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Obama and Prop 8

| Tue Oct. 21, 2008 12:10 AM EDT

OBAMA AND PROP 8....Several months ago Barack Obama came out against Proposition 8, an initiative that would ban same-sex marriage in California, but since then he hasn't exactly been very vocal about his opposition. Since African-Americans support Prop 8 by a wider margin than any other ethnic group, Andrew Sullivan thinks Obama should use his bully pulpit to help turn the tide:

If he does not stand up for gay couples now, why should we believe he will when he is in office? And if black Americans are the critical bloc that helps kill civil rights for gays, that will not help deepen Obama's governing coalition. It could tear it apart.

Memo to Obama: make an ad. Speak loudly. Defend equality. Defend it when it might actually lose you some votes. Show us you are not another Clinton.

The argument against following Andrew's advice is obvious and compelling: Obama looks like he has the election in the bag right now, so why take even a tiny chance of blowing it? It's easy for bloggers and other amateurs to sit on the sidelines and tell Obama to take risky, principled stands on whatever their pet issue happens to be, but bloggers and amateurs don't have to take the heat if it doesn't work out, do they?

In other words, I get it. But I agree with Andrew anyway. My biggest concern about Obama all along has been his almost preternatural caution, and while this has obviously served him well during the financial crisis of the past few weeks, it's hard not to wonder when, if ever, he's going to show a little more, um, audacity on selling a progressive agenda to the country. Right now, California progressives need some help on Prop 8, and he's supposed to be our champion. So when are we going to see some leadership on this?

Plenty of people disagree with me about this. Better to play it safe for now, get elected, and then let big congressional majorities work their magic. Good things will follow. But I'm not so sure. I've got a broader piece on this topic coming up in the November issue of the magazine, but my main point is easy to summarize: in the end, congressional majorities aren't enough. You need public opinion behind you too, and the only way to get that is by actively trying to mold public opinion. So far Obama hasn't really tried to do that, and that's troubling for the progressive movement. If he's unwilling to take a few minor risks now, how likely is it that he's going to be willing to take a few bigger risks if and when he's elected?

So throw us a bone, Barack. Take a small risk on behalf of a core progressive principle. Make an ad.

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California's Prop 8 Push: "Save Our Children!"

| Tue Oct. 21, 2008 12:05 AM EDT

I was walking down an Oakland, California street tonight when I passed a family, there were at least six of them, with big yellow signs that read: "Yes on Prop 8" and "Keep Government Out!" and "Save Our Children!" Now Proposition 8, as you likely have heard, is the latest attempt to erode equal rights, this year's "say no to gay marriage" initiative on the upcoming state ballot.

They were yelling, all of them, even the little kiddies, "Save Our Children! Save Our Children!" It's a curious slogan. How, exactly, is banning same-sex marriage "restoring marriage and protecting California children?" It isn't like Measure OO, a city initiative that would boost funding for youth development, dedicating a chunk of the city's budget to after-school and other programs for kids. In fact there's no money at all in the initiative that would save our children, the gay or the straight ones. And it does nothing to restore anything, or protect anything, it's not really "pro" anything.

And how, exactly, is banning people of the same sex from the benefits of marriage keeping government out? Is the government demanding women marry women or men marry men? According to one TV ad it sorta is. In the spot, a young girl comes home from school and tells her mom proudly, "I can marry a princess!" Have mercy, what parent doesn't want their kid to marry into royalty?

MOJO VIDEO: Mad for McCain (Starring "Tito the Builder")

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 8:04 PM EDT

At a John McCain rally in Virginia this past weekend, Mother Jones ran into a group of angry and frustrated McCain supporters looking for reporters to yell at. The now famous "Tito the Builder" was front and center. Here's what happened.

Taylor Wiles, Jonathan Stein, and David Corn

Dunkin' Donuts Goes Green...Sort Of

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 6:59 PM EDT

DONUT.jpgOn Friday, Dunkin' Donuts opened a LEED-certified store in St. Petersburg, FL which will donate leftover food, use worm composting, green cleaning products, and paper cups, and has insulated walls to cut 40 percent of air conditioning needs. But when every other Dunkin' Donuts still uses Styrofoam cups, can we really expect significant changes among fast-food behemoths?

Chipotle, which used to be owned in part by McDonald's, opened its first restaurant with a wind turbine in Gurnee, IL earlier this month. The storefront gets 10 percent of its electricity from an on-site wind turbine, has an underground cistern to collect rainwater for the landscaping, and is built with recycled drywall and barn material, among other things. Another similar-though-lacking-a-wind-turbine location opened last week in Long Island.

Yet Chipotle already has two other green storefronts in Austin, TX, plus four more in the works. Its "Food With Integrity" mission entails that all of its chicken and pork, plus more than 60 percent of its beef, is "naturally raised" without antibiotics or hormones, on vegetarian feed, and with space to roam. They started doing this with their pork in 2001.

Will other fast-food joints follow suit? Here's what McDonald's, Taco Bell, Subway, and Hardee's are doing.

Omaha Dispatch: Things Are So Much Worse For McCain Than You Realize

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 6:04 PM EDT

mojo-photo-huskersforobama.jpgLately, we've seen a lot of press about Obama making inroads in traditionally Republican areas, perhaps none more intriguingly than Nebraska's second congressional district, comprised of Omaha and its suburbs. I grew up in outstate Nebraska (not far from where Children of the Corn was filmed, to give you an idea) and while I'm proud to say the state is no Kansas, with its anti-abortion billboards and evolution-denying school boards, it's still incredibly hostile territory for national Democrats. However, I just got back from a quick trip to see family in Omaha, and without even trying, I ran across ample evidence that my home state may be ready for change, in Gotham bold.

Barack Obama: Marketer of the Year

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 5:36 PM EDT

obama-progress.jpg

Sure, Apple's done a good job advertising the ubiqituous iPhone. But according to Advertising Age, Barack Obama's done a better job advertising…Barack Obama.

At this year's annual National Advertisers' conference, hundreds of marketers, agency heads and marketing-service vendors chose Obama as Marketer of the Year, besting Apple, Zappos, Coors, and Nike. The presidential hopeful was honored for his hugely successful web-based campaign, which has utilized Facebook , MySpace, and outreach sites such as voteforchange.com.

Said Advertising Age:

Just weeks before he demonstrates whether his campaign's blend of grass-roots appeal and big media-budget know-how has converted the American electorate, Sen. Barack Obama has shown he's already won over the nation's brand builders.

Obama garnered an impressive 36.1 percent of the vote, compared to second-place Apple's 27.3 percent. As for McCain? He walked away with just 4.5 percent of the vote.

—Nikki Gloudeman

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We May See Jeremiah Wright Yet

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 5:18 PM EDT

I've long assumed that this campaign would get really ugly in its final weeks. Today, HuffPost finds evidence that my premonition will come to pass.

Here's McCain campaign manager Rick Davis speaking to a conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt late last week:

Look, John McCain has told us a long time ago before this campaign ever got started, back in May, I think, that from his perspective, he was not going to have his campaign actively involved in using Jeremiah Wright as a wedge in this campaign.
Now since then, I must say, when Congressman Lewis calls John McCain and Sarah Palin and his entire group of supporters, fifty million people strong around this country, that we're all racists and we should be compared to George Wallace and the kind of horrible segregation and evil and horrible politics that was played at that time, you know, that you've got to rethink all these things.
And so I think we're in the process of looking at how we're going to close this campaign. We've got 19 days, and we're taking serious all these issues.

Shorter Rick Davis: if we're going to be accused of being racists, we might as well be racists.

VIDEO: The GOP's Internal Struggle Over Racism and Xenophobia

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 4:30 PM EDT

This is heartening — anti-Islamic bigots at a McCain rally on Saturday were confronted by other attendees and actually sent packing.

A couple points: (1) I hope we seen a post-election rehabilitation of the image of Muslims in America. It's sorely needed. Colin Powell is already helping. (2) There is a war currently ongoing for the soul of the Republican Party. On the one hand you've got the folks in this video who decry racism, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. On the other hand you've got folks like the the man below and the party leaders who seek to exploit him. The positions the party takes on any number of issues — including military detainees, civil liberties, hate crime legislation, gay marriage, and immigration — depend on which kind of GOP voter wins this battle.

Frankly, I wish the nativists all the luck in the world. Their ascent in the Republican Party will only lead to its increased marginalization in a changing world.

Economic Update

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 4:30 PM EDT

ECONOMIC UPDATE....The latest economic news might not quite qualify as "good," but it's slightly encouraging at least. (1) Germany, the Netherlands, and South Korea are implementing some stunningly large bank rescue operations. (Relative to GDP, all are as large or larger than the U.S. rescue.) (2) Iceland is nearing an IMF rescue plan. (3) Ben Bernanke says a fiscal stimulus plan "seems appropriate." (4) After a price drop of 33% since their peak last year, home sales in Southern California shot up 65% in September. (5) And Calculated Risk tots up the evidence and says it looks like the credit crisis is finally easing a bit.

Don't go getting too excited or anything. More bailouts and a long recession are still ahead. But there might finally be a few tiny rays of sunshine on the horizon.

Goodbye, TV Dinners: New Study Says Technology Improves Family Interactions

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 4:24 PM EDT

laptops.jpgThe image of four family members sitting silently around their living room and tapping on their keyboards does not exactly evoke a Norman Rockwell evening. Conventional wisdom has it that everyone in the family is absorbed in his or her own online life—and that the real people in the room are probably not part of it.

But a new report suggests that the situation may be more complex than we think. The internet, after all, is an interactive medium, and using it is not the passive experience of watching television.

The study, conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, found that roughly 95% of married-with-children households—the traditional nuclear families—own at least one cell phone and at least one computer with internet access. That's compared to around 80% for the country overall. And nearly half the people surveyed said that all the technology actually encourages communication—the "hey, look at this!" phenomenon that makes YouTube so successful.