My lunch with Andre

Dateline: Wed 08 Oct 2008

That's my friend and fellow Obama volunteer Andre Lee, 32. We happened to be joined by Barack Obama.

We met, 21,000 or so of us, at non at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in the open-air coliseum Wednesday for a three-hour rally featuring a totally relaxed and on-task Sen. Obama. Despite overcast skies, we cheered, stomped our feet, chanted "Yes We Can!" and "OBAMA!" but mostly we listened and got our batteries re-charged by Obama, who believes in us.

"Us" is the middle class, and that's what this Indianapolis crowd looked like: young, old, white, black, in wheelchairs, in arms, and, like the rounded, middle-aged, bald Republican sitting just in front of us, in an orange shirt.

"I'm pumpkins for Obama," joked the Republican, whose Bloomington-based son explained his dad's presence: "He bought into everything Bush and the GOP said about the markets. Now he's for Obama."

And who wouldn't be, listening to the speech?

"Ronald Reagan asked, (when he ran for president} 'Are you better off than you were four years ago?'" asked Obama. At today's pace, he said, the question is "how are you compared to four weeks ago?" But, "this is not a time for fear or is a time for resolve and steady leadership.

"...This is the UNITED States of America," said Obama. "We have faced great challenges and great threats...Our destiny is not written for us but by us. We make the decisions.

"Indiana, that's who we are, and that's where we need to be, and that's why I'm running for president....we are going to make this an American century."

Obama spoke of 700,000 jobs lost since January, then promised to open steel mills again to make wind turbines and solar panels and to build a hybird car of the future not in Japan or South Asia, but in the U.S.A.

"Because of you I have come this far," he said, in what was his grassroots theme: we are in this together. Speaking of Sen. John McCain's tax breaks for the wealthy, he asked for a show of hands: how many in the crowd made less than $250,000 a year? As every arm shot up, Obama promised, "If you make less than a quarter of a million a year, you will not see one dime of increased taxes."

On health care, he compared his perspective, that health care is a right, to McCain's notion, expressed in the debate the night before, that health care is a "responsibility." not the duty of government to provide.

"He (McCain) gets his health care from the government," said Obama, "and he is very happy with it. Yet somehow he doesn't want the government involved" in providing health care for the rest of Americans.

"We put Wall Street before Main Street but somehow we ended up hurting both. It is not just the CEOs, but the CEO's secretaries...not just the owners of the factories, but the men and women on the floor," who are affected, he said.

If we have learned anything at all from the past few weeks' financial crisis, he added, it is that "We are all together, and we rise and fall together."

From where I sat, his speech was punctuated with lots of enthusiastic response: "Thank you!" "Yeah!" "Good job!" "You can do it!"

I've had the priviledge now of hearing Obama speak in person twice, the first time during the primary in Cincinnati, and the second time today in Indy. No joke, as good as he was in Ohio, he's better today: totally on target, comfortable, confident and eloquent as always.

The experience for me, at the age of 61, has been a catalyst -- to see so many different people coming together for a common cause, and always in a mood of exuberance and even joy.

My friendship with my young friend Andre, who is black and from Carmel, has been forged by this campaign; no doubt, millions of others have reached across color and identity lines to embrace one another. So it was that Wednesday's crowed included union workers in T-shirts of their trade -- UAW, Steelworkers, Teamsters -- and aging boomers who remember that the last time Indiana went Democrat was in 1964, when Hoosiers voted for Lyndon Johnson.

At the end, I asked Mr. Bald Republican in the orange shirt if he liked Obama's speech.

"What's not to like?" he said rhetorically.

And as Andre and I left together, flowing out of a very relaxed crowd to find our vehicle, Andre met up with a young fellow volunteer out of the Broad Ripple office. They discussed the latest polls, which states were still in play and the debate the night before. As we parted ways, Andre's friend, wearing a yarmulke, joined his parents. "You'll have to come over for Shabbos!" he called out to Andre.

"Whateever that is, it sounds great," Andre said back.

Unity. It's a joy. Spread the word. And for God's sake, vote.

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Gannett screws over Guild

Dateline: Tue 07 Oct 2008

This memo was issued today by the Guild of the Indianapolis Star:

"Oct. 7, 2008

To fellow union members and all covered "bargaining unit" employees:

On Aug. 25, the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild (TNG-CWA 34070) grieved the layoffs of five coworkers, arguing that the company did not follow the terms of our collective bargaining agreement, Article VI, Section 1, which requires reductions in force be done by seniority. Filing a grievance and waiting for the company's response is a mandatory step before going to the next, more aggressive "binding arbitration" stage.

The company today officially rejected our grievance, which is their

right. We notified them as well we are filing for mandatory

arbitration, which allows an impartial third party to decide the


In August, and in virtually every meeting we have had with management, the Guild implored the company to explore the idea of "volunteers" for the impending layoffs. We know of coworkers who are interested in an early exit, and who wanted to spare other employees who are earlier in their careers and want to stay.

As the result of our action today, we expect the company to threaten to lay off by a "last hired, first fired" policy if we win this arbitration. As distasteful as that is to us, abandoning seniority would 1) subject the union to legal action from anyone improperly laid off (because we would be accused of not providing "fair representation") and 2) make anyone, irrespective of seniority, susceptible to arbitrary and capricious layoffs, dismissals and reductions in force.

Open House: Please feel free to drop by our HQ at the Indianapolis

Musician's Hall, 325 N. Delaware St., at noon, and from 6 to 8 p.m.

Oct. 23 with pizza and refreshments, to answer questions about the

previous layoff and to discuss upcoming contract talks, and to meet officers. Also, we will have a full Inkling in the next few days to go into this and other important details, including negotiating our new collective bargaining agreement beginning later this year.

In solidarity,

Abe Aamidor, President

and Guild officers"

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Silly season in politics

Dateline: Tue 07 Oct 2008

Political signage -- or expression of free speech -- has become a subset topic of this year's election in Indiana.

The latest flap is the city vs. Burnetta Sloss-Tanner, 72, whose side yard at 3529 Central Avenue in Indianapolis has been a garden for politcal signs. Right now, the Democractic precinct committee woman for 44 years has signs up for Lou Rosenberg, Andre Carson, Michael Rodman and Barack Obama.

Neighbors, she says, help themselves to the signs. "They come and take them and put them in their yards," she explains. "People look to me for leadership, and nobody has ever questioned my signs in my yards."

Not until a month or so ago, when she received a letter from the "Metropolitan Department of Compliance," of the city of Indianapolis, threatening her with a $2,500 fine unless she removed all but five signs from her premises.

She's not going to do it.

"I have not taken one sign down. And I will take it to the state supreme court if I have to. I am a woman of color, and I have fought for my civil rights for years."

The issue, she says, is not partisanship; she would defend the right of a Republican or any other political party member to have as many signs as she has in any other yard.

She does question the timing. Her home, she notes, is in a well-traveled, well-seen location, across from a school and a day care center. None of her signs are on the sidewalk. The are on private property. Besides, this is hardly something she started yesterday.

"After 30 years, why are they now asking me to take my signs down? Why is it all of a sudden Big Brother?

Why, indeed?

P.S. Thanks to the patient reader who tipped me about this. I should be in my own home by this weekend, so there should be a little more attention to detail. Thanks to all for patience.

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Not an original thought

Dateline: Fri 03 Oct 2008

But is Sarah Palin channeling Frances McDormand's role as police chief Margie Gunderson from 'Fargo'?

I've thought that for a while now, (so have many others, a quick Google check shows). But last night during the veep debate, it really hit home. The folky-isms and the "gee whiz" sort of frankness don't especially bother me, but it drives me nuts to hear someone drop her "g's" so consistently. Please speak English, Gov. Palin, unless and until Alaska secedes. And stay away from the Margie voiceovers.

Other than that, the little lady from up north did just dandy. Once again, she continues to not be the disaster so many liberals want her to be, at least when she's fielding questions on the national stage.

But Biden did the better job. He's older and smarter, and he has his wits about him.

Also: Palin needs to brush up on some basics. Enough with the Maverick lines, already, and the fact that she wants less intrusive government -- that's sort of understood, thank you very much. A start would be studying the role of the veep in the United States, so she can expound intelligently on that job.

And adding "ing's" when she speaks English.

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Sueddeutsche Zeitung in Plainfield

Dateline: Fri 03 Oct 2008

A lot of Obama supporters are maxing out until the election: working every weekend and/or throughout the week for change in Washington, D.C.

Friends Crystal and Nick Crews -- he of the legal challenge to limits on political signs in yards -- are no exception. Every Tuesday, they're holding pitch-in/phone parties at their Plainfield home. When Crystal put a notice about the ongoing event on the Obama website, she heard back from a reporter for a prominent German newspaper, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Turns out U.S. correspondent Reymer Kluever is working on a piece on the phenomenal grassroots efforts that charaterize Obama/Biden's efforts to win the White House. Kluever read the notice on the Indiana Obama website, and now he plans to show up at next Tuesday's gathering.

So if you're in the mood for some good Hendricks County grub, and if you like making those dials for Dems, check out the Crews' crib next Tuesday.

Here is the angle Kluever is pursing, sent in an email to Crystal:

"I am looking very much forward to getting an impression of the work at the grass roots' level turning Indiana blue - against all odds."

Here is a link to another recent article Kluever wrote on politics in the U.S.:

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