Saturday, March 22, 2008

Harrogate Sighting

According to recent reports, Harrogate was last seen checking in to the Heartbreak Hotel (you know, down at the end of Lonesome Street), clutching his crumpled bracket and mumbling something about "buzzer beaters."


Yes, this is a Senator Clinton, "What were you thinking" post. On the campaign trail, Senator Clinton mentioned that, as First Lady, she went on a mission to Bosnia and, when landing, her plane was under heavy sniper fire. It appears that someone found some news footage of the landing and the sniper fire. Um, well, without the sniper fire but there was a killer rabbit with huge, sharp teeth and beady, little eyes.

Regardless of whether or not you are for or against Senator Clinton, it is a funny clip. Maybe this is footage of another landing or something. But please know that the Clinton campaign pulled her recent remarks about the Bosnia landing from her campaign site.

Sinbad, yes the bad comedian, was on the Bosnia trip as well. Even he discussed the good Senator's comments about the Bosnia landing. According to The Washington Post:
Threat of bullets? Sinbad doesn't remember that, either.

"I never felt that I was in a dangerous position. I never felt being in a sense of peril, or 'Oh, God, I hope I'm going to be OK when I get out of this helicopter or when I get out of his tank.'"

In her Iowa stump speech, Clinton also said, "We used to say in the White House that if a place is too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the First Lady."

Say what? As Sinbad put it: "What kind of president would say, 'Hey, man, I can't go 'cause I might get shot so I'm going to send my wife...oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.'"

At least there is some humor in this.

Wright Post 9/11 Sermon

Andrew Sullivan posted one of the controversial sermons by Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

In context, the speech concerns the proper response after 9/11. Rev. Wright's conclusion: self-examination. It is not the anti-American tirade the clips attempt to proclaim.

On a side note: during this "controversy" I have been on a "what if" kick. What would be the public reception of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" or "Time to Break the Silence," Stokely Carmichael's "Black Power," or Malcolm X's "Ballot or the Bullet>" Imagine for a second of Hannity et al. were on the radio then opposing these calls for self-examination and resistance.

Slowly slipping into the abyss...

Wow. Duke lost. If only I could care enough to watch the tournament....

With just over four weeks to go to Senator Clinton's victory in Pennsylvania, the Obama and Clinton campaign seem to be racing towards the abyss within their speeches.

According to The New York Times, former President William "my disapproval ratings drop every day" Clinton stated in a speech:
"“it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country. And people could actually ask themselves who is right on these issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics."

Golly Gee Bill, what ever could you mean? Who's unpatriotic? What do you mean by "all this other stuff?"

Of course, someone by the Obama camp cleared the record by calling Mr. Clinton "Joe McCarthy." Sigh!

But, not to be outdone, the Clinton camp retook the lead to the abyss when discussing the Bill Richardson endorsement. According to The New Republic, Clinton creep, James "Billy Bob Thorton Played be accurately in Primary Colors" Carville stated:
“An act of betrayal... Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic."

You can infer your own entailments from the Holy Week metaphor.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dissent at Fox News

Maybe change is in the air. According to Huffington Post, there has been some mayhem and dissent over at America'a fair and balanced network over Senator Obama's comments over his grandmother and the "typical white" response. On Fox and Friends, one of the co-hosts, Brian Kilmeade, walked off the set when the other two anchors took the quote out of context, repeatedly. Later in the show, "Fox and Friends" interviewed the host of Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace, and even Wallace criticized the two Fox and Friends anchors for their "Obama Bashing."

Here are the clips:

Missing Persons Report Issued for Mr. Harrogate

Somewhere, USA.- According to local officials, police officers issued a Missing Persons Report for one Harrogate X. It appears that Mrs. Harrogate and Kid Harrogate have not seen Harrogate X since 12:20 EST/ 11:20 CST on Thursday, March 20th. "We just want to know he is comfortable and safe," Mrs. Harrogate stated. "He left with a basketball in hand and wearing a powder-blue jersey but we have searched the local gyms and have been unable to locate him."

If you have any information about Harrogate's whereabouts please contact local officials.

Some Campaign Humor

Former Senator John Edwards appeared on the Jay Leno show last night. While Edwards did not endorse any candidates, he did provide this bit of humor. From Politico:

Leno: Your choice to run as a middle-aged white man, you think that was a good idea? I mean, when you tactically made that decision, you think it was a good tactic?

Edwards: I tried very hard to figure out what to do about that.

A symbolic victory

Former Presidential Candidate Gov. Bill Richardson endorsed (or is endorsing as I write this) Senator Barack Obama for President, giving him another Super Delegate and maybe (and I stress maybe) helping Obama increase his constituency. Of course, if Richardson had the electoral power he needed, he would not be a former candidate so the weight of this endorsement rests with Obama gaining a new Super Delegate.

However, while this may not give Senator Obama a large boost in the polls, this endorsement becomes symbolically important for two reasons:

(1) The Clintons provided Richardson with his political life and attempted to court him since he dropped his own candidacy. Former President Clinton watched the Super Bowl with him this year to court his support. But "loyalty" is no longer enough in the present as Gov. Richardson described Senator Obama as being a “once-in-a-lifetime leader.”

(2) The endorsement shows that it is "politically safe" to support Senator Obama again. Even after his terrible week, well terrible two weeks, the Richardson endorsement becomes a sign that other Super Delegates and Party Elites can continue to support Senator Obama. It seems that Richardson is supporting Senator Obama because of Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech even as the Clinton campaign, according to MSNBC this morning, attempted to use the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as evidence to uncommitted Super Delegates that they should not support Senator Obama.

This will not translate into an Obama victory in Pennsylvania, well nothing would, but it certainly stops the bleeding so Obama can repair the damage done in the past two weeks.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

This is a very bad sign....

According to MSNBC, three officials at the State Department violated terms of privacy to access Senator Barack Obama's passport records. There is not a lot of information available yet; however, there seems to be three important questions: (1) why did the workers do this? (2) what did they want to know? (3) who asked the workers to search the files?

Interestingly enough, this occurred in 1992 to former President Bill Clinton. Like Father, like...

Update: it appears that the passports for all of the candidates have gone through some form of unnecessary review. According to CNN, Sec. of State Rice told Hillary Clinton that her passport went through an extra examination during a training exercise. John McCain also received the news that someone viewed his passport. The incidents may not have be related and the violations are not to the same degree.

At least the incompetence of the government under the Bush Administration is violating the rights of members of both parties.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Character of America: Manliness as a substitute for the Intellectual

I have not been paying too close attention to the commentary of of Senator Obama's speech, "A More Perfect Union." Unfortunately, I heard some. On my drive from campus to Home Depot and while listening to one of MSNBC's program, I heard the same argument from Sean Hannity and Pat Buchanan. It goes like this:

For over 20 years, Senator Obama was a member of his church where the pastor delivered anti-America (or maybe more precisely, anti-white) comments. When Obama heard those comments, he should have gathered his daughters and walked out of the church, which would symbolize his disgust with the comments. Real men and, hence real presidents, announce their disgust with a topic, message, or speaker and then leave the debate.

Tragically, this argument has a few consequences.
(1) The inflammatory comments symbolize all of Rev. Wright's work and deeds (synechdoche) as the man is just evil.

(2) Political judgment does not concern listening to opposing viewpoints but only rejecting positions in protest and without contemplation.

(3) There can be no debate on the misuse of military force (as Wright did) as the use of force, when leaders commit us, is always necessary.

(4) Never expose you children to viewpoints that are "bad"; never explain them except as being "bad." Fathers are decisive and, more importantly, correct.

(5) Leaders are people that act and do not contemplate as Senator Obama should not have analyzed the logos but walked out over the pathos.

In these situations, according to Hannity and Buchanan, Senator Obama needed to be a "Man" in that Tony Soprano "I Am a Man, M-A-N" sort of way. Or Senator Obama needed to be a "Strong Father" and removed his daughters from the vile nature of the church. The judgment of Obama correlates to how well he displayed his "manliness" in the situation, i.e. rejecting the message in protest without analyzing the message as Gary Cooper would have done.

Unfortunately, no longer (if ever) should politicians and presidents think or intellectualize about the problems of race in the United States. For Hannity and Buchanan, it should never come to that as Tony Soprano would have walked out the door in his best imitation of President Bush's Bravado. Who needs to read when one could clear brush or visit the Bada-Bing.

Aniversary, of sorts...

Five Years Ago Today?

How does one mark this occasion?

A Sad Sight

Yesterday morning, as I was waiting to cross the street to campus, a police-escorted caravan rode by, including three buses and about five following cars. At first, I thought that maybe it was some politician and his/her entourage, but as the buses went by, I saw that they were full of uniformed soldiers. I then realized that this caravan was heading towards the airport, and that the vehicles following the buses were probably family members and friends who would see their loved ones head off to Iraq. The soldiers on the buses appeared to be sitting in silence, looking out the windows as they rode by. I can't claim to know what was going through their minds: fear, pride, excitement? What I do know is that I was very sad for these men and women and their families, because they're being exploited by the government that they trusted enough to enlist. I hope that everyone on those buses returns home safely and soon.

History of March 18th, 2008

While others have commented on Senator Obama's speech on race, I would also like to note that, yesterday, the meaning of the Constitution changed when few were looking.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in D.C. v. Heller, which discusses whether or the second amendment constitutes a group or individual right and whether or not the District of Columbia's handgun ban was constitutional and. According to Dahlia Lithwick at Slate, it took the Court only eight minutes in the oral arguments to show there were enough votes for an individual right interpretation.
Dellinger opens by whooshing us back in time to the framers, who, he says, used the words "bear arms" to mean "rendering a military service." Chief Justice John Roberts immediately asks why the framers wrote "the right of the people" if they merely meant "the right of the militia." Justice Kennedy spoils any suspense by telling Dellinger, in the form of a question, that he has no problem "de-linking" the two clauses to read the first as "reaffirming" the right to a militia and the second as enshrining a right to bear arms. Justice Antonin Scalia does Kennedy one better and contends that the two phrases "go together beautifully." That's five votes to create a fundamental right to bear arms, only eight minutes into the argument.

All that is left for the Supreme Court is to determine what level of review is necessary for gun bans, if you can have bans on guns in the first place. If you read the Slate article, it is pretty unclear as to what that standard will be. There seems to be an idea that some guns, such as machine guns, may not be allowed and that some measures for safety would be okay (as some children may not be fighting bears or fighting off tyranny) but how you reach that point is a beautifully unanswered epistemological question.

Overall, yesterday's case seems to be the Roe v. Wade for Conservative justices. We now have "new" fundamental rights, established by [conservative] judicial activists while those [liberal] justices in favor of judicial restraint believe is allow local branches of government to decide cases. While I agree that the second amendment relies on an individual right interpretation, I still think that the decision making process on display is quite unique. From Slate:
I sometimes fall for the old line that there's no such thing as politics at the high court; there are merely different interpretational tools. Not today. Today we have four liberals rediscovering the beauty of local government and judicial restraint and five conservatives poised to identify a fundamental personal right that will have judges mucking about in gun cases for years to come. After all these years of deep conservative suspicion of turning over policy matters to the courts, the Roberts Court has fallen in love with a new constitutional right. And while they don't seem much concerned about how the judges will manage it, they've just about ensured that judges around the country will soon be ruling in gun cases the way they used to rule on speeding tickets.

On a side note: I had lunch with colleagues yesterday and the D.C. case come up, quickly. Rather than discuss the facts of the case or the competing interpretations of the second amendment, as well as the other amendments, the conversation ended abruptly as that the decision would be wrong, end of debate as guns are bad. Period.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Speech: Townhall Bloggers Frothing at the Mouth

In the immediate aftermath of Obama's speech, the Townhall bloggers are giving it hell. Harrogate is curious to see what his fellow bloggers, and Readers, think about what is being spun, in that Rightist quadrant of the blogosphere.

Some excerpts. From Matt Lewis:

Arguably, my favorite line is ...

"... The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning."

... So he's saying that damning America is a common occurance in Black Churches? I hardly think so!

From Amanda Carpenter:

Obama has given a few great speeches in his life, but is it possible Obama thinks his speech-making is so good he can make this whole controversy go away with an applause line?

From Carol Platt Libeau:

First, it would be interesting to know Michelle Obama's views on Wright. Given some of her earlier remarks and even the topic of her senior thesis, it's worth asking whether her views on race in America might be a bit more confrontational than her husband's (reflecting, perhaps, the perspective of a descendant of slaves, versus the experience of the son of a Kenyan dignitary).

Second, the Obamas may have decided at some point that the political damage that would be inflicted by leaving the church (and creating the perception that they were trying to "move on up" away from their home church and distance themselves from their community) would be greater than simply taking the heat for Wright. They may have stayed so as not to jeopardize their base.

But as stated, these are only excerpts. Go to the link, if ye will. Read. Reason. Write.

Will he live up to his own call to action?

"The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American."

I really liked Obama's speech. No surprise, it is exceptionally well-written and well-argued (the man has hired some very, very talented speech writers), and although I didn't see it, I'm quite sure he was as inspiring as he always is. I particularly like the excerpt above. Here is my question though: can he live up to his own call to action? Can he keep the issue of race a part of the discourse? Can he keep the discourse productive? I have to confess that I'm starting to be swayed by his rhetoric, the very same rhetoric that I've occasionally critiqued. What I like most about this particular speech is that he isn't posturing, he isn't politicizing, he isn't going tit for tat. For me, he comes fairly close to not being a politician in this speech, something he often claims not to be. He is, however, a politician, and this speech is one very, very smart political move. I'm immensely impressed that he took this opportunity to remind the country that while Jeremiah Wright's comments may have been divisive and inflammatory the content of the comments have to be taken seriously. Racism does exist in this country, and we can't hope to find a sense of unity if we simply continue to willfully ignore the racial disparities in America.

Well done, Senator Obama.

Bracketology Thread the First

The image ye behold comes from the March 10, 2008 Sports Illustrated cover, and represents Tyler Hansbrough---easily one of the greatest collegiates to ever don the hallowed North Carolina uniform. So intense is Hansbrough's strength of Will that people forget the mad skills he brings to each and every game.

It is also a source of great rejoicing for 'Psycho T' that he is surrounded by one of the most weapon-laden college basketball teams Harrogate has ever seen play. From Guards to Bigs to Defenders to all-purpose swingmen, this team has absolutely everything you could ask for. Particularly when they are getting out in transition, they are truly a wonder to behold: at times akin, as Sam Shepard once wrote in a very different context, to "beautiful, womanly hands that look like they've never been outside of goatskin gloves until this very moment."

When they are playing at their best, as Harrogate's money fully charges that they will over the next three weeks, this arsenal of basketball talent feeds off of Hansbrough's Love of the Game. The upshot is, look out for Powder Blue this year, O Readers.

And so, 'tis no secret that Harrogate will be picking his beloved North Carolina Tar Heels to cut down the nets in San Antonio this year. For goodness sakes, they have already won the ACC Regular Season crown and won the ACC tournament championship as well. There is one more piece to the puzzle, for the Heels. And we await its completion with bated breath.

Harrogate loves the Heels, but he loves college basketball even more. Thus he will be blogging multiple angles for the coming Tournament, through the final game. Here are some things to consider as you fill out your brackets, commit your hearts, and put up your money:

1)How can you not love the Georgia Bulldogs at this point? Not only did they qualify for the Big Dance by winning the SEC Tourney, but they did so by winning TWO GAMES IN ONE DAY on Saturday, before whacking Arkansas on Sunday in the conference finals. Yet, O Readers, be careful not to let your sentimental impulses get the best of ye here. It is entirely possible that the Dawgs have hit the Wall at this point. Their opening-round game against 3-Seed Xavier is going to be one hell of a test--if you pick the Dawgs in that game, make sure that you are not going entirely with your Heart.

2)This is America. Therefore, O Readers, feel free to ride the exciting Clemson and/or Pitt teams as far as you like. But as ye fill out those brackets, consider that the consequences of terrible free-throw shooting are hardly light. These are two of the worst teams Harrogate has ever seen, in that important regard. (Ruh-roh!!! Also bear in mind that the vaunted 1-Seed Memphis Squad, in addition to having played a pretty lackluster schedule, also struggles mightily from the line!!!!)

3)In the West regionals, Drake is a 5-Seed!!!! Leaving many of us to ask in earnest, who in the hell is Drake???? This is a bracketology nightmare of the highest order. Their first game is against the well-regarded 12-Seeded Western Kentucky, another team few outside their conference have seen play. But, say Drake wins that game. Likely they will be facing the Conneticut Huskies in the second-round matchup--And Drake would be the higher seed!!! What does a conscientious bracketologist do, here? Reward Drake's amazing year (28-4), their reputation for being one of the best shooting teams in recent memory? Or simply get serious, pick Conneticut, have a sandwich, and

Yes. Much to think about. We have hit a point where the only guarantees involve heartbreak, lost money, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. But until then, until our bubbles begin bursting, until the cold hard truth of March begins to be felt throughout the country.

Until Thursday Tip-Off.

Harrogate leaves ye with that song he always leaves ye with this time of year. That great, wondrous song.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Recommended Reading

The Mo Willems Collection, especially:

These books have everything: pigeons and bus drivers; bunnies and daughters; action and adventure; fighting and spying. Even you will enjoy these, not just your kids.

And see Gary for available T-Shirts, right Oxymoron?

Supa's Back!

Um, hooray?

I've been blissfully unaware of U.S. politics and other news for 9 days, and I feel so free! Of course, now I'm totally lost. I guess I'll need to catch up on the Situation. London was great fun, but I'm glad to be home (gasp! GLAD to be in Texas? Yes.). Clearly, I'm still on London time, as I'm posting this at 4:45 a.m. Ick.

A bit of fun: I was riding the Underground with three of my students, on our way to the Tower of London, on Saturday. We shared our car with four Irish football/soccer fans who were on their way, I assumed, to a game. They were wearing their bright green jerseys, and one was wearing and green and white wig. Wig-man decided he wanted to interact with the Girls from the States, so he removed his wig and put on a George W. Bush mask, which he happily plucked from his bag. One of my companions (a very outspoken girl) said to him, "We all hate George Bush." He removed the mask and then entertained us with (fake) stories about his visits to the U.S. Upon getting off the train, he gave us his business card. Awesome.

More later.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Why is the prolonged primary good?

For democracy, according to Sandy Levinson. If you are interested in suggestions on how to make the U.S. Constitution more democratic, then I would suggest Our Undemocratic Constitution.

SNL: Black is the New President, B...

Tracy Morgan returned to SNL last night to provide a rebuttal to Tina Fey's "Bitch is the New Black." While most of it is not funny, there are two good lines: one about Robin Givens and the other the tag line in response to Tina Fey. Enjoy this clip, but avoid the rest of the show, excluding Weekend Update.

I am curious as to why they ran this, especially with having Tracy Morgan return (did he volunteer? was he asked?). I know that Obama spoke with Lorne Michaels about the previous episodes though the campaign stated Obama joked with Michaels even though that was left out of the original report. Anyone know anything more on this?

FOX Smears Obama: Lead Caption Brazenly Declares "Guilt by Association"

How long this story will stay up today depends upon whether or not there will be another sex scandal we can all pretend to be outraged about, when really we are titllated at most, and likely thoroughly indifferent except when in front of a camera or blogging.

But anyway, Obama needs to start swinging harder at these bastards who are smearing him. We all knew these things were coming if he got within striking distance of the nomination. And here he is, on the verge of carrying the mantle. And here they are, trying to destroy his credibility with a whole hell of a lot of nothing.

Obama cannot rely on his surrogates for this. To his credit, he came out pretty strong on Friday, as Harrogate's faithful Readers saw in a recent post. But it wasn't enough. He needs to hit back consistently, and hit back hard.

Return of the Edwards....

Rick Stengel, the Managing Editor of Time Magazine, stated that former Senator John Edwards would endorse Senator Hillary Clinton possibly before the Pennsylvania primary but definitely before the North Carolina Primary.

Coulter on Spitzer: Clinging to the Old-School Definition of Tragedy

In the Long, Long Ago, not only before the births of Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and even before the birth of the Reverend John Todd. Indeed, in Shakespeare's day, during the time when John McCain was but a wee lad. The definition of tragedy was, there must be a socioeconomic height from which to Fall.

Coulter's take on Eliot Spitzer is a throwback to the older model. Spitzer's "life is ruined," is a central Warrant of Coulter's essay, precisely because he is now forever stripped of his elite social status. People will no longer take him seriously. They will laugh at him.

True to form, Coulter trades in the most brazen of assertions, and verily she invites her Readers to join her in gloating over Spitzer's "tragic" fall.

Aside from Coulter's Oligarchal Worldview, there are Other facets of this gem of an article, worth considering. Here are a few assertions made by Coulter, that resonate with recent posts on The Rhetorical Situation:

Surprising no one, police wiretaps indicate that the "models" were semi-literate, could not learn to swipe a credit card and seemed invariably to be on drugs. That's what you get for $2,000 an hour in this charming business.

Behold the "victimless" crime of prostitution. Hard to believe these girls would turn to drugs. Having sex with strangers for money, nothing to live for ... just thinking about it makes me want to take drugs.

It's absurd to talk about Spitzer's problem being "hypocrisy" -- as if everything would be fine if only he had previously advocated legalized prostitution.

It's absurd to talk about legal defenses. This guy has fallen from the pinnacle of New York society to being a disgrace to his class. He's the Ivy League version of Paris Hilton.

That was always the advantage Clinton had: We never expected any better. He went from Skunk Trot, Ark., to Skunk Trot, Ark. Spitzer fell from Fifth Avenue to Skunk Trot, Ark.

D.C. v. Heller: The Meaning of the Second Amendment

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in one of the most important cases in years, District of Columbia v. Heller. Currently, there is no definitive interpretation of the second amendment, especially in relation to a group (militia) or individual right. The history of the second amendment is very complex as the colonies developed their own tradition (e.g. Pennsylvania had a similar amendment as the second amendment but no state militia, giving some credence to the individual right interpretation yet in other states gun rights were associated with the state militia). Legally, there is very little precedent in this area as the last case to discuss this occurred in 1939. Of course, prudential concerns dominate the debate as not everyone is as responsible as Paperweight Writer with the use of firearms and some firearm bans reduces violence and makes the job of police safer. Further complicating this case is that it occurs in D.C. and not a state. Finally, according to Dahlia Lithwick at Slate, even the Bush Administration is at odds with one another over this case as Solicitor General Paul Clement sides with D.C. (for some regulation or at least incremental changes) and V.P. Dick Cheney is for Heller (individual right, meaning the D.C. handgun ban is unconstitutional).

If the Supreme Court rules that the ban is unconstitutional and that the second amendment covers individual rights, like the other rights in the Bill of Rights, that would not preclude the government from creating some gun control, as there are restrictions with free speech or religion. However, the level of review would be strict and most gun laws may be struck down. If Heller wins the case, the gun rights advocates may look to target other bans in major cities to ensure that the second amendment applies to the states, making the police forces in those area a little uneasy.

A decision in this case most likely will not be handed down until the end of the term.