Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The new "Big in Peoria"

In a previous blog, I mentioned that I got an occasional hit from Saudi Arabia, and I was curious who he/she was and what they thought of my blog. Perhaps I found my one Saudi blog reader.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

BREAD!!!!!!

Yum! Overpass is finished, so long matza. Beer! Bread! I luv carbs.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Onion of my eye

Speaking truth to...

Power, ignorance, politics, narratives, you name it. I will admit that on one issue I do break from the Democratic front runners, that is Free Trade. I believe that Free Trade does far more help than harm, and it has dismayed me to hear Obama and Clinton talk about renegotiating NAFTA. C'mon Hill, your own husband signed the deal, and it has done a lot of good. Obama too has been out of sync with it. You both know better, but I guess this is what speaks to the base. Disappointing.

Also, I have been very disappointed with the way that the Democratic Congress has handled the issue of the free trade pact with Colombia. We already practically have free-trade with Colombia, this is a political football that my party is using, and I think it is wrong. Why punish a key ally in South America? It sends the wrong message, and helps strengthen Chavez and his ilk. Nicholas Kristof writes a good piece today in the NY Times about it.

The other article I am posting is by Larry Derfner of the Jerusalem Post. He writes a great piece on why the peace process isn't going anywhere.

Happy "Overpass"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Land of the Free?

More like Home of the Incarcerated. Check out the article by the New York Times about how America has the highest number of prisoners in the world. More than Iran, more than China, Burma and Cuba.

And from "the reaping what you sow" files, it would appear that when prisoners do get out, they are worse than when they got in. Hmm...so prison has a multiplier effect that makes people more not less dangerous. All of it is sad, truly sad.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yo Adrian

So as the results are rolling in, it doesn't seem Obama scored the upset victory I had hoped for. David Gregory on MSNBC just made a great comparison to the move Rocky. Rocky didn't win his first battle with Apollo Creed, but he stuck in and went the distance as a matter of honor. Obama was down as many as twenty points some weeks back, and it appears he held on and put in a good fight to a landscape that wasn't exactly friendly. So if we stick to Rocky, then next battle should be his. It helps that Clinton has hemorrhaged money and is running on fumes, while he is riding on 40mil in the bank.

I will claim one personal victory. My little sister voted, I think for the first time. She is apolitical as I am a junkie. She called to tell me that she had done her civic duty. I replied with the old Chicago mantra, "vote early, vote often." Speaking of, the nurse that is taking care of my grandmother said she used to do just that. She is from Jamaica, and she said when she was younger, she would vote in one polling station, then go to other polling stations and vote again and again.

The silver (burgundy and gold) lining in this is that I don't have to root for the Eagles. F--k the Igles!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dear PA

'Tis the eve of your primary, and I was going to pen you a plea that you come to your senses and not buy into ridiculous notion that somehow Hillary Clinton is your blue-collar best friend. However, Michael Moore beat me to it.

So instead, I will offer to root for the Eagles (ugh!) in reward for sound, wise decisions on your part. I have spent the last month or so trying to convince your beloved citizens to end this mockery of a primary for the sake of a once-in-a-generation leader. I pounded your pavements, and went through neighborhoods where the folks would easily classify as "bitter."

Speaking of bitter, I would classify myself as bitter towards the Clintons, precisely because this never-ending primary battle has opened my eyes to them. I ardently defended them for years; I was a true blue Clintonista, and scoffed at those who railed at them for allegedly being devious, power-hungry and insincere. Yet I feel as one does when they realize they were long deceived- like learning that the nasty remarks hurled at one you admired and defended were really true, and you are left feeling like a sucker.

But this is not about being bitter, this is about hope. It is the hope that I saw in so many other volunteers' faces. A whole rainbow of supporters coming together(side note- I saw some Black supporters with a great shirt: "I'm not voting for him cause he's Black. I am voting for him because he's brilliant"). Obama is an ideal more than a man. He embodies the idea that we as a nation can progress together, that is what Barack Obama's candidacy means to me. I hope PA can see this tomorrow, and deliver a stunning surprise that allows us move on from this trivial, petty primary to start focusing on bigger, more important issues like beating the Republicans, and starting to fix the travesty of the last 8 years.

Jerry, Jerry

Here is a link to a story from This American Life for a program about "leaving the fold." There is an amazing story about Jerry Springer the Statesman. Yes, the same Jerry Springer who is King of Trash TV. He was once an idealistic and immensely talented politician in Cincinnati. It chronicles his days in office, his move into the world of garbage and his almost-break from it for a return to his true calling. It is a shocking look into someone you thought you knew about, and is even very poignant. I definitely recommend a listen.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

International Papparazzi

They can't get enough of me. I was here at the Obama headquarters, kind of aimlessly wandering around. I noticed a cameraman from BBC Brazil, so I wanted to throw my few words of Portuguese, ie Bom Dia, Barack Obama es muito bom. Suddenly, it turned into an interview that I wasn't expecting. I got a little nervous, because no one had authorized me to speak, but I stuck to message and it was fine. After the interview ended, suddenly a few more journalists wanted to interview me. I ran over to some coordinators to see if this was okay, which it was. So then I ran with it. I ended up giving interviews to Hungarian tv, Australian, Bulgarian and Czech newspapers. I discussed my volunteering efforts and what Obama means to the American electorate. I am such a kosher ham.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dueling Missionaries & Jag Sameaj (Chag Sameach)

I was out campaigning for Obama, canvassing in Northeast Philly. It was a beautiful, hot day and I was in friendly territory. As I was going house to house, I crossed paths with some Mormon missionaries, who were chatting with a woman at her door. I came up on the porch, and announced that I was from a different church- the Church of Obama. "Have you heard the Good News about Obama?" I said that like the Mormons, I too was offering hope, but that the salvation I was offering was of a different variety. That day, Obama beat out Joseph Smith, and I had a more receptive audience. Afterwards on the street, I chatted with the amiable Mormon missionaries. I mentioned my encounters in different places with Mormon missionaries and discussed "Under the Banner of Heaven." As we were heading our opposite directions on our different paths of spreading the gospels, one of the smiling missionaries gave me a little card for a free copy of the Book of Mormon, and he pointed me to the phone number and website so I could obtain my copy. In return, I gave him a piece of Obama campaign literature, pointed him to the website and phone number so he could learn more about St. Barack.

Moving on. Happy Passover to all- a little humor for the day:

An elderly man in Miami calls his son in New York and says, 'I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing. Forty-five years of misery is enough.'

'Pop, what are you talking about?' the son screams.

'We can't stand the sight of each other any longer,'

The old man says. 'We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her.' And he hangs up.


Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone, 'Like heck they're getting divorced,' she shouts, 'I'll take care of this.'

She calls her father immediately and screams at him,'You are NOT getting divorced! Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing. DO YOU HEAR ME?'

And she hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife.'Okay,' he says,'They're both coming for Passover and paying their own airfares.'

Happy Pessach!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ethnic nationalism

Perhaps given my melting pot American background, Austrian/Austro-Hungarian roots, and affinity to the Ottoman Empire (see under: the title of this blog), I am always interested in studying alternative constructions of nations beyond ethnic nationalism. Both the Austrian Empire and Ottoman Empire were multiracial amalgamations that were torn asunder in part through the weight of ethnic nationalism. Prior to its dissolution during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was a multi-ethnic, multi-religious empire whose communities were given autonomy through religious community affiliation. The millet system was a system of quasi-religious pluralism based on community lines.

There is an interesting article in Foreign Affairs about the continuing trends of ethnic nationalism.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bitter redux



Thank you Tom Toles, Eugene Robinson and Richard Cohen of the Washington Post for offering a little sense on this senseless bitter debate.

Speaking of bitter debates, I am posting an article from the mother-of-all bitter debates, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by MJ Rosenberg in the Jerusalem Post. Also, a link to the Bitterlemmons website, which offers a newsletter written with two Israeli opinions and two Palestinian opinion. The current newsletter is on Syrian-Israeli tensions, and includes a piece written by Prof. Moshe Ma'oz, who I previously worked for. I recommend signing up for the newsletter, it is an insightful and well-balanced source.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bitter

I am bitter at the lies and distortions that are so rife in our political system. I am still bitter that W the AWOL reservist and Cheney the deferment king sent their swiftboat liars to make the war hero John Kerry out to be a war criminal. I am growing bitter at hundred million Hillary trying to paint Obama as an elitist. Really? C'mon, he was raised by a single mother and cut his teeth doing community organizing. If Obama is elitist, then I'm the King of Siam. I don't buy this "Hillary the friend of the blue-collar working class," it is truly disingenuous. I am growing especially bitter at her utter lack of integrity and the BS kitchen sink politics she uses. William Safire once called her a "congenital liar," and I am starting to see why. And finally I am bitter at the American body politic for its apparent inability to see through these shallow charlatans who end up running our country. There is an old religious saying from a source I can't recall that states, "God grants you the leaders you deserve."

Birthright

I was slumming through a monday morning, unable to get focused. My thoughts were on far away lands, while I was firmly rooted in my chair. Then I got a phone call that was really a link to a place always on my mind. A brief interview to be a madrich for Birthright, and with it a trip this summer to Israel as I had hoped/planned. And like that, I was restored. As always, the good lord grants you what you need.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

the dual form

As always, my books make an impact on my thoughts. I am usually reading multiple books at the same time, and I usually find an overlap or dovetail that serendipitously forms.

Previously, it was when I was reading Sen. Barack Obama's Audacity of Hope and Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed. Both books focused on the broken social contract that has come to plague America.

Sen. Obama's book was an insightful look at American values, faith, dreams and opportunities, as well as politics and foreign policy. He writes a candid, intelligent survey of the American landscape by a man who truly understands. I am writing this as the Hillary campaign is kicking up a fuss because Obama referred to small-town voters as "bitter." The reality is that they are bitter, and Hillary is simply manipulating this "indignity" for more crass political gains as the Republicans have for years. Hillary the hundred million dollar populist, please. It feels like Macbeth's Weird Sisters on the political stage when speaking the truth gets someone in trouble.

This leads me into Ehrenreich's book. She takes a number of low wage jobs in different states and tries to eek out an existence. She also looks at the perceived social contract that if someone puts in an honest week's worth of work, that they shouldn't have to scrape by. Her story is the depressing existence of those at the bottom who are fighting to hang on.

I like the passage Ehrenreich writes to compare lives led, upon her end of the experiment. She writes:
"To go from the bottom 20 percent to the top 20 percent is to enter a magical world where needs are met, problems solved, almost without any intermediary effort. If you want to go somewhere fast, you hail a cab. If your aged parents have grown tiresome or incontinent, you put them away where others will deal with their dirty diapers and dementia. If you are part of the upper-middle class majority that employs a maid or maid service, you return from work to find the house miraculously restored to order- the toilet bowls shit-free and gleaming, the socks that you left on the floor levitated back to their normal dwelling place. Here, sweat is a metaphor for hard work, but seldom its consequence. Hundreds of little things get done, reliably and routinely every day without anyone's seeming to do them."

And to throw the health care side into this discussion, I am posting two great articles by Malcolm Gladwell on the "moral-hazard myth and the risk pool.

As for my current books dovetailing, I am reading James Michener's The Covenant, and Edward Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America (Thanks Tita!). In these two books, I am finding myself looking back over the centuries of plunder by assorted private interests, colonials, conquistadors and religious charlatans of Latin America and Africa.

Michener's book is one of his historical fiction surveys into a South Africa. Much of the chapters I have read thus far deal with the Dutch East India Company (VOC or Jan Compagnie) and their colonial mercantilist ventures on the Cape and in Java. Jan Compagnie was the first multinational corporation the world ever knew, and plundered its way into soaring profits for its shareholders. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose- the more things change the more they stay the same. If anyone knows how to translate that into Dutch, please feel free to post it.

The Galeano book deals with the pillage of South America both by Europe and its neighbor to the north. Galeano writes of the sickness of greed that infected the Spanish conquistadors, quoting a Nauhatl text. "[The Spaniards] were in seventh heaven. They lifted up the gold as if they were monkeys, with expressions of joy, as if it put new life into them and lit up their hearts. As if it were certainly something for which they yearn for with great thirst. Their bodies fatten on it and they hunger for it violently. They crave gold like hungry swine." Greed, like love, hate and God, is the great driver of men.

I will let Galeano end this post: "We live in a world that treats the dead better than the living. We, the living are askers of questions and givers of answers, and we have other grave defects unpardonable by a system that believes death, like money, improves people."

PS: Congrats to Dr. Julep for finishing her dissertation, sending in two boxtops and receiving her PhD.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

USC cont.

While my preview session was a success, my attempts at beginning to set up my life at USC were a rousing failure. I couldn't get any progress done on being a Teacher's Assistant (TA), Research Assistant (RA) or find out any info towards housing or parking. I was infinitely spoiled by my apartment in Houston. There I paid $650 a month for a beautiful apartment with balcony, parking and gym, amid gardens and three pools- all in the center of the city. The dwellings here were closets for an extra two to three bills, with none of the lovely amenities. I don't mind living in ramshackle places, but I object paying too much for it. Slightly frustrating, but the day was warm and fair with nary a cloud in the sky, so I couldn't be too upset.

I crossed back west to east, and received a few free good samaritan drinks for switching seats with an older couple to allow them to sit together. Two freebies to replace the two drink coupons I spent to buy a round for my row on the way out.

Listening to podcasts of "The Writer's Almanac" with Garrison Keilor, I heard a great poem by the English poet Andrew Marvel:
"To His Coy Mistress":

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime ...
But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.

I'm pretty sure that would slay the coyness of any mistress. I will have to add that to my repertoire.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Public Diplomacy Preview

I had my preview session of the Public Diplomacy program at USC yesterday, and I am enthused about my program. I had a full day of introductions, meetings and even some class time. I think this will be good.

As previously mentioned, the Public Diplomacy program is a joint program between the International Relations School and the Annenberg School of Communications. It is a hybrid program, and really the first of its kind. I chose it because I like both areas and couldn't see myself only doing one, while didn't have the stomach to get a double Masters. The intro of the directors of the respective schools immediately outlined the difference in the style of the two schools. IR was more formal, Comm was more jovial. The communications director joked about being the only program of its kind, "We're the best...or if you don't like it, go somewhere else." Not all the program officials were present because the higherups were in Washington, collecting the Benjamin Franklin Prize from the State Dept. for Public Diplomacy work.

We received an overview of the program by its director Prof. Nick Cull, who gave an interesting powerpoint on Public Diplomacy (PD). He noted that traditional Diplomacy is conducting foreign policy from Actor to Actor (ie State to State), whereas PD is conducting foreign policy from Actor to people. The 5 traditional components of PD are:
1)Listening
2)Advocacy
3)Exchange programs
4)Cultural diplomacy
5) State-sponsored news
Prof. Cull got into the history of public diplomacy. He mentioned how Benjamin Franklin used it during the American Revolution to drum up support in Europe for the Colonists, and Lincoln's use during the Civil War to keep Europe on the side of the Union, on through Wilson and WWI. After Wilson's failure over the League of Nations in the Congress, the US pulled back its PD efforts until WWII, with the advent of Voice of America radio and the Office of War Information. Cold War PD was pushed really by Stalin, and the efforts of the USSR got America's PD efforts rolling. In 1953, the US Information Agency (USIA) was founded, and in 1961 Edward R. Murrow took the helm. Murrow had a great quote about involvement in policy, stating that if you wanted PD in on the crash landing, we need to be in on the take-off. Prof. Cull also mentioned something that I learned a long time ago, that the best public diplomacy can't compensate for bad policy.

PD took a major role in the 80's and Reagan invested heavily in it. Perhaps because of his background in Mass Media and in effect communications, Reagan understood the use of symbols. After the Berlin Wall fell, US PD efforts dropped off under the "peace dividend." However 9/11 proved a crisis for America, when it woke up and realized there were a lot that needed to be done in the PD realm. Since 9/11, the US has been relearning the need for PD.

So the new PD has new players (including corporations, NGOs), new methods (internet), new context (incl China and India), new directions (previously vertical communications, now world of networks, peer-to-peer) and a new vocab (soft power). Nice powerpoint, Prof. Cull, so begins my career in encouraging international engagement.

After, we received a tour from some current students, and then had a faculty panel with some professors and had lunch with profs and students. In the afternoon, we sat in on a class of Prof. Cull on Cultural Diplomacy and globalization. I am excited to get back to school, I missed the academic environment. Finally, we ended with an informal chat with the Assistant Dean. A good preview session on the whole, as I am now excited to begin.

Furthermore, USC is definitely not Brandeis. It was sunny, 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Oh, and the, um...student body is a tad better looking than Brandeis.

Anyway, after the preview, I caught up with my friend Anne. She and I had interned together in the Consulate in Boston, and went to Mexico for Dia de Los Muertos. She is studying to be a lawyer and wants to work on international tribunals dealing with genocide. My friends have strange fetishes, some get geeked over genocide, others over homelessness. Anywho, we had great sushi in Hollywood, possibly some of the best I have ever had, at a restaurant that overlooked all of LA.

Now I am off to try to deal with the nittygritty of paying for my education, and finding housing. Go trojans.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Arriving to the Angels

"And I went out west to grow up with the country."
The Sidehill Gougers, "Return Of The Grievous Angel"

As I crossed over jutty canyons and the majestic Rocky Mountains (although not as majestic as the Himalayas), I admired America's bounty beneath me. I love the feeling of leaving the East Coast and shaking off all the collected history that it holds. The Atlantic coast has a heaviness that the barren landscape of the Southwest and the gentle Pacific don't hold. We flew past the Grand Canyon, and its hard to describe it as anything else even from 20,000 feet above. I am going to enjoy Left Coast living.

I arrived to LA, and was greeted by Vince and Eric in the mazerati; Turtle and Drama were off on some other adventure. I am staying with some family friends named Iche and Susie Schmidt. Iche is a Mexican Jewish doctor my father met on his residency in Israel in 1978, and they have remained friends. The last time I saw the family was coming off Shane's wedding, when I was nursing a 3-day hangover, possibly the worst of my life. The Schmidts are a lovely family, consisting of 4 girls and a boy all with names starting with the letter "A." I just hung out and had homecooked Mexican food. Now, I am off to the USC preview session on the public diplomacy program.

A little food for thought in the form of a great article on Tibet from Roger Cohen. When I visited China last year, I immediately said that the Olympics would be a disaster for them. They like being in control, and more importantly controlling information. This doesn't exactly go well with a giant sporting event hosting countries that are used to freedom of expression, meanwhile groups with an axe to grind want to take advantage of the open house to air their dirty laundry.

Also, this comes from my friend Nora, on what Public Diplomacy is:

What is Public Diplomacy?
via MountainRunner by MountainRunner on 3/26/08

Not too long ago, Marc Lynch and I had a back and forth on the utility and purposes of Smith-Mundt, a law that today is used not to give America a voice in a global informational struggle -- the purpose for which it was passed -- but to impose artificial constraints that is unique among our peers and our adversaries.

That discussion included an interesting (and incredible) statement that public diplomacy was not about advocacy. I completely disagree, as I wrote in Understanding the Purpose of Public Diplomacy. Crucial to understanding the purpose of public diplomacy is understanding what it is.

So, What is Public Diplomacy?

While the term itself originated as an alternative to "propaganda," by 1965, when Edmund Gullion coined it, public diplomacy was already well on its way to be something much different than propaganda. The definition of public diplomacy back then is virtually indistinguishable from what today we call information operations, propaganda, or even psychological operations.

More recent American definitions of public diplomacy, when they exist, tend to ignore the purpose of the communication, leaving open the possibility that all political communications of a state (or non-state actor) is public diplomacy simply by virtue of the target, a foreign public. That may have been implied by Gullion, but it isn't what it is today and very much why the term "strategic communications" has come into fashion.

If public diplomacy was simply the conveyance of information to influence a group of people, it would be indistinguishable from information operations or even psychological operations. So what is it?

In a timely post on the State Department's blog, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Colleen Graffy captured a key element of what differentiates public diplomacy:

"Hmm... Now what exactly is public diplomacy"? That is the question I am often asked.

I describe public diplomacy as the art of communicating a country's policies, values and culture to other peoples. It is an attempt to explain why we have decided on certain measures, and beyond that, to explain who we are. [emphasis mine]

Public diplomacy is many things, but what differentiates it from information operations, the now traditional definition of propaganda, and political warfare, is an effort to create an understanding based on conveying a point of view.

Cultural, educational, and even military exchanges are all about gathering intelligence and knowledge to create a foundation of putting words and deeds of an actor into an appropriate context.

Consider this definition of public diplomacy from the United Kingdom:

work aiming to inform and engage individuals and organisations overseas, in order to improve understanding of and influence for the United Kingdom in a manner consistent with governmental medium and long term goals

Communication must be "consistent with governmental...long terms goals." In the absence of goals, strategy, or intent, actions are simply "acts of public diplomacy," as I like to call them. The lone adventures of a diplomat (or minister or even lower), that may (or may not) have the support of the government, is simply an "act of public diplomacy" and does not constitute public diplomacy by the state.

And consider this definition from Sweden:

To understand, inform, influence and build relationships with people in other countries. Through strategic communication and relationship building activities, the awareness of Sweden shall increase and a positive environment be created for Swedish economical, political and cultural aims.

To be effective, public diplomacy and propaganda must both incorporate customizing, or shaping, a message for the target audience based on understanding that target audience. But while a poster (or political speech) may have the right images, colors, and text to resonate with the target audience, if the effort to "promote foreign acceptance of...strategic objectives" is not part of a larger campaign of building a relationship between the two groups, it is simply propaganda, the propagation of an idea.

Further, simply speaking to a public audience that is not your own is not public diplomacy. We should be careful of labeling the words and deeds of some prominent leaders captured in global media as public diplomacy when in fact they are doing nothing more than diplomacy in public.

Public diplomacy is already a nebulous and fuzzy concept without hard measurements, but the lack of an American government definition makes the situation that much worse. The "definition" on the State Department's website was remove sometime after the departure of Karen Hughes and remains missing in the limbo of Jim Glassman's confirmation.

There is no "computer that clicks" or "needle that moves" when public diplomacy is successful. There are only subjective indicators, each of which have their own subtle influence. Understanding what public diplomacy, and isn't, will do a great deal in arming the U.S. in not only the "war of ideas" but in the unrestricted warfare that will threaten the economic of the United States.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Selling Hope

For yet another weekend, I am up in Philly. It seems this is my home away from home. I have been coming up here for two purposes, to see my grandmother and to work on the Obama campaign. My grandma had a stroke 3 weeks ago, and is not doing so well. A stroke is usually bad, but it is compounded by the fact she has been fighting cancer for nearly a decade and is rather frail. She has been in the hospital since the stroke, which sadly occurred on the day of her 60th anniversary with my grandfather. My grandmother is rather confused these days, and unfortunately it seems, to be in entering her twilight. But, prognostications of her demise have been on the table before, and she has rallied; she is not one to be counted out. In the meantime, it has been good to see my family on a constant basis.

I have also been working for Camp Obama. Friday I tracked down election officials to obtain the most updated list of polling locations across the state. I was aided in my work by a Canadian girl named Rebecca, who came all the way down from Montreal to volunteer. She can't even vote, but wanted to come out to help. Amazing. She said that the importance of the election is apparent in Canada, and our decisions affect our neighbors to the north, so she wanted to come down to help. So she, and her friend Ann-Marie were in Philly volunteering. I have a newfound(land) respect for my neighbors to the north.

Saturday was spent canvassing, and it was a night-and-day difference from the previous week. Last week I was in Northeast Philly, a very white working class Irish Catholic neighborhood, while this week I was in North Philly, a predominantly Black neighborhood. I went canvassing with Sharif, a Black Muslim who hailed from Tennessee, but had lived in Philly for years. He had been a Marine, and had been to Japan and Turkey. We had a great time chatting as we pounded the pavement. Our canvassing was not especially hard, it was mostly preaching to the choir in this neighborhood. Only one house we stopped at was for Hillary. Meanwhile, you could see the promise of, and pride for, Obama on the faces of those we spoke with.

One last anecdote, there was one house where we knocked on the door, but no one answered. When we were two houses away, someone came out of a car parked in front of the house. He called over to us that he saw us, but stayed away cause he thought we were selling something, but when he realized we were just canvassing for Obama that we should put his name down. I replied that we were selling something, that we were selling hope.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Like yak butter

A very good op-ed on Tibet, China and the US by Nicholas Kristof, who boils down the complexities of the situation into some fine yak butter tea.