Saturday, February 16, 2008

I Am So Totally Gay For America

It's Not You, It's Me

Slate.com's Dahlia Lithwick breaks up with Obama. 
LETTER FROM A YOUNG, HIP, CYNICAL FORMER OBAMAMANIAC
Dear Barack:
I know it's kind of lame to break up with you on Valentine's Day. And on the Internet to boot. But it's also kind of ironic. And that's what I need to tell you. As an ironic, contrarian, so-hip-it-hurts Gen X-er, I just can't love you anymore. I can't like you because … because, well, everyone else does. And suddenly supporting you just seems soooo last week.

I don't know when we started to feel weird supporting you, but: My friend Hanna thinks it started with that "Yes We Can" video. I mean, last week I was totally crying watching it. Now just thinking about how choked up I got gives me the creeps. I think I felt something at the time, but even if I did, I'm pretty sure I don't want to feel it anymore. Feeling inspired is soooo early-February.

So I've been thinking a lot about our time together, Barack. Supporting you wholeheartedly was the best damn 14 days of my life. I liked you before liking you was cool. But now it is, so it's not. Know what I mean? At least now I can go back to being flip and cynical and edgy again. I bet you wish you could, too.

As for me, well, I just can't be comfortable liking you now that liking you is like liking an iPhone. Maybe if you can be more of a jerk or play hard to get or something? Maybe you could uninspire some of your fans? Maybe then I could believe in you again. I'm hopeful. Or at least just hopeful enough to still be cool.

Me, I'm going to roll up my sleeves and start working for the Dennis Kucinich 2012 campaign. Edgy, no? And if things start really truly going south for you, I want you to know that you can count on my future fleeting and conditional support in the months and years ahead. Yes, you can.

14 Years Of Gorgeous

Check out this slideshow of Annie Leibovitz's Vanity Fair covers.
It all began in 1995 with 10 alluring beauties on a three-page foldout cover. With the current issue—fronted by fresh faces Emily Blunt, Amy Adams, Jessica Biel, and Anne Hathaway—Vanity Fair marks the 14th year of its gigantic annual Hollywood Issue, and thus the 14th year of Annie Leibovitz’s spectacular gatefold covers. These classic photographs capture Tinseltown talent and glamour like nothing else. Here’s a look back at all of them. (The left third of each image is what was visible on the cover before unfolding.)

The Latest Tallies

The latest delegate counts from various new outlets. They differ so widely because they each use different variables. Regardless, Obama's up in all of them.

ABC: Obama 1,295, Clinton 1,225
CBS: Obama 1,281, Clinton 1,198
AP: Obama 1,275, Clinton 1,120
CNN: Obama 1,259, Clinton 1,212
MSNBC: Obama 1,116, Clinton 985 

Hat tip: The Page

The GOP's G-O-D

The Grand Ole Docket tracks trial dates, court appearances and sentencing hearings for players in the current array of national political scandals. But not just any crook can make it on the Docket - it's reserved for perps who are unambiguously under investigation (just a news report is not enough). Be sure to check back periodically as the investigations continue.
Courtesy of Talking Points Memo. Click on link to see the list.

Just Because

Friday, February 15, 2008

Charles Takes It To The Hoop

Charles Barkley goes off on "fake Christians."

Hello?

I don't know how the hell Sullivan finds this stuff, but it's just wrong. Which is why I must share it with you.



Hat tip: The Daily Dish

What The Hell Happened?

E.J. Dionne on what happened to the Clinton campaign.
How 'Inevitable' Got Outmaneuvered
Last fall, she was the "inevitable" nominee whose "machine" would raise scads of cash and push her to an early victory. She demonstrated poise and knowledge in debates, and party leaders lined up behind her, fearful of missing her fast-moving train.

But this narrative was flawed from the beginning. Her campaign has suffered from profound organizational failures, small mistakes that took on larger import, and miscalculations that have put her in a position where to survive, she must defeat Barack Obama in both Texas and Ohio next month.

The major flaw in the early story line is that there never was a Clinton machine in the sense of a well-populated organization skilled at turning out votes. Clinton campaigns have always been top-down operations focused on message and media. The Clintons have never lived in a world of precinct captains.

Obama, by contrast, was shaped by his early work as an organizer for the Industrial Areas Foundation and his political life in Chicago, a place where people still talk about ward committeemen and harbor memories of something that was called "The Organization."
He's right that she's been outmaneuvered and has run a terrible campaign, of course, but I caution that it's still too early to count Clinton out. She knows how to fight hard. This won't be over until it's over, which means a concession speech from one of the two candidates. Obama's got the wind at his back, but he hasn't crossed the finish line yet.

Some New Union Endorsements

Two new union endorsements: UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) and SEIU (Service Employees Int'l Union)

Plus commentary and joke from Matt Yglesias:
Barack Obama wins the endorsement of the United Food and Commercial Workers. They're one of the youngest unions around in terms of membership, and have a substantial presence in Ohio. There's an interesting subtext in this race whereby Change to Win unions have tended to be sympathetic to Obama, while Clinton's key pillar of support has been the public sector unions. This hasn't really spilled over into any incredibly concrete policy controversy on the campaign trail, but probably has some implications as to how they would govern in that you naturally take the concerns of the unions who supported you a bit more seriously than those of the unions who tried to beat you.

UPDATE: I had initially intended to make a joke about "impressionable elites" showing up at the most unlikely places, working in supermarkets and slaughterhouses and such but I'd forgotten that unions with four-letter acronyms don't count. AFT! NEA! AFSCME! Those are unions. HERE, UFCW, SEIU and so forth don't make the cut.

The Superdelegate Strategy

Great post by Markos on the Clinton campaign's latest strategy—threatening to use the superdelegates to win if they don't win outright in pledged delegates.
And like John Lewis and others have shown in the past few days, many establishment super delegates will be more than happy to switch their votes to the candidate with the most popular support…[so] I'm truly not worried about the super delegates.…

What's most interesting to me about this whole affair, however, is that the Clintonistas would even suggest the use of super delegates to subvert the will of the Democratic Party electorate. It betrays a lack of confidence in their candidate's electoral viability, even with a calendar that will become far more favorable to her in March, while seemingly confirming every right-wing charge that the Clintons place winning above all else, including principle.

That they would even suggest a tactic that would sunder the Democratic Party, kicking off a vicious and destructive civil war, tells me that like Bill in the 90s, when our majorities in Congress and all around the country were decimated and the party's base left to wither and die, Hillary will put her own interests above those of their party. And to me, there's no greater sin in Democratic politics than that.

So the Clinton campaign has graduated from saying that certain states don't matter, to saying certain voters don't matter, to now saying that the Democratic Party electorate doesn't matter.

To be clear, it's not that I'm surprised. It's just that I thought they'd be more subtle about it.

Ad Art

Though the idea of mixing commerce and art is distasteful for many creative types, its also a reality many of us have to contend with to make a living. And while it's true that so much commercial art—whether TV, print or web ads—is really crap, there's an increasing amount of it that's truly innovative and gorgeous. These Sony Bravia ads, for example, are some of the most beautiful, creative, sweet spots I've ever seen.

Many of you have seen the first two. The third is relatively new. I'd love to know what agency is responsible for these and kiss their feet. (I should mention that none of these use CGI—those balls, paint, and bunnies are all real.)

Bouncy Balls:


Paint Symphony:


Happy Bunnies:


Apologies for the poor quality. These were the best I could find to embed. Higher quality versions can be found at Sony's Bravia site.

Blogtionary

I've been meaning to write this post for some time now and just haven't gotten around to it. My enthusiasm for election year politics has derailed most other interests. But I've been inspired by Slate's Barackopedia, and besides, I can't have a blog that's All Obama All The Time. Even I'm not that much of a fanboi. 

Anyway, since the advent of the word blog into the vernacular, there has been at least one spinoff neologism, vlog (meaning video blog). Now surely, with 6 billion-plus people in the world there must be some others out there, but I've not come across any. 

So I've taken upon myself to create a few more and document them here so I can take full credit should they ever enter the mainstream. Here they are for your reading pleasure.

phlog: Photo blog. A blog that features photos only with little to no commentary (see Stuck in Customs)
frog: A friend's blog. A blog that is read primarily by one's circle of friends (see Insatiable Itch
pollog or plog: A political blog. A blog that focuses primarily on politics (see Washington Monthly's Political Animal)

Feel free to send me your entries via the comments thread. I'll give full credit for any that I use (you know, so the four people who actually read this can know it was yours).

Diaper Rock

Super cute.

A Little Reality Check

Slate's Jack Shafer examines and analyzes Obama's lofty rhetoric.
How Obama Does That Thing He Does
A PROFESSOR OF RHETORIC CRACKS THE CANDIDATE'S CODE.
Barack Obama bringeth rapture to his audience. They swoon and wobble, regardless of race, gender, or political affiliation, although few understand exactly why he has this effect on them.…

Obama relies, Frank writes, on a "rhetorical strategy of consilience, where understanding results through translation, mediation, and an embrace of different languages, values, and traditions." He credits the New Republic's Noam Scheiber with translating Obama's cross-cultural signals in a 2004 campaign profile that documents the candidate's leap from the Illinois senate to the U.S. Senate. Scheiber observes:
Whereas many working-class voters are wary of African American candidates, whom they think will promote black interests at the expense of their own, they simply don't see Obama in these terms. This allows him to appeal to white voters on traditional Democratic issues like jobs, health care, and education—just like a white candidate would.…
He also knows how to comfort voters with a national narrative of his own invention. As Frank writes, the Song of Obama usually begins with references to Thomas Jefferson, a self-contradicting political thinker whose stock—for good reason—has not always been high in African-American circles. Next, he ropes in Abraham Lincoln, whom he describes as less than a perfect emancipator in this 2005 speech. And yet Obama, a tall, gangly, lawyer whose political career was made in Springfield, Ill., slyly compared himself to Lincoln when he declared for the presidency. Lincoln, Obama said, was "a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer" who "tells us that there is power in words" and "tells us there is power in conviction."

Obama's national narrative notes both Roosevelts before calling on Martin Luther King Jr. and, as everybody knows, Ronald Reagan. The implication, of course, is that the Obama candidacy stands as the fulfillment of the American ideal, and by casting their ballot for him, voters can participate in that transcendent moment. It's a dizzying notion. No wonder George Packer's mind went vacant after he heard Obama speak.

This Is Our Moment

Okay, here's that Obama speech I was talking about in an earlier post. Watch the whole thing for full effect, but the segment from about 21 min. to 23:30 was particularly inspiring. This guy's in a league of his own.

Obamamatopoeia—The English Language Obamafied

Brought to you by the crazy word geeks over at Slate: The Encyclopedia Baracktannica



They're taking reader entries for possible future updates as well, so head on over there and send then yours if you've got one. I've already sent my favs: Obamalicious and Obamarific

Michelle On Larry

No, you don't need to send your kids out of the room. It's an interview of Michelle Obama on Larry King Live. Truly a high-caliber woman.

XX Factor Disses Rant, Too

Glad I'm not the only one who noticed Erica Jong's embarrassing rant yesterday. This is from Hanna Rosin at The XX Factor on Slate.com.
The Goddesses Must Be Crazy
Yesterday, Erica Jong argues the current feminist equivalent of the Jews control the media. "Unfortunately the Hillary-Haters are in charge," she writes in Huffington Post. "They monopolize the networks, the newspapers, the talk shows—both radio and TV. They are crossing their legs for fear of castration."

Crossing their legs for fear of castration? I mean, come on. Who talks like that anymore? Jong's earlier piece in the Washington Post was a relatively sane defense of women of her generation, who had to fight twice as hard to get half as much. In this new post, she's gone off the deep end. God, I don't even know where to start.

First, it's the usual—they make fun of Hillary's thick ankles and wrinkles. They say she pimps her daughter. They say she slept with Vince Foster and then something about bees and royal jelly, which was over my head. Then there's some subtle racism about Michelle Obama (a blind spot which seems to afflict women of a certain feminist generation). Then: "They believe HRC boils eye of newt with unborn baby's hair and little Jewish children not yet circumcised."…

Unfortunately, Jong is not alone. Ever since Hillary lost Iowa, the icons of pop-feminism have been going crazy—Robin Morgan, Gloria Steinem, Erica Jong. Either they can't stand to watch Hillary lose, or their publishers are urging them into a crazy war, a la East Coast and West Coast rappers.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Holy Shit!

Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.), previously one of Hillary's most prominent African-American supporters—and one who'd publicly planned to cast his superdelegate vote for her— has now thrown his weight behind Obama! 

Though short of a formal endorsement (which may soon follow), this is great news as it signals that Obama's momentum is not slowing down and that superdelegates will move early to avoid a potentially disastrous convention fight. 

From The New York Times:
Black Leader, a Clinton Ally, Tilts to Obama
“In recent days, there is a sense of movement and a sense of spirit,” said Mr. Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who endorsed Mrs. Clinton last fall. “Something is happening in America, and people are prepared and ready to make that great leap.”

Mr. Lewis, who carries great influence among other members of Congress, disclosed his decision in an interview in which he said that as a superdelegate he could “never, ever do anything to reverse the action” of the voters of his district, who overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama.
Earlier in his life, Lewis was a civil rights activist and is known partly for having marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. He's been a consistent progressive voice since being elected to office in the 1980s. 

Hat tip: The Field

Ashland Travels

In order to counter the reintegration blues that seem inevitable after a vacation, I've decided to try a little exercise. It's something I remember reading in a how-to book on travel writing over a decade ago. The author suggested walking around your home town and viewing it through the lens of a traveler. Start writing about places, events, experiences as if you were merely visiting. See the place with new eyes.

So, with that in mind, I'm going to start a new series of posts about life in Ashland. Mostly, I'll just post a pic or two, at least for starters. Occasionally, I may write some commentary on current events in town. Or my tricky relationship with living here. It will evolve over time, I'm sure.

To get started, though, here is a pic of the coffee shop where I spend the lion's share of my days working, blogging, or meeting friends.

An exterior shot:






















And a view from where I often sit:


Happy Lupercalia, Everyone!

And for those of you who insist that Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday, here's a little reminder of it's long (and pre-Christian) history from Wikipedia:
In Ancient Rome, February 15 was Lupercalia, an archaic rite connected to fertility, without overtones of romance. Plutarch wrote:
Lupercalia, of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy.
The word Lupercalia comes from lupus, or wolf, so the holiday may be connected with the legendary wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus. Priests of this cult, luperci would travel to the lupercal, the cave where the she-wolf who reared Romulus and Remus allegedly lived, and sacrifice animals (two goats and a dog). The blood would then be scattered in the streets, to bring fertility and keep the wolves away from the fields. [4] Lupercalia was a festival local to the city of Rome. The more general Festival of Juno Februa, meaning "Juno the purifier "or "the chaste Juno," was celebrated on February 13-14. Pope Gelasius I (492-496) abolished Lupercalia.
For even more on Valentine's Day history, follow this link to The History Channel.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Will Edwards Endorse?

Looks like Edwards is genuinely on the fence about who to endorse. Or is he holding out for a better deal?
Edwards Weighs Clinton Endorsement
As he weighs a possible endorsement in the Democratic race, former Sen. John Edwards is as split as the party he once hoped to lead — and is seriously considering supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, despite the sharp criticism he leveled at her on the campaign trail, according to former aides and advisers.

Gorgeous Graphs

The latest poll average from RealClearPolitics:



And the latest trading graphs from Intrade:



Fear Of Frying

I think the older you get the more likely the chance that people you've looked up to or admired for much of your life do or say something so disappointing that you completely reconsider your earlier judgement. I know it's happening to me with ever greater frequency.

The experience creates the sort of gut level queasiness you feel when a long lost friend from high school—someone you really connected with, but just lost touch with over the years—suddenly e-mails you a lengthy right-wing screed complaining about immigrants, libruls, and the evils of everything you hold dear. It's certainly not the end of the world, but leaves a bad taste in the mouth. And forces you to reconsider their place in your life, if only on the imaginal level. 

What brings this up is this latest "article" from Erica Jong in the Huffington Post. (I put article in quotes because it's really little more than a temper tantrum. Scratch that, it is just a temper tantrum, and an embarrassing one at that.) Ms. Jong was among my favorite writers for a little while during my 20s. I loved Fear of Flying and her bio of Henry Miller. I loved her bravery and her smarts. But her political writing is neither brave nor smart, and makes one wonder if there was any reflection given to it all.
Patriarchy:1000, Hillary:0
I give up. If I have to watch another great American woman thrown in the dustbin of history to please the patriarchy, I'll move to Canada -- where they live four years longer than we because they have universal health care. Or Italy -- where Berlusconi played at being Mussolini but life is sweet anyway and people take vacations in August and at Chanukah (Christmas or Diwali or Kwaanza) and Passover (Easter).

Ok folks, stick your heads in the sand like Maureen Dowd who thinks we're not against women but just against Clinton "baggage." Or Barbara Walters who seems to have forgotten how viciously she was attacked when she got her first million dollar contract -- worth only half a million in Euros today.

Or Oprah who forgets she wasn't always Oprah -- I knew her when she had two names. She was always really smart, but she used to identify with women. And now she's joined the Obamarama. I get it. I understand. People want their own color in the White House (pun intended). And nobody said Barack wasn't brilliant.…

Flip Flop, Flop Flip. This is the nature of our political dialogue. Might as well vote Repugnican as Democratic -- though I never have in my whole life. They're all just pols who secretly pledge to ignore fifty three percent of the population. And guess what? The fifty three percent is resigned to it. We don't like it. We wish it were otherwise. But we adore our sons and grandsons and husbands and fathers and grandfathers -- not to mention our nephews whom we happily nepotize. [Huh?]
So Oprah prefers Barack only because he's black and men support him only because he's a guy. And white women because they've forgotten the struggle or, worse, are turncoats. Did I leave anyone out? This is stream of consciousness mixed with street-corner rant. And that's just the coherent part. Half of the screed is virtually indecipherable. It's just...odd.

And, honestly, I don't care one way or the other whether she supports Hillary, even vociferously supports her. More power to her. But stamping her feet on the ground and holding her breath, all while throwing insults at those of us who reach a different conclusion about the candidates is unnerving, irritating, and just sad to watch.

Look, there are good, solid reasons to support Hillary for the nomination. I can see them. But what an increasing number of Hillary supporters seem unable to see is that there are just as many, if not more, good, solid reasons to support Barack. Without being misogynist pigs or MSM stoolies. 

For example, and by way of contrast, here's a link to Joseph Wilson's endorsement of Hillary. I completely disagree with his assessment (obviously), but at least he makes his case, makes an argument. 

Wake Up, Maggie

Now that Maggie Williams has taken over as Clinton's campaign manager, I think it's time for some background on her role in the Clinton White House. Here's one take from a 1997 article by Arianna Huffington:
Fallen Angels In Clinton's Rogues' Gallery, November 17, 1997
One of the most distressing features of our current political system and the Clinton White House in particular, is the way they turn otherwise honest, caring, idealistic individuals into spinning, rationalizing, truth-twisting defendants desperately trying to stay out of jail. Last week, we saw the results of this transformation in Hillary Clinton's former Chief of Staff Maggie Williams and in Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, whose testimony to Congress is now under investigation by the Justice Department.

Maggie Williams' case is particularly poignant. Last week, she testified at the House Government Oversight Committee hearings about her relationship with serial donor Johnny Chung. After spending the afternoon mesmerized by her contortionist testimony, I watched an actress in Anna Deavere Smith's new play "House Arrest" portray Williams and express her hopes that she would really make a difference in the lives of children and those in need. And I have no doubt that is what Williams originally believed her tenure at the White House would be about. Instead, it turned out to be about lie detector tests, racking up over $300,000 in legal bills, and spinning -- the committee, the press and perhaps even herself.

She Can't Catch Us

I think this kind of cock-suredness expressed by Obama's campaign manager is dangerous at this point in the campaign, but, hey, maybe he's playing a confidence game. From Ben Smith over at Politico.com:
As we wrote last night, Obama has begun to make his own inevitablity case, and David Plouffe made it explicit on a conference call this morning, telling reporters that it's now "next to impossible" for Clinton to surpass what he says is a 136-person lead among pledged delegates.

"The only way she could do it is by winning most of the rest of the contests by 25 to 30 points," he said. "Even the most creative math really does not get her, ever, back to even in terms of pledged delegates."

"This is not about votes -- it's about delegates," Plouffe said.

The other half of this case, of course, is that superdelegates will and/or should follow the pledged delegates.

Richardson Revolts?

Another interesting story of Clintonian arm twisting and its backlash. If this keeps up it'll become a narrative. 
Bill Clinton placed “an angry call” to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson:
Some are folks who owe the Clintons a favor but still feel betrayed or taken for granted. Could that be why Bill Richardson, a former U.N. secretary and energy secretary in the Clinton administration, refused to endorse her even after an angry call from the former president? “What,” Bill Clinton reportedly asked Richardson, “isn’t two Cabinet posts enough?”
“Isn’t two Cabinet posts enough?” is an amazingly insulting tirade to wage on a self-made man who—let’s hit this nail right on the head—dressed himself in glory in both of those jobs, making his boss look good, unlike so many 1990s White House appointees. The plantation-owner mentality that it reflects—I helped you, therefore I own you—borders on Nixonian insanity. Add the salsa of the historic grievance that Mexican-Americans have with political leaders that use, abuse and mistreat them, and it’s a recipe for a game-changing moment that would be adverse to Clinton goals.
Hat tip: The Field

E-I-E-I-O

Chickens? Rats? Wolverines? Is this a presidential campaign or a county fair?
Chickens come home to roost
WASHINGTON - For years, Bill and Hillary Clinton treated the Democratic National Committee and party activists as extensions of their White House ambitions, pawns in a game of success and survival. She may pay a high price for their selfishness soon.

Top Democrats, including some inside Hillary Clinton's campaign, say many party leaders — the so-called superdelegates — won't hesitate to ditch the former New York senator for Barack Obama if her political problems persist. Their loyalty to the first couple is built on shaky ground.

"If (Barack) Obama continues to win .... the whole raison d'etre for her campaign falls apart and we'll see people running from her campaign like rats on a ship," said Democratic strategist Jim Duffy, who is not aligned with either campaign.
Seriously, this is pretty revealing and doesn't exactly bode well for the Clinton campaign. Of course, not much does right now. But let's face it, the Clintons aren't down for the count yet. They'll fight like wolverines to get this nomination, and rightfully so. Here's to Obama prevailing anyway.

Waxing Poetic

This is so weird. 
The Washington branch of Madame Tussauds, the world’s leading purveyor of life-size, realistic wax sculptures, on Monday unveiled its Barack Obama figure. The museum timed the debut to correlate with the local primary elections that’ll take place Tuesday in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

For Mr. Obama’s premiere, museum curators decided to stand him behind the desk of the museum’s Oval Office stage. He’s flanked by the museum’s pre-existing figures of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton on the left, and John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy on the right. The arrangement is in no way meant as an endorsement of Mr. Obama, said Shameka Lloyd, a museum spokeswoman. It was just set up that way because Mr. Obama is the newest member of the museum’s wax family.

Foreshadowing?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Maryland Exit Polls

Courtesy of Matt Yglesias:

62 percent of the electorate in Maryland was female, and women went for Obama 59-38. Obama won Latinos 53-47. He won non-college Democrats 63-33 and college Democrats 62-36. In an inversion of the usual trajectory, Clinton did better among wealthier Democrats than among people of more modest means. People who make over $200,000 a year went for Clinton, with every less prosperous slice going for Obama. He won Protestants and he won Catholics. He won urban voters and suburban voters and rural voters.

Riveting Accounts of Life In HillaryLand

Two excellent articles offering a glimpse of the machinations behind the scenes of the Clinton campaign. They're both long, but are fascinating reads. 

Putsch in Hillaryland, by Michelle Cottle
For all Team Hillary's gifts, it is not known as a happy group. "I've never seen a campaign where everyone feels so bad about themselves," says one campaign staffer, echoing others. This may be somewhat unavoidable: Too much is on the line. Everyone is exhausted. The public scrutiny (damn those scrounging reporters!) is relentless. But compounding these generic stressors, say insiders, has been the fear-inducing, high-handed leadership of the coterie of ├╝beradvisers known as "the Five."

High atop Hillary's disciplined, leakproof operation, Solis Doyle, along with Penn, Grunwald, policy chief Neera Tanden, and communications director Howard Wolfson, have kept an iron grip on everything from ideas to access. Characterized by their colleagues--and even themselves--as a collection of brilliant but not especially likable political talents, the Five are seen by many insiders as contributing to the candidate's image problem. Even those who profess fondness for individual members admit that none makes a compelling Face of the Campaign. So, when Team Hillary hit its Iowa speed bump, the thoughts of many immediately turned toward shattering the hold of the Five.

Inside the Clinton Shake-Up, by Joshua Green
Rather than punish Solis Doyle or raise questions about her fitness to lead, Clinton chose her to manage the presidential campaign for reasons that should now be obvious: above all, Clinton prizes loyalty and discipline, and Solis Doyle demonstrated both traits, if little else. This suggests to me that for all the emphasis Clinton has placed on executive leadership in this campaign, her own approach is a lot closer to the current president’s than her supporters might like to admit.

Amy Winehouse At The Grammy's

Here's the vidclip of her performance as well as an article from Slate.
But Winehouse was worth the wait. A curtain slid open to reveal the singer shimmying in a black cocktail dress beneath her signature beehive hairdo, leading a nifty nine-piece band through a medley of the hits "You Know I'm No Good" and "Rehab." 
The irony of the song choices was lost on no one. Winehouse was furloughed from a London rehab center to make her Grammy appearance….

What they saw was something more banal, and more uplifting: a professional. Winehouse sang with brassiness and style, dragging her phrases behind the beat, delivering playfully slurred melismas, and dropping deep into her lower register. She snarled and pouted for the TV camera, commanding the stage with a presence equal parts Betty Boop and Johnny Rotten.

A Different Take On Hillary

A writer over at Slate's XX Factor ponders what women (and I'd say men, too) owe Hillary.
What We Owe Hillary
…No one else could have done what she's done, with all her aplomb and professionalism and seriousness. But she doesn't have to be the nominee, or the president, to have come through. She hung in there past every other contender, save one. She made it to the finals, the last round, overtime—whatever sports metaphor you want to use. I don't mean to suggest that she's done. But if she loses for good in the next weeks or months, she loses with dignity and heft and heart. And she'd leave us feeling, in a way I know I've never felt before, that a woman can be elected president. We already owe her. We'd owe her for that, too. Even if we don't owe her, or give her, our votes.

Spielberg Pulls Out

This is good news. I'm glad Mr. Spielberg has decided to do the right thing and withdraw as artistic advisor for the Beijing Olympics.
Steven Spielberg has decided not to participate in this summer's Beijing Olympic Games as an artistic adviser, citing China's lack of progress in resolving the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

His move is a public relations blow to the Chinese government, which is under pressure to force the government of Sudan to resolve the crisis in Darfur.

Spielberg's worldwide profile could lead others involved in the Games to pull out and even lead sponsors to reconsider their roles in the event.

Kiss Of Death

Yeow! Many people have noticed the similarities between Clinton's decision to wait out the rest of February and focus on the March 4 Texohio primaries and Giuliani's strategy to sit out Iowa, NH, and SC to focus on Florida. Most think it's a bad call (though I'm not sure what other options she has at this point). But this post from Talking Points Memo just feels like rubbing salt in the wound:
Rudy's campaign manager praises Hillary's wait for Ohio and Texas strategy ...
Mike DuHaime, a Republican consultant who managed Rudolph W. Giuliani’s campaign, said Mrs. Clinton was making the right decisions in trying to make the most of her strengths.
“Clearly, she has had success in larger states and there are a whole bunch of delegates at stake on March 4,” Mr. DuHaime said. “They are not trying to figure out who can win the most states; they are trying to figure out who can win the most delegates.”

Ship's Got A Leak...

Ouch. Clinton campaign sheds two more staffers. That's a total of four so far.
Hillary Bloodletting Continues: Two More Staffers Out
By Greg Sargent - February 12, 2008, 9:19PM
With Hillary's losses tonight, two more Hillaryland staffers have left the campaign: Kevin Thurman and Crystal Patterson, two key players from the Hillary campaign's Internet team. Hillary campaign internet guru Peter Daou sends me this:

"As part of the expansion of our Internet department following a tremendously successful month online, we will be adding 4 new staffers, two of whom will replace Kevin Thurman and Crystal Patterson, who moved on to new positions. Kevin and Crystal have been valued members of our team and we are grateful to them for their contribution to the campaign."

While those two staffers are out, Daou is apparently expanding the online department in the wake of their post-Super Tuesday online fundraising successes.

A Reason To Believe

Just saw Obama's latest speech. Will post transcript or embed video as it becomes available. 

All I can say is, I'm glad I'm not running against this guy. 

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: he's going all the way. 

Another Endorsement

This one from The Nation.

Key excerpt: 
The short answer is that Obama is simply one of the most talented and appealing politicians in recent memory. Perhaps the most. Pollster.com shows a series of polls taken in the Democratic campaign.…as the actual contest approaches, and voters start paying attention, Obama's support suddenly begins to grow exponentially.

Finally, there's the question of coattails.…When I asked a Democratic Congressional candidate in the Deep South who he preferred at the top of the ticket, he didn't hesitate: "Obama is absolutely the better candidate. Hillary brings a lot of sting; he takes some sting out of them."

Bill Clinton is right: voting for and electing Barack Obama is a "roll of a dice." All elections are. But the candidacy of Barack Obama represents by far the left's best chance to, in Buchanan's immortal phrasing, take back the bigger half of the country. It's a chance we can't pass up.

Clean Sweep II

Obama takes the Potomac Primary! 

And once again by wide margins. He got 60+ percent of Virginia and Maryland, 75+ of the DC vote. 

More importantly, key demographics have moved his way. He ended up winning every group but white women (a formidable force to be sure). See this article for more:
He added to it by eating into the durable coalition that has been Clinton's bulwark against Obama's momentum. Obama won among all income groups, including the lower-income voters he's had trouble attracting even in states he won. The only voting bloc Clinton held onto was white women.
Oh, and then there's this:

Current delegate count
Obama: 1,186
Clinton: 1,181

Goodbye To Another Clinton Staffer

Another one goes down: Earlier this evening deputy campaign manager Mike Henry, Patty Solis Doyle's #2 resigned from the Clinton campaign.

Follow Up on Fast Eddie

This post from The Field has an interesting anecdote about a 1983 Pennsylvania election that puts the lie to Ed Rendell's comment.
Imagine my surprise when, some weeks later, in his presence, a television ad came on the air for Wilson Goode, an African-American candidate for mayor of Philadelphia that would win that election. This same guy said to me, “Yup. I think it’s time to let a nigger have that job.” Upon further inquiry, I discovered he was absolutely sincere in that statement. 
“You would vote for him?” 
“Absolutely.” 
It was an eye opener for me. And over the years I’ve learned from experience: the most destructive forms of racism come from those that deny they have any racist tendencies (and in fact cry like babies when their silent bigotry is pointed out to them), whereas many folks that would offend the speech cops with the N-word and such, on an operative level, are much more tolerant of coexistence with groups of people they say they don’t like.

Well, this latest admission by the northern liberal Rendell will certainly have the effect of bringing back the race-baiting card, but we’ve already seen in 2008 how it’s going to backfire. Rendell’s statement was a bigger insult to rural white Pennsylvanians even than to African-Americans. He’s saying, “you hicks are the bigots, and I’m not, but I’m happy to exploit your ignorance.” And on April 22, rural Pennsylvanians will give the governor a lesson in civics.

50 State vs. 50% + 1

An interesting peak into the different strategies of the Obama and Hillary campaigns. Wisely, in my view, Obama used Howard Dean's 50-state strategy. Hillary…not so much. Her attitude, seen below, says it all:
Last night, in the Politico interview, as Clinton advocated to seat delegates from illegitimate “primaries” in big states Florida and Michigan, she also defended her decision to ignore rural states, saying, “We’re never going to carry Alaska, North Dakota, Idaho. It’s just not going to happen.” The reference to North Dakota was particularly jarring since the state has elected not one, but two, Democratic US Senators that today serve in Washington, Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad. To write off so much of the country is to abandon Democrats running for Congress, and will only result in having a less governable situation if one does become president.

But there you have it: a very clear distinction between the two Democratic presidential candidates in their priorities in terms of campaigning. And depending on who wins the nomination, you will see either a campaign that ignores rural states (and voters) or one that engages them and the issues unique to them. Clinton - who last summer at the Yearly Kos debate answered a question by saying she was for DNC Chairman Howard Dean’s fifty state strategy - has at least made it clear now that, “It’s just not going to happen.”

50% + 1 is a strategy of scratching out a victory of just 51%, your base plus a handful of independents by targeting micro-niches of voters. It's a very Rovian strategy, one I hope goes the way of the Rockefeller Republican.

What Is It With These People?!?

Kudos to Billy Blythe for giving up the race baiting. Wish I could say the same to Gov. Ed "Fast Eddie" Rendell. 

Rendell:
"You've got conservative whites here, and I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate," he said bluntly. 

Our eyes only met briefly, perhaps because the governor wanted to spare the only black guy in the room from feeling self-conscious for backing an obvious loser. "I believe, looking at the returns in my election, that had Lynn Swann [2006 Republican gubernatorial candidate] been the identical candidate that he was --well-spoken [note: Mr. Rendell did not call the brother "articulate"], charismatic, good-looking -- but white instead of black, instead of winning by 22 points, I would have won by 17 or so."

Menschs For Obama

This is from an obit for Mitchell Van Yahres, a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and all around decent guy.
Van Yahres is survived by his wife, Betty; his three sons, Mike, Mark, and Keith; two daughters, Beth Nave and Laura, and their spouses, Peggy, Elizabeth and Bryan Nave; as well as 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

His friends, who nearly included everyone who met him, are asked, in lieu of expenditures on flowers and the like, to make a healthy and significant contribution to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama or, if they insist, the charity of their choice. [emphasis mine]

He's Baaaaack

Bill Clinton derides Obama candidacy as ‘smoke and mirrors’

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - With Virginia considered Hillary Clinton’s best chance in the Potomac Primary, Bill Clinton packed his schedule with three stops Monday in the Old Dominion, where he tried to convince voters that his wife’s experience trumps Barack Obama’s “smoke and mirrors” candidacy.
Well, at least he's not race baiting this time...

Fall Girl?

Matthew Yglesias and Noam Scheiber ask the question I was wondering regarding the Clinton campaign's mini-shakeup (in which Patti Solis Doyle got fired—er, left her post): Why Not Penn?
Scheiber wonders why Patti Solis Doyle got the ax instead of Mark Penn and puts forward some plausible conjectures. Michelle Cottle ads some insight of her own. But let's try this on for size: Maybe Hillary Clinton believes Mark Penn is a brilliant political strategist who saved her husband's administration (and the Democratic Party) in the 1990s, put her in the US Senate, and knows the formula to put her in the White House.

Yes, I think that's ludicrous but then again I never would have made him chief strategist of my presidential campaign. Clinton obviously hired him because she admires his work, and there may well be nothing more machiavellian going on than that she continues to admire his work.

Christ, He's Electric!

Is God pissed at Christ? Is this a sign that Rio has flouted God's will and is about to pay with divine wrath? Or is it just an acknowledgment of new creative possibilities, like Dylan going electric in 65? 


Here's the article.

2084?

This kind of shit creeps me out. 
The European Commission will propose tomorrow that all foreign travelers entering and leaving Europe, including U.S. citizens, should be fingerprinted. If approved by the European Parliament, the measure would mean that precisely identifying information on tens of millions of citizens will be added in coming years to databases that could be shared by friendly governments around the world.

The United States already requires that foreigners be fingerprinted and photographed before they enter the country. So does Japan. Now top European security officials want to follow suit, with travelers being fingerprinted and some also having their facial images stored in a Europe-wide database, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by The Washington Post.
I've managed to go 38 years of my life without being fingerprinted with one simple method—by not committing felonies. The thought of being treated like a criminal to simply enter another country really rubs me the wrong way. 

That said, I wasn't aware of the fact that we're insisting travelers into this country get fingerprinted and I'm sorry to hear it. Turnabout's fair play, I guess. Still, it strikes me as a sad day. And another baby step forward to a Phillip K. Dick world. 

Live Blogging My Cold

Sniffle. Sniff. Cough. Hack. Sniffle. Snort. Cough. Moan. Snort. Groan. Hack. Moan. Sniffle. Cough. Sniff. Snort. Cough. Cough. Hack. Moan. Groan. Snort. Sniffle. Sniff. Moan. 

Sorry, just had to clear that out of my system. 

This cold sucks. Won't let go its hold of me. Pain in the ass. I just want to breathe normally again. Just want to see the world without the hazy fog around the periphery. Just want to be able to stand up without reeling. Just want my upper back muscles to stop aching. Just want to be able to respond to a joking comment with witty reparte rather than a glazed look and a wan smile. 

I managed to get myself to the coffee shop today, but I think it was a mistake to come here. Now that I am here I just want to crawl back into bed. Besides, I'm not sure I should be driving.…

Mooooooooooannnnnnnn.


Monday, February 11, 2008

The British Tabs Are Right

More follow up to the Archbishop of Canterbury—Sharia story, previously posted on here and here. This from Slate's Anne Applebaum:
One Nation Under Mulitple Gods
Feebly, the archbishop's supporters have tried to defend him, reporting that he is "completely overwhelmed" by the hostility and "in a state of shock." Arguing that his remarks were misunderstood, misinterpreted, and taken out of context, his office even took the trouble to publish them, both in lecture form and in a radio interview version, on his official Web site. I highly recommend a closer look. Reading them, it becomes instantly clear that every syllable of the harshest tabloid criticism is more than well-deserved. The archbishop's language is mild-mannered, legalistic, jargon-riddled; the sentiments behind them are profoundly dangerous.

You Are Dedicated

Apologies for the light posting. I've been sick as a dog for the past two days. Some kind of nasty head cold with a nasty cough and lots of nasal drip. On top of that, I've been working a deadline crunch for John Javna. He's been revising his NYT bestseller 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth. It's almost ready to go to press. But after two days of 11+ hrs. of typesetting and editing, I'm spent. Poor Jennifer Hart, who brought me in on the project, has been going at it like this for the past six weeks. I can't decide if she's insane or a trooper. All I know is that I love working with them in that capacity. 

As usual, it's tough being back from vacation. Hawaii was a sweet, relaxing time. I really loved spending so much time with Goa and Shanti and loved getting to know Tashina better. Pete seems intent on making me jealous by posting beautiful pics on his blog Guiltless Pleasures. Serves me right, I suppose, for posting so many myself. :)

Hung out with Mike Sat. night. Watched a couple of videos and talked politics. I finally saw Team America. How fucking hilarious! I guess I knew it would be, but damn, I could hardly stop laughing. "You are dedicated."

Annie's back from her trip to California with Martha. Had a good time visiting relatives, but is glad to be back. Not so glad to have to deal with a sickly husband, though, I'll bet.