A Bunch of DNChildren
Saturday, May 31, 2008
If I ever forget that I don't have the patience required to have children, I will revisit this episode from today's DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee mtg:
A group of public officials -- allies of both Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and Barack Obama -- walked out of the hearing room to discuss their willingness to come together on a plan to seat all their delegates, each voting at half-delegate status, but representatives of the Clinton campaign from outside Florida interrupted their press conference to dispute the idea that the Clinton campaign agreed with the plan. [...]MFP and I often talk about how we wished our American cultural upbringing had encouraged more healthy, vigorous debate. I told him how, when I was studying in England for a semester, going to a public debate was a fun, raucous, educational evening. The Brits would take a witty insult with good humour, unabashedly exchange strange new ideas, acknowledge and concede points without loss of face, etc. And while there are many things about British culture I think we could get by with less of--draconian reliance on tradition, social stratification by economic class, unhealthy feelings of global superiority, alcoholism (for starters)--there's one thing I wish we could have kept more of. The ability to argue like adults.
Clinton campaign surrogate Lanny Davis stood outside the circle and interrupted, raising his voice in protest that the Clinton campaign had agreed to anything less than a 100% seating of the delegates at 100% of their strength.
Nelson noted that he was speaking "on behalf of the voters of Florida," not on behalf of the Clinton campaign.
"They're misrepresenting our stance," Davis said repeatedly.
Then Arthenia L. Joyner, Clinton's designated Florida representative, approached the circle.
"The campaign is only for 100%," Joyner said. [...]
"Are you a paid staff member for Clinton?" Ausman asked Davis.
"Actually I'm just a friend," said Davis.
"Are you a designated representative of the Clinton campaign?" Ausman, who may be a foot taller than Davis, asked.
"I am not," Davis said.
"Why don't you let the designated representative speak for Clinton and you be silent?" Ausman said, more a statement than a question. "Are you from Florida?"
"Why don't you go about your business?" Jones asked Ausman.
"As a matter of fact I will not be silent," Davis said, "you're not going to silence me." [...]
I'm starting to find all politicians appalling.
Nothing New byslag at 4:38 PM
Head to Crooks and Liars for live streaming of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee mtg in which the Clinton campaign will both decry "VOTER DISENFRANCHISEMENT!" and claim that, because Obama took his name off the ballot in Michigan, the voters who voted for Obama by voting Uncommitted should not have their votes counted. It's magical.
Nothing New byslag at 11:11 AM
Jon Stewart Supports the Troops. John McCain-Not So Much.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Nothing New byslag at 7:41 PM
One of the things I dislike about the Pew study on how the press treats the presidential candidates is that it gives jackasses on the right a reason for fake outrage. When McCain gets less positive media coverage than either Clinton or Obama, one such jackass says this:
Glenn Greenwald crowed yesterday that Scott McClellan’s book somehow disproved the existence of liberal-media bias. He spoke a day too soon. In this case, the media doesn’t have the fig leaf of claiming that the bias comes from the natural role of the media to challenge the government. All three candidates are members of the same body, the Senate, which now runs under Democratic control, not Republican. That excuse for prior studies by Pew showing the same negative bias about Republicans can now be discarded entirely.I don't know who was suggesting that the Pew study is flawed because the media is generally more critical of people in power, but it certainly wouldn't have been me. The biggest problem I have with the Pew study is that it doesn't factor in this little thing called REALITY. The reality is that the Republicans right now pretty much suck in comparison to Democrats. So, the fact that the media chooses to only cover one small portion of Republican suckage compared to that of Democrats really doesn't persuade me that the media is partial toward liberals. Even Republicans know their presidential candidate sucks. But when Michelle Malkin and Right Wing News write negative stories about John McCain, why isn't anyone bitching at them for being part of the "liberal media"?
I know that Republicans subscribe to the "fair and balanced" standard, which means that we are supposed to overlook their lameness just so we can say as many nice things about them as we do about smart, competent, decent people. But the rest of us just don't subscribe to that belief. So, I think it's important for all of us--media included--to force Republicans to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and to not praise them just for their existence. The Participation Award has already been given out for the year. Maybe if the media actually does their job this election, Republicans will finally stop whining about how mean we are to them and start being better stewards of this country for a change. We can only hope.
Nothing New byslag at 5:05 PM
A few weeks ago at my volunteer gig, I was chatting with a seventh grader about a paper she was writing. Her paper was about the development of Nazism in Germany in the 20s and 30s and how the post-WWI German economy and feelings of vulnerability among the German populace were easily manipulated by the Nazi propaganda machine. In the course of our conversation, I found myself wishing that I had been as smart as this girl was when I was in seventh grade. However, at some point during our discussion, she made an incorrect statement of fact upon which I corrected her. While she didn't argue with me on the point, I observed that she wasn't quite prepared to incorporate the change into her body of knowledge. I thought to myself that if she were older and more sophisticated, she would have learned to hide her unwillingness to embrace the new information by quickly changing or expanding the boundaries of the subject we were discussing. Instead, she just sort of hesitated a bit before she continued on to her point, after which time I took the opportunity to repeat the correction.
This scenario got me thinking about how or when we choose to incorporate new or corrected information into our personal bodies of knowledge. Arianna Huffington is right when she discusses the power of repetition as a means to help us change our minds about something, but repetition, in and of itself, can only go so far. Finding new ways of repeating the same information is where it's at (as my pugilism instructor reminds me regularly). We need to find ways of presenting information that fits into an individual's mental schema, which means that, in order to be successful, we have to have some idea of how they think. And the larger, more diverse, the group of people, we're trying to convince, the more ways we need to find to repeat the information. As someone who hates repeating things, I get exhausted when I think about the job of the teacher/propagandist.
Sometimes I think about the tedious ways in which information is processed in relation to my own blogging, and I periodically examine my own goals and responsibilities in the big, wide world of left blogistan. Do I want my role to be one of philosopher, propagandist, entertainer? Maybe none of the above? How do I incorporate my layman's awareness of how people think into my blogging, and how often am I skipping over the inconvenient facts that are presented to me in the blog comments? Or how often am I dismissing contradictory information when I write my own blog entries? Is the point I'm making clear to anyone but me? And then I realize that if all of these complicating questions are relevant to my own content--when it's just li'l ol' me making the decisions--I can only imagine how important they are in the world of real writers--those who deal with editors and publishers and corporate owners.
Scott McClellan's recent book has a lot of people finally conversing about the role of the media in our society. Not that people hadn't been doing this before, but now, we're happily seeing the individuals in the media joining in on the discussion. Glenn Greenwald, who has been blogging on these subjects for a while now, wrote about a recent revelation by a former MSNBC correspondent:
Jessica Yellin -- currently a CNN correspondent who covered the White House for ABC News and MSNBC in 2002 and 2003 -- was on with Anderson Cooper last night discussing Scott McClellan's book, and made one of the most significant admissions heard on television in quite some time:Glenn goes on to flesh out these issues and provide more examples of how f'd up the media is etc, etc...and all the time, I'm reading and agreeing and thinking, "We all know all this already.JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the press corps dropped the ball at the beginning. When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president's high approval ratings.The video of that exchange is here. As noted in Update II below, Yellin today said that she was referring to her time at MSNBC. Yellin's admission is but the latest in a growing mountain of evidence demonstrating that corporate executives forced their news reporters to propagandize in favor of the Bush administration and the war, and censored stories that were critical of the Government. Katie Couric yesterday said that threats from the White House and accusations of being unpatriotic coerced the media into suppressing its questioning of the war...
And my own experience at the White House was that, the higher the president's approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives -- and I was not at this network at the time -- but the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the president.
I think, over time...
COOPER: You had pressure from news executives to put on positive stories about the president?
YELLIN: Not in that exact -- they wouldn't say it in that way, but they would edit my pieces. They would push me in different directions. They would turn down stories that were more critical and try to put on pieces that were more positive, yes. That was my experience.
Why are we still having these conversations?". The frustrating reality: repetition.
PS Speaking of which, here's a new way of presenting information intended to correct some of the falsehoods surrounding Barack Obama:
Repeat it up.
Nothing New byslag at 3:06 PM
While I was trying to take a picture of the fur balls today, the batteries in my digital camera died. Not to be undone, I've got some equally fascinating pics, courtesy of Chris Jordan:
Depicts 170,000 disposable Energizer batteries, equal to fifteen minutes of Energizer battery production.
Detail at actual print sizeWill somebody make some decent rechargeable batteries, already?!?
And for those who are truly disappointed by lack of cat today, here's an old, fuzzy pic of the cozy balls of fuzz:
ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....(not dead; just sleeping)
Nothing New byslag at 1:58 PM
he-man: a strong, tough, virile man
Ezra Klein, and Jonathan Chait, and Matthew Yglesias join forces to take on the image of the he-man president.
* Jonathan Chait discusses how the Hillary campaign's determination to fit into the role of he-man president has helped her personally while damaging women in the process:
Clinton's campaign has defined the proper role of president in ways that are more conducive to male candidates. Men are usually going to appear more "authentic" than women shooting guns or knocking back shots in a bar. Clinton advisor James Carville declared at one point, "If she gave him one of her cojones, they'd both have two." This way of defining the proper character and style of a president may have been helpful to Hillary Clinton's efforts to beat Obama, but they're harmful to female candidate in general. To the extent that presidential qualities are defined as "manly," women have a harder time competing. Obama is trying to move the frame of debate away from the manly-tough guy stuff, but Hillary keeps dragging it back down. [emphasis mine]I've had so many problems with Hillary's campaign that I can't count them all. And while I appreciate the dilemma she's in--given the fact that she is clearly just trying to fit herself into the he-man president image that's already been partially established for her by others, I still somewhat resent her for being unable/unwilling to help re-define the standards by which some people measure presidential candidates.
* Matthew Yglesias articulates a thought that I've been tossing about in my mind for some time now:
[T]he most prominent pushers of a strongly masculinist conception of the presidency haven't been Obamaphile Webb fans, it's been a certain segment of Hillary Clinton supporters who in a weird way seem to have decided that backing a woman candidate gives them carte blanche to be as sexist as they wanna be in arguing that Barack Obama's too effeminate to be president.I'd hate to be on the receiving end of Matt's email box after that one, but I'm glad he said it. (and posting it here reminds me of some of the benefits of having a blog no one reads)
* Ezra Klein brings the issue full-circle:
Meanwhile, the sexism of our politics was far less present in Clinton's loss than the fact that she was the single woman on a stage of nine Democratic presidential candidates, and in a field, including the Republicans, of 20. Now, studies show that women do not, in fact, perform worse in primaries than men. In fact, in Democratic primaries, the evidence since 1990 is that they do better (see my article in the forthcoming American Prospect for more on this). But they run less often -- for a host of reasons, but one of which is that they think they're more likely to lose. And that idea is inextricably intertwined with a political culture in which progressives and conservatives alike get very excited over hypermasculine candidates. That's not a fight women can win, and nor, according to the election results, is it one they need to win. But perception matters when women are deciding whether to run for office, and the perception that the dudelier you are, the more likely you are to win, is a dangerous one. [emphasis mine] Sing it, brother! There's some debate about whether or not the decision-making process for voting for President is similar to that of other high public service offices, given its larger Commander-in-Chief component, but this may be a chicken-and-egg issue. The only way we can know for sure is if we keep putting up women as candidates for President. I say, let's do it and see what happens.
* Added bonus:
How big is your magic sword?
Happy Other People's Genius Friday!
Nothing New byslag at 10:29 AM
Back Under their Rock
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Sometimes, one almost feels sorry for the neocons. Here, we have one brave blogger trying to unearth what may be the greatest scandal of our time--whether or not Obama's uncle's middle initial is a T or a W--and he gets no respect. Really, he's trying to find out if Obama is telling tales out of school about his uncle's WWII service (from Sadly, No!):
...Steve Gilbert of Sweetness & Light did some digging and discovered a website dedicated to preserving the history of the 89th Infantry Division of World War II, the division in which Obama’s great uncle served and helped liberate the Ohrdruf satellite of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Seeking to get to the bottom of a mystery that had been solved hours earlier, Gilbert dutifully fired off an email to the site’s owners, Ray and Mark Kitchell, thus setting up the greatest bitch slap in history...And what kind of response does our fearless blogger receive? What was the essence of said bitch slap?
Apparently, Mr. Kitchell was in no mood to play with our intrepid neocon blogger. Of course, that wasn't the end of their exchange, and after a few back and forths, it looks like Steve Gilbert's commenters are none too pleased with the response that their hero blogger received from that pesky World War II veteran. Here's some of what they have to say from back under their rock:
Please crawl back under the rock you came out from.
Raymond Kitchell, veteran 89th Inf Div
“Like 90% of this administration, they don’t have the foggiest idea what we went through or what we saw at Ohrdruf.”I fail to see why this commenter would be concerned about diminishing anyone's service. As we've seen from John McCain's stance (or lack thereof, since he didn't show up for the vote) on the new GI Bill, it's not their service that we care about. It's whether or not they stayed in long enough to get themselves killed. Because if you aren't in war long enough to be killed, you cost us money when you get back. And no one wants that:
Not to diminish anyone’s service, but the 89th only got to Europe in March of 1945 and saw less than two months of the war.
Also, only a handful of soldiers went into Ohrdruf, and from what I have read they were only there a very brief time.
[John McCain] should understand how hard it is for veterans to transition back into civilian life.John McCain's way of transitioning back to civilian life was dumping his wife and marrying an heiress. If veterans had any love for their country, they would just man-up and do what McCain did. Or simply die in war. It's the American way.
In other words, stop costing us money and not being helpful in your responses to our stupid inquiries about the details of Barack Obama's uncle's past, you anti-American veterans!
Nothing New byslag at 9:53 AM
Barack the Vote
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I know I should ignite the people like Obama
Nothing New byslag at 9:03 PM
Pursuant to Scott McClellan's recent book release, Glenn Greenwald notes the following conundrum:
In a minimally rational world, this extraordinary passage, from the new book by Scott McClellan, would forever slay the single most ludicrous myth in our political culture: The "Liberal Media":While I appreciate Glenn's ire here, in a "minimally rational world" the bizarro notion of the "liberal media" would have been quashed long before Scott McClellan pointed out the absurdity. Here are just a few other things you'd have to believe in order to believe the media is liberal:If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq.Just consider how remarkable that is. George Bush's own Press Secretary criticizes the American media for being "too deferential" to the Government. He lays the blame for Bush's ability to propagandize the nation on the media's uncritical dissemination of the Republican administration's falsehoods. And most notably of all, McClellan actually uses cynical scare quotes when invoking the phrase which, in conventional political discourse, is deemed the most unassailable truth of all: The Liberal Media.
The collapse of the administration's rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. . . . In this case, the "liberal media" didn't live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.
- You'd have to believe a liberal media would completely ignore an anti-war speech by Ted Kennedy.
- You'd have to believe a liberal media would give Bill O'Reilly an Emmy Award.
- You'd have to believe a liberal media would be all about the xenophobia.
- You'd have to believe a liberal media would be all about the misogyny.
- You'd have to believe a liberal media would regularly slander liberals.
Nothing New byslag at 4:08 PM
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
BARTLET: "He's up there with four red belly Japanese newts. He wants to see how a newts inner ears, which are remarkably similar to humans, are influenced by the absence of gravity. Do you know what he calls them? C.J?"
BARTLET: "One hundred percent right."
Heroes have gotten a bit of a bad rap lately. Phrases such as "hero-worshipper" and "cult follower" have been hurled about as if they were deadly weapons. And while I agree that looking for a savior is a tremendous waste of time, having heroes isn't always a bad thing. Be they fictional or real, personal or public, charismatic or nerdy, heroes can inspire us to expect more from ourselves. We all should be heroes.
Speaking of which:
Morning Edition, May 19, 2008 · Buffy the Vampire Slayer saved the world and the sanity of NPR's Jamie Tarabay while she was in Baghdad. Tarabay explores why she needed the slayer during her time in Iraq.
Nothing New byslag at 11:29 PM
Obama Campaign GOTV Madness and Aftermath
Monday, May 26, 2008
This Saturday, MFP (My Favorite Person) and I spent some of the day registering voters. Here are the details of our misadventure:
First, I must offer some insight into the character and attitude of MFP. After having worked 10-12+ hours a day (often, including weekends) for the last couple of weeks, he had left home before 7am on Friday morning and didn't get home from work until after 11:30pm Friday night. And yet, when I told him Saturday morning that I was going to be volunteering at one of Obama's Get Out The Vote events, his attitude was "What time do we need to be there?". In spite of his mental exhaustion (or perhaps because of it), he was eager to spend the day on his feet in the warm sun doing something useful. For him, this venture wasn't going to be a drag or simply a way to help out his country (including me)--it was an opportunity to learn something new and hang out with me in the process. The dude's simply amazing.
While we got a late start on Saturday morning, we were lucky enough to quickly catch a bus headed straight for the GOTV event. Showing up almost right on time (and we only jay-walked once), we found the group we were meeting fairly quickly. The only problem was that the actual organizers of the event hadn't shown up yet. After chatting with the other volunteers for several minutes, MFP and I quickly discovered that most of them had come prepared. Having had experience with these things in the past, they had with them voter registration forms, clipboards, Obama buttons, pens, signs, and stickers. So, rather than wait any longer for the people in charge to show up, we divvied up the goods, exchanged cell phone numbers, and went straight to work. The fact that there were so many volunteers who were passionately engaged and prepared to help the neophytes such as MFP and myself said a lot about the quality of the organization. While I was mildly disappointed in the organizers, I was highly impressed with the organized. And since everyone makes mistakes or gets up late or has a bad day, I was reminded of the value of a decentralized organizational structure, in which all parties take responsibility for the success or failure of an initiative.
The shifts were only supposed to be two hours each, but once we got started, MFP and I were on a roll. At about 2:30pm, we took about a half hour for lunch. From there, we went back out and planned to pack it in by the time the next shift started at 4pm. However, at 4pm, we were in the middle of registering people so didn't make it to the meeting place again until it was too late to find anyone there. So, we went back out for another shift, and didn't end up turning our registration forms in until around 5:30pm. After about five hours of shaking hands, congratulating new voters, and baking without sunscreen (did I mention we were running late?), we had collected about 30 new registrations and changes of address along with about $25 in button donations. By all accounts, this was an above-average haul that is probably attributable to excitement about this upcoming election, my loud mouth and exceptional sign-holding capabilities, and MFP's earnest and approachable demeanor.
After we turned in our forms, we started the lovely walk home, which generally takes under an hour. However, on the way, we stopped to watch a new Japanese flick called Love and Honor, which happened to be showing right as we were passing by (MFP's opportunistic tendencies strike again). I enjoyed the movie, but it felt more like a Japanese romantic comedy than the fairly slow-moving, contemplative films I normally see coming out of Japan. There was also a discussion of the film afterward, which because the respondent needed a Japanese-English translator for both question and response, took quite some time. And since the questions seemed a little pointlessly pretentious, we didn't get so much out of that part. Then, we climbed the ginormous hill toward our neighborhood and stopped in for dinner at the Greek place down the street only to get home around 10:30pm. All in all, a good--albeit long--day.
1. The majority of the people we registered were young--just out of high school. New voter registrations were more satisfying for both of us than those who were just changing their addresses--even though both were important. For the new ones, I often asked the registrant in a joking manner whether they felt any different after they registered. Nope.
2. We each ran across our share of people who told us they couldn't register because of felony convictions. This surprised me. Being an elitist myself, I don't personally know any convicted felons (of which I am aware), and I've always thought of a felony as a serious crime. But talking to three (3) felons in the space of a few hours convinced me that our legal system is in need of some major changes--no surprise to many, I know! MFP had the same thought after talking to a couple himself. If anyone out there thinks it's a good idea for a significant portion of our population to be disenfranchised by their mid-twenties, I've got a subprime mortgage loan to offer you. And while I don't know exactly which one of my elitist tendencies compels me to want these individuals to be fully engaged members of our society again, I couldn't help but empathize with their various situations. Not good...not good at all.
3. One new registrant just out of high school said that normally she would not be registering to vote at all right now. But Barack Obama had spoken to her school a few years ago, and at that time, she told herself that if he ever ran for president, she'd vote for him. So, she registered with MFP on Saturday. The lesson here seems to be: inspire them and they will show up. Not a bad lesson, if you ask me.
I'm sure there are more highlights that I'm forgetting right now, but this post is long and probably boring. Needless to say, we'll be doing more of these in the future, so stay tuned...and GOTV.
Nothing New byslag at 5:02 PM
ALBUQUERQUE — In a Memorial Day speech to veterans and their families here, Senator John McCain kept alive a debate about a new G.I. bill making its way through Congress, which he opposes, arguing that his own counter-proposal would be better for the military.Question: When a senator strongly opposes a bill, is it not a custom in the senate to vote against said bill?
Mr. McCain faced criticism from Senator Barack Obama for opposing the measure to expand veterans’ benefits, but the Arizona senator declined to take on Mr. Obama directly in defending his position, as he did so forcefully last week. Mr. McCain has expressed concern the bill might lead to reduced enlistments.
From the Boston Globe:
The Democratic National Committee accused John McCain of being AWOL from the Senate vote yesterday for a new GI Bill to provide better education benefits for returning veterans. McCain was in California on a campaign and fund-raising trip, while both Democratic contenders, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, left the campaign trail to vote for the bill, which passed by a veto-proof 75-to-22 majority.Question: In missing the vote on the new GI Bill, is McCain demonstrating a loss of short-term memory or of moral courage?
So many questions, so little media interest in the real John McCain.
Nothing New byslag at 4:15 PM
There is no law. There is no decency.
He’s just getting that now.
Here's Liz Trotta, a Fox News contributor, discussing the [Hillary RFK remark], first mixing up Osama and Obama, then offhandedly suggesting that "knocking off" both would be great "if we could".
I know Faux News has a history of casually suggesting that we kill American Presidents (named Clinton) as part of our patriotic duty. But I always figured that presidential candidates would fall below their kill line. Apparently, finding new lows to reach is what Fox is all about.
Nothing New byslag at 12:09 PM
Obama's Gaining Ground in Clinton Country
Saturday, May 24, 2008
The thing I just haven't gotten to understand throughout the copious amounts of media coverage of the Democratic primary is this: Why don't we more often factor Obama's newness into our discussions of how this election is playing out? This question seems like such an obvious one to me and one that I've had in my mind for a while now that I've figured it must be a dumb one. When we talk about why Obama hasn't yet brought around the under-educated working white voter, maybe we should inject the reality that these are often low-information voters and that Clinton has had a gazillion year head-start on acquiring name-recognition and familiarity. She also has Bill's name recognition, which probably makes her, in these voters minds', a known quantity. And while these facts may help Clinton's electability case for this moment in time, the bizarre notion that Obama can't carry a large swing state in November because he lost it to "the best brand name in Democratic politics" back in April-May is clearly absurd.
Case in point, after having been destroyed by Clinton in California on Super Tuesday, he's now the leader in a general election match-up poll against John McSame:
Less than four months after losing the California primary, Democrat Barack Obama leads Republican John McCain in projected November general election matchups, a new Los Angeles Times/KTLA Poll has found.There are a variety of reasons for why Obama's now winning, but couldn't one reason possibly be that the low-info voters are starting to get a better sense of him after 3 more months of election coverage? According to the LA Times article:
Obama, the Illinois senator who has inched close to his party's nomination, would defeat McCain by seven points if the election were held today. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, whose fortunes have faltered since her Feb. 5 drubbing of Obama in California, would eke out only a three-point victory, the poll found.
The poll appeared to illustrate that Democrats, at least in California, are gravitating toward the candidate who is broadly expected to eventually seize the party's mantle. Obama now runs better against the Arizona senator than does Clinton among many of the groups that powered her victory in the state, among them Latinos, Catholics and those without college degrees.Imagine that. Polls change; people change. And while the article does illustrate Obama's eventuality as the nominee as one reason for his improvement against Clinton, here's another one:
Lena Neal, a Democrat from Perris, described herself as a former Clinton supporter who had turned to Obama as the primary season progressed. "He's just a down-to-earth person, just a reachable person," she said.So, Lena Neal, who lives in a small SoCal suburb, which is controlled by Republicans and now, according to Wikipedia, described as the "epicenter" of the housing crisis, has moved over to Obama because he's "down-to-earth". Whether or not Lena is one of these low information voters I don't know. However, something tells me that a lot more voters are going to be coming to that very same conclusion in the months ahead. Once Obama gets more time on the campaign trail and more time to catch up to his rivals in face and name recognition.
It may seem like this campaign has gone on forever to those of us who follow this stuff. But for a lot of people, it has barely started. So, rather than looking at this election as having unearthed an unbridgeable chasm that separates Obama from certain demographic groups indefinitely, maybe we should look at it more as a soundwave. Eventually, Obama's message will catch up to the rest of the country. All he needs is seven months and a lot of noise.
Nothing New byslag at 8:24 AM
Other People's Genius: "Who's Being Naive Now, McCain?" Edition
Friday, May 23, 2008
Since McCain's been busy trying to brand Obama as "naive and inexperienced", this edition of Other People's Genius is dedicated to him.
* Speaking of naive, the Situationist addresses the particularly conservative trait of "naive cynicism":
Those attributional styles also help define the walls of the broader liberal-conservative crevasse. Broadly speaking (with some notable exceptions), conservatives tend to be more dispositionist and progressives tend to be more situationist. That is true, in part, because, as Situationist contributor John Jost has demonstrated, (e.g., here), conservatives exhibit stronger needs for order, structure, and closure, a more potent sense of system threat, greater intolerance for ambiguity, and a greater acceptance of inequality, among other things — interior factors that align with the elements underlying dispositionism.I love it when science helps to explain my own personal observations. It makes me feel omniscient. Of course, that could just be my bias talking.
As this blog is devoted to documenting, despite being the dominant framework, dispositionism is a less accurate attributional approach than situationism. The mystery of how dispositionists nonetheless maintain confidence in their attributions is only explained by understanding a dynamic that we call “naïve cynicism”: the basic subconscious mechanism by which dispositionists discredit and dismiss more accurate situationist insights and their proponents.
As we explain in a forthcoming article, naïve cynicism predicts that, like most humans, dispositionists put great faith in the veracity of their perceptions and conceptions of how the world works. They see themselves as objective and reasonable and expect other reasonable and objective people to reach the same conclusions as they do. As a result, when a dispositionist encounters a situationist attribution that conflicts with his own causal story, that person experiences a cognitive conflict, and naïve cynicism provides a ready resolution: explaining the opposing attribution as the product of bias, ignorance, or some other flaw. Rather than engage the substance or merits of the conflict, naïve cynicism involves an attack on the perceptions, cognitions, or motivations of the individuals and on the institutions associated with the situationist conception. Without it, the dominant person schema—dispositionism—would be far more vulnerable to challenge and change, and the more accurate person schema—situationism—less easily and effectively attacked. Naïve cynicism is, thus, critically important to explaining how and why certain legal policies manage to carry the day—and why certain presidential candidates carry an election.
* Steve Benen reports that Joe Biden's been schooling McCain on foreign policy:
The election in November is a vital opportunity for America to start anew. That will require more than a great soldier. It will require a wise leader. Here, the controversy over engaging Iran is especially instructive.All good questions. I hear McCain's going to deal with the dangers by giving Iran the dreaded stink eye. Many a global catastrophe has been averted using that very tactic.
Last week, John McCain was very clear. He ruled out talking to Iran. He said that Barack Obama was “naïve and inexperienced” for advocating engagement; “What is it he wants to talk about?” he asked.
Well, for a start, Iran’s nuclear program, its support for Shiite militias in Iraq, and its patronage of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
Beyond bluster, how would Mr. McCain actually deal with these dangers? You either talk, you maintain the status quo, or you go to war. If Mr. McCain has ruled out talking, we’re stuck with an ineffectual policy or military strikes that could quickly spiral out of control.
* Cliff Schecter at FDL cites the Heritage Foundation who determines that maybe McCain really isn't the economist he admits to not being (sometimes):
Like other analysts, Riedl was mystified by McCain's argument that previous year's earmarks automatically become a "permanent part of the budget." "I don't understand how they come up with that," he told me.Ten billion here, ten billion there, and still it takes a while to get to a hundred billion. McCain's almost as good at math as Clinton has become.
Excluding those programs McCain has promised to preserve, the draconian slashing of earmark expenditures might save around $10 billion a year. But that is still a long way from the $100 billion in savings that McCain says that he can identify "immediately."
Happy Other People's Genius Friday!
Nothing New byslag at 11:42 PM
Nothing New byslag at 4:45 PM
Nothing New byslag at 4:19 PM
[I don't have an image for this...nor do I want one]
So, Hillary's thinkin dark thoughts:
My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don’t understand it,” she said, dismissing calls to drop out. [emphasis mine]Or, if you prefer to see the ick in technicolor:
I got nuthin. I have no idea what Hillary meant by this statement. But it's freaky and gross and should be rejected AND denounced.
And Eugene Robinson is right:
Hillary Clinton is after the White House, and if that means using the Florida and Michigan "issue" to tie the party in knots until the convention, so be it.From your keyboard to Dean's eyes, Eugene.
If that's not what party leaders want, they'd better do something. Because Clinton is going to keep moving forward.
UPDATE: Yglesias has a good UPDATE: On a more serious note, the difference between the current race and other previous campaigns that may have lingered on into June is that given this year's primary schedule there simply aren't enough delegates left at stake for future primaries to make a difference. If she were holding out for a June primary in California that she thought would let her catch up, that'd be a very different story from the actual "waiting for Puerto Rico" scenario we're currently in.
Nothing New byslag at 3:30 PM
I have violent tendencies. Sometimes when I'm out and about someone does or says something that makes me want to punch them. Hard. However, unlike today's war-mongering set, I prefer to control my violent tendencies and find more productive ways to express myself. Consequently, I'm starting a new category of posts called Random Acts of Nonviolence as a way to both help alter my response mechanisms and reward myself for not going around punching people. Hard.
Today's edition of Random Acts of Nonviolence is about a guy who sells papers near my neighborhood grocery store. Periodically, when My Favorite Person (MFP) and I walk by him, the guy says stuff beyond "Would you like to buy a paper today?". In a kind of creepy, overly enthusiastic voice he may tell us to "smile now" or "be good to each other" or whatever, and that's all fine and good if you don't mind having random people tell you what to do. But every now and then, he'll say to MFP as we walk by, "Remember, she's always right." Few things bother me more than being patronized, and one of those things is being patronized by a complete stranger. Consequently, when he makes these kinds of comments, I have to grit my teeth, smile, and control my urge to punch him in the stomach.
However, since dispensing karmic justice is one of my lifelong goals, I sometimes think I should do more. Maybe not go so far as to punch him in the stomach, but possibly take the time to explain to him the error of his ways. That, in general, women find being condescended to more offensive than he realizes. However, the guy's kind of odd--in the creepy odd way--and he spends his days outside of my neighborhood grocery store, so giving him a good set down may make things a little more awkward than I'm prepared to deal with. Can anyone think of some clever ways for me to possibly turn this random act of nonviolence into a random act of diplomacy? Maybe some funny comment I can make that lightens the mood and also happens to get the point across?
FYI-I once asked MFP if he is ever demeaned by random strangers on the street, and he said no. Interesting.
Nothing New byslag at 1:08 PM
Dear Democrats, It's Time to Get Serious
Thursday, May 22, 2008
So it's time for the uncommitted superdelegates to stop their dithering, come out of hiding, hop off the fence, endorse Obama and officially bring this nominating process to an end.Hillary's not going to leave; the Superdelegates need to step in. If they have a purpose at all, this is it. I've already emailed Howard Dean asking that he pressure Superdelegates to get moving.
The Democratic leadership -- starting with Pelosi, Reid, and Dean -- should begin working behind the scenes to get all uncommitted supers to immediately commit. Let Puerto Rico, South Dakota, and Montana have their say, but start bringing the curtain down now.
And let's not just wait for the party leaders to put pressure on the superdelegates. Let's start putting pressure ourselves. Below you will find a list of all the uncommitted superdelegates. And this link will lead you to profiles of them. Please call or email the elected officials and track down the DNC members who live in your state and let them know that you want them to stand up and be counted. Now.
Please use this form to tell Howard Dean to push the Superdelegates off the fence!
Nothing New byslag at 9:06 PM
Having an utterly lackluster candidate of their own, Republicans have been in the process of making Barack Obama "unacceptable" to voters. How do they do this? In the usual way--lying. First, Politico reports on the unprecedented quantity of viral emails intent on assassinating Obama's character:
What began as a demonstrably false attempt to cast Obama as a Muslim has now metastasized into something far more threatening to the likely Democratic nominee. The spurious claims about his faith have spiraled into a broader assault that questions his patriotism and citizenship and generally portrays him as a threat to mainstream, white America.One of the many consequences of Al Gore's invention of the interwebs is that the quantity and kinds of information available to us are now significantly more vast and varied. And sadly, our educational system has proven itself not up to the challenge of teaching us how to critically filter and evaluate said information. As we all know, Republicans have always depended on the ignorance of strangers. So, this insidious email campaign, combined with the organized comment patrol, represents a huge threat to our ability to focus on meaningful issues this election.
The spread of these e-mails has forced Obama to embark on a campaign to Americanize his image and his biography. Pivoting away from his pitch to a primary election audience uninterested in flag-waving and nationalism, he’s returning to the message that first brought him to the national spotlight in 2004: the idea that his is the quintessential American story.
Ironically, the smear campaign represents the dark side of the Internet’s emerging dominance in American politics — a phenomenon that has driven Obama’s unparalleled grass-roots and financial campaigns. After harnessing the Web to great advantage, Obama is now struggling to beat back the viral threat from the same uncontrollable medium.
Seems to me that the Obama campaign, the DNC, MoveOn.org, etc, should put as many resources into finding the origins of these smears as they possibly can. If the can get at least one or two sources loudly and publicly discredited, that may help with others. That said, people generally believe what they want to believe, so Obama's real goal probably needs to be getting people to like him.
And in conjunction with email smears, Republicans are re-hiring their chief character assassination consigliere to sniff out the dirt:
The Republican National Committee is hiring one of the party's toughest oppo-researchers -- former Karl Rove protege Tim Griffin, who was also at the center of the U.S. Attorney scandal -- to dig into Barack Obama's past and unearth info to damage his general election candidacy, a senior Republican operative confirms to me.The mere fact that this garbage is all these people actually have to offer elicits both repugnance and pity from me. I mean seriously...what a bunch of pathetic losers.
Griffin played a lead role in the GOP oppo operation during the 2004 campaign, unearthing info that damaged John Kerry's presidential bid. According to the senior GOP operative, who's familiar with Griffin's past work, he was instrumental in unearthing a videotape of a 1971 interview that Kerry did in which he appeared to confirm that he renounced his medals to protest the Vietnam War.
UPDATE: Digby has more on these issues:
I think that any of you who've read Somerby over the years know very well what a pernicious meme the "Gore lies" turned out to be --- a character assassination of disparate "facts" to create a totally inaccurate narrative. There is no margin in thinking that just because your candidate is clean or has little history that he will not be subject to this treatment.Fun fun fun.
Nothing New byslag at 3:12 PM
Rachel Maddow Pleads. Will Democrats Respond?
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Rachel Maddow is pleading for Democrats to listen to Hillary Clinton when she says that she's going to take this Democratic primary race to the convention. John and Joe of Americablog envision the same scenario. Rachel sees this whole Michigan and Florida adventure as just a delay tactic and that once the rules and bylaws committee meets at the end of the month to discuss it, their decision-making process will probably continue until the Democratic convention. And if that happens, Democrats will lose. I agree with her. Obama needs to get like 90 Superdelegates before May 31st, so will Democrats finally step up and deal with this problem?
Wishes have worked in the past. Pretty please?
UPDATE: How do you criticize Clinton's "tenacity" without using sexist psycho ex-girlfriend metaphors? John Cole has the answer:
This race now is no longer a race, but a hostage crisis. Hillary is surrounded, and she can see the super-delegates through the windows of the bank lobby and she knows they are armed to the teeth, wearing their kevlar vests, weapons sighted, aimed, and with the safeties off. In her heart of hearts she knows it is over, but still she keeps the pistol cocked at the head of the party. Maybe, just maybe, something will happen and she can make it to the fueled plane she demanded be taken to the airport and then she can go away to her big payday. She has come this far, she can’t quit now. Miracles happen.There. That wasn't so hard; was it? It's Stockholm syndrome on steroids.
But it won’t happen. It never does. Not even in the movies, at least not the good ones.
UPDATE 2: Keith's not kidding (h/t BryAnn):
Or click here (if embed doesn't work)
Nothing New byslag at 4:55 PM
The Mr. and I have been talking lately about comments he's been seeing on blogs and news sites. Having recently joined the Some of Nothing Karmic Justice League in earnest, he's been going online and fighting the good fight in comments sections across the land. I try to keep him from getting all extracurricular about it since he's generally wasting his time, but he's sometimes more optimistic about people than I am. And he's good at talking to people on their own individual levels. I have no such skill.
Interestingly, the Mr. has said multiple times now that there must be some sort of concerted effort to get Republicans to post comments on these sites. He's been struck by the consistency of the misinformation found in them and by the overall lack of spelling ability. Having discussed it several times, I told him I'd post on it if I ever found any facts to support it. Well, facts are found on the John McCain website, apparently:
John McCain to unleash 101st Fighting Keyboarders - Concern Troll Division:John McCain's campaign is using their campaign website to encourage supporters to post supportive comments on political blogs, including the most well-known liberal site in the blogosphere. And to make things easier, they're including talking points with which sympathizers can use to get out the McCain message.
If I were a gambling person, I would bet a lot on the notion that McCain's fighting keyboarders are just the beginning of seriously organized Republican infiltration of comments sections everywhere. I strongly suspect that either the RNC or some 527s are employing the same strategery using a much more negative message. The words "socialist," "Marxist," and "Muslim" are coming up far too often in both general news and liberal blogs sections everywhere to be just a bunch of average morons mindlessly repeating talking points. It seems too concerted and intentional. And if I were a conspiracy theorist, I would suggest that some comments coming from people supposedly supporting Clinton or those supposedly supporting Obama are actually part of the program. Since Republicans recognize that they have absolutely nothing at all to say in favor of themselves, their only recourse is character assassination. And what better way for Repubchickens--unable to abandon their fetal blogging positions--to go about it than to hide behind a hillaryis44 alias?
I'd pay to find out more about this.
Nothing New byslag at 2:27 PM
Rather than actively covet it, CNN pundits (starting with David Gergen) suggest that Clinton instead come out and reject/denounce the racist vote (from Culture Kitchen):
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we have been looking at some of the exit polls from Kentucky, in particular the issue of race. Voters who said that race was important in making their decision or is the factor in making their decision.Recently, I've been reflecting back on this historic primary trying to decide what I think has been each candidate's highest and lowest points. And I don't mean that in terms of polls or media narrative; I mean that in terms of how each candidate has behaved--how they have demonstrated leadership. Although I've been wanting to post on this topic for a while now, I've held off because I honestly can't think of a real significant high point in Clinton's campaign. Honestly, there's nothing I can think of that she's done that has demonstrated exemplary or courageous leadership. However, if she eventually did what Gergen suggests--as John Edwards did early on (and got no credit for)--that would be her high point. It would be something that would redeem her somewhat in my mind because it wouldn't be all about winning for winning's sake but, instead, would be about displaying leadership.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It is more disquieting news I think for Barack Obama as he looks for the general election.
COOPER: One in five I think.
GERGEN: It was about 21 percent that race was a factor. Nine out of ten of those voted for Hillary Clinton.
COOPER: And that is people that would admit it to a complete strangers taking these exit polls theoretically it would be even larger those who would not admit it.
GERGEN: And from her point of view, over a quarter of the people who voted for her today in Kentucky were people who said race was a factor in their decision. And it really means -- I mean, she's been talking about sexism in this race and she has complained about some in the last 24 hours.
You know race is really playing an increasing issue. And it also raises the question in my judgment of whether she shouldn't say, you know, if you want to vote against him because he's black, I don't want your vote. I don't want to win that way. This has no place in this primary. [emphasis mine]
Not holding my breath.
Nothing New byslag at 1:09 PM
Holy Joe starts his rationally-challenged article with a question:
How did the Democratic Party get here?I actually thought this was a good beginning. I've often wondered how the Democratic Party could have ever included Joe Lieberman, let alone put him up as a VP candidate. But apparently, that wasn't where he was going:
How did the party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy drift so far from the foreign policy and national security principles and policies that were at the core of its identity and its purpose?I agree. How did we, the Democrats, ever let the fear mongers push us into a stupid war with no real moral foundation or path to success? Oh wait. That wasn't where he was going either:
Beginning in the 1940s, the Democratic Party was forced to confront two of the most dangerous enemies our nation has ever faced: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. In response, Democrats under Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy forged and conducted a foreign policy that was principled, internationalist, strong and successful.Well, there was that whole Bay of Pigs incident. Not to mention the Vietnam War, which Kennedy has some right to claim a part of. And I guess the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were straightforwardly principled actions according to Lieberman. But that was such a long time ago, and blowing up entire cities of innocent civilians is an easily forgettable event. I'm sure the few families of those people that remain don't even remember their names anymore. So, it's all good. I digress:
This was the Democratic Party that I grew up in – a party that was unhesitatingly and proudly pro-American, a party that was unafraid to make moral judgments about the world beyond our borders. It was a party that understood that either the American people stood united with free nations and freedom fighters against the forces of totalitarianism, or that we would fall divided.Hmmmm....being "proudly pro-American" means judging the world beyond our borders while completely forgetting to judge ourselves? I think there's another term for that: hypocrite. And when we talk about "freedom fighters" are we talking Iraqi insurgents? Cuz I think our US soldiers in Iraq may have a problem with us standing united with those freedom fighters. Just a guess....
Long story short, Lieberman's concern troll article is lengthy and not worth all the words he used to write it, let alone all the words required to make fun of it. I just wish the Democratic Party wouldn't put up with his imperialist recklessness anymore.
Nothing New byslag at 9:52 AM
1. It's a travesty of justice that a boorish Neanderthal (or troglodyte homunculus, if you prefer) such as Joe Scarborough is in any position to affect public opinion in this country.
2. Apparently, it's going to take more than female and black male presidential candidates to get racists and sexists off the teevee (I'm looking at you, Pat Buchanan).
3. Chris Matthews thought Michelle Bernard was "left of center". I've heard this woman talk maybe three times ever (thanks to Rachel Maddow for forcing her on me) and knew instantly she was a right wing shill. She calls herself "right of center". The "liberal media" has no idea what the word liberal means.
4. Howard Fineman needs to either get a new hair dye or go au naturale. Or someone needs to stop spilling pots of coffee on his head before every teevee appearance.
5. Watching the pundits complain about the complexities of the Democratic nominating process while having no problems with their own elaborate dissections of voting demographics is hilarious. Working, white, undereducated voters have become working, white, undereducated, Appalachian voters. Their next logical step is to complain that Obama's problem demographic in this race has been working, white, undereducated, Appalachian voters named "Ted". My neighborhood video store has a better categorization method than these people. Want to browse movies about Christian Hermaphrodite Skater Teens with Eating Disorders anyone?
6. The pundits dismiss Obama's big win in Oregon because it's a far left state right after they claim that McCain wants to turn Oregon red. Do they even listen to themselves talk?
7. No one corrects a Hillary supporter's claim that Hillary has won the popular vote. What do these people do for a living again?
8. Still, the only person that counts in end of this race is the white man. It's amazing how many different contretemps end in that conclusion.
Nothing New byslag at 8:10 AM
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
While working up my courage to make a few phone calls for Obama today, I was debating whether or not I would wimp out and choose to call Oregon or grit my teeth and call Kentucky. For better or worse, the Obama website made the choice for me. Kentucky, it was. Unsure of what I was in for, I was happy to find that, instead of trying to convince any old Kentuckian to vote Obama, I was calling only to remind current Obama supporters to get to the polls. So, if you have some time on your lunch hour or whenever, give Kentucky a call. It's easy! And honestly, talking to fellow Obama supporters in a state I've never been to this morning was a bit energizing in that it helped remind me that there's diversity of opinion everywhere. It's just a matter of percentages.
And if you need more inspiration:
Oh yeah. And for all those people who keep claiming that Obama has completely abandoned Kentucky:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Barack Obama complimented Democratic primary rival Hillary Clinton Monday night and called for unity against Republican presidential candidate John McCain in the fall election.(via John Cole)
Obama, a U.S. senator from Illinois, took his bid for the White House to a packed Kentucky International Convention Center on Monday night.
"She has served this country well, and whatever differences between myself and her, they pale in comparison to the differences we've got with George W. Bush," Obama told a crowd of about 8,000. "They're nothing compared to differences we have with John McCain."
Nothing New byslag at 10:20 AM
Obama Grants Wishes! Calls McCain "Afraid".
Monday, May 19, 2008
McCain said [calling Iran weak compared to the USSR] revealed Obama's "inexperience and reckless judgment." Here's the key part of Obama's reply...Watch it on video in all its glory (and to find out what McCain's really thinking when he talks, just replace his words with "Kokokaw" over and over again in your mind):"Here's the truth: the Soviet Union had thousands of nuclear weapons, and Iran doesn't have a single one. But when the world was on the brink of nuclear holocaust, Kennedy talked to Khrushchev and he got those missiles out of Cuba. Why shouldn't we have the same courage and the confidence to talk to our enemies? That's what strong countries do, that's what strong presidents do, that's what I'll do when I'm president of the United States of America."
Obama also said: "What are George Bush and John McCain afraid of"?
More of this please!
Best screenshot ever from TPM:And what do voters think about Obama's recent responses to Bush/McCain? From Gallup:
Obama Opens Up 16-Point Lead, Biggest Yet
More of this too, please!
Nothing New byslag at 1:53 PM
Women are People Too
Sunday, May 18, 2008
The last push in this Democratic primary campaign by Hillary and her supporters appears to be yet another play of the gender card. As someone who has written about several (though not even close to all) of the instances of sexism directed at Clinton, it would be absurd of me to suggest that she's overplaying it. She's not. The overt sexism, and even misogyny, that has permeated both her media coverage and her overall public image has been nothing short of appalling. But the reality is that, while Hillary has suffered greatly as a result of sexism, I see no reason to give her a pass on the sexism that she's been a beneficiary of.
And no, I'm not talking about any boyzarestooopidanddrool sexism directed toward men, in general, and Obama, in particular. While disparaging masculinity and men--such as they are--would clearly be sexist, the current social power structure is such that I don't care much about "reverse" sexism engaged in by women. Sorry, guys, when we have equal opportunities, equal pay, and you get your g'damn hands off my body permanently, then I'll feel your pain. Until then, you're on your own.
The bizarrely pro-Clinton sexism I have a problem with is the kind that hurts women as much as, if not more than, it hurts men. I'm talking about the "testicular fortitude" kind of sexism that says that, for a woman to be strong, she has to be willing to "obliterate" Iran and be prepared to bowl a 280 after downing a six pack of Bud followed by a few tequila shooters. I'm talking about the kind of sexism that results in Clinton and McCain competing to determine who gets to carry the Rocky Balboa mantle. I'm talking about the girlzarewimpy kind of sexism that pervades Kathleen Parker's disgusting "The Democrats Hug It Out" column about Edwards' endorsement of Obama:
Well, at least they didn't kiss.Ha! Get it? Obama's a wimpy, let's-talk-it-out girl, and Hillary's a real Ahmadinejad's man. And voters don't want a girl in the White House! (Yes, the supposed switching of 1950's-era gender roles is what passes for HI-larious irony among our elite media class.)
I was bracing myself for the lip lock Wednesday when John Edwards endorsed Barack Obama.
Obama and Edwards make an attractive picture -- Ultra Brite cover boys of youth and glamour united against old men (and women) who worship the status quo. Obama -- the man who makes Chris Matthews feel a thrill up his leg -- wants to "do the Lord's work," lately pictured in front of a cross illuminated with vanity lights on a flier aimed at Kentucky voters, while Edwards wants to roll out the catapults and nuke the Coliseum.
Clinton, who got a little face time as reporters took her temperature, was (as always) smooth and cool.
Which puts new thoughts in motion as voters project down the road. Obama and Edwards look and talk pretty, but Clinton, unflinching and steely, exudes pure brawn. When the time comes to sit across from the likes of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a chill in the heart may beat a thrill up the leg.
Has it pissed me off that Obama has let much of the sexism directed toward Clinton go unanswered? Yes. Has it pissed me off that Clinton has let much of the sexism directed toward Obama go unanswered? Yes. However, the reason that the unresponsiveness from both sides has bothered me isn't that it hurts my favorite candidate's chances or doesn't hurt your favorite candidate's chances. The reason it bothers me is that, in the end, this kind of sexism hurts me and everyone else who finds this pervasive antediluvian attitude utterly oppressive. And the people who are in the best position to fight against it--the two current Democratic candidates--either promote or ignore it when it benefits them. And pimping sexism really pisses me off.
So, I agree that it sucks when Obama calls a woman "sweetie" and no security issues reporter cares enough to wonder aloud whether or not that's how he'll talk to Kim Jong-il. But it also sucks when Hillary talks about whipping out her nukes to obliterate an entire country full of people (there are still people that live there, right?), and the venerable Mr. Security Issues doesn't seem to mind that either. However, laying it all at the feet of Barack Obama or implying that you'll campaign against him if your woman doesn't win the nomination is as foolhardy as it is foolish. Not only is he not the only Democrat in the race to blame for this problem, the fact remains that this election isn't even about him. As some of our candidates have to keep explaining, this election is about us. So, when we work to elect John McCain's Supreme Court nominees and national security, economic, and environmental policies, we're hurting all people. And no matter what the prevailing masses say, women are people too.
(And no, I didn't even touch on racism in this post because that's not what this post was about. )
UPDATE: An example from the New York Times:
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, many women say with regret, did not inspire a deep or nuanced conversation between men and women, only familiar gender-war battles consisting of male gibes and her supporters’ angry responses. Mr. Obama, who sought to minimize the role of race in his candidacy, led something of a national dialogue about it, but Mrs. Clinton, who made womanhood an explicit part of her run, seemed unwilling or unable to talk candidly about gender.These two paragraphs speak volumes about my ambivalence toward Clinton. Consistently playing around the edges of gender issues without addressing them head-on is hardly a rallying cry for feminists. Using Obama's way of dealing with race as a foil illustrates a clear distinction in the leadership styles of the two candidates. After realizing that he couldn't avoid it any longer, Obama went headlong into the topic of race, delivering the most direct and poignant speech on the subject we've heard in a generation. If Clinton were serious about dealing with gender issues in this election, she wouldn't have continually brought them up and then retreated from them when it suited her. She would have dealt with them honestly and directly. Her failure to do so doesn't exactly inspire confidence in her commitment toward gender issues.
Mrs. Clinton, for example, declined a New York Times request earlier this year for an interview about the gender dynamics of the race; her aides said the topic would be impossible for her to address in a frank way.
Nothing New byslag at 3:30 PM
He Aims, He Shoots, He Misses!
Friday, May 16, 2008
Huckabee thinks it's HI-larious to joke about Obama getting shot at (via Crooks and Liars):
[noise offstage] That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he’s getting ready to speak,” said the former Arkansas governor, to audience laughter. “Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor.I have one question (since all the obvious ones have been taken already). In a way, I think this is the overriding question of this election. Which President would you choose: The one who dodges bullets or the one who stands up and takes his bullets like a man? Just wondering.
Nothing New byslag at 5:01 PM
Watching the back and forth between Bush/McCain and Democrats over Obama's foreign policy strategy today has been a thing of beauty. Seriously. I'm this close to feeling that thrill that Chris Matthews gets up his leg. As Mark Murray explains:
When President Bush -- thousands of miles away in Israel -- decided to fire his thinly veiled shot at Obama yesterday, it was a giant gift to the Illinois senator and his campaign. Why? One, it essentially kept Clinton on the sidelines just two days after her big West Virginia victory. Two, Obama’s opponent was no longer Clinton or McCain, but the man with the 27% job-approval rating. And three, it rallied Democrats to Obama’s side. Even neutral Dems, like Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel and Harry Reid, quickly leapt to Obama’s defense.President Bush finally living up to his promise to be a uniter not a divider by kindly uniting the Democrats to Obama's side. Love is in the air today.
As far as the actual Bush/McCain foreign policy position goes, I'm with Obama (and Steve Benen):
“They’re trying to fool you. They’re trying to scare you. And they’re not telling you the truth [because] they can’t win a foreign policy debate on the merits,” Obama said. He went on to call the Bush/McCain approach “naive and irresponsible.”I would add one word to describe Bush/McCain: they are "afraid". Or as JFK said:
This is what campaigns are all about. Forget pins and preachers — the president and his would-be Republican successor have a specific, misguided worldview about America’s role in the world, and how we can use our international influence to the world’s benefit. That is to say, a failed worldview, which Republicans are anxious to pursue for another four years, starting in 2009. To get there, Bush, McCain, and their cohorts are returning to the cheap and predictable talking points that have gotten them this far — those who reject their ideas are “weak,” “naive,” and putting the nation at risk.
Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate."Afraid" is the word that I'd like to see Obama use the most on Bush/McCain. He's talked a lot about the politics of fear and how damaging it is to our national discourse, but what I wish he'd do more of is turn it around. Explain that they're only trying to scare us because they're the ones that are scared. Scared witless of all enemies--foreign and domestic--simply because they look different, have different lifestyles, speak differently, or have different belief systems. Scared of their own shadows if they ever got out from under their beds.
We, as Americans, simply need to start drawing upon our own faculties and inner strength to protect ourselves. We need to be inspired to rally our courage and not let the fear mongers drive us to our dark scary place. Obama knows we need to feel hope. But we also need to feel anger. We need to be angry at the scared little reprobates who have spent the last seven years playing games with Terror Alerts, Osama bin Laden tapes, and opportunistic bogeymen. The real "hysterical" weaklings in this country are those who are willing to enthusiastically trade liberty for security. The With Us or Against Us chickenhawks who are more than happy to send other people's kids off to war while they hide under their covers at home--maybe periodically skipping a golf game or two. Or, as the new Republican slogan puts it:
Kokokaw. Kokokaw. Kokokaw...Chickens don't clap!(Yes, I'm going to be playing this slogan every time Republicans happily sound off their inner chicken squawk because it cracks me up.)
And allow me to agree with Steve Benen once again:
You know, after months of malaise, I’m actually starting to enjoy this campaign again.Right on! Go Obama!
Obama: If George Bush and John McCain want to have a debate about protecting the United States of America, that is a debate that I'm happy to have any time, any place, and that is a debate that I will win because George Bush and John McCain have a lot to answer for.
Nothing New byslag at 3:43 PM
I keep meaning to do serious stuff today (because there is much serious stuff to be done), but psilocynic tipped me off to this hilarious video and I couldn't resist. I was prepared to turn my nose up. Instead I laughed myself to tears:
How can someone have a head that large without anything in it?
Nothing New byslag at 2:31 PM
I've been seeing and hearing more arguments over the "Hillary Clinton: the Psycho Ex-Girlfriend of the Democratic Party" sexism issue, so it's time for me to see if they actually change my mind. This time, I'm going to slightly modify some of the arguments I'm seeing/hearing about whether or not that particular portrayal of Hillary Clinton is sexist to see if they can convince me that this particular portrayal of Barack Obama isn't racist. We'll find out if it works.
Argument 1: That shirt isn't racist.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.
Argument 2: THAT SHIRT ISN'T RACIST!!!!
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.
Argument 3: If you say that shirt is racist, I'm going to laugh at you.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.
Argument 4: My best friend is black, and he says that shirt isn't racist.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.
Argument 5: What's the problem? That's just how Barack Obama looks. It doesn't say that all black people look like that. Just Obama. So, it's not racist.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.
Argument 6: There are plenty of white people that look like monkeys too. In fact, there are a ton of sites on the internet that show George W Bush looking like a chimp. So, obviously, portraying Obama as a monkey isn't racist since it's done to white people too.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.
Argument 7: That shirt is just funny. You have no sense of humor.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.
Argument 8: OK. I could see that if that shirt said, "I hate black people" or "black people look like monkeys and are, therefore, an inferior race," then it would be racist. But it doesn't; so it isn't.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.
Argument 9: I don't think the person who designed that shirt even knew that there is a cultural stereotype about black people looking like monkeys. He just thinks that's how Obama looks. Clearly, that makes it not racist.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.
Argument 10: I don't believe that whole cultural stereotype about black people looking like monkeys actually exists. You're making it up because you're just too sensitive about these things. Therefore, that shirt isn't racist.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.
Obviously, this argument is going nowhere. I still think that portrayal of Obama is racist. Which means that I still think that portrayal of Clinton is sexist. Ironically, the dictionary definitions of racism aren't as encompassing as those of sexism, so technically, Argument 8 should have swayed me more toward the idea that that portrayal of Obama isn't racist. But it shouldn't have even made a dent in my conclusion that the psycho ex-girlfriend portrayal of Clinton is sexist. Nonetheless, the cultural constructs of racism and sexism are so systemic and deeply connected, that I see no practical reason for me to be less sensitive to one than I am the other. But then, what do I know? I'm just an overly sensitive feminazi with no sense of humor.
So, my conclusions remain: Dude, that shirt is racist. And dude, that blog post is sexist.
This tiny snippet about the argument over the shirt is worth reading and is something I'm going to keep in mind to help me question my own judgments on these kinds of issues.
PS I'm not in the habit of posting offensive material on this blog (unless the offensive material is my writing style, in which case, it's all over), so my apologies for doing so now. If only you didn't make me so mad, I wouldn't have to hit you like this. (oh wait...that's a different kind of sexism)
UPDATE: I notice that Chicago Tribune article, which I linked to, includes this image of a black man as a link-through to a photo series of "mug shots of the rich and infamous":I find it interesting that the link-through image and the first three images in the series are of black men even though images of African-Americans (both men and women) only comprise about 1/4th of the entire mugshot series. So, in an article about a racist shirt, the folks at the Chicago Tribune choose to disproportionally use black men to represent celebrity criminality. Is that racist? Why are those men shown in the front of that series and on this page? And notice the "Forever young" images of Melanie Griffith(?) right below it linking to a photo series of mostly women and their plastic surgery. I wonder why, in our society, women are more likely to get plastic surgery than men are? Either way, white males are tragically underrepresented in both criminality and insecurity in this article. I think they should protest.
UPDATE 2: I really appreciate this Scientific American Mind article on "Buried Prejudice: The Bigot in Your Brain". It's not the newest of information, but I think it's a timely, interesting, and somewhat comprehensive (at least on a theoretical level) explanation of how bias deviously inhabits the inner minds of all of us. One of the upshots of the article:
[P]eople who report a strong personal motivation to be nonprejudiced tend to harbor less implicit bias. And some studies indicate that people who are good at using logic and willpower to control their more primitive urges, such as trained meditators, exhibit less implicit bias. Brain research suggests that the people who are best at inhibiting implicit stereotypes are those who are especially skilled at detecting mismatches between their intentions and their actions.I enjoy having this knowledge because it means that, even though I sometimes make destructive snap judgments based on stereotypes, I can willfully control them and become smarter at the same time. I can choose to be defensive and ignorant, or I can choose to be introspective and intelligent. That's power.
(Also, if you get the paper copy of the magazine, within the article is an interesting call-out box that talks about the bigotry of the likes of Michael Richards, Mel Gibson, and Jerry Lewis.)
Nothing New byslag at 7:19 AM
Speaking of Nazis
Thursday, May 15, 2008
We all know this already, but:
George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.So, if, as Jonah Goldberg explains, Nazis are vegetarians, and vegetarians are liberals, and Bush is a Nazi...Bush is a liberal?
The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.
Will someone please put some boundaries on reality already? I'm starting to get a headache.
As we can see, Yo Mama is a Marxist jokes work both ways. Part of me is glad that most liberals make fun of these kinds of issues rather than create an entire world view around them. If only we could get the establishment press to join the reality-based community, this election might actually be as meaningful as its historical precedence should make it.
Nothing New byslag at 11:19 PM
The effort to re-brand McCain's Republican Party continues. It appears that McCain is dissatisfied with Huckabee's Frosted Flake suggestion and is trying to sell himself as Magically Delicious instead:
McCain promising a stabilized Middle East by 2013 is all fine and good, but if he's going to be granting wishes like this, he really should focus on something important. I, for one, will only vote McCain for president if he promises to get me an all-carb diet that promotes weight loss. That, and I want him to make our economy and education system bad enough to turn me into a poor uneducated white person so that my vote for Barack Obama will finally count for something.
I'm pretty sure only one of those wishes will be granted during a McCain presidency, but hey, a girl can dream.
What's your McCain first-term wish?
PS My apologies to the Irish for America's distasteful breakfast cereal marketing ploys. And apologies to America for McCain's distasteful presidential marketing ploys.
Nothing New byslag at 10:16 PM
Chris Matthews and I have had our differences in the past. But he earned at least some of his paycheck this evening:
Stupid Neocon Guy: Appeasement ... appeasement ... appeasement ... appeasement ... appeasement ... appeasement ... appeasement...(via John Cole)
Matthews: You don't know what you're talking about.
The fact that Stupid Neocon Guy has a radio show and is in a position to show his face on the teevee should be a complete embarrassment to all of us. And the fact that our President is the king of dunces such as him makes it even worse. Doesn't anyone have to actually earn our respect and attention anymore?
Nothing New byslag at 8:41 PM
In an astoundingly ignorant interview with The Politico’s Mike Allen Tuesday, President Bush insinuated that electing a Democrat in November would lead to another attack on America, and revealed that he made the ultimate sacrifice by giving up golf shortly after the start of the Iraq War — the timing of which he lied about. Naturally, Keith ripped into him tonight — with all the anger and passion you’ve come to expect from a Special Comment — for continuing this despicable fear-mongering, and for failing to understand what true sacrifice is.Wow. Fear-mongering, false martyrdom, lying about war...sounds like the same old Republican Party to me.
And then, from the AP:
In a speech toWow. Political opportunism, linking diplomacy to Nazism, more fear-mongering...definitely sounds like the same old Republican Party to me. 's Knesset, Bush said: "Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along.
"We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
Barack Obama responds:
It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack. It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally, Israel. Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all the elements of American power, including tough, principled and direct diplomacy to pressure countries like Iran and Syria.Well, since some Republicans have, through the branding process, come to realize that their new slogan--Republicanism is the New Prozac--is a non-starter, I have a suggestion for them (I'm feeling very helpful these days). Their new slogan should both speak to the heart of the Republican Party and tell the world how Republicans respond to their adversaries. It should be simple, precise, and honest. Cerebrally elegant but with a touch of down-home rustic charm. Ladies and gentlemen, the new Republican Party slogan:
Kokokaw. Kokokaw. Kokokaw...Chickens don't clap!
UPDATE: Or, if you want to get serious about it, check out Keith Olbermann:
(via The Jed Report)
Nothing New byslag at 10:46 AM
(via Cute Overload)
Nothing New byslag at 9:01 AM
My First Love Returns
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Edwards endorses Obama. I had written a big long post about this, but really, why bother? Here's the good stuff:
Timing couldn't be better. One might say that there are actual professionals running the Obama campaign. Too bad his superior vote-getting abilities and better strategic decisions still make him less electable than Hillary Clinton. And too bad the Iraq War is a winning issue for John McCain. And too bad the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie and the world seems to shine like you've had too much wine.
Nothing New byslag at 3:22 PM
There's been a lot of chatter lately about how/if Clinton will exit the primary race. Like many others, I'm of the opinion that she will not be quitting anytime soon. Which means the real question has become: What does she want?
One thing I've heard multiple times now is that Obama may end up remunerating some of her campaign debt:
Senator Barack Obama said today that he would not rule out the possibility of helping Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton retire her campaign debt to bring her into the fold and unify Democrats. But he said no discussions have taken place yet.Speaking as an Obama donor, the thought of actually having to pay for Clinton's embarrassing red phone and gas tax ads is more than grating. Here I was thinking that I was having my intelligence insulted for free. And now, I may have to pay for the privilege? Spending my hard-earned tax money to be regularly shamed on a national scale is one of the things I liked least about the Bush administration. No more years!
Honestly, I don't know how/if this campaign is going to end. But like any good Stockholm syndrome victim, I'm sure I'll grow to love my captor again soon.
(thanks to the anonymous person on the internets for unknowingly letting me use this picture of your back)
Nothing New byslag at 10:27 AM
Mike Huckabee Offers McCain a New Brand: Frosted Flake
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Democrats have been taking open Republican seats left and right (pun intended) lately, the latest of which was in Mississippi (via Crooks and Liars):
The best part of the video (aside from the fact that the Democratic win in Mississippi is another display of Obama's mile-long coattails)? Mike Huckabee takes a break from congratulating Canada on preserving their national igloo to say this:
It really does indicate the Republican brand is badly damaged. John McCain can't run the Republican brand. He's got to run a different approach...But people ultimately don't buy the brand; they buy the cereal. They're not buying Kelloggs; they're buying Frosted Flakes.I'm thinking that Frosted Flake is McCain's best nickname to date. It remains to be seen whether McCain will now run to his media moms complaining about how Huckabee is taking cracks at his age.
Nothing New byslag at 11:12 PM
There's been a lot of focus on the role that racism will play in this presidential campaign, the intensity-level of which makes it easy to lose perspective. WaPo's article on the subject has inspired concern and introspection on the left and defensiveness and finger-pointing on the right (much like any other subject tends to do). In the melee, it's easy to forget that we're talking about percentages here. As in small percentages. And with all this focus on Obama, we forget that statistics show fewer people loving the thought of a female president than that of a black male president. It's true that the majority of these woman-haters probably aren't concentrated in the state of West Virginia, and we now know, as goes West Virginia, so goes the nation (kill me now). But sexism and racism (and in McCain's case, fundamentalism) are going to be real problems for all of us in this election. So we might as well just screw up our courage, remember there's more of us than there are of them, and deal.
And at the very least, let's get out the freakin' vote, and push the racists/sexists/fundamentalists further into irrelevance:
UPDATE: Christy Hardin Smith at FDL has a great post on the voter registration drive. I highly recommend it!
Nothing New byslag at 3:56 PM
Bill O'Reilly: What's with My MF'in Teleprompter?
Monday, May 12, 2008
Bill O'Reilly once again stands up for decency and civility by exhibiting conscientious self-restraint in the face of extreme adversity in this NSFW video. Part deux in the Sonofabitch Warrior series.
Nothing New byslag at 2:30 PM
With Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove generously taking much valued time away from their families to offer advice to our Democratic candidates, I thought it would be nice for someone to return the favor. So, I have some advice for neocons everywhere:
Give up on the character assassination.
Now, I know character assassination is all neocons have ever run on, so this advice is probably going to be as influential as Rove's and Gingrich's was. But with all the guilt-by-association Obama is a Christo-Muslim-Atheist-Marxo-Fascist memes floating around, I thought it would be nice to make everyone aware now that it's just a waste of time. Yes, we know Michelle Obama is a strong black woman, and those are three words neocons hate to see (especially in a row), but really, the rest of us are cool with her. And we know that Hamas' faux "endorsement" of Obama should make us all cower under our beds, but honestly, being scared witless is one thing that neocons actually do better than everyone else. And yes, we know that Obama has made friends with some real weirdos--that wacky Tom Coburn, and endorsers Lincoln Chafee and Chuck Hagel, to name a few--but we don't hold that against him. Variety of perspective is good for us; neocons should give it a try. Finally, while lapel pin-clad bloggers have had tremendous influence over the establishment press for quite a while--even from their fetal blogging positions--neocons should now realize it's time for that to change as well. After the last seven years of sheer travesty, actual issues are back in vogue and are here to stay.
So, really, is this the best you can do? Character assassination is soooooo 1990s.
Roughly 70% of America
Nothing New byslag at 9:04 AM
Mr. T is a Never Nude
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Treat your mother right.
Nothing New byslag at 6:51 PM
Who is More Concerned About What's on Your Lapel: Neocon Blogs or the Establishment Press?
Friday, May 9, 2008
Simon Owens at Bloggasm recently analyzed four prominent neocon blogs to determine how much of their coverage of Barack Obama focused on policy issues vs. how much focused on non-issues. Not surprisingly:
The four blogs published a total of 311 posts in April prominently featuring Obama. Of those, 71 posts (23%) focused on policy issues. The remaining 240 posts (77%) focused on non-policy issues.While the fact that neocons obsess over non-issues isn't much of a surprise, the fact that they may do it more than the establishment press does is a pleasant surprise:
A report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy found that during the early months of the 2008 presidential campaign, 63 percent of the campaign stories focused on political strategy while only 15 percent discussed the candidates’ ideas and proposals. [emphasis mine]Glenn Greenwald often mentions the ways in which the right-wing blogs and the establishment press dovetail beautifully in their coverage of non-issues. But it's nice to think that the establishment press might be a marginal improvement over Michelle Malkin on this score. Of course, the differing timeframes and methodologies of these studies may end up playing a role in how each group fared. So, I'm still willing to entertain the notion that the establishment press could, in fact, be as bad as Malkin after all. I mean, Brian Williams does hold up Peggy Noonan as being a paragon of political commentary. Talk about worshiping false idols.
Nothing New byslag at 6:52 PM
Nothing New byslag at 5:37 PM
Nothing New byslag at 5:23 PM
Obama inadvertently said he'd visited 57 states this election, and Marc Ambinder had this to say:
But if John McCain did this -- if he mistakenly said he'd visited 57 states -- the media would be all up in his grill, accusing him of a senior moment. Just saying....So, McCain confused Sunnis and Shiites several times, and members of the media climbed all over each other to explain it away. But if he accidentally turns a 4 into a 5, then they'll make a big deal out of it? One of two things is true here:
1. When Ambinder said "the media would be all up in his grill", he meant that they would be there just to feed him more donuts;
2. Our national media has its priorities bizarrely out of whack.
Either one of these options bodes ill for this election.
Nothing New byslag at 3:29 PM
* The L-curve displays income distribution in a way that makes it clearer to non-economist me:
The U.S. Income distribution is not a “Bell Curve”…it is an “L-Curve”! On the scale of the football field graph shown here the bottom 99% of the population measure their incomes in inches. The top 1% measure their incomes as stacks of $100 bills feet or even miles high! The total wealth of the few people in the vertical spike equals the total wealth of the rest of the population combined.The L-curve graphic is a must-see!
* Dday at Hullabaloo makes some good points about Obama's Vote for Change plan:
On Saturday, in over 100 locations across the country, the Obama Vote for Change campaign will roll out with kickoff events all over the country designed to register and mobilize voters. At the event I'll be attending in South Los Angeles, the goal is to register 2,000 new voters in one afternoon. Multiply that out and you have 200,000 voters registered by one campaign in a single day. And that's only the beginning.I've stated in the past how getting people involved and voting is one of my pet issues, so this initiative on the part of Obama's campaign is an early War on Xmas gift for me.
There are a lot of positives to this. The old leadership of the Party has become ossified, and Obama's takeover is an extension of the Dean movement, only on less explicitly ideological terms. To strip a Lanny Davis and a Terry McAuliffe of their power is frankly a welcome development. The figures in an Obama Administration will likely be core figures within the party for the next 20 years. The next generation will be characterized, as Chris Bowers perceives, with a set of more technocratic, good-government advocates, policy types who have a command of their specific bailiwicks, rather than the corporate-friendly DLC types of recent yore. Neither of these are necessarily progressive, but I'd consider the former group, motivated by policy over politics, far more palatable. And in addition, investing in voter registration and mobilization is the wisest use of resources that I've seen in the Democratic Party in my lifetime.
* Matthew Yglesias makes sense when he rags on Ed Kilgore's praise of Hillary's national security credentials:
Clinton's "street cred" on national security consists, of course, of being massively wrong on the most important national security issue of her career. Paradoxically, a lot of folks find her massive wrongness on this hugely important issue reassuring because they and their friends were also wrong and they view having made the right call to be a suspicious quality. After all, the Iraq War may have led to thousands of U.S. deaths, tens of thousands of U.S. casualties, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and millions of Iraqi refugees all at a cost of over $1 trillion and in ways that's damaged the strategic position of the United States, but war opponents were all a bunch of hippies.My faint-hearted ambivalence toward Hillary turned into pure loathing when she demeaned Obama's war opposition as "a speech he gave in 2002." This attitude toward anti-war positions has had disastrous consequences for all of us. We simply need to expunge it.
Happy other people's genius Friday!
Nothing New byslag at 2:42 PM
As a periodic enjoyer of Wil Wheaton's blog, I have been pleased with the fact that he and I support the same presidential candidate. Nonetheless, karmic justice is more important than loyalty, so I feel the need to call Wil out on a recent post he wrote about the Democratic primary candidates. He started the post talking about why Obama is his president and how Clinton has been a major let-down during this campaign, all of which I'm totally on board with. But then, he goes on to extol the hilarity of a post he found through Reddit called, "Hillary Clinton: the Psycho Ex-Girlfriend of the Democratic Party." The title says all we need to know about the post for this discussion.
After that, Wil writes the following:
And allow me to just head something off right now that's already come up on Twitter: I'm not sexist. This isn't sexist. That's a stupid straw man, and if you try to make that claim, I will point and laugh at you.So, it looks like there are two definitions with which Wil is unfamiliar. First, let's look at one of the definitions of sexism:
1. attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles.Second, let's look at one of the definitions of straw man:
2. a weak or sham argument set up to be easily refutedIf there is anyone who thinks that comparing Hillary to a psycho ex-girlfriend is not exhibiting "attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles," I have one question for you: Why is that funny? Seriously. If sexism weren't an integral component to that comparison, no one would get it. If Hillary were a man, would that comparison even come up? Would he be the "psycho ex-boyfriend"? No. Because we don't think about males in those terms. A stereotypical male corollary would be something like, "Unable to Admit He Can't Find His Way to the White House, Hillary Still Refuses to Pull Over and Ask for Directions." That is an equally sexist statement (yet, oddly enough, is one that would never be made for any male candidate).
So, now that we've easily refuted Wil's "this isn't sexist" straw man argument, let's move on to the bigger picture. I'm going to do some of the men out there a favor and let you in on a little secret. Your egotistical behaviors and attitudes are getting fairly tiresome (<--See? That was a sexist statement.). The fact that Wil said he's going to "point and laugh" at me for explaining that he's wrong about something is a case in point. It is possible--I know it's hard to believe--that, in general, women may know a bit more about sexism than most men do. I know we've been told, directly and indirectly, throughout our lives that men are more serious, more rational, more authoritative than women, but sometimes, it just ain't so. Sometimes, men are wrong about stuff. And that's ok.
As we've seen (in the previous paragraph, for instance), women aren't the only ones subjected to sexism. Stereotypical gender roles, and the cultural status levels based on them, can be harmful for everyone. For instance, when a Clinton supporter praises her "testicular fortitude," he is magically demeaning both Clinton and Obama simultaneously. Unless Hillary has undergone some major surgery recently, she has not acquired testicles. And the implication that she needs them in order to be strong demeans her as a woman and as a president. And implying that Obama doesn't have them is equally demeaning to him both as a man and as a president. So, sexism works both ways and can be bad for everyone (and anyone who views testicles as a symbol of strength, let someone kick you in them, and you'll see how strong they are).
So, rather than making a "this isn't sexist" straw man argument, a more honest statement might be, "this is sexist, but I don't care." And there is a case to be made that comparing Hillary to a psycho ex-girlfriend really is a benign, albeit sexist, act. Since Hillary's entire presidential campaign has been fraught with sexism inside and out, we can discuss the possibility that we shouldn't worry about directing more gender-based stereotypes her way. She and her campaign staff and surrogates have felt free to employ them when they work for her, so maybe she should also have to put up with them when they don't. I wouldn't necessarily disagree with that. But when you have to throw away one of the defining characteristics of sexism in order to make a claim that your argument isn't sexist, you're insulting the rest of us. Which means you are, in fact, being a "dick".
* I generally don't use genitalia as an insult (for obvious reasons), but Wil's blog tag line is "Wil Wheaton says, 'Don't be a dick!'," so I couldn't resist.**
** Has anyone else noticed that I've been using asterisks in my titles a lot lately? I wonder what that means.
Nothing New byslag at 10:18 AM
Time to End the Suspense*
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
In Friday's Other People's Genius, I indicated that I was struggling to make a decision. It was a choice between good and evil. Between wholesome and corrupt. Between respectable and sleazy.
In the end, I'm pleased to announce that I forsook the low road in favor of the high. That I dispelled the insatiable demon of desire for obscene self-indulgence. That the degenerates and the lunatics failed to lure me into their warped and perverted universe.
That's right. This weekend, we decided to see the comic book movie Iron Man instead of the comically absurd anti-evolution flick Expelled. And it was awesome! I've rarely seen the Mr.'s inner geek lit up with such childlike joy. Tony Stark, brilliant scientist, is the newest, bestest hero ever! The guy turned himself into a superhero using only his brain, for crying out loud. Of course, the science in Iron Man was fictional. But at least it was believable (unlike "intelligent" design)!
*=Hey, if the establishment media can drag out a presidential primary for over a month past its expiration date, I can drag out a movie review for a couple of short paragraphs.
Nothing New byslag at 7:32 AM
There is No Spin
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Obama takes North Carolina without even blinking; despite all previous predictions, Indiana is still too close to call. In my ideal world, some video genius will stitch together clips of every single TV pundit (particularly those of the invariably imbecilic Joe Scarborough) claiming that Clinton's gas tax pander is the way to get votes. I want to play it over and over and over and over again. Suck on that, you elitist jerks!
If Obama can prove--once and for all--that one can become president of this country without devolving into a vacuous, pandering poli-drone, we need to put his head on some currency day one.
UPDATE: I don't know what to say....I actually agree with Tim Russert. My head hurts.
UPDATE 2: Jon Stewart is a genius:
UPDATE 3: Now that nobody cares, Hillary has probably squeaked by in Indiana...I'm too uninterested to find a link.
Nothing New byslag at 8:31 PM
I've been making a few more last minute phone calls to North Carolina for Obama today (It's simple. Try it!). Talking to people who are still undecided always surprises me. But I just got off the phone with an anybody-but-Hillary woman and was struck with the recollection of just how divisive Hillary can be. In the Democratic Primary fishbowl, it's an easy thing to forget. Nonetheless, I'm still convinced that Hillary will get many more McCain Republicans out to vote just to be able to vote against her than Barack will--even after all the Wright and Ayers characters they continue to halfheartedly flog.
That said, in my phone conversation with this woman, I was reminded once again why I rarely should be allowed out of my cave. After talking to her about why I like Obama's position on the war and his foreign policy strategy for a minute, I got a flat "uh huh" in response. Realizing that I was not being overly convincing, I closed with a "no matter what you decide, please don't forget to vote" and hung up. Dissatisfied with my inability to make a convincing connection.
I'm sure some of this goes away with experience, but I am generally unnerved when talking to people I don't know. When they want help from me, it's no problem. But when I feel like I'm trying to sell something to them, big problem. It seems the trick is to completely internalize the fact that I'm not actually selling something but, instead, am actually trying to help. Helping is easy...selling is hard. Got to remember that.
Nothing New byslag at 11:03 AM
Obama's Secret Weapon
Monday, May 5, 2008
Remember back when the Democratic candidates would talk about foreign policy? Those were the days.
Phone banking this weekend, I encountered an undecided gentleman in North Carolina who said that Obama needed to stop kvetching (my word, not his) about gas taxes and start kvetching about kids dying in Iraq. I reminded him that Obama was the only one of the candidates who opposed this war from the start, and he said that he wanted him to emphasize that more. If I had had my wits about me--and if I thought the guy actually wanted to discuss the issue--I would have suggested that not only do we need to bring kids home from this war but we need to keep them from heading into new wars. Instead of talking about how we would "obliterate" Iran, we need to keep talking about how we would prevent the need to obliterate Iran. In my mind (and possibly in the mind of the gentleman from NC), the ability to actually take war seriously is one of Obama's major strengths. I wish he'd use it more.
Cuz, apparently, there are still kids dying in Iraq. Shhhh...don't tell anyone.
UPDATE: Sam Seder was able to brilliantly turn the idiotic discussion about the "War on Xmas" (back in the day) into a discussion about the war in Iraq:
Making connections and defining the issues is clearly where it's at. For instance, we know this whole gas tax debate is all about Washington politics and, deep down, we know that political posturing is how we got into this war in the first place. It seems like there's some room to maneuver this conversation in a direction we want it to go in.
Nothing New byslag at 8:45 PM
When over half of the Democratic Party is not considered "real people", it becomes easier to understand why the Iraqis aren't considered real people either. (both links via atrios)
(Jesus Jones video via my ill-spent youth)
Nothing New byslag at 12:15 PM
MoveOn.org offers the Bush-McCain Challenge--a quiz helping us determine whether or not we can distinguish between Bush and McCain. Some of the questions are kind of tricky, but it's still worth taking.
Nothing New byslag at 11:32 AM
Lawyers, Guns, and Money (LGM) picked up on the recent Crazy Conservative reaction to a report commissioned by the Swiss government to help Switzerland evaluate whether their plant life should be protected by Swiss law. LGM has it right in implying that the Crazy Cons use little stories like these to whip up fictional outrages against liberal, Jesus-hating Econazis and the like. This latest faux tragedy is a perfect example of how neocons generally build their world view. They twist these inconsequential examples of extremely benign situations to create their own bizarro world in which the liberals (in this case, Swiss liberals) are out to force them to live off of tree leaves and unfiltered water, and then they rant about how all these rapture-worthy conspiracies are just being glossed over by a pot-smokin', Caligula-loving, "liberal" media.
The irony is that, if there were more conspiracy-driven liberals in the mainstream, we could use many of the exact same examples to demonstrate how it is really the scary amorphous Neocon Agenda that is out to destroy America. For example, I could spend paragraphs and paragraphs pontificating about how the neocons' brave-new-world approach to abortion is brilliantly exemplified in this particular Swiss report and how conferring rights onto Fetus-Americans is a slippery slope that ends in all of us being forced to live off tree leaves and unfiltered water by broadening the categories of lifeforms protected by law. And the glossing over by the materialistic, GE-loving, neocon media just goes with the territory.
However, the important distinction here is that most liberals generally have real issues to be concerned with. Plus, many of us would have a harder time trying to make these arguments with straight faces. With enough outrage in the world for us to focus on--extremities in income disparity, pointless wars in progress and in planning, and real-life oppression of real-life people whose only Agenda is to achieve some measure of equality, to name a few--we have no need to spend our time building convoluted narratives around the "symbolic issues" that twist the undies of neocons across the blogosphere and CNN and Faux News.
I guess this is just a long way of saying that I don't care if the Swiss love the plant. But I do care that the neocons are trying to take away my right to choose. This is the difference between a "symbolic" issue and a real issue. And this is the difference between an average liberal and an average neocon.
My rebuttal to the recent anti-Swiss neocon outrage would be similar to what John Cole (rehabilitated conservative) said about the Reverend Wright "symbolic issue":
All the talking heads assured me he [Obama] had to do this [denounce Wright], and now he has. I am not sure why it was necessary, as it was pretty clear to me when listening to Wright the past few days that he was not speaking for Obama, but such is the guilt-by-association bullshit of the media.When Swiss plant-lovers start attempting to pass anti-abortion laws in the US, then they'll feel my wrath. In the meantime, love on, you crazy Swiss!
As to Wright himself, well, I have my own thoughts. First and foremost, I guess I am no longer the delicate fainting flower that most other bloggers and media commenters are these days. I spent several years in the early days of this blog being all sorts of outraged about petty bullshit. I spent days calling Ted Rall an asshole (he still is, I think), days opining about what an asshole Michael Moore is, and so on. I got my panties all in a bunch about Ward Churchhill (also a dick), and stupid things Bill Maher may or may not have said, and so on.
And you know what? They may be assholes, or jerks, or whatever term you want to use, but they sure as hell didn’t run this economy into the ground. They aren’t responsible for turning a huge surplus into a several hundred billion dollar deficit. I have yet to read any memos from Barbra Streisand detailing how we should spy on American citizens.
Nothing New byslag at 8:52 AM
Calling for Barack Obama
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Today's the first time the Mr. and I have ever made phone calls on behalf of a political campaign. It's such a beautiful day that we'd rather be outside playing, but it must be done. Fifty calls in a little over 2 hours. I recommend it!
As an added bonus, Abraham Lincoln endorses Barack Obama:
Nothing New byslag at 2:54 PM
Are Indiana Voters Smarter than Superdelgates?
Friday, May 2, 2008
So, some Clinton supporters released a letter supposedly directed at Superdelegates saying, "if the election were held today, Hillary would beat Senator McCain, but Senator Obama would lose to the presumptive GOP nominee."
Maybe that's true. But according to Gallup, John McCain would beat both candidates right now, including Hillary:
Plus, that's a dumb argument. And political people, such as Superdelegates, know that's a dumb argument. So, why would they release a letter to the press, apparently addressing Superdelgates, containing such a dumb argument? Hmmm...maybe they think that Indiana voters are dumber than Superdelegates?
(PS Hillary's supporters aren't elitists either)
Nothing New byslag at 6:57 PM
Hillary insults the intelligence of all Indianans by explaining that, somehow, if Congress doesn't sign on to her boondoggle gas tax holiday proposal, they're "once again" standing "with the oil companies":
To complete the embarrassment, she "once again" channels Bush; this time using the ever popular "with us or against us" phrase.
At this point, I am going to channel my patriotic angels and declare that America doesn't deserve this person as a president. But then again, I didn't think we deserved Bush either.
file under: why hell won't be so bad
Nothing New byslag at 6:37 PM
According to John McCain, our war over
WMD terrorists Iraqi Freedom is actually a war for oil:
(via Crooks and Liars)
My friends, I will have an energy policy which will eliminate our dependence on oil from Middle East that will then prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East. [emphasis mine]More stuff I'd pay to find out: How do the Iraqis feel about this (now that we have successfully won their hearts and minds, that is)? Would this mean that we'll be giving up on our plans to bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran as well? Is American Imperialism going by way of the dinosaur (to eventually be turned into oil, also)?
Nothing New byslag at 5:16 PM
* PC Mag publishes an article explaining how Twitter is kind of lame:
I just joined Twitter...and was reminded of its fragility when I posted a comment (or "Tweet") that said if Britney Spears began to use such a network she would bring it down. Someone responded that if the system actually became popular, the current group of users would all have already moved on to the next big thing. He was right.I like when people bash social networking sites because, although I know it's a good thing to do, I hate social networking.
User fickleness is a big player and contributes to a social network's fragility, but almost anything can blow up one of these online "communities."
On the other hand
Wil Wheaton says:
Twitter haters are the new blog haters are the new 'zine haters are the new mixtape haters. You're so totally unimpressed. We get it.Mixtapes?
* Matthew Yglesias joins the fray in deciding that Iron Man is actually good:
Well comic book fans, I went to see Iron Man and I'm pleased to report that it lived up to expectation -- funny stuff, good action, vital critique of the military-industrial complex, only one or two plot points that made no sense, etc. Among other things, Iron Man stands out from many other comic book characters in having a costume that doesn't look ridiculous in a live-action context -- no spandex, etc.Definitely going to have to check it out, in spite of the lack of spandex.
On the other hand
Crooks and Liars reminds me that I still haven't seen Expelled yet:
Ben Stein, a former Nixon aide and game-show host, probably best known for his role as a monotone teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” released an anti-evolution documentary recently called, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” The premise, as I understand it, is that those who reject modern biology struggle professionally in the sciences.If Iron Man and Charles Darwin got into a fight, I suspect Iron Man would win. Ergo, evolution is bogus. My movie choice is going to be a tough one this weekend.
Kevin Drum recently saw the movie, and reported back that towards the end, the documentary veered into the insane: “Stein spends the final half hour wandering around Dachau and telling us outright that his real motivation for attacking evolution isn’t any real flaw in the theory, but his belief that Darwinism leads directly to Nazi-ism, eugenics, atheism, the breakdown of morals, and mass slaughter. Can’t have that, so evolution needs to go too.”
Happy other people's genius Friday!
Nothing New byslag at 3:56 PM
On Glenn Beck's CNN Headline News program, Ann Coulter asked of Sen. Barack Obama: "Is Obama a Manchurian candidate to normal Americans who love their country? ... Or is he being the Manchurian candidate to the traitor wing of the Democratic Party?"From the "Stuff I'd Pay to Find Out" file: Why is it that mainstream establishment media outlets regularly allow Republican hate speech on their networks? And shouldn't something be done about it? Is anyone else getting tired of being called a traitor? Does CNN need to denounce and reject Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck?
Coulter has previously referred to Obama as "B. Hussein Obama" in the past and called him "President Hussein." She has also compared Obama to Adolf Hitler, calling Obama's book, Dreams from My Father, a "dimestore Mein Kampf."
I guess slander and defamation are just a couple of the weapons used in the Republican culture war.
Nothing New byslag at 12:33 PM
Truth be told, I don't believe Hillary is really Darth Vader-evil. But there's no way I can resist this opportunity to use one of my favorite SoN Obama images. Plus, this video is pretty funny:
Let's hope no one ends up encased in carbonite when all this is over!
Nothing New byslag at 9:30 AM
Slag and Former DNC Chair Separated at Birth?
Thursday, May 1, 2008
I ask Hoosiers to come together and vote for Barack Obama to be our next President. In an accident of timing, Indiana has been given the opportunity to truly make a difference. Hoosiers should grab that power and do what in their heart they know is right. They should reject the old negative politics and vote for true change. Don't settle for the tried and true and the simplistic slogans, but listen to your heart and dare to be inspired. Only a cynic would be critical of Barack Obama inspiring millions. Only the uninformed could forget that the candidate that wins in November is always the candidate that inspires millions.There's some amount of awesomeness in the fact that people who know nothing at all about each other--and who come from totally different regions, backgrounds, genders, and generations--can have many of the exact same thoughts and feelings. It's probable that we've been brainwashed by the same subliminal messages. Or, more generally, are being moved by the same cultural currents. But nonetheless, it's kind of cool. So, to my new brother, Joseph J. Andrew from Indiana, I say: ditto!
My endorsement of Senator Obama will not be welcome news to my friends and family at the Clinton campaign. If the campaign's surrogates called Governor Bill Richardson, a respected former member of President Clinton's cabinet, a "Judas" for endorsing Senator Obama, we can all imagine how they will treat somebody like me. They are the best practitioners of the old politics, so they will no doubt call me a traitor, an opportunist and a hypocrite. I will be branded as disloyal, power-hungry, but most importantly, they will use the exact words that Republicans used to attack me when I was defending President Clinton.
When they use the same attacks made on me when I was defending them, they prove the callow hypocrisy of the old politics first perfected by Republicans. I am an expert on this because these were the exact tools that I mastered as a campaign volunteer, a campaign manager, a State Party Chair and the National Chair of our Party. I learned the lessons of the tough, right-wing Republicans all too well. I can speak with authority on how to spar with everyone from Lee Atwater to Karl Rove. I understand that, while wrong and pernicious, shallow victory can be achieved through division by semantics and obfuscation. Like many, I succumbed to the addiction of old politics because they are so easy.
Innuendo is easy. The truth is hard.
Sound bites are easy. Solutions are hard.
Spin is simple and easy. Struggling with facts is complicated and hard.
I have learned the hard way that you can love the candidate and hate the campaign. My stomach churns when I think how my old friends in the Clinton campaign will just pick up the old silly Republican play book and call in the same old artificial attacks and bombardments we have all heard before.
We must reject the notion that we have to beat the Republicans at their own game -- or even that the game has to be played at all. It is so easy for all of us involved -- candidates, campaigns and the media -- to focus on the process and the horse race that we forget why we got into it in the first place. Barack Obama has had the courage to talk about real issues, real problems and real people. Let's pause for a second in the midst of the cacophony of the campaign circus and listen.
Nothing New byslag at 12:15 PM
Look, I don't...I didn't know...look, I think you guys should take a step back and look at this op...look, DOD's made a decision, they've decided to stop this program. But I would say that one of the things that we try to do in the administration is get information out to a variety of people so that everybody else can call them and ask their opinion about something. And I don't think that that should be against the law. And I think it's absolutely appropriate to provide information to people who are seeking it and who are going to be providing their opinions on it. It doesn't necessarily mean that all of those military analysts ever agreed with the administration. I think you can go back and look and think that a lot of their analysis was pretty tough on the administration. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't talk to people. [emphasis mine]Well, if Dana Perino, of all people, doesn't think it should be against the law, who are legal professionals to argue? Way to put the legal system in its place, Dana! And let me just say it's quite refreshing to see the White House taking the law so seriously these days. Caring about what they think should be illegal is the first step toward almost starting to consider caring about what actually is illegal. And really, isn't that as close to mission accomplished as we ever need to be?
Nothing New byslag at 10:22 AM