Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Sort of American Car Should One Buy?


I have an eight-year-old Volkswagen now that still feels brand new. My last VW GTI (a 1985)was still running well at fifteen when I traded it in at the turn of the century.

But if I want to help Obama and the economy (and I can't readily think of another reason to buy an American car), what sort of American cars should I be considering when I consider buying another new car in another few years?

Just Asking.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

John McCain will raise YOUR taxes

If you are lucky enough to have a job that pays for part or all of your health insurance, then your taxes will go up under John McCain's health plan (a.k.a., the private insurance company protection act of 2009).
Keeping it simple in today's Bob Herbert column in the Times, "McCain's Radical Agenda" :

" ... the McCain health plan would treat employer-paid health benefits as income that employees would have to pay taxes on.
“It means your employer is going to have to make an estimate on how much the employer is paying for health insurance on your behalf, and you are going to have to pay taxes on that money,” said Sherry Glied, an economist who chairs the Department of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Ms. Glied is one of the four scholars who have just completed an independent joint study of the plan. Their findings are being published on the Web site of the policy journal, Health Affairs. "


"Why?" you might ask. The same blind and stubborn ideological faith in "markets" and morbid fear of "socialized" anything that has done so much economic damage over the last eight years leads him to believe that we'd be better off shopping for our own health insurance (as if dealing with the annual choice of four or five progressively less-attractive insurance plans at work is anything less than hellish as it is). But let's not cloud the issue by asking "Why?" Let's put it in the type of bullet points the electorate seems to understand.

  • JOHN McCAIN WILL RAISE YOUR TAXES IF YOU WORK FOR A LIVING.
  • PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL NOT RAISE YOUR TAXES UNLESS YOU MAKE OVER 250K/YEAR.

Maybe she thinks she's Little Red Riding Hood and needs protection from big bad wolves



Or maybe Sarah Palin is simply trying to protect that most important group of dyed-in-the-wool Republican voters, a.k.a. the Sheeple:

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It's not just a coincidence that her name is an anagram for Sharia Plan

If the typical American voter were to read one article about the unknown governor from Alaska, I would recommend one that appeared in Salon today, "What's the Difference Between Palin and Muslim Fundamentalists? Lipstick: A theocrat is a theocrat, whether Muslim or Christian" by Juan Cole.

On censorship, the teaching of creationism in schools, reproductive rights, attributing government policy to God's will and climate change, Palin agrees with Hamas and Saudi Arabia rather than supporting tolerance and democratic precepts.

For another frightening religious angle today, here's a blog entry over at The Nation, "Sarah Palin and the Jews," by Jon Weiner, drawing parallels between Miss Congeniality Sarah and Queen Esther. Time to wipe out Persia again?

CNN is reporting poll results today showing that men are the backbone of Sarah Palin's support. At the risk of sounding sexist, I'm going to go way out on a limb here and say, Men are Fucking Idiots!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Governor Sarah Palin's Modest Secret Proposal for American Energy Independence

God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
--Genesis 1:28


The Governor of Alaska, who this week has been anointed by God and God's Republican Servants to be John McCain's running mate and successor, has not only shown by her fruitful multiplication that she is a true servant of the one True American God, but also that she is an original thinker when it comes to expanding human dominion over the earth and its soulless creatures. Why stop with drilling under the habitat of endangered caribou and polar bears in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to fuel our pickup trucks and SUVs? Why not examine all the ways that we can add biofuels to the mix -- including those efficient biofuels in the abundant fat of the bodies of caribou, walruses, seals, whales, and polar bears of her home state? They're not doing anything productive, like posing for German zoo visitors or working to pull plows, and they're just going to die anyway when their ice melts and their tundra defrosts, so why shouldn't they share the burden of driving our families of seven to the mall?
If we had Siberia or India as a colony, we could also put a tiger in our tank, but until that inevitable day, we'll work with what we have.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Children Are Sacred. Quotes from our Presidential Contenders

“Let me be as clear as possible. I think people’s families are off-limits, and people’s children are especially off-limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as governor or her potential performance as a vice president.”

--Barack Obama, September 2008


“This is a very personal matter for the family. We should all respect the love they have for the child and the desire all parents would have for their children’s privacy. The media should respect Bristol’s privacy. That’s always been the tradition and practice when it comes to the children of candidates.”

--John McCain, September 2008

"Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?
Because her father is Janet Reno."

--John McCain, June 1998

David Corn's short article in Salon from June 25, 1998 about this "joke" is interesting in that it shows how ingrained the media bias in favor of John McCain has been for at least a decade.

"But the joke revealed more than a mean streak in a man who would be president. It also exposed how the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times play favorites when reporting the foibles of our leading politicians."

Monday, August 25, 2008

And How Many of His Houses and Condos Get Their TV Reception Over the Air?

I was reminded of the upcoming Digital TV Conversion fiasco (a.k.a, The Death of Free Television), when I stumbled upon this "Goodbye Rabbit Ears" column in the Times, and a link in its comments section to the DTVRedAlert.org blog, which is dedicating itself to questions about this transition during which cable companies and electronics manufacturers are planning to make a fortune.
It all just seems to fit so nicely with the (unanswerable) question about how many dwellings that John & Cindy McCain own (we can assume that none of them lack cable).
When John was pushing this Death of Free TV bill back in 2004, could he possibly empathize with a person getting his or her fuzzy moving pictures of the news and sports and game shows through the air with rabbit ears? Or was all his empathy spent on those with whom he shared private jets?

How Many Homes Do YOU Own? (Be Sure to Vote in the New Sidebar Poll)

Everyone that I know would answer the question with the numbers Zero, One, or Two (and those with two are rarities). Before last week, could you even conceive of anyone answering that straightforward question with John McCain's answer?
"I think — I'll have my staff get to you. It's condominiums where — I'll have them get to you."
In addition to the absurdity of not knowing how many homes you own, you have to love the Bushian lack of sentence structure (though Dubya prob'bly woulda called those uncountable condos "condoms" and everyone woulda gotten a big chuckle out of it).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joe Biden for Vice President (Part Two)

[I know this seems out of order between Parts One and Three, but this Part Two of my Joe Biden For Vice President campaign was originally posted on May 27th. It wasn't there when I wanted to look at it today after getting my text message from Barack. This afternoon (August 23) Barack and Joe will be making their first joint appearance as running mates!]

Bob Herbert has a great column in today's New York Times, "Roads, High and Low," which begins with these words:

"On Friday morning, Joe Biden gave us an example of a leading national politician exhibiting decency and class. Later in the day, Hillary Clinton gave us an example of something else."
No, Joe Biden wasn't again pointing out the "bullshit" and "marlarkey" underlying the President's latest utterance (at least not in those exact terms), but he was continuing to stay on the attack against the Bush/McCain foreign policy: "The idea that they are competent to continue to conduct our foreign policy, to make us more secure and make Israel secure, is preposterous. ... Every single thing they’ve touched has been a near-disaster." These statements, coming from the Democratic Senator with the most universally-recognized foreign policy credentials will carry even more weight if he is on the ticket in the fall. Picking the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his ticket will also reinforce Barack Obama's "Team of Rivals" theme of picking the best and picking (where appropriate) his adversaries for the nomination (John Edwards for Attorney General, anyone?). Picking Biden will also address the "experience" question at least as well as Richard "Dick" Cheney's selection answered the question about young Doubleyou's lack of "gravitas" in 2000. Biden not only has 28 years more service in the Senate than the Junior Senator from New York who is constantly of speaking of her experience, but he has 14 more years in the Senate than the presumptive Republican nominee (even though Joe Biden is 6 years younger than McCain, and only 5 years older than Clinton).

Biden may not be the best choice for all the crass ticket-balancing political reasons that have given us such great nominees as Dan Quayle and Joe Lieberman in recent years, but he's definitely worth some serious consideration (and, for what it's worth, he's my front runner).

OBAMA/BIDEN 2008
(anagram: An Idea Bomb!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Joe Biden for Vice President (Part Three)

See E.J. Dionne Jr.'s column in the Washington Post today, "A List Biden Belongs On".

Evading national security, says Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), would be a disastrous mistake. "The only way we lose this election is not to engage this issue head-on," Biden said during an interview in his Capitol office the day after Obama clinched the nomination. Democrats, Biden said, should be "proactive" and not "play defense on foreign affairs" because "the case against McCain and Bush on national security is so overwhelming. . . . It should be an essential part of the case for the Democratic nominee."

I visited with Biden because he should be at the top of any list of vice presidential picks for Obama. Why Biden? In part because of where he took our discussion: Few Democrats know more about foreign policy, and few would so relish the fight against McCain on international affairs. Few are better placed to argue that withdrawal from Iraq will strengthen rather than weaken the United States.

The worst thing in a running mate is the fear of muddying his or her image in political combat.
Biden would be a happy warrior.



Read the rest here.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Are the Cable Companies Counting on 6 million new customers (courtesy of John McCain)? Another Death of Free TV Update.

Here, from the International Herald Tribune, is the first article I found that actually estimates the number of televisions that will lose their signals -- even with converter boxes and antennas -- SIX MILLION.
The study by Centris, a market research firm in Los Angeles, found gaps in broadcast signals that may leave an estimated 5.9 million TV sets unable to receive as many channels as they did before the changeover. It may affect even those who bought government-approved converter boxes or new digital televisions. To keep broadcast reception, many viewers may have to buy new outdoor antennas, the study found.

The signals in my area that I am not receiving were addressed directly:

... [a] consultant hired to replace the broadcast antennas on the Empire State Building, found that digital signals did not travel as far as either model had predicted.
"For the people with rabbit-ear antennas, I would say at least 50 percent won't get the channels they were getting," Bendov said. "I would say a lot of people are going to be very unhappy."

Are the cable/satellite corporations simply assuming that the MILLIONS of us who lose our free television signals will finally give in and start writing them a monthly check? Has that been part of the plan since the earliest planning?

An Update on the Death of Free Television on 2/17/2009

Click here to see an interesting forum over at ConsumerReports.org about the current state of digital television (non-)reception over the air. It seems I'm not the only one who has hooked up my government-subsidized converter box but failed to find a signal using my existing indoor antenna (my failed autoscan on a Magnavox TB 100MG9 converter is shown in the attached shot from this morning).
The Consumer Reports article is much more honest than the ads being run on local stations, which make it seem the box alone will solve your DTV conversion problems. After going through a fair amount of detail about adding the box and better outdoor antennas, the Consumer Reports blog post states,

Unfortunately, there's a chance no antenna will work for you. Recent reports indicate that some households are in fringe areas with poor reception, and for them, off-air digital TV might not be a good option.
In any case, start soon. If you encounter problems, there will be plenty of time to resolve them before next February so you're not left out in the cold.

Since I can't install an outdoor antenna (and weren't they beautiful when forests of them did top the rooftops of the nation back in the sixties and seventies??), I expect not to be watching television at this time next year (unless you count DVDs on a computer screen as TV), but I think it's going to be a shock for a lot of people who don't have cable. Plus, I'm only in my apartment for a handful of waking hours a day. I can live without television. There are millions of others who shouldn't have to.
I put my personal case forward in the comments to the Consumer Reports article and the only answer I got was that I would need to get cable, but not to worry because there are basic plans for broadcast-only channels at about $15/month and other plans for only $40/month. Who is really benefiting from this DTV transition if thousands of people who are not currently paying a penny to the cable/satellite corporations will now be forced to pay a minimum of $180 - $480 per year to those companies if they want to continue receiving the most basic television services? (And remember that even if you do have cable, that second or third or fourth TV without cable that you watch in the kitchen or garage will be dead on 2/17/2009.)
OK, it's hard to think of a constituency that is less well-connected politically (or electronically) than the people who have no access to television other than the waves that are coming to them for free through the air, and this group probably didn't come up in conversation when John McCain and Vicki Iseman were discussing the transition to digital television in her clients' private jets. Even though the televisions of the uncabled won't start going black until next February 17th, there's nothing to stop the rest of us from spreading the word now that this Death-of-Free-TV bill bears a very heavy imprint of John McCain's, and that it was passed in the Senate by a 51-50 vote, with tie-breaking vote number 51 belonging to Richard "Dick" Cheney and the other 50 yea votes belonging to Republicans too.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Culture Wars of a Happier Time : Are You a Jerry or a Hef?

You've got to love how befuddled the poor suits look in this priceless video of the Grateful Dead playing Mountains of the Moon and St. Stephen for Hugh Hefner and his friends during a taping of Playboy After Dark in 1969!

At the one minute mark, be sure to catch Jerry explaining to Hugh, with appropriate smiles and hand gestures, "... they more chase each other around. It's kinda, it's like, it's like the serpent that eats its own tail, y'know. And it goes round and round like that and if you, if you could stand in between them, uh, they, they make uh big figure eights on their sides, in your head." Of course Jerry Garcia's elucidating why the Dead have two drummers, but Hugh seems to be having some trouble following this crystal-clear explanation.

So what side of this culture divide do (did) you come down on?
Would you rather be Hugh? Or Jerry?

(and don't you need to watch this conversation and hear this music to cleanse your soul after watching the video in my last post??)

WHIG of the Week Scott McClellan (Part Two, The Video)

I just watched more of Bill O'Reilly than I've seen in my life in watching this video, "O'Reilly Goes Ballistic on McClellan," but you can skip right to the 3'29" marker to hear the section that's most relevant to the purposes of the WHIGgate Update blog.



Here's the transcript of the section about "catapulting the propaganda" using the White House Iraq Group, as transcribed in Crooks and Liars:

Bill O’Reilly: You said they used propaganda and that is a loaded word.
Scott McClellan: The White House Iraq group, the White House Iraq Group was set up, it’s a marketing arm for selling the a war. That was a specific purpose that I talked about in the book
BO: Because they fervently believed that the guy was a danger and could hand his weapons off.
SM: No because the President had a bigger driving motivation which was to transform the middle east.
BO: You telling me that President Bush didn’t believe they had the,
SM: No, he did too. He believed that too.
BO:That’s not propaganda then, that’s not propaganda.
SM: It is when you package it all together—over sell it and over state it to the American people. That is propaganda.


Propaganda may be a loaded word in O'Reilly's mind, but Scott McClellan gets his definition of the word directly from his former boss:
... third time I've said that. (Laughter.) I'll probably say it three more times. See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda. (Applause.)

-- George W. Bush, 24 May 2005 (text and stage cues from the whitehouse.gov transcript)

You can see a video of the Catapult the Propaganda quote here.

If you can stand watching the whole interview video, it's also interesting to see the way that O'Reilly goes on about how "everyone" believed Iraq had WMDs because they read it in The New York Times; I just wish that Scott would have pointed out how Judith Miller of the Times was being used as a tool -- perhaps the key tool -- in the catapulting the propaganda about Saddam's scary aluminum tubes.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A New "WHIG of the Week", Scott McClellan

This is crossposted from WHIGgate Update at whiggate.org.

OK. I know that WHIGgate.org has been very inactive lately, but the fact is that it started with high hopes (and what turned out, of course, to have been false hopes) that the American people and their representatives in Congress and the "independent" flag-waving American mass media would come to their senses and hold the war criminals of the Bush Administration responsible for waging a war of aggression on manufactured evidence. The White House Iraq Group seemed like the perfect frame in which to tell the story of those lies, and the way they were sold to us.

Despite the fact that we seem to be OK with being lied to, I couldn't help posting this new entry for nobody to read when I ran across the following question and answer in the transcript of a Washington Post Book World online discussion from May 30:


Rhode Island: Hi. I hope this question doesn't sound confrontational. My understanding is that you didn't become press secretary until a year or so after the Iraq war began. Can you tell us about what your role was before that? Were you privy to high-level discussions in the lead-up to the war? Thanks.
Scott McClellan: I became press secretary on July 15, 2003, a few months after the initial invasion. Prior to that, I served as the principal deputy press secretary. I was not involved in the policy-making on Iraq or in developing the overall marketing strategy for selling the war to the public. I did fill in for my predecessor at times, and even participated in some White House Iraq Group, or WHIG meetings. WHIG was set up as the marketing arm for selling the war to the public.


I'm not sure that I've seen the White House Iraq Group referred to by name and by its WHIG designation so clearly by a White House official who took part in their meetings. I find it very impressive that the author of What Happened was not responding to a specific question about the Group or its role; Scott McClellan brought the names up unprompted, and followed up with the perfect one-sentence definition: "WHIG was set up as the marketing arm for selling the war to the public."

When America's Paper of Record, The New York Times, still has not mentioned the "White House Iraq Group" in its news pages [only in Frank Rich's columns], then it's not surprising that even some of us who track down these scattered references begin to doubt the group's existence and/or importance. Scott's nonchalant confirmation of its name and its role is striking (but not as striking as the continuing silence from the "liberal" Times). WHIGgate Update will come roaring back with another post if the Times ever writes about the Group in its news pages [click here to see if they do], but don't hold your breath. We don't expect to see anything until we're well into the Obama administration and they can treat this Bush-regime story in quaint historical context, not as a crime that demands immediate prosecution.


This is crossposted from WHIGgate Update at whiggate.org.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

An Important Day

The Democratic Party found its 2008 standard bearer last night and I couldn't be happier. Up above is a picture from the beautiful fall evening in New York when I found that I had no doubts about who I was whole-heartingly supporting for President. I hope that every American voter gets a chance to see Barack Obama live, unfiltered by the media, at some point in the next five months.

Even on this historic day, I don't think we can imagine the joy that will break out around the world in early November when President Obama is elected.

They already realize that he's different from earlier American politicians for reasons other than the amount of melanin in his skin. This key sentence is from Le Monde's lead editorial, "Barack Hussein Obama," today:

Les électeurs qui lui ont apporté leurs voix dans les primaires, le million et demi de partisans qui ont contribué à sa campagne, dont la moitié avec des dons de 200 dollars (130 euros) ou moins, les responsables du parti qui l'ont soutenu, les médias qui ont rendu compte de son entreprise ont démontré que la démocratie américaine n'est pas vouée à être confisquée par une classe politique étroite, financée par des lobbies et pilotée par des experts de la communication.

Hillary Clinton's victory -- though historic in its own way -- certainly would not have been seen as the same kind of break (or any kind of break) from the powers of "that narrow political elite that's financed by lobbyists and piloted by spin doctors."

The general tenor of the first comments from readers of this editorial is one of praise for the USA and one of wondering how France can learn from us (it's not a tone that's been heard often in the European press during the Bush II regime).

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

"Oh the Humanity!"

While not quite on the scale of the Nazi passenger aircraft that exploded in New Jersey and triggered the famous three words of our title, a quiet slow-motion financial catastrophe is beginning to affect the scum that floats at the top of New York's social pond. Anecdotal evidence about the current trials and tribulations of those with net worths from the mid-seven to low-ten figures is recounted in Christine Haughney's Fashion & Style article in The New York Times, "It's Not Easy Being Less Rich", where we find our quote of the day:

“A year ago, he would have only flown Gulfstreams. [...] Now it’s moving to the point where he’s flying Beech jets and Learjets.”

Give the poor guy another Republican tax cut! Stat!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Death of Free TV?

I live in an area where many (including myself) take the train to New York City, but it's a fringy area of television reception. If I adjust my indoor antenna correctly, I can currently get New York channels 2,4,5,7,9,11,13 (and sometimes 21 and some other UHF channels); I don't get any of them well enough to see a moving hockey puck or a golf ball on my cheap 13-inch set, and they're not always in color, but I can see any show that's on broadcast (analog) television by wiggling a rabbit ear.

Last weekend I used my $40 DTV coupon to buy a $49 digital converter box, a Magnavox TB100MG9. When I scan for digital channels, it finds nothing available in this area of Central New Jersey. When I check AntennaWeb, it becomes clear that from my zip code there are no digital stations that are currently available yet without a heavy-duty outdoor antenna. The new converter box confirms this; when I put it on autoscan, it finds no signals.

Because digital television is either on or off -- perfect or nonexistent -- there is no such thing as the fringy, fuzzy signal to which I've become accustomed. I cannot add an outdoor antenna on the roof of my apartment building (nor do I feel I should be asked to), and I have no desire to give any money to one of John McCain's campaign-contributing cable companies. So unless digital signals are strengthened or added before then, this is what I'll be looking at on February 17, 2009 when free analog television dies:
On the downside, I'll miss Bill Moyers and "Nova" and the occasional college football game, and "The Office" and "30 Rock" and "CBS Sunday Morning", and being able to check the weather before I leave the apartment in the morning. I'll miss these shows, but I'm not going to add a monthly bill to my budget to start receiving them again. Once they're gone, I'll just listen to more NPR (until radio is made digital) and play more guitar.

On the plus side, I'll no longer be tempted to flip past the combination of greed, bathos, peer pressure, and statistical stupidity that is Howie Mandel's "Deal or No Deal" just because I'm bored. I'm no longer going to know which automobile ad has resurrected (and therefore ruined) the coolest song from my childhood, and which car looks sleekest while speeding through closed coastal California curves under the guidance of a professional driver. I'm no longer going to believe that the purple pill will make me want to run through fields of wildflowers like it's 1968 again, and that the blue pill will find me an attractive sexual partner to lie down with me in that field. Which makes me wonder what Big Pharma and the (not quite so) Big Three think about losing access to a slice of their potential customers. Is it possible that there's going to be some push back from these powerful economic engines?

This was a bill pushed by all the cable and communications industries and passed 51-50 (with Richard "Dick" Cheney cast in the role of "The Decider") on December 21, 2005. Will it become less popular as other casual TV watchers -- and there are many who live farther from TV transmission antennas than I do -- and advertisers, find out just how many are affected by this change? Or will all the last holdouts (or almost all of them) simply give in and agree to begin paying extortion fees to the cable and satellite companies for something they used to get over the air for free?

Will John McCain's role as a major advocate for this change, and a tool of cable lobbyists, be an issue in the coming election? Or will it only be a big issue next February, when sets actually go black?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult."

Saying that on a sign in London could get you arrested, so I'll say it here (and it would be nice if it could be repeated everywhere, if only to see Tom Cruise have a televised aneurysm).
One reason for arresting teenagers who state facts on placards (other than pro-Business libel laws and the lack of a formal Bill of Rights in the UK) seems to be that the City of London police are being bribed by the "Church" of Scientology. My personal feeling is that Scientology is more of a tacky business scam created by a huckster than a real cult created by a true-believing nutcase, but calling the "Church" a cult seems to get under their skin, so
"Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Joe Biden for Vice President

“This is bullshit, this is malarkey. This is outrageous, for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, to sit in the Knesset ... and make this kind of ridiculous statement.”
- - Senator Joe Biden, a man who knows malarkey, especially foreign-policy malarkey, when he sees it

How many all-knowing made men among America's punditocracy have proclaimed, "Obama needs to get mean," or "Obama needs Hillary's killer instinct"? Maybe Barack Obama just needs his own Dick Cheney, though a Dick Cheney willing to use his genius for good rather than evil.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Read The New York Times on-line for free -- but don't buy it

The New York Times, like The New Yorker, has always been torn between two audiences, those who read the paper for the news and the columnists, and that very elite group that can afford the products featured in the glossy weekend pages and the daily Tiffany ads. Over the past few years, it seems like there's been a lot more pandering to the latter group. It's been awhile since I could justify spending four dollars on Sunday for the Times. Not only was it getting harder to fit into my budget, but there was the guilt over the pounds of wasted paper -- most of it advertisements for things I know that I will never be able to afford. But it's one thing when the Paper of Record panders to the pocketbooks of the scum at the top of New York society with advertisements for $5,000 handbags and Aston-Martins, it's another when one of their Magazine editors, Sandra Ballentine, admits in print:
What I Lust For: The fashionista in me gravitates towards the portrait of Andre Leon Talley and Lord Snowdon (top, left), both swathed in head-to-toe snow leopard.
SNOW LEOPARD?? That's just a little beyond the pale, isn't it?

Friday, May 02, 2008

True Blue Liberal celebrates high gas prices: “The era of the truck-based large S.U.V.’s is over”!!

The New York Times today had a great article celebrating the fact that gas prices are finally having some effect on the mix of new cars leaving America's showroom floors. For the first time in my life I spent over $40 to fill the empty tank of my Volkswagen Golf last week, but the negative shock to my wallet was overcome by the positive Schadenfreude when I thought of the effect on those driving Hummers and Escalades!

... with oil prices expected to remain high for years, auto industry executives are seeing a turning point.
“The era of the truck-based large S.U.V.’s is over,” said
[not the] Michael Jackson, chief executive of AutoNation, the nation’s largest auto retailer.
Sales of traditional S.U.V.’s are down more than 25 percent this year. In April, for example, sales of G.M.’s Chevrolet Tahoe fell 35 percent.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Weapons of Mass Distraction, or "When did you stop beating your wife, Mr. Obama?"

Would that old trick question have been any worse than George "The Hair" Stephanopoulos's "Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?"?

Last night's telecast on ABC was especially awful for those of us who don't own cable or satellite connections and have limited opportunities to watch a debate in full over our old rabbit-eared and soon-to-be-obsolete sets.
I was looking forward to seeing a debate on some substantive issues, not an attack on the two candidates by Charlie "My Reading Glasses Make Me Look Wise" Gibson and George S. using an unoriginal and overplayed rehash of verbal gaffes and guilts by association. More than half the questions that I saw seemed designed merely to elicit an embarassing soundbite or a tax pledge that could not be kept.
ABC should be ashamed, but maybe they should just give up and get Don Imus and Howard Stern to "moderate" the next "debate". That might really be "entertaining".
(MoveOn.org is collecting signatures on a petition to ABC News here: http://pol.moveon.org/enoughdistractions/).

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

Harold Pinter on Donald Rumsfeld and "the palpable joy in destruction"

Part I of "Bush's War" on Frontline is just ending on Channel 13 as I write this. It seems in watching this program that the title could have been "Rumsfeld and Cheney's War". It's more obvious than ever that these two are the chief murderers of 4,000 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis over the last five years.

Watching it, I couldn't help thinking of this speech of Harold Pinter's before the House of Commons on January 21, 2003, two months before the beginning of the endless American war against Iraq. I originally posted this when it was announced in October 2005 that Pinter had won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

One of the more nauseating images of the year 2002 is that of our Prime Minister kneeling in the church on Christmas Day praying for peace on earth and good will towards all men while simultaneously preparing to assist in the murder of thousands of totally innocent people in Iraq.

I've been taken to task recently by the American Ambassador to Britain for calling the US Administration a blood thirsty wild animal. All I can say is: take a look at Donald Rumsfeld's face and the case is made.
bluedon


I believe that not only is this contemplated act criminal, malevolent and barbaric, it also contains within itself a palpable joy in destruction. Power, as has often been remarked, is the great aphrodisiac, and so, it would seem, is the death of others.

The Americans have the ostensible support of the 'international community' through various sure-fire modes of intimidation; bullying, bribery, blackmail and bullshit. The 'international community' becomes a degraded entity bludgeoned into the service of a brutal military force out of control. The most despicable position is that of course of this country which pretends to stand shoulder to shoulder with its great ally while in fact being more of a whipped dog than anyone else. We are demeaned, undermined and dishonoured by our government's contemptible subservience to the United States.

The planned war can only bring about the collapse of what remains of the Iraqi infrastructure, widespread death, mutilation and disease, an estimated one million refugees and escalation of violence throughout the world, but it will still masquerade as a 'moral crusade', a 'just war', a war waged by 'freedom loving democracies', to bring 'democracy' to Iraq.

The stink of the hypocrisy is suffocating.

This is in reality a simple tale of invasion of sovereign territory, military occupation and control of oil.

We have a clear obligation, which is to resist.

Sometimes it takes the subtlety of a Nobel laureate's pen to put this crime in perspective (once again).

Turn out your lights for an hour at 8pm on Saturday, March 29th

Earth Hour 2007 was a success in Sydney, Australia last year, but now the World Wildlife Fund is making Earth Hour 2008 an international event.
Please sign the pledge to turn off your lights for an hour next Saturday at 8pm (your local time), and pass the word along to your green friends.
This does not seem to have been as well publicized as it could have been, so if you have more popular blog than mine (could there be such a thing??), please put up a link for http://earthhour.org/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
update at 5:15pm est: Maybe the lack of publicity is a New York-area problem. I see that other North American cities are participating, and that the Toronto Star has an entire Earth Hour section online: http://www.thestar.com/earthhour

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hey, White Guys from Pennsylvania! Do You Know What "They" Are Saying About You?

I'm one of you . . .
This map shows the surname distribution of the writer of TrueBlueLiberal.org.
Create a map with your surname's distribution at www.gens-us.net.

I may live in the state to your east now, but I'm one of you (a ninth-generation Pennsylvanian) and I'm pissed that the editorial writers and Sunday morning talking heads are all parroting a variation of the same line about Barack Obama's historic speech (which will be known in America's future textbooks as "A More Perfect Union"). Not to oversimplify too much, but the argument with which "they" all agree seems to go like this: "This may have been one of the most eloquent speeches delivered in the United States in half a century -- certainly the most eloquent speech of this young century -- but Tom Sixpack, Dick Beergut, and Hardhat Harry of Pennsylvania only have the attention span to watch short out-of-context clips of Jeremiah Wright sermons on Fox News; they will never watch or read the entire Barack Obama speech on race delivered in Philadelphia. And if Pennsylvania's Toms, Dicks, & Harrys do somehow accidentally read the words, they won't understand or be moved by them."
Please prove them wrong on April 22nd!

If you can't see the video up above, please read the transcript, in which the words lose none of their power.

Barack Obama gives Tom, Dick, and Harry a lot more credit for understanding these issues and these arguments than those who try to mediate (or influence) the conversation between candidate and voter. Read and listen to some of his words directly:
"Like the anger within the black community, these resentments [of the white working and middle class] aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
"Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding."
--Barack Obama
Philadelphia, March 18, 2008
If anyone forwards you a video or transcript of an out-of-context Jeremiah Wright sermon, send them the links to the transcript and video of "A More Perfect Union." How much better will this country be if we start to assume that every citizen can read and appreciate a well-reasoned, well-written, and soberly-delivered speech that treats us like adults and partners in running (and improving) this nation?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Top Ten Reasons the USA Won’t Boycott the Beijing Summer Olympics

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
10. We don’t want to imperil our lifeline of cheap electronics, lead-enhanced toys, slightly-poisoned dog food, and piles of other plastic useless crap that keeps our McMansions and Wal-Marts from looking empty.
9. What? And give up our quadrennial chance to maniacally chant “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” with our families for two weeks while eating Doritos and staring at prerecorded and edited ping-pong, badminton, and beach volleyball tournaments on the new widescreen HDTV that we bought for the occasion?
8. Has the Dalai Lama's country ever contributed cheap labor, diamonds, or oil to the US economy?
7. This year, American scientists have finally found a way to stay one step ahead in the performance-enhancing-chemical and undetectable-blood-doping wars.
6. A vague fear about Chinese hackers being talented enough to bring down eBay … or Dick Cheney’s pacemaker.
5. We only pick fights with countries that don’t have an air force.
4. It’s our only chance to see Modern Pentathlon on television (even if it’s only in a five-minute montage of the courageous American Pentathlete who placed 45th).
3. There is no Tibetan voting block in Miami, or New Jersey, or anywhere else in the USA.
2. We want to see hour-long Up-Close-and-Personal stories about dyslexic orphans who have fought their way to the top of the international equestrian dressage ranks after being adopted by sympathetic American billionaires.
1. George W. Bush’s balls are only half the size of Jimmy Carter’s.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
but seriously, in addition to the current violence against Tibetans, the 11th Panchen Lama will turn 19 on April 25th. He's been a political prisoner of the Chinese since he was six. But "Hey, it's all about the athletes, and having fun!" Let's not spoil it with any talk of politics. That would be like spoiling this weekend's White House Easter Egg Roll® with talk of innocent minors who were thrown without charges into cells at Guantanamo.


And here's a blog I just found dedicated to an Olympic Boycott: Boycott2008Games.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 20, 2008

This is what evil looks like.

Welcome to day one of year six of a war that never should have been fought.

And if you have dial-up, or you can't stand the smirking face of Dick Cheney, even in a 20-second video clip, here's the transcript:

MARTHA RADDATZ (ABC): Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting.
RICHARD CHENEY (Dick):
So?
RADDATZ:
So? You don't care what the American people think?
CHENEY: No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls. There has in fact been fundamental change and transformation and improvement for the better. That's a huge accomplishment.

(thanks to Mustang Bobby at Shakesville for posting this)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

America's Border Guards are keeping us safe from British Moral Turpitude.


Yesterday we had an event that made the world look at the United States of America with hopeful eyes.

Today we have the kind of story that Europeans love to read about us Puritans across the pond when they feel the need to feel superior.

Today we read the story of Sebastian Horsley, the author of Dandy in the Underworld (a memoir that includes descriptions of drug use and prostitutes that may have been semi-fictionally enhanced) being denied entry to the United States at Newark "Liberty" International Airport. He was unable to attend his own book publication party in New York because “...travelers who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or admit to previously having a drug addiction are not admissible.”
The "moral turpitude" police in Newark, New Jersey probably didn't see the irony of this happening during a week in which the ex-governor of New Jersey publicly admitted a threesome with his wife and chauffeur, the ex-governor of neighboring New York just quit because of his $80,000 prostitute habit, and the brand-new governor of New York admitted to multiple affairs on his first day on the job.

Now that Barack Obama has eloquently opened the door to an open discussion of race in America, maybe another candidate (Hillary?) could give a groundbreaking speech about our tortured attitudes toward sex in America.

Whose Election Is It Anyway? The Guardian reports on our Former First Lady's whereabouts.

At this moment, 3:15pm on 3/19/08, major American news sources I check regularly (NY Times, Washington Post, CNN... ) have nothing prominent on their front pages about the release of 11,000 pages of Hillary Clinton's White House schedules today, but the paper of record in the UK, The Guardian, has this story prominently featured at the top of their splash page under the headline, "Clinton not in White House at key foreign policy times."

You can scan through all the diaries for yourself right here, through a link at the Clinton Library.

Here are a few of the Guardian's initial findings from today's data dump:

. . . Clinton has said she helped negotiate the April 1998 Good Friday agreement between warring factions in Northern Ireland. But while Catholic and Protestant figures hashed out last-minute details of a power-sharing agreement in Belfast, Clinton was at the National Press Club in Washington at a party honouring Bella Abzug, a congresswoman from New York City who had died recently. While President
Clinton phoned major participants in the peace talks, she met with Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and joined a farewell party for Democratic operative Karen Finney. On the day the agreement was actually signed, she met with Philippine first lady Amelita Ramos.
When Nato launched air strikes against Serbia in an attempt to punish Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic for the country's onslaught against ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo, Clinton toured ancient Egyptian ruins, including King Tut's tomb and the temple of Hatshepsut. She dined at the Temple of Luxor, and stayed overnight at the Sofitel Winter Palace Hotel there.
On August 20, 1998, Bill Clinton ordered US missile strikes on suspected terrorist sites in Sudan and Afghanistan. The president and Hillary Clinton were on holiday on Martha's Vineyard, a posh island vacation spot off the coast of Massachusetts. After announcing the attack, Clinton cut short his break and returned to Washington to confer with his national security team; Hillary Clinton remained on the Vineyard until August 30, her records show.

But even at key moments when she wasn't absent from the White House, she wasn't necessarily paying attention:

On November 15 1995, when President Clinton is said to have begun his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, she was in the White House, according to her schedule.

And if you have the patience to dig through piles of redacted government documents at http://www.clintonlibrary.gov/hrcschedules.html, we'd love to hear about any interesting findings in the comments.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

E Pluribus Unum. A speech that will be read and watched in fifty years?

But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice ... we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

-- Barack Obama, Philadelphia, 18 March 2008

At lunchtime today at work, I thought I would skim the transcript of the prepared text of this speech on the New York Times website . I couldn't skim it. I couldn't skip a word.
If you can't see the video up above, please read the transcript, in which the words lose none of their power. I hesitate to lift any lines out of context, because it really is a finely woven speech in which every paragraph depends on all the others to complete the argument, but I can't resist:

I can no more disown him [Reverend Wright] than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

or, after a very honest and very insightful dissection of the roots of black anger and white anger and resentments, he adds:

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

But please read the whole thing. I haven't read any commentaries or listened to any reviews yet. I'm sure that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter and hundreds of bloggers are already ranting while I'm raving about these words. I just want to let these words seep in unfiltered by the commentariat and the punditocracy who may see this speech as less Lincolnesque than I do.
It's perfect, and I don't think that's just my opinion.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

New Rule for Potential Presidential Candidates: Never Join a Church!

The Huffington Post has Barack Obama's obligatory mea culpa, "On My Faith and My Church", for statements that he never made. but were made from the pulpit of the church that his family attends in Chicago.
"All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country."
I hope we now don't have to hear the greatest hits of every preacher of the left and right who ever became angry and may lapsed into a rant that made parts of his or her congregation uncomfortable. A colleague at work told me on Thursday that Limbaugh and Hannity have been flogging Reverend Wright's most controversial quotations as evidence of Barack Obama's hidden anti-American, anti-White prejudices, so I knew that this response would be forthcoming (I'm sure that Barack would condemn some of the angrier statements in my blog too, but why should that be reason for him to reject my vote or support?).
Along with condemnations of Rev. Wright's most controversial sermons, his statement also tells us why he didn't quit the Trinity United Church of Christ:
"I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church." [emphasis added]
Here's my controversial statement about the matter: In my personal experience (and I'm older than Barack), I've never known an unmarried man who joined a church on his own, or joined a church other than his wife's when he did get married. According to the personal life section of Obama's biography on Wikipedia, he both started dating Michelle Robinson and started attending services at Reverend Wright's church in 1988. A coincidence? I don't see how those two events can possibly be unlinked. Am I now going to be asked to defend the crackpottiest statements of the Popes in Rome -- or defend child abusing priests or the murderers of abortion doctors -- because I happened to be married to a Catholic woman for 25 years?
I look at these facts and I see a man in Obama who is much like every man I've ever known -- a man who has religion in its (minor) place in his life. He was probably dozing off, or thinking about the White Sox, during many of those sermons.

Friday, March 14, 2008

North of the Mason-Dixon Line? or will the real Pennsylvania please stand up on April 22!

James Carville is a Clinton adviser well-versed in the old 20th-century techniques of identity politics. His famous characterization of rural Pennsylvania as an extension of the deep south is one that I've repeated over the years, but it seems to have a variety of citations.
These are the variations on the theme collected at Wikiquote:
  • Between Paoli (one of Philadelphia's westernmost suburbs) and Penn Hills (one of Pittsburgh's easternmost suburbs), Pennsylvania is Alabama without the blacks. They didn't film "The Deerhunter" there for nothing -- the state has the second-highest concentration of NRA members, behind Texas.
  • Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh on one end, Philadelphia on the other, and Alabama in between. (Alternate)
  • Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama stuffed between them. (Alternate)
  • During the 1992 presidential campaign, Democratic political consultant James Carville described Pennsylvania as "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with Alabama in between."
  • Pennsylvania is "two cities separated by Alabama."
The first variant, with its specificity and its qualification of rural PA as "Alabama without the blacks" has the truest ring to it even though I wasn't familiar with that version. Alabama with its African-American population would, of course, give Obama an absolute landslide.

I'm a native of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is my birthplace and was my home for the first eight years of my life; before that, eight generations of my father's family lived toward that maligned center of the state (my unusual last name is almost common in the Lancaster, Gettysburg, and Harrisburg area). There's nothing I want more than to have the good people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania -- not just those in the Steel City and the City of Brotherly Love -- prove that the politics of racial division don't work anymore. I want my home state surprising the rest of the country with a resounding victory for Obama that effectively ends this primary campaign. If my bumper stickers ever arrive from the BarackObama.com store (the demand is very high), I'll slap them on the back of my car just to drive back and forth along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The Chief Manufacturers of America's Useless Crap Are Shooting Tibetans in Lhasa Today

And the Chinese government has the audacity to blame the Dalai Lama for the governmental violence. What should we do about this?
  • Are we going to stop buying the millions of products that say Made in China?
  • Are we going to boycott the Olympic Games in Beijing? Will we show we have as much backbone as Jimmy Carter in the summer of 1980?
  • How about adding this flag to the uniforms of our Olympic athletes? Can't we, as a nation, be at least as brave as Björk?

Just Asking,
True Blue Liberal

Reality Check: While we're debating the merits of President Obama or President Clinton II, we still have this asshole in charge



While we're debating whether Obama and/or Clinton have the qualifications to be Commander-In-Chief, we get the occasional reminder of what happens when the office is held by someone's who's obviously unqualified. Today's reminder came in the form this quote from a George W. Bush teleconference with soldiers who are actually in Afghanistan:
"I must say, I'm a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."
"It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks."

--- George W. Bush (quoted here)
Well, I hope the soldiers took that gem of absolute bullshit with the grain of salt it deserved. Because when he was younger, and there was another war going on, and when he wasn't employed in any meaningful job, he did everything he could to use his place of wealth and privilege to stay out of Vietnam (a war to which he was glad to play lip service while playing soldier, when it didn't interfere with his social life). Though the Rovians were successful in distracting us from the Chickenhawk charges with an attack on one of its messengers, Dan Rather, there is still a good compilation of his rich-man's draft-dodging escapades available at AWOLBush.com.
    DraftTwins
  • Never listen to any old man blabbing about how much he'd like to fight, if only he could (unless he's willing to send his daughters to have that romantic military adventure in his place).
  • And never listen to any candidate who tells you that we have to finish a war just because it was started -- even if begun badly, for base motives. We're approaching the loss of 4,000 American soldiers in Iraq and the loss of trillions of dollars is dragging us deeper and deeper into the current Iraq-War Recession; do we have to lose 8,000 lives and quadrillions of devalued dollars to repay this blood debt?




. . . the truth is that every morning war is declared anew. Thus those who wish to continue it are as guilty as those who started it, perhaps more so, for the latter may not perhaps have foreseen the full horror of it.
--Marcel Proust
From the 2003 translation of Finding Time Again translated by Ian Patterson. This is Charlus talking to Marcel about the Great War raging on their doorsteps (p. 105 of the Penguin UK paperback).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Real Dream Team! ... if you love their war and the Iraq-War Recession, you'll love the next four years with these two in power . . .

Check out the The John McCain for President, Hillary Clinton for Vice President War Party Fusion Ticket over at BuzzFlash.com for more details.

The main point, other than their shared support of the Iraq War, is this recent quote from Ms Clinton about the experience of the presumptive Republican nominee (to the detriment of the presumptive Democratic nominee):

"I think that since we now know Sen. McCain will be the nominee for the Republican Party, national security will be front and center in this election. We all know that. And I think it’s imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold,” the New York senator told reporters crowded into an infant’s bedroom-sized hotel conference room in Washington.
“I believe that I’ve done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that and you’ll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy,” she said. [read more here]

It's time for John Edwards and anyone else with a constituency in the Democratic Party to make a formal endorsement of Barack Obama. Now. They can no longer afford to wait the five and a half weeks until her next "firewall" in Pennsylvania on April 22. The divisive racial politics of her surrogates, and her direct questioning of Barack Obama's credentials, has gone beyond the pale (it's not Barack's fault that he didn't have the "experience" of being married to a President for eight years, privy to all [well, almost all] the President's secrets).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

And if Geraldine Ferraro had been named Gerald Ferraro, would she have been a candidate for Vice President in 1984?

“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position . . . And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."
--Geraldine Ferraro,
March 7, 2008 interview with Torrance, CA Daily Breeze)

As a member of Hillary's finance committee, is she speaking for the campaign? Should she be forced out for driving this racial wedge within the Democratic party? Will she be? As ridiculous as this quote is, the line in the interview that leads into it is possibly more absurd:

"I think what America feels about a woman becoming president takes a very secondary place to Obama's campaign - to a kind of campaign that it would be hard for anyone to run against," she said. "For one thing, you have the press, which has been uniquely hard on her. It's been a very sexist media. Some just don't like her. The others have gotten caught up in the Obama campaign." [emphasis added]

The myth of the mainstream media bias against Hillary is the biggest of the big lies out there at the moment. Just take a look at the absolute middle of the mainstream media: Time Magazine. On their website today for the March 17 issue on the newstands now, we see a happy clapping Hillary Clinton, "The Fighter," on the cover. The first five featured articles on the site have a decidedly pro-Hillary slant:

Ready to Rumble (The Well / Cover Story) Hillary Clinton has rescued her campaign by getting a lot rougher on Barack Obama. But Democrats worry: How much collateral damage will be done before it is over?
Clinton: One Day at a Time (The Well / Cover Story) On the day after her Ohio and Texas victories, TIME managing editor Rick Stengel caught up with Hillary Clinton to talk about the challenges ahead
NATION
The Long Way Home (The Well / Campaign '08 Obama) Barack Obama says he's "got game," but he'll need all his moves to stay ahead of Clinton
Obama: Still Confident (The Well / TIME Interview) In an interview with TIME's Jay Newton-Small, Obama talks about Hillary Clinton, double-standards, talking tough and going negative
The Race Goes On
(In The Arena) By focusing on national security--and laughing at herself--Clinton managed to stay alive. Now it's up to Obama to prove he's not just another politician

It's easy to imagine from this cover and these article summaries that Hillary Clinton had just taken the lead (she hadn't) or at least narrowed the delegate gap (nope). You would never guess that the real story were those insurmountable Clinton leads in her safe firewall states of Texas and Ohio that were almost blown (until she pulled out the fear commercial and NAFTA lies). The real story was the way the media ignored 11 straight lopsided Clinton losses leading up to Ohio. If Obama had suffered 11 straight losses, the media would have been calling for him to step aside "for the good of the party" after loss number 5 or 6. But then again, Barack Obama was never their favorite. He was not nominated by the mainstream media before the first vote was even cast in Iowa. Hillary was. Hillary and Rudy (remember Rudy?) were on their way to the Democratic and Republican nominations without a serious challenge. Or so they told us. Those same media outlets are now having trouble coming to terms with the fact that the Clinton (right) wing of the Democratic Party is now well on its way to becoming the fringe rather than the center of the party.

But if a member of Barack Obama's finance committee were to say, "If Hillary weren't married to a President, she would not be in this position," how quickly would the media be calling for that sexist spokesperson's head? "And if she were a man (of any color) she would not be in this position. She happens to be very lucky to be who she is." (And so was Geraldine Ferraro.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Does the Spitzer Sex Scandal Hurt Hillary or Help Hillary?


When this news about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's rendezvous with an expensive prostitute in DC broke this afternoon, my first thought was that this was bad for Hillary Clinton, and not just because Eliot was a vocal supporter of Hillary's presidential candidacy. I simply figured that the last thing any Clinton wants is for the words "sex scandal" to appear in any headline during this campaign, especially regarding a scandal involving another Democratic Chief Executive.

“I have acted in a way that violates my obligation to my family and violates my or any sense of right or wrong. I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public to whom I promised better.
“I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.”

--Eliot "Client 9" Spitzer, 10 March 2008

But when I saw Eliot Spitzer's obligatory and stereotypically-weaselly public statement in print, I couldn't help thinking of similar appearances by another recent Democratic Chief Executive (no, not Jim McGreevey) and that Hillary Clinton will be seen sympathetically once again as the strong wronged spouse. I wouldn't be surprised to see her national numbers take a small quick uptick in the next few days.
If she does pull off the impossible and win the nomination and the election, maybe she should think about making Eliot Spitzer the US Attorney General. Not only was he a great Attorney General in New York for many years, often taking on national issues that Bush and Ashcroft ignored, but he and the first spouse could hit the town together -- keeping Bill out of the White House and out of Hillary's hair, leaving her undistracted when those important phone calls come flooding in at 3AM.