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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Democracy and the DNC

I watched the whole DNC Rules committee marathon May 31st (thanks C-SPAN) and while it was very interesting to listen and watch the posturing, it was clear that the outcome was a forgone conclusion. The media had reported the likely outcome over a week ago and so we know that the deal was really struck behind closed doors in negotiations sometime back. That's disappointing. Clearly, if this charade shows us anything it's the need for a national primary and stop this silly jockeying for position by the states.

Bill: It's Everybody Else's Fault.

Political Forums - -

OK. I was a Bill Clinton supporter while he was president until he embarrassed the country with the Monica Lewinsky nonsense. It's pretty funny when I keep hearing what a great president he was; his last 2.5 years were consumed with impeachment, disbarment, and obsession with saving his presidency - not running the country. But since then we've also learned the downsides of the repeal of the Glass Seagall Act and his support for deregulation of the banking industry which led to banking abuses and ultimately the mortgage crisis, and NAFTA, which I basically supported but has certainly had its negative side, both issues promoted by Bill Clinton. This constant refrain that we have to vote for Hillary because Bill was such a great president is myopic and represents nostalgia for a time that never really existed. And his constant refrain that she is the victim and subject to vilification by just about everyone (except perhaps the Republicans)just doesn't make sense. If her campaign has been destroyed by such negatives how in the world does that make her the stronger candidate in November?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Glenn Greenwald on the press

The Politico's John Harris admits now what he denied last year - Glenn Greenwald -

Excellent piece. To understand why Greenwald is so right, all one has to do is read through the comments attached to his article. Most have nothing to do with the content; most are more interested in calling names than discussing issues; many are barely literate, most show a distinct ignorance of what Greenwald said. The press is a reflection of us: lazy, ignorant and simplistic. We get what we deserve.

There are many really good books out there, including Greenwald's, that provide some very interesting and relevant context to help understand today's dysfunctional Washington. Just to mention a few: Nixonland by Perlstein, Clinton in Exile by Felsenthal, The Strong Man: and John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate by Rosen plus many, many more.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Let's get rid of the vitriol.

The level of vitriol just never ceases to amaze me. The fact remains this has become a battle of isms: sexism v racism v ageism. Both Obama and Clinton benefit from belonging to their respective "'ism." Only John McCain suffers; I doubt anyone will vote for him because he is old. Can't we honor others' positions without assuming that because they take a position it's because they are sexist or racist? Can't I prefer Clinton because I appreciate her supporter for liberal causes over the years and her many accomplishments and not because I'm afraid of Obama's race? Can't I prefer Obama because of his extraordinary management skills in running a flawless campaign and his ability to charge people of all ages, races and sex with a new excitement without being labeled a misogynist? Can't I prefer McCain for his former independence and service to this country without being considered both racist and sexist? The fact is that there are numerous questions that should be asked of all the candidates that would help define their positions and it would be useful if the media helped us by asking them. In the meantime, why can't we, as democrats (small "d) start asking them ourselves instead of wallowing in Wright, Hagee, RFK and other really unimportant side-issues? I, for one, would like to ask the following, just as a sample:

1. The federal government is a huge bureaucracy that may have become unmanageable. How do you propose to bring competence and efficiency to such an entity?

2. Any organization that gets a federal grant is required to be audited. Why can't we expect the same of the Pentagon and the defense budget?

3. How could the web be used to streamline and improve interaction between government and its citizens?

4. What should be the role of the United Nations and what should be the level of support for the UN by the US?

5. Do you have a plan for paying down the federal debt?

6. Do you have a plan to reform the tax system and who would you put in place to implement such changes?

7. Would you call yourself a Keynesian? or what economic theory guides your thinking?

8. The government has used secrecy to avoid embarrassment. Do you have a plan for opening up how government works and becomes accountable?

Just a sample. Let's bring some civility and rationality and discussion of philosophy and issues back to the debate.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Hillary has been making a strong case recently that the press and country have been increasingly misogynistic and that has hurt her candidacy. This, much like her strategy to paint Barack as too inexperienced to deal with national security threats, is not a good strategy for her. For her to say that the anti-women vote and positions are stronger than the anti-black means logically that she would be less likely to win in the general election than more likely, an argument the reverse of what she would like the super-delegates to adopt.

Similarly, when she argues that she is the stronger national security candidate than Barack, she redefines the election battle in terms of national security, and McCain would love that, beating her easily on that issue.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What we DO know about Obama

From a letter to Salon:

Plus a few more things we know about him that you have omitted. Such as:

1. The level of professionalism and ethics in his campaign is pretty much unprecedented. I heard this straight from the mouth of a former Clinton era foreign ambassador I drove around for an entire day. He also pointed out to me that other campaigns he had been associated with had much more internal conflict internal/external drama. Plus I've read example after example of this strength of professionalism and ethics; not to mention witnessing it in action as the campaign came here to our area and I became a volunteer.

2. His financial management and leadership skills in running this campaign have shown him to be a uniting, effective, and fiscally responsible leader. He has spent .75 on the dollar raised compared to 1.25 on the dollar for Clinton. His campaign staff, whom I have met personally on a local level, are warm, committed, and demonstrate a consistent ethos that shows remarkable problem-solving ability. When mistakes are made or a crisis arises, there is no conflict or finger-pointing, just calm, effective problem-solving skills exhibited. The campaign staff seem to me to have absorbed some essential elements of what an Obama administration would look like--professional, focused, committed, positive, calm, and remarkably effective at accomplishing goals. The harmony in the staff is also very apparent.

3. His career history has been consistently focused on improving the lives of those in need and dedicated to the concept that "we are our brother's/sister's keeper"

4. He has shown tremendous political skill in taking the lead in this primary season over a candidate that was once considered inevitable.

5. He has won the hearts and minds of not only large swaths of the electorate but colleagues in Washington who know him and have worked with him.

Furthermore, what is the deal with belittling and minimizing the import of campaign rhetoric? We demand it from candidates but then say we should ignore it if it is coming from the candidate we do not support. Unless a candidate has clearly shown consistent pandering indicating they never really mean what they say, then rhetoric is important and says a great deal about a candidate. This country is in great need of an inspirational leader who can help heal us after this dark time in our country's history.

Like I read somewhere, if we don't change course drastically in the direction Obama is trying to take us, historians are likely to look back on slow years of American decline and say, "What the h- were they thinking?"
-- unschooler

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Mother as Paradigm

My mother, now approaching 86, is a militant feminist, who despite Bill's rather untoward behavior with Monica, his disbarment, his pandering to the financial industry, and behavior that got us Republican control of the White House, claims to be a staunch Democrat who would rather die than be called a Republican. Yet, she insists that if Hillary does not get the nomination, she will vote for McCain despite my rational explanations of his traditionally conservative votes. That being said, I suspect that there is a core of voters like my mother who see something very conservative in Hillary and that appeals to them (aside from the obvious gender bias.) Something that even Ann Coulter could see. That being said, I think that Hillary is indeed a neocon (I hate to use the word conservative out of respect for true conservatism that values individual liberty, governmental prudence, and fiscal responsibility.) Given Hillary's penchant for gas tax relief and Iranian obliteration, I suspect she is neither a conservative nor a liberal but a neocon in drag. I have no idea what this means for the election this fall, but I suspect that unrelenting predictions from the pundits who seem to completely ignore every other issue in the world except the unceasing campaign, will be worth spittle.

American, Cutting Back, Plans $15 Bag Fee - New York Times

American, Cutting Back, Plans $15 Bag Fee - New York Times

I fail to understand the surprise evinced by many people. Higher oil prices and its concomitant impact on the airline industry in particular has been predicted for years. Dr. Alex Kuhlman, an airline pilot holding a PhD in economics spoke two years ago and wrote an article in Airways magazine in 2006 predicting dire consequences of increased consumption on fuel prices. The failure of Congress and the Bush and Clinton administrations to develop a rational energy policy that would build a public transportation infrastructure, coupled with the rampant over-building of the suburbs will come back to haunt us. It's probably already too late to do anything. The bag and meal charges are just temporary band-aids for a very sick industry.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Definition of a News Anchor

Definition of a News Anchor: "Well-coiffed slug with a microphone." * How true.

I am soooo tired of the pundits and anchors - especially the pompous asses on CNN desperately trying to fill air time (I guess the disasters in China and Myanmar weren't enough) and not making a distinction between a primary and the general election. Somehow they translate a win by one candidate or another in a primary as somehow meaning the candidate will have dire times in the general election because they have somehow lost a particular set of voters. What a crock. There's a huge difference in determining preference between two Democrats and then assuming that difference will translate in a difference between a Democrat and a Republican. For heaven's sake people.

*From Free Fall by Kyle Mills (a fun novel set in the world of politics.)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mortgage mess

The big problem with the mortgage mess is that Americans, at the behest of brokers and middle men, no longer see homes as a place to live, but as an investment, the profit from which needs to be realized as soon as possible. If houses were thought of as a place to reside for the long term, we would not be in this mess.

Michigan and Florida

To imply, as has been done by the media over and over again, that Michigan and Florida voters will somehow desert the Democratic party simply because their delegates might or might not be seated at the convention is a huge insult to our intelligence. We are certainly bright enough to understand the dynamics of the DNC's penalties and to suggest that we confuse a primary battle with a general election is ridiculous and demeaning. It's something the news media keeps harping on. Stop it. We're not that dumb.