Newt and Nancy: Together — for the First Time Ever!

Yours truly wasn’t thrilled with the first major TV ad from the Alliance for Climate Protection, because I think both Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson are frauds, each in his own way, but this one — featuring Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrinch — makes me smile. They look so cute together! On a more seriousContinue reading “Newt and Nancy: Together — for the First Time Ever!”

London to Zanskar, Tibet: 99 Pounds

I’m not a fan of most web video, which all too often looks crappy, sounds frantic, and desperately wants to be noticed, but for every rule there is an exception, and here’s a great one. A story you’ve never heard, with great video from a journey from London to Tibet…in l958. The three housewives whoContinue reading “London to Zanskar, Tibet: 99 Pounds”

King and Obama Agree: We Need a New Press Corps

Yesterday in a characteristically eloquent speech, Barack Obama honored the great legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. He spoke at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where King himself gave his controversial speech — "Why I Am Against the War in Vietnam" — a speech that is often quoted, for good reason. But Obama didn’t just call for unity: he challenged his brothers and sisters to live up to King’s legacy of tolerance:

For most of this country’s history, we in the African American
community have been at the receiving end of man’s inhumanity to man.
And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still
sometimes plays – on the job, in the schools, in our health care system
and in our criminal justice system.

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of
our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll
acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s
vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing
them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in
our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as
competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division
across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out
on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it
even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and
counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of
illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.

So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with
us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the
stereotypes, the scapegoating, the ease with which we blame our plight
on others – all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face
– war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to
build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer
afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we
must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before
the hour grows too late.

Because if Dr. King could love his jailor; if he could call on the
faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and
fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in
our time, and bind up our wounds, and erase the empathy deficit that
exists in our hearts.

In this context, it’s fascinating to hear the thoughts of King himself on that legacy.

Been a lot of applauding over the last few years. They applauded our
total movement; they’ve applauded me. America and most of its
newspapers applauded me in Montgomery. And I stood before thousands of
Negroes getting ready to riot when my home was bombed and said, we
can’t do it this way. They applauded us in the sit-in movement–we
non-violently decided to sit in at lunch counters. The applauded us on
the Freedom Rides when we accepted blows without retaliation. They
praised us in Albany and Birmingham and Selma, Alabama. Oh, the press
was so noble in its applause, and so noble in its praise when I was
saying, Be non-violent toward Bull Connor;when I was saying, Be
non-violent toward [Selma, Alabama segregationist sheriff] Jim Clark.
There’s something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press
that will praise you when you say, Be non-violent toward Jim Clark, but
will curse and damn you when you say, "Be non-violent toward little
brown Vietnamese children. There’s something wrong with that press!

For the full transcript (plus an audio file, if you want to hear the man himself), please see below.

No Impact Man Makes a Splash

This writer sets out to reduce his footprint to near-zero, gets a book deal with FSG. Movie deal in the works. Supports Four Seasons-loving wife in NYC. (Where have I gone wrong?) But he does make sense quoting a "happiness writer" at UC Riverside named Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky: "Perhaps the most common error is thatContinue reading “No Impact Man Makes a Splash”

Al Gore Does the Right Thing — Again

As many expected, Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize, but in conjuction with the often-derided and dully-named Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Gore, as usual, rose to the occasion in his statement: I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. This award is even more meaningful because I have theContinue reading “Al Gore Does the Right Thing — Again”

Christianity: The Murderer of Creation

From an overwhelmingly powerful sermon by Wendell Berry: Despite its protests to the contrary, modern Christianity has become willy-nilly the     religion of the state and the economic status quo. Because it has been so exclusively     dedicated to incanting anemic souls into heaven, it has, by a kind of ignorance, been madeContinue reading “Christianity: The Murderer of Creation”

Sunday Morning on the Planet: Buster Keaton

One of the most original and lovable of all Americans, sez me, is the great star of vaudeville and movies, Buster Keaton, a master of paradox. When I was a student in New York City years ago, the 8th Avenue Cinema downtown near the Village used to run Buster Keaton movies every Sunday. With aContinue reading “Sunday Morning on the Planet: Buster Keaton”

James Madison: We Can Scarcely Be Warranted in Supposing…

"Address to the Agricultural Society of Albemarle, Virginia" (1818). "One of the landmarks of American nature writing, delivered not long after he retired to "Montpelier," his Orange county estate, James Madison’s "Address to the Agricultural Society of Albemarle" is an early argument for an "ecological" method of agriculture in Virginia. In his address, Madison diagnosesContinue reading “James Madison: We Can Scarcely Be Warranted in Supposing…”