11/26/2008 2:44:29 PM
When anti-abortion groups caught wind that a New Jersey hotel provided discounted rates to out-of-town women getting abortions at the Cherry Hill Women’s Center, their reaction was swift. Within four days, the discounts stopped.
RH Reality Check
carefully tracks the story’s development. First, the anti-abortion publication LifeNews reported on the discounts. Then the story went viral:
Within just a couple days, other anti-abortion groups picked up the story, and passed it to their own email lists and membership bases. The Family Research Council, in an email blast, wrote alarmingly of how the hotels are "profiting" off of abortion by offering the discounted rates. It is unclear why the FRC believes that renting rooms at less than cost to certain guests brings the hotel a profit.
An organized boycott and email/telephone protest campaign led to the hotel quickly switching course. “The Clarion Hotel paid attention to their local market and decided to make this change,” David Peikin, senior director of corporate communications at Choice Hotels International told RH Reality Check.
As the reproductive health site explains, travel expenses can be an insurmountable barrier for some women in need of abortion services. Many counties—including about half of the counties in Southern and Midwestern states—don’t have abortion providers, forcing women to travel, often long distances. Other states have 24-hour waiting periods, requiring women who have traveled to a clinic to stay overnight. And certain procedures, such as second-trimester and non-surgical abortions, require second-day appointments.
For women without the means, these factors can essentially negate their right to choose. Some groups have stepped into fill the void. RH Reality Check notes the efforts of groups such as Haven, a New York fund whose volunteers open their homes to women who must travel for an abortion:
In a time of greater need and greater scarcity, in a time when anti-abortion activists are angling to cut off support services abruptly while offering no safe alternative, it's the compassionate action of the abortion funds and those individuals who simply lend their time and care that's making all the difference.
11/26/2008 1:32:28 PM
Forget the culture war, Ann Friedman argues in the latest issue of the American Prospect. Gay rights are a civil-rights issue. And that means the fight can’t wait around for culture to catch up.
The proof came on November 4th. Amidst hosannas from progressives celebrating Barack Obama’s victory, four state ballot initiatives successfully blasted gay rights in California, Florida, Arizona, and Arkansas.
In the wake of those votes, Friedman launches an eloquent call to action:
Culture changes slowly. This is something I've heard a lot in the wake of the passage of California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage. "History is on our side! Don't worry, the demographic trends are with us!"
I'm sorry, but that's just not good enough. These are the kind of conciliatory comments that go part and parcel with the culture-war frame. Civil-rights era activists knew history was on their side. But their goal was not to make every white American comfortable with the idea of sharing public spaces and power with people of color. It was to guarantee people of color those rights, regardless of where the culture stood. That's the thing about rights. You have to claim them.
We won't win victories on LGBT rights as long as we see the issue as part of a liberal--versus-conservative war. If we're at war, it's not with conservatives. Our enemy is not James Dobson or Sarah Palin. It is the sadly accepted notion that anti-gay measures are shoo-ins on the ballot, and that same-sex couples just have to sit tight for a decade or two and wait for public opinion to catch up.
A civil-rights frame is not only more proactive -- because it doesn't allow progressives to swaddle themselves in comforting demographic trends -- it is more persuasive. It is also less divisive. The very act of invoking the term "culture war" signals that we think something is controversial, when in fact, equal rights should be the furthest thing from it.
11/26/2008 9:13:18 AM
Not wanting to miss out on the nationwide marriage shouting match, the Georgia Supreme Court’s Commission on Children, Marriage, and Family Law (pdf) has recently sponsored a series of billboards with the message “Get Married, Stay Married.”
The sentiment might seem outdated, but the commission argues that science is on its side, pointing to research showing that children who grow up in two-parent households do better in school and are less likely to commit crimes later in life.
However, the good intentions behind these efforts are muddled by a potential conflict of interest. According to the Fulton County Daily Report, Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears has spearheaded the campaign and last week helped cosponsor a pro-marriage symposium that gathered participants from the fields of psychology, law, and religion. The other sponsor of the event was the Institute for American Values (IAV), a “private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that contributes intellectually to strengthening families and civil society in the U.S. and the world.” (Sears told the Fulton County Daily Report that "very little state money" was used for the event, with private foundations picking up the tab and the IAV covering speakers' honoraria and transportation costs.)
But just like the benign-sounding “family values” behind the right's social agenda, the “American Values” touted by the IAV don’t include equal rights for the GLBT community. During a conference debate with the Brookings Institution's Jonathan Rauch, author of Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, IAV president David Blankenhorn argued vehemently against gay marriage, claiming it would weaken the general institution of marriage.
Sears, who was targeted as a gay-marriage proponent in her 1998 and 2004 re-election bids, took pains to give both men equal time, but wouldn't take a stance on the issue, citing her position on the Supreme Court. The same care to maintain neutrality should have prevented the commission from teaming up with an organization that is so vocally against gay rights in the first place.
Image courtesy of the Supreme Court of Georgia.
11/25/2008 3:49:37 PM
Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and many people gathering for turkey will have no idea what they're celebrating. For one thing, most of the pilgrims didn’t eat turkey, according to Neatorama’s list of Thanksgiving myths; they ate deer. And the settlers didn’t call themselves “pilgrims” back then, opting instead for the far more presumptuous moniker of “saints.”
One could assume that the bevy of misinformation is coming from schools, but if reports on civic literacy are to be believed, most people weren’t paying attention in school anyway. A survey from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute found that more than 68 percent of respondents failed their civics quiz (pdf), scoring less than 50 percent. The survey found that more than “twice as many people know Paula Abdul was a judge on American Idol than know that the phrase 'government of the people, by the people, for the people' comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.”
You can take the civic literacy quiz here.
And for more on the importance of history, read History Lessons by Keith Goetzman, and Can We Handle the Truth? by Howard Zinn from the September-October issue of Utne Reader.
11/25/2008 10:01:20 AM
The travel industry and Washington D.C. residents stand to benefit handsomely from Barack Obama’s inauguration. Obama fans are forking over serious cash just to be in the vicinity of the capital on January 20—forget actually attending the ceremony—making the bargains struck on Craigslist to score tickets to his Chicago victory rally look meager by comparison.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, D.C. resident Vanessa Jones rented her basement apartment for $4,100 during inauguration week. It only took about 15 minutes for offers to start pouring into her inbox in response to a Craigslist ad she posted.
One Austin couple has taken it upon themselves to organize the Texas migration to Washington for Obama’s swearing in, coughing up the cash to rent three buses, at a steep $12,000 each, to make the trip. They're looking to fill the buses through a Craigslist ad, reports Austin TV station, KVUE, where they're offering seats for $300 round-trip.
Those bus fares could be cheaper than plane tickets to D.C., which the San Francisco Chronicle reports are about 226 percent pricier than normal fares. Airlines are enjoying a hefty bump in business, with many adding special flights to Dulles to accommodate demand. JetBlue spokeswoman Alison Coyle told the Dallas Morning News, “We added these additional flights because on peak travel days, we are seeing bookings close to double what we would see on a normal day in January.”
How’s that for an economic stimulus?
11/20/2008 10:10:50 AM
President-elect Barack Obama has confidently pledged to scrub out the blight on America's moral standing that is Guantanamo Bay. Closing the notorious prison is a move the world would eagerly embrace, and the move would immediately distance the new administration from the sinister national security practices of the Bush years. Goodbye torture, hello habeas corpus.
That sure sounds nice. But putting Gitmo’s sordid abuses in our past won't be easy. The legal issues at stake remain with or without the prison, as Matthew Waxman, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, points out in an interview with Foreign Policy. “The United States will continue to capture, detain, and need to interrogate suspected terrorists long into the future,” Waxman said. “And the bigger question than whether to hold them at Guantanamo or not is one of legal authority. On what legal basis and according to what standards will the United States conduct detentions?”
Trials of “enemy combatants” are another complicated matter, and there’s little consensus on how they should be carried out, according to the New Republic. “Some conservatives argue that civilian courts are too protective of detainee rights or would sacrifice sensitive national security information,” writes Joseph Landau for TNR, while, “civil libertarians reject national-security courts for insufficiently guarding defendants’ rights.”
The proposed creation of national security courts charged solely with trying suspected terrorists is being hotly debated, and Obama is said to be considering the option. University of Utah law professor Amos Guiora is a strong proponent of this idea. In a guest column for Jurist, he writes, “In advocating the establishment of domestic terror courts I am seeking both a legal and practical solution to the continued detention of thousands of ‘post 9/11 detainees.’” Guiora suggests the courts as an ongoing solution to a problem that extends far beyond Guantanamo Bay. “Guantanamo Bay is but one detention facility,” Guiora writes.
The Christian Science Monitor describes the new court model as similar to one that was used in Israel, where trials were “conducted behind closed doors to protect intelligence sources and methods.” According to CSM, “Instead of using military judges, such a court should be staffed by civilian federal judges, preserving the separation of powers,” but protecting intelligence information. Guiora told CSM, “Source-protection is a must in the context of counterterrorism.” He said, “Without sources, there is no intelligence. Without intelligence, there is no counterterrorism.”
But not everyone thinks a specialized terror court is a good idea, or necessary. Also for Jurist, Washington University law professor Leila Nadya Sadat notes the following:
Although advocates of creating a new set of courts to try terror suspects are no doubt sincere in trying to “fix” the problem of what to do with the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, let’s remember that at least some of these folks are the ones who gave the advice that supported the practice of rendition and the establishment of Guantanamo Bay in the first place. Indeed, a close look at their proposals suggests a disregard for time-tested rules of law eerily similar to the lawyering style that has pervaded the administration during the past eight years.... The federal courts, and regularly constituted military courts, are more than capable of trying individuals accused of terrorism and violations of the laws and customs of war, as they have done so before.
Image by woody1778a, licensed under Creative Commons.
11/19/2008 12:38:15 PM
With a new administration coming to town, lobbyists are scrambling about the capital, angling for their piece of the fresh political pie.
There are the usual suspects: labor unions, defense contractors, business associations, and the like. But for all the K-Street power these old-school suits hope to wield, they lack one all-powerful weapon: cute puppies. That fluffy arsenal belongs to the D.C.-area animal shelters that are jostling to meet the Obamas’ canine needs
Barack Obama’s now famous election-night awwww-moment came when he told his girls that they “earned the puppy that is coming with us.” Later, he explained to reporters pursuing this hot story that, though the family wants to go with a shelter dog, the trick is finding one that won’t aggravate Malia’s allergies.
As the Washington Post’s Sleuth blog reports, the city’s shelters have sprung to attention to solve Obama’s problem: “Puppymania has ignited fierce competition among local pet rescue organizations clamoring to be the go-to adoption center for the next first family.”
The Washington Animal Rescue League wrote the president-elect directly with an appeal the day after the election. And the Washington Human Society is touting its “puppy kindergarten classes” for “first family adopters.”
You can scout for some hypoallergenic contenders here, here, and here.*
*Action unadvised for anyone who actually lives in the D.C. area and is not prepared to be sucked into adopting one of these unbearably cute animals.
courtesy of the Washington Humane Society. Jiffy is a pit bull terrier mix, so likely not a hypoallergenic contender for the Obamas, but he's damn cute, and thus earned a spot in this post. More about Jiffy: "Jiffy is a happy, confident pup who is tolerant and comfy in his fur and surroundings. He gets along great with other dogs, is responsive to leadership and (especially for his size) walks great on a leash!"
11/19/2008 9:24:41 AM
The violence following Kenya’s elections last December left more than 1,500 dead and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes. Yet, 11 months on, there still has been no formal action to indict those who may have instigated the bloodshed.
According to the BBC, the European Union has had enough. After investigating the incidents at the behest of the UN, the EU issued a report last month calling for an international tribunal to prosecute the businessmen and politicians accused of organizing or supporting the fighting in some areas. Inaction on Kenya’s part has prompted the EU to threaten withholding millions of dollars of financial aid until the conditions are met.
Kenya’s hesitance comes from complaints of bias and hearsay in the report itself, plus the fear that legal action could bring about another round of hostility among communities. Should they opt out of establishing their own trials, leaders will be forced to hand over a list of ten suspects to the International Criminal Court for trial.
11/17/2008 4:22:00 PM
It turns out that Barack Obama was not fully vetted before he was elected president. Did you know that he collects Conan the Barbarian comics?! Or that he ate dog, snake, and grasshopper when he lived in Indonesia?! These are just two of 50 little-known tidbits revealed in the Telegraph last week.
If the Telegraph’s list leaves you thirsty for still more details on the man—trivial or consequential—don't despair. Just stop by Politico’s newest venture, Politico 44. The site, billed as a “living diary of the Obama presidency,” provides substantive, Obama-centric reporting and allows you to track the president-elect like never before. (In case you were wondering, he left home to workout at 9:37 a.m. Sunday and arrived at his office later that day at precisely 4:03 p.m.)
11/13/2008 12:37:59 PM
After 9/11 we heard a lot about the death of irony, but after an initial period of mourning, humor prevailed and even thrived in the troubled early aughts.
But with the departure of the president who gave political satire its all-time easiest target, and the arrival of an unflappable and extremely popular president-elect, will practitioners of political satire run out of fodder?
Of course not. The Daily Show’s ascendancy coincided with Bush’s increasingly disastrous presidency, but Jon Stewart & Co. won’t suddenly be irrelevant just because Bush is. “Assuming the Daily Show can only be funny under someone like George W. Bush gives far too much credit to the outgoing President and is obscenely insulting to the writers of the Daily Show,” writes Matt Tobey on Comedy Central’s blog. “As if there wasn't plenty of failed Bush-based humor from shittier sources than the Daily Show.”
Meanwhile, the South Park boys pulled an all-nighter after the election to complete their extremely timely Wednesday broadcast, in which overzealous acolytes of Barack Obama see his victory as license to riot drunkenly in the streets, and Obama’s campaign team shows its true colors as an upscale band of jewel thieves a la Ocean’s Eleven.
These comedy institutions are bellwethers of the general categories into which Obama Humor will fall, at least for now: Poking fun at the extreme fervor of Obama’s supporters, and pointing up the absurd paranoia of Obama’s opposition (much like the New Yorker did all those months ago.)
The reliable Onion covers those satirical bases and more, with headlines like “International Con Man Barack Obama Leaves U.S. With $85 Million In Campaign Fundraising” and “Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job”.
There’s also the hilarious animated video below, from Get Your War On creator David Rees, making the rounds. (Consider it a sequel to the New Yorker cover.)
And when Obama inevitably falls short of the astronomical expectations set for him, satirists will pounce. The Daily Show’s John Hodgman told Politico, “As much as the show is fake news, its soul is very sincere, borne of a desire that everyone shares, that we don’t want to be lied to. If there is a whiff of insincerity [Obama] will be taken to task.”
11/11/2008 4:43:39 PM
Barack Obama's overwhelming win was due in no small part to the millions he raked in via online appeals to supporters. Anyone hoping that his historic victory would end those daily pleas for cash was in for a surprise yesterday, though, when the campaign was back at it, asking for more money. This time the non-tax-deductable contributions go to pay the debts of the Democratic National Committee.
Obama's not alone. The McCain-Palin campaign, for one, still appears to be accepting contributions through JohnMcCain.com.
In fact, many of the old favorites from the 2008 campaign still have donation appeals live on their websites. That's the case for former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who is still accepting contributions on his HuckPac website, although he’s also now raking in a salary for his show on Fox News.
Hilary Clinton, too, is taking contributions, a move that could reignite fears that the Clintons will divide the Democratic party in 2008. Other voices from the Democratic primary, including Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, and even John Edwards are all still asking for money online from their loyal constituencies.
“America’s Mayor” never gives up either, apparently. On their podcast, John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman warn that a Rudy Giuliani comeback could occur any day now.
11/10/2008 4:33:12 PM
On Nov. 4, news outlets from around the world beamed images from Chicago’s Grant Park to captivated audiences awaiting the U.S. election results. Thousands of excited Chicagoans packed the park to hear Barack Obama deliver his first speech as president-elect. Afterward, they spilled out into the streets to celebrate.
In this episode of the UtneCast, we recapture some of the voices and sounds from downtown Chicago the night Barack Obama won the presidency.
You can listen to the interview below, or to subscribe to the UtneCast for free through iTunes, click here.
Election Night from Grant Park: Play Now
| Play in Popup
11/10/2008 2:10:29 PM
The flip of a coin could have the final say in the hotly contested Minnesota Senate race between incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman and challenger Al Franken, according to Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Richie. Some 200 votes currently separate the two candidates, and a recount will likely take place. If Coleman and Franken somehow tied in the recount, Richie told Minnesota Public Radio, “I believe there is a coin toss. We don't have provisions for re-elections.”
11/7/2008 9:31:37 AM
Below the roar of the presidential race and measures on reproductive and same-sex marriage rights, two states approved sweeping changes to marijuana laws on November 4, reports AlterNet.
Michigan voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana for medical use, while Massachusetts citizens chose to decriminalize marijuana possession, replacing arrest and possible jail time with a $100 fine.
AlterNet applauds the sensible cost-benefit analysis behind the voters' decisions. The millions of dollars and hundreds of hours the government and the police have committed to arrests, incarceration, and prevention campaigns haven't done much to stymie the drug's use, as seen in statistics gathered by the Bureau of Justice.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, marijuana possession accounted for more than a third of all possession arrests in 2006, and the total number of marijuana-related arrests for that year (829,600) far outnumbers those of heroin/cocaine (582,100).
In light of those numbers, why not take the resources once devoted to processing these minor crimes and instead direct them toward more serious issues like gun crime or drug trafficking?
Michigan is the 13th state to approve the use of medical marijuana, which a number of studies have revealed provides relief from the nausea and pain of several diseases and their treatments.
Image courtesy of
, licensed under
11/5/2008 5:43:32 PM
Herewith, a smattering of memorable quotes from America’s history-making election.
“America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves—if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made? This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.”
—President-elect Barack Obama in his victory speech
“I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating [Barack Obama], but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences, and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited. Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.”
—Senator John McCain in his concession speech
“Obama’s gift is that he understood America's great secret, that Americans have a deep and abiding need to love one another, and that we only lack the courage to do so.”
—Adam Serwer at American Prospect’s Tapped blog
“What I’ve been forced to acknowledge is there has been a shift—it’s not a sea change. But there's been a decided shift in the meaning of race. It’s not an ending. It's a beginning.”
—novelist Kim McLarin, to the Washington Post
“Citizens with eyes, ears, and the ability to wake up and realize what truly matters in the end are also believed to have played a crucial role in Tuesday's election.”
Obama erweckt das neue Amerika
(Obama wakes up the new America)
—headline from Spiegel.com
“The Civil War is over. Let reconstruction begin.”
—New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman
“If you are incapable of mustering pride in this moment, and if you cannot appreciate how meaningful this day is for millions of black folks who stood in lines for up to seven hours to vote, then your cynicism has become such an encumbrance as to render you all but useless to the liberation movement. Indeed, those who cannot appreciate what has just transpired are so eaten up with nihilistic rage and hopelessness that I cannot but think that they are a waste of carbon, and actively thieving oxygen that could be put to better use by others.”
—Tim Wise at Racialicious
“It really is fun to see those people out there jumping up and down. There’s something about jumping up and down that I think is good for the soul. It’s a universal sign of joy.”
—Fox News anchor Brit Hume, musing at the student crowds that gathered outside the White House on election night
“Good morning, Republicans! Welcome to the wilderness. We saved you a seat right over here, next to us. Looks like we'll have a lot of time to talk in the next four years.”
—libertarian blogger Katherine Mangu-Ward on Reason’s Hit & Run blog.
“[A]s the result of a financial panic that unfairly undermined all Republicans, Obama has stumbled into the most dangerous kind of victory. A mandate for change but not for ideas. A mandate without clear meaning.”
—Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson
“It’s a good to have a president again. The last couple of years we haven’t had one—or rather we have one who decided to give up after failing badly. This has been an especially painful vacuum during the collapse of the economy, and in the face of our diminished reputation in the world. There’s been no one to reassure the country, and no sign that a leader was actually tending to the national well being.”
—New Republic editor Franklin Foer
Did we miss a good one? Add it below in our comments.
11/5/2008 12:01:41 PM
Last night, Barack Obama announced that “a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.” What will that mean for everyone else? According to Jason Kottke’s webpage, when Obama wins, “everyone will be 20 years younger and 20 pounds thinner.” Also, “all gov't buildings will be made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper... and Hope.”
Inspired in part by Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle, the site reposts Twitter messages with the words, “When Obama wins.” And, like the video below, it’s a reminder of what the expectations of a Obama presidency might be.
Image by Marc Nozell, licensed under Creative Commons.
11/5/2008 11:19:56 AM
Barack Obama squeaked out an extraordinary electoral victory in Indiana, a state that went red by more than 20 points in 2004 and hasn’t given the nod to a Democratic presidential contender since 1964.
I spent some time Tuesday morning observing the get out the vote effort at the Obama campaign’s office in Schererville, Indiana, in the northwest corner of the state. From what I saw there and at a nearby poll, I’d say the president-elect owes his narrow win in large part to a remarkable volunteer army that gave their time, cell-phone minutes, gas money, and shoe leather to his cause.
Major props to Obama volunteers who helped get people to the polls and kept them there in Indiana and across the country. Some of their small but important efforts on Election Day included:
Using their own cell phones to plow through scads of call sheets for hours on end.
Carting sandwiches, donuts, water, and chips to voters waiting in line at the polls. Stick it out people! We’ll give you a donut! (But can't tell you who the donut’s from while you stand in line.)
Holding voters’ places in line if they had to step out to move their car, which was illegally parked because polling lots were full. (Didn’t witness this, but it was how campaign staffers said they were dealing with a report that police were threatening to tow and ticket cars at one polling place.)
Making a 30 to 45-minute drive from Chicago, where Obama supporters felt their help wasn’t needed, to knock on Hoosier doors and pepper neighborhoods with campaign literature.
Image: An Obama volunteer delivers sandwiches to a nearby polling place.
11/5/2008 10:52:41 AM
In the midst of Tuesday’s transformative election, it’s easy to forget that Barack Obama won’t actually be president for another three months. In that time, a lot could happen, much of it at the whim of a person whose name we don’t hear much these days: George W. Bush.
The transition is already in effect. In a phone call to Obama last night the 43rd president effused, “What an awesome night for you... I called to congratulate you and your good bride.” (Good bride? Weird.) He also promised a smooth transition for his successor, inviting Obama and his family “to visit the White House soon, at their convenience.”
On the eve of Election Day, Democracy Now! gained some insight into Bush’s mood from White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, who shrugged off the world’s dislike for her boss, likening the presidency to high school: “Everybody would like to be popular. You can all remember that back in high school. Everyone really wanted to be popular, and some of us just weren’t. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have principles and values that you stay true to.”
Um... okay, Dana. So Bush is the social pariah who sat by himself in the cafeteria, and got back at us preppies, jocks, and pretty girls by invading Iraq and curtailing our civil liberties? In reality, most of Bush’s decisions seemed driven precisely by political expediency rather than some internal, principled compass; he was too concerned about being popular with his base and his advisers.
With relatively little at stake politically, now is a probable time for Bush to advance his most controversial agendas, like the brazenly unconstitutional move to assign U.S. troops to U.S. soil or last-minute changes to environmental regulations. On Monday the New York Times summarized Bush’s “parting gifts” and predicted “those we fear are yet to come” before January in the realms of civil liberties, environmental protection, and abortion rights.
While we deserve a celebratory grace period in the wake of Obama’s victory and a hopeful honeymoon after he’s inaugurated, we must be especially vigilant in the last days of Bush’s presidency. The end is in sight, but it’s not here yet.
11/5/2008 8:03:01 AM
Barack Obama delivered a serious, reflective, and forward-looking acceptance speech to an emotional and relieved audience in Grant Park last night. But when the crowd and many joiners took to Michigan Avenue to celebrate, no one was in the mood for political sobriety.
Revelers mounted the flowerpots dividing one of Chicago’s showcase streets and broke out into spontaneous musical celebrations, dancing with fellow supporters, sharing big smiles, and obsessively snapping photos.
The scene inside Obama’s ticketed victory party was considerably more subdued, though no less emotional. There were periodic roars as Obama wins rolled in on the jumbotron, and a resounding cry of joy from the crowd when the words “Barack Obama Elected President” flashed triumphantly onto the screen beside Wolf Blitzer. It was, not surprisingly, the emotional climax of the rally and was punctuated with tearful hugs.
The communal spirit of the night was unmistakable, and the sense of mutual respect that flowed between the diverse slices of humanity that descended upon downtown Chicago to fete Obama was really special to be a part of. As we shuffled out of Hutchinson Field in a giant mass after Obama's acceptance speech, a middle-aged white man next to me watched an older black woman who was waving at the crowd and talking to the other partygoers from a small riser. He turned to his wife and said, "Imagine how she must feel after everything she's seen."
Black, white, young, old, it's safe to say the weight of the moment was lost on no one. And Chicago's euphoric spirit didn't fade overnight. As I sit here typing this blog the morning after, Obama cheers and chants are floating up to my third-story window on Chicago Avenue, a couple of miles west of downtown.
Here are some snapshots of election night in Obama's hometown.
11/4/2008 4:50:38 PM
The seldom-reliable but often-entrancing microblogging site Twitter has a new page dedicated to reports from voters. Twitter users around the country are sending in reports of how long they’ve had to wait in line, voting irregularities, and any inane observations that come of the top of their heads. The site is designed to give constant updates for voters, advocacy groups, and journalists. It also runs the danger of driving people insane with the flood of information. Current TV has partnered with Twitter and is featuring this video about the site.
For some on-site coverage tonight, be sure to check in with Utne Reader’s Twitter page, as Cally Carswell sends updates from Obama’s rally in Chicago.
11/4/2008 12:57:44 PM
Nothing alleviates the anxiety surrounding the fate of the world better than the fresh-faced, not-yet-jaded enthusiasm of youth. A group of 5th-graders from Kipp Stand Academy in Minneapolis (pictured left) provided a welcome distraction to the Utne Reader staff by standing on the corner in front of our building with signs saying, “Vote” and “Honk Once for McCain, Honk Twice for Obama.” For at least a minute or two, these fine children helped us stop pulling our hair out, clutching the sides of our chairs, cracking our knuckles, and refreshing the Pollster.com every few minutes.
11/4/2008 12:49:44 PM
As we wait for the polls to close, Lando Calrissian puts this election in perspective as he battles attack ads from Emperor Palpatine:
11/4/2008 10:18:10 AM
Take a break from the news stream and the refresh button. The folks at the Landline are out with a second batch of McCain attack ads inspired by famous directors. David Lynch fans are in for a treat.
Watch the first round here.
11/3/2008 3:52:56 PM
Need something to take the edge off as you wait for your fellow Americans to decide the fate of the nation? How about a distracting drinking game? (Those who prefer not to imbibe, or want to ensure they’ll be both awake and alert when the next president is announced, can substitute alcohol with stale Halloween candy).
Here are the rules, suggested by experts Bennett Gordon, Elizabeth Ryan, and Kari Volkmann-Carlsen here at Utne Reader. Drink or dig into the Halloween candy every time the following happen, unless another frequency is otherwise noted.
1. A red state goes blue, or vice versa (Potential targets for the former: Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina, New Mexico, Indiana. Potential targets for the latter: Pennsylvania, New Hampshire.)
2. A pundit says something he or she actually believes, mistakenly assuming that his or her mic is off (See: Peggy Noonan or the Rev. Jesse Jackson).
3. Drink/pop a Reeses every tenth time Joe the Plumber is mentioned. Anything less could cause alcohol poisoning or a hypoglycemic event.
4. Voter suppression reported. Do not drink or candy-binge for five minutes.
5. Flagrant network abuse of new Election Day gadgetry. Watch this SNL skit for examples:
6. Keith Olberman pounds his chest saying, “What’s up now?”
7. A Fox News anchor starts to cry.
8. A former candidate looks more convincing than he ever did while he was running (i.e., Al Gore, John Kerry, Bill Richardson)
9. James Carville uses folksy expression hitherto unknown to all speakers of English.
10. Network assures you, Joe the Viewer, that they won’t screw up this year by calling any race too early. Then calls a race too early.
11. Hanging chads come up.
12. Network actually mentions the Green Party (drink twice).
13. Obama wins. Stop drinking/eating candy. Go and dance in the street.
14. McCain pulls off upset. Finish off all the bottles in house.
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