Saturday, March 15, 2008

Forever In Debt To Your Priceless Advice

Well, that NIN video got me thinking about what great year for rock 1994 was. It gave us albums like NIN's The Downward Spiral, Soundgarden's Superunknown, Portishead's Dummy, Tori Amos' Under The Pink, Beck's Mellow Gold,  Pearl Jam's Vitalogy, Offspring's Smash, and several others.

Ninety four capped a four year run of incredibly innovative and authentic music (music that actually got airplay), that started with 1991's Nevermind—the seminal album of the era and one of the best rock albums ever. Thinking of Nirvana reminded me of their best video, "Heart Shaped Box."

It's one of my favorites, so I figured I'd pass it along for you all to enjoy. Oh, and it's another one with deliciously disturbing imagery. 

Friday, March 14, 2008


Standing Tall

I just love these old photos.

Hat tip: Jennifer Hart

Poem Of The Day

Part I of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself:"
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their
parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy. 

Friday Dog Blogging

I don't know why Friday cat blogging has become a tradition in the blogosphere, when dog blogging sounds so much better (and funnier). So, here's my canine twist. Isn't she cute?

The Taj

Another gorgeous shot from Stuck in Customs.

Ugly Herstory*

Joe Conason gives us a refresher course/history lesson on Geraldine Ferraro's background. Like a Monet, the closer you get, the uglier it appears. 

Choice cuts:
Geraldine Ferraro still needs to apologize
Unlike Obama, who had to make his way in Chicago politics on his own merits after his stint as a community organizer and local lawyer, Ferraro benefited from family and political connections when she decided to run for Congress. Her cousin Nicholas Ferraro had been the Queens district attorney, and she got her first political job as an assistant D.A. Always a reliable cog in the Queens Democratic Party, which in those days was among the country's most corrupt and boss-ridden political machines, she didn't have to worry much about primary or general election opponents.

Ferraro's three terms in Congress produced little in the way of legislation -- again unlike Obama, whose single term in the Senate has seen him mark several milestones, in particular a landmark ethics reform package. That wasn't the kind of thing that Ferraro would have supported back when she was in the House, since she prided herself on cuddling up to the leadership rather than challenging the status quo in any way. She was an ordinary pork-chopper, but her personality and determination won over Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, then the House speaker.
As Village Voice investigative reporter Wayne Barrett later revealed, the Republican oppo researchers knew much that Mondale evidently didn't about Ferraro and her family's connections with organized crime, dating back at least two generations, and how she had personally profited from those unsavory bonds. (Barrett and William Bastone continued to report on those links for the Voice when Ferraro ran for the Senate in 1992, discovering literally dozens of contributions and deals that involved the worst thugs in New York.)

To Ferraro, reports of her husband's criminal associations proved only the "anti-Italian" bias of the press. Her claims of ignorance about her husband's real estate business -- he rented space in lower Manhattan to a Mob porn operation and a Chinese sweatshop, among many other questionable deals -- were not entirely plausible, since she was an officer of his company and shared office space with him. There were tax problems, too, and despite a spirited performance at a press conference where she evaded as many questions as she answered, her image never quite recovered before Election Day.
You can recommence feeling sorry for her now for merely speaking the "truth."

* Don't you just love insipid, politically-driven bastardizations of the language that have no understanding of the word's origins or evolution?

You Must Remedy This

Keith takes Hillary to school over the race baiting strategy.

You Get Me Closer To God

I've always loved this video. Deliciously creepy.

Update: It's hard to believe that video ever got airplay on MTV. One of their better moments.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

We Don't Need No Bling

Okay, just when I think I've seen the worst of these things, some white-bread, dopey-ass Clinton supporters go and surprise me. Much like Clinton's campaign, these vids are a special form of soul torture. Here's the latest in the race to the bottom of the taste barrel:

Bonus points for the "house needs a woman to clean it" meme, eh? More still for, "We don't need no bling." Classy. 

P.S. No need to thank me. 

Mark Rove

A fat fuck who lies for a living who isn't named Rush Limbaugh and, indeed, makes ol' Rush look like a straight shooter?!? Nah, can't be!

Oh, yes! And guess what? He pretends to be a Democrat. And he's the person Bill and Hill trust more than anyone—their own personal Karl Rove, named Mark Penn. Click through to USA Today article to listen to the skeeve bash Obama and then lie about it. On tape. 

You just gotta love these people. This is Team Clinton, folks.

Choice cut:
Though the campaign later argued that he hadn't said it, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's chief campaign strategist told reporters this morning that Sen. Barack Obama "can't win the general election."
He also says Obama can't pass the risible "Commander-in-Chief Test." The freshly-minted "Economy Test." And, get this, "The Keystone Test." LOL. I can't wait to hear what they come up with next.

Toxic Hill

The more this campaign goes forward the more I wonder if anyone will vote for Hillary besides unreconstructed 2nd-wave feminists and fossilized geezers if she should finagle the nomination. I mean, I know she's pissed me and half of Obama's supporters off, and that's one thing. But she's managing to alienate longtime die-hard Dems, too. As this reader to TNR illustrates:
I am what's called a SuperVoter. Having been born in Boston, I learned to "Vote Early and Vote Often." That is, I vote in every primary, local election, etc. I have voted for no one but Democrats for at least thirty years--I believe that we are a wealthy enough nation to be compassionate. I have been involved in politics for much of that time, including stints as a lobbiest(non-profit) and high-level appointment of two governors, not having campaigned for or against either of them. I have been in the room plenty of times watching the sausage get made that is getting elected and then governing. Though I supported her for all of 07 and into January of 08, I have never witnessed a lower Democratic campaigner than Hillary Clinton. It's ugly and its not coming from both campaigns equally, but from hers primarily. Very ugly. Very unfortunate. And, I'm sorry, but let me say it again: Very ugly.

Ice Water In Her Veins

A Daily Dish reader feels a chill in the air.
A Sociopath On Air. If you did not hear Clinton's interview with Steve Inskeep on NPR this morning, be sure to give a listen. It shattered my Obama optimism.
Inskeep gave her several of the hard questions you write about every day, and she parried every one. She sounded -- not was, but sounded -- rational, logical, sensible (Obama-like?) in explaining why the MI and FL delegates should be seated, and denying she ever said McCain was more qualified than Obama. Some of her answers were such whoppers that Inskeep actually repeated the questions, his voice rising with incredulity.
The woman is an absolute assassin. Ice water in her veins. A second-generation terminator (yeah, the liquid-metal kind). As a politician, I fear she is light years ahead of Obama, and I am very, very afraid.
But that's just the beginning. 
The in-tray is full of readers who just can't believe it:
I just listened to that NPR interview you linked earlier. Holy shit was it infuriating.
I think the thing I hate the most about Clinton/Bush style politics is that it completely disables the press. It was obvious that Inskeep thought she was full of shit, but what can he do? Her answers were divorced from reality, but in a way that makes them sound reasonable. The only word that comes to mind is "double-speak." Either Inskeep can accept the rhetorical landscape that she presents, or he can call her a liar. Either way he's screwed. If he plays by her terms, she wins. If he calls her a liar, she plays the victim card, rails about the biased media, and wins. Trying to merely challenge her assertions in an intellectual way is bound to fail as well, because she'll just spit out more double-speak, putting the interviewer back at square one.
If all Obama accomplishes as President is to cripple this kind of politics, I will consider him a resounding success. 
Oh, and congratulations, Senator Clinton. You and your husband now share mental space in my head with George W. Bush. Yes you can destroy my good will for you and your husband. And I'm sure you are ready on day one to make me want to tear my fucking hair out.
I wonder if the Clintons understand what they are doing to people - people who weren't Clinton-haters in the first place, people whose votes they need.
Listen to the interview yourself.

Woe Is Hillary

Next time someone tries to tell you that poor Hillary is losing because sexism is more palatable than racism. Or because the press hates her. Or because the youth are fickle and prefer the rock star. Or whatever other pity party they want you to buy into, just remember. Remember just how many advantages she came into this race with: 

• Huge name recognition. 
• Aura of inevitability 
• Wife of extremely popular former president. 
• Tons of money. 
• Institutional infrastructure. 
• Lack of soul (oops, couldn't resist). 

Then there are the party numbers that this Washington Monthly reader points out:
Hillary Clinton is running for the nomination of a party that is majority white/ethnic, by a 70/30 ratio, and majority female, by a 60/40 ratio. Despite these overwhelming advantages which identity politics should give her, she is actually losing to a black male candidate by every statistical measure that you could devise.

All of which merely tells us what a god-awful lousy candidate she really is.

And Ferraro has the gall to say that Obama has an advantage because he's black? If he were a playing on a demographically level playing field, he'd be beating Hillary by a margin of 3-1 right now.

Hillary owes all of her success to the fact that she is a white woman running against a black man in a party which is 40% white women and about 15% black men.

All I Know Is...I'm Through Apologizing.

A Clinton supporter finally sees the light. 
A Loyal Clinton Soldier Turns in His Badge
She has no idea how many times I defended her. How many right-leaning friends and relatives I battled with. How many times I played down her shady business deals and penchant for scandals -- whether it was Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Foster, Cattle Futures, Web Hubbell, or Norman Hsu. She has no idea how frequently I dismissed her husband's serial adultery as an unfortunate trait of an otherwise brilliant man. For sixteen years, I was a proud soldier in the legion of "Clinton apologists" -- who believed that peace and prosperity were more important than regrettable personality traits.

And then she ran for president.

Christian Nation?

Wack jobs say the founding fathers were Christians. Saner sorts (like myself ;) say they were Deists. Turns out that, as if often the case, the truth lies somewhere in between. 
WERE THE FOUNDING FATHERS REALLY CHRISTIANS?....Religious conservatives have long insisted that the Framers were deeply and traditionally Christian, an assertion central to their contention that America was founded as a "Christian nation." Secular liberals, by contrast, have long argued that most of the Founders were agnostics or, at best, Deists who believed that reason, not scripture, is the true path to understanding the Almighty.

So which side is right? Neither is, quite, according to Steve Waldman, founding editor of and the author of a terrific new book, Founding Faith. Waldman has read just about every available thing that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and the rest said and wrote, publicly and privately, about their personal theological views. He comes to two conclusions. First, all the Founders saw themselves as Christians and believed that God in one way or another guides human affairs. So, score one for the religious right. Second, not a single one of the main Founders actually believed in the divinity of Jesus, which is the central tenet of the Christian faith. Score one for the secular left.

Steve is blogging about this over at TPM Cafe. Also he's compiled an archive of his source material so you can read for yourself what the Founders had to say about their personal religious beliefs. You might also check out the cover story he wrote for the Washington Monthly (where he's a contributing editor) on the surprising role evangelicals played during the founding in securing religious freedom.

Blame It On Evolution

Beats feeling like a slacker with too much time on his hands.
Why We're Powerless To Resist Grazing On Endless Web Data
In other words, coming across what Dr. Biederman calls new and richly interpretable information triggers a chemical reaction that makes us feel good, which in turn causes us to seek out even more of it. The reverse is true as well: We want to avoid not getting those hits because, for one, we are so averse to boredom.

It is something we seem hard-wired to do, says Dr. Biederman. When you find new information, you get an opioid hit, and we are junkies for those. You might call us 'infovores.' "

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Poo Quality Index (PQI)

What your poo says about you. (Really.) explores the issue. It's funny. It's informative. It's funformative! Here's a preview:
The Bowel Movement
What is your poo telling you about your health? It's the burning question that has everybody's head in the toilet these days.
Indeed, what the book's coauthors, Josh Richman and Anish Sheth, M.D., say was once regarded as "malodorous waste" can now be openly regarded for what it is: a miracle of creation, a crystal ball of intestinal health, a feng shui of the derrière. "Like a snowflake, each poo has a wondrous uniqueness," they write. 
Then there's the rarely discussed form of toilet elation, "poo-phoria."

"This poo can turn an atheist into a believer and is distinguished by the sense of euphoria and ecstasy that you feel throughout your body when this type of feces departs your system," write the coauthors. "To some, it may feel like a religious experience, to others like an orgasm, and to a lucky handful it may feel like both. This is the type of poo that makes us all look forward to spending time on the toilet."

Going to the john is no longer simply a process of elimination. No, the "unbridled elation that results from releasing the perfect poo" is now a transformative act, bringing the conscientious fiber-eating toilet sitter to a spiritual or sexual high.
You have to read the whole thing.

Bonus video:

O, Brother, Why Art Thou?

As usual, it's leagues better than Clinton's amateur vids. And also as usual, it's still ick-inducing. Call me hard to please, I guess.

Camille On Hillary

Camille Paglia, the iconoclastic third-wave feminist scholar/author, struggles to tell us how she really feels about Clinton's candidacy.
Hillary, her shrill voice much improved and lowered through brutal overstrain, has certainly gained confidence and performance skill on the campaign trail, but I still don't trust her. The arrogant, self-absorbed Clintons have shown their unscrupulous hand to all who have eyes to see. Yes, Hillary may know the labyrinthine flow chart of the Washington bureaucracy, but her peripheral experiences as a gallivanting first lady scarcely qualify her to be commander in chief. On the contrary, her constant resort to schmaltzy videos and cheap entertainment riffs ("The Sopranos," "Saturday Night Live") has been depressingly unpresidential. Is this how she would govern? All that canned "softening" of Hillary's image would have been unnecessary had she had greater personal resources to begin with. Her cutesy campaign has set a bad precedent for future women candidates, who should stand on their own as proponents of public policy.

Would I want Hillary answering the red phone in the middle of the night? No, bloody not. The White House first responder should be a person of steady, consistent character and mood -- which describes Obama more than Hillary. And that scare ad was produced with amazing ineptitude. If it's 3 a.m., why is the male-seeming mother fully dressed as she comes in to check on her sleeping children? Is she a bar crawler or insomniac? An obsessive-compulsive housecleaner, like Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest"? And why is Hillary sitting at her desk in full drag and jewelry at that ungodly hour? A president should not be a monomaniac incapable of rest and perched on guard all night like Poe's baleful raven. People at the top need a relaxed perspective, which gives judgment and balance. Workaholism is an introspection-killing disease, the anxious disability of tunnel-vision middle managers.
The cloud of feminist cant about Hillary's struggling candidacy has been noxious. "Media misogyny has reached an all-time high," screeched the National Organization for Women in a press release titled "Ignorance and Venom: The Media's Deeply Ingrained Sexism." Groan. If women are going to play in the geopolitical big league, they'd better toughen up and learn how to deal with all the curveballs. Never has the soppy emotionalism of old-guard feminist reasoning been on such open and embarrassing display. How has Hillary, who rode her husband's coattails to the top and who trashed every woman he seduced or assaulted, become such a feminist heroine? What has she ever achieved on her own -- aside from the fiasco of healthcare reform?

And if the media is treating Hillary in a gendered way, hasn't she herself constantly and cynically dramatized her embattled womanhood? It began with her snappish defense of her hangdog husband during the Gennifer Flowers imbroglio of 1992. Blame tail-chasing Bill, from Little Rock on, for sexualizing the popular perception of the Clintons. Nubile, exploited Monica Lewinsky will always hover around Hillary like ghostly baggage. Bill's serial abuses betray a profound ambivalence about and deep-seated hostility to women -- something the Clintons' giddy feminist flacks just don't see. Why was Hillary flying around the world to those 80 countries anyhow -- building her résumé while leaving her randy hubby unleashed? Anyone who thinks Bill's exploits are going to stop after Hillary is president has, well, a screw loose.
I wish she'd stop pulling her punches.

The Ferraro Flap V

Okay one last thing from Ezra Klein at The American Prospect:
What If?
Yes, it's fairly reprehensible that Geraldine Ferraro said "if Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position, and if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." But in a weird way, there's much less to this comment than meets the eye. After all, Obama is not a woman, nor a white man. He's who he is. 
To say that if he were different, things would be different is to say nothing at all. 
As a white woman, maybe he would have led a military coup and established himself dictator. Who knows!? Hell, if he were a slightly less inspiring speaker, or had an off-night at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he wouldn't be in this position either. Similarly, if Hillary Clinton were a black man, it's unlikely that she would have been a national political figure for the past 15 years, as it's unlikely that she would have married another man from Arkansas, and unlikely that the country would have put an interracial, same sex couple in the White House. But so what? This is an election, not Marvel's "What If?" series.

The Ferraro Flap IV

Hopefully, the final post on this topic, from The Daily Dish.
Ending The Victim Spiral
The one indisputably positive aspect of the Obama candidacy - to left or right - has been his remarkable ability to make a case for his nomination without relying on this kind of identity politics and victim-mongering. That he doesn't shrink from minority status and pretend that his blackness doesn't matter is not the same thing. His ability to both represent a black man and yet represent a figure beyond a black man is the core of the historic salience of his candidacy. 
It's why a gay man living in many different worlds feels that Obama can and will move all of us forward. It is why so many with complex identities and revulsion for racial or gender groupthink have been given new hope this time around. It shows that he has actually moved beyond the kind of thinking that lay behind Ferraro's original nomination and the toxic politics of the 1970s left.
I hope this stuff ends soon - and that the Obama camp does not degenerate into constantly being offended, however justified the offense is. Better to remind ourselves of the positive aspects that Obama has allowed for and that his enemies are trying to cloud and pollute. Here's one from almost a year ago that is worth remembering again today:
My favorite moment was a very simple one. [Obama] referred to the anniversary of the March on Selma, how he went and how he came back and someone (I don't remember who now) said to him:
"That was a great celebration of African-American history."
To which Obama said he replied:
"No, no, no, no, no. That was not a great celebration of African-American history. That was a celebration of American history."
When this election is fought on their terms - on grievance and resentment and identity victim-mongering - the bad guys win. We mustn't let them take this moment away from us.

"Team Clinton" Responds To Race Accusations

Funny because it's true.

The Ferraro Flap III

Josh from Talking Points Memo has a great video summation of the recent mess:

The Ferraro Flap II

Finally, this morning the Clinton camp responds forcefully:
Ms. Ferraro is speaking for herself. We have made clear that we reject her remarks. —Hillary spokesperson Howard Wolfson
And Ferraro has since resigned from her post as finance committee member. Here's the letter:
Dear Hillary –
I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what is at stake in this campaign.

The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you.

I won't let that happen.

Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do to make this a better world for my children and grandchildren.

You have my deep admiration and respect.


The Ferraro Flap

Well, looks like this Ferraro story has legs. And maybe I was too quick to give her the benefit of the doubt. She's getting bloodied throughout the blogosphere. A consensus is forming that her "gaffes" are part of a strategy to inflame white resentment (by giving voice to it) over issues like affirmative action.

And instead of staying mum, she continues to press onward, digging the hole deeper. This time by going on The O'Reilly Factor (of all places) and saying this:
O'REILLY: Apparently you told the Daily Breeze newspaper in Torrance, California, quote, "If Obama were a white man, he would not be in this position. If here were a woman of any color, he would not be in the position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is in a country who's caught up in the concept." Did you say that?

FERRARO: Yeah, but I also said a lot before that.

O'REILLY: Right, but you know you're gonna get hammered on that.

FERRARO: I was not speaking – no, I was speaking to – it was a paid speech. I was not representing a campaign. I go out and give speeches. I don't –

O'REILLY: Oh, I understand that.

FERRARO: You know, like you do.

O'REILLY: I absolutely know they can take you out of context, but do you believe that Barack Obama, if he were a white mean, white senator, would not be in the position?

FERRARO: Absolutely.
More from Kos:
She was "taken out of context", but asked directly if that's what she meant, she says "absolutely". So what the hell is she talking about? […]

This is what the Clinton campaign is reduced to. Taking a candidate who has inspired hope and passion, and working overtime to turn him into the "black candidate" even though she has no hope of winning the nomination absent a coup by super delegate. Now there's a legacy for Clinton. Congrats to her on pulling that one off.

And it's clear as day, given their refusal to ask for Ferraro's resignation, that the Clinton campaign is as complicit and pleased with Ferraro's words as they are with her media strategy.
Then there's this from the Daily Dish:
The Ferraro Gambit Is Deliberate
The Obama campaign saw Samantha Power resign for a less offensive remark. But Ferraro is now on the networks and airwaves amping up the volume, and Clinton, in classic passive-aggressive mode, is merely "disagreeing." Isn't this obviously about Pennsylvania? Isn't this classic Rove-Morris politics - to keep designating Obama a beneficiary of affirmative action and Clinton a victimized white woman in order to racially polarize a primary where Clinton needs white ethnic votes? Ferraro's original gaffe was an accident. The compounding of it is a strategy. A reader comments:
I'm willing to bet damn near anything Bill thought this up himself. As a white male Bill realized he couldn't push Obama into the ghetto box, but what a brilliant strategy! - let's have another "disadvantaged group" lambaste Obama through an elderly white female surrogate to divide and conquer in the victimology sweepstakes. Since whites outnumber blacks, and white females in particular outnumber black voters, it's an incredibly audacious gambit to win the nomination. Throwing the kitchen sink apparently means turning the Democratic Party into an all out race versus gender war, ultimately allowing Bill and Hillary to either emerge on top or for Obama to be so badly damaged that the Superdelegates will fear he's lost the white vote in the general election. That's exactly the game the Clinton's have set in motion here.

ClintonAttacksObama Wiki Incident Tracker

Here's a site dedicated to tracking TeamClinton's dirtier attacks on Obama. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I find some of these (about 5 or 6 or so) to be a stretch, but the shear number of obviously legitimate ones is pretty striking. 

Click here to check it out.

Happy Birthday

Here's a shout out to the first-ever mp3 player:
The first MP3 player celebrates its 10th birthday. Odds are, you take your iPod or Zune for granted. You probably don't think about the crazy technological advancements we've made, but take a 10-year look back at the world's first MP3 player -- the MPMan F10 -- and you'll get a sense of just how far we've come. 
Manufactured by Korea's Saehan Information Systems, the device was launched in March of 1998 at CeBIT, and went on sale in the Summer through Eiger Labs for $250. The player featured 32MB of flash memory (which could be upgraded to 64MB via mail-in scheme), connected to PCs via parallel port, and had a miniscule LCD for playback info -- but it laid the groundwork for the tech we have today. Following the MPMan's release, Rio unleashed its PMP300, which received a warmer reception and all-but eclipsed the F10's status as "first" amongst players, likely due to the company's well-known (and groundbreaking) legal battle against the RIAA. 
Still, first is first, so help keep the MPMan's rich history alive, and celebrate its 10-year anniversary this month with campfire songs and story-telling. Check out the archived read link of the original Eiger Labs site for a wild and wacky trip through time.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Race & Gender Minefields

One of the more fascinating and embarrassing aspects of this primary is watching the fissures within Democratic party, and among liberals in general, get exposed, particularly along racial and gender lines. 

I've already written fairly extensively about the race-baiting that's gone on in the race. (Many charges have appeared since SC that have been such stretches of interpretation that I haven't bothered commenting.)

Well, recently I've been considering a post or three about the fractures within the feminist community about whether voting for Obama is a betrayal of the sisterhood. But, honestly, I've just had too much to work with for this medium (well over 40 articles to reference) and I gave up on the idea. 

Well, never mind that. This week we've got a two-fer. To wit:

Geraldine Ferraro, former representative of NY and the first woman to run on a major party ticket, has managed to step in it recently, getting caught playing both the race card and the sexism card.

First reports came in that she said this:
If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.
Now, leave aside the absurdity of the statement for a sec. I can kind of see what she was getting at. I mean he's an exciting charismatic politician who is also black and stands a real chance at getting elected president. Maybe he wouldn't be enjoying as much press if he were a white guy. 

On the other hand, this is the U.S. Obama is a black man whose name is Barack Hussein Obama. This is lucky? C'mon. What Ferraro fails to see in her frustration is that his "luck" is really an uncanny ability to overcome the huge obstacle of his name and skin color.

Anyway, Obama's camp responded thus: 
"They should be denounced, and she should be censured by the campaign for them," Axelrod said of Ferraro's remarks. If Clinton's campaign does nothing, Axelrod said during a call with reporters, they are reinforcing a politics-as-usual approach.

"They ought to set a tone and do what we've done when people have said things not in keeping with what is the spirit of our campaign," he said, adding, "the bottom line is this when you wink and nod at offensive statemens you really send a signal to your supporters that anything goes."
To which Ferraro responded: 

Right off the bat some fellow bloggers began labeling her a racist, unfairly to my mind. That's a pretty nasty charge to level at someone, especially when they're speaking off the cuff.

Well, it turns out she wasn't speaking off the cuff. She'd made similar comments a week earlier to Fox skeeve, John Gibson, which suggests to me that it was a talking point:

Meantime, the Clinton camp released this down-is-up statement: 
[W]e reject these false, personal and politically calculated attacks on the eve of a primary. This campaign should be about the leadership we need for a better future and these attacks serve only to divide the Democratic Party and the American people.
That's right, Obama's dividing the American people by playing the race card. 

But wait, there's more.

It turns out that Ferraro made virtually the exact same argument back in 1988 about Jesse Jackson's candidacy:
"If Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race," she said.

Really. The cite is an April 15, 1988 Washington Post story, available only on Nexis. Here's the full context:
Placid of demeanor but pointed in his rhetoric, Jackson struck out repeatedly today against those who suggest his race has been an asset in the campaign. President Reagan suggested Tuesday that people don't ask Jackson tough questions because of his race. And former representative Geraldine A. Ferraro (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that because of his "radical" views, "if Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race."

Asked about this at a campaign stop in Buffalo, Jackson at first seemed ready to pounce fiercely on his critics. But then he stopped, took a breath, and said quietly, "Millions of Americans have a point of view different from" Ferraro's.

Discussing the same point in Washington, Jackson said, "We campaigned across the South . . . without a single catcall or boo. It was not until we got North to New York that we began to hear this from Koch, President Reagan and then Mrs. Ferraro . . . . Some people are making hysteria while I'm making history."

Still I'm somewhat inclined to give Ferraro a pass because as racist comments go these are pretty tame. I think in her mind she's merely describing the reality on the ground. (Trouble is, of course, the ground has shifted.) And as she mentioned, she has worked against discrimination in her past. 

It seems to me that what we're seeing is a more deeply rooted, almost latent, soft racism that's being flushed out in this campaign (it's happening too with sexism, less latently). One that I think people of an older generation are actually blind to. 

Ultimately, I think that these clashes over racism and sexism are healthy; good things to get out into the open and explore, despite feelings getting hurt. Really, it's absurd to think that most Obama supporters are sexist and that most Clinton supporters are racists. But some of these claims are valid and they shouldn't be dismissed. Because we're all human after all, and we often surprise even ourselves when repellent thoughts or ideas get flushed out in stressful situations. 

Update: Irritated and defensive, Ferraro had this to say: 
"Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up," Ferraro said. "Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"

Update II: Project And Project Again.
She also said she is familiar with Axelrod from his work for minority candidates in New York. "He knows damn well that the best thing to do in a situation like this is to come back and hit with race," Ferraro said, adding that the response is a sign that the Obama campaign is "worried" about the first-term senator's lack of experience.
Update III: My Victimization Is Worse Than Yours.
She also echoed remarks of feminist leaders like Gloria Steinem, who argued in the New York Times that Obama would not have succeeded if he were a woman because gender is "the most restricting force in American life."

"Sexism is a bigger problem," Ferraro argued. "It's OK to be sexist in some people's minds. It's not OK to be racist."

Another Win…

…that doesn't count. Right?

Obama Gets Bent

Geek Chorus

Maybe I was wrong yesterday when I wrote this about the perils of dehumanizing opponents. Maybe she is evil.* What else could possibly explain this below?

Matt Yglesias might be onto something, though, and it's a scary fucking thought:
Everytime I see something painfully lame done on Clinton's behalf, I think she just might ultimately win this thing. At the end of the day, the United States is a pretty tacky middlebrow kind of country.
* For the record, that's a joke.

Another 3 A.M. Ad?

It's 3 a.m. The phone rings. Hillary Rodham Clinton picks it up.
"Hillary, it's Silda Wall Spitzer.* Sorry to call so late. Eliot's still not home. Based on your experience, what should I do?"
* If by some strange miracle you haven't heard about NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer, here's the story.

He Ear-ned It

Election Myth '08

Here's an interesting little tidbit of counterintuitive information from Chris Bowers at OpenLeft
Reductive Thinking About The Nomination Campaign
More people over the age of 60 have voted for Barack Obama than people under 30. More people in Generation X have voted for Barack Obama than people over the age of 60. And more Boomers have voted for Obama than Generation Xers. In other words, Obama has received fewer votes from Generation Y than from any other generation in this nomination campaign.
Fewer than half of Hillary Clinton's votes have come from white women.
Barack Obama has received about 60% more votes from whites than he has from African-Americans.
And there is more, too, including that nearly 40% of pledged delegates from caucuses and conventions have gone to a candidate other than Barack Obama. While I still think it is possible to predict how somehow will vote in the primary with reasonable accuracy once a complete psychographic profile of that person is developed, it is a lot more complex than the simplistic and reductivist "young voters" or "white women" arguments that are being thrown around. There are literally dozens of factors at play, not just age, gender, and race / ethnicity.


The Sexies

Dan Savage will be one of the judges for a new award given to sex-positive journalism. Here's his brief description. 
NOW FOR A LITTLE SEX-POSITIVE JOURNALISM: Recently, the sex-negative journalism of Kandiss Crone of WLBT News in Jackson, Mississippi, annoyed me so much that I urged readers to send Crone angry e-mails and, er, used sex toys. Perhaps I went a little overboard. Crone isn't the only "journalist" out there doing idiotic, sex-negative work. Fact is, most of what gets written and published about sex is negative and sensationalistic.

This sad state of affairs inspired the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, the Center for Sex & Culture, Babeland, and journalist Miriam Axel-Lute to launch the Sex-Positive Journalism Awards. By drawing attention to good, sex-positive reporting, the "Sexies" hope to promote fair, accurate, and nonsensationalized coverage of sexual topics.

"The fact that sex-positive journalism is so rare means we need the help of all of you readers out there to help us turn up those gems of good, objective, sex-positive reporting," says Axel-Lute. "Especially in mainstream sources." I'm proud to have been asked to serve as a judge for the first annual Sex-Positive Journalism Awards. The deadline for submissions for the first annual "Sexies" is March 23, 2008. (The piece must have been published during 2007.) Anyone can submit a piece for consideration at the "Sexies" website:

A Provocative Question

Before I answer, let me consult my chart. :)
Should Scientists Date People Who Believe in Astrology?
While searching for a soulmate on several online dating sites, I caught myself disregarding anyone who professed their belief in astrology.
At roughly the same time, a friend called my attention to this clip from The Big Bang Theory, which thoroughly picks astrological superstition apart. Am I being too hard on my New Age counterparts?
In my book, astrology is a silly shortcut for understanding how the world works, but so is judging people by their spiritual beliefs.
Scientists are sometimes guilty of using ridiculous heuristics too! For example, principal investigators sometimes hire graduate students based on grades and standardized test scores rather than their ability to work well in a laboratory.
Many brilliant people, including Nobel Laureate Kary Mullis, believe rather strange things. One of the chapters in his autobiography, Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, bears the title: I am a Capricorn.
Also, I suspect that if someone took a poll of obsessive compulsive scientists, and there are plenty of those, they would be amazed by how many ridiculous beliefs the otherwise rational scholars secretly harbor.
Well, duh. Anyway, the clip is pretty amusing:

I Think You Know What Time It Is…

It looks like Wednesday night to me.

Monday, March 10, 2008


"I don’t know how somebody who is in second place is offering the Vice Presidency to the person who is in first place. I mean. I am just wondering. I am just wondering. If I was in second place I could understand it, but I am in first place right now."

Feel The Love

This classy quote comes from Clinton surrogate and former veep candidate, Geraldine Ferraro (you remember her, right, the first woman ever on a major party ticket):
If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.
h/t: DailyKos

On Dehumanization

I happened upon a PBS documentary of Marie Antoinette last night. It was fascinating and brought the woman and her era to life in a fascinating and instructive way. Toward the end of Louis XVI's reign, but before the revolution, the press started vilifying Marie in incredibly nasty ways: calling her a harlot, illustrating political cartoons with her as a monstrous beast, etc., etc. The fury these whipped up, combined a host of other historical factors, led to the end of their reign and her death by guillotine. 

I bring this up because much what I saw in the documentary last night reminded me of the highly-emotional attacks on Hillary Clinton that have surfaced—especially recently—many of which are beyond the pale.

Like many liberals, I began this election season feeling that regardless of who won the Democratic nomination, I'd be happy to pull the lever. I had a slight preference for Obama, but could envision voting for Clinton. That has changed dramatically since January, however. I've since become full-throated in my opposition to Clinton and in my support for Obama. In my judgment, many of Clinton's campaign tactics have been unforgivable—especially against another Democrat. She has crossed lines that I just can't accept. Furthermore, I just think she'd be a terrible general election candidate. That said, I've done my best to keep my opposition based on issues, record, and character assessments. 

Emotions are high, of course, and things get said in the heat of the moment that are regretted later. But still, it's incumbent upon us to not dehumanize our opponents, regardless of how vociferously we disagree with them. (Yes, DeLay, Rumsfeld, and Cheney, et al., make this difficult, but we're strong, we can do it.)

Just my two cents. 


Well, it turns out that Obama's worst week since voting began in January—his week from hell, as some have dubbed it—wasn't all that bad a week after all. Despite Ohio's poor judgment (he actually won more delegates in TX so I give him that victory despite what the MSM says), he ended the week with 7 more delegates than Clinton. I'll let Kos explain:
Obama's "Bad" Week
So CW is that last week was the "week from hell" for Obama, and given that he could've closed this thing out and didn't, we can stipulate that it could've been better. But let's see just how horrible the week was:
Per Obama's count (if Clinton had a similar count, I'll happily link to it), Obama started last week with 1,203 delegates, Clinton with 1,043. Since then:

      Obama  Clinton
OH   66         75
RI     8          13
VT    9          6
TX    99        94
WY   7          5

Total 189      193

So that's a four-delegate gain for Clinton.

But that wasn't all. Obama also picked up three more super delegates last Tuesday -- Texas Democratic Party Vice Chair Roy Laverne Brooks, DNC member Mary Long of Georgia and South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler.

That pegs things at 192-193 for the week.

And then on Saturday, Obama provided material help in Bill Foster's dramatic upset victory in IL-14, filming an ad and sending hundreds of volunteers into the district. The Republicans had John McCain campaign for the Republican candidate, yet still lost proving that Obama 1) is more focused on party building and down-ballot races than the Clinton campaign (where was she?), 2) that he could out-battle McCain in the first proxy battle of the season, and 3) that he's got some serious coattails.

Oh, and Bill Foster is now a super delegate and repaid Obama's largesse by promising him his vote.

So yes, Obama has some serious message issues to deal with and a shaken campaign to right. But where it matters -- in the delegate race -- Obama ended his week from hell TIED with Clinton. […]

As Clinton gears up her efforts for coup by super delegate, threatening civil war within the party, it bears noting that in her best week of the campaign since her New Hampshire victory, she actually lost ground in the race.

Update: It was even better for Obama last week. The final certified vote in California swung four votes Obama's direction. So officially, Obama gained four delegates last week, unofficially (including that Wyoming unpledged delegate), it was five.

Update II: And there were two new super delegate endorsements for Obama on Saturday — NV State Party Vice Chairwoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV).

That makes it a +6 delegate week for Obama officially, +7 unofficially.

Update III: And another super delegates signed up last Tuesday as well—Georgia Democratic Party chairwoman Jane Kidd.

So make that +7 officially, +8 unofficially.
Well, I'll take February's outright wins over last week any day. But if that was his hell week, then even a couple more of those couldn't hurt. Still fired up.

Poem Of The Day

"The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds." 

This is very, very cool. Pete, I think you'll dig it the most.

Click here for more.

h/t: Daily Dish

Poem Of The Day

Your great mistake is to act the drama 
as if you were alone. 
As if life were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden transgressions. 
To feel abandoned is to deny the intimacy 
of your surroundings. 

Surely, even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, 
crowding out your solo voice. 
You must note the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things to come, 
the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness 
and ease into the conversation. 
The kettle is singing even as it pours you a drink, 
the cooking pots have left their arrogant aloofness 
and seen the good in you at last. 
All the birds and creatures of the world are 
unutterably themselves. 
everything is waiting for you.
—David Whyte

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Maher Gets Grease Out Of Our Way

Bill makes the oily Terry McAuliffe squirm, only to have Terry bolt after mysterious technical difficulties.

Icky Thump

Why don't you kick yourself out? / You're an immigrant, too.