Monday, January 28, 2008

AlaObama Unite!

photo by Tommy Stevenson, Tuscaloosa News

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

Caroline Kennedy, in her Sunday endorsement of Obama in the New York Times (read it here)

"If not now, when?" These were the mantric words spoken by the 50-year old woman who introduced Obama at Sunday's rally in Birmingham. She used this watchword to describe not only her feelings about volunteering for her first political campaign, but also to characterize the prevailing sentiment around Senator Obama's 2008 bid--that the time for his run was NOW, and not later after he had been "seasoned" by Washington. He often says again and again (we heard it here in Birmingham as well) when someone questions his premature candidacy, "I decided to run because of what Dr. King called the `fierce urgency of now.' Because I believe there is such a thing as being too late, and that hour is almost upon us."

And so, the tall, lanky Senator from Illinois, the Washington neophyte and harbinger of change, took the stage at UAB's Bartow arena, surrounded by 11,000 cheering, jubilant people. His recent South Carolina primary victory on Saturday was only more fuel for the fire, and was proof that the South may have a stronger democratic voice than previously given credit for, and that a black candidate can in fact have mass appeal--black, white; young, old; rich, poor; and even Democrat, Republican (more people are crossing the party-line after being disillusioned by the failed W. Presidency). “We’re going to write a new chapter in the South, we’re going to write a new chapter in American history”, Obama proclaimed. But as a black man, he also payed homage to pioneers of the Civil Rights movement, like 96 year-old Amelia Boynton Robinson of Tuskegee who was seated in the crowd, and acknowledged those present who lived the Birmingham of 1963. It was with great historical significance that he, an African-American presidential hopeful, stood in the same city that once earned the nickname "Bombing-ham" and turned police dogs and water hoses on peaceful demonstrators. In the hour that followed, Obama delivered a passionate sermon about change and the need for unity. In an all-encompassing message, he spoke about disrupting the politics of status-quo and fixing a broken country, all the while inspiring and empowering us to be a part of that process. We were driven to our feet on many occasion, clapping loudly, verbally affirming all of his promises to reform education, change the health care system, and end the war in Iraq. And by the end of it, I think I can safely say some of us were a little misty.

As we hurdle on towards Super Tuesday, when many of us will be voting in the Democratic primaries, I urge you to consider Obama. Eight years of my and so many other young people's cognizant political life have been mired in the presidency of George W. Bush. Because of him, we have become cynical about our country. Because of him, the gap between the rich and the poor has grown exponentially. Because of him we have been entangled in a war over oil, where we now have a new generation of veteran amputees. Because of him we have lost recognition as a world power. Because of him people have lost faith in our government. The time for change is now. And the name of that change is Barack Obama.

Now with two Kennedy endorsements under his belt, I leave you with an unofficial third. In 2005, at a ceremony for what would have been RFK's 80th birthday, Ethel Kennedy asked Obama to speak, referring to him "as our next president". That same day she later said: "I think he feels it. He feels it just like Bobby did. He has the passion in his heart. He’s not selling you. It’s just him.”

Want more? Check out Andrew Sullivan's December article in the Atlantic Monthly: "Goodbye to All That: Why Obama Matters".

Obama's response to Bush's State of the Union Address:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Asheville Calling

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of St. Bernardus! That's Lane, beer snob numero uno, doling out some of his premium birthday libations. Yes, the son-of-a-gun turned 29 this past Sunday (which by the way marks the official "one year to go" for George W. Bush), and decided to share some of that tasty fermented goodness with his other beer snob friends (numero dos, tres, and quatro, not pictured), who were there to celebrate the momentous occasion.

The long Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend lent itself to a leisurely visit in Asheville, NC with friends Lane and Sarah, who have recently returned to the the Upper South from a stint in the resort town of St. Simon's, GA. We were also joined by the newly bearded Nate Judd (which he affirms is in no way a "protest beard", like so many of those dubious facial frocks that adorned the comics of the Late Night circuit as of late, but rather the fruits of his laziness). As always, a visit to the Seabolts' house is a much-welcomed respite from the banality of Tuscaloosa--a chance to visit nice restaurants, see film, and most importantly to drink good beer. And I should also say, to be in community with such dear friends! Although the temperatures were brisk, we managed to enjoy the wintry landscape by strolling around in Asheville's downtown, taking a hike in the woods, and making the short trek to the neighborhood pubs, boggans and scarfs in place. And when it got cold enough that we couldn't feel our noses, we found repose back at the house, cozied up by the fireplace, on the couch with the latest crossword puzzle (part of Lane's daily routine, way to keep those synapses firing man!), or doubled over laughing at something (a wise-crack by Andy, or a lively if not interminably long game of Trivial Pursuit, where the rolling of the dice was interspersed with the spraying of Febreeze).

Congrats to the Seabolts for their newly improved and renovated (thanks to their labor-intensive efforts) house, to Sarah on her burgeoning art career (check out her stuff at and to Lane on his musical endeavors (check out some of his art and his music at - how sweet, his and her websites!). And also on one stinkin' cute dog named Vern (see below).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Year of the Dems

Hey-ya sports fans. It's 2008, election year--the final days of George W. Bush's failed presidency are upon us. Are you fired up, ready to go? So goes the campaign mantra for Senator Barack Obama, who currently holds one of the two coveted democratic primary crowns. It turns out that corn is not the only King in Iowa. For Obama supporters (and it seems the political analysts), the momentum coming out of a big win in Iowa was sure to cement victory in New Hampshire, but alas Senorita Hillary worked her magic, milking those tear ducts for some much needed image boosting post-Iowa defeat. What could have very well been a moment of authenticity, turned out to be more grist for the spin machine. Was Hillary's display of emotion real, or was it politically calculated? I'm not sure, but it looks pretty sketchy, and well-placed to me. See below:

Well, at any rate Hillary 1, Obama 1. Next up, Nevada.

I'm happy to say that I took on a third (yes everyone knows three's a magical number) volunteer commitment this week, at the Obama office in Tuscaloosa. It's been fun so far meeting energetic folks who are hoping to see an Obama win in the Alabama primary come February 5. I also have to say the office is probably the most diverse place I've been in Tuscaloosa, in terms of race, class, and age. I guess that's what I like about Obama--he's got mass appeal, and though the pundits are saying that he appeals to the elite, highly educated crowd, I think the demographic is more widespread than that. If anything, African-Americans have someone to get behind, and that's a demographic in Alabama that needs to be represented. AlaObama Unite!