And an update to the post -- the debate will take place as scheduled, according to an announcement from John McCain's campaign: http://tinyurl.com/4shldm
We interrupt my obsession with books other people write and the collection of words I call my work in progress for this plea from Democracy in Action. This is actually the second such petition I've received in so many days about the debate scheduled to take place tomorrow (Friday). Regardless of which candidate you support and in particular, for those who are undecided, the Presidential debates are a long-standing part of our democratic process and I urge everyone to watch them. The debates are the first real opportunity we get to see the candidates address the issues and express their similarities and differences in an environment that's arguably controlled and where the playing field is level. I'm passing on this petition to demand (well, I'd request but that's just the way I am) that the debate take place tomorrow, as scheduled:
Scott and I plan to go to Scott's Dad's house tomorrow night, order some pizza and watch the action.
In the last 24 hours, more than 6,500 people have signed "Demand the Debate," asking the Commission on Presidential Debates and both Senators Obama and McCain to commence with Friday's scheduled debate. Can you tell everyone you know to join you and sign this petition?http://org2.democracyinaction.
Tomorrow we're going to deliver your petition to the Commission on Presidential Debates in person (and to the Obama and McCain campaigns electronically), but we need to get as many signatures as we can.
Please ask your friends, family, and neighbors and co-workers to sign our petition by 11am on Friday. Click here to use our tell-a-friend tool to send our petition to people you know:
How about you? How many people plan to watch? Does anyone plan to watch with other people?
Odds and Ends:
On the subject of debate, there is a great HBO documentary on high school debating, called "Resolved". Scott and I saw this a couple of months ago. From HBO's website:
"Through the stories of two debate teams, the fascinating intricacies of high school debate give way to a portrait of the equally complex racial and class divide in American education in Resolved. As Matt and Sam, gifted debaters from an affluent Texas suburb, rise to the semifinals in their bid to win the national Tournament of Champions, Richard and Louis, talented inner-city debaters from Long Beach, CA, mount a successful challenge to modern debate by refocusing on personal experience and dialogue in their own quest for the championship. This 90-minute film offers a verité, behind-the-scenes look at the stresses and pressures of this highly competitive pursuit, while serving as a primer on the idiosyncratic techniques that have evolved over the years in high-school policy debate. Inspiring and enlightening, Resolved reveals a constantly shifting sport that is as much philosophy as it is a competition."
It's an incredible piece of film work, and high school debate has evolved into something I had no idea existed. Watch it if you get a chance. Watch the trailer here.
HBO is on a roll with good documentaries. Airing now is The Black List. Here's the HBO synopsis:
"Part of a multimedia initiative, The Black List: Volume One is the brainchild of renowned portrait photographer/filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and acclaimed NPR radio host, journalist and former New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell, with Greenfield-Sanders directing and Mitchell conducting the interviews. Mitchell, by design, is never seen on camera or heard, a strategy that allows the subjects' own voices to remain the focus. The actual title of the film itself, The Black List, was first conceived by Mitchell as an answer to the persistent taint that western culture has applied to the word 'black.'
The Black List's interviewees come from a diverse collection of disciplines from the worlds of the arts, sports, politics, business and government, and include, in order of appearance: Slash, former Guns N' Roses guitarist; Toni Morrison, author and Nobel laureate; Keenen Ivory Wayans, film writer/director, creator of TV's In Living Color; Vernon Jordan, lawyer and former president of the National Urban League; Faye Wattleton, current President of the Center for the Advancement of Women and former President of Planned Parenthood; Marc Morial, former Mayor of New Orleans and current National Urban League president; Serena Williams, eight-time Grand Slam tennis champion; Lou Gossett Jr., Oscar®-winning actor; Lorna Simpson, artist and photographer; Mahlon Duckett, former Negro League Baseball star; Zane, best-selling erotic author and publisher; Al Sharpton, pastor, activist and 2004 Presidential candidate; Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, Hall of Fame basketball great; Thelma Golden, art curator at the Whitney Museum and now the Studio Museum in Harlem; Sean Combs, mogul, actor and music producer; Susan Rice, former Assistant Secretary of State and Barack Obama's senior campaign advisor; Chris Rock, comedian, producer and director; Suzan-Lori Parks, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright; Richard Parsons, former Time Warner CEO; Dawn Staley, 3- time Olympic gold medalist, WNBA All-Star and current Temple University women's basketball head coach; and Bill T. Jones, Tony Award-winning dancer and director of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. "
The Black List had a profound impact on me. We're still struggling to deal with race in America. White America doesn't much discuss it outside of close knit circles. It makes us uncomfortable. The prevailing attitudes are either that it's not a problem anymore and we're past it, we're in denial and claim to be "color blind", or we want race to no longer be an issue, but we know it is and we don't know what, if anything we can do about it. I suppose there are other conversations that go on that I don't have any insight into. Racists tend to keep to themselves with their views, unless they're part of extremist groups that like to go public.
These short vignettes from well-known African Americans shed some light into the African American experience in a way that's rarely seen by the average white American or maybe in a way that's rarely been seen by anyone. My cable company has The Black List available "on demand" right now. See the clip in the Making of the Black List here. Video out-takes, including one from Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison are here.
Let me know if you've seen either of these excellent documentaries. What did you think?
And here's an amazing thing called The Wisdom Project. Watch it. You'll be glad you did.
I'll end by sharing Leo Kottke Radio, one of my Pandora radio stations. I'd give anything to see how he does what he does with only two hands.