Saturday, January 19, 2008

Robo-Calling in Nevada

Take a listen to a call from the "Hillary Campaign" against Barack Hussein Obama.

How Fox News. How Republican.

And just think, earlier in the day, the Clinton campaign wanted the Obama campaign to denounce an ad from a 527 that criticized the Clinton campaign support for the law suit that wanted to stop people from voting in Nevada.

The electoral college problem with the primaries

For the second primary in a row, the Clinton campaign "won" the primary (in terms of popular vote) but the Obama campaign won the delegates.


What Would Obama Say? And Is That the Same As Doing?

In the spirit of the potentially feel-good nature of the Situation, here is a heartwarming story in the Times about Jon Favreau, Obama's 26-year-old head speechwriter. It's a fluff piece, no doubt. But it highlights the freshness that runs throughout the Obama campaign. (Favreau works with two other writers, ages 26 and 30.)

And the article also reignited my interest in a huge Hillary Clinton dig at Barack from New Hampshire: "You campaign in poetry, but you govern in prose." To my knowledge, we haven't yet conquered this statement on the blog, and I want to open it up for discussion. I get what Clinton is saying, that there is a difference between talk and action. But is that difference a real one? (And what, by the way, makes prose more active than poetry?)

Admittedly, this is a bit philosophical for a Saturday night, but Solon and I have been lobbing it back and forth for days. In theory, I think we all would submit to some degree to the actively heuristic nature of speech. BUT--and this bothers me a bit--Hillary has made a decent case for the need for concrete action that is separate from arousing speech. (Leaving out, of course, what has been read as her quasi-racist statement on Johnson as the doer and King as a mere poet.) I do think, though, that a little more poetry in the White House might not be a bad thing.

So which is it, poetry or prose? Or are they the same thing, as we want to believe?

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Rhetorical Situation: Chris Matthews' Apology for His Petty, Ignorant Smear of Hillary Clinton

Somewhere in the overlap between Hillary Clinton's Iowa defeat at the hands of Barack Obama, and her victory over him in New Hampshire, she was absolutely shellacked by the Television and Print media. No matter what one's feelings on Hillary Clinton there can be no denying this.

More recently there has been, at least arguably, a semblance of backing off on this front.

Here is a recent apology from Chris Matthews.

Nice to see a tool like Chris Matthews grovel. But, in terms of The Rhetorical Situation in which he finds himself, does he pull off an effective apology?

A rhetorical question

Tomorrow, the primary in South Carolina may have fewer voters voter because of inclement weather... Yes, it may snow in South Carolina, meaning the elderly and others may not get out to vote.

If this does occur, and say a religious candidate such as Mike Huckabee receives fewer votes, loses to McCain, and needs to bow out of the election, could we declare that God spoke and no longer wanted Huckabee in the election?

I mean that he did declare that is God's candidate...."There is only one explanation for it and it is not a human one. It is the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of 5000 people."

Seriously. Harrogate, your response on the least dangerous candidate?

At the intersection of law and politics

A Nevada Judge ruled that the Democratic party can set up nine caucuses at casinos on the Las Vegas strip for tomorrow's caucus in Nevada. According to CNN,
The state teachers union went to court to challenge the plan, arguing that the casino caucus sites Saturday night will give the roughly 200,000 workers on the Las Vegas strip an unfair advantage over other voters who have to work that night.

But U.S. District Judge James Mahan rejected that argument after a Thursday morning hearing.

The lawsuit sparked a battle between the 28,000-member Nevada State Education Association and the state's biggest labor organization, the 60,000-member Nevada Culinary Workers Union, which supports the casino caucuses. The culinary workers endorsed Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in Saturday's contest and accused the teachers union of trying to tilt the race in favor of his leading rival, senator and former first lady Hillary Clinton of New York.

Recent published polls show Clinton and Obama in a statistical dead heat going into the Nevada contest. Saturday's results could give the winner the upper hand going into the first contest in the South, the January 26 primary in South Carolina.

"When you're trying to change the rules a week before that were approved 10 months before, that's just not right, and I think people see through it as just crass politics," D. Taylor, secretary-treasurer of the Nevada Culinary Workers Union, said Wednesday.

The teachers' union has not endorsed Clinton, though some of its members and leaders are backing the former first lady.

From this little electoral escapades, it appears that the Clinton campaign desired the prevention of the caucuses at the hotel. A guest, who sounded as if he represented the Clinton campaign, on Tucker Calson's show tonight stated that the people who would vote there would be the workers in the Casinos, the valets, the kitchen workers, the uneducated, and they would not be smart or willful enough to stand up to their union bosses, who would of course be in the room. This of course means that the Clintons, both Hillary and Bill, would lose votes as Barack would gain votes through voter intimidation.

Bill Clinton attacked the lawsuit because it would give the casino workers an unfair advantage and give them, a group with 60,000 people, five times the vote of the teacher unions, a group with 28,000.

Of course, if we discuss electoral fairness, it would not be fair that the casino workers need to work while the teachers, since it is Saturday, do not. It is also unfair that some people live closer to poling places, etc...

The best standard would be state and federal holidays for election days for both primary and general elections.

Here is a very interesting clip between former President Clinton and a reporter, Mark Matthews, who challenged President Clinton on the lawsuit.

I am sure that this would all be different if the Casino Union supported the Clintons.

Obama, Clinton, and Identity Politics

I wish I could have expressed my thoughts on the current focus on Obama's race and Clinton's gender as well as Judith Warner does in her weekly column. She raised a compelling question: can the left separate identity from politics? I have to agree with her: I'm not sure we can.

Some (Wrong) Thoughts on Huckabee: A Reply to Harrogate

It seems that Harrogate's position is that a religious theocracy would be a better place so long as it is a peaceful place.

Yet, in populism, whether it is economic or social, one finds no true friend of fundamental rights, only the desires of a lustful majority.

Huckabee's pandering allowed him little room but to shun his prior experiences with immigration to join the Xenophobic portions this country. To get the nomination, one may need to purify the country, not the soul.

Yet, while I may not share the neoconversative view in regards to the march of the flag, I do not believe that either McCain of Rudy would possess the public support to march the flag. This makes your dovish criteria obsolete.

Accordingly, I would prefer to rule out the candidate that would turn political questions into religious questions. Religious questions require anti-democratic and authoritarian answers; in the world view of a literalist, consensus is not desirable, only the strict interpretation of an arcane book. While you disdain the arrogance of the Bush administration, you prefer the candidate with the arrogance (and blasphemy) that one knows the meaning of the Bible and God's standards.

Good Grief!!!!

Some Thoughts on Mike Huckabee: Harrogate's Retort, of a Type, to Solon

In recent posts Solon has exposed Hucakbee's constitutional weaknesses, his invocation of Divine Law, his panderings to the evangelical base. All of this is to the good. No issue is more important to Harrogate than the issue of gay rights, and Huckabee is decidedly on the wrong side of morality, and for that matter history, on this important issue. On a related note, the most damning thing about Huckabee so far is his recent defense of his statement in the 80s that AIDS victims should be quarantined.

And yet. Here are some Talking Points in Huckabee's favor:

Of the GOP candidates, only Guiliani (not counting Ron Paul) is clean of anti-gay bigotry.

Huckabee's Faith-Based rhetoric is less hypocritical than what we get from the other Republicans. For example, he takes seriously New Testament (not to mention humanist) mandates for taking care of the poor and weak.

Huckabee is not a global warming denier.

Of all the GOP candidates for the Presdidency, Harrogate has come to believe strongly that Huckabee is the least scary. Huck and McCain are the only ones who are not 100% in the pocket of the corporate death grip on the middle and lower classes--the subprime crisis, the health care embarrassment, and the outsourcing plague are all BFF with Giuliani, Thompson, and most especially the Mormon.

To an extent far eclipsing even McCain, Huckabee has demonstrated a consistent and acute worry over "kitchen table issues": Huck is the only GOP candidate, as he says in an effective soundbite, who is more in tune with workers than with those who lay workers off.

Huckabee is also (followed in a distant second by McCain) the least Xenophobic of the Republican candidates for President.

Look at his record in Arkansas. It demonstrates an active interest in education and health care for poor children (he achieved near-univesal health care in his state) that goes beyond lip service and extends into real life.

Finally, and most importantly of all, Huckabee is by far the least likely of the candidates (excluding Ron Paul) to escalate things in Iraq while at the same time experiencing a hard-on at the prospect of starting brand new bouncing baby wars. If you don't want another war, or several of them, then beware McCain, Giuliani, Thompson, and the Mormon: look again at Huckabee's emphasis on the Bush Admin's arrogance on the international stage, his frank embrace of diplomatic negotiation, and his refreshing lack of lust for blowing shit up to prove the bigness and badness of the United States.

Whoever gets the Democratic nomination, Harrogate will vote for. But of the GOP candidates, it is Stephen Colbert's running mate that Harrogate is least sickened by/afraid of.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Confederate Mike, or, the Huckabee Flag

Only during campaign season would a politician make such a remark, especially with no theory of constitutional interpretation to support it: From CNN :
"You don't like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag," Huckabee said at a Myrtle Beach campaign event. "In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell them what to do with the pole, that's what we'd do."

And, yes.. this comes from The Former Governor Mike Huckabee while campaigning in South Carolina today.

Though, after reading these comments, I do think the country needs to reflect and rethink about his position over same-sex rights. After all, It does seem that Huckabee supports some forms of sodomy. And outsiders are not welcome.

I think we all need to admit that the man is just brilliant constitutionally.

Barack and Race

It seems like all anyone--or, at least, anyone in the Clinton campaign and the media--can talk about lately is the fact that Barack Obama is a black man. Oh? His skin is deliciously bronze? I hadn't noticed...

I've been reading a lot of race and passing stuff for the current diss. chapter and I'm a little hung up on a detail. Obama's father was Kenyan-American and his mother is a white American. (I'm not sure of her ethnic heritage.) Which means, of course that he's half black--and half white. But with all the discussion of whether he's too black or not black enough, I feel like we're still, as a nation, subscribing to the one-drop rule: if even one drop of black blood is in a person, the saying went, then that person was black.

Don't get me wrong, if Barack gets elected, and I think--and hope--there's a good chance that he might, it will be a HUGE and very belated positive step for our country in terms of the electability of someone who looks like he does. But I think the recent obsession with race is, if not offensive, then at least misleading. The argument is that Obama is sidestepping the race question because he doesn't think he can get elected if he focuses on his blackness. I'm sure that's, unfortunately, partly a factor. But maybe he's not sidestepping the race issue at all. He is, after all, a brown-skinned man who was raised by a white mother. I'm sure he's seen it all in terms of race roles and the complications thereof.

Will we ever move beyond the dichotomy of the black/white line?

So I lied

Ok, so in my introductory post I wrote that I wouldn't be blogging about sports, and I apparently lied. I came across this story at today, and I have to say a few things. First, I have no idea who Tejada, nor do I care. I also don't care whether anyone else in baseball ever used "performance enhancing drugs." All right, so that isn't entirely true either. I care when it comes to records. I do think Barry Bonds' home run record is different than Hank Aaron's, and I do think Bonds' use of drugs (or, should I say alleged use) should be noted in the record books.

This issue has been driving me crazy for months, and I, who really don't know anything at all about baseball or most other sports, have been interested in this ongoing drama for one reason: I don't think the Senate has any business holding hearings on this issue. I'm sure there are all kinds of reasons why the Senate needs to hold hearings on steroid use. But give me a break! We're involved in a war in two countries, our deficit is growing exponentially, and we may well be entering a recession. Further, over 40 million Americans (including approximately 9 million children) are uninsured and our schools are going to pot. Surely the Senate (and the FBI for that matter) has better things to do than listen to rich baseball players reveal that their trainers gave them shots of steroids. I think their time (and my tax dollars, quite frankly) would be better spent tackling the bigger problems listed above than talking to baseball players all day.

Stephen Colbert's Famed Portrait Now on Display at the Smithsonian

Hat tip to the lovely Mrs. Harrogate, who has alerted Harrogate to this groundbreaking development.

Fans of the Colbert Report knew that the great Colbert had recently attempted to bribe the portrait's appearance into the museum's National Treasures wing, but that his bid was shot down when some obviously clueless patron declared he would rather have Dorothy's red slippers than the portrait, if given the choice.

And while the AP Report indicates the Portrait's hanging is temporary, Harrogate is confident that Smithsonian officials will do the right thing and assign it permanent status before all is said and done.

More on this historic development as it unfolds......

The Rhetorical Situation: A Makeover

By now Readers have noticed that momentous things are underway with The Rhetorical Situation. Not only have we added two voices in the last week, but more personalities/deep thinkers are on the way even as Harrogate effuses this post. At the same time, Harrogate continues to hold out hope that some of the 'old lions,' inspired by the new blood, will get into the swing of things as well.

The credit for these changes, as for most things concerning our award-winning blog, goes to Solon (depicted below), whose sheer enthusiasm and force of will has sparked a sputtering blog back to life.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Greetings, Situators of Rhetoric

It's megsg-h, aka Mrs. Solon. Having been strong-armed--ahem, sweetly invited--to rejoin the ranks of the blogosphere, I thought I would, like my buddy M, say hello with a brief introduction. I'm currently a dissertating stay-at-home mom and I'm obsessed with this political race. Football gives me goosebumps, but this political season tops even that. I'll do my very, very best to stay committed to the blog because I'm excited about the heated discussions that I anticipate will present themselves in the next few months. So greetings, everyone, and cheers!

What are the Republican voters thinking?

And I don't mean that sarcastically at all! I am truly flummoxed by the recent caucus and primaries. First Huckabee, then McCain, and now Romney. If Thompson wins the next one and then Guiliani after that, where does that leave the Republicans? I find it oddly gratifying that the Republicans are, for once, as indecisive the Democrats.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Now for a Little Paranoid Android (Solon's Fault)

This is Solon's fault. See a few threads down for more details.

Why Some People Like Ron Paul, Part Deux

Shortly after Harrogate posted the first entry of his now heavily acclaimed "Why Some People Like Ron Paul" series, the GOP candidates had their second South Carolina debate, with Paul once again waxing combative on behalf of his principles.

What Harrogate finds most fascinating about Paul is the passion he inspires in his supporters. He was cheered heartily by glassy eyed white men who somehow made it into the debate: the cheers accompanied him as he accused McCain, Guiliani, Romney, and the rest of betraying the Party with their war posturings. He sparred with Fox News sycophants all night, and you could tell he was especially pissing off Brit Hume. At the end, when Fox News ran its online viewers' poll asking who won, Hannity and Colmes reported a heavy victory for Ron Paul. Aghast, the green-blooded Sean Hannity intoned, "Paul didn't win, he lost." Among other things, this response vividly illustrates Hannity's intellectual reach in the field of debate.

Now, lately it has become very evident that Paul's supporters include white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other groups historically invested in pushing their agendas of hate from behind the ersatz veneer of States' Rights. But do not be fooled into believing that the passion Paul has inspired is limited to those repugnant quarters. Indeed, Ron Paul is the only candidate in the race whose supporters are inspired by love of liberty (as opposed, for example, to being inspired for the sake of being inspired, as is the case with Obama).

Readers of this blog know that Harrogate could never support Ron Paul or any other hard-core libertarian. Still, he was moved by the video below. Note the devotional, even elegaic celebration offered on Paul's behalf. Nobody could make a comparable video on any of the major candidates, at least not with a straight face.

Introducing M

As Solon has graciously invited me to join The Rhetorical Situation, I decided I should introduce myself. I am M, and I typically blog on matters relating to motherhood, families, and academia over at Separation of Spheres. I occasionally venture into politics, and as the upcoming election draws closer, I expect that people will continue to piss me off and I will blog about politics more often. I will not, however, join Harrogate and Solon in there ongoing debates about all kinds of sports. Thanks for the invitation, Solon.

Hillary Clinton and Race

It appears that last night, Senator Hillary Clinton asked Senator Barack Obama for a truce on the race issue, which is a little odd since the Clinton campaign is the party trying to exploit race while the Obama campaign is trying to transcend race. This issue ill be interesting for the Democratic Debate tonight in Nevada.

The latest claim against Barack Obama, was by Hillary surrogate Robert Johnson, the former owner and founder of BET, who stated that while the Clintons were working for Civil Rights, Barack was doing other things:
"I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that I won't say what he was doing but he said it in his book."

Johnson stated, later, that Barack was doing community work. Yet, the correct interpretation focuses on Barack's use of cocaine.

This comments is not racial, though it does rely on some conception that white people would not vote for a black person that used drugs. Further, what makes this comment so severe is that it is the second attempt by someone from the Clinton campaign to raise the drug issue in connection with race. The first attempt by William Shaheen, the former Clinton Campaign Co-Chair, resigned when he suggested that Barack would have problems in a national campaign against a Republican because of his drug use. In regards to a potential campaign, William Shaheen stated:
“It’ll be: ‘When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?’ There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It’s hard to overcome.”

After the comments, Clinton apologized for the remarks, though she did not apologize after Robert Johnson's comments. She also did not apologize for Andrew Cuomo's "Shuck and jive" comments when referring to Obama.

It seems that there is a pattern that Clinton surrogates use race as a divisive issue because they need to split the black vote, which has moved toward Barack Obama since the end of 2007. Of course, this issue backfired on the Clinton campaign and, hence, the truce. When Barack Obama refused to make the campaign about race and transcended the issue, which would have been detrimental to his campaign, the Clinton campaign needed to capitulate on the tactic.

What is disturbing in this campaign is the implicit argument by sign in the person/ act relationship. What do these incidents say about the character of Clinton that allows her surrogates, which serve as a reflection of herself, to attack her opponent on racial grounds? It certainly does not suggest a united party. It certainly does not reflect political prudence. Further, and even worse, it shows that Clinton will attack a portion of her base for political gain. This is a similar to President Clinton's support from the gay and lesbian community but refusal to fight the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and his comments in the 2004 Presidential Election to Senator John Kerry to attack gays to gain some support in the Red States.

As of now, Clinton wants to avoid the use of race in the campaign. Fine. Yet, will she be true to her word? On Meet the Press this Sunday she stated would not use gender in the race though, in her speeches, she discusses "raising the glass ceiling," which refers to gender. (Again, what does political hypocrisy say about the candidate. While I disagree with former Governor Huckabee's positions on the constitution he is up front about where he stands.)

The debate tonight will be interesting.

Pausing for a Moment

"Electioneering" by Radiohead


I will stop
I will stop at nothing
Say the right things
When electioneering
I trust I can rely on your vote

When I go forwards you go backwards and somewhere we will meet

Riot shields
Voodoo economics
It's just business
Cattle prods and the IMF
I trust I can rely on your vote

When I go forwards you go backwards and somewhere we will meet

Mike Huckabee and Constitutional Interpretation

One of the more common debates about constitutional interpretation is whether or not we should interpret the document according to the original understanding or our contemporary standards. For example, in first amendment jurisprudence, originalists would say that the first amendment allows for freedom from prior restraint but that is all; once a message is published then there can be punishment of speech. On the other hand, in contemporary times, the argument is that the first amendment is absolute; Congress shall make no law means that Congress shall make no law. Limiting interpretation to only these two standards seems to be a reductionist move, but it allows the average person the ability to discuss the constitution.

Last night in a campaign stop in Michigan, Mike Huckabee added a third position: Let's interpret the constitution according to biblical law rather than contemporary standards. On MSNBC's Morning Joe, the show ran a clip of Huckabee stating:
I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the constitution. But I believe it is a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that is what we need to do-- to amend the Constitution so its in Gods standards rather than to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary standards that the country needed to amend the constitution so it follows God's standards and not some contemporary standards on how we treat each other and ho we treat the family.
The hosts on the show stated that his comments were in reference to abortion and same-sex marriage. It certainly appears that he is attempting to differentiate himself from his closest competitor in terms of beliefs (Fred Tompson, will believes in a Federal Solution to these issues). Yet, this raises a few very interesting points.

First, what is the role of democracy in this process? Making appeals that rely on God's eternal truths constitutes politics not as consensus or as something people participate in, but a matter of interpreting God's words. While Plato may be proud, Huckabee removes the people from dealing with solutions-- Have a problem, find the answer in the Bible because the Bible is inerrant-- even as he runs on a populist platform, which requires the consent and involvement of the people. Unfortunately, his religious message means that consent from the people does not matter; the only thing that matters is the word of God.

Second, while the former Gov. of Arkansas is pandering to his base and there is little chance of this occurring, adopting Christian Reconstructionist positions-- he has received campaign contributions from Christian Reconstructionist seems to be dangerous for both politics and religion. Let alone that the Bible does not provide a definitive answer on Same-Sex Marriage and Abortion, since it does not mention the first and discusses the second only once and that is in relation to a fine a man must pay a woman if he causes something to happen in her pregnancy, it seems quite dangerous to present legal controversies as theological controversies from one Religion.It is made worse worse when the theological position develops from one or a few denominations within a larger religion.

This also develops an interpretive nightmare since individuals would need to interpret one document (the US Constitution) with another text (the Bible) and these two texts have nothing to do with one another and they never have.

And all of this from a man who is a national leader in the polls and possesses the second most delegates in the primaries. At the last Republican debate, Fox News asked Huckabee if he thought that the Reagan coalition (between social conservatives, economic conservatives, and national-power conservatives) split. Huckabee argued it was.

This, of course, is important because Republicans need all three groups to win, which was the key to success for Reagan and the Bushes. Yet, with comments like Huckabee's on constitutional interpretation, he will not be able to hold the coalition together as the other two groups will turn his back on the former governor.

Update I: I am not trying to make a guilt by association argument with this post. I do not find it a problem when a politician accepts money from radical groups, such as Huckabee with the Christian Reconstructionists. I believe that Ron Paul said it best, when asked about his association with 9.11 Truth Seekers, that he does not believe it but cannot tell other people what to think on the matter-- they should be able to determine the truth for themselves.

The problem with the former governor's comment is that he desires to impose biblical law to determine the outcome of social and legal controversies in the United States. While some individuals believe, through a textual or very narrow reading of the first amendment, that there is no separation of church and state, the Constitution does not allow a Christian Theocracy.

Update II: A campaign spokesperson for the former Governor stated his comments refer to a human life amendment (to eliminate abortion in the US) and that the living God refers to living life in a good way and to respect others. The Campaign spokesperson added: "I don't think it is too complicated over what he said." (From MSNBC.)

While the first aspect makes sense to Huckabees comments, the second does not no matter how "uncomplicated it is." This following mandates of a living God speaks of eternal principles that cannot be compromised.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Humor and the Campaign

I planned to write a substantive piece on the primaries. Instead, I have been reading and writing about the Supreme Court. Blah, Blah. (By the way, for some reason, I taught my 11 1/2 month-old daughter to say "blah, blah" last month. Yet, she refused to say "Dah!" or "Da-Da" on a regular basis until this weekend."

Here is a link to a witty one-liner blog, Twitter by Anna Marie Cox-- an editor of Time and inventor of the fabulous blog, Wonkette.

Here are a few excerpts:
Oakland Co. GOP Dinner: Local honcho announces, "I haven't seen so many Republicans gathered in one room since the opening of Hooters." Auto Show: Huckabee's tie matches his wife's dress. Has smaller press contingent than Mitt but seems just as bored.

Myrtle Beach: Ron Paul has the voice of a sick cat.

Myrtle Beach: Huck should just plead the 5th on foreign policy.Who gave Fred Thompson a Red Bull?

Chuck norris' teeth are as white as Iowa. And just as large.