Saturday, February 02, 2008

Anticipating Tom Petty's Super Bowl Performance

While Harrogate isn't much interested in the outcome of the actual game, he is excited about the discussions to come about the commercials, as well as what will likely be a wonderful halftime performance by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.

From the link, true words:

The group is still going strong after releasing its debut album back in 1976 and has sold more than 50 million records. And the band members took this occasion to announce they will tour the United States and Canada in the upcoming months.

Both to celebrate the upcoming festivities, and to continue his efforts to at least partially escape the Rhetorical Gravity of Primary Season 2008, Harrogate offers this charming rendition of one of his all time favorite songs, "Walls." Note especially Petty's effortless rapport with the crowd.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Down Syndrome Suicide Bomber

The election day bombing in Iraq this week appears to have been committed by a young woman with Down Syndrome, possibly a child. Here's one of many online articles about this. I'm not sure what to say about this yet, other than that I'm mortified, and I feel like it deserves a more thoughtful comment. I'm going to think about it and post more sometime this weekend. In the meantime, any thoughts?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Dems' LA Debate: Harrogate Responds with Measured Enthusiasm

Well, Harrogate watched the debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the only time these two were the only participants, and the last debate before Super Tuesday.

Now, as a rule Harrogate has grown somewhat tired of the debates as well as the stump speeches. The repetitiveness of it all is enough to make one wish for a hole in the head. For example, how many more times must we be subjected to Romney's little "they haven't" routine every time he gives a speech?

Yet there was much to recommend tonight's Democratic debate. Harrogate was struck several times thinking, these may not be the candidates one most prefers, but these are absolutely candidates one can live with. The moral and intellectual superiority to the GOP is palpable--indeed, both Clinton and Obama showed tonight that, unlike Kerry in 2004, neither of them will try to hide their thoughtfulness and moral apprehension.

Harrogate also agrees with Jeralyn over at Talk Left that this may have been Obama's finest performance at a debate yet. Obama's oratory skill and his much-celebrated imaginative scope were on full display here, and throughout it was made abundantly clear that the man has no problem taking it to the GOP for their practical and moral failings.

And, it's funny Jeralyn linked the video of Clinton's devastating line about the Mormon's "private sector" rhetoric, which we have all had plenty of opportunity to grow sick of by now. Verily, as soon as Clinton let it fly, Harrogate thought to hisself, this right here is one of the strongest moments of the campaign. If Romney gets the nomination, either Clinton or Obama need to pepper him with this every time there is a microphone anywhere in the vicinity.

Go here to see the awesome clip.

The Literary Endorsement

Which endorsement is more important: Maya Angelou's "State Package for Hillary Clinton" or Toni Morrison's "Letter of Endorsement"?

How often do prolific literary authors engage in overt politics? I know of Robert Frost with JFK, and Angelou and Morrison's past with former President Clinton... anyone else?

Apology to Britney Spears

Britney Spears is back in the hospital. I, like millions of Americans, have read about this online and seen it on the cable networks; even major news sources are selling (I mean, telling) the story. Today, I even--and I'm now mortified by this--went to TMZ to read about it. (I'm specifically not linking to TMZ today because it makes me feel dirty.)

So I'd like to apologize to Britney. In taking part in a culture of celebrity obsession, I have promoted the existence of the magnifying glass that has, if not caused, then at the very least worsened, her sickness. I don't always have sympathy for celebrities who complain of the lack of privacy. But this woman is very, very ill. Gawking at her downward spiral is like making fun of someone with cancer.

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions, but here's one a month late: I will no longer read TMZ or any of it's incarnations online. I will only participate in star culture when it is in the forum of fashion and the red carpet, which is an arena in which celebrities willingly take part.

I'm sorry, Britney. Really, I am.

Campaign Finance Reports

Campaign Finance Reports are due today for the Presidential Election.

The Barack Obama Campaign raised $32 Million during the month of January. The raised the most amount of money the day after the New Hampshire Primary. Also, the campaign attracted 170,000 new donors and has 650,000 in total. (To note how significant this is, Howard Dean raised $51 million for his entire campaign in 2004). This means that the Obama camp has replenished from what it spent on advertising for February 5th and the campaign is advertising in all 22 states.

Rudy "America's Mayor" Giuliani raised 14.2 between October and December of 2007.

Kate says it better. . .

For weeks now I've been trying to articulate my feelings about the democratic presidential candidates, largely for myself, but like my friend Kate at ak8, a cat, a mission, I've been asked who am I voting for? I want to direct everyone to Kate's thoughtful response to this question; she says it much better than I think I could have.

I do, however, want to add that if I had to vote today I am still unsure who I would vote for. I fully admit that the posts I have made here suggest that I would vote for Hillary Clinton, but I really don't know. A big part of me wants someone new in the White House. I don't think it will be advantageous to our country to establish a Clinton-Bush Dynasty. We've experienced 4 years under George H.W. Bush, 8 under Bill Clinton, and 8 under George W. Bush. If Hillary Clinton is elected (and possibly reelected), does that mean that we have to endure another Bush in the White House? I'd really like to move away from dynastic politics and encourage growth in Washington. That said, I like the idea of Hillary Clinton as president for many, many reasons (which I'm not going to go into here). I also find Barack Obama compelling for a number of reasons. In an ideal world I'd love to see an Obama/Clinton ticket (or vice versa). I really think their blend of experience and different views would be beneficial to the country. Unlike my fellow bloggers Solon and Harrogate, I tend to believe the ideal could really happen, but then sadly, I am generally disappointed. . .

Hillary, Obama, and Constitutional Order

Jeffrey Tulis, author of Rhetorical Presidency, has an interesting post at Balkinization that suggest the race between Hillary and Obama is a race between competing interpretations of Constitutional Order or competing characterizations of our political institutions. The competing visions:
"In Obama’s vision, presidential success is not measured by how many detailed policy proposals he can ram through Congress. Rather, his vision sets a new standard, that presidential success will be measured by an improved functioning of the government as a whole. In this vision, the details of policy are not as important as the principles that guide policy. In this vision, it is less important to secure ones preferred version of a bill than it is to mobilize Congress to solve the problem for which the legislation was designed.

"In contrast, all recent presidents, and especially Senator Clinton, understand the President as the chief legislator, as the person and the place where legislation is made. She seems incensed that anyone not as technically skilled as she in legislative craftsmanship would think they are as qualified for election to the presidency. Obama understands that although the president needs to be very knowledgeable about public policy, to demonstrate that knowledge, and even, as president, to offer legislative proposals to the Congress – he has an instinctive sense that his job is to lead, not to legislate."

The Democratic Debate

Tonight, the Democratic debate will feature just Barack and Hillary as the third wheel finally went flat. This is both good and bad for the candidates:

(1) There will be no team debates without John: Barack cannot team up against Hillary, and Hillary, Barack. Is this good or bad? Hillary scored some points with voters in New Hampshire when it appeared that all of the other candidates were against her. (This has not worked for Mitt Romney though-- even though all of the Republican candidates are against him he is quite the unsympathetic figure.)

(2) There should be very little "fireworks" at tonights debate. It may be a bland love-fest. Barack cannot be aggressive against in case he were to lose political points. Hillary cannot look vindictive and must look in more control than she did in South Carolina.

(3) Wolf Blizter will need to drum up some controversy by interjecting the "Snub" and "Billary," maybe even the bridge to the past, which is not an ad personam but a perfectly valid argument in order to turn-the-tables on the opponent. These topics may not persuade new voters but just reinforce the supporters (as Debates typically do).

(4)I am not sure what the "ghost of John Edwards" will do to this race, other than raise the pandering level. Demographically, his supporters seem as if they would support Hillary. However, Edwards was not a fan of the Clintons (as they are not a fan of him) and there is a reason his supporters supported him rather than Hillary. Because of interests, they may go to Obama or Nader. Both Clinton and Obama will attempt to pander to the Edwards crowd but the two most important questions may be: who will win the crowd over (Barack and Hillary) and who will Edwards endorse (but if that even matters is an entirely different subject).

My take:
Hillary: She attempts to incite Barack to get him off his message of hope. She plays the experience card over and over and over and over and over, no matter how misleading, and attempts to make this debate out to be her versus George W. Bush. Overall: She seems "nice" during the debate but is not too emotional. Further, she works on maintaining her perfect posture and avoids any unflattering positions whereby she looks as if she wants to hit Barack over the head with a frying pan. She reminds the audience this is about George W. Bush, you know, the president that no longer receives any press, even after delivering a State of the Union Address. This strategy would have worked in 2004 but where was she then?

Obama: avoids confrontation as he attempts for humor instead. He counters experience by mentioning Iraq. He says "hope" and "change" 2.3 times per minute (average count). Overall: He also attempts to work on reducing the number of verbal pauses and avoids placing his fingers over his mouth as if he would rather be outside smoking, like he did during the state of the union. He attempts to kill Clinton with kindness and, at the same time, bashes her and her supporters (e.g. Now) for disliking intellectual diversity, reminding the audience that she would be like George W. Bush, and former President Clinton, and former President H.W. Bush, and former President John Adams, and John Quincy Adams, former President Grover Cleveland, and former President James Buchanan, and former President Rutherford B. Hayes. No one in the audience knows anything about any of them except G.W. and Clinton. He then reminds his audience he was the editor at the Harvard Law Review.

The audience: loses interest within 15 minutes when no fireworks occur. They spend the rest of the debate mocking Mitt Romney and Wolf Blitzer and wondering why the candidates are not having a conversation in front of Air Force One like the Republicans did. Overall: They puzzle over whether or not the polls are correct as to whether or not Hillary can beat McCain but opt for another glass of wine or beer before reaching a conclusion on the matter.

Rest of the world: Extremely puzzled over how the Democrats will lose the general election in 2008 and wonder if it could be possible that the Republican nominee may be the anti-torture nominee.

Any thoughts? What advice would you give the candidates?

Waterboarding: A Saturday Night Experiment

From the Wall Street Journal: Three Twenty-Somethings see for themselves if waterboarding is torture.

The Endorsement Race: When Belvis Endorses

In the heels of the Kennedy endorsement of Obama and, more importantly, the Scarlett Johanssen endorsement of Obama...wait...let me think:

Ted, Patrick, and Caroline endorsed Barack while Robert F. Kennedy endorsed Hillary Clinton. For the Republicans, Guiliani and Arnie endorsed McCain while space aliens endorse Ron Paul.

While these are all well and good, they mean nothing. Here are the endorsements that matter:
Mike Huckabee: Walker, Texas Ranger
John McCain: Rambo, America's Mayor, The Last Action Hero (or The Terminator)
Hillary Clinton: Belvis, Maya Angelou, Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson.
Barack Obama: Hulk Hogan, Kumar (yes, from Harold and Kumar go to White Castle), Toni Morrison, Robert DeNiro, Scarlett Johanssen, The Grateful Dead, Susan Surandon, Maria Shriver, Chris Rock, Dave Matthews.

We have now reached the absurd when Hulk Hogan and Belvis endorse and the media reports the endorsements and then I report it here.

Clinton and the Bridge to the Past

The Obama campaign is beginning to try and set Bill Clinton off before Super Tuesday. Yesterday, in Denver, Obama mentioned that we had two George Bushed as presidents and would it be wise to "Build A Bridge to the Past." This refers back to the 1996 Presidential Campaign when, at the Republican Convention, Bob Dole argued that we needed to build a bridge to the past to restore America's traditional values. At the Democratic Convention, Clinton pounced on this to argue what we needed was a bridge to the future. It was a very good line for Clinton then and Obama wants to use it against him. Here is the excerpt from the speech, that the media is showing:
"I know it is tempting, after another President named George Bush, this is our second one now, And so I know it is tempting to simply turn back the clock to look backwards and try to build a bridge back to the 20th century."

The speech itself is about how, "The story of America leads west. It is a story of ideals that know no boundaries." Of course, the Hillary loving media just wants to expose the conflict and not message of the entire speech.

The current Clinton campaign stated it was not a very hopeful message.

Coincidently, in today's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof raises the "Dynasty" issue:
We Americans snicker patronizingly as “democratic” Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Singapore, India and Argentina hand over power to a wife or child of a former leader. Yet I can’t find any example of even the most rinky-dink “democracy” confining power continuously for seven terms over 28 years to four people from two families. (And that’s not counting George H.W. Bush’s eight years as vice president.)...

A tongue-in-cheek Web site called Bush-Clinton Forever is already proposing Jeb Bush in 2017, Chelsea Clinton in 2025, Jeb Bush’s son George P. Bush in 2033, Chelsea Clinton’s husband in 2041 and George W. Bush’s daughter Jenna Bush from 2049-2057.

The Ron Paul Moment

As the Republican race winds down, I will miss the Ron Paul moment of the debates. While John McCain had a Clinton moment in the debate (and the campaign) by lying about something Romney said, forcing McCain and Romney to spend over ten minutes on a pointless debate over "timetables", CNN's Anderson Cooper asked Ron Paul to comment. And here is his response, showing he is the only Republican candidate that has read the constitution.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Forget what I said...

If I were the New York Post. Today, the Post un-endorsed Hillary Clinton and endorsed Barack Obama.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "The Last DJ": Lyrics that Deserve to be Taken Seriously

The title track from one of their best records, circa 2002. Harrogate has often maitained that these guys get extra kudos for, instead of resting on their "classic rock" laurels, actually improving over time.

This song here has been on Harrogate's mind much lately. Some of it is just due to what a badass song it is. Some because the song touches upon that meme that never tires: that the "human voice" is being elided by converging forces of technology, convenience, and profit share.

And certainly the lyrics transcend radio and pop music. As major media outlets continue to consolidate into a small elite ownership, ideological diversity is getting harder and harder to come by on the radio and on television.

A sad song. Yea, perhaps even an angry song. Harrogate's favorite line: "all the boys upstairs want to see/ How much you’ll pay for what you used to get for free."

But then, there's a triumph to the song as well. An ironic assertion that, despite the "last dj" monicker, there won't really be a "last human voice" until there is a last human.

Well you can’t turn him into a company man
You can’t turn him into a whore
And the boys upstairs just don’t understand anymore
Well the top brass don’t like him talking so much
And he won’t play what they say to play
And he don’t want to change what don’t need to change

And there goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
And says what he wants to say
Hey, hey, hey
And there goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
There goes the last DJ

Well some folks say they’re gonna hang him so high
Because you just can’t do what he did
There’s some things you just can’t put in the minds of those kids
As we celebrate mediocrity all the boys upstairs want to see
How much you’ll pay for what you used to get for free

And there goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
And says what he wants to say
Hey, hey, hey
And there goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
And there goes the last DJ

(Instrumental break)

Well he got him a station down in Mexico
And sometimes it will kinda come in
And I’ll bust a move and remember how it was back then

There goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
And says what he wants to say
Hey, hey, hey
And there goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
And there goes the last DJ

Very Cool

I think the Australian government has just done a very cool thing. Perhaps it is time that our government follow Australia's lead and offer a similar apology to Native Americans and African Americans. I think the rhetoric of the Australian government is key, as well. I don't see any benefit in assigning guilt or blame to people alive in 2008, but I do think there is a lot of merit in recognizing the wrongs of history and how those wrongs have resulted in institutional racism.

And then there were two....

Senator Edwards will announce at 1pm EST from New Orleans that he will no longer be a candidate for the presidency.

The questions: Who will he endorse? Who will his supporters vote for?

And, after the last debate, there was talk of a "shared moment" between Clinton and Edwards.... Speculation, as Edwards drops out right before the CNN debate on Thursday.

One more point: This news is a buzz killer for Hillary. Though Hillary "won" Florida, it is no longer the story at CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, and Fox News.... interesting....

Update: From Joe Klein in an article at CNN:
An aide said Edwards does not plan to endorse either Clinton or Obama at this time but he may do so in the future.

"The cynics will say that with Edwards out of the race, a lot of the white working-class people who voted for him will now vote for Hillary Clinton; they'll see it in racial terms," said Time magazine journalist Joe Klein. "On the other hand, you could just as easily say that with Edwards out of the race, those people who are more interested in change who were part of his constituency, will go vote for Obama."

He added, "I don't think he endorses Hillary Clinton. The question is whether or not he endorses Barack Obama."

Klein contends that Clinton "represents a lot of the things that [Edwards] campaigned against, you know, the old Washington Democratic establishment that he believes got too close to the corporations in the '90s."

Edwards had campaigned on the message that he was standing up for the little guy, the people who are not traditionally given a voice in Washington, and that he would do more to fight special interests.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Goodbye, Rudolph Giuliani, You Officious, Sanctimonious Demagogue

Speaking of Florida, one thing that we all kinda knew, but we can now be sure of: Rudy Giuliani shall not be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States a year from now.

Yea, in a political season offering much to turn the stomach, this is as a beam of light.

Go here to witness what promises to be the opening movement of a multi-thread wailing and gnashing of teeth courtesy of the fascists over at Little Green Footballs, bewailing the fall of their wire-tapping, torture-happy, 9/11exploiting, war mongering, mandatory minimum sentence loving champion.

Voting Errors in Florida

Shocked! So Shocked! I am Shocked! I Am Very Shocked!

The Miami Herald reports about the troubles.

In related news, or maybe unrelated, or maybe related-- we do not know how the Clintons won... but the Clintons won Florida.

Voters who voted early supported the Clintons. Voters who voted closer to the deadline voted for Obama.

Speaking of Ads with Good Music...

...which wasn't really the criteria for consideration in the previous post, but is unarguable, nevertheless.

Has anyone seen the new ad for the Macbook Air?

Not only do I completely covet the laptop, which is rare for me--I think I'm think I'm the only Mac person in America who really didn't care about the iPhone-- but I'm in love with the song, "New Soul," by Yael Naïm. Not as immediately addictive as Mac's use of Feist, but it really sneaks up on you.

Liberty Mutual and Cause and Effect

Ever notice how the Liberty Mutual make no sense. How can the first act of kindness lead to the next act of kindness, which eventually leads to the last act of kindness, which leads to the first act of kindness. So the first act, leads to the second, third, fourth, fifth, etc., all the way back to the first?

Does this involve time-travel at all?

Is anyone really surprised?

I'm always a bit annoyed when the results of studies examining the "lingering" affects of sexism are released. One such study, on Title IX, has just been released. I do think these studies are important and keep the general public aware that yes, sexism and gender discrimination continue to exist in our country. But my immediate reaction is always, "Well, yeah. Didn't everyone know that?"

And of course the answer is, no, everyone didn't know that. Or at the very least, most Americans seem to believe that gender discrimination is a non-issue. I am continually amazed that people, especially the young women that I teach, believe that sexism no longer exists. I have been repeatedly surprised and angered by the lack of attention given the issue of gender discrimination in the current presidential campaign. The racist ways that Barack Obama has been treated (often by his fellow candidates) has received a fair amount of attention, and deservedly so. But those who recognize this overt racism seem less willing to acknowledge the sexism that is also pervading the campaign. Certainly Hillary Clinton has called attention to her gender (as Obama has called attention to his race), and there are those who would argue that by playing the gender card herself she should be prepared to be criticized for playing it. But, thus far, no one is saying that Obama should be prepared to be criticized for playing the race card.

It is a fact in this country that sexism has always taken a back seat to racism, and again, perhaps justifiably so. Historically, victims of racism has suffered much more than victims of sexism, but both minorities and women have suffered tremendously, and both continue to suffer. Further, racism and sexism know no boundaries, and many women are victims of both. But few people are surprised to be told that racism is still an issue in this country, but everywhere I go I meet people who tell me, "Sexism doesn't exist anymore." Why is that?

Visual Rhetoric

This is a dramatic photo: what is the argument? And how much does the lack of context alter the meaning of the photo? (I say this because we have no idea what occurred right before the photo was taken.)

The headline at Talk Left is that Obama Snubbed Clinton at SOTU.

Morning Joe has been discussing it but they are not providing a serious reading.

An Obama spokesperson stated the because of the awkwardness of the day and the endorsement, he backed away to allow Clinton and Kennedy to "talk" without hovering over them.

Tuesday: Great Moments in Superbowl Advertising

In 2007, the NFL launched its SuperFan campaign. This contest allowed fans to pitch a commercial to NFL execs and the winning person would be allowed to develop the commercial for the SuperBowl.

Here is the winning commercial, "Hard to Say Goodbye." There are two clips to wacth. The first is the "invention" of the ad or the pitch. And the second is the "praxis" or the ad itself.

Full disclosure here: I did go to high school with the winner, Gino. My sister knew him and was friends with him but I did not know him very well.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Random Musings about the State of the Union

I only watched a few minutes, bet here are some observations on what they must have been thinking:

President Bush: His metaphors were beyond banal. His delivery was good. He must have been thinking about his next job: Commissioner of MLB when Selig retires.

Republicans- please, do not talk about immigration.
Democrats: Talk about whatever you'd like; your days are numbered. Please, mention immigration once again.

Cheney & Pelosi:
I don't know who looked less interested, the VP or the Speaker. Cheney was most likely thinking when he would break the news that the 2008 elections would be canceled. Pelosi, the aesthetics of an all-female team behind the podium.

The Supreme Court Justices:
As they listen to the policy proposals, do they sit there and think: constitutional, constitutional, unconstitutional, constitutional, unconstitutional...

I think Justice Alito has a crush on #43. After the speech, when Bush was shaking hands, Alito, out of the corner of his eye, watched the president move about the room . As the president approached, he attempted to remain focused by looking down. Once the president approached, he laugh like a giddy school girl and became smitten with him. Once the president moved on to the next Justice, Alito stared longingly at the person that gave him life tenure on the Court. It was just an endearing moment.

Also, do you think they ever tire of hearing, "We need justices that stay within the bounds of the constitution" or "We need justice that read the letter of the law." It must be a shot to their credibility that a man who has never read the constitution, or at least does not understand the meaning of the constitution, to lecture on the constitution. I think it was last year when President Bush read the line of "judicial activists" and then winked at Justice Souter. Yes, the camera caught that non-verbal which undermined his argument.

Oh well, farewell to #43 and his banal exercises in public speaking.

In Honor of Superbowl Week:

From YouTube: The Ten Best Commercials from the 2007 Superbowl. I did not see most of them that night because of the birth of my daughter.

"Just admit it Ted..."

The NY Chapter of NOW chastised Senator Kennedy's endorsement of Obama. from what I can tell, it is not a hoax. Here is the letter (via Slate and Politico):
Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few. Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills. We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.

“And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton (they will of course say they support a woman president, just not “this” one). ‘They’ are Howard Dean and Jim Dean (Yup! That’s Howard’s brother) who run DFA (that’s the group and list from the Dean campaign that we women helped start and grow). They are Alternet, Progressive Democrats of America,, Kucinich lovers and all the other groups that take women’s money, say they’ll do feminist and women’s rights issues one of these days, and conveniently forget to mention women and children when they talk about poverty or human needs or America’s future or whatever.

“This latest move by Kennedy, is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation - to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who ‘know what’s best for us.

This election is getting quite interesting as the political becomes personal.

To Honor Harrogate: The Meaning of "Dude," Dude

A few days ago, Harrogate posted on the brilliance of the "Dude" spot by Bud. It seems that Slate ruthlessly plagiarized his work. Thumbs up to Harrogate for his prophecy; thumbs down to Slate for not given due credit.

A Little Perspective

I'm not usually one to wax nostalgic about living in the U.S. In fact, I generally complain more about the state of our country than I praise it. That said, I'd like everyone at The Rhetorical Situation (especially in light of the recent/continual discussions of the upcoming presidential elections) and all of our faithful readers to take a minute to be glad that we live where we do. After all, we are permitted in this country to express our dissent with the government; yes, we may suffer some repercussions, but those repercussions do not include being bludgeoned to death with machetes. If the candidate whom we do not support gets elected, we have the right to protest and to complain, but we do go on with our lives, even when the candidate of choice gets elected in a questionable way.

Then, I'd like everyone to ponder this question: why do we, as a country, continue to involve ourselves in the affairs of the Middle East and continue to ignore the horrors taking place in Africa? Consider this headline: "One Month After Vote, Kenyan Toll Reaches 800." This is a topic I'd like to see all the candidates address.

Beware the Unity Schtick: Reason # 16,869

Lately a lot of people have been comparing Obama's current run to Bill Clinton's in 1992. At the same time, most of these same people, in the media anyway, have been firing away at the actual Clintons with both barrels. There are exceptions to Obama's media darling ride, though.

Here, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman takes a look at the comparison between what Obama is saying about Unity now, and what Bill Clinton ran on in 1992.

But more importantly, Krugman does a great job interrogating the promise of Unification in the first place--That is, the illusory idea of a man who, on the basis of his passion, intellect, and sheer coolness shall get us beyond the "old divides."

The column rocks. Harrogate's favorite part:

Whatever hopes people might have had that Mr. Clinton would usher in a new era of national unity were quickly dashed. Within just a few months the country was wracked by the bitter partisanship Mr. Obama has decried.

This bitter partisanship wasn’t the result of anything the Clintons did. Instead, from Day 1 they faced an all-out assault from conservatives determined to use any means at hand to discredit a Democratic president.

For those who are reaching for their smelling salts because Democratic candidates are saying slightly critical things about each other, it’s worth revisiting those years, simply to get a sense of what dirty politics really looks like.

First, those who don’t want to nominate Hillary Clinton because they don’t want to return to the nastiness of the 1990s — a sizable group, at least in the punditocracy — are deluding themselves. Any Democrat who makes it to the White House can expect the same treatment: an unending procession of wild charges and fake scandals, dutifully given credence by major media organizations that somehow can’t bring themselves to declare the accusations unequivocally false (at least not on Page 1).

The point is that while there are valid reasons one might support Mr. Obama over Mrs. Clinton, the desire to avoid unpleasantness isn’t one of them.

Notice the substantive difference, BTW, between what Krugman describes, when he points out that the "bitter partisanship wasn't a result of anything the Clintons did," and the political discourse we have seen since 2000.

Despite the idiotic monicker "BDS" propogated first throughout Talk Radio Land and then Cable News and now, sadly, increasingly, into the popular lexicon, all without the slightest actual referent in reality:

Yea, contary to the myth of "BDS," disgust with the Republican Party and its Hallowed Spokesman has been the result of neither more nor less than their policies.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pat Forde's Piece on Rick Majerus

ESPN Writer Pat Forde has an interesting piece on the developing story about Rick Majerus and his expression of support for abortion rights at a Hillary Clinton rally.

One reason Harrogate has been following this story is that, as a lifelong sports fan, Harrogate has always been disappointed by the Social and Economic Conservatism freighting American sports culture. There are exceptions, like Dean Smith and Carlos DelGado, but on the whole the pattern has been pretty fixed for a long time. Same is true with sportswriting and sportscasting, again with exceptions.

One the whole Harrogate likes Forde's piece very much. It would have been nice had Forde ceded that ersatz social and economic Conservatism freights American sport, but hey, let's not be greedy.

Here's some good stuff:

Difference of opinion -- and the thoughtful discussion of those opinions -- is supposed to be part and parcel of a university community. Even at a university with a religious affiliation. A campus with only one school of thought and one slice of the American demographic sounds like a pretty dull place.

We know Tiger Woods believes in Nike and Michael Jordan believes in Hanes and Peyton Manning believes in Gatorade, but we sure don't know how they vote or how they feel about societal issues. Same with the vast majority of the coaches who have become the stars of college basketball, pockets lined with shoe money and other endorsements. With Majerus, we know.

With all his beliefs laid on the table in a deeply Catholic city, he will accept whatever response this controversy generates. He said he understands why the SLU president, Father Lawrence Biondi, cannot make a public show of support for him -- but he also does not expect any condemnation from the university.

And the Majerus quotes aint bad either. For example:

"I believe in ending the war. I believe in gun control. I believe in stem-cell [research]. I believe in pro-choice. I respect that women need to make the decisions that are right for them, and I think it's wrong for people to speculate what they would do in a gut-wrenching, agonizing situation."

You tell 'em, Rick.

"New Obama Rules"

Big Tent Democrat over at TalkLeft has posted a compelling thread today in which he discusses the Media's overt hostility to Hillary Clinton, as well as the new Obama rules that have emerged over the course of this Democratic primary.

Some snippets:

Regarding the Media coverage of this primary season it now seems clear that there is a new rule that objectivity and appearances thereof are out the window. Certainly at NBC this is true. From the far right commentators like Joe Scarborough to the liberal newscaster Keith Olbermann and Establishment columnists like Eugene Robinson and Margaret Carlson any pretense of not openly rooting against the Clintons has now been discarded. NBC's performance last night was unlike any other I have seen outside of Fox News. Olbermann, who likes to trash Fox, properly in my view, should pause for a moment and consider how much his broadcast last night resembled Fox.

[New Rule #]4. Obama's attacks are always fair and merited. Any suggestion otherwise is, at the least, vaguely racist.

Can we get these rules enforced in the Media in a General Election? Let's hope so if Obama is the nominee.

As for those of us who have been trying to push Obama to be more of an explicit partisan Dem well we can give that up now. He does not even have to give that concern a second thought. Obama can not be criticized period now. We must operate on faith now. I am putting to an end my own critiques of his political style as I have ended my push to have Congress end the Iraq Debacle. I know when I have been licked.

If Obama is the nominee, the Clintons will NOT be able to help him in the General Election. Not because they would not want to help or that Obama would want their help, but because the Media will not ALLOW them to help Obama.

But perhaps the Media can pick up the slack. Let's get these new Obama rules enforced for the General Election.

Harrogate embraces both the spirit and substance of BTD's remarks. And again, like BTD, Harrogate promises to hold his nose and get on board with Obama's political humpty dance should he win the nomination.