Other People's Genius

Have you seen this chicken?

This Rattled Rooster cartoon dramatizes the GOP's strategy for dealing with terrorism (or anything else really).

Happy other people's genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 11:41 AM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

A Good Sign

Obama responds to a fear mongering Clinton ad:

I do want to take a moment to respond, because the press is, I’m sure, curious, to an ad that Senator Clinton is apparently running today. It asks a legitimate question. It says, who do you want answering the phone in the White House when it's 3:00 a.m. and something has happened in the world. It’s a legitimate question. And we’ve seen these ads before. They’re usually the kind that play upon people's fears and try to scare up votes....
And TPM's commenters do a great job of invoking Bill Clinton just to pile on the irony:
Ohiomeister posted this on another thread and it is just superb.

"Now one of Clinton’s laws of politics is this: If one candidate’s trying to scare you and the other one’s trying to get you to think, if one candidate’s appealing to your fears and the other one’s appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope."

-Bill Clinton, 2004
I generally prefer to invoke the Dude invoking Bush Sr: "This aggression will not stand, man." It's good for all occasions.

As Firedoglake and many others have noted, the way Obama has responded to attacks such as these is quite refreshing:

For those of us who've been worried about Barack's readiness to deal with the GOP sludge machine, it's a good sign.

...So is this bit of framing goodness from Team Obama, responding to Dubya's press conference today:

With their words today, George Bush and John McCain called for staying the course with an endless war in Iraq and a failed policy of not talking to leaders we don’t like, but Americans of all political persuasions are calling for change. The American people aren’t looking for tough talk about fighting for 100 years in Iraq, because they know we need to end this war, finish the job in Afghanistan, and take the fight to al Qaeda. The American people aren’t looking for more of a do-nothing Cuba policy that has failed to secure the release of dissidents, failed to bring democracy to the island, and failed to advance freedom for fifty years, because they know we need to pursue new opportunities to achieve liberty for the Cuban people.

Notice how the statement intentionally links "tough talk" with failure, and puts Obama on the side of the American people in wanting policies that get results instead? A couple of months ago, I mentioned that for almost three years now, I've been "writing about the basic distinction of bluster versus responsibility and the need to consciously rehabilitate and reclaim common sense as an approach for addressing policy issues, especially with regard to national security. . . . We need to start asserting the value of thinking about what works, not just what sounds like the most macho response." It's great that Obama and his brain trust appear to get this.

It's so nice to see a mainstream candidate fighting back the way Obama is. He's encouraging Democrats to be proud of thinking again and to fight for our values. And if we're lucky, he's doing it in a way that's getting some mainstream media attention. Maybe his fearless style will embolden the House to hold back on the Protect Telecommunications Act. We've stayed down long enough.

Nothing New byslag at 10:20 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Bitch Deserved It (and so do I, apparently)

Tucker Carlson, the guy who said, "most women are so sensible, they don't want to get involved in something as stupid as politics," augmented his stellar rhetorical record when defending the press corps' coverage of the Clinton campaign with this gem:

[The Clinton campaign is] awful to the media. Let's be totally blunt. They're awful to the press. They treat the press like enemies. Howard Wolfson is always calling around threatening people -- threatening people, news organizations. They do that. People hate you if you do that. I mean they've earned the enmity of the press in my view. They have. It's been hard, but they've done it.
They all do it, everybody does it, but she does it more....
Shorter Tucker Carlson: the bitch deserved it.

It's true that many of us (myself included) have had a very difficult time being objective as far as the Clinton campaign is concerned. But when Tucker feels like he can sit there and say it's ok for the press to be mean to Clinton because she was mean to them first, you really have to wonder where his standards are. Apparently, when a woman is running for president, it's fair game to call out her neckline as a matter of national importance, or to claim that her microscopic display of emotion will endanger national security, or to suggest that her daughter is being pimped out. But according to Tucker, they wouldn't have even done that if she weren't such a bitch to the press in the first place.

What Tucker, and his idiot compatriots, continually fail to understand is that it's not all about them. And it's not all about Hillary. It's actually all about me (no, seriously, it is). As a reader/a taxpayer/a citizen, I am the one who has to sort through all of their rubbish to try to get enough information to make important decisions. Some members of the press seem to think that these decisions don't affect them, but I'd like to think that they affect me. And when they reveal themselves to be ridiculously childish buffoons, they simply lose credibility in my eyes. It becomes hard for me to know where their focus on a plunging neckline ends and where their focus on real issues begins. And when the media "elite" sit there and justify their childishness with even more childishness, their credibility only sinks further.

As a reader, I don't want the press to be chummy with John McCain any more than I want them to be distanced by Hillary Clinton. I don't want their level of personal intimacy with a candidate to have any impact on my decision-making. That's because I'm not making decisions that are right for them. I'm making decisions that are right for me. Why, why, WHY is this such an impossibly difficult concept for the press corps to grasp? Their job is not in minding their own business. They're supposed to be minding my business. And I want standards, dammit! Rules of engagement. Boundaries that signify that at least some of what I'm reading isn't being marred by an "I'm rubber, and you're glue" mentality.

Does espousing the need for higher standards make me a bitch like Hillary? Probably. But I deserve more than what Tucker et al has to offer. So, does anyone know when Jon Stewart will pay Tucker a visit and give the network a new excuse to cancel his show? Rachel Maddow could do so much better. In other words: rubber, meet glue.

Nothing New byslag at 9:57 AM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

All's Fair in Race and War

I donated to the Obama campaign for the first time today. Obama can thank Hillary and McCain for finally pushing me over the edge.

First, camp Clinton declares that Obama is not American after all. Courtesy of Pam's House Blend:

BUCHANAN: You saw that lovely photograph on Drudge yesterday and Drudge said initially that Clintonites gave it to her. If Clinton, the Clintonite did that, would you consider that first a dirty trick and secondly, would you think the individual that did it should be fired if they could find him or her.

JONES: Understand this: The Clinton campaign does not condone people putting out pictures that they seem to believe are inappropriate. But let me say this: I have no shame or no problem with people looking at Barack Obama in his native clothing, in the clothing of his country.

This is a diverse country and people across America recognize that. I would not personally have done it and we can't attribute it to anybody in our campaign, but the Clinton campaign does not condone the conduct and we would hope that America is going to have an opportunity or begin to see if we're supporting a woman or an African-American for President, we ought to be able to support their ability to wear the clothing of their nation. [emphasis mine]

Then, McCain's supporters froth at the mouth over Barack's middle name. From the LA Times:
CINCINNATI -- A speaker introducing Republican presidential candidate John McCain at a rally here Tuesday ridiculed Democratic contender Barack Obama for his intention to meet with "world leaders who want to kill us" and pointedly referred to the Illinois senator as "Barack Hussein Obama."

Local conservative radio host Bill Cunningham went on to describe Obama as "a hack Chicago, Daley-style politician who is picturing himself as change."
Cunningham's introduction came before McCain had arrived at the rally of about 400 people in Hamilton County Memorial Hall.

The radio host told the crowd he'd had a dream about "Barack Hussein Obama's wonderful life a year from today." In the dream, he said, Obama was president and had just met with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and was set to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Then, Cunningham said, Obama was going to "saddle up next to Hezbollah."

"All's going to be right with the world when the great prophet from Chicago takes the stand, and the world leaders who want to kill us will simply be singing [Kumbaya] together around the table with Barack Obama," Cunningham continued.

Some members of the audience laughed, cheered and applauded during Cunningham's remarks; others said they were embarrassed by them.
If John McCain's campaign can get cash out of his mouth-breathing supporters because of the NYT's half-hearted, watered-down story indicating that he is, in fact, in bed with lobbyists, it seems only fair that these same mouth-breathers would get cash out of me on behalf of Obama's campaign. Good work team!

This aggression will not stand, man.

Nothing New byslag at 9:14 AM 6 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

It's Crowded in Here

From a recent CBS poll:

On Iraq, voters give McCain a slight edge over Obama on the ability to make the right decisions.
When my own perspective runs contrary to that of the majority on a particular issue, I generally feel inclined to re-think the issue as a matter of course. Even when I haven't changed my position afterward, I've found that the second, third, and even fourth canvassings of a subject always reveal new facets that invariably lead me to a stronger position. However, since the Bush Administration took office (or more accurately, since September 11th), I've found myself doing less and less of this critical re-examination and relying more heavily on the "people are f@&%ing crazy" attitude that seems to be all the rage these days. Hoping that this development isn't a function of cerebral calcification, I've recently decided to try to refrain from immediately pulling the intellectual ripcord when it comes to McCain's presidential candidacy.

With that said, it is nigh impossible for me to contemplate the notion of John McCain possibly making better decisions on the war than Barack Obama. Whenever I attempt to cogitate on this bizarro notion, I find myself slowly beginning to visualize vast fields of yellow daffodils and wondering, "what would a unicorn do?". In short, I conclude that "people are f@&%ing crazy". The reason for this incredulous mindset is the fact that my mind simply can't compare what I know of Obama's judgment and moral courage on the subject of the war with those of McCain.

At a time when being opposed to the war was considered by the vast majority to be political suicide, Obama said this about it:
Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances.
That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

Now let me be clear – I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.

He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.

So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president today. You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s finish the fight with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure that the UN inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.

The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not – we will not – travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.
And in spite of his current protestations to the contrary, around the same time that Obama made that speech, McCain had this to say about the war:

“Because I know that as successful as I believe we will be, and I believe that the success will be fairly easy, we will still lose some American young men or women.” [CNN, 9/24/02]

We’re not going to get into house-to-house fighting in Baghdad. We may have to take out buildings, but we’re not going to have a bloodletting of trading American bodies for Iraqi bodies.” [CNN, 9/29/02]

“But the point is that, one, we will win this conflict. We will win it easily.” [MSNBC, 1/22/03]

It breaks my brain to think about how McCain's complete and utter lack of judgment before the war would somehow enable him to have better judgment in the war's prosecution. No matter how I try to rework it, the concept simply does not compute. Or as my subconscious prefers to say, "prettyyyyyy....unicorrrrrns." I hate it when that happens! So, for lack of a better scapegoat for my problem, I'll go ahead and blame the press corps. Because not only did they share McCain's lack of judgment on the war, blaming them is all the rage these days as well. Plus, sometimes it's just easier to go along with the crowd. When it's the right crowd.

Nothing New byslag at 8:57 PM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

Pride or Prejudice

Over the weekend, I accidentally peered into the internets just long enough to come across an AP article titled "Conservatives Say Obama Lacks Patriotism", which says:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Barack Obama's refusal to wear an American flag lapel pin along with a photo of him not putting his hand over his heart during the National Anthem led conservatives on Internet and in the media to question his patriotism.

Now Obama's wife, Michelle, has drawn their ire, too, for saying recently that she's really proud of her country for the first time in her adult life.

Conservative consultants say that combined, the cases could be an issue for Obama in the general election if he wins the nomination, especially as he runs against Vietnam war hero Sen. John McCain.
Where to start? First, raise your hand if you think that Obama could have prevented this attack on his patriotism if he'd have just worn his flag lapel pin and if his wife didn't say she was really proud of her country... Now, raise your other hand if you think it's anywhere close to reasonable to equate wearing a flag lapel pin with fighting in the Vietnam War. For those of you with hands in the air, keep praying, because clearly, the rapture's coming your way. The rest of us here on earth will try not to miss you too much when we discuss the topic of national pride in a more serious fashion from now on.

After ruminating on this complex and challenging topic fairly sporadically throughout almost an entire day (did I say "more serious fashion"?), it has occurred to me that today's liberals are paying a high price for the mistakes of our liberal forefathers. Traditionally, liberals have run away from the evils of national pride--pride being one of the most deadly sins and all--and have allowed the segregationists, the eliminationists, and the all-around racists to usurp the entire concept as a means of covering up for their prejudice. And in the process, the concept of national pride, itself, has been reduced to an imperialism-tinged jingoism that encompasses little more than a focus on feats of valor in war, a hyper-infatuation with appearances and image, and an overall disdain for people that don't look or act quite right. This reduction has turned our national dialog into national demagoguery, and we find ourselves swimming against all of the watery, banal lapel pin patriotism that the AP and other media outlets like it see fit to print (which, needless to say, is a lot).

In other words, somewhere along the way, liberals have tossed the pride out with much of the prejudice, and now we're faced with the challenge of getting it back.

So, how are we bringing national pride back into our liberal lexicon and reinvigorating it with all of the attributes that we think make this country great? Well, first, we've had to deal with the fact that pride isn't necessarily all that bad for us after all (w00t Jane Austen), and second, we've started talking about our own forays into civic engagement and initiatives for world betterment as sources of pride and patriotism. Of course, whenever we do these things, we're dubbed as "liberal elite" or "smug," but since when do our fellow Americans truly despise bravado?

I'm always happy to see liberals making forays into de-demagoguing the dialog. Instead of dripping ourselves in red-white-and-blue (go Netherlands?) and counting up the number of times we've pledged Allegiance, we're doing good stuff and calling that good stuff "American." For instance, in response to these attacks, Obama's campaign has set up a useful factcheck site and makes it easy to send an email that deals directly with his patriotism:
[...]Barack was born in Hawaii on August 4th, 1961. His father, Barack Obama Sr., was born and raised in a small village in Kenya. His mother, Ann Dunham, grew up in small-town Kansas. Her father worked on oilrigs during the Depression, and then signed up for World War II after Pearl Harbor, where he marched across Europe in Patton's army.

Barack's grandfather taught him to say the Pledge of Allegiance and love his country.

After graduating from high school in Honolulu and attending Columbia University in New York, Barack became a community organizer working with churches on the South Side of Chicago. He then attended Harvard Law School, where he was the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review.

Barack's patriotism and profound belief in the underlying principles of this country led him to teach Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago. He also worked as a Civil Rights attorney in Chicago, protecting the voting rights of minority communities. Eventually, his commitment to the people in his community led him to run for office as an Illinois State Senator where he served for 8 years representing the 13th district.

In the U.S. Senate, as a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, Senator Obama has fought to help Illinois veterans get the disability pay they were promised, while working to prepare the VA for the return of the thousands of veterans who will need care after Iraq and Afghanistan.

Barack believes that you show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans and veterans.
DES MOINES REGISTER: "Still, when a reporter in Iowa asked presidential candidate Barack Obama why he wasn't wearing a pin, it turned into a national news story. The pin, Obama said, 'became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security. I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest.' He rightly noted that some people wearing lapel pins don't act very patriotic. Staff from other campaigns criticized him. One political analyst said the absence of the pin might hurt him politically. Reporters started asking other candidates about the whereabouts of their pins. Perhaps in an image-fixated world, a flag secured to one's lapel speaks louder than words or actions. But Obama is right. It shouldn't."
To me, the best thing about this email is that it mentions perceptions but really focuses on actions. It doesn't shy away from history or heritage, and it celebrates cultural awareness, community engagement, and civil rights. There's very little American Patriot bona fides list-making and checking going on. It's basic unembarrassed down-home do-gooding at its finest. And that's where the pride is at.

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald has a great explanation of Obama's response to the recent attacks on his patriotism. In the response, Obama refers directly to the fact that Republicans are the ones currently undermining the Constitution and engaging in warrantless wiretapping. BRILLIANT! And Greenwald suggests that Obama's success at dealing with this smear might be one of the many positives that come from his lack of extensive US Senate experience. Agreed.

Also, Obama did a good job of clarifying Michelle's statement as being about American politics. I remember a certain someone claiming that he was going to bring "honor and dignity back to the White House" before he became the Decider. No one asked him what he had against the actual House; did they? Because that would be stupid. And anyone who isn't intent on being stupid knows what Michelle meant as well. Plus, I'm going to assume that Obama would do a better job of bringing honor and dignity back into American politics than his predecessor did. In fact, he should use the same slogan Bush used and just tack "fer reals this time" onto the end. That would be HI-larious.

Nothing New byslag at 8:50 AM 6 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius (or lack thereof)

*Glenn Greenwald waxes poetic about the Republicans' latest thriller flick:

Impressively, the ad dramatically packs every component of GOP politics into one minute: There are dark, primitively omnipotent Arab Terrorists lurking darkly and menacingly, planning to slaughter you and your whole entire family right now. You have only a few seconds to live, literally or metaphorically. The clock on your life is counting down right now. You are in severe danger.

We want more unchecked government power. You better give it to us, or else the Terrorists will kill you all. Give up more power to us, do what we say, and you can lay your head down on your pillow at night without a care in the world, knowing that we love you and are keeping you Safe and Protected -- Keeping America Protected -- like a baby snugly embraced in the womb. You want that, don't you? We want to give it to you. The House Democrats want you dead.

* Weird. I think I remember something about how it was actually the Republicans who were the ones ignoring the A-rab threat way back in 2001. Jon Stewart and Philip Shenon help us recall the horror:
Jon: Should someone have been held personally responsible, and would you like to tell us their name right now?
Shenon: I'd probably withhold the name...there was certainly a belief that there was a lot of bungling, a phenomenal amount of incompetence before 9/11 that explained 9/11. And there were some names they could attach to those mistakes.
Jon: Can I throw out my name (that I would think)? I'm gonna go with Rice...
Shenon: No, I will say...it is really remarkable how much was known in the spring and summer of 2001 that something terrible was about to happen. And a lot of that information was flooding into the White House, and a lot of it finished up on the desk of then National Security Advisor...Condoleeza Rice...

* Rice...Rice....Where have I heard that name before? Oh yeah! Again courtesy of Jon Stewart, Condoleeza Rice explains to the 9/11 Commission how she completely ignored the terrorist threat:
Rice: I believe the title was "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States".
Rice: In the memorandum that Dick Clark sent me on January 25th, he mentions sleeper cells. There is no mention or recommendation of anything that needs to be done about them.
Apparently, Dr. Rice's PhD didn't come packaged with a modicum of curiosity. Either that, or she hates us for our freedom.

So, our illustrious leaders in the GOP continue to make up for their horrendous failures both before and after September 11th by stripping us of our rights and declaring that, in the event of another terrorist attack, we should blame the Democrats. Happy other people's genius (or lack thereof) Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 4:57 PM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Loose Change

Recently, Gallup asked voters what kind of change they were looking for this election:

Their analysis indicates nothing new:
First and foremost, it is clear from these results that when Americans look ahead to the "change" the next president could bring about, they think very topically and specifically about problems and concerns, not about more general changes in the structure or systems of government.
I don't know whether or not the polling process itself encourages responses that are more topical as opposed to general. But if people actually aren't getting the big picture when they think about issues our country is facing, that's the main change I'd like to see. Not exactly sure which characteristics a president would need in order to encourage my kind of change, but I'm hoping that getting citizens more involved in government will be a good start.

Nothing New byslag at 1:33 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

You're Out!

I remember seeing this poll in the Economist back in December and thinking that, at least, we'll beat Romney. I don't know how stats such as these square with the Wilder/Bradley Effect, but it's bizarre to think that some voters will actually consciously rule out whole groups of people based on inherent characteristics. Although I don't know how religion fits in here because it's not exactly a trait you're born with. That said, it must be hard out there for a homosexual atheist.

In other news, Neil Cavuto philosophizes about Hillary's "tough, kind of bitchy image," and Bill OhhhhhReilly may end up lynching some folk. Glad to see that, when the candidates aren't playing race/gender cards, rightwing media is always prepared to fill in the gap. Go team!

Nothing New byslag at 12:23 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Canadishians Are Winning!

Damn terr'ists.

VICTORIA -- The government of British Columbia moved yesterday to the forefront of the battle against climate change by introducing what may be the greenest budget ever seen in North America.

Finance Minister Carole Taylor said the budget - which has a new, sweeping carbon tax as its centrepiece - is a historic turning point for the province, although critics pointed out it also contains incentives for oil and gas development and funding for new highways.

"It has been a dramatic turn, I think, for this province with this budget to say we're not just going to be talking about climate action. We are acting. We are putting in place the financial foundation that will make it possible," Ms. Taylor said in a budget briefing session as she focused on the carbon-tax initiative.

She said the strategy is to "tax something that we know is bad for us," and use the revenue to stimulate wide social change by providing incentives for people and businesses to become more energy efficient.

Since freedom has been on the march in Iraq, Canada has been poising itself for an eco-friendly US takeover. In Bush country, freedom really is just another word for nuthin' left to lose. Do you ever look around and wonder when all our clocks will just give in and start running backwards?

Nothing New byslag at 11:23 PM 5 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

"Profound Ambivalence"

This post is one I've been dreading. But I knew it would have to come eventually, so why not now?

It's time to confess the fact that I'm a self-loathing Obama supporter. I know you couldn't tell from all of my past glowing Obamaccolades, but it's true. You can tell it's true because David Brooks says so. He says that I'm now in the middle of "Obama Comedown Syndrome", some symptoms of which are as follows:

Patients in the grip of O.C.S. rarely express doubts at first, but in a classic case of transference, many experience slivers of sympathy for Hillary Clinton. They see her campaign morosely traipsing from one depressed industrial area to another — The Sitting Shiva for America Tour. They see that her entire political strategy consists of waiting for primary states as boring as she is.

They feel for her. They feel guilty because the entire commentariat now treats her like Richard Nixon. Are liberal elites rationalizing their own betrayal of her? Is Hillary just another fading First Wife thrown away for the first available Trophy Messiah?

Clearly, my own personal sympathy for Hillary has everything to do with this apparent "syndrome" and nothing at all to do with the fact there's a huge double-standard in every male-female scenario--especially political ones. From the Boston Globe:

"I do think at some level there is a Catch-22 for women" running for president, said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women and a Clinton supporter. "Showing your heart has never been a plus for high-achieving women."

Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations, said the senator from New York is being hurt because she is not the "glamour" candidate.

"She characterizes herself as being a workhorse and not a show horse," said Burk, who has endorsed Clinton. "She is being punished in a certain way for being competent and not jazzy. If he were female, with his credentials, age, and track record, I don't think he'd be anywhere near the presidency of the United States," Burk said. [emphasis mine]

The fact that I am fully aware of this double-standard, sympathize with Hillary, and still support Obama anyway apparently makes me some sort of spasmodic freak that has been caught unawares by his irresistible gravitational pull. Either that, or it has something to do with what Pam of Pam's House Blend says:

That's Hillary's real problem. She and her campaign reek of establishment entitlement, a history of being in Washington in bed with the same consultant class and advisers who wish to re-install themselves in power positions. These are people who obviously thought they were smarter strategists than anyone else in the room, and Clinton trusted that they had their finger on the pulse of the electorate.

What they had their finger on was a light switch connected to bad wiring. They campaigned like it was 1999, racking up the endorsements of establishment leaders of the various Dem constituencies, including the old-guard black leaders they were familiar with. The Clinton team rifled through their tattered rolodexes to do the same re: LGBTs, hispanics, women.

These folks, in many cases, are simply out of touch with younger voters and voters living in the real world who went to polls....
The reality behind my Hillary sympathy is simple: I hate the reality. I hate the fact that David Brooks and his compatriots are complete morons who are more than happy to turn the complexities of my personal and difficult decision-making process into a cult-like syndrome. I hate the fact that because Hillary happens to possess certain physical attributes and has the audacity of ambition, she gets called a "bitch", a "She Devil", and a lowly tea partier. (I also hate that Obama gets called a communist for being of mixed-race, but I'm chalking that up to the "syndrome".) Mostly, I hate the fact that I'm apparently supposedly no more than the sum of my parts--age, gender, race, economic class, education--and, consequently, am statistically-speaking supposed to vote for both candidates this primary season (can I actually do it, if Chris Matthews says I must?).

Having experienced sexism openly and directly, I'm not unfamiliar with or insensitive to Hillary's double-standard problems. I have personally been told that I'm somehow simultaneously too direct and too self-effacing; my communication style doesn't fit my gender category. I've also been told directly that, in spite of my having superior knowledge of a subject and having produced superior results, I am "not listened to" because of my gender category. I have been told this by the very people who were supposed to be listening to me. I'm also well aware that my own experiences with sexism have been mild on the grand scale of sexism experiences. This awareness only heightens my frustration with identity-based political commentary.

I also know Obama has received no free ride in life (to say the least). It's hard to get a grip on a world in which the neocon rags that disparage Obama's heritage are the same neocon rags that claim that racism is dead. But it is not this knowledge that compels me to support Obama's candidacy for president. The reality is that my truly preferred more progressive presidential candidate was preemptively taken out of the race by establishment media personalities such as David Brooks et al. He was taken out so early, I never got to find out if the sum of my parts was, statistically-speaking, supposed to vote for him or not. There's some pathetic irony here, I'm sure.

But since he's gone, I'm going to support the candidate who helps progressive Democrats like Donna Edwards take out establishment Democrats like Al Wynn. I agree with Pam that Obama's campaign has been more in touch with the needs of progressively minded voters and the fact that his campaign is heavily financed by individuals is significant. The only way we're going to get rid of the establishment candidates is by getting more people involved in politics. Obama's campaign does just that. And in the process of taking out establishment Democrats like Al Wynn, we'll start taking out establishment pundits like David Brooks. And then, hopefully, our profound ambivalence about Hillary will magically fade away along with the culturally systemic misogyny her campaign has revealed.

PS I wish Obama was, indeed, the "most predictable liberal vote in the Senate", but sadly, once again, David Brooks is mistaken. From Brian Beutler:
On almost any of the major votes that Obama missed, you'll find that men like Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders were usually on hand, making phone calls, rallying their colleagues, and voting the right way. More to the point, those men advocate from the floor for progressive positions, with passion, every week while Barack Obama does not. Yes, passion is hard to gauge. But instead of trying (by, say, logging hours spent speaking at hearings, from the chamber, etc., and assigning those a value to be paired with voting records) National Journal relies instead on a weird system by which a senator who takes the "liberal" position 95 times out of 100 is somehow less liberal than his colleague who takes the liberal position 48 times out of 50.
But we can dream, Mr. Brooks. We can dream.

Nothing New byslag at 3:42 PM 6 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Leadership: the Anti-Bush

In choosing between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, I sometimes feel like I'm deciding which sides of the Bush Administration I dislike the least. Obama reminds me of Bush in the way he can talk without saying much and in the way he can disarm people by getting them to like him personally. Clinton reminds me of all the rest of Bush I don't like: political legacy, secrecy, ginormous amounts of lobbyist money, dirty campaigning. From the Clinton side of the ledger, I would say that the secrecy and dirty campaigning are the most troubling. And Clinton's latest misdeed of insinuating plagiarism on Obama's part is just another example of why she is off of our Christmas card list. From Jeff Fecke at Shakesville:

Now, plagiarism is a serious charge, and it's based on failing to attribute words properly. Obama did not, in his speech, say "As Deval Patrick said...", but then again, Deval Patrick himself told Obama to use the line, and not to worry about the credit.

That's not plagiarism. That's speechwriting.

Howard Wolfson of the Clinton campaign, continuing that campaign's efforts to make everyone surrounding Hillary Clinton look like a complete buffoon, asserts the plagiarism charge still sticks:
Wolfson said the plagiarism charge still holds because listeners go in with the assumption that Obama's speeches are original, unless credit is given. "So I think it's fine that Deval Patrick said that," Wolfson said. "But what I'm concerned about is that the public has an expectation that Sen. Obama's words are his own."
To which I can only respond: has Hillary Clinton fired her speechwriters? I highly doubt it. Every day, Clinton, Obama, McCain, and Huckabee get out of bed, go somewhere, and give speeches written, at least in part, by someone who is not them. The words, in short, are "not their own." And yet nobody accuses Hillary Clinton of plagiarizing her speechwriters' words when speaking; indeed, it would be stupid to do so.
Now, I'm all for pulling back the veil in politics. If you want to show the world that Obama doesn't do all of his own work, I'm there for you. But in order to retain your own credibility in the process, you need to do it directly and openly instead of through misleading accusations. And you need to be prepared to show your own little wizard as well. Personally, I'd like to see Obama respond to this Clinton tactic by opening his campaign up and let the light really shine in. At his campaign events, he should have all of his staff, all of his speechwriters, managers, advisers, etc, up on stage with him and have them all take a bow. Hell, he should bring his secret service up there, if he can.

Of course, the danger that comes from actually clearing away the brush is that maybe some of Obama's people aren't so great after all. Maybe they're dusty old political triangulators like Mark Penn, Howard Wolfson, and Terry McAuliffe. But then again, maybe not. Either way, a strong leader doesn't engage in Bush/Clinton-style secrecy and deception. Instead, a strong leader proves how great his/her decisions are by how great the people s/he hires are.

There's a book titled Good to Great that analyzes corporate success stories and discusses a concept called Level 5 Leadership (yes, typically vapid business-speak). The book tries to vanquish the myth of the celebrity CEO as being the catalyst for big change. Instead, the leaders of "good-to-great"
(ugh!) companies are those who know that "if you have the wrong people, it doesn't matter whether you discover the right direction; you still won't have a great company. Great vision without great people is irrelevant." These leaders are often self-effacing, always put the good of the company before their own good, and regularly say "we" instead of "I" when discussing challenges and successes. It is this kind of leadership our country needs now.

In short, if Obama wants to prove himself and his leadership abilities, he shouldn't hesitate to call Clinton's bluff and show the world how he inspires the great people around him to do great things. Strip away the secrecy that marked the Bush years and don't fear or be shielded from criticism. Prove to us all that we're smarter than we think and that we can view the political process for what it is and still want to participate. Many of us are simply tired of having dust in our eyes and are ready for a truly confident leader who isn't actually afraid of the People. Obama can compel us to believe in him by proving he believes in us. That would be the kind of change we can believe in.

NOTE to the Clinton campaign: If Obama actually does any of these things, just chalk it up to one of two things:
1. The Obama campaign received permission to use these ideas without crediting Some of Nothing.
2. It doesn't take a village to figure this stuff out.

Nothing New byslag at 8:51 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

After Midnight: Turning that Frown Upside Down

Glenn Greenwald's recent post about how the Decider and his minions are describing the expiration of the Protect America Act got me thinking about the use of urgency in advertising and propaganda. And, more specifically, the use of midnight as a symbol of urgency and dread.

As Greenwald notes:

The President himself this morning dramatically intoned: "At the stroke of midnight tonight, a vital intelligence law that is helping protect our nation will expire." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gravely pointed out: "What will happen at midnight tonight is much more significant than stump speeches, steroids or superdelegates. On Sunday, the terrorist tracking program . . . no longer will be fully operational." National Review warrior and all-around tough guy Andy McCarthy fretted: "When the Clock Strikes Midnight, We Will Be Significantly Less Safe."

Greenwald goes on to explain that the Heritage Foundation has even gone so far as to employ a PAA countdown clock on their website (not unlike the rapture clock).

We've all received the "ACT NOW!" spam in our in-boxes and have at least heard of Cinderella's glass slipper, so we have some idea about how these tools are used to both influence our behavior and our feelings. But midnight imagery is especially powerful and ubiquitous in our culture, and it's true that it is often used to inspire negative thoughts:

In literature:

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
" 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more."

And in religion:

And it came to pass at midnight, that the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the first-born of cattle.

But the symbol of midnight is also used to signify hope, optimism, and rebirth (e.g., New Year's and Solstice). Consequently, it can have the power to uplift and energize:

In music:

After midnight, we're gonna let it all hang down
After midnight, we're gonna let it all hang down
We're gonna cause talk and suspicion
Give an exhibition
Find out what it is all about (what it is all about)
After midnight, we're gonna let it all hang down

And in theater:

Keep word, Lysander; we must starve our sight
From lovers' food till morrow deep midnight.

Clearly, the neocons are going for the Edgar Allen Poe/Old Testament version of midnight as "[e]vil hour; mystery; time running out; death; doomsday". But honestly, I'm more of a Grateful Dead/Shakespeare person myself. So, I'm going to absorb some of Bush's sunny (albeit opportunistic) optimism for a moment and turn that frown upside down. Maybe when the world doesn't end tomorrow, people will take it as a sign that we can, in fact, keep the republic in-tact and the sky above our heads simultaneously. I mean, anything is possible.

Nothing New byslag at 2:21 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Lessons from Florida Suck

There has been a lot of debate, spurred on by the Clinton campaign, about whether or not Florida and Michigan votes should now count in the primary. Florida's place at the top of my list of states to give back to Spain notwithstanding, I'm going to say that making this change at this point would not be a good idea. Why? Appearances.

As Ezra Klein notes:

This demonstrates not only a gross ruthlessness on the part of Clinton's campaign, but an astonishingly cavalier attitude towards the preservation of the progressive coalition. To be willing to blithely rip it to shreds in order to wrest a nomination that's not been fairly earned is not only low, but a demonstration of deeply pernicious priorities -- namely, it's an explicit statement that the campaign puts its own political success above the health of the party and the pursuit of progressive goals, and one can't but help assume that's exactly the attitude they would take towards governance, too.
It's true that many have argued quite eloquently (and lengthily) about how the rules were unfair and how they're disenfranchising voters, and the Clintons really can't be blamed here, etc, etc. My response to that is best summarized in this conversation between CJ and Sam from the West Wing:
I don’t care what it is, I care what it looks like.

And I care what it is! And I think it’s high time we all spend a little less time looking good, and a little more time...

Being good?


Yeah, I’ve heard that one before...[like in 2000 and in 2004]
But not only would making this change now look bad, I'm not even fully convinced that it would be good. Both candidates signed an agreement not to campaign in FL and MI, one of the two remaining Democratic candidates (sorry, Mike Gravel) wasn't even on the ballot in MI, and we've been told since the beginning that these states were paying the price for bad behavior but it wasn't until very recently that the wingeing began in earnest. All of that suggests to me that this idea not only looks bad but is bad.

I agree that voter disenfranchisement is not fun (hello, 2000 election). It sucks to not have your vote matter. I know this also because, in every Democratic primary before this one, my vote never really mattered. That's because the primaries were essentially decided before the time came for my state to vote. Even this year, my preferred candidate dropped out before I got to vote for him. Did I complain about voter disenfranchisement? Yes. But apparently, my well-crafted sonnet wasn't enough to compel the DNC to change the rules for me. So, what does the argument over counting FL and MI look like?

Below is an image of two different screenshots. The top one is a screenshot of a blog post explaining that, because "under Rule 20.C.1.a., Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, and South Carolina would have all lost their super delegates and had their pledged delegates reduced by half since they all violated Rule 11.A", we should count Florida and Michigan. The bottom one is a screenshot of the NYT delegate count page that we've seen throughout primary season (highlighted by me).
Which one do you think most people will understand?

Nothing New byslag at 11:05 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: Action Items Edition

! Don't want to see superdelegates destroy the Democratic party? Neither do I. MoveOn.org has a petition for us to sign:

You've probably heard about the "superdelegates" who could end up deciding the Democratic nominee.

The superdelegates are under lots of pressure right now to come out for one candidate or the other. We urgently need to encourage them to let the voters decide between Clinton and Obama—and then to support the will of the people.
Democrats need to be reminded who's voting for them. We're the Americans that are actually into representative democracy, remember? Tell them.

! Save the Internet! I posted on this net neutrality bill recently, but I don't think we've saved the internet yet, so I'm posting the petition link again. Quick info:
Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Chip Pickering (R-Miss.) today launched the latest salvo in the struggle to keep the Internet free from gatekeepers with the introduction of the “Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008” (HR 5353).

The bipartisan bill protects Net Neutrality under the Communications Act and calls for a nationwide conversation to set policy about the future of the Internet.
Sign here, please.

Two actions a day keep the Deciders away. Happy other people's genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 7:36 AM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Obama is Too Inspiring

Or as Tom Tomorrow says:

"Profound ambivalence," it is then.

Nothing New byslag at 6:28 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Wheels on the Bus(h)

From Dave at Orcinus:

Almost like clockwork, no sooner do liberals start raising eyebrows about the "cult of Obama" than right-wing talkers pick up that ball and run with it:

Fox News Radio host Tom Sullivan took a call from a listener who stated that when listening to Barack Obama speak, "it harkens back to when I was younger and I used to watch those deals with Hitler, how he would excite the crowd and they'd come to their feet and scream and yell." Sullivan then played a "side-by-side comparison" of a Hitler speech and an Obama speech. Sullivan mimicked the crowd during both speeches, yelling, "Yay! Yay!" When a later caller complained that Sullivan was "denigrating" Obama with the comparison, Sullivan said he wouldn't play it again, then begged: "Can I, please, one more time? Just one more time? Then I won't do it again. ... Until the next time."
To be fair to liberals, neocons don't get ideas from us (is that my way of being fair?). What I mean is, they really only know how to do one thing well: fling just enough poo so that just enough sticks. The interesting game here is that we'll be watching Republicans run against Obama in 2008 (assuming we're smart enough to nominate him) as they would have run against Bush in 2000. Having heavily benefited from the likability factor in the past, they will have no hesitation in undermining and belittling it now. Kind of like the paradox of GW Bush--C-student, son of Bush Sr, Yale graduate--being against affirmative action. I wonder if they'll start calling Obama "the Decider." Too soon?

Nonetheless, the bigger challenge is for the rest of us. Unless GW or McCain comes out and starts flinging the poo directly, it will be incumbent on Obama's support network to beat this beast down. So, unless we stop doing what I'm doing right now--laughing about it with people who probably already agree with me--and start publicly calling out this BS (letters to the editors, emails to rightwing friends and relatives, etc), some of this will eventually stick. The main goal would be to keep it among the crazies. Unfortunately, there's a lot of them (ahem 30%), and the fact that they have both a whole cable news network and several radio stations really doesn't make the job easy.

In other words: Game on!

Nothing New byslag at 5:22 PM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

Karmic Justice Wins! (no fatality)

Yesterday, I wrote about a rightwing email I received and responded to. Well, I made a minor adjustment to the email I actually sent to my friend in that, instead of "Dear [Friend]," I started with "Ha! That was a good one!". Plus, I replaced the names in the brackets. Other than that, the text of the email I posted was what I sent, and I really wondered whether or not I would receive a response.

Well, the good news is that I did receive a response, and it was mostly favorable. It included the statement, "I agree with you, I think[,] in every instance," which I'm going to assume is a step in the right direction. There was more to it than that--some of it questionable--but all in all, we're going to call this one a win for karmic justice. At the very least, our interaction was, and will continue to be, one of mutual respect, so I'm pretty pleased with it.


Another win for karmic justice today was the fact that the House actually cited Miers and Bolten for contempt. Not only that, but the NYT even reported on that contempt citation and linked it to the front page of the online paper. I don't know why, but that second part gives me warm fuzzies inside. And the funniest part of the story:

“We have space on the calendar today for a politically charged fishing expedition but not space for a bill that would protect the American people from terrorists who want to kill us,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the Republican House leader.

He then instructed other Republicans to exit the chamber in protest. “Let’s just get up and leave,” Mr. Boehner said before storming off the House floor along with scores of his party’s members.
Shorter Boehner: "We can't waste time on this show! We only have time for a show of our own!"

Gotta love it when karmic justice comes with a laugh line. And Representative Conyers knew just what to get me this Valentine's Day:
“The resolutions we are considering today are not steps that I as chairman take easily or lightly, but they are necessary to protect our constitutional prerogatives as a co-equal branch of government,” he said. [emphasis mine]

Happy karmic justicing!

Nothing New byslag at 4:39 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Hostile Much?

In its books section, the NYT asks a question: "Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?". Since I've encountered many an ignorant person in my life (often, I have counted myself as one), I was hoping to read about a fascinating book that breaks new ground in the field of education research. That said, here are the first three paragraphs of their story:

A popular video on YouTube shows Kellie Pickler, the adorable platinum blonde from “American Idol,” appearing on the Fox game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” during celebrity week. Selected from a third-grade geography curriculum, the $25,000 question asked: “Budapest is the capital of what European country?”

Ms. Pickler threw up both hands and looked at the large blackboard perplexed. “I thought Europe was a country,” she said. Playing it safe, she chose to copy the answer offered by one of the genuine fifth graders: Hungary. “Hungry?” she said, eyes widening in disbelief. “That’s a country? I’ve heard of Turkey. But Hungry? I’ve never heard of it.”

Such, uh, lack of global awareness is the kind of thing that drives Susan Jacoby, author of “The Age of American Unreason,” up a wall. Ms. Jacoby is one of a number of writers with new books that bemoan the state of American culture.

Having never heard of this game show, I headed over to the YouTubes to see for myself what the fuss was about.

On the YouTubes, I saw a short-haired blond girl who I assumed to be Kellie Pickler, a brown-haired mustached game show host, and a little light brown-haired boy who I assumed to be the 5th grader. Needless to say, all three were pale (aka white), and apparently, the little boy with the innocent smile's name was Nathan. Do you see where I'm going with this? Maybe not, so here's the deal. Unless that little kid was shipped into this country from some other land where they show primarily palefaces on TV, offer the 5th grade in their schools, and name their kids Nathan, my guess is that that little dude is American. So, when the little American kid answers the geography question right, I am compelled to wonder why we are using this example in our quest to determine whether or not "Americans" are hostile to knowledge. Unless we're being ironic, that is.

Nonetheless, if we think we've asked these questions before, well:
T. J. Jackson Lears, a cultural historian who edits the quarterly review Raritan, said, “The tendency to this sort of lamentation is perennial in American history,” adding that in periods “when political problems seem intractable or somehow frozen, there is a turn toward cultural issues.”

But now, Ms. Jacoby said, something different is happening: anti-intellectualism (the attitude that “too much learning can be a dangerous thing”) and anti-rationalism (“the idea that there is no such things as evidence or fact, just opinion”) have fused in a particularly insidious way.

Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge, she said, but they also don’t think it matters.

Yeah? Well I read somewhere that there was a whole game show dedicated to finding out whether or not I am smarter than a 5th grader. So, I think it matters to some of us, including Nathan.

Look. I'm not saying that I don't agree that we have a problem in this country. I mean, one of our presidential candidates congratulated Canada on preserving its national igloo, for crying out loud. But persistently presenting these same issues in such broad strokes really doesn't help solve them any faster. Obviously. All it does is give a bunch of pseudo-intellectuals fodder for their brunch-time conversation in which they sit around their Upper East Side apartments, read the New York Times, and talk about "Americans" as being anti-intellectual and thinking how glad they are to be unAmerican. Well, guess what jokers: I am American, and I'm not hostile to knowledge. So, you can stop asking your same stupid question and, instead, start to wonder exactly which groups of people might actually be hostile to knowledge and why. But then again, maybe you don't want to think about that.

PS Who's to blame for this knowledge-hostile America? Apparently, the educational system, the teevee, and the interwebs. Stop the presses!

Nothing New byslag at 1:07 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Barackford Files

Ezra Klein and Kevin Drum--a little slow?

Like Ezra, I too think Obama has huge potential to move the country in a more liberal direction. So far, though, he hasn't been willing to take the risk of actually trying to do it. I'd really, really like to see him start.
Dudes, catch up here! We already went through this when Edwards was in the race. But even before that...like in 2005 when Obama started out in the Senate.

But more generally, one of the things I hate about times like this is that it happens to be when liberals create the circular firing squad. As Sara from Orcinus notes:
Every political news outlet, from the networks to the blogs, is abuzz today with the question: Is the Obama phenomenon a cult?
Seriously? Are we doing this now? Isn't this the kind of thinking that loses elections for us, time and again? It's almost as if you can hear the wheels turning in the liberal mind: "We need candidates that inspire people...We need candidates that inspire people...We need candidates that inspire people...Oh crap! We have a candidate that inspires people! What's wrong?"

Or as Sara puts it:
So if Obamamania doesn't come close to making the cut as a "cult," then just what the hell is going on there?

What's going on is that we've finally got a Democratic candidate who understands exactly how the Republicans did it. As I pointed out my very first week on this blog, the GOP didn't come to power by talking about plans and policies; they did it by using strongly emotional appeals that grabbed people by the gut and didn't let them go. Theirs was never a movement based on reason. It was, from the very beginning, a movement of hearts and souls. And it was that deep, emotionally sustaining commitment that drew people in so deeply that they were willing to give 25 years of their lives to bringing about the New World Order their leaders promised them. We may hate what they've accomplished -- but we're never going to be able to do better until we can inspire that same kind of passion for change.

And Obama's doing just that. He's tapped into a deeply pressurized seam of repressed fury within the American electorate, and he's giving it voice, a focus, and an outlet. Are the results scary? You bet: these people want change on a scale that much of the status quo should find terrifying. Are they unreasoning? The followers may be -- but as long as their leader keeps a cool head, that's not as much of a problem right now as we might think; and the heat will dissipate naturally in time. Is this kind of devotion even appropriate? You bet. You don't get the kind of deep-level change we need without first exposing and channeling people's deep discontent. Obama's change talk may be too vague for most people's tastes (including mine); but the fact is that if we're serious about enacting a progressive agenda, rousing people's deepest dreams and desires and mobilizing that energy is exactly how it's going to happen. And Obama's the first candidate we've had in a generation who really, truly gets this.
Absolutely. Here's the part of our program where liberals need to look within ourselves and try to figure out exactly what it is about winning that we don't like. Go on...we'll wait.

In the end, here is the lesson that Obama has taught me: You can't just make the average voter (and media personality) be what you want them to be. You have to first recognize where they are and then work your way up. Do I wish that elections weren't a lot about flash? Yes. Is there anything I can do about it at this moment in time? Not really. Knowing that, do I want a candidate who both appeals to voters from a variety of age and ethnic groups and holds at least some of my priorities? Hell yes!

Edwards is out. Hillary's got tons of lobbying money and other baggage weighing her down. Sign me up for the Believable Change. Hope is the word.

Fun fact: The word "hope" (or some variation of it) shows up about 11 times in the Fellowship of the Ring script; 13 times in the Two Towers script; and 10 times in the Return of the King script. That's a lot of hope. And now you know how I spend my time off.

Nothing New byslag at 10:33 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Fight the Telecoms!

From Save the Internet:

Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Chip Pickering (R-Miss.) today launched the latest salvo in the struggle to keep the Internet free from gatekeepers with the introduction of the “Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008” (HR 5353).

The bipartisan bill protects Net Neutrality under the Communications Act and calls for a nationwide conversation to set policy about the future of the Internet.


The new bill calls on the FCC to convene at least eight “broadband summits” to collect public input on a variety of policies “that will promote openness, competition, innovation, and affordable, ubiquitous broadband service for all individuals in the United States.”

Taking the issue outside the Beltway — and beyond the corrosive influence of telecom lobbyists — is an encouraging sign for communities across the country that stand to benefit from the enormous economic and social benefits of an open Internet.

I don't know why anyone would think that telecom lobbyists have a "corrosive influence" in Washington. Oh wait...didn't the Senate just pass a bill that had a huge benefit for telecoms in it? Coincidence.

Use this form to encourage your representatives to support the bill!

Another net neutrality vid:

Nothing New byslag at 5:52 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

I Can Write Emails Too

A friend of mine sent me an email today:

America Needs A Leader Like This!

Prime Minister John Howard - Australia

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia , as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.

Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques. Quote: 'IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.'

'This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom'

'We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society. Learn the language!'

'Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.'

'We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.'

'This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom,

'If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.'
Maybe if we circulate this amongst ourselves, American citizens will find the backbone to start speaking and voicing the same truths.
If you agree please SEND THIS ON
Just for fun, I Snopes'd it and turns out...only partly true: "A January 2008 version combined elements of this piece with a 2001 editorial about immigrants written by a U.S. Air Force veteran, creating the misleading impression that the hybrid version reflected a speech given by Australian prime minister John Howard."

That said, the lie here isn't what interests me. This email compels me to consider the discrepancies between what I love about America and what my friend loves about America. Consequently, I had to write an email of my own:
Dear [Friend],
Thank you for your email. I understand you are concerned that America is not as good as Australia, but I have to tell you that I disagree. It's true that, like Australia, when immigrants first came to America, they persecuted, killed, and decimated the way of life of the aboriginals. And yes, the culture of those aboriginals also took quite a long time to build. Nonetheless, while I've never actually been to Australia, I still think America is the country for me for several reasons:

1. I was born here (it can be way hard to get foreign citizenship--I hear there are tests and everything).

2. I like America's version of Freedom of Speech better than that of any other country I've encountered, and I hear Australia's got some wicked censorship laws.

3. Most of my friends are here. BTW-Have I ever introduced you to [Jane], my friend from Korea, or [Doe], my friend from Thailand...? We do have a bit of a language barrier sometimes, but they're pretty smart and are doing great research in the hopes of solving some of the world's problems. Plus, [Jane] helped me out with some stats work I had to do last year. She's awesome!

4. I know the best restaurants here, including the Greek place on the corner and the Thai place next door. Great vegetarian dolmades and pad thai, respectively. I'll take you on your next visit.

5. I like that, in America, YOUR LIFESTYLE can be totally different from MY LIFESTYLE as long as neither one of us pollutes OUR ENVIRONMENT, destroys OUR NATURAL RESOURCES, or tries to force others into Our Way Of Life. The same may be true for Australia, but the email you sent suggests otherwise. I know it's not true for countries like Iran. Gotta love that US Constitution!

6. God may be part of Australia's culture, but it's not part of mine. I really wouldn't fit in there. Don't get me wrong, I have lots of friends who do have God as part of their culture, but I also have lots of friends who don't. I like having the freedom to choose whether or not I want God in my life and not having it forced on me, if I can avoid it. My God-loving friends say that God gave us minds because He wants us to use them. And when I asked one of them whether or not Jesus actually said that I should hate gay people, she responded with, "No. Jesus says love your motherfuckinneighbor," which totally cracked me up. That reminds me:

7. Americans can be pretty damned funny. Now, I know that there are funny people all over the world (some of whom live in Australia), but in America, we have HI-larious people like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Unfortunately, if you live in Canada and in some other countries, you have a harder time watching these guys. Not sure if I'd be able to pick them up in Australia, so I'm going to go ahead and stick with America, if that's ok.
Speaking of which...

8. One of the good things about America is that--sometimes--yes, you do have the right to leave. It's true that it's not as good as Australia in that you can't really take a trip to Cuba, but who wants to go there? In that respect, Australia has a very slight advantage over America.

Yes, America is facing some problems right now. We have suspended habeas corpus, the Senate has just granted immunity to telecommunication companies who have possibly committed crimes, and we are facing all sorts of attacks on our freedoms (military tribunals, etc). So, I don't blame you for your interest in Australia. But do you really think now is a good time to abandon your country?

Well, if you do decide to go, just some travel advice: When you get there, don't expect to hear too much from that John Howard guy. Strangely enough, he's no longer Australia's Prime Minister, as he was replaced by this guy who just apologized to the aboriginals for the "forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families under past assimilation policies". Damn! Those immigrants sure do crazy things! Let's hope none of those folks try to force us to adopt a HOMOGENEOUS LIFESTYLE. That would totally suck.

Best of luck with your decision!
I wonder if I'll get a response...

Nothing New byslag at 12:14 PM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Reaction or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Obama

When no less than four CNN personalities take on the Decider for misrepresenting Obama's position on Pakistan, I can't help but giggle like a schoolgirl. Via Crooks and Liars:

How many times have one or more of these people failed to stand up for truth in the face of Bush-league fantasy over the last 7 years? What about even before the Decider became the Decider, during the 2000 campaign? What about during the Clinton years? And now, with Believable Change on the horizon, we have four (4) of them on the case. Honestly, part of me wants to object to this display simply on the basis of principle. I want the quest for reality to be their primary objective no matter who it is benefiting. But the rest of me says, "f--- that! Go Obama!".

Bush is right: These truly ARE dangerous times.

Nothing New byslag at 11:36 AM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

Values Voting

It's been a while since I've talked about telecom immunity and FISA, because frankly, the issue bums me out. But since, today, the senate decided it was going to represent true American values by granting amnesty to possible law-breakers, I guess we can't avoid the subject anymore. And since the WaPo and other major media outlets don't think it's important to tell us who voted what way, we'll hop on over to Glenn Greenwald for the actual story:

UPDATE: The Dodd/Feingold amendment to remove telecom immunity from the bill just failed by a whopping vote of 31-67 -- 20 votes shy of the 50 needed for a passage. A total of 18 Democrats joined all Republicans in voting for immunity: Bayh, Inouye, Johnson, Landrieu, McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Stabenow, Feinstein, Kohl, Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar, Carper, Mikulski, Conrad, Webb, and Lincoln. Obama voted against immunity, and Hillary Clinton was the only Senator not voting. Thus, the breakdown on the vote was similar to what it always is:

Democrats -- 31-18

Republicans -- 0-49

As always, when it comes to the most radical Bush policies, the GOP lines up lock-step behind them, and the Democrats split, always with more than enough to join the Republicans to ensure passage. That's the process that is called "bipartisanship" in the Beltway.

Perhaps even more repugnantly, even Dianne Feinstein's amendment merely to provide that the FISA bill they are about to pass would be the "exclusive means" for presidential eavesdropping failed by a vote of 57-41 (it fell 3 votes shy of the 60 votes needed for passage, under the agreement which requires that every amendment attract the number of votes it cannot get)....
The Democratic betrayal on this issue is hard enough to take, but at this point, I'm really wondering what "values" Republicans think they're voting for when every single one of their representatives chooses to immunize the Decider-in-Chief and all of his toadies from the laws of this country. I mean do these people sit around and say to themselves: "Sure, he may be spying on Americans illegally and without their knowledge, but at least the Lincoln Bedroom is safe from unwashed celebrities and for'ners"?

Just curious.

Nothing New byslag at 10:06 AM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

Obama Brains Beat Bombs

One good thing about Obama: he offers stark contrast to McCain on the war.

One bad thing about Obama: Republicans don't dislike him enough.

Sure, you have Bush ironically and disingenuously trying to criticize Obama on a foreign policy position he doesn't really take:

I certainly don’t know what he believes in. The only foreign policy thing I remember he said was he’s going to attack Pakistan and embrace Ahmadinejad.
But is that the best we can do?

From the crazies morons Republicans at the National Review Online:
At a town-hall meeting in Derry, N.H., in January, Mitt Romney tried to stir the crowd in the immediate aftermath of Barack Obama’s upset victory in Iowa: “We cannot afford Barack Obama as the next president!” About two people applauded. The next day, in Nashua, he mentioned Obama, but added, “I can’t wait to meet Hillary Clinton face to face.” Sustained applause.

Taken together, those two very different reactions provide a reliable barometer of conservative sentiment toward the Democratic candidates. Conservatives have long experience loathing Hillary Clinton. It has become second nature. If they ever do come to feel the same way about Barack Obama — and they may not — it will take time. Hillary Clinton will long hold pride of place as an object of scorn and a source of motivation for conservatives.

Hillary is smart, articulate, and disciplined; she has not made major strategic mistakes in her primary campaign. But she is hampered by his-and-hers political baggage, a fact that is especially apparent when she is compared with the charismatic, seemingly post-partisan Obama.
Sure. It would be nice to elect a candidate truly loathed by Republicans everywhere. But maybe we just haven't given Obama enough time. Maybe in a few years, he too will draw boos and hisses at the very mention of his name. And if we're really lucky, Republicans will form a He-Man Obama-Haters Club and make t-shirts and everything. One day, we may even get an Obama-styled kitchen gadget or bathroom accessory. It is quite possible that, even today, Republicans all over the country are creating their Obama conspiracy nutjob files to share with news media all over the world. We can only hope.

Nothing New byslag at 5:37 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Yes We Can/Bomb Iran II

When Obama's big video came out, we joked that we needed a 2008 Election Cycle Grammy Award for best video.

Well, via the kos and Lessig Blog, here's McCain's updated entry into the competition:

Yes, we contrast!

BTW Obama did actually win a Grammy this year for the audio version of his book: Audacity of Hope...

Nothing New byslag at 4:10 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

"Watch Me"

Glenn Greenwald has a must-read post on the dangers of democrats using their traditional concession strategy on John McCain's supposed strength on national security. Terri McAuliffe went on Chris Matthews, and when asked about McCain's hawkishness, McAuliffe redirected the question to the economy. As Greenwald says:

If the Democrats want a blueprint for a sure losing strategy, they need look no further than McAuliffe's answer. He was asked expressly whether McCain is too much of a hawk -- whether his foreign policy views are dangerously war-loving -- and although he gave a long, rambling answer, McAuliffe never once dared to criticize McCain on national security -- not one word of criticism. Instead, he ignored the issue, immediately switched the topic to the economy, accepted the premise that McCain was "tough" and formidable on foreign policy, and then argued that Hillary was just as "tough" and would not, therefore, be vulnerable to attack. In other words: Hillary and McCain are the same on national security -- equally "tough" -- therefore that can be ignored and the focus should be on domestic issues.

That is the same failed strategy that Democrats have been pursuing with complete futility for the last eight years. In 2002, they became convinced by their vapid, craven "strategists" that if they voted for the war in Iraq, it would take national security off the table and enable the midterm elections to be decided by domestic issues. In 2004, they decided that they would reject a candidate who provided too much of a contrast on national security (Howard Dean) in favor of one who, having supported the war and with a record of combat, would neutralize national security as an election issue.

Republicans have consistently won elections by turning someone's supposed strength into a weakness (remember purple heart bandaids?). They're not afraid to go straight at their opponent's greatest assets while also undermining them from below the belt. My only objection to the Republican strategy is that they both lie and appeal to the worst elements of their supporters in the process. Democrats generally try to dodge their opponent's strengths and, instead, try to highlight their own. What this means is that Democrats just let Republicans land blow after blow in the hopes that they'll also land some of their own. The problem here is that Republicans can really blow.

I was thinking about this exact strategy difference when I read this article yesterday discussing Obama's latency in appealing to blue-collar voters:

"His support tends to be stronger in suburban areas where you have white-collar professionals," said Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. "There has always been a division among the Democratic Party among its limousine liberals and its blue-collar workers."

The party has a history of producing candidates who mesmerize better-educated, wealthier voters, fromAdlai Stevenson to Bill Bradley to Paul Tsongas. But Obama has gone well beyond them in terms of generating excitement and winning states, even among a healthy chunk of lower-income voters.
It occurred to me that Obama's greatest strengths--his intelligence and speaking ability--are going to be used by Republicans to turn him into a "limousine liberal" (alliteration is a powerful tool for these morons). And in my mind, the absolute worst thing Obama could do to deal with this concern is start showing up at events in flannel shirts and dungarees. That would be concession. And honestly, I'm confident that's what Clinton-McAuliffe would do. What I think he should do is use that strength for all it's worth, and in the process stand up for the "limousiners". Having an education is a good thing. Making money is a good thing. And neither one has anything to do with riding around in a limousine (at least not where I'm from).

And when it comes to going up against McCain on national security, Obama should ask the question: "Do you want intelligent solutions to the problem, or do you want more poorly planned and poorly executed wars?" Obama has made it clear that he's not afraid of leadership: foreign or domestic. And when Clinton criticized him for saying he'd be willing to sit-down with unfriendly leaders, his response was perfect: "Watch me." He makes it obvious that he's no dummy, and he's not easily manipulated. He can continually prove that by not pandering to those that disagree with him. That is the kind of campaign that will beat McCain and get blue collar folks on his side, in spite of his flash.

Nothing New byslag at 10:29 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: All Republicans Go to Crazytown Edition

Busy day today. The genius is late but worth the wait.

*Think Progress has the goods (aka bads) on John McCain:

On Fox News today, Time’s Mark Halperin said, “The President behind the scenes has told people for months that he thought McCain would be the nominee. Even during some of those dark periods he still thought he could win. And also that McCain would be the best to carry forth his agenda.”
Go watch the video. It will creep you out. McCain's Maverick In Name Onlytm status is solidifying quickly.

*Perrspectives blog does what the rest of us are too afraid to do. Mitt Romney's Greatest Hits:

"I promised that if elected, I'd call a truce - a moratorium, if you will...I vowed to veto any legislation that sought to change the existing rules...I fully respect and will fully protect a woman's right to choose."
Mitt Romney, running for Governor of Massachusetts, 2002.

"He's been a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly."
Michael Murphy, Romney advisor, 2005.

"I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I've been a hunter pretty much all my life."
Mitt Romney, April 3, 2007.

"I'm not a big-game hunter. I've made that very clear. I've always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then. More than two times."
Mitt Romney, April 5, 2007.

Look forward to seeing those boys of his hop off the bus and into the uniform to win the war in Iraq for us! True patriots, they are.

*Polizine has 5 Reasons to be Very Afraid of Mike Huckabee. There are so many reasons, but my current favorite is:

3. This whole disaster:

“Well, what I’m simply saying, we’ve changed the Constitution 27 times in 221 years. But the Ten Commandments are still the Ten Commandments. We haven’t added or subtracted any of them, and that’s my point, is that the Constitution was created with the understanding that it could be changed, we could make changes.”

This great article very succinctly explains why this entire statement is a fallacy: there are actually several versions of the Ten Commandments, and they are rarely agreed on.

And don't forget Canada's National Igloo.

I don't want to go to crazytown! Happy other people's genius Friday.

Nothing New byslag at 7:32 PM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Fired Up?

I went to a rock concert today, and it turned into an Obama event. Or the other way around. I'm not sure.

The mayor said that there were 18,000 people there with 3,000 in the overflow room. The Guardian said there were 16,000 with 3,000 overflow. Plus or minus 2,000 people, the arena was packed to the rafters, and while we waited for the man, dance competitions, multiple renditions of the wave, and O-BAM-A chants comprised the bulk of our entertainment.

Once Obama showed up, the level of control he had over the youthful and exuberant crowd was astonishing. While people sometimes applauded over parts of his speech, when he (almost imperceptibly) gestured for quiet, there was quiet. It was like going from 60 to zero in .02 seconds. I was impressed.
His speech was well-delivered, and full of great applause lines. He got some laughs when he mentioned finding out about his distant relationship with Cheney ("that was embarrassing" and, paraphrased, "when they do those genealogical studies, you're always hoping to be related to someone cool"). Obama's campaign is clearly good at turning negatives into positives--a skill they'll need if he makes it to the general election. He used the crowd's obvious distaste (one might even say "loathing") for Bush sparingly and effectively. His laundry list of proposals--affordable healthcare options for all by the end of his first term; rolling back tax cuts on the top 1% ("they'll still be filthy rich afterward"); investing in teachers and college students; etc--went over well as did his description of the "education" he got working as a civil rights attorney and as a community organizer in Chicago. All in all, he was an absolute rockstar today.

A few highlights:
1. At one point, Obama walked to the side of the stage, picked up a bottle of water, and tossed it to a member of the crowd near the stage. The act was so effortless and unobtrusive that he didn't miss a beat in the process. We didn't know what was going on until he had a moment to pause and ask a girl near the stage if she should go sit down. He indicated to the crowd that the girl was apparently feeling faint and that there was no cause for alarm because she probably just hadn't had lunch yet (yeah, none of us had). I mention this occurrence for the simple reason that it really showed how skilled Obama was at knowing what was going on with people. In the middle of his speechifying, he observed the situation and took steps to rectify it swiftly and seamlessly yet still expressed his concern without embarrassing anyone. Honestly, at that moment, I thought back to Bush's seven dumbstruck minutes in a classroom full of children and knew instantly that Obama would have behaved much better--even in such a horrifying situation. That is only to say that ability and intelligence make a difference in a president.

2. Someone in the crowd shouted, "Save us Obama!" This pissed me off, and I wished he would have said something to the effect of, "If you want 'saving' you should go talk to a Republican. I'm only here to help us all save ourselves." But instead, he ignored it, which was almost as good. Someone also shouted, "We love you, Obama!" To which he replied something like, "I love you back." So, in spite of the fact that no underwear was thrown onto the stage (that I saw), Obama was clearly the fifth Beatle in this crowd's eyes.

3. Ron Paul supporter:
As for how the story ends: I'm still not a card-carrying Obama groupie. Most of his proposals are good ones, and his skill with people gives me confidence that he'll be able to carry some of them out. But he's still missing the thru-line that I want to see: a government OF the people. I want more direct focus on the constitution, limitations of power, and publicly-funded elections. But I also want a pony, so there you go. His youth will work as much against him as it will work for him. And I view his presumed arrogance as covering up some wicked insecurities.

With that said, I've now seen for myself that the Obama movement is very real. He doesn't come with Clinton's baggage, such as Mark Penn and Terri Mc-what's-his-name (read: I can't be bothered to try to spell his name right). If he can keep from going too negative, he'll really be putting a fresh face on politics. Obama's biggest advantage is the obvious conclusion that this country needs to "turn the page" (as he puts it). And of the candidates before us now, he's the one to make it happen. Obama inspires people just by showing up. And that's kind of cool.

Nothing New byslag at 5:23 PM 6 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

When Will the Press Learn?

Apparently, wantonly smacking Hillary Clinton around on non-issues really isn't a good idea for the press corps. Who knew?

From Newsvine:

A distasteful comment about Chelsea Clinton by an MSNBC anchor could imperil Hillary Rodham Clinton's participation in future presidential debates on the network, a Clinton spokesman said.

In a conference call with reporters, Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson on Friday excoriated MSNBC's David Shuster for suggesting the Clinton campaign had "pimped out" 27-year old Chelsea by having her place phone calls to celebrities and Democratic Party "superdelegates" on her mother's behalf.

Wolfson called Shuster's comment "beneath contempt" and disgusting.

"I, at this point, can't envision a scenario where we would continue to engage in debates on that network," he added.

MSNBC said Shuster, who apologized on the air for his comment, has been temporarily suspended from appearing on all NBC news broadcasts except to offer his apology.

One interesting aspect of this, in my view, is that most of the commenters on Newsvine are contemptuous of Clinton for standing up against MSNBC on this issue. Implications that Clinton is just trying to get free press or that she is, indeed, pimping her daughter out abound. I don't know where these people get their evidence from, but from the video I've seen:

Chelsea couldn't be more on-board with her mom's campaign. Has any other candidate been accused of pimping out his adult children? Romney and his numerous strapping, fighting-aged lads? Not to my recollection.

So, when is the press going to learn that this frivolously negative behavior toward Clinton doesn't work in their favor? I mean, clearly, Hillary has learned the lesson. Why can't they? I don't begrudge the Clinton camp making an issue of this statement to garner favor with voters for several reasons: it works, David Shuster's statement was contrary to the observable evidence, and standing up for the self-determination of an independent woman is always a good thing. Plus, the glassy-eyed Hillary-haters just keep looking more absurd.

With that said, still not caucusing for Hillary. Sorry, media. Pimp harder next time.

Nothing New byslag at 4:33 PM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

Joss Whedon, Writers Strike, and Cautionary Tales

Mr. Sexy Brain 2007, Joss Whedon, has a blog post on what appears to be a new site developed to help organize Hollywood Writers (and maybe other creative folks?) and prepare them for the massive shifts in technology that are necessarily going to impact their business. We've hopped up on our soapbox many times before with regard to technology issues, so I won't bore you with the details once again (*cough* support net neutrality). Nonetheless, I find it inspiring to see people get together to prepare and strategize for such monumental changes; we, as a society, should do more of that. For the writers, I only hope they're not too late to save their craft from significant brain-drain.

Schmaltzy stuff aside, I was using teh interwebs in a fruitless effort to find salaries for studio execs (geeky but pertinent), and I came across a November 2007 article quoting the CEO of Viacom discussing the potentiality of the Writer Strike:

On a conference call with analysts, Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman, said the company is "well-positioned" if there is a strike by Hollywood screenwriters. Negotiators for the Writers Guild late Thursday approved a strike recommendation. A strike is expected to begin Monday, media reports said.

"We, along with other studios, have obviously been preparing for the possibility of a strike. We have a good pipeline of movies that are already produced or in production, which will not be affected," Dauman said. "In the long term, it depends how long the strike goes on. As far as our television business, for the most part across our family of networks, we will have very little to no impact."

He said the shows most impacted would be The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, due to their topical nature.

"If there should be a strike, we will evaluate what we do in those time slots. Obviously as we have done before we do normally, we will have reruns for a little while and then we will see what we do with the format."
I'm probably a pathetic sap, but using this kind of language when you're talking about people's livelihoods really bothers me. Yes, this is business--and we know a tiny something about that--but wouldn't you think there would have been a few words like "unfortunate" or "sadly" or "unavoidable" thrown in there just for show? But instead we get "very little to no impact" and "well-positioned." Is this really what their investors want to hear? That Viacom's CEO is a repugnant a** that can't even feign concern over his own employees? If so, I find that to be a tragic indicator of what our culture tolerates, and even encourages, in the name of the "free" market.

With that said, let's see what Mr. Sexy Brain '07 has to say on the subject of the Writer Strike, specifically:
I have heard people both in and out of the industry say, "But that's enough now, right?" I have seen the thing I fear most: that whatever their agenda, they are beating us down. With hope. With rumors. With Time. The mindset seems to be shifting to one of relief and even unspoken gratitude for their return, instead of flaming indignation that they ever (illegally, do you recall?) left the table in the first place. It's the mindset of the victim. The lethargy of limb that strikes the fighter as he unconsciously lets himself lose. The studio strategists have worked this scenario as carefully as they have everything else. It is so crucial that we outside of the talks remember that, and let them know we do.

This is not over. Nor is it close. Until the moment it is over, it can never be close. Because if we see the finish line we will flag and they are absolutely counting on us to do that. In the room, reason. On the streets, on the net, I say reason is for the 'moderates'. Remember what they've done. Remember what they're trying to take from us. FIGHT. FIGHT. FIGHT.
Here's the lesson I learn from this: what we have here is a classic power struggle and what I perceive to be a cautionary tale about markets and society. When we talk about the world in terms of privatization and corporatization, what we're really talking about is shifting the balance of power. We all have to "fight the man" from time-to-time, but as we see here, there's a huge difference between fighting the man who hires you and fighting the man you hire. The writers participating in this strike are coming from an initial place of weakness because they're the employees who depend on the employer; they can't just sell off a business in preparation for a loss of income like Viacom can. They can't just show reruns of their last rent check to their landlords and hope they don't get kicked out. This strike is placing a huge strain on their lives, and most likely, they'll be forced to acquiesce more than they should just because of the various pressures they face.

The power structures of governments simply must be different. While the Viacom corporation may be more efficient at doing a job than a government is (although this is by no means certain), the fact that it is the people who hire and pay the salaries of the representatives significantly shifts the power in favor of the people. Could you imagine what would happen if a government official were talking to the press about the collapse of the economy and said, "we're 'well-positioned' if the people happen to revolt"? If the people weren't planning a revolt already, they would be after that. And while politicians might pander to us every election cycle and fail to live up to their promises, at least they know that there may be some consequences to be paid for it. They work for us, and that's a very big deal. Plus, when I want to know how much the president gets paid, I just look (also a very big deal).

Nothing New byslag at 9:18 PM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

McCain: Maverick In Name Only

Apparently, "McCain may align too much with Bush":

Iraq. Despite the military success of the surge, Mr. McCain opposes reducing U.S. troop strength below pre-surge levels at a time when a majority of Americans favor withdrawing most American forces.

He also supports the administration's plan for permanent U.S. bases, a position likely to be a general election flash point.

Economic policy. Though Mr. McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts as too big, especially for upper-income taxpayers, he now favors extending all of them. That includes the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans that many Democrats want to repeal to finance programs like expanded health care coverage.

Indeed, the more significant a role economic policy plays in the campaign, the tougher it may be for Mr. McCain, who has acknowledged it's not his strong point.

Social issues and judicial appointments. Mr. McCain gained bipartisan praise for reaching out to Democrats to help prevent the Senate's former GOP leadership from changing procedures to make it easier to confirm conservative judges.

But on the underlying issue, he strongly backed the conservative Bush nominees to the Supreme Court and has been a consistent opponent of abortion rights.

At a time when the fate of the 1973 decision legalizing abortion rights could depend on the next high court nominee, that stance might not appeal to independent voters as much as his style.

Ya think?

With almost everything, McCain talks straight and then zags right. He's a Maverick in Name Only (MINO)TM.

Nothing New byslag at 11:34 AM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Memory Hole: McCain v. Interwebs

Remember back in 2006-2007 when John McCain waged war on the interwebs? Here's an oldie but a goodie from a 2006 C|net article:

McCain's proposal, called the "Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act" (click for PDF), requires that reports be submitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which in turn will forward them to the relevant police agency. (The organization received $32.6 million in tax dollars in 2005, according to its financial disclosure documents.)

Internet service providers already must follow those reporting requirements. But McCain's proposal is liable to be controversial because it levies the same regulatory scheme--and even stiffer penalties--on even individual bloggers who offer discussion areas on their Web sites.[...]

The other section of McCain's legislation targets convicted sex offenders. It would create a federal registry of "any e-mail address, instant-message address, or other similar Internet identifier" they use, and punish sex offenders with up to 10 years in prison if they don't supply it.

Then, any social-networking site must take "effective measures" to remove any Web page that's "associated" with a sex offender.

Because "social-networking site" isn't defined, it could encompass far more than just MySpace.com, Friendster and similar sites. The list could include: Slashdot, which permits public profiles; Amazon.com, which permits author profiles and personal lists; and blogs like RedState.com that show public profiles. In addition, media companies like News.com publisher CNET Networks permit users to create profiles of favorite games, gadgets and music.

"This constitutionally dubious proposal is being made apparently mostly based on fear or political considerations rather than on the facts," said EFF's Bankston. Studies by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children show the online sexual solicitation of minors has dropped in the past five years, despite the growth of social-networking services, he said.

So, what happened to McCain's bill? According to GovTrack, it never made it to debate. But here we see the consequences of "maverick" McCain's need to pander to the right. And we see how easily he uses the politics of fear in the process. Do we want more of this from our next president?

Nothing New byslag at 9:49 AM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Obama Tries to Be Funny

But his slip is showing:

On Sunday, Obama was giving a speech in Delaware when he brought up Edwards. (I first noticed the video on Mark Halperin’s “The Page.” You can also find it in the blogs of Marc Ambinder and Politico’s Ben Smith.)

In a humorous riff, Obama mentioned a debate in which Tim Russert had asked him, “What’s your biggest weakness?”

Obama went on: “Well, I’m always losing paper. And so I have to have somebody around me to help me file things and keep my desk clean.”

Obama then said Russert had asked Edwards the same question.

“And he says, ‘Well, I am just so passionate about helping poor people,’” Obama said dryly.

It was a funny and sarcastic observation on the pomposity that can mark presidential campaigning, and this is not the first time Obama has made that joke.

As Jeff Zeleny noted on Jan. 17 in The New York Times, Obama did the same setup and then added: “If I had gone last, I would have known what the game was. I could have said, ‘Well, you know, I like to help old ladies across the street. Sometimes they don’t want to be helped. It’s terrible.’”

Which is even funnier.

For the record, this is what Edwards actually told Russert his biggest weakness was: “I sometimes have a very powerful emotional response to pain that I see around me.”

file under: What not to do if you want to pick up Edwards' supporters.

Nothing New byslag at 8:23 PM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Democrats Win!

According to Rachel Maddow (who attributed Time Magazine), the turnout for Democrats yesterday was 73% higher than the Republican turnout--14.5 million to 8.4 million. If that's true, Democrats win! Big!

(I'll keep looking for the reference.)

Nothing New byslag at 3:36 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Expialidocious Tuesday

In my mind, the most important thing for democrats today (and every day) is voter turnout. The second most important thing: demographic breakdowns of voters. I want traditionally underrepresented people to start voting, dammit!

So, until we start seeing those numbers, good night and dream well. And check out Google maps.

UPDATE: Wil Wheaton has a nice post on why he voted for Obama today:

We've been afraid for too long, and it's cost us dearly. Karl Rove and George Bush and Dick Cheney will have many disastrous legacies, but one of the most despicable and enduring will be how they used fear to deeply and deliberately divide our country.

It's going to be a huge challenge for our next president to heal this nation, and end the Culture of Fear that's been created by the Bush Administration. I believe that Barack Obama is the best candidate to do that, and I was proud to vote for him today.

He's got more good stuff there, so check it out.

UPDATE 2: Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings argues for Obama's substance:

Imagine my surprise, then, when I heard people saying that Obama wasn't "substantive". It was exactly like my experience in 2004 when, after hearing Wes Clark for the first time, I went and looked up his positions on a whole host of issues of concern to me, and only then started reading media accounts of him in which I "learned" that no one knew what his positions were.

As some of my students would say: I was like, wtf?

I don't know if anyone is actually arguing that Obama isn't smart, capable, or generally deeply thoughtful on issues. If they are, I think that's wrong. My biggest problem with Obama is that his campaign style generally lacks substance. I think that an election should be a battle of ideas and that the system works best for people--especially democrats--when voters think in terms of ideas/issues. It's bad for people--especially democrats--when voters rely on personality. So, my concerns about Obama's lack of substance are really about the fact that his campaign is not necessarily focused on educating voters about him and his big ideas/issues. In my mind, an overall lack of voter education is how we end up with the George W Bushes of the world. But then again, that's my own personal bias, and I'm beginning to learn that inspiration and speechifying has the potential to move people down the path toward education. So, maybe Obama's whole campaign is really about timing. He's probably starting where many people actually are, and that has value.

Nothing New byslag at 7:53 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Yes, We Can/Bomb Iran

Now that Obama's latest video has hit the airwaves, we need a 2008 Election Cycle Grammy Award. Who would you vote for:

Yes, we can.


Bomb Iran.

file under: 2008 Election Behind the Music

Nothing New byslag at 11:01 AM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

The Best Thing About Days Like Today

Having the opportunity to thumb your nose at people who think they know everything.

From Josh Marshall at TPM:

There's one guarantee I can make right now about tonight's results. They are going take make either Zogby or SurveyUSA look like complete fools. Which one I'm not completely sure, but definitely one of them.

Consider this spread. Zogby has his final California number as Obama 49%, Clinton 36%. SurveyUSA has Obama 42%, Clinton 52%.

I'm hoping we mess with both of them--just for fun.

Nothing New byslag at 9:49 AM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)


The Church of Pugilism taught me something yesterday. I'm biased against flash. By flash, I don't mean the software or the sci-fi character--although there is some of that. I mean the superficial showy stuff. Sometimes flash takes the form of "bling" (to quote Willard Romney) or swanky cars. Other times it shows up in the form of expensive and impractical tools and gadgets (e.g., the new MacBook Air). In the case of the Bush Administration, flash came as a fake cowboy hat, an extensive series of vacations, fundamentalist rhetoric, and a glib sense of humor. At the church of pugilism, it presented itself in the form of a bunch of bulky neophytes who spent a lot of time grunting and trying to see how far they could make the heavy bag move when they punched. In any case, I really don't like it.

In fact, the more I thought about flash yesterday, the more I realized how extreme my bias against it was. Even the slightest whiff of flash makes me squint suspiciously, wondering what that flash is trying to cover up. To me, it smacks of pretense and subterfuge. And in ordinary situations, I have found that flash is what often gets people what they want at the expense of others more deserving. Nonetheless, I have come to realize that my deep bias against flash--for all of flash's faults--can be just as irrational as a bias for it (that's kind of what bias is).

In the case of this election, John Edwards was, ironically, the potentially electable anti-flash candidate. His policy positions were thorough and well-grounded (although I would have liked to have seen more on limiting executive powers). All the work he did early on was quickly usurped by his rivals. His campaign was a tough one with no free rides since he was virtually ignored by the media. Plus, all the flash that rubbed me the wrong way in 2004, I had gotten used to by this time around. Any flash on Edwards came by way of expensive haircuts, which to me, was all overblown hearsay since I really couldn't tell the difference. And apparently, he has a big house that I never saw, heard about, or thought about, but if I did, I'm pretty sure I would have squinted.

Obama, on the other hand, has quite a bit of flash. He's gotten by on a lot of happy talk and some appropriation of Edwards' policy proposals. His campaign floats around on a wad of cash and good publicity. Some say Obama is poetic, which has its own element of flash. Plus, he's all shiny and new. So, given my extreme bias against flash, all these qualities add up to some serious skepticism that is not easily overcome.

With that said, Obama's impact on voter turnout is one that cannot be ignored. Since a big part of leadership involves inspiring participation, I can't help but wonder if my bias against flash is keeping me from seeing what's truly valuable in Obama. He's clearly got many good points: a unique background, an intelligent mind that can make good sense out of his background, and an obvious interest in public service. And when I overlook the veneer of flash, I definitely appreciate much of what he has to say in his longer, more in-depth speeches. Besides, now that the big day looms ahead of us, I can even imagine being seriously disappointed if he doesn't pull in the people to the extent that he did in Iowa and other states. This realization suggests that, difficult though it may be, even someone like me can actually overcome their irrational biases. So, given the choices on the ticket now, I'm going to have to go with flash.

For those of you who are sad that the Giants won the pennant (or whatever), here's some football footage that might cheer you up:

Nothing New byslag at 4:36 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Inadvertently Funny: Rocket Man

In honor of Evil Spock's return to the interwebs, the first edition of our new feature, Inadvertently Funny, features his old pal, Captain Kirk:

I'm a Rock-it Man

Nothing New byslag at 10:21 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: In Edwards Memoriam

*Damozel at Buck Naked Politics offers a good run-down of the recent Obama-Clinton war of words, but my favorite part is this:

Sigh. What are you looking at me for? I don't know. I'm not over Edwards' loss and I don't much like either Hillary OR Obama much anymore. Make up your own mind.
I feel your pain.

*Homeless vets take Edwards' side in the Reality v. O'Reilly debate on their existence:

Nonetheless, 17,000 isn't 200,000, so those homeless vet do-gooders still have some knockin' on doors to do. Oh wait...

*And in Evil Spockolypse...Now, Evil Spock returns to the blogiverse to explain how Edwards' departure affects him:
Jo[h]n Edwards['] platform for his Presidential run was to fight poverty, and since Evil Spock's day-job-of-do-goodery is in the forefront of the fight against poverty, Evil Spock will have to pick up some of the slack. Thanks a lot Edwards.
Get some sleep, Evil Spock. We'll work on your grammar and spelling in the morning.

*Finally, Town Called Dobson brings us this hilariously true Edwards/Declaration of Independence cartoon:


Trailer park humor doesn't get much better.

Happy other people's genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 5:46 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

All I Am Saying is Give Anonymous a Chance

Hath not Anonymous eyes? Hath not Anonymous hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer as non-Anonymous is? If you prick Anonymous, does s/he not bleed? If you tickle Anonymous, does s/he not laugh? If you poison Anonymous, does s/he not die?
With all of the identity-based politics being hurled about lately, you'd think we'd start to be a little more accepting of Anonymous contributers. After all, isn't anonymity part of the foundation of a democracy? Aren't we all equal under the banner of Anonymous? While it's true that Anonymous people can be purveyors of deception, isn't it also true that Anonymous individuals can be incredibly informative? More generally, however, anonymity gives us an opportunity to judge thoughts and ideas on their own merits, unsullied by our usual superficial biases. So, since we know that our preconceptions influence our perceptions, why not stop with the Anonymous blocking and name calling and give Anonymous a chance?

This public service announcement has been brought to you by slag, an Anonymous sympathizer.

Nothing New byslag at 3:04 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

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