Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Voice of the People in Florida & Michigan

On Florida, both Republicans and Democrats will vote in the state's primary. Yet, the vote will only count for Republicans. The same held true for the primary in Michigan.

In an attempt to give voice to the smaller states, as well as minority candidates (blacks in South Carolina and blacks and Hispanics in Nevada), the Democratic Party ruled that no primaries or caucuses, except the primaries and caucuses in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, could be held before February 5th.

Florida and Michigan, two very important swing states, especially if Romney wins the Republican nomination, moved their primaries to a date before February 5th. In response, the Democratic Party stripped the states of their delegates and candidates agreed not to campaign in those states.

Recently the candidates (Clinton and Obama) broke their compact and decided to advertise in Florida to gain some "votes" before the Tuesday primary. Hillary Clinton will win the vote but not the delegates, as she did in Michigan. (In Michigan, neither Obama nor Edwards were on the ballot. Hillary won with 55% of the vote; however, uncommitted received 40%).

Clinton will challenge legally the DNC's decision to strip the states' delegates to ensure she receives those delegates. While this will certainly violate principles of fairness, that does not matter to all involved.

yet, if the lawsuit is not successful and if the Democratic campaign goes to the convention without a nominee, which it may depending on how Super Tuesday plays out, then the question is what will happen to those delegates at the convention? Will they vote in accordance to the vote during the primary? Or will they assign the votes to who they choose then?

An interesting stat from South Carolina

In the South Carolina primaries, both Republican and Democratic, Barack Obama beat the combined vote totals of McCain and Huckabee.

Could the South be in play for the Democrats?

JFK, Revisited

In the New York Times tomorrow, Caroline Kennedy presents an op-ed in which she endorses Barack Obama. Yeah, yeah, I'm a Barack supporter, so I'm posting this. But that's not the only reason. It's a well-written piece that aptly negotiates the intersection of the personal and the political. Kennedy writes of her father--in fact, the editorial is titled, "A President Like My Father"--of her children, of her hopes for the country.

The timing of this publication is crucial. Following a primary that focused intensely on race, Obama did well in all voting blocks except white women. Kennedy's writing seems particularly geared toward her own identity group. Will it add to Obama's campaign?

Divergent Paths.... $3.01....

To continue a discussion started by Harrogate and developed by MegsG-H, here is my response.

The focus of Harrogate's argument is that winning matters and ending the GOP reign is the most important issue in 2008. Yet, this is not the issue; this is not the debate.

The issue for 2008 is ethos. This debate is about the ethical characterization of the US political system. While there is little choice on the Republican side, there is real choice on the Democratic side.

As I have discussed before, there are numerous signs that a Clinton nomination for the Democrats would mean that the same tactics that were used before, would be used again. I would argue that a Clinton nomination would mean not only the continuation of the Clinton Administration, but the Bush Administration as well. The signs are there: employing rendition, dividing the base by putting factions against one another, attacking candidates based on race, relying on dishonesty,the dominance of interest groups, etc.

To forgive these because they might disrupt the "endgame" of a victory would miss the point of this election entirely. To focus on winning is to miss the forest for the trees.

Hillary Clinton may win the nomination against Obama or not. She may win a general election or not. However, if she were to win, political life would not change. A victory may allow for some to feel vindication; however, after a few months, it would feel like the alcoholic at the bar asking for one last drink, night after night.

A early evening distraction...

Talk about having a bad day....

From Andrew Sullivan

So Now What?

While I disagree with the wise Harrogate on several issues, I think the more salient point to raise in response is, "What now?" Only a few weeks ago, I, like many Democrats, felt confidence in both--actually, all three--candidates. When Obama took Iowa and Clinton won New Hampshire, it felt like good, clean democratic debate. I supported one (actually, I had recently moved from one to the other), but the other was looking like a great second choice and I would be happy to support either/or in a general election. Now, I feel VERY strongly about my candidate and the opposition makes me feel a tiny bit dirty. People feel like this on both sides of the Clinton/Obama divide.

I've read a little about a joint ticket, but that seems unlikely. In what tangible ways will the party unite for a general election?

Shall We Continue Down This Road?

When the Mormon said he couldn't imagine Bill Clinton back in the White House with nothing to do, it got heavy applause from the GOP audience and Chris Matthew made sure it ran again and again on that bastion of liberalism, MSNBC.

All this talk, both from the GOP and increasingly from those supporting Obama, about Bill Clinton's Presidency and its failures, about Bill Clinton "coming unhinged" or "injecting race into the primary discourse," the open willingness to invoke Clinton's affair as though it matters in the wake of all this death, in the wake of Wolfowitz running the World Bank and the American Economy falling ever more squarely into the grip of an elite cadre of individual interests, in the wake of FEMA. The nepotism, the abject incompetence, the deliberate immolation of government institutions from the inside: the fact, O Readers, that "American torture" is now a term in the common lexicon. None of where we are is Bush specific. It is the GOP platform at work.

If one is okay with the things Harrogate has listed (only a tiny sampling from the GOP fare, Harrogate might add), then Harrogate could see why one wouldn't think it important for GOP rule to end.

Shall we continue down this road is the key question that the 2008 Presidential election ought to revolve around.

The case against Obama

One of the writers at Open Left presented a case against Obama. In sum, politics now is about the culture war and Obama would lose the war because he doesn't understand it. Here is an excerpt (and note, the article does not present a case for Hillary or he she would be successful in fighting the culture war or how it could be won):
The commonsense meaning of "culture war" over the past few decades is a war over social mores between hierarchical "traditional values" and the post-1950s emergence of egalitarian values, especially with respect to race and gender, more closely aligned with the traditional values at the core of our Constitution.

But there's a deeper meaning, which is clearly understood by rightwing culture warriors, and virtually unknown to everyone else. This meaning comes, ironically, from a leading Marxist theorist, the highly independent Italian leader, Antonio Gramsci, who described culture war as a struggle for ideological control of the broad range of institutions in society. And in this deeper sense, Obama's analysis is completely upside-down--the problem is not that both sides are equally to blame, but that only the right is actually fighting a coordinated culture war as Gramsci defined it. It's not a case of bringing a knife to a gunfight, it's a case of brining a plastic yogurt spoon to a nuclear war.

Fake Plastic Surgery II

One interpretation of the "Reverse Plastic Surgery" follows: Hillary is a likable person. Those that "know" her, like her. A small, power-hungry faction of the Republicans have engaged in "reverse plastic surgery" against Democrats, with "reverse plastic surgery," meaning to disfigure the Democratic party and to make it ugly. This means:

(1) There is a dissociation between appearance and reality, a common argument: The attacks are appearance only; the reality of the situation if she is very likable.

(2) Republicans are divisive, not Hillary. This is an apologia of sorts as it deflects attention away from the Democratic primary. Further, it is an attempt to blame the ideological divisions in the country for the last 20 years. For, it was not about his perjury, but a political with hunt.

Any other explanations? Is this a good metaphor to use? He has used it before.

Reverse Plastic Surgery

I am not sure what these means. But here is Bill Clinton campaigning for his wife:
One woman stood up, pointed out that South Carolina is one of the reddest states in the country, and said she spent eight years defending Bill Clinton.

"Thanks," he deadpanned slightly rolling his eyes and getting a laugh.

She asked how to respond to critics who say Hillary Clinton is polarizing.

"The only people that she's a polarizing figure around is the people that don't know her," Bill Clinton said. "I mean, the reason I think she's the most electable Democrat has nothing to do with race or gender. It is that they have systematically polarized the country, the right-wing Republican faction has. They first took over the Republican Party, and then they preformed reverse-plastic surgery on the Democrats."

A few things: first, this is a complete non-sequitur and it sounds like he developing a conspiracy theory here. Second, if it is not about race and gender, why mention it unless you want to look sleazy. Third, is the reverse plastic surgery a good metaphor to describe the politics of the last twenty years because it eliminates the agency of democrats-- they forced us to be this way....

The former president does go on to say that if the nominees were Clinton and McMcain, they would run the most civil campaign ever. I bet they would even hold hands during it:
"She and John McCain are very close," Bill Clinton said. "They always laugh that if they wound up being the nominees of their parties, it will be the most civilized election in American history, and they're afraid it would put the voters asleep. Because they like and respect each other."

This is why there will never be an Obama/ Clinton ticket.

Friday, January 25, 2008

John Gibson's Comments About Heath Ledger

Many of the Situation's faithful Readers may already know about sociopathic FOX News pundit John Gibson mocking Heath Ledger's death during his radio show.

Wednesday, Think Progress reported:

Opening his radio show with funeral music yesterday, Fox News host John Gibson callously mocked the death of actor Heath Ledger, calling him a “weirdo” with a “serious drug problem.”

Playing an audio clip of the iconic quote, “I wish I knew how to quit you” from Ledger’s gay romance movie Brokeback Mountain, Gibson disdainfully quipped, “Well, he found out how to quit you.” Laughing, Gibson then played another clip from Brokeback Mountain in which Ledger said, “We’re dead,” followed by his own, mocking “We’re dead” before playing the clip again.

Go here for more, including the audio clip.

Gibson "apologized" on Thursday on FOX. Here's the link to that.

Let the Rumors Begin

According to Robert Novak, sources close to John Edwards state that if Edwards awards his delegates to Obama and Obama wins, John Edwards will receive the Justice Department, which big labor would adore.
Installation at the Justice Department of multimillionaire trial lawyer Edwards would please not only the union leaders supporting him for president but organized labor in general. The unions relish the prospect of an unequivocal labor partisan as the nation's top legal officer.

In public debates, Obama and Edwards often seem to bond together in alliance against front-running Sen. Hillary Clinton. While running a poor third, Edwards could collect a substantial bag of delegates under the Democratic Party's proportional representation. Edwards then could try to turn his delegates over to Obama in the still unlikely event of a deadlocked Democratic National Convention.

Holding Representatives & Senators Accountable

The editorial board of the NY Times has written an interesting piece about holding representatives and senators accountable for their voting records on judicial appointments. The article references a ad put out by People for the American Way; the features actress Kathleen Turner (a long time supporter of Planned Parenthood and a former national spokesperson for the organization) calling Maine Rep. Susan Collins to task for claiming to be pro-choice but voting for judicial appointees who are staunchly anti-choice.

In an attempt to draw the focus of The Rhetorical Situation to something other than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, I wanted to highlight this key issue. In presidential election years we tend to focus on only those candidates running for the highest office, and perhaps justifiably so. That said, the congresspersons we elect have the power to reject any presidential judicial nominees. Check out the voting records of the representatives running for office in your district; you may find that you don't like what you see and you may also find, as I imagine many Maine voters would, that your representatives didn't vote in support of the issues they promised to support.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Romney, his wealth, and the election

During the MSNBC Republican debate, Brian and Tim tried to get Romney to state how much of his own money he contributed to his campaign and whether or not he was buying the primary in Florida. Romney refused to disclose this amount and argued that he spent his own money because this was something about which he cared deeply.

While it did show his problems with fundraising and may suggest he lacks the support of people to win, it may be better in some ways because the thought of him being bought by corporations may seem less likely.

Oh the hell of campaign finances. How do you avoid this problem of fair elections and campaign finance?

The New York Times' Primary Endoresements

The paper endorses Hillary Clinton and John McCain . The reasons: For Hillary, they adhere to her "ready on the first day" and "experience" arguments; for McCain, he is a likable republican who possesses some of the same beliefs as democrats.


A Political Humpty Dance? Following Reagan, Anticipating Obama: One of the 80s Boldest Rhetorical Claims

When a man says, "stop what you're doin', cause I'm about to ruin the image and the style that you're used to," he's talking a lot of shit and if he can back it up, deserves to be taken seriously. As Mark Wahlberg once pointed out in a different context.

That Reagan backed up such Epic Shit-Talking, that he was indeed "Transformational," cannot be denied. Harrogate deeply wishes the Clintons had not embarrassed themselves by pretending not to understand Obama's point on this matter, for Obama clearly was not saying Reagan transformed the political landscape to the good.

And that he is capable of achieving a similarly transformational feat--only this time, to the good of the country. Whether or not Obama's large assertion is true, however, is a different question, one that each person must wrestle with as the primary rolls towards Tsunami Tuesday on February 5th.

Westboro Baptist Church will Protest Heath Ledger's Memorial Service

According to MSNBC's entertainment writer Courtney Hazlett, the Westboro Baptist Church, home of the radical Christian Fred Phelps, will take time out from picketing the funeral of military servicemen and women to picket Ledger's Memorial Service. Shirley Phelps, the I mean wife of Fred, stated that they will picket the Memorial because of Heath's role in Brokeback Mountain:
“You cannot live in defiance of God. He (Ledger) got on that big screen with a big, fat message: God is a liar and it's OK to be gay,” said Shirley Phelps in a statement sent out by the Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church.

Man I Miss Texas: Why are UFO sightings only in the South

Of course, because NYC has too many lights... There would be no other reason, right?

The US Air Force stated that the lights over the small town in Texas was not a UFO but F-16 fighter jets. Those who saw the lights remain skeptical.

Noe, who are you going to believe: the government, which does not always tell the truth, or citizens of rural Texas, who um... I will stop right here.

Why the Candidate Matters: The Case Against Hillary Clinton

This is in response to the comments found here.

It is not important that a Democratic candidate wins the 2008 presidential election. In fact, because of problems with Iraq, especially in terms of leaving Iraq, a candidate that runs on leaving Iraq may not accomplish his/her goal. Since there is construction of military bases and embassies, it may be unlikely that the US Military will leave any time soon. Senator McCain may be correct on this.

Yet, despite Iraq, here are three reasons why the correct candidate matters.

First, listen to this recent Hillary Clinton Ad against Barack Obama:

Reason One: This ad is intellectually dishonest. The intent behind Barack's comments is that he believed that the Reagan Presidency was transformative because Reagan reached out to Democrats to gain their support for policy, which is something the Democrats now should do. Unfortunately, the former Clinton administration could not do this because of ideological opposition between the parties. More importantly, if the Clinton camp is resorting to these tactics during the Primary, what reason is she giving the country that these acts of intellectual dishonesty would change during a general election or during her administration. And remember, intellectual dishonesty is one of the most important criticisms of the Bush Administration.

Reason Two: This ad perpetuates the ideological divisions in the country, which undermined the Clinton administration. Republicans gained control of Congress and forced President Clinton's hand on many issues, making him useless on many grounds. This will continue under a Hillary Clinton administration because of the ideological opposition to her. It is a fact that many would not vote for her or support her policies.

Reason Three: If the Clinton administration won the general election, which I am not sure she can do, and unless the Democrats win a super-majority in the House and Senate, which is unlikely, then the Clinton administration would not be able to accomplish major goals. Opponents to her ideology would have no reason to support her and every reason to object to her. Consequently, her opposition would persuade their base and independents that her presidency has not met her goals and should be voted out.

Rick Majerus in Hot Holy Water: Free Speech, Sports, Politics, and Religion

ESPN and the AP have been following this story for a couple of days, see this update of the fallout from comments by St. Louis coach Rick Majerus in a television interview, indicating his support for abortion rights while attending a Hillary Clinton rally over the weekend.

Tricky Rhetorical Situation at play here. Does his high-profile job at a leading Jesuit University entail a reasonable expectation on the part of his Employer that he not go to the Media with politics contrarian to Church doctrine?

Would retaliation of any kind be an abridgment of his right as an American citizen to speak his mind, as it were, off the clock? For that matter, does the University's status as a private religious institution put it in a position to legally fire him over this?

And even if it would be within its legal rights, would it be an asinine thing for the University to do?


A Roman Catholic archbishop said Tuesday that he will ask officials of Saint Louis University to take "appropriate action" against its basketball coach [. . .]

St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke declined to say what the action against Majerus should be, saying that was a decision for the Jesuit university. But he said the coach is a leader and shouldn't support views in opposition to church teaching [. . .]

The archbishop resigned last year as board chairman for the Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation because of a benefit-concert appearance by Sheryl Crow, a native Missourian who supports abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Bud Light "Dude" Commercials

This Bud Light campaign continues beer commercials' proud tradition of being awesome.

First, the melancholic music: from a Movie Score perspective it's almost Godfather-esque and then with the slightest dash of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Then, there is the episodic memory sequence. OH! Those 'scenes of life.'

And of course, Readers, the Resolution at the end that is less a Resolution than a bold signifier that this gentleman's Jamesean story has only just begun to be told.


Election Quote for the Day

Just something to think about from The New Republic: In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody, Obama was asked, "Will Hillary be a drag for down-ticket races as a presidential candidate?" his response:
I think there is no doubt that she has higher negatives than any of the remaining democratic candidates. That's just a fact and there are some who will not vote for her. If you look at the results in Nevada, for example, she eked out the popular vote victory over me, but I ended up winning more delegates because she got almost all of her votes from Clark County, Las Vegas and some of the traditional democratic areas. We got votes there, but we also got votes in northern Nevada and rural conservative regions of the state that traditionally don't vote Democratic, but were excited about my campaign.

I have no doubt that once the nomination contest is over, I will get the people who voted for her. Now the question is can she get the people who voted for me? And I think that describes sort of one of the choices that people have, just a practical choice, as they move forward."

The "True" Meaning of Boot-Gate

It has been revealed, finally. The real reason why Tom Brady is wearing a boot: he foot is sore from kicking the ass of every team he faced this season. He even sent cards to the teams he beat, which you can read here.

"Why Vote When You can Bet"

Slate offers a guide to The Political Markets. Here is an explanation:
The idea behind political prediction markets is simple. Lots of people wager on the outcome of political campaigns: Who's going to be the Democratic presidential nominee? Will the Republicans take back the House? And when the votes are counted, the winning bettors collect. The thrill of prediction markets for political junkies is that they harness "the wisdom of crowds." A single person's bet on an election outcome isn't very good, but thousands of bets, with real stakes, are more likely to predict the correct result than even the best pundit. The Iowa Electronic Markets, the big daddy of the political prediction markets, is consistently better at forecasting winners than pre-election polls.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Um. How Odd.

And not funny. But it does have Lisa Loeb in it.

Slate: The Case Against HIllary Clinton

This article, from Slate, makes the case against the Junior Senator from New York. According to Christopher Hitchens:
For Sen. Clinton, something is true if it validates the myth of her striving and her "greatness" (her overweening ambition in other words) and only ceases to be true when it no longer serves that limitless purpose. And we are all supposed to applaud the skill and the bare-faced bravado with which this is done. In the New Hampshire primary in 1992, she knowingly lied about her husband's uncontainable sex life and put him eternally in her debt. This is now thought of, and referred to in print, purely as a smart move on her part. In the Iowa caucuses of 2008, he returns the favor by telling a huge lie about his own record on the war in Iraq, falsely asserting that he was opposed to the intervention from the very start. This is thought of, and referred to in print, as purely a tactical mistake on his part: trying too hard to help the spouse. The happy couple has now united on an equally mendacious account of what they thought about Iraq and when they thought it. What would it take to break this cheap little spell and make us wake up and inquire what on earth we are doing when we make the Clinton family drama—yet again—a central part of our own politics?

Issues on Which Race Matters

From Slate: Christopher Hitchens on why should the former Gov. Mike Huckabee should not get a free pass from the MSM on the Confederate Flag Issue. According to Hitchens, the appeal to the Confederate Flag is strictly racist for three reasons:
1) The South Carolina flag is a perfectly nice flag, featuring the palmetto plant, about which no "outsider" has ever offered any free advice.

2) The Confederate battle flag, to which Gov. Huckabee was alluding, was first flown over the South Carolina state Capitol in 1962, as a deliberately belligerent riposte to the civil rights movement, and is not now, and never has been, the flag of that great state.

3) By a vote of both South Carolina houses in the year 2000, the Confederate battle flag ceased to be flown over the state capitol and now only waves (as quite possibly it should) over the memorial to fallen Confederate soldiers.


Sports Illustrated, among others, are reporting that Tom Brady was spotted wearing a walking boot and nursing a high ankle strain. Here is a video of Tom entering girlfriend Gisele Bundchen's NYC apartment:

BUT, TMZ now reports that Brady wasn't wearing the boot when he left Gisele's home:

Is it all a plot to complicate the Giants' defensive schemes? More at 11.

How the Race Was Lost

The perfect example of a representative anecdote as this statement summarizes the campaign by Fred Thompson:
"Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people."

Fred, gone so soon? We hardly knew you. Really. And that effort: did you ever finish higher than third in a primary? Did you even reach the coveted number three position?

A Must Read: Hardballs

A quirky thought experiment from Slate: what if Chris Matthews treated men the same way he treated women.

For example-- and these are real quotes--, when Conservative pundit Laura Ingraham appeared: "I get in trouble for this, but you're great looking, obviously. You're one of the gods' gifts to men in this country."

To CNBC's Erin Burnett, Aug. 10: "[Y]ou're beautiful. … [Y]ou're a knockout."

Now, what about the same treatment for current presidential candidates:
To Ron Paul: Congressman, fess up. Where does it say in the U.S. Constitution that a seventy-something gets to look as good as you do? Believe me, when you step into a room, all men are not created equal. You're big on civil liberties? I bet the ladies aren't civil when they take liberties with you.

To John Edwards: Wow! The temperature just jumped 10 degrees in here, and I'm not talking about liberal fury. What am I saying? Who cares? Help! Senator, you could be a construction worker. That's how hot you are. You could lay pipe in my house, except my wife would be jealous. If you're president, don't invite us to the Lincoln Bedroom if you intend to get any sleep.

To John McCain: Senator, I know why you pushed the surge. Because you give me the surge. I can barely sit. And don't expect me to set a timetable for withdrawal. I look at you, and I'm a prisoner. A prisoner of love!

To Hillary Clinton: Thanks for coming, Madam Senator. Before we get to national policy, let's talk about your husband. Do you have any photos of Bill you could share with me?

The least dangerous candidate....

Is at it again. Yesterday, in Florida, Mike Huckabee announced that his views should trump federalism:
Huckabee, who said he was not there as a presidential candidate, warmed up his conservative audience by declaring that overturning the Roe v. Wade court ruling was not enough because it would leave individual states to decide their own laws on abortion – a moral issue where there is a right and a wrong, contends the former pastor. He argues that a constitutional amendment that defines life at conception is necessary to prevent “50 versions of right and wrong.”

“How could we expect God’s future blessing on this country if we cannot come to the logical conclusion that every life He creates He creates with the same equal intrinsic value and worth as another?” Huckabee asked.

After listing several huge problems in America, the former preacher said the purpose of Christians on this earth, as taught by Jesus, is to be salt and light. Salt preserves while light overcomes darkness.

“We are taught that we are the salt of the earth. That means that when something is spoiling, we are to be there to keep it from spoiling,” Huckabee explained. “We miss that if we think the purpose of believers is to be really, really well behaved in church.

“Being well behaved in church is a fine thing, but we don’t change the world by being behaved in church,” he pointed out to a receptive audience. “We change the world when we are the salt and that means we sometimes will irritate and sometimes agitate, but we will preserve.”

Why is it that his religious views possess the power to decide all questions, regardless as to whether or not they are political? And what is his method of interpretation, for the constitution and religion?

Editorializing on the Primaries

There are two interesting columns in The Washington Post today, one from George Will and one from Eugene Robinson.

Though lacking in some substance, George Will presents a flavorful account of the race so far, pointing out the ineptness in most of the campaigns with such witty remarks as:
Also, Obama seems flummoxed by the Clintons' Clintonness. When he committed the gaffe (defined as the utterance of a truth in conditions inhospitable to that fugitive virtue) of saying that for many years the Republicans were "the party of ideas," he was merely repeating something said decades ago by an exemplary Democrat, the senator whose seat Clinton fills -- well, occupies: Pat Moynihan.

One of the Obama campaign's senior leaders, who must have dozed through the 1990s, has expressed astonishment at the Clintons' intellectual sociopathy...

[After losing in Nevada-- a heavy union state] Someone should tell him [Edwards] the joke that another populist, William Jennings Bryan, told on himself after losing three presidential elections (1896, 1900 and 1908) as the Democrats' nominee:A man tried three times to enter a saloon and three times was tossed out. After the third time he dusted himself off and said, "I'm beginning to think those fellows don't want me in there."

Huckabee is a niche candidate who has run out of niches.

At the moment, however, it remains possible, perhaps even probable, that each party will offer its oldest and most familiar candidate, Clinton and McCain, to a nation clamoring for a rupture with the recent past.

As for Eugene Robinson, he examines why Bill Clinton is out to attack Barack Obama:
t times, in his attempt to cut Barack Obama down to size, Bill Clinton has been red-faced with anger; his rhetoric about voter suppression and a great big "fairy tale" has been way over the top. This doesn't look and sound like mere politics. It seems awfully personal.

Obama's candidacy not only threatens to obliterate the dream of a Clinton Restoration. It also fundamentally calls into question Bill Clinton's legacy by making it seem . . . not really such a big deal.

Being as How The Malignant Specter of Giuliani Approaches the Fore

Caption This Photo

And this one

Monday, January 21, 2008

Well said

"Though we are celebrating 35 years of Constitutional protection of a woman's right to abortion, we cannot let our guard down. With so many limitations and roadblocks, the promise of Roe is already denied to many women, and access to birth control is under increasing attack. This year we have the chance to elect a new administration and send new members to Congress who will help protect and expand our reproductive freedom. Come November we must elect a president who will be vigilant in upholding a woman's right to make her own childbearing decisions, including access to birth control and abortion," said NOW President Kim Gandy.

Tomorrow NOW will holds its annual vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court commemorating the 35th anniversary of Roe V. Wade. I wish I could be there to show my support and to remind the rest of the country that this constitutional right is constantly being threatened. I will, however, be there in spirt.


Consider all the Components here. It's Murdoch's New York Post. It's an outbranch of Obama's Good Morning America interview. It emanates from, speaks to a hatred, irrational but still real, shared by a huge chunk of the electorate.


Outraged, Well Not Really

House Resolution 888 Reads:
Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation's founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as `American Religious History Week' for the appreciation of and education on America's history of religious faith.

Whereas religious faith was not only important in official American life during the periods of discovery, exploration, colonization, and growth but has also been acknowledged and incorporated into all 3 branches of American Federal government from their very beginning;

Whereas the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed this self-evident fact in a unanimous ruling declaring `This is a religious people ... From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation';

Whereas political scientists have documented that the most frequently-cited source in the political period known as The Founding Era was the Bible;

Whereas the first act of America's first Congress in 1774 was to ask a minister to open with prayer and to lead Congress in the reading of 4 chapters of the Bible;

Whereas Congress regularly attended church and Divine service together en masse;

Whereas throughout the American Founding, Congress frequently appropriated money for missionaries and for religious instruction, a practice that Congress repeated for decades after the passage of the Constitution and the First Amendment;

It continues by listing "facts" and dates and such and omits just as many facts and dates and such.

Sigh. I am not even outraged, really. Depressed possibly.

I marvel over the intellectual dishonesty.

In Response to a Query: Some Flaws, as Seen by Harrogate, in Obama's Candidacy

One thing that particularly bugs Harrogate about Obama is that, like Hillary Clinton, his pretentions to Leadership virtuosity have no actual referent with respect to his time in the Senate. Indeed, after the Democrats took the Congressional majority in 2006, one might have thought some sort of Unification might have occured, by virture of which GOP Rule would be at least attenuated. But perhaps like Clinton, Dodd, and Biden, Obama has been too busy running for President to attend to the fact that the Dem Congress has been getting thoroughly rolled in every way since he arrived in Washington.

If he is so good at "bringing Democrats together with Republicans", why couldn't he "Unify" them enough to get an override of the President's Veto on S-Chip? Where is his Leadership on stopping institutionalized Torture? Where is his Leadership, his great unifying skills, on Iraq? The truth is, he has been an absolute non factor in the United States Senate. Leadership? Bringing people together? We're fortunate he's even voted "Present" as much as he has.

Second, his campaign is predicated on his supposedly unique ability to get Washington to rise above partisan divides in the most important political issues of the Day. This--The Kumbaya Schtick--is perpetually silly. As if this needs explanation, consider the likelihood of Insurance and Pharm Lobbyists, on the basis of some politico's Soaring Rhetoric, saying you know what, our profit margins are less important than realizing this wondrous vision.

Third, Harrogate's heart is sick because BOTH Obama and Clinton are running campaigns that glorify their own personal qualities (cult of personality), at the expense, Harrogate firmly believes, of the Democratic Party and thus the nation.

Harrogate appreciates that both candidates want to highlight the positive, and go on and on abhout what they think they can bring to the table. But at the same time, somewhere at the front of this entire election should also be the social, economic, and global consequences of GOP rule.

Obama does not warn people about the danger of the GOP retaining power, he's too busy prattling on about Unifying "Democrats and Republicans alike," getting them beyond "old divides," etc. While Hillary Clinton is also narcissistic to the point of gagging Harrogate with a Spoon, she at least occasionally reminds voters that it is not Bush, but the GOP Borg, which has brought us where we are, and which will make things much, much worse should they win again.

There are lots of other things that Harrogate will address in the future, but these suffice for now, they are connected inasmuch as they point to Obama as an Empty Suit.

Shred away!

Barack Obama on Good Morning America

Barack Obama appeared on Good Morning America this morning. In the interview, he attacked Bill Clinton for his use of "facts" and stated he was running against both Clintons.

I am not sure that this strategy will work for a few reasons. However, this is what it seems he is doing:

(1) Attack the authority of Hillary Clinton by implying that one of the reasons people are voting for her is because they like Bill. This means that her Presidency will be about him and not her.

(2) Attack the credibility of Bill Clinton. We know that Bill Clinton has had a problem with the facts and the truth while in office and Obama wants to make sure that people remember this and its effect on the Democratic Party in the minds of independent voters.

(3) Make the connection that Hillary endorses Bill, which means Hillary endorses the lying. From this vantage point, it is hard to argue for change, which Hillary does, because it is no different than the current administration.

(4) Attack the notion that a former President and former leader of the party is providing an unfounded attack on a member of the party, showing that the Clintons will not be concerned about the party itself just its interest in the party.

Yet, the problem with this strategy is that people, especially Democrats of the establishment, like Bill Clinton. This is very important when comparing the Clinton and Bush administrations. While focusing the election on Bill rather than Hillary may effect the pride of Hillary, it may help her by gaining votes from people that may vote against her.

update: Top Democrats will ask President Clinton to tone down his remarks while campaigning for his wife because it is hurting his (Clinton's) image and doign a disservice to the party in the campaign. This may be a problem for free speech (social coercion) and further divide the party.

UFO CaPiTaL of the WoRlD

How I miss living in Texas.

MLK Jr., Letter, Dream

In honor of today, here are links to Martin Luther King Jr.'s most know works, "Letter From a Birmingham Jail," and "I Have A Dream."

If you read anything today, please read King's "Letter." One of my favorite passages, especially because of the form (the use of anaphora and copia) and the content:
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited for more that 340 years for our constitutional and Godgiven rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking, "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored" when your first name becomes "Nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when your are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Call her Clinton

I want to initiate a conversation here that I began at Separation of Spheres. All political preferences aside, I'm having a really hard time with the media's tendency to call Hillary Rodham Clinton by her first name. Our own Megs even does it in one of her recent posts. I'm sorry to use you as an example, Megs, but you have, unfortunately, illustrated it beautifully. People from Maureen Dowd to Chris Matthews to the other candidates have routinely referred to Clinton by her first name. Calling her "Hillary" rather than "Clinton" is sexist and disrespectful. No one ever (at least not as far as I can tell and I have been looking) refers to Barack Obama, John Edwards, John McCain, or Mike Huckabee by their first names--not even the people they are running against. And to reiterate the point I made here, no one is calling Senator Clinton by her first name to differentiate between her and former-President Clinton. In the appropriate context, I think the average American realizes what Clinton is running for president in 2008. I also don't buy the argument that the media and political pundits call her by her first name because they are familiar with her from her time as First Lady. Last time I checked no one was calling Laura Bush by her first name; she was being respectfully addressed as Mrs. Bush or as the First Lady. Calling Senator Clinton by her first name implicitly questions her ability to do the job and , her viability as a candidate, disrespects the work she has done for the country, and directly undermines her authority as a U.S. Senator. While I certainly don't think the average person consciously does any of these things, I do think that Clinton's opponents and the Republicans are conscious of what it means to refer to a woman in power by her first name. Further Calling her "Hillary" rather than "Clinton" is the equivalent of calling adult women girls while calling adult men men.

Hell, Yes!

Here is Obama's speech today at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. It's a bit long, but shit:

The Scripture tells us that when Joshua and the Israelites arrived at the gates of Jericho, they could not enter. The walls of the city were too steep for any one person to climb; too strong to be taken down with brute force. And so they sat for days, unable to pass on through.

But God had a plan for his people. He told them to stand together and march together around the city, and on the seventh day he told them that when they heard the sound of the ram's horn, they should speak with one voice. And at the chosen hour, when the horn sounded and a chorus of voices cried out together, the mighty walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

There are many lessons to take from this passage, just as there are many lessons to take from this day, just as there are many memories that fill the space of this church. As I was thinking about which ones we need to remember at this hour, my mind went back to the very beginning of the modern Civil Rights Era.

Because before Memphis and the mountaintop; before the bridge in Selma and the march on Washington; before Birmingham and the beatings; the fire hoses and the loss of those four little girls; before there was King the icon and his magnificent dream, there was King the young preacher and a people who found themselves suffering under the yolk of oppression.

And on the eve of the bus boycotts in Montgomery, at a time when many were still doubtful about the possibilities of change, a time when those in the black community mistrusted themselves, and at times mistrusted each other, King inspired with words not of anger, but of an urgency that still speaks to us today:

"Unity is the great need of the hour" is what King said. Unity is how we shall overcome.

What Dr. King understood is that if just one person chose to walk instead of ride the bus, those walls of oppression would not be moved. But maybe if a few more walked, the foundation might start to shake. If a few more women were willing to do what Rosa Parks had done, maybe the cracks would start to show. If teenagers took freedom rides from North to South, maybe a few bricks would come loose. Maybe if white folks marched because they had come to understand that their freedom too was at stake in the impending battle, the wall would begin to sway. And if enough Americans were awakened to the injustice; if they joined together, North and South, rich and poor, Christian and Jew, then perhaps that wall would come tumbling down, and justice would flow like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Unity is the great need of the hour – the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it's the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country.

I'm not talking about a budget deficit. I'm not talking about a trade deficit. I'm not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans.

I'm talking about a moral deficit. I'm talking about an empathy deficit. I'm taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother's keeper; we are our sister's keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny.

We have an empathy deficit when we're still sending our children down corridors of shame – schools in the forgotten corners of America where the color of your skin still affects the content of your education.

We have a deficit when CEOs are making more in ten minutes than some workers make in ten months; when families lose their homes so that lenders make a profit; when mothers can't afford a doctor when their children get sick.

We have a deficit in this country when there is Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others; when our children see nooses hanging from a schoolyard tree today, in the present, in the twenty-first century.

We have a deficit when homeless veterans sleep on the streets of our cities; when innocents are slaughtered in the deserts of Darfur; when young Americans serve tour after tour of duty in a war that should've never been authorized and never been waged.

And we have a deficit when it takes a breach in our levees to reveal a breach in our compassion; when it takes a terrible storm to reveal the hungry that God calls on us to feed; the sick He calls on us to care for; the least of these He commands that we treat as our own.

So we have a deficit to close. We have walls – barriers to justice and equality – that must come down. And to do this, we know that unity is the great need of this hour.

Unfortunately, all too often when we talk about unity in this country, we've come to believe that it can be purchased on the cheap. We've come to believe that racial reconciliation can come easily – that it's just a matter of a few ignorant people trapped in the prejudices of the past, and that if the demagogues and those who exploit our racial divisions will simply go away, then all our problems would be solved.

All too often, we seek to ignore the profound institutional barriers that stand in the way of ensuring opportunity for all children, or decent jobs for all people, or health care for those who are sick. We long for unity, but are unwilling to pay the price.

But of course, true unity cannot be so easily won. It starts with a change in attitudes – a broadening of our minds, and a broadening of our hearts.

It's not easy to stand in somebody else's shoes. It's not easy to see past our differences. We've all encountered this in our own lives. But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart – that puts up walls between us.

We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don't think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen is taking our tax money. The immigrant is taking our jobs. The believer condemns the non-believer as immoral, and the non-believer chides the believer as intolerant.

For most of this country's history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man's inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays – on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system.

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King's vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.

So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others – all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face – war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.

Because if Dr. King could love his jailor; if he could call on the faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in our time, and bind up our wounds, and erase the empathy deficit that exists in our hearts.

But if changing our hearts and minds is the first critical step, we cannot stop there. It is not enough to bemoan the plight of poor children in this country and remain unwilling to push our elected officials to provide the resources to fix our schools. It is not enough to decry the disparities of health care and yet allow the insurance companies and the drug companies to block much-needed reforms. It is not enough for us to abhor the costs of a misguided war, and yet allow ourselves to be driven by a politics of fear that sees the threat of attack as way to scare up votes instead of a call to come together around a common effort.

The Scripture tells us that we are judged not just by word, but by deed. And if we are to truly bring about the unity that is so crucial in this time, we must find it within ourselves to act on what we know; to understand that living up to this country's ideals and its possibilities will require great effort and resources; sacrifice and stamina.

And that is what is at stake in the great political debate we are having today. The changes that are needed are not just a matter of tinkering at the edges, and they will not come if politicians simply tell us what we want to hear. All of us will be called upon to make some sacrifice. None of us will be exempt from responsibility. We will have to fight to fix our schools, but we will also have to challenge ourselves to be better parents. We will have to confront the biases in our criminal justice system, but we will also have to acknowledge the deep-seated violence that still resides in our own communities and marshal the will to break its grip.

That is how we will bring about the change we seek. That is how Dr. King led this country through the wilderness. He did it with words – words that he spoke not just to the children of slaves, but the children of slave owners. Words that inspired not just black but also white; not just the Christian but the Jew; not just the Southerner but also the Northerner.

He led with words, but he also led with deeds. He also led by example. He led by marching and going to jail and suffering threats and being away from his family. He led by taking a stand against a war, knowing full well that it would diminish his popularity. He led by challenging our economic structures, understanding that it would cause discomfort. Dr. King understood that unity cannot be won on the cheap; that we would have to earn it through great effort and determination.

That is the unity – the hard-earned unity – that we need right now. It is that effort, and that determination, that can transform blind optimism into hope – the hope to imagine, and work for, and fight for what seemed impossible before.

The stories that give me such hope don't happen in the spotlight. They don't happen on the presidential stage. They happen in the quiet corners of our lives. They happen in the moments we least expect. Let me give you an example of one of those stories.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organizes for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She's been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and the other day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

So Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."

By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we begin. It is why the walls in that room began to crack and shake.

And if they can shake in that room, they can shake in Atlanta.

And if they can shake in Atlanta, they can shake in Georgia.

And if they can shake in Georgia, they can shake all across America. And if enough of our voices join together; we can bring those walls tumbling down. The walls of Jericho can finally come tumbling down. That is our hope – but only if we pray together, and work together, and march together.

Brothers and sisters, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle for peace and justice, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle for opportunity and equality, we cannot walk alone

In the struggle to heal this nation and repair this world, we cannot walk alone.

So I ask you to walk with me, and march with me, and join your voice with mine, and together we will sing the song that tears down the walls that divide us, and lift up an America that is truly indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all. May God bless the memory of the great pastor of this church, and may God bless the United States of America.

Presidential Qualities

What are the most important qualities, qualifications, and characteristics for a President?

I do not think we have even touched this question officially, though a lot of the posts move revolve around this topic.

Meet the Press II: The VP

If the coronation occurs and Clinton receives the nomination, would any candidate want to become the second Vice President? I mean, Hillary may be the President, former President Clinton would be the Vice-President, so who would want to take the "official" office of the Vice President?

Meet the Press: The Vision of the Democrats

On Meet the Press this morning, the group discussed the vision and identity of the Democratic Party. They begin with a clip of Obama interview with the Reno Gazette Journal in which he said:
"I think it is fair to say that the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time for the past ten, fifteen years in the sense that were challenging conventional wisdom. Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not And in a way Bill Clinton did not. He [Reagan] put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for that. He tapped into the feeling which was we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."

John Edwards, in response:
Senator Obama, when speaking used Ronald Reagan as an example of change. Now, my view is I would never use Ronald Reagan as an example of change.

Hillary Clinton:
"My leading opponent the other said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats over the last 10 - 15 years. That is not the way I remember the last ten 10 - 15 years."

In these quotes, there is a lot about character. First, Obama's comments focus on trying to reshape the party in a way that would lead, rather than have a presidency, like President Clinton did, where he needed to carve out space that the Republicans gave him-- hence Clinton's policy of triangulation, which limits the amount of agency, rhetorical or otherwise, a speaker possess. Second, Obama speaks of building a coalition, similar to the Reagan Democrats, which may decrease the ideological fight between parties.

The comments by former Senator Edward's seems childish-- "oh.. I would never use Reagan as an example..." Not even as a bad example?

Yet, the comment by Senator Clinton is far worse since it, first, is intellectually dishonest for the way in which it twists what Senator Obama said and, second, seems to focus the identity of the Democrats on the development of a devil figure, either Reagan or Bush. The problem with this is that the enemy will go away. And, once the enemy goes away, then there is nothing left to fight and, consequently, no identity.

For example, after the first Gulf War, President H.W. Bush had nothing to run on and he lacked that "vision thing" to build a foundation. All he could do was say that yes there were domestic problems in 1992 and he and James Baker would turn their attention to them.

It was not a good strategy then and will not be now.

Feminism, Redefined

Solon and I are watching Meet the Press and I'm disturbed by something conservative Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan just argued. She claims--I'll see about linking to a transcript when MTP's web site posts one--that Hillary is being anti-feminist by playing good cop/bad cop with Bill. Don't even think about a comparison between JFK and RFK, who did the same thing. This is a man/woman thing and it's clear that Hillary is just sending her husband out to defend her. Seriously? So if no man can speak for Hillary, should her entire campaign staff consist of women? Talk about insane identity politics.

Why are so many on the right (not all, of course, but more than I'm comfortable with and more than one would find on the left) in no way beholden to an actual definition of feminism that feminists would themselves maintain. It just makes these cheap arguments so easy.