Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Insidious Nature of Misogyny and Sexism

The The Wall Street Journal's Mar. 29, 2008 Page One has an article on the reaction of women to Hillary's campaign that is reasonably fair and accurate but also disturbing, because some of the men and women interviewed have bought into sexism and misogyny without even realizing it.

Listen to Professor McCollester:
"Charles McCollester, a professor of industrial relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania who works with union members, says he is ready for a woman president, "just not this woman." He supports Sen. Obama. "Several of my really close female friends feel this is unleashing some kind of antiwoman sentiment. But I don't see it. We love women. I just never cared much for Hillary. She has set out to become as male as all the rest of the boys."

Look at his justification: "We love women. I just never cared much for Hillary. She has set out to become as male as all the rest of the boys". Can one imagine anything similar being said about a man? What does it mean to "set out to become as male"? And if being a man is good, why is this bad? If this isn't sexist, if this isn't misogynist, than what is?

So, OK, McCollester, is a man. What about Amanda Moniz, a PH.D. candidate?
"It isn't easy being a woman in academia," says Amanda Moniz, a 36-year-old Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Michigan. "I want a woman candidate who is strong, but also feminine, and who doesn't feel she has to be tougher than men to succeed," she says.
"Although Hillary has achieved a lot on her own, she wouldn't be where she was if not for her husband -- and that isn't an inspiring lesson."

First, of course, she echoes McCollester's sentiment: "... a woman candidate who is strong, but also feminine, and who doesn't feel she has to be tougher than men to succeed." What on earth does she mean? What is Hillary supposed to do? Speak softy? Wear flowery dresses? Cry? (Oh, no, she can't do that. Only men are allowed to cry in public these days - which I suppose is one kind of progress.)

And I wonder how many people who voted for Bush 43 worried about the fact that he wouldn't have gotten where he is if not for his father? The U.S. political system has from day one had political "families". Check the Wikipedia if you want to see how prevalent this is. What about family businesses? Since when have we insisted that only self-made individuals can make a name for themselves in the arts (the Fondas, Redgraves) business or government?

Then there's Alexa Steinberg:
Alexa Steinberg, 25, a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire, says she recognizes "that women only make 78 cents for every male dollar, and there are still hurdles for women that I'll face." She says she thinks it's only a matter of time before she'll be supporting a female candidate for U.S. president -- but it won't be Sen. Clinton. "Politically and personally, she's trying to take on the male persona, and isn't a woman in the way I want a woman candidate to be," she says.

Ms. Steinberg, who supports Sen. Obama, says she's far more drawn to Michele Obama as a role model. "Michele has a career and even earns more than Barack, and she can knock him for not picking up his socks or doing the laundry," she explains. "But she has a sense of humor, too. She has a blend of many things, a balance that I can see and appreciate."

Do you see a pattern here? It's McCollester again. "Politically and personally, she's trying to take on the male persona, and isn't a woman in the way I want a woman candidate to be". Does Steinberg think that Obama is trying to be too Black, or too White, or too multicultural? No. What does it mean to take on the "male persona"? Competence? Strength? A willingness to defend herself? I have no idea. These characterizations go back to the days of suffragettes and the ERA. Women who opposed getting the vote or an Equal Rights Amendment used similar arguments against the Suffragettes. These women absorb male prejudices and don't even realize they are doing it.

Ms. Steinberg also, of course, doesn't seem to know much about Hillary - who has been a lawyer all her life, was the chief breadwinner while Bill was running for office and Governor of Arkansas, who has been a mother and raised a daughter to be proud of, who has demonstrated a fine sense of humor on the campaign trail. I don't know if she has ever complained about Bill's laundry habits in public, but good heavens, what kind of criterion is that for the Presidency.

Experience vs. Judgment: The First McCain-Obama Debate

My latest nightmare, the first debate between McCain and Obama:

Obama will bring out that old line he's used against Hillary that judgment outweighs experience when the latter's result is Iraq.

McCain, with a twinkle in his eye and that half-smile, will look at the audience and say "He made one statement about the Iraq war being dumb back in 2004 and thinks that qualifies him to be President. What is the younger generation coming to?"

That exchange will be run repeatedly by all the news networks that have been praising Obama as the Next Coming and, all of a sudden, all those pundits will say "gee, you know, McCain is right".

I realize that many Obama supporters assume that Americans, who now overwhelmingly oppose the war in Iraq, will not support a man, McCain, who endorses the war. What they do not realize is that Americans do still see the world as a dangerous place and, when push comes to shove, they will prefer a "straight-talking" President with lots of experience to an arrogant young man in a very big hurry.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why does Pelosi support Obama?

No, I don't know Pelosi and I've never heard her directly endorse Obama, but anybody who has been following this campaign understands what she means when she makes a comment about the primaries.

I have been trying to understand Obama's enduring appeal. I can see being infatuated with him: the rhetorical skill, those high-flown sentiments. But the more one looks into his past, the less one finds. This is a man who got his legislative seat by using rules, yes "rules", to disqualify his opponents. The bills he passed in his last year in the Illinois legislature? Handed to him on a silver platter by Emil Jones. His election to the U.S. Senate? The Republican opponent had to bow out due to a sex scandal & was replaced by an out-of-stater. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Democrats could have run and won with anybody who was breathing.

He does not appear to have any deep-seated convictions. A review of his career in the Illinois legislature & the U.S. Senate suggests a man who doesn't want to make anybody angry or require him to defend himself. Remember, many of those "present" votes were not orchestrated by Democrats. They were his choice. And he seems to have ducked votes in the Senate that might negatively impact his run for President.

As far as I can tell, he fulfills an unknown (to me) need on the part of Democrats for their own Ronald Reagan: you know, a guy who holds a few global principles, can deliver a good speech, but doesn't want to be bothered by the details.

How does this explain Pelosi's support and, I suspect, Harry Reid's as well? Simple. As a Bay Area resident, I hate to say this but Pelosi has proven herself to be a singularly ineffective Speaker. And Reid might as well be Minority Leader for all that he has accomplished, although he, at least, has the excuse of a 1-vote majority (Lieberman- who no doubt uses his position as an Independent to exert pressure).

The guiding principles of Pelosi and Reid seem to be:
1. Don't make waves.
2. Don't embarrass anybody, Republican or Democrat or the President, by making them go on the record by voting "no" or issuing a veto. Reid counts noses and if he can't get 60 votes (to avoid a fillibuster) or 2/3 to override a veto, he doesn't even bother to put legislation to a vote. After all, why make Republicans angry by actually forcing them to go through the discomfort of a fillibuster? Pelosi seems to rely on a similar strategy.

Their governing philosophy has much in common with Obama's "unity" trope - and his "present" votes. "Let's just all get along." I think Pelosi and Reid see in Obama a President who won't get in their way, a President who will set forth some Reagan-like exhortations and let them go about their business.

But they know that a President Hillary will demand results. She cares about the big picture, but she knows the details matter. She will make demands upon Pelosi and Reid; she will expect them to do everything possible to pass her agenda.

I rather suspect, therefore, that Pelosi and Reid don't really care whether or not Obama becomes President as long as Democrats retain control of the Congress. After all, with McCain in the White House, they can continue to blame their incompetence on a Republican President.

Fire Howard Dean

Does anybody think Howard Dean is doing a good job, or even simply doing his job, as Chairman of the Democratic Party?

He, more than anybody, is responsible for the Florida/Michigan mess. The "rules" were his. It was he who decided that both candidates had to agree to any solution. Obama, of course, can't risk revotes that he might lose by even bigger margins. (I can't help but wonder just what Obama has promised Dean for his support.)

Just as bad, it appears that he isn't even very good at raising money. All year long, I've read articles about Democrats being far ahead of Republicans in the money-raising stakes. But it turns out that the DNC doesn't even have enough money to help pay for revotes in Florida and Michigan.

Can anybody think of anything positive this man does? Is there some way we can recall him and replace him with somebody who knows how to lead?

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Democratic Convention: What's Wrong with Fireworks?

Why does everybody want the Democratic nominee to be selected before the Democratic Convention. (The latest word is that Howard Dean wants the Super Delegates to decide by July 1, 2008.)

Perhaps somebody should talk to Dean about TV coverage. During the last several elections, TV news operations have significantly reduced their coverage of the conventions because nothing happens. They're just big ads for the parties.

But can you imagine what the networks would do if we still don't know the nominee going into the convention? If it's going to be a real, old-fashioned affair? There will be dawn to dusk coverage by all the networks. Tons of free advertising for the Democratic Party - while the Republican convention will get maybe an hour/day.

The DNC is simply dumb, dumb, dumb. But we knew that already, didn't we?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Are They Pro-Obama or Anti-Hillary?

I don't have the bandwith, time or technical skills to test this hypothesis, but the impression I get from TV, magazine, and "liberal" blogs that are for Obama is that the ratio of anti-Hillary rants to pro-Obama posts/opinions/reports/puff pieces is about 10-to-1.

If's as if all the pro-Obama political coverage is actually nothing more than an extension of Just Hillary - whose owner at least openly admits to being obsessed with Hillary.

Why Do They Want Her to Quit? No, It's not "The Math"

Why do all off Obama's supporters want her to quit? They say she can't win, that Obama has it in the bag. So, why do they care? The primaries will go on whether or not Hillary is in the race, so the states to come won't save money. Do they want to save Hillary's supporters from wasting their money in campaign contributions? Unlikely. Are they trying to save Hillary the ignominy of defeat? (Is it less painful to resign than to lose?)

Or could it be that they are afraid Hillary will win most of the remaining primaries and head into the convention on a roll?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Amazing Clinton

My admiration of Hillary Clinton has grown enormously during this campaign. She has demonstrated courage, class, unbelievable energy, and an unsurpassed grasp of the issues.

JoAnne Tybinka Blasko at The Democratic Daily has noticed it, too.

One of the many differences I've noticed between Obama and Clinton is that he is great at giving speeches from a teleprompter* but is a lot less fluent when being questioned (even by Larry King) and in the debates. I've suspected this is because Hillary really knows her stuff. Obama, like Bush 43 and Reagan, doesn't really know his stuff. He's just a superb a performer.

bostonboomer at The Confluence says it better.

* this was first evident when he lost in New Hampshire. Besides showing himself to be a poor loser, he gave a perfunctory congratulation statement and then launched in to the victory speech he had prepared. He was, to be blunt, completely unable to recast his speech to reflect reality.

Anglachel does it again with her post about Clinton's response to the market meltdown. I do not know how the MSM, let alone the so-called liberal blogosphere can be blind to the understanding and competence and simple level-headedness that Hillary demonstrates time and again. It's as if they find competence not just irrelevant but ridiculous and useless.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Open Letter to the DNC


I have drafted this letter in the hope that others will use it as a starting point for their own letters to the DNC and other major Democratic Party leaders (like Nancy Pelosi). This is a case where I think snail mail may be more effective than email.

Mr. Howard Dean
Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St., SE
Wasington, DC 20003

Dear Mr. Dean:
I am writing to insist that the votes in Florida and Michigan count. The fate of the election, and of the country, most probably will depend on the outcome of the DNC's decision.

Michigan and Florida
I can think of no valid reason, other than "The Rules" for not seating Florida. Both candidates had a presence during the primary (Obama's national TV ads ran repeatedly). The campaign had national coverage. Yet the DNC seems to believe that it can exclude Florida's voters without harm. Has it forgotten 2000? Is it willing to do to its own Party what George Bush and the Republicans did to it in 2000? To, in effect, admit that what Bush did in 2000 was OK?

Moreover, the Democrats had no choice about the primary's date. So if the DNC penalizes the Party's voters, it is essentially letting the Republican Party determine whom the Democratic candidate should be.

Michigan is trickier because Obama's name was not on the ballot - even though that was his choice. But the DNC could assign the uncommitted votes, as well as those for the other Democrats on the ticket, to him with reasonable certainty that the distribution more or less reflected the will of the voters.

Obama's objections no longer deserve to be considered. Hillary was willing to accept a re-vote, with all the risk that implies. James Carville had pledged to raise half the money needed to stage the re-vote if Obama (who has a huge campaign war chest) would match the money. It was Obama who refused to go along. By my calculation, his refusal to agree to a solution accepted by his opponent abrogates his right to complain about the seating of Michigan's delegates.

The Rules
It is pretty obvious that, had the DNC known going in how close the race would be, it would have handled this situation differently.

More important for the long term is the fact that the DNC should not have continued to let Iowa and New Hampshire set the terms and dynamics of the primary season. It is well past due for a major overhaul of the system to prevent those two small states from, election after election, winnowing down the field before 99% of the Party gets a chance to vote. If there are any states to be penalized in the future, it is those two. It is absolutely vital that a rotating system of primaries be set up such that no single state will ever again be viewed as a gatekeeper to the nomination because there will simply be insufficient history for the media to seize on past history to predict current results.

If, however, the DNC insists that "The Rules" are "The Rules", then, to be consistent, the DNC must also permit Super Delegates to vote for whom they want, regardless of the results in their districts or states because those, too, are "The Rules". (And if Super Delegates Kerry and Kennedy and Richardson can publicly back Obama, in spite of the fact that their states voted for Hillary, then I simply do not see how the DNC can demand that other Super Delegates follow the votes rather than their own judgment.)

The Party is split pretty much 50/50 between Hillary and Obama. If Hillary is perceived to have lost because the DNC did not count or only partly counted the votes from Florida and Michigan, her supporters will not consider Obama's nomination to be legitimate. The DNC may feel confident that the vast majority of Hillary's supporters will back Obama. Hillary has certainly pledged that she will. And I, too, will vote for him. But I won't, under those circumstances, contribute either time or money to the campaign. Nor will I feel compelled to defend him against attacks during either his campaign or, if he is elected, his term in office.

Worse, however, is the fact that some of Hillary's supporters will not vote for Obama under those circumstances. May I remind you that Gore lost Florida by about 1000 votes? Ask yourself one very simple question: How will you feel on Nov. 11, 2008 if the Democrats lose the White House again because of 1000 votes in Florida? Will you assert that playing by "The Rules" was more important than winning the election? I am not stating here that the Democrats will win if Hillary is the nominee. McCain will be a much stronger opponent than, for example, either Giuliani or Romney would have been. The Democratic nominee will need every possible vote to win this election. That's why the DNC cannot afford to alienate Democrats in two large states.

A Dream Destroyed
Democrats began the campaign season on a high. We had many good candidates to choose from. For various reaons, including, I am sorry to say, the behavior of some Party leaders, it has turned ugly.

No matter who wins the nomination, or how the nomination is won, many Democrats may feel cheated. But it is the DNC which has created the environment (a bizarre collection of primaries and caucuses and byzantine delegate rules and penalties) in which such hatred has taken root.

I can assure you that, as a Hillary supporter and a person who strongly believes that she is much better equipped to fight McCain than Obama, I do not consider her exit from the campaign to be the solution to this dilemma, however much some may want her to drop out.

There may be no fix which will appease everybody, but it is time to put away partisanship and pride in "The Rules" and at least try to engineer a fix - or McCain will be inaugurated next January and all the Democratic Party will have left for comfort is "The Rules".

Why do they all want Hillary to quit?

Why do all of Obama's supporters want her to quit? If she has the energy and courage to go on, if people like me are willing to contribute (however little it may be) to her campaign, and if people like Democrats in Pennsylvania seem to want her to go on, and some poll I read about said that a majority of Democrats want her to fight on, well, why shouldn't she?

Unless, just maybe, "The Math" isn't really "The Math" and Obama's supporters aren't quite as sure as they pretend to be that he's got the nomination in the bag?

What's even weirder, of course, is why all the pundits and so-called journalists want her to quit. What would they talk about for the next several months? How will they fill the air time if there is no Hillary to trash?

One would think that the TV networks, at least, would want the campaign to go on as long as possible, would want a brokered convention. Think about TV coverage of the conventions. It's shrunk considerably during the past several rounds because there was no drama and the networks got tired of trying to invent drama. Well, barring something truly weird happening, it looks as if the Democratic Convention may be a real, old-fashioned nail-biting thriller. Journalists should be falling all over themselves to ensure that Hillary goes the distance.

I am truly baffled.

The Experience Argument - I'm Confused

One of the constant tropes of Obama's campaign against Hillary is that she has no experience other than being First Lady. Nothing she has done in her entire working life, including her 7 years as a Senator, counts as experience.

But, and this is what gets me, if Democrats are supposed to vote against Hillary because she is unprepared and inexperienced, how on earth do Obama's supporters argue that he has the experience? Work as a community organizer? An undistinguished career in the Illinois legislature (at least until there was a Democratic majority) with some 100 "present" votes (not all of which were part of an organized Democratic strategy), and 2 years in the Senate, after one year of which he started running for President?

The Obama supporters say he has judgment. He was against the war in Iraq. As has been pointed out many times by many people, he made an anti-war statement as an unimportant legislator in a liberal district but never did anything to oppose the war other than make that one statement (as far as I can tell). And he has recently indicated that his financial dealings with Rezko were "bone-headed". So, he doesn't have perfect judgment either.

What are we to make of this? Should we start touting up examples of judgment on both sides to see how often Hillary and Obama have been right, or wrong?

But getting back to the experience issue. I just don't get how Obama and his supporters can argue with a straight face that Obama is the better candidate because Hillary hasn't got the experience.

Isn't the logical conclusion that if experience doesn't matter, then it doesn't matter if Hillary has experience or not?

So why does this particular argument against Hillary and for Obama continue to have legs, to be repeated - in one way or another - day after day after day?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hillary's Critics - Second Bite of the Apple?

The breadth and depth and sheer viciousness of the media's attacks on Hillary have bewildered me. Nixon, in comparison, was treated with kid gloves. Bush 43, a man who has turned the Constitution into a worthless piece of paper, beggared the country, destroyed America's reputation abroad, and been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, is treated like a nice but not-too-smart puppy.

But today, for some reason, the phrase "second bite of the apple" bubbled up in my brain, and it occurred to me that the media have never forgiven Bill Clinton for surviving their endless attacks on him during his Presidency. He should have resigned, like Nixon, but he didn't. Worse, his popularity was barely affected.

Hillary's campaign has given the media a chance to prove that during the 90s they weren't simply trained rats in a drama arranged by right-wing fanatics like Scaife, that the Clintons really are every bit as evil as the media said they were. And also, perhaps, it is a way for them to prove to themselves, after their sorry performance these past 7 years as watchdogs (who slept while the house was destroyed), that they still matter, that they are still journalists. Somehow, in their twisted psyches, bringing down Hillary will restore their journalistic manhood.

When the history of this campaign is written, the miracle won't be Obama's ascendence. The miracle will be Hillary's ability to corner half the votes in the face of an unprecedented negative press (TV, print, and web).


1. I am a Hillary supporter.
2. I think it is pretty obvious now that Obama lied when he said he had not heard any inflammatory sermons.
3. The sermons will give the Republican Party plenty of ammo in the GE.
4. Since I don't have broadband, I've not seen any videos. I assume, however, that the partial transcripts I've read contain the most objectionable parts of those sermons.

That said, I am dismayed to see so many hard-core liberals, even those who adore Obama, professing such great indignation at the pastor's words. They are not new or unusual. Indeed, they can be traced back at least to the 60s: the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement - yes, those old battles that Hillary's generation fought and Obama has dismissed as outmoded. Liberals who condemn the pastor for the words and Obama for continuing to frequent the church, cannot then object when Conservatives condemn the liberals of the 60s who used those same words - or who may use them in the future.

I also believe, to some extent, Obama's explanations for not leaving the church, and I admire him for not denying the friendship - not that he had any choice.

However, I suspect there is another reason for his not leaving his church. Granted, I don't know either man and have absolutely no proof, but that doesn't stop Hillary critics from in-depth analyses of her motives, so I don't see why it should stop me. I think the reason the pastor's words haven't bothered Obama is because Obama, a superb performer himself, knows that the pastor's sermons are pure performance art. The man may or may not believe what he is saying - I rather suspect he is something of an Elmer Gantry - but he is obviously playing to the audience he wants to acquire and maintain. In short, the pastor is a bit of a fraud and Obama knows it.

Obama's speech on race was wonderfully crafted. He managed to subtly accuse Hillary's side for the injection of race into the primaries, reduce the issue of the sermons to a minor scene in a greater picture, and also, a little less subtly, suggest that electing him President would be the first step in a healing of the nation's racial divides. Nevertheless, he deserves most of the credit he is getting for the way he chose to address the issue.

Monday, March 17, 2008

New Justification for a Progressive Income Tax

I agree with very little of what Yglesias writes, but he makes a good, and interesting, point here about why we should tax the rich more:
But speaking strictly as an ideologue, I don't necessarily have a problem with the government intervening to bail a bunch of rich guys out when their own bad decisions blow up in their faces if that's what's needed for the health of the overall economy, but this sort of thing is one of several reasons why I think the very rich should pay high tax rates and we shouldn't be happy about the prospect of ever-growing inequality. At a certain level, the game is rigged and you're not really bearing any risk.

I would add the fact that the rich also get much preferential treatment because their sources of income (capital gains, dividends, etc.) are taxed at lower rates than the earnings of the rest of us who work 50-60 hours/week and just get by. Oh, and, don't forget that the vast majority of their income is not subject to social security taxes.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Amazing Hillary and Her Amazing Campaign

Today's conventional wisdom is that Hillary's lousy* campaign machine destroyed what was her claim to inevitability. There are, as usual with Hillary coverage, two problems with this claim. First and foremost, she never claimed that she was inevitable. It was the punditry which labeled her as the front-runner, long before even the first vote was cast. As for her campaign, well, I suppose there have been mistakes, but no other candidate has faced the obstacles Hillary has faced.

Once it became clear that Hillary had a real shot at the nomination, probably after the first debate, all the positive statements about her Senate performance, even from such Conservative slugs as Tucker Carlson, stopped. Since then, when the media, MSM and blogosphere, fell in love with Obama, press coverage has been brutally negative.

Not a single "liberal" magazine (The Nation, The New Republic, The Progressive, etc.), to my knowledge, has endorsed her. In the liberal blogosphere, all the first tier blogs (Kos, TPM, Huff, etc.) have been for Obama. This might not be all that exceptional except for the tone of the coverage. It has been brutal and almost completely personal. The language on the blogs, from owners, formal participants and commenters has been vicious. Supporters of Hillary have been slimed because they haven't accepted the divinity of Obama. The coverage by TNR, which hasn't been a liberal magazine since Nixon (but retains the sobriquet because once the media label anything or anybody, the label sticks regardless of reality), especially but not limited to its blogs, has become a cesspool of vitriol indistinguishable from all but the most disgusting comments about Hillary which have flooded the blogosphere.

We are not talking here about a reasoned evaluation of the careers of Obama and Clinton. Nobody in print or online is talking in detail about the careers of the two candidates, the votes they have cast, what they have done for their constituents, how their peers perceive their performance, to what extent they have voted in line with their major contributors, etc. No, that would require research, dull, unexciting research. And, these so-called journalists will say, it's not necessary because the facts are on their web sites. What they provide is "context", informed criticism. Bull. The coverage is little more than gossip about the two personalities in which the roles have been set in concrete: Obama is a saint and Hillary is Kali, the Destroyer.

TV coverage hasn't been any better. MSNBC has been the "Vote for Obama" network for months, led by the oleaginous Chris Matthews but including all the major pundits (Olbermann, Carlson, Scarborough, etc.) and their guest talking heads. NBC's "real" reporters, like Tim Russert, are down in the dirt with their MSNBC colleagues. CNN, ABC and CBS are not far behind.

Time and Newsweek just did cover stories on Hillary. In contrast to the glowing cover stories on Obama and his wife, most of the articles on Hillary in these issues are negative.

Yet, and this is what turned me from being neutral about Clinton (a year ago, I could easily have voted for any of the Democratic candidates except Gravel) into a supporter, Clinton has not only won the major primaries, she has done it in the face of this endless stream of abuse from all the media, and she has done it with grace, style, and humor. The contrast between her and Obama became clear after the Iowa loss and New Hampshire win. Clinton was gracious both in defeat and victory. Obama gloated and then sulked.

She is not only one smart cookie, she is one classy lady.

*according to The Clinton Rules, it is "lousy" only when she doesn't win. When she does, it is a diabolical machine that will stop at nothing in order to destroy Obama, The Chosen One.

Howard Dean - the Netroots thought this guy was Presidential timber?

Well, it isn't often that we get to know how effective a President will be without having to suffer the consequences, but is there anybody sane today who isn't grateful that the Netroots' first candidate for President, Howard Dean, never got very far.

I used to think that the media fuss about Dean's "scream" was another of those stupid tropes they use to shoot down or beef up candidates (spelling potato wrong, shouting that "I paid for this microphone"). However, given his total lack of leadership of the DNC, maybe this time the media got it right.

Let's start with the decision to punish Florida and Michigan. Obviously, Dean didn't think it would matter, nomination-wise, whether the delegates were seated or not. He apparently forgot that the Democrats lost the White House in 2000 because of Florida, where a mere 1000 votes or so tipped the balance. That the voters in those two states might be angry at his arbitrary decision either didn't occur to him or was dismissed out-of-hand. Worse, he was giving in to blackmail by New Hampshire and Iowa. If he wanted to exercise his power, and make a start to reforming the mess that is the primary season, he should have told New Hampshire and Iowa that they couldn't hold their caucuses or primaries before Jan. 2, 2007 or their delegates would not be counted. Then he should have, for this year, allowed the states to pick their own dates.

Now that the delegates from Florida and Michigan can make the difference, he is acting like a schoolboy on the playground with his "the rules are the rules". He seems totally unaware, like Obama's supporters, that if Hillary can't be a legitimate candidate without a majority of delegates, neither can Obama be seen as a legitimate candidate if Michigan and Florida are not counted because the party is split pretty much 50/50 between the two candidates. James Carville has guaranteed 15 million in contributions to pay for revotes. Obama refuses to contribute an equal amount, obviously because he fears losing. And the DNC? Well, it appears that the DNC can't afford to pay for new primaries either. Huh? For months now, I've heard and read nothing about a money crunch. To the contrary, when the subject comes us, the speakers/writers have all said that the Democratic Party was raising much more money than the Republican Party. Have they all been lying? Has Dean been lying?

Dean has proven that he is a disaster as a leader. And he may very well cost the Democratic Party the White House.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Chutzpah, Thy Name is Republican

On NPR's Weekend Edition this morning, Scott Simon interviewed Senators James Webb (D) and Jon Kyl (R) about the war in Iraq. When he asked Kyl if the military's presence in Iraq made it less able to respond to other crises, Kyl blamed, guess who? Yep. You're right. It's all Bill Clinton's fault for weakening the military.

So, let me see, Bush 43 has been in office for over 7 years, and the Republicans controlled the Congress during Clinton's last 6 years, but Bush still isn't responsible for the state of the American military? Not that this absolution should surprise us. The biggest success of the Republican media machine was in turning Bush into the hero of 9/11 rather than the villain. 9/11 did, one must remember, occur 9 months into Bush's administration. Had it occurred on Clinton's watch is there any doubt that the Republican Congress would have impeached him again for dereliction of duty? Of course not.

Oh, I almost forgot. Kyle also blamed for U.N. for the Iraqi election that has not resulted in a viable government. Gee whiz, weren't Republicans almost giddy about all those pictures of Iraqis with ink-stained fingers proving that they had voted? Oh, well.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Michigan and Florida Must Have Their Real Votes Counted

Let's be honest. Hillary wants their votes to count because they are her best shots at beating Obama in the popular vote if not in pledged delegates.

But, it is also clear that Obama does not want their votes to count, at least as they currently exist or could turn out in a re-vote, because he is afraid that Hillary will get what she wants.

All the Obama talk about rules is simply a cover-up of this simple equation. One need only think about the issue if the roles of Obama and Hillary were reversed. Can anybody doubt that Kos et. al. would not then be so fixated on the "rules"?

The case for Florida is simple. All the candidates were on the ballot; they were all subject to the same campaigning rules - and Obama's commercials were played throughout the state.

Michigan is harder because Obama was not on the ballot. Those who argue that it was his choice (as it was) are playing the same "rules" game that Obama is playing.

As for those "rules": the DNC should never have given in to the blackmail by Iowa and New Hampshire. If any states should have been excluded, it should have been those two for their selfish insistence on being first. It is well past time to develop an alternate primary setup (regional, groupings of states by pop., etc.)and simply ignore N.H. and Iowa if they don't agree. The most important part of any new primary setup is that it be changed for every election. It is imperative that the media not be able to rely on past performances in early states to call a winner before all the voters get their say.

Back to the current situaton: if Dean, Pelosi, or the Florida and Michigan representatives in the House and the Senate think that Obama (or Hillary) can become the legitimate candidate without counting the real votes of Florida and Michigan, they are living in a dream (nightmare) world.

After the 2000 debacle in Florida, the reactions of Obama supporters and the DNC (to date) re the legitimacy of the votes in Florida and Michigan are bizarre, to say the least.

ABC's Pennsylvania 2008 Primary Debate - Open Letter to ABC

Well, it looks as if ABC's offering to host a debate prior to the Pa. primary has been accepted. This will probably be the last chance primary voters will have to choose between the two, so....

1. race
2. gender
3. electability
4. things surrogates have said
5. religion
6. favorite food, dress, movie, music, etc.

1. What will you do about Guantanamo? Habeas Corpus? Federal wiretapping? Requiring passports to go to Canada?
2. Will you use signing statements? If either or both says "yes", point out that the Constitution gives a President only 3 options none of which is a signing statement. Ask them to explain the legal justification for such statements.
3. Iraq - in general, how will they remove troops. What about the "permanent" bases? How will they protect all the Iraqis who have allied themselves with the U.S. Why is the U.S. accepting so few refugees from Iraq in comparison with our European allies.
4. The Taliban are gaining strength again in Afghanistan. What will they do to turn this around?
5. Health care: ask Hillary exactly how the mandates would work. How will the govt. decide that a particular family simply cannot afford to pay for health insurance, at any cost?
6. Would either candidate consider redefining what constitutes poverty in this country, given that housing and energy rather than food are now the biggest family expenses and there are widely divergent costs-of-living in the country.
7. Tax policy: do you think it is right to tax dividends and capital gains less than interest or wages? If so, why? If they say that capital gains get reinvested into businesses, ask them what proof they have of that and what % of capital gains is so invested rather than, say, just spent likely any other income.
8. Some credit cards carry interest rates of 20% or more. Payday lenders often charge interest rates of 400%. Do you agree that the markets should be able to charge whatever rates they want? (When credit card interest rates first hit double digits, it was justified by the high rate of inflation. Inflation dropped but the credit card interest rates have continued to go up.)
9. Will you review the current bankruptcy law in light of the fact that so many bankruptcies are caused by medical expenses?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Electability. Why Obama Can't Beat McCain

When it comes time to pull that lever or mark a box with an X in the General Election, more voters will choose McCain than will choose Obama.

This isn't because they will agree with McCain's stand on Iraq. They won't. Or because he is an inspirational speaker. He isn't.

No, I think when push come to shove, voters will see a very ambitious young man on the move who has not yet paid his dues vs. a man who has served his country above and beyond the call of duty, a man who has earned the right to be President.

Hillary, too, would have to overcome this fundamental respect for McCain the soldier. But they are closer in age. And she, too, has paid her dues and then some. No, she wasn't a prisoner of war. No she hasn't suffered physical torture for her country. But she has been tested, and she has proven her mettle. And that vote on Iraq that hurts her so much with liberal Democrats will be a plus in the general election because it will demonstrate that she is willing to support force if force is needed.