Throw Mamma From the Train [Updated]

And Grandma Under the Bus

The thing that strikes me the most about Obama's race speech today is that his campaign intends for this to be the definitive and last word on the subject. It is as if they believe that Obama himself is entitled to play by his own set of rules while holding Hillary, her campaign and her supporters to another standard entirely. Lets begin by examining some of words that Obama used and see if what he claims measures up with the facts on the ground.

In describing his intimate relationship with Reverend Wright Obama took great pains to create an image of a true reverend of a man, a patriot dedicated to helping others in need and preaching the gospel of Christ.

But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

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Obama's Come To Jesus Moment

Speaking of progressive instincts, five weeks ago the New York Times published an article on Obama's "search for faith" that greatly increased my esteem for the man. From the article:
Twenty years ago at Trinity, Mr. Obama, then a community organizer in poor Chicago neighborhoods, found the African-American community he had sought all his life, along with professional credibility as a community organizer and an education in how to inspire followers. He had sampled various faiths but adopted none until he met Mr. Wright, a dynamic pastor who preached Afrocentric theology, dabbled in radical politics and delivered music-and-profanity-spiked sermons.(...)

Still, Mr. Obama was entranced by Mr. Wright, whose sermons fused analysis of the Bible with outrage at what he saw as the racism of everything from daily life in Chicago to American foreign policy. Mr. Obama had never met a minister who made pilgrimages to Africa, welcomed women leaders and gay members and crooned Teddy Pendergrass rhythm and blues from the pulpit. Mr. Wright was making Trinity a social force, initiating day care, drug counseling, legal aid and tutoring.
I am about as secular and generally irreligious as someone comes, but that Obama's connection to his faith arose in the context of left-wing activism and preaching somehow still makes me feel a personal connection with him. It reminds me of how my entrance to politics came not though mainstream electoral work, but through the social justice movement that was often steeped in the ideals of the so-called radical left. Further, a ministry such Wright's Trinity Church would be quite normal in my long-term area of residence, West Philly, where anarchists are still commonplace, Republicans poll in the single digits, and one can still see the MOVE house that was bombed by the city (in fact, when I first moved to Philly in 1997, I lived on Osage avenue). Obama's background and spiritual path connect to areas of the country like West Philadelphia in a way that few, if any, national politicians are able to do. It just isn't the sort of neighborhood that one often sees portrayed accurately, if portrayed at all, in our national mass media. Obama, however, I think would understand it quite well. On both a cultural and personal level, that means a lot to me.

This is also why I sometimes just don't "get" Obama. The contorted, insider view of politics that I described in my post on Edwards below is about as far from ordinary life in West Philadelphia as one could possibly imagine. Yet, often times, Obama seems to buy into that mentality. Despite what I intuit to be his utterly progressive core stemming from his work as a community organizer and the way he found his faith, often times his proposed policies seem decidedly neoliberal, his occasional left-wing straw man rhetoric feels like it targets residents of West Philadelphia, and some of his campaign associates seem to be establishment of the worst sort. In many ways, it is almost the exact opposite of my questions about Edwards, whose past voting record was quite neoliberal, but his proposed policies now sound extremely progressive.

The whole situation feels very difficult to sort out. The progressive choice between Edwards and Obama seems to be in no way clear to me. In both cases, there seems to be a disconnect between past and present, policy and rhetoric, instincts and action. What is the real Barack Obama like? What is the real John Edwards like? I honestly don't know, but I currently lean toward Edwards. Let me emphasize that I lean toward Edwards. When I watch the lengthy Obama vs. Edwards discussions on MyDD, mostly I am stunned by just how vehement and certain so many commenters appears to be of their choices. In many ways, it reminds me of Fattah vs. Nutter for Philly mayor (both of whom were representin' West Philly). As the campaign went on, so many supporters of one candidate or the other were just so damned certain that the other candidate was the devil incarnate, that I wondered sometimes if I was reliving Kerry vs. Bush arguments on non-partisan message boards. After a while, it all struck me as truly absurd. Figuring out where someone's political instincts truly rest is not an easy game, and I think we should all maintain more open minds and personal senses of fallibility in our judgments on this front than we have to date. After all, if there is one common characteristic of Edwards and Obama, it is that they have both clearly changed during their political careers, and always seem to be engaged in a learning process. I'd like it if we all acted same way.

OBAMA - Philadelphia Kick-Off for Barack Obama

Join thousands of lively, boisterous supporters as they welcome presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama to Philadelphia this month. This is a low cost, high volume fundraiser for the future president.

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House Reps. Brady and Fattah Defeated in Philly Mayoral Primary

Crossposted on Congresspedia

The campaigns of House Reps. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) and Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) to become Philadelphia's next mayor ended yesterday when each was defeated in the city's Democratic primary election. Former City Councilman Michael Nutter won a decisive victory in the five-way race, collecting approximately 37% of the vote (watch acceptance speech).

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More creepy letters..

[Addendum to Chris' outstanding My Creepy Letter on my Doormat post from Saturday]

Well, I was feeling kinda left out of all this until I received not one, but TWO creepy letters in my mailbox this afternoon ..  check it out..

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Nothing I can add that Chris hasn't nailed on the head already.  But it is remarkable to watch the way certain parties play games with the "street money".   It's especially amusing to watch Knox, a guy basically trying to buy his way into the mayor's office, playing footsie with one of the more corrupt members of city council who also happens to represent one of the city's poorest disctricts.. where $100 on election day is much more than just donut money ..

I can't pull the lever for Michael Nutter fast enough.

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