Friday, March 28, 2008

Greenwald on Kagan's Little Oopsie--Now with Editing

"The civil war in Iraq is over?" Not so much.

Less than 24 hours after Kagan decreed the Civil War in Iraq over -- and lectured Americans that we must accept this if we are to understand reality in Iraq -- McClatchy News Service reported:
With Iraq's top leaders directing the battle, Iraq's army and national police pressed a major operation Tuesday to wrest control of the southern port city of Basra from the Shiite Mahdi Army militia. Fighting between government forces and the militia quickly spread through Iraq's south and into Baghdad.
Today, long-time, highly prescient Iraq correspondent Patrick Cockburn reported in The Independent: "A new civil war is threatening to explode in Iraq as American-backed Iraqi government forces fight Shia militiamen for control of Basra and parts of Baghdad."

The Times of London today reported: "Iraq’s Prime Minister was staring into the abyss today after his operation to crush militia strongholds in Basra stalled, members of his own security forces defected and district after district of his own capital fell to Shia militia gunmen." The New York Times today detailed the deadly and increasingly violent fighting in multiple venues in Iraq, warning: "if the assault in Basra leads the Mahdi Army to break completely with its current cease-fire, which has helped to tamp down attacks in Iraq during the past year, there is a risk of escalating violence and of replaying 2004."

Also, later on:

From a truly depressing Times Online article:

"The battle is not easy without coalition support," lamented one Basra resident, who had worked as a translator for the British forces. "The police in Basra are useless and helping the Mahdi Army. The militia are hiding among the civilians. This country will never be safe, I want to leave for ever. I don't know how to get out of this hell."
As always, Americans hear instead about how happy things are in Iraq from the likes of Kagan, O'Hanlon and the other Lombardis of this war, rather than from actual Iraqis.

It's striking how few of them followed the advice of actual Iraq expert Thomas Ricks of The Washington Post:

Princeton, N.J.: Obviously not everyone in the media should resign, but it is annoying to having The Post (and others) regularly publish articles by those who were wrong, wrong, wrong, but those who were right about Iraq (e.g. Feingold) still get short shrift.

Thomas E. Ricks: Yes, I agree with you. There are a few people out there who should have the decency to follow the advice of the king of Spain.

Along those lines, I encourage everyone to read this truly superb post.
Not much to add. As soon as the surge began its drawdown, an escalation on the other side was almost inevitable. They were biding their time, as anyone else would in the same situation. The only way to prevent such a drawdown was permanent escalation. I'm sure Kagan 'n Co. want that, and I'm sure they'll advocate that in the wake of the current violence, but the American land forces simply can't handle it.

As for right vs. wrong and why they get in the media? It should be obvious by now. Being wrong isn't important. Being right isn't important. Having the popular opinion and having the ear of reporters (and, more importantly, producers), now that's important. It doesn't matter if you're wrong or right, as long as enough of the other "opinion-makers" agree with you. And, naturally, with the guy signing the checks.

(Yes, I'm going to be addressing the Hillary thing. I'm mostly shocked at how little coverage it's received, and how weak some of that coverage has been. Kevin Drum, for instance, should damned well know better. But it's been a while since I've familiarized myself with the 2003 writings on the Family/Fellowship, so it'll be tomorrow, I suppose.)

(Fixed that title. Don't know how that got through.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

In the Meantime

I'll be writing something up about Hillary's interesting religious connections tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are two giant tesla coils performing the theme to Super Mario Brothers.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Picture of Desperation

If we've come to the point where Clinton directly attacks Obama over Wright, we know that her campaign is desperate.

Letting others do the attacks while she stays above it was a wise strategy; even though supporters were covering the Internet with not-so-subtle attacks on her behalf, she stayed away from it, and thus wouldn't suffer the blowback from Obama supporters and those sympathetic to his speech.

In fact, that speech is probably the best reason she should have stayed apart. Let's face it: she's not going to match up to him on oratory. She's not as charismatic and not as good a speaker. Her strength is her machine, which is comprised partially of people who are good orators and who are charismatic and are, most importantly, not running for president.

Still, she might have theoretically gained some ground, with the right words. Unfortunately...

It's the first time she or her campaign has commented directly on a controversy that has swirled around rival Sen. Barack Obama's campaign in recent weeks.

"I think given all we have heard and seen, he would not have been my pastor," Clinton said in a news conference in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

The comments came hours after the New York senator made similar comments to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in an editorial board interview.

"You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend," she told the paper.

Yeah, these aren't the words. If she had delivered it before his speech, it might have got some traction. As it is, she looks like she would have done the very things he called unconscionable and overly political, which is exactly what she didn't need.

With MA/FL out of the picture and Wright now officially mishandled, is there anything at all keeping her campaign going besides sheer bloody-mindedness?

Monday, March 24, 2008

"Blessed Are They Who Bash Your Children's Head Against the Rock"

Well, well, well. I had wondered why we saw so little of Wright's 9/11 speech. Turns out that that "chickens coming home to roost" bit was a quote from U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck, who said it on, er, Fox News.

Here's the Youtube clip. It's been getting a few views recently:


And here's some of the transcript:

“I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday did anybody else see or hear him? He was on FOX News, this is a white man, and he was upsetting the FOX News commentators to no end, he pointed out, a white man, an ambassador, he pointed out that what Malcolm X said when he was silenced by Elijah Mohammad was in fact true, he said Americas chickens, are coming home to roost.”

“We took this country by terror away from the Sioux, the Apache, Arikara, the Comanche, the Arapaho, the Navajo. Terrorism.

“We took Africans away from their country to build our way of ease and kept them enslaved and living in fear. Terrorism.

“We bombed Grenada and killed innocent civilians, babies, non-military personnel.

“We bombed the black civilian community of Panama with stealth bombers and killed unarmed teenage and toddlers, pregnant mothers and hard working fathers.

“We bombed Qaddafi’s home, and killed his child. Blessed are they who bash your children’s head against the rock.

“We bombed Iraq. We killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living. We bombed a plant in Sudan to pay back for the attack on our embassy, killed hundreds of hard working people, mothers and fathers who left home to go that day not knowing that they’d never get back home.

“We bombed Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye.

“Kids playing in the playground. Mothers picking up children after school. Civilians, not soldiers, people just trying to make it day by day.

“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff that we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.

“Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that y’all, not a black militant. Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people we have wounded don’t have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them. And we need to come to grips with that.
Funny how Krauthammer et al didn't mention the REST of the speech, huh? I mean, yes, they'd still find it treasonous and odious, like they do all "chickens coming home to roost" arguments. And yes, they'd still have a point if they said "er, ok, we've done bad things, but the responsibility still ultimately lies on them." I'd agree with that argument, and have in the past.

But instead, they pick and choose little snippets that suit their purposes, just like they have with the Obama piece.

Only one problem: this video that I just embedded has three hundred thousand views, and more on the way. I suspect that this shows what the Obama speech did.. that in this age of easily available (and embeddable) video publishing, the old age of media guys picking and choosing their sound bites is rapidly coming to a close.

(Also ending: the ability to spam comments threads and have anybody pay attention. I think that pretty much EVERYBODY tunes out people writing "ANYONE WHO SCREAMS G….D….AMERICA REPEATEDLY EITHER LEAVE OUR COUNTRY OR RENOUNCE HIS AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP" at this point. That's probably one of the positive side-effects of the popularity of MySpace and Facebook and YouTube and the rest. There's more opportunities for people to hone their bullshit-screening skills.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Part of the Problem

If you're one of those people who takes the whole complicated issue of race and only focuses on taking offense to Obama saying "typical white person"...

yes, you're part of the problem.

It's obvious what he meant from the beginning. He meant that the vast majority of white people of her generation, and too many white people to this day, carry a negative stereotype towards blacks that influences their behavior. This includes people that he respects and loves, like his own grandmother.

How can people be so immensely rockheaded as to not understand that?

(Oh, right. "Where you stand is where you sit". A lot of people are sitting in very, very comfy "rich white people" chairs. Especially in the media.)

What the HELL, Bill?

Yeah, yeah, at this point the Clintonites are probably already shouting "Huffpo, more like HuffpOBAMA!"

That still doesn't explain this.

Adding a bit of fuel to the political fire, Bill Clinton made a bizarre comment on Friday, leaving the impression that he believed Barack Obama's patriotism would be a general election issue.

MSNBC is reporting that on the campaign trail today in Charlotte, North Carolina, the former president said a general election matchup between his wife, Sen. Clinton, and Sen. John McCain would be between "two people who love this country" without "all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics."

It's difficult to determine exactly what Clinton meant by this. Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said the former president was not implying that Obama didn't love America. As for "this other stuff," that Clinton referred to? He was talking about "the politics of personal destruction," said Wolfson. "He was lamenting that these kind of distractions 'always seems to intrude' on our politics."

Not everyone had the same interpretation. MSNBC, for example, was quick to suggest that the former president was implying there were doubts about Obama's patriotism, and that those doubts would play a role in the general election. Which seems, on its face, hardly a stretch.

However, President Clinton also seems to be suggesting that his wife would be immune to swift-boat like attacks; a supposition that does not seem terribly likely.
And here's the actual quote:

Here is the full quote: "I think it would be a great thing if we had an election between two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interests of the country and people could actually ask themselves who is right on the issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics."
Bolding mine. Now, this could be harmless. Taken on its face, I actually agree with him. Elections should be more about policy than they are.


Taken within the context of the last few weeks, I can't help but think that this is what MSNBC and Huffpo and all those other irrational Clinton-hating Obamanoids (or whatever) say it is: A very unsubtle attack on not only Obama's patriotism, but all the real issues of racial discrimination and oppression that came to the fore when White America was rather rudely reminded of just how alienated black America was from it. Some, like that drooling, tendentious fool Krauthammer, want to blame it all on black people; considering his "America must crush all the impudent brown peopleforeigners and reign supreme" position on foreign policy, that ain't a big surprised.

But others probably just wish it would go away, and it really, really sounds like that's what Bill is all about here.

Could be wrong. Hope I'm wrong. Not going to be easily convinced I'm wrong, mind you, but I hope I'm wrong. Bill's been jumping enough sharks lately.

Evolutionary Sabot Round!

Ok, I'm with Wolcott, you need to read this in full:

There is a rich, deep kind of irony that must be shared. I'm blogging this from the Apple store in the Mall of America, because I'm too amused to want to wait until I get back to my hotel room.

I went to attend a screening of the creationist propaganda movie, Expelled, a few minutes ago. Well, I tried … but I was Expelled! It was kind of weird — I was standing in line, hadn't even gotten to the point where I had to sign in and show ID, and a policeman pulled me out of line and told me I could not go in. I asked why, of course, and he said that a producer of the film had specifically instructed him that I was not to be allowed to attend. The officer also told me that if I tried to go in, I would be arrested. I assured him that I wasn't going to cause any trouble.

I went back to my family and talked with them for a while, and then the officer came back with a theater manager, and I was told that not only wasn't I allowed in, but I had to leave the premises immediately. Like right that instant.

I complied.

I'm still laughing though. You don't know how hilarious this is. Not only is it the extreme hypocrisy of being expelled from their Expelled movie, but there's another layer of amusement. Deep, belly laugh funny. Yeah, I'd be rolling around on the floor right now, if I weren't so dang dignified.

You see … well, have you ever heard of a sabot? It's a kind of sleeve or lightweight carrier used to surround a piece of munition fired from a gun. It isn't the actually load intended to strike the target, but may even be discarded as it leaves the barrel.

I'm a kind of sabot right now.

They singled me out and evicted me, but they didn't notice my guest. They let him go in escorted by my wife and daughter. I guess they didn't recognize him. My guest was …

Richard Dawkins.

He's in the theater right now, watching their movie.

Tell me, are you laughing as hard as I am?
YES. Yes I am.

Sorry, No.

Yes, those of us who were right about Iraq will still rain down doubts on boosters.

You spent a good portion of the Bush Presidency barely acknowledging the sanity, let alone patriotism, of people who dared question the ridiculous conventional wisdom on Iraq. Do you honestly think that we should all just "move on" or something just because it makes you feel all sad inside these days?

A healthy chunk of the American foreign policy community demonstrated the most appalling lack of judgment since slavery ended. Pardon us if we don't go back to doing whatever you say because you can dress it up in IR neo-realist jargon.

(Hah! Neo-Realism. Speaking of things that have yet to be answered for.)

Brought to you by the letter Glenn and the number Tristero.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Shorter Krauthammer

"I only like racial divisiveness when it's between Arabs and Israelis."

"(Also, I transparently didn't read the speech, and think that the big problem with slavery is 'white guilt'. Fortunately, I'm not guilty about slavery in the least.)"

(Courtesy of TPM)


I'm kind of with Skippy and Steveaudio here: Although I admire the hell out of Joe Wilson, he's clearly gone way, way overboard with "Shallow Credentials on National Security Are Dangerous for the Country".

I'm kind of confused as to what sort of ground the Clinton defenders are supposed to stand on now. On the one hand, Obama's people are kind of mean online, and there's been some crypto-sexist remarks from them. (Most of the truly bad stuff is from the Republicans.)

On the other hand, apparently if Obama becomes president, AMERICA DIES BY FIRE.

Er, yeah. There are ways to make the case that the junior senator from New York (somehow) has a lifetime of experience in foreign policy that makes her the better choice, and that (somehow) Obama won't get the knowledge he need from choosing good advisors, like every other head of state has in the history of ever. (Ripping on Rezko and Wright doesn't count. That was ridiculous.)

But "vote for us or die?" I thought that was Cheney's game. And I figured you weren't a big fan of the sort of hands he plays.

Edit: Come to think of it, I really, really don't get this line of attack. If Hillary loses, McCain will use these attacks on Obama himself; if they work, the Clinton's supporters (like Wilson) will be blamed.

If Hillary wins, though, then she'll have cemented that it's about "experience". But let's be honest: McCain absolutely crushes her on that front. I don't think it matters, because I think the first job of a president is to choose the experts, not be the expert, but it seems really self-defeating to me.

Then again, if (as I suggested) this isn't really about Clinton and Obama in the first place, but about who controls the levers of the Democratic party...

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I don't link to Sully much. Probably won't change that much. But I will link to him now, because he's got the full text of Pastor Wright's "Audacity to Hope" speech. Sullivan has it in its entirety; I'll just give you a sample. (Hannah is a biblical figure who suffered from barrenness; "Hope" is a painting of a battered and bloodied woman with a near-broken harp sitting on top of the earth.)

Then, Dr. Sampson began to understand why the artist titled the painting "Hope." In spite of being in a world torn by war, in spite of being on a world destroyed by hate and decimated by distrust, in spite of being on a world where famine and greed are uneasy bed partners, in spite of being on a world where apartheid and apathy feed the fires of racism and hatred, in spite of being on a world where nuclear nightmare draws closer with each second, in spite of being on a ticking time bomb, with her clothes in rags, her body scarred and bruised and bleeding, her harp all but destroyed and with only one string left, she had the audacity to make music and praise God. The vertical dimension balanced out what was going on in the horizontal dimension.

And that is what the audacity to hope will do for you. The apostle Paul said the same thing. "You have troubles? Glory in your trouble. We glory in tribulation." That's the horizontal dimension. We glory in tribulation because, he says, "Tribulation works patience. And patience works experience. And experience works hope. (That's the vertical dimension.) And hope makes us not ashamed." The vertical dimension balances out what is going on in the horizontal dimension. That is the real story here in the first chapter of 1 Samuel. Not the condition of Hannah's body, but the condition of Hannah's soul—her vertical dimension. She had the audacity to keep on hoping and praying when there was no visible sign on the horizontal level that what she was praying for, hoping for, and waiting for would ever be answered in the affirmative.

What Hannah wanted most out of life had been denied to her. Think about that. Yet in spite of that, she kept on hoping. The gloating of Peninnah did not make her bitter. She kept on hoping. When the family made its pilgrimage to the sanctuary at Shiloh, she renewed her petition there, pouring out her heart to God. She may have been barren, but that's a horizontal dimension. She was fertile in her spirit, her vertical dimension. She prayed and she prayed and she prayed and she kept on praying year after year. With no answer, she kept on praying. She prayed so fervently in this passage that Eli thought she had to be drunk. There was no visible sign on the horizontal level to indicate to Hannah that her praying would ever be answered. Yet, she kept on praying.

And Paul said something about that, too. No visible sign? He says, "Hope is what saves us, for we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope. For what a man sees, why does he have hope for it? But if we hope for that which we see not (no visible sign), then do we with patience wait for it."

That's almost an echo of what the prophet Isaiah said: "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." The vertical dimension balances out what is going on in the horizontal dimension.

There may not be any visible sign of a change in your individual situation, whatever your private hell is. But that's just the horizontal level. Keep the vertical level intact, like Hannah. You may, like the African slaves, be able to sing, "Over my head I hear music in the air. Over my head I hear music in the air. Over my head I hear music in the air. There must be a God somewhere."

Keep the vertical dimension intact like Hannah. Have the audacity to hope for that child of yours. Have the audacity to hope for that home of yours. Have the audacity to hope for that church of yours. Whatever it is you've been praying for, keep on praying, and you may find, like my grandmother sings, "There's a bright side somewhere; there is a bright side somewhere. Don't you rest until you find it, for there is a bright side somewhere."
This is pretty good stuff. And, try as I might, I can't find anything in here about Israel being the devil or some such thing.

This is why I respect Obama's decision not to toss the Pastor overboard. What is being spread around online and on Fox is the man at his worst, not at his best. It would be like judging President Clinton solely on Monica. I'm sure many Republicans do that, but I doubt that anybody would that is worth Obama's time.

Go read the sermon; it's quite powerful.

One Other Comment...

Look, I know it's frustrating to be a Clinton supporter right now. Hell, it's probably frustrating to be anything but an Obama supporter right now.

But, honestly? You aren't going to get any traction with that "SEAT MICHIGAN AND FLORIDA AS THEY ARE!!" nonsense you keep on pushing on any site remotely favorable to Clinton. Everybody knew going into both Michigan and Florida that those primaries weren't going to count, and to claim that that doesn't irretrievably pervert the results is just being deliberately disingenuous in ways that will drive others away from you.

The time to advocate seating Florida and Michigan was before the primaries, not now. The Dems in both states knew what as going on, knew they had options, and went with it anyway out of the hope that Dean would back down and cement their positions as new early primaries. Clinton campaigned in both states out of that expectation too. To even try to hint otherwise, and especially to try to paint caucuses with the same brush, just makes you sound like shills.

(Edit: "how dare you call me a racist, you horrible misogynist!" doesn't help either.)

DK Civil War Pt. 2

Ok, next post. I mentioned Kos' response. There's two threads to it: standard Markos boilerplate and some more specific stuff about the primary and Clinton.

First, boilerplate:
I would add one more item to the list above -- this site has also been hostile to the corrosive consultant class that gave us our timid and weak party until Howard Dean shook it up in 2004.

Now I'm willing to stipulate that on the consultant front, there's likely not much difference between the Obama and Clinton campaigns (I don't know if it's true, but I assume it is). But on everything else, Clinton fails the test of the guiding principles of this site, and of my first book, Crashing the Gate.

Clinton isn't just a member of the DLC, she's in their leadership. Obama, by the way, repudiated the organization three times (it's a great story, which I tell in my forthcoming book).

Clinton hasn't just rejected a 50-state strategy, she has openly attacked it. CTG has a great quote from former Virginia Governor and future senator Mark Warner on this very topic
I won't subject you to the quotes. You know them if you've read DK. Consultant class DLC etc. etc. etc. I had said in my last post that he hates the consultant types, and he does. What Clinton backers don't get is that Kos would be just as critical were Clinton a man. I don't buy that gender has anything to do with it.

The other thread? Well, that's the primary itself, and I hate to say it, but he has a point:

I could deal with all of that, really, if Clinton was headed toward victory. I see this as a long-term movement, and I've always expected setbacks along the way. Clinton isn't the most horrible person in the world. She's actually quite nice, despite all her flaws, and would make a fine enough president.

If she was winning.

But she's not, and that's the rub.

First of all, 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.
Etc. You know where he's going with this.

Clinton supporters seem to be having a huge problem with this, so let's make this perfectly clear what's going on here: Clinton cannot win a majority of the grassroots delegates. To win, she would have to set the superdelegates' will against the grassroots delegates.

That's it. To say "b-b-but Obama needs superdelegates too!" is to miss the point. Absent superdelegates, he has won. Period. There's no question about that now. You can complain all you want about rules and caucuses and popular vote and whatever you please. The fact remains that by the rules of the Democratic party's nomination system, Obama is the grassroots choice. Either Barack wins, or the grassroots and "machine" are fundamentally opposed.

And where does that leave Kos? Well, think about it.

(The Clinton-backing "Kossacks" sure didn't.)

The gatekeepers will have proven that their power is near-absolute if Clinton wins the nomination. The DLC et al will declare victory. It will be a victory: they'll have cemented their control over the party for years to come. Kos can amass all the diarists and commentators and visitors he likes, and it won't matter, because he's not one of them and probably never will be. Whether or not Clinton wins the general doesn't matter, because even if they get hammered in the wake of a Clinton loss, they'll still have the power within the party itself.

Yes, they want that power... because the party will, in all likelihood, still control Congress. That's real, tangible power over the fate of the country in ways that the presidency can't even match. They want it. Markos wants it. Everybody wants it. I don't blame them for it--somebody has to have it, and many want to do what they think is right, including Moulitsas--but they still desperately want it.

That's what's going on, Alegre. Sorry you got caught in the middle, but it's not like the idiots in the media get it either. They're too obsessed with trying to cash in on racial and gender tension, and most of their "analysts" couldn't find their asses with both hands and a GPS tracker. I hope you've figured out that maybe, just maybe, Markos' visitor numbers aren't worth Markos' political agenda.

Maybe it's time for a solo project.

The DK Civil War

Looks like I need to pay a bit more attention to the Blogosphere (!), as I hadn't realized that there was some kind of "civil war" or "writer's strike" or something going on over at Daily Kos until I saw it on Colbert last night.

No, seriously. I know it sounds goofy, but look at this post from Alegre. I bolded the bit that I found really, really funny.


I’ve been posting at DailyKos for nearly 4 years now and started writing diaries in support of Hillary Clinton back in June of last year. Over the past few months I’ve noticed that things have become progressively more abusive toward my candidate and her supporters.

I’ve put up with the abuse and anger because I’ve always believed in what our on-line community has tried to accomplish in this world. No more. DailyKos is not the site it once was thanks to the abusive nature of certain members of our community.

I’ve decided to go on "strike" and will refrain from posting here as long as the administrators allow the more disruptive members of our community to trash Hillary Clinton and distort her record without any fear of consequence or retribution. I will not be posting at DailyKos effective immediately. I will not help drive up traffic or page-hits as long as my candidate – a good and fine DEMOCRAT - is attacked in such a horrid and sexist manner not only by other diarists, but by several of those posting to the front page.

Instead, I will put my energy into posting at sites where my efforts aren’t routinely trashed, spammed and ridiculed by a handful of angry, petty and spiteful folks who clearly have too much time on their hands.

This is a strike - a walkout over unfair writing conditions at DailyKos. It does not mean that if conditions get better I won't "work" at DailyKos again. As a regular contributor to the discourse in our community, I would certainly hope to take part in the conversation at DailyKos again some day if we ever get to the point where we’re engaging each other in discussion rather than facing off in shouting matches. But not now. Writers need a safe place to reach out and exchange ideas, to communicate and challenge one another. DailyKos should be that place, but its tone, its essence has evolved into something ugly and destructive. Good writers can't survive in that kind of atmosphere. Democrats shouldn't have to put up with that from fellow Democrats.
So, why "funny"?

It's because she's finally hit on the elephant in the room over at Dailykos: that it isn't "their" community and it isn't "their" website. The website belongs to Markos Moulitsas. The diaries belong to Markos Moulitsas. The web traffic--all those glorious millions of visits that draw potential commentators and diarists like a moth to a flame--they all belong to Markos Moulitsas too. He may hand off the day-to-day operation to other people, but they are other people that he finds suitable for the task. Since it's a political website, even I'll admit that it's only fair that they be politically compatible.

I'm amazed that the Clinton supporters didn't see the writing on the wall when Kos threw in with Obama. Face it: Clinton is the establishment candidate. She's the machine candidate. She's the one who's been making all the most powerful allies in order to leverage their support, and she's been doing it since her husband was president. In many respects, she's been running for president all her life, and employed every agency of power to do it, particularly "centrist" ones like the DLC. I've never thought she was really that fond of their message, but they're the gatekeepers, so you play nice with them.

Kos hates those people. He hates those agencies. He hates them because they don't work, because they're undemocratic, and because they've turned the Democratic party into a weak, trembling, Republican-lite body- one that stinks of the fearful urine that runs down their legs every time Karl Rove or Frank Luntz open their mouths. He also hates them, though, because he knows they aren't going to let him in. He's too brash, too loud, too partisan.

(And a wee bit too ignorant about political philosophy and policymaking if Matt Bai has it right. But let's not get into that.)

He doesn't know how their game works, and he doesn't care. He'll use the power he does have, hence "crashing the gates".

Alegre, that's just not the bio of a potential Clinton supporter. It has nothing to do with Clinton's gender; it never did. It's about her path to power irrevocably conflicting with his.

I'm amazed that they didn't expect Kos to throw in with Obama in the first place, but I'm even more surprised that they didn't understand what would happen afterwards. For all intents and purposes, this primary is the general; whoever wins it will probably be President.

(I'm still convinced that McCain only stands a chance if the grassroots are overturned by the superdelegates, and it stops being an election. As long as it's an election, it's the important one.)

If this is the important election, if this determines who becomes president, then it would be the height of madness and stupidity for Kos not to leverage the power he has to help Obama.

All those millions of visits? He's going to leverage those.

All those hundreds of diarists, the ones who don't realize that they're only as independent as he'll let them be? He's going to leverage those.

All those thousands of commentators who want to get noticed, maybe become popular diarists, maybe even make the front page? He's going to leverage those.

All those other blogs that he was responsible for spinning off, that follow his lead? He's going to leverage those.

And all those Clinton supporters, trying to leverage his site to support their agenda? He can't leverage those. They should have known they weren't going to part of that "community" any more.

Politics is a game of power, and for this (still!) independent blogger it's absolute mindbendingly hilarious that it took this primary for those "Kossacks" to realize how power really works in their "community".

As for Kos' response, well... that's the next post.

A Simple Observation on Wright

So white, vaguely conservative-ish America is shocked and surprised that a firebrand black minister in Chicago has bad things to say about the country?

I'm not going to defend people saying that (among other things) AIDS was invented by the government. But I get the sneaking suspicion that this isn't about race, and it isn't about class, and it sure as hell isn't about 9/11 or Wright's (obviously passing) beliefs about the AIDS virus.

It's about radical anti-authoritarianism in the black community, and how it scares the holy hell out of them.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lengthier Reaction to the Obama Speech

Ok, aside from the visceral bit in that first post, where am I on the speech?

Honestly, I was impressed by a lot of aspects of it. First was, yes, the length. A lot of people are attacking it for that; I disagree. It wasn't short, but I'm getting a bit sick of sound bites, to be honest, and I can understand why he would avoid that.

Second, his treatment of Wright. Forget the "TWENTY YAERS!!!!" trolls. This was probably the best position to take, and I respected him a fair bit for it. Look, we all have friends, colleagues, and even mentors that we thoroughly disagree with on issues. We can call them out on it, and I'm sure you've all done it. Sometimes we say we've had enough, but much of the time, we get over it.

What most people would consider odious, though, is exactly what the barking legions online call for: to throw people aside because of political expediency. Friends, family, your own past, everything has to go if it might cost you a few points. Republicans don't have to deal with this so much, because they don't face anywher near the scrutiny a Democrat does, but Dems have faced this for decades, and they haven't worked it out.

I think people continually misinterpret the comparison between Wright and his grandmother he made. People are claiming that he was drawing some kind of false equivalence. I didn't get that impression at all. He was saying that you sometimes you have to embrace things about your family and, yes, community that you disagree with, because the alternative is far less moral. It doesn't matter whether their "sin" is seen as comparative mild (the reflexive racism of some older whites) or comparatively great (blaming 9/11 on America) ; they're a part of your life, and (this is hard for some people) there's more to them than their political positions.

That's one that really seems to be eluding people, by the by. Obama talked at length about the reasons why he admired Wright, reasons that had nothing to do with shouting about Israel or what-have-you, and almost every reaction I've read has completely ignored them. His work in the community? Ignored. His role in bringing Obama (and presumably, other troubled blacks) to Christianity? Ignored. His advocacy on behalf of a near-forgotten urban black community- a studied forgetfulness that helps propel black anger? Ignored. Conspicuously so. Yet it was some of the most compelling material, for me, because it showed precisely why you should go beyond politics, in ways that reinforce the whole point he's been trying to argue.

Also ignored? His entire discussion of race and slavery in America. That's sad, too, because I thought it was as good a summary as you could ask for. The point about the founders' ideals being subverted by the sin of slavery? As good as you could ask for, bringing up a lot of the contradictions that America should be trying to grapple with, but simply isn't. Yes, there's a reason for that; it's an uncomfortable subject about a ridiculously horrifying tragedy that American whites today benefit from, but had no part in. There's a lot of silly humor these days about "white guilt" and the kinds of extremes it can push people to, but the underlying confusion about what the hell white America should do and feel about the sins of their forebears--though not necessarily even their ancestors!--is very real, and very uncomfortable, and frustrating for all involved.

It would be different if America weren't founded on ideals. If American patriotism was just some narrow nativist nationalism, then it would be easier to excuse. But it is founded on ideals. To be an American is, partially, about believing in those ideals. And the institution of slavery was the most horrible violation of those ideals possible.

(Well, except for maybe genocide. Unfortunately, there are a few issues on that front, too.)

Honestly, on some basic level, I don't really care what this means for Obama's electoral prospects. I don't care if it helps him become president or not. I think we've hit a point where the address should be treated as its own entity, judged on its own merits.

(And not whether it's "too long" or not. That's just idiotic.)

I don't know if that'll happen. Maybe not until after this election is over. But it should. And I hope it will.

A Quick Test...

So, you want to find out whether or not you should pay attention to a pundit and/or blogger about American politics?

Here's a simple test.

Look up everything they've written about the Obama speech. Measure the amount of inches they devote to the content vs. the amount of inches they devote to "analyzing the reaction".

If you get more than a two-to-one ratio in favor of the latter, you can safely remove them from your RSS reader. They probably aren't worth the time.

And now we know the right-wing response...

Obama gives a great speech about the problems with the black experience in America, the flaws and glories of the nation, the need to stick by people even when you disagree with them, and what do we get as the response?

Rich Lowry and a thousand ignorant trolls calling it The Throw Your Grandmother Under the Bus Speech.

No matter what you think of Obama and Wright, I think all people of sound mind can agree:

Rich Lowry is an asshole.

Edit: Well, ok. It's the corner. They're all assholes.

But they're interesting assholes, in that they're all working really hard to find the best talking points to spin this thing in their favor. They think that Wright was a political gift, and Obama taking the only tack that would have helped him, the "I disagree with him vehemently, but I don't abandon people because Republicans don't like them", may well have stripped them of the issue. Considering that the Republicans are basically fucked in the upcoming cycle and a lot of the deep private-sector pockets they rely on are going to be a wee bit less generous in the coming recession, they're probably pretty panicky right now.

They're flailing about blindly trying to find something to hold on to, and this "grandmother" bit is the best they've got. Certainly Derbyshire feebly moaning about how segregation "was only the law in a minority of states" in the 1950s isn't going to get any traction beyond the 19 percenters.

I mean, yes, Derbyshire is a giant racist so he's not the best one to figure out the response in the first place, but even so, that's pretty damned feeble.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sweet Holy Moses That SPEECH

This right here:

... is just about the best political speech I've ever heard. Maybe MLK beat it, and maybe Kennedy, but aside from that? Nobody.

(Really. If you haven't watched it, and won't get fired for doing so, do it. Yes, YOU.)

I'm not sure if Obama's sewn up the nomination, but he's managed to adroitly turn the issue around and reminded people why everybody thought he was a lock a month ago.

"If It Weren't For America in WWII, We'd All Be Speaking German!"

...too bad that thanks to the American market tanking we'll probably have to learn it anyway. Gotta earn those Euros somehow.

(Anybody know how to say "why yes, sir, I'd love to make you a coffee" in German? Or whatever language they tend to use in the EU?")

(And I wonder how long it'll be before Mark Steyn starts asking for the paycheques he gets attacking Europeans to be in Euros?)

Edit: Well, it won't be so bad. I kind of like colorful money. Not so much of a fan of the differing sizes, but we'll all get used to it. Like it or not.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Understatement of the Year.. Already!

"I understand the Ellis Island experience of Russian Jews was denied to blacks."

Watching Mark Steyn try to deal with black anger is legitimately hilarious. The man who built his career on talking about how much better whitey is than all those nasty little brown Muslims, who unironically says "God Bless America in a story about the victims of its greatest sin, really isn't well equipped to deal with the legacy of slavery in America.

Obviously Rev. Wright went overboard, and on a regular basis. I can understand why Obama had to cut ties, and the controversy this raises.

But I think I can speak with confidence that anybody who uses the phrase "racial grievance-mongers", especially when it's a guy who spends most of his time complaining about brown people, probably shouldn't be talking about it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I have a profile picture

Courtesy of The Wikipedia, as its pictures are generally Creative Commons.

(Interestingly enough, that wikipedia page and are the only two sites ahead of this one in a google search of "demosthenes". This site comes in third. Can't complain about that.)

Wall Street: "Now Our BS is Justified!"

The WSJ has "titans of finance" cheering Spitzer's demise. After all, since he was caught having sex with someone not his wife, that makes everything they've pulled seem ok!

That'd seem to be absolutely ridiculous, considering that shady investment and banking practices have a fair bit to do with both the real estate collapse and the collapse. Regulators like Spitzer were the only thing between these guys and whatever healthy markets are left.

But, of course, reporters being what they are, they're unlikely to pay attention to that. After all, understanding finance is hard. But understanding prostitution? That's as easy as it gets.

Who cares if Eliot Spitzer hires prostitutes? - Glenn

Glenn Greenwald appears to agree with my sentiment:

Regarding all of the breathless moralizing from all sides over the "reprehensible," outrageous crimes of Eliot Spitzer: are there actually many people left who care if an adult who isn't their spouse hires prostitutes? Are there really people left who think that doing so should be a crime, that adults who hire other consenting adults for sex should be convicted and go to prison?
The meaty bit isn't the prosecution or its moral questions, though. The meaty question is why the prosecution exists.

UPDATE II: Harper's Scott Horton, one of the country's foremost experts on the Bush DOJ's overtly political prosecution of former Democratic Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, compiles numerous additional questions regarding this quite unusual, massive federal law enforcement effort directed at a small prostitution ring that just so happens to have had Democratic New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer as a client (leading, in turn, to the disclosure of all sorts of salacious details in the "Client-9" paragraphs of the Complaint having no bearing whatsoever on the actual criminal issues).

It will be difficult for the questions Horton raises to attract much attention given all of the fun, titillating details concerning Spitzer's sexual activities which are already preoccupying so many, to say nothing of the invigorating charge that comes from being part of an upstanding mob so righteously condemning the private lives of others. But the issues Horton raises are of far greater significance than how Eliot Spitzer and other consenting adults chose to spend their time with one another.

UPDATE III: Jane Hamsher is asking similar and additional questions about this very odd prosecution.

Politically motivated investigation by trophy-hunting Republican-aligned feds? Possibly with the assistance or consent of people who aren't pleased with the concept of a reformer at the helm?

Is anything not going to remind me of The Wire at this point?

Cold. Dead. Hand.

Kentucky House Representative Tim Couch Wants to Make Anonymous Internet Posting Illegal?

Sheeeeit. Has this guy never even heard of the fourth and first amendments? Does he have any idea what the words "identity" and "theft" mean when they're put together?

Has he heard of Publius?

I await--with amused interest--his explanation of how he'd enforce this thing without bankrupting everybody with less market cap than Microsoft and Google.

Anyhow, damned dirty apes and cold dead hands and "TIM COUCH IS MADE OF PEOPLE!" and all that.

(Care of /.)

Spitzer is a Distraction

There's nothing else to say. Aside from the impressive price of the companions and the enduring naivete of electorates about the attractions between the powerful and more "conventionally" attractive, it's just not a real story.

In fact, a pretty good time might be had by finding out what everybody else is shovelling out right now, while you're good 'n distracted.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Machine's Faint Hope

Ok, so now that I've broken down the Clinton machine, we can see why Clinton is still in this race when Obama (were the situation reversed) almost certainly wouldn't be.

Remember that the Clinton machine is the Democratic machine. For various reasons, mostly revolving around her husband and her former "inevitability", she has had a lot of people riding on her success.

Well, think about the superdelegates, or "automatic delegates" in the mouths of Clinton supporters. They aren't chosen by the grassroots of the party. They're the people who are part of the Democratic party in-and-of themselves: elected officials (current and former), organizers, leaders, managers, fundraisers... all the people that are the glue that hold the "party" together as a coherent organization.

Or, to switch metaphor, machine Democrats.

Get it now? Clinton is staying in because she believes that the machine will support her. Even if Obama is the clear choice of the grassroots--as he almost certainly will be--she thinks that all these other people matter just as much, if not more.

She's confident that the machine will choose the candidate that has most closely embraced it, and spurn the insurgent. Even if Obama is a stronger candidate, even if the polling suggests that Obama would crush McCain, even if the grassroots has clearly made its choice, it doesn't matter. She has embraced the machine, perhaps is the machine, and she believes that those Dems that are committed to the machine will choose her. And why would they not? She's not running on change, or reform, or--God forfend!--anything that would force these people to do anything they don't already do. She likes them just the way they are, and wants them to love her as much as she loves them and everything they represent. I know I'd find that pretty attractive, were I one of them.

That's why we're seeing these "experience" talking points from the Hillary camp. The grassroots are unlikely to respond that strongly to it, and both Hillary and Obama are going to get absolutely gobsmacked by the "war hero" thing from the McCainiacs no matter who comes as the (D) choice. It's intended for the superdelegates, to remind them that what really matters is the insight and political acumen that they have developed. The grassroots (bless their innocent little hearts) can choose whomever they want, but the people who should be making the decision are the ones who are politically experienced: the superdelegates she's courting.

Keep that in mind when you're watching the news over the next few weeks/months. Nothing she says is aimed at you, whether you're in an upcoming primary state or not. It's aimed at those "wiser heads" whose opinions--in Clinton's eyes--are worth more than yours: the "automatic delegates".

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Big State and the Machine

There's a good bit in one of the NY Times blogs about how Clinton might have been able to take Wyoming.

By all accounts, that didn't happen. But it does raise that oldest of points: the fact that Clinton has been able to take big Blue states (and, yes, Texas, though only by a hairsbreadth and only by sacrificing a LOT of smaller states), whereas Obama has been taking smallish red-to-purple states, particularly those with caucuses. The Clinton Machine has been crying foul over that, saying "this shows he can't carry big states!"

Well, maybe not in the primaries. But I do think that the validity of that charge is a little weak.

Remember, it's about movements vs. machines. Obama's organization is pretty good, but the core strength of his movement is that it behaves like a social movement: there's a lot of excitement there, tons of volunteers, the energy of youth, etc. The Clinton Machine it's up against is, however, the democratic machine. Clinton has a lot of friends in a lot of high places that owe her and her husband a lot of favors. The people who are the "movers and shakers", the ones who keep the Democratic party running and funded... they're the backbone of the Clinton primary machine.

They're also the ones who bet the farm in 2006-2007 on Clinton being president in 2008. "Where you stand depends on where you sit", and a lot of Dems have seated their future careers on the Clinton bandwagon. Obama really must be like a nightmare for these folks. He wasn't supposed to happen, and they're willing to do almost anything to ensure that he doesn't happen.

If you keep that in mind, the current situation makes perfect sense. Big Democratic states are going to have big machines. There's going to be lots of careerists and patronage cases who bet their futures on Clinton. They're going to pull out all the stops to get Clinton nominated. The smaller the state, the smaller the machine, and the more likely it is that the Obama movement will be able to break apart the gears of the machine. The bigger the state, the less likely it is that the machine will have its operation disrupted by the insurgent Senator's people.

For machine Dems, I imagine it doesn't even matter so much if she wins the general. If she loses, they'll be fine: they're in states that Dems dominate, or in states big enough that the Dems have a presence somewhere. It could be far more of a threat for Obama to become president, because he could use that position to root out the members of the Clinton machine that opposed him. If he does try to do that, then I think he'll really be in significant trouble. It seems unlikely to me, though.

Barring that, what this also suggests is that Obama's trouble with large states is probably not a big deal. Leave aside the racist Dems who simply won't vote for a black man; he'll still pull in all the committed machine Dems who had backed Hillary, because first and foremost they're Democrats, and it's pretty unlikely they'll hop the party line. They aren't likely to encourage their followers to do so, either, because if said followers aren't told to vote a straight Dem ticket, it makes it more likely that they'll flip downticket as well. That could cost these guys jobs.

They're loyal to Clinton, but they're not that loyal.

Instead, what seems likely is that the big state machines will back the presidential candidate no matter who it is. Barack Obama will be able to enjoy the support of the machine that had supported Hillary, and that of his own more volatile "movement" backers.

So, no, I'm not terribly worried about Obama and the big states. Their machines will go on, even without Clinton to marshall them. Unless Clinton really is going to scorch the earth and denounce a victorious Obama, it's a wash.

(One other thing... "What about the Latinos", you say? Think about it. Are they really going to hop to McCain and his party? No, of course they aren't, the Republicans ditched any hope of meaningful Latino support a long time ago. They might stay home, but they're far more likely to vote that (D) ticket. I really doubt that it will lose him any states that he had any hope of winning, or any real fear of losing.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

David Simon et al on The Drug War

I'm eagerly anticipating the final episode on Sunday. No doubt all of you are as well, since it isn't on OnDemand so everybody has to wait, DVR or no DVR.


Meanwhile, Simon and his fellows have a suggestion. They haven't exactly been brimming with the things, so it's a nice change. They have an excuse--saying that they're "storytellers, not advocates"--but you can't watch The Wire and not despair, at least a little. What to do?

"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right," wrote Thomas Paine when he called for civil disobedience against monarchy — the flawed national policy of his day. In a similar spirit, we offer a small idea that is, perhaps, no small idea. It will not solve the drug problem, nor will it heal all civic wounds. It does not yet address questions of how the resources spent warring with our poor over drug use might be better spent on treatment or education or job training, or anything else that might begin to restore those places in America where the only economic engine remaining is the illegal drug economy. It doesn't resolve the myriad complexities that a retreat from war to sanity will require. All it does is open a range of intricate, paradoxical issues. But this is what we can do — and what we will do.

If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun's manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.

Jury nullification is American dissent, as old and as heralded as the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger, who was acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, and absent a government capable of repairing injustices, it is legitimate protest. If some few episodes of a television entertainment have caused others to reflect on the war zones we have created in our cities and the human beings stranded there, we ask that those people might also consider their conscience. And when the lawyers or the judge or your fellow jurors seek explanation, think for a moment on Bubbles or Bodie or Wallace. And remember that the lives being held in the balance aren't fictional.

This ain't going to make them friends. And, to be honest, it isn't a complete solution, not by a long shot. It carries with it its own issues.

They're right about one thing, though: if "rip 'n run" arrests of street dealers don't result in convictions, then the stats are going to reflect it, and stats-mad commanders (and politicians) will be forced to look at more comprehensive (even, gasp, progressive) ways of dealing with these issues. And considering that primaries and elections don't seem to offer up much in the way of reformers on these issues, it's not like your voting franchise is going to mean much.

So I suppose you might as well hang a few juries.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


That NAFTA thing? It wasn't Obama reassuring the Canadians that he was full of shit on his NAFTA attacks.

It was Hillary.

Well, ok, that's not quite true. The original assurance that it was all nonsense was, apparently, from a Hillary staffer. Supposedly the later memo that more explicitly discussed it was one of Obama's people, but the Obama campaign is challenging the wording.

(It's all in the G&M)

So Hillary was bashing the hell out of Obama for something that she was either doing instead or doing as well.


(Edit: that said, there's been a lot about how Obama's surrounded by economists. It would make sense that Obama's advisors would be almost reflexively pro-free trade even when it makes no political sense to do so and the empirical evidence is lacking. Trying to wean your typical economist from dogmatic support of international trade is difficult at best; Obama isn't the type of person to try to do it in the first place.

(Hillary was obviously unserious in attacking NAFTA, she's not going to tear down her husband's legacy, but people expect her to be talking out of the side of her mouth. It's practically a selling point to her campaign. Obama's rep is, I suppose, a double-edged sword.)

In any case, don't buy into anti-NAFTA hype unless you have a damned good reason to do so. After all, it's in Obama's book: the higher up the ladder you go, the more you interact with the people who benefit from trade, and the less you interact with people that are devestated by it. And at this point, you don't get any higher up the ladder than Clinton, Obama, and all the economists they're surrounded with.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Meanwhile, in Non-America...

Gaza is going straight to hell. Various NGOs have taken to calling it "the worst they've seen since '67"

(In other words, it was a Tuesday.)

Edit: Fixed the weird little errors there. For an American impression (as opposed to those horrible biased BBCers) CNN has them calling it an "implosion":

Israel denounced the 16-page report, saying it is merely defending itself and calling the notion of a humanitarian crisis "fabricated."

However, Geoffrey Dennis, chief executive of Care International UK, one of the groups behind the report, said the crisis exists. Innocent people are suffering and dying, he said. Read the full report

"It's unacceptable and that's why we're raising the issue," he said. "It can't get much worse."

The report blasts Israel's blockade of Gaza, saying that by slashing shipments of supplies and forbidding Palestinians to leave for work or healthcare, the Jewish state is imposing hardships on the 1.5 million Palestinians residing in the ravaged territory.

"Gaza has suffered from a long-term pattern of economic stagnation and plummeting development indicators," according to the report. "The severity of the situation has increased exponentially since Israel imposed extreme restrictions on the movement of goods and people in response to the Hamas takeover of Gaza and to indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel."

Israel, which stepped up its military operations in Gaza last week in response to Palestinian militants firing rockets into the Jewish state, quickly responded to the report, saying Hamas -- not Israel -- was to blame for the hardships in Gaza.

"As stated to these organizations time and time again by the Israeli government, they should point their criticism towards the Hamas terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip, and not against the state of Israel," a statement from Israel's Foreign Ministry said.

The Israeli government went on to make the usual comments about Palestinians needing to stop firing the rockets and that it's al Hamas' fault etc. etc. etc. This sort of thing doesn't really reflect well on Israel, though: saying that what you're doing is necessary and unavoidable is one thing, but denying that there are any negative consequences and then pulling out the "yeah, but they started it" card just isn't going to fly.

If you look at this more closely, though, you see the central problem. Israel keeps (wittingly or unwittingly) framing this as a form of collective punishment: Gaza lets Hamas rule them, and thus Gaza deserves to suffer the economic devastation of the lockdown. Israel keeps making it over and over again, and it keeps on not working over and over again. It simply won't sway anybody who doesn't think that some random Palestinian kid deserves to suffer because the guys with the machine guns are firing rockets at Israel. Nobody who wasn't already going to believe anything they say in the first place, anyway.

I don't see why they'd think it'd work, either: no Israeli would ever tolerate the argument that blowing up a Tel Aviv coffee bar or, say, Tel Aviv would be an acceptable response to the IDF overstepping its bounds somewhere, so why would they buy it working the other way? If you can credit the Israelis with individuality, then the Palestinians clearly deserve it too, no matter where you stand on that conflict.

Israel can and should defend itself. Its spokesmen just need to be honest about it.

A Wake-Up Call

One other thing. The Dems are fond of saying "but look at the turnout for the Democratic race! That means we'll dominate in the general!"

No it doesn't. It means that the Dems have a real race on their hands, and so far more people are going to participate in that than a pointless, empty primary. There's lots of media coverage, and each vote is worth a fair bit considering how small a primary is. Plus, cross-party voting.

To say that that's going to translate into votes in the general is ludicrous. Sorry, it just is. The general is a whole different beast, and it's a long way away.

There's no silver lining here.

Picture a Healthy-Sized Pile of Meaty Chunks

Go ahead. I'll give you a minute.



Good. You've now successfully achieved your first act of precognition, because that's what the Democratic Party is going to look like.

I have to admit, I was sort of pulling for Obama. Not because I've enjoyed some of the infamous Kool-Aid, but simply because this needs to be over. The race is getting nastier and nastier, and with Clinton's win in Ohio and kinda-sorta razor win in Texas, the Clinton team has the justification they need to keep on running.

Now, they have no real shot of winning the majority of pledged delegates. It's theoretically possible, but it's not going to happen short of Obama being caught with a live O-boy or a dead O-girl. Even that nonsense he pulled with NAFTA isn't going to be enough, and that was so
ridiculously off-message and hamfisted that I'd be suspecting that guy who contacted the Canadians of being a plant at this point. He's going to go into the convention with the majority of pledged delegates.

What we've seen from the Hillary camp, though, is that they don't care about that. They simply don't. They're in it to win the nomination by any means necessary, and if it means arm-twisting superdelegates to override the pledged delegates--and seating the delegates they cheated their way to obtaining in Florida and Michigan--that's what they'll do.

In fact, that's what they have to do, and what they've been setting the groundwork for since Super Tuesday. All this spin about "major states" and "momentum" and trying to relabel the party hacks as "automatic delegates" to make them more palatable, all of it only makes sense if they're trying to prepare the public for Hillary winning on the back of whatever super-delegates her organization can drag into her camp.

(And so does the relentlessly negative, "scorched earth" advertising campaign)

It won't work, of course. Obama's supporters would desert her, believing that he is the rightful nominee. (Especially if Florida and Michigan get seated. They'd be attacked by other Dems for being loyal to their man over the party, but let's face it: they'd have a damned good point. The Republicans would have a field day with Hillary "I can't believe it's a presidential nominee!" Clinton; McCain would tear her to shreds over not even really having the support of her own party, let alone the nation.

(The media would help, of course.)

The progressives in the party won't be inclined to support her too closely, either: they'll have just seen the worst aspects of Democratic politics given flesh, as a person--and a one-time Republican--who self-consciously rejected them to become a "centrist" exploits the rules of the convention to receive an unearned nomination. That her husband's connections to "centrist" organizations they despise (like the DLC) would serve as the backbone of the effort won't help either.

What would the progressives do? Some, though probably not most, would hold their nose and vote for Hillary. Some may stay home. Some might even vote for Nader, depending on whether Hillary tries to out-centrist McCain in an attempt to win the independent votes that, let's face it, he'll have locked up the second the Democratic convention is over. Especially if they were former Obama fans. It wouldn't enough to beat the War Party.

And Hillary Clinton still won't be President.

That's what the Clinton campaign is facing, and I think on some basic, primal level, they know it. They know that a win without a majority of pledged delegates would be disastrous. So they'll keep on slinging mud, hoping that some sticks, and that they'll somehow end up with the majority of pledged delegates anyway. And that will tear the party apart, too, once Obama really does start responding in kind. Yes, there might have been cryptic comments about Clinton's gender, and yes, his fans are way too over-the-top with the Hillary hate. Compared to the 3AM ad, Clinton's McCain endorsement, and the deliberate blackening of his face--as well as dropping the "well, gee, I don't think he's a Muslim" bomb before dancing away from it knowing full well what part would end up on the air--Obama himself has been mild. No longer.

So the charges will fly, and the supporters will scream at each other for being idealistic naive children vs. out-of-touch Boomers, and the Dems will tear themselves apart. And it doesn't matter who wins.

Either way, Mccain will stand victorious over that healthy-sized pile of meaty Democratic chunks.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Good Writeup on Ep. 9 of The Wire

You can find an excellent writeup of what some are calling "the best episode of The Wire" over on Alan Sepinwall's blog:

Many On Demand viewers have already called "Late Editions" the best "Wire" episode ever, and while I would need to go back and revisit the closing chapters of previous seasons (season one's "Cleaning Up" and last season's "Final Grades" in particular) before I make my ruling, I think what everyone's responding to is how the hour touches on everything that makes "The Wire" great. It begins tying together all the disparate story threads, reminding us why all the slow set-up at the beginning of each season is so important, but it also hits all of the feelings mentioned above, and so many more. I know the phrase "emotional roller-coaster" is a cliche of a cliche, but damn if I didn't feel like I was riding one throughout this episode.
It's got spoilers, so if you're one of those people who is slowly catching up to the show on DVD, don't read it. If you are watching what is still The Best Damned Show on Television, though, get clickin'.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

You Know How You Can Tell This "Cadscam" is Serious

Whatzisname hasn't written a word about it.

He's in a bit of a tight spot. He can't defend (Canada's PM) Stephen Harper without losing pretty much every drop of liberal/progressive cred he has remaining. Yet he's extremely friendly with Harper, and it's very useful for the provincial Liberals--that he vigorously supports--to have federal conservatives to beat up. So he can't truly rip into Harper, because this stands a serious chance of being Canada's equivalent of the Mark Foley scandal, and it's possible Harper might go down under this.

He's between a rock and a hard place... so instead he's going on and on about web metrics and how that weird, idiosyncratic comments system he had on the site for fifteen seconds was vulnerable to a DOS attack.

(No, I don't get why he doesn't just add Haloscan either.)

Me, were I attached to the Liberal party in any way, I'd be running this into the ground. Sure worked for the Dems.

Edit: My mistake. Apparently he is writing about it, if you interpret "writing about it" as "spinning as hard for Harper as he can".

I was not aware that a Notice of Libel was coming, but this development doesn't really surprise me, either. Given how unusual it is for a Prime Minister to sue a Leader of the Opposition for libel - I don't know if that has ever happened, in fact - I'd hazard a guess that this isn't the action of someone who fears a full airing of the facts.

Again, this "scandal" didn't ever seem like one, to me. A million dollar insurance policy on a man who was known to be dying? A book on the same subject being flogged hither and yon? All of it suggested some caution was in order, n'est-ce pas?

We'll see if I'm right, I guess. In the meantime, that sound you hear is the sound of various bloggers and journalists reviewing what they've published, to see if they might have crossed a line, too.

UPDATE: The Tory "sources" who are telling Fife that the legal action is all about politics are doing their leader no service. Few judges like to hear that their court is being used for political payback.
Attacking Tories for "not doing their leader service", repeating "not a scandal" talking points, and trying to describe a SLAPP suit as proof of honesty...

...honestly, is the man even trying to look like a liberal anymore?

Seriously, maybe that's why I'm this irritated. This is Canada's master spin doctor? The DLC hides their proclivities better than this.