Friday, March 28, 2008

Breaking News: Gay Scientists....

isolate Christianity Gene, ending speculation that it is a lifestyle choice.

"Perspectives by incongruity," as Kenneth Burke would say. That and "More Whiskey please."

Lamenting the Loss of Tucker...

On St. Patrick's Day, MSNBC launched its new program Race to the White House hosted by David Gregory. To say I haven't been impressed would be an understatement.

After watching the "face-paced" Race to Boredom, I really miss Tucker's show. I started to lament the loss when I heard the news his show would be canceled, but my loss is now complete with the new show. While Tucker's show was not great, though few of MSNBC's shows are, but at least it provided the station with some ideological diversity and, hence, credibility. While I knew how Tucker's libertarian beliefs would filter every topic, decreasing the need for actually watching the show unless you cared about how his guests would answer, and while I grew tired of his essentialism, reducing every controversy to the same awkward view of liberty, the new show is not an improvement- it is just the same thing that is on MSNBC all day long, with the same guests too.

Sacha Zimmerman at The New Republic has a very good summary of the new show:
Instead of the "Tucker" show's use of analysts of every political stripe from every publication, think tank, or cause in Washington, "Race for the White House" relies on a stable of MSNBC regulars to regurgitate the opinions they have been expressing all day on other MSNBC shows. It's a misuse of Gregory's talents as well, which are better-suited to hard-hitting interviews than the crushing personality overload of "Race for the White House." (Plus there's this incredibly bizarre and somehow terrifying shot of the White House that is always hovering behind Gregory and drenched in Kool-Aid red; it's like the Amityville White House.) Punditry: 1. Good discussion: 0.

So we have Fox and MSNBC: their differences? Other than Morning Joe, their styles are the same, it is the political seating that is different.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

McCain Blogette

Harrogate came across this through a brief whirlwind tour of the Right blogosphere. John McCain's daughter Meghan has been blogging life on the campaign trail for a while now.

The title of the blog is McCain Blogette: Musings and Pop Culture on the Political Trail. Her engagement with actual issues is deliberately minimal.

What seems to be going on here is the Daughter capitalizing on her unique position towards reflecting the "real McCain" (heh) and, to a lesser extent, to allow readers a chance to get to know her mother a little, too. As opposed to the stiff, geriatric image to which supadiscomama alluded in a comment earlier today.

Stolen Post

I just sat down at solon's computer, and this Washington Post op-ed by Michael Kinsley was on the screen. He's napping now because Sweet Baby J kept each of us, in turn, up for a great part of the night. Which means that I can't ask him if he's planning on posting about this, but I'm dying to do it myself, so consider me a thief.

The piece is about the time it takes Hillary Clinton to get ready each morning on the campaign trail, versus the time it might take "Barack Obama or even John McCain with his war injuries to shower, shave and put on one of a dozen identical dark blue suits, a white shirt and a red tie." Most conservative guess: 40 minutes for her, 20 for the boys. And let's be honest, 40 minutes is probably a bit speedy, so Kinsley ups it to about an hour, three times more than the men. Which, as Kinsley notes, means that "every day the male candidates can sleep an extra precious half hour or more -- or spend the time cramming for the day -- simply because our culture doesn't impose the same rules on them about their appearance."

Now, as faithful Situationers will duly note, I have not been quick to call sexism when it comes to Senator Clinton. In fact, my own personal brand of feminism forces me to call into question any playing of the gender card that I think is not warranted. But this, dear readers, is a fact: it sucks that Clinton gets less than even the four-hour average night of sleep just because she has to get lipstick and a blowdry every morning. Don't get me wrong, I'm a pretty girly girl. My purse holds roughly fifteen different lip glosses and I will search for ten minutes to find just the one I NEED to wear. But I'm not under the pressure to campaign and, while my daughter is as impatient as any toddler, she's not the press core.

I'm not saying that the makeup and hair thing is hindering Clinton's ability to win, but man it sucks: "And Hillary Clinton, even if she loses, has established beyond all doubt that a woman can be a credible candidate for president. But she'll have to be one who needs even less sleep than her opponent."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

State of the Campaign: 27 days to the Keystone State

Former President William Jefferson Clinton just said something I agreed with: "I don't think all of these people should resign." His point- we are having an argument and we need voices to be heard. However, former President Clinton, you need prudence as well.

But, the point I need to make: According to MSNBC, NBC/ Wall Street Journal just released a poll that stated in the past week Senator Clinton's positive ratings dropped rather than Senator Obama's. Though NBC/WSJ conducted the poll during the Clinton Bosnia flap and oversampled African Americans in the poll, Senator Clinton has a net-negative in her personal rating as only 35% find her favorable while 43% hold a negative view of her. This is not a path to the nomination. But why is this the case? My reasons:

(1) Senator Clinton attacked Obama about Rev. Wright. According to Open Left: Clinton said, "He would not have been my pastor. You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend." Now, Senator Clinton's religious beliefs are under scrutinty here and here with a slight refutation here. Good luck with that. There is a reason religious beliefs need to be personal, right John Locke? But, don't expect that some topics are private as you make others public.

(2) Judas. The entailments of this metaphor is enough to turn the Super Delegates away and they are your only hope to achieve the nomination. And the idea of a Super Delegate caucus is gaining traction, and you will not win with these arguments.

(3) Bosnia- your "sleep-deprived" and "I misspoke" differentiations do not work if you used the story more than once. It also calls into question your ethos, especially your judgment at 3 AM. If you would have dropped the sniper fire and left it at you were the first First Lady to enter a war zone no one would have said a word about your experience there. Unfortunately, if you expand the argument to state you created the Internet, people will find out, especially if there is footage.

But, these are not the worst reasons. Here are two more:

(4) The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Exists and Clinton is using it to her advantage. According to The New Republic:
Anyone reading this blog is presumably aware that, over the past several weeks, Hillary Clinton has gone out of her way to repeatedly compliment John McCain at Barack Obama's expense.

But consider a few other data points:

a) Matt Drudge hyped a photo of Obama in Somali garb that he claimed (and the Clinton campaign declined to deny) Clinton staffers had been circulating.

b) Bill Clinton went on the Rush Limbaugh show on the day of the Texas primary--after Limbaugh had spent days urging GOP voters in the state to cross over and vote for Clinton in order "rig" the election and ensure that Democrats nominated the weaker of their two candidates.

c) The Clinton campaign has been circulating an article in The American Spectator alleging that an Obama adviser, former Air Force chief Merrill McPeak, is an anti-semite and a drunk. [Note- McPeak is the Obama surrogate that used the McCarthy line that I condemned the other day.]

d) When Clinton attacked Obama on Jeremiah Wright yesterday, she did it at an editorial meeting of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the vanity publication of Richard Mellon Scaife, while sitting next to Scaife himself. [Scaife was one of the main anti-Clinton forces during the 1990s and involved himself in the impeachment of former President Clinton.]

Drudge. Limbaugh. The American Spectator. Richard Mellon Scaife. What exactly is it going to take before Clinton campaign staffers recognize that they are, in essence, now working for the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy?

You cannot complain about the attacks against you if you use those sources who attack your opponent. If you were to win the nomination, you will be helpless against these people. I have argued repeatedly that Senator Clinton needed the attacks against her to gain support; but even this seems odd.

(5) Blackmailing Super Delegates. While Super Delegates can "vote their conscience" and are open to persuasion, it seems that being open to coercion and blackmail is not appropriate. According to Politico, Clinton donors asked Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to reconsider her remarks about the Super Delegates supporting the pledged delegate winner or lose funding from Democrat supporters. According to Talking Points Memo, the letter to Speaker Pelosi states:
We have been strong supporters of the DCCC. We therefore urge you to clarify your position on super-delegates and reflect in your comments a more open view to the optional independent actions of each of the delegates at the National Convention in August. We appreciate your activities in support of the Democratic Party and your leadership role in the Party and hope you will be responsive to some of your major enthusiastic supporters.

While I have praised Senator Clinton's knowledge on policy and her ability as a Senator, she needs to make her case based on her own talents. Her surrogates should follow suit. Religion, Judas, exaggerations to the point of lying, calls of antisemitism, and coercion will not help you win over Super Delegates and win the nomination. It will split the party though.

The other troubling aspect of all of this is that these tactics may hurt Senator Clinton in the future. The party elite will not forget these tactics and she, according to Maureen Dowd, who discussed Senator Clinton's options with a "Hillary Pal," Clinton not desire to return to the Senate and may be losing standing with her Democratic colleagues in the Senate. Worse if the Dems lose [read Senator Obama] and if Senator Clinton desires the top spot in 2012, her support among the political elite may not be there.

Just think, only 27 days left until something important.

Chelsea Clinton, her mother, and issues of credibility

Yesterday, while campaigning for her mother at an Indianapolis college, Chelsea Clinton was asked if she thought her mother's credibility had been hurt by the Monica Lewinsky scandal. According to the story at MSNBC, Chelsea Clinton responded "bitterly," saying "Wow, you're the first person actually that's ever asked me that question, in the, maybe 70 college campuses that I've been to. And I don't think that's any of your business." I have a few problems with this story and with the comment. First, I've seen the clip, and I don't think her response is bitter. She is perhaps a bit annoyed at what is arguably a stupid question about what she likely views as a private, family matter. Second, I don't understand why reporter Lauren Applebaum feels it is necessary to point out that a male student asked this question. She is clearly implying something about the student because of his gender, but I'm not sure what exactly she is trying to get across.

As for the question, I'm not sure I understand it. How could Senator Clinton's belief in her husband have compromised her credibility? I understand that Senator Clinton could be seen as having lied to protect her husband; after all, she did adamantly deny his involvement with Lewinsky. But I'm not sure her denial can be construed as lying. In all the reading I've done about the Clintons (and I've read a fair amount about them), there is nothing that suggests that Senator Clinton had any knowledge of her husband's affair with Lewinsky until he confessed to her--less than 24 hours before he confessed to the country. Was she humiliated, embarrassed, and angry? She has publicly admitted experiencing all of these feelings and more. I don't understand, though, how her credibility could have been hurt. Believing in her husband, it seems to me, doesn't affect her ability to be a good senator or, potentially, a good president. It simply suggests that she wants to believe the best about people she loves, a quality that I think the majority of people I possess. The question, as I see it, is latently sexist (which is perhaps why Applebaum points out that the college student asking the question is male, but I doubt that is her reasoning). The question implies that Senator Clinton didn't perform her job as a wife very well and that she failed in her wifely duty to keep her husband's eye from straying.

How is one supposed (especially Chelsea Clinton) supposed to answer such a question? Instead of questioning the validity of the question, which I think is something that we really need to do when people ask fairly stupid questions like this, we end up questioning the response and mislabeling said response as bitter or angry. I was always told that there is no such thing as a stupid question, but I think this is an example of a stupid question.

Monday, March 24, 2008


The talk of the cable networks and the blogosphere today is the number four thousand, as in four thousand American troops killed in Iraq. Building upon a previous Situation post, I'd like to submit a few other numbers for your perusal:

  • 135- The number of journalist fatalities in Iraq
  • 308- Non-American military coalition forces
  • 1,001 plus- Non-military contractors
  • 8,057 or more- Iraqi security forces
  • 15,000-45,000- Iraqi military personnel
  • 1,000,000 plus- Iraqi civilians
I'm getting these numbers from an Open Left post, which includes sources. Chris Bowers, the post's author, continues:

Also, keep in mind that these are just deaths, and damage has been done in many other ways. Nearly four million are now refugees, roughly 16% of the population, 40% of the middle class, and larger percentages of religious and ethnic minorities. Between 60% and 70% of Iraqi children suffer from psychological trauma. Tens of thousands of American soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, have been injured. And oh yeah, the war will cost more than two trillion dollars.
Not that the 4,000-marker isn't horribly sad, but the addition of a few other numbers certainly puts it in perspective.

The State of Bracketville After Two Rounds; or, "These Brackets are Making Me Thirsty!"

At this point Harrogate's brackets are in tatters. While it is true that his Final Game is still intact (North Carolina over Memphis), the rest of it is pretty embarassingly wrong. Now, this makes three years in a row that Harrogate's picks have functioned as a kiss of death for the teams he favored. But this year, it went down a bit differently than in the previous two.

Take Drake, for example. Harrogate sure did. In fact, without ever having seem Drake play, he took them to the Sweet Sixteen based on Internet chatter and on a "feeling" he had that they would make noise. He knew he was taking a risk with Drake, that they might well lose in the opening game against Western Kentucky. And that certainly, a likely 2nd Round matchup with the always dangerous Conneticut Huskies also posed problems. But what Harrogate did not expect, could not have expected, was that Western Kentucky would beat a very game Drake team at the end of Overtime by virtue of a highly contested buzzer beater from behind the three-point arc. Sigh. Congratulations, Hilltoppers. Not only did you knock out Drake, but then you reaped the happy consequences of Connecicut getting bounced in the first round by San Diego, for God's sake!!!! Now WKU is in the Sweet Sixteen, living the Dream. Had Drake survived the opening round, they would have played San Diego, and then Harrogate's brackets might have.....So many ifs and might-haves.

There were the Dookies losing in the second round to West Virginia, despite the fact that Harrogate had them in the Final Four. There was Vanderbilt losing in the very first game against Siena (!!!!!!!!), even though Harrogate had the Commodores going to the Elite Eight. There were the Baylor Bears getting absolutely smoked by Purdue in the first round, even though Harrogate had them in the Sweet Sixteen. Oh, "my friends," the list goeth on. Let us not forget Stanford's overtime buzzer-beater to knock out Marquette, who (you guessed it!) Harrogate had moving on. Yes indeedy. Harrogate also had Georgetown in the Final Four, only to see them get knocked off on Easter Sunday by one of the most heroic teams Harrogate has seen play in years, Davidson.

But, the Davidson happening reinforced Harrogate's love for Marcch Madness. Even as he was watching the last vestiges of his point-making capacity go up in smoke, Verily, Harrogate was smiling. Nothing in sport is so wondrous as this sudden-death specacle of a Tournament waged by fresh-faced youths in the prime of their enthusiasm, and Stephen Curry exemplifies it.

For Yea. Curry, Davidson's star and very arguably the most exciting player in the nation, lives to play another weekend. Many big-time programs had a shot at Curry two years ago, and passed on him. Harrogate's beloved Tar Heels (still alive baby!!!!), for instance, could have had him. Duke could have had him. N.C. State could have had him. But these teams thought he was too small. At Harrogate's moment of writing, though, Curry doesn't look so small anymore!!!!! During this his sophomore year, he has already scored an incredible 70 points in the first two games of the Tournament, including a monstrous 25-point second-half yesterday against the vaunted Hoyas. But, Davidson is far from just Curry. Feeding off their star, the rest of the starting five plays with a confident swagger, they just don't imagine they're gonna lose. This coming weekend, Davidson draws another very tough opponent in the Wisconsin Badgers, to whom they will be favored to lose. But we shall see.....

And. Oh yeah. did Harrogate mention yet that the Tar Heels are still playing?

Until next time.


Obama-Clinton, Clinton-Obama

At Slate, Constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar suggests a way in which that Senators Obama and Clinton could share the presidency for four terms:
In August at the Democratic National Convention, the party would nominate one candidate for president and the other for vice president in the time-honored way. In their acceptance speeches, the nominees would announce that they intend to alternate. For example, they could tell the voters that the person heading the Democratic ticket would, if elected, take office in January 2009 but would serve as president for only the first three years of the four-year term. In January 2012, the teammates would use the 25th Amendment to switch places, and the person elected vice president would assume the presidency for the final year of the term. There is nothing magical about these dates. Almost any date would do. For maximal democratic legitimacy, however, the candidates should inform the voters before the election of the specific date when their planned shift of power will occur....

Ticket-flipping, then, provides a brilliant way for the Democrats to leverage the advantages of incumbency after 2009 so as to stretch their potential presidential tenure over the ensuing 16 years rather than the standard eight. The arrangement requires two strong candidates, each of whom is very plausibly presidential and each of whom has a large and intense political base, whose enthusiasm would be needed to assure success in the general election. This year the Democrats are blessed with two such powerhouses.

Since there is nothing unconstitutional about this as you can only be elected twice, ticket-sharing is a way in which two strong candidates can propel the Democratic party to power for years without destroying the party. Of course, you need to believe that they will run together as a ticket, which I still cannot though Amar makes a case for it. Yet, as I am watching Morning Joe and listening to the discussion of Bill Clinton as "Joe McCarthy," Bill Richardon as "Judas," and Hillary Clinton's Bosnia trip and Senator Obama's attacks on Clinton's foreign policy and the Bosnia trip, chances of Clinton and Obama running together seems slim.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Bad Day...

Most of the time, it is hard to score in hockey from 190 feet without a goalie in net. Yet, this is the rare case when someone scored from 197 feet with a goalie in net.

The Reality of Race

From The Washington Post: an interesting look at the reality of race in Pennsylvania.

Also, from The Washington Post: eight questions about the Democratic Race.

Swiftkids for Truth

On our favorite topic, Pansuits.

Of course, there is the Barack Obama version.

I think the Dems are in trouble with ads like these.

Song of the Day- One Dozen Monkeys

By They Might Be Giants. Recently, the duo turned their attention to children's music with addictive results. The first song, "One Dozen Monkeys" is one of my favorites off of their album, Here Come the 123s. The bonus song, "Flying V" from Here Come the ABCs is good as well.