Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rodrigo Y Gabriela

This is one of my favorite bands, just thought I'd post a video of them in action. Pick up their album. Now. I'm serious.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Speech

OK, it's been a day since the Obama race speech. I've really been trying to absorb every angle of this thing to see how it plays out. I watched it on TV, printed it, and read through it a couple of times. First and foremost, this is rhetoric that is best absorbed through careful reading (always a hazard when trying to inform the American public). Having watched and listened to it, I have gained so much more from careful study and reflection that comes from reading the words on paper (or screen). It was a masterpiece, start to finish. It's power comes from it's restrained tone - there was no pandering here, no hysterics, no singling out specific demographics for the purpose of shoring up a base constituency. It was subdued, and the more I read it the more I hear a tone of almost despair. This sadness probably comes from the fact that Obama had to make the speech in the first place. His candidacy has been based on the assumption that Americans had moved beyond seeing through a stale black/white lens and would gladly choose as their leader someone who offered the country a real movement towards change, regardless of color. This message (not his color, contrary to what Geraldine Ferraro said) explains the power and popularity of the Obama campaign. So there was a sadness in his words, part of which was a reflection on the 200+ years of racial injustice and an acknowledgment that blacks are not the only people to have suffered as a result of these policies. Our efforts to address the racial imbalance have created a corresponding resentment among white Americans and immigrants, who are not recipients of the fruits of affirmative action. Such policies breed additional distrust and resentments. His words were a wonderful and spellbinding discourse on the lasting legacy of our national sin. Slavery, Jim Crow, and Northern equivalents of Jim Crow have warped the fabric of reality for everyone in America.
It was also a brilliant and very risky gamble to take the high road. He could have easily just dismissed, denounced, and disassociated himself from Pastor Wright. That would have been easy. It wouldn't have completely put the controversy to bed, but it would have gone a long way towards it. Instead, he chose to rise up above the controversy and in doing so fully displayed all of the qualities that have drawn millions to him. It was a moment worthy of the best leaders in American history, and I believe it was the strongest demonstration yet of why he's the best person to lead our country.

So overall, I agree with Chris Matthews who maybe went a little cuckoo on the hyperbole when describing the speech. On Hardball the day of the speech he said that schoolchildren and college students would be studying and reading the speech well into the future. There are additional layers of nuance and new things to admire on each reading. The remarkable thing about this speech is that it came in the middle of the campaign season, not usually a time for candor. It's also pretty remarkable that he wrote the speech himself, without the use of traditional speechwriters. In the middle of 18 hour campaign schedules, he wrote (on 2-3 days notice) a speech that's destined to be one of the most important in American history? Who else in modern American political life can say that?

Upcoming Project

Creating a mini-garden seems like a really good idea. I've been looking for ways to avoid paying the exorbitant grocery store prices on fresh herbs so this might be the solution.

Liveblogging The Gettysburg Address

Too good to pass up, it only adds to my current state of despair because it rings so true:

What an insult. Talk about mailing it in! Why did he bother to come all the way from Washington if he didn't have anything to say?

And there you have it. Perfect Lincoln. Pretty words, as long as you don't try to find any meaning. No plan. No willingness to work hard. His inexperience continues to show through.

Unlike McClellan, a real fighter with real national-security credentials, this man simply does not pass the Commander-in-Chief threshold. If the Republicans re-nominate this skinny, funny-looking lawyer from Illinois, they're dead meat.

Rise Of The Machines

Military robots. Wow, I can't wait for all of us to die by:

  • death laser,
  • having our goo sucked out to fuel their bio-nano-engines,
  • enormous foot-stomp into the earth,
  • Gatling gun attached to it's belly,
  • good old-fashioned being picked up and thrown into the side of a building

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wright V. Falwell

Great smackdown given to the GOP over their hypocrisy on the Wright issue. One juicy bit:

And let's be clear as to who we're talking about. Falwell was a gross extremist. "If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being," he said. I struggle to find Wright's comparably offensive remark. Yet Falwell is a man the Republican Party embraced, while Wright is denounced. Similarly, Wright also gets criticism for saying, "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost." Compare that to Falwell's legendary post-9/11 pronouncement, where he said, "the abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'" Explain the moral difference to me.

You can't make this stuff up. If there's one thing that Hillary has gotten right, it's been her insistence all along that the right wing attack machine would somehow lay down if Obama captured the nomination. That's not going to happen. I have a sinking feel this election could be one of the dirtiest of all time. On the plus side, the GOP will probably do incalculable damage to their standing in the nation even if they somehow win the White House. The flight from R to D has been going on for several years, if they keep running elections based solely on racial smears, religion, and fear mongering it will only serve to turn off broader and broader swaths of the nation.

Destroy The Village To Save It

I posted earlier on this a few hours ago. Kos gets it exactly right:

the only path to victory for Clinton is via coup by super delegate.

She knows this. That's why there's all the talk about poaching pledged delegates and spinning uncertainty around Michigan and Florida, and laying the case for super delegates to discard the popular will and stage a coup.

Yet a coup by super delegate would sunder the party in civil war.

Clinton knows this, it's her only path to victory, and she doesn't care. She is willing -- nay, eager to split the party apart in her mad pursuit of power.


To reiterate, she cannot win without overturning the will of the national Democratic electorate and fomenting civil war, and she doesn't care.

That's why she has earned my enmity and that of so many others. That's why she is bleeding super delegates. That's why she's even bleeding her own caucus delegates (remember, she lost a delegate in Iowa on Saturday). That's why Keith Olbermann finally broke his neutrality. That's why Nancy Pelosi essentially cast her lot with Obama. That's why Democrats outside of the Beltway are hoping for the unifying Obama at the top of the ticket, and not a Clinton so divisive, she is actually working to split her own party.

Black Is The New President, Bitch

Best smackdown of the year award goes to Tracy Morgan. Here's an excerpt, but read the whole thing, it's a classic:

Barack is qualified. Personally, I want to know what qualifies Hillary Clinton to be the next president. Is it because she was married to the president? If that were the case then Robin Givens would be the heavyweight champion of the world. If Hillary’s last name wasn’t Clinton, she’d be some crazy white lady with too much money and not enough lovin’. That’s where I come in. I know women like that, you do not want them on the phone at 3 in the morning. In conclusion, three weeks ago, my girl Tina Fey went on the show, she declared that “bitch is the new black”. You know I love you, Tina. You know you’re my girl. But I have something to say. Bitch may be the new black, but black is the new president, bitch.

Why Is She Still Running?

The math looks well nigh impossible. The superdelegates are leaving her, she has an almost insuperable deficit in the popular vote, ditto for the pledged delegates, and has lost the total number of contests by almost 2 to 1. So why is she still in it? It seems to me her strategy has 2 parts. The first is to persuade the supers that Obama is unelectable. Accomplish this, and those supers that have already committed to Obama will switch their votes and swing the nomination to HRC. There's all kinds of risk to this approach - it would require a staggering amount of mudslinging and negative campaigning which is in direct contrast to the Obama campaign relatively mud-free run. The costs of this strategy can't be understated.

If it worked, she would have effectively split the party by smashing it and picking up the pieces. Winning this way would result in a useless nomination as the perceptions of her within the party would be fatally impacted. We already know how independents and Republicans feel about her, any split within the party is instantly fatal. Call it the Vietnam village strategy - destroying the village with bombs in order to save it.

If it didn't work, then Obama as the general election nominee is now damaged goods. He would have been attacked incessantly by Democrats for close to a year, and would then have to turn around and face the Republican attack machine.

Of course, there could be an implicit strategy here to intentionally cause Obama to fail in the general. This saves the date (2012) for the Clinton's to swoop in and save the day. To summarize, from the Clinton's perspective it's not exactly win-win. (call is not-lose, not-lose). From the perspective of the Democratic Party (i.e., 50% of the American people), it's a big Screw You. Classy stuff.

The Long and Grinding Road

It just occurred to me that this damn campaign will have lasted 2 years when it's all said and done (most candidates declared their intentions around January/February 2007). The conversion of presidential politics to a 24/7, 365 day a year business strikes me as a HUGE problem for American democracy in the long term.

To put it in perspective - 2 years is 50% of a President's term, 100% of a term in the House, and 33% of a term in the Senate. Since running for President is a full-time endeavor, that means anyone running for the office is spending larger and larger portions of their terms on the campaign trail rather than helping constituents. Presumably, the candidates are the best and brightest from the party so that means our country's brightest leaders are continually in full on campaign attack/counterattack/spin mode.

Of course, this was never a problem in early America. It was thought back then that the very act of campaigning for an office automatically disqualified you from the job. The Founding Fathers probably couldn't even conceive of a day when candidates would spend 16-18 hours criss-crossing the country every day for 2 years. The thought would probably boggle their minds - hell, it boggles mine to think about it.

So how does running for President impact your voting record? Nowadays, voting records are a very powerful tool used by the opposition. They can use it to effectively paint a candidate with whatever color is most effective. See John Kerry 2004 (and any other race in recent memory). On the Republican side, take it as a given that some "think" tank will release a "study" showing that the current Democratic nominee is the most liberal in the country. On the flip side, there is a competing pressure coming from the nominee's own party to appeal to the base voters. Two years before an actual primary, and the only people paying attention are the ultras, the voters who absorb every bit of campaign nonsense and feed it into the partisan amplifying media. This produces a disinclination to work across party lines, vote for bipartisan bills, and otherwise be seen as compromising with the other party. It exacerbates the hyperpartisanship that's currently seen in Washington and it's doing so for longer and longer stretches of the legislative session. So instead of building statesmen, we're building partisan warriors and the country is suffering as a consequence (deadlock on healthcare, immigration, social security, etc. etc. etc.). The people are demanding solutions, and all they're getting is sound bites.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

FL, MI: Details of a possible delegate plan under discussion

Finally, it looks like we're getting sensible plans that don't threaten to blow up the entire party or present the opportunity for massive fraud.

Michigan's 156 delegates would be split 50-50 between Clinton and Obama. Florida’s existing delegates would be seated at the Denver convention -- but with half a vote each. That would give Clinton a net gain of about 19 elected delegates.

Clintonistas are going to scream bloody murder, that's a given. But unless a solid workable plan is hammered out within the next few weeks, this is probably the best bet going.

read more | digg story

Mail-in Primary Not Looking Good

I mentioned this before, but the link above restates some of the difficulties with running a mail-in primary. One aspect I overlooked was the possibility of minority groups being disenfranchised. Not to mention the Limbaugh effect - certain to be an even bigger problem when any Republican (who didn't vote in the original GOP primary) can switch party affiliations and vote by simply checking a box and dropping a letter in the mailbox.

Look, coming up with an efficient and fair mechanism to allow millions of people a chance to vote is an inherently complex affair. The sheer logistics of a statewide primary under the best of circumstances is mind-boggling (at least to my simple brain). Jury rigging a statewide mail-in primary to slip past the June 10 deadline with the fate of the Democratic nominee at stake is insane. Frankly, it's the Florida state party acting irresponsibly again.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Clinton Tax Returns - What Can You Do To Keep Up The Pressure?

  1. Sign the online petition at Let the internet community know that this stubborn insistence on secrecy is an abomination.
  2. Keep up the pressure by raising the online profile of stories that mention the tax returns. For instance, I use and flag every story that mentions their tax returns. If you have your own personal blog, use it at every opportunity to mention the story. Don't let the mainstream media sleep on this story!!
  3. Contact her Senate office and respectfully request that she release her tax returns before April 15. Pennsylvania voters need more time to digest the information that will be coming out of those returns. Link to her webpage:
  4. Any other ideas?? Please add them to the comments!

This story really is important. The simple fact is that Bill Clinton is an enormous presence on the speaking and consulting circuit. He generates an insane amount of money just by throwing his political weight around. The American people deserve to know who the Clintons deal with and where their money comes from. Also, Hillary likes to portray herself as sharing the pain of working class Americans. The voters deserve to know how much money they are actually worth.

ABC News: The Clinton Tax Returns: What's the Holdup?

I don't think we should let up the pressure until she actually releases these things. April 15 is only one week before the Pennsylvania primaries, the voters need time to make an informed decision. Transparency please!!

read more | digg story

Those Rogue States

There are many many problems with all of these efforts to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates.

  1. First and foremost in my mind, Florida and Michigan were stripped of their delegates because they moved up their primary dates in order to wield more power in the election process. Redoing the votes in both of those states would give them - guess what? - more power in the election process. We really should not be rewarding both of these states for their refusal to play by the established rules. Side note: in terms of delegates, it's pretty clear that redoing the votes in MI and FL wouldn't really resolve anything due to the proportional allocation thing the Dems are doing. See this post for a really awesome summary of the whys and hows of a revote.
  2. Florida's Republican governor (Charlie Crist) has proposed a mail-in primary as a mechanism for the revote. This is an absolutely horrendous idea. The eyes of the USA and the entire world will be focused on Florida, and they're going to experiment with an untried format that is absolutely screaming out for voting irregularities and fraud? The end result of a statewide mail-in primary is most likely pure chaos, bickering, and lawsuits which would play out during and after the actual convention. This nightmare scenario probably explains why a Republican governor floated the idea.
  3. Michigan Senator Carl Levin briefly floated the idea of a mail-in caucus (on one of the Sunday talkies, I think it was This Week). Again - crappy idea for the above stated reasons. Also, how in the hell do you administer a mail-in caucus??? I thought the whole concept of a caucus was a town hall style gathering of people that voted in blocs for a candidate? How do you do that via a mail-in ballot? With the stakes so high in this election, Michigan is going to get cute and try something like this? It smells to high heaven. I'm an Obama supporter and know that caucuses tend to favor him, but this idea still doesn't sit well with me.
Yikes, so what to do? I don't see this ending gracefully. My own personal feeling is just split the delegates and endure the howling that is sure to come from Clinton. Sure a split gives the advantage to Obama, but that probably negates the advantage that Clinton gained from leaving her name on the MI ballot to begin with.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Maggot Brain - Eddie Hazel & Michael Hampton (Maryland 1983)

One of my absolute all time favorite songs..

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Release The Clinton Tax Returns!

Let's spread awareness on this issue. Why don't the Clinton's release their tax returns?

read more | digg story

Obama Memo on Clinton Tax Returns

Though her campaign has tried to kick the issue down the road, Democratic voters deserve to know, right now, why it is she is hiding the information in her tax returns from last year.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

RIP Teo Macero

Nice tribute to Miles' producer extraordinaire, who passed away Feb. 19. Not much else to add to the link, other than the music Miles created and Teo shaped has been some of the most influential to my way of thinking. I heard of Teo's passing and the first thing I thought of was the part in "It's About That Time" (part 2, track 2 of In A Silent Way) . The part around 14:30 (I'm guessing) where Miles breaks into an amazing run, where the previous section had been restlessly, quietly moving around. I first heard that part on a beach in San Diego and thought I had heard and felt the Infinite. I've never forgotten it. RIP Teo.

Miles Davis interview, 1982

Clinton and Katyn

No Pander Left Behind

read more | digg story

The Defense Never Rests

Offense is back in the N.B.A. Look no further than the triple-digit scores now appearing nightly. And defense? After slowing the game in the ’90s, it has lost a step. And yet defense is still critical to a title: 34 of the N.B.A.’s 61 champions led the league in scoring differential, a defining defensive measurement.

Love this link, for the bball junkies out there...

read more | digg story

MSNBC: Abraham Lincoln Letters Proposed Avoiding Civil War

"Barely a year into the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln suggested buying slaves for $400 apiece under a "gradual emancipation" plan that would bring peace at less cost than several months of hostilities."

Nothing really new here, this is info that's been known to historians for some time. Up until midway through the war, Lincoln always supported compensated emancipation or compensation coupled with colonization of freed slaves. The obvious moral difficulties involved in these schemes always doomed them, despite many attempts by the states and fed gov't through the years. The major problem was the moral quandary of forcibly deporting free black citizens to another country. This always made legislators uneasy, and the usual solution was to offer free blacks a choice to stay or go. The vast majority of blacks chose to stay, feeling that they were born into the US and helped to build it they saw no reason of leaving the most bountiful land in the world. Another problem was the cost involved, which the article mentioned. By the time of the war, most people dismissed compensated emancipation as prohibitively expensive for either the state or federal government. Lincoln's logic was to compare the cost of emancipation with the cost of running the vast war machinery of the North. In the end, the blood and treasure saved would be enough to make compensation more than worth it. However, as Lincoln himself probably knew, this logic would never work in the North once the southern states had decided to secede from the Union. Having left the Union and precipitated a tremendously bloody conflict, under no circumstances could the northern states be persuaded to pay the southern states and in effect reward treasonous and revolutionary behavior.

read more | digg story

Bill Clinton in October 2004 on hope versus fear

Hillary Clinton's new "red phone" campaign ad tries to profit on voters' fears. Here's what does Bill Clinton had to say about that kind of tactics...

read more | digg story