Thursday, November 06, 2008

Lest We Forget!

I have a Dream

By Martin Luther King, Jr.


Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.


But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.


In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.


It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.


But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.


We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.


And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.


I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.


Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.


I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.


I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."


I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.


I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.


I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.


I have a dream today.


I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.


I have a dream today.


I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.


This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.


This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."


And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!


Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!


Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!


But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!


Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!


Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.


When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"


(Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963 )

Lest We Forget

(Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963 )

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Fired up. Ready to Go!

November 5, 2008


The United States enters a period of potential metamorphosis. Promises made should be promises kept, and yet, if we expect a President Obama to be able to accomplish all those things we hope for we shall be sadly awakened in a world much the same as we experience today; a Bush world view.


I recall with awe the most important words spoken by Obama during his came. "Change comes from the bottom up." That means change starts with you and me.


I'm reminded of the words of Gandhi, "You must become the change you seek." I'm reminded of the words of the Democratic activist in Obama's story, "Fired up. Ready to go!" And I'm reminded that Barack Obama himself was a community organizer. Change, indeed, begins at the bottom, it begins with us.


I guess that means that NOW would be the time to think about what we want to change. How can we make things better? What would you like to see different? And what are you going to do about it?


We could start with the obvious: Global warming, sustainable living, affordable and better education, alternative energy, affordable health care, and open and honest elections.




Michael Arnold


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Head Off Voter Fraud!!!


Many states have already felt the sting of Republicans pushing their voter deception and removal schemes. Today in Colorado 30,000 voters were added back to the voter rolls by diligent voter protection agencies.

Illegally removing voters from voter rolls is worse than Acorn's occasional registration of Mickey Mouse or the Dallas Cowboys. The former involves removing hundreds of thousands of legal voters from voter rolls and the latter involves attempts to register ghosts who would never vote in the first place. The illegal removing of voters from the rolls is VOTER FRAUD, the registration of Mickey Mouse is Registration Fraud.

Steps we can take to head-off fraud before it occurs:

  1. Vote early;
  2. Help document and monitor the election;
  3. Immediately call 1-866-OUR-VOTE, the country's largest election monitoring operation, to report irregularities, and, most importantly,
  4. Push for a massive turnout to create a significant margin of victory for Obama.

A general strike is the most effective protest vehicle in the face of a repeat of the selection of the president in Election 2000. In the event of a stolen election:

  1. Participate in local and national work stoppages,
  2. Participate in school walkouts,
  3. Participate in protests, and
  4. other actions

We must also communicate to the government, to corporate interests, and to the world that we will fight the decimation of democracy.... Even without a strong labor movement, the immigrant rights mobilization of 2006 – the largest simultaneous marches in U.S. history – proved that you can make a powerful statement simply by not showing up to work and marching instead.

No Voter Left Behind's Voter Guide, meanwhile, offers a useful primer on voting rights in the US and NVLB's compendium of each state's various election rules, regulations and deadlines answer many basic questions.

In Washington State voter rights and information can be found at


Thursday, October 30, 2008

“NI**ER PLEASE! It’s called the White House!”

I saw this quote on a T-shirt on the Internet.

Mimesis was defined to me as the act of a group of people "picking on" or "bullying" the least of the group. Think of the football team chastising the geek. Think of the rally team sneering at the fat girl.

It's not pleasant, especially if it happens to you. It means you're out – you don't belong.

But it means more than that. It means that there are people who are willing to act as a group to make themselves more than someone else.

Our social psychology is complex. Mimesis has to start somewhere. And then others follow. There's safety in following because it means you're not the one singled out. You get to be part of the "in crowd".

We learn this behavior as kids, probably by watching adults. It's so prevalent in our society that we have a term for those who follow; we call them Lemmings. You can see it in a current TV ad for Fed Ex, where the followers crawl out of the leadership class.

We can't afford to be lemmings. We can't afford to follow stupid bumper stickers or racist T-shirts.

Michael Arnold

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Political Communication in the 21st Century and How We Get Duped

Here's the good news. The American political system is designed on a system of checks and balances. It depends on what the founders called "an informed citizenry." The bad news; it's becoming her and harder to find an informed citizenry! The question is, why?

Anthropologist Desmond Morris wrote in his book The Naked Ape that mankind's society began to deteriorate when the societal unit, the neighborhood, became so large that we no longer knew our neighbors. There were extenuating circumstances of course, the two main early ones being, according to Morris, the invent of the internal combustion engine and the loss of the front porch. The reason the internal combustion engine is to blame, said Morris, is that it allowed people to travel further to work, that is, the work place was removed from the neighborhood as well.

Neighborhoods are important, including the workplace, which is a subset neighborhood. I don't remember the statistic but a huge number of people find their mates where they work or worship. I include in this statistic people who are introduced to their mates through a friend with whom they work. So neighborhoods are huge in our social structure.

During the beginning of our country, neighborhoods were composed mostly of peoples from the same immigrant homelands. Irish with Irish, Germans with Germans, Danes with Danes, and yes, even slaves with slaves. What self respecting plantation owner would allow slaves to mingle with his family, after all! We didn't do away with segregation until the 60's and racism and bigotry are still with us today, at least in varying degrees, throughout America.

In historic America (I would use the term ancient, but that seems reserved for places other than America) tribe members held no property. Tools, food, hides and the like were used by the tribe for the good of the tribe. Ownership is a European invention. Things were used and replaced because that was the responsibility to the social network. Chief Sealth said, "The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth." People got along, or died, because living was so hard that, to use Hillary Clinton's term, "It Takes a Village." Going it alone meant death, at least an early death.

But people are smart. So we constructed societies because there is not only safety in numbers, but a better chance for survival as a species in numbers. Kind of like fish or geese or elk, I guess (LOL).

All of the other social norms have been built on these simple principles. Today we're pretty complex. In historic times the leaders were the best hunters, or at least the best at something; survival of the fittest. Even wolves and elk understand all of that. And there was a natural balance of things.

Yet, it was the loss of the front porch and the invent of the internal combustion engine that has steered they way to the current "modern society," of the separate yet united American people. A people that no longer talks to its neighbor or even knows who she is, except by looks.

Even in farming communities, where neighbors could live miles apart, they knew each other. They helped each other of necessity. Harvest parties, roofing parties, raising parties (building a barn or a house) and worshipping together. I think of granges and the societies built around them.

Even in towns and cities, people knew each other. There were fewer distractions and communities still looked out for each other. I'm only 57 years old, yet when I was a kid of three I wandered all around my neighborhood with impunity. We looked out for each other. It wasn't uncommon in the neighborhood that was my village for someone else's parent to discipline another's child. Not corporeally of course, but you knew when you were in trouble – and you knew your parents would soon hear about it as well.

So, what's happened in our society to make things so bad? Of my own neighbors today, I know the names of perhaps 10 percent and even less about what they do. I know the names of my immediate neighbors, and a couple up the street, but that's about all. And I'm a pretty friendly guy. So what's happened? America has lost it glue, that's what's happened.

Farming communities that once relied upon each other have been replaced with corporate farms who don't need or want outside assistance from pestering neighbors. Farmers could not compete with the corporate farms and were forced to sell out, so these famers have moved to the cities to get jobs, selling farms that had been in families for hundreds of years and several generations. Not all have sold out, but surely more than 98%.

With the invent of the internal combustion engine people are able to travel further in order to seek employment, be entertained, visit family and the like. That means that neighborhoods are less needed for participating in social things than ever. Our society has become fragmented and is becoming more fragmented daily, hourly, and the minute and second! We live further away from family members. Our support systems are no longer there.

The loss of the front porch also signifies the death of another neighborhood social strata. Time was, and I'm sure you've seen this in old movies, when people would visit on their porches and visit. Porches used to be large and many had outside furniture like chairs and even the front porch swing. I can't remember the last time I saw a front porch swing. But the point is, neighbors used to visit neighbors. They knew each other and invested in each other because it was important to the society.

Not so much now.

Starting in the 1950's, things got worse for the neighborhood. Television was invented. At least with the invention of the radio, people came together to listen to great events. It was the same with early television. I remember visiting with the friend of a friend in order to watch the first moon landing in the 1960's. They brought their television outside in order to accommodate the small gathering that came to watch.

The funny thing about television, it doesn't require a thing from the viewer, except eyes and a brain. Whatever happens on the screen is seen and deciphered in the context and ability of the viewer alone..

But something else happened with television. Psychologists and linguists and anthropologists and sociologist and political scientists all began to realize something that Advertising Agencies had found out. You can affect the way people think and act by the message you portray in modern advertising as shown on television. That is to say, politicians can frame a message in a thirty second "spot" in such a way as to create a specific perception by the viewer and get a desired reaction (action) from that specific type of viewer.

That's why polling is so important in today's political climate. Sure, politicians want to know who were voting for, but that's only the half of it. They also want to know if they create a message in a certain way will that message create a specific reaction from the viewer. To find that out they create "focus groups".

Focus groups are groups of people with a commonality, for example, all Republicans, all Democrats, for business, against business, urban, rural, liberal, conservative, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, mechanics, independents, likely voters, women, men, between certain ages and on and on. The folks are brought together and then asked questions. But that's not all, even the type of question is important. There are aided questions, un-aided questions, push questions, pull questions, fill in the blank questions and if that's not enough they watch video and are asked to rate what they've watched. And somewhere in all of these focus groups, you are represented. They know YOU.

It's all very scientific and it's all designed to find out what kind of reaction will the politician get if they do 'A', 'B' or 'C'.

Get the picture? In other words, today's politician knows what will happen before they do it. To coin a phrase from Tom Clancy's, Hunt for Red Oktober, "The average Ruski, son, doesn't take a dump without a plan." Neither does today's modern politician! Our modern candidates, and today that means Barack Obama and John McCain, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, believe they know in advance, based on polling and focus group research, what kind of response they will get before they make a speech or run an ad.

Remember "vetting"? Vetting means taking polls, using focus groups and researching a topic or a person and their past financial, medical and legal records. Not to mention published works or recorded speeches and the like.

Why go through all the trouble and vast expense? Mostly for two reasons; cost and power. It costs money to acquire power. Political parties, candidates and groups are after the power they need in order to achieve the goals they have established for themselves. That's why we have political parties. Groups of similar minded individuals want to achieve specific results for themselves and those they represent.

It is so unfortunate, but that is what our political system has come down to. Each part must play this game or lose the right to represent the electorate. Thank God we still get to vote! And if we're lucky (about once or twice in a life-time) current events will be so bad that the American people will actually look beyond the modern television campaign and get involved enough to know when we're being advertised into a vote and when we're deciding on who to vote for.

I'm a retired navy man. I'm fortunate enough to have in my neighborhood a man who is also retired navy. What makes it so fortunate is that we served on the same ship together. We fought in the Gulf War together and were deployed to the Gulf twice. We got to know each other a bit more than most folks before they become neighbors. I liked him then, and I like him today because he is a standup guy. He's honest, hardworking, loves his family and cares about his community. He's a Republican. I'm a Democrat. That only matters when we're in our voting booths.

We want the same things, my neighbor and I. We want to live in a place safe from harm (LIFE). We want to be able to make a decent living, equivalent to our means (LIBRTY). We want our families to be able to do whatever they are capable of doing without restraint (THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS). We want the same things!

We believe, my neighbor and me, that there are different ways of getting the things we want (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) and that's why we belong to different political parties. That's a great thing about being an American.

But we're in danger of losing those things we hold dearest because those in power in our political parties, our leaders, have lost their way. They believe that today the end justifies the means. These leaders have shown a willingness to travel a different road, a darker road, to achieve the ends they desire. And in doing so they have shown America that they are no longer interested in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – they are simply interested in power for the sake of power. They have shown that they are willing to divide the country into as many pieces as it takes in order to get what they want regardless of what the American people want.

We cannot afford to follow them there no matter how many TV ads they buy. In our hearts, we know the truth. And the truth takes longer than 30 seconds to learn.



















Monday, October 27, 2008

Where Does Gregoire Budget Deficit Come From?

I've been listening to Dino Rossi bad mouthing Governor Christine Gregoire concerning the state budget and what he says we will be in the hole because of the Governor's spending. Yet, in all his facts he has conveniently omitted the fact that Washington will be paying about 15 Billion dollars to cover the cost of the illegal war in Iraq – a war that Rossi and Republican GOPs support. Rossi is still looking for victory in a war noted as being "unwinnable". History will be the final arbiter on that debate, however, the costs are here now and remain mysteriously missing from GOP estimates of the costs Washingtonians will address in coming budgets and local economies.

According to Washingtonians will pay $14.9 billion for Iraq war spending approved to date. For the same amount of money, we could have one of the following for one year:

  • 2,363,490 People with Health Care OR
  • 13,272,193 Homes with Renewable Electricity OR
  • 276,928 Public Safety Officers OR
  • 240,012 Music and Arts Teachers OR
  • 2,489,346 Scholarships for University Students OR
  • 82,314 Affordable Housing Units OR
  • 6,008,959 Children with Health Care OR
  • 1,679,488 Head Start Places for Children OR
  • 243,642 Elementary School Teachers OR
  • 199,681 Port Container Inspectors


It's time Washingtonians realized that we're going to be paying enough for Republican leadership without adding to the problem election one more GOP mistake by electing Rossi.

We owe it to ourselves and our children to re-elect Gregoire.


Friday, October 17, 2008

We Must Do Better!

I'm always amazed to read the comments on the newspaper blogs. I don't know why I even read them. It's virtually all crap being said about our candidates. No one give specifics - it's all generalizations, lies, distraction, and rubbish. How can anyone engage in a debate with "nothing"?

I'm talking both sides of the arguments. I say 'If you can't back up your comments with fact and reason (not hype and BS) then you should do the world a favor and keep your mouth shut.'

No one wants to read lies, garbage and badly thought out arguments with no substantiation. What's happened to America? Where is our ability to think?

Politics isn't about making each other angry. It's supposed to be about reasoning the best solutions to our common problems. Instead our political parties are teaching us to hit negatives and attack character. And where there is no connection with allegations, then the trick is to make one up.

Real debate requires facts, not just repeating political talking points. Most of what we hear and see is trivial dribble of personal opinion and/or blind attacks about candidates we neither know nor want to know.

I don't care about what a candidate says about another candidate. I want to know what she has to say about the issues. Does what she say ring true? Are her propositions reasonable? Did she think through the issue and bring a solution to the table that will work not just sound good? What is her education? What kind of track record does she have? Does she inspire me and make me want to be a better citizen? Has she been involved in her community and if so, how?

As long as we engage in this kind of politics we are going to keep getting the same sick, lame and lazy results. Real politics takes work and its time we rolled up our sleeves!