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Feb. 4th, 2008

Quick Comments on Democratic Debate

The biggest response of the night seemed to be to Hillary's "we need another Clinton to clean up after another Bush" line. First of all, this was a pretty good question, how on earth could she represent change, which she didn't answer at all. Secondly, she's already used this line. This was very depressing for me to hear such a response. The Democrats arguably have their most inspirational candidate in ages in Barack Obama, and yet the overwhelming crowd response to Clinton's line indicates there is a good chunk of the Democratic Party that is still fixated on the whole Clinton vs. Bush thing.

Has electing the President of the United States been reduced to this, almost like some sort of collegiate rivalry? I am so tired of the "Bush did X" / "Oh yeah? Well Clinton did Y first", or visa-versa. If Clinton is elected, she'll likely have a minute majority behind her, and a highly divided country that will continue to perpetuate the Clinton/Bush fixation ad nauseam. Obama really does represent moving the country forward in this regard.

Another thing Barack keeps mentioning is that he doesn't take lobbyist money or money from PACs. He also promises not to appoint active industry lobbyists to oversee the industry they represent. Every time he says this in a debate, you can almost hear the crickets chirp. Hillary never even bothers to dispute him on this point. I've seen the argument that the money issue is a non-issue, since Edwards and Obama can essentially do an end-around and still get corporate money. The thing is, on sites where I've seen this argument made, at least one person claiming to be a former lobbyist said it does matter.

The appointment of active lobbyists seem like an even bigger issue. Bill Clinton was certainly guilty of this, not to the degree that George Bush is, but still. It seems like an issue that Hillary should at least respond to. Perhaps she thinks it's something people don't know or care about. I know at one point she defended taking money from lobbyists, and refused to stop doing so. this is another big reason I support Obama over Clinton.
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Is Obama Black Enough?

For purposes of the Presidential primaries it seems that he is all black, which seems quite strange. He is no more black than he is white, a fact that seems almost entirely lost on the mainstream media. For all the talk of race issues, how the country is ready to look and move beyond race, isn't it strange that Barack is a black candidate? What is the implied logic here? Is it that once your bloodline is part African, you may as well be all African? And isn't that supposed to be a highly racist logic?

I got the same queasy feeling when Tiger Woods was branded the great Negro golfer of our times, although I felt a little better when Tiger himself refuted this label.

I'm just saying.
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Poetic Justice

Giants 17, Patriots 14

This was sweet in oh so many ways. There's the obvious cheater angle. There's the way the Pats showed teams up all year. I remember the Skins game where Brady faked taking a knee, then popped back up to throw yet another TD just before halftime to run up the score. Even the idiotic fake where Brady had to turn his back to the play, with his hand straight up in the air, bugged me for, but admittedly by then I really disliked the Pats.

There's Harrison, who is pretty much a walking personal foul with a big mouth, getting burned on more than one big play, including one for the ages, the incredible catch by Tyree, a special teams guy who had four catches all year.



And then of course there is Brady's smug press conference where he asks if Plax plays defense, because there is simply no way the Pats could ever be held to a mere 17 points. Whoops, Tommy, looks like Plax gave the Pats a little too much credit.
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Feb. 1st, 2008

Ownership Society, R.I.P.?

I believe Krugman noted in the New York Times that home ownership levels are now lower than at the beginning of Bush's first term.

Naomi Klein weighs in on the ownership society at the Nation:
Bush came to office determined to take these trends even further, to deliver Social Security accounts to Wall Street and target minority communities--traditionally out of the Republican Party's reach--for easy homeownership. "Under 50 percent of African Americans and Hispanic Americans own a home," Bush observed in 2002. "That's just too few." He called on Fannie Mae and the private sector "to unlock millions of dollars, to make it available for the purchase of a home"--an important reminder that subprime lenders were taking their cue straight from the top.
The entire article isn't that long and is a good read. I really like Klein, because even though she often swings for the fences, and I don't agree with all of her views, she at least is doing real journalism and she tries to place issues in their proper historical context.

Jan. 30th, 2008

Replace the Donkey

It's high time the Democratic party updated their mascot to a more appropriate symbol. Hmmm, perhaps the embodiment of weak-willed losers everywhere:

Charlie Brown

When it comes to presidential politics, no one loses like the Democrats. Let's face it, the ability to inspire counts for presidential hopefuls. And let's be honest, the likes of Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, and Hilary are about as inspiring as a loaded grocery bag with the handles that break when you look at them.

Now I can just hear the whining about how unfairly some of these swell people were treated, which is in some cases is true. But not only were some of the aforementioned candidates just plain boring (Mondale, Kerry), some of them ran strange campaigns that seemed bent on making them appear as stiff and robotic. Gore, for example, would have won (I know, he probably did win) if he had just been himself. To hear the guy talk now, like him or not, at least he sounds honest and genuine in his beliefs. Not so during his campaign.

In the primaries, it was almost unbearable to listen to Kerry drone on with never-ending answers, sounding like he was in the Senate with about 10 minutes of floor time. Why the Democrats went on to nominate him is sort of inexplicable, they just seem to love to lose.

Now the Democrats have one of the most inspiring candidates to come along in a generation in Barack Obama. So you can bet your bottom dollar that they will nominate Hilary, in order to give the Republicans the best possible chance of winning the general election, in a year in which they should be able to win handily. I strongly agree with those who think a Hilary nomination will be a huge mistake for the Dems.

Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, Charlie is the Charlie-Browniest. But the Democratic Presidential nominee is usually a close second.
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Jan. 28th, 2008

Fighting the Free Market Fairy

The short of it from Robert Kuttner:
What was so striking about that book [Greenspan’s The Age of Turbulence], was that half of it is a screed against the need for government regulation—you know, free markets are self-regulating—government doesn’t need to mess with free markets. They’ll correct themselves. And the other half of it is Greenspan’s memoir about all of the times he used the Federal Reserve to bail out failed bets by free markets.

A slightly longer post from Joe Gregario:
That is in contrast to the Free Market Fairy, which again has it's roots in the operation of free markets, but was grown and cultivated in the Reagan years as the reason for dismantling market oversight and has now grown to mythical proportions, trotted out at the slightest provocation as the solution to all the world's problems. For example the Free Market Fairy was the justification for taking a chainsaw to lending regulations in 2003 which precipitated the housing bubble, subsequent collapse, resultant credit crunch, and impending recession.

The encyclopedic version courtesy of Naomi Klein:
Seen through the lens of this doctrine, the past 35 years look very different. Some of the most infamous human rights violations of this era, which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by anti-democratic regimes, were in fact either committed with the intent of terrorising the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground for radical free-market "reforms".

Jan. 25th, 2008

Spamusement, R.I.P.

Spamusement was oh so great, but alas, Steven Frank has let it die (to the best of my knowledge). I kept hoping it would be revived, but I've given up now. Here's a personal fav of mine:

P-Blog Gets a New Look

Well I'm back to blogging, and just noticed that LiveJournal recommends that I update to one of their new and improved set of journal templates. So this is it, the spiffy new look. Why don't I pat myself on the back and you can give me a nice big heartfelt "La-Dee-Frickin'-Da".

Jan. 24th, 2008

Catching up on Iraq

I read "The Iraq War Reader" back when we got into this mess to try to be well informed. It was an absolutely excellent collection of essays and speeches from many different viewpoints, including a couple of Iraqi perspectives if I remember correctly.

After the long string of deaths and failures, I've sort of become so cynical about the whole war that I didn't put much effort into the latest news from Iraq, and I probably am not unlike a whole lot of Americans in this regard. Well, with the reported success of the surge I became curious again. I happened to catch this nice set of interviews on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross whilst adding podcasts willy-nilly before a recent plane flight, looking for a way to burn time. There are ten short interviews with a wide range of people, including military commanders, neo-cons, and Iraqis themselves.
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Happy Belated MLK Day

Celebrate with one of the best kick-butt Rap songs of all time. After you've thanked me profusely and downloaded it from iTunes, and want another great example of what Hip-hop and rap can be, go here and join the revolution (sorry have to click to listen).

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