Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cass Sunstein on Senator Obama

Current Chicago Law Professor (and future Harvard Law Professor) Cass Sunstein wrote an encomium for the Chicago Tribune on Senator Obama.

A Song That Never Fails to Cheer Me Up

If you're not already familiar with Jonathan Coulton, you should be. Nothing like a math song to brighten the day.
(NOTE: He talks for a couple of minutes so fast forward to the 2:20 mark.)

Obama Uses Reason On FOX News: The Questioner, Not So Much

This post is for all to consider from whatever angle they wish, but Harrogate is particularly interested in what people have to say about the facial expressions and body language in this clip, wherein FOX's Major Garrett interviews Barack Obama about Jeremiah Wright. Obama's resigned smile at one point, when he reverts to the one-word answers that Garrett clearly thinks are the only way to honestly answer a question.

Note especially Obama's gentle reminder that there is a difference between making a Rhetorical mistake and maintaining a mistaken position. Note too, Garrett interrupting Obama and repeating questions, attempting to create the impression that Obama is hedging questions, when he is in fact answering them in what Harrogate hopes viewers recognized as a fair and balanced way.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Breaking News.. This just in...

Dateline June 1, 2008 Washington, D.C.:

Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton stepped down from their respective campaigns today due to inflammatory remarks against one another over the role of inflammatory remarks in the Democratic Presidential Primary. This act was the culmination of a series of "rejections" and "denunciations."

Unfortunately for the Senators, after the resignations of staffers, surrogates, and spokespersons, no one was left to step down from their campaigns except the Senators.

Consequently, the DNC is attempting to persuade Dennis Kucinich to run for president since no one will take anything he says seriously.

Now, seriously. I just saw a clip of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright denouncing Senator Clinton as Keith Olbermann announced that the Rev. was stepping down from his advisory position on the campaign. While I do not care about the content the Rev. Wright's comments I believe that his Church (though I know he is retired) should have its tax exempt status stripped since it was a purely political and not a theological speech. But, unfortunately, that will never happen.

Interesting Thought Experiment

Spitzer v. United States 2010.

A hypothetical decision based on Lawrence v. Texas over at Balkinization, with a Justice Clinton in the majority.

I only wish there were a hypothetical dissent by Justice Scalia or Justice Thomas for this.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Feminism in the Democratic Campaign

This is an interesting post by Michelle Goldberg found at The Guardian (UK). In light of the Geraldine Ferraro comments, Goldberg examines the role and meaning of sexism and feminism as supporters of Senator Clinton attempt to persuade women to vote for the Senator from New York. I find this article interesting for two reasons:

(1) It examines the generation divide in the same "ideology." While every political ideology has many different adherents and nuanced positions, I am always interested to see how ideologies develop over time and how smaller groups within the ideology debate the ideology. (I am also interested in how others on this site will read the article, especially if they click on the Gloria Steinem link and read the caste line.)

(2) After reading the article, I skimmed through some of the comments. The fifth comment stated:
I'm just relieved to be a nasty old right-winger, Michelle. Not being a self-declared 'progressive', I can vote for whoever the hell I like without having to worry that my choice is subconsciously racist, or sexist, or, probably, both.

This comment seems somewhat appropriate to the current campaign. Before this campaign, I thought that the only way a minority candidate could be elected president would be if that candidate were Republican, which would make the candidate "safer" for the majority of Americans. I would argue that if he wanted to run for office, Colin Powell would have defeated Clinton in 1996.

Maybe because of the conservative argument for "merit" over "affirmative action," which overlooks systemic problems, the American public accepts conservative minorities more than liberal minorities. There may be fewer candidates that meet this criteria and the most noteworthy of Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Clarence Thomas do not fit as they never ran for public office, but they may be safer choices and free from the liberal PC scrutiny.

Note: Clarence Thomas does not have the same standing as Powell and Rice but some of this relates to his introduction to the American Public as he was put in a terrible position to start when George H.W. Bush replaced Thurgood Marshall with Thomas and, when Bush announced the appointment, he stated Thomas was the most qualified to serve even though he had only been on the federal bench for a year. And this occurred before the Anita Hill allegations.

How Tricky of You, The Keystone State

According to The New Republic: Polls in Pennsylvania show that Hillary has an 18% lead in the upcoming primary. However, when the pollsters look toward the general election, Senator Obama is down three points to Senator McCain and Senator Clinton is down six points to Senator McCain.

According to the polls, the group talked with 1200 "likely" voters and has a deviation of 3%. For the Clinton/ Obama question, the group asked Democrats only.

I love the rhetoric of statistics.

Guess What: Another Debate or Two...

ABC News will host the 21st debate between Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama on Tuesday, April 22. The 22nd debate could occur on CBS before the North Carolina Primary, though Senator Clinton has yet to agree.

The only group actually excited about this news is Saturday Night Live.

So, we have six weeks before Pennsylvania (187 total delegates), where Senator Clinton will probably win, and eight weeks before North Carolina (134) and Indiana (85), where Senator Obama will probably win, leaving us right back to where we are now. And, in between, Guam (9) will vote.

Only ten contests left, especially since there will be no revote for Florida and Michigan.

I can see everyone's excitement.

How does this happen?

According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, only 28% of Americans realize that over 4,000 American soldiers have been killed in the Iraq war. The Iraq War made up less than 15% of all news stories in 2007. More Americans tracked the stories about Heath Ledger's death than they did the Iraq War in the first few weeks of 2008. Although the story I link doesn't mention it, I would venture to guess that most Americans don't even realize the numbers of Iraqis that have been killed since the start of the war. According the the website, approximately 90,000 Iraqis have died as a direct result of violence from the war. This number doesn't account for people who have died from indirect consequences from the war. Some reports indicate that over 400,000 Iraqis have died. How does this stop making news? How does this stop being the headline every single day and every single night? How do we as Americans forget that we're involved in a war that doesn't seem to be improving our lives at all, which I believe was one of President Bush's claims? I don't feel any safer as a result of this war, and I'm quite certain that while most Iraqis are thankful Saddam Hussein is out of power I'm not certain that they feel the invasion was worth the high cost they've had to pay in lost lives, lost infrastructure, and lost freedom. Ironic isn't it? We're supposedly over there to protect freedoms.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Um, Why do we all of a sudden care about this woman?

I'm beginning with yet another disclaimer: I'm linking to an article that I purposely haven't read and that, no matter what the comments, I will not be reading. I hope the following explains why.

I lived in NY State when Eliot Spitzer served as Attorney General. I know the good he did in terms of cleaning up corporate abuses, so I was saddened to hear that he let his power run away with him and was involved with prostitution. I was even more saddened to hear that his personal stupidity cost NY State a reasonably good governor. For various reasons I haven't been able to read as much on this story as I would like, so I will likely be expanding my comments on Spitzer's stupidity later.

I do have one question though: why do we all of a sudden care about one of the women he allegedly hired? I was infuriated to go to MSNBC's website this evening and read this headline: "Her name is . . ." This is part of what is wrong with our society and our extreme fascination with all things remotely associated with celebrity. This young woman (and remember I don't know anything about her because I didn't read the article and I won't be reading the article) is using the misfortune of the Spitzer family and the people of NY State to get her 15 minutes in. Perhaps she thinks it will get her that music contract she apparently wants, since the subheading announces that she is an "aspiring musician."

As a side issue, I'd personally like to thank Andy Warhol for predicting (and I would argue ensuring) the celebrity nature of our culture.

"If this costs the Dems the Presidency, then so be it": A Simple Query

In the Long Ago Before Time, Harrogate was a Clintonista. But though the shine has in many ways worn off his support for Obama, there are still some matters Harrogate has yet to grasp. One of them has to do with this:

Not so long ago, solon wrote of the way this Primary is being conducted, "if this costs the Dems the Presidency, then so be it."

And, in all fairness, it does seem that when you scan the televised and internet-published Rhetorics of this Primary, that there are a lot of Obama supporters declaring themselves to feel this way.

And so, a question Harrogate has about the man he is now supporting for President.

What is the likelihood that Obama himself feels this way? And if he does feel this way, why doesn't he come out and say it? Indeed Harrogate would like to know more about the attitudes held by his presidential endorsee.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Legalize Prostitution?

Rather than post on Geraldine Ferraro's original comments and reply, or Senator Obams's response and Senator Clinton's response (you can read about it from Slate, Slate, Politico, or The New Republic), or talk about the wisdom of two Clinton Super Delegates (hah, "that's a joke son" in a Foghorn Leghorn voice), I thought I would discuss Mr. Governor himself, Client #9. Well, actually, I do not care about the personal life of Client #9, I would rather focus on whether or not prostitution should be legal.

Full Disclosure: Today I went to get an oil change and ended up staying at the garage for four hours since my car needed more work. During that time, I read John Rawls and watched the same four stories on CNN: Eliot Spitzer, the Mississippi Primary, Ferraro-Gtae (A-HA, a gate of my own), and a story about a family adopting an orphaned deer, much to the dismay of some people in a small town somewhere. It is good to know nothing important is going on in the world, like Adm. William Fallon resigning over a disagreement or non-disagreement over the policy toward Iran..

But, while watching CNN, Super Lawyer and Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, argued that Gov. Spitzer's actions constituted a victimless crime and in twenty years people will look back on this and laugh because prostitution would no longer be a crime, as it is in some areas of Western Europe.

Here is an article from Slate on why prostitution is illegal.

So I ask you, dear readers:
(1) Is prostitution a victimless crime?
(2) Should prostitution be legal?
(3) Is prostitution different than pornography in the sense that people are getting paid to have sex?
(4) Why did Gov. Spitzer not go to the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, which would have guaranteed his privacy?

Also, if you want to see more information about the Empire's Club, you can see more from Slate.

And I cannot wait to see the comments from this post.

Yep... we'll be there this weekend!

Currently, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is exhibiting a celebration of the centennial of artist Frida Kahlo's birth. Yes, the exhibit boasts over 40 paintings, such as The Two Kahlos (1939) Henry Ford Hospital (1932), and The Broken Column (1944). Yes, it includes almost 100 photos of Kahlo and her husband, the snake-souled Diego Rivera (among others), taken by visionaries like Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Gisele Freund, Tina Modotti, and Nickolas Muray.

And, yes, solon and I are taking Sweet Baby J to see it this weekend!!!

Ornithological Questioning, Of Sorts: Of Doves and Hawks

1)Did opposition to the American invasion of Iraq make one a dove?

2)Does opposition to the continued occupation make one a dove?

3)Does opposition to starting a war with Iran make one a dove?

4)Does opposition to starting a war with Syria make one a dove?

5)Does opposition to starting a war with Venezuela make one a dove?

If you answered "Yes" to any of the above:

Then you likely believe the fallacious meme that "National Security is John McCain's strength." And, to plagiarize Jeff Foxworthy, you might be a redneck.

And in any case, you are most certainly very, very confused about the meaning of the term "National Security."

A Word on Clifford the Big Red Dog

In the midst of watching Clifford the Big Red Dog this morning with the little one and grandparents, Harrogate is thinking about recent conversations he has had with Supadiscomama about certain premises of the show, as well as the aesthetic qualities of the Lead-In provided below.

Here are two questions. Feel free to add others in your response.

1)Yes indeedy. Many of us can certainly relate to this one. The people in this show wind up having to actually move due solely to the necessitations of their pet.

2)Think about this Lead-In from the perspective of the guy singing, and Harrogate is quoting here, "I love Clifford the Big Red Dog." How much money and/or perks would you require to sing such a song in Earnest, for all the public to experience, as this guy does?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Michigan and Florida, Part IV: The Dilemma of a Revote:

If there were a revote, the DNC, the State Party, the State Legislature, the candidates, and the voters would need to achieve consensus on the process. Senator Obama has the upper hand since he is the leader in pledged delegates. Senator Clinton is using surrogates and the media to achieve a revote. If there were revotes, it would give Senator Clinton an enormous advantage because of her institutional strength, especially with the new Super Delegates. This may or may not be a problem as to the credibility of the race. There are a few ways in which a Senator Clinton victory in the revotes will not be a problem.

Fairness to the DNC and the candidates:
For the election to be fair, then candidates need time to enact a ground game and raise awareness in the state. I am not sure if this option is available since there are only a few months left in the primary season and it takes a long time to develop and enact a strategy. Additionally, by scheduling a revote at the end of the primary season, the DNC will hurt its chances for the General Election. See my post here. Also, the DNC will diminish its own authority and will have no power to sanction the states in 2012 (yes, this is a parenting argument but it remains valid when states will jump the gun in 2012). More importantly, the DNC punished Florida and Michigan for trying to increase their influence on the primary. Yet, the answer to this is to give them more influence on the primary? Not only would you break the agreement in place but reward the states for breaking the rules by having them decide the election. The DNC may as well just close up shop because even if you fired Dean et al, as no one would listen to the new leaders. They may as well hold the primaries for 2012 right after the 2010 midterm elections as that makes just as much sense.

If there were revotes, it would give Senator Clinton an enormous advantage because of her institutional strength, especially with the Super Delegates. Awarding the election to the Clinton Campaign in the basis of a revote in these two states will tarnish the convention unless Senator Clinton has a lead before the revotes and these were the last two votes.

Type of vote:
Senator Obama would prefer a caucus in Michigan, especially since the state has a tradition of using caucuses, and settle for a primary in Florida, where he would not win. Senator Clinton would prefer primaries in both states. I do not know how the delegate count would go in either state as I am unfamiliar with their plans. If it were a caucus in Michigan and a primary in Florida, then the candidates would split the states. If they both held primaries, Senator Clinton will win Florida while Michigan would be competitive.

To revote, the cost may exceed $50 million and neither the DNR nor the states have the money to pay. Clinton donors have been working the PR battle to raise money for the primaries.

There has been talk of a mail in ballot, which would be cheaper in relation to the primary as it would only cost $5 million. There is some concern about a mail-in-vote because of voter fraud in Florida. However, Politico suggests that the state may have a plan together soon, even though there are concerns it will disenfranchise voters, which seems to undermine the purpose of having a new election as it would not be fair to citizens. If there is reasonable evidence to suggest a mail-in-vote would not be fair to the candidates and the citizens, then it would be reasonable to reject it as an option.

Finally, there is a question as to when the DNC and the states will have the votes. If everyone agreed, it may not be fair to hold these until the middle of June, which would allow other states to hold their primaries. Further, it would take an enormous amount of time and effort to arrange polling places & workers. If these have not been planned well and there is a hint of corruption, the DNC and the Democrats will have major problems at the convention and in the General Election.

Is it fair to the citizens?
For Michigan, either a caucus or primary would be fair. For Florida, only a primary would be fair since it only uses the primary system. The ballots will be honest as the voters will know that their voices will be heard though the circumstances of the vote has changed dramatically and, consequently, the meaning of the popular will be skewed as it reflects a choice at a different point in time with fewer candidates. This seems unfair, especially to the candidates who dropped out of the race. If only there were a different schedule, maybe Edwards or Richardson or Biden would have faired better.

There are a few logistical problems with the vote, especially since according to The New Republic, half of the state of Florida would not have voting machines to use. A mail-in-vote would counter this, but then we have the problems of a mail-in-vote.

Who would be able to vote?
This is one of the major stumbling blocks. First, since the first vote was not honest, some people did not vote or wasted their vote. Consequently, limiting the vote to those who voted in the first primary hardly seems fair. Second, would the candidates be able to register new voters? This may dramatically alter the race but this hardly seems fair to citizens in other states that did not register in time for their primaries. Third, allowing states a revote seems very unfair to citizens in other states who may not have had the ability to vote on the scheduled day. Finally, the new vote may disenfranchise those who need an absentee ballot. Citizens who serve, college students, and the elderly may not be able to vote in this new primary. If there were a mail in ballot, those who live in an urban area may suffer. If you argue that the first primary disenfranchised voters it would seem odd to allow a second vote that would disenfranchise those who voted the first time.

Michigan and Florida, Part III: The Current Vote

Is it fair for candidates to force the DNC to change the rules during the process?

The candidates knew the rules beforehand. If they disagreed, they should have forced the issue before the delegates were stripped or they should have refused to sign the Four States Pledge. By agreeing not to campaign, they agreed that the vote would not be legitimate. Asking for the party to seat delegates based on a vote that is not legitimate makes me worry, as does Calvinball

I am very skeptical of the current “will of the people” argument as it is convenient. It did not exist before the vote in Florida occurred. Of course, it was not needed before the primaries began.

To be honest, I believe that Senator Clinton wants the pledged delegates from the people but what the campaign really desires are the Super Delegates. In a new election, she may only pick up 15 pledged delegates if she were to win both states and Michigan may go for Senator Obama, especially if they were to have a caucus. However, Senator Clinton would most likely NET 30+ Super Delegates. With the combined totals, Senator Clinton may only trail Senator Obama by 50 delegates and may overtake Senator Obama in the popular vote, though I am unsure about this as Senator Obama win will half of the remaining contests.

Should the DNC seat the delegates under the current vote?

The Clinton Campaign introduced this argument from a position of weakness after the Florida vote. This argument cannot be taken seriously on its face since the vote is illegitimate. I would hope that the Clinton campaign is using this only as a bargaining chip though if the delegates seated under the current election, Senator Clinton may take the delegate lead.

There have been other selections such as split the delegates 50 – 50 though I am not sure if this would imply that the Super Delegates would do the same or vote their conscience. The problem is that the popular vote is still dubious and if the delegate count between the Obama and Clinton becomes close (under 50) to a point where the Super Delegates want to consider the popular vote, they will make their decision based on unsound evidence. Further, if you were going to split the delegate count, why hold the election in the first place?

There are other proposals to seat half of the delegates from the current vote and then have an additional vote via primaries in mid-May to determine the other half of the primary. So, only half of the delegates would be from the illegitimate first vote and then there is the redo question.

The problem with Michigan and Florida, Part II: Disenfranchisement?

Fair and Free Elections:

Basic international standards of voting for free elections, citizens must have the right to choose and the freedom to speak, assembly, vote. Further candidates and parties have the same rights of assembly and speech. For elections to be fair, ballots must be honest, political parties must have the ability and time to participate in the election, and there must be a level-playing field.

Even with this base definition of free and fair elections, it is obvious the Michigan and Florida votes do not meet these criteria. In Michigan, most of the candidates were not on the ballot. In both Michigan and Florida, none of the candidates could campaign, meaning candidates could not exchange ideas (run advertising, deliver speeches), set up a ground network, get people to the polls, etc. Further, the citizens knew beforehand that the votes cast would not count meaning the election would not be honest. I am sure Putin is proud of this vote and our democratic practices.

Were the citizens who voted in Florida and Michigan disenfranchised?

The citizens of Florida have not been disenfranchised per se as they have the ability to vote and the ability to alter the meaning of the election and the primary process. Their vote was counted though it is not official; however, remember that none of the votes in any of the primaries are “official” at this point and will not be until the convention. Some of the pledged or Super Delegates could conceivable switch as some point.

If you call the voters of Florida & Michigan disenfranchised, then the voters of any losing candidate would be disenfranchised and this makes little sense.

Though law suits have been filed and more have been threatened about the elections in Florida and Michigan, throughout its history, the Supreme Court has been hesitant to involve itself in the primary process, allowing the political parties to run these events unless they prohibited citizens from participating. The Supreme Court struck down Texas primary systems because the Democratic Party refused to let black candidates and black voters participate in the process in Nixon v. Herndon, 273 U.S. 536 (1927) and Nixon v. Condon, 286 U.S. 73 (1932).

According to the First Amendment Center In the 1990s, the Supreme Court struck California’s blanket primary system, which allowed voters of all parties to cast ballots in any party’s primary (See California Democratic Party v. Jones.) Republicans wanted the Supreme Court to strike down the blanket primary because it would allow candidates to win a nomination though it may not believe in the party’s ideology, allowing for the political parties to have an ideological purity test even though it may diminish ideologically unique candidates. By June of 2008, the Supreme Court will release decisions in two more cases that involve state primaries and the political parties. These systems may fall like the one in California.

The Problem with Michigan and Florida: Part I Motivation of the Actors

To no one’s surprise, I disagree with Harrogate’s post on Florida and Michigan. While I think that the DNC messed up mightily, I do not think that there should be a revote in either of the states. All is not lost though as I believe that the delegates will be seated at the convention but this will occur only after the Super Delegates decide who the nominee will be. Of course, I could be wrong as law-makers in Florida believe that there will be a revote and Michigan attempted to reach consensus on a revote.

If you are unaware, please read this article from The New York Review of Books.

Because the DNC attempted to increase the voice of minority voices in Nevada and South Carolina, as well as respect tradition and small states, the DNC argued that these four states were the only states that could hold contests before the monster of Super Tuesday. If the Democrats did not believe in fairness or attempt to achieve fairness in its electoral process, this would not be an issue. However, there is some merit in allowing Democrats in small states some say in their party. Also, the DNC holds the power to make decisions and to deliver punishments.

Why would the candidates agree to do this? Remember, the goal of any campaign is to win, unless you are Ron Paul or Ralph Nader where you run to make a point or provide presence for an issue. But here are the motives of the important players:

(1)The candidates were pandering to the early states and possessed the strength of the DNC to allow them to pander at the expense of Florida and Michigan. If you lose the first states, then Florida and Michigan, let alone Super Tuesday, means a lot less. Ask Edwards, Biden, Dodd, and Richardson or anyone else not named Obama or Clinton. Though, former President Bill Clinton lost the first two and still won. So I shall rephrase this: falling to win or gain a point in an overtime/shootout loss puts you at a strategic disadvantage unless your next game is a home game.

(2)Because of Republican incompetence, the DNC thought a democratic would win the 2008 election no matter who ran. Even Dodd had a chance. Well, maybe.

(3)Senator Clinton agreed because she was “inevitable”—this would all work out in the end as she would win Florida and then Super Tuesday and the race would be over. Once it was over, there would be no concern about seating or not seating the delegates.

(4)It allowed Senators Obama and Edwards to focus their time and money on the first four states and then the Super Tuesday states. Both of these Senators faced an uphill climb because of Senator Clinton. Anything to take away the pressure, they would gladly accepted. If one of them won Iowa or New Hampshire or both, then one had a chance, especially if the victor were Senator Obama who would win South Carolina and possibly Nevada.

(5)Unfortunately, things like the "Rule of Law" matter. If candidates, or presidents, choose not to follow this, many problems develop- witness the last seven years under the Bush Administration. It seems, unfortunately, that crying out against the "Rule of Law" and then not following the "Rule of Law" is a tad hypocritical and dangerous.

Please note: Florida matters more to Senator Clinton than it does to Senator Obama. In order for her to win the nomination and the Presidency, she will need to win Florida. However, Senator Obama has other means to win the presidency, such as Virginia and Colorado, to compensate for Florida while Senator Clinton does not.

Also, as I have stated elsewhere, I do not think that Florida will be in play for the Democrats in November as it will stay red while Michigan will stay blue, though the presence of Romney on the Republican ticket may switch Florida and Michigan as people in Florida do not like him while people in Michigan do because of his family connections.

Bill Kristol, Republican Oracle

Colbertian Tip of the Cap to Melissa McEwan, AKA "Shakes."

Bill Kristol, who predicted the Americans would have flowers thrown at their feet when trying to install Wal-Mart style democracy in the Heart of the Middle East. Bill Kristol, who recently predicted hey, if the Americans invaded Iran they'd have flowers thrown at their feet. Bill Kristol, known as Nostradomus in Republican circles throughout the Land.

Bill Kristol, who's about as garden variety a prominent Republican as you are going to find, now identifies Clarence Thomas as the ideal Veep Mate for McCain.

Clarence Thomas, according to Bill Kristol, is "the most impressive conservative in American public life."


The Machinery of Hope

Okay, so anyone who's seen the Rolling Stone endorsement of Obama knows its more than a little hyperbolic. BUT, turn the page and you will find this article by Tim Dickinson about how the campaign has combined the web prowess of Howard Dean with the community organization of Obama's youth. It's praiseworthy, I'm not going to lie. But it's a very interesting (and pretty uniformly unbiased) look at the success of the campaign and its probable impact on how campaigns will be run in the future.

More Raucus Music; or, an Ode to Never Giving Up

Harrogate's a little riled up today, in a positive way. This song makes Harrogate about as happy as any song can. There are lots of quibbles one can take with Eminem. But when he released "Till I Collapse," he struck Rhetorical Gold.

In the Name of Nostalgia: We're Not So Old as We Think We Are

The video quality not so great. But damn, the first time Harrogate heard The Score, it fundamentally and permanently changed his musical worldview. Not so much time has passed since then, as all that. Harrogate remembers well

And consider, a thesis of this track: The seductive influence of the Hyper-Violent, Wide-Ranging Cowboy Narrative in the Shaping of American Urbanity.

One Final Word on Michigan & Florida

If Harrogate cared more about Principle than Endgame, he would still be just as disgusted with both frontrunners and with the DNC for creating this fiasco. One interesting thing to be noted about those who support what the DNC and the Candidates did. On television and the primary Left Blogosphere, you never see anyone address, in a straightforward way, the following question:

Why, in the end, did the Democratic candidates for President sign the pledge?

In the absence of Answers from those quarters, Harrogate takes it upon himself to do the heavy lifting here. The only possible answers to the question Are:

1)Because it was what the Other candidates were doing. All our mothers' quandries, would you jump off a bridge if your friends were doing it, to the contrary.

2)Because (Heil!) the rules are the rules, and far be it from anyone running for the Presidency of the United States to substantively challenge a ridiculous Rule or Law. And, the rules say Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina must be privileged.

2.5)To pander to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina voters.

3)Out of a sense of inability to win the states being sanctioned, anyway. Therefore, it would be better if nobody else wins them either.

Notice, Harrogate takes as a given that believing in the Rules, and thus thinking that signing the Pledge was the Right thing to do, Is. not. an. option. Since ostensibly, none of the primary players involved are retarded.

But be all that as it may.

There are new rumblings that Charlie Crist can legally decertify the Democratic Party for the 2008General Election, based on the current scenario. It of course follows that Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm could also decertify the Democratic Party.

And so, for Harrogate, a conundrum. Endgame in politics means more to Harrogate than principle, because after all, McCain is a Republican, and therefore a McCain victory in November spells Killing a Lot More People (the Media's version of being strong on National Security) and continuing the downward economic and judicial spirals.

Yet despite the superior status of Endgame, there is something VERY appealing to Harrogate, about Michigan and Florida both pulling the Democratic nominee off of the November ballot entirely, regardless of who emerges the victor. Of course this would facilitate a McCain victory, not only through those states' electoral votes, but also as a result of the Taint (there you go Oxymoron) it would impose on the Dems overall.

But if you love principle, then the way to go is for those two states to strike back at the Democratic Party and all those many Chatterers who care only how all this affects their preferred candidate.

All those many who have gotten Rhetorically Naked and rolled around in ridiculous Rules that cannot be legitimately defended.

Such a brave and inspiring decertification probably will not happen. But as Hemingway might have said, isn't it pretty to think of?

Mixed Signs for the General Election

Even though it is the beginning of March, it looks as if there are some troubling signs for the General Election in the fall.

First, the good news: According to The New York Times, on Saturday voters in the 14th Congressional District of Illinois selected Democrat Bill Foster, a physicist, to replace former Speaker of the House Dennis Hassert. Foster ran against the war and the unpopularity of the president/ GOP in a heavily Republican district. Senator Obama campaigned for him as well.

Yet, this may not reflect a trend throughout the country, as evidence on special elections helping the November elections seem mixed. It is interesting to note that the Democrats won a seat for a Congressional District that the Democrats have not contested since 1986, helping the "change" argument that both Democratic candidates employ.

Now, for the bad news: first, according to The New York Times, the DNC is broke and the RNC is drastically out fundraising its competition. Having a settled nominee is helping the RNC as opposed to the DNC, but that cannot explain it all. Since the DNC has no money and since a candidate cannot spend their money on the General Election until he/she is the nominee, the DNC needs some serious help.

Second, This would not be a problem if one of the Democratic candidates could knock the other out of the race, allowing the DNC to focus its efforts. However, Senator Obama could not knock out Senator Clinton in New Hampshire and Texas, though I am not sure if a defeat in Texas would have knocked her out of the race as she stated many times that she would continue. As for Senator Clinton, The New York Times has another story on the terrible state of her campaign, which undercuts her experience and "Day One" argument.

If Senator Obama could deliver the fatal blow or if Senator Clinton would have managed a successful campaign, the DNC may not have its problem.

Bigger Threat Than Terrorism or Islam

"Homosexuality," From Sally Kerns, a Christianist er., Republican Representative in Oklahoma as she addressed a secret Republican group on the homosexual lifestyle.

Here is the audio of her remarks:

This is one of the best reasons for an absolute position on free speech: it is easy to find out who the radical people in society are.

According to CNN, the Representative will not back down for her beliefs. Hopefully, the good people of Oklahoma will show a basic level of human decency and vote her out of office.

A Nation of Sinners

Based on this AP study, if the Pope is right, we are seriously fucked!

Sin has social resonance

The Vatican has released a new list of sins, which includes pollution as well as social and economic injustice. I find this new list very compelling, as I have long struggled to understand the concept of sinning in a modern context. Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti said that "While sin used to concern mostly the individual, today it has mainly a social resonance, due to the phenomenon of globalization."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Best Recap of Wyoming

Slate offers the best discussion of Wyoming as the author suggests there may be a link between caucusing and dancing, especially in Wyoming. And maybe Iowa. Though it goes unmentioned, I would argue possibly Texas for its two-step system.

But why is dancing important to Wyoming. Slate explains via a very old article from the NY Times:
The chief factor in this pre-election gayety is that whenever there is to be a speaking by the aspirants to office it is always the custom to have a dance that same night. Hundreds of people turn out to hear the spellbinders, not because they love the oratory so much as that they are keenly bent on the terpsichorean festivities that come after the shades of night have fallen.

BY the way, unless Michigan attempts a caucus, which is in its political culture, there are no more caucuses left on the schedule.

Also, some days, I think we should go back to the good old days when votes were public and candidates offered voters food and drink for its vote. Literally, alcohol and tasty-treats.

In the spirit of reconcilliation...

from The Atlantic:

Saffire, Language, and Torture

Because of the Democratic race, one of the most important issues went seemingly unnoticed this week: President Bush vetoed a bill that banned waterboarding. According to the president, President Bush vetoed the legislation by Congress because, "The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror." Congress will not possess enough votes to overturn the president's veto.

In today's New York Times, William Saffire devotes his "On Language" Column to Waterboarding, especially the historical development of the word. Unlike members of our government, Saffire is very clear about the word's meaning:
If the word torture, rooted in the Latin for “twist,” means anything (and it means “the deliberate infliction of excruciating physical or mental pain to punish or coerce”), then waterboarding is a means of torture. The predecessor terms for its various forms are water torture, water cure and water treatment.

The question remains: why can't this be an election issue?

Bonus: the column by Saffire reminds me of George Orwell's essay, "Politics and the English Language," which is always a good read.