Friday, March 21, 2008

Transcript and video link for Obama's speech

As I said in my column this morning, a full appreciation of Barack Obama's Tuesday speech on race requires that you view it in its entirety. You can do so here.

Also, if you would like to read the transcript, you can find it here.

Invest in yourself and your country the 37 or so minutes it will take for you to see the speech for yourself. Everyone is talking about it; you know that seeing it will enable you to make up your own mind. You don't have to take others' words for it.

Won't that be refreshing?

Then come back to the blog and let me know how you feel about the speech in this week's poll question!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Clinton's silence explained?

In all the fury over Barack Obama and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. this week, have you noticed that Hillary Clinton has basically been missing in action? Sure, she's shown up a couple of times to insist -- INSIST, I tell you! -- that the primaries in Michigan and Florida be counted, but there's been nothing from her in response to the Wright flap.

Perhaps now, we know why.

The New York Times will report tomorrow that Wright was a guest at a prayer breakfast at the White House in September 1998 -- just days ahead of the release of the infamous Starr Report, which detailed President Clinton's trysts with that intern who shall remain nameless.

There is no indication, according to the Times, of the relationship Wright had with either President or Mrs. Clinton, but the president did write Wright a note of appreciation thanking Wright for his "kind message."

Hillary Clinton's communications director, Howard Wolfson, handled the Times' request for comment with maturity and professionalism: "Urgent indeed -- a picture -- oooooooo!"

Wolfson's juvenile dismissal aside, this may explain why Clinton has been so quiet on Wright. Perhaps Wright might put it this way:

"How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?"
--Matt. 7:4

No, not one

Regular readers of my weekly newspaper column have heard me preach extensively about the importance of voting. (Click here and here for examples.)

Now comes the most recent evidence that Americans just don't seem to get it, institutionally speaking:

No One Votes in Florida Election

TAMARAC, Fla. (AP) - Every vote counts. But what happens when there are no votes at all?

That's the situation city officials in Tamarac are facing. No voters showed up (last) Wednesday night to cast a ballot in an annexation referendum for an unincorporated Broward County community.

There are 68 registered voters in the 200-person Prospect Bend neighborhood. Tamarac officials have proposed annexing the neighborhood.

Details were mailed to registered voters. If just one voter had shown up, that one vote would have decided the neighborhood's fate.

The cost of keeping a polling site open for 12 hours with no voters: $2,500.

City officials could take another approach to annexing the area. One option is a mail-in ballot election.
City annexation. Think this issue makes a difference to those 200 Prospect Bend residents? Think it matters in terms of police protection, garbage collection and local representation on issues of all kinds?

Think it matters to their taxes?

If I was an elected official in Broward County, annexation of Prospect Bend would be a dead issue. If information was mailed to these residents and no one cared enough to show up to vote, what makes county officials think that it's in any way responsible to spend another lump of cash on a mail-in ballot?

Stories like this make me mad, and then they make me sad. This slow erosion of democracy and self-government is frustrating and infuriating. But people don't seem to care.

Rapport numéro incroyablement stupide trois

Oh, that's French for, "Incredibly Stupid Statement No. 3."

It seems that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner believes that the administration of George W. Bush and the Iraq War have damaged the United States' international reputation beyond repair.

"It will never be as it was before ... I think the magic is over," Kouchner said, in comments IHT reporter Alison Smale sternly reminded us comprised "a sober assessment from one of the strongest supporters in France of the United States."

(Sidebar: This story could make the ISS list either for Kouchner's comment or for the annoyingly condescending foreign affairs analysis Smale feels compelled to give: A "sober assessment?" By whose estimation? Oh, that's right: Hers.)
The magic is over?

The entire reason why international sentiment is stirred up about Iraq is because America still matters, America still sets the pace on the world stage. Many people have made comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam. But even after a divisive war like Vietnam, America was able to preserve its role as the world's foremost superpower, and in so much more than a military sense.

The magic is over?

I envisioned Kouchner assuming the role of Mickey Mouse in the Disney classic, Fantasia. I had this picture in my head of him with that hat on and that wand in his hand, appointing himself the master of all things mystical and mysterious.

And international pundits wonder why we have trouble taking the French seriously.

If you crave more tutelage from Ms. Smale, you can read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama's speech

Did you see Barack Obama's speech on race Tuesday? If not, I know you've heard about it ... invest the 37 minutes and watch it. It is worth your time.

I'll write more about it in my Saturday column. In the meantime, you can see it in its entirety on Obama's YouTube channel.

Click the link and watch the speech -- more than 1.6 million others already have.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I'm back

Hey everybody,

Sorry for going AWOL since Saturday ... I've been traveling and catching up with family. It's been a busy couple of days.

The big news today is that Barack Obama will deliver a major speech on religion in about 10 minutes. He has said he wants to put a "rhetorical end point" on the growing furor over his relationship and identification with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., the controversial pastor (emeritus) of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where the Obamas have attended services for 20 years.

Lots has happened since Saturday ... More on those things and the Obama address later.