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The Godfather of Soul James Brown, who sprang up to legend from Augusta, Georgia, was a staunch Republican but also an icon of the civil rights movement. The fact that Senator Barack Obama is gaining ground even in red Georgia – where early voting favors him – would not have displeased the Godfather; Pepe Escobar argues that James Brown would have found many points in common with a black man with historical consciousness and fighting for social justice. Republicans, meanwhile, prefer to depict Obama as a dangerous marxist.

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PEPE ESCOBAR, SENIOR ANALYST, TRNN: The name of the place is Augusta, GA, and, yes, this was the home of the godfather of soul, the hardest working man in show business, James Brown. Despite this broken window at the Obama campaign headquarters in Augusta, Georgia—and the Obama campaign’s not commenting on it—Barack Obama may have some reasons to be singing “I Feel Good” when he takes a look at the big picture in Georgia, the empire of the south. In an aggregate of polls, according to Real Clear Politics, John McCain is still up by 5.3. In early voting, Obama is now carrying 28 percent of the white vote in Georgia. He’s carrying 75 percent of the Hispanic vote. He’s way ahead of the independents. All but 3 percent of whites in Georgia have made up their minds, but 8 percent of black voters still say they are undecided. So Obama may be on the way to pull a huge upset here in Georgia. We probably won’t see what it means until early morning on November 5. The counties in Georgia where Obama is doing very well are the largest. They are metro-Atlanta counties like Fulton and Dekalb, which also means they are the slowest to report. Blacks are 29 percent of Georgia’s electorate. They had a 25 percent share of the vote in 2004. Now they’re almost 40 percent of early voters. McCain’s double-digit lead in Georgia just a few weeks ago is slowly disappearing. At least 1.4 million people in Georgia will be early voters—that’s more than double compared to 2004. Bush beat Kerry by 17 in 2004, and Georgia has not voted Democratic in 16 years. How would the godfather rap about all this? The hardest-working man in show business was a staunch Republican, but he also became an icon of the civil rights movement. Over 40 years ago, one day after Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, on April 5, James Brown performed an epic concert in Boston, in effect calming down the black community in Boston, in Massachusetts, and all over the US. A few months later, he came out with the epic, “Say it loud/I’m black and I’m proud.” The godfather would be musing: what is the Republican Party today compared to the party that freed American slaves? Now the party’s monopolized by a fanatic evangelical fringe. Ms. Alaska, clad in 150k designer clothes, may be a nice parrot, according to British national treasure John Cleese, but now the nice parrot is preaching that Obama wants to oppose an Orwellian communist state in the US.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Under a big government, more tax agenda. What you thought was yours would really start belonging to somebody else, to everybody else. If you got your income, your property, your investments were yours, you know, they would really collectively belong to everybody. Barack Obama has an ideological commitment to higher taxes. Higher taxes, more government, misusing the power to tax leads to government moving into the role of some believing that government then has to take care of us, and government—.

ESCOBAR: And Republicans cannot come up with anything better than demonizing Obama as a sort of post-modern, evil, Karl Marx figure, when Obama, in this 2001 interview, he was talking about redistribution of wealth, of course, but in the context of the civil rights movement.

Chicago Public Radio
Obama 2001 interview

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), US PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to divest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples, so that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order, and as long as I could pay for it I’d be okay. But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted. And the Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.

ESCOBAR: An educated black man with historical consciousness and advocating social justice—that’s something that the godfather, a Republican, would endorse it. Hit it!


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Pepe Escobar, born in Brazil is the roving correspondent for Asia Times and an analyst for The Real News Network. He's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, based in London, Milan, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore, and Bangkok. Since the late 1990s, he has specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central Asia, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has made frequent visits to Iran and is the author of Globalistan and also Red Zone Blues: A Snapshot of Baghdad During the Surge both published by Nimble Books in 2007.