwell famously criticized "the sincerity and intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations." Falwell charged, "It is very obvious that the Communists, as they do in all parts of the world, are taking advantage of a tense situation in our land, and are exploiting every incident to bring about violence and bloodshed." For the agents of intolerance, things haven’t changed much. On October 9, a McCain supporter told the candidate that he was angry about "socialists taking over our country." McCain told him he was right to be angry.

The right wing continues to link the fight for black equality with socialism and communism. At the website of conservatism’s flagship publication, National Review, conservatives like Andy McCarthy argue whether Obama is "more Maoist than Stalinist," and National Review writer Lisa Schiffren explicitly argued this summer that Obama must have communist links based on his interracial background. Schiffren mused, "for a white woman to marry a black man in 1958, or 60, there was almost inevitably a connection to explicit Communist politics."

This conclusion is one she shares with Robert Shelton, Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1950s, who declared that "amalgamation is ultimately the goal of the Communist element." (To be fair, these conclusions make a bit of sense: could there be a more perfect vessel for a secret communist takeover of the United States than a biracial one-term senator from Chicago with an Arabic-sounding name? At a Starbucks somewhere, Chairman Mao is leeching WiFi for a quick instant message to William Ayers: "It’s happening exactly how we planned it.")

McCain, a child of privilege who spent the late 1960s in a Vietnamese prison camp, may simply be unaware of the feelings and historical context he has evoked through his campaign’s rhetoric. When Sarah Palin accuses Obama of "palling around with terrorists" and suggests that Obama hates his own country enough to wish it violence, the McCain campaign fuels age-old paranoia built around the conflation of black rights and the radical left. As for McCain himself, his attempts to tamp down the vitriol of his crowds suggest that he is somewhat confused by their response. He wants voters to dislike Obama, but he seems unaware of just what he has unleashed. However, by implicitly invoking the idea that Obama represents a socialist takeover of the United States, McCain is inviting what can only be a rational response from those who would die for their country: violence. What else is a patriot to do when freedom is threatened? Especially when their fears have been validated by no less authoritative a source than the Republican nominee for president of the United States?

John McCain is no George Wallace, and a direct comparison may not be what Lewis intended. Rather, Lewis was expressing concern that the McCain campaign’s rhetoric could lead some of their supporters to conclude that violence is the only rational response to an Obama victory. (This is essentially the position staked out by the Obama campaign, which both rejected the Wallace comparison and remained critical of the "hateful rhetoric" at McCain rallies.) A veteran of the 1968 civil-rights march with Dr. King across the Edmund Pettis Bridge, John Lewis has the kind of credibility on mob violence that John McCain has on torture.

We should listen to him very carefully.




Adam Serwer is a writing fellow at The American Prospect and recent graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He also blogs at Jack and Jill Politics under the pseudonym dnA and has written for The Village Voice and the Daily News.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thoughts on All this

I had a great weekend. I didn't want the news. I wasn't anxious about the economy or the election. It was nice.

The thought came to me this morning while I was sipping a vanilla latte that many of my fellow citizens are just fed up, exhausted, and plain worn out of all the news.

I have a tendency to keep my television on CNN, especially after the economic crisis and the debates. The writer in me wanted to keep abreast of what was happening. I found myself getting mad at the main stream media for their report or lack of full report. There are some I like and some I can't watch. I realized it was in my more than I want and I may have to detox once this election is over.

This weekend I took my four-year-old daughter to a university homecoming parade and munched on hotdogs at the afternoon tailgate. On Saturday morning, I sat with other adults and talked about kids and education. After the meeting I hung out with my daughters and a group of teenage girls. We laughed and joked over cupcakes. That night, I got all dolled up to attend a black-tie event for my husband's university. Sunday after church, I stayed in bed, it was nice to read, doze off, watch a movie, read some more, and nap to the sound of the neighborhood kids playing on a warm Sunday afternoon.

Too much of the bad news can put a cloud on the wonderful things in life. Yes, we are in a recession, yes we are in a tough election, yes gas prices have gone down because heating costs are about to go up, yes cereal is almost $5 a box and yes, jobs are fewer and far between. Yet, in the midst of all the gloom and doom, there is laughter, joy, and life.

Today, I made lunch for some college students, I helped my daughter ride her bike, I watched my older daughter color one of her many designs, I picked my son up from school, and I did laundry. I talked with my neighbor at the bus stop and I sipped a vanilla latte. Life goes on and it will all come out in the wash.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Happy Anniversary Barack

Happy Anniversary Barack & Michelle Obama

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Commentary on the Vice Presidential Debate

I found myself getting agitated listening to Governor Sarah Palin during the 2008 Vice Presidential Debate.

Governor Palin did not flop and fall on her face. The expectations were so low that she met them. She was so rehearsed and scripted that she even missed a moment to be human. Senator Joe Biden choked up a little bit when talking to me, a mom, about being a single-dad and raising two kids after the death of his first wife. Governor Palin seemed cold and uncaring. She was so much on talking points and script that she couldn't turn to him and be a real mom, a real woman, and not some Arizona-crafted talking Barbie Doll.

We are about a month away from the most important election of my lifetime. Governor Palin and I are of the same generation. We came up of age during Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and now Bush II. This one is the most important because there is so much at stake and I frankly, as a degreed woman, a mother, a wife, support a woman who won't even give the respect of a straight answer.

I was listening with about two-cents of possibility that she would say something substantive. She had been so hidden from the media and had time to crunch on issues important to the American people. There wasn't anything from her platform regarding the economy, health, education, women's issues that resonated with me.

This morning it was announced that Wells Fargo, where my mortgage sits, bought Wachovia. They did it without federal funds. That was a smile. It was also sad to see another bank fall through the abyss of corporate greed. Sarah Palin never mentioned anything about the current economic crisis that mattered to me except the usual fear-mongering that "they are going to raise your taxes."

In the end, I think both candidates did not hurt their respective candidates. I do think Governor Sarah Palin did her spin and as many pundits on MSNBC and CNN concurred, she looked more like a contestant for a beauty pageant. Her winks and folksy manner is not something I want. 8 years ago it was "someone you want to drink a beer with" and we ended up with 2-3 recessions, a housing bubble and bust, two wars, and rampant unemployment.

We need someone smart with a plan. In my book, that is Senator Barack Obama.