Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Irony

There is such wonderful irony inherent in the McCain ascendancy in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. The talk radio wing nut faction of the Republican Party hates McCain, as do the evangelicals. They view him as a liberal. Big business Republicans have disliked him as well over his stance on campaign finance and taxes.

The right wing of the Republican Party will be apoplectic tomorrow when Rudy (9/11) Giuliani endorses McCain on the sacred holy ground of the Reagan Library. Then, Nancy Reagan will endorse her friend McCain and all will be lost. The Reagan conservative extension of Goldwater will be finally cast asunder.

It was only eight years ago in South Carolina that Rovian swift-boating killed McCain's chances for the 2000 nomination with the charges that he had fathered a “black baby." The Rovians (they sound so alien) must be beside themselves. It is hard to imagine how far we have come. Eight years later, the claim is made that Obama has fathered not one, but two “black babies” and he wins the South Carolina election. Although, the actions of former President Clinton have been Rovian in their mean spirited and manipulative intent, it appears the voters are not taking the bait.

Hillary Clinton’s cynical claim of victory in Florida this evening was pathetic. When you peel back the facts you find that Obama won more votes than Hillary among those voting by absentee within the past thirty days and voting in person today. She won among those voting more than thirty days ago. Whoopee!! In the face of the recent Obama surge and increasing momentum I believe there is a chance that Obama can claim a victory in a majority of the Super Tuesday states next week.

Obviously the Clintonites are running scared. I found it interesting yesterday and today that a couple of Clinton spinmeisters referred to their candidate as variously, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Hillary Rodham. After very consciously dumping her maiden name some time ago, it was clearly an orchestrated and not too subtle move to use language to distance her from her husband.

A friend of mine said today that he had been in a room of 200 with Obama in San Francisco recently and had never seen anything like it. He called him “Barackstar.”
The Clinton’s haven’t seen anything like it either, and they most assuredly don’t like what they see.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Obama Buzz

The Obama victory in South Carolina this past Saturday was stunning. Regardless of the Billary spin it was a significant victory that, on Obama’s part, made no appeal to race or gender. His victory speech was electrifying. Watching MSNBC it was fascinating to see former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough say, “My blackberry has been going crazy with messages from Republicans and Independents saying this guy is amazing.”

For some reason I don’t think his Blackberry was crackling tonight after the President’s State of the Union address. That speech was thin, short on substance and, in many respects, years too late (the threats of budgetary vetoes for example).

The country needs to dream again. The New York Times op-ed yesterday by Caroline Kennedy and the announcement today of the endorsement by Senator Ted Kennedy add weight to what many of us have felt recently. We have not been so excited about a candidate for President since the 1960’s.

The fact that so many rank and file old line Democrats are supporting Obama must be driving Billary crackers. Today I received a call from one of my dear friends who fits the category of old line Democrat. He has been an ardent supporter of Democratic causes for over seven decades. He said he was putting Obama signs on his front yard. That is happening with many Democrats I know.

The road ahead is a perilous one. Billary will do anything to win. I am convinced of that. What is most disturbing is my fear that Billary will mount an attack which is designed to undermine the fledgling sense of hope that Obama engenders. Put another way, Billary will kill the hope that Obama exemplifies, and in so doing, kill the Democrats' opportunity to regain the White House

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Billary Blows!

Billary’s campaign is hitting new lows in the run up to the South Carolina primary. The Obama attacks have a hint of desperation to them. Billary sounds strident and pleading.

I am so enraged by Billary that sarcasm is my only outlet:

Can’t the voters understand that Billary knows best and does better than anyone?

And, if you want hope, Billary can give better hope than anyone else. In fact, Billary has been giving hope longer and more fervently than all the other candidates combined.

And change. You want change. Billary has been a life long agent of change.

Racist? Billary isn’t racist. Billary was the first Black President.

And, Obama is just a kid. Billary has experience. Billary knows better. Billary knows the issues. Billary has a plan.

Watching Billary respond to media inquiries on the Obama attack I am repelled. Watching his slack jawed, opened mouthed, Elvis impersonation aw shucks, slippery moves I am convinced I don’t want Billary back. Watching her language, her superior stance and body language and sense of entitlement I am convinced I don’t want Billary back.

With the 10th anniversary of the Oval Office blow job, we have the opportunity to consider, once again, that Billary gave us eight years of Bush. And, Billary is undoing eight years of building a thoughtful image as a global philanthropist. Billary blew the promise.

Obama needs to hold to his message of hope, of a new vision, and of consensus politics. The country is starved for that. Billary is so yesterday.

It is heretical, but, if Billary wins the nomination, a long term Democratic friend of mine said, this afternoon, that he would give serious consideration to voting for McCain.

FYI, See earlier post, "Bubba is Back."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King

Today is Martin Luther King Day. This morning I listened to the speech Dr. King gave at The Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967. The speech was given one year to the day before his assassination in Memphis.

The speech is an eloquent compelling overview of the history of the War in Vietnam, the ineptitude of US policy leading up to the war, and the irrationality of the then contemporary US position. Dr. King made a plea for listening to the views of our enemies in an effort to better understand ourselves. He asked for an introspection and abandonment of the Western arrogance that caused us to hold views we deemed superior to our black and brown brothers around the world.

In his speech King quoted John F. Kennedy who said, “Those who suppress peaceful revolutions will sow the seeds of violent revolution.” Kennedy said that five years before the King speech.

So, we have a fast forward of more than 40 years. I cannot help but juxtapose the clear thinking and eloquence of Dr. King with the xenophobic, bombastic, and jingoistic language of some of today’s candidates for the Presidency.

I listened to the speech of Fred Thompson this past Saturday after the South Carolina Republican primary. It was a classic Thompson speech, signifying little more than his buffoonish stupidity. He said, “We live in the country that has sacrificed more blood for the freedom of other people than all the other countries in the world combined.” Fred has trouble with math. In WW II we had 416K military deaths while England had 382K, France had 212K and Canada 45K. In WW I the gap is even larger with 50K US military deaths and 700K military deaths in England alone. As a disciple of Reagan, Fred must be including Grenada. That will surely tip the scale.

Fred Thompson’s statement is typical of the self-absorbed, ill-informed, flag waving narcissistic rhetoric that comes from the talk radio wing of the Republican Party.

And so, welcome to the dumbing down of America. And, thank you Dr. King, for a moment this morning to cherish the soaring clarity of your Riverside speech.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Boxers or Briefs

At some point during this Presidential campaign, the candidates will be asked if they wear briefs or boxers. It is a core question asked of candidates near the election and some voters place considerable weight on the answer.

Preference for briefs or boxers begins early in life and is initially driven by whatever Dad wears and Mom buys. There comes a time during the maturation process when a young man makes a conscious decision about how he wants to package his junk.

Over time that decision can be influenced by external factors such as reports in the New England Journal of Medicine or Lancet that too tight briefs increase junk heat and could lead to low motility. In other words, your junk could be junk.

There is an association between socio-economic class and underwear preference. Typically, the well born blue blood wears boxers with nice chambray, fine cotton, or even seersucker. The back woods Huck-a-Buck supporters wear briefs. They don’t read Lancet. If they did, they would probably abandon briefs for the commando style rather than move to boxers.

The exception to the class thing and underwear involves gang bangers and wiggers (white suburban gang banger wannabes) who wear their pants off their ass with six inches of their boxers showing up top.

Does Hilary have junk? A colleague in New York says she wears briefs to hold those massive cojones of hers. A shemale!?

Romney will have trouble with the boxer and brief question. He wears some kind of undergarment issued by the Mormon Church. It keeps his junk close to God.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Irreverence Is My Only Sacred Cow

Coming of age in the 1960s I often say that irreverence is my only sacred cow. That mantra remains a central theme for me. It was the masthead manifesto for a small broadsheet, The Realist, published in that time. In some respects, my glee for the irreverence of The Realist was a natural evolution from my more youthful excitement over Mad magazine. I sometimes wonder if many of us, aging 1960s activists and hippies, received our formative push from Mad magazine.

Earlier, I talked about the cultural divide that cleaves the boomer generation that came of age during the 60s. I can see it clearly framed as uptight, irrational fear on the one side juxtaposed to Alfred E. Neumann’s “What, me worry?”

I thought of that again, watching the Republicans debate in South Carolina. The audience was overwhelmingly white bread. There were lots of young Republicans in the audience. The clean cut young men were all wearing ties and the girls were well scrubbed and put me in mind of the Breck girls of the 1960s.

If those white bread kids are devotees of Alfred E. Neumann they are clearly in the Mad magazine closet. When they become leaders in the party, maybe, like Larry Craig, Mark Foley and a host of other Republicans, they will remain in the closet.

"Bleep"

What the “bleep.” I cannot “bleeping” believe the “bleep” that comes out of Huck-a-Buck’s mouth. Polls now have Huck-a-Buck running neck and neck (Is that redneck?) with McCain in South Carolina. What is all this “bleep” about the New South? This is the Old South and old “bleep!”

Huck-a-Buck wonders aloud whether of not Mormons believe that Jesus and the Devil are brothers. He is a creationist who believes in intelligent design and is a literal believer in the Bible who says that the earth was created 6000 years ago. He equates homosexuality with bestiality. He wants the Constitution amended to represent the teachings of the Bible.

For reasons I cannot discern, the mainstream media is paying to little attention to the details of what this “pitchfork populist” says. They give it passing notice on the news pages, but for some reason I am unable to find anything in the Comics section of the paper on the man.

I mean, “bleep.” Huck-a-Buck is a “bleeping “idiot. I have known forever that Bible thumpers or Jesus Freaks, as we used to call them, were “bleeped” and came from the shallow end of the gene pool. He guy sounds like a “bleeping” alien. I am wondering why people don’t call him out for the completely inane “bleeping” fool he is. Are we afraid of offending the 20% of the “bleeping” population that has their “bleeping” heads up their “bleep?”

Thank God for South Park.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

How Do I Explain It?

How can I explain it? Many of my political cognoscenti pals have been weighing in with the gravitas argument this weekend. Gravitas is a funny thing. In many ways it has nothing to do with experience. When he first ran for President in 2004 I was clear in my own mind that John Edwards possessed no gravitas. Now, four years later, he still has no gravitas.

Hilary has experience, but does she have gravitas? I think not. My goodness, she certainly does have experience. She also has well crafted positions on everything under the sun. I wonder, however, how many of those positions emanate from introspection and thoughtful analysis and how many spring from focus-grouped, micro-targeted positioning (thank you Mark Penn).

On Hilary, my cognoscenti pals ask all the right questions. You agree she is experienced, don’t you? You agree she has great platform positions, don’t you? She did a great job with Russert this morning, don’t you think? To those and most every other question I have to nod in the affirmative. But, there is something missing.

Partly, I think I am tired of positions and platforms. Maybe I am also suffering Clinton exhaustion. I want something new, and I want leadership.

[I had a flashback of 1968 today. McCarthy and Kennedy vs. Johnson and Humphrey.
The “Happy Warrior” was so yesterday and Kennedy was about tomorrow. Those distinctions, the war and the generational split give me a feeling of déjà vu all over again.]

Gravitas is about leadership. Barack Obama has gravitas in my view. I don’t think Hilary does. In fact, I think he is the only patrician running for President. And, we need a patrician with gravitas to lead this nation.

More about that patrician notion of mine, 1968 redux and the on-going right brain/left brain struggle in forthcoming blog posts.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Jingo

There is a great little children’s song. I think is goes something like, “B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O, Bingo is his name.” It repeats ad nauseum and is a real thriller if you are three years old. I had it ringing in my head as my children transited their early years.

The ditty popped back into my head, as one of those proverbial earworms when I listened to the Republican candidates for President trot out their manly testicles during the debate in South Carolina last night. Only, the word wasn’t Bingo, it was Jingo.

“J-I-N-G-O, J-I-N-G-O, Jingo is his name.” I don’t recall ever hearing such a parade of jingoistic sentiments as gushed forth from the Republican candidates last night. They were all questioned about the Iranian speedboats (they looked like Miami Vice cigarette boats to me) and the purported threat to American warships in the Straits of Hormuz.

Huck-a-Buck, said, "Be prepared, first, to put your sights on the American vessel. And then be prepared that the next thing you see will be the gates of Hell, because that is exactly what you will see after that."

Thompson (Is he still in the race? Is he awake? My gawd, he only got 1% of the vote in New Hampshire) stated, "I think one more step and they would have been introduced to those virgins that they're looking forward to seeing." Fred, that would be Heaven. Hello, Fred!

Rudy (9/11 Tourettes) Giuliani asserted, "I think (9/11) an incident like this reminds us (9/11) that we shouldn't be lulled into some false sense of confidence (9/11) about Iran."

“J-I-N-G-O, J-I-N-G-O, Jingo is his name.” Lets go get’em. Lets blow those ragheads back to the stone age. Bring ‘em on.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Voice

“Over the last week I listened to you, and in the process I found my own voice.”

Hilary Clinton Victory Speech
New Hampshire, Tuesday, January 8, 2007

Self awareness is a wonderful thing. I don’t think we want to have a President who finds self-reflection uncomfortable or alien to his or her intellectual make-up. Self-awareness has been lacking in George W. Bush and Bill Clinton doesn’t score high in that category either.

From early in the campaign, Hilary Clinton’s central failing has been her lack of authenticity. She has pandered and seemed to follow the will o’ the wisp of the polls.

For her, finding her own voice is key. A year ago in Selma, she spoke on the anniversary of the march on that town with a Southern accent that dripped of fat back and hog’s maw.
It was disgusting.

Or, maybe it was a new tactic. Maybe the latest campaign consultant was a diction coach who can assist the candidate, chameleon like, to modify their voice for every jurisdiction.

Maybe Hilary fired her diction coach and, thereby, found her own voice. Or, maybe she listened to the voters of New Hampshire, and the voice she found had some of that clipped New England style she first learned at Wellesley.

Her voice in South Carolina will tell the tale.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Dewey Wins!

What a fabulous political day today. It made me think of the 1948 Presidential election when the Chicago Tribune headline screamed, “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

The polls made a huge swing in the past four days. Coming out of Iowa the Obama momentum moved the polls from down 4 points to anywhere from 11 to 14 up this morning. The insiders say that the Clinton campaign had a big GOTV effort. That is polspeak for Get Out The Vote. They had 6000 volunteers and 300 cars and drivers today.

The Obama rallies yesterday were crowded and electric as compared to fairly tired scenes at the Clinton rallies.

What happened? I think the GOTV played a role. I also think that the “tearing up” of Hilary of Monday had an impact. Woman, who abandoned Clinton in Iowa went strongly for her in New Hampshire. She found her voice. She was strong Saturday night in the debates while Obama was flat.

And, you have to see the outcome as confirmation of Pundit/Smundit!! The voters go into the polling booth and pull the lever unfettered by pollsters or pundits. The independent minded voters of New Hampshire (Live Free or Die) were true to their heritage. Dewey did not win.

With the votes in and the outcome certain, Obama was eloquent and gracious. He speech gave me chills. The cry, “Yes we can!” was resonant. Hilary doesn’t give a good speech, but at least she didn’t use the faux Southern accent she used in Selma last year.

The outcome makes for a much better race. We have not anointed Obama. The primary crucible will grind forward more finely.

If nothing else, this may make us focus on substance for the next few weeks and allow the process to continue.

Like so many, I felt the Obama freight train had left the station. I feel chagrin. And I feel great excitement. And, I didn’t mention Edwards once, which is telling in and of itself.

Please End The Writer's Strike!

As a left coaster who does not subscribe to DISH I have to stay up until 11PM to watch the current day of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I usually don't make it that late and am relegated to watching the 8PM next day rerun. When things are really intense in the world I stay up to get my reality fix.

These past ten weeks have been desperate times for us irreverent political junkies. The writer's strike have removed The Daily Show and The Colbert Report from the air. I have commented to a few friends that I have felt at sea and have lost my moorings. What do I do at 8PM? I can't watch O'Reilly ( Orly or Oily) while waiting for Keith Olbermann at 9PM. Now I read the morning paper, kick the cat, or watch some tatted up derelict in a prison lock-up show.

It was with great anticipation that I propped my eyes open last night until 11PM awaiting Stewart and Colbert. I was sorely disappointed. Jon Stewart was flat. He pandered to the writers with his union negotiator college professor guest. He was lame.

Colbert fared somewhat better. His "solidarity beard" was a good riff on Letterman and O'Brien. In fact, I decided not to shave this morning. I like this solidarity thing.

There is too much going on in the political arena for me to thoughtfully absorb without my shot of irreverent insight from Steward and Colbert. The writer's have to come back. Otherwise, I am left to parse through this political season using only my wits and common sense.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bubba is Back!

The Clinton campaign is using former President Bill Clinton every possible moment.
He makes the case for his wife better than she does. That is a problem.

Yeah, his Presidency looks good in a rear view mirror. And, he has done an admirable job of becoming a global philanthropic force. But, at the end of the day, in this current race for the White House, we get to see glimpses of the reckless boy who earned the nickname, “Bubba.”

I don’t think we want Bubba back in the White House. I think he would be a disaster. You sense that he might break the china. And I mean not just the fine tableware.
His uncontainable personality knows no bounds. Are we to expect that Hilary, as President, can keep him in check?

Yes, he is the consummate policy wonk. But, with his voracious appetite, can he keep his hands out of the cookie jar. I don’t think so.

I for one, don’t want Bubba back. And, I don’t think it is possible to have the good without the bad. Unfortunately for Hilary, we have already been there once.

Hilary Doesn't Get It!

In just 24 hours the polls in New Hampshire have gone from 32 for Clinton and 28 for Obama to 39 for Obama and 29 for Clinton. It looks like a freight train.

Hilary continues to press on the experience issue. She has a tin ear. The voters don’t care about experience. Experience got us to where we are today, and it is not a pretty picture. The voters don’t want experience. They want real people who communicate with authenticity. They care less about the plan than they do about the candidate’s ability to genuinely express themselves.

Nobody has a great plan. We all just do the best we can. Everyday we work hard to make good decisions based upon the information and choices before us. As Robert Burns wrote, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, gang aft agley.”

Hilary almost seems to rant. She has the experience. She has a plan. How dare we question her? How dare anyone run against her? It is her time. She gets to be the first woman President. She has earned it. She has put up with that narcissistic husband for all these years. Get out of my way she thinks. And, how can anyone doubt her. Her politics are so carefully calibrated they could be thread through the head of needle.

Some are saying that Hilary will focus on state primaries where only registered Democrats can vote. Hilary doesn’t poll well with independents. Duh! So the hope is she can win some Democratic primaries (with no distasteful cross over independents or Republicans) and gain momentum. Really! Isn’t that just proof that she is unelectable, if she can’t pull votes from independents and disaffected Republicans? Obama has soundly out polled Clinton with independents, so I guess she has no other choice.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Grant Wood in Iowa

Grant Wood painted that wonderful iconic painting of the stoic American farm couple. It is a fabulous piece. I thought of that the other night as the various Presidential candidates stood on the dais and worked to position the outcome most favorably. A part of that positioning possessed an element of Grant Wood.

The candidates had important figures in their campaigns standing close by, lending stoic weight to the Presidential aspirations of their favorite. Huck-a-Buck had Chuck Norris. My gawd what beautiful teeth. And both his hair and beard are colored. Norris is now everywhere! I saw him in the Honda commercial and selling some gym equipment in an informercial. I bet there are more sales to the Iowa area code than ever before. Those poor souls can’t make their truck payments and now they are buying home gym equipment. If Huck-a-Buck can lose 100 pounds and Chuck Norris likes him, dad gum, I better buy me one of them home gyms. And Norris’s wife. Made me think of a young Tammie Fay.

Then Hilary. Grant Wood in the extreme. Poor Bill. He stood at her left and looked like he had just eaten a lemon. On Hilary’s right was Madeleine Albright. She looked about 100 years old. A wider pan of the camera brought Wesley Clark into view. Wow. Lots of old people. They must have helped Hilary grab that majority of the over 65 vote.

Obama was able to handle the stage with only his wife and two children. No props. Just Obama. No Grant Wood moment with props staring stoically.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Ready on Day One; A Phony Issue

A number of my political cronies, during our discussions regarding the relative merits of our candidate preferences use the line, "Hilary will be prepared to be President on Day One!"
My view is, "So what?"

I believe that an Obama Presidency will be, on Day One, such a powerful public relations and marketing victory for the United States and all that it stands for that the preparation issue is nothing but a canard.

The list of past Presidents with modest experience is a long one. One friend said that these critical times require someone who understands, from Day One, the jurisdictional boundaries of the various government agencies. Poppycock! Anyone who buys into the fear based "critical times" argument should be lining up beyond Rudy "9/11 Tourettes" Giuliani.

An Obama Presidency sends a powerful message to the young, disenfranchised, addled young man in the mean streets of Cairo, Karachi, and Kuala Lumpur. His message of hope; of promise; of change and the opportunity to create a better world is much more powerful, and more likely to lead to a more peaceful realm than the ability, on Day One, to know which Assistant Secretary of which agency has the keys to the kingdom. That can wait for Day Two.

Huck-a-Buck Demographics

The white shoe Republican cognoscenti are going nuts over Huck-a-Buck. I don't think most of them even know anyone like him. Huck-a-Bucks don't belong to country clubs. They do belong to private clubs in small towns, but mostly the ones named after wild animals like moose and elk.

The core of Huck-a-Buck's support comes from evangelicals and those making less than $50,000 a year. I think that may be the same group. You can't be an evangelical unless you make less than $50,000 a year. Oh, and a high percentage have GEDs. No skull and bones here unless you go behind the barn and dig up that calf that died of scowers a couple of years ago.

Funny thing about that demographic. It used to vote Democratic. Then, with the Republican southern strategy they shifted parties and embraced Ronald Reagan. They never understood that they were voting against their self-interest. They still don't understand that.

It is the sons and daughters of Huck-a-Buck's demographic who are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. No white shoe kids are dying for the neo-con support of Israel (the elephant in the Washington, DC living room), cheap oil, or the illusion of a democratic process in a tribal region.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Wow!

In the late Spring of 1968 I met Robert F. Kennedy in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He gave a rousing speech to a large group of people. Afterwards, there was a small gathering for about twenty people who were involved in the Kennedy political campaign. I was in that group and had the opportunity to meet Bobby Kennedy and shake his hand. We spoke for a few moments. It was just before the Nebraska primary. I will never forget the moment and the energy of that evening. He looked me straight in the eye and we connected for that moment.

Last night, I had Bobby Kennedy flashbacks as I listened to the Barack Obama speech after his Iowa primary victory. Obama was mesmerizing! He is the agent for change that this country needs. He is the face of the new generation. He represents every good thing that this country, at its democratic, egalitarian core stands for.

I hope and pray that we never again experience the horrible end of promise that befell this nation with the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Let this promise live.