Saturday, January 26, 2008

Will Barack Obama Be Our Next President? S. Carolina Victory.

It appears from the exit polls in South Carolina that Barack Obama is beating his two other contenders by big odds. The fact that African American votes comprise more than 50% of the Democratic Party in S. Carolina is the main reason he is the projected winner. Obama has according to CNN and MSNBC exit numbers an estimated 80% of the African American vote plus very large numbers of young people of all races. Obama seems to have energized significant numbers under the age of 25 and although he doesn't have necessarily the majority of the Democratic women's vote in S. Carolina, he has enough of the women's vote to hurt Hillary's chances if these numbers hold in other State Democratic Primary elections. In these exit polls, Hillary is not getting enough white male voters to make a difference down the road, that is, if these numbers hold in other States which they may not. For instance, in my State California,my hunch is more white males may be in Hillary's camp compared to the exit polls in S. Carolina.

It is clear that Obama is on a roll and will be given a big boost from the S. Carolina victory. Hillary has a lot of work to do to keep up with the Obama train that has picked up tremendous steam from this projected victory. The general media is definitely running away with these projected results even before anything concrete has happened pointing fingers at Bill Clinton who tried to stem the tide of popularity sweeping S. Carolina for Obama implying the projected win was in part a result of Bill's negative tactics toward Obama. I think the media is being too hard on Bill blaming him for the kind of backlash that may not be a backlash at all but simply a wake up call when African Americans realized Obama could win and they themselves could make the difference.

It is interesting to note the same kind of thing happened to Hillary when the public thought she was going to loss big as a result of sexist attitudes and perceived unfair treatment by the media. I predict we will experience more of this back and forth kind of reaction by the public. I know I am confused. Do I want a woman or a man of color? I feel Hillary is more capable and on target more often but I also acknowledge something special is happening around the Obama candidacy that Hillary may not be able to transcend.

Can a public mass movement put an Obama in office? I know it might work for the primaries but not sure if it will work for the national campaign when a Republican i.e. McCain is thrown into the mix. I think it might in the end be a toss up between Hillary and Barack until the very end of the primary race. By then, we can only hope the two are not so bloodied that the Republicans can gain by the squabbles of the Democrats. I think the country is ready for a Democrat again as everyone is not only weary of Bush but also may realize how out of touch the Republicans are with the general public. The country will elect a Democrat and as it looks now it could be Mr. Barack Obama.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Jewish Americans: A Critical Review

I recently viewed what is described here. "THE JEWISH AMERICANS is a three-night documentary that explores 350 years of Jewish American history. Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin, THE JEWISH AMERICANS is a journey through time, from the first settlement in 1654 to the present." Go to PBS website for more detail. The new documentary kept my interest over the three day period that I watched. The perspectives were mostly presented by well known Jewish persons or by eyewitness accounts of historic moments in Jewish life in America or at least moments that very much affected Jewish life in America i.e. period of immigration to our shores and the Holocaust. At the end of the film, I found myself feeling unsatisfied knowing something was missing.

There was a segment on the influence and participation of Jewish young people in the civil rights and in the rise of feminism in the USA. There was discussion of the later period in the civil rights struggle when white people; consequently many Jews, were forced to leave their form of activism when Black activists were pursuing the concept of Black Power and Black control of their own communities. It was as if the Jewish activists left and never returned to activism again. Instead we moved on to a new segment that talked about the modern Orthodox movement, the rise of Jewish Orthodoxy in general, and the rise of women in participating in former Orthodox Jewish tradition i.e. studying The Talmud even if done separately from the men. I thought it would have been much stronger if some of the current day Rabbi activists and other Jewish community organizers working in diverse communities all over this country had been incorporated into the documentary. I am referring to Peace Now groups, to, for example, a Rabbi such as Haim Beliak who leads a congregation in Whittier California that has young Latino families that are in the process of converting to Conservative Judaism, to Jews throughout this country who work in the Green Movement. Otherwise, one is left with the notion that Jewish activists and coalition types of activism died in the sixties. (By the way, Haim Beliak also leads an important website along with Jane Hunter titled Jews on First which deals with first amendment rights from a Jewish Perspective.)

A group that was left out under the topic of feminism was Jewish Lesbians. Just as so many of the early feminists were Jewish, many of the early "out" and early movement Lesbians (early Gay Liberation 1968- early 1970's) who participated in the feminist movement were Jewish. It was being Jewish that helped these women see the importance of being oneself and the significance of not staying in the closet. In this documentary Jewish Lesbians were not mentioned so in essence once again placed in the closet I suspect out of a fear of what others might say or think about Jewish woman who find Lesbianism. Surely it was not a matter of "not having enough time to cover everything" which would be a big copout. Perhaps, the documentary makers were just plain ignorant of the information and did not feel on top of the subject, if so they should have asked for help from those in the know-Jewish Lesbians.

I also felt there was more of a tilt toward recognizing the Jewish men who had succeeded with only a nod toward the Jewish women makers and shakers who came to American and changed their worlds and were changed by them. Molly Picon, the great Yiddish actress was the only woman of that period mentioned. Fanny Brice, the famous radio comedienne who came later was not mentioned. I am sure there were others whose names I have forgotten or whose names I do not know. As I said, there was a dependence on affirmation from the great ones, a Supreme Court Justice, a University President, A Military Hero. The little and more radical voices were more or less left out. Yes the film said there were Jews who were Communists and those who were not but all the people from fellow travelers, to anarchists, to right wing zealots were left out. Actually I am glad the right winger were left out but still....I did like the emphasis on the importance of the Rosenberg Trial on the Jewish community during that period. The effects of that trial are still felt today by many who lived through it.

The discussion of how most Southern Jews as well as the Jewish merchants of the South felt during the civil rights period was interesting but a bit defensive pointing out a way of thinking that feared reprisal maybe even death. I think many of these Southern Jews were not just fearful but many also may have believed in the inferiority of Black people. That was not said straight out. They were simply brainwashed like other Southerners and had trouble seeing the contradictions. These Jews also benefited from this kind of thinking. They thought like their neighbors thus they might be more accepted though they were not really accepted.

The segment about the Jewish manager who was accused of sexual abuse and murder of a young woman and who was lynched left me wondering. I never knew it was this man's employee, an older Black man, a janitor, who was also an early suspect who pointed his fingers at his boss thus diverting attention from himself. I wonder what happened to him. The implication was he was the guilty one not the Jew. Is it possible neither one was guilty? The segment on the New York African American fellow, grandson of a man named Altshul, who read an anti-Semitic piece on the radio shortly after the NY City teachers' strike and then who later converted to Judaism, became a kind of Cantor was very moving. The early history was educational but again as I felt the film throughout stressed the upper class or at least the upper middle class Jewish viewpoint.

In the end, I was left to think Jews today were becoming more religious and more into conversion and inclusiveness than ever before. Jews are on a journey to find what it means to be Jew. Rabbi Shulweis says and I am only paraphrasing that our Grandfather went to Shul because he was a Jew. Today we go to Temple because we want to become Jews. This leaves me unsettled thinking I am the odd one out. I am a Jew and I don't go and I don't believe. But guess what! I know I am a Jew. I don't care who thinks I need saving or that I need to go on a quest to delve into my Judaism. I am a Jew with a rich heritage and no one can take that away from me or make me feel less than or empty of something I need. I am what I Yam.

My final comment is that this documentary is worth watching given the fact that there is not enough Jewish history shown to the general public. It is a good start. I hope there is much more to come on the topic of Jews in America.

Sharon Raphael

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heath Ledger's Death (excerpt from Broadway Carl's Website)

go to

Why John Gibson is a Fucking Asshole

Opening his radio show with funeral music yesterday, Fox News host John Gibson callously mocked the death of actor Heath Ledger, calling him a “weirdo” with a “serious drug problem.”

Playing an audio clip of the iconic quote, “I wish I knew how to quit you” from Ledger’s gay romance movie Brokeback Mountain, Gibson disdainfully quipped, “Well, he found out how to quit you.” Laughing, Gibson then played another clip from Brokeback Mountain in which Ledger said, “We’re dead,” followed by his own, mocking “We’re dead” before playing the clip again.

Posted by Broadway Carl at 7:14 PM

Chris Matthews

I Finally Get It: Why Matthews and Others Hate Hillary and Love Obama

I spent a lot of time and energy writing an article puzzled by the fact that Chris Matthews and Jonathan Alter and others on the Matthew's show did not give background information on Hillary's charges regarding the Obama-Rezko connecton on the last Democratic Candidate debate sponsored by the Black Congressional Caucus. After some researching on the internet I realized now why that is so to some extent and also now know the answer why Hillary leaned over to Chris Matthews during an interview and kind of caressed his face saying something about Matthews being obsessed with her which it appears he is. Obssessed by the fact she is a woman running for office not because he sees her as a viable candidate. Matthews responded to the caress by pinching Clinton's cheek, a very sexist act. How I missed this bit of extreme male bias is beyond me. I can see why some would say it was tit for tat; however, given Matthews history of sexism toward Hillary and women in general the whole incident brings everything else into the light.

Below are just a few examples of his (Matthews) sexist commentary:
Hillary's conduct in that moment was a response to all of many Matthew's putdowns of her which I missed on some level. It seems that many other males in the media share this bias including Brian Williams. Some media moguls just don't want to have a powerful woman in the Presidency. They can't conceive of a woman dressing them down or anyone else who is male .They constantly talk about her voice, whether it is screechy or not and how she sounds in a way they do not remark about when mentioning any of the male candidates.

Both Williams and Matthews are bowled over by Obama and caught up in his psuedo Martin Luther King approach to crowd pleasing and speech making. I marched with King among the thousands in D.C. in 63. I attended many of MLK's speeches and events. Barak Obama is no Martin Luther King. King would not have approved of Obama's association with Rezko nor with his pandering to mishy mushy Independents and Conservatives. MLK wanted universal health care for all Americans. So there you have it combine male bias against a woman running for President and idolization of a candidate who doesn't deserve it and you get the reason why Obama can't be brought down to earth and Hillary has to remain grounded by these little men on TV. Roseanne had it right on her blog when she dissed Oprah for not letting Hillary on her show close to the time she had Obama. I'm not sure she will ever have Hillary on before S. Carolina or even after thar. Oprah who is also male obssessed is caught up in this rush to judgement for Obama. It is understandable that Oprah feels the way she does about Obama. At least I do not hear her putting down Hillary for being a woman like Matthews and Brian Williams have. Combine woman hating and naive people who missed the full import of the MLK days and this is what you get Obama fixation. MLK would have supported Dennis Kucinich who is totally peace loving and pro human rights for everyone. He would not have condoned this bias against Hillary.

Examples of Matthews sexism toward Hillary: See below
excerpted from Media Matters for America -

* On the November 18 edition of the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show, Matthews teased a discussion by asking, " 'She Devil?' Republicans are absolutely demonizing Hillary Clinton."

* In November 2006, shortly after the Democrats took the majority in Congress, Matthews asked a guest if then-presumptive speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was "going to castrate Steny Hoyer" if Hoyer (D-MD) were elected House majority leader.

* During coverage of a presidential debate last spring, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell was compelled to remind Matthews that Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) wife, Michelle, is a Harvard-educated lawyer after he focused obsessively on her physical appearance.

* During coverage of the New Hampshire primary on January 8, he said that Clinton is the only viable woman presidential candidate "on the horizon." He couldn't think of a single female governor eligible to run: "Where are the big-state women governors?" he asked. "Where are they? Name one."

* According to a Media Matters study, Matthews made 10 negative remarks about Clinton for every negative remark he made about Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, and nearly three times as many positive remarks about the former New York City mayor as about Clinton, despite his professed neutrality.

Other members of the media are also speaking about Matthews' flagrant, persistent sexism.

* Marie Cocco (Washington Post Writers Group): Sexist double standards and misogynist insults
* Salon's Traister: The witch ain't dead, and Chris Matthews is a ding-dong
* TalkLeft: It was a revolt of women sick and tired of the likes of Chris Tweety Matthews and the Media Misogynists.
* Daily Kos: Chris Matthews Outdoes Himself
* Daily Kos: Chris Matthews' Greatest Sexist Hits

More from Media Matters on Chris Matthews

After vowing not to underestimate Clinton, Matthews asserted, "[T]he reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around" -- January 9, 2008

Also read and go to

How Can Chris Matthews Hate Hillary So Publicly and Get Away With It? Melissa McEwan, Shakesville at 2:09 PM on January 9, 2008

Why Chris Matthews Hates Hillary Clinton
Posted Jan 10th 2008 2:29PM by Cenk Uygur
Filed under: Media, Young Turks, Hillary Clinton, Video

Chris Matthews on Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani
Media Matters for America

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tony Rezko and Obama vs. Hillary Clinton and Walmart


January 22, 2008 at 1:17 AM EST

Reporters Seem Caught Off their Guard

I find this new development that reporters are discussing between Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton troubling. The day after the Black Congressional Caucus debate with Obama, Clinton, and the mostly not visible Edwards, the same old bunch of television pundits talked about the fact that Obama and Hillary exchanged barbs starting with Obama going on the offensive first apparently irritated by the fact that he felt Bill Clinton had misrepresented a statement Obama had made saying the Reagan administration was "tranformational" and had developed new ways of thinking poitically speaking which sounded to some as though Obama was saying something positive about the Reagan years. Clinton responded by repeating that she thought there definitely had been ideas in 90's promulgated by the Republicans but they were bad ideas. I strongly agree with her remarks on that score. Reporters tend to give Obama the benefit of the doubt on that one saying Obama was just remarking on the history of the Reagan years. I don't agree with that and agree with Bill and Hillary that something more could be inferred by the emphasis on the words new and transformational.

The term Transformation is associated with the notion of big changes, a new world view and implies something exciting and positive going on. I think these reporters are trying to cover for Obama's constant attempt to reach out to Independents and Republicans because that is his strategy for winning in addition to winning the African American vote and youth vote.

Hillary jolted the media world by hitting Obama back with the charge of his association with a slum landlord , Tony Rezko, after he talked about her serving on the Board of Walmart (a company the unions hate) while Barak implied he was doing great things in the poor neighborhoods of Chicago. Historically Barak does not deny he had an association with Rezko but claims innocence when it comes to his knowledge of the entrepreneur's bad business practices which included, for a time, not providing heat to the slum residences in question. (article taken from ABC News titled The Rezko Connection: Obama's Achilles Heel? By BRIAN ROSS and RHONDA SCHWARTZ Jan. 10, 2008.

I wonder why Chris Matthews and Jonathan Alter who were discussing this issue on Matthew's show avoided discussing the details of this charge. It seems the media is trying to protect Obama in some ways on this one. At the least, they could have mentioned what this whole business was about and even skewed it in a way that favored Obama if that is what they wanted to do . I don't get it. It seems like quite an explosive issue to me given that the reports show a long association between Obama and this businessman who was sued by the City of Chicago and who was in financial distress at the time that Obama asked this unsavory character for help. It might be possible that Obama knew nothing about Rezko nefarious business dealings but if Obama didn't know it seems to me that would show a lack of sophistication and ability to be on top of his own self interests. What I have read so far about Obama and Rezko is quite troubling. Perhaps, all it shows is that Obama is not perfect, not as lofty in his image as he would like to project. I am left baffled that the media seems unable to communicate this very notion or at least the idea that the playing field between Hillary and Obama is more equal than ever before. I suppose that is what was intended and I do not necessarily think making these two candidates into real humans rather than political deities is such a bad thing.

I am also wondering if the reason some of these national reporters did not explain even the most evident details concerning Rezko may come from the fact the reporters themselves are jaded and just assume that all these politicians have skeletons in their closets so why pick on just one of them. But my first hunch is that these guys were just not on top of the information which any internet junkie could find for her or himself and which seems quite unbelievable in and of itself, (that the information was not conveyed). It does not help people trying to figure out how to vote to be left so up in the air. Chris Matthews in particular seemed totally unprepared for the latest state of affairs. Why is this so? Jonathan Capehart, from Bloomberg Media, another reporter on the Matthews show had to explain to Matthews why the Walmart association with Hillary was a bad thing or was Matthews just fishing for the answer from someone else. Whatever the reason, Matthews and Alter did not seem up to the task. I think the answer to the reason for this would be quite revealing.

Sharon Raphael