Sunday, December 30, 2007

The prophet Huckabee

Those who know their Bible surely know of the Maccabees. However, you may have missed the reference to the prophet Huckabee. Today on "Meet the Press", the former Arkansas governor said:

In light of the events of the last week, some of my previous comments on Pakistan seem prophetic.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Pakistan and the U.S. presidential campaign

Even as the body of Pakistan's opposition leaders and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was laid to rest today, Pakistani parliamentary elections remain scheduled for January 8 -- the same day as the New Hampshire primary.

It may be counterintuitive to assert, being an election-loving, small-d democrat, but your blogstress thinks it a very bad idea to hold those elections (the ones in Pakistan) as scheduled, before Bhutto's party has a chance to reorganize itself, and the nation has a chance to calm itself.

For more on the crisis in Pakistan, and how it affects U.S. politics, you will find your écrivaine blogging at TAPPED:

Republican Candidates Wage Epic Struggle for Civilization -- and Nomination

Is Edwards Musharraf's Pick?

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto assassinated

Benazir Bhutto, the first democratically elected woman prime minister of a Muslim nation, has been done away with:

An attack on a political rally killed the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto near the capital, Islamabad, Thursday. Witnesses said Ms. Bhutto was fired upon at close range before the blast, and an official from her party said Ms. Bhutto was further injured by the explosion, which was apparently caused by a suicide attacker.
UPDATE: Posting today at TAPPED on the Bhutto killing:

Benazir Bhutto Done In: Now What?

Bush: Murderous Extremists Killed Bhutto

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Oscar Peterson is gone

Christmas Eve brought the sad news that Oscar Peterson, the great master of the jazz piano, had died at the age of 82 in his Canadian home.

Peterson's sound was distinctive, a combination of virtuosity and nuance that allowed him to move seamlessly between understated comps and solos in which a torrent of notes could spill out, sparklingly and perfectly arranged. He was a rare player who led any group in which he played, and led with subtlety. There was something in his character and playing that seemed to pull forth the essence of each musician on the stage, each becoming more him- or herself than she or he could ever be performing solo. And, all the while, he maintained a strong but sage-like presence.

At least, that's how it seemed to me, listening to recordings, for I never got myself to see Peterson play live. Shame on me for that.

My first awareness of Oscar Peterson was a once-removed discovery. When I was growing up, my father listened to a lot different music on our hi-fi, some of it jazz. Thanks to the G.I. bill, my family and I found our upwardly mobile selves crawling out from the shadow of the Bayway oil refinery and into a sparkling, new four-bedroom, split-level on tree-laden land dredged out of a swamp. Our next door neighbor was a podiatrist with a very famous patient; her name was Sarah Vaughan, and she lived in Newark.

Our next-door neighbor, whom I'll call Dr. Eisenstadt, was unlike anybody I had known in our old neighborhood. He was Jewish. In fact, there were quite a few Jewish families in our new neighborhood -- people who probably would not have been so welcome in our old one. Still, we were pretty certain that even if Dr. Eisenstadt had cured the famous and virtuotic Sarah Vaughah of toe cancer, she would not be coming to visit us in Clark, New Jersey -- at least not unless she was willing to run the risk of spending the night in jail, which was where black people who tried to drive through Clark sometimes wound up, just because.

Now, this was initially confusing to me, since we had a lot of Jews in town, and they weren't exactly white. Well, at least that what they said in my old neighborhood. But maybe here they were. I didn't know.

Like a lot of white Americans, what I knew of black people I knew through the television and the hi-fi. We had a Billie Holiday record and some big-band records featuring Ella Fitzgerald, but we had no Sarah Vaughan records.

Years later, after I had left home, I bought my father a record for Christmas. I bought it knowing nothing about it, but for the name of the vocalist, Sarah Vaughan, and a vague recognition of one of the players on the album: Oscar Peterson. It turned out to be one of Sarah Vaughan's last recordings, and it truly is, as the name for her goes, divine. The album takes its name from one of the tracks -- "How Long Has This Been Going On?" -- and teams Vaughan and Peterson with guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Louie Bellson. Peterson holds court on the title track and positively swings on a knock-out rendition of "I've Got the World on a String."

But it's on the pensive and moody tracks -- "You're Blasé", "Easy Living", "My Old Flame" -- that Peterson really works his magic, never getting in the way of the Divine One's dramatic delivery, but supporting her as if he were her empath.

Critics often derided Peterson for being all hands and no soul. I think they missed the point. Peterson just needed other musicians in order to be his best. He allowed their emotions to fill him up, and then passed them back to their owners in a richer, deeper form.

I return to Clark once every couple of years. It's a suburb of Newark, the city that gave us Sarah Vaughan, and Elizabeth, which was once a bustling center of Jewish life. I've yet to run into any black people in Clark. But there were more than a few jazz-lovers nestled in that cul-de-sac, and more than a few sighs, I'll wager, when news reached the white people's swamp that Oscar Peterson had died.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Night Before...

Alex Rossmiller has crafted a delightful parody of Clement Clarke Moore's "A Visit From St. Nicholas" -- better known as "The Night Before Christmas" -- one that features in its cast of characters not reindeer, but presidential candidates. Herewith, a taste, from Alex's posting at AmericaBlog:

More slick than an oil spill the candidates seem
As the White House draws near in their eyes there's a gleam.
And they pander and fundraise and talk themselves out
In the hopes that the voters will lose any doubt.

Now Rudy! Now Romney! Now Edwards and Clinton!
Obama! Fred Thompson! But will anyone listen?
To the top of the polls! To the top of the caucus!
Now speechify, argue, make white papers glisten!
CLICK HERE TO READ THE WHOLE THING

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Burning down the house


Since Hurricane Katrina struck, the cost of renting an apartment in New Orleans has gone up by 45 percent.

More than 200,000 of the city’s residents have yet to return home, unable to afford the soaring rents, and with little in the way of job prospects. Ain’t nothin’ comin’ easy these days in the Big Easy.

But some people just can’t seem to get the message. Go figure; there are still some poor people – mostly black people whose Gulf Coast roots go back some 400 years – who want to stay. Looks like the only way to get rid of them for good is to raze 4,500 units of public housing, and let developers replace it with “mixed-income” (read: too costly for the people who used to live here) neighborhoods.

Is your blogstress too cynical? Too conspiracy-minded? Perhaps.

But yesterday, the frustration of New Orleaneans spilled out onto the streets when they suspected just exactly the scenario your cybertrix has spelled out, especially when they found themselves locked out of the city council meeting at which the decision to raze the apartment buildings – deemed worthy of preservation by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The building where the meeting was being held was filled to capacity but, according to the Associated Press:

Protesters said they pushed against the iron gates that kept them out of the building because the Housing Authority of New Orleans had disproportionately allowed supporters of the demolition to pack the chambers.
Note that the city council is all white. Mayor Ray Nagin is not, but he did not show up for the meeting.

From the Associated Press via the New York Times.

From the Los Angeles Times via Frank Gilligan, your blogstress’s partner in musical crimes.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

The electability ruse

Your blogstress is getting mighty tired of the way in which the presidential candidates are questioning each other's "electability". I mean, how do you know when somebody is electable? When he or she gets elected, that's how!

As your cybertrix has mentioned before, the "electability" ruse is nothing more than an appeal to voters' prejudices, be they racist, sexist or religionist in nature. From the Republicans, I expect no less. But from Democrats, it's especially bad juju.

To that end, your Webwench talked earlier this week with Helen Miller, one of two African-American women in the Iowa State House of Representatives, about how Barack Obama's admission of drug use during his youth is being deployed against him by the Hillary Clinton campaign as a form of racial code.

For more, read "The Real Race Card" at The American Prospect Online.

In a somewhat frightening development, you can read a paean to Obama by David Brooks, the New York Times's resident conservative columnist, by clicking here.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Where there's smoke...

As your blogstress writes this, thick grey smoke is pouring out the window of Vice President Dick Cheney's office suite in the Old Executive Office Building.

Gosh, I hope those visitor logs showing who came and went (Jack Abramoff?) from the veep's office are okay.

In case you missed it, a federal court ruled Monday that the executive branch gotta give up the goods on the visitor logs, whose release the White House had sought to prevent under the claim of -- what else? -- executive privilege.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Proud to be a Jersey Girl

From the Newark Star-Ledger:

Assembly votes to abolish death penalty

by Tom Hester and Tom Feeney

TRENTON--After more than two hours of emotional debate, the Assembly voted this afternoon to deliver to the governor's desk a bill that would make New Jersey the first state to abolish the death penalty in more than 30 years.

By a vote of 44-36, the Assembly joined the Senate in approving a bill that would replace New Jersey's never-used death penalty with life in prison without parole. Gov. Jon Corzine said hours before the debate began that he expects to sign it in the next two or three days.

[READ MORE]

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If you had any doubt that Shaheen's comments were part of a strategy...

...along comes the smarmy Mark Penn, a top advisor to Hillary Clinton's campaign, using his star turn tonight on "Hardball With Chris Matthews" to reintroduce the notion of Obama having used drugs, he was careful to use the word "cocaine." And everybody knows what kind of cocaine black people do -- rhymes with "black" (even though that wasn't the kind that Obama said he did).

This is really despicable.

Meanwhile, Billy Shaheen has "resigned" as co-chair of Clinton's national campaign. Wanna bet he'll be back?

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Enough with the steroids report coverage!

Really! Any number of other things this week deserved this level of coverage, like, say, the apparent obstruction of justice committed by the CIA with its destruction of tapes it made of its own torture of foreigners it has taken prisoner.

I wish George Mitchell would go back to doing something meaningful.

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Lost the final post

A technical problem with Blogger has led to the evaporation of your blogstress's final post on the debate. Please forgive, mes amis.

Do allow, nonetheless, your Webwench to recount one of the better moments of the debate. The moderator, Des Moines Register Editor Carolyn Washburn, asked Barack Obama, what with all the former Clinton administration figures he has advising his campaign, how he represented change. Hillary Clinton could hardly contain herself, and began laughing uproariously. "I want to hear this, Barack," she said.

To which Obama replied to this effect, "And I'll be happy to have Hillary advising me, too." "Hillary, I'm looking forward to having you advising me, as well."

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
New Year's Resolutions

Hillary: exercise and do the best job possible for the American people

Edwards: remember that every night, a child goes to bed hungry

Dodd: Help America reclaim its moral authority

Richardson: Same one I have every year: to lose weight. Help end the rancor. "Stay positive."

Biden: The same one I make every year, to "remember where I came from." Seemed to make an allusion to the loss of his first wife and daughter.

Obama: To be a better father. "...not to be timid, not to be distorted by the fears of losing..."

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Biden on race

Made to defend some rather insensitive comments that he has made, even recently, about race, Biden defended himself by invoking his legislative record on civil rights. After which, almost unanimously, the candidates all made noises of concurrence.

Obama, whose cleanliness and articulateness, as invoked by Biden, created a bit of an uproar some months ago, lept to Biden's defense, saying, "I will provide some testimony, as they say in church."

Guess Biden doesn't have a chance at winning the nomination. But rumor has it he may just get the Des Moines Register's endorsement.

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Leadership and character

Reminded that the secretive process by which she went about creating her original health-care proposal while serving as first lady, Clinton said that she learned a lot from that process -- foremost, that a good communications process is important.

Promised a "transparent" government.

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Your first priorites as president

Obama: 1) End the war, 2) Restore the Constitution, 3) your ecrivaine's issues with short-term memory is preventing her recall.

Biden: 1) Implement the Biden plan (end the war), 2) End torture

Richardson: 1) End the war in Iraq, end torture

Dodd: 1) Change the discourse, shrillness; "change the nature of our conversation", 2) "give you back your Constitution," 4) diplomacy in the Middle East

Edwards: 1) End the war, 2) Close Guantanamo, 3) restore civil liberties, but we need to take back America from the corporate interests

Clinton: 1) I will begin to end the war in Iraq, 2) restore the Constitution

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Education

Edwards: Create a National Teaching University, modeled on the military academies. Graduates would be assigned to needy districts. Your blogstress likes this idea quite a lot.

Richardson: Pre-K for everybody. Scrap No Child Left Behind. Minimum salary for teachers: $40,000. Teach art in schools.

Moderator just asked Richardson to comment on the state of education in New Mexico, Richardson said it's been tough to raise test scores in NM because of unique population demographics -- more than 40 percent hispanic and 11 percent Native American -- but that they're going up.

Obama: Early childhood education critical. Sacrifices from the American people: Get parents "re-engaged in instilling in their children a sense of excellence."

Dodd: Parents are the first teachers. My sister just retired from teaching 42 years in the inner city of Hartford. (Read: I know what I'm talking about.)

Clinton: Bring classrooms into the 21st century; they look too much as they did when she was in school. No unfunded mandates.

Edwards: Allow workforce to stay well-educated. Your cybertrix presumes he means life-long learning.

Biden: My wife's a teacher. (Read: I know what I'm talking about.)

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Statements: Clinton and Dodd

Hillary: Change -- some believe you get change by hoping for it. I believe you get change by working for it. (Take that, Barack!)

Dodd: I've served in the military and I've been a Peace Corps volunteer.

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Hillary makes a funny

During yesterday's Republican Des Moines Register forum, when asked for a show of hands as to whether or not they believed global warming to be a problem, the candidates, led by former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, refused.

So, Hillary just asked the moderator if she would like a show of hands on the same topic from today's group.

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Energy

Everybody: We like it clean.

Hillary: We need to sell conservation and clean energy as "a new form of American patriotism."

Obama: "[Clean energy] is a moral imperative." Need to talk not just to the Sierra Club, but to confront those who don't like the message. Mentioned that he unveiled his energy plan before the automakers in Detroit, and "the room was very quiet."

Edwards: Moral imperative, yeah! I'm your guy on moral imperatives.

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Where's Kucinich when you need him?

I need a UFO sighting -- now!

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Statements: Biden and Richardson

Ut-oh. Biden's quoting a hymn, quoting lyrics about lifting up on eagle's wings. Note that Biden is a Roman Catholic, not a people known for our great tradition of fabulous hymns. (Catholic congregations don't sing; they mumble.)

Richardson: Smart pandering, thanking the people of Iowa for the fabulous process by which they go about selecting a presidential nominee. Got a laugh.

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
NAFTA

Hillary says that "right here in Iowa, there are people who are winners and losers because of trade [deals]." NAFTA needs to be improved. Said we need an "equivocal" trade policy; I think that's a rare gaffe. Your blogstress suspects that she meant "equitable."

On the subject of gaffes, Edwards made a big one that he caught himself, in which he essentially said we want to leave the nation in worse shape than we found it. Got a laugh.

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Human rights

Everybody's for them.

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Statements: Obama and Edwards

One of the odd factors in these Des Moines Register fora is the intermittent sprinkling of candidates' general statements throughout the program. First up were Obama and Edwards.

Obama: Dr. King, bring everybody together.

Edwards: End corporate dominance of government, corporate corruption.

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Health care

Obama: preventive health care critical. "If we had the same obesity rates of 1980, it would save Medicare a trillion dollars." Also need to have the ability to negotiate with drug companies.

Richardson: Preventive medicine the key.

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
China

Richardson: Ban bad imports, but recognize that China is a major power. Oh, and they're our bankers.

And that tells us what about how you'd deal with them?

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Richardson: Military needs more dough

As does veterans' care, he says. He's right, at least about the vets, but he doesn't say how that squares with his balanced-budget promise.

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Live-blogging the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate
Balancing the budget

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is a bit noncommittal on this one, which is realistic considering the years of deficit spending we've endured during the Bush assumption of power.

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is more macho: it's a big priority of his.

Delaware Sen. Joe Biden is making sense along the same lines of Obama's sense-making.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd chides Richardson, saying the federal government is more complicated than a state government.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards tries to move the discussion off of deficit spending to addressing the "structural deficiencies in the economy." (That should be a cinch!)

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton took the opportunity to remind everybody how great the economy was when there was "fiscal responsibility" exercised by the White House. And when might that have been? Not "very far" back, said Clinton. Like "the 1990s."

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Live-blogging time-delayed

Apparently there is no more important story on earth now than the apparently earth-shattering news that baseball players have been using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs for the last several decades. And so the unveiling of the Mitchell Report has knocked the Democratic debate off cable news until 3:00 EST, at which time, your blogstress will happily begin blogging.

(Alas, the hard drive of her ailing G3 Mac is too overburdened to accommodate simultaneous streaming and blogging.)

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Oh, goody! Another debate!

Your blogstress is pleased to announce that her devotees will enjoy the benefit of her shrewd, real-time analysis of the Democratic-Des Moines Register debate this afternoon, 2:00 P.M. (EST).

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Clinton camp:
Obama's former drug use a problem

With the latest CNN/WMUR poll showing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in a dead heat among New Hampshire primary voters, you knew the gloves were bound to come off. And they have.

Yesterday, Billy Shaheen, a national co-chair of Clinton's New Hampshire campaign and husband of the former NH Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, questioned Obama's "electability" because of his former drug use.

Your blogstress had no use for Chris Dodd's attempt to leverage the latent sexism of some in the Democratic base when he cast aspersions on Hillary Clinton's "electability," and she has none for Shaheen's apparent appeal to any submerged racial prejudice that may exist among the voters in a state where nary a black person is to be seen. Because of Obama's racial identity, the question of drug use will undoubtedly link in some minds with the stereotyped image of the black drug-thug. And that's a despicable thing to use as a wedge in a Democratic primary.

For more depth, devotees can read your Webwench's post on the subject at TAPPED.

Herewith, the report on Shaheen's remarks from Alec MacGillis of The Trail at WashingtonPost.com.

For a little background, check out this excellent piece by the Post's Lois Romano.

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Live-blogging the G.O.P.-Des Moines Register debate
Thank Goddess; they're finished

A boring debate in which no candidate hurt himself too badly. Most interesting ideas: Huckabee on education and health care; Ron Paul on monetary policy.

For Giuliani, not such a great outing. Thompson revived concerns about his knowledge base when he couldn't really find anything to say about NAFTA. (He was answering a question about how he would change the agreement, given the chance.)

No questions for Huckabee about Zev Chafets's provocative New York Times Magazine piece. Bummer.

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Live-blogging the G.O.P.-Des Moines Register debate
Rudy: cellophane man

"I've led a transparent life."

Even when obscure government offices were used to pay the security costs for his mistress.

Oy.

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Live-blogging the G.O.P.-Des Moines Register debate
More Alan Keyes, please

Otherwise I might just fall asleep.

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Live-blogging the G.O.P.-Des Moines Register debate
Huckabee sounding like Obama

"We are a polarized nation country. And that polarized nation country has led to paralyzed government."

Went on to say something like he wants to be the president of all the people of the United States.

Also called on Republicans and conservatives to stop fighting with each other.

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Live-blogging the G.O.P.-Des Moines Register debate
Huckabee sounds great on education

Though perhaps a little nellie on all that arts education stuff. I mean, what good Republican wants his red-blooded boy learning about areas in which homosexuals hold court? I mean, you can't even show them a picture of Michelangelo's David without applying a fig leaf.

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Live-blogging the G.O.P.-Des Moines Register debate
Hunter: Good teachers run out by unions

That's what Rep. Duncan Hunter just said happened to Jaime Escalante, the teacher of cinematic fame who taught calculus to poor kids in Los Angeles.

I don't know that it's true or untrue, but I was initially confused that a Republican was standing there lionizing teachers. Of course, he chose one who had been "run out by the unions."

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Live-blogging the G.O.P.-Des Moines Register debate
Soon I'll have to call it nap-blogging

Yawn.

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Live-blogging the G.O.P.-Des Moines Register debate
Alan Keyes: still bonkers

He has one of two answers to every question: 1) the people with whom stand on this stage are stealing taxpayer dollars; 2) Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I gotta eat the worms because I represent YOU.

NOW ARE YOU LISTENING??!!!

Addendum: At least he's not talking about Mary Cheney's sex organs, as he did in 2004.

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Live-blogging the G.O.P.-Des Moines Register debate
This just in: Global warming is "real"

...and made worse by humans. At least according to Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

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Live-blogging the G.O.P.-Des Moines Register debate
Thompson: I wanna be like Mitt

Make that, "Rich like Mitt."


Asked about a fair tax structure, Romney said he wasn't staying up at night worrying about the taxes that rich people are paying. Of course, Romney has put his own millions into his own megabucks campaign, and he's still got pretty deep pockets.

In reply, actor and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson said that he'd like to have Mitt's problems.

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Live-blogging the G.O.P.-Des Moines Register debate
Romney: Cut pregnancy-prevention for teens

Asked whether he would be willing to go into deficit spending to pay for important priorities, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said that he would cut programs that weren't working -- for instance, teen pregnancy prevention programs.

Jeez, ya think they're not working because they're "abstinence only"? Nah....

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Live-blogging the G.O.P. Des Moines Register debate
Stop outsourcing bomb-making

That's what former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, today's It Boy among the Republican presidential hopefuls, had for an answer to a question about whether the deficit constitutes a national security issues.

Addendum: Who is making our bombs? If it's China, I hope they're painting them with the same stuff they're using on the Fisher-Price toys.

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Today's must-read
Chafets on Huckabee: The next incarnation of the religious right?

Zev Chafets has written a really smart and engaging profile of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Baptist preacher. You can find it here, or in this coming Sunday's New York Times Magazine.

Huckabee has shown himself to be quite the phenom, and Chafets succeeds in lifting the veil from the charming preacher's nice-guy image to reveal a man who plays a little bit nasty when temptation calls. Last night, on MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews, referring to Huckabee's implicit sowing of doubt against his Mormon rival, Mitt Romney, gleefully read this bit from the Chavets piece:

I asked Huckabee, who describes himself as the only Republican candidate with a degree in theology, if he considered Mormonism a cult or a religion. "I think it’s a religion," he said. "I really don’t know much about it."

I was about to jot down this piece of boilerplate when Huckabee surprised me with a question of his own: "Don’t Mormons," he asked in an innocent voice, "believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"
Most significantly, though, Chavets poses the question of what becomes of Huckabee after the 2008 election (assuming that he doesn't win the presidency). Charles Dunn, dean of the Regent University school of government, suggests that the Huckabee candidacy leaves him poised to become one of the top preachers in the land. And Dunn should know how that works. Regent University was founded by Pat Robertson, who became one of the top dogs of the religious right when he used the mailing lists of his 1988 presidential campaign to launch the Christian Coalition.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

But they're trying so hard

Your blogstress finds herself a bit aghast at the ingratitude of the Republican voter, what with virtually the entire field -- except for Ron Paul -- pandering so furiously to win his vote. Honestly, what's a fella got to do?

Look at Rudy, who just this weekend told viewers of Meet the Press that homosexual acts are sinful, per Roman Catholic teaching:

MR. RUSSERT: But you don’t believe homosexuality is aberrant...

MR. GIULIANI: Oh, no, no, no.

MR. RUSSERT: ...unnatural or sinful.

MR. GIULIANI: My, my, my -- no, I don’t believe it’s sinful. My, my moral views on this come from the, you know, from the Catholic Church, and I believe that homosexuality, heterosexuality as a, as a way that somebody leads their life is not -- isn’t sinful. It’s the acts, it’s the various acts that people perform that are sinful, not the—not the orientation that they have.

MR. RUSSERT: The Congress is discussing and...

MR. GIULIANI: Which includes me, by the way. I mean, you know, unfortunately, I’ve had my own sins that I’ve had to confess and had to deal with and try to overcome and so I’m very, very empathetic with people, and that we’re all, we’re all imperfect human beings struggling to, to try to be better.
Okay, so he said he didn't think that the homosexual orientation was unnatural or sinful, even though Pope Benedict XVI, writing as Pope John Paul II's prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith said, in the doctrine "On the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person", that while homosexual attraction is not sinful, it "is more or less a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder."

Then there's Mike Huckabee, the former Baptist preacher who, in 1992, said that AIDS patients should be "isolated" from the rest of society. This weekend, Huckabee refused to back away from those comments. You'd think that would bring the G.O.P. voters running to him, given their supposed hatred of the homosexual's sin (if not the sinner, as their spokespeople often claim).

Hey, what if G.O.P. voters don't really care that much whether someone is gay or not? What if they just want someone to come up with a way out of the economic and foreign policy mess that Bush has bequeathed us?

No wonder they're not impressed.

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G.O.P. voters not impressed

Discontent abounds among Republicans, according to the latest New York Times/CBS national poll about the presidential campaign. In a page-one story, reporters Adam Nagourney and Megan Thee explain, "Not one of the Republican candidates is viewed favorably by even half the Republican electorate, the poll found."

Democrats fare much better among their voters, the pollsters found, with more than half viewing the party's top two contenders -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- favorably. "Mrs. Clinton is viewed favorably by 68 percent of Democrats," write Nagourney and Thee, "followed by Mr. Obama, viewed favorably by 54 percent. Mr. Edwards is viewed favorably by 36 percent."

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Live-blogging the CNN/YouTube GOP presidential debate
Not feeling the magic

Is it your blogstress, or is the G.O.P. on YouTube just not as fun as the Dems? To find out, check out your cybertrix live-blogging at TAPPED.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Family Thanksgiving

Portrait of Baby w/Schnoz, Uke and Cleavage

photo © 2007 Doris J. Stan

Baby Eli rockin' out with your blogstress.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

New Orleans in Bangladesh

Over at T'ings 'n Times, your blogstress's jazz-loving friend, Abdul, reminds us of a heart-rending disaster in South Asia: a mighty cyclone has taken the lives of 3,000 in Bangladesh, and unless help and supplies begin to arrive en masse, possibly many more. Abdul tells you where to send your dollars if you want to help.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Andrew Sullivan a lady-boss-hater

Blogger Andrew Sullivan, the contrarian champion of gay rights, is driving Hillary-hating to new heights with his latest post on the subject:

[S]he pretends to be a feminist. She wants to include in her "experience" her attempt to get everybody's healthcare under her beatifically benign control in the early 1990s. But in turn he insists that her failure to achieve anything - because of her reflexive secrecy, paranoia and over-reach -- was actually his fault, not hers. She wants credit for being a feminist, while still running in part on her husband's record -- both claiming credit for the good parts and disowning the bad parts. They will keep playing this game - arguing every which way, passing the buck from one to the other, never accepting responsibility, for as long as it gets them past the latest news cycle...Another term of the two of them could well lead to the same kind of sexual scandals that distracted and near-paralyzed affairs of state in the 1990s. If you don't believe that, then you simply haven't grasped the depth of Bill Clinton's needs and compulsions and Hillary Clinton's life-long enabling of them.
Note, above, the latest anti-Hillary narrative, which is that of her purported "enabling" of Bill's bad behavior with women. So now, it's her fault. You blogstress loves that this is a narrative being sold by people who would likely not touch a 12-step program with at 10-foot pole, so perfect are they.

Responding to this latest madness are your ecrivaine's homies at The American Prospect Online, Ezra Klein and Dana Goldstein.

Brother Ezra offers this:
Was Clinton any more sexually compulsive than JFK, or Bob Livingston, or the thrice-married Newt Gingrich, or the thrice-married Rudy Giuliani? Hell, was the Clinton's relationship any more, or any less, fraught than the stange filial dramas between George W. Bush and his father? Of course not. The media just lost its mind for eight years, went crazy with class hatred and status envy and groupthink and scandal-mongering (remember Whitewater? Where the investigation found, after $25 million in costs, no wrongdoing?).
From La Goldstein, comes this:
Feminism is not about passing judgment on women's choices about how to deal with infidelity in marriage -- especially when the woman in question is a public figure whose true personal life we can only guess at...So is Hillary a feminist politician? That depends on your definition of "feminism." What I will say is that in the Senate, she's been a consistent voice representing women. When the Democrats were in the minority, she placed a hold on President Bush's FDA nominee in order to force approval for over-the-counter Plan B. This year, Clinton introduced legislation that would work to close the pay gay between men and women.
As the brilliant and stalwart Katha Pollitt has written, all the sexist sniping at Hillary may only serve to further her candidacy:
The more people insist that sexism plays no part in the primary campaign or its media coverage, the more likely I am to vote for Hillary Clinton and I'll bet I'm not the only one. Her poll numbers with women are rising, after all. I think a lot of women are just fed up to here with the sexism they see around them every day at their own workplaces and that their male colleagues just don't notice as they ride the testosterone escalator upwards.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Are you a Hillary-haytah?

You just may be, if you fit into one of these cleverly-devised categories:

THE LADY-BOSS-HATER

THE SELF-LOATHING WOMAN OF AMBITION

THE ELECTABILITY NERD

THE HIPPIE BETRAYED

THE VAST RIGHT-WING CONSPIRATOR

To take the blogstress's test, you must read her piece at The American Prospect Online: Hatin' on Hillary

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Samhain!

That's Wiccan for "Halloween," mes amis. And how will your blogstress be spending hers? Well, apparently without phone service and running water. And, yes, the bills, perchance, happen to be paid up. Verizon cannot say what happened in the rainstorm that took out your cybertrix's landline, and the District of Columbia will only say that they absolutely, positively must conduct some vital operation on the water system on Halloween.

Sounds like an anti-pagan, Francofilephobic conspiracy to moi.

MORE ON SAMHAIN HERE.

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The case against Mukasey

Anyone who thinks the Democrats should let through the nomination of Giuliani advisor Michael Mukasey for Attorney General of the United States needs to read this insightful piece from last month's In These Times by your blogstress's buddy, Hans Johnson. Here's a taste:

When Senators soon take up the nomination of Michael Mukasey to be attorney general, they have a special obligation to probe him on abuses of power in the Voting Section of the Department of Justice. Hearings for the would-be boss at DOJ must not pass without a proper accounting of how a Bush-appointed gang of dirty-tricksters, acting under a badge of federal authority and alleging voter fraud, has pressured states to spurn their own policies and erase voters from the rolls. Imagine an election board stacked with Nixon’s Plumbers.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Dennis the K, phoning home

Kucinich says he saw U.F.O.
Kucinich says he saw U.F.O.

Unless you've been living on Mars, you've no doubt heard that, Dennis Kucinich, the peace-mongering congressman from Ohio, confirmed Shirley MacLaine's assertion that he saw a UFO while at her house.

And in a post-game interview, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson urged the government to stop holding back the goods on what really happened in his state's eerily famous burg of Roswell.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Hillary and immigration

MSNBC's Chris Matthews is going nuts, trying to frame Hillary Clinton's support for giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants as a sinker for her campaign. While it's not likely to be a popular position in a nation populated by a number of demoralized chest-thumpers looking for a scapegoat, it's a courageous one. This really is, as Clinton says, a public safety issue. You get hit by a truck, you want to know who did it.

The crazy thing is that she's being attacked for being "confusing" and "not decisive" by her male opponents when, in fact, she was pretty clear on this one. She may not have lept up to say, "Oh yeah, licenses to illegals, I'm big on that," but she didn't deny it, and she did defend it.

Where she's more vulnerable, thinks your blogstress, is on her vote for the Senate's war-mongering resolution about Iran. Several of her opponents were quick to point out that the price of oil is climbing high, thanks to this resolution.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Obama: I know I'm a little different

The folks at National Review -- well, Jim Gereghty, to be specfic -- are not amused by one of the NBC moderators using the term "Swift-boating" like it's a bad thing: "[L]et us not ignore that the question from Brian Williams uses 'Swift-boating' as a synonym as an unfair attack," Gereghty writes.

The unfair attack about which Williams inquired was the right-wing stage-whisper campaign alleging Obama to have been educated in a jihadi madrassah, and G.O.P. presidential candidate Mitt Romney's slipping tongue that simply can't help but pronounce "Obama" as "Osama". The Illinois senator handled the question with characteristic grace, saying, "Look, I know I'm not the typical presidential candidate."

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Oops...

When asked if she would, like her husband, support the tax plan unveiled this week by New York Congressman Charles Rangel that would raise taxes on upper crust while giving a break to those in the middle class, Hillary Clinton first said she couldn't endorse the plan because she didn't know all the details, then later said she couldn't endorse the plan because she didn't agree with all the details. Oy.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Biden's making sense

Too bad alway seems so damn eccentric when he does. About Rudy Giuliani, Joe Biden, the senator from Delaware, said, "He says three things in a sentence: a noun, a verb and 9/11." Called Rudy the "most unqualified under-qualified candidate to run for president since George W. Bush.

Earlier in the evening, when moderator Tim Russert challenged the candidates to pledge to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Biden rightly contended that saber-rattling at Iran made no sense when Pakistan was about ready to blow. Chris Dodd all but said, "Right on."

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Edwards gets smacked around

When Bill Richardson went after John Edwards for being "holier than thou," he redeemed himself after grandstanding about having gotten two Americans released from Abu Ghraib in the days of Saddam Hussein. Then Dodd jumped on and Kucinich finished the job.

Edwards was going after Hillary Clinton for taking money from "Washington lobbyists;" Kucinich reminded the audience that Edwards took money from a "New York hedge fund."

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Obama's warmed up

Barack Obama just landed one hard on the senator from New York when he piled on to Tim Russert's question to HRC about Bill Clinton's request that the National Archives not release records of his communications with his wife until 2012. Reminding the audience of Clinton's pledge to "turn the page," Obama declared, "that's not turning the page" when once considers the secrecy of the current administration.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Hillary is kickin' butt

She's tougher than Rudy, more experienced than Obama, done more for poor folks than Edwards, and smarter than everybody. That's the subtext of her responses on Social Security and her vote for the Iran resolution. Biden and Dodd are making sense in taking her on about her Iran vote, but her tone and body language trump their pleas. (My TAPPED colleague, Dana Goldstein, is right about Obama; the offensive stance does not become him.) And though it may be sexist of me to notice, Hillary's somber suit -- a black pantsuit with brown accessories (including a pocket square) -- look to your blogstress like fightin' duds.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Craven Senate confirms bane of blacks and bisexuals

At last weekend's Values Voter summit, James C. Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family, fretted that, come November, the Democrats could "win the triple crown," which consists of the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate. That may well be true, but given the Senate's behavior today, it doesn't look as though the right has much to fear from that outcome. In today's New York Times, David Stout writes of the Senate confirmaton of a federal judge who doesn't find the use of racial epithets in the workplace a firing offence, and who apparently thinks that bisexuals should not be permitted to raise their own children:

Judge Southwick’s critics have pointed to some of his decisions as a Mississippi state appeals court judge. In one case, he upheld the reinstatement with back pay of a white state employee who had used a racial epithet about another worker; in another, he joined a majority opinion that denied a bisexual mother custody of her child.
Speaking of the Values Voter Summit, you can catch your blogstress's recap here at The American Prospect Online.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rudy on Facebook

photo of Rudolph Giuliani from Right Wing Facebook

For all you social network Web-heads out there, you won't want to miss this: Rudy Giuliani's Facebook page (well, kinda).

Our friends at People For the American Way have put together a spectacular feature, the Right Wing Facebook, where you will find pages for each of the right-wing presidential candidates. Your blogstress's personal favorite is the Rudy page. From his "About Me" description:

I want the leaders of the Religious Right to know: I'm pro-family. My family isn't pro-me, but I think that's because I've been spending most of my time over these last few years being America's Mayor...

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sources and Methods
Girlrillas wear green (shantung)

Just when you thought, mes amis, that your blogstress had forgotten her promise to fill you in on the story of how she came to be in possession, a decade ago, of the double-super-secret-background speech delivered by Paul Weyrich, the paleo-Catholic architect of the religious right, to the super-duper-secret Council for National Policy, in she waltzes from a blitz of writing mind-numbing prose for hire to tell you this little tale.

The Council for National Policy (CNP) is a coalition of mostly well-heeled right-wingers -- a majority from the Christo-fascist portion of the winger faction, and the rest from the simply kleptocratic kamp. Because they are Very Important People set on taking over the country, they meet behind doors guarded beefy by men with curlique earpieces.

"They really shouldn't be allowed to get away with that," thought your blogstress, who hatched a plan based around her keen sense of fashion and issues with authoritarianism that would allow her to do what the bear did when he went over the proverbial mountain. Ms. magazine sponsored her reconnaissance mission.

The 1996 summer meeting of the CNP took place, a few days ahead of the Republican National Convention, at the Loews resort on Coronado Island, just over the bridge from the San Diego convention center where the party would gather to nominate Bob Dole as its presidential candidate.

The Loews is an opulent destination resort on one of the world's great pieces of Pacific real estate. Having done her homework, your écrivaine had a pretty good idea of whom she would find there, and what their oh-so-perfectly-done wives would look like.

And so she scoured her closet for a suit, left from her days in the publishing biz, that might be adapted to the kind of hyper-structured, lady-who-lunches sort of ensemble that a Betsy DeVos, for example, might favor. Ah yes, that emerald green silk number would do, with a few nips and tucks and a sterner set of shoulder pads.

Now, what to do for a blouse? Surely, the black turtleneck and ethnic-printed shawl that had once been the suit's standard accessories would hardly pass muster with this crowd. A visit to a discount fabric store that took in a lot of odds and ends from bridal manufacturers solved that. A piece of ivory shantung and matching covered buttons would yield the perfect little structured top. A pair of ivory silk sling-backs from a clothing outlet in Secaucus would round out the look. If she did her own nails, she could afford to have her hair coaxed into a hard-sprayed French twist in the hotel salon.

Early in her hotel stay, your cybertrix purloined a copy of the CNP's schedule of events. She would hold her fire, she decided, until the final night. In the days leading up to the climactic gala, your Webwench would hang around the lobby, blend in and listen.

At last, the big night arrived. Now, mind you, your net-tête did not have anything that even resembled the conference badges worn by the CNPers. She did not pretend to be anyone but herself. She simply wore the right clothes and walked with confidence, past the beefy men with the earpieces, into a cocktail reception on a patio with a spectacular view, where she stood among a throng surrounding Oliver North. She stayed at the cocktail reception just long enough to register as part of the scene, and then discreetly disappeared. And lurked.

When the doors opened to the ballroom where dinner had been served, and the wingers, decked in their finery, strolled out, your blogstress subtly found her way to the room, as if in pursuit of something accidentally left something behind. And, indeed something had been. Why, it was the text of Mr. Weyrich's secret speech, in which he condemned the leadership of the whole Republican Party, and all but damned then-Speaker Newt Gingrich to Hell. And up on a Web site it went.

Goes to show you what a few yards of silk and a half a can of hairspray can get a girl.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

There's something about Rudy...

...that kinda stinks.

Over at The Nation, Ari Berman is spilling those pungent beans. Check out his enterprise story on how Rudy got rich while helping to pollute the planet. Your blogstress's favorite riff:

He needed money and, more important, political connections. Bracewell [a law firm that lobbies on behalf of energy bigs] offered a gateway into the lavish world of Texas Republican fundraising and easy access to the same titans of industry who had helped make the Bush family rich and propelled W. into the White House. The former mayor of one of the bluest cities in the country had just inked a whole lot of red.
CLICK HERE TO READ BERMAN ON RUDY'S DIRTY MONEY

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Giuliani and his queer friends

Over at The American Prospect Online, your blogstress dares to prognosticate on the strategy currently in play by such religious right leaders as James Dobson of Focus on the family and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council against Republican presidential front-runner Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York.

Your cybertrix will fill you in with some backstory when next she graces her devotees with an apparation.

CLICK HERE TO READ "GIULIANI, GAYS AND VALUES VOTERS"

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Crossing the pond

A critical discussion has been taking place among journalists, mes amis, on the characteristics of Hillary Clinton's laugh. No merde. This is really what occupies the better part of our massive brain capacity here in Our Nation's Capital.

To that end, your blogstress, of course, saw fit to weigh in, this time for the British paper, The Guardian. (Now these are people who recognize absurdity when they hear it.)

Do check it out, s'il vous plaît:

I Am Woman, Hear Me Laugh

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dreaming of Newt

Today your blogstress owns up to her longing for Newt Gingrich as the GOP nominee for president. What fun! What dish! What dinosaurs!

Here's the essay, over at The American Prospect Online.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Television gets interesting

You blogstress is running about a day behind, having lost yesterday to the oral surgeon and synthetic opiates (legitimate prescription, of course!).

Among the things on which your cybertrix is catching up is the Emmy Awards program that saw Sally Field censored for daring to say that mothers do not like war. If a man made a similar statement, would he have suffered a similar fate?

At WIMN, Jenn Pozner serves up the good and the bad news emanating from the Emmys -- and, yes, there was good news.

Check out Jenn's post here.

Too bad Fox actually lost viewers with this year's Emmys program. One program that may draw viewers to Fox, however, is K-ville, the new cop/buddy show set in post-Katrina New Orleans. There are issues, to be sure, with the show's anti-hero cliches, but it also touches on some very real stuff about race, class and the use of mercenaries to "keep order" in the city on which Bush turned his back. If nothing else, if K-ville succeeds, it will keep the struggles of the people of New Orleans in the faces of television viewers on a weekly basis. I hope it works.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Almost live-blogging the Edwards response



"Our troops are stuck between a president without a plan to succeed and a Congress without the courage to bring them home."

--John Edwards

Good line from the 2-minute message paid for by the John Edwards presidential campaign. Not sure how I feel about the likes of Edwards -- who, while in the Senate, voted authorize a presidential option to invade Iraq -- chiding his former colleagues in the Senate for lack of courage on the war. Oh, sure, he's since said he made "a mistake" -- something Hillary Clinton still won't concede about her same vote -- but that's easy to say after the fact, after you've left the body.

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Live blogging the president's speech

"Anbar is a good example of how our strategy is working."

--George W. Bush, Sept. 13, 2007

Blast kills top sheik working with U.S. in Iraq
Roadside bomb slays leader
who cooperated in fight against al-Qaida


President George W. Bush greets local leaders of Al Anbar Province before their meeting at Al Asad Airbase, Al Anbar Province, Iraq, Monday, September 3, 2007. White House photo by Eric Draper

BAGHDAD (AP) - The most prominent figure in a U.S.-backed revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Iraq was killed Thursday by a bomb planted near his home in Anbar province, 10 days after he met with President Bush, police and tribal leaders said.

Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha was leader of the Anbar Salvation Council, also known as the Anbar Awakening — an alliance of clans backing the Iraqi government and U.S. forces.

Officials said his assassination would be a huge setback for U.S. efforts in Iraq, because it sends a message to others who are cooperating with coalition forces or thinking about cooperating against al-Qaida.

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Just because you're paranoid...

...doesn't mean they're not lying.

Earlier this week, National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell asserted that the new, extra-Constitutional powers given the administration last month by Congress (with the help of 57 negligent or craven Democrats) to spy on Americans actually helped to foil the terrorism plot uncovered in Germany. Here are Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball:

On Monday, McConnell—-questioned by Sen. Joe Lieberman—claimed the law, intended to remedy what the White House said was an intelligence gap, had helped to "facilitate" the arrest of three suspects believed to be planning massive car bombings against American targets in Germany. Other U.S. intelligence-community officials questioned the accuracy of McConnell's testimony and urged his office to correct it. Four intelligence-community officials, who asked for anonymity discussing sensitive material, said the new law, dubbed the "Protect America Act," played little if any role in the unraveling of the German plot. The U.S. military initially provided information that helped the Germans uncover the plot. But that exchange of information took place months before the new "Protect America" law was passed.
The Protect America [from Americans who oppose Bush administration policies] Act" is scheduled to expire in February, and the administration is already launching an effort to make it permanent.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bin Laden video a forgery?





A colleague on a ListServ in which I participate has pointed out the oddness of the bin Laden video's many minutes of a frozen frame. It just happens to be the many minutes in which "bin Laden" goes on about current events and offers reading suggestions to the American people.

You know, I was always a bit suspicious. The recommendation that we, citizens of the Great Citizen, would find redemption in the writings of Noam Chomsky always struck your ecrivaine as odd. Libertarian socialism and anarcho-syndicalism don't seem to make a good match-up with radical islam. (Can't imagine there's a lot of Chomsky on the reading lists at the local madrassah.)

Check out the bin Laden video and accompanying critique on Booman Tribune.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What September 11th hath wrought

Today's anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon has a particularly eerie feel to it, perhaps because in 2007, six years later, the anniversary falls for the first time on the same day of the week on which the attacks occurred. It was a Tuesday, and a gloriously beautiful one, at that.

At least today in Washington, D.C., we are spared that similarity. The skies are grey and the air quite sticky.

The fall-out from the attacks continues to plague U.S. foreign policy, and on that end, your blogstress has a piece scheduled to run today at The American Prospect Online that examines current Pakistani politics in light of that nation's post-9/11 relationship with the world's only superpower.

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Did Craig commit perjury?

You may have heard, mes amis, that non-gay Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) yesterday petitioned the Minnesota court "to let him take back the guilty plea he made after his arrest in a men's room sex sting, saying he is innocent but panicked under intense anxiety," according to Reuters.

Our friend, the Internationalist -- not a chap ordinarily prone to the evils of partisanship -- offers this in response to Sen. Craig's wide-stance panic:

The Republican Truth Deficit should give the sub-prime market a run for its money...The Republicans seem to have trouble telling the truth these days, even as they are resigning... I would think that the pressure to adhere to public expectations (or White House desires) would be off when an official decides to quit. But the truth is taking a hit even as the Republicans are quitting.

Senator Craig lies to compound his lies. I'm no attorney, but isn't knowingly filing a false plea perjury? Then when "outed" and pummeled by his party compatriots, Senator Craig chooses his words carefully enough to wiggle out of his resignation. So his intent to resign varies depending on how sure he feels at any given moment to beat the wrap; so much for reliable political leaders.

I can forgive congressional votes based on faulty information, but decisions and declarations solely based on moments of passing fancy are sophomoric to the point of being dangerous. Idaho deserves better, the Senate deserves better. Craig knows how to flip-flop, lie; flip-flop, lie; if having him to kick around for another 14 months weren't so politically inviting, I'd want him to flip-flop away.

And I am not even going to start in on Rummy being "intellectually bankrupt" according to our trusted British ally.

I do have to give kudos to Tony Snow. He's not leaving the White House to spend more time with his family, although I do hope that is a benefit he will enjoy. Spokesman Snow is leaving the White House to earn more money! He said so! Honesty, finally!

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Was Craig entrapped?

In case you missed it, there's been a debate bubbling up -- and one bound to bubble over -- about whether or not Sen. Larry Craig was the victim of entrapment by the Finest of Minneapolis when he was arrested there in a men's room after allegedly having signaled his desire to have sex with an undercover police officer. First to pose that question -- and bravely so, considering his credentials as a bona fide liberal -- was Matthew Yglesias, who, noting the foot-tapping, do-you-wanna-do-it signal Craig copped to making, wrote on his eponymous blog at The Atlantic:

Now, common sense indicates that the officer in question is correct and Craig's foot-tapping was a cruising signal, but surely tapping one's foot isn't a crime in Minnesota. Whatever Craig intended to do here, he doesn't seem, in fact, to have done anything lewd.
Last Sunday, in the New York Times's Week in Review section, writer Laura M. MacDonald weighed in with a similar sentiment:
WHAT is shocking about Senator Larry Craig’s bathroom arrest is not what he may have been doing tapping his shoe in that stall, but that Minnesotans are still paying policemen to tap back.
Before I proceed, your blogstress must make some full disclosure here herself: When the news of Craig's arrest broke last year, your Webwench poked some well-meaning offline fun at Yglesias, inferring that we women are always being accused of luring men to their moral undoing, so one critical bit of information was to know whether or not the cop was wearing stilettos. Okay, so it is a disappointing bit of full disclosure.

Alors, allow your cybertrix to proceed with a bit of pretzel logic. Your écrivaine does indeed concur that the "sting" for which the good people of Minnesota were paying is probably a waste of taxpayer dollars, and says more about society's fear of gay men than anything else. However, this does not obstruct her belief that Larry Craig should resign his Senate seat. Why? Because he's a sanctimonious, apparently queer hypocryte who makes laws against queers. It's just a morality thing.

To be on the safe side, your blogstress sadly notes that she will no longer be rehearsing Ann Miller routines in public restrooms.

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Don't forget the people who survived Katrina

I know the anniversary of the storm's landfall has passed, but that doesn't mean your blogstress intends to forget about the lives ruined by the government's failure to protect and care for the million-plus people whose lives have been upended by Hurricane Katrina, the storm that devestated the Gulf Coast two years ago. Your ecrivaine had hoped to be in New Orleans for this year's anniversary, as she had for last year's but, alas, other work got in the way of her getting that far south.

On a joyful note, your Webwench did enjoy hearing, once again, the sound of New Orleans jazz as played by the Treme Brass Band (pronounced "tre-MAY"), only this time in Arlington, Virginia, as part of the wonderful "Planet Arlington" concert headlined by South African trumpeter and singer Hugh Masekela. The last time your net-tete heard the Treme players was during the jazz funeral in New Orleans last year that marked the one-year anniversary of the storm. The funeral was a symbolic proper New Orleans ceremony for all who had perished after the breach of the levees. Katrina is often called our nation's worst natural disaster when, in fact, it was a disaster wrought by humans. The storm would have been survivable if the levees had held, as they were supposed to, at the category 3 level to which Katrina had diminished upon making landfall in New Orleans.

Over at the blog, Comment is Free, that is part of the UK's Guardian newspaper site, your blogstress's former American Prospect bossman, Michael Tomasky, ran a stinging piece that recounts the timeline of devestation and disregard endured by the people of the Gulf Coast, thanks to the disengagement of the president of the United States.

Meanwhile, at The Big Con, the blog of the Campaign for America's Future, Rick Perlstein lifts up the rug to examine the post-Katrina contracting boom being enjoyed by the friends and family of Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

Does shame even exist in the experience of these people?

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Remembering Katrina

The American Prospect Online today offers a look at an arresting Web comic on the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

This explains everything (even Larry Craig)

Have you been tossing and turning at night, wondering the reason for the death of the portly religious-right front man, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, from cardiac arrest at the tender age of 73, or of former Southern Baptist Convention President Adrian Rogers, who died of colon cancer at the virtually adolescent age of 74?

And what about the revelation of yet another anti-gay darling of the Republican religious set having been revealed as a practitioner of homosexual-like tendencies? [Sen. Larry Craig denies that he is gay, despite having fluttered his hankie at an undercover cop in the stall next to his in a men's room in Minnesota.] Well, Pastor Rick Scarborough has the answer, according to Right-Wing Watch, a blog of People for the American Way:

In Isaiah 3, God pronounces nine things that happen to a nation that turns its back on God. Included in the list are such things as rampant homosexuality, (Is. 3:9); apathy among the citizenry, (vs. 6-7); crime (v.5); and immature leaders (v. 4). At the beginning of the list, and perhaps as a precursor to all that follows leading up to judgment, is the removal of the prophets and the judges …
Go to PFAW's excellent blog for more wing-nut follies.

MORE BY YOUR BLOGSTRESS ABOUT RELIGIOUS-RIGHT ANTICS OVER AT TAPPED

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Where the Undead Meet the Unborn

American Prospect writing fellow Dana Goldstein has a fascinating post up at her personal blog on how Anne Rice -- she of Interview With a Vampire fame -- has endorsed Hillary Clinton, even though Rice herself has converted to Catholicism and become ardently anti-abortion.

Figures that the purveyor of tales of the undead should become the defender of the unborn.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Notice to Congress:
Save the Constitution...

...dammit!

Fredo footsoldiered its undoing; now it's time for Congress to seize back its constitutional powers from the executive branch -- by whatever means necessary.

Your blogstress offers a prescription at The American Prospect Online.

And while you're there, check out TAPPED to learn about the Fredo-Sanjaya connection.

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Inside, outside, good guy, bad guy

White House photo by Chris Greenberg
President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush sit with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his wife, Rebecca, during a visit Sunday, Aug. 26, 2007, at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Well, you can't say it's been a boring summer here in Our Nation's Capital, mes amis. New York may be empty while tout le monde vacays in the Hamptons, and the population of D.C. maybe reduced to the people who actually live here, but the White House keeps churnin' out the hits: the Libby pardon, the Rove resignation and, now, Fredo's farewell.

Over at his dashing, redesigned blog, the Media Consortium's Brian Beutler examines the irrelevance of the label "Washington insider" when assessing a bureaucrat's virtues. Alberto Gonzales, of course, was a Washington outsider, but too much of a parent-pleasing, White House insider to do his job properly.

Your blogstress, however, cautions her devotees not to fall for yet another often false dichotomy, the one that goes like this: He who contradicts the bad guy is a good guy.

It would have been hard not to take joy in the contradiction of Gonzales's testimony on the NSA warrantless wiretapping crimes of the Bush administration by FBI Director Robert Mueller. Mueller, you'll recall, remembered quite clearly Gonzales's attempt to get a feeble, befuddled John Ashcroft to sign off on the program from his hospital bed. Merci beaucoup, Bob.

But Bob ain't quite done. As Beutler reports, Mueller's been busy with a domestic spy program of his own. And maybe even a little voter suppression.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Gonzo is gonzo
Adios, Fredo!

Is it just your blogstress, or is anybody else sensing a big-ass shoe about to drop?

On today's resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the New York Times has an early piece, posted here at MSNBC.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Whither goest Leahy?
Will contempt charges see light of day?

With Congress slated to return next week to the big, white building down the block from your blogstress's Oppo Factory, your cybertrix endeavors to suppress the the hope that Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont will actually make good on his to charge the president with contempt of Congress for his failure to comply with a Senate subpoena for documents related to the illegal NSA wiretapping program that Congress so cravenly passed earlier this month.

The need for hope-suppression stems from the numerous disappointments your Webwench has suffered, longing for indignant Democrats to do more than express indignation at the flouting of the Constitution by the autocrats that inhabit the executive branch. But blogstress, they plead; we haven't the votes to save the Constitution! Saving the Constitution would divide the republic! (Note to Dems: absent a working Constitution, there is no republic.)

Here's a suggestion from one Harvey Silverglate, who represented Mike Gravel, the soon-to-be-erstwhile Democratic presidential candidate, back when he was a noble senator seeking to publish the Pentagon Papers in the Congressional Record: send the Capitol Police to the White House to arrest Mr. Bush. The Secret Service should have some fun with that one.

CLICK HERE TO READ LEAHY'S STATEMENT ON CONTEMPT OF CONGRESS

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Burning down the supermarket

You may recall that your blogstress has a veritable herd of brothers, several of whom have appeared on this site under assumed names. Your Webwench can't possibly understand why they would wish to obscure their blood connection to your cybertrix. Be that as it may, one bold soul, Timothy C. Stan, steps into the light to discuss the phenomenon of soundtrack music for the retail environment.

The topic came up because of our common fondness for Talking Heads, and my horrified elation at finding myself serenaded, while shopping for canned goods (to have on hand in the event of an al Qaeda attack on Capitol Hill) at the local Giant Superstore, by David Byrne singing "Burning Down the House." Whatever happened to the Montivani Orchestra?

The elation was short-lived: David Byrne was next replaced by Reba McEntyre, who sang, "The Angel in Your Arms This Morning (Is Gonna Be the Devil in Someone Else's Arms Tonight)".

Tim, who has done serious career time in the retail trenches, observes:

"This hour of Retail Re-Education Radio is brought to you by Safeway, reminding you to "Conform, and drink the Kool-Aid; you'll feel better."

And by The Gap, who thinks "you're unique -- just like everyone else."

Reba, huh? Yikes. At least it wasn't Celine Dion.

Remember you're talking to someone who's endured a LOT of hours of retail music. Eventually, it either gives you super-powers or it drives you insane. That's how I got the ability to see through walls and read tree bark...

Hmmmmm. Need more Kool-Aid.
Tim asks that it be noted he is not the brother who was kept in the attic.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Graf of the day
How blogs are changing newswriting

Wonderful lede graf in today's Washington Post story by Peter Baker on the Bush administration's newly revealed manual for how to deal with protesters at presidential appearances:

Not that they're worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn't want any.
While your blogstress concedes that even before the hole in the ozone layer permitted the blogosphere to hover closer to earth, newswriting had become more colloquial and casual in tone, there are syntactical qualities here that tend to be more peculiar to bloggers. As in, people who blog.

Oh, and the piece is a must-read. Not that I'm paranoid or anything.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

How can I miss you, Karl,
when you won't go away?

Last week, he promised to go all elusive on us and everything, inviting us to call him Moby (although the whale's last name may prove a more apt moniker), today, your average Sunday-morning couch potato just couldn't get away from Karl Rove, even if she wanted to. (Click here to read, at The American Prospect Online, your Webwench's morning-after piece about Rove and the rightie who may have done him in.)

There he was on "Meet the Press" telling David Gregory that he didn't have to testify before Congress because the nation's founders granted him executive privilege -- apparently through some sort of special dispensation:

KARL ROVE: We have a constitutional separation of powers. The founders talk about this. They, they understood this issue, and they wanted to insulate the judicial, the executive and the legislative from each other in this respect.
So, the founders are apparently talking to Karl Rove telling him that "separation of powers" means that, in the executive branch, you grab all the power you can, carefully separating the powers from the branches to which they previously belonged. (Of course, the current Congress is often all too happy simply to fork theirs over, as it did in the recent legislation on NSA wiretapping, thanks to the votes of 57 Democrats.)

But here's the real kicker from Rove's MTP appearance:
KARL ROVE: It should not—-the Constitution should not be weakened, and we should not weaken the prerogatives of the power of the presidency just because somebody wants to have kind of show hearing on the Hill.
Yeah, he's cuttin' out in order to save the Constitution. (BTW, Moby, the Constitution does not forbid members of the White House staff from testifying before Congress.)

Oh, and here's some blogging from ink19 about your écrivaine's take on the Rove exit.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Bush à la merde
(almost as good as impeachment)




From a reader who simply calls himself "the man," comes this photo statement, which is one among many on the same visual theme that devotees can find at the Web site, Made You Think.

Better yet, you can participate in the documentation of the turdification of the national discourse, mes amis. Write into the man, and he will send you little flags designed for adorning the scat of your choice. A sort of organic take on the Flat Stanley craze of some years ago.

Your blogstress, being a paradoxical creature of both refined tastes and low humor, is quite charmed by the man's project. Though, by her lights, not even Flat Stanley can equal the titillation of Ukulele Boogaloo's fabukelous Ukulele World project, a sort of uke-porn meets travelogue thing.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Left behind
(in Karl Rove's desk)

At Pottersville, they're offering the "Top Ten Likeliest Items Left in Karl Rove's Desk Drawers," only three of which can we print on this dysfunctional-family-friendly blog:

10) Letter opener still caked with human brain matter.

9) 14 pages of emails from Mel Martinez at the RNC filled with jokes about Jerry Falwell’s death.

8) Expired contract with Satan with loopholes circled in red ink.
Of course, we can't stop you from driving through Pottersville.

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Max Roach: May he rest in peace


From the New York Times obituary by Peter Keepnews:

Max Roach, a founder of modern jazz who rewrote the rules of drumming in the 1940’s and spent the rest of his career breaking musical barriers and defying listeners’ expectations, died early today in Manhattan. He was 83.

[...]

Mr. Roach was an innovator in other ways. In the late 1950s, he led a group that was among the first in jazz to regularly perform pieces in waltz time and other unusual meters in addition to the conventional 4/4. In the early 1960s, he was among the first to use jazz to address racial and political issues, with works like the album-length “We Insist! Freedom Now Suite.”
The "Freedom Now Suite" was a collaboration with, among others, his first wife, Abbey Lincoln, who has an extraordinary new record out. It's called "Abbey Sings Abbey," and it features fresh recordings of pieces penned by Lincoln herself. The instrumentation is acoustic, with a gypsy feel.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Imus redux?

It would be one thing if this nasty, racist old man took his show over to satellite radio, where people have to pay to hear his crap, but to have him return to public airwaves -- a public trust, owned by toi et moi, is truly a slap in the face to women and Americans of African descent.

At 12:30, Jennifer Pozner of Women in Media and News will appear on the Fox News Channel to argue against any deal that would return Imus to the airwaves.

And check out Maretta J. Short, president of the New Jersey chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), who has been on the front lines of the Imus wars since the multimillionaire bully tried to demean the accomplishments of the women's basketball team at Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey.

CLICK HERE TO HEAR MARETTA SHORT TAKE DOWN IMUS

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I think I see him

Here's a snip from an interview Karl Rove gave to the McClatchy newspapers:

Rove also expects congressional Democrats to continue efforts to get him to testify in an inquiry into the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.

"They're going to keep coming after me," Rove told McClatchy. "They've got a bunch of guys auditioning for the role of Captain Ahab, and I'm Moby Dick."
Well, he is big and white.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Guess we won't have Karl Rove to kick around anymore

He'll be too busy collecting oodles of dough for a book advance and corporate governance deals -- not to mention answering the calls speed-dialed from the Oval Office.

From our long lost correspondent, The Internationalist, your blogstress received this fit of pique:

Damn, if I have to hear more about the "genius" of Karl Rove, I am going to hack up a fur ball. The tale of how he saw the potential in the blue-jean-wearing "W" who came to meet him at Union Station -- the "glow" Karl saw was probably W's Jack & coke buzz. I would go on about Rove having "the math," but it just gives me a headache, reminding me of trying to find the square root for imaginary numbers.
Watch out for fuzzy projectiles, mes amis.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Super-Nova Tuesday

Few are the pundits who find any virtue in the evolving 2008 schedule for the primaries and caucuses by which the presidential candidates of the two major political parties are chosen. Things were bad enough when, only recently, February 5, 2008, was dubbed "Tsunami Tuesday" or "Super Duper Tuesday," thanks to the scheduling of primaries by nearly all the powerhouse states on that day. Well, maybe not all. Today comes word from the great State of South Carolina that it will move its Republican primary up to January 19, which will likely to push Iowa to conduct its caucuses sometime around Christmas.

The most eloquent explanation of this extreme climate change (written before these latest developments) that you will ever read, mes amis, is this April piece, "Pileup," by The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg. After noting that the "Pileup" plan, however horrid, was born of a laudable impulse--that of wanting the contest in one's home state to actually count for something--Hertzberg wrote:

The purity of that motive, however, does not obviate the fact that a schedule that (a) locks up both parties’ nominations in one fell swoop and (b) requires the country to devote two out of every four years to Presidential politicking is completely insane. The closest anyone has come to cutting the Gordian knot of the primaries was a little-known effort in 2000. A group of Republican grandees led by Bill Brock, a former senator from Tennessee and national party chairman, spent months hammering out what was dubbed the Delaware Plan, which, beginning in 2004, would have mandated four sets of primaries, a month apart, beginning with the small states (twelve of them, including New Hampshire) and ending with the largest (which would pick a majority of the total delegates). Brock said recently that he had developed the plan in consultation with friends in the other party ("Such things were possible, once upon a time," he said), and was fairly sure that the Democrats would have followed suit. But, because the Republicans couldn’t have proceeded without a floor fight at their Convention, the Bush camp, determined to avoid any hint of discord, shot the whole thing down* at the last minute. Various other ideas—revolving regional primaries, for example, or randomly chosen primaries at two-week intervals—continue to float around. Eventually, though, Congress will probably have to take the lead in sorting out the mess.
Indeed, one such regional plan was promoted yesterday on the New York Times op-ed page by Democrat Bob Graham of Florida, who was to the 2004 presidential contest what, say, Chris Dodd is to the 2008 bid, or Richard Lugar was to the 1996 line-up (competent, well-informed, well-mannered, and highly unlikely to prevail).

After extolling the virtues of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary (and giving all the credit for derailing Edmund Muskie's 1972 candidacy to the people of New Hampshire while failing to mention Richard Nixon's famous dirty tricks), Graham declares those contests dead as the nation's front-line vettors:
A series of five regional primaries, spaced three weeks apart and rotated every four years, would give voters from Miami to Maui to Manchester opportunities to be first in the nation. Candidates could spend more time with citizens of neighboring states and less time on coast-to-coast flights. Because the primaries would be stretched out over three months rather than three weeks, reporters and other political scorekeepers could not rush to declare a national winner.
Frankly, your blogstress thinks this would lead to an acceleration of the entropic demise of our electoral system. Think about it: every four years, a particular region would get to choose the candidates, throwing the nation's politics into a ping-pong of coastal liberalism v. Southern and Western third-wayism on the Democratic side, and coastal moderation v. religious totalitarianism on the Republican side.

Your blogstress much prefers having the scene set by the quirky libertarians of New Hampshire and the meticulous civic leaders of Iowa.

*What a surprise that the Bushies would shoot down a plan that would have enhanced democracy in the homeland.

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