MONTICELLO, Ark. – You’ve heard the candidates, now it’s time to also consider the issues.
Attend the 2008 Election Issues Forum at the University of Arkansas at Monticello in the University Center Green Room on Tueday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.
Brought to you in part by the UAM American Democracy Project, the UAM Journalism Club, and the UAM Speech and Debate Program, this event promises to educate the public about ballot initiatives prior to the Nov. 4 election.
Supporters and opponents of the ballot issues facing Arkansas voters will speak about the proposed State Lottery, Unmarried Couples Adoption Ban, Water Bond Act and more. Confirmed interest groups sending representatives include the Family Council of Arkansas, Hope for Arkansas and Arkansas Families First.
Audience members in this Town Hall-style forum will submit questions for the candidates to answer following the discussion of each issue.
As Super Tuesday looms, commentators question whether younger participants might make a difference in the next general election. Many contend younger participants must get involved in the process for democracy to truly work, but younger voters historically refuse to vote in large numbers.
Yet over two days in the fall semester, more than 50 college and university students started their involvement by participating in the third annual conference of the American Democracy Project’s Southern Consortium at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga. Conference coordinator Michael Ross, KSU’s associate professor of middle grades education, confirmed that 81 people – 51 students and 30 faculty or staff members – registered for the conference.
ADP seeks to produce graduates who understand and are committed to their roles as citizens in a democratic republic. Currently, 228 institutions in the American Association of State Colleges and Universities participate in the project.
“How can we drive the commitment to civic engagement to the core of the academy?” KSU’s Provost Lendley Black asked a room full of college and university students, professors and administrators prior to Associate Dean Michael Heard introducing the Alabama circuit judge who ruled against the Ten Commandments’ Judge in the late 1990s. “Too many students see citizenship as an on-again, off-again activity.”
Alabama Circuit Court Judge Charles Price provided insights into continuous citizenship during a plenary address to the ADP-South conference. Price’s ruling that the courtroom display of the Ten Commandments was unconstitutional brought death threats but earned him both the Wiley Benton award, honoring the lawyer of the Little Rock Nine, and the John F. Kennedy Profile of Courage, which chose Price as Alabama’s first black recipient.
“I respect people of faith for I am one of them,” Price said. “As a judge however, I will do what is legal and what is right.” Continue this article.
CROSSETT, Ark. (Sept. 15) – A study published this week in Nature Neuroscience and reviewed in Slate Magazine verifies something most intellectuals already knew: Liberals are smarter than conservatives.
“In a rapid response test—you press a button if you’re given one signal, but not if you’re given a different signal—the authors found that conservatives were ‘more likely to make errors of commission,’ whereas ‘stronger liberalism was correlated with greater accuracy.’ They concluded that ‘a more conservative orientation is related to greater persistence in a habitual response pattern, despite signals that this response pattern should change.'”
Does anyone really find this surprising? A habitual response pattern merely indicates someone who is strongly resistant to change, or as they like to call themselves, traditionalists. It still bothers me that the word tradition has positive connotations for most people. For me, tradition has always meant “refusal to evolve.” Shouldn’t we all be constantly looking for new, improved ways to do things, rather than repeating ourselves, calling it tradition and tricking ourselves into believing it’s a good thing.
America still practices quite a few traditions that any decent, open-minded person should be ashamed of, such as only allowing opposite sex to marry, not giving women the right to choose, selling anyone a gun, mistreating immigrants and, of course, invading third-world countries to obtain a finite resource while ignoring genocides. Conservatives would suggest we do those things simply because, well, it’s tradition. However, at one time, slavery and not allowing women to vote was also American tradition.
That said, you would think everyone would conclude that change is good and tradition (or habitual responses) is bad, but, unfortunately, that’s not the case. Back to the study …
“‘Liberals are more likely than are conservatives to respond to cues signaling the need to change habitual responses.’ The study’s lead author, NYU professor David Amodio, told London’s Daily Telegraph that ‘liberals tended to be more sensitive and responsive to information that might conflict with their habitual way of thinking.'”
When I think of habitual responses, I think of the response I get when asking conservatives why they still support President Bush: “He’s a good Christian man that’s against abortion!” The irony in such a response is staggering considering the president is responsible for thousands upon thousands of deaths. If I was going to support Bush, I would at least come up with a more believable reason, such as his contributions to the English language.
Not Black and White Under the Microscope
by Glynn Wilson
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., June 10 – There is a famous story about editors at the New York Times I learned while working with the elite of the elite a few years back.
Reporters who make the big leagues of American journalism hear this story and learn to deal with it in their own way.
As the story goes, when an editor calls a reporter in the field in a place like Birmingham, Alabama, and asks: “Is the community torn asunder down there?” The reporter, if he wants to keep his job, is supposed to not only answer, “yes.” You are supposed to provide direct quotations from people in the community who will corroborate the premise of the story, to back up the lede, so to speak.
There have been many situations when my own instincts and the facts on the ground did not support the premise, and in fact, the opposite, counterintuitive truth is often the case.
And since I am in the business of calling it like I see it and telling it like it is, I often reported the truth on the ground and to hell with what a bunch of editors in New York think.
But today, in the story I am about to report, I think it is safe to say that this community is torn asunder. It’s just that in this case, the editors in New York could care less. Why? Because the story does not involve Paris Hilton or the Red State-Blue State, Conservative-Liberal, Democrat-Republican divide.
The story involves a little old man named Clay Blake, 78, who lives right down the street from here.
This past Tuesday afternoon around 1 p.m., in what we like to call “broad daylight,” Mr. Blake was unloading some groceries from his pickup truck. And up walked a mixed up young man – who should never have been in the possession of a hand gun – and held up Mr. Blake. He forced this little old man who never hurt anyone in his life into the house he has lived in for the past 40 years.
Once inside, this young man, of the African-American persuasion, tied little old Mr. Blake up with the power cord from a vacuum cleaner. He then kicked Mr. Blake in the face, rendering him unconscious.
When Mr. Blake came to, he discovered his wallet and a couple of pistols missing, and then made a phone call and had himself checked into the hospital at Medical Center East.
The neighborhood was all abuzz about this dastardly dead after the crime brief hit the Birmingham News on Saturday.
What this mixed up young man who committed this crime does not understand is that his already sad and pathetic life is about to take a drastic turn for the worse. Maybe the money he stole went to purchase some food and bought him another day of life on this planet. Or maybe it just went for some crack cocaine to make him fell better about himself for a few measly minutes.
Either way, this young man is about to be found out and turned in to authorities in ways he will never comprehend. And he will either end up in prison or dead.
Maybe he would be better off dead. Or maybe he should never have been born in the first place, if his mixed up single mama had been told by someone cool that there is a such thing as a condom – and that there is no shame in using one.
Now here is where the politics and sociology of the situation get interesting beyond the basic facts about the crime. If only she had been told that this is a black and tan world, not a black and white world, maybe none of this would ever have happened.
What do I mean by that?
It’s like this. There are some racist, conservative members of this community who would like to hang this little shit up by his toes and torture him to death for his crime. But these are the same Republican voters who oppose birth control – and taxes for prisons. It is just bad public policy to think you can have it both ways.
When the church and the state both advocate unworkable policies and try to tell teenagers to “abstain” from sex, and deny them a real education about sex and intelligent alternatives to unwanted pregnancies and the spiraling down nature of poverty, what kinds of bad decisions can we expect in our communities?
And this is particularly acute in a town like Birmingham, where both races still suffer from the sting and distrust of segregation.
At least in a place like New Orleans, the races lived in relative proximity of one another and in relative harmony for 300 hundred years. It is different in Birmingham, where the clash of the races in the newer, sprawling suburbs comes into specific relief every time an incident like this one is reported.
The African-American community in and around Birmingham will never trust white people, and the whites will keep trying to escape these kinds of crimes by moving further and further out into the country toward Blount and St. Clair Counties.
Meanwhile, nothing is done to try and bring people together and get them to understand the larger facts on the ground. And this serves only the politicians on the right and the left who get themselves elected by using the great divide to scare people and keep them down.
If only people could understand that there is no such thing as a simple, black and white world. There are an abundance of shades of gray out there.
What we need is a government that tackles practical solutions to real problems. One real problem that is leading to the current crime wave is the growing divide between the rich and the poor, fed by a mostly Republican effort to keep wages down so large corporations can make more and higher profits for mostly white stockholders.
This is an unsustainable world where all the problems in society are going to get worse, not better. And for every conservative who listens to talk radio and Fox News who likes to say, “that’s the American way,” here’s a fact for you.
The founding fathers of this democratic republic had in mind an egalitarian society with a large middle class with equal opportunities for all. They DID NOT envision a so-called “Christian” nation modeled after the Monarchies of Europe.
You can say it all day long every day. But that does not make it true.
And what is so Christian anyway about a society that discriminates on the basis of race and class? Nothing.
So show me a Democrat or a Republican politician who understands these things, and he or she will get my vote, black or white.
Now call me a liberal and dismiss what I have to say – you idiot so-called conservative lurkers.
We say there is a two-word phrase for anyone who plays that game. In the perfect, fictional world of Locustforkland, where the river runs cold and true, the great blue herons dance like Elvis and the people like to shoot the breeze (and they are usually right), we like to call you “Alabama dumbasses.”
It’s Sen. Fred Thompson vs. Oscar winner Al Gore in ’08.
What’s Krystall Ball’s reasoning?
Up to now, the Christian Right really hasn’t had anyone in the race to vote for.
Rudy Giuliani of New York, with his pro-abortion and gay rights record, would never have cut it in the conservative Republican primary.
And Sen. John McCain’s numbers have been way down in part due to his push for more troops in Iraq and in spite of his foray to the Falwell mountaintop.
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney could never carry the day, because the polls show the Christian Right will never vote for a Mormon. Sad but true. That’s the problem with this religious voting issue in the U.S.
Watch for the Karl Rove political machine, with the Bushes out of the way, to start painting Thompson as the next Ronald Reagan. He is a well-known Southerner from his days of playing the president in movies and a lawyer on TV and he has amassed a solidly conservative voting record in the U.S. Senate.
Hillary might have been able to beat Giuliani or even John McCain. But she hasn’t a prayer against Thompson. Sorry Bill.
As for why Al Gore will run, Krystal Ball says she doesn’t believe Gore when he says he is not running. He may not be in the race yet.
But when it becomes obvious from the polls that Hillary or Obama or even Edwards won’t be able to out-celebrity Thompson, the liberal bloggers will draft Gore and the Democratic Party hierarchy will have to go along or face losing in ’08 – which could bring back talk of the party’s demise at the hands of Karl Rove.
Another interesting question is: Who will get the nod for Veep on the Democratic side?
Krystal Ball says it will most likely be Barack Obama, the popular black senator for Illinois, since chances are, Hillary would not be interested in being the first woman vice president without having Bill living in the White House as first hubby. Obama is young enough and new enough in American politics to take the Veep slot to position himself to run for president in the future.
But don’t place your Yuengling bet or Irish political bet on this one just yet. Krystall Ball needs to wait and see how everyone reacts to Thompson’s announcement around Independence Day.
The one other calculation is: Who will win in ’08? Krystall Ball says the Democrats will still pull it out in a squeaker. It won’t come down to hanging chads in Florida this time or a few thousand stolen votes in Ohio. It will all come down to Louisiana, which will go Democrat no matter what due to the Bush administration’s handling of Katrina.
Bet against us if you dare. But the Thompson v. Gore match-up is a one Yuengling bet right now. It should be up to a six pack by the Fourth of July, when Thompson formally makes his announcement.
And that’s the word from Locust Forkland, where the river runs cold and true, the great blue herons dance like Elvis and the people like to shoot the breeze (and they are usually right).
The spring bird migration seems to be over now, the grosbeaks have moved on north and the mosquitoes have finally arrived, along with the dreaded need for air conditioning – a great invention that allows us in the South to live in these climes year around but fuck up the planet at the same time.
The news is not so interesting these days, although the scandals still pile up in Washington. It’s not a bad time to reflect on another Monarchical time – thanks to Showtime.
If you have not been watching the new series on the young Henry VIII, you may want to catch up with the action as young Henry is about to figure out a way to marry the vivacious Anne Boleyn and split from the Catholic Church to form the Church of England, an event that led to the beginning of a great flight of Europeans to what became the United States of America.
The series shows just how corrupt and sick ruling elites can be in a Monarchy. It’s something Americans should beware of considering our current political predicaments. If the Bush’s had their way, we would be headed – or beheaded – in that general direction politically.
One point you should understand right away. The cardinal is the king’s pimp.
That is more or less an accurate depiction of what the mix of religion and state can produce when the leader of a people is said to get his power from a divine source. They called it the “divine right of kings.”
We did away with that shit in the American and French revolutions, and it would be a shame to see something similar return to public favor on Earth.
One of the more important and interesting characters being depicted is Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), also known as Saint Thomas More, an English lawyer, author, and statesman. During his lifetime he earned a reputation as a leading humanist scholar. He was a man of great honesty and character, apparently, which makes him rare in this tale.
More coined the word “utopia,” a name he gave to an ideal, imaginary island nation whose political system he described in an influential book called Utopia published in 1516.
I red this book a long time ago, but lost my Book Club hard bound copy along with all my Aristotle, Plato and Socrates on my move from Gulf Shores back to the Southside of Birmingham in 1992.
Utopianism or “no place” refers to an imaginary island depicted by Sir Thomas More as a perfect social, legal, and political system. Various social and political movements, and a significant body of religious and secular literature, are based upon the idea of a Utopia on earth.
Utopia is largely based on Plato’s Republic. It is a perfect version of Republic where equalism (egalitarianism) and pacifism flourish throughout human society and where poverty and misery are eliminated. It is a place where private property does not exist and religious toleration is practiced. It has few laws, no lawyers and rarely sends its citizens to war.
Utopia is often seen as the forerunner of the Utopian genre of literature, in which different ideas of the “ideal society” or perfect cities are described in varying amounts of detail. It is a typical Renaissance movement, based on the rebirth of classical concepts of perfect societies as set out by Plato and Aristotle, combined with the Roman rhetorical finesse of Cicero. Utopianism continued well into the Enlightenment Age.
Many commentators have pointed out that Karl Marx’s later vision of the ideal communist state strongly resembles More’s Utopia, especially on the issue of individual property, although Utopia is without Marx’s atheism.
Apparently Henry VIII employed More’s exceptional intelligence and grasp of the law and religion to write several treatises in defense of the Catholic faith against European reformers, notably Martin Luther.
But after young King Henry split from the Catholic Church, which would not grant him a divorce, and after he formed the Church of England, More came to believe that the rise of Protestantism represented a grave threat to social and political order in Christian Europe. As with many of Henry’s enemies, he was charged with high treason for denying the validity of the Act of Succession and sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered – the usual punishment for traitors. But the king commuted his sentence to execution by beheading.
We suspect if Bush had his way, he would be allowed to do that to his enemies. Instead, these fuckers just set out to ruin people who criticize them via rumor, innuendo and secret dossiers passed around over the “Internets.” Sometimes the bastards employ a car crash that looks like an accident. Yes, we could cite specific examples and document them.
But it’s late. And afterall, how many scandals does it freaking take to get rid of these corrupt swine?
I’m far more interested in getting past these royal assholes and getting onto more productive pursuits, such as later versions and theories of Utopia. Maybe a scientific approach, something like the one founded by the Global scenario group, an international group of scientists led by Paul Raskin, which uses scenario analysis and backcasting to map out a path to an environmentally sustainable and socially equitable future. Its findings suggest that a global citizens movement is necessary to steer political, economic and corporate entities toward this new sustainability paradigm.
But apparently we’re going to have to re-fight the American and French Revolutions, at least in the political realm, before we can get on with that paradigm shift. We always seem to repeat the mistakes of the past, perhaps because people don’t remember the past in an educated way.
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”
– Albert Einstein
Under the Microscope
by Glynn Wilson
My favorite answer to just about any political, social or technological question these days is: “It’s a mystery.”
When it concerns the workings of computers and the Internet, it’s “a dang old dot dot dot mystery.”
Life is full of mysteries. Love them or hate them, you can’t avoid them.
There are things we can know; things we can’t.
For a journalist or a scientist, even a social scientist, this can be infuriating.
But you learn to live with it.
One of the things we humans do to deal with all the mysteries of life is to turn for answers to literature, movies or music. Some people turn to tabloids and soap operas. But they are not worth considering in this discussion. Read more: Under the Microscope: It’s A Mystery
How do I? – John Gilchrist of Superspade.blogspot.com/ questions the panel on social networking and political change. Between the subject and the occasional bass from a session in an adjoining room, no one slept after lunch at this session.
MEMPHIS (Jan. 13) – The “Bubbling Up: MySpace, YouTube, Social Networking & Political Change” breakout session at the National Conference for Media Reform promised to cure the after-dinner sleepies by discussing the future of independent media and political activism through an examination of social media.
James Rucker, of ColorOfChange.org, helped the 2006 election coverage through Video the Vote, which recruited voting activists who had a camera or cell phone to document the disenfranchising of any voter.
“What you have with the Internet is a publishing platform that anyone can participate in,” he said. “As we heard problems developing, we’d deploy a volunteer who’d signed up online. They’d document the problem and upload it to our site.”
The site acted as a front end into the YouTube database, which Rucker said is hard to navigate due to its lack of consumable packaging. Video the Vote took the disparate videos and produced video essays, some of which were picked up by corporate media. Rucker plans to use the same idea for CopWatch, which will document police brutality.
“Everyone knows a story of police brutality,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing that’s very hard to get a feel for what’s happened when it’s in print. With cell phones, people capture things of cops being rough.”
Rucker said he believes in the power of citizen media and thinks it will change corporate media from the kind of force that it’s been. While at the moment many of the smaller players are not necessarily trusted nor do they carry the brand name, Rucker looks to bloggers as an example that the market place has been forced to acknowledge.
“I actually think corporate media will have a hard time competing with people producing citizen journalism,” he said.
Continuing the Fight – Rev. Jesse Jackson finishes his speech at the National Conference for Media Reform. Jackson urged participants to continue the fight to keep independent media alive and well.
MEMPHIS (Jan. 12) – Rev. Jesse Jackson told a gathered crowd of approximately 2,500 and an additional 2,000 watching the event through streaming media on freepress.net that President George W. Bush is a war addict who needs some type of methadone.
“The president is in a hole looking for a shelter rather than a rope,” Jackson said.
While he occasionally referred back to the president, Jackson used the forum to speak about the upcoming national Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and claimed that romanticizing King’s legacy takes away from the struggle of today.
In a rather poignant moment, Jackson spoke of King’s last hours before coming to Memphis, noting King spent his birthday at home with family and in the basement of his church trying to decide how to end poverty and to end the war. Jackson said King almost gave up the struggle the morning before coming to Memphis due to the accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement, comparing King’s indecision to that of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane prior to his crucifixion.
Jackson then spoke of the problems of the affirmative action movement, noting the main beneficiaries of affirmative action has been white women through Title IX legislation allowing equal competition in sports. But he claimed many young white female beneficiaries are against affirmative action because they don’t hear the truth of affirmative action in mass media.
“I’m concerned that the media has the capacity to make America better,” Jackson said. “We must fight to open the airwaves for all people.”
NEW ORLEANS, La., Dec. 28 – In one of the most novel presidential announcements in American political history, John Edwards stood in a muddy back yard in the Ninth Ward in blue jeans and said he chose the site to formally say he would run for president in 2008 because the neighborhood is a prime example of the two America’s he’s been talking about for years.
The growing divide between the rich and poor is a theme he’s pitched since leaving a lucrative law practice in North Carolina nearly a decade ago to give something back by getting involved in politics.
Photo by Glynn Wilson
John Edwards announces for president as a modern-day populist, in blue jeans…
“New Orleans is a place where you can really see the two America’s I’ve been talking about. You can get out here and see what the problems are and take action to do something about it,” he said. “Instead of staying home and complaining, we’re asking Americans to help. We want people to take responsibility, to join this campaign to actually take action now, not later, not after the next election.”
The former Democratic Party vice presidential nominee and U.S. Senator said his campaign will be a grass roots, ground-up campaign for people “not afraid to get their hands dirty.”
The domestic economic issues in his campaign platform will include raising the minimum wage, pushing for universal health care and rolling back President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. And in a nod to labor, which could help swing the Democratic Party’s nomination to Edwards next year, he said he has already been involved in and will continue to push for the organization of American workers.
“We need to ask Americans to be patriotic on something besides the war,” he said. “We need to get rid of some of the tax cuts for the people at the very top.”
He said he will also champion taking action on global warming, including raising taxes on the oil companies and investing in alternative energy sources.
“We need to ask Americans to be patriotic and conserve energy,” he said.
He also said America needs to lead by beginning to pull the U. S. military out of the quagmire in Iraq.
“We need to reestablish America’s moral leadership in the world. We can’t do that without beginning to pull our troops out of Iraq,” he said. “This needs to be done now, not after the next election.”
He said it would be a major mistake to escalate the U.S. military’s involvement in Iraq with more troops, as the president seems to be on the verge of announcing – in part at the urging of Sen. John McCain, who could be the chief competition for Edwards in the run for president if both win their party’s respective nominations.
In fact the entire presidential race in 2008 could come down to opposing philosophies on this issue, some experts already think, especially if the war continues to go badly and the conflict still holds center stage as the campaign heats up next year.
“If America doesn’t lead, there is no stability in the world. It’s just chaos now,” Edwards said. “It’s our responsibility to lead. The world needs to see our better angels, and they will respond to us differently.”
As he has in the past, Edwards admited his vote in support of the resolution Bush used to justify the invasion of Iraq was a mistake.
On the controversial issue of national health care, Edwards said he would not shy away from pushing for universal health care unequivocally.
“We need it desperately,” he said.
When asked at the press conference about one of his alleged weaknesses, his limited experience in government, especially in foreign affairs, Edwards took his biggest swipe at the Bush administration.
“Rumsfeld and Cheney had a lot of experience, but the war is a disaster,” he said. “Experience does not guarantee good government, vision or the ability to adapt to a changing world.”
Bush was also criticized in 2000 for his total lack of experience in foreign affairs and was expected to focus on domestic economic issues as president, until 9/11 intervened. Historians now say the outcome of the war in Iraq is likely to define his presidency, and not in an altogether flattering way – unless something changes drastically in the next few months.
Edwards said he has been traveling around the world since the 2004 campaign and has learned a lot that will help him if he is elected president.
On MSNBC’s political show “Hardball” a couple of weeks ago, Edwards handled this issue by proving he could name most of the world leaders thrown out by Chris Mathews – unlike Bush in 2000, who got stumped.
When asked what he would do to counter the notion held by the national punitry that Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were the early front runners – even though neither have announced – Edwards refused to go negative. He said America needs good people in government and politics, especially in the presidential campaign in 2008.
But he indicated he has hope that the “ground will begin to shift” after his announcement, set as it was in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, one of the most devistated areas in the country by the nation’s worst national disaster ever.
If he had been president at the time, he said, he would have been on the ground finding out what needed to be done and taking action.