Entries from August 2008 ↓

He Ripped It.

“Come with me if you want to live.”
Laying the smack down: Barack Obama’s DNC acceptance speech

It was like faceting a diamond in mid-flight.

Barack Obama’s speech last night, accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination as its candidate for President of the United States—the first time a major party has so ensconced an African-American—had to accomplish a set of diverse objectives, without wasted words, in a very short period of time. (His real audience, obviously, was not the nearly 84,000 gathered inside INVESCO Field at Mile High stadium, where he spoke, but the 25,000,000 watching on TV, like I was, plus the other 275,000,000 Americans.)

Obama had to do the following:

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He’s Whipped by It.

“Remember my name! FAME!”
Who is this?
Don’t name him, and win a $1.6 million cash prize

Jesse Washington, my colleague, former editor, and the recently named Associated Press race and ethnicity writer, said it best and most succinctly: “Obama avoids race on King’s ‘Dream’ anniversary.”

In the entirety of his DNC acceptance speech, notes Washington,

Obama did not utter the words “black” or “African-American.” He said “McCain” 21 times, according to the transcript released beforehand. He said “American” 25 times and “promise” 32 times as he sought to create a new definition of, and a new path to, that immortal dream.

But even more so, adds Washington, on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech,

Obama accepted the nomination Thursday night standing on the shoulders of King and thousands of others who suffered and bled to give blacks the right to vote — yet Obama did not speak King’s name. …

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Buyer Education

“Look at these grades!”In his book, The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges–and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Daniel Golden rips the lid off of the modern university’s dirtiest secret: How colleges often quietly admit the lackluster, not-so-bright offspring of America’s wealthiest families, in order to solicit choice, multimillion-dollar donations from their parents, later.

He reveals how the sons of former vice president Al Gore, one-time Hollywood power broker Michael Ovitz, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist leapt ahead of more deserving applicants at Harvard, Brown, and Princeton. He explores favoritism at the Ivy Leagues, Duke, the University of Virginia, and Notre Dame, among other institutions. He reveals that colleges hold Asian American students to a higher standard than whites; comply with Title IX by giving scholarships to rich women in “patrician sports” like horseback riding, squash, and crew; and repay congressmen for favors by admitting their children. He also reveals that Harvard maintains a “Z-list” for well-connected but underqualified students, who are quietly admitted on the condition that they wait a year to enroll.

Daniel Golden is the guest, today, on this rebroadcasted edition of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, August 29, 2 pm ET.

If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, you can check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, check out our archive for up to two weeks after broadcast.

There. But Not Quite There.

“Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride.”
Barack Obama. (Photo by Damon Winter for
The New York Times)

Fascinating piece in The New York Times about the challenge Barack Obama faces, not only, externally, to his ascendency, but also internally, from himself.

In the way Mr. Obama has trained himself for competition, he can sometimes seem as much athlete as politician. Even before he entered public life, he began honing not only his political skills, but also his mental and emotional ones. He developed a self-discipline so complete, friends and aides say, that he has established dominion over not only what he does but also how he feels. He does not easily exult, despair or anger: to do so would be an indulgence, a distraction from his goals. Instead, they say, he separates himself from the moment and assesses.

“He doesn’t inhale,” said David Axelrod, his chief strategist.

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Viva La Revolution.

Lookin’ good, lookin’ good.

I don’t know about you, but, as an Apple true believer, it’s got to be the fastest decade I’ve ever experienced: This month marks ten years since the original “Bondi blue” iMac, above, first shipped.

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Solange Knowles Best.

“Oh, we gonna have to throw down, girl!”

Unless I’m wrong, Solange Knowles’ tempest-in-a-thimble with KVVU-TV’s Monica Jackson wasn’t the most interesting note to come out of the 2:28 clip.

The most odd detail is that she, perhaps inadvertantly, confirmed Jay-Z’s marriage to her older sister, Beyoncé, by making mention of her “brother-in-law’s establishment,” and thus affirming she has a legal, familial relationship with him through marriage.

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“Were you in this campaign just for me?”

Thanks for the memories…

Well said, Hillary. That is the question.

Misquoting Moses

“I’m sick o’ all these white people makin’ up stuff I supposedly said!”

When Hillary Clinton needed to bring her Democratic National Convention speech to a crescendo Tuesday night, she did so the way a lot of politicians do these days: By quoting a dead, much-bedraggled, poor Black person.

In this case, the honor fell on Harriet Tubman, above, the noted abolitionist whose exploits made the Underground Railroad legendary:

My mother was born before women could vote. My daughter got to vote for her mother for president. This is the story of America, of women and men who defy the odds and never give up.

So how do we give this country back to them? By following the example of a brave New Yorker, a woman who risked her lives to bring slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad.

On that path to freedom, Harriet Tubman had one piece of advice: “If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”

And even in the darkest moments, that is what Americans have done. We have found the faith to keep going.

Wow…. Lovely words. Powerful, even.

But Tubman never said them.

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“Now they’re asking for four more years. How ’bout four more months?

“I’m here all week…”

Best anti-McCain / G.O.P. line of the night, as delivered by Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr., above. He’s also the guy who said, “John McCain calls himself a maverick, but he votes with George Bush 90% of the time. That’s not a maverick. That’s a sidekick!”

All the pro pundits are salivating over “No way. No how. No McCain”? That’s just copy editors looking for a headline-ish-sounding headline, or a tidy pull quote. Instead, imagine the eruption if Hillary had dropped either of the Casey quips. Bra-freakin’-vo, guy.

“What unites us is greater than what divides us!”

Fruit. Tree.

Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., above, said this last night, near the end of his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, speaking of Americans.

Now, here’s my question, to anyone who’ll take it:

Is this a true statement?

That is:

a) What unites us?

b) What divides us?

c) Is the former actually greater than the latter?

d) What is the proof of the same?