'Bama versus Mama Archives

February 22, 2008

"Substantive differences"

Wish I Had Written That Department:

The candidates themselves think that their positions on health care are, as Obama said last night, “substantively different.” Indeed. Clinton’s plan makes people who are unemployed or don’t receive insurance from their employers buy government insurance that they can’t afford so that they can pay copays they can’t afford so that they can maybe eventually receive care from a doctor. Obama wouldn’t make people buy government insurance and take on the burden of premiums and copays, but if they don’t and they show up at an emergency room to receive treatment, they will be fined, severely, as he made clear last night. These are the politics that are inspiring such great passion among Democrats this year.

March 4, 2008

Daughter of darkness and old Night

Obviously, an inconclusive result in today's Texas-Ohio two-ring grapple will be a victory for my beloved evil beauty Eris.

Extra treat for Owen -- any continuation of the Dembos' identity-pol clusterfuck bodes well for my boy Hanoi Johnny and his TR special: the red white and blue Kulturkampf rough-rider GWOT express.

Circus Maximus

A chap on one my my mailing lists, who shall remain anonymous here but has in the past enjoyed a certain reputation in the left-wing blogosphere, writes as follows:
... the choice IS between BHO and HRC, so comparisons are in order. I have said that on paper there is not a ton of difference. From the standpoint of behavior, however, with WJC/HRC we have a rich record of betrayal. BHO at least deserves a chance to betray us.
Surely he's being humorous, you say? Alas, I fear not. This post is the latest in a long series arguing that 'Bama vs. Mama matters.

March 5, 2008

Float like a butterfly, sting like a... butterfly

A correspondent writes, about Obamania:
... why do people get so preposterously excited about him?
This one, I think, we can answer:

1) He's not a Boomer. Young people in particular are thoroughly sick of my generation -- Hillary being a very good example of why -- and Barack escaped by a year or two that dismal demographic ghetto.

2) He's a much better entertainer than the competition. That is, he has the knack of appearing natural, comfortable, and spontaneous under the bright lights. Hillary, by contrast, can't help looking as covertly frantic as a scorpion surprised in the act of creeping into your shoe.

3) He's new. We haven't seen him, and seen him, and seen him until we're sick of the sight of him.

4) Most important: He has been able to situate himself as a "floating signifier" -- a sign that can mean whatever you want it to mean, a clean, pristine vessel that you can fill with whatever significance you choose.

Quite literally: What's not to like? This is, alas, a question very easy to answer in the case of Hillary.

March 6, 2008

The un-un-Cola

Now that Ma Scorpion has gotten a new lease on life from Ohio and Texas, maybe it's behind the curve to keep talking about Obamania. Still, the phenomenon interests me, on a purely intellectual level.

I've had a few conversations with Obama supporters. These folks are not, admittedly, the perfervid young True Believers depicted in's You-Tube videos -- more like grizzled old liberals still hoping, hoping, for a break in the weather, a break that hasn't come since the '40s and certainly doesn't appear to be imminent.

What these folks always end up saying is something like this: Well, he's better than Hillary, isn't he?

Of course they're right. It would be hard to be worse. But note that we now have a recursion of lesser-evillism. We vote for the Democrats because they're "not as bad" as the Republicans -- and among Democrats, we support Obama because he's "not as bad" as Hillary. The Democrats are the un-Republicans, and Barak is the un-Hillary -- a double-Un!

There's a nightmarish Achilles-and-the-tortoise quality to this reasoning -- the sort of vertiginous slide down through orders of magnitude that you get in fever dreams. How small could these distinctions get before quantum effects would begin to be felt? When Obama's necktie knot or cufflinks would seriously be cited as reasons for preferring him?

And at what point would people bail out? How far down the scale will they follow these successive splittings and re-splittings of the difference? How long can this game be kept going?

There's no obvious limit to it. People just don't see the absurdity in arguing for the lesser evil of the lesser evil -- what's the algebra for that? Is it (lesser)2 evil, or (lesser evil)2, and is the latter a polynomial of some kind?

Why not go on to the third or fourth or Nth power in this series? Once the second step has been taken, isn't it just a proof by mathematical induction that you're no longer allowed to get off the train?

Meanwhile of course the ascent in powers can easily be made compatible with a steady diminution in the actual, absolute range of difference. 1.252 is more than 1.00254. So our keepers can keep us busy and occupied with parsing and re-parsing more and more these increasingly tiny differences, until the cows come home -- or the chickens come home to roost.

Chickens! Chickens! Where the hell are those damn chickens? They haven't come home to roost in years.

March 7, 2008

Exit the glamor ghoul

A faithful correspondent passed this along:
Looks like Powers, like Pete Stark a few months ago, committed the unforgivable sin: an unveiled reference to reality.
LONDON - A Barack Obama adviser resigned Friday after calling rival Hillary Rodham Clinton "a monster."

Samantha Power, an unpaid foreign policy adviser and Harvard professor, announced her resignation in a statement provided by the Obama campaign in which she expressed "deep regret."

"Last Monday, I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton and from the spirit, tenor, and purpose of the Obama campaign," she said. "And I extend my deepest apologies to Senator Clinton, Senator Obama and the remarkable team I have worked with over these long 14 months."

Somehow, though, I doubt that we've seen the last of her.

Vintage Krug

Paul Krugman has been on this for months now.

Like Horton, Paul hears a Who -- a who of a difference, that is, between the identity twins, and it's right there on his beat: economic policy.

Paul thinks Ma Scorpion "has a clear plan for the country's problems," and Obie don't have but sweet swamp gas.

And who on the lunch-pail front has the real feel? Not Obama: according to Paul, his "attempt to win over workers by portraying himself as a fierce critic of Nafta looked, and was, deeply insincere."

Paul sees the Michigan/Florida revote as the solution to any sour-loser fallout. To me, it's simple: if Obama gets iced -- in the political, not the literal sense, of course -- some of his folks might actually bolt; while Hill's millions will, after a quick mind-douche, slither, every man- and woman-jack of 'em, right back under the tent.

March 9, 2008

Shocked, shocked

Unlike the New York Times, Reuters is seldom a source of unintended humor. Still, it happens:
Clintons push a Hillary/Obama ticket

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hillary and Bill Clinton are again teaming up on Barack Obama -- this time saying the first-term U.S. lawmaker, whom they have derided as inexperienced, would be a strong running mate on a Democratic presidential ticket headed by the former first lady....

"The Clintons are in a difficult position," said Dennis Goldford, a political science professor at Drake University in Iowa....

"If she wins the Democratic presidential nomination, she would need Obama's supporters. But she needs to be careful. If this talk of him on the ticket is seen as a cynical maneuver, it could backfire and hurt her," Goldford said.

Hillary? Cynical? Who knew?

It's surely safe to say that anybody who might still be willing to vote for Hillary, under any circumstances whatsoever, must have a fairly strong stomach for cynicism.

March 11, 2008

The vulture circles

Few would have dared forsee this three months ago, and even now most seem not to want to let it register. But no matter what, there's gonna be a mighty bad collision between the Dembo's two identity pol dolls -- and Hanoi Johnny will be the sole beneficiary.

Try as they may, not even the sharpest beltway cynics and opportunists, working 24/7 from now to the convention in august, will find some advanced yoga position to put these two into and convince both their bases it's a win.

Black man, white woman, one must fail -- this has legs, and arms and mouths, mouths that will cry foul till November, when their champion is "dumped" by the party's Mr Insider types. Dumped, did I say? No, robbed! Stabbed in the back!

So its beginning to look mighty good for the Poopdeck Pappy express, that is, unless... unless... at the last moment, an aged, bloated, improbable-looking toreador enters the arena, and with lumbering gait offers himself to the weebles -- oh no, not him -- not the party's Uncle Fester -- not... Al Gore!

March 12, 2008

Here's the beef

If Obie wants to scotch all this talk about him for Ma Scorpion's veep, then he oughta name his own running mate right now. My idea of the perfect candidate for him: "Out Now" t-shirt commando Adam Kokesh, the self-christened "revolutionary patriot".

All those slightly long-in-the-tooth white gals who form Hillary's core cadre will drop her in a heartbeat, once this Chippendale's on the ticket.

March 13, 2008

Attackin' the Church

One has to feel a certain sympathy for Barack Obama. He fights clear of his supposed Muslim antecedents -- and then guess what, his Christianity turns out to be a problem:

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor for the last 20 years at the Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's south side, has a long history of what even Obama's campaign aides concede is "inflammatory rhetoric," including the assertion that the United States brought on the 9/11 attacks with its own "terrorism."

[In a sermon Pastor Wright says] "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," he said in a 2003 sermon. "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."

In addition to damning America, he told his congregation on the Sunday after Sept. 11, 2001 that the United States had brought on al Qaeda's attacks because of its own terrorism.

"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," Rev. Wright said in a sermon on Sept. 16, 2001.

"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," he told his congregation.

If I were still living in Chicago, I think I might start going to Pastor Wright's church.

What do you wanna bet that Obama stops going there?

March 17, 2008

Clash of civilizations

The always-witty Doug Henwood passed along this item, under the title "Hillary locks up the senior vote":
March 17, 2008

Contact: Press Office, 703-875-1271

UPDATED: Sir Elton John To Perform at Clinton Fundraiser on April 9th

Legendary artist Sir Elton John will perform at a solo concert on behalf of Hillary Clinton's campaign on April 9, 2008 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The event, called "Elton and Hillary: One Night Only," is Elton John's first public solo concert in New York City without his band since his solo concert at Madison Square Garden in October 2000.

March 19, 2008


We've all heard or watched or read candidate 'Bama draw the race line in the sand for "all of us Americans".

His speech in Philly yesterday was a clear enough statement of the obvious to be a rarity among polspeak productions, and so commendable, if not remarkable.

Barack has a talent for plain smooth decent conveyance, and I think he has shown a quality of mercy and understanding worth admiring. And yet -- to me his performance, straight ahead as it was, never escapes for long the quality of an awards speech.

If a majority of America's middle Americans come to accept what this man serves up to them as white house fare then it will obviously and precisely reflect the palatable taste of his words.

He is -- to put it simply -- no kinda Jeremiah at all, not even the battered-about, traduced facsimile of the great Hebrew prophet who preached an angry demotic truth his way, a few Sundays past, and married him to his wif

March 22, 2008

Don't tase me, Ma

Is it just too late or can Ma Scorpion still destroy the Democratic Party we've known and cherished these last 28 years?

Bill Richardson, duke of the Chicano people seems to think not. Let's hope he's wrong.

I suspect her best chance is still what it was before Jeremiah -- keep up the 24/7 race ragging, and poll his ass off till the numbers start to show he's just plain 'unelectable'. Then step back, shake the old albino coconut, and blame his fall from grace on the bone-deep 'race hate' of Mr and Mrs Threewide. Hey, what can ya say -- the people have spoken.

And presto, the party goes to pieces.

March 26, 2008

More pwogggies succumb

Tom "gives opportunism a bad name"(*) Hayden, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bill Fletcher Jr and Danny Glover have issued a manifesto over at The Nation:
Progressives for Obama

All American progressives should unite for Barack Obama.... We believe that the movement today supporting Barack Obama continues [the] great tradition of grassroots participation.... We believe that Barack Obama's very biography reflects the positive potential of the globalization process.... We should instead be globalizing the values of equality, a living wage and environmental sustainability in the new world order.... By its very existence, the Obama campaign will stimulate a vision of globalization from below....

During past progressive peaks in our political history--the late thirties, the early sixties--social movements have provided the relentless pressure and innovative ideas that allowed centrist leaders to embrace visionary solutions. We find ourselves in just such a situation today.

... Even though it is candidate-centered, there is no doubt that the campaign is a social movement, one greater than the candidate himself ever imagined.

As argument, this ranges, of course, from the incoherent to the delusional. It's an admittedly "candidate-centered" campaign, but even so a "social movement". No evidence is offered for this latter claim -- probably because there isn't any. Globalization is a bad thing but could be a good thing if it were driven by different "values", which of course would happen if Obama were President. We "find ourselves today" in a situation like the Thirties or the Sixties. Huh? What have the Gang of Four been smoking? Where exactly are all these "grassroots social movements" ready to transmute Obama under tectonic heat and pressure into FDR? Have I been looking in the wrong places on YouTube?

The whole thing from start to finish is like this -- a wild oneiric slalom over vast moguls of baseless and contradictory assumption and gaping bottomless chasms of logic. It all comes to a sharp focus in this masterly formulation:

...The fact that Barack Obama openly defines himself as a centrist invites the formation of this progressive force within his coalition. Anything less could allow his eventual drift towards the right as the general election approaches.
Surrender is victory! Let's clip-clop into the slaughterhouse and management will let us take it over! By throwing in the towel and lining up behind the admitted "centrist" Obama, the pwogs will somehow -- it's a great transcendent mystery, like the Trinity -- somehow have more influence rather than less.

* * * * *

A close friend of mine recently asked me why, exactly, I think I'm so much smarter than all the millions of people who do vote and do care who wins. It's a good question and applies to anybody who takes a contrarian or minority position on any topic at all. This Nation essay re-poses the question.

Ehrenreich is quite smart, and and her three co-authors are undoubtedly at least as smart as I am. The problem is not their intellectual capacity. The problem is that for some reason they check their brains at the door. Why does this happen? How can four smart people produce such a farrago of laughable nonsense as this Nation statement?

I can only assume that they're acting under the pressure of feelings so deeply-rooted and so strong that facts and logic cannot prevail against them. There's no disgrace in this, of course -- we all do it all the time, in our personal lives at any rate.

It's always presumptuous and often risky to speculate about what drives other people's behavior. But the Gang of Four are all successful, well-known, well-connected and well-socialized people. It can't be easy for folks who have made their way successfully into the institutions of American civic and cultural life to turn around and say that those institutions, under present conditions, are simply not capable of producing the kind of outcome for people in general that these well-intentioned Pwogs would like to see.

Intellectually they know that Barack and Hillary are both seeking a job whose description can be summarized as Immiserator-In-Chief and General Manager of Empire. Yet they can't help feeling that there simply must be some way to reclaim the machinery of empire and exploitation for good ends. A willingness to operate the existing social machinery without dropping a shoe into it is a precondition of the success that these four have all, in various degrees, enjoyed. So... surely... it can't be all bad? Surely, with a more humane hand at the controls, it can turn from its wickedness and start producing "globalization from below"?

Enter the Magic Negro, that supernal figure who can square the circle, reconcile the irreconcilable, make the lion lie down with the lamb; the irresistible force that can move the immovable object. When magic comes to town, facts and logic don't matter any more; that's the nature of magic.

* * * * *

There's another element. The gang of four observe about Barack's admittedy wonderful "race" speech:

.... as great a speech as ever given by a presidential candidate, revealing a philosophical depth, personal authenticity, and political intelligence that should convince any but the hardest of ideologues that he carries unmatched leadership potentials.
Apart from the curious plural on "potential", I can endorse every one of these claims, as far as they go. What they boil down to, however, is the fact that Barack is recognizable to the Gang as a person like themselves, characterized by "depth, authenticity, and intelligence" -- unlike Hillary, who we all know has the depth of one of those deadly needle-apexed isosceles triangles in Flatland; the authenticity of Judas Iscariot; and the malign intelligence of a pirate captain.

In other words, for the Gang, Barack is what individuals of a certain type are apt to call P.L.U. -- People Like Us. And thus it follows that he must somehow be able to take the helm of the American deathstar and turn it into, what, an intergalactic day-care center cum community college. The Gang believe -- correctly enough, no doubt -- in their own good intentions. And as we noted above, they don't believe that the machinery of empire, and the dynamos that drive it, are intrinsically miserific. So put a PLU in charge -- and hey presto, ice-bound Narnia will bloom again.


(*) A characterization we owe to national treasure Gore Vidal.

March 28, 2008

Hegemony on the smart

I gave up reading Foreign Affairs some years ago, but one of my mailing lists brought in a reference to this gem:
Renewing American Leadership

Barack Obama


At moments of great peril in the last century, American leaders such as Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy managed both to protect the American people and to expand opportunity for the next generation. What is more, they ensured that America, by deed and example, led and lifted the world...

As Roosevelt built the most formidable military the world had ever seen, his Four Freedoms gave purpose to our struggle against fascism. Truman championed a bold new architecture to respond to the Soviet threat -- one that paired military strength with the Marshall Plan and helped secure the peace and well-being of nations around the world. As colonialism crumbled and the Soviet Union achieved effective nuclear parity, Kennedy modernized our military doctrine, strengthened our conventional forces, and created the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress. They used our strengths to show people everywhere America at its best.

Wild. The Bay of Pigs, Hiroshima, Vietnam -- these were "America at its best"? One would hate to think so.

Intensional objects like this, as dense as a neutron star with unstated assumptions and perverse readings of history, are time-consuming (though fun, in a masochistic way) to unpack. This article alone provides meat for a whole Talmud of analytic commentary. But perhaps the only question that really matters is: what does it tell us about the handsome Mr Lesser Evil and what he might do if we put him in the White House?

... many Americans may be tempted to turn inward and cede our leadership in world affairs. But this is a mistake we must not make. America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, and the world cannot meet them without America.... We must lead the world....

One is tempted to reply, with Tonto, "what you mean 'we', paleface?" But that would be inappropriate.

Our starting point must always be a clear and strong commitment to the security of Israel.... we must help the Israelis identify and strengthen those partners who are truly committed to peace, while isolating those who seek conflict and instability....

We should expand our ground forces by adding 65,000 soldiers to the army and 27,000 marines....

I will not hesitate to use force, unilaterally if necessary, to protect the American people or our vital interests whenever we are attacked or imminently threatened....

We must also consider using military force in circumstances beyond self-defense in order to provide for the common security that underpins global stability....

.... we must develop a strong international coalition to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and eliminate North Korea's nuclear weapons program.... In confronting these threats, I will not take the military option off the table.

.... we must strengthen our homeland security..... checking all passengers against a comprehensive watch list.

You get the idea. I guess he really is the new Jack Kennedy -- without the louche personal life.

March 31, 2008

The Samson option

The Note observes,

... there's a fair chance [Hillary] will have to destroy the Democratic Party in her quest to save it. At this critical juncture, Clinton is choosing confrontation over conciliation.
I didn't think there was anything that could give me a warm feeling about Hillary, but this notion did the trick. Maybe she'll go out in a blaze of glory and pull the whole sorry structure down around her ears.

Unlike the old Philistines, the Democratic Party Philistines will mostly survive the cataclysm. I delight to imagine them walking dazed into the sunlight, covered with plaster dust and scraps of musty bunting, seeking a new Dagon to venerate.

April 1, 2008

Sisterhood is... is... over?

Mike Flugennock passed along a pointer to a weigh-in by literary Bigfoot Alice Walker:

I am a supporter of Obama because I believe he is the right person to lead the country at this time....

He is, in fact, a remarkable human being, not perfect but humanly stunning, like King was and like Mandela is.

True to my inner Goddess of the Three Directions however, this does not mean I agree with everything Obama stands for.... I want a grown-up attitude toward Cuba, for instance, a country and a people I love.... I want an end to the on-going war immediately and I want the soldiers to be encouraged to destroy their weapons and to drive themselves out of Iraq.

I want the Israeli government to be made accountable for its behavior towards the Palestinians....

These are the things Alice Walker "wants". But she acknowledges she won't be getting 'em from Obie. So why, Alice...?
Imagine, if he wins the presidency we will have not one but three black women in the White House; one tall, two somewhat shorter; none of them carrying the washing in and out of the back door..... as the Hopi elders would say: Who do we want in the boat with us as we head for the rapids? Who is likely to know how best to share the meager garden produce and water? We are advised by the Hopi elders to celebrate this time, whatever its adversities.
Three black women in the White House -- well, that sounds pretty good, even to pale old me, and of course it sounds a lot better to Walker, understandably and rightly. It's actually the only reason I find intelligible why anybody might care whether Obama wins.

If your skin has a high melanin quotient -- with everything that has entailed, and still entails, in America -- the idea that a brother might inherit the nuclear launch codes must be pretty exciting. Seriously. Solidarity with people like oneself is deeply human and, in the case of people who aren't running the show, entirely praiseworthy.

I've got no use for Obama myself. But -- though nobody needs any permission from me, nor should they -- black folks would be above or below humanity if they didn't feel an awfully strong interest in Obie's prospects.

But jeez, Alice, you coulda spared us the pagan deities and the Hopi elders. This sort of dribble is one the reasons why most ordinary Americans think intellectuals are idiots.


Stats box:

Words in Walker's essay: 2214
Various forms of the first-person singular pronoun:

-- 'I': 54
--'my': 28
-- 'me': 13
-- 'mine': 1

Total: 96 (4.3%)

April 3, 2008

Cain & Abel, LLC

Mike Flugennock passed this along, from the Washington Times of all places:

Blog bickering called poison to Democrats

Some say acrimony is rampant among liberal and progressive bloggers who debate the merits of the Democratic presidential candidates.... the divisiveness potentially exacting a toll on the party itself.

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly yesterday cited both "venom" and "liberals brutalizing liberals" on Web sites partial to either Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama.

Vitriol is brewing among Democrats, Mr. O'Reilly said, singling out the Daily Kos in particular...

Markos Moulitsas, who founded the site, [says],

"While I'm touched by Bill O'Reilly's concern for our party, tell him not to worry. Unlike his show, where critics have their mics cut off and escorted out by Fox security, us progressive bloggers have no problem debating and disagreeing with each other."

Rampant acrimony? As opposed to couchant acrimony, or passant acrimony? But I'm being pedantic. Still, you'd think the deep-pocketed Right could find a slightly more literate scribbler. But you've gotta admire a paper willing to publish a story whose lede begins, "Some say..."

Much more fun is Moulitsas' po-faced comment that "us [sic] progressive bloggers have no problem... disagreeing with each other." Having been purged from the Kos web site under half a dozen different aliases, I can testify that this is a whopping lie. The relentless tyranny of groupthink on Kos and the other "progressive" blogs makes the Gulag look like Liberty Hall. Debate, such as it is, occurs out at the fifth or sixth decimal place.

Moulitsas did O'Reilly an injustice, too, in implying that the latter's concern for the Democratic Party isn't genuine. In fact, Kos and O'Reilly have a similar interest in the Democratic Party: for both of them, it provides a career, though O'Reilly's has paid off a good deal better.

Advice to aspiring vaudevillians: Don't be the straight man if you can make your living any other way.

April 10, 2008

With friends like these....

From the LA Times:
Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Barack Obama
They consider him receptive despite his clear support of Israel.

CHICAGO — It was a celebration of Palestinian culture -- a night of music, dancing and a dash of politics. Local Arab Americans were bidding farewell to Rashid Khalidi, an internationally known scholar, critic of Israel and advocate for Palestinian rights, who was leaving town for a job in New York.

A special tribute came from Khalidi's friend and frequent dinner companion, the young state Sen. Barack Obama....

Today, five years later, Obama is a U.S. senator from Illinois who expresses a firmly pro-Israel view of Middle East politics, pleasing many of the Jewish leaders and advocates for Israel whom he is courting in his presidential campaign. The dinner conversations he had envisioned with his Palestinian American friend have ended....

And yet the warm embrace Obama gave to Khalidi, and words like those at the professor's going-away party, have left some Palestinian American leaders believing that Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say.

Their belief is not drawn from Obama's speeches or campaign literature, but from....

Two words: Wishful thinking. The thing that drives the whole Obama phenomenon, actually.

Hmmm. LA Times. Who planted this story, I wonder? Ma Scorpion is on the ropes.

April 11, 2008

I AM the Reform Party

Passed along by a reader:
Check this out from O-bomb-ya:
"Mrs. Clinton's opponent in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Barack Obama, said in an interview that the welfare overhaul had been greatly beneficial in eliminating a divisive force in American politics."

What a tool! Yeah, welfare was the "divisive force" and not the corporate assholes using racist smears about "welfare queens" (never mind that corporations and CEO's are now and have always been the biggest welfare queens around).

The link contains some choice stuff. For example:
"Before welfare reform, you had, in the minds of most Americans, a stark separation between the deserving working poor and the undeserving welfare poor," Mr. Obama said in an interview. "What welfare reform did was desegregate those two groups. Now, everybody was poor, and everybody had to work."
"Everybody was poor" is so on-target that it's got to be a Freudian slip.

April 17, 2008

Worth a thousand words

From today's NY Times:
Palestinians Fight Israelis in Gaza; Toll Exceeds 21

Palestinian child on bike after Israeli rocket attack
Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Wounded Palestinians lay near the car of Fadel Shana, a cameraman for Reuters who died in a missile attack on Wednesday in Gaza.

At least 18 Palestinians, many of them civilians including children, and three Israeli soldiers were reported killed in heavy fighting.

I'm not the only one who has observed that that photo editors are the best thing about the New York Times. In this case they have splendidly chosen an image that gives the lie to the paper's party-line headline.

I happened to see this when I was trying unsuccessfully to think of something to say about the Obama-Clinton dustup last night in Philadelphia. (The flag pin question, I'm told, was extensively explored.)

The kid in the foreground brought me back to reality. He's what Obama and Clinton agree on.

April 25, 2008

The heart has its reasons

What's with those fair skinned phoney fivers -- the five percent of dembo voters claiming to vote black, who don't, didn't, and won't. The Bradley effect, as its called after LA's famed wooden-headed mayor and catfood-colored top cop.

Election after election der Bradman consistently outpolled his real vote. I wonder if it was by the same 5% plaguing Obamanation? Maybe it's a universal social constant. At any rate it's very interesting. What a weird crowd these folks must be -- if they really exist at all, that is, and aren't just some structural aberration of the sample polling system itself.

But hey -- what about the N% of folks who will have claimed they voted for Hillinova, and didn't? I can imagine some guys, close personal friends of mine, in fact, doing just that. Such people must exist.

Maybe the anti-black but ashamed of it thang is even larger than 5%. Or maybe there's a lot of older white women that voted for Obama but were ashamed to admit it for fear of real or imaginary sexual desire implications.

Questions, questions, questions.

"My, my, Sherman, but aren't the exit samplings and the ballot boxes getting, ahem, polls apart."

April 29, 2008

Ball and chain

Obama's scrappy Better Half doesn't seem to be much beloved by anybody -- it's her strange cocktail of merit-class arrogance and chip-on-the-shoulder resentfulness. But the epicenter of Michellophobia appears to be Catholic women of low career attainment.

Wonder whether Pappy McCain can exploit this as well as Hillanova has? How?

Wright: So right

Poor Barack has finally had to pony up his Sister Souljah moment and repudiate Jeremiah Wright. What delights me in this story is how much more sensible Wright seems than Obama. Here's Wright:
Preachers say what they say because they're pastors. They have a different person to whom they're accountable. As I said, whether he gets elected or not, I'm still going to have to be answerable to God.

[On whether he should apologize for shouting in a sermon "God damn America" for its treatment of minorities]:

"God doesn't bless everything. God condemns some things.... God damns some practices and there's no excuse for the things that the government, not the American people, have done.

[On his previous suggestion that the U.S. government invented the HIV virus as a means of genocide against minorities]:

"Based on this Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything."

[On what he meant by his sermon in which he said "God damn America"]:

"When you start confusing God and government, your allegiances to government, a particular government and not to God, that you're in serious trouble because governments fail people. And governments change. And governments lie.

[On the sermon he gave after Sept. 11 saying "America's chickens are coming home to roost" after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan and "supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans"]:

"The persons who have heard the entire sermon understand the communication perfectly.... When something is taken like a sound bite for a political purpose and put constantly over and over again, looped in the face of the public.... Those who are doing that are communicating exactly what they want to do, which is to paint me as some sort of fanatic or as the learned journalist from The New York Times called me, a 'wack-a-doodle.'"

Now here's poor Barack, worn down into mere flag-waving platitude -- O what a noble mind is here o'erturned!
But when [Pastor Wright] states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS, when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st centuries, when he equates the United States wartime efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses.

They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans....

I have spoken and written about the need for us to all recognize each other as Americans, regardless of race or religion or region of the country....

Of particular interest, I think, is the righteous horror about Wright's AIDS theory. It reminds me of that scene in Dumbo -- the movie -- when the mouse walks into a mean-spirited gossip-fest among a group of elephants, and the pachyderms go crazy. The rearing! The trumpeting! The flaring ears, the writhing trunks, the glaring, horror-struck eyes!

Personally, I think Wright is mistaken about the facts on this one. But so? Lots of people believe things that other people think are mistaken, or even a bit nutty. Those Christians, with their God on a stick! Those Jews, with their God preoccupied by foreskins and diet! Those Muslims, with their forty-seven virgins! We're supposed to plotz every time we hear something we don't agree with?

But it's not enough for Barack to register his disagreement. No, he has to be "offended," and has to say that everybody else should be offended too -- or maybe they're not really "Americans".

Wright rather plainly lays out the core of the problem in admirably clear words:

"Based on this Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything."
He might have added: based on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, based on Kissinger's green light for Suharto's massacres, based on the Phoenix Program, based on Madeleine Albright's "well worth it" infanticide in Iraq, based on Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay -- based on all these well-established, historical facts, what reasonable person could possibly deny that our government, or any government if it comes to that, is capable of any enormity in the right circumstances?

The funny thing is that the public understands this quite well. There are plenty of people out there who think the moonwalk was staged, or that Bush and the Israelis contrived the September 11 attacks, or that Mattress Jack Kennedy was disposed of by the CIA. Factually, I think they're mistaken about each of these assertions. But you gotta applaud their skepticism about the Official Version.

It's not Joe Sixpack who's shocked to hear that the Gummint might be up to no good. Joe already believes it. He may not like to hear it from a black guy, but he could get used to that.

No, the people who are shocked, or pretend to be shocked, are respectively the Pwog bien-pensanterie and the manufacturers of consent, AKA the media.

This is unsurprising as regards the media. After all, ideological conformity is their mission. But the Pwogs? What's the matter with them?

I'll tell you: their problem, in a nutshell, is that they don't want Joe Sixpack or his black cousin Jamal F'Shizzle to form any ideas of their own. They'll probably be wrong ideas, you see -- silly notions about AIDS and the World Trade Center.

But the worst of it is, these silly ideas will be their own ideas -- not something they were taught in school, not something peer-reviewed and thoroughly sifted.

And they might even be dangerous.

April 30, 2008

More on the Wright stuff

The Times' Bob Herbert is deeply upset and embarrassed by one of his landsmen: >
The Pastor Casts a Shadow

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright went to Washington on Monday not to praise Barack Obama, but to bury him.

Smiling, cracking corny jokes, mugging it up for the big-time news media — this reverend is never going away.

I hope to God that poor fretful Bob Herbert is finally right about one thing -- namely, that the pastor is not going away.

If there's to be any lasting positive legacy of the Obama candidacy, it's the emergence of people like Jeremiah Wright from their enforced invisibility.

In the neighborhoods and communities where Wright and his colleagues and predecessors have worked for decades -- we might even say, for a couple of centuries -- they've been anything but invisible. In fact, they've been indispensable. But in the social representation sold by the "corporate media" -- as Wright quite correctly calls them -- the Wrights are merely a curiosity when they're noticed at all.

That has all changed. Obama may or may not be toast after this brouhaha, and I for one couldn't care less, one way or the other. But the lasting legacy, let's hope, is that Jeremiah Wright and what he has to say are once again on the agenda.

Dr King and Malcolm put some of these topics on the table, back in the day. Then they got killed, and Malcolm was shoved into the footnotes of official history, while King suffered the equally dire fate of plaster sainthood.

Let's hear it for the return of the repressed, the latent becoming patent, the insistent ineluctability of the plain truth.

And if the truth makes Bob Herbert's head blow up -- along with the heads of every other dreary platitudinous wretch on that arid Sahara of an Op-Ed page -- then so much the better.

May 5, 2008

Ho hum

The Jeremiah Wright flap provided, what, a week's worth of excitement, but the dreary campaign is back once more on its stupefyingly tedious track. The Note is again full from end to end of soporific, sophomoric inside-baseball wiseacre-y. How long, oh Lord, how long? Who cares, oh Lord, who cares?

The only mildly interesting thing to come out of the Wright-o-machia was a dog that didn't bark. The whole carpet-chewing brouhaha appears to have made very little difference to anybody. Which is actually a phenomenon worth pondering, especially since nothing else of any interest is going on. (The gas tax holiday? Puh-leeze.)

Better a non-phenomenon than none at all.

The pollsters have been busy:

In Poll, Obama Survives Furor, but Fall Is the Test

WASHINGTON — A majority of American voters say that the furor over the relationship between Senator Barack Obama and his former pastor has not affected their opinion of Mr. Obama, but a substantial number say that it could influence voters this fall....

This is a classic slow-news-day exercise in squeezing blood from a stone. The poll shows that nothing has happened. Stop The Presses! Day Passes! Nothing Happens! Experts Baffled!

But some of the people polled allow as how the Wright flap might perhaps make a difference to some unspecified other people -- though it's made little or none to them. So that is the news. It hasn't made any difference -- yet. But some people think it might. Stop The Presses! Subjunctive Mood Alive And Well!

Mixed feelings, as usual, seems like the right response. The good news is that the ogreish cartoon of black anger which the media tried to construct out of Pastor Wright doesn't seem to have scared anybody very much. That is unquestionably progress. Score one for the good sense of the public.

The bad news is that Obama isn't utterly disgraced for his weak-kneed response. (Whatever you say, officer! I'll talk!)

One wonders how anybody who ever believed that the guy represented something really new, and hopeful, and positive, can continue to believe that after his barefoot penance at the frigid windswept Canossa where the infallible Papacy of received ideas retired to sulk after the intolerable insults Wright offered it.

But maybe even within the bad news there's a silver lining. From the same Times story:

... nearly half of the voters surveyed, and a substantial part of the Democrats, said Mr. Obama had acted mainly because he thought it would help him politically, rather than because he had serious disagreements with his former pastor.
In other words, the process of discounting the shiny new Obama coinage is well under way, and probably was so even before Jeremiah Wright made the National Press Club look like a foot-shuffling gaggle of ignorant, ill-bred schoolboys.

Which brings us back to the old story -- Obama is the quadrate term of lesser-evillism, the lesser evil of the lesser evils.

But that, ah that, is apparently the inoperable tumor of American political thinking. How do we persuade people to stop caring which evil is lesser?

May 10, 2008


George McGovern

For your enjoyment, the final two faces of the Democracy's prez-nom campaign in '72, to remind the praeteriti that tarry here what that hag the Hump did to dear old George McG before the final event, the California primary of early June.

Hunter T's words: "Not even Nixon could stoop to Hubert's level, the vicious corrupt old screw."

Yes, that desperate scalded milk-rat of a candidate threw everything he could rip loose at the man from South Dakota. Behind that honest mild Western face was -- a former commie stooge, a progressive party (vintage '48) operative, a bomber pilot turned surrender sissy, a guy who never saw an idling black hand he didn't want to fill with Uncle's long green -- in short, a friend, protector, and sponsor to every bombthrower, child-rapist, drug fiend and deserter America's sick underbelly could produce.

Hubert had help, of course. Here's a couple of mainframe HH shadow bullies:

AFL-CIA chief and cold-war Catholic, George "The Animal" Meany...

... and the king of the cop riots, Mayor Daley the elder.

'Twas a Turkish gauntlet they put dear senator George through, in those runup weeks to the final primary -- but then George won California anyway, and there was the inevitable coming-together after the Hump ran out of tomahawks and votes at the convention.

Ahhh there were giants among us in those days -- real ball-eaters. _________________________________________________________________

May 14, 2008

The human comedy

Since the primary campaign is not really about anything but personalities, one might as well find a way to enjoy it.

My own solution to the brain-corroding tedium of the process is this: now that Hillary is starting to look like she's history, I'm liking her better. (Of course, I like history in general, which makes it easier.)

This is on a purely personal level, you understand. She's such a junkyard dog. The only face she has is her game face. And she'd keep that campaign smile on it if she were being hanged, drawn, and quartered, right through the sordid, bloody process, to the grisly, filthy end.

On a purely personal level, she has in abundance the virtue of fortitude. One has to admire virtue -- on a purely personal level -- wherever one finds it.

* * *

I watched her (rather lengthy) victory speech in West Virginia -- a state Barack Obama probably wrote off when he was about 12 years old.

Transcript here for those who'd rather read than listen.

An interesting performance. Not as interesting or unusual as Barack's original, remarkable "race" speech -- the one he made before he lost his nerve and decided he didn't really know Jeremiah Wright after all. But Hillary, after all, is a bit of an earnest plodder, and doesn't have the Pindaric athlete's ease and composure that the gods gave Barack. Considering how hard she has to work, she did pretty well.

On a purely personal level. Of course.

Hillary's handlers had carefully composed her human background, although the one moderately cute young gay guy, for some strange reason, kept waving a bowling pin around. This was a bit distracting. Where is the Secret Service when you need them? The one black guy looked a little bit like, but maybe not quite enough.

Poor Hillary, though. In spite of her (incredibly game) game face and her sedulously competent delivery -- if she were a piano student, she would practice her scales for three or four hours a day, with a metronome -- her speech was awfully dull. Not only dull but surprisingly tone-deaf: she boasted about having extracted an absentee ballot from a dying woman, and a contribution from a child who had to sell his bike to raise the money. It sounded like Fagin's mother reading her resume.

One thing struck me with unusual force: her relentless references to the "middle class." Now West Virginia is not a very middle-class place by any reasonable statistician's standard. West Virginia is, in fact, as my Appalachian grandmother used to say, "as poor as Job's turkey."

So what, one wonders, does this "middle class" trope mean to people? Perhaps we need to have a focus group, and approach the matter by asking who's not in the middle class. My guess is that people would get around sooner or later to mentioning Bill Gates and other very, very wealthy folk; but that the first, most spontaneous exclusions would operate downward.

A structuralist, or a Ramist, would say that the primary distinction encoded in this "middle class" category is a distinction between those who have something -- however exiguous, and tenuous -- and those who have less. It implicitly associates, on the good side of this first-order fence, those who have, really, very little, with those who have -- really -- quite a lot.

Of course Hillary is not unique in her use of this kind of discourse. It is, in fact, universal in American politics. The American English phrase for "ordinary people" is "middle class" -- and so of course ordinary people always must and will and do have somebody, some logically entailed lower class, to look down on, with contempt and moral condemnation and fear.

Hillary's good fortune in West Virginia is that, unlike much of the South, there aren't many black people there. So in West Virginia, the imagined social subbasement evoked by your sense of being "middle class" -- even if you live in a trailer -- tends to be rather dark-skinned.

Of course, the social subbasement Obama's fans imagine is a bit different. It is, in fact, peopled by pudgy, dough-faced, provincial, fried-food white folks in places like... West Virginia.

One of the things I like about Hillary is that even though she herself is as much of a merit-class baby as Barack -- though not as gifted by Nature -- she's been forced by circumstances to go begging at all those trailer doors, to collect the dying old ladies' ballots and the poor kid's bicycle blood money, and by God she's done it. She has no shame. The trailer "middle class" have become her people -- and she loves them like T. Rex loves Stegosaurus.

May 20, 2008


At my age, sacrificing seven months of what life I have left is a big deal, but I might almost do it, just to have the coronation -- erm, I mean election -- over with, Barack in the formerly-white house, and something fun to write about again. This much-ado-about-nothing campaign season -- really, it's tedious enough to rouse thoughts of cutting one's own throat. I certainly can't read The Note again for quite some time, or who can say what impulsive act might ensue?

Shall we try a parlor game or two?

What sort of Congress will Barack have? Will his coattails prove broad, and will he get a nice Democratic congress? Or will people hedge their bets, and split their tickets, and saddle Barack with a narrow, flakey mini-majority controlled by those dear darling highly characteristic Democratic aisle-crossers -- Joe Lieberman, of course, being the type specimen?

Will it make a difference?

How many troops will still be in Iraq as the 2010 midterms start to heat up? What about Afghanistan? How will people feel about that?

How will their jobs be? Wages up, unemployment down? If not -- how angry will they be?

What will it take to get them back to reality?

I happened to be talking today with a very intelligent woman who was ready to bolt the Democratic Party -- "Hillary Clinton! She's the Antichrist!", as she put it. NAFTA and the Iraq war were her two big issues.

But then -- along came Barack, and she's a believer again.

I asked her what it would take, down the road a year or two, before she might start to feel she'd been schnookered. "Say it's two years from now -- May 2010 -- and there's still troops in Iraq. Can I call you then and gloat? Or will it take more than that?"

She paused -- a short pause; she's a smart girl -- and then responded with Obama-like evasive grace, "I'd have to look at the whole situation."

This is what the Obamas do. They coax people back in.

Another reason to prefer Hillary -- who drives them out.

May 22, 2008

Hillary prefigured?

Pressing the lily hand of what might have been.

May 23, 2008

Regression to the mean...

... AKA Front Runner Syndrome. See also Triangulation. Here's Barack, talking recently to the Cuban American National Foundation in Miami:
In many ways, Miami stands as a symbol of hope for what’s possible in the Americas. Miami’s promise of liberty and opportunity has drawn generations of immigrants to these shores....

What all of us strive for is freedom as FDR described it. Political freedom. Religious freedom. But also freedom from want, and.. freedom from fear. At our best, the United States has been a force for these four freedoms in the Americas. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that at times we’ve failed to engage the people of the region with the respect owed to a partner.

When George Bush was elected, he held out the promise that this would change.... Almost eight years later, those high hopes have been dashed....

No wonder, then, that demagogues like Hugo Chavez have stepped into this vacuum. His predictable yet perilous mix of anti-American rhetoric, authoritarian government, and checkbook diplomacy offers the same false promise as the tried and failed ideologies of the past.... And Chavez and his allies are not the only ones filling the vacuum. While the United States fails to address the changing realities in the Americas, others from Europe and Asia – notably China – have stepped up their own engagement. Iran has drawn closer to Venezuela, and just the other day Tehran and Caracas launched a joint bank with their windfall oil profits.

That is the record – the Bush record in Latin America – that John McCain has chosen to embrace. Senator McCain doesn’t talk about these trends in our hemisphere because he knows that it’s part of the broader Bush-McCain failure to address priorities beyond Iraq....

So we face a clear choice in this election. We can continue as a bystander, or we can lead the hemisphere into the 21st century. And when I am President of the United States, we will choose to lead....

Throughout my entire life, there has been injustice in Cuba. Never, in my lifetime, have the people of Cuba known freedom. Never, in the lives of two generations of Cubans, have the people of Cuba known democracy....

I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice....

For the people of Colombia – who have suffered at the hands of killers of every sort – that means battling all sources of violence. When I am President, we will continue the Andean Counter-Drug Program.... We will fully support Colombia’s fight against the FARC..... We will support Colombia’s right to strike terrorists who seek safe-haven across its borders. And we will shine a light on any support for the FARC that comes from neighboring governments. This behavior must be exposed to international condemnation, regional isolation, and – if need be – strong sanctions. It must not stand.

... we must support the rule of law from the bottom up. That means more investments in prevention and prosecutors; in community policing and an independent judiciary.

I agree with my friend, Senator Dick Lugar – the Merida Initiative does not invest enough in Central America, where much of the trafficking and gang activity begins.

... As President, I’ll make it clear that we’re coming after the guns, we’re coming after the money laundering, and we’re coming after the vehicles that enable this crime. And we’ll crack down on the demand for drugs in our own communities, and restore funding for drug task forces and the COPS program.

And on and on. Cops, embargoes, "democracy" -- for other people of course; Lord knows we don't want it here -- and, most ominous of all, "leadership". One can only try to imagine how the idea of American "leadership" must make hearts sink around the world.

For the historically-minded, the interest of this speech is how it resembles Kennedy's product positioning back in '60. The problem with McCain is that he's not going to be aggressive and domineering enough.

These Republicans, they're so lazy and reactive. Trust a sleepless, industrious Democrat to send in the death squads even before they're needed.

Look on the sunny side of life

You've really got to admire Barack Obama. He can give a speech promising enhanced bloodshed, and still offer a liberal something to feel good about at the same time. The liberal will predictably take the lip-service and ignore the substance. If you can't get yourself out of the box -- well then, you have to stay in the box; and if you find a way to like the box, who can blame you? It's not such a bad box, really. I've seen worse. One might be a Mormon.

No sooner had I posted Barack's kick-ass-and-take-names speech about Latin American -- delivered to that marvelous crew of fanatical fossils, the Cuban emigre "community" -- than I was made aware of a Nation magazine liberal's response to the same speech.

One of my all-time faves, Sam "I am" Graham-Felsen, an early enlistee to the Obama cult, offers this very different hearing of Barack among the Gusanos:

MIAMI, FL—Senator Barack Obama today laid out his comprehensive Latin America policy, rejecting the Bush-McCain approach that has neglected the Americas and failed to adapt to the realities of our changing world. Speaking at the Cuban American National Foundation Luncheon, Obama outlined his plans to forge a new regional approach to combat insecurity and aggressively promote economic opportunity through new trade, aid and energy policies.

May 27, 2008

So, Smiff, I'm surprised...

...that you aren't all over this Hillary vs. RFK thing like a cheap suit.

I don't know why these bozos bother appearing on SNL, when you consider the FrontrunnersTM have been coming up with far better material on their own than anyone on SNL since John Belushi died.

But, aaa-aanyway, here's another fresh, steaming Nugget O'Clinton you may or may not enjoy. A fine whine, for sure. Looks like that good ol' Vast Right-Wing ConspiracyTM is back:

(CNN) — Former President Bill Clinton said that Democrats were more likely to lose in November if his wife Hillary Clinton is not the party’s presidential nominee, and suggested some people were trying to “cover this up” and “push and pressure and bully” superdelegates to make up their minds prematurely.

...The former president added that his wife had not been given the respect she deserved as a legitimate presidential candidate. "She is winning the general election today and he is not, according to all the evidence,” he said. “And I have never seen anything like it. I have never seen a candidate treated so disrespectfully just for running.”

... The former president said Sunday that the media had unfairly attacked his wife since the Iowa caucuses, repeating an often-used charge that press coverage had made him feel as though he were living in a “fun house.”

"If you notice, there hasn't been a lot of publicity on these polls I just told you about,” he said. “It is the first time you've heard it? Why do you think that is? Why do you think? Don't you think if the polls were the reverse and he was winning the Electoral College against Senator McCain and Hillary was losing it, it would be blasted on every television station?”

He added, “You would know it wouldn't you? It wouldn't be a little secret. And there is another Electoral College poll that I saw yesterday had her over 300 electoral votes…. She will win the general election if you nominate her. They're just trying to make sure you don't."

June 1, 2008

Hand in hand, with wand'ring steps and slow

Nicholas Hart (who has left a few comments here from time to time) sent this to one of my lefty e-mail lists recently:

Obama Leaves His Church

First Obama tried distancing himself from his pastor, the man who married him to his wife. Then he tried denouncing him. Now he's officially calling it quits. Amazing how quickly he has discarded this long acquaintance and succumbed to the racist politics of "post-racial" America. I wonder how it feels to be an Obamaniac these days. For a guy who talks about "change we can believe in" he sure does keep lowering the bar. Perhaps his next book title will be "Paucity of Hope."

I suspect that most of the merit-class smarties who support Obama will like him better for this -- they're mostly not churchgoers, I should think, and so these Calibans will now see in the mirror something even more like their own face.

Then there are supposed to be those for whom nothing will ever be enough -- mostly, it appears, people who work for the news media. The New York Times ominously observes:

Now that Mr. Obama has addressed his ties to the church and pastor in a long speech and fully broken with both, it is not clear what else he can say or do to ameliorate the continued concerns of some voters about those associations.
Hmm. Take a swing at his ex-pastor? Burn the church down? Dance on a crucifix? Beg? Roll over? Play dead?

June 3, 2008

Think of what we'll miss

Amazingly enough, I can't actually find, anywhere on the web, a video clip of Nixon's "last press conference" -- the one in '62, after his unsuccessful run for the office now occupied by Arnold Schwarzenegger (and oh to hear what Dick would have had to say about that). Closest I can get is this very well-studied and almost perfect-pitch reading by Anthony Hopkins, who also memorably played Hannibal Lecter:

Of course this all comes to mind in connection with Hill & Bill's imminent bow-out. Alas, they're not nearly as much fun as Nixon, or a tenth as complex -- or human. But to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you blog about the politicians you have, not the ones you'd like to have.

As with Nixon, of course, we probably haven't really heard the last of the Clintons -- though Lord knows many of us wish it were otherwise. Here's what one exceptionally maudlin Brit had to say:

Hillary has been beaten. Bill has dishonoured himself. And Chelsea? Chelsea need have no regrets. She may be the candidate that brings the family back to the campaign trail again. But that drama is for another decade.
Well, one can at least hope that one may not live so long.

* * *

As we've observed here before, the photo editors are the best thing about the New York Times. This amazing icon of Bill -- finger-wagging, raspberry-cheeked, dressed in high Arkansas style, jowl-frothingly furious that he can't come back from the dead and continue to haunt our nightmares by proxy -- this image really ought, if there were any justice in the world, to be the last we see of him.

But alas, it probably won't be so. That numskull Scott Fitzgerald once observed with characteristic obtuseness that "there are no second acts in American lives."

He couldn't have been more wrong, of course. There's nothing but second acts, and third and fourth acts, instant replays, sequels and prequels, victory laps and defeat laps, return tours and reruns and residuals and finally the desperate ignis-fatuus flickering of late-night cable TV. America: the only thing we recycle is our shame.

* * *
Various sewer outlets -- erm, excuse me, media outlets -- are trying to keep alive the idea that Obama might ask Hillary to be his VP candidate. Seems unlikely, but if any of the Clintons are ever to reappear in public life, I can hardly think of a better way for it to happen. If there's anybody on earth who could sink the Obama ticket deeper than the Titanic, Hillary is... erm... The One.

June 9, 2008

Gender nationalism

Every so often even the New Republic contains some good news:
3 A.M. For Feminism
Clinton dead-enders and the crisis in the women's movement.

Amy Siskind, a 42-year-old mother of two from Westchester, stood in a Washington, D.C., park on the last day in May, telling a few hundred cheering people that she would not, under any circumstances, vote for Barack Obama. She was a lifelong Democrat, she said, a donor and a volunteer for the party. But... she was appalled at the leadership's failure to defend Hillary Clinton from the sexism that she believes bolstered Barack Obama's campaign....

Siskind was one of the speakers at a rally that brought busloads of people, overwhelmingly women, to demonstrate near the Democratic National Committee (DNC) meeting that would decide the status of the Florida and Michigan delegations. The states had been stripped of their delegates--a decision Clinton endorsed--because they had broken party rules in holding their primaries early. But, as Clinton lost steam, seating them in full became crucial to her argument for the nomination, and thus, to her supporters, a matter of high democratic principle....

A strange narrative has developed, abetted by Clinton and some of the mainstream feminist organizations. In it, the will of the voters was thwarted by chauvinistic party leaders in concert with a servile media, and Obama's victory represents a repeat of George W. Bush's in 2000. It's a story in which Obama becomes every arrogant young man who has ever edged out a more deserving middle-aged woman, and Clinton.... is not a spoiler but a feminist martyr.

Westchester is a nice touch. I like the idea that the demonstrators were overwhelmingly women, too. I know a lot of women like that. (And men too of course.) But since I like spoilers so much I guess it may be time to revise my view of Hillary.

Some months back I passed along a concept invented (as far as I know) by an old feminist friend of mine: "free-alterations feminism." -- the bourgeois, careerist, white-collar feminism of equal access to the executive washroom. Hillary of course is the poster girl for this particular style of feminism, much adhered to by many women of my generation. (Suskind, at 42, is a little dewy for this Gloria "Sweetheart of the CIA" Steinem stuff. But maybe Westchester ages one prematurely. Or it's some kind of time-stands-still, baby-boomer Shangri-La up there.)

Unfortunately, it's hard to believe that the Suskinds of the nation will actually be numerous enough, or committed enough, to deprive Obama of victory. Most of them, I dare say, will turn out to be such deep-dyed lesser-evillists that their tropism to the donkey lever will overcome their female nationalism.

* * *

It's nice that it's such a generational thing, this 70s feminism. Since I always think the kids are all right, on principle, it's a little melancholy to see so many of 'em falling for the Obama snake oil. But most of em haven't after all, been burned before, and that's how you learn. And at least they don't have that nasty blend of middle-class self-congratulatory complacency with preachy, sanctimonious holier-than-thou false radicalism that characterized the Yenta Generation feminists.

Here's a view from the other side, by Amy Tiemann, only two or three years younger than Siskind of Westchester:

Obama v. Clinton Puts Stretch Marks on Sisterhood

"Sisterhood" bound women together during the second wave of feminism in the 1970s.

Fast-forward three decades, and it is time to start asking ourselves what happens when you try to stretch sisterhood across a generational divide and then push and pull it between the campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Answer: serious stretch marks.

Yes, Clinton is attracting her share of Gen X and Y supporters as she wages an impressive political battle.

And plenty of older, self-described feminists support Obama. Take Sheila Goldmacher.

"I am a 74-year-old Jewish feminist lesbian and do not support Hillary and have disliked her for a long time as well as her husband Bill," she recently e-mailed Women's eNews. "They have helped to bring us the disaster we now have on our hands by the imposition of NAFTA, which she seems to been backtracking on; the so-called Welfare Reform Act, which has continued to make life miserable for countless numbers of women and children in this country. Stop trying to see this race as only men vs. women."
Goldmacher notwithstanding, plenty of second-wavers have turned the campaigns into a test of feminist credentials....

In "The Feminine Mistake" Leslie Bennetts interviewed a woman who complained she hasn't seen the "young Gloria Steinems."

And a good thing too.

Of course Tiemann is an Obama-ite. But Steinem and Morgan et al. are Clintonites, so they can't claim any moral high ground. In fact Clinton feminism represents, I guess, the logical conclusion of bouregois-corporate feminism. Women ought to have an equal opportunity to be corporate plunderers... and imperial mass-murderers.

Naivete may be some excuse for Obama fans. But nobody can claim ignorance of what Hillary Clinton stands for.

August 7, 2008

Sulking in the tent

Mike Flugennock passed along this wonderful tidbit from Time magazine:

... if Hillary Clinton's feelings are still bruised, her husband's are positively raw. The former President is particularly resentful of suggestions—which he believes were fueled by the Obama camp—that he attempted to play upon racial fears during the primaries.... a friend of Bill Clinton's [says] "...the race stuff really left a bad taste in his mouth."

Bill Clinton's resentment came through in an interview with ABC News during his recent trip to Africa. Asked what regrets he might have about his role in his wife's campaign, he bristled and then shot back, "I am not a racist. I never made a racist comment."

He struggled to render [sc. "make" -- ed.] a positive comment about Obama's qualifications for his old job. "You could argue that nobody is ever ready to be President.... I never said he wasn't qualified. The Constitution sets qualification for the President. And then the people decide who they think would be the better President. I think we have two choices. I think he should win, and I think he will win."

Wonderful stuff. Bill espouses the lesser-evil theory -- Obama is clearly a son of a bitch, as far as he's concerned, but marginally better than the other son of a bitch. Sorta. Kinda. Maybe.

But that's as much as Bill can say! Jeez, man, any Kosnik could do that! You're a leader of the Party, aren't you, dude? You're not supposed to be reluctantly yielding to the spell -- you're supposed to be casting it! As Prosperos go, you're being strangely half-hearted. Abra. Cadabra. I guess. Or... whatever.

Bill has inadvertently shown us -- not that he could care, any more, what we know or what we don't(*) -- that the Democratic Party is all about jobs. I don't of course mean jobs for regular folks with a mortgage or a rent bill; I mean jobs for high-flying overachievers like Bill and Hill....

...Or Barack and Michelle, if it comes to that.

Much has been made of Michelle's unguarded comment last winter that "for the first time in her adult life", she was "proud of America."

Qiute apart from its tactlessness -- for a Presidential candidate's consort -- one has to ask, was there nothing to be proud of before? Like, for example, the Emancipation Proclamation, or the Selma march? On the other hand -- is there still not a great deal to be ashamed of?

But what matters is none of that. Michelle and Barack now have a shot at the top job -- so now they can be proud.

Michelle, poor dear, spoke from the heart. She will learn, like Hillary, not to do that any more. The last time Hillary did it was the famous "bake cookies" comment.

One couple has more experience than the other. But they're siblings under the skin. Michelle is finally "proud" because her man is almost at the top of the heap -- and Bill is all bummed and truculent because his lady isn't.


(*) "I got mine. You get yours." -- Richard Pryor, RIP.

About 'Bama versus Mama

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in the 'Bama versus Mama category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

'94 all over again? is the previous category.

2012! Oy veh! is the next category.

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