Friday, February 29, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr. R.I.P.

William F. Buckley, Jr. was undeniably a political and cultural icon of the last half of the 20th Century. For that small segment of the population who finds joy in the well chosen word, finely turned phrase and well parsed thought, Buckley, knew few peers. Regardless of your point of view, America's broader discourse is diminished by his passing.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

One Nation Behind Bars

Okay, so crime is a little off subject. It has not been a central theme for any candidate. Candidates for President have talked about being tough on crime, especially the Republican Party candidates, in whose party, recently, there has been a greater tendency toward crime. Crime as a political issue is right up there with motherhood and apple pie. It is a feel good issue. You can be a pussy over gay marriage but you have to be tough on crime.

We incarcerate more people than any other country on the face of the earth. We have more people behind bars by raw numbers (higher than China: 2.3M to 1.5M). We have a higher percentage of our citizens behind bars than any other developed nation. We disproportionately imprison minorities. There are three times more black women in prison than white women as a percentage of the population. Among males between 20 and 34, 1 in 30 is behind bars. For black young men in the same age group, it is 1 in 9.

Great stats for the most “civilized” nation on the face of the earth. Actually, it is disgusting. It is a national tragedy. And it demands center stage in the upcoming Presidential race. My hope that it will become a central item of debate is completely Pollyannaish. It will not happen.

So, why is the country so out of whack? Why does it have a criminal justice system that is as broken as its health care system? Well, the root causes are similar. With both, we fail to focus on prevention. Each has its establishment and its vested interests.

In criminal justice, one of the major culprits is the union for and lobby efforts of corrections officers. They lobby for more prisons and longer sentences. Why, you might ask? Simply stated, they want job security and more jobs. More prisons, more prisoners, hence you have more jobs and more job security for guards. This is not so much explicit, as an unintended consequence of their efforts.

By the way, at an early age in my small town, I learned that there was no fundamental difference between a cop and a robber. They came from the same place socio-economically and had the same values. Some became cops and some became robbers. I saw that again in law school when I did habeas corpus work for prisoners in the California prison system. Guards and prisoners were cut from the same cloth. Chance and a break here and there made the difference.

Politicians are another part of the problem. Stiffer and broader sentencing has been a glib way to deal with criminality. No one looks at the root cause. Lock’em up and throw away the key, that’ll teach’em. Disparate sentencing between upper class cocaine use and lower class crack use is a classic example of the inherent bias in how politicians approach criminal justice. Another contributor to high rates of incarceration is the “bitch.” Three strikes and you are out is the premise for the habitual criminal statutes. Perhaps good in theory, but not so good when you get life in prison for your third Snickers Bar theft.

Unfortunately I see little hope for a forthright debate of the issues surrounding our criminal justice system. We will talk endlessly about health care. Hey, everyone needs health care, all 99% of us. The other 1% gets free health care in prison.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Health Care

In the debate between Clinton and Obama on Tuesday evening in Ohio, Hillary got the first question and as a consequence the debate was steered by her into what became a tedious 16 minute colloquia on health care. I thought, for a moment, that I was watching C-Span.

I believe the candidates miss the point on the health care debate. I don’t know anyone who cares about the details of the candidate’s plans. I just tune out. Clearly, in the next administration, much attention will be given to the health issue by the Congress. The next President will propose a plan. Hearings will be held. A bill of some variety will pass and it will be distinctly imperfect.

When the candidates talk about health care, no one mentions the most important element in the discussion. That is personal responsibility. The key to good health is taking care of yourself. When I was a young man I read that the wise person learned to become their own physician/healer by the time they were 30. It is true. A vast amount of the cost of health care in America is a consequence of poor personal choices. Whether the result of obesity, cigarettes, alcohol, or a sedentary life style, self imposed ill health is very expensive. Any plan which does not include incentives for being well and taking care of yourself is, in my view, flawed.

Another aspect of the cost of health care, is the extraordinary cost associated with the last six months of life. In this country we will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to squeeze out a few more days or weeks of sub-human life.

Add to this some fundamental structural inhibitors to quality health care. The system, over the past generation has become increasingly stove-piped in nature. There are experts for everything. It is rare, today, to find the wise general practitioner, who knows and treats the whole person. In recent experience with the medical establishment I have been perplexed at how difficult it was to identify the capital of the ship. Experts dart in and out. Who is coordinating the treatment of the person?

I am convinced that a fair amount of disease exists only because we define it as disease. The more disease we define, the more money available to create new experts to research the cure for yet more disease. And, then strangely enough, more disease is defined. It is a process that has nothing to do with a healthy life. Ivan Illich, the Jesuit social theorist, wrote a great book in the early 1970's entitled Medical Nemesis. It chronicled, now almost 40 years ago, the contrarian belief that the more money you spend on health care, the sicker you are. Unfortunately, no wide ranging social theorists walk the halls of Congress.

A thoughtful dialogue on these and other issues is difficult in Washington, DC where the conventional wisdom looks for the easy band aid solution. And, there is huge momentum behind maintaining the dysfunctional status quo. Most noteworthy is the disgusting Pharmaceutical bill passed in the dead of the night a few years ago. Pushed by Billy Tauzin, Congressman from Louisiana, it prohibited the Federal Government from negotiating prices with the pharmaceutical companies. With its passage, Tauzin left Congress and is now paid $2 Million a year as head of the Pharmaceutical lobbying group in Washington, DC. He belongs in jail.

Bottom Line

Hillary Clinton seems to have this notion that just because you are experienced and the former First Lady and a Senator that you should enjoy some special station. While we respect her, the bottom line is, we don’t like her. The reason we don’t like her? Fundamentally we believe she thinks she is the Queen Bee. And, when you combine Queen Bee with cold fish, you have a powerhouse combo. We just don’t like her and none of her protestations regarding experience will ever change that. The poll numbers confirm that. She scores higher on experience than Obama, but much lower on likeability.

In the debates last night there were two key moments for me. The first was when she made the protestation regarding being asked the first question. It was an attempt by Hillary to show bias on the part of the press. How ridiculous! She was asked the first question in 6 of the past 10 debates. When you get the first question, like getting the kick off in a game, you get an advantage. She got the first question last night and got to set the initial agenda regarding health care. (More about which later). Then, she went on to make the reference to the Saturday Night Live skit last weekend which portrayed a press fawning over Obama in a Clinton/Obama debate and said, “Should we ask Barack if he needs a pillow.” It was ham handed. Hillary is not good with humor and she was hissed by the audience.

The second came when Hillary was following up on Tim Russert’s dip shit questions about Louis Farrakhan endorsement of Obama. Russert gratuitously quoted some inflammatory anti-Semitic speech of Farrakhan’s. Obama said he had consistently denounced Farrakhan. Hillary then said that when an anti-Semitic group in New York has endorsed her she had “rejected” them while Obama was only denouncing. Obama clearly had the trump on this point when he reiterated his denunciation and then said, in essence, that he would “reject and denounce.”

From here, the Clintonistas will continue their spin. They will lash out for the unfairness of it all. And, Mark Penn will continue to refine and hone his micro-targeting in order to secure for Hillary the votes of white women over 80 in next Tuesday’s primaries.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Time Passed Them By

When the post mortems are complete, and when the dust has finally settled form the 2008 race for the Democratic nominations for President, I am certain that the pundits and the historians will agree on the essential elements of the failure of the Hillary Clinton candidacy.

Hillary’s defeat at the polls has, at its root cause, the classic elements of hubris. The voters, when they enter the polling booth, vote, I am convinced, with their reptilian brain. It is difficult to fool the reptilian brain. Voters, in the majority, can smell the hubris that emanates from Hillary. And, if they can’t smell it, she will hit them over the head with it.

In November, she told Katie Couric that she “expected to be the nominee.” Even if you think that, you don’t say it. Let the voters believe that they will freely decide. Don’t try to suggest it is preordained.

The Clintonistas do not understand that the country has moved fast forward during the 16 years since Bill was elected. They somehow articulate a vision and a point of view that everyone is in the same place they were 16 years ago. They saved us from Bush I and now they will save us from Bush II. The problem is, children who were 12 years old in 1992 are now 28. They work, vote, and are passionate and articulate. Bill Clinton and the Clinton years mean nothing to them. Moreover, Hillary is 60 years old. (See my post on Why I Support Barack Obama: She is an old person. And, she is constitutionally uncapable of possessing a vision for the future of America. The country did not stand still. But, somehow, the Clinton’s did.

Now, the Clintonistas are incredulous that time has passed them by. It cannot be. They are losing and cannot comprehend why. Bill and Hillary, just take a good look in the mirror.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ready on Day One

Already, pundits have begun to post mortem the Clinton candidacy for the Presidency.
She is, indeed, Dead Woman Walking!

One of Hillary’s themes, oft repeated during the campaign and the debates, is her readiness on Day One, to be the President of the United States. My pals in Washington, DC who hitched their wagon to the Clinton star during Bill’s administration feel strongly about her readiness on Day One. One friend explained that she knew all the Federal agencies and would know how to undue the harm and tricks of the Bush administration on Day One. The Day One argument is all about readiness to, not only lead the nation, but be a great manager. It is rare that you find great CEO and COO skills in the same person. No matter, her supporters, and her framers, Mark Penn leading the charge, clearly see the Day One argument has central to her positioning as the best candidate.

There is a problem with the Day One argument, however, and the flaw in the argument is now, with the first post-mortem talk, becoming glaringly apparent. What is there for us to look at, where Hillary has had a senior leadership role, with ultimate responsibility for building her team and providing leadership to that team? Ahh, I get it. It is her campaign for the Presidency.

She chose the senior people to manage the campaign. She must have been a participant in the strategy. She must have had some insight into the budget and how money was being spent. Regardless, she bears responsibility for the way the campaign was run.

The litany of glaring mistakes could go on for pages. The highlights are: a campaign manager (two of them) with no campaign experience who came to the position as a consequence of long term loyalty; no ground game in the caucus states (my gawd, how could Hillary lose to Obama in a state such as Idaho?); profligate spending on everything from hotel rooms in Vegas to deli sandwiches in Iowa; no plan and no money after Super Tuesday (because they thought it was going to be in the bag by then?); the decision to let Bill out of his cage, and so forth.

In my mind, we have no further to look than her campaign in order to ascertain her readiness to be President on Day One. This was a campaign that was hers to lose and lose it she did. She is not ready on Day One.

Friday, February 22, 2008


In poker you call it the tell. With all the televised poker the term, "tell," is making its way into the common vernacular. This evening, in the Austin, Texas, debate Hillary Clinton had a couple of tells.

Many other commentators have talked about it. When watching her closing remarks, which I felt were authentic and from the heart, I had a sense that they were valedictory in nature. It was a tell. She was showing her hand.

After the debates, Hillary spoke to a crowd at a nearby hotel. She said she was in the race to win. That Texas was going to make the difference. It was a wonderful whistling in the dark kind of speech.

But, the tell told it all. Interestingly enough, the language in those valedictory remarks were close to verbatim from remarks John Edwards made in a debate in December, as well as a speech Bill Clinton gave in the early 90’s. I don’t think that is plagiarism. Obama didn’t plagiarize either. And, by the way, Hillary deserved the boo’s for the “You can create change with a Xerox,” statement. That was clearly written for her by one of her handlers/speechwriters. It fell flat.

So, what does the tell, tell us. It is clear to me, that there is a struggle among the Clintonistas. On the one hand are those who would have Hillary exit with grace and dignity and a poise that allows her to become a party leader, a Senate leader and live to lead another day in another battle. On the other hand are those who would have her fight all the way to the convention. They would battle over Florida and Michigan delegates and battle over superdelegates. Hillary herself is torn.

The tell showed the hand. As I wrote earlier regarding Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief, the Clintonistas are working their way through the stages. Hillary’s wistful final remarks in last night’s debate show us she is working through them as well.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"All The News We See Fit To Print"

Ah, the Mother Ship. The New York Times. The icon of journalistic rectitude. How I love my morning NYT fix. Probative. Insightful.

Something is fishy in Gotham. The story was at least two months old by the time the Times endorsed McCain before super Tuesday. Why did they sit on it? Matt Drudge had it in December. No one picked it up. Where was the comedian Rush Limburger? He should have been on the story like a hooker on oxycontin. Do you think Romney has his Mormon undergarments in a bunch? You think?

My gawd, what the conservatives could have done with the McCain story. I have no doubt that it would have made a difference in the outcome of the Republican race. Republicans like the moral rectitude thing. The Right wing and the Right wingnuts would have been all over the story. Now, there is only Huck-a-Buck and the talk radiators to raise a ruckus.

When the NY Times started its on-line addition they had a panel of experts and solicited readers to suggest a new tag line for the on-line addition. After much study it was determined that the grand old lady of Gotham should stick with the old mantra: “All the News that’s Fit to Print.”

It may be time for a change.


It is a generational thing. Aging boomers remember Pogo. I mentioned Pogo to a Gen-Xer last week and got a blank stare.

I have been thinking of Pogo recently as I wonder about the Clintonistas and their sense of entitlement about the Presidential nomination. They seem somehow tone deaf about the electorate and what it is starved for. They can’t be the agents for change. That is not who they are. I did an earlier post about the 16 years that have elapsed since Bill Clinton was elected President. So much has changed in 16 years, not the least of which is Hillary’s bank balance.

Pogo said it so well, “We have met the enemy….and he is us.”

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Five Stages of Grief

Hillary is so completely “Dead Woman Walking.” The response of the Clintonistas to the decisive victory by Obama in Wisconsin (15 pts.!!!) has been of the gallows variety.
How do you respond to demographics that show Obama taking his core groups by big margins and going dead heat with the core Hillary supporters? It is hard to spin.

Bill Clinton sent the signal today. Hillary has to win Ohio and Texas or it is over. Bill, sorry to say it, but it is already over.

Now, the fear takes over. Will Hillary be able to step aside with grace? I fear not. Everything about her and Bill causes me to believe them utterly incapable of grace in defeat. The evidence abounds that they both have fiery tempers. They both possess a self-absorbed sense of entitlement.

So, I fear what they will do. I fear that they will litigate and prevaricate in order to seat delegates from Florida and Michigan. I fear that they will pull out all the stops to lean on the superdelegates. I fear it will get ugly. And I fear it will be ugly all the way to the convention in Denver.

An aging Westside LA Jewish Liberal friend of mine said, “If the Clintons do that (get ugly to win the nomination) then I will revolt. I will be in the streets if they rip off the nomination.”

It seems inevitable that Obama is the crowd favorite. Now, he needs to become the favorite of the nominating convention.

Allow me to be optimistic for a moment. Perhaps we just have to be patient with the Clintons as they go through the Kubler-Ross five stages of grief. Dead woman walking and her husband are grieving. Their grief is over the loss of the biggest prize of all. First comes denial. They were in that stage right after Iowa. Next came anger, the second stage. They have been in that stage for awhile. Next comes bargaining. That will be ugly…and could involve challenges in Florida and Michigan. When will we see depression and then the final and fifth stage, acceptance?

Cat Fight

I love a good cat fight. We rarely get to see a good cat fight. As guys, we talk about them. They are mythic. We exclaim to one another about how we saw these two chicks really get into it. We are really sort of perverse about it.

So, yesterday, we got the beginnings of a cat fight. Cindy McCain went on point over the Michelle Obama quote. Cindy McCain has always been proud of her country. She did a slap down of Michelle Obama’s quote on C-Span that has been reported narrowly and out of context as “…this is the first time as an adult that I have been proud of my country…”

In defense of Michelle Obama; when you read the entirety of her remarks, the clear meaning of what she was saying was, “…..this is the first time as an adult that I have seen the country filled with hope….and I am so proud….” She remembers the hope of her childhood that emanated from Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. In that context, what she said was completely appropriate and happens to be exactly what so many of us feel today about the Obama campaign.

Michelle Obama could have no doubt said it better. Regardless, the stage is set for some fabulous cat fights. Cindy vs. Michelle.

What a difference. On the one hand is a thin-lipped, peroxided, sorority sister with the antiqued Gibson Girl hairdo. Cindy McCain is the daughter of blue color wealth. Her family owns the largest alcoholic beverage distributorship in Arizona. You want beer? We got beer? It is a classic example of how money buys class. Sell to the masses, live with the classes. We will also get doses of her addiction to painkillers, and the quiet closure of the charges of falsifying prescriptions and stealing drugs. Oh, and she had a stroke in 2004 and has short term memory problems. “John? Is that you John?” A good counterpoint to her 71 year old war hero husband?

On the other hand is the bright, ambitious child of the African American middle class whose intellectual firepower gained her admission to Princeton and Harvard Law School and success as a senior executive of a major health care provider. Michelle Obama can stand up and speak extemporaneously and eloquently. She was fabulous on Larry King. But, as we have just seen, she has to measure every single word in the YouTube universe. She possesses, in the equal measure with her husband, grace and aplomb. Now, she just needs to hone her skills for the coming cat fights.

Hard Ball

Liberal political junkies watch MSNBC. It makes us feel good to listen to Keith Olbermann mess with Bill Oily and the “comedian” Rush Limburger. Thank God for the counterpoint to Fox Noise, the Republican Party official organ.

Last night we were basking in the Obama campaign victory in Wisconsin. Obama put the hammer down on Billary across all ethnic groups except for woman over 80 and men with bodies shaped like pears. That last group looks for affirmation anywhere it can find it.

Olbermann and Chris Matthews do the co-host bit on MSNBC. Olbermann drives the boat with Matthews playing wingman. Last night Matthews was doing a split screen with a Congresswoman for Clinton by the name of Tubbs (that is a variation on the pear deal) and a hapless Texas State Senator for Obama who was getting his first chance at 15 minutes of fame. Matthews smelled blood and went straight for the Obama supporter’s jugular, asking him to “Name one piece of legislation that Obama has passed in the Senate.” The State Senator was nonplussed and got the deer in the headlights look. He didn’t have the wit to stay on message and stick with hope. Matthews kept at it relentlessly. Finally, they gave the segment the hook, but none too soon.

Olbermann chided Matthews who replied, “This is Hardball.” To which Olbermann responded, “No Chris, this is not Hardball, we are reporting on election results.” The show then had some light banter and cut away to some banal reporting.

I can only imagine the post show dust up. Matthews was completely out of line. It was as if he was playing a surrogate role for the Clinton campaign. I have no doubt that there has been an overnight pissing contest which we will read about on Mediabistro or some other site.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


It is the cruelest. When you eviscerate hope. That is the cruelest thing. A narrow, parochial parent can unknowingly dash a child’s dream. Sometimes that can’t be helped. It is almost inadvertent. Other times, it is purposeful. Unfortunately, for the child, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Per her report Hillary Clinton’s father was an incredible task master. When she achieved great grades in school, it was never enough. No matter what her accomplishment, it was never enough. That comes from a man, her father, whose own lack of self-worth no doubt forced him to diminish others around him, over whom he felt some sense of control. That is a man who would not brook dreaming. After hearing Hillary talk about it, I believe he was abusive.

Now, these many years later, indeed, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Hillary is running for President as the dutiful daughter who always got good grades, who always aimed higher and never throttled back on ambition.

Now, the dutiful daughter is in the fight of her life. And, as a consequence of all that has gone before she is utterly at sea. She does not know how to fight a dreamer. She does not know how to fight hope. Because, she was never allowed that for herself. You don't get A's for dreaming. You don't get A's for hope.

I can almost hear her internal dialogue. “It is not fair.” “I have worked so hard for so long.” “Good grades count for more than anything.”

No Hillary, that is not how it works. People need to believe in something larger than themselves. And when that message comes from a brilliant man, who also had good grades, and just happens to move with a leonine grace, then, Hillary, you have a big problem. And, like your father, your only recourse may be to do all you can to eviscerate hope.

I hope not.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

John "Used to be Straight Talk" McCain

In politics, it is critically important to frame your issues and yourself in a way that is compelling with the electorate. Quality framing can, if done well, mislead the populous with Orwellian elegance.

Republicans have done it better than anyone else, for a long time. I was enamored of the work of the Nixon White House as they attempted to spin and frame activities in Vietnam. They had a “protection reaction strike,” and an “incursion” into Cambodia. No invasion for the Nixonites. Just a modest little incursion.

The Bushies are masters of framing. Who can argue with “family values?” They easily claimed the core domestic theme of the past decade. It didn’t have substantive meaning but it was an effective code phrase that encompassed everything from prayer in schools, to anti-abortion and gay marriage. Militarily, they took their lead from Nixon and the war criminal Kissinger (do not forget that Nixon and Kissinger allowed at least 20,000 more young men and women to die in Vietnam so they could ensure victory in the 1972 Presidential election) when they branded the fiasco in Iraq, “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

Then the straddle legged Bush pranced across that aircraft carrier pronouncing “Mission Accomplished.” Just saying it is so, does not make it so. But, lots of people don’t know that, a fact the framers and spinmeisters count on.

We have always perceived McCain as a straight shooter. He framed himself well. He even named his campaign bus the “Straight Talk Express.” He wouldn’t knuckle under to the Vietnamese and he wouldn’t kowtow to the right wing nut cases in the Republican Party. Unfortunately, the “Straight Talk Express” has gone off the track. It started when he began his pander at Bob Jones University. He was sucking up to the very people who destroyed him in 2000. He has never been a suck up, so why start now.

The book, The Nightingale’s Song, is a portrayal of five Annapolis graduates, McCain among them. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Both his father and grandfather were Admirals in the United States Navy. He was a renegade as a young naval officer. He was a boozer, a womanizer and raced around in his Corvette. After his prisoner of war tenure in Vietnam he worked the Capitol Hill scene for the Navy. There was never a chance he was going to make Admiral. He was too much his own man.

Now, in pursuit of the biggest prize of them all, a man who has seemingly lead a principled life is throwing all that principle in the toilet. The capstone of his turn away from principle was his vote this past week on the torture bill. He had been assertive in the debates and on the campaign trail in his opposition to torture. Then, this past Thursday he voted against a bill that would require the CIA to adhere to the Army Field Manual limitations on torture.

It was a sorry move for a man who once sat at the helm of the “Straight Talk Express.” He has joined the lapdogs in the Congress and the Administration who will go to any end to maintain the façade and charade surrounding torture. We all know what the real deal is: there are people who are afraid they will be tried criminally for violating US and International Law.

Well, no shit!!

Friday, February 15, 2008


This mornings New York Times (Friday, February 15, 2008) had, on page A19, approximately 30 column inches devoted to the wingnut rants and raves of the radio talk show comedian Rush Limbaugh. The Times reported his bullshit as news. Limbaugh even says he may raise money for Obama. Coverage of Limbaugh, like coverage of Anne Coulter’s assertion on Hannity that she would support Clinton over McCain, in the “news” papers is ridiculous. I put in the same category as press attention to the latest Brittany beaver shot or Lohan meltdown. It is not coverage of news. It is coverage of the self-absorbed acts of celebrity, which acts are only for the purpose of more fame, more celebrity and more money from the mouth breathing masses.

If the New York Times is going to provide 30 column inches to Rush Limbaugh so he can show off his big brass conservative balls, shouldn’t they also provide 30 column inches of news coverage to Jon Stewart’s tiny ironic metrosexual Jewish balls. If the New York Times covers Coultergeists inflammatory “look at me” cartoonish threatened support for Clinton, I want coverage for South Park’s Mr. Hand. I think either he or Mrs. Garrison are supporting Huck-a-Buck.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

16 Years!

It was sixteen years ago that Bill Clinton was running for President. His run had received its boost from a speech he gave four years earlier in 1988 at the National Democratic Convention. That was the first time he received broad national recognition.

He was young, embodied a sense of change and promise for the country and was a counterpoint to the established order that didn’t seem to know what the people were thinking or feeling. The established order didn’t understand barcodes at the check-out counter and didn’t get the fact that, “it was the economy, stupid.”

Now 16 years later, we have another young man of promise, who gave a great speech at the convention four years ago, running for the Presidency. The impact of those 16 years is made dramatically evident when I see the architect of the “economy stupid” phrase, James Carville, featured in a seven page spread in that glossy publication for architects and the fashionista, Architectural Digest. How far they have come.

In the context of the Carville Architectural Digest spread, Hillary’s $5M campaign loan seems quite normal. Carville could have probably loaned a few million himself if he could or felt so inclined. Maybe he could have contributed his Coca-Cola fee and other endorsement fees.

So, 16 years makes a lot of difference. I think the Clintonistas would have us believe that it really doesn’t. They are the same caring, committed people they have always been. The 16 years have just given them experience they would argue. But, they are different. 16 years different.

Somehow, it looks like 16 years at the trough. You can’t opine on the “economy stupid” from your lounge chair covered with Jack Lenore Larson fabric in the centerfold of Architectural Digest.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Beyond Color!

Tonight, it is no surprise that Obama has soundly won Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Obama gave a speech this evening at the University of Wisconsin in Madison that was riveting. It was followed by a speech by McCain that was tired at best. No spin yet from the Clintonistas. It will be hard to spin these results.

But, I am not interested in spin. What really interests me tonight is the color thing, or the absence of color thing. When Obama speaks I am seeing large crowds comprised of young and old and black, white and Hispanic. It is a multi-cultural mass of humanity. It is a beautiful thing. And what is so wonderful is that they are all excited about the same thing. They are excited about Barack Obama. But it is more than him. It is an excitement about how America can be better; how America can reach for the promise that is at our core.

This shared sense of possibility takes us to that dreamed place which is beyond race. When I attended the rally at the Obama speech in Seattle last Friday I was standing with African Americans all around me. We were all talking and laughing and smiling and sharing our enthusiasm for Obama and what he represents. It was and is a beautiful thing. If his campaign does only that one thing it will have a manifestly positive impact on this country we love. If he wins the nomination and the Presidency, it will be transformational.


The Clinton’s will have some glib spin to explain why they didn’t win Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. It will probably be a not too thinly veiled comment about race and the educated electorate in these three jurisdictions. They are eager to have lots of stupid, working class people vote in Ohio and Texas.

It is really pretty funny how a parsing of the demographics indicate that Obama wins a majority of the college educated electorate and Clinton scores big among the no-collar crowd.

The Clintonistas are also now eagerly embracing the role of the superdelegates in a brokered convention. Yahoo! Lets hear it for the democratic process.

A dear pal of mine, and a long term Clintonista, said that he hopes that the battle for the nomination, if won by Clinton, won’t cause Democratic voters to sit on their hands as they did in 1968. I replied that that will only happen in direct response to the metaphorical violence condoned by the Clintonistas in our metaphorical Lincoln Park.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Precinct Caucus

Today I went with my fiancé to my Democratic Party precinct caucus on Bainbridge Island in Washington State. It was held at Ordway Elementary School about a mile from my home. We drove to the caucus about ten minutes before the 1:00PM time for the doors to open. People were literally streaming toward the caucus. The parking lots were full and the small gymnasium was soon filled to the brim. The turnout was overwhelming with a palpable energy and enthusiasm in the room. I have never seen anything like it. There was no rancor between the Obama and Clinton factions, but rather, a shared enthusiasm for taking back the country from the duplicity, mendacity and craven politics of Bush, Cheney and Rove.

Upon entry to the precinct caucus everyone signed the sign-in sheets were they had to specify a favorite candidate or designate themselves as uncommitted. The directions were straightforward and once signed in we all awaited the first count. Our precinct selected 14 delegates to the County Democratic Convention. The first count gave 11 delegates to Obama, 2 to Clinton and 1 undecided.

A number a people rose to speak for a minute in support of their candidate. Everyone seems very well informed with a couple of glaring exceptions. There were several young people, who would turn 18 before the election and were eager to participate and vote.

Several of the themes I have mentioned in Political Itch were touched upon by the speakers. A young person said that it was time for the baby boomers to move aside.
Another said that they want hope and promise, not detailed plans for the government.

After the speeches and a new vote by the uncommitted participants, the final results gave Obama 12 delegates and Clinton 2 delegates. My fiancé was uncommitted, shifting to Clinton for the final vote. Our county convention is scheduled for April 12. I am proudly attending as an Obama delegate.

Overall Obama picked up 67% of the delegates in Washington State today. He won 69% in Nebraska. It will be interesting to see how the Clinton campaign spins these results. They are not weighted by early absentees who gave Clinton a big boost in California and other non-caucus states.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Oh my! Obama!

Today, Barack Obama was in Seattle for a speech at Seattle Center’s Key Arena.
We arrived at 11:00am when it had been announced the doors would open. As we approached the Arena people were streaming toward the building. There were long lines at either entrance. Each line had thousands of people cued up. We got in line and moved quickly toward the doors to the “Key,” as we call it in Seattle. The Arena holds 13 or 14 thousand people. We were ten people from the door when they closed access. The building was jammed, with standing room only.

Outside there were easily 5 to 8 thousand people waiting to go inside. The arena is equipped with speakers outside that broadcast the event. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels introduced Governor Christine Gregorie who, in turn, introduced Obama. Gregorie gave the most impassioned speech I have ever heard her give.

The Obama came through the crowd, touching outstretched hands. The crowd roared.
Obama gave his classic stump speech. There are so many lines that just make you spontaneously cheer. And I did!!

The crowd was as diverse as I have ever seen. Young and old with every ethnic variety present. I saw some of my aging limousine liberal friends. It was magic, and uplifting. Indeed, it was like a rock concert with great energy and enthusiasm in the crowd. Obama has an elixir which is indescribable and utterly alien to the Clinton camp. They are beside themselves.

Last night Hillary Clinton was in Seattle. She drew a crowd of 5 thousand. Our caucus is on Saturday so they are all in town. McCain comes tonight. Janet Huck-a-Buck spoke at noon today at an evangelical college outside of town. I would have gone to hear her, but I couldn’t find my best print dress.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dishin' Dirt

It seems time to weigh in on the spouses who stand by their man. The great material provided by the wives of Giuliani and Thompson is now in the dust bin of history.

There is no need for further discussion of the Bill and Hillary. That pairing looks to me like Blue Nun with Fatback and Black eyed peas.

Cindy McCain is a well born westerner, the daughter of the largest liquor distributor in Arizona. She has a pinched look and wears her hair in that timeless style of the Gibson girl: very long and rolled up in a bun. I have never understood that look. I have always thought that it was a bit too self-absorbed and involved endless hours in front of the mirror combing those languid locks for no one’s pleasure but your own and your bedtime partner. Then, up in a bun for public consumption. What we haven’t heard about, thus far, is Cindy McCain delight is illicit drugs. That will come out. She faked prescriptions for pain killers back in the 1990s. As soon as Rush (“Fat Ass”) Limbaugh learns that he will be on the McCain bandwagon.

Ann Romney looks to just stand by her man. She is in the background. I have never heard Cindy McCain or Ann Romney speak in public. Ann Romney has the classic 1960’s Breck girl look. In school in the late 1950s and early 1960s we all read a magazine called Senior Scholastic. We called it Senior Spastic. The back cover had a full page ad for Breck shampoo. We used to modify the word Breck so it spelled Prick. Prick Shampoo. We thought that was pretty funny. “What me worry?” Ann Romney, like the Breck girls, is nearly perfect. But they seem like cardboard cut outs.

Huck-a-Buck’s wife, Janet looks like a truck driver. She has bigger shoulders than her husband. She probably lifts. A gym rat. I haven’t heard her talk. I think she has a deep, voice. Either that, or a voice like Edith Bunker from All in the Family. A friend in New York who follows the Haute Couture scene and likes to sit front row during Fashion Week was sure that Janet Huck-a-Buck was wearing her dress backwards this last week. It had a deep vee in front. There was no hint of cleavage, just a large flat plane the size of Kansas.

Michelle Obama is a class act. She is very articulate and can clearly stand her ground on issues and points of view. She doesn’t over power her husband. She would make a magnificent First Lady. She is elegant, has great style and is a perfect counterpart to the wonderful patrician presence exuded by her husband.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

This Is A Wonderful Country!

Bill Clinton made $35K in his last year as Governor of Arkansas. They don’t make much, which is why Huck-a-Buck had to grill squirrels in his popcorn popper. He was practicing to be Governor of Arkansas. Hillary Clinton made more money at the Rose Law Firm. Together Bill and Hillary entered the White House with a net worth of about $1.97

While in the White House they were forced to run the right wingnut gauntlet. They were target rich. They were rough around the edges and ham handed on some policy matters (Health Care, Travelgate, Rose Law Firm files, etc.). Consequently, largely as a result of legal bills, they left the White House with a significant negative net worth.

Now, seven years later, while Hillary has labored in the halls of Congress as a Senator making under $200K a year, she has just contributed $5M to her Presidential campaign
She joins the ranks of Mitt Romney, Steve Forbes and Ross Perot. It is heartening that pluck and luck can propel the earnest individual into the land of milk and honey.

The back story is more interesting. Hillary’s campaign finance strategy is no match for the Obama on-line fund raising tsunami. Her campaign is out of money and her staff is now volunteering. Obama raised $32M in January to Clinton’s $14M. He raised $3M yesterday and will raise another $30M in the month of February.

Regardless what the pundits say, he has momentum on his side. Her pockets are not deep. She can’t go back to the well more than a time or two for shots of $5M. The Obama money raising freight train will not slow down.

Yesterday’s results were fabulous for Obama. Yes, he lost California. But, the votes broke for him among the late voters, while Hillary won the early absentee voters. The caucus states break his way. He will win Washington and Nebraska this weekend. Next week he will win DC, Maryland and Virginia.

Her hope is to grab as many super delegates as possible and dump most of her money into Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. It will be close and hard fought.

And, Bill Clinton may have to spend less time on the campaign trail and more time whoring in order to fill the family coffers.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Tuesday: Vote Obama!!!

This past week, while fighting an influenza attack, I watched too much television. The news cycles the same stories about every 20 minutes and it is easy to feel like Punxsutawney Phil. Actually, due to my high fever, for a couple of days I was sure that I was Phil’s alter ego.

I couldn’t believe some of what I heard. Ann Coultergeist was on Hannity saying that she would vote for Clinton in a Clinton vs. McCain race because Clinton was more conservative than McCain. The wingnuts of the Right were generally apoplectic about McCain.

Meanwhile, Hilary kept telling me that it was really her running for President and not her evil twin Bill. And, she kept reinforcing the message that she knows what to do on Day One. The more she says it, the less convinced I am.

There really are two Americas. One is inhabited by those on the right and the left who continue to care about the nuanced distinctions and issues based politics that has caused our Nation to congeal into a stagnant morass incapable of big ideas that inspire us to greatness. On the other side is Obama. Funny how that works for me, but I really see it that way.

There are those on both the right and the left who are stuck with their positions. They have held to them for so long that they are deathly afraid of letting go. Like someone stuck in a bad relationship, the comfort of the abuse they know is better than the fear of the unknown that lurks beyond.

Obama is not so much about positions or issues as he is about hope and promise.

I was so inspired yesterday by the event at UCLA. On the stage were Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Caroline Kennedy. Joining them unannounced was Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger. She gave an impassioned speech saying that she awakened yesterday morning and knew that she had to go to UCLA. She talked with her daughter about it and her daughter encouraged her to go.

Last night a good friend asked if my support for Obama was intellectual or emotional.

I am voting with my gut this year. Emotionally, I was at UCLA yesterday. I have contributed to the Obama campaign and I will be at my precinct caucus supporting Obama this next weekend. Meanwhile, I ask all my friends and colleagues in the Super Tuesday states to trust their guts, step up and take a risk and vote for Obama tomorrow