The Vitriol of Sarah Palin and Her Tea Party Followers: For Shame!!

Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords with Senior Citizens

Sarah Palin’s PAC: “Targeting” Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot today outside a Tucson Safeway supermarket; fourteen other people were wounded and six killed, including federal judge John Roll, during the assassination attempt on Giffords.  Representative Giffords was featured on Sarah Palin’s infamous “crosshairs” map, which targeted legislators who voted for President Obama’s health care bill.  This was the map that was roundly criticized as an incitement to violence.

Giffords, a third-term legislator, supported President Obama’s health care reform bill. This earned her a place on the map, posted by Sarah Palin’s Political Action Committe, that literally put Democrats in the cross-hairs of guns last spring after the bill passed.  “Don’t retreat, instead-RELOAD!” was how Palin introduced the map to her Tea Party followers on Twitter.  Days later, a vandal smashed the glass door of Rep. Giffords’ Tucson office.  Giffords’ father stated that members of the Tea Party “always threatened” his daughter.

Giffords’ Tea Party opponent in the 2010 election, Jesse Kelly, went even further with the violent rhetoric.  Kelly’s campaign held an event called “Get on Target for Victory in November.”  Description of the event: “Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office.  Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”

President Obama has called for a nationwide moment of silence at 11 a.m. on Monday, the White House announced Sunday.  “Tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. eastern standard time, I call on Americans to observe a moment of silence to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives,” the president said in a statement.  “It will be a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart.”

President Obama: The Arizona Shooting Attack and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Breaking News: Piecing Together the Giffords Shooting

Keith Olbermann Special Commentary: “Violence Has No Place in Democracy”

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A Souvenir: Inside Obama’s Victory Rally in Chicago’s Grant Park

Inside Obama’s Victory Rally in Chicago’s Grant Park

Senator Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States of America. In an amazing moment in American history, the ultimate color line has been broken. The last few days had challenged Obama’s sense of calm like never before, his election-day stress amplified by the fatigue of an 18-month campaign and the death of his grandmother just yesterday. A sense of history stalked Obama everywhere during election day. A huge crowd of more than a hundred thousand people celebrated Obama’s victory in Chicago’s Grant Park, where President-elect Obama appeared to make his victory speech.

Inside Obama’s Chicago Rally

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Journey: Don’t Stop Believing

Audio Music: Yes We Can:

Inside Obama’s Victory Rally in Chicago’s Grant Park

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Live-Blogging Day-Two of the 2008 DNC: The Hillary Kerfuffle

Live-Blogging Day-Two of the 2008 DNC: The Hillary Kerfuffle

Comments On Michelle Obama’s Speech Last Night: So That’s What Brave Looks Like….

A reader wrote to Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic Magazine:

“I am a 36 year old African American woman. I have two girls ages 10 and 8. The country does not get the full import of this moment. My daughters and I sat together along with my husband to watch Michelle Obama tonight. Mr. Sullivan, we were all in tears. This is a day that cannot be fully described. This country has systematically oppressed Black women for centuries. My ancestors were slaves and my great, great, great, grandmothers raped and treated as property. My daughters have very few Black women to look up to in popular culture as role models. They do not feel seen, they are not held up as the standards of American beauty. We shed tears tonight as a family because Michelle (with her elegance and grace) is holding all of us up with her. You don’t understand the burden that she bears.”

And Dahlia Lithwick wrote in Salon:

“I loved best about Michelle Obama’s speech tonight was that it was fearless, but in a very different way from the fearlessness modeled by Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. Here is a woman with a degree from Harvard Law School, who could have talked about law and policy and poverty, and yet she talked about her kids, her husband, and her family. And she didn’t do that merely to show us that smart women are soft and cuddly on the inside. She did what everyone else in this campaign is terrified to do: She risked looking sappy and credulous and optimistic when almost everyone has abandoned “hope” and “change” for coughing up hairballs of outrage. Every Democrat in America seems to be of the view that optimism is so totally last February; that now’s the time to hunker down and panic real hard. Good for Michelle for reminding us that to “strive for the world as it should be” is still cool, and for being so passionate about that fact that she looked to be near tears. Good for her for speaking from the heart when everyone else seems to be speaking from the root cellar. And if that doesn’t persuade you the woman is a warrior, let me just add that true bravery is letting your 7-year-old turn the first night of the Democratic Convention into open-mic night with the big screen and the party frock. Think any man alive would have done that? Me neither.”

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Celebrity Music Video: Yes We Can

Live-Blogging Day-Two of the 2008 DNC: The Hillary Kerfuffle

Hillary Clinton: To Damn Obama with Faint Praise

The Clintons are masters in the dramatic art of pointing at themselves and saying “attention must be paid to us!” Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton put on a good show of supporting Obama, but it was expressed as having been left with little recourse but to convey support for him, or else having to deal with something even worse, McCain and the Republicans. Watching her gave me the freaky chills, made feel glad that I’m still free enough from any obsession with the Clintons to still be able to peek under their rocks and see what kind of bugs are creeping around underneath.

In Hillary’s speech at the Democratic Convention on Tuesday night, she gave the appearance of momentarily overcoming the narcissistic conviction of personal and political entitlement that has been a long-time congenital characteristic of both Clintons. Feigning to say the right things, Clinton made an “intellectual” case for supporting Obama. Strategically aware that her own short-term political future is inextricably bound to his, she explained in somewhat clinical terms why she supports him, and indicated to her diehard supporters that they should also do so (for the time being).

But Clinton obviously still wants to be president. Hillary’s speech hardly concealed the clear subtext that it is really she who should be giving the major convention speech on Thursday night. Clinton’s performance on the podium Tuesday evening was a calculated theatrical work that directed America to look at what has been lost by her not being the Democratic nominee.

Further, it continues to be clear that Hillary obviously doesn’t like Barack Obama, and that she’s plainly not eager about the prospect of him being elected president. After all the time that she spent during her speech tracing the course of women’s suffrage and talking about what a world-historical figure she was, she failed to make any mention about Obama being a similarly important figure of history.

As a plausible, but much less noteworthy approach, she might have attempted to say something, just anything, about a specifically admirable individual characteristic that Obama might display. Even here, Clinton’s reservations were obvious. While she had open personal praise for Joe Biden and John McCain, she could not bring herself to say anything positive about Obama as a person.

The reasons that Hillary gave for supporting Obama were all ways of saying that Obama is a Democrat. She managed to say some nice “words” about Obama in her speech (she was proud to support him), but subsequently she immediately launched into a litany of the many important issues for which she’d fought and sang out with a paean to all the people who had placed their faith in her.

In the end, it came down to being all about her.

Hillary Clinton: Well, It’s Mostly About Me

Music Audio: Josh Groban/You Lift Me Up


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The 2008 Denver National Democratic Convention: Live Blogging


Dave Stewart: American Prayer

The Democratic National Convention: Live Blogging

Michelle Obama Addresses the Democratic National Convention

Michelle Obama presented the first major address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver on Monday evening. Speaking to the delegates, Michelle described herself as a daughter, sister, wife and mother, no different from many other women. She told an exuberant crowd in the convention center that she and her husband feel an obligation to “fight for the world as it should be” to assure the promise of a better life both for their own daughters and for all children.

Michelle Obama talked about tucking her daughters Malia and Sasha into bed at night. “I think about how one day, they’ll have families of their own. And one day, they, and your own sons and daughters, will tell their own children about what we did together in this election. They’ll tell them how this time, we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming,” she said.

Michelle Obama: We Listen to Our Hopes and Dreams

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy: Hope Rises Again, the Dream Lives On

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, struggling with brain cancer, arrived at the Democratic National Convention on Monday night in a triumphant appearance that evoked 50 years of party history. No was sure until the very last moment whether Senator Kennedy actually would be able to make a personal appearance at the convention, given the severity of his illness. Kennedy arrived at the convention site shortly before darkness fell, accompanied by a large group of family members. He walked a few halting steps to a waiting golf cart, which drove him into the arena.

After a speech was given by his niece Caroline Kennedy and a video tribute to him was shown, Senator Kennedy walked slowly to the lectern, limping slightly, with his wife, Victoria, who kissed him and left him there. The crowd gave him a standing ovation and many people were seen wiping tears from their eyes; they cheered for almost two minutes until he settled them down.

My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here,” said Senator Kennedy, his voice booming across the hall. “And nothing–nothing–is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.” A stool that had been slipped behind him went unused during his 10-minute speech. And while Kennedy spoke slowly and at times haltingly, his voice was firm and he was in command of this moment, gesturing and sounding very much like the man who enraptured the party’s convention 28 years ago.

There is a new wave of change all around us,” he said, “and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination–not merely victory for our party, but renewal for our nation. And this November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. So with Barack Obama, and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause.”

Invoking his parting remarks to the 1980 Democratic National Convention as he ceded the presidential nomination to Jimmy Carter, he promised that “the dream will never die. The work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on.”

Sen. Edward Kennedy: Hope Rises Again, the Dream Lives On

Music Audio: We Are The World


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The Dark Night’s Ghastly Joker: Heath Ledger Touted for an Oscar

The Dark Knight’s Ghastly Joker: Heath Ledger Touted for an Oscar

Handsome is as handsome doesn’t in The Dark Knight. Of the three male actors who dominate the movie, it’s Heath Ledger with his face hidden behind twisted clown makeup, whose perfect features are never seen, who has proven to be the most memorable. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight is both a demonic creation and three-ring circus of one. Ledger died in January at the age of 28 from an accidental overdose, after the principal photography of the film had concluded. His death could have cast a paralyzing pall over the movie if his performance were not so alive. Ledger’s Joker is a creature of such ghastly life, and his performance is so visceral, creepy and insistently present that the portrayal pulls you in almost at once.

Ledger’s performance is so intense and lasting in part because, despite his insane mask, it’s a subtle and nuanced performance that is so powerful it almost erases all memories of the handsome Australian actor behind the Joker’s mask. The makeup seems to have liberated Ledger. Ledger’s body movements are flexibly agile, he’s expressive with only his eyes and his voice has oscillating surges of irony, mockery and psychopathology. Ledger’s performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight is an essay, in a way that he’s never shown before when playing straight-faced characters, in pure magnetic charisma.

While Hollywood’s Academy Awards are still more than six months away, the late Heath Ledger already is being touted for a supporting actor nomination for his terrifying performance in The Dark Knight. Ledger’s performance is so mesmerizing and daring as Batman’s clown-faced arch enemy that it’s possible he might become the first performer since Peter Finch (in the 1976 Network) to receive a posthumous Oscar.

The Dark Knight (Official Movie Trailer)

You can read more about what I’ve written earlier about Heath Ledger here and here.

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Ms. Olive Riley: The World’s Oldest Blogger Dies at 108

Audio: BBC Interview with Mike Rubbo, Olive Riley’s Assistant

Ms Olive Riley: The World’s Oldest Blogger Dies at 108

Ms. Olive Riley died over the weekend in a nursing home on the central coast of New South Wales, Australia, at the age of 108. Born in Broken Hill in 1899, Ms. Olive returned in 2004 for a filming of the documentary about her life, All About Olive.

Since early last year, she had written about 70 entries on her life experiences and posted them on her blog, All About Riley. Ms. Olive’s blog had a large following of readers from all over the world. In her final post, dated June 26th, an increasingly frail Olive noted that she couldn’t “shake off that bad cough.” She also wrote, “I read a whole swag of email messages and comments from my internet friends today, and I was so pleased to hear from you. Thank you, one and all.”

What follows is an earlier posting, which I wrote upon the occasion of celebrations for Ms. Olive’s 108th birthday:

Miss Olive Riley Makes a Toast!

Miss Olive, will be turning 108 in two days. Over at Miss Olive’s blog, The Life of Riley, they’ve already started the celebration. The home where Olive lives insists that they can hold birthday celebrations only on weekdays. But heck, she’s already live 3,9417 days, so what’s another two, right?

Born in 1899 in Broken Hill, Australia (just outside of Sydney), Miss Olive started her blog, what she calls a “blob,”in February of this year. The entries consist largely of Riley’s transcriptions to her friend Mike, where she talks about her day to day events and also tells stories from her 108 years of life.

The Documentary: All About Olive

Miss Olive’s Birthday Party

ABC News: Miss Olive’s Birthday Party

You can read a much earlier article about Ms. Olive here.

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Jesse Jackson Slams Obama with Unbelievably Crude Comment

Jesse Jackson Slams Obama with Unbelievably Crude Comments

While on a break during a taping for a Fox News program, Jesse Jackson told another guest on the program that he wanted to “cut [Obama's] nu**s out.” The hurtful and disparaging comments were caught on tape, because Jackson’s microphone was still on.

Of course, the two-faced Jackson immediately issued an apology, stating: “For any harm or hurt that this hot mic private conversation may have caused, I apologize. My support for Senator Obama’s campaign is wide, deep and unequivocal. I cherish this redemptive and historical moment.”

Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., expressed personal wrath about his father’s crude comments: “I’m deeply outraged and disappointed in Reverend Jackson’s reckless statements about Senator Barack Obama. His divisive and demeaning comments about the presumptive Democratic nominee — and I believe the next president of the United States — contradict his inspiring and courageous career,” wrote Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), an Obama campaign co-chairman, in a statement that he sent out after word began spreading that his father had said something so crude and deeply offensive.

Instead of tearing others down, Barack Obama wants to build the country up and bring people together so that we can move forward, together — as one nation. The remarks like those uttered on Fox by Reverend Jackson do not advance the campaign’s cause of building a more perfect Union.”

Reverend Jackson is my dad and I’ll always love him. He should know how hard that I’ve worked for the last year and a half as a national co-chair of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. So, I thoroughly reject and repudiate his ugly rhetoric. He should keep hope alive and any personal attacks and insults to himself.”

Jesse Jackson Whispering His Crude Remarks

Jesse Jackson Discusses His Crude Remarks

Jesse Jackson Issues a Formal Apology to Obama

Obama’s campaign was tight-lipped about the incident, issuing only a statement. “As someone who grew up without a father in the home, Senator Obama has spoken and written for many years about the issue of parental responsibility, including the importance of fathers participating in their children’s lives,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton wrote. “He also discusses our responsibility as a society to provide jobs, justice, and opportunity for all. He will continue to speak out about our responsibilities to ourselves and each other, and he of course accepts Reverend Jackson’s apology.”

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