Friday, December 19, 2008

Response to blog comment

A person named, "Orangepetal," commented on my Huffington Post article. My response follows...


Thank you for taking the time to read my article. My first recommendation for the President-elect or anyone else interested in improving education is to appoint competent thoughtful accomplished educators to set policy. America is loaded with them. American learning theorists and brilliant school-level practitioners inspire educators across the globe.

While I am under no obligation to write any more than I have already done on the subject, I will attempt to write some cogent recommendations for school reform over the holidays. Of course, it is impossible to cover such a complex issue in this forum.

In the meantime, there is a large collection of my work and ideas represented at

Happy holidays,


About Obama's Cabinet
Read the Original Article at HuffingtonPost

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I've Angered Hooked-on-Phonics(R)

The CEO of Hooked-on-Phonics(r), obviously a digital native, issued a global press release highly critical of my article in the Huffington Post, Obama Practices Social Promotion. I would have been more grateful if the press release honored traditional netiquette and linked to the article in dispute. I could use the eyeballs.

After all, I was courteous enough to link to their press release endorsing the nomination of Duncan in my article.

The CEO of Smarterville, purveyor of Hooked-on-Phonics(R) even took the time to comment on my personal blog urging all of you in bloggerville to participate in their philanthropic activities.

I would however like to correct the Hooked-on-Phonics press release. They repeatedly refer to me as Mr. Stager, when I am Dr. Stager or Gary Stager, Ph.D. I did spend nearly 40 years practicing with flash cards in order to earn that doctorate. It would be a shame to waste it.

Dear Santa:

All I want for Xmas is comments on my Huffington Post article.

I think I've been good, even if the Hooked-on-Phonics(R) folks think I've been naughty!

Happy Holidays to All!


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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Obama Nominates Another Doozy

Today, Mary Shapiro nominated Mary Shapiro to be the Chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Shapiro is chief executive of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). "At FINRA, Schapiro leads the largest non-governmental regulator for all securities firms doing business with the U.S. public. The group conducts examinations of securities firms, sets and enforces rules governing conduct of the industry, and administers a dispute resolution forum for investors." (CNBC - 12/18/08)

Yup, that's right, Ms. Shapiro's agency should have warned investors about Bernie Madoff the alleged $50,000,000,000 scam artist who stole money from Elie Wiesel, among countless others. Now she is in-charge of regulating the nation's financial industry. Fabulous!

Add Mary Shapiro to other cabinet nominees, Arne Duncan, Robert Gates, Ray LaHood, plus Inaugural bigot, Rick Warren and it's beginning to look an awful lot like a 3rd term for George W. Bush!

President-elect Obama, don't forget to get bogged down in Iraq and cut taxes for rich folks too.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Time Magazine Features a Gallery of Obama Flickr Images

Check it out here.

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My New Huffington Post Article

Obama Practices Social Promotion

Sent from my iPhone

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This Obama News Just In!

Thanks to Will Richardson for the tip!

Arne Duncan is a darling of the charter school movement, Eli Broad, the right-wing Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, anti-union "Democrats" and I kid you not - Hooked-on-Phonics.

President-elect Obama eagerly awaits recommendations on nuclear proliferation from Billy Mays, Ron Popeil and the ShamWow guy.

Alfie Kohn says, "In education, parody is impossible."

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What the Hell Does this Mean Mr. President-Elect?

Obama said it was time for Washington to move beyond "tired debates" such as whether to approve the use of vouchers for students to attend private schools.

"We cannot continue on like this. It is morally unacceptable for our children and economically untenable for America," said the president-elect.

Is he for vouchers AND unqualified Secretaries of Education too?

Four years ago I wrote about the profound stupidity of merit pay in John Kerry's Education Plan - Do we need a tip-jar for teachers?

I'm getting tired of repeating myself.

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What Do Arne Duncan & Paul Bremer Have in Common?

For decades, Substance, has reported on public education in Chicago. They have made enemies in the teacher's union, school board and central administration. It's editor was terminated by the Chicago Public Schools during the Duncan/Vallas regime for whistle-blowing on standardized testing. The legal case waged in the courts for 6+ years until the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.

The following is a portion of the editorial written by the Substance team about President-Elect Obama's Secretary of Education nominee and basketball buddy, Arne Duncan:

For the past six years, we’ve watched while Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan lied repeatedly to the public about how and why he was closing dozens of public schools. Duncan was not trying to improve public schools in Chicago for all children, but was in command of a ruthless privatization plan that is designed to undermine traditional notions of public education for urban children and replace them with a crackpot version of “market choice” that exists only for the wealthy and the powerful.

The key to Duncan’s ability to get away with the Big Lie, however, is not Duncan’s own eloquence, but the face that he has the backing of Chicago’s ruling class. From the CEOs of the city’s largest corporations (organized into the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club) to the editorial boards of the two power daily newspapers, Duncan’s lies are amplified every day, and except for the pages of this newspaper and a few other places, unchallenged in the public arena where democratic debate is supposed to take place.

After we reviewed the school closings in Chicago since 2001, when Mayor Daley appointed Duncan the second “Chief Executive Officer” in CPS history, the shocking details began to become clear. Not only were poor black children being forced out of their homes (public housing reform, it was called), but they were also being deprived over and over of access to public schools.

Take some time to read Substance online and consider subscribing to the most independent journalism in public education.

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Obama Education Pick BFF with NCLB

But wait, there's more! All of the test-crazy, data-obsessed, name-calling, teacher-shaming, kid-harming, fact-manufacturing, union-busting, privatization schemes of the Bush Administration are on track for another four years under the leadership of President-Elect Barack Obama and his unqualified basketball buddy nominee for Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

Make no mistake. The education policies of Arne Duncan and No Child Left Behind are indistinguishable. In fact, President Bush's trainwreck of an Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, practically nominated Duncan to be her successor four days ago.

Joking that she doesn't want to "hurt his chances," Spellings nevertheless put in a plug for Duncan during a trip to Chicago to help Mayor Daley dole out $350,000 in merit pay to outstanding teachers and school employees.

"He's a terrific school leader. I consider him a fellow reformer and someone who cares deeply about students. He'd be a great choice," Spellings said in a news conference at Westcott Elementary School, 409 W. 80th St.

Pressed on what makes Duncan special, Spellings said, "You all know. I mean--you live here with the guy, for goodness sake. He's a visionary leader. He's a guy who looks at results. He cares a lot about kids. He's focused and on point. He has a lot of support from this community."

Merit pay? Now that's change you can believe in!

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Obama Flips Off Teachers

President-elect Obama's nomination of his unqualified basketball buddy, Arne Duncan, sends one very clear message to American educators. "Not a single one of you or the leaders you respect is qualified to run our nation's public schools."

A basketball metaphor might be timely.

Wake up teachers! If we don't start playing offense, teaching in the United States will enjoy the same level of joy, purpose and security as working on a General Motors assembly line.

Apparently, "Change you can believe in," stops at the schoolhouse metal detector.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Why Australia Worries Me About Barack Obama

One year ago, Australian voters returned the Labour Party to federal prominence after nearly eleven years of leadership by John Howard, George W. Bush's "Mini Me."

That should be good news to a proud liberal like myself, right? Well, not so fast. While the new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd speaks fluent Mandarin and may be a terrific Prime Minister, his education policies are as profoundly stupid as those many rank-and-file conservatives.

This should come as no surprise since politicians drop 100 IQ points when discussing matters of education. If you need any evidence, remember that No Child Left Behind was co-sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy and Congressman George Miller who hold onto the worst educational policy in history with two clenched fists.

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard is youthful, articulate, capable and dangerously stupendously ignorant on education matters - a deadly reality for Australian children since she is also the Federal Minister for Education. Although she has proposed more than a billion dollars in what could lead to a laptop for every Australian student, the plan is so ill-advised and ham-fisted that not even the Aussie edtech community trusts it. Since Australia invented 1:1 computing in schools, it would be nice if Deputy Prime Minister Gillard took some time to be advised by my colleagues with twenty years of classroom-based 1:1 expertise.

The Rudd/Gillard Government are also pushing national curriculum, school report cards and decidedly anti-teacher union policies for a Labour party. They may accomplish what their conservative political opponents never dreamed of.

The lesson of Australia's recent election is that good liberals can be as wrong on education as conservatives. I recently wrote about my concerns regarding President-Elect Obama's education plan in Why I'm Scared to Death About Obama's Education Policies.

Below is an article I hoped would be published by an Australian newspaper. It was inspired by the Australian government inviting New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to tour Australia as an educational savant. I was horrified that one of the worst, most divisive and least qualified education leaders in American history would be embraced by another nation I adore. This is doubly horrifying since Mr. Klein is often mentioned as a potential Secretary of Education in an Obama Administrator.

Read my article, recently published in the Australian political blog, Crikey, below and please share your thoughts in this blog's comments.

Nothing Good Can Come of Chancellor Klein’s Visit
As an American teacher educator and consultant I have enjoyed the great privilege of working with dozens of Australian schools and thousands of teachers over the past eighteen years. My work has taken me from the most-troubled to the most affluent schools across your nation. The world is indebted to Australian educators for their innovations in primary education, literacy development and 1-to-1 computing.

Therefore, it is from a position of expertise and vast experience that I question this month’s tour of Australia by New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. Had Deputy Prime Minister Gillard not invited Chancellor Klein to “share his reform experience,” I might have suggested he visit Australia to learn a thing or two about education. His seven years in New York City have failed to demonstrate even a rudimentary understanding of teaching, learning or leadership. There is not a sliver of difference between Chancellor Klein’s education policies and those of George W. Bush. In fact, you might call Klein, the “Donald Rumsfeld of education.”

Mr. Klein is not the first ideologue with no education qualifications and simplistic get-tough theories to be put in-charge of a large American school district. He may just be the worst. Upon being named Schools Chancellor by the billionaire mayor of NY, Michael Bloomberg, the duo’s first order of business was to suspend democracy and eliminate elected school boards, as well as parental involvement across the city. Now accountable to nobody, but his mayoral benefactor, Klein changed the district’s organisational structure so many times that chaos ensued. Klein spent millions on public relations, British examiners and smearing critics while cutting services to students. Class sizes are up. Morale is down.

Anyone with access to Google could easily learn that Klein’s claims of miraculous test score increases have been discredited by experts across the political spectrum. This is particularly tragic since under his leadership, NY City schools have been turned into Dickensian sweatshops where frightened administrators browbeat otherwise creative teachers into following scripted curricula in order to increase student test scores. Klein’s heralded school report system with which he seeks to shame schools into increasing test scores have proven invalid as schools nationally recognized for excellence have earned low marks.

Klein takes pride in the retention of students while research demonstrates that holding children back does not lead them to catch-up, but does increase dramatically their probability of dropping out . He unilaterally banned cell phones from schools over the safety objections of parents and then proposed a scheme in which students would be awarded cell phones for improved performance. In some neighbourhoods, corner milk bars charge poor students $3 per day to store their phones on the way to school. He extended the school day by thirty-seven and a half minutes each day and killed off extracurricular activities in the process.

Recently, the New York City Council held its first oversight hearing of the school district in five years. When one Councilman compared Klein’s leadership to Marshall Law that has kept parents severed from the educational process, the combative Chancellor served up a scrumptious Orwellian confection. Klein offered a faux mea culpa and apologized for not acting quickly enough to follow-up on the millions he spent to hire “parent coordinators” in each school and admitted that he had waited too long to create the post of a “chief family engagement officer.” Klein’s administration is full of similarly hilarious job titles.

Klein is considered a tyrant, bully and worse by teachers in his schools who indicated that 82% believed he had little confidence in his teacher’s expertise while 85% believed that the emphasis on standardized testing has failed to improve schools. His tenure has been marked by a constant attack on tenure, teacher rights and unionization. Klein has not resisted an opportunity to engage in union busting, intimidation or teacher bashing.

Klein may be best remembered for the sordid period of the “rubber rooms.” I am the last person to defend incompetence or malfeasance on the part of teachers. Any teacher accused of crimes or infractions should be removed from the classroom and be afforded due process in a swift and deliberate fashion. Despite his prosecutorial experience Klein has failed to remove “bad teachers” from the system while violating the civil liberties of countless others who may be wrongly accused.

Run afoul of Klein or his enforcers and you may find yourself with the more than seven hundred teachers assigned to what are known as “rubber rooms” across the city. Rather than engage in the process of firing accused teachers or putting them on leave, Klein prefers to humiliate and punish them before any guilt has been proven. These 700+ teachers must report to a “teacher reassignment center” where they stare at a clock all day, five days a week. If this were not sufficiently Kafkaesque, Klein employs psychologists who use dubious assessments to determine fitness to teach. It doesn’t matter that the 7th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals deemed such quackery illegal, get a memo to visit the good doctor and your next stop is the “rubber room”. A veteran educator named “Teacher of the Year” by Mayor Giuliani has spent close to five years in a “rubber room.”

Why is a foreign bank, UBS, sponsoring Klein's visit, especially during a time of global financial collapse? Surely there are ethical concerns in both the United States and Australia regarding such a gratuity to a public official.

How expensive could this trip be? A Qantas Boomerang Pass costs approximately $2,000 and would allow Klein to visit several cities. Then he could stay in the homes of educators like so many Americans who visit Australian schools. Better yet, he could spend some his personal millions for a proper Aussie holiday, one that won’t destroy the educational future of Australian children.

Gary S. Stager, Ph.D. is an educational consultant, journalist and Visiting Professor of Education at Pepperdine University. He earned his Ph.D. from The University of Melbourne. The views expressed in this letter are his own.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why I'm Scared to Death About Obama's Education Policies

This is why (click to read article) despite contributing to his campaign and voting proudly for Barack Obama, I have trouble sleeping at night in anticipation of his education policies.

The only times I've heard Obama speak about education, he has called for merit pay, increased accountability, praised D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee (check out this fine article about her) In other words, President-Elect Obama (unless I am proven wrong) believes the same BS that drove NCLB and many of the other bad ideas oppressing children and teachers.

Here is an idea for President-Elect Obama...

The $29,000 per year Sidwell Friends School is a fine learning environment and institution with a proud history of excellence. His daughters will be very happy there.

President and First Lady Obama should study everything done at Sidwell Friends School and copy it in every school across America. If it's good enough for his daughters, it's good enough for the children they are leaving behind.

Here is a most stunning principle of the school the Obama children and Biden grandchildren will be attending:
(from Wikipedia) The school does not rank its students, as this conflicts with the Quaker Testimony of Equality.

What? Not ranking students??? No winners or losers? No AYP? Where is the accountability in that?

Perhaps there are other ways of identifying educational accomplishment?

You wouldn't think so if you listened to President-elect Obama speak about public education.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Barack Obama's Random Act of Kindness

Read this terrific story about how a young Barack Obama helped a stranger 20 years ago.


Monday, September 8, 2008

No Maverick

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

News Flash! Joe Lieberman Endorses Barack Obama!

Joe Lieberman... Change You Can Believe In!

"I was for Barack Obama before I was against him..."

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Shameful Disrespect for History and Elders

The political conventions are like a four-day Superbowl for me. I can't get enough. I am however concerned about the stagecraft and the political calculus that requires the Obama campaign to distance themselves from the proud traditions of the Democratic Party

President Carter, one of two living Democratic Presidents, was met with thunderous applause as he and Mrs. Carter walked across the convention stage, waved and then fled. That's right a former President and Nobel Prize Winner was used as a prop and then made to disappear. The in-house band should have played Ray Stevens' 70s classic, The Streak during his minute in the spotlight.

What was the Obama campaign afraid of? Were they afraid President Carter would call for peace, not war? Were they concerned that he would call for economic justice, racial equality, disease eradication, civil rights, human rights or an end to torture?

Soon after President Carter was whisked off to an undisclosed secure location, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. took the stage.

He got to speak as a reward for throwing his father, Jesse Jackson, Sr. under the bus. How shameful it was when he publicly chastised his father for personal political gain. Congressman Jackson invoked the bloody battle for voting rights in Selma, Alabama and the heroic leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while expecting the audience to forget that his father worked tirelessly and risked his life for decades in order to help America "rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." Reverend Jackson was in Selma and with Dr. King on that fateful balcony

Jesse Jackson, Sr. endorsed Barack Obama for President nearly two years ago. The reward for his loyalty is that neither he, Congressman Charles Rangel or Congressman John Lewis were invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention.

In fact, Senator Obama can't seem to be photographed in the same room with the civil rights leaders on whose shoulders he stands. Without the heroism and sacrifice of this greatest generation, Obama's presidential nomination would have been impossible. Without Jesse Jackson's historic presidential campaigns and the millions of new voters he registered, Barack Obama would not be a viable nominee.

While the Obama campaign pretends that racism is a prehistoric memory, they cannot be associated with leading African American leaders who risked life and limb to make racial equality possible.

It's all very sad. This denial of history, elders and expertise is reminiscent of the edublogosphere and so much of our culture where youth and immediacy are over-valued.

I have contributed to the Obama campaign and I will vote for him in November. However, I won't be half as proud as when I puled the lever for Jesse Jackson, Sr. in 1984 - the first time I was old enough to vote in a presidential primary election.

At least Ted Kennedy got the attention and respect he deserves. It was glorious to see the enormous smile on Senator Biden's face as Senator Kennedy spoke and delighted the delegates in the arena.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Great Day for America

Watch Senator Barack Obama introduce Senator Joe Biden as his Vice Presidential running-mate. Both inspirational speeches are in the video below.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Petty & Pathetic Show of Disrespect and Tact

I realize that many of my fellow Americans are racists and that Barack Obama's poll numbers drop anytime "race" is an issue. One pundit joked (half-heartedly) that Senator Obama will be disavowing Nelson Mandela by November.

Here's another fine example of how the presumptive Democratic nominee is bending over backwards to avoid being associated with the previous generations' civil rights leadership. Congressman Charles Rangel, the highest-ranking Democrat in Congress is being kept off the Democratic National Convention program because he supported Senator Clinton's bid for the nomination.

The Obama campaign is denying House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel a speaking role at this month's Democratic National Convention - a move those close to the powerhouse Harlem congressman view as a spiteful snub... But they were told that the 78-year-old congressman's support for Clinton earned him a place at the end of the line behind Barack Obama's loyalists - even if Rangel played a crucial part in prodding Clinton to abandon her presidential bid in June.

This snub supports my concern regarding Obama's tactical ability after he wins the Presidency. Does he have relations with the powerful Congressional leaders required to make "change?" You would think that the guy responsible for tax policy would be a good friend to have.
Read the entire story here.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sage Advice for Barack Obama

From this extremely wise column...

The truth is that no one would be paying any attention to me at all if I wasn’t talking about things that really matter to a lot of people. You’re not here tonight–and you’re not watching at home–because you want to be entertained. Lord knows there are plenty of things that you could be doing with your time right now that would be far more entertaining than listening to me. No, you’re here tonight because you love your country and you’re concerned about the direction it’s been heading over the last eight years.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wow! Moveon.Org Must Think We're Really Stupid!

As Bluto (Senator McCain) runs lying ads attacking Senator Obama for dissing "the troops," the left is running a middle-school-quality stoner video for "young people."

Way to go Net Roots. So funny, a voter will be insulted! You guys rock!

Won't it be ironic when the Democrats lose the presidential election? LOL! ROTFL!

Ah gah gah ga gah gah gah gah gahhh! Hey, Olive!

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Is History History in History Class?

During last night's coverage of the final Democratic primaries in Montana and South Dakota, NBC's Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert remarked, "I would love to teach an American History class in an inner-city high school tomorrow morning." (paraphrase)

Read the rest of my blog, Is History History in History Class?

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Friday, April 4, 2008

On this Tragic Anniversary, I Feel Sad for Senator Obama

I took one of those wrongly ridiculed diversity courses while an undergraduate. If memory serves, the course was entitled, "Racism and Sexism in a Changing America." We watched footage of the 1950s-70s struggle for Civil Rights, learned of Emmitt Till, James Meredith, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, John Lewis, Freedom Summer and the Freedom Riders. We read Ann Moody's Coming of Age in Mississippi and Gloria Steinem's book, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. We argued raw issues of racism and sexism in an environment of respect.

Since that deeply transformative educational experience I have read countless books about the Civil Rights movement. I've tried to learn about the unsung heroes of America's struggle for justice, both the giants like Paul Robeson and W.E.B. Dubois and the foot soldiers in the movement.

I've watched my set of Eyes on the Prize countless times and have hung on every word of Tavis Smiley's week of interviews with friends and associates of Dr. King.

I've had the honor of meeting Jesse Jackson, Cornell West, Al Sharpton, Julian Bond, Ruby Dee and Spike Lee. In 2006 I enjoyed the privilege of serving on a panel discussion with the organizer of Freedom Summer, Bob Moses, who now works on education issues as founder of the Algebra Project. My love affair with jazz and what its artists have contributed to America has grown stronger. My affection for Jonathan Kozol's lifetime of work, inspired by the 1964 murder of Goodman, Schwerner & Chaney in Philadelphia, Mississippi makes his work even more resonant for me.

As I write this, I'm watching a C-Span interview with Congressman John Lewis, the first Chair of SNCC. He named Thomas Merton, Ghandi and Thoreau as three of his heroes. They would form a pretty good humanities education for any student. He spent as long as 40 days at a time in jail and was beaten twice during the 1960s. The courage and wisdom of these young men and women (almost all in their 20s) is humbling. Last night, one of King's workers at the SCLC told Tavis Smiley of how King visited her church in Virginia while they were fighting to integrate the public library and invited parishioners to come to Atlanta to work with him in the citizenship education effort. Mrs. Cotton's husband drove her to Atlanta and they remained separated from that day on. Countless freedom fighters such as these made the world better through their non-violent protest.

King's attorney and friend, Clarence B. Jones is the gentleman who smuggled paper and pencil into the Birmingham jail so that Dr. King could write his revolutionary, Letter from a Birmingham Jail. He just told C-Span that he was hired right out of law school to defend King against tax evasion and perjury charges in Alabama. Do you know the extent to which the United States fought to destroy and discredit King?

Over the years I have made personal pilgrimages to the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Nelson Mandela's prison cell on Robben Island, Little Rock's Central High School, Ole Miss (Oxford, Mississippi) and the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. This week, I learned that Lorraine, the co-owner of the hotel had a heart attack when Dr. King was shot and she died three days later. Even a Nobel Laureate like Dr. King was forced to stay in segregated accommodation as late as 1968.

Today is the 40th Anniversary of Dr. King's assassination at the Lorraine Motel, now the site of the deeply moving National Civil Rights Museum. It was at this hallowed place of remembrance that Senator John McCain had to apologize for his multiple votes against the King holiday and Hillary Clinton spoke of meeting Dr. King at the age of 14.

Senator Obama strains credulity when he suggested that he could honor King's life and sacrifice better by campaigning in Indiana rather than attending April 4th's commemorations in Memphis. The sad truth is that a large part of Obama's appeal to White America is a professed hostility towards the militancy of the civil rights movement and the inference that our racial problems have largely become history, especially "in the hearts" of the young people his campaign celebrates. Obama seems to resent the "baby boomer" generation while he exalts "Generations X, Y & Z."

King's life, work and martyrdom was only partially concerned with ensuring that men like Obama could some day be elected President or head a major corporation. King fought for economic, social and legal justice and died marching for the rights and human dignity of sanitation workers. He fought against racism, economic disparity and militarism. It is the last two "evils" that rarely make our classroom discussions of Dr. King.

As our schools are more segregated than in 1954, the Supreme Court recently reversed Brown vs. Board of Education, our nation invaded Iraq and economic disparity is at an all-time high, King would have much to say. It is tragic that our nation is so hostile to King's entire legacy, not just the happy talk about the "content of their character," that Barack Obama needs to hide in Indiana while the rest of America's attention is on Memphis.

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Op-Ed Claims Obama to have Exploited the "Race Card"

Princeton history professor, Sean Wilentz, wrote Obama was the First to Play the Race Card, in the Philadelphia Enquirer on March 30th. His arguments, including the following are quite compelling.

Although Wright had until recently been obscure to the American public, political insiders and reporters have long known about him. On March 6, 2007, the New York Times reported that Obama had disinvited Wright from speaking at his announcement because, as Wright said Obama told him, "You can get kind of rough in the sermons." By then, conservative commentators had widely denounced Wright. His performances in the pulpit were easily accessible on DVD, direct from his church. But Clinton, despite her travails, elected to remain silent.

Instead, she had to fight back against a deliberately contrived strategy to make her and her husband look like race-baiters. Obama's supporters and operatives, including his chief campaign strategist David Axelrod, seized on accurate and historically noncontroversial statements and supplied a supposedly covert racist subtext that they then claimed the calculating Clinton campaign had inserted.

In December, Bill Shaheen, a Clinton campaign co-chair in New Hampshire, wondered aloud whether Obama's admitted youthful abuse of cocaine might hurt him in the general election. Obama's strategists insisted that Shaheen's mere mention of cocaine was suggestive and inappropriate - even though the scourge of cocaine abuse has long cut across both racial and class lines. Pro-Obama press commentators, including New York Times columnist Frank Rich, then whipped the story into a full racial subtext, charging that the Clintons had, in Rich's words, "ghettoized" Obama "into a cocaine user."

Read the rest of Professor Wilentz's Op-ed piece.

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Obama Repeats Bush Admin Mistruths About 9/11

Kristin Breitweiser, one of the prominent 9/11 widows who forced the government to create the 9/11 Commission, writes in the Huffington Post that presidential candidate, Senator Obama, repeats the patently untrue Bush Administration story about the 9/11 attacks.

OBAMA: Oh, well, the--I don't think anybody predicted 9/11. And, so, we don't know what kinds of circumstances are going to come up.

Yup. That's right, Barack Obama glibly stated that he didn't "think anybody predicted 9/11."

Some thoughts:

1. Maybe Obama needs a tutorial from former Vice Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Lee Hamilton, who just endorsed him yesterday. Heck, even Hamilton knows and has to acknowledge that 9/11 was predictable...

Read the rest of the article, 9/11: Where Barack Obama and Condi Rice Sound Alarmingly Alike.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Christopher Hitchens on Barack Obama

"You often hear it said, of some political or other opportunist, that he would sell his own grandmother if it would suit his interests. But you seldom, if ever, see this notorious transaction actually being performed, which is why I am slightly surprised that Obama got away with it so easily. (Yet why do I say I am surprised? He still gets away with absolutely everything.)"

Read the entire essay, Blind Faith, by Christopher Hitchens.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Clinton Aide Calls Obama a PooPoo Head!

Although she was my 5th or 6th choice at the start of the Presidential Primary season, I now support Senator Clinton over Senator Obama. However, the first Obama decision that impressed me was selecting Samantha Power as a foreign policy advisor. Power is a brilliant and courageous expert, scholar and journalist who speaks truth to power. (See her blog with video of recent television appearances)

Power's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, is fantastic and holds accountable the United States Congress and the Clinton administration for its inaction and deadly impact on the Rwandan Genocide. Power did some research about Senator Obama and offered to quit her Harvard job and do anything, including answering phones to help him. Isn't this the sort of democratic idealism on which our system is based?

Appointing someone of Power's stature to his campaign team offered me with hope about Obama's leadership ability and revealed Power's desire to work to make the world a better place.
But then IT happened!

In an off-the-record interview, promoting her new book, with the Scotsman newspaper in Scotland. Professor Power referred to Hillary Clinton as - wait for it - "a monster."

Monster... Should such a petty slur force a leading advisor to resign and apologize? Worst of all, Obama failed the leadership test by throwing his friend and advisor, Ms. Power, under the bus and refusing to defend or protect her. This is akin to when Bill Clinton abandoned his long-time friend Lani Guinier as the nominee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, despite her remarkable talents and accomplishments, because his enemies called her a radical.

Don't parents refer routinely to their toddlers as monsters? Isn't this the sort of harmless barb (or term of endearment) six year-olds exchange? When did we become such pathetic babies?

I suspect the truth is that members of Congress called for Power's dismissal because is an articulate fearless critic of their deadly effect of their policies overseas, not for her Clinton comment.

Politics ain't beanbag. NPR recently presented a story in which foreign correspondents covering our Primary elections were startled by the civility and post-debate hugging demonstrated between Obama and Clinton. After all, in many countries you murder your opponents and their supporters. Is calling someone a monster, off-the-record, a death-penalty offense? Should Billy Shaheen have been forced out of the Clinton campaign for saying that the Republicans will ask Barack Obama about his past drug-use, especially since Obama wrote about the issue in his own autobiography?

Loyalty toward friends and advisors is one of the character traits I look for in a political candidate.

Why are we so juvenile and thin-skinned? Can someone please dial down the fake outrage machine? The world is a dangerous place. I'd hate to think that we'd attack another country because its leader called our President "funny face."

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Monday, March 3, 2008

8 Year-old Pundit Predicts the Ohio & Texas Primaries

I just got off the phone with my 8 year-old nephew, "Homer," During our conversation, I asked him who he thought would win tomorrow's Texas and Ohio Primaries."

Without hesitation, "Homer" offered, "I think they will each win one." Followed by, "Hillary and Obama are the two best candidates I've ever seen."

Take that Chris Matthews!

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Ambassador Wilson on Obama's Hollow "Judgment" and Empty Record

Former US Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson writes the following about Senator Obama's foreign policy credentials in The Huffington Post...

I was involved in that debate in every step of the effort to prevent this senseless war and I profoundly resent Obama's distortion of George Bush's folly into Hillary Clinton's responsibility. I was in the middle of the debate in Washington. Obama wasn't there. I remember what was said and done. In fact, the administration lied in order to secure support for its war of choice, including cooking the intelligence and misleading Congress about the intent of the authorization. Senator Clinton's position, stated in her floor speech, was in favor of allowing the United Nations weapons inspectors to complete their mission and to build a broad international coalition. Bush rejected her path. It was his war of choice.

There is no credible reason to conclude that Obama would have acted any differently in voting for the authorization had he been in the Senate at that time. Indeed, he has said as much. The supposed intuitive judgment he exercised in his 2002 speech was nothing more than the pander of a local election campaign, just as his current assertions of superior judgment and scurrilous attacks on Hillary Clinton are a pander to those who now retroactively think the war was a mistake without bothering to acknowledge Senator Clinton's actual position at the time and instead fantasizing that she was nothing but a Bush clone. Obama willfully encourages and plays off this falsehood.
Read the entire article here.

You might also enjoy Ambassador Wilson's article, "The Real Hillary I Know -- and the Unreal Obama."

For the record, I was against the war in Iraq too, but I didn't claim to have a crystal ball.

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Economist Paul Krugman on Obama's Electability

If Mr. Obama secures the nomination, the honeymoon will be over as he faces an opponent whom much of the press loves as much as it hates Mrs. Clinton. If Mrs. Clinton can do nothing right, Mr. McCain can do nothing wrong — even when he panders outrageously, he’s forgiven because he looks uncomfortable doing it. Honest.

Bob Somerby of the media-criticism site predicts that Mr. Obama will be “Dukakised”: “treated as an alien, unsettling presence.” That sounds all too plausible.

If Mr. Obama does make it to the White House, will he actually deliver the transformational politics he promises? Like the faith that he can win an overwhelming electoral victory, the faith that he can overcome bitter conservative opposition to progressive legislation rests on very little evidence — one productive year in the Illinois State Senate, after the Democrats swept the state, and not much else.

Read the entire New York Times Op-Ed piece.

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Friday, February 29, 2008

The American Bigotry Hierarchy

Ask Mitt Romney about the hostility towards Mormonism across the Christian evangelical community and observe how Republicans embrace the tactic of repeating Senator Obama's (Islamic-sounding) middle name and watch widespread bigotry crawl out of its corner.

As of February 29, 2008...

The American Bigotry Hierarchy is:

• Religion
• Gender
• Race

Let's play the Family Feud!

By the way, if Barack Obama were a Muslim, Jew or Mormon, would he be disqualified to be President?

As we congratulate ourselves for voting for an African American, we ought to recognize that ignorance and bigotry remain a large stain on the American fabric.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Arrogant Pundits Shill for Obama

In tonight's non-binding Florida Democratic Party, one million VOTERS may have cast their ballot for Senator Clinton.

Keith Olbmermann, Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough on MSNBC made all sorts of juvenile snarky remarks about what they view as Clinton's phyrric victory. They talked over her speech and cut away in the middle of it so they could tell the country that a million votes and substantial victory over Senator Obama do not matter.

CNN didn't broadcast Clinton's speech at all. This is inexcusable!

It's not as if the windbags on the cable news networks have lots of Britney Spears stories to discuss. They each dedicate hour upon hour to Florida Primary coverage.

In case you are wondering how one million votes cannot matter. Here is a synopsis...

Last spring, the Florida Republican Governor and Legislature decided to violate party rules and move the state presidential party from March until January in order to have a greater impact on the process. Both parties threatened to decertify the primaries, but only the Democrats decided to play by their established rules. Therefore, Florida delegates are not supposed to be seated at the Democratic convention, thereby making the primary a straw poll rather than delegate-awarding primary.

All of the Democratic candidates promised not to campaign in Florida, yet Barack Obama broke that pledge and ran frequent commercials across the state (more here & here). I personally saw them last week while working in Florida.

Sure, I wish that Senator Clinton was not asking for the Florida delegates to count now that she won. The voters of Florida should sue to reclaim their franchise. However, since her opponent is getting so much favorable press and so clearly broke the party rules regarding campaigning in Florida, Clinton had very little choice, but to give voice to the wishes of the electorate who chose her by a huge margin.

One would think that an activist with a commitment to civil rights, like Senator Obama would 1) play by electoral rules and not run expensive commercials across Florida and 2) fight to make sure that the votes of Floridians count.

By the way, not one pundit pointed out that Senator Clinton's Florida thank you speech was made without the need for the TelePrompTer relied upon by Senator Obama.

Read more about the Florida Primary mischief at

PS: Rudolph "9/11" Giuliani (who came in 3rd in his must-win primary) just said that he ran a "positive uplifting campaign." Those TV commercials featuring the attack on the World Trade Center didn't seem uplifting to me. MSNBC is running Rudolph Giuliani's entire speech. I guess losers deserve more respect.

Tough guy Rudy just got choked up when he said, "Reagan." The biggest loser just came out for school choice (including home schooling and parochial schools too). Great stuff!

This just in! MSNBC cut away from Guiliani (we'll have to wait for whether he stays in or quits like he did when Hillary Clinton won her Senate seat). They cut away for the Great Rudy for 2nd place Romney's speech. That must really sting.

Romney just said that America is competing against "countries like Asia and India." Perhaps Obama can lend Mitt his TelePrompTer?

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Troubled by the Similarities Between GW Bush and Obama

I am a lifelong Democrat and will support the eventual nominee. I like Obama a lot. I just think that Americans should know what he believes and what he would do if elected. I have long worked for minority candidates and underdogs. I was 1 percent of Jesse Jackson's vote in 1984 in my hometown and supported Geraldine Ferraro and Jane Harmon. It would be fantastic for an African American to be President of the United States.

However, the similarities between George W. Bush and Obama scare me.

Both had Ivy League educations, put on fake southern accents, go with their "gut" feelings over facts, dismiss experience and have never done anything before.

Both President Bush and Senator Obama have campaigned as "Uniters." Haven't we learned that lesson?

I'm not looking forward to 4-8 years of amateurs and staff running the country.

This all plays into the Andrew Keen stuff about the cult of the amateur and extends the growing anti-intellectualism in our culture.

The system is indeed broken when one junior high school popularity contest causes people with a lifetime of expertise to drop out before a vote is cast. Biden, Richardson, Dodd, Clinton and even Kucinich have a record of accomplishments that Obama does not share.

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If Obama Wins, Thank Howard Dean!

If Barack Obama happens to win the his party's nomination and takes the White House it is the result of Howard Dean's leadership as party chair and first candidate to to use the social aspects of the Web successfully for organizational purposes and to excite young voters.

In 2004, Howard Dean tapped into the anger over the war in Iraq and contempt of the Constitution displayed by the Bush Administration. He said that NCLB was a disaster. He was right on many of these issues and more. He revolutionized online fundraising and introduced the political world to blogs and

After being destroyed by an open mic and a giddy mainstream media, Governor Dean became Chair of the Democratic National Committee. This represented the first time that the party leaned left and moved away from the Democratic Leadership wing of the party led so successfully by the Clintons.

When Dean became party chair, he promised to have the Democratic party compete in all 50 states for the first time in generations. I seem to remember that the old guard of the party thought that was a terrible idea. The party has gone on to build an effective grass-roots machine all across America.

Obama is now taking advantage of Howard Dean's vision, contempt for the Clintons and brilliant organizational talents. I just wish Obama had Dean's courage and willingness to address policy with specificity.

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