Monday, February 25, 2008


Barack Obama is Not Jesus

Excuse me, but this sounds more like a cult than a political campaign. The language used here is the language of evangelical Christianity – the Obama volunteers speak of "coming to Obama" in the same way born-again Christians talk about "coming to Jesus."

But he's not Jesus! He's not going to magically enable us to transcend the bitter partisanship that is tearing this country apart. And even if he is elected, in no way will that show that somehow we have "gotten beyond" race.

The Obama campaign's instruction to their volunteers to steer clear of policy questions. How can we truly bring about real political change if the movement the Obama people are building is devoid of ideological content, content merely to mouth gauzy generalities about "coming together" and "yes we can"? Such a movement becomes a cult or personality rather than engine for social justice and political transformation. And personality cults can be a huge turnoff to those who are not already drinking the Kool-Aid.

This is part of an effort on my part to figure out why people are against Obama because he's just too damned charismatic. I think I have a better idea now, though I honestly still find myself agreeing with one of the comments on this entry.

I can appreciate the concerns expressed, but feel that you're making some hasty conclusions based on a very small sample. There will be passionate supporters on both sides. That you have not seen the same kind of reactions from HRC supporters doesn't mean they're not out there (and judging from the more vituperative tone coming out of the blogosphere from HRC supporters, I can see why euphoria over her candidacy is not coming through). Second, consider the age factor. Obama has attracted a veritable army of young supporters whose tendencies to emote or place their support in a messianic context is far more likely than older supporters. But don't discount the existence of a large number of older supporters for Obama as well, who I suspect are a bit more calculated in their support.

With respect to discussing the issues, I think asking young supporters with little life or political experience to represent to the democratic electorate the nuances between Clinton's and Obama's positions is asking for trouble. I have to believe the same is true in Clinton's campaign. Overall votes will win the election, but the candidates' most articulate supporters will be the core of the grass roots information campaign to attract voters.

At an Obama rally in Nevada last month I had to chuckle at the number of teen volunteers on hand who were fairly clueless about the event itself. Billed as a town hall, I wanted to find out the format for submitting questions. None of the teens I spoke with could say. I don't see that as a blot on the Obama campaign, but a function of accepting help whereever on can get it and not asking more of the youngsters than they can take on.

As to whether Obama supporters will rally to the democratic nomineee, I guess that's a genuine concern, but is a bit moot at this stage. If Clinton gets the nomination it will be her job to unify the party and motivate the base. It's not a fair criticism of Obama's campaign to suggest that his supporters won't back HRC down the road.

Thanks for voting today!

Dems in '08!!! -GMan08

So my general opinion is this: There are people in all political parties who'll support a candidate without really knowing what they're doing. However, no Obama supporter I've spoken to (and this means basically all of my classmates) are supporting him just because he's pretty and speaks well. I for one checked out what he's done in his Senate terms and previous employment, etc. before I even watched him speak. I can't even watch television in my house; I had to go out of my way to find youtube videos of him speaking after I'd already decided I preferred him.

So quit painting all Obama supporters as the same kind of plodding lazy sheep every other campaign has within its supporter-base. Check Huckabee's folk, HRC's folk, Ron Paul's folk, Romney's folk, McCain's folk. There are always people who haven't done their homework.

But honest to fuck, people, do you really think that none of us knows any better? Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to check eBay for fragments of Obama's clothing to use as medicinal cures.

Ethnocentrism and Homeopathy

Irresponsibility to the nth power: Homeopaths treating HIV in Africa

I don't even know what to say yet. Read the article.

Anyone who reads this blog knows my opinion of homeopathy. Just type "homeopathy" in the little search box on the left side of this blog, and you'll be greeted with many, many posts dating back to the very beginnings of Orac's presence on ScienceBlogs. Of course, science is with me on this one, as it does not support the primary claims of homeopathy, including:

  • Like cures like

  • Dilution with succussion makes a remedy stronger

  • Water has "memory" of remedies that it has come in contact with, which is how homeopathic remedies can "work," even though they've been diluted to the point where, even homeopaths admit, there is unlikely to be even a single molecule of active substance left.

Dr. Kimball Atwood has also discussed the utter implausibility and lack of scientific support for homeopathy in a five part series: "Homeopathy and Evidence-Based Medicine: Back to the Future" (Part I, II, III, IV, V), as well as why homeopaths can cite clinical trials that appear "positive" despite this extreme scientific implausibility in "Prior probability: The dirty little secret of 'evidence-based' medicine" (parts I and II). So what am I to think of this story about homeopaths treating HIV patients in Africa?

It's long, but Orac breaks it up all friendly-like into paragraphs and quoted sections, so don't give me that tl;dr silliness.

Some of the comments, though, are great.

In response to this quoted section from the article:
She believes part of the appeal of homeopathy in Botswana is because it has elements of both traditional and western medicine. "It comes in a pill, but the approach - taking into account mind, body and spirit - is more Batswana. People are very comfortable with it," she said.

Meraydia said, "And of course the woman falls into the racist fallacy of according sprirituality to "native" populations."

Thank you, Meraydia. I was hoping someone would point out that Fairclough doesn't seem to think Africans care as much about being healthy as having spiritually-correct water. Effective health care is clearly some kind of Euro-American value that Those Damned Allopaths are imposing on Botswana.

I just... I'm glad someone else noticed this. It pisses me off every time I see it, because Fairclough's statement feeds into a belief that has kept many people from supporting AIDS treatments in Africa. You see, AIDS is a problem in Africa because they're dirty superstitious half-naked heathen negroes, not because colonial powers have utterly destroyed the economic viability of most of the continent.

We can't fix the fact that they're dirty superstitious half-naked heathen negroes with medicine, since it's obviously coded into their DNA. So why bother? Just give them some magic water and wait for them to die.

Well, if the White Pride kiddies say it's so......

One of my latest referrals to this journal was a google search for "nicolae carpathia barack obama" which turned up such gems as "Does Barack Hussein Obama remind you of Nicolae Carpathia?" along with "The Cult of Barack Obama:" courtesy of the Stormfront White Nationalist Community.

Oh, America. Sometimes I wonder why I even try.

First off, Nicolae Carpathia's big rousing speech was him reciting alphabetically the names of UN member countries, so charisma? I doubt it. Second, wtf. Third, why are people so determined to treat charisma like it's something presidential candidates shouldn't have? Does that make any damned sense at all?


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ethnographic Authority (random ramblings)

There's a debate in anthropology about where authority comes from, and there are two schools that feature most prominently in the discussion. One school (Geertz comes to mind, if my memory serves) claims that an outsider is not going to understand the perspective of the insider, and will consequently no really "get it." The best the ethnographer can hope for is to look over her informants' shoulders.

There are other assertions that a fresh perspective is of prime importance. Was it Mead who said "a fish doesn't know it's wet?" From this view it is the informant/insider who is biased, not the culturally-transplanted ethnographer.

As I became more involved with the communities I studied, TGC in particular, I faced a tough dilemma. Could I continue studying a community after becoming established within it myself? Was I an insider yet, and if so what did that mean?

On TGC I had been made staff in a couple of places, a gesture of trust and esteem that most members do not receive. As a member I was flattered and eager to contribute my perspective. As an ethnographer I was both thrilled and troubled. On the one hand this was undeniable proof that I understood the values of the community well enough to be entrusted with their preservation. I would be privy to the discussions and explanations behind staff decisions, able to read the staff boards and potentially gain insight into how the staff justified decisions and to what degree they were accountable to each other. What a prize!

There were also reservations in my mind. If I were to be acting as a staffer, was this an indication that I'd become too involved? Was I too deeply embedded in the community to study it in its "natural" form? To use the term with full intended irony, I felt like I could no longer study "pre-contact" TGC. Perhaps I'd changed TGC too much.

At this point (or shortly thereafter) I decided to abandon the pose of the invisible God's-eye, freeing myself from the imperative "look but don't touch." I could just be a member and a staffer, free to act as I pleased in the community because now the community was mine.

I was almost immediately after this caught up in a dispute that exploded into a power struggle that divided the community into factions: rebels, royalists, bystanders, and even the odd secret agent (and you know who you are if you're reading this). Despite the fact that I orchestrated much of it, the cleavage of power and accountability revealed irresistible machinery operating beneath the surface of the community. For nearly a week I was consumed in this little rebellion almost to the exclusion of all else (including my proximal affairs). Constantly recording, responding, recruiting, much of my time was spent in a propaganda war that ended in the splintering off of a dozen or more people. They formed a new board and I assisted however I could with its establishment.

I learned a great deal about the flow and power of information during this "separatist" movement. These observations will color my analysis of my earlier days at TGC, and therefore they're important to note. Dear reader, these events mattered to my study, and therefore we cannot ignore them simply because I saw them from the inside and helped determine the course that they would take.

And so I find myself faced with a question I must answer. Can an anthropologist ethically be an activist as well? To situate the question in the context of my study, was it ethical for me to use my knowledge of the community to change the community?

Whatever the answer to that, the community was changed (if only for a time). Whoever did it, it occurred. The fact that I played such a prominent role is a further challenge to the "invisible observer" paradigm, and a test of your willingness to accept that all ethnographers change the communities that they study. It is only a matter of degree and intent. The degree was great, but my intent was supported by many members, and my relative success would not have been possible without them. Keep that in mind before levelling accusations or judgments on my ethicality or objectivity. I did not pull TGC further from its own values or change the way things worked. I lent my insight to the members and they did the rest.

So yes, I participated in a power struggle, but in the end it was the members who carried the burden of assuring success or failure. If it were not also their cause, they wouldn't have fought it. Because they cared, because they fought, I am including this period in my study (and in so doing, including more of myself).

Establish my credibility through study, through theoretical education and its application and practice. Or, establish my credibility on the trust of my informants, people who agreed with my perspective and defended it within the community. Establish it however you must to answer the question of where ethnographic authority comes from.

So the Apostle Paul.

Corinthians 4:5. " are to deliver this man to Satan 4 for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord."

Paul suggests giving people over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh, so that their spirit can be saved. I was struck by this. Satan is surprisingly helpful here; you can count on him to do you favors.

"We've got this guy, and he's kind of corrupt. Ah.... if you could take him and give him back when he's better... yeah. That'd be great. Right, also, if you could come in on Saturday to take away our incestuous pagans? Greeaaat."

Friday, February 8, 2008

Orality of the internet?

In Christine Hine's Virtual Ethnography, she mentioned that most interactions are structured based on the assumption of a single, linear chronology in which events happen either simultaneously or sequentially. This is only a reality insofar as people perceive things in this order. It's still an assumption that doesn't need to apply to all interactions. However, time on the internet is different, as she points out.* "Adam suggests that 'all time is social time' (1990: 42), to stress that linear, progressive time itself is a social construct, rather than a pre-existing asocial structure upon which other temporal orderings are overlaid. All ideas of temporality are, then, constructs and are the upshot of interpretive practices"(2003: 103).

Time on the internet doesn't flow quite that smoothly, though. Think about conversations on a message board, over email, on Blogger. They happen in spurts. By the time you read this and I actually engage you in a conversation I may not even be here anymore. You will respond in my absence and I may respond to you in turn when you're off away from the computer. Yet the conversation is perceived as fluid. We can talk in spurts in several board threads and each thread has its own continuity.

This is where things start to get complicated. Say I'm posting in three threads about three different things. Each thread effectively has its own continuity despite the fact that I may type posts to the three threads in close temporal proximity to one another. I can answer the thread about Force Lightning and the thread about airplane safety and the thread about flea collars all within the same five minutes. To read the threads later you would have to check the timestamps to remind yourself that these conversations were happening perfectly simultaneously. This creates a problem for ethnographers studying these boards. You want to see conversations and interactions in context, but it's possible to utterly remove a conversation from temporal context, to ignore any other conversations that were going on at the same time.

How the hell do you figure this out? If the only linear time on the internet is in the mind of the user (and is not in fact represented on the board) then how do you get access to that time?

The answer is obvious, but its meaning didn't hit me until last week. The answer is obviously to talk to the users.

Why is this unusual? It totally staggered me when I realized it, because it effectively turns a purely-text-based medium into an oral tradition. I was astounded, and then I realized this is precisely what I need to be considering. I'd been working within this framework and even participating in it without even realizing it. On The Gungan Council in particular, the rank system is ranking you at least partly by your value to the oral tradition.

Members start out as trainees or apprentices. This is your basic newbie rank. You are taken in by someone of a rank higher than you. They do at least one thread with you to ensure that you have a chance to RP, and a chance to "get your feet wet" in the community. They're also expected to answer whatever questions you may have and act as your guru (and yes, my use of this word is intentional). The most helpful trainers I've seen on that board are the ones who have been involved for a long time (sometimes years) and can offer insights about the community based on their past experience.

As I was promoted with my character, it became my responsibility to pass on this knowledge and insight to new members. The more new members you take on as a trainer, the sooner you will be promoted to your next rank because you have made yourself more vital to the oral tradition.

This is why, when I needed to know what had happened a year ago with a member who has just returned from a long absence or (occasionally) after being banned... I can't go back and check for threads. I have to ask someone who was there. They are the repository of knowledge about the community, and after I had been there a few months I became such a resource for newer people. I was seen as "someone who was there," and who could explain the history of the community. Even if I wasn't there myself, I knew people who were and had access to these informants.

This was an amazing revelation for me! The whole damned thing is text and theoretically everything could be preserved perfectly intact! Nonetheless, people turn to their community "elders" for context and history and advice. It's as if, despite the textual nature of online interactions, users still view them as ephemerally-verbal. Words on the wind can disappear, and most users I've known don't seem to think of online conversations as any different.

I posted an article in here earlier that people are treating IM conversations like verbal speech (as measured by the presence of the quotative "like," for example). It didn't occur to me that people would see the internet as anything but uniquely textual, so when they realized that I was saving copies of threads to ensure that they were not wiped out (in these cases truly leaving nothing behind but an oral history), the reaction was surprise and occasionally even awe.

Seriously. You'd think I had just introduced an Amazon tribe to the cassette recorder, like I had captured their experience in some dazzlingly-perfect new way. Had they gotten so used to thinking of virtual interactions as verbal that they'd forgotten they could save the text? I've taken on an odd status among those who know me online as "that one who saves copies of everything." When the drama dropped at TGC and politically-dangerous threads were being deleted left and right, I was the keeper of the history. I was the one who had the proof, the one who held the definitive account. Almost immediately my informants followed my lead and began saving copies of threads that were relevant to my study, increasing their efforts after I was banned and could only view the forum through some proxy-trickery.

That's what made me different, and what eventually exemplified the people who worked with me. We saved copies. We were treating the community as though it were built on text, and the fact that it gave me such an edge in a propaganda war should be a powerful indication of how few people in the community truly thought of the internet as a world of text.

This was my revelation. Now for my meeting with EE tomorrow, I'm going to do some readings on oral history. I couldn't really have anticipated that my project would take this turn, but it has. Hopefully I'll gain some new insights into the way users view their virtual environments, because apparently their perspective has been different than mine, and now I've got a clue to it.

*She also has some notes about the spaciality of the internet on 106, but that's another entry and I'm only including it here to remind myself to write it.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Search your feelings... you know it to be true...

You are shitting me.

Have I given my country too much credit again? Have I assumed wrongly that people are not as horrendously dense as we all fear?

I'm speaking of the "people who don't like Obama are racists" argument. I hate this argument, because I can dislike Clinton without being a misogynist. But... But...

There's a kernel of truth here, and it just... hurts my head.

Another article from Orcinus

"The brutal truth: Obama is a 'wigger'. He's a remarkably exotic variety of the faux African-American, but a wigger nonetheless."
-- Steve Sailer, American Conservative

At the core of the Democratic front-runner's faith — whether lapsed Muslim, new Christian or some mixture of the two — is African nativism, which raises political issues of its own. ... Would Obama put African tribal or family interests ahead of U.S. interests?
-- Investor's Business Daily editorial


WTFery abounds. I'm done.

Are They Crazy Dangerous or Just Plain Crazy?

Are They Crazy Dangerous or Just Plain Crazy?

You can tell a lot about a group's danger quotient by taking a quick look at their preferred future. The CSIS document was written in 1999, so the authors had their eyes wide open looking for millennialist groups looking to bring on some variant of the Second Coming in 2000. That threat, of course, has passed; but the general rule still holds. Any group that's insisting that The End Is Near -- that the world is about to end in fire, ice, Rapture, or a Racial Holy War -- has already taken one giant step back from consensus reality. Interestingly: the report notes that "not all foresee a violent turning of the millennium; in fact, many see it as the catalyst for peaceful and harmonious change." Harmonic convergences and Jesus' Thousand-Year Kingdom also apply here. (Note, however: global warming, which is supported by thousands of studies, does not.)

The core point is: people who think this way have given up hope that they can create any kind of fulfilling future within this society, and have retreated to a fantasy future that they find more emotionally compelling. This is important: as I've discussed before, creating a common future is the fundamental goal that keeps societies together; and the shared vision and collective effort this goal inspires are critical to a functioning democracy.

Yeah. Thank you. If your goal is not to make this world a better place but instead to hasten its end, your goals do not mesh with mine. End of line.

Prisoners' Religious Rights

First Wiccan Chaplain in History To Meet with U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

BBSNews 2008-02-07 -- (CS) A Wiccan Chaplain and Statewide California Department of Corrections, Patrick McCollum will speak at a briefing on prisoners' religious rights at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in Washington, DC on Friday, February 8, 2007. This marks the first time that a Wiccan expert has spoken on religious freedom issues at a Commission briefing.

"It is an honor to be invited to participate in the dialogue and to share a Wiccan's point of view," said McCollum. "Those in minority faiths are seldom given the opportunity to be heard, even when the issue concerns their rights. I am hopeful this invitation is indicative of what we can expect going forward and that there truly is a desire on the part of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to ensure that inmates receive equal treatment, and a willingness to better serve minority religions."

After so many stories like this one of government-funded prison evangelizing, I'm glad to see someone of another religious persuasion speaking up.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Obama vs. the Phobocracy

I admit that I'm getting tired of listening to rationales from people who know that Obama is a remarkable, even an extraordinary politician, the kind who comes along, in this era of snakes and empty smiles, no more than once a generation.

Oh, sure, most of these people tell me they would like to see Obama become president. No question, he comes off as at once brilliant and sensible, vibrant and measured, engaged and engaging, talented, forthright, quick-witted, passionate, thoughtful and, as with all remarkable people whom experience has taught both the extent and the bitter limits of their gifts, reasonably humble. In a better world, people tell me, in theory, sure, having a president like Barack Obama sounds great. But not, you know, for real. Not in the base, corrupt, morally spent, toxic and reeling rats' nest that we like to call home. Things are so bad we just can't afford to waste our votes, people tell me, on some fantasy super-president with magical powers. We need someone electable, someone, as I have been told repeatedly in the past year, who can win.

Of course this misses the point; it misses all kinds of points. In a better world, if there were such a thing (and so far there never has been), we would not need a president like Obama as badly as we do. If there were less at stake, if our democracy had not been permitted, indeed encouraged, to sink to its present degraded and embattled condition not only by the present administration but by a fair number of those people now seeking to head up the next one, perhaps then we could afford to waste our votes on the candidate who knows best how to jigger, to manipulate and to conform to the vapid specifications of the debased electoral process it has been our unhappy fate to construct for ourselves.

Because ultimately, that is the point of Obama's candidacy -- of the hope, enthusiasm and sense of purpose it inspires, yes, but more crucially, of the very doubts and reservations expressed by those who pronounce, whether in tones of regret, certainty or skepticism, that America is not ready for Obama, or that Obama is not ready for the job, or that nobody of any worth or decency -- supposing there even to be such a person left on the American political scene -- can be expected to survive for a moment with his idealism and principle intact.

The point of Obama's candidacy is that the damaged state of American democracy is not the fault of George W. Bush and his minions, the corporate-controlled media, the insurance industry, the oil industry, lobbyists, terrorists, illegal immigrants or Satan. The point is that this mess is our fault. We let in the serpents and liars, we exchanged shining ideals for a handful of nails and some two-by-fours, and we did it by resorting to the simplest, deepest-seated and readiest method we possess as human beings for trying to make sense of the world: through our fear. America has become a phobocracy.


Fear and those who fatten on it spread vile lies about Obama's religion, his past drug use, his views on Israel and the Jews. Fear makes us see the world purely in terms of enemies and perils, and leads us to seek out the promise of leadership, however spurious it proves to be, among those who speak the language of that doomed and demeaning, that inhuman view of the world.

But the most pitiable fear of all is the fear of disappointment, of having our hearts broken and our hopes dashed by this radiant, humane politician who seems not just with his words but with every step he takes, simply by the fact of his running at all, to promise so much for our country, for our future and for the eventual state of our national soul. I say "pitiable" because this fear of disappointment, which I hear underlying so many of the doubts that people express to me, is ultimately a fear of finding out the truth about ourselves and the extent of the mess that we have gotten ourselves into. If we do fight for Obama, work for him, believe in him, vote for him, and the man goes down to defeat by the big-money machines and the merchants of fear, then what hope will we have left to hold on to?

I will say that I don't buy the racism tag. At the very least that I feel it's unfair to attribute dissenting votes to prejudice (since the flip side of this is accusing the author of sexism for not endorsing Clinton). However, this article did hit home on one thing in particular.

I've never been excited about politics before. I know that I'm pretty young and haven't been eligible to vote for many years, but it's hard to imagine things falling into place for me the way that they do with Obama. I am excited, and because my adult life has been spent under the thumb of GW, the fact that I can imagine something different, something better and have it also be something possible is striking to me. I'd always figured that the Bush administration was just... the way things are. All presidencies, all candidates, all administrations, are like this one. Some have been shaded a little by history, but to me this is the inevitable form democracy (or republicanism) will take.

I believe now that this is wrong. I believe now that we can do better, and that we will if we can just pull ourselves up by the short hairs and do something. We've got a chance, and it might not come again. I can't count on another opportunity like this for myself, for my country.

Can you understand? I want to hear the phrase "proud to be an American" and just for once in my life know what it means. I'm so tired of making excuses for my country, apologizing for my country, mourning and fearing my country. I didn't think there was another way anymore, but I was wrong.

Obama is the other way, the better way. And Chabon is right, that does bring some fear with it. I'm scared to death that we're going to miss this chance. I'm not just thrilled that Obama is running and that he could win. I'm scared that he might not. What then?

I don't know what'll come next, for America or for me. But I do know that if there's anything I can do... I won't let that happen. The least I can do in return for this single chance Obama is offering is to make sure he doesn't fail, make sure he doesn't fall. Make sure he wins. I don't have enough money to donate this month, and Indiana's democratic primary isn't until May, but I'll help. I'll make campaign calls and I'll make sure people know. Obama's giving us a chance.

Don't fuck it up, guys.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Barack Obama: My America

Barack Obama: My America

Since my arrival in the Senate, I've been a steady and occasionally fierce critic of Bush Administration policies. I consider the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to be both fiscally irresponsible and morally troubling. I have criticised the Administration for lacking a meaningful healthcare agenda, a serious energy policy, or a strategy for making America more competitive. Back in 2002, just before announcing my Senate campaign, I made a speech at one of the first anti-war rallies in Chicago in which I questioned the Administration's evidence of weapons of mass destruction and suggested that an invasion of Iraq would prove to be a costly error. Nothing in the recent news coming out of Baghdad or the rest of the Middle East has dispelled these views.

So Democratic audiences are often surprised when I tell them that I don't consider George Bush a bad man, and that I assume he and members of his Administration are trying to do what they think is best for the country.

I say this not because I am seduced by the proximity to power.

I see my invitations to the White House for what they are – exercises in common political courtesy – and am mindful of how quickly the long knives can come out when the Administration's agenda is threatened in any serious way. Moreover, whenever I write a letter to a family who has lost a loved one in Iraq, or read an email from a constituent who has dropped out of college because her student aid has been cut, I'm reminded that the actions of those in power have enormous consequences – a price that they themselves almost never have to pay.

Y'hear that, Europe? WE'RE NOT ALL INSANE.

Seriously. Thank you to The Independent for publishing something that shows my country isn't completely filled with maniacs.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Inner Cities and Iraq Have Similarities

Inner Cities and Iraq Have Similarities

It doesn't surprise me that Islamic fundamental terrorism evokes a mindset of waging war as the only reasonable response. Most Americans do not understand the terrorist motivation beyond hating us and radical ideology. In American's absence of a rational explanation they are willing to adopt a fight policy, a fundamental response we all have. However, that which we don't understand, leaves us at the mercy of the conservative thinking in times of unimaginative leaders.

This law and order mentality is evidenced in a long history of the inner cities plight in this county. Gangs and organized crime hold hostage residents of these areas through terror and intimidation. Yet after years of toughing laws and escalating incarceration the characters may have changed but the problem goes unabated. What makes the current administration believe that our inability to solve the same problem in one place will occur to us in another at a rate of $9 billion a month?

At this point I think I'm going to abandon whatever scraps remained of my pretention of objectivity. You'll be seeing a lot more from me about why Obama is the best damn thing ever and why I'm all twitterpated over him. Until a couple of days ago I hadn't even seen him speak, but his voting record and certain statements by him and the other candidates had already decided me.

Now I'm not just decided. I'm enthused. As an anthropologist, the idea that people would be interested in questioning their own perspectives is thrilling. The connection among our approaches to marginalized people is certainly interesting. I fear that delving too deeply into it will send me on a Marxist bender, so I won't go there. I will say that this is an excellent point. How is an administration that doesn't care about the "dregs" of society supposed to convince the one-time dregs of someone else's society that we're there for them?

This isn't an angle I'd heard before. I'm not presenting it because it's flawless, but it's food for thought.