quinta-feira, 30 de outubro de 2008

The songs - and the candidate - remain the same

Gavin Hewitt - BBC

Raleigh, North Carolina:Nothing in high-stakes modern American politics is left to chance.

At Barack Obama's rallies there is a music playlist. It is played at every rally. No local favourites sneak in. Just a mixture of old and new.

There is "The Adventure" by Angels and Airwaves, "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang and "Give the People What They Want" by the O'Jays.

I am reliably informed by Rob Magee, my cameraman, that the Obama playlist consists of 21 songs - all soon to be uploaded onto his iPod.

Two songs, however, are used to define the campaign. One is the arrival anthem, that plays Barack Obama onto the stage. It is U2's 'City of Blinding Lights' - with its line "oh you look so beautiful tonight".

And after his speech, when he lifts the bottle of water to his lips, in comes the heavy beat and then Stevie Wonder's scream in "Signed, Sealed, Delivered".

In the arena, a soundman stands at his console and fades in the music, much as if this was a rock show. And in a way it is. The timing is usually immaculate.

Four years ago, John Kerry also had a playlist. His campaign song was "No Surrender" by Bruce Springsteen.

But there was a difference. Mr Kerry lined up rock stars to appear with him: Springsteen, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Bon Jovi.

Mr Obama does not need the band. He is the star. He does not need Hollywood stardust.

I can remember a whisper going around the crowd in Philadelphia: "Will Smith is coming". He did not appear and no-one cared.

The crowds are pumping for Obama, even before he arrives on stage.

(I recall a lunchtime rally in Madison, Wisconsin with Bruce Springsteen and John Kerry in 2004. As soon as Springsteen had done his fifteen minutes, the crowds drifted back to their offices. I always thought Mr Kerry should have done a deal with the crowd: "Hang with me for a few minutes and you'll get Springsteen as your reward.")

The point about the Obama playlist is that it reflects the campaign. I have covered a number of these elections and I have never seen such a disciplined, tightly controlled organisation.

There are no leaks, no raised voices. I am sure there are arguments between David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Robert Gibbs, but they do not show.

His critics may say he has never run anything, never accomplished anything, but his campaign management has been impressive.

So Barack Obama has begun what he calls his closing arguments. In these final days he charts his long, improbable journey from the cold of Maine to the sunshine of California.

There is much detail about tax and healthcare, but when all is stripped away the Obama message comes down to this: the country is on the wrong track and its time for change.

The riff line of his campaign is "change". And the crowd cry back: "Yes We Can".

Most of us desire change. Most of us dream of a better job, or life or relationship. We have all at one time stood on the brink of reinvention.

Change is beguiling when times are rough. And in that sense Barack Obama is a lucky politician.

America is less sure of itself and where it is heading than it has been for as long as I can remember.

What is wrapped inside the slogan of "change" is sometimes hard to pin down but it has served him well.

As the election has moved closer, so another theme has emerged - his populist attack on trickle-down economics.

He speaks of the "tired old theory that says we should give more to billionaires and big corporations and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone".

He wants to grow the economy from the bottom up.

What will this mean in practice? I think an Obama administration will invest heavily in alternative energy programmes and infrastructure and hope that will be an engine-room for jobs.

There is a reflective element to Mr Obama's closing arguments. He thinks America has been living through a period of "profound irresponsibility" in the way its government and people have run up debt.

What he thinks has been lost in the past eight years is "a common sense of purpose".

As so often in modern politics, the message is inseparable from the man.

I have watched him closely at rally after rally.

His playlist does not change - and neither does he.

He is unruffled, disciplined. His organisation is tightly-controlled. They do not like the unpredictable.

Through set-backs and controversies he has conducted his campaign with grace and intellect. He does not strike me as a needy politician.

He has been carried to this point on the wings of rhetoric... to a degree. He has several speeds to his speeches.

I saw him on a cold Sunday in Wilmington. He spoke without notes. He was on fire, lifting up the crowd, letting them fall gently and lifting them again.

He knew how to surf the emotions of a crowd better than any politician apart from, perhaps, Bill Clinton.

In Berlin before a crowd of 250,000 he checked himself. He rowed back. He did not want to be the preacher on the world stage. He wanted to appear statesmanlike, showing off his knowledge of history.

And as the election approaches, he sticks to the words on the autocue. There is no need to take a risk. This is a campaign on cruise control.

The other night in Pittsburgh I had a recurring thought.

The expectations. That I was not at a political rally. The audience were not voters. They were fans, urging their man on to victory.

And as he drew to a close his oratory took off. He could not control himself. The passion flowed. The crowd sensed it. They were on their feet. Not listening to the words.

They were lost in the roar.

When the event was over, some of the crowds lined the streets. The light was on the turn.

The bitter cold had edged down from the North. Many of the people in the crowd were African-American.

They cheered their man out of town. Time and again they have told me "this is our time". This is their victory parade. It is as if the whole weight of their history is being lifted. At last.

But such expectations! What a burden! But that - if the polls are right - lies ahead.

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A 'Merely' Biracial Breakthrough?

“Even if you vote for Obama, you’re still probably a racist, according to Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree, in his remarks at a recent panel discussion at my alma mater,” writes Hans Bader at the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s OpenMarket.org.

Ogletree, Obama’s top advisor on race issues, explains that since Obama is ‘biracial,’ his election won’t prove that racism has receded. White America won’t vote for blacks, Ogletree argues, and Obama’s election is possible only because he’s partly white. The ABA Journal predicts that Ogletree, who has long advocated race-based reparations, will be the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration.

(Audiotape available here.)

“It turns out that I’m wrong to think that Obama’s election would have even symbolic benefit,” writes a riled-up Ed Whelan at the Corner.

“So, under Ogletree’s drop-of-blood test, if you’re one of those folks who mistakenly think that the cases for Obama and McCain are reasonably close, there’s no symbolic achievement in electing Obama. You’d better wait for a real black candidate. Thanks, professor. … Maybe race-based reparations will be another way to ’spread the wealth’?”

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Now this sounds more like Brazilian race relations - they'll be talking about the 'mulatto escape hatch' next - SG

Political Prime-Time

“The combined overall household rating for Senator Barack Obama’s Wednesday night infomercial, in the top 56 local television markets where Nielsen maintains electronic TV meters, was 21.7,” the fine folks at Nielsen tell us.

James Hibbard of the Hollywood Reporter thinks that qualifies as a blockbuster: “If Barack Obama fails to win the election, perhaps the networks should hire him to entertain viewers on Wednesday nights,” he writes. “Obama’s 30-minute primetime infomercial was seen by 33.6 million viewers across seven networks — including CBS, NBC, Fox, Univision, MSNBC, BET and TV One. That’s 70% more people than watched the conclusion of the World Series last night on Fox (19.8 million).”

Taegan Goddard provides some historical context: “In contrast, the last presidential candidate to air a paid simulcast was Ross Perot in 1996, was seen by 16.8% of households. However, the ad was seen by fewer households than watched the presidential debates. The three debates were seen by 34.7%, 42% and 38.3% of households in these top markets, respectively.”

“The pundits on the cable nets may try to discount the power of the broadcast,” add Jonathan Singer at MyDD. “However, Obama was not trying to convince the Beltway cognoscenti with his event — he was trying to reach voters who might otherwise not have been reached. So the fact that what appears to have been tens of millions of people tuned in last night to a program with Oscar-like production values laying out a cogent case for why Barack Obama should be elected the next President of the United States cannot be a bad thing for the Obama campaign.”

Indeed — if only the Phillies and Rays had had equal production values …

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Top hits of the YouTube election

By Rajini Vaidyanathan
BBC News, Washington DC

A man stares down the lens, delivering a message to the camera.

Dear Mr Obama: Iraq veteran's message to Democrat

"Dear Mr Obama having spent 12 months in Iraq theatre I can promise you it's not a mistake."

At 1 minute 55 seconds, it's short, simple and powerful.

"When you call the Iraqi war a mistake you disrespect the service and sacrifice of everyone who has died promoting freedom... Because you do not understand or appreciate these principles Sir, I am supporting Senator John McCain for president."

The film, titled Dear Mr Obama, is the most-viewed election-related video on the YouTube website, attracting more than 11 million hits.

Made by an Iraq war returnee, it's an example of how ordinary Americans have used the website to get their voice heard.

In this election, YouTube has provided a new way for people to consume and communicate their views - from the serious to the silly, the official to the outrageous.

People power

Andrew Rasiej from the Techpresident blog, which has been monitoring the impact of the internet on the 2008 race, is one of many who says YouTube has helped transform the political landscape in this election.

John McCain made a strategic decision not to spend as much money on TV spots as the other candidates and put more on YouTube
Julie Germany, George Washington University
"The power to control the message is no longer in the hands of the political parties and candidates or the mainstream media.

"It's now shared by the public at large. They can distribute a piece of media on YouTube faster in a 15-minute news cycle than traditional media can in a 24-hour news cycle"

Both the candidates have used YouTube to promote their message, posting videos, ads and speeches to their own channels.

Julie Germany, from the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet at George Washington University, says YouTube has helped the McCain team deal with its funding gap relative to the cash-rich Obama camp.

"They made a strategic decision not to spend as much money on TV spots as the other candidates and put more on YouTube, knowing that they would be picked up by the mainstream media. And they were right about that," she says.


For its part, the Obama campaign has used the site to encourage participation on behalf of its supporters, Ms Germany says.

Obama Girl's R&B tribute

She cites the Yes We Can film as an example of a stirring video with great production. Will-I-Am stars in the black and white music video, singing lines from Barack Obama's speeches.

Another example of a YouTube video making a big impact in very little time is Obama Girl. Made by a group of film-makers, it was performed by student Leah Kaufman, who wrote the lyrics with two friends.

The song is lip-synched by model Amber Lee Ettinger - who became known as the Obama Girl.

She shows her affection for the Democratic nominee through lines including: "You're into border security. Let's break this border between you and me. Universal health care reform. It makes me warm."

Her performance has attracted more than 10 million views on YouTube.

The light stuff

Other popular videos include the John Edwards "Vain and Pretty Video", where he is seen preening himself and combing his hair repeatedly, and the Tina Fey send-ups of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live.

Julie Germany says that while serious videos such as Barack Obama's landmark speech on race in March 2008 have notched up millions of hits, this is relatively rare.

It's the light stuff that users love best, and that spreads like wildfire on the web.

"Some of the most popular videos are the ones which show a lighter side and tap into pre-conceived notions and bias," she says.

"They tap into characteristics that we either find funny or we fear, and these sorts of messages help them become viral."

Go to original article and more US08 Youtube hits

American Stories

October 30, 2008
NY Times Op-Ed Columnist

Of the countless words Barack Obama has uttered since he opened his campaign for president on an icy Illinois morning in February 2007, a handful have kept reverberating in my mind:

“For as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on earth is my story even possible.”

Perhaps the words echo because I’m a naturalized American, and I came here, like many others, seeking relief from Britain’s subtle barriers of religion and class, and possibility broader than in Europe’s confines.

Perhaps they resonate because, having South African parents, I spent part of my childhood in the land of apartheid, and so absorbed as an infant the humiliation of racial segregation, the fear and anger that are the harvest of hurt — just as they are, in Obama’s words, “the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.”

Perhaps they speak to me because I live in New York and watch every day a miracle of civility emerge from the struggles and fatigue of people drawn from every corner of the globe to the glimmer of possibility at the tapering edge of the city’s ruler-straight canyons.

Perhaps they move me because the possibility of stories has animated my life; and no nation offers a blanker page on which to write than America.

Or perhaps it’s simply because those 22 words cleave the air with the sharp blade of truth.

Nowhere else could a 47-year-old man, born, as he has written, of a father “black as pitch” and a mother “white as milk,” a generation distant from the mud shacks of western Kenya, raised for a time as Barry Soetoro (his stepfather’s family name) in Muslim Indonesia, then entrusted to his grandparents in Hawaii — nowhere else could this Barack Hussein Obama rise so far and so fast.

It’s for this sense of possibility, and not for grim-faced dread, that people look to America, which is why the Obama campaign has stirred such global passions.

Americans are decent people. They’re not interested in where you came from. They’re interested in who you are. That has not changed.

But much has in the last eight years. This is a moment of anguish. The Bush presidency has engineered the unlikely double whammy of undermining free-market capitalism and essential freedoms, the nation’s twin badges.

American luster is gone. The American idea has, in Joyce Carol Oates’s words, become a “cruel joke.” Americans are worrying and hurting.

So it is important to step back, from the last machinations of this endless campaign, and think again about what America is.

It is renewal, the place where impossible stories get written.

It is the overcoming of history, the leaving behind of war and barriers, in the name of a future freed from the cruel gyre of memory.

It is reinvention, the absorption of one identity in something larger — the notion that “out of many, we are truly one.”

It is a place better than Bush’s land of shadows where a leader entrusted with the hopes of the earth cannot find within himself a solitary phrase to uplift the soul.

Multiple polls now show Obama with a clear lead. But nobody can know the outcome and nobody should underestimate the immense psychological leap that sending a black couple to the White House would represent.

What I am sure of is this: an ever more interconnected world, where financial chain reactions spread with the virulence of plagues, thirsts for American renewal and a form of American leadership sensitive to humanity’s tied fate.

I also know that this biracial politician, the Harvard graduate who gets whites because he was raised by them, the Kenyan’s son who gets blacks because it was among them that mixed race placed him, is an emblematic figure of the border-hopping 21st century. He is the providential mestizo whose name — O-Ba-Ma — has the three-syllable universality of some child’s lullaby.

And what has he done? What does his experience amount to? Does his record not demonstrate he’s a radical? The interrogation continues. It’s true that his experience is limited.

But Americans seem to be trusting what their eyes tell them: temperament trumps experience and every instinct of this man, whose very identity represents an act of reconciliation, hones toward building change from the center.

Earlier this year, at the end of a road of reddish earth in western Kenya, I found Obama’s half-sister Auma. “He can be trusted,” she said, “to be in dialogue with the world.”

Dialogue, between Americans and beyond America, has been a constant theme. Last year, I spoke to Obama, who told me: “Part of our capacity to lead is linked to our capacity to show restraint.”

Watching the way he has allowed his opponents’ weaknesses to reveal themselves, the way he has enticed them into self-defeating exhaustion pounding against the wall of his equanimity, I have come to understand better what he meant.

Stories require restraint, too. Restraint engages the imagination, which has always been stirred by the American idea, and can be once again.

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Obama's closing argument

I didn't get to see this here in Brazil because CNN declined to air it - thank God (again) for Youtube

5 more friends (uncensored)

What? Me Biased?

The New York Times

October 30, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist

For the last year and a half, a team of psychology professors has been conducting remarkable experiments on how Americans view Barack Obama through the prism of race.

The scholars used a common research technique, the implicit association test, to measure whether people regarded Mr. Obama and other candidates as more foreign or more American. They found that research subjects — particularly when primed to think of Mr. Obama as a black candidate — subconsciously considered him less American than either Hillary Clinton or John McCain.

Indeed, the study found that the research subjects — Californian college students, many of them Democrats supportive of Mr. Obama — unconsciously perceived him as less American even than the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

It’s not that any of them actually believed Mr. Obama to be foreign. But the implicit association test measured the way the unconscious mind works, and in following instructions to sort images rapidly, the mind balked at accepting a black candidate as fully American. This result mattered: The more difficulty a person had in classifying Mr. Obama as American, the less likely that person was to support Mr. Obama.

It’s easy to be skeptical of such research, so test for your own unconscious biases at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo or at http://backhand.uchicago.edu/Center/ShooterEffect.

Race is a controversial, emotional subject in America, particularly in the context of this campaign. Many Obama supporters believe that their candidate would be further ahead if it were not for racism, while many McCain supporters resent the insinuations and believe that if Mr. Obama were white, he wouldn’t even be considered for the presidency.

Yet with race an undercurrent in the national debate, that also makes this a teachable moment. Partly that’s because of new findings both in neurology, using brain scans to understand how we respond to people of different races, and social psychology, examining the gulf between our conscious ideals of equality and our unconscious proclivity to discriminate.

Incidentally, such discrimination is not only racial. We also have unconscious biases against the elderly and against women seeking powerful positions — biases that affect the Republican ticket.

Some scholars link racial attitudes to a benefit in evolutionary times from an ability to form snap judgments about who is a likely friend and foe. There may have been an evolutionary advantage in recognizing instantaneously whether a stranger was from one’s own tribe or from an enemy tribe. There’s some evidence that the amygdala, a center in the brain for emotions, flashes a threat warning when it perceives people who look “different.”

Yet our biases are probably largely cultural. One reason to think that is that many African-Americans themselves have an unconscious pro-white bias. All told, considerable evidence suggests that while the vast majority of Americans truly believe in equality and aspire to equal opportunity for all, our minds aren’t as egalitarian as we think they are.

“To me, this study really reveals this gap between our minds and our ideals,” said Thierry Devos, a professor at San Diego State University who conducted the research on Mr. Obama, along with Debbie Ma of the University of Chicago. “Equality is very much linked to ideas of American identity, but it’s hard to live up to these ideas. Even somebody like Barack Obama, who may be about to become president — we have a hard time seeing him as American.”

A flood of recent research has shown that most Americans, including Latinos and Asian-Americans, associate the idea of “American” with white skin. One study found that although people realize that Lucy Liu is American and that Kate Winslet is British, their minds automatically process an Asian face as foreign and a white face as American — hence this title in an academic journal: “Is Kate Winslet More American Than Lucy Liu?”

One might argue that Mr. Obama registers as foreign in our minds because he does have overseas family connections, such as his father’s Kenyan ancestry. But similar experiments have found the same outcome with famous African-American sports figures.

Moreover, Professor Devos found that when participants in the latest study were told to focus on the age of each candidate, or on the political party of each candidate, then Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain were perceived as equally American. It was only when people were prompted to focus on skin color and to see Mr. Obama as black that he was perceived as foreign.

This 2008 election is a milestone and may put a black man in the White House. That creates an opportunity for an adult conversation about the murky complexities of race, in part because there’s evidence that when people become aware of their unconscious biases, they can overcome them.

I invite you to visit my blog, www.nytimes.com/ontheground, and join me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kristof.

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Colbert endorses Obama

Why would anyone want to stop you from voting?

Why would anyone want to stop you from voting? It's simple -- because when you can control who votes, you can control who wins. Check out this compelling new video put together by the folks at VideoTheVote. It's fun, dynamic, and does a great job of telling the story of what's at stake and the power of our vote.


This year, with so many Black voters, young voters, and folks from all backgrounds who want change participating in huge numbers, those who want to hold onto power by suppressing the vote are in full force. But they can't stop us.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you successfully cast your vote, and to help others do the same.

Be Prepared, and Conquer the Lines.

We can't let long lines stop anyone from voting. There are several ways you can reduce lines and make sure they don't prevent you or anyone else from voting:

Vote early if you can.
You can find early voting times and locations at govote.org.

Double-check your polling location before you go to vote.
You can look it up at govote.org.

Have a Plan & Have Fun.
Have a plan in case there are lines. Bring some food, drinks, friends, books, games, a chair -- anything that will prevent you and other voters from walking away. Have fun while you wait and encourage your friends and neighbors to stay in line so their vote is counted.
Don't give up--don't walk away without voting.

Two numbers you should have in your phone.

Put these numbers in your phone so you're prepared to report problems and help other voters find their polling place:

It's a hotline that's been set up to collect information about problems on election day--lawyers and election protection advocates are ready to respond. It's the best way to make sure someone addresses any problems you see.

The number for your local election board
Have it in case you need to tell someone where they can vote. Enter your zip code at govote.org, then look for "Contact [your county] election officials" on the right.

Beware of lies, misinformation and dirty tricks; spread the truth.

Republican operatives are spreading plain lies to frighten new voters. In Philadelphia, anonymous flyers in Black neighborhoods have falsely claimed that voters with unpaid traffic tickets or outstanding warrants will be arrested at the polls. If you hear a scary rumor, it's probably a lie. Call your local election officials to check it out--and make sure your friends and neighbors know the truth.

Leave the Obama gear at home.

In some places, you won't be allowed into the polling place if you're wearing clothes and pins that support a given candidate. This isn't true everywhere, but it's best to play it safe. You can contact your local board of elections to find out if it's a problem in your area. If it is, bring some extra plain T-shirts or sweaters to loan neighbors who show up unaware of the rule.

Read the ballot carefully, and ask questions!

Some ballots can be confusing even for smart and informed voters. Read instructions on the ballot carefully, and if you're not sure you understand something, ask a poll worker to explain. Remember what happened in 2000 in Florida--a confusing ballot caused thousands of people to mistakenly vote for the wrong Presidential candidate. Don't let that happen to you!

Thanks and Peace,

-- James, Gabriel, Clarissa, Andre, Kai, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org PAC team
October 30th, 2008

Hockey Mama for Obama - brilliant!

quarta-feira, 29 de outubro de 2008

BBC: Muslim vote split in US elections

By Sima Kotecha
Newsbeat US reporter

With America set to decide between Barack Obama and John McCain for their new president next Tuesday, Newsbeat visits a mosque in a New York suburb to find out how Muslims feel about the election.

At prayers at a mosque in Jamaica, Queens - a suburb of New York City, the women have their heads covered.

They are kneeling in prayer, the men sitting separately opposite them.

The scene provides an insight into how some of America's 4 million Muslims are feeling about the Presidential race. And the truth is, many are angry.

They feel they've been rejected by mainstream politics in the US, a result perhaps of the 9/11 attacks by followers of Osama Bin Laden, the Islamic extremist, and for which many still feel hated and alienated by their fellow citizens.

I do find it offensive that being Muslim is being considered as a slur. That is offensive, it is racist and it is unfortunate
Azeem Khan, 27, from New York
In the mosque, Anoushka prays for peace.

She thumbs her prayer beads and tells me that a Barack Obama victory would make the world a better place.

She said: "He seems like a truthful person and he has good policies."

She also happens to think, wrongly, that he's a Muslim.

Most of the Muslims here are pro-Obama. After all New York is a state that normally supports his Democratic Party.

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BBC: Muslim vote split in US elections

By Sima Kotecha
Newsbeat US reporter

With America set to decide between Barack Obama and John McCain for their new president next Tuesday, Newsbeat visits a mosque in a New York suburb to find out how Muslims feel about the election.

At prayers at a mosque in Jamaica, Queens - a suburb of New York City, the women have their heads covered.

They are kneeling in prayer, the men sitting separately opposite them.

The scene provides an insight into how some of America's 4 million Muslims are feeling about the Presidential race. And the truth is, many are angry.

They feel they've been rejected by mainstream politics in the US, a result perhaps of the 9/11 attacks by followers of Osama Bin Laden, the Islamic extremist, and for which many still feel hated and alienated by their fellow citizens.

I do find it offensive that being Muslim is being considered as a slur. That is offensive, it is racist and it is unfortunate
Azeem Khan, 27, from New York
In the mosque, Anoushka prays for peace.

She thumbs her prayer beads and tells me that a Barack Obama victory would make the world a better place.

She said: "He seems like a truthful person and he has good policies."

She also happens to think, wrongly, that he's a Muslim.

Most of the Muslims here are pro-Obama. After all New York is a state that normally supports his Democratic Party.

Go to article

Brazil: The Obama Samba

Brazilians love to mix things up -- never afraid to grab hold of an idea and incorporate it seamlessly into their constantly evolving culture. Take their national drink, the caipirinha, add fruit juice, and you have a caipifruta (try guava, passionfruit, or kiwi). And samba, the most Brazilian of dances, is itself a mix of African rhythms and European melodies. In Rio, they put a hip-hop beat to it, and call it "funky."

So it should be no surprise that the country's politicians exhibit the same flare when running for office. Brazilian law allows candidates to register under any name they choose -- as long as it's not offensive. In the past, "Lula," the nickname of the popular president, was taken by scores of politicians. This year, inspiration is coming from a politician a continent away: Barack Obama.

At least eight candidates across the country have chosen to identify themselves with the U.S. presidential hopeful. Using names that sound like welterweight champions, there is the "Brazilian Obama," and the "Obama of the Savannah." Outside of Rio, in the region known as the Baixada, or "Lowlands," there is Claudio Henrique, also known as the "Obama of the Baixada."

Hoping to become the first black mayor of his hometown of Belford Roxo, Henrique sees the senator from Illinois as an inspiration, who has been able to break boundaries and overcome obstacles -- many of which stand in Henrique's way.

Poverty, violence and corruption are the norm in Belford Roxo. Its beloved mayor and two city councilmen were assassinated in recent years. Streets are unpaved, and sanitation, health care and education are all lacking.

When Henrique began campaigning, asking residents to join him in a dream of a better city, his supporters started calling him their Barack Obama. The name stuck, and a campaign jingle followed -- set to the funky Rio beat. His popularity soared.

Crisscrossing town in a caravan of family and friends, Henrique meets and greets everyone in town. On the streets he is a crowd favorite, but as we see in the piece, when election day arrives in Brazil, Henrique finds even more obstacles to overcome in trying to make history in the Baixada.

-- Andrés Cediel

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Sleepless in Tehran

Published: October 28, 2008

Barack Hussein Obama would present another challenge for Iran’s mullahs. Their whole rationale for being is that they are resisting a hegemonic American power that wants to keep everyone down. Suddenly, next week, Iranians may look up and see that the country their leaders call “The Great Satan” has just elected “a guy whose middle name is the central figure in Shiite Islam — Hussein — and whose last name — Obama — when transliterated into Farsi, means ‘He is with us,’ ” said Sadjadpour.

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Recycling rubbish or "How it Works"

I don't get FOX News here in Brazil (though I do subscribe to CNN and BBC News) so I can only "enjoy" the third link in the Axis of Weasel via YouTube and Jon Stewart, but this is a very familiar pattern. I've taken to reading the Drudge Report often, for leads, hints and content for this blog.

It seems that Matt Drudge's "strategy" for ensuring a McCain win was to make sure Obama won the primary. If Barack wins the presidency, parts of Matt's anatomy will be black-and-blue from self-inflicted kicks on November 5th...

Obama's closing argument

Sense of Unease in Some Black Voters

Published: October 29, 2008
Many black voters in Florida are worried that their votes will not be counted and an Obama victory will slip away.

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segunda-feira, 27 de outubro de 2008

"A trail of tears around the South"

Daniel Cowart, Paul Schlesselman Arrested by ATF in Barack Obama Assassination Attempt, Plot

Atlanta, GA 10/27/2008 11:28 PM GMT (TransWorldNews)

Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman were arrested Monday in Tennessee by the ATF for an apparent assassination plot against Sen. Barack Obama.

Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., and Schlesselman 18, of West Helena, Ark., are being held without bond. The two alleged white supremacists in an alleged plot to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama by doing a drive-by shooting with high-powered rifles.

Cowart and Schlesselman allegedly discussed shooting 88 African Americans to death and decapitating 14 others in a killing spree across the country. The two chose the numbers 88 and 14 because, officials said, "they have special significance within the White Power movement."

They were charged in U.S. District Court in Nashville with illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun, conspiracy to rob a gun store and making threats against a major presidential candidate.

The two neo-Nazi skinheads allegedly shot out the window of a church and then wrote chalk marks, including swastikas, on their car. On the hood, they scribbled the numbers 88 and 14.

Cowart and Schlesselman reportedly targeted a predominantly African-American high school, but did not identify the school when they were arrested.

The eighth letter of the alphabet is "H," and the number 8 twice signifies "HH." It is shorthand for the Nazi greeting "Heil Hitler." The number 14 comes from the number of words in a White Power slogan: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

Court records say Cowart and Schlesselman also bought nylon rope and ski masks to use in a robbery or home invasion to fund their spree, during which they allegedly planned to go from state to state and kill people.

Jim Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of the Nashville field office for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), said authorities took the threats very seriously.

"They said that would be their last, final act — that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama," Cavanaugh said. "They didn't believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying."

"They seemed determined to do it," added Cavanaugh in an Associated Press interview. "Even if they were just to try it, it would be a trail of tears around the South."

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Take election day off for Barack

Ask your Boss. Ask your Professor.

Take Election Day off and volunteer to make history.

Watch this video and sign up to help get out the vote on Tuesday, November 4th:

Watch the video

This election will be decided by what this grassroots movement can accomplish on Election Day.

We have volunteer shifts to fill throughout the day -- make calls, knock on doors, and make sure your fellow voters get to the polls.

No previous experience is required. Sign up now to take the day off and make history on November 4th:




Jon Carson
National Field Director
Obama for America

P.S. -- This Wednesday, October 29th, supporters are gathering in homes across the country to watch Barack's 30-minute primetime presentation and make phone calls to voters in battleground states.

Sign up to host or attend a Last Call for Change house party:


Sharing Brazilian electoral know-how with the US

urna de treinamento, com grande otelo

The elections for mayor in 30 Brazilian cities ended two hours ago and in most part of them we already know who the winners are. In Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, cities where almost ten million people voted, the results came out exactly two hours and ten minutes after the last elector pressed the button.

Despite being satisfied or not with the results, the fact is that the Brazilian voting system proves once more its perfection. Our voting machines made in Brazil and used since 1996 once again were responsible for making the elections quick and safe. In terms of elections technology, Brazil is ahead of many developed countries, including the U.S. Many South American and European representatives already came to Brazil to learn more about our voting system. Four years ago, observers from eight countries, including Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Thailand followed closely our election process as an example of fleetness and accuracy.

For the next time, US representatives would be also welcome to come.

Source: GetBrazil

"Rope-a-dope on a grand scale"

The Power of Passive Campaigning

Stanley Fish
Published: October 26, 2008
The dynamic of the presidential campaign is in one key sense reminiscent of Milton's "Paradise Regained."

In the aftermath of the 2000 and 2004 elections, the post-mortem verdict was that the Republicans had run a better campaign. They knew how to seize or manufacture an issue. They were able to master the dynamics of negative advertising. They kept on message. Now, when many print and TV commentators are predicting if not assuming an Obama victory, the conventional wisdom is that this time the Democrats have run a better campaign.

When did the Democrats smarten up? When did they learn how to outdo the Republicans at their own game?

The answer is that they didn’t. They decided — or rather Obama decided — to play another game, one we haven’t seen for a while, and it’s a question as to whether we’ve ever seen it. The name of this game is straightforward campaigning, or rather straightforward non-campaigning.

We saw it in the 10 days when the activity around the mounting economic crisis was at its height. Henry Paulson alternated between scaring members of Congress and scaring the public. Nancy Pelosi alternated between playing the responsible Congressional statesperson and playing the partisan attack dog. Media commentators went from one hysterical prediction to another. John McCain went from saying there’s nothing to worry about to saying there’s everything to worry about to saying that he would fix everything by suspending his campaign to saying that he was not suspending his campaign and that he would debate after all.

And Barack Obama? He didn’t do much and he said less (O.K., he did say some reassuring, optimistic things), and his poll numbers went up.

Weeks later, the pattern continues, but in an even more intense form. The McCain campaign huffs and puffs and jumps from charge to charge: Obama consorts with terrorists; he’s a socialist; he’s a communist; he is un-American; he’s not one of us; he’s a celebrity; he’s going to take your money and give it to people who never did a day’s work; he’s going to sell out Israel; he’ll cozy up to foreign dictators; he’s measuring the drapes.

In response, Obama explains his tax policy for the umpteenth time, points out that capitalists like Warren Buffet support him, details his relationship with Bill Ayers, lists those he consults with, observes that Senator McCain, by his own boast, voted with President George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, and calls for change.

What he (or his campaign) doesn’t do is bring up the Keating Five, or make veiled references to McCain’s treatment of his first wife, or make fun of Sarah Palin (she doesn’t need any help), or disparage his opponent’s experience, or hint at the disabilities of age. He just stands there looking languid (George Will called him the Fred Astaire of politics), always smiling and never raising his voice.

Meanwhile, McCain’s surrogates get red in the face on TV when they try to explain away the latest jaw-dropping thing Sarah Palin has said, or proclaim that anything can happen in seven days, or respond to ever more discouraging poll numbers by saying (how’s this for a weak cliché) that the only poll that counts is the poll on election day. (I know things are bad when my wife, a staunch Democrat, feels sorry for them.)

What’s going on here? I find an answer in a most unlikely place, John Milton’s “Paradise Regained,” a four-book poem in which a very busy and agitated Satan dances around a preternaturally still Jesus until, driven half-crazy by the response he’s not getting, the arch-rebel (i.e., maverick) loses it, crying in exasperation, “What dost thou in this world?”

Now, I don’t mean to suggest that McCain is the devil or that Obama is the Messiah (although some of his supporters think of him that way), just that the rhetorical strategies the two literary figures employ match up with the strategies employed by the two candidates. What Satan wants to do is draw Jesus out, provoke him to an unwisely exasperated response, get him to claim too much for his own powers. What Jesus does is reply with an equanimity conveyed by the adjectives and adverbs that preface his words: “unaltered,” “temperately,” “patiently,” “calmly,” “unmoved,” “sagely,” “in brief.”

In response, Satan gets ever more desperate; he conjures up rain and wind storms (in the midst of which Jesus sits “unappalled in calm”); he tempts him with the riches of poetry and philosophy (which Jesus is careful neither to reject nor deify); and finally, having run out of schemes and scares and “swollen with rage,” he resorts to physical violence (McCain has not gone so far, although some of his supporters clearly want to), picking Jesus up bodily and depositing him on the spire of the temple in the hope that he will either fall to his death or turn into Superman and undermine the entire point of his 40-day trial in the wilderness. He doesn’t do either. He does nothing, and Satan, “smitten with amazement” — even this hasn’t worked — “fell.”

Toward the end, the poem describes the mighty contest in a metaphor that captures its odd and negative dynamic. Jesus is “a solid rock” continually assaulted by “surging waves”; and even though the repeated assaults result only in the waves being “all to shivers dashed,” they keep on coming until they exhaust themselves “in froth or bubbles.” The power Jesus generates is the power of not moving from the still center of his being and refusing to step into an arena of action defined by his opponent. So it is with Obama, who barely exerts himself and absorbs attack after attack, each of which, rather than wounding him, leaves him stronger. It’s rope-a-dope on a grand scale.

And McCain knows it. Last Wednesday, campaigning in New Hampshire, he spoke sneeringly about Obama’s campaign being “disciplined and careful.” That’s exactly right, and so far the combination of discipline and care — care not to get out too far in front of anything — along with a boatload of money is working just fine. Jesus is usually the political model for Republicans, but this time his brand of passive, patient leadership is being channeled by a Democrat.

NY Times: Democrats in Steel Country See Color, and Beyond It

Published: October 27, 2008
John McCain hopes for an opening in Pennsylvania, where race talk is sometimes submerged, sometimes open.

ALIQUIPPA, Pa. — Voting for the black man does not come easy to Nick Piroli. He is the first to admit that.

To the sound of bowling balls smacking pins, as the bartender in the Fallout Shelter queues up more Buds, this retired steelworker wrestles with this election and his choice. A couple of friends, he says, will not vote for Senator Barack Obama.

“I’m no racist, but I’m not crazy about him either,” said Mr. Piroli, 77. “I don’t know, maybe ’cause he’s black.”

He winces at himself. “We was raised and worked with the black, the Serb,” he said. “It was a regular league of nations. And the economy now, it’s terrible.”

“I’ve got to vote for him,” he said finally.

Him? “The Democrat, Obama,” Mr. Piroli replied. “I can’t be stupid.”

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Fifth-grader Damon Weaver interviews Joe Biden

domingo, 26 de outubro de 2008

CNN: Poll: 7 of 10 say candidates' race not a factor in their vote

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new national survey suggests that race won't be a major factor in the outcome of the presidential election.

Race has played a large role in the election campaign narrative for Sen. Barack Obama.

Race has played a large role in the election campaign narrative for Sen. Barack Obama.

Seven out of 10 -- or 70 percent -- of Americans questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Survey released Friday said the race of the candidates will not be a factor in their vote for president this year.

That 70 percent figure is up 9 points from July, when the same question was asked. Only 5 percent of those polled said race will be the single most important factor in their choice for president, with 11 percent saying it's one of several important factors, and 13 percent indicating race will be a minor factor in their vote.

Sen. Barack Obama, if elected, would be the first black American to win the White House. Video Watch more on the state of the campaign »

"First, don't assume that everyone who says that race is factor in their votes are voting against Obama. Some voters are choosing Obama because of his race. And many of those who say that race will influence their votes are Republicans who were highly unlikely to vote for any Democrat this year," said Keating Holland, CNN polling director.

"By one complicated measure, the number of votes Obama may lose due to his race is roughly equal to the number who will vote for him because he is black. And both those numbers appear to be small, possibly just 1 percentage point in each direction," Holland said.

One question that often comes up when discussing polling regarding race is whether those being polled are telling the truth.

"Take all this with a grain of salt -- race is a complicated topic and polls may not reveal each respondent's true feelings on this hot-button issue. Nonetheless, the poll suggests that race may largely be an influence on Americans who aren't typical Democratic voters, and that race works both for and against Obama in roughly equal proportions," Holland said.

So, what about age? If elected, the 72-year-old John McCain would be the oldest person to be inaugurated as president.

Roughly half of those polled said the age of the candidates will affect their vote. That's essentially unchanged since July. Three percent said age would be their most important factor, with 19 percent saying it would be one of several important factors and 25 percent saying it would be a minor factor.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted October 17-19, with 1,058 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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Guardian/Observer: Coming of Age

Obama as we knew him... man and boy

Schoolfriends remember his love for comic books, basketball and teasing the girls. A former boss recalls him as a young man running a community project in Chicago. A fellow senator remembers being beaten by him at poker. Gifted student, quiet persuader, charismatic speaker, loyal friend... We speak to the people who knew Barack Obama best, revealing an intimate, often touching, portrait of a man on the brink of greatness

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In Defense of White Americans

Published: October 26, 2008
White Americans are not remotely the bigots the G.O.P. would have us believe. Just because a campaign trades in racism doesn’t mean that the country is racist.

IT seems like a century ago now, but it was only in 2005 that a National Journal poll of Beltway insiders predicted that George Allen, then a popular Virginia senator, would be the next G.O.P. nominee for president. George who? Allen is now remembered, if at all, as a punch line. But any post-mortem of the Great Republican Collapse of 2008 must circle back to the not-so-funny thing that happened on his way to the White House.

That would be in 2006, when he capsized his own shoo-in re-election race by calling a 20-year-old Indian-American “macaca” before a white audience (and a video camera). “Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia,” Allen told the young Democratic campaign worker for good measure, in a precise preview of the playbook that has led John McCain and Sarah Palin to their tawdry nadir two years later.

It wasn’t just Allen’s lame racial joke or his cluelessness about 21st-century media like YouTube that made him a harbinger of the current G.O.P. fiasco. It was most of all the national vision he set forth: There are Real Americans, and there are the Others.

The Real are the small-town white folks Allen was addressing in southwestern Virginia. The Others — and their subversive fellow travelers, the Elites — are Americans like the young man who Allen maligned: a high-achieving son of immigrant parents who was born and raised in Washington’s Northern Virginia suburbs during its technology boom. (Allen, the self-appointed keeper of real Virginia, grew up in California.)

Cut to 2008. You’d think that this incident would be a cautionary tale, but the McCain campaign instead embraced Allen as a role model, with Palin’s odes to “real” and “pro-America” America leading the charge. The farcical apotheosis of this strategy arrived last weekend, again on camera and again in Virginia, when a McCain adviser, Nancy Pfotenhauer, revived Allen’s original script, literally, during an interview on MSNBC.

After dismissing the Northern Virginia suburbs, she asserted that the “real Virginia” — the part of the state “more Southern in nature” — will prove “very responsive” to the McCain message. All Pfotenhauer left out was “macaca,” but with McCain calling Barack Obama’s tax plan “welfare” and campaign surrogates (including the robo-calling Rudy Giuliani) linking the Democrat to violent, Willie Horton-like criminality, that would have been redundant.

We don’t know yet if McCain will go the way of Allen in a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic president since 1964, when L.B.J. vanquished another Arizona Republican in a landslide. But we do know that Obama swept like a conquering hero through Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, last week and that he leads in every recent Virginia poll.

There are at least two larger national lessons to be learned from what is likely to be the last gasp of Allen-McCain-Palin politics in 2008. The first, and easy one, is that Republican leaders have no idea what “real America” is. In the eight years since the first Bush-Cheney convention pledged inclusiveness and showcased Colin Powell as its opening-night speaker, the G.O.P. has terminally alienated black Americans (Powell himself now included), immigrant Americans (including the Hispanics who once gave Bush-Cheney as much as 44 percent of their votes) and the extended families of gay Americans (Palin has now revived a constitutional crusade against same-sex marriage). Subtract all those players from the actual America, and you don’t have enough of a bench to field a junior varsity volleyball team, let alone a serious campaign for the Electoral College.

But the other, less noticed lesson of the year has to do with the white people the McCain campaign has been pandering to. As we saw first in the Democratic primary results and see now in the widespread revulsion at the McCain-Palin tactics, white Americans are not remotely the bigots the G.O.P. would have us believe. Just because a campaign trades in racism doesn’t mean that the country is racist. It’s past time to come to the unfairly maligned white America’s defense.

That includes acknowledging that the so-called liberal media, among their other failures this year, have helped ratchet up this election cycle’s prevailing antiwhite bias. Ever since Obama declared his candidacy, the press’s default setting has been to ominously intone that “in the privacy of the voting booth” ignorant, backward whites will never vote for a black man.

A leading vehicle for this journalistic mind-set has been the unending obsession with “the Bradley effect” — as if nothing has changed in America since 1982, when some polls (possibly for reasons having nothing to do with race) predicted erroneously that a black candidate, Tom Bradley, would win the California governorship. In 2008, there is, if anything, more evidence of a reverse Bradley effect — Obama’s primary vote totals more often exceeded those in the final polls than not — but poor old Bradley keeps being flogged anyway.

So do all those deer hunters in western Pennsylvania. Once Hillary Clinton whipped Obama in the Rust Belt, it’s been a bloviation staple (echoing the Clinton camp’s line) that a black guy is doomed among Reagan Democrats, Joe Sixpacks, rednecks, Joe the Plumbers or whichever condescending term you want to choose. (Clinton at one low point settled on “hard-working Americans, white Americans.”) Michigan in particular was repeatedly said to be slipping out of the Democrats’ reach because of incorrigible racism — until McCain abandoned it as hopeless this month in the face of a double-digit Obama lead.

The constant tide of anthropological articles and television reports set in blue-collar diners, bars and bowling alleys have hyped this racial theory of the race. So did the rampant misreading of primary-season exit polls. On cable TV and the Sunday network shows, there was endless chewing over the internal numbers in the Clinton victories. It was doomsday news for Obama, for instance, that some 12 percent of white Democratic primary voters in Pennsylvania said race was a factor in their choice and three-quarters of them voted for Clinton. Ipso facto — and despite the absence of any credible empirical evidence — these Clinton voters would either stay home or flock to McCain in November.

The McCain campaign is so dumb that it bought into the press’s confirmation of its own prejudices. Even though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 1.2 million in Pennsylvania (more than double the 2004 gap), even though Obama leads by double digits in almost every recent Pennsylvania poll and even though no national Republican ticket has won there since 1988, McCain started pouring his dwindling resources into the state this month. When the Democratic Representative John Murtha described his own western Pennsylvania district as a “racist area,” McCain feigned outrage and put down even more chips on the race card, calling the region the “most patriotic, most God-loving” part of America.

Well, there are racists in western Pennsylvania, as there are in most pockets of our country. But despite the months-long drumbeat of punditry to the contrary, there are not and have never been enough racists in 2008 to flip this election. In the latest New York Times/CBS News and Pew national polls, Obama is now pulling even with McCain among white men, a feat accomplished by no Democratic presidential candidate in three decades, Bill Clinton included. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey finds age doing more damage to McCain than race to Obama.

Nor is America’s remaining racism all that it once was, or that the McCain camp has been hoping for it to be. There are even “racists for Obama,” as Politico labels the phenomenon: White Americans whose distrust of black people in general crumbles when they actually get to know specific black people, including a presidential candidate who extends a genuine helping hand in a time of national crisis.

The original “racist for Obama,” after all, was none other than Obama’s own white, Kansas-raised grandmother, the gravely ill Madelyn Dunham, whom he visited in Hawaii on Friday. In “Dreams From My Father,” Obama wrote of how shaken he was when he learned of her overwhelming fear of black men on the street. But he weighed that reality against his unshakeable love for her and hers for him, and he got past it.

When Obama cited her in his speech on race last spring, the right immediately accused him of “throwing his grandmother under the bus.” But Obama’s critics were merely projecting their own racial hang-ups. He still loves his grandmother. He was merely speaking candidly and generously — like an adult — about the strange, complex and ever-changing racial dynamics of America. He hit a chord because many of us have had white relatives of our own like his, and we, too, see them in full and often love them anyway.

Such human nuances are lost on conservative warriors of the Allen-McCain-Palin ilk. They see all Americans as only white or black, as either us or them. The dirty little secret of such divisive politicians has always been that their rage toward the Others is exceeded only by their cynical conviction that Real Americans are a benighted bunch of easily manipulated bigots. This seems to be the election year when voters in most of our myriad Americas are figuring that out.

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BBC: Jefferson's hidden slave legacy

By Allan Little
BBC News, Monticello, Virginia

Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale. Copyright: Thomas Jefferson Foundation/Monticello.
Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and third US President

Thomas Jefferson's home at Monticello is a place of pilgrimage for Americans of every political stripe.

Thousands come every day.

They stand on the terrace and look down on the forested green plains of Virginia.

They gaze in awe at Jefferson's little chess set, where he sat, two hundred years ago, with his friend and apostle James Madison.

Between them, these two men in effect dreamed a new nation into existence.

Jefferson designed Monticello himself.

Thomas Jefferson's house

It is true to the man - the elegant proportions, the white domed roof above pillared porticoes, the bricks so brown they are almost ebony - the colour of the Virginia soil from which they were hewn and baked.

Huge sash windows bring light flooding in. This is the aesthetic of the rational eighteenth century mind - the Enlightenment in architectural form.

But slave hands baked those bricks and stacked them, and throughout his life time more than two hundred slaves - Jefferson's personal property - worked the fields of his estate.

Slavery and equality

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal".

The words of the American Declaration of Independence are Jefferson's own.

In the US the natural ruling coalition since Jefferson's election in 1800 has been a coalition of Southern Whites and Catholics in the North East and Mid West against their common enemy: white New England Protestants
Michael Lind, New America Foundation

All men, he goes on, "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights" and among these are "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

How did the author of that ringing declaration of universal human rights reconcile himself to the ownership of slaves?

It is one of the great contradictions of Jefferson's life, of his age, and of the America that he and the founding generations conjured into being.

Jefferson's wife, Martha, died in the tenth year of their marriage.

Present in the room at the moment of her death, with Jefferson himself, was Martha's half sister, a young slave girl called Sally Hemings. She was the daughter of Martha's own father and a slave called Elizabeth.

Slave Mistress

Years later, in Paris, Jefferson began a relationship with Sally. Together, they had six children.

Jefferson's enemies accused him of misconduct and tried to use the scandal against him when he ran for president. It didn't work. Jefferson said nothing, neither confirming nor denying it.

For two hundred years, Jefferson scholars for the most part dismissed what came to be known as the "Sally Question" as implausible.

The Jefferson that Americans had written into their national mythology - the Jefferson who is carved into Mount Rushmore - could not have had such a relationship.

It could not be allowed to stand.

New evidence

Recently, Professor Annette Gordon-Reed rescued Sally and the entire slave population of Monticello from the shadows and gave them flesh and blood, names, characters, personalities, and life stories.

Author Annette Gordon-Reed on Jefferson and his family of slaves.

DNA evidence establishes beyond doubt that Jefferson fathered Sally's children.

Her remarkable research challenges a certain conception of America, an idea of the Republic that has prevailed for two hundred years.

Why, I asked her, do so many Americans continue to resist the idea that Sally was so intimately involved in the life of the greatest of all the founding fathers?

"I think it points to contemporary racial attitudes," she told me.

"They are very much like past racial attitudes. Jefferson is seen as the embodiment of the American spirit. It is absolutely about ownership of the story of the Republic, of the Republic itself.

"If you founded something, you own it. And the founding story is of a group of white men who come together with high ideals and found this new nation".

Jeffersonian Democracy

Jefferson is so identified with the founding ideals of the Republic that he gave his name to great American experiment itself.

Republicans or Democrats, northerners or southerners, black, white Hispanic, recent immigrant or settled for generations, Americans are all children of "Jeffersonian democracy".

It is a democracy in which the citizen is free to live a life without interference or instruction from government; a democracy of small, weak, unobtrusive government.

Jefferson's great rival, his near contemporary Alexander Hamilton, dreamed a different America into being, an America that sat alongside Jefferson's ideal in a relationship of dynamic tension.

Hamilton's America needed a strong federal government, a standing army, a national currency and a central bank.

Jefferson thought all that smacked of the European - and specifically British - monarchism and imperialism he despised.

Jeffersonian America was conceived as the alternative to all that.

Jefferson's United States is spoken in the plural - "the United States are…" he thought of, and referred to, Virginia as his "country".

Hamiltonian America is emphatically singular.

Defender of states' rights

Jefferson the Virginian, the Southerner, the defender of the rights of the slave holding states believed in an agrarian America of free and independent gentlemen farmers, living their lives unmolested by government.

He believed the likes of Hamilton, the New Yorker, and the Northern states in general had been lured away from that ideal by urbanisation, industry, commerce, banks, finance and the accumulation of money.

Michael Lind of the New America Foundation, believes the fault line that opened up between Jefferson and Hamilton two hundred years ago still operates in America's two-party system:

"You can make the case that in the US the natural ruling coalition since Jefferson's election in 1800 has been a coalition of Southern Whites and Catholics in the North East and Mid West against their common enemy: white New England Protestants".

Look at America today - its powerful federal government, its enormous army, its commitments overseas, the still-mighty US dollar.

America may be a Hamiltonian country.

But its heart, both nostalgic and aspiring, still belongs to Thomas Jefferson.

Allan Little's programme on Thomas Jefferson will be broadcast on BBC World Service radio on Sunday 26 October.

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sábado, 25 de outubro de 2008

True change is "wasssup"

Yet another hat-tip to England for Obama

Politico.com: "Polls: White support for Obama at historic level"

Barack Obama shakes hands with supporters.
Barack Obama, the first black major-party nominee, is positioned to win the largest share of white voters of any Democrat in more than three decades, according to an exclusive Politico analysis of recent Gallup and Pew Research Center polling.

The most recent two weeks of Gallup polling, which includes roughly 13,000 interviews, show 44 percent of non-Hispanic white voters presently support Obama — the highest number for a Democrat since 47 percent of whites backed Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Until the stock market swoon in mid-September, Obama had never reached 40 percent among white voters.

No Democrat has won a majority of white voters since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. John McCain has shuffled between 48 percent and 50 percent support in recent weeks — which would be the lowest share for a Republican candidate in a two-man race since Barry Goldwater's run.

If Obama's share holds, it would top the 43 percent of white voters who backed Bill Clinton in 1996, when the Democrat won a plurality among white females and 38 percent of white men, the best performance by a Democrat in all those categories since 1976.

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