Saturday, May 31, 2008
The DNC Rules Committee meets today to decide the fate of Hillary Clinton, so I thought that Jon Stewart's clip on the War on the Clintons was the perfect antidote as we await the results. That is, the War being waged by the vast Right -- and Left -- Wing conspiracy. Of course, the Clintons don't belong in either wing. They are firmly ensconced in the West Wing.
Jon Stewart is referring to Bill Clinton’s enemies list?:
With Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign on the verge of defeat, Bill Clinton has been placing blame on enemies including a brazenly biased media that tried to suppress blue-collar votes, a powerful anti-war group that endorsed rival Barack Obama and weak-willed party leaders unable to stand up to either of these nefarious forces.To think, the Right and Left Wings have united in a single purpose -- to keep the Clintons out of the West Wing!!
Pieced together from the former president’s public remarks at his wife’s campaign events and a private conversation last week with top donors to her campaign, the theory goes something like this: After Hillary recovered from a string of losses to rival Barack Obama with March 4 wins in Texas and Ohio, powerful forces conspired to pressure the superdelegates who will decide the nomination to back Obama by discouraging her supporters from voting and trying to hide evidence proving she would fare better than Obama against presumptive GOP nominee John McCain.
Friday, May 30, 2008
By that, I mean the slippery slope.
As was noted in Slippery Slope Arguments (quoting Roderick Munday, Cambridge Law Journal):
"Lawyers use them all the time. Whether the imagery employed is the floodgates, icebergs, dominoes, snowballs or the camel's nose in the tent, or the argument is more decorously tricked out as sorites paradox etc., the assumption is similar: a proposed course of reasoning will lead on to further developments to which there is no obvious end."The "slippery slope" argument has been praised and derided, depending upon the situation. See In Defense of the Slippery Slope. I admit that I have employed it on occasion in my legal practice as a justification for doing -- or not doing -- something that a client has proposed.
Yet, the most compelling rationale in favor of the slippery slope can best be seen in the brouhaha (or more aptly, perhaps, the lack thereof) over the recent comments relating to the presidential assassinations (of course, related to that of Robert Kennedy in 1968 and the possible threat to Barack Obama, in particular).
The latest example of that is the truly outrageous remarks by an ESPN talk show host in Pittsburgh, Mark Madden. As reported by the Post Gazette, Madden removed from air by ESPN:
At the opening of his show last Wednesday, Madden said this about Sen. Kennedy, who days earlier had been diagnosed with brain cancer:
"I'm very disappointed to hear that Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts is near death because of a brain tumor. I always hoped Senator Kennedy would live long enough to be assassinated.
"I wonder if he got a card from the Kopechnes." (Emphasis added).
At first, the local affiliate merely required an on-air apology by Madden, deciding that no suspension or other disciplinary action was merited. It was only when his comments were reviewed by ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., that the decision to fire Madden was made.
This, of course, follows the remarks of Fox News Channel commentator, Liz Trotta, who responded to a question on Clinton's RFK assassination statement, by stating:
"and now we have what ... uh...some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama ...uh..um..Obama [after being prompted by the FNC anchor]....well both if we could [laughing]"See FoxNews Jokes About Obama Being Assassinated (w/ video). Trotta later apologized, calling it a "lame attempt" at humor, Liz Trotta Apologizes.
And we all know that that comment was precipitated by the remarks of Hillary Clinton regarding the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. As the NYTimes reported, Clinton, Discussing Nomination Battle, Invokes R.F.K. Assassination:
Despite an uproar and condemnation from many regarding those remarks, Clinton refused to acknowledge that the comments were inappropriate, see Why I continue to run. She instead issued a lame non-apology apology of sorts, as I noted in a previous post on the matter, Never Having to Say I'm Sorry. Overall, reaction was mixed, mostly depending on the political persuasion (and skin tone) of the listener.
It was in the context of discussions about her political future that Mrs. Clinton made the remarks Thursday, in a meeting with the editorial board of the the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
“People have been trying to push me out of this ever since Iowa,” where she came in third, behind Mr. Obama and former Senator John Edwards, Mrs. Clinton said. When asked why that would be she said she did not know; primaries sometimes go on a long time and there was no reason she should give up hers prematurely.
“My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don’t understand it,” Mrs. Clinton said, dismissing the idea of dropping out. (Emphasis added)
Before Hillary, of course, there was Huckabee. As reported in The Huffington Post, Huckabee Talks About Someone Aiming A Gun At Obama During NRA Speech, former GOP hopeful and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was speaking before the gun loving crowd at the NRA, when he said:
It is obvious that insufficient outrage and condemnation greeted these various vile statements in the beginning when Huckabee and Clinton spoke or they would not have been repeated. To me, this is the perfect example of the proverbial slippery slope. The outcry should have been so strong that no one would have dared repeat it -- never mind making tasteless jokes or stupendously stupid death wishes, as Madden did.
Huckabee made an off-color joke during his speech in Louisville, Kentucky, when a loud bang was heard off-stage.
"That was Barack Obama," Huckabee quipped, "He Just tripped off a chair. He was getting ready to speak. Somebody aimed a gun at him and he...he dove for the floor."
I have made this same point about the apparent rise in hate crimes or other expressions of bigotry. I believe that it has become more acceptable to express one's views (whether racist, sexist, religious or based upon immigrant status) under the guise of an aversion to "political correctness," see e.g., Burnt Out and Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Silence.
All I can say is that I'm starting to feel old. I feel like my mother who used to say "what is this world coming to?"
UPDATE (6/2): Dorian De Wind also discusses this phenomenon at The Moderate Voice, “Assassination,” The New Third Rail in American Politics. A very good read.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I just got the advanced word. The first advertisement of the general election by the Democratic Party is going to feature a picture of this woman:
With the question:
CAN YOU VOTE FOR A MAN WHO HAS RAISED TERRORISTS??????
John McCain's daughter Meghan proudly sports a Keffiyeh, the terror scarf.
I guess it shouldn't be that surprising -- isn't the spelling of her name suspicious enough? And no, this is not the illegitimate black baby daughter (that one is safely hidden away until after the election).
Can you let a man like this run your country?
Even Dunkin' Donuts knows better than that.
This fall, vote Democratic, the Party of Patriots.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I have occasionally (well, maybe more than that) mentioned that John McCain is old. Really old. Really, really old. See, e.g., my post on an earlier SNL skit, The Crazy Old Hothead. McCain himself acknowledged is ancientness in his recent appearance on SNL.
In a recent post, A Whiter Shade Of Pale, which discussed his release of medical records, I queried whether McCain doesn't know (or doesn't remember) the difference between a release and a review, since his disclosure of records was less than forthcoming -- particularly in light of the many delays in their production. In that essay, I explained the reason for my continual ageist comments:
I mock McCain's age as much and as often as I can, because I don't want him to miss out on his share of stereotypical remarks, compared to the sexist and racist comments that continually pepper the Democratic side. The truth is that age, like sex and race, don't much matter to me in selecting the next president. Competency, intelligence and political policy matter greatly to me. McCain's conservatism and lack of ethics are what really count in counting him out for me. Age is just the fun way of expressing that.
In a more scholarly vein, Political writer Dick Polman discusses the age issue in a column, The Age Factor, noting that with the focus at the moment on the Clinton-Obama battle, McCain's age hasn't been emphasized much, other than as the subject of jokes. However, that doesn't mean that it isn't an issue, as he observes:
Indeed, virtually every poll suggests that, at least with respect to the burdens of the presidency, Americans don't necessarily buy the notion that 70 is the new 60. The nonpartisan Pew Research Center has served up some startling figures: 50 percent of registered voters say they're less likely to support a candidate in his 70s. That's higher than the share of voters who would be less likely to support a Muslim (48 percent), or a gay (46 percent), or a Mormon (32 percent). That poll didn't mention McCain by name, but Pew did so in a separate survey - which found that 19 percent of Republicans deem him too old for the job.* * * *
Indeed, McCain himself has mentioned the age factor. In March 2000, as his first candidacy was flaming out, he signaled he was reluctant to run again: "If I were 43 or 53, it might be different. But I'm 63, a pretty old geezer."
In addition, the reality is that because of his age, you want to be sure that he's in good health. The fact that McCain has been less than fully forthcoming about his current medical history makes one concerned about what is being hidden or obfuscated. The GOP excels at that, so one just has to wonder. Clearly, if all's truly well, I would have to believe that they would disclose everything -- just to put the issue behind them. One area that is especially relates to the state of his mental state. Shaun Mullen discusses this aspect in detain at Limited Medical Records Release Shows Why McCain's Mental Health Is An Issue.
Assuming that his health isn't an issue, "age" stills comes into play. As Polman notes:
In other words, his McSameness may be more difficult to overcome than his McOldy. However, I still say it's more fun to make fun of his age, as David Letterman also apparently does, see e.g., How about that John McCain?.
In the end, McCain's biological age in 2008 is far less important than his metaphorical age. That is really the crux of his challenge this fall. An older candidate can win if his message is perceived as new; Reagan won a landslide reelection in 1984, despite some qualms about his age, because his "Morning in America" image was perceived as fresher than Walter Mondale's old-style liberal politics.* * * *
McCain's challenge is to escape Dole's fate. Potentially, the melanoma scar on the left side of his face is far less politically threatening than the scars left by the Bush era. Voters may not necessarily debate whether McCain seems too exhausted for the strenuous presidency - but they might focus on whether McCain is too closely affiliated with an administration that has left America exhausted by war and incompetence, and thus too rooted to the old ideas. Showing up on Saturday Night Live, and hobnobbing 10 times (so far) with the host on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, may not prove to be enough.
Obama has indeed taken some subliminal swipes at McCain's age; his frequent lauding of McCain for his "lifetime of service" is the rhetorical equivalent of praising grandpa at the assisted-living facility. But Obama's broader intention is to capture the metaphor, framing himself as messenger of the future and McCain as embodiment of the past. The prevailing political climate might well buoy his efforts.
If you do too, don't miss these blogs dedicated to John (He's So Old) McCain:
Things younger than Republican Presidential candidate (oh, and did I forget to mention war hero?) John McCain and John McCain Is So Old …
(Cartoon via Nate Beeler, Washington Examiner)
Monday, May 26, 2008
On my way home from the office the other day, the sun was peeking out of the clouds after a rainy day and I spied a brilliant rainbow. It was one of the most colorful rainbows I've ever seen.
I immediately called my daughter (on the bus coming from her senior internship), who was headed towards our meeting point. I told her to look out the window to look for it. I then tried to find a spot that I could pull over to try to catch a picture (yes, I keep a small digital camera in my purse). Unfortunately, by the time I could stop, I couldn't get a good view of the rainbow.
Then, I saw this picture, which captured the rainbow with a Center City view. Much better than my suburban landscape. Now, all I need to find is the pot of gold.
Note: This photo is from Ray at Phillybits (who I've also added to my blogroll). Also, if you click on the photo, it will take you to his Flickr account, where you can check his wonderful work out.
Mark Twain's The War Prayer is a fitting tribute for Memorial Day. The history of his anti-war poem can be found at The Washington Monthly.
See also Twain's word on the American conquest of the Phillipines, Immorality & Idiocy.
(Video also available at The War Prayer)
Sunday, May 25, 2008
The first time I ventured into the 6 word story was in October of 2006, when Dan Rubin of Blinq wrote about the six word story inspired by Hemingway. Wired Magazine featured a number of contributions from writers and designers, see Short, Sweet & to the Point.
My contribution then:
A few zig-zags, a different life.
Earlier this month, after I read about a recently published book on 6 word memoirs, Not Quite What I Was Planning, I penned a 6 word memoir on my life in Philly:
Came to litigate.
Then I read a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Chris Satullo, Speak Volumes in just 6 Words, about the book, as well as his pithy contributions about various politicians and celebs, both local and national.
I have to say, I love the 6 word story. In part, I suppose it's because reading and writing were my calling from an early age. Not surprisingly, I started out planning to be a writer. Then, once I began working, I decided to be a journalist. Lawyer was not even on the career horizon for me. Yet, somehow, that's where I ended up. The only constant through all of the changes and moves was my husband. That, and my first love -- reading & writing.
So my latest entry to the mini-memoir:
Not what I thought. Much more.
One more vote. That's all the conservatives need to tip the scales of justice for decades to come.
And it's a promise that John McCain has made to the right wing of the Republican Party to garner their vote. McCain has identified the type of Justice he would choose, if elected, as someone who shares the judicial disposition of Justices Roberts and Alito. For those who know the partisan conservative mentality of those men, nothing more needs to be said to understand the impact of such a selection.
This essay is a follow up to my post on Jeffrey Toobin's book about Supreme Court, The Nine. It's an issue that needs to be emphasized as often as possible. See The Next Justice.
Toobin recently wrote about McCain's intentions in a New Yorker Comment, In McCain’s Court. As he noted, McCain was oblique in expressing his views, except for those extremists who carefully pay attention to such matters, who would understand the meaning and importance of his words. Toobin observed:
Successful politicians know how to attract attention, and how to avoid it, so it’s worth noting that John McCain chose to give his speech about the future of the judiciary on May 6th, a day when the political world was preoccupied with the Democratic primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. It is significant, too, that Senator McCain spoke mainly in generalities, rather than about such specific issues as abortion, affirmative action, and the death penalty. But even if he hoped to sneak the speech past a distracted public, and have its coded references deciphered only by the activists who were its primary target, its message should not be lost on anyone. McCain plans to continue, and perhaps even accelerate, George W. Bush’s conservative counter-revolution at the Supreme Court.Notwithstanding its importance, the workings of the Supreme Court is far removed from most of our lives, a distant note that sounds when a significant decision is rendered. But the make up of the Court or their leanings, is mostly unknown. Yet, as I discussed in my previous post, the court is moving in a steady course to the far right. And McCain has pledged to provide the solid majority needed to rewrite the history of our country going forward for the foreseeable future -- possibly my lifetime.
McCain hints of his inclination for the Court, as Toobin states:
In short, this one passage in McCain’s speech amounted to a dog whistle for the right—an implicit promise that he will appoint Justices who will eliminate the right to privacy, permit states to ban abortion, and allow the execution of teen-agers.
The question, as always with McCain these days, is whether he means it. Might he really be a “maverick” when it comes to the Supreme Court? The answer, almost certainly, is no. The Senator has long touted his opposition to Roe, and has voted for every one of Bush’s judicial appointments; the rhetoric of his speech shows that he is getting his advice on the Court from the most extreme elements of the conservative movement. With the general election in mind, McCain had to express himself with such elaborate circumlocution because he knows that the constituency for such far-reaching change in our constellation of rights is small, and may be shrinking. In 2004, to stoke turnout among conservatives, Karl Rove engineered the addition of anti-gay-marriage voter initiatives to the ballots in Ohio and other states; last week, though, when the California Supreme Court voted to allow gay marriage in that state, only hard-core activists were able to muster much outrage. When it comes to the Constitution, McCain is on the wrong side of the voters, and of history; thus, his obfuscations.
For liberals and progressives, this signals the end of many of rights that we hold dear. The signs are already clearly there:
[I]n just three years the Roberts Court has crippled school-desegregation efforts (and hinted that affirmative action may be next); approved a federal law that bans a form of abortion; limited the reach of job-discrimination laws; and made it more difficult to challenge the mixing of church and state. It’s difficult to quarrel with Justice Stephen Breyer’s assessment of his new colleagues: “It is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much.” And more change is likely to come. . . . For all the elisions in John McCain’s speech, one unmistakable truth emerged: that the stakes in the election, for the Supreme Court and all who live by its rulings, are very, very high.As a companion piece to his article, on this week's Journal, Bill Moyers discusses with Toobin what the Supreme Court might look after the 2008 election.
Despite this, I guess for some people (including some feminists), it is more important to punish Barack Obama if Hillary Clinton loses than it is to protect Roe v. Wade. Anyone who says that they will vote for McCain over Obama has made that choice. Because it is all about choice.
(Video and transcript available at Bill Moyers Journal)
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Was it really a release? Sounds more like a sneak peek, to me. However it is characterized, it served it's intended purpose. The compliant (hand-picked) press provided the desired seal of approval.
Of course, I'm talking about the "release" of John McCain's medical records yesterday. LiberalOasis best explains the set up:
A hand selected group of reporters (only 20 people) was allowed to access 1,173 pages of Senator John McCain's medical records for three hours. No one was allowed to Xerox or photograph the records. A reporter could take notes. Oh, no cellphones. So, what do we know? Not much. . . .So, is McCain's pasty face merely a sign of his inner whiteness, a stark, silent contrast to his likely darker-complexioned opponent, a shade of pale that will appeal to the Appalachian (new word for bigots) contingent, or it it a sign that he has some malady?
If they read 1,173 pages in three hours, they would have to read a page every six minutes. You can't get any detail from that. I'm not sure that we know more now than we did before the records were flashed in front of our eyes.
Hard to say what the real deal is from the DoubleSpeak Express. If you believe what we are told, McCain may be older than dirt,* but he's a picture of health (to mix metaphors). The NYTimes reports that reports say that McCain is in excellent health, McCain’s Health Is Called Robust by His Doctors. However, as an accompanying article notes, Tight Control on Files and Shortened Question Period:
Senator John McCain released his medical records on Friday under tightly controlled circumstances, allowing them to be reviewed by a small group of reporters from news organizations that his campaign chose.The Times was not one of the chosen few, nor was it permitted to ask questions at the shortened press conference. And the favored media types (you know, McCain's "base") parroted what they were told by the campaign, so who knows the truth. The only thing I do know is that it's not us. Dr. Murphy at Firedoglake describes some of the problems with the lack of information we've been given, at McCain’s Medical Records: The Nodes Know We’re Still In The Dark.* * * *
At 11 a.m., Mr. McCain’s doctors made themselves available in what was scheduled as a 90-minute conference call. But the questions were stopped after 45 minutes.
And that's just his physical condition. Shaun Mullen of Kiko's House discusses why the controlled "release" also raises questions about McCain's mental health that remain unanswered, Limited Medical Records Release Shows Why McCain's Mental Health Is An Issue:
Then there was the cancer surgery in February that McCain "forgot" to tell anyone about. See Is John McCain As Healthy As The Media Are Saying?.
The reality is that a characteristic of some aging brains is inflexibility and an inability to grasp new concepts. In other words, an inability to learn.
In McCain's case, it's not necessarily an in-your-face thing, but he keeps causing me to wonder. He would be the oldest person to assume the presidency, which makes his age a legitimate issue. But I know a couple of septuagenarians who are as sharp as tacks and run mental circles around people half their age. For me it's less the fact that McCain would be 72 upon taking the oath of office than the state of mind of this particular 72-year-old.
As usual, the Republicans brilliantly managed to control the flow (it's the one thing they do well). As Liberal Oasis said:
To be honest, this was a great piece of politics by the McCain camp. Release the information on a Friday, a slow news day. Release the information on a holiday weekend. No one is paying any attention. Then control what is said. The McCain camp got the exact headlines that they wanted. Reuters - McCain deemed in good health by doctors. The McCain camp couldn't have written it any better.* I mock McCain's age as much and as often as I can, because I don't want him to miss out on his share of stereotypical remarks, compared to the sexist and racist comments that continually pepper the Democratic side. The truth is that age, like sex and race, don't much matter to me in selecting the next president. Competency, intelligence and political policy matter greatly to me. McCain's conservatism and lack of ethics are what really count in counting him out for me. Age is just the fun way of expressing that.
I think it doomed her campaign from the beginning, so I suppose it's a fitting ending.
Hillary Clinton's biggest mistake in her quest for the presidency was not just that she voted for the Iraq War, but that she never expressed her regrets for doing so. As the public turned against the war in substantial numbers, long after the revelation that we had all been conned by the Bush White House about the basis for the war, it would have been the perfect opportunity. But no, like George Bush, she just couldn't bring herself to acknowledge that she was wrong.
I guess it's only to be expected that an apology would not emanate from her lips after her egregious comments today about why she has refused to gracefully depart from the race despite the fact that she has clearly lost. While it is certainly her right to make a fool out of herself and alienate many of her long time supporters, it is not acceptable for her to raise the specter of a possible deadly assault upon one of her opponents, as she most certainly did by mentioning the June 1968 assignation of Bobby Kennedy as a reason why she should stay part of the primary process. Clinton Kennedy Assassination Reference: Raises Bobby's Death To Explain Why She Stays In Race.
Even after her comments generated swift rebuke, Clinton merely expressed "regret" to the Kennedys (not the Obamas) for her statements. You know -- regret, the term politicians use when avoiding direct responsibility for having said or done something wrong. Not I'm so sorry. Not OMG, WTF did I do??
As the NYTimes said, Clinton’s Reference to Slaying of Robert Kennedy Stirs Uproar:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton defended staying in the Democratic nominating contest on Friday by pointing out that her husband had not wrapped up the nomination until June 1992, adding, “We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.”
Her remarks were met with quick criticism from the campaign of Senator Barack Obama, and within hours of making them Mrs. Clinton expressed regret, saying, “The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy,” referring to the recent diagnosis of Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s brain tumor. She added, “And I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive.”
Still, the comments touched on one of the most sensitive aspects of the current presidential campaign — concern for Mr. Obama’s safety. And they come as Democrats have been talking increasingly of an Obama/Clinton ticket, with friends of the Clintons saying that Bill Clinton is musing about the possibility that the vice presidency might be his wife’s best path to the presidency if she loses the nomination.
Of course, even though the right wing (supported by uber-conservative Richard Mellon Scaife, whose Pittsburgh Tribune Review recently endorsed her) whispered for years that she murdered Vince Foster, no one seriously believes that she was hoping for Obama's untimely demise, but her craven raising the issue makes such outlandish assertions less outrageous.
Andrew Sullivan provided an excellent precis of the situation in Paging Dr. Freud:
Since some seem unwilling to point out why this remark was more than unfortunate, it is worth remembering that we have the first black candidate for president. You only have to spend a few minutes talking with African-Americans about this campaign to discover that the fear that Obama could be assassinated is very much on their minds. It is in everyone's subconscious, especially Michelle Obama's. To refer to the June assassination of Bobby Kennedy in the context of reasons to stay in this interminable race against Barack Obama is therefore catastrophically inappropriate. Coming after her pitch for 'white votes', it is reckless.
As for her argument that June primaries are nothing new, she is correct. But in no previous primary election did the voting start just after New Years' Day. The New Hampshire primary in 1968 was on March 12, two months later than this year. For June, therefore, read August. Yes, this season has gone on for ever. And for Senator Clinton, it has now obviously gone on too long.
She's been waiting for Obama to implode. Instead, she just has.
And Keith Olbermann provided a powerful Special Comment blasting her:
Of course, she could have done it with a little bit more class. But the Clinton haters always said that's what the Clintons lacked. Guess who got that one right?
(Video & transcript via Amerciablog)
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I realize that it may sound a little odd that the GOP has adopted as its slogan "The Change You Deserve," since they are the party already in power. Could it be that the Republicans are advocating that the Democrats just take it all over, since they screwed things up so much. Otherwise -- what change are they suggesting -- other than more of the same?
Well, if this is totally confusing to you, then you need to watch this video and then ask your doctor to write you a script for The Republican Party. You'll never have a doubt or question again.
UPDATE (5/24): For another brilliant take on the slogan, see Dr. Alan J. Lipman's Head of State.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
What's the matter with my people? By that, I mean white women. Apparently, there are still large numbers of white women who seem to believe that the only thing preventing Hillary Clinton from winning the White House is sexism.
I'm sorry, I just don't see it. I could reel off a list of reasons why she lost this race, from her vote on the war in Iraq to the way she ran her campaign, Why Hillary Makes My Wife Scream, to she's a Clinton and yes, sexism. Shaun Mullen does a good rundown at Confronting The Long Primary Season's Twin 'Isms' & Why Barack Obama Won.
Sexism clearly was a contributing factor, but certainly less so than Obama's race was held against him. Clinton can hardly deny that, since she's used that as the veiled reason she's doing better against he is among "hard-working white voters." From Mad to Sad.
Now, let's get this straight. I do believe that there is pervasive sexism in this country, and to some degree, it is more prevalent that racism. See Race Matters and Are You Ready?. But I also do believe that racism "wins" the contest of which is worse -- in fact, there is no contest. Racism is more negative, firmly rooted and dangerous than sexism, hands down. See, e.g., The Contest.
And Obama will have a tough road to hoe, even without Hillary's help. For example, the Washington Post described troubling incidents that Obama campaign workers have confronted in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, Racist Incidents Give Some Obama Campaigners Pause. One example cited dealt with a letter to the editor published in a local paper by the Tunkhannock (PA) Borough Mayor. I read that and recalled the time that that little borough burned crosses in the '70's because one of the visiting football teams from Scranton had 2 black football players. No wonder they don't like Obama's message of change -- it's something they don't believe in.
And there are disgusting examples of sexism, such as the Alex Castellanos' comments last night on CNN, GOP Consultant On CNN: Sometimes It's "Accurate" To Call A Woman A "Bitch" (with video), who said that the term "bitch" is sometimes accurate, and that Clinton is open to the charge because she is "abrasive, aggressive, irritating." The man is definitely suffering from severe BALD* disease, in my book.
On the other hand, I also subscribe to the "Frankly, I don't give a damn if you say my dear" school of feminism. Generally speaking, it's not the words "dear" or "honey" that bother me, it's how I'm treated that's important. So, Obama's sweetie comment was no big deal to me. I watched the video of him saying it (as well as his later recorded apology) and it just wasn't said in a demeaning manner. Obama Apologizes for 'Sweetie' Comment. See also, Definitely Diamonds & Pearls. Anyway, I hardly think that Obama could be much of a sexist type with a wife like Michelle. No way would she put up with that.
Now that the race is winding down, the specter of sexism is being raised with more frequency, by Clinton and others, see Gender Issue Lives On as Clinton’s Hopes Dim.
The real issue is the number of white women who say that they won't vote for Obama if he's the candidate. Obama's problem: white women. I had dinner last week with a close friend and we spent the whole time arguing over the fact that I wasn't supporting Clinton (and the same with my family, who was here visiting this past week-end). My friend is so passionate about Hillary that she's threatening to support McCain if Hillary loses. Some women, of course, are merely carrying a grudge because Clinton isn't the nominee. Others, like Geraldine Ferraro are seeking revenge, Ferraro Walks Back Obama 'No Vote' Comment, But Hits 'Sexist' Jay-Z Reference, for earlier comments about Obama that were criticized as racist. She's On a Roll.
It wasn't that all that long ago that I thought this race was so exciting, because all three of the democratic candidates were excellent choices. Now? All this nonsense about sex and race makes me long for the days of white men. Only kidding!!
* BALD = Big Asshole, Little Dick
We need to remember what's truly at issue in this campaign and election:
We face an opponent, John McCain, who arrived in Washington nearly three decades ago as a Vietnam War hero, and earned an admirable reputation for straight talk and occasional independence from his party.~~ Barack Obama in Des Moines, Iowa
But this year's Republican primary was a contest to see which candidate could out-Bush the other, and that is the contest John McCain won. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans that once bothered Senator McCain's conscience are now his only economic policy. The Bush health care plan that only helps those who are already healthy and wealthy is now John McCain's answer to the 47 million Americans without insurance and the millions more who can't pay their medical bills. The Bush Iraq policy that asks everything of our troops and nothing of Iraqi politicians is John McCain's policy too, and so is the fear of tough and aggressive diplomacy that has left this country more isolated and less secure than at any time in recent history. The lobbyists who ruled George Bush's Washington are now running John McCain's campaign, and they actually had the nerve to say that the American people won't care about this. Talk about out of touch! (Emphasis added)
We need to form a Democrats United Party. McCain himself told us so:
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Although the Democrats may still find a way to lose the election in November, no serious observer would suggest today that it would be because they succumbed to an indomitable foe. Less than a full election cycle after Rove's "permanent majority" was said to be upon us, Bush's approval ratings have sunk to the lowest level of any President since presidential job-approval ratings were introduced. Republicans in Congress are streaming for the exits. Surveys show young voters identifying as Democrats over Republicans by double-digit margins, and the 81 percent of Americans who believe the country is seriously "on the wrong track" have conservatives wondering aloud whether Rove's dream has become a nightmare.From The Nation, Is the Party Over?* * * *For forty years, the most important trait of conservatives of all stripes has been their unshakable conviction that their vision and their ideas are right. Moral permissiveness, a feckless foreign policy, a welfare-dependent underclass: all the viruses that had infected the body politic under the stewardship of liberals would be cured if only conservatives were given a chance. The right was united above all in its belief that a new Eden would dawn when Americans were liberated from the tyranny of government, whose intrusive hands reached unwarrantedly into every aspect of citizens' lives (save, of course, the bedroom, where those hands were needed to prevent overly liberated citizens from indulging the wrong impulses). When Bill Clinton ended welfare and declared that the era of big government was over, the argument seemed to have been cinched: at long last, even Democrats had come to realize the folly of their ways. But something funny happened on the way to making the revolution complete: when Republicans were finally given the opportunity to free the citizenry from the chains of the Leviathan state, the result was crony capitalism, fiscal recklessness and bumbling incompetence on an unprecedented scale. The opportunity to govern without interference from liberals came, and the consequences--in New Orleans, in Baghdad, in neighborhoods ravaged by housing foreclosures, in levels of inequality unmatched since the Gilded Age--have been calamitous.
(Cartoon via Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Monday, May 19, 2008
Amazing. The crowd at a rally for Obama yesterday in Portland Oregan was estimated at 75,000, the size of the city of Scranton, see Record Obama Crowd, the Size of a City.
However, fawning press reports don't tell the whole story. For a story on the event with a pro-Hillary flavor:
See TBogg, Get me rewrite!.
Some 75,000 dead-enders flocked to Portland’s waterfront Sunday to watch Barack Obama speak, while the remaining population of Portland (estimated to be 493,000 hard-working salt-of-the-earth white Americans) stayed away in droves. Thousands stood on the lawn, dozens watched from their elitist boats and from the bridge stretching across the Willamette River. A few kayakers (an elitist sport by the way) raised their paddles in mindless obedience to the so-called messiah, their eyes glassy and uncomprehending, as they watched the candidate, who stood on a makeshift platform, refuse to admit that the dream is over while clinging to his stubborn and divisive refusal to accept the obvious.
Obama conceded as much by hailing Clinton as a “formidable candidate," saying she "has been smart and tough and determined and she has worked as hard as she can and she has run an extraordinary campaign....but unfortunately she is a woman."
Then he reportedly made a discrete but clearly obscene gesture accompanied by disgusting sex noises while his followers laughed and laughed like the world was coming to an end... just like it will if he is elected. In the distance came the sound of a lonely ice cream truck which made me sad for the children. Really really sad.
Since the Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama contest seems to be winding down, the LLWL Gang* instead spent our lunch arguing over which Fake Newscaster is better, Jon Stewart vs. Stephen Colbert. I'm in the Stewart camp, but I must say, I do believe that Colbert may be ahead in the count. Since some of the LLWL Gang were missing, I'm waiting for all of the ballots to be counted before calling the winner.
Somehow, the conversation then meandered to the old Bill O'Reilly Inside Edition flip out video, along with Colbert's take on the outtake. By popular request, here's the clip.
LLWL= Lady Lawyers Who Lunch (a/k/a my officemates)
(Via Crooks and Liars)
Sunday, May 18, 2008
As I say in the caption, that's what it's really all about. The next presidential election, I mean.
What about the other important issues facing the country? The war? It's over, despite what the Democrats or Republicans may say. The public wants out. It's a matter of figuring out how and when we can gracefully (or not) exit. The economy? We are in for a lot of pain no matter who wins. The environment? Nature is not so subtly letting us all know that we ignore global warming at our peril. Those issues are, and will be, extremely important and the party in power will certainly have a major say in the direction we go.
Yet, of all of the issues facing our country, nothing is more important than the Supreme Court and who gets to nominate the next Justice. It will determine the direction of our country in a major way for years to come.
I have finally finished Jeffrey Toobin's excellent book, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. It took a long time to get through because it was a difficult read. Not because of Toobin's writing or story, which was an eminently readable and interesting behind-the-scenes look at the court, its and the personalities of the justices behind them over the last 20 or so years.
No, it was difficult for me personally, because the book revealed the supremely partisan political court that the current justices have created. I clerked for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in the early 1980's and have always had the utmost respect for the institution of the judiciary on the federal level. Since then, my career has evolved away from heady constitutional issues -- or even litigation -- to the corporate world of health law. Because of this, I have not followed the evolution of the court in depth, when Rehnquist was a newer member of the court. Back then, I thought he was the devil incarnate, due to his conservative leanings. Yet I believed that the rest of the court remained balanced -- and independent. In my naivety, I truly believed that the Court was "above" politics.
Of course, the Court could not be completely divorced from politics, since it is one branch in the political process and the Justices are appointed and confirmed by politicians. Yet, often enough, the jurists took their position and role seriously enough, so that they ended up making decisions based upon the rule of law. Conservatives and liberals alike lost those labels and instead endeavored to do the right thing. Respect for the constitution, precedent and a sense of judicial fairness seemed to control the underlying thought process of the court, both liberal and conservative. In part, this was why individual justices did not follow the political philosophy of the presidents who appointed them.
How far the Court has moved from that position is achingly apparent in Toobin's book. The travesty of Bush vs. Gore is described in its ignominious detail. As the NYTimes notes, Toobin aptly calls it “one of the lowest moments in the court’s history,” one that revealed the worst of just about everyone involved. The lack of legal justification for intruding in the political process was patently obvious. It was definitely the beginning of the court's decline in stature as respected institution.
And in the 8 years since that time, the court has all but abandoned its pretense of being an independent judiciary. It has become the home to the same manner of extremists that run the White House, those partisan hacks who are sufficiently dedicated to the ultra-conservative cause. As was noted in a recent US News article, Ranking the Politics of Supreme Court Justices, "Four of the five most conservative justices to serve on the Supreme Court since Franklin Roosevelt, including Roberts and Alito, are currently sitting on the bench today."
Toobin writes that Chief Justice John Roberts has said on many occasions that "Judges are not politicians," adding that that sentiment is not true. That is no where more evident than the Roberts court itself. Justice Stephen Breyer at the close of the 2007 session, during his dissent in one of many cases that day, "It is not often in law that so few have so quickly changed so much."
In the NY Review of Books, Anthony Lewis's review notes the ironic words of Justice Kennedy, who expressed the importance of the lack of an ideological agenda, in The Court: How 'So Few Have So Quickly Changed So Much':
In many of the most important cases Chief Justice Roberts led the identical five-man majority, in which he was joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel A. Alito Jr. Eight of those decisions were radical departures from precedent. All moved toward a more conservative view of law and life.Calling the tenor of Court's recent rulings a "conservative manifesto," Lewis' piece also provides a wonderful summary of the important cases covered by The Nine. Toobin also provides fascinating snippets of each of the individual Justices. See (& hear) also, Nina Totenberg's review, Toobin's 'The Nine' Reveals Politics of High Court.
What happened? In The Nine, Jeffrey Toobin gives us as thoughtful and convincing an answer as we are likely to get. It is a first-class book, making the Supreme Court and the forces that have moved it a fascinating story, and doing so without sacrificing accuracy. The subtitle made me think that I might be in for a gossipy work, suggesting that personal jealousies and conflicts shaped decisions. To the contrary, it is a serious book, whose fascination lies in its portrayal of how our fundamental law is affected by history, politics, and ideology. There are some behind-the-scenes stories, enjoyable ones; but the book's achievement is its marshaling and analysis of matters that are not secret.
For example, Toobin's description of Justice Scalia (who is, as noted by Dickipedia: "the number two most senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and the number one dickiest, a not accomplishment considering the presence of Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and John Roberts"), includes his "get over it" quote about the Bush vs. Gore case that was recently played on 60 Minutes, Scalia On Bush v. Gore 2000: “Get Over It”. He also includes the story of Scalia's obscene gesture after a Red Mass in Boston, see Res Ipsa Loquitur. But what struck me about Scalia was the fact that his personality was such that if he had been a product of a poor, inner city family, rather than the middle class background he came from, I can just see him ending up on the other side of the bench. He would easily have fallen into a life of crime, ending up behind bars. Yet he is totally without compassion or sympathy for those without his advantages.
And what does the future hold? Pandering to the conservative base, John McCain has signaled his allegiance to the cause by promising to follow in Bush's footsteps for the bench. The Boston Globe reports, McCain's Supreme wrongheadedness:
In a speech on the federal judiciary last week, John McCain sounded the familiar conservative call for judges who know their place. 'My nominees,' he promised, 'will understand that there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power, and clear limits to the scope of federal power.' The judiciary's moral authority depends on self-restraint, said McCain, and 'this authority quickly vanishes when a court presumes to make law instead of apply it.'See also, A McCain Court Could Overturn Roe In "Maybe A Year". Compare that to Barack Obama, who is looking for a different kind of judge, Obama on judges: Protect the powerless:
What you're looking for is somebody who is going to apply the law where it's clear. Now there's gonna be those five percent of cases or one percent of cases where the law isn't clear. And the judge has to then bring in his or her own perspectives, his ethics, his or her moral bearings.As I said to start, the next president will no doubt pick the next justice (or more likely, Justices). It's one of the most important decisions that will impact the country.
And In those circumstance what I do want is a judge who is sympathetic enough to those who are on the outside, those who are vulnerable, those who are powerless, those who can't have access to political power and as a consequence can't protect themselves from being being dealt with sometimes unfairly, that the courts become a refuge for justice. That's been its historic role. That was its role in Brown v Board of Education.
We've got to make sure civil rights are protected. We have got to make sure civil liberties are protected. Because oftentimes there are pressures that are placed on politicians to want to set civil liberties aside, especially at times when we've had terrorist attacks. Making sure we maintain our separation of powers so we dont have a president who is taking over more and more power.
It already has. As Anthony Lewis concludes:
"Presidents pick justices to extend their legacies," Toobin says. "By this standard, George W. Bush chose wisely." Future presidents can include in their legacies a concern to rebuild the legal principles on which the Court based its decisions in such cases as Lawrence v. Texas and Grutter v. Bollinger. If we want a different Supreme Court, we have to pay attention to that issue in electing a president.Bush has failed at everything but his judicial appointments. See Bush's conservatism to live long in the U.S. courts.
What is at stake can't be emphasized enough. Toobin reminds us:
At this moment, the liberals face not only jurisprudential but actuarial peril. Stevens is eighty-seven and Ginsburg seventy-four; Roberts, Thomas, and Alito are in their fifties. The Court, no less than the Presidency, will be on the ballot next November, and a wise electorate will vote accordingly.See, Five to Four.
UPDATE (5/25): For a follow up on this issue, see my post The Scales of Justice.
Is it too late to impeach this man?
President Bush committed political treason today. And see also, Bush Stands by "Appeasement" Remarks.
Instead of talking about appeasers, perhaps he should have mentioned Nazi profiteers and apologized to Israel for the role his family played. See Prescott Bush Was a Nazi Sympathizer.
As I await the expected pro gun rights decision in the Heller case by the US Supreme Court, A Key Case on Gun Control, the thought keeps running through my head whether the Court will permit gun toting visitors entry to the court after it upholds the right to bear arms. I think not, of course.
I've written about the pending Supreme Court case before, in Wanted: A Straight Shooter, in which I noted that I expect the Court to overturn DC's handgun ban. Despite the decision of the Court, I am certain that there will be no guns permitted during Supreme Court arguments in the future.
It's yet another example of the "supreme law for the rulers" -- that is, the rules are for thee, not me.
Another example of this unwritten rule is John McCain's appearance before the National Rifle Association's meeting. In what can only be described as a delicious irony, the NRA banned guns, knives and other weapons during during McCain's speech. As was reported in With McCain on hand, knives won't cut it at massive NRA gunfest:
A small but startling sign welcomed the gun lovers who arrived at the National Rifle Association's annual gathering Friday.
"Firearms WILL NOT be allowed in Hall A during the Celebration of American Values Leadership Forum."
Beyond this sign at the Kentucky Exposition Center was a row of 10 metal detectors. They were manned by uniformed Secret Service officers deployed because the scheduled speakers included presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.
The Secret Service sets the rules in such circumstances, and even NRA big shots had to go through the screening. Thousands found themselves standing in a long, slow, feeder line before they even reached one of the lines that stretched in front of each metal detector.
There can be no doubt that any attempt to impose any restrictions on the free flow of guns to quell the violent-filled street of Philadelphia would cause a loud hue and cry about the rights to unfettered gun ownership. But an appearance by McCain at a gunfest? Nary a word. The attendees silently obey, putting down their arms.
Where were the protests? Where was the NRA? Oh right, this was an NRA rally.
The rules are for thee, not me.
With the decision of the Supreme Court, California becomes the next state to uphold the right of gays to marry, providing another step towards equality for all. California Supremes Overturn Gay-Marriage Ban
Two down, 48 to go.
(Cartoon via Tony Auth, NYTimes)
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The headline says it all. The Guardian reports on today's primary election in West Viriginia, Clinton eyes landslide primary win as Obama plans for November:
Clinton was on course for her biggest victory of the Democratic nomination, with opinion polls suggesting she has more than a 30-point advantage over Obama. But even a win on that scale for Clinton in West Virginia is highly unlikely to reshape the Democratic race.And the question is: What does this prove?
Answer: That West Virginia is still much like what I always thought it was.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
If only he had seen the spirited appeal by Hillary Clinton, it might not have come to this. However, in the biggest sign yet that it's too late for Hillary, Andy Borowitz reveals the announcement that Bill Clinton Switches to Obama:
In what some Democratic Party insiders are calling a particularly ominous sign for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, former president Bill Clinton today became the latest superdelegate to switch from Sen. Clinton to her rival, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill).This election has been about change all along and this is a big one.
Sources close to the former president said that Mr. Clinton had been mulling such a defection for weeks, as early as the night of the Iowa primary, but that he only decided to make his decision public today.
'The American people want change,' Mr. Clinton said at a press conference in New York. 'Lord knows I do.'* * * *
For her part, Sen. Clinton said that the defection of her husband would not deter her from staying in the race, adding, "To my knowledge, he's the only white voter Sen. Obama has."
The New York senator denied that she was playing the race card, arguing, "Every other member of my family is supporting me, and by the way, they're white."
Elsewhere, a defiant John McCain said that his wife will not release her tax returns, "and neither will my girlfriend."
Hillary Clinton makes her case once again why she should be the Democratic Party's candidate. Now, this appeal is something that makes total sense and she should have just explained it sooner. If she had, I'm sure she would have had more support than she has ended up with at this point in time.
(Thanks to Manila Ryce of The Largest Minority)
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 09, 2008
The legal definition of barratry is the offense of persistently instigating lawsuits, typically groundless ones. Because it is rarely prosecuted, the term has become fairly archaic. However, I think the concept should be resurrected and renamed in honor of the the man who defines barratry, Roy Pearson.
Roy Pearson. The man who sued this dry cleaners after they lost a pair of pants, pursuing his $54 Million lawsuit with the zeal of a man on a mission to save the world from clean pants. Hell Hath No Fury . . . Not only did he lose his pants, he lost the case. See They Beat the Pants off Him. Although I had lots of fun making jokes about the pantless Pearson, in the end, although Pearson eventually lost his job, the Chungs also closed their dry cleaner's shop.
He's back with another example of a Pearson. As the AP reported, 'Pants Suit' Judge Suing for Job, $1M in Damages:
In the suit filed in federal court, Roy Pearson he was wrongfully dismissed for exposing corruption within the Office of Administrative Hearings, the department where he worked. In court documents, Pearson said he was protected as a whistle-blower and that the city used the fact that he was being 'vilified in the media' to cut him out of his job.Claiming that he was fired for exposing corruption, Pearson brought his newest complaint against his former employer (while his original case against the cleaner's is still pending appeal), Roy Pearson's Latest Lawsuit:
In 52-plus pages, Pearson claims he suffered 'humiliation and 'physical illness' as a result of his former employer's 'wrongful actions.' He asserts that he was 'protected as a whistle-blower' but that the city used the fact that he was being 'vilified in the media' as an excuse to sack him. 'Confident that the media storm would provide cover for a retaliatory demotion,' he writes, 'the defendants made little effort to mask their retaliatory motive.'Of course, his termination had nothing to do with the fact that he embarrassed himself -- and lawyers everywhere -- with his silly suit. Much as you'd like to think that was the reason for his termination, the reality is that it had very little to do with it. As Marc Fisher, the man for all things Pearson, notes, in Pants Update: Pants Man Sues City:
Actually, as those involved in the decision not to renew his tenure on the court told it at the time, the notoriety around Pearson's pants adventure was what made it harder to oust him. The decision makers said that they had plenty of cause not to renew Pearson's contract based just on his behavior at the office, but that the pants suit, while enormously embarrassing to the court and the District, took a relatively simple matter and made it very complicated, mixing in all sorts of questions about whether a judge could or should be punished for exercising his right of access to the courts (even if his original suit against the dry cleaners was wildly abusive.)In the end, Pearson likely will not prevail. Until then, it's the perfect Friday night funny. Former Administrative Law Judge Pearson took his pants off in front of everyone, exposing his ass to the world.
However, I suppose his experience did teach him something. His original case against the dry cleaners who lost his pants was $54 million dollars. The case against the city for the loss of his job is only $1 million.
While the Pearson may live on as the epitome of a frivolous lawsuit, hopefully Roy Pearson will eventually find a new pair of pants and fold his crease -- and his cases.
(Via How Appealing)
Thursday, May 08, 2008
I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."Hillary Clinton, on her electability. See Clinton makes case for wide appeal.
I have, on occasion, expressed frustration and annoyance with the manner in which Hillary Clinton has conducted her candidacy during the course of the primary. See, e.g., We're All Losers. However, this latest appeal to White Power is truly beyond the pale. Is the next stop on the Hillary campaign trail a Klan rally? See also, Oliver Willis, Hillary White Power Clinton.
As Mike Barnicle says at the Huffington Post, Race Is All the Clintons Have Left:
Now, faced with a mathematical mountain climb that even Stephen Hawking could not ascend, the Clintons -- and it is indeed both of them -- are just about to paste a bumper sticker on the rear of the collapsing vehicle that carries her campaign. It reads: VOTE WHITE.
Before the North Carolina/Indiana primary, Jon Stewart (see video) asked the question of Hillary, "What happened to you?" as the screen showed her morphing into GWB. The question Stewart posed was on target. The answer was not. These days, I see a much stronger resemblance to the late Stom Thurmond:
At TPM, David Kurz notes, Pretty Black and White:
The political press spent weeks trying to divine whether the Clinton camp was really attempting to cast Obama as the black candidate, a favorite son candidate of the African American community. The Clinton camp vehemently denied it then and even as recently as a few days ago Bill Clinton claimed it was the Obama camp playing the race card against him.How true. Clinton's pitiful pandering and appeal to the basest (racist) instincts in the electorate actually makes me more sad than mad.
Race has been the subtext of much of Hillary's argument for her own electability. But now she's thrown it right out there in the open: Obama can't win because he's black. Vote for me instead.* * * *
Hers is not an appeal we'd tolerate from a Republican candidate, nor should we from a Democrat, no matter how sterling her progressive credentials might otherwise be.
There's been a lot of talk about the damage Hillary will do to the party by staying in the race this long. Perhaps she should consider the damage she's doing to herself.