Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Clean Sweep

A killer night for Barack!

Networks have just called Louisiana for him. 

What's more, he clobbered her in Nebraska and Washington, getting nearly 70% of the vote in both states. That's not surprising for NE, but WA was less evidently good ground for him. To top it off, Clinton took only one county in WA. One county!

It's too early to know what percentage he's won LA by, but I'll keep you checking in. 


Fired The Fuck Up Redux

The more people see of him the more they like. Everywhere he goes he draws bizarrely large crowds. Washington votes along with three other states tomorrow and it's looking good for Barack (fingers crossed). Here's the latest from his visit to the Evergreen State:
Huge crowd for Obama spills out of KeyArena
Sen. Barack Obama rocked an overflow crowd at KeyArena on Friday in one of the biggest political rallies the state has ever seen. So many people showed up to catch a glimpse of Obama, police had to help keep the peace after thousands were shut out.

"I'm fired up. I'm ready to go," Obama said as he took the stage to a deafening roar from the
crowd of more than 18,000 inside the arena.



KeyArena was filled to capacity hours before Obama took the stage. Some 3,000 people listened from an overflow area outside.

It was the latest in a string of huge rallies for Obama. In the week leading up to Super Tuesday, he drew monstrous crowds at most stops — including 14,000 in Boise, Idaho.



If the crowds are any indication of what's to come in today's Democratic precinct caucuses, turnout should easily shatter the record 100,000 who showed up in 2004.

"We've got people coming out of the woodwork," said state Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz. "The energy in this
state is the highest I've ever known it to be."




Lines started forming at KeyArena before 6 a.m. for the 11 a.m. rally, and the crowd snaked through Seattle Center before the doors opened.

William Spiritdancer, of Seattle's Central District, pulled his four children — ages 7 to 14 — out of school to see Obama speak. The teachers were OK with it and wished they could attend, too, he said.
By comparison, Clinton's rally drew "a capacity crowd of 5,000 on Thursday for a rally at Pier 30 on Seattle's waterfront, and 6,000 at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma on Friday."

Friday, February 8, 2008

We Miss You, Molly

Another "Traitor" Speaks

Don't Sleep

Well, I was planning on addressing the latest meme I've been tracking about Obama: that his appeal is based solely on emotion. I've got a laundry list of solid, rational reasons to vote for the guy and to back up my assessment that he's the best candidate in the field. But as usual, Andrew Sullivan beat me to it and is more eloquent than I could have been anyway. 

Here's an excerpt from his post:
A meme is developing is that support for Obama is all emotion, fantasy, hysteria, etc. There's no question that the emotions behind Obama are powerful. And any fool can see why. His oratory does what oratory should. He is the greatest public speaker in American life since Reagan.



But the strongest case for Obama is not emotional; it is as coolly rational as he is. I tried to express it in my "Goodbye To All That" essay. On the most critical issues we face - Iraq, the war against Jihadism, healthcare, and the economy - he makes more sense as a president than Clinton. And when you watch the knee-jerk opposition to him, I think it is actually more emotional and less rational than the support for him. Fear is more emotional than hope.



There is no detail in her policy apparatus that isn't matched by Obama's. But you've heard a lot from me on this. Here's a video that shows a conservative cynic being slowly and rationally disarmed by the logic of young, shrewd voter.

A vote for Obama is a vote for reason over sentiment. Check it out:

A Real Father Knows Best Type

A real class act, this guy. I can think of some other ways to use a utility knife. I'm sure he wouldn't mind. 
Man Faces Child Abuse Charges After Home Circumcision
DALLAS, N.C. -- Investigators say a man has been charged with child abuse in Caldwell County for circumcising his two infant sons with a utility knife. [emphasis mine]

Authorities said 32-year-old Johnny Eric Marlowe, a self-admitted polygamist, fathered children with his legal wife and another woman who lives in their home. One gave birth to a boy at their home in the rural Kings Creek community in November 2005, and the other gave birth to a boy there four months later.



Marlowe had a total of 11 children with the two women. "Sick, he's got a sick mind,” a former neighbor said. “Anybody that would do that to their children -- there's something really wrong with them.”
Ya think?

Snap!

Turns out I'm not the only one questioning the Archbishop's judgement in calling for the incorporation of sharia law into Great Britain's legal system. Back story here.
Claiming he never called for the introduction of the Muslim system, Dr Rowan Williams claimed he wanted to "tease out some of the broader issues around the rights of religious groups within a secular state." In a statement on his website based on his controversial lecture in London last night, he added he had only used sharia as an example.

Dr Williams' comments, however, are likely to do little to stem the rising tide of anger from senior clergy. As public condemnation of his speech grew, some of his own bishops were calling for his resignation.

In an astonishing attack, one senior Church of England clergyman demanded he stepped down immediately and branded him "gullible."



Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, said: "I am appalled that the head of the Church of England is advocating that parts of sharia law should be introduced into British law. The idea that you can have the moderate bits without the nasty bits coming along at a later time is naive."
What nasty bits? How about a good stoning for starters?

Criticism = Sexism?

I've been extremely tough on Hillary Clinton this election cycle, correctly so I think, since she's put herself up for the most powerful elective office in the land. I believe that my criticisms have been fairly focused on my assessment of her as a complete package: her positions, her record, her character, her judgement, her actions. (Though I welcome readers to point out any criticisms that seem unfair.)

Anyway, a good friend sent me this essay earlier and I thought it worth posting and commenting on. The author makes some decent points about the sexism and outright misogyny that still exists and which has been rearing its ugly head during this presidential campaign. Give it a read, then come back.

Some snippets from the essay:
But not since the suffrage struggle have two communities—joint conscience-keepers of this country—been so set in competition, as the contest between Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) and Barack Obama (BO) unfurls. So.



Carl Bernstein's disgust at Hillary’s “thick ankles.” Nixon-trickster Roger Stone’s new Hillary-hating 527 group, “Citizens United Not Timid” (check the capital letters). John McCain answering “How do we beat the bitch?" with “Excellent question!” Would he have dared reply similarly to “How do we beat the black bastard?” For shame.

Goodbye to the HRC nutcracker with metal spikes between splayed thighs. If it was a tap-dancing blackface doll, we would be righteously outraged—and they would not be selling it in airports. Shame.

Goodbye to the most intimately violent T-shirts in election history, including one with the murderous slogan “If Only Hillary had married O.J. Instead!” Shame.

Goodbye to the sick, malicious idea that this is funny. This is not “Clinton hating,” not “Hillary hating.” This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we would recognize it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about race, as KKK poison. Hell, PETA would go ballistic if such vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense of outrage—as citizens, voters, Americans?
These are disgusting incidents to be sure. Sickening. It's the kind of reprehensible, misogynistic crap that rabid redneck conservatives spouted in the 1990s. It was part of the reason I was such a staunch defender of the Clintons back then. Every moment they were in power was a rebuke to that kind of troglodytic idiocy. 

***********

That said, I don't think that it's inherently misogynist or sexist to be critical of Sen. Clinton's issues, stances, record, character, judgement, and behavior. Frankly, I believe that to assess her any differently than a male candidate would be a sort of sexism in itself. And that's where I have my disagreements with the author. In my view she begins to conflate legitimate criticisms with the poison listed above. One example:
—blaming anything Bill Clinton does on Hillary (even including his womanizing like the Kennedy guys—though unlike them, he got reported on). Let’s get real. If he hadn’t campaigned strongly for her everyone would cluck over what that meant. Enough of Bill and Teddy Kennedy locking their alpha male horns while Hillary pays for it.
Now, this is just nonsense. It makes the suggestion that Bill is just out there on his own making silly comments and doing stupid things. Anyone who's watched the Clintons closely must know that they incredibly smart and calculating (in the positive and negative sense of the word) people. It just beggars belief to suggest that using Bill as was done between the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries was not a decision that she had no part in. She is responsible for how her campaign is run. She is responsible for what her husband—a former president, a man with a large amount of prestige—does on her behalf during her campaign for president. 

It's also undercutting the other arguments of the essay. Hillary is extremely well-qualified...but hey, not responsible for what Bill says and does on the campaign trail. That's wanting it both ways and just plain irritating. 

Another excerpt: 
Goodbye to the phrase “polarizing figure” to describe someone who embodies the transitions women have made in the last century and are poised to make in this one. It was the women’s movement that quipped, “We are becoming the men we wanted to marry.” She heard us, and she has.
This is exactly what many women I know don't like about her. Most women I've talked to are post second-wave feminists and know that they don't need to become a man to inhabit their power.

And another:
Goodbye to the shocking American ignorance of our own and other countries’ history. Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir rose through party ranks and war, positioning themselves as proto-male leaders. Almost all other female heads of government so far have been related to men of power—granddaughters, daughters, sisters, wives, widows: Gandhi, Bandaranike, Bhutto, Aquino, Chamorro, Wazed, Macapagal-Arroyo, Johnson Sirleaf, Bachelet, Kirchner, and more. Even in our “land of opportunity,” it’s mostly the first pathway “in” permitted to women: Representatives Doris Matsui and Mary Bono and Sala Burton; Senator Jean Carnahan . . . far too many to list here.
I don't know what she's talking about saying goodbye to American ignorance of history. Clearly she's been smoking something funny. We're as amnesiac as a summer day is long. . :-) 

Seriously, though, here's another example of the author undercutting her own argument. She lists the many women who've come to power through familial connections as a defense of Hillary's doing so, which is a pretty lame defense, but okay...

But in the very same paragraph she lists two who didn't. Like their politics or not, Thatcher and Meir did gain power on their own without using their husbands or fathers. Hillary's welcome to use Bill as a stepping stone as far as I'm concerned, but her supporters ought not cry foul when others point out that that isn't the most empowering message to send to younger generations of women and girls. Nor should they cry foul when those of us who aren't enamored of dynastic politics point out the dangers of nepotism. (See the Bush family—Prescott, George H.W, George W.—what fresh hell is next?)

The author then goes on to making a strong issues-based case for electing Hillary. I disagree with her on many of the points, but the case is good and worthy. Then she ends the essay thus:
As for the “woman thing”? Me, I’m voting for Hillary not because she’s a woman—but because I am.
Identity trumps all in the end. Ugh. 

Obama Is Bigger Than U2

On MySpace, that is. Goes without saying, but this is the weirdest election...
Internet political buzz super for democracy
Facebook had its own "desk" in the ABC studios, where reporters were updating "hits" on pages all night long.

On MySpace, its rival social-networking site, some 50,000 viewers logged on to see a new Barack Obama music video by artist will.i.am in just a few hours' time.

Site reps chalked up record turnouts of youth voters in part to inspiring candidates, but also said "people-powered politics" played a huge role in youth involvement.

"Barack Obama is bigger on MySpace than U2. That's a pretty extraordinary thing," said Jeff Berman, senior vice president of public affairs.
Hat tip: Ben Smith at Politico

A "Traitor" Justifies Her Obama Love

There's this utterly ridiculous and infuriating meme going around now coming from some of the more strident of Hillary supporters that Obama supporters are somehow acting and sounding sexist, both subtly and not so subtly. As if that's not enough, they're calling women who support Obama traitors to their gender. Can you believe this shit?

Anyway, former NARAL president Kate Michelman recently came out in favor of Obama (see this post) and has since faced charges of betrayal herself. She was on Hardball recently and resident knob Chris Matthews threw some inane questions at her which she didn't have the time to fully respond to. Here's her complete response in Salon.com. An excerpt:
What I really wanted to say to Chris Matthews
The women's movement is about free choice, self-determination and challenging a status quo that fails a lot of Americans, not just women. And it is not about going along. It's about transcending, about having the freedom to follow one's heart, about creating and pursuing new opportunities, and about the American dream being for all Americans.

Chris' gotcha-type question to me and the semi-criticism implicit in it -- that as a woman I have some biological obligation to unreservedly support whatever woman is running -- are exactly the sentiments I faced when I first started working for a woman's right to choose. If women who vote for men are traitors, then are men who vote for women also traitors? What about African-Americans who vote for whites? Or whites who vote for African-Americans?

Laying this guilt trip, this hypocrisy, on women -- saying that those women who don't vote for other women are turncoats -- is tantamount to saying that women who exercise independent thought haven't the right to do that either. Could there be a more anti-feminist contention?

Time Machine: 1992

I just found this blast from the past over at BlackPerspective.net I had all but forgotten about the Sister Souljah incident.

Oh How We Forget, The Clintons Race Baited In ‘92
THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: Democrats; Jackson Sees a ‘Character Flaw’ In Clinton’s Remarks on Racism
By R. W. APPLE JR.,
Published: June 19, 1992
Escalating his conflict with Gov. Bill Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson charged today that in a clumsy bid for the backing of alienated white voters the presumptive Democratic nominee had “again exposed a character flaw.”

In a bitter rejoinder to Mr. Clinton, Mr. Jackson said in an interview that the Arkansas Governor had come to the Rainbow Coalition conference in Washington last weekend to “stage a very well-planned sneak attack, without the courage to confront but with a calculation to embarrass” him.

At the conference of Mr. Jackson’s coalition, the Governor denounced the rap singer Sister Souljah for having used racially inflammatory language in a newspaper interview, and he criticized Mr. Jackson for asking her to take part in the meeting.

By his choice of language today, Mr. Jackson, an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination in 1984 and 1988, rubbed an old sore and raised the specter of continuing conflict within the Democratic Party. Mr. Clinton has struggled for months to put the “character issue” behind him and in recent weeks has seemed to succeed. ‘Isolating Jackson’

Mr. Clinton’s “Machiavellian maneuver,” Mr. Jackson declared, was intended “purely to appeal to conservative whites by containing Jackson and isolating Jackson.”

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Revisiting The Race-baiting Question

So, I was having a conversation with some friends the other night and one asked if we liked Bill Clinton. I'm not sure what others said because I jumped right in saying "I used to, but now I can't stand him." They asked why. I explained that I didn't like the way he and Hillary were acting during her campaign, especially the race baiting that they and their surrogates engaged in in the run up to South Carolina's primary.

One friend, another Obama supporter, interjected to say she didn't think that Hillary's MLK/LBJ comment was racist. Well, the conversation was moving elsewhere so I didn't really get a chance to make my case and, besides, I didn't really want to get into a list of grievances, many days after the fact.

But the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me that I didn't fully respond. Many of us liberals are convinced that the Clintons deliberately engaged in a race baiting strategy—one designed to goad Obama into playing the race card, thereby triggering resentment among white or hispanic voters—and are angry about it. And before we go on to the next round of voting I feel it's important to get a little refresher course to help illustrate what the Clintons will stoop to (whether by themselves or through their surrogates) in order to win.  

So although it wasn't the first incident, I'll start with the MLK/LBJ comment since that was the moment referred to in the conversation. Here goes:

MLK vs. LBJ?
• Clinton told Fox's Major Garrett that while Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on behalf of civil rights, President Lyndon Johnson was the one who got the legislation passed.
"Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act," Clinton said. "It took a president to get it done."
Now, in and of itself, the statement is merely stupid, a strangely myopic reading of history that shows terrible political judgement*. But spoken in the midst of several comments (listed below) over the period leading up to the SC primary, it takes on a different hue.

(* MLK did more than merely "speak" on behalf of civil rights, of course. He, and thousands of other brave souls, put their lives on the line—literally—to advance civil rights. LBJ's achievement, while important, could never have taken place if the groundwork hadn't been laid by blood, sweat and tears of the people actively involved in the civil rights movement.)

Dismissiveness
• Not long after New Hampshire, a Clinton advisor says derisively, "If you want Obama to be your imaginary hip black friend and you're young and you have no social needs, then he's cool."

• Around the same time, Bill Clinton calls Obama a "kid," which sounds an awful lot like "boy" to a lot of people.

• Clinton supporter, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, says of Obama, "You can't shuck and jive at a press conference." (For those who don't know, the phrase "shuck and jive" refers to mischievous blacks behaving innocently in the presence of an authority figure, so as to get out of trouble.)

Past Drug Use
• Campaign advisor Billy Shaheen makes various arguments about how Obama can't get elected due to his past drug use (as a teen, mind you).

• Campaign strategist, Mark Penn, continues to reference past drug use, even while ostensibly decrying the use of such tactics.

• BET founder and Clinton friend, Bob Johnson, references Obama's drug use back in the 'hood at a rally. Worse, Johnson compared Obama to Sidney Poitier's character in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, considered by many to be the modern equivalent of calling somebody an Uncle Tom.

Indentity Politics Marginalization
• Former senator and Hillary supporter Bob Kerrey politely suggests that Obama is a Muslim (he's not) as though that will tar him in the eyes of many voters, saying:
“It’s probably not something that appeals to him, but I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and that his father was a Muslim and that his paternal grandmother is a Muslim. There’s a billion people on the planet that are Muslims, and I think that experience is a big deal.”
You know, just a nice little backhanded compliment.

• After Obama's SC victory, Bill Clinton waves it off saying, "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here." Thus suggesting that Obama is a vanity candidate, who can only appeal to other black voters and maybe a handful of whites.

• The campaign begins exploiting latent tensions between African-American and Latino communities, suggesting that Latinos won't vote for a black man. This was most famously done by Clinton advisor Sergio Bendixen, who told the New Yorker that
"the Hispanic voter - and I want to say this very carefully - has not shown a lot of willingness to support black candidates."
******
None of this is to suggest that I think the Clintons are actually racist. It's pretty evident in the way they've lived their lives that they aren't. But they've certainly shown a willingness to engage in some pretty sleazy tactics when it suits their needs, including sadly, using racially charged language. And that not only disgusts me, it has irrevocably spoiled my view of them, and called into question their (okay, Hillary's) ability to lead the country into the future.

What Life Is Like Under Sharia

As if to underscore the folly of the Archbishop's approach (see previous post), here's this from Times Online.
Religious police in Saudi Arabia arrest mother for sitting with a man
A 37-year-old American businesswoman and married mother of three is seeking justice after she was thrown in jail by Saudi Arabia's religious police for sitting with a male colleague at a Starbucks coffee shop in Riyadh.

Yara, who does not want her last name published for fear of retribution, was bruised and crying when she was freed from a day in prison after she was strip-searched, threatened and forced to sign false confessions by the Kingdom's “Mutaween” police.…

The men were from Saudi Arabia's Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, a police force of several thousand men charged with enforcing dress codes, sex segregation and the observance of prayers.

Yara, whose parents are Jordanian and grew up in Salt Lake City, once believed that life in Saudi Arabia was becoming more liberal. But on Monday the religious police took her mobile phone, pushed her into a cab and drove her to Malaz prison in Riyadh. She was interrogated, strip-searched and forced to sign and fingerprint a series of confessions pleading guilty to her “crime”.

“They took me into a filthy bathroom, full of water and dirt. They made me take off my clothes and squat and they threw my clothes in this slush and made me put them back on,” she said. Eventually she was taken before a judge.

“He said 'You are sinful and you are going to burn in hell'. I told him I was sorry. I was very submissive. I had given up. I felt hopeless,” she said.

M-m-m-my Sharia

Dr. Rowan Williams is the Archbishop of Canterbury. He also happens to be the first acknowledged gay man to hold that post. I've always liked the guy and what he stands for. But I think he's off his nutter on this issue
The Archbishop of Canterbury has today said that the adoption of Islamic Sharia law in the UK is "unavoidable" and that it would help maintain social cohesion. Rowan Williams told BBC Radio 4's World At One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system. He says that Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.
What the fuck is he thinking? We're fighting the much tamer (usually) Christian version of Sharia in this country and this guy wants to cede ground on the far more virulent Muslim version in the country that gave us the Magna Carta?!? I don't get it.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

Being in Hawaii, we saw our fair share of mongooses (mongeese?).  Naturally, the subject of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi came up because most of us saw the TV adaptation of the Kipling story as kids. I hadn't thought of it in years, but was suddenly flooded with happy memories of the spunky little ferret-face protecting a family from the big, bad cobras. 

Then, what should I see today, but a reference to Rikki-Tikki-Tavi in a post over at Melancholy Sideshow?

Clearly that means it's time for a RTT post. 

For those unfamiliar with RTT here's a link to Wikipedia entry (Rikipedia?). And an excerpt:
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is a short story in The Jungle Book (1894) by Rudyard Kipling about the adventures of a valiant young mongoose. The story is a favorite of Kipling fans and is notable for its frightening and serious tone. Some epic features (heightened prosaic style, songs to the hero) add to the standard typology of hero defeating villain. It has often been anthologised and has also been published more than once as a short book in its own right.
Synopsis. An English family, who have moved to a bungalow in the British Sugauli (former British sp. Segowlee) cantonment in Bihar State, India, discover a young mongoose half drowned from a storm and decide to keep it as a pet. The young mongoose, called Rikki-Tikki, soon finds himself confronted by two dangerous, murderous cobras, Nag (Hindi for "cobra") and his even more dangerous mate Nagaina, who had the run of the garden while the house was unoccupied. After that first encounter with the cobras, Rikki's first true battle is with Karait, a dust brown snakeling who threatens the boy (Teddy). Although Rikki is inexperienced and the snake, because of its deadly venom and small size, is an even more dangerous foe than a cobra, the mongoose defeats him.
And for those who remember it, here's a little flashback:



Parts 2 & 3 over at YouTube.

Living With The Dreaming Body

One last hit of the islands. A couple of videos from my favorite formerly half-Hawaiian* band, Poi Dog Pondering. 




* Poi Dog Pondering was formed Hawaii, and spent its formative years  in Austin, Texas. Half of the musicians were from Hawaii and half from the Lone Star state. Though they now reside in Chicago (why, God? why?), many of their earlier tracks had a sort of folky island feel.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Aloha, Hawaii

Well, this is our last night in Hawaii. We spent much of the day at Two Step snorkeling and sunbathing (though if there was a sun in the sky I couldn't see it). I spent about 45 minutes out in the water, chasing one gorgeous fish after another. Damn, it's some good snorkeling here. We left the beach around four or so and came home to watch the Super Tuesday results roll in. 

Later, Tashina, Pete, and Cindy came over for dinner and we had a blast. The ladies made a killer meal of random food that we had laying around—eggplant, feta, garlic, turkey sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.—to concoct a sort of lasagna/casserole type dish. It was incredible. Pete mixed up piƱa coladas for everyone (but me :-(  ) and we ate and drank the night away. 

Highlights: sussing out Tashina's situation at Dragonfly Ranch, watching the Flight of the Conchords, and my favorite, doing our best animal imitations. 

I'm going to miss the hell out of this place. Not only am I going to miss the house we've had the good fortune to be staying in and the warm weather, but also island life and Hawaii herself. Most of all, I'm going to miss spending so much time with our incredible friends. 

Aloha, beautiful people. See you in a little while. 

Meantime, enjoy the video. You know what time it is...

Obamalicious!

Well, Obama had about as good of a night as could have been expected. He and Clinton are about tied for delegates, though she supposedly has more super delegates. But the upcoming war of attrition likely benefits Obama more than Clinton who has really relied on the whole inevitability rationale for her candidacy. He took 13 states to her 8 and got close enough in the big states he lost to dig into her delegates. 

I would loved for him to have taken California, but that was always a long shot. His win in Missouri, though, is huge. Missouri is not only a bellwether state in the general election, but virtually everyone who's won the presidency won Missouri in their party's primary. It was a squeaker, but in this case, a win's a win. 

Congratulations to Obama and his team! 

This Is Good News

From BBC News:
The Vatican has reported a further dramatic fall in the number of Roman Catholic monks and nuns worldwide.

The Roman Catholic Church has an aging and diminishing number of parish and diocesan clergy and this latest fall is quite dramatic, our correspondent says.

The number of Catholic nuns worldwide declined by about a quarter during the reign of Pope John Paul, and this further drop shows that new recruits are failing to replace those nuns who die, or decide to abandon their vows, he adds.

The Dream Deferred

Well, maybe I've been wrong about Boomers after all.

This is a thoughtful and insightful e-mail from a reader of the Daily Dish about the traumatic effects of the three assassinations of the 60s had on his generation and how he sees Obama as fitting in the mold of those three lions cut down in their prime (JFK, MLK, and RFK for you kidlings out there). 
My nascent political worldview was formed by those experiences: there was a progressive force in our country, and a reactionary one. The forces of reaction would stop at nothing, including murder, to stop progressive change. Of course I realized there was no connection between the three assassinations--except there was. There was something in the air, or rather under the surface, some dark unconscious collective force--the American shadow. Read the history of that time as prose, and this take on causality seems ridiculous, if not paranoid: given the three completely unconnected assassins--two of whom apparently acted alone--you have nothing more here than random coincidence. Read it as poetry, though, with the heart, and you understand there is no coincidence. Both views, of course, are true.

What happened then--the decapitation of the progressive liberal force in this country, just as it's next generation was reaching adulthood--has everything to do with Obama today. He's the dream deferred, the inheritor of myth. So the Grateful Dead will play for him on Monday, and I will vote for him on Tuesday, not to bypass something we Boomers started--because believe me, we did not start the great divide--but to finish the battle we began then and fulfill what was always, always our dream--the same dream that we are dreaming today, and that Barack and Michelle describe so eloquently every time they speak: justice, unity, freedom--not as abstract principles, but as real, on-the-ground, shared American realities. It's been a long time coming.…

The genius of Obama--and it is a spiritual genius--is he quiets that old nightmare. He lifts us beyond. He wakes us up, brings us together--the true opposite to Bush and Rove, who drove us deeper into drugged sleep and division, day by day. That was your point in "Goodbye to All That", and it was well said. But don't blame the Boomers--left or right--for a war that's been going on forever. And don't underestimate the sleeping giant we Boomers--especially we liberal Boomers--represent. We have not forgotten our dreams.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Another Kossack for Obama

And why they can't support Hillary
Why I can't vote for Hillary: My deeply personal Clinton story
I don't dislike Hillary; I distrust her. And my reasons are both substantive, and based on direct personal experience.

When a major issue hit the area where I live, New York's Hudson Valley, Clinton was less than honest with her constituents, and all too eager to take credit where none was due.
Click here for the rest of the story.

Hat tip: Melancholy Sideshow

And A Child Shall Lead Them




Dare To Hope

The best, most concise argument I've heard so far from Joe at parse2blog.
Tomorrow, liberals and Democrats get to decide who can best fight for a progressive agenda in Washington; independents and Republicans (in some states) get to choose which man or woman they want to lead our nation in troubled times; the younger generation can demonstrate in emphatic fashion that they are not a political force to be ignored - that we are taking responsibility for our politics and our country. We realize that America is in a state of moral, political, legal, and economic decline, and that our choice is between Ms. Clinton who will competently manage our country’s decline and Mr. Obama who has a chance to restore and renew our civic life. [emphasis mine]

So when you stand in the voting booth tomorrow - alone, with only your judgment as a guide - think about who can lead our country, who can call forth the better angels of our nature, who will be prudent in his use of the powers of the presidency. Dare to hope.
Check out all 12+ of his reasons to vote for Obama.

We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For

Here's Maria Shriver's speech at the Obama rally in L.A yesterday. It's long and a bit tedious, but really gets to the nub of Obama's message and why he's such a great candidate. And besides, how many politicians have you ever heard that quote a Hopi prayer?

Two Birds Meet One Stone

He's got heart, but he's shrewd as well, as I've know all along. Watch as he pivots to begin fighting the general election battle. But while ostensibly hitting McCain he takes on Clinton as well, all without ever mentioning her name. (The only false note was the "a wheel's fallen off the Straight Talk Express" line. It was used to brilliant effect at the last debate but feels old and lame already. Once was enough.)

Confessions Of A Young Hillary Supporter

OR, HOW I BECAME THE LONELIEST MAN ON CAMPUS.
I'm a young male Democrat, and I support ... Hillary Clinton. I may be the loneliest man at Georgetown University, where I'm practically a social pariah. Supporting Hillary on a college campus this year is like being a Yankees fan at a Red Sox game, a Barry Manilow lover at a Radiohead concert.
Thus begins one of the most interesting articles I've read so far this election cycle. And I've read a lot. It's pretty amusing as well. You gotta feel for the guy. Click here to read the rest.

Revival

E.J. Dionne on Obama's appeal.
And on it went: He noted the multitude he drew to a rally in Boise, Idaho, of all places (liberation from the old electoral map); the support he has won from Republicans (liberation from divisiveness); and his determination to govern "not by the polls but by principle" (liberation from calculation and, to some, from Clintonism).…

"I know how hard change is," he says. But he promises to transcend the old fights -- the liberation narrative again -- by building a "bottom-up" movement to create inexorable pressure for reform that would draw in even Republicans. "Good intentions are not enough," he said in his Wilmington speech. They need to be "fortified with political will or political power." Obama marries a softer rhetorical line on Republicans with a more sweeping and activist analysis of how change happens. He thus manages to go to Clinton's right and left at the same time. That's why Obama is on the move in a way that worries Clinton's lieutenants. She promises toughness, competence, clarity and experience in a year when Democrats are seeking something closer to salvation.

One of the politicians who spoke before Obama at the rally, Delaware state Treasurer Jack Markell, cited the New Testament letter to the Hebrews in which St. Paul spoke of "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." It was a revealing moment: While Clinton wages a campaign, Obama is preaching a revival.

Republicans For Hillary!

Well, consider the source (Rich Lowry of the National Review and Real Clear Politics), but I think he's right on this one.
Hillary Clinton might be losing Democratic voters to Barack Obama, but she has a stalwart cheering section that won't abandon her even as she slips in the polls: Republicans nearly everywhere.…

Clinton strategist Mark Penn once boasted about Hillary winning over Republican women. If she is, it's only that they have the same rooting interest as other GOP partisans. Hillary has long loomed in the Republican imagination as the savior of 2008, and there's been a desperate wishfulness to it.…

Republicans speak in wishful terms about Hillary winning the nomination and fearful ones about Obama overtaking her. "It'll be hard as hell to run against Obama," says the Republican strategist. The Illinois senator's negative ratings could be driven up in a general election, but "hope" is an elusive and risky target for attack. In Obama's favor, in the words of this strategist, is that he's "incredibly likable," that he has "iconic status," that "Americans would like to vote for an African-American" and that "he represents real change."

But most Republicans don't want to find out. Obama may give inspiring speeches at campaign events thronged by thousands, but for Republicans, there's only one candidate of hope: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Look At These Two

What a gorgeous couple, eh?







Gorgeous family, too.



Monday, February 4, 2008

The Closer

Michelle Obama spoke to a crowd of 1,000 in New Mexico earlier today, pulling people from Texas over the border to see her speak.
"There are still people out there who are figuring this out," Michelle Obama said, referring to the large number of undecided voters in New Mexico's caucuses Tuesday. "And that's good that I'm here, because they call me 'the closer.'"

More On Hillary's Tears

This from Andrew Sullivan:
The second bout of public tears just before a crucial primary vote - after no evidence that Senator Hillary Clinton has a history of tearing up in front of the cameras - provokes the unavoidable question: should feminists actively vote against Clinton to defend the cause of female equality?…

And her career there shows what a trail blazer she could have been for feminism. A skilled, cautious, pragmatic and constituent-focused legislator, she began to build a Senate career admired by many. But it became clear pretty soon that the Senate was indeed merely a stepping stone back to the White House. It also became clear that she had absolutely no qualms about using her husband's former office, unrivaled party clout and acute political skills to advance her current, long-planned campaign. Bill was wielded as an attack-dog, in an unprecedented abuse of the prestige and honor of the Oval Office in the service of a campaign proudly dealing in blatant nepotism. It was an act of corruption by a corrupt dynasty fearful they couldn't win re-election without pulling every lever they had.…

It's time feminists realized that Clinton is a dream gone sour. If you believe in women in politics, in female leaders who lead by themselves, on their own merits, with no strings to pull and husband-presidents to rely on, do yourself a favor and vote for Obama.

Hacking Scientology

This is cool news. 
Hackers declare war on Scientologists amid claims of heavy-handed Cruise control
The church has appeared powerless to stop the online sabotage. Guerrilla action has so far included the temporary disabling of its international website and "Google bombing", a manipulation of the search engine which has resulted in the website being the first result returned by Google when users type "dangerous cult". Scientology's UK website has been unavailable and in the US the FBI were investigating what they said was the hoax dispatch of white powder in envelopes to 19 churches in the Los Angeles area.

Meanwhile, the intensity of the battle shows no signs of easing. A day of free speech protests have been planned outside Scientology centres around the world next Sunday, with campaigners mobilising on Facebook and YouTube.…

An Anonymous video posted on YouTube about the anti-Scientology campaign - called "Project Chanology" - has been watched more than 1.7m times. Protest sites against Scientology have also proliferated. Two Facebook groups have more than 3,500 members

Hillary's Reflexive Fear

This article from Newsweek's Fareek Zakaria hits a point I discussed three weeks ago here.
This is the problem with Hillary Clinton. She is highly intelligent, has real experience and is an attractive candidate. But she is terrified to act on her beliefs. In fact, she seems so conditioned by what she sees as political constraints that one can barely tell where her beliefs begin and where those constraints end.

Partly, this is a generational difference. Bill and Hillary Clinton grew up in an era of Republican dominance. The Clintons' careers have been shaped by the belief that for a Democrat to succeed, he or she had to work within this conservative ideological framework. … Obama has grown up in a different landscape—with vastly different geopolitics, economics and culture. …Conservatism has lost its monopoly role. As a result, the new generation is not defensive about its beliefs, nor does it feel trapped into the old categories like hawks versus doves and markets versus taxes.
Sound familiar?
Fear. She reeks of political fear. She came of age during the conservative ascendancy when liberals were in retreat. I think deep down she believes that the country isn't liberal on policy issues (belied by just about every poll for the past seven years) and that she has to trick the country into lib policies. (Hence the reflexive triangulation.)
Obama is of a different time. The conservative coalition is falling apart and their "policies" have been shown to be vacant shells. He's apparently far more confident in his liberalism and less apt to reflexively cave to the VRWC.

For Crying Out Loud!

Again, with the tears.

This may have been an authentic moment, but it's awfully suspicious coming the day before Mammoth Tuesday. I mean, twice in one primary season? With no history of publicly tearing up before this election cycle? If she pulls it off again, I'm going to pull my hair out. 
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Sen. Hillary Clinton teared up this morning at an event at the Yale Child Study Center, where she worked while in law school in the early 1970s.

Penn Rhodeen, who was introducing Clinton, began to choke up, leading Clinton's eyes to fill with tears, which she wiped out of her left eye. At the time, Rhodeen was saying how proud he was that the sheepskin-coat, bell-bottom-wearing young woman he met in 1972 was now running for president.

Cradled In Beauty

Woke late this morning, around 10 a.m.I'm sitting in the sun room of the Honeymoon cottage of Kona Cottages. The room is filled with odd furniture that looks like it belongs in a museum, something from the Baroque Era maybe. It's got carved, curvaceous wooden legs and a deep red upholstery with a gold flower pattern. Not terribly comfortable, but not too uncomfortable either.


A gecko is climbing the wall a mere five feet from where I sit. I don't know what it is but I feel very drawn to them. They're shy, but curious and very...I don't know, respectful of our space. I love geckos! I had no idea. Never paid them much attention before outside of those cool Geicko commercials. But they're cool little guys. I'd love to have one as a pet, though I don't know if they're pet adaptable. 

It rained all night, but has since stopped. The fragrance in the air is unbearably gorgeous, sweet and earthy. The sky is a light gray, baby blue and white and the light breaking through the clouds is a sweet, gentle white. Half of the time it's impossible to tell where the ocean ends and the sky begins. At first, I found this a little disorienting, but I've come to love it. There's a real sense of being enveloped in softness, cradled in beauty.


God, I'm going to miss this place.

Raining On My Parade

This is just rude: 
Getting Past the '60s? It's Not Going to Happen.
One of the most fascinating notions raised by the current presidential campaign is the idea that the United States can and must finally overcome the divisions of the 1960s. It's most often associated with the ascendancy of Sen. Barack Obama, who has been known to entertain it himself. Its most gauzy champion is pundit Andrew Sullivan, who argued in a cover article in the December Atlantic Monthly that, "If you are an American who yearns to finally get beyond the symbolic battles of the Boomer generation and face today's actual problems, Obama may be your man." No offense to either Obama or Sullivan, but: No he isn't. No one is.…

The fact is, the '60s are still with us, and will remain so for the imaginable future. We are all like Zhou Enlai, who, asked what he thought about the French Revolution, answered, "It is too early to tell." When and how will the cultural and political battle lines the baby boomers bequeathed us dissolve? It is, well and truly, still too early to tell. We can't yet "overcome" the '60s because we still don't even know what the '60s were -- not even close.

A President Obama could no more magically transcend America's '60s-born divisions than McCarthy, Kennedy, Nixon or McGovern could, for the simple reason that our society is defined as much by its arguments as by its agreements. Over the meaning of "family," on sexual morality, on questions of race and gender and war and peace and order and disorder and North and South and a dozen other areas, we remain divided in ways that first arose after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

And Still Another Two Endorsements

Courtesy of AP.

• One from Garrison Keillor, who said this:
Seeing Obama and his family in front of the U.S. Capitol next January is a happy prospect that would "bring an end to a long sour chapter in our history."

"And of course it will be exciting to have a president who can speak with grace and power to the American people," Keillor wrote.

• And one from former NARAL president Kate Michelman:
…she decided to back Obama because he is prepared "to lead in a different way than we have seen for decades. Not out in front with us behind him, but rather with us beside him." That difference, she said, "separates just any president from a great president; and right now, we need a great president."

Follow Your Heart

An interesting article from Newsweek.
It is a core tenet of political psychology that voters know nothing. Or next to nothing. Or next to nothing about what civics classes (forgive the anachronism) told us really matters. In 1992, the one fact that almost every voter knew about George H. W. Bush, besides that he was the incumbent president, was that he loathed broccoli. But when it came to the positions of Bush and his opponent, Bill Clinton, on important issues, voters were, shall we say, a tad underinformed. …

Because voters are not computers, willing and able to remember and analyze candidates' every position, they rely on what political scientist Samuel Popkin of the University of California, San Diego, calls "gut rationality."…

With these and countless other instances of voters following their guts, the debate about whether the electorate is guided by its head or its heart, by reason or emotion, is over. "More important than what people think is how they feel," says Luntz, a view expressed by almost every expert NEWSWEEK interviewed. That doesn't mean voters don't care about Obama's war vote or McCain's support for the Iraqi surge. They do—but not because they have made a coldly rational calculation of how those positions would affect them. Instead, voters evaluate how a position makes them feel.

I'm Fucking Matt Damon

Born To Be Wild

Best Burning Man footage ever!

The Salmon Dance

This video is hilarious! Pay special attention to the blowfish.



Hat tip: Goa

A Horse of Another Color

New research debunks the idea that chameleon's change color to hide. Excerpt from Science Now:
Everyone knows what makes the chameleon so special: its rapid color-changing camouflage. But the bug-eyed lizard's reputation as a master of disguise is being challenged by new research published today in PLoS Biology. Its flexible pigmentation may actually be a sexy, albeit dangerous, way to stick out.…

Male chameleons are usually a dull shade of brown or green. But thanks to a special lining of skin cells wired directly to their brains, the lizards can quickly flash to a variety of other colors, including bright green, yellow, and even pink. Past research has shown that the lizards use these colors to intimidate other males when fighting or to impress females when flirting. But the belief persists, even among biologists, that the color change also evolved to help chameleons hide from the birds that hunt them.
More here.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Grain of Salt Needed

But I like the looks of these numbers from Reuters...
"The momentum is with Obama," said pollster John Zogby. "If this trend continues it could be a very big night for him."…

In California, Obama gained two points on Clinton overnight to lead 46 percent to 40 percent, with a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points. Obama wiped out a 1-point Clinton advantage in Missouri to take a 47 percent to 42 percent lead, with a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

Yet Another Endorsement

Courtesy of a great new blog, The Field.
Memo to Governor Schwarzenegger: While you were out campaigning for John McCain, your missus - you know, that award winning television journalist? - snuck out to be with Oprah, Michelle, cousin Caroline and a few thousand close personal girlfriends… where she endorsed Barack Obama.

It was live from Los Angeles on C-Span. The place went nuts. California resident Kos notes: “this is now top-of-the-fold news in every California newspaper tomorrow, it will lead every newscast. And it should push into Tuesday as the governor is forced to answer questions about it.”

Stevie Wonder performed, too. Shriver told the assembled:

“I thought if Barack Obama would be a state, he’d be California,” Shriver shouted out as the crowd greeted here appearance with thunderous applause. “Diverse, open, smart, independent, bucks tradition, inspiring, dreamer, leader.”

Still More on the Generational Thing

From The New York Times Magazine.
Win or lose, Obama represents the next generational incursion. He is, by definition, a late boomer, having made the cutoff by about three years, but temperamentally he belongs to what the writer Douglas Coupland branded Generation X, the first wave of Americans to come of age politically after Watergate. He was 6 when Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated; 14 when “Saturday Night Live” first came on the air; 19 when Ronald Reagan was elected president. For those of us Obama’s age and younger, the formative events of the 1960s, the enmities and shared experiences that defined the next 40 years of American politics, are as much a part of history as the Treaty of Versailles; we weren’t shaped by this constant sense of political Armageddon. (Perhaps this is the underlying reason that Obama’s recent comments about Reagan as a transformational president — comments similar to those once made by Bill Clinton himself — proved so easily exploited by the Clinton camp; Obama wasn’t around, politically, for that era, and this lack of shared experience very likely bothers a lot of older Democrats more than his lack of actual governing experience.)…

None of us know where politics is headed after this campaign, as one American moment passes and another begins. John Kennedy ushered in the generation of American leaders born after 1900, and his short presidency made possible a prolonged progressive era and, ultimately, the Reaganesque reaction to it. Gary Hart imploded, but his generational rebellion against liberal orthodoxy and his embrace of a modern economy — Hart and his brethren were known as the “Atari Democrats” — led directly to Clintonism. Similarly, even should Obama fail, he will be followed by reinforcements in both parties, an invading army of Gen-Xers who grew up amid the bitterness and polarity of boomer politics but who never quite understood why. It may take four years, or another four after that, but the door is now ajar. And history tells you that all the delegates in the world — super or not — won’t be able to slam it shut.

Don't Stand So Close To Me

An interesting insight into the Clinton-Obama dynamic via Maureen Dowd.
Then, according to witnesses from the Obama camp, Hillary got very agitated and was “flapping her arms.” All her simmering grievances spilled out during the 10-minute talk. She was still furious about David Geffen’s searing interview with me the previous February, charging that she and Bill lie with such ease “it’s troubling.” While Geffen’s fund-raiser for Obama spurred the column, Obama knew nothing about the interview until it appeared. Hillary was also angry that Obama had called her “disingenuous,” telling Newsweek that it was a contradiction for her to claim that her tenure as first lady gave her more experience but then refuse to release her first lady papers from Bill’s library, saying she had no control over them.

At some point, an Obama intimate recalled, he “gently put his hand on her arm to chill her out.” The tall senator often leans down to put a friendly hand on the shoulder of his fellow senators — male and female — on the Senate floor, and they seem charmed by the gesture.

But Senator Clinton and her circle were not. They had been surprised and troubled by what they saw as his attempt to grab her arm and hold her in place while they talked, an unpleasant flashback to Rick Lazio getting in her space. As Queen Bee of the Clinton hive, Hillary has created a regal force field that can be breached only with permission, so something that wasn’t even a jostle was perceived as a joust.

The encounter seemed to have steeled them both. Hillary, to knock back the upstart who had unexpectedly gotten in her way, and Obama, who came away feeling that, for all of Hillary’s outer strength, she was afraid of him in some ways, and for all of her supposed poise, she had a more spiky temperament than he had realized.

But on Thursday, when he leaned down to whisper and put his hand on her shoulder, she looked up at him with a glowing smile. They really should have taken home gold statuettes.

The Joshua Generation?

No, not a bunch of kids raised on a U2 album. It's an article about generational cycles and how they intersect with, create, and affect political movements. Not sure what I think of the premise, but it is interesting. And I just had to post this because I love the title of the Washington Post article: The Boomers Had Their Day.
It was the perfect setting for Obama, who has been focused on this new "millennial generation" from the start. Almost a year ago, in a speech to African American leaders in Selma, Ala., he underlined the differences between two different types of generations: the "Moses generation" that led the children of Israel out of slavery, and the "Joshua generation" that established the kingdom of Israel. The first was a generation of idealists and dreamers, the second a generation of doers and builders.…

American history suggests that about every 80 years, a civic (or Joshua) generation, emerges to make over the country after a period of upheaval caused by the fervor of an idealist (or Moses) generation. In 1828, 1860, 1896, 1932 and 1968, as members of new generations -- alternately idealist and civic -- began to vote in large numbers, the United States experienced major political shifts. This year, the civic-minded millennials, born between 1982 and 2003, are coming of age and promising to turn the political landscape, currently defined by idealist baby boomers such as Clinton and George W. Bush, upside down.
A deeper explanation of the idea, called the saeculum theory, can be found here.