Saturday, March 01, 2008

Kairos and The Rhetorical Situation

The influence of the Situation is beyond our knowledge. Our power even woke the dead with the return of the Good Rev. Todd...But I digress.

Last week, I mentioned the experience of former Presidents to show that experience may not matter as much as we think it does. This week, Time Magazine's cover Story is on whether or not experience matters. And guess what- character and judgment matter more.

And, on Tuesday, M wanted our gracious writers to discuss what issues mattered to them, especially the issues that were not being discussed. In Sunday's New York Times, the editorial board asks the presidential candidates no longer in the race to discuss one issue that is important to them.

Kairos readers, Kairos.

I like to play games....

As long as we are playing the delusional trick....

Open Left has a very insightful post on the correct metaphor for the Democratic campaign. It appears that we should understand Senator Clinton's Campaign from the perspective of the Black Knight. Between the Super Tuesday contests and the Pennsylvania Contest, the Clinton Campaign may have a record of 2 - 13 or 3 - 12, which puts you in position to draft first and not win the Super Bowl. It certainly will not allow the campaign enough delegates to catch Senator Obama. Consequently, with a 2 - 13 or 3 - 12 record, Senator Clinton will be unable to hold of the Super Delegate Defection since, as you remember, Senator Clinton needs to win Texas and Ohio comfortably, according to some of her Super Delegates, to prevent a Super Delegate Exodus.

Ahh... but it gets better. According to the Clinton Campaign, if Senator Obama does not win all four contests on 3/4 he is the candidate that has problems since it will be a sign that Democrats are having second thoughts.

To return to football speak: talk about moving the goalposts. It goes from the Super Delegates sating that Senator Clinton needs to win Texas & Ohio comfortably, to former President Clinton saying that Senator Clinton needs to win both Texas and Ohio to stay in the race, to the Clinton campaign arguing that Senator Obama needs to win all four on 3/4 to stay electable. It is good that the NFL does not move goalposts like this since the kickers would not know where to aim.

Now, how shall we speak of delusional? This is a fun game but does not help the overall goal.

And Now For Something Completely Different, for your viewing pleasure.

There Are Obamamaniacs, and Obamamania IS Delusional

There is rational pro-Obama rhetoric. And then there is the Other stuff. It is hard sometimes not to hold his supporters against him. Like the way Harrogate used to feel about Phish, rejecting really good music because at the time, the behavior of the fans made Harrogate a little sick.

Listening to these people for so long, it becomes something of a chore not to Loathe the candidate himself. Last night's episode of Real Time with Bill Maher represented the greatest struggle yet, in Harrogate's ongoing effort not to puke when listening to the Obama Narrative. Dan Savage gets on there talking about how nervous he was being at his first Obama rally, how he'd heard about what it was like, but you just can't know until you're there to see it for yourself. Maher legitimizes the tripe, indeed he himself is a believer: Oh, please, Savage and Maher jointly cried out in the night, don't let Obama get shot, or otherwise taken from us fallen clay mortals.

Because in case you hadn't heard, Barack Obama is Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy all rolled into one, now.

Oh! We fall upon the thorns of life! We faint! We bleed! We die! Oooo, how we grow afraid! Let no shot ring out in the night and take away our Joseph Campbell hero with a thousand faces.

If only Barack Obama is allowed to remain with us for a little longer on this Fallen plane of material existence, he will transform everything. But we are all at risk, for the Great One is not a human being with flaws, but rather he is simply too good for this earth.

Blech and Blech.

Why Women Should Rule the World

Former Clinton White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers has been doing the press circuit for her new book, Why Women Should Rule the World. I'm really interested in her viewpoint, since she seems to be acknowledging (not in the book, per se, but in political interviews) both that Clinton has had to fight a sexist media and public and that her campaign hasn't handled that situation to the best of its ability. One quote: "Hillary Clinton is better than her campaign." YES!

I'm heading out today to buy this book, which is billed as "Blending memoir, social history, and a call to action. Dee Dee Myers challenges us to imagine a not-too-distant future in which increasing numbers of women reach the top ranks of politics, business, science, and academia." I'll report back on my findings!

More Plagiarism

Apparently a Bush aid accused of plagiarism has admitted that he plagiarized more than 20 articles he wrote for Indiana newspapers and has, thus, resigned. He has apologized for "not upholding the standards expected by the president." It seems like every day another person who should know the definition of plagiarism is being accused of plagiarizing. As a teacher, this really intrigues me. I mean, the vast majority of my college freshman know what plagiarism is, and although on the rare occasion I have had a student plagiarize, I actually think they (by and large) have more remorse for their actions than people like Timothy Goeglein and others who are publicly accused of plagiarizing. So here is my question: do these individuals really believe that in our electronic age, when one can find original sources on the internet in seconds, that they really won't be found out? Or do they really not understand what plagiarism is? What I find really offensive about this particular case is that Goeglein only apologizes to the president, not to his readers or to the individuals he plagiarized.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Campaign Update...

We just finished watching Eastern Promises, which is an incredibly tense movie throughout-- a mob movie, which unlike The Sopranos, you find very little redeeming about the mob. Imagine that.

But here are a few interesting items from a relatively quiet day in the campaign:

There is a new video out and, in all honesty, it is quite creepy. The first 2 1/2 minutes misses the point of Senator Obama's campaign. Unfortunately, it ends up being just another celebrity endorsement. It does not compare to "Yes We Can."

The Clinton campaign, according to the Kansas City Star, is threatening a lawsuit to challenge the process of how the delegates will be chosen in Texas, i.e. the caucuses. It may be a tactic to slow down the reporting of the caucus count, which Senator Obama is expected to win. When the Democratic candidates turned their attention to Texas, the Clinton campaign was unaware of the caucus portion of the Texas primary, which seems odd since former President Clinton ran in two Texas State Primaries. Though maybe there are No Surprise[s] with this since Senator Clinton told George Stephanopoulos it "would be over on February 5th."

Senator Clinton will be on The Daily Show, not A Daily Show, on Monday, March 3rd.

uncovered problems with a Clinton Donor and, so far, she will not return the money or donate it to charity. Of course, Senator Obama has his own campaign problems as the jury selection for the Rezko Trial will begin on Monday.

Both camps released new ads today for Texas. Senator Clinton targets the security mom vote with a comforting fear appeal. Senator Obama questions her judgment on the same issue. Here is another Clinton ad, One in a Million: one million Texas women for Senator Clinton. Surprisingly, I am unaware of who the target audience is for this ad.

Have no fear Senator McCain: Senator Obama is working on making sure you can run for president even though you were born outside the United States in the Canal Zone. This just sounds funny: McCain, birth and canal zone in the same sentence. Oh well. At least it is not the Love Canal. Of course, to get back on point, Thomas Jefferson may have been the first constitutional president and Zachary Taylor the last. Seriously, according to originalism.

And speaking of Senator McCain: don't you have some denouncing or rejecting to do with one of your supporters, Rev. John Hagee, who seems to have his own problems with the religion of others. According to Salon, the Good Rev. Hagee told NPR: "Well Islam in general -- those who live by the Koran have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews." It gets better with this quote from the same interview: "All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that."

Interesting Fact: George Romney, father of our favorite candidate Mitt Romney, was born in Mexico. It seems that George's grandfather, Miles Park Romney, moved to Mexico in 1884 because.... cue up the Big Love theme song by rock legend David Byrne from the Talking Heads.... Oh, you know why Romney family left the country. Yet, he still ran for president in 1968. And even knowing his family history on immigration and his own employment practices, Mitt Romney still chose to bash the issue during his unfortunately short-lived campaign. Does the man know the meaning of hypocrisy? By the way, are the Five Brothers still helping their father get elected or is there something they could do now to help fill the time?

And, finally, Angelina Jolie has an editorial in The Washington Post about helping Iraqi refugees. Is there anything this woman does not do? Post-script: Sorry, Brad did not help write this as I am sure he was too busy making movies with Jimmy and Ben.

Introducing the "Paperweight" and the question of ethics

So now that I have entered into this realm of madness that I have long avoided from the fear of obsession of never signing off, I guess I should introduce myself: I'm the practical one that would rather sit around drinking beer and BSing after softball rather than actually forcing myself to actually conduct a class. We will hold off with my obsession for college football for now, allowing "Harrogate" to begin his digression into "March Madness."

With that said, I have received some bit annoying news today with regards to my job search. An unnamed school in CA has been forced to "suspend" my on campus visit that was planned for next week because of the state's in ability to maintain a working budget. Basically "suspended" is a nice way to say the job is no go. These things happen but the quirk of this whole thing is that administrative assistant at unsaid university told me I know have a nonrefundable airline ticket just sitting around that will be good for the next year (there would be a charge to change the ticket date and location). Now the question is, can I actually use this ticket after the official word finally comes down that the job has been killed??? Part of me feels that using the ticket for any other trip accept to visit unsaid university would be ethically wrong, but on the other hand, the money is spent so why not use it to compensate for the mental stress of building up for a climatic moment that never arrived. Just looking for some feedback on this.

Speaking of Women Running in Heels...

The theatrical trailer for the Sex and the City movie has been released! I'm so freakin' excited.

Congratulations, Texas!

Bravo, Texas, for being the world's eighth largest emitter of of carbon dioxide! Fuck the environment. Let's see who has the biggest and loudest truck! Yee haw.

Ann Coulter...

Does not believe in wearing pant suits or even suit pants, what ever that means.

Thanks to Megs for the inspiration...

There are more here: Bush, Clinton, Elvis, Kinky, Dr. Laura, Uncle Sam, "Turkey Dinner" Bush. Collect Them ALL!!!

Why is there no Good Rev. Todd figure yet?

Poem of the Day: Claude McKay's "The Harlem Dancer"

Everywhere issues relating to gender and race are bandied about, these days. What is there more of racism, sexism, we have all asked it. Sometimes we are tempted to wax Pollyanna, and focus on how much better off we are as a country in these areas than we ever were. After all, it is Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama vying for the Demo nomination.

Sometimes we brood, and focus on South Carolina ground games and toilet seats ornamented by a prominent female politician's face. In these moments we are not so Pollyanna, but in strange fevered dreams we imagine our enemies as bigoted caricatures utterly devoid of human content, callow beings who love neither children nor puppies, whose greatest sense of purpose emanates from parroting language specially designed to denigrate.

But let us step back and revisit one of the masters, Claude McKay, the poet many credit with kickstarting the Harlem Renaissance in 1922 when he released Harlem Shadows into the public discourse. No Pollyanna, McKay used the cultural hammer of the Sonnet, perfectly executed, but within those lines obtains a riot of social and aesthetic protest, not only on behalf of African Americans and women, but in sympathy with oppressed peoples throughout the world. Harrogate provides it here, free of charge.

APPLAUDING youths laughed with young prostitutes
And watched her perfect, half-clothed body sway;
Her voice was like the sound of blended flutes
Blown by black players upon a picnic day.
She sang and danced on gracefully and calm,
The light gauze hanging loose about her form;
To me she seemed a proudly-swaying palm
Grown lovelier for passing through a storm.
Upon her swarthy neck black, shiny curls
Profusely fell; and, tossing coins in praise,
The wine-flushed, bold-eyed boys, and even the girls,
Devoured her with their eager, passionate gaze;
But, looking at her falsely-smiling face
I knew her self was not in that strange place.

Should voting be public or private?

Tonight, Harrogate and I discus discussed the virtues and vices of public/ private voting, especially in relation to Primaries and Caucuses. Because of my desire for greater participatory democracy, I do not mind caucuses, especially when the alternative may be pulling a lever. Now, I know that caucuses can only be limited in nature and they would not work on a national level, though changes in communication and technology may make this possible, yet, I admire that caucuses require a certain level of political conviction necessary for some aspects of society or for some controversial issues.

This leads me to a question: should voting be public or private in your respective community? Should this passage apply in contemporary times?

Here is a passage by Currin V. Shields on the political thought of John Stuart Mill as Mill discusses the necessity of a public vote:
Should voting be in public, or by secret ballot? The secret ballot, Mill says, is undesirable; it encourages the pursuit of selfish interests. The vote is a public trust, and the voter's duty is to give his best opinion of the public good. This duty should be performed in the public eye and subject to criticism, because a person's need to justify his act conduces to more responsible conduct. The claim that public voting allows the voter to be subjected to sinister influences is unfounded. The secret ballot is no longer necessary; the power of the few over the many is so declining in western Europe that there is now no need to fear class dictation. At the same time, persons who may not be fit to be electors (such as members of the working class) may still be fit to exert influence on electors; this they can do best if_voting is public.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Race Turns Ugly, Again

According to Politico, Super Delegates are being targeted to switch from Senator Clinton to Senator Obama, especially after the defection of Civil Rights Legend and Super Delegate John Lewis.

Of course, this article is playing the game as well since the pressure comes from....

Oh, it doesn't say, explicitly.

Yet, the question remains: As the Democratic Race winds towards the convention with the strong possibility that neither Senator Clinton nor Senator Obama will reach the super-majority number of pledged delegates to secure the nomination, what are the ethical limits of persuasion with the Super Delegates?

I watched an excerpt from the John Lewis interview with Andrea Mitchell of NBC. He stated that his decision to switch from Senator Clinton to Senator Obama was worse for him than the beating he took in Selma, Al for fighting for Civil Rights.

Visual Rhetoric, or, Why Fashion Matters

While these photos have nothing to do with pant suits, these raise an interesting question: what is the best caption for each?

When Fashion Speaks

I peek at you Shyly and with Great Hesitation, Gentle Reader, from my niche in Chez Reads. The Most Constant of Readers here at The Rhetorical Situation have been Kind Enough to invite me to play in their sandbox, and I am Most Grateful. For those of you who are, perhaps, not Constant Readers of my blog Arrogant Self-Reliance, a brief introduction: This Humble Author tends to discuss All Things Feminist, Fashion, and Pop Culture, all the time. Also, as you may have surmised, This Humble Author also adores All Things Victorian, All The Time, and thus begs your humble pardon for her archaic--yet, she believes charming--speak.

But as I have just--just, Gentle Reader!--watched last night's Chris/Rami showdown on Project Runway, and as I have just--just, Gentle Reader!--been invited to contribute to This Humble Blog on All Things Rhetorical, All The Time, I ask you: How does our Fashion Speak?

There has been Great Humbug over Senator Rodham Clinton's fashion choices, and to this, This Humble Author cries foul. There can be disconnect between what our Fashion Says, and what we intend our Fashion to Convey. Yet the visibility of women's bodies, and thus, the fashion those bodies portray, in our society forces us to reexamine the constant connection of women with their bodies. By discussing Senator Rodham Clinton's fashion choices, the media is thus constantly calling attention to Senator Rodham Clinton's body. Why, then, do we not see similar discussion with our Brother Politicians?

The briefest of brief Questions, Gentle Reader, as a means of greetings, and I Confess that I Must bid you farewell. Lost beckons, after all!

Campaign Finance Update for February

According to Politico, the Clinton campaign will announce that it raise $35 million in February and that Senator Obama's campaign "raised considerable more than that" and will beat its January mark of $36 million.

A Patriotic Response to the Good Reverend Todd; or, Female Beauty is Multifaceted

Harrogate gives you a Memory, Kerri Strug's Olympic Vault, 1996. On a bad wheel, she brought home the Gold.

A New Bitch in Town

(even Barbie wears a pantsuit when she's on the campaign trail)

Paging Mitt Romney, Paging Mitt Romney

The Republican National Committee may want to speak to you before the Convention in Minnesota.

It seems John McCain has many problems. First, can he be President since he was born in the Panama Canal Zone and, hence, not a "Natural Born Citizen?" I am sure the strict constructionists he wishes to appoint would need to rule against him.

Second, if we can settle the constitutional issue, McCain has some financial issues over campaign financing. It appears as if he accepted a loan for his campaign, which means he may need to use public funds for both the Primary and the General Election. Consequently, he may not be able to spend a dime until the general election begins after the conventions. The New Republic has more on his problems.

Also, a TNR Bonus: Why the NY Times chose to endorse Senator Clinton over Senator Obama. Man does TNR have it out for the Times.

Oh the Irony...

A certain, unnamed, progressive website ran an article by the San Francisco Progressive Matt Gonzales criticizing the Obama campaign.

But, well, the funny thing is Gonzales may have a conflict of interest since he is Ralph's Running Mate.

As i said before, if you do not like Senators Clinton or Obama, there is always Nader and Gonzales.

There's Blood in the Water

All along, it has been Manifest that Open Primaries are not Hillary Clinton's friend. Some argue that the Independents and GOP Crossover Advantage Obama hath enjoyed will sustain, at least somewhat, in November. Indeed, some point to this phenomenon as Exhibit A that Obama is more electable than Clinton.

Well, to paraphrase Hillary Clinton herself, after gamely attempting to fulfill the Sphinxlike Tim Russert's demand that she pronounce the new Russian President's name: WHATEVER. Verily it is too bad that Republican voters are getting any say at all regarding who the Democrats are nominating to carry their banner.

Be that as it may, reality is what it is. And regardless of what happens in Ohio, Texas's Open Primary might well represent Hillary Clinton's Presidential Death Knell. Indeed, do any Republicans hate Hillary Clinton with the zealous intensity with which Texas Republicans hate her?

For Texas Republicans, this is a Pollyanna moment of sublime proportions. They smell blood in the water, and they very much hope to finish her once and for in the Lone Star state.

So without further ado, Harrogate humbly asks Texans not to drink the water, for forsooth, there is blood in the water. As this, one of Harrogate's Top Twenty Songs, eloquently told us round about a decade ago.

A Word on Party Loyalty: Wherefore Harrogate Cringes at Bloomburg and, Albeit to a Lesser Extent, Obama

Why does Harrogate Cringe? Wherefore Party Loyalty? A matter of a little something Harrogate likes to call If-Then propositions.

If ye understand, as Harrogate does, that the mainstream GOP as it is currently configured represents what is most base about America. That it is a Party Demarcarted by Violence and Repression on the economic, social, and foreign policy fronts equally.

The list is long. That some require its listing is unfortunate, after all this nation has been through. That some continue to believe in GOP officials as individuals rather than as representatives of something bigger than any one of them, is unfortunate also. That people want to say it is Bush that we rail against, when really it was always the GOP writ large and for which he so magnificently stands, may be the saddest of all.

There is in the GOP an intrinsic loathing of government programs, excepting the police and military element. Hell, they run for office on platforms preaching that government can solve no problems except military ones. They appoint incompetents to head agencies, and then when the agencies screw things up, they say see, government doesn't work. Draconian faith in mandatory minimum sentencing defines the Republican Party from the top down.

A kick the door in foreign policy that maintains you are a dove if you don't buy into their warped cravings for ideological manifestation. Harrogate, like most Democrats, is no dove. He only humbly requests that military action be driven by necessity, not saving face, or experimentation, or economic aggrandazation, or as a method of consolidating political power stateside.

There are of course the "Values" Republicans, who exploit working class peoples throughout the nation by preying on what is worst in us. Hatred, fear of difference: Homophobia, racism, sexism, loathing of the arts except in their most commodifiable form, these are a few of their favorite things.

But the Heritage Foundation contingent, the economic conservatives--and yes, this includes George Will (and from what Harrogate knows about him, Bloomburg) are the worst of all. Consolidate media into fewer and fewer hands. Champion more and more concentration of wealth, in fewer and fewer hands. Drawlers of the bootstrap narrative, preeners of individual responsibility as they continually manufacture and exploit loophoples in the tax code. Ralph Nader, ass that he is, had a point when he asked, why don't we tax speculation? Indeed. A symbolic question that can be extended to interrogate the entire eco-con movement. Hatred of unions. Hatred of the FCC except in its capacity for punishing wardrobe malfunctions. And yea and verily, the list goeth on.

If ye understand all this. Instead of pinning it all on George W. Bush. Or instead of stupidly conflating the Clinton and Bush Administrations. If ye grasp that for all its flaws, cowardices, and Right of Center tendencies, the mainstream Democratic Party at the very least offers sanity, and shreds of decency in the way of foreign, social, and economic policy. But this election is not about the Democratic Party as much as it is about getting off the reckless course we are currently pursuing. It is all about endgame. "My friends," we must remove the indecency, the insanity, from the White House.

If ye are in touch with these truths, THEN ye will not be able to help but smile at arguments that say hey, they just have different ideas, let's get together and work things out. The notion of the GOP coming to the table in good faith because Bloomburg or Obama or anyone else asks them to.

Now, it is important to note the biblical truth of forgive them Father, for they know not what they do. Many Republican voters are being gamed. Only a cacophony of pissed-of voters in their own ranks, is going to make them change their ways, from the bottom up. Citizens tired of being exploited. The best thing Harrogate can say about Barack Obama is, he is the best possibility for effecting that particular result that we have left.

But conversely, Hillary Clinton has consitently demonstrated an exponentially more comprehensive grasp of the dangers the GOP poses, and has made a far more cogent case for why the Democratic Party is better. Yes, like all of them, she is ambitious and believes. Yes, she believes, like Harrogate, that she is the best most competent available choice left for President. But in the end, she is also a Party Loyalist through and through, and God love her for it. She knows that Obama, for all his immense political skill (obviously his political skills are more pronounced than hers, he may even be more skilled than Bill Clinton or George W. Bush--time will tell), simply isn't going to get that result solely by being positive.

At some point Obama will have to let his "claws come out," and tell these Red State voters the truth about what is being done with them. And the truth aint purty.

More on this in the not-so-distant future.

A Comfortable Revision

I suspect that no one will cringe at the idea of our dear Forrest.

(Original source)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

To descend is honorable.

Just watch. Ben would want you to. As well as Jimmy, Sarah, and Matt.

Michael Bloomburg will....

not seek the presidency. In an op-ed in The New York Times, Bloomburg writes that he will not seek the office but nonpartisan solutions to our troubles.

I think I just heard Harrogate cringe. Why?
As a businessman, I never believed that either party had all the answers and, as mayor, I have seen just how true that is....

If a candidate takes an independent, nonpartisan approach — and embraces practical solutions that challenge party orthodoxy — I’ll join others in helping that candidate win the White House.

The changes needed in this country are straightforward enough, but there are always partisan reasons to take an easy way out.... These forces that prevent meaningful progress are powerful, and they exist in both parties. I believe that the candidate who recognizes that the party is over — and begins enlisting all of us to clean up the mess — will be the winner this November, and will lead our country to a great and boundless future.

Interesting audio problems

We are watching some of the Sabres game (yes, that is hockey) and Megs noticed a problem with the audio. It is at the end of the first period, the broadcast, which is coming from MSG out of Buffalo, just cut to commercial break. The commercial shows a ride at an amusement park and people screaming. Yet, Megs hears something and tells me to rewind (the magic of a DVR).

Sure enough, MSG did not cut the mic from the players and has the audio going during the commercial. So as people are screaming on the commercial about the ride as the following words go by, one at a time until the last phrase: electrifying, petrifying, joyous, nauseous, extreme, sublime, awful, awesome....we all see the world from different points of view...", you hear audio, from what has to be the players in the hockey game or maybe from people in the production booth, come on when the word "extreme" flashes across the screen

Person A: You went down pretty good there.
Person B: Yeh, there's blood.
Person A: yes there will be blood.
Person B: There is blood.
inaudible comments....
Person A: Fucken wipe some on your face. Go with it out on your face.

Inaudible vocals continue talking about the game as the next few commercials go.

The Race Card in the Democratic Primary

Sean Wilentz, a Princeton Historian, an editor at The New Republic, and family friend of the Clintons, has a interesting and controversial article in The New Republic: "Race Man: How Barack Obama played the race card and blamed Hillary Clinton."

This seems to be an very important article that we should read and discuss. Any takers?

Harrogate's Thoughts on the 2/26 Demo Debate, Unfiltered (Except by way of Solon)

Solon has written pretty thorough analyses of the show from last night. Harrogate wants to add a few thoughts of his own. He has, so far, resisted visiting any websites or television segments analyzing what happened.

.5)Harrogate was very, very pleased by Obama's repudiation of his own inaction with respect to Congress & Shiavo. Because what Congress did there, was not only unconstitutional. It was just plain demagoguery at its worst, and the American people saw it for what it was, and it didn't work.

1)The most enduring memory might well be, for Harrogate, Russert's hypothetical sequence, where he spun an elaborate set of what-ifs. Here was the scenario he posed: What if you pull out of Iraq in a year, like you both say you're going to, leaving only a residual, smaller force to protect the Giant Embassy. And then, the Iraqi government says hey, if you're not going to protect us any better than that, then get the hell out altogether. What will you do?

Answer (both candidates, actually): They're a sovereign government. If they insist we get out, that's what we've gotta do. Back to Russert's hypothetical: Well, let's say then that you draw everything out, and then the ter'ists regroup and set up shop in Iraq, will you reserve the right to reinvade?

Hillary Clinton attempts to remind Russert, rather kindly Harrogate thought, that he's painting a rather simplistic picture. She then tries to engage the Iraq Tar Baby in a Reasonable Manner. Russert interrupts: But this is Reality! Then Clinton nailed him. No, Tim, this Isn't Reality, its a series of hypotheticals.

And then she went ahead and said that it was she wanted to say about our great misadventure in Iraq. Harrogate cheered. Sayeth Harrogate, screw you, Tim Russert, and your willingness to invoke, and legitimize, neocon framing.

2)Unlike Solon, Harrogate actually thought the Farrakhan question pefectly legitimate. As was the follow up about Obama's church, which is going to become a bigger deal the longer he chooses to ignore it. Yea, if there is a "hate whitey" element to Obama's church, then Houston, we've got a seruous freakin' problem. That is, if you care about actually winning the election. Obama needs to address this issue, repudiate any connection his church may have to that mentality. Period. He is not "above this." We are not "above this." Kerry tried that with the swiftboaters, it's lily-livered and doesn't work.

These issues infest the subsurface of Obama discourse. Neither Obama nor the rest of us Democrats get to act like it isn't there. The impulse to cry out, but we shouldn't Even Be Having to Deal With This, will not cut it. And Harrogate thought Obama made one of his biggest Rhetorical Blunders of the entire campaign during this sequence, in that he ignored Audience, instead talking down both to Clinton and the moderators, deigning to explain to them that there is no difference between denouncing Farrakhan and Rejecting his support outright. It made matters worse that Obama tried to play cute, saying that the minister "thinks I'm a good guy." No, Senator. Clinton was right, you've got to address this head on, reject the endorsement, don't rely on your supporters to convince their family members and underinformed friends that you are not in league with Radical Islam.

3)Has everyone else noticed that with the exception of Ron Paul, every other candidate for President glazes over when the subject of Israel comes up, and defaults to Talking Points? You know you're in Talking Points land, when you hear stupid-ass phrases like "we have a special relationship," "their security is sacrosanct," Etc.

Now, Harrogate is no Ron Paul suppoter, as faithful Readers know. Because Libertarians tend to think in crayon. But at least Paul has the guts to point out that Israel is fair game for debate, and that in fact, it is a central issue if you want to understand what is happening in the Middle East. And at the end of the day, Obama, Clinton, McCain, Bush, and everyone else needs to have the guts to come out and say, in direct language, if they believe it, that if you don't support our military alliance with Israel, that you re an anti-Semite. That if you don't believe we should be wagering the lives of our young men and women on Israel's behalf, then you are an anti-Semite.

4)Like solon, Harrogate hopes there are no more debates. He thought Clinton was excellent last night, and he wishes her well in the primaries/caucuses to come, and he pledges his own vote to that end. He also thought that while Obama was considerably weaker (Obama's much better at stump speeches than at debating), the Illinois Senator didn't do himself any real harm and will win this nomination.

Does life imitate art or art, life?

From The New York Times: a review about the terrible debate last night, focusing on the relentlessness of the media and the SNL quality of last night's debate.

Howard Kurtz at The Washington Post has a more substantive review, but most of this article consists of quotes from media folks about the debate and the campaign.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

ACT III: Please, no more debates....

If this is my punishment, I promise to be good....


Senator Obama and the liberal question. He replies that independents support him. Well, that's over for the fall. No, really.

Senator Clinton and Obama on Russia: neither can pronounce the President’s name correctly. Clinton fails and Obama ducks. No one wins on this question. Why do people in Ohio care? maybe when WWIII (or is it IV or V) breaks out?

The second last question on regrets: I have many of them and most of them developed while watching this debate.

Interesting, Obama hurts himself because he showed he lacked judgment on Terry Schiavo, especially as a Professor of Constitutional Law. He then appropriates her answer from the last debate, which why would you?

Also interesting, does Hillary regret her Iraq vote? Which would really hurt her, only because she chose now to admit her vote was wrong. Kerry, Edwards recanted long ago but she held out.

Last question: to Obama, what question does Clinton need to answer to the American people. Obama, rightly, answers the question he wants to answer, praises her and then talks about his experiences. To Clinton, same question… "A Sea of Change." She also asks, who can change the country? Wrong question to ask the voters Senator Clinton, though she still gets to run on gender when she said on Meet the Press she would not.

Afterwards, Chris Matthews "attacked" Brian Williams and Tim Russert for not asking the right question.

Overall, thankfully this will be the last debate since neither candidate would be in his or her right mind to agree to another one, especially if it is done by MSNBC. After twenty debates, no one needs this form of gotcha questions.

Who ever wins the nomination should stay away from NBC in the fall. If there is a Vice Presidential Debate, let the VPs fight it out with the junior varsity network.

ACT II: How many viewers turned the channel...?

Unfortunately, I did not.

After the break, we saw Senator Clinton's Rhode Island clip-- BY MISTAKE-- and we listen to answers. This is not worthy of a debate, though it does provide Senator Obama with a chance to say “I would giver her points for delivery."

Russert asks Obama on public financing, Obama backtracks, side-steps. Oh no one cares since the question appeared on a questionnaire and he is not the nominee. It looks bad, but no one cares.

Russert asked Clinton on Tax Returns and releasing records from the Clinton library. This may be important & it may look bad, but oh, no one cares.

Russert asked Obama about the co-presidency, which may be an important Constitutional question, but it should have gone to Clinton. And, not too many people, and certainly not Tina Fey, care. Oh not wait. She does care. [this was meant to be a Russert Gotcha question against Obama by showing him with an embarrassing clip. It did not turn out this way.]

And, then we have the Farakhan, Wright (Obama's pastor), (Israeli Lobby?), and Denounce and Reject question. Obama denounces the support but is perceived as not being strong (though, if he denounces something, does anything else need to be said?). Hillary attacks him on this that he has not rejected Farakhan. Obama provides a very good response: "If the word 'reject' Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word 'denounce,' then I'm happy to concede the point and I would reject and denounce."

BUT WHO CARES ABOUT THIS QUESTION? The people of Texas? No. The People of Ohio? Nope. Vermont? Hell No? Rhode Island? They turned the debate off twenty-five minutes ago. Wait, Ron Paul may care, that's who, since he is always asked questions like this.

Brian and Tim, your questions still suck. I have waisted twenty some minutes of my life because you have the opportunity to ask legitimate candidates and you decided to do snow angels all day.

Because I Care: Debate Recap....

Act One: Did SNL hurt Senator Clinton's chances in the first part?

Over the weekend, SNL ran two very pro-Hillary pieces,
Bitch is the New Black and Media Treatment of Obama. Since the Texas debate, Senator Clinton seemed to channel SNL in her campaign and attacked in a new way. See the clips: "Shame on You" andClouds Parting, though her "Shame on You" aired before SNL.

Yet tonight, Senator Clinton mentioned the SNL skit, stated to the moderators/ Obama, "Maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and needs another pillow," and complained that she received unfair treatment since the moderators asked her the opening questions the previous (MSNBC) debates.[ Side note: David Schuster researched this and stated she received the first question in six of the last ten debates.] Now, this is preemptive tactic, to show that it is three against one on stage (Senator Obama, Tim Russert, and Brian Williams). This worked for her in New Hampshire and it is important for her since she has been unable to claim that others are teaming up against her since Senator John Edwards opted out of the race. Yet, this does not make sense and she will get panned for this… If she is ready to answer the question-- she is more than knowledgeable-- then why does this matter who is asked what when? To call attention to unfair treatment is not going to help you either.

To review: the opening question on Senator Clinton’s change in tone seemed appropriate since it was a drastic change and a major attack on Senator Obama, though the picture question was silly and there are better issues to discuss, especially at the beginning of the debate.

The next set of questions on Health Care, favored her so she should welcome this—she always wins on Health Care. The questioning on NAFTA seemed to favor Senator Obama as they grilled Senator Clinton and did not grill Senator Obama as bad. But, this occurred after Senator Clinton’s comments and the preemption was most likely planned to be in the beginning, maybe to defuse the tension on NAFTA. But, invoking sarcasm here is not going to help her because it allows Senator Obama to "stand above" the bickering, which plays to his strength and to his argument: Vote Clinton, this is what you get; vote me, I will be above this.

After NAFTA, the questioning turned to Iraq. Russert asked questions that mattered about leaving and I am not sure if anyone provided a good answer because that is just a political mess. Was it here that Senator Obama relied on John Stewart’s 2004 metaphor on Iraq and the need to elect Kerry because you do not elect or reelect the person that drives you into a ditch?

Overall: Hillary wins on Health Care but hurts herself with her media comments. No one wins on NAFTA. Senator Obama wins on Iraq. The viewers realize they are on the losing end of this debate.

And Tim Russert and Brian Williams look like fools because they have no control in the debate, the candidates have interrupted them and each other, and one of the candidates challenged their credibility. And their questions suck… Why are Americans low information voters… Never mind.

Revisiting "Fuck You, Tim Gunn": Women in Pants

Last week, Tim Gunn received from Harrogate not a "wag of the finger" but a giant "fuck you" for claiming that Hillary's fashion sensibility is indicative of gender confusion. Quick to follow Harrogate's lead, several contributors to our humble award-winning blog echoed the "fuck you."

While I do not necessarily disagree with these sentiments, perhaps they are rash. Had Gunn not been under the time constraints of late night television and been allowed to support his claim, his logic would be more transparent. Under more favorable circumstances, I believe that Gunn's comments would have elicited more positive reactions from our corner of the blogosphere.

Consider a similar claim by the Reverend John Todd in the mid-nineteenth century:
Some [women] have tried to become semi-men by putting on the Bloomer dress. Let me tell you in a word why it can never be done. It is this: woman, robed and folded in her long dress, is beautiful. She walks gracefully. . . . If she attempts to run, the charm is gone. . . . Take off the robes, and put on pants, and show the limbs, and grace and mystery are all gone.

The Mount

Edith Wharton's home, The Mount, is in danger of imminent foreclosure. This makes me sad and angry, and since I already wrote about this at Separation of Spheres, I direct you to go there if you want to read more. I know this isn't the sort of thing we normally blog about at The Rhetorical Situation, but this is something that is important to me, which fits the call I myself posted yesterday.

More on the C-Word Wars

Hat Tip Feministing.

Last Debate...

Please, let the debates end. But, from The New York Times, the editorial board asks a each member of a panel of experts what five questions have yet to be answered by Senators Obama and Clinton.

The experts cover: the War on Terror, One the Economy, One on Information and Education, Health Care, & Foreign policy, and one interesting question on Bill Clinton and the 22 amendment (third term).

What question would you ask?

Issue Number Two: The Supreme Court

Jeffrey Rosen at The New Republic has an article that discusses from where the Supreme Court will choose Supreme Court Justices. Since the Democrats have been out of presidential power for two terms, if Senator Obama or Clinton were president, they would have a hard time filling positions on the Supreme Court because of the age of the justices former president Clinton appointed.

The solutions, according to Rosen: appoint from Private Practice, a legal academic, or current/ former politicians.

The conclusion of the post is interesting, though I don't think it would work for Senator Clinton, who should remain in the Senate because of her skills and age
The current justices, though, are a group of technically accomplished lawyers, and, in order to be their intellectual match, any Democratic justice appointed from politics would have to be book smart as well as a ruthlessly determined politician. All of which means that the next Democratic president may have only one obvious candidate for the first Supreme Court vacancy: Once Obama has beaten Clinton, or vice versa, and gone on to the White House, the winner can appoint the loser to the Supreme Court.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm Shocked....Shocked....

From Inside Higher Education about the new President George W. Bush Library at SMU:
the Bush library complex will also feature an institute — independent of academic governance of the university — to sponsor research and programs designed to promote the vision of the president. At the press briefing announcing the agreement, Donald Evans, who chairs the president’s foundation, said that the complex would “celebrate” the president and his tenure in office.

Imagine that, no oversight from a governing body. While almost all of the other Presidential Libraries follow University standards, this will, nevermind.

Speaking of the C-Word

Citizens United Not Timid: an anti-Hillary 527. Seriously? This does not even make sense. Oh. I see.

One of My Issues: "No Taxation without Representation"

Voting Rights for Citizens in the District of Columbia.

In Honor of Harrogate...

...and his longtime interest in Cormac McCarthy, I'd like to congratulate No Country for Old Men, which cleaned up last night at the Oscars.

An Issue I'm Interested In

In the spirit of M's previous post--albeit a few hours early--here's an issue I'm very interested in that hasn't been addressed to a degree of my liking in the current political campaigns: the environment, in general, and the safety of my home and family, specifically.

My best friend is a government employee in the environmental and public health field, so perhaps I'm lucky to have a bit more information a bit earlier than the average American. But several stories have recently made it into mainstream media that have been scaring the crap out of me for a while.

First, the toy recalls got my attention. Toxins in my daughter's toys don't appeal to me, obviously. But then, I did more reading. What about the chemicals in plastics--like baby bottles--that can screw up our hormones? (Here's a February 4 Newsweek article about household toxins by Anne Underwood.)

And what about the food we eat? The pet food recall last April started getting me worried once again about our consideration of our animal friends. (I am a vegetarian and try to use household and personal products that haven't been animal tested but, let me tell you, they're expensive and often difficult to find!) Now the beef recall--the largest in US history--makes me cringe both in terms of animal cruelty and food safety. The G-H household eats only organic, free-range meat and dairy at home, but who knows what we're eating in restaurants. (We G-H's love our takeout!) And the videos of those poor, poor cows being kicked makes me cringe way more than the c-word.

This is a systemic problem. And I know that each candidate gives lip service to environmental issues, which these are, in a broad sense. And they give a lot more than that to the issue of health care. But what about public health? Will it take another Love Canal to get this issue back into the forefront, where it obviously needs to be?

Censoring 60 Minutes

Last Night on 60 Minutes, the program examined the case of Alabama Governor Don E. Siegelman, who was imprisoned on charges of corruption though last night's report suggested that the former governor (a Democrat in a Republican state) was imprisoned because of political beliefs. According to Scott Horton at Harper's, the former governor was convicted on evidence that the prosecution knew to be false and the prosecution failed to turn over important evidence to the defense. Further, the report implied that Karl Rove was involved in this controversy.

While the report itself was interesting, it seems that Northern Alabama did not see this portion of the episode because of "technical difficulties." You can read more about it here and here and wonder to yourself it if is terrible luck or censorship.

A request to my fellow bloggers

In an attempt to vary what it is that we blog about at The Rhetorical Situation, I'm calling for a one day moratorium on all things directly related to the current presidential campaigns for a 24 hour period, beginning at midnight tonight and ending at midnight on Tuesday. My friends, let's remind the world that we actually are interested in things beyond Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. I'd really like to see us get beyond our fascination with individual candidates and talk about the issues for awhile. Why am I asking for this? Because it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that a lot of the issues I'm interested in are not being addressed by the candidates at all, and I'm curious to know if that is similar for the rest of you. To learn this, however, I have to ask you all to go beyond discussing the finer points of individual candidates and start talking about the issues that are important to you--without getting into a discussion of which candidate best supports your individual views. I fully expect an outcry over this request, but I humbly ask that you humor me for a single 24-hour period.

An issue I care about

In April, NOW will sponsor the 2008 Summit on Women's Economic Equality. This is an issue I'd like to see all the candidates address, but something tells me (yes, it seems I'm becoming increasingly cynical like my friend Harrogate) this is another important issue that will get ignored.

Questioning the Prevalence of Rape

The fact that reporters (particularly female reporters) continue to write articles that question the prevalence of rape in the country only affirms the fact that sexism is alive and well in America. How people can actually believe that feminists "cry rape" is beyond me.

Clinton Accusses Obama of....


Pot, Kettle. Kettle...

Farrakhan Endorses Obama: Democrats Shocked!!!!

And so it begins in earnest. 'Whaaaatttttt'?, exclaim Obama and his supporters. A radical Muslim endorsing Obama? Whoever could have seen this coming?

Well, the good news is, Islam isn't a hotbutton topic in the United States. The corollary good news is, American voters are invulnerable to rumor and innuendo, and indeed, they can be totally trusted to fact-check.

Combine this with the fact that the Other frontunner is irrationally hated by almost half the electorate, and you get the tried and true maxim: Democrats are wonderful at losing elections.

But hey, at least we have historic candidacies, and we get to talk about Hope for a while!!!! That will be excellent consolation when the GOP place more Judges, including at least two Supremes. And when they get hundreds of thousands of more people killed in America's Excellent Arab Adventure.

Another Super Delegate Op-Ed

This time from Geraldine A. Ferraro. Her reason for Super Delegates: the Democratic voters need parents to guide them.
These superdelegates, we reasoned, are the party’s leaders. They are the ones who can bring together the most liberal members of our party with the most conservative and reach accommodation. They would help write the platform. They would determine if a delegate should be seated. They would help determine the rules. And having done so, they would have no excuse to walk away from the party or its presidential nominee....

But the superdelegates were created to lead, not to follow. They were, and are, expected to determine what is best for our party and best for the country. I would hope that is why many superdelegates have already chosen a candidate to support.

Besides, the delegate totals from primaries and caucuses do not necessarily reflect the will of rank-and-file Democrats. Most Democrats have not been heard from at the polls. We have all been impressed by the turnout for this year’s primaries — clearly both candidates have excited and engaged the party’s membership — but, even so, turnout for primaries and caucuses is notoriously low. It would be shocking if 30 percent of registered Democrats have participated.

If that is the case, we could end up with a nominee who has been actively supported by, at most, 15 percent of registered Democrats. That’s hardly a grassroots mandate.

So there are Democrats and then there are Democrats. The Super Delegates are in place to determine who are the authentic Democrats.

The conspiracy argument on the second page is also nice: It's the Republicans who are choosing our nominee because the Dems have open primaries.

I just love the party of the people.

Ominous article

From The New York Times:
There is a hushed worry on the minds of many supporters of Senator Barack Obama, echoing in conversations from state to state, rally to rally: Will he be safe?

Yet worry they do, with the spring of 1968 seared into their memories, when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated in a span of two months.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Speaking of Conservapedia...;.

There is a liberal style of ...? Sorry, it is just a liberal style.

May favorite right now is Point "30: Using hyperbole instead of fact-based logic in an attempt to tug at people's emotions rather than appealing to their sense of reason."

The Citation for this comes from a San Francisco Chronicle article that discusses Evolution/ Intelligent Design in Dover, PA.

No, wait. My new favorite is Point 14: "calling conservative humor 'unprofessional and meaningless, and degrades the quality of your encyclopedia.'"

This doesn't even make sense and the citation goes here.

Full Range of Endorsements

So, I dislike the Oscars. I saw only three or four movies (Michael Clayton, Bourne Ultimatum, Transformers, Juno) on the entire list.

But, in case you were wondering who has endorsed which candidate, I thought I would give an update. But then I found out that Wikipedia already did it for me (and the list includes: Senators, Reps, Staffers, Governors, Mayors, State and Local Officials, Newspapers, Writers, Academics, Business People, Labor Unions, Labor Leaders and Union Officials, Social and Political Activists, Political Groups, Entertainers, Athletes, Family Members of Political Figures (Yep, Charlie Rangels' Wife
), Other Individuals (there is not a group for them- they must be jackasses) and Foreign political Leaders.

Harrogate is not on Obama's list.

Here are the links:
Senator Barack Obama
Senator Hillary Clinton
Senator John McCain
Lost Nomad, Celebrity Wonk, and Sometimes Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee

And, yes, Senator Obama's site is better organized than Senator Clinton's. No Shock there.

And, and, yes, while Senators Clinton and Obama have separate entries, Senator McCain and wandering Nomad Mike Huckabee does not. That must be Wikipedia's liberal bias.

What Experience is Necessary?

Hillary Clinton states she has 35 years of experience? A post at Talk Left states that "Experience" may be a political weapon if the campaign were to feature Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain. Fox Business reports that only one president in the 20th century possessed business experience: Herbert Hoover-- the same Hoover that presided over the Great Depression.

To what degree is experience necessary for a candidate or is just one characteristic necessary?

How do you define experience? What is included?

Here is a description of the executive experience of each president.This list is somewhat misleading as it focuses on the executive experience, mentioning some elected experience, and ignoring other types of experience e.g. Cabinet positions. Here is another list, but the credibility seems lower. Some thoughts:

Six have no elected experience:
George Washington, Zachery Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower (Everyone except Hoover possessed military experience)
William Howard Taft (Solicitor General of the U.S., Secretary of War, Governor General of the Philippines)

One Term of Service:
Thomas Jefferson (Governor, not reelected)
Theodore Roosevelt (2 years as Governor of New York before being VP to William McKinley before becoming president)
Abraham Lincoln (2 years in Congress)
Woodrow Wilson (Governor for two year, also President of Princeton)

A Somber Clinton?

From Politico: It seems that Senator Clinton did not receive the memo that her campaign is demoralized.
When asked by a reporter about the Times report describing her as “wistful,” Clinton chuckled and said, “I don’t think I look very wistful.”

Women in Texas

From The New York Times: Women determining for whom to vote in TX.

The article is somewhat interesting, though it seems that this article is more like a travel article that introduces the people of the Northeast to Texas. Or maybe it is from the perspective of an art gallery tour guide: "And on your left women vote because of their feminist ideas; on the right, those were pioneers in the feminist movement; in front of us we have a portrait of those that dislike Hillary because.... In the next room, we will talk about Kay Bailey Hutchinson's aspiration to be the first woman VP... Isn't interesting how the people of Texas are actually like the people of new York... Well, maybe Pennsylvania."

From the article, [after discussing Ma "Two for the price of one" Ferguson]: "Texas politics has sobered up some over the years..."

Asks Huckabee: What does "Mathematical Impossibility" Mean, Anyway?

Speaking of SNL, Mike Huckabee also made an appearance last night. Still the only candidate in the race who has shown even the slightest capacity for self-parody. Something to recommend that, sayeth Harrogate.

If your candidate does not win

win the Democratic Primary, you can always vote Nader, as he announced his presidential bid an an Independent. I hate that Meet the Press is on at 10:30 here in NYC but 9:00am almost everywhere else.

The Eyes of Texas are upon...

Obama, of course. Here is the intro from SNL. It covers the media scrutinty of Obama and mentions Clinton...

Even Obama Girl makes an appearance.

Bitch is the New Black

On SNL, Tina Fey delivered "the most important women's news item there is" and asked Ohio and Texas to vote for Clinton.

Here is the clip:

Somber Clinton?

In today's New York Times, the article "Somber Clinton Soldiers On as the Horizon Darkens" is either an attempt to (really) lower expectations a week before a primary or the sign of troubled times for the Clinton campaign.

It is an odd article, especially in terms of the language and anecdotes by the Clinton campaign.

Frank Rich is also brutal against the Clinton campaign this morning, though the details are very important. From Rich
The gap in hard work between the two campaigns was clear well before Feb. 5. Mrs. Clinton threw as much as $25 million at the Iowa caucuses without ever matching Mr. Obama’s organizational strength. In South Carolina, where last fall she was up 20 percentage points in the polls, she relied on top-down endorsements and the patina of inevitability, while the Obama campaign built a landslide-winning organization from scratch at the grass roots. In Kansas, three paid Obama organizers had the field to themselves for three months; ultimately Obama staff members outnumbered Clinton staff members there 18 to 3.

In the last battleground, Wisconsin, the Clinton campaign was six days behind Mr. Obama in putting up ads and had only four campaign offices to his 11. Even as Mrs. Clinton clings to her latest firewall — the March 4 contests — she is still being outhustled. Last week she told reporters that she “had no idea” that the Texas primary system was “so bizarre” (it’s a primary-caucus hybrid), adding that she had “people trying to understand it as we speak.” Perhaps her people can borrow the road map from Obama’s people. In Vermont, another March 4 contest, The Burlington Free Press reported that there were four Obama offices and no Clinton offices as of five days ago. For what will no doubt be the next firewall after March 4, Pennsylvania on April 22, the Clinton campaign is sufficiently disorganized that it couldn’t file a complete slate of delegates by even an extended ballot deadline.

I would love to know why the campaign took this direction. It cannot just be hubris. They campaign could not have believed in the "inevitable argument" it tried to run on.