Thursday, January 31, 2008
"A bill is making its way through Vermont legislature to free motorists from the $40 license renewal fee for life – that is, if they agree to donate their organs in death.
"According to the Burlington Free Press, Vermont drivers must renew their license every four years. So, say you signed up for the program when you renewed your license at 32-years old and lived to the ripe age of 76 – you’d save $480. This is a small price for your internal organs, but gifting them is a remarkable, decent thing to do anyway–regardless of kickbacks."
Is he? Not sure--don't really care, much like I don't care if Obama is a 'liberal' or not. Labels don't interest me the way they do some people; rather, I'm more observant of what a particular politician does, and what they stand for. In that manner, surely McCain has flushed many of his 'conservative credentials' down the toilet. In supporting McCain-Feingold, McCain-Liberman, and his original vote against the Bush tax cuts he went against the neo-con field, and partisan consensus.
But this isn't a post about what a 'maverick' (there goes those labels again!) McCain is, or about how brave he is with his mighty voting stylus. (Or pencil--how exactly do Senators vote again?) What I'm more interested in, is why, without garnering right-wing support, has McCain gone from zero-to probably Republican nominee in 60 seconds, getting shown all that voting love that was denied John Edwards.
In short, I believe McCain has tapped into all of that electorate angst held against Bush and his administration, which includes the Rovian gambit of polarization. People, both Democrats and Republicans, are pissed off. But greater then that rage, there's a feeling, most exemplified by Obama's success, of, for lack of a better term, hope. A belief that in 2008 we can change rails and put America on a better track. Of course, what this track is, is still partially directed by partisan lines (eg, should we pull out of Iraq (Dems), or run the war competently (GOP), should we continue the Bush tax cuts (GOP), or raise taxes for the higher brackets and give cuts to middle and lower classes (Dems), universal health coverage (Dems), or maybe a single payer system (GOP)--and that's a big maybe).
Oh and no one really gives a damm about illegal immigration. F what you heard.
But the real issue, beyond the policy, is can anyone stop this interparting bickering that's stalled our government? People are sick of the finger pointing, the browbeating, and the constant stream of press conferences given by both sides, getting on a pedestal to sling rocks at the other side. How sick are they? Well at least we know on the Republican side that they're so sick of it, they're rather pick a guy with a record of bipartisan compromise that two others (and one Romulian) who talk the talk. In that way it seems that the only glue that is holding the Republican party together is the Republican on the street. I heard some commentator last night say that they were surprised that the GOP might have their canidate before the Dems, and while the battle isn't over it looks like the Republicans have found their king, and a consensus about a nominee shows party stability. And to the chagrin of the right-wing media, who can't believe a voter makes up their minds about something without first consulting them (and don't worry, it's not like the left-wing media is without arrogance), the Republicans thus far have said, "hey, we can deal with this guy and moreover, he looks like he could actually win." (Never forget, the Republican's really, REALLY like to win).
Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice, the Democratic voter still hasn't gotten their act together.
The facts are these, right now Hillary's strategy against Obama has been, in their own right, just as polarizing within the democratic party as Rove's was with the nation. The jabs of racism, personal dumpster diving, and the injection of Bill into the campaign has dredged up all of the worse parts of the 90s, and has all made us feel rather uncomfortable, like at Christmas when Uncle Harry gets drunk and decides to tell us about the time he killed a man in a bar fight ("and I still ain't been charged!). Whether you agree that it was fair or not (and for the most part, in politics, like love and war, everything is fair), what you must agree about its that the media has highlighted the worse parts of the Hillary scheme, and has sided with Obama, making him the winner of the spin war. He has become the poster boy for bipartisanship, compromise and executive temperance, while still maintaining (on paper and in word) a dedication to many progressive ideas.
Thus it would seem only natural that this election should be Obama vs. McCain. But where as the GOP seems decided on their canidate the Democrats still haven't made up their minds. Yes, Obama has momentum but we remember what happened the last time he had it, and the polls remain close. Democrats need to decide, and decide quickly how much longer we want to let this thing run out, and do we really want to win in November. Right now McCain is beating Hillary in the polls, and while it would undoubtedly get closer should they duke it out, the longer Hillary makes the fool of herself with comments like her MLK-LBJ comparision, the longer her surrogates like Bob Johnson put their foot in their mouths, and the longer she trots out her husband, the more ammo the McCain team has to load in their guns. And believe me they're keeping watch.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
"The jobs are never coming back, the illegals are never going home, but we're going to have a lot more wars."
Meanwhile GWB is sitting in the Oval Office thinking, "Man, you mean I could have told the truth and still won?"
Hat Tip: Sully
"By not endorsing Obama, Edwards is effectively aiding Clinton. This comment on a TPM discussion thread stood out:
"By withdrawing from the race, Edwards changes the dynamic in Congressional Districts with odd numbers of delegates. It used to be that just about wherever he cracked 15%, Hillary and Obama would split the same number of delegates (1-1, 2-2, etc.) and Edwards would walk away with a single delegate. Now, in an odd numbered district, the winner will always take more delegates.
"So do the math. Edwards is most likely to crack 15% in heavily-white, largely poor areas. Who gains a delegate there? He was least likely to draw threshold support in heavily-black areas. So who does his withdrawal fail to benefit?
"I wish it were otherwise. But the bottom line is that 15% of the vote for Edwards almost always helped Obama more than adding that same 15% of the vote to his own tally.
"Of course, focusing the entire Super Tuesday on a clear Obama-Clinton choice might also rally all the anti-Clinton feeling behind one candidate. I'd be lying if I said I had a clear idea what will happen."
That sounds all well in good, but my gut (wishful thinking?) leads me to a slightly different conclusion. Without an explicit endorsement, the Edwards vote will undoubtedly be tighter, but where it would matter most--white men--Obama I think has a slight advantage. Partly it would be sexism, I think that an average Edwards male supporter wants a man in office, but mostly it's the fact that Edwards and Obama's message has more in common that Edwards and Hil. I see them as more Ted Kennedy then Gloria Steinem; academic progressives and liberals who, for better lack of a term, want to 'feel the dream'. Edwards might have garnered their support because of his liberal, populist views and his underdog status, so when he leaves what canidate left falls in that category?
Of course this is seat of your pants precognition, I could be wrong, but I like to go with my gut. And don't think that it's going to be overwhelming even if I'm right. Without an endorsement I think, at best, Obama would split that white male vote, which is good but the real key to an Obama victory on Super Tuesday is really going to have to come from the Latino vote if he can hold white males, keep the black vote and keep white women at a 15 to 20% level.
So last week, like any good soap opera, we were left a cliffhanger. Would Hillary’s personal attacks and racial traps affect the Obama campaign? Would Florida be Giuliani’s last stand? And could Mittmentum stall McCain’s burgeoning growth? While the ultimate answer to those questions is still in doubt, this last week has provided us many useful facts in our quest to discover who will become the next president of the United States.
With only three Democrats left in the race (Gravel who?) the stakes have been raised as the 2008 primary season eases into Super Tuesday and Hillary and Obama throw bo’s at each other like the twelfth round of a classic Gatti-Ward bout. I had suspected that this week we’d get a new barrage of attacks from the Clinton campaign, but instead we received a slight pull back from Hilary’s camp as the media and several leading Democrats railed against the unseemly and rowdy Bill Clinton who has recently been Hil’s attack dog. Even liberal Democratic icons like Ted Kennedy have criticized the manner that Bill’s injected himself into the campaign, and as of Monday Kennedy has joined his fellow Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry in endorsing Obama. In general the media has sided with Obama who is, so far, winning the media spin war, that is to say that so far it seems that Barack has the media’s sympathy. Some have argued that his mastery of spin has enabled him to launch his own dirty tricks (who gave Matt Lauer that Clinton-Rezko photo, eh?), without catching heat, but if that’s the case it can be argued that Obama’s the better, dare I say Reganesque politician? Then again, maybe I better not.
All of this spread right into the South Carolina primary where Obama scored a huge victory over Clinton, winning handily 55 to 27 percent. By the demographics Obama won with the black vote, taking both genders in four to one margins; and, while the white vote was tilted towards Clinton, it’s worth noting that Obama just about split the white male vote with Clinton 27 to 28 while Edwards took the rest. Considering that Edwards still came in third (still no voter love!) that’s not a bad look when you think of how racially charged this race was. Obama has to be breathing a sigh of relief knowing that he can take the black vote (to some, including myself it was in dispute. Yeah, I was sipping the Kool-aid) and perhaps do better among white men. Although what he really needs to think about is the Latino vote in the next couple of primaries. Latinos have shown that they can go both white and Republican, and if this primary remains as polarized as it has become Obama will need that vote if he’s to win the nomination. It will be interesting to see what his strategy will be in Florida, where he currently trails Hillary by 20 points.
If you’re a fellow Giuliani hater like myself, then the biggest story, if not the most fun story, has to be the primary collapse of the former mayor of New York. Let me try to put this in perspective: On May 19th 1845 Sir John Franklin led two ships, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror into the Artic circle looking to find a passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The crew was comprised of one hundred and twenty nine men, and they were never heard from again. Franklin was more successful than Giuliani.
What usually starts off wrong will finish wrong, and whoever suggested to Rudy that he should ignore the opening primaries and focus solely on Florida should probably get checked for crack. Maybe if Giuliani hadn’t had corruption leaks out the wazoo, maybe if he didn’t have the presence of Frankenstein, and maybe if he had more of a message than “a noun, a verb, and 9-11” he might have done better. But by giving up his early national lead and allowing McCain, Romney, and Huckabee to steal headlines for the last two months, his campaign was doomed to failure. Currently he’s in fourth place in Florida and since Florida will probably be a winner-take-all state Giuliani’s going to leave with only a “I-ran-for-President-in-Florida-and-all-I- got-was-a-picture-of-Andy-Garcia” T-shirt. Pathetic.
The real Republican story is John McCain, his rise to dominance, and the fracturing of the GOP. Considered ‘liberal’ by many traditional Republican talking heads (like Rush Limbaugh) the conservative media machine is running around looking a chicken with its head cut off. While, like Rudy’s breakdown, it’s awfully nice to watch these intellectual prostitutes turn on each other like five junkies with a lone 8-ball between them, it’s important to remember that the more they turn on McCain the more endearing he becomes to independents and conservative Democrats. They say that the enemy of my enemy is my friend and that’s all some people need to vote McCain. He’s the Right’s Obama and that probably makes him the most dangerous Republican in the race. In fact, in the polls, he’s just about the only Republican who can win a general election and it’s only going to get closer.
Things to look for in the coming days:
Watch Bill Clinton’s arrogance battle with Hillary’s advisors as they tell him to calm it down while the media encourages him to turn it up. Obama’s Latino strategy (How do you say “politics of hope” in Espanol?), Giuliani’s concession speech, and the next big battle—the Florida primary.
UPDATE: Florida rundown and the aftermath of Giuliani and Edwards campaigns can be found here and here.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
"I tried not to watch it and failed. It felt phoned in. The contrast between the banal cheeriness of the president's demeanor and the grave threats he faces was unsettling. It's good for a president to have some emotional resilience in that job. But Bush seems almost pathologically detached from any real understanding of the effects of what he says and does. If you're him, that's probably a good thing. If you're anybody else, it's horrifying."
Didn't watch the SOTU last night. Didn't plan to, didn't want to. Why not? Because unless you plan on using the SOTU for a drinking game then it's pointless, because the SOTU is complete and utter bullshit, especially when your President is George W. Bush.
Think I'm wrong? Well let's look at the SOTU in its historical perspective. The SOTU is primarily an American tradition rather than an actual policy. According to Article II Section 3 of the Constitution:
"He [The President] shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."
Got that? From 'time to time' the President shall fill in the Congress with a status report. Jefferson, thinking that the whole spectacle was too monarchical, just sent a letter to Congress, and it wasn't given in person till Woodrow Wilson. It wasn't even called 'State of the Union' till FDR. So how did it transform from a letter to the pageant that's its become today, with all the standing and sitting, the march to the podium, and cameo appearances? In one word--television.
Far from being an informative speech, the contemporary SOTU is a political propaganda-circle jerk-three ring circus where the President is the ring master in chief, broadcast out of DC like the 700 Club except it's not asking you to believe in God, it's asking you to believe in the Prez. It's a way for the President to trick the population into believing that everything is A-ok, and that he's doing a bang up job. Think that's not true? Well tell me, when was the last time a President went up there and said something honest? I don't mean something self-serving or vapid like when GWB said, "America's addicted to oil" (That's like Frank Lucas telling 1970s Harlem that it has a heroin problem), but I mean something like, "Hey, you know guys, this economy's pretty screwed up, and well, I messed up on that. Mah bad." No, we never hear that. Instead we get Officer Barbrady standing in front of a burning pile of feces yelling, "nothing to see here!" And if there is something bad, well it's never for lack of trying is it? Nope, it's always because the other party stood in the way, and gosh darn it, he needs to tell us that. He's trying, really really REAAAALLLYYY hard to help us, but those do-do head Democrats just stand in his way. Boo hoo hoo.
Of course he's not the only one in on Operation Brain-Drain. Everyone else is in on the act, with the all the standing up, sitting down, applauding nonsense. I went to see Metallica in concert and I didn't get up as much. Hell I don't get up and sit down as much in a game of musical chairs. And do they really expecting us to believe that they're applauding him? How much f'ing enthusiasm can you gather for an economic stimulus package? The last time I got that excited it was at my bachelor party, er, I mean wedding. It's all disingenuous. All your individual Congressman is saying is either, "Hey! Look at me! I'm all about that! So vote for me if you like that!" or "Hey! Look at me! Grrr, I hate that, and vote for me if you hate that too!"
That's not to say that we shouldn't watch it, or at least try to pay attention. Anyone remember the Axis of Evil speech during Bush's 2002 SOTU? I mean it turned out that it was complete BS, but, in retrospect, it was BS we should have paid attention to.
But beyond that, Bush has chatted us up for two hours a year for the past eight years, that's sixteen hours wasted from our lives, and for what? Has anything besides his war really come to fruition? Does any of this really matter, besides providing Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough the means to put food on the table? Not really. And this year really irked me because FOX canceled Prison Break just to put this garbage on. I mean, come on! I'm sure this is the episode where they escape! And what's going to happen to Sucre!
Yeah, yeah I know. Prison Break sucks, we'll never find out who's running the Company (Dick Cheney), and inevitably they'll just get sent to another prison (hopefully in female prison in Brazil Isla De Thong), but it's a fun show with suspense, tension, with a hint of comedy. I like it.
But that's beyond the point. The point is that the SOTU has become obsolete with the advent of 24 hour a day political coverage. Both the SOTU and the Democratic response are leaked in advance and are just political propaganda espoused by both sides with nothing remotely new or entertaining, just tedious and dumb. Either we need to roll back this tradition to the days of Jefferson, or, better yet, the president needs to spice it up a bit. My suggestion? The president and his cabinet are trapped in a prison and the president's wife is held hostage and he has to break the VP out in 90 minutes or she gets it. And Harrison Ford is always the president. Now that would be newsworthy.
Oh and watch Prison Break. It's a good show.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
"Illinois blogger Archpundit has what seems to me to be a useful roundup of the links between Barack Obama and Tony Rezko. The essence of the matter is that there doesn't seem to have been any quid to go with the pro quo here. Rezko tried to curry favor with politicians in order to get stuff from them, and Obama was no exception. And, indeed, when one of Rezko's business partners had a son who wanted an internship in Obama's office, Rezko wrote a letter of recommendation and the kid got the job. It's possible that had Obama remained in the Senate and had Rezko not gotten indicted, that he would have found occasion to do some more serious favors but in the real world there's nothing there.
"Basically, as with Obama's questionable record on coal I'm not particularly impressed. But it is true that, to an unusual degree, Obama's campaign has tried to portray their man as a living saint of some kind when, in reality, he's a normal pol who stands up for home-state industries and gives internships to buddies of sons of campaign contributors. On the other hand, what makes this sort of line of attack curious to me is that if there's one thing we absolutely know for sure about the Clintons it's that if you're inclined to make mountains out of molehills there are tons and tons of thin ethical charges you can make against them."
Thin and thick. The Rezko link superficially stinks up Obama's stainless image, but there's nothing so outlandish about what he did. Of course Hilary's going to bring it up, but does she want to make this a battle of morality, especially considering that she's now pretty much running with Bill who's pushing his 90s record? Obama's hands are tied on how he can respond--get too dirty and he ruins his whole "politics of hope" message, which is why we're attracted to him as a canidate. But picture her trying to do this to Romney or McCain. They would LOVE to revisit the 90s, and while attacks on Bill's character will surely energize the Kos vote, it would cool off liberal Republicans and Independents who would have most likely voted for Obama. Again this is a zero sum strategy for the Clintons, meaning that whatever gains she makes using these tactics against Obama will eventually blow up in her face in the general election.
Hillary should not Love the 90s.
UPDATE: Ha--Matt Lauer surprises Hil on the Today Show with a pic of her, Bill, and Tony Rezko. Oh sweet irony.
As I mentioned in my Allhiphop rundown, Mike Huckabee has stuck his head so far up the evangelical base's ass that it's pretty apparent that he's no longer running for the Presidency:
"Mike Huckabee, who so far this week has said he would like to re-write the Constitution to fall in line with the Bible, and would deport all 12 million illegal immigrants. Now either cocaine’s a hell of a drug or the power of prayer really can move mountains because both of these things are downright impossible. It’s pandering to its basest level, and will most likely piss off more people than get them to vote for you. So why would Huckabee do it? Well what we’re seeing actually is a concession of sorts from the Huckabee camp. They realize that they’re catching a drubbing from both McCain and Romney but they would like to parley their Iowa success and their evangelical base into a VP or cabinet post in either a Romney or McCain administration. Don’t let the Gomer Pyle exterior fool you, Huckabee’s very shrewd and knows what it takes to seal up the evangelical vote."
Douthat brings up more validating evidence here in regards to his popularity, while Steve Clemons goes one further to show how he might be sealing up some of his weak points to cement a possible run with Romney or McCain:
"If Huckabee increasingly looks like he has a lock on the Vice Presidency -- which is the way things are looking to me at this early stage -- then many will have to work to fix the realists in a dominant position around him and to curb the influence of international messianic crusaders who will also be part of the Huckabee mix."
Don't be surprised if Huckabee, after Super Tuesday, does a John Edwards and gives an implict endorsement to one of the other canidates. Hell, he might not even wait.
"WASHINGTON — With its international mandate in Iraq set to expire in 11 months, the Bush administration will insist that the government in Baghdad give the United States broad authority to conduct combat operations and guarantee civilian contractors specific legal protections from Iraqi law, according to administration and military officials."
So let's get this straight, we tell Iraq that we want them to stand on their own two feet and be sovereign...but we'll be sending people in to kill you and you can't prosecute them.
And you wonder why we're not winning their hearts and minds.
"A 5-year-old boy was handcuffed and hauled off to a psych ward for misbehaving in kindergarten - but the tot's parents say NYPD school safety agents are the ones who need their heads examined.
"He's 5 years old. He was scared to death," Dennis Rivera's mother, Jasmina Vasquez, told the Daily News. "You cannot imagine what it's done to him."
"Dennis - who suffers from speech problems, asthma and attention deficit disorder - never went back to class at Public School 81 in Queens after the traumatic incident.
"His mom and a school source said Dennis threw a tantrum inside the Ridgewood school at 11 a.m. on Jan. 17.
"Dennis was taken to the principal's office, where he apparently knocked items off a desk.
Rather than calling the boy's parents, a school safety agent cuffed the boy's small hands behind his back using metal restraints, the school source said.
"The agent and school officials then called an ambulance to take the tot to Elmhurst Hospital Center for a mental evaluation."
It could have been worse, he could have been shot 50 times.
Speaking of Sean Bell, after the Judge tossed out the change of venue motion, the police officers' defense attorney has waived his clients' right to a trial by jury, opting for a judge hearing:
"Michael Palladino, the president of the city's detectives union, says he believes a trial by jury would not be fair to the detectives. "I think the people of Queens were hit with an avalanche of negative publicity, and of course the comments by the mayor and the antics and the theatrics of the Reverend Al Sharpton," said Palladino.
"Dominic Carter: And so you thought the officers couldn't get a fair trial?
"Palladino: Absolutely, I thought there was irreparable damage done to that jury pool."
Sharpton, of course, chimed in:
"Police should be accountable to the people they serve. It is interesting they would be accountable to people in another venue, but in Queens they do not want to face the people."
While I think Sharpton does make a good point I wonder from a strategic perspective if the defense isn't making a bad move. While the judge did toss out the change of venue motion he also said that they could revisit the motion after the jury has been selected. Would it have been better to take the roll and see what kind of jury they could find, and then, if the jury seemed inordinately biased try for a change again? Or does a judge hearing favor the police?
And finally Bloomberg's got budget issues:
"With an already dim fiscal picture turning darker, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Thursday proposed a budget that would increase spending by 3.7 percent but cut money from every city department, from sanitation to schools."
I know it's not exactly his fault, but this isn't the type of thing you want lingering above a possible presidential run, is it?
"I think this is Obama's only realistic shot at the White House. (One exception - if Hillary wins the primary and loses the general election, Obama may be able to run a winning campaign in 2012 on the theme that Democrats got it wrong in 08 and here's your chance to get it right. I think there may have been some of that with Reagan in 1980 after losing the 76 primary to Ford. "See, you didn't vote for me, you got Jimmy Carter.")"
"Given 4-8 more years in the Senate, casting votes and cutting deals, Obama will be far more likely to be seen as just another pretty liberal senator, and any future quests for the White House will have Christopher Dodd-levels of success.
"I think Obama's relative inexperience is a plus - since he doesn't have the detailed record that Clinton or the top GOP candidates have, it's easier for undecided voters to see their dreams and hopes in him than anyone else, especially given his skill at unifying rhetoric."
This is his time. If we don't take him now, he just won't be the same guy. Though "Chris Dodd-levels of success"? Can't we at least give him John Edwards level? He gets no love :)
Thursday, January 24, 2008
"The Fourth Amendment guarantees that Americans will not be subject to "unreasonable searches and seizures." Normally, this means police must show a judge that there is "probable cause" to believe a search will uncover evidence of a crime before tapping our phones or digging through our papers. But the courts have always recognized a variety of special circumstances under which a search may be reasonable even without a court warrant. One important such exception is for "search incident to arrest." This allows police to search the person and immediate vicinity of anyone being placed under arrest, to ensure that the arrestee can't destroy evidence or pull a concealed weapon.
"The problem with this, argues Gershowitz, is that with the proliferation of iPhone-like devices, the officer digging through your coat pocket suddenly has access to gigabytes worth of potentially sensitive e-mail, videos, photographs, browsing histories, and other documents. If you're in the habit of keeping your passwords saved, they may even be able to reach bank statements, file servers, and that Nerve Personals account you opened "just for fun." Though the underlying rationale for searches incident to arrest is officer safety, courts have adopted a "bright line" rule permitting an arresting officer to search any object in a suspect's possession, such as a cigarette pack, even if it unlikely to conceal a miniature Glock. And since the Supreme Court has ruled that police have broad authority to arrest people for even trivial infractions, such as failure to wear a seat belt, the current rule gives law enforcement officers broad discretion to transform a routine traffic stop into a highly intrusive excavation of your digital life."
Seriously though, does anyone really expect privacy nowadays? Between all the half naked people on Myspace, the snitches on Facebook, the blogs, and reality TV the line between public and private has been grounded into a fine powder and snorted up by Uncle Sam. Hell, I learned how to make a cell-phone intercepter with a remote control and a speaker on Youtube. Goodbye privacy, hello stalking!
PS: Yeah I posted up a picture of his wife--Kucinich gets the Thompson treatment for marrying above (literally) his looks.
PPS: He also said he won't endorse any of the other Democrats. I kinda feel that's a bit petty, but I'll let him off the hook. I'm a softy like that.
"Well, one down. The Senate just voted to kill (table) the Senate Judiciary Committee's surveillance bill, which did not contain retroactive immunity for the telecoms. The vote was 60-34 to table, with a number of Dems crossing over. As we said earlier, a number of other amendments will also go up for votes this afternoon.
"Among the Democrats voting to kill the SJC bill were Sens. Mark Pryor (AK), Daniel Inouye (HI), Claire McCaskill (MO), Mary Landrieu (LA), Ken Salazar (CO) and Tim Johnson (SD)."
I'll grumble to myself (in a soundproof box that I check for taps).
"While Jason Zengerle wonders what will happen to Barack Obama's supporters if he loses, I'm wondering what happens to Obama himself. Good things, arguably: Given the campaign he's run and the kind of fervor he's generated, I think he's better-positioned for a future run at the Presidency than any failed primary candidate since Ronald Reagan (that name again!) after he lost to Ford 1976."
Of course it would all have to do with a Clinton presidency (assuming she wins). If she's like Bill in his first term--competent, simulates the economy (and not her loins), it would be harder for Obama to win running on his 08' platform. He might win, but we would see another Obama, and for better or worse, it probably wouldn't be nearly as far reaching or inspiring.
"WASHINGTON - Congressional leaders announced a deal with the White House Thursday on an economic stimulus package that would give most tax filers refunds of $600 to $1,200, and more if they have children."
I'll be using mine to pay back student loans. What will you do with your "windfall"?
"There's letters seal'd, and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd—
They bear the mandate, they must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
For 'tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petard, an't shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon."
"The Obama phenomenon rattled them, and their strategy is to quash it, by any means and at any cost. They know that they do not need to win so much as they need to make Obama lose. That's the game-plan. The same emailers seemed unusually convinced that Obama was a closet Muslim and that a black man could never be elected in America. The most depressing tendencies from the right and from the left.
"The more I witness this campaign, the clearer it is to me that it is not only important that Obama and McCain now win; it is a moral and political imperative that the Clintons lose."
The campaign that the Clinton's have decided to run has been utterly disgusting, as gross as Giuliani's has been incompetent. But even beyond that it's become yet another of the many reasons for Democrats to hate Democrats. As a lifelong Democrat, as a believer in the dreams of FDR, JFK, MLK and to some extent even Bill Clinton, I believed that the Democrats were a party of hope, of dreams, and of higher virtues that extended beyond greed, racism, and pettiness. Call me naive, a term I'm sure I am, I always knew that if and when we lost at least we didn't resort to our opponents' methods of pandering and polarization. Yet before we can even get to the main bout the Clinton's have pulled out all of these guns and then some. I understand Billary got a shitty deal in the 90's. Hell, even some Republicans outside of the Rush and Billo faction can realize this, but that's no excuse to sell out your soul for a vote. Some things are supposed to be more important then that. Hope is more important than that.
Right now both sides are in a generational war, and like the war in Iraq it's a war for the hearts and minds of Americans. It's not just about who's going to become the next president--Bush screwed that up too much--it's about direction. In January 2007 it was about making sure a Democrat was in office, but with Obama's entrance the goal was redefined into something that was more grandiose yet vital. In a way it was if he turned back the clock to September 12, 2001 and said what we all wanted to hear: that in these trying times we don't have to be afraid and we don't have to become as brutal as our enemies, that we, like a Phoenix, can spring from the ashes of despair to become something more beautiful and just. That we can, in our founders' words, become more perfect if we believe and work together. And as his popularity has shown this message is something that millions of us have been waiting to hear. If that dream is defeated on it's own merits than so be it. That's what democratic debate is for, to verbally test our ideas and temper them into a pragmatic and workable from. But if, as the Clintons have done and continue to do, that dream is rotted from the inside out with racism, personal attacks, and lies then it hasn't been tested it's been poisoned and left to die in its crib like an infant.
If Hil wins the nomination and McCain is the GOP candidate I'm not going to say that I'll switch sides. I probably won't as the legacy of Bush has given me a near pathological hatred of anything Republican. But I will say this, if I'm in that booth and I turn the lever for Hilary I'll feel that a part of me has died and the rest has gotten older and more bitter. As Langston Hughes wrote, it will be the raisin that dried in the sun.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
"From "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam", April 30 1967:
Now, let me make it clear in the beginning, that I see this war as an unjust, evil, and futile war. I preach to you today on the war in Vietnam because my conscience leaves me with no other choice. The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war. In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth. "Ye shall know the truth," says Jesus, "and the truth shall set you free." Now, I've chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.
"It's a searing moment because the silence in the face of moral crisis of which King speaks is no mere cowardice or opportunism. King's life and career have been dedicated to the Civil Rights movement -- to the cause of bettering the well-being of African-Americans. And from the death of Abraham Lincoln until the present day, that cause's most crucial ally has been Lyndon Johnson who in a monumental act of political courage chose finally to decisively align the Democratic Party with the cause of Civil Rights dooming its political coalition to oblivion.
And yet here in Vietnam was Johnson's war. A Johnson increasingly in political trouble from his left. A Johnson who could very much use the support of a Martin Luther King. Indeed, a Johnson who in many ways deserves the support of a Martin Luther King. To ask a man to publicly defend a war he deplores would be too much. But would it really be so much to ask King to simply stay quiet -- to focus on his core issues, and praise Johnson on those terms -- not for King's own sake but for the sake of his movement? Who then or now would blame the great Civil RIghts leader for standing behind the great Civil Rights president? But he came to believe that it couldn't be done. That wrong was wrong and someone had to say so."
That reminds me of another quote by another great American:
"These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it Now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph."
I just wonder, do you think any of the candidates for president possess this type of 'winter soldier' quality? And before you say you don't, even among the Gravel's or Paul's or Obama's, then ask yourself, seriously, if you've let cynicism overtake your mind. Because if you truly can't find this quality in anyone--not even yourself--then life is not worth living.
"On some emotional level, he probably thinks a woman who needs to declare bankruptcy because the racked up massive credit card bills while her uninsured husband was dying of cancer should just grin and bear it the way he did as a POW."
Now Giuliani however...
Tommy Lee Jones is astounded that he was nominated for best actor for "In the Valley of Elah" rather than "No Country for Old Men".
The full list of nominations can be found here. I won't draw this one out, and since I know you're dying to know my picks so you can place your bets they are as follows:
"No Country for Old Men" will just barely beat out "There Will Be Blood".
Obviously it's either the Coen Bros or Paul Anderson. I'm going to give it to Anderson since I think the Academy is going to split their votes between 'No Country' and 'Blood.' But if the Coen's win best director, then they'll also win best pic. Why? I have a feeling...
No doubt--Daniel Day-Lewis. A bet against him is a bet against liberty.
I think Blanchett is going to win the supporting nod for "I'm Not There" just because the Academy has to give that film some credit, and it's not nominated for any of the bigger titles. Thus the best actress nod is going to Ellen Page for 'Juno'. It might seem like a longshot, but I think the Academy is going to have a soft spot for this cute little independent flick, and Page was adorable in her role.
Best Supporting Actor
Again, no doubt--Javier Bardem for "No Country". A bet against him is a bet against America.
Best Foreign Film
Shrug...the one you can least understand, and going by language I'm betting on 'Mongol' from Kazakhstan. I think we still owe them for Borat.
Best Original Screenplay
Going 'Juno' on this one. Got a great buzz and its the most fun Hollywood's had actually having a baby rather than aborting it. Oooouch, that was a really nasty comment.
Best Adapted Screenplay
I'm going for "No Country for Old Men" but don't be surprised if "The Diving Bell" wins it. If you bet on "Bell" get good odds.
Best Animated Feature
Gotta go "Ratatouille" on this one, but "Persepolis" probably will deserve it. But if you're a fan of Ayn Rand and Ratatouille doesn't win, you kill someone and then act really arrogant about it.
'Atonement'. If you don't know why, go see it.
'Atonement'. Probably it's the only movie outside of a musical where you almost want to watch the movie to hear the score. It's dynamic.
Well 'Enchanted' is nominated for three of the five songs, so find the one by Randy Newman and bet on that.
As far as the rest...well you're on your own partner, cause I know less than zero about costume design and sound mixing. Flip a coin or do innie-minnie-mynnie-moe. Either way the even money, as usual, is that the actual show will suck, with or without writers.
Friday, January 18, 2008
"A new radio ad in South Carolina from Sen. Hillary Clinton.... Magic Johnson implies that Barack Obama is a "hyped" "rookie" who needs more seasoning. Check it out:
"This is Magic Johnson. On the court and in life, successful leadership comes from hard work and experience. That’s why I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton for President. We have great candidates this year, but I believe only Hillary is a proven leader, with 35 years’ experience dealing with challenges facing America. Are you looking for better jobs, universal health care, better treatment for veterans, opportunities for your children? Then you want Hillary Clinton for President. My rookie year, we won our first game on a last second shot. I was so hyped. But the captain of my team said, “take it easy rookie, it’s a long season, it’s a long road to the championship.” He was right. Winning comes from years of hard work and preparation. Whether it’s winning championships or a President who can lead us back to greatness, I’ll always want the most prepared and experienced person leading my team. That’s why I’m asking you to join me in voting for Hillary Clinton for President."
Here's my beef, if I'm reading this correctly, Magic's trying to say that he was like Obama, a rookie, and that experience (Clinton) is what wins championships. But...it just so happens that in Magic's rookie year he led the Lakers to a championship and had one of the most astounding rookie years in NBA history, leading the league in triple doubles (second only to Oscar Robinson), starting on the All-star team, and winning the NBA's MVP Finals award.
So I ask again; Magic, is this REALLY what you meant?
UPDATE: I thought I could beat Yglesias to this. Silly me.
"And the same thing would be true of marriage. Marriage has historically, as long as there’s been human history, meant a man and a woman in a relationship for life. Once we change that definition, then where does it go from there? "
Sully thinks the whole Huckabee fanaticism is dangerous,
"I don't think people have really understood the logical consequences of the fundamentalist psyche. There is nothing more antithetical to the principles underlying traditional conservatism. Eventually, the complacent Republicans will realize the tiger they are riding. Huckabee is charming. The charming ones are often the most dangerous."
But I think that he like alot of other secular religious people and northern liberals take the born-again vote, and their advocates, too seriously. There is something in the American spirit that abhors theocracy, and while we may flirt with it, especially when we think our morals are 'slipping away' there seems to be some inherent piece of the American spirit that cannot embrace it. I suppose we love our liberty and individuality more than domination and ultimately this love this the thing that rights the boat.
"The more the conversation gets to be about race, the better the Clintons think they will do. It’s as simple as that.
"They want to nudge—even provoke—Barack Obama into becoming the “black” candidate rather than the healing, unity candidate. They want black supporters to raise their voices on his behalf—preferably the Al Sharpton types who will shrilly cry “racism” and thus exacerbate the divide.
"That’s why Billary changed the conversation in New Hampshire, risking some anger against them in the black communities—anger they know would be assuaged in a general election. Okay, let him carry South Carolina, as long as he is tagged with Afrocentrism."
Side note: Billary...awesome.
Hat Tip: Sully
Thursday, January 17, 2008
I would like to say that the actual reporting of this was really good. I sorta understand the caucuses now. No I don't.
"According to George W. Bush, Egypt is making progress toward "greater political openness." That's, um, not true.
"I'm not sure there's very much the US government can or should do, in practice, to push Egypt into becoming a democracy. And, certainly, I grasp the pragmatic need to get along with governments willing to get along with us. But I don't really understand why this need is pragmatically construed as the need to lie and pretend to believe that Hosni Mubarak is moving his country toward democracy when everyone knows that he's cracking down on the opposition and trying to install his son as the next pharaoh. The schizophrenia of American policy -- invading Iraq to spread the flame of democracy, and then spinning on Mubarak's behalf in Cairo; between demonizing Hugo Chavez as a totalitarian menace and then hanging out with Saudi officials at the president's vacation home -- is really absurd.
"The idea that these tin pot dictators would somehow turn on us if we didn't kiss their assess doesn't hold much water. We need Saudi oil, and the Saudis need our money. We have interests that can be advanced through collaboration with the government of Egypt and the government of Egypt has interests that can be advanced through cooperation with our government. The pretense that every country we have a dispute with is run by the New Hitler while every country we opportunistically ally with is run by a Bold Reformer is incredibly dumb and something a grownup country ought to be able to move past."
I wish I could say that this complete inability to recognize mistakes and moral nuances was limited to Bush's reign but it's been endemic to the United States for some time. Now I can't say for sure whether or not other Democratic states have the same issues, but the idea of reworking history to fit a mold of "we good (always)" and "They bad (always)" seems Orwellian. Yet this is something we regularly do, whether it be inflating JFK's legacy because he was assassinated, or deflating the historical importance of our relationship with the French because they occasionally disagree with us on certain issues. And that's not even beginning to talk about the segued racial history of our country. It seems to me that one of the reasons we get consistently bogged down in mires like Iraq is because we reshape history to never prove us wrong, and thus never learn from our mistakes.
PS: Don't take the above to mean that I everyone suffers from this malady. Of course we don't, but much of our policy and policy shapers embrace this reductionist tendency, which screws things up further because by simplifying the issue it forces those that disagree to take the opposite view, thus polarizing the issue. For example, as Joseph J. Ellis writes in American Creation, a polarizing view makes us view the founding fathers as, "demigods who were permitted to glimpse the eternal truths...or a cast of villains who collectively comprise the deadest, whitest males in American history." These reductive narratives completely miss the pragmatic truth while at the same time cloud ones judgement.
"Increased reliance on firepower as a substitute for adequate manpower strikes me as a classic COIN no-no, but Kahl seems to approve and even told USA Today last week that due to increased carefulness, the civil toll is being reduced: "You saw a lot more damage to the civilian population in 2004 than you're seeing now. Even though you have a huge uptick in offensive operations, it looks like the military is taking greater care not to harm civilians." Obviously, I hope that's right. It's my understanding, however, that the Defense Department still doesn't count civilian casualties so I don't really understand how they would know whether or not you're seeing a reduction in damage to the civilian population. In my book, the first step in "taking greater care" to avoid something is to measure what's happening."
Question: What targets are we bombing that like, need bombs? At least when Saddam was in power you had like radar stations and air strips, but unless the insurgency has reached COBRA status and are roaming around in Terrordomes, the only targets they could possibly have are small villages and houses. It seems counterproductive and inefficient, but I suppose we have to spend those defense dollars somehow.
You know, all during high school I wanted to get closer to the Rapture too, but I didn't think Jesus had anything to do with it.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
"One of Juno's sharpest elements is its treatment of the Lorings. When we first meet them, we are obviously intended to like hip, ironic, artistic Mark and to find reliable, earnest, domestic Vanessa annoying and/or pitiable. What's impressive is the way the film gradually reverses our early affections, but does so without ever really changing either character. Instead it merely shifts our perspective, showing that the guy you want to swap mix tapes and spend afternoons watching horror movies with is probably not the guy you want to be a father for your child. In Knocked Up, the former abruptly, quasi-magically becomes the latter, allowing viewers to have their cake and eat it, too. In Juno (and, I think, real life), one not infrequently has to choose between the fun guy (or gal) and the responsible one, and it's a choice Juno does not hesitate to make."
In a tangential fashion I think this is exactly the reason why people have a hard time watching Bill Clinton on the stump for Hilary. He's still a 'cool' guy, but we realize that he turned out to be a sorta irresponsible prick, and, it looks like he's asking us for the car keys again through his wife. This puts Hilary supporters and liberals in general in an awkward spot.
PS: Just realized that if you haven't seen the movie this whole post probably doesn't make any sense to you. Well do yourself a favor and go see it. It's a lot of fun.