Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Kathleen Parker versus the Oogs, Boogs.

In Kathleen Parker’s latest article in the WaPo she makes the case for the GOP dumping GOD.

here’s the money:

The evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

I agree. America’s conservative party shouldn’t be America’s Christian party.

Parker jokes that the people that are currently the dominant voice in Republican politics used to be “relegated to wooden crates on street corners.”

That’s not quite right – the people on the wooden crates are still on the corner. The people she means are the intolerant cheap-suit fakers. They are the ones the Republican party enlisted to deliver, congregation by congregation, saved-soul by saved-soul, political victories in two national elections.

The only reason Kathleen Parker has changed her tune is that this time they lost. The problem for Parker isn’t the intolerance, bigotry, and fundamentalism of these people. It’s that not enough of the country is intolerant, bigoted, and fundamentalist along with them:

Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can’t have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.

So instead of saying, “let’s take responsibility for playing on people’s xenophobia and ‘traditional’ values because it’s wrong to hate people who are different, and that’s what’s distracted us from our conservative vision of good governance.”

She’s saying: “there ain’t enough votes in xenophobia and the oogedy-boogedy”

Time for the Republicans to modernize. If the basic fight between conservatives and liberals is a 3-5 percent change in the tax rate, and what to spend the difference on – then let’s fight about that. Not about who’s more American or more righteous.

So good on you Parker, for seeing the need to kick out the evangelicals – it’s long overdue.

But what’s missing is that the Republicans should take responsibility for inviting them in, buying into their rhetoric, and electing the latest disaster that their kind of religiosity has spawned: George W. Bush.


You can’t for McCain without voting for Palin.

There’s a trope out there right now that the election has come down to the small sliver of the population that can’t make up their mind between John McCain and Barack Obama.

CNN pundits say things like, “well, McCain said things that he’s base would like, but I’m not sure that it’s going to convince any undecided voters.”

and the Daily Show just had a segment where S. Bee and that other guy got angry at a undecided focus group for being idiots. What are they waiting for?

The say things like, i want to hear more about Obama’s health plan. Bullshit! if they actually wanted to hear more about that, they could investigate. there’s been no shortage of ink on that and many other topics.

I don’t buy that undecideds are waiting for more information. I think it’s a gut feeling.

There’s also something else.

I wonder if people can actually be persuaded. I live in an extremely liberal neighborhood (around Lake Harriet in Minneapolis) where there are more houses with Obama signs out than houses with NO signs out. We’re at like 70 percent saturation, probably. But there have been two McCain signs out.

I always wondered what it must be like to be them. if I had to drive through a neighborhood flooded with McCain signs every day, I think i’d get pretty angry.

But last weekend, the signs came down. I wonder if somebody took them down because they hate mccain, or if the owners changed their minds about having the signs out.

I’m hopeful that they changed their mind, and that they’re going to vote Obama now. (I know that’s wishful thinking. I mean they had SIGNS out, for crying out loud. They’re supporters.)

But maybe, just maybe, they realized they couldn’t vote for McCain without also voting for Palin.

Bill Clinton and the Soundbyte

I was talking with my sister about Bill Clinton’s Jesse Jackson comment. For your reference, here it is:

Sure, there’s the “racial politics” that are so ugly. That’s pretty clear, and I think that Clinton got appropriately slammed for that.

I think that it’s possible that Clinton’s Jackson comment was the first major gaffe of this whole campaign, from any candidate (or candidate spouse) since this little gem. (I’m having trouble embedding this, but I think you’ll like this little trip down campaign ’08 memory lane…)

But what I really object to is Bill Clinton’s body language as he trots out this little fact. He’s like a snotty southern boy pulling out a “fact” and sorta saying: “what? it’s true, right? I mean, all I’m saying is that Jesse Jackson won in 84 and 88. I mean, jeez, I said he ran a good campaign…”

The clip up there is at one angle – not actually the angle I remembered from the coverage. Strangely, there is not a single YouTube clip (or Brightcove, or anything I could find) that had the angle I remembered, which demonstrated the body language I’m talking about.

Finally, I found the angle I remembered – but in the context of the whole interview. So I sat down to watch it. All 11 minutes of it. Now, this is interesting. It’s not that the full interview somehow explains away Clinton’s nasty remark. It doesn’t. But I encourage you to check it out, because the interviewers are asking pretty tough questions.

For example,

1:30 Mr. President, some people have accused you of race baiting, how do you respond.

1:45 He says, I don’t have to defend myself on civil rights.

at 2:15 he says “I’m not taking the bait today” in reference to some mudslinging by Kerry.

And it’s only at 2:35 he gets the “what does it say about Barack Obama that it takes two of you to beat him” question. And he says, “that’s just a bait too. Jesse Jackson won twice, in ’84 and ’88”

And the interview keeps going. for another 8 minutes. Clinton admits that he was going too far in New Hampshire. He’s going to take it easy from now on. He is working for Hillary because he thinks she’ll make the best president, etc…

Now the soundbyte is shocking. But what’s the lesson of the full interview? They were talking about race politics! They were ALREADY confronting clinton about a perceived racism in his South Carolina campaign. I feel like he was storing up the Jesse Jackson reference – almost as if it had occurred to him while he was on the pot the other night, and he had kind of chuckled to himself about it. It’s almost like the logic that was going on in Clinton’s mind went something like this –

Race politics? Naw, there’s no race politics here. Would Jesse Jackson have won a primary in a racist state? No…

I’m not sure I’m hitting this on the head. Someone help me, here – I don’t think this was a “calculated” attack on Obama, because the tiniest bit of calculation would have probably predicted that comparing Obama’s campaign with Jesse Jackson’s would be perceived as trying to minimize Obama’s campaign by calling it black. So I think that it sorta slipped out. It’s a what the hell was he thinking he was doing moment.

The Superdelegate Situation in Minnesota

So in Minnesota, politics is getting stupid. No longer are we talking about getting out the vote, or trying to connect people with the candidates, no – we’re talking about Superdelegates. Something I’d never heard of until two weeks ago, or something like that.

According to Wikipedia, the concept of superdelegates was introduced in 1980, because in 1968, the “party leaders” were stripped of some of their back-room powers. Voters were instead empowered to select their nominee. So in 1980, a special class of delegates was created, the superdelegates, to give “active politicians” a louder voice.

But I just can’t believe how much more these people’s voices matter. Here’s some quick math, Harper’s Index style:

Total MN voters for Clinton and Obama: 209,801

Total MN delegates tied to the feb 5 results: 72

Number of MN Superdelegates: 16

Number of times more a superdelegate’s vote is worth, as compared with an MN voter: 2914

Bill Gates’ salary in 2006: $966,667

Yearly amount a MN worker would earn at 6.15 minimum wage: $12,300

Number of times more Bill Gates earns in a year, as compared with a MN minimum wage earner: 78

That ought to give us some kind of perspective on how ridiculously over-weighted the superdelegates’ votes are. Bill Gates earns 78 times more than your average burger-flipper – but Amy Klobuchar, US senator from Minnesota, and a superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention, her vote is worth 2914 times your average burger-flipper’s vote.

That’s why I wrote this:

Dear Senator Klobuchar,

The super delegate system that our party is using to nominate a presidential candidate seems to me to be arcane, archaic, and anti-democratic. That your personal voice carries more weight in this matter than that of every other Minnesotan betrays the principle of our democratic process.

You were elected to the Senate because we as Minnesotans trust your judgment on the many affairs of state that as normal citizens, we cannot reasonably keep abreast of.

But on the issue of the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, you do not have to substitute your judgment for the judgment of Minnesotans. You have direct knowledge of how the people you represent feel.

I would ask that you would respect Minnesota’s choice for president. On February 5th, the people of Minnesota voted overwhelmingly for your colleague in the Senate, Barack Obama. Please endorse him at the national convention and please announce that you will do so.



If there’s anyone else that wants to get in touch with her, here’s a link to the email form:

You really shouldn’t go hunting for political news at 2 in the morning

Because what you find just starts to gnaw at your mind. Here’s what’s eating me:

Gore Endorsement Rumor Kicking Around Clinton Campaign

That shit’s dated February-frickin-7th. That means it’s FRESH GOSSIP.

Then I did a little more diggin…

Before Iowa, people were calling for gore’s obama endorsement.

Before Super Tuesday, people were calling for gore’s obama endorsement.

Jesus, back in September, people were calling for gore’s obama endorsement.

I just can’t get in the guy’s mind. Is he waiting to have the biggest impact? You’d think that that would have been pre-Super Tuesday. But maybe now is his moment to really influence the race, he can just tap Obama over the edge. Let the Kennedy’s be the pre Feb 5 team, and Al will pick it up from there.

Is he trying his best to see how to advance the cause of fighting global climate change? And what calculus would you even use to determine the optimal timing of an Obama endorsement in terms of carbon emissions prevented?

One thing that comes to mind is that Al may be tired of politics. Endorsing may seem like an unnecessary shot across the Clintons’ bow, and he’d really rather just stay out of it.

This is obviously a separate question from whether or not endorsements matter. (I think they do. I think that Oprah may be the most beloved figure on Earth, and that her stamp of approval means something to lots of people, including hordes of 30-plus white women. Now tell me that don’t matter.)

John Edwards is another guy whose endorsement is curiously absent. When I was making calls for the Obama campaign, and I’d come across an Edwards supporter who didn’t want to be courted, I’d say something like this:

“You know, I really respect that John Edwards got out of the campaign before Super Tuesday. He didn’t feel that his role was that of a kingmaker – he was a candidate, not a power broker. Though he could have benefited from such a role personally, he chose the honorable way out.”

And now? Isn’t his endorsement almost the same thing as choosing the democratic nominee? The very position that he didn’t put himself in by pulling out? Maybe, maybe not. But its possible that he’s doing the honorable thing by not endorsing.

Maybe these guys, John and Al, they feel like they shouldn’t endorse, because that screws with the people’s choice.

I can’t figure out how I feel about that, and I guess that’s what I get for trolling for political news at 2 in the morning. At least I’m not as bad as this guy.

Here’s the mother of all Human Interest

The right mix of politics, personal grooming, and hometown flavor:

I think Barack agrees with me about Sebelius…

Here’s the text of his email to me:

Alex –Tonight, Governor Kathleen Sebelius spoke eloquently to the nation on behalf of our party.But I wanted to share my personal response to George Bush’s final State of the Union with you.Watch my response here:

State of the Union response

Next year, when it will be the job of someone new to report on the state of our union, the entire nation can have a president they believe in.And with your help in the coming days and weeks, that’s the kind of president I will be.Thank you,Barack 

Now, I just think he’s being nice when he said she spoke eloquently.  Because she really didn’t.  She was pretty boring (see previous post) I mean, if barack really thought she did a good job,  you think he’d have to one-up her by sending me an email with a YouTube clip of himself?  Oh barack, you shouldn’t have.