Thursday, January 31, 2008

Some rambling thoughts

At what point does a candidate's past mistakes accumulate to the point that he or she is no longer worth consideration? I don't know the answer. Obama's got his Rezko ties and signing Donnie McClurkin up to help the campaign. I'm sure there are other missteps as well.

Clinton's got the vote for the war, voting for Kyl-Lieberman, and this troubling stuff from her time on the Wal-Mart board of directors. In her defense, it doesn't look like she was actually out busting unions herself, but she could have refused to be a Democratic fig leaf for the company's virulent anti-labor policies. She has repudiated their behavior, though. But she hasn't repudiated her Iraq war vote, nor her Kyl-Lieberman vote. That's troubling.

We can't expect perfection-mistakes will be made. Errors in judgment are unavoidable for even the wisest people. But at a minimum, I think we are right to expect an acknowledgment of the errors. It looks like Obama's campaign is working to shed the Rezko donations, and while he didn't kick McClurkin off the stage of his event, Obama did clarify that he doesn't agree with McClurkin's views about gays. And more importantly, Obama went to one of the most visible black churches on one of the most important days of the year and upbraided (albeit gently) the congregants for their anti-gay bigotry. That's at least something.

I'm just wondering where the point is at which the errors in judgment pile up enough to not trust a person to be president (or mayor, or school board member). I've essentially reached that point with Hillary Clinton (though again, I'll gladly vote for her in the general if it comes to that-Supreme Court Supreme Court Supreme Court), but not through any mathematical formula. This isn't precise, it's very subjective, and I have cast my lot with Barack Obama.

Looking around the liberal blogs, I find that people are so passionate one way or the other (or the other-to be fair, most people I've been reading preferred Edwards), and they largely talk past one another. I don't know what goes into this peculiar alchemy of making a decision, or convincing someone (if I did I guess I'd be some candidate's right hand man). It's endlessly fascinating, though, to read and hear people whose values I share coming to such different conclusions.

One way or another, I hope that the hard-fought nature of this primary doesn't kill the record turnout we've seen, or embitter newly engaged voters. Politics can be nasty, but engaging it is also the only way we can exert a measure of control over things that really do have a measurable impact on our lives. I hope that whatever happens, people who have not been engaged up until now carry that lesson with them and stay aware.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Habeas Lawyers for Obama

Talk about your impressive endorsements.
Next September I'll be going to work at a law firm that represents several Guantanamo detainees. (it's a big firm and that's just one of its many pro bono matters). I couldn't be more proud that the firm I'll be working for is doing that. Seeing the partner running those cases on this list makes me even happier.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Family Dinner

Hilarious. I'd forgotten how much I loved Mystery Science Theater 3000. Thanksgiving used to involve hours-long stretches of this show punctuated by gluttony.

And this bit is just fantastic. It's like a dispatch from a time before irony.

H/T Driftglass.

Uh oh...

When Mickey Kaus sounds like he agrees with me it may be a good time to step back and take stock...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Calm and sensible

This post over at Balloon Juice is a very calm and sensible explanation of why Obama is a better choice in the Democratic primary. It mirrors my thinking in a lot of ways (though more eloquently).
It's actually not because there is much of a real problem with Hillary Clinton. I've said it before- my reasons for supporting Obama over Clinton are not entirely fair. They involve the fact that this election carries so much weight and I fear putting up a candidate with such high out-of-the-gate negatives. There is a significant portion of the electorate who simply will not ever vote for Hillary Clinton (yes, because they are ignorant troglodytes, but this country is home to many ignorant, voting, troglodytes). I've said it before, I'll say it again: If Clinton wins the primary, I will vote for her in the general. The most important factor for me is the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts. The next president is likely to get more than Bush's two nominees to the Supreme Court, and they are not likely to be because of retirements on the right. And the federal district courts and courts of appeal always give a president a big opportunity for a lasting impact. So regardless of who the Democratic Party nominates, I'll vote for that candidate. But for many unfair reasons, I hope it's not Clinton.
Moreover, the further we go on, some quite fair reasons not to prefer Clinton become more glaring. The move by the Clinton campaign to try to get the Florida and Michigan delegates seated is shady as hell. And for all of the people mouthing some variation on the theme of "Obama supporters should just shut up about the Clintons being too rough-it's not as if he's going to get a free pass from the Republicans in the general," ? Shut up. Seriously. Just shut up. A team practices hard so it's ready for the other team on game day, but they don't hit their own teammates with everything they have.* Reagan's eleventh commandment couldn't work for the Democrats and isn't something I'm comfortable with as a rule, tending to think sunlight really is a good disinfectant (and in a party that put up Joe Lieberman for vice president, speaking ill of Democrats-excuse me- "Democrats" is sometimes downright required). But basic "don't change the rules in the middle of the game," civility is something I expect in the primary.
The best bit from the Balloon Juice post is this:
But that’s small beans next to the constitutional mess that the Bush legacy will leave for President 44. It’s baggage, a giant bellhop-slaying pile of it, with David Addington’s initials stenciled on the side. The next president should burn it, scatter the ashes and choose judges based on how emphatically they will overturn every aspect of Addington’s totalitarian agenda. Or she could pick up the bags on her way in. It’s a lot of power. If she felt like it the next President could record the phone and email of every critic, Republican and potential Islamic terrorist without the NSA breaking a sweat. I don’t like living in a country where a spineless boy king with machiavellian advisors has that freedom and I don’t look forward to a Democrat having it either.
And that's just it. I have real problems with what the Presidency has become over the last seven years. The problem I have stems not just from the fact that it has been warped and twisted and enlarged in the hands of a malevolent clown troop, but also from the fact that this version of the presidency is simply bad for our country. The executive being as powerful and as unsupervised as is has over the last two terms is simply a bad idea-that's why it's taken such a brazen re-imagining of constitutional principles to achieve.
I have a native suspicion that Obama would be less likely than Clinton to grasp and abuse this new set of executive superpowers, but the bare-knuckled, expedience-is-king nature of the Clinton campaign over the last few weeks makes me fear her abuse of that new power more than I ever did before. Maybe Obama would abuse it the same way, but at least he's shown some restraint in the primary, so I'm left with the impression that the odds of him wielding the unitary executive as a Democratic Bush are low.

Fair? Unfair? A mix? I don' t know. But the bottom line is that the Clinton campaign makes me very nervous. Do with that what you will.

*Can you tell sports metaphors are not my strong suit?

Bill Clinton needs to shut his cake-hole!

Or not. Hell, he can go all over the country poisoning the well of Clinton support for all I care.
Josh Marshall has the goods on Clinton's "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice" comments.
I just wish someone had asked him to finish the thought. "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice so ... what Mr. President? Is there a 'which shows that...' end to that sentence?"

Friday, January 25, 2008

It's all downhill from here

This is not only the funniest thing I've ever seen, but I'm not sure it's possible for anything funnier to exist.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Are we, as a nation, this stupid?

"This whole thing about being muslim, they're really tapping into, I think, a national fear of terrorists. So...muslim-terrorist, I think they've put the two together."

There are times when I can almost physically feel the ignorance of my fellow Americans. While we're playing the debunking game, though, let me just point out that the photo of the guy atop the World Trade Center just before the plane hit is a hoax.
So is the one of the shark leaping at the guy on the helicopter.

The first which what?


That about says it.

Yeah. I have reconciled myself to the fact that I'm a partisan. I am not objective.
But it's a good looking pic, and really, there's meaning in it for everyone.

h/t crooks and liars.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Crooks and Liars » Countdown: John Edwards Was Right On The Economy

Crooks and Liars » Countdown: John Edwards Was Right On The Economy

Investing in infrastructure to battle an economic downturn? Brilliant! It's almost like Ms. Maddow has an advanced degree in some discipline requiring knowledge of history and economics or something. What? Oh...

On a less Rachel Maddow fanboy-ish note: it truly is amazing how much like Herbert Hoover W is trying to be. Tax cuts, huh? Whaddaya know...?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Smoother than I could have been

In which Lanny Davis, having hopped aboard HMS Tucktanic, managed one of the smoothest "you're an idiot son" interactions ever.
Crooks and Liars » Tucker: Hillary Is Too Rich & White To Have Experienced Discrimination

This is why I support Obama

Yeah, it's long. Yeah, it's *just* a speech.
Call me a sucker, but it moved me.


Congrats to Hillary Clinton and John Edwards for being transparently disingenuous. When they attack Barack Obama for voting "present" while in the Illinois legislature, they are shoveling crap. Nice.
I'm so tired of this BS out of Clinton[s], especially. Yes. I'll vote for her if she wins-but it'll be a vote against the republican, not for her.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This is impressive:

Ordinarily, endorsements don't make much difference to me, but Senator Leahy endorsing Barack Obama is a little different. As the Chairman of the judiciary committee, he has been heroic about returning the oversight role back to congress. If Obama could just sew up Henry Waxman's endorsement, he could plausibly claim to be the choice of the congressional White House-smackdown caucus.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"I take it it goes without saying that all of this is unfair..."

This post by Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings is perhaps the best distillation of the reasoning behind my support of Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton that I've seen. It gets to a lot of what I was trying to get across to the commenter* on my earlier post about Chris Matthews. I feel a little sad that a well-written, practical, dispassionate defense of a position I hold is extraordinary, but that's where we find ourselves. Things have gotten a little rough and calm, rational discourse is not usually in abundance when things get rough.
I should point out that the reason things have gotten so rough for Democrats (and this comes through in Hilzoy's post-seriously, go read it) is that we are in an "embarrassment of riches" situation. This year we have fielded one of the strongest presidential candidate lists in recent memory. I'd have happily voted for any of them against anyone in the Republican field (OK maybe not so happily for Gravel, but I'd have held my nose, thought of the Supreme Court, and pulled the lever for him-thank god it won't come to that). The unprecedented strength of the Democratic position this year is something to be very happy about, come what may-which I hope is an Obama victory. And I hope that victory is decided as quickly as possible, because I really should be putting more effort into my studies.
Go read the Hilzoy piece.

*That's right! I had a non-spam commenter! *Sniff* That means at least one person not related to me has read this blog!
Seriously-I'm WAY stoked about the commenter (do it again!). The odds of this becoming a place where any remotely significant number of people exchange ideas are longer than the line at hell's ice cream parlor, but I'd love to hear from anyone who happens stop by-use an alias if you're shy. Hell, I do.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Chris Matthews needs to shut his cake hole.

As an Obama supporter and a person who is truly baffled that anyone can muster genuine enthusiasm for Clinton on her own terms (though if she's the nominee I'll be plenty enthused to see her beat whatever paleolithic hairball the Republicans cough up), I wish Matthews would shut the hell up already.
Good gravy, the man's a train wreck! The only rational explanation for his continued mouth-diarrhea about Clinton is that he actually wants her to win the primary and is doing his best to make her opponents seem like misogynist knuckle-draggers. A move like Romney's anti-Mormon push polling.
The only problem with that analysis is that such jiu-jitsu requires a metric ton more intelligence than Matthews ordinarily manifests. So I'm left to the conclusion that there simply is no rational explanation for his continued dipshittery, just some deep-seated loathing for Hillary Clinton that probably comes from his own unrecognized humiliation at having been a part of the two year journalistic search party down Bill Clinton's pants that put us directly in the hell we've enjoyed for the last seven.

My advice below still stands, though-he should simply be ignored. Changing your vote because a pundit pisses you off is totally irrational.

(Note: This post appeared in an early form as a comment to this post over at the group news blog-I was so taken with my prose I reposted it here)

Update: Kos put all of this into a tidy package that pretty well sums up my thoughts.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I don't get it

I've been zipping hither and thither through the blogosphere today and as I have, I've run into variations on the theme of "I'm an Obama (or Edwards) supporter, but I might have voted for Clinton today after seeing how shabbily the media treated her in the last few days" (there are several iterations here).
This sentiment makes no sense to me at all. I don't quibble with the idea that the media has been pretty lame-downright misogynist even-in it's coverage of the Democratic race in the last week. But to alter your vote on that basis is insane. After you cast your "f-you" vote, Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough still have a job. All you've done is confirm their influence, albeit negatively.
Don't be a fool-the only way to chip away at the influence of annoying commentators is to ignore them and do what thou wilt.

I hope not...

Andrew Sullivan is wondering if the surprising NH results can be attributed to the Bradley Effect. God I hope not. Moreover, I hope that the mention of it doesn't cause African American voters in South Carolina and elsewhere to pull back from Obama. Yikes, this is a race...

Wait a minute...?

Didn't Edwards talk about Nataline Sarkisian in his last (not really a) concession speech? I like Edwards-he'd likely be my second choice in the primary-but he really shouldn't so obviously recycle material in such high-profile settings.

Is it just me?

Is it just me or is there a palpable animosity between Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews? Their interactions are just loaded with barely concealed hostility. I love it. When Rachel replaces Tucker Carlson on MSNBC, I hope she and Matthews have to work in the same building.

Gang up?

I keep hearing pundits refer to the idea that the debate this weekend tipped the vote toward Clinton. Andrea Mitchell just said that she thinks a lot of voters thought Edwards and Obama "ganging up" on Clinton was unfair. That's just stupid. Sorry. Maybe Mitchell is right, maybe she's just grasping for anything to fill airtime, but if she's right, she's describing the reaction of foolish people. When there are two people who disagree with a third and they are on a stage talking about their disagreements, it's not "ganging up," it's debating. I hope like hell nobody actually made a decision on that ridiculous basis.

Some advice for MSNBC

When debugging your coverage for the next go-round, you would do well to figure out what that interminable beeping in the background behind the anchors is and make it stop!

NH Primary Night

I'm watching the coverage of the NH primary on MSNBC-actually, I'm watching the goings on prior to Olbermann, Matthews, et al having anything to report-and I'll be commenting when I see things that require comment. Here are a couple off the bat:
#1: Matthews was talking to Tom Delay (I have no idea why they would have him on, but they did) and Delay was discussing McCain's appeal to moderates. When Matthews asked him about his apparent denigration of moderates, he asked how Delay defined "moderate" and Delay actually said "someone who thinks too much." Seriously. He really said that. He laughed afterward, Not having to represent anyone but himself anymore has apparently unleashed Delay to be just as ignernt as he dang well pleases.

#2: Dee Dee Myers, Bill Clinton's former press secretary actually had the gumption to say that Hillary Clinton was not the frontrunner until last fall. Wha...?! Chris Matthews about fell off his chair, and Myers got a little pissy about it. Clinton has been the front runner in the democratic race starting about the second Wednesday in November of 2004. What does that spin achieve even if anyone's dumb enough to buy it? The wheels are falling off the Clinton bus and apparently whacking the supporters on the side of the road square in the head...

Update: Olbermann is continuing to clown Myers mercilessly. Yeah, he's kind of mean, but Myers is a big girl and she deserves all of the clowning they can pile on.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Not Just on Planes

It would seem that people are assholes everywhere.
You pieces of feces standing to the left on the escalator out of the subway station, causing those of us with a damned pulse to wait behind your slow ass-I'm looking at you!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Golden Rule

I recently flew a certain airline for five hours at a time twice in a two week period. Sure, so did everyone else-it's called "the holiday season." Here's what I noticed, that everyone else may have missed (and yes, I do notice this every day-I live in New York City but I like to pretend that I write for a national audience-your actual experience may vary): People are assholes.
That's it. People are assholes.
How else to explain the fact that on my five hour flight from JFK to LGB (AKA Long Beach Airport), the "gentleman" behind me decided to chow down on a giant pile of corn nuts (is that one word? "cornnuts"? "cornuts"? I don't know because I'm not rotten enough to eat the filthy devil snacks!). If you are unfamiliar with corn-nuts, allow me to explain: They are corn kernels processed in such a way as to make sure that when a person crunches them open, thereby releasing their internal nasty-gas and allowing it to mix with human saliva and lung vapor, the resulting stank is heinous in the extreme. Like, heinous to the extent that your mild-manored narrator, ordinarily a charming and peaceful man, seriously considered perpetratin' like he was gonna get up and pee only to walk a row back a break a man's nose.
This was a man confined on a plane eating corn-nuts!!!
Has he never smelled corn-nuts???!
How the f&$k about "do unto others"?
I don't give a good god-damn if you love the smell of corn-nuts-breath, if you have a corn-nuts-breath scented tree hanging from your car's mirror-
How the hell about a little goddamned common mother-fu^%ing sense?
Howzabout exhibiting the sense that says "hey, I like corn-nuts, and I LOVE stinky-ass tuna sandwiches, but maybe I should hold off on indulging my passion for smelly crap until I'm in a place where that indulgence won't force innocent bystanders to be my stank-ass co-conspirators?"
And while I'm on a rant:
NOBODY likes the smell of your perfume and/or cologne enough for you to jam it up their ass on an elevator!!!
If I can smell you on an elevator, you either should have taken a shower and eschewed the artificial stank, or you just can't smell and need to hire a competent smeller to clear you for public consumption before you walk out the door.
I know it seems like I'm nuts and that I'm simply mining a single incident for an overblown blog post, but I swear to whatever deity you can dream up, a week after the initial corn-nuts incident, on my flight back to JFK, there was ANOTHER corn-nuts eating piece of crap on the plane!!! (Yes, it may have been Fritos-just as bad! Keep them both in the privacy of your own homes please!)
The corn-nuts/Fritos scourge is clearly an epidemic. It may indicate that the offendors don't give a damn if they cause others to suffer. More likely, I think, is that we have reached a point where it simply doesn't occur to most people to think whether or not others will suffer. "Corn-nuts? Tuna? Limburgher and onion sandwich? Poop and peppers casserole? Whatever, dude-I paid and I'm eatin-suck it!"
The golden rule? I don't (and can't) ask that it be followed in all circumstances-but when you're in a metal box, breathing recycled air for five to five and a half hours...?