Saturday, March 15, 2008

StudMuffin McCain--Always a Boy Toy

A few days ago, I wrote that it was very likely that John McCain's wife owned the Arizona cabin where McCain entertained reporters with some manly barbecuing.

I definitely called that one right. According to Jamison Forser of Media Matters:
Well, guess who owns John McCain's "rustic cabin" -- the one with the guest house and the pool? Cindy McCain, the wealthy and politically connected Arizona beer heiress McCain married shortly after leaving his first wife, and just in time to move to Arizona to run for Congress.

But this is where liberal journalists like Forser and bloggers like Digby go wrong. For liberals, the only point about McCain is the media's "hypocrisy" in ignoring McCain's finances while they obsess about the finances and lifestyle of Democrats like John Kerry and John Edwards. Why not focus more on the media's romance novel-like swooning over McCain, their determined efforts to nurture his campaign, and make everything comfortable for him. John McCain is the media's "StudMuffin" just as much as he's Cindy McCain's StudMuffin and he leads the coddled life of someone who expects everyone to love him the same way his wife and the media love him.

And if people treat McCain any other kind of way, he'll throw a fit.

Nancy Pelosi's Gut and Mine

Nancy Pelosi is definite that there's going to be no "dream ticket" with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton together.

Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton have been floating the "dream ticket" idea lately, but Pelosi is emphatic about the combined ticket not happening because the Clinton camp had been claiming that "Senator McCain would be a better Commander in Chief than Obama."

When pressed by reporters on Thursday to explain why she felt so strongly about the matter, Pelosi replied: “Do you want me to go through a lifetime of political gut? Take it from me. That won’t be the ticket.”

Needless to say, my political gut is a lot less highly developed than Nancy Pelosi's--maybe because my father was a garbageman rather than mayor of Baltimore.

But Pelosi might be off the mark here. It might be the case that a Clinton/ Obama ticket might become more likely as things get tougher between Clinton and Obama.

A joint ticket might be the only way to mollify the supporters of the loser.

It also might be the best way to produce some positive news for the Democrats after a long, contentious primary battle.

That's what my gut says anyway.

Who Actually Got the Call at 3am?


--Cue somber music--

Last night, there WAS a call at 3am.

The call was about whether American financial markets would fall into a tailspin--possibly sparking a global economic collapse.

The "venerable" Wall Street brokerage company Bear Stearns was unable to make payments on its loans and there was a strong concern that the failure of a company like Bear Stearns would lead to a crisis of confidence in financial markets.

The Fed used a little-known power it last exercised in the 1960s to stem a run on Bear Stearns that could have sent multibillion-dollar losses cascading across the world financial system, causing more failures on Wall Street and threatening to choke off global economic growth.

Decisions had to be made. Was the federal government going to be a party to the bailout? If so, what kind of bailout? Who would be involved? What would be the conditions?

If something was going to be done, it had to be done right away.

So, who got the call?

Was it President George Bush?

No, as far as I can tell from the Washington Post article, George Bush slept peacefully.

Instead, the call went to Ben Bernanke, the chair of the Federal Reserve Board.
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, Vice Chairman Donald L. Kohn, New York Fed President Timothy F. Geithner, and Fed Governor Kevin M. Warsh conferred in those early-morning hours on calls, which also included Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and Undersecretary Robert K. Steel. The Treasury Department had no formal role in the plan, but Fed leaders consulted Paulson and Steel for their financial markets expertise and to get their support.

Frankly, I'm reassured that Bush, Cheney, and the people in the White House were still sleeping while these decisions were being made. Maybe we'll get through the next ten months after all.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bring on the Blood

My humble opinion is that the fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is more like the legendarily pathetic brawl between Julius Erving and Larry Bird in 1984 than a real championship fight.

Or even a hockey brawl

But serious and important journalists are starting to get antsy about the Democratic bloodbath. So, I'm going to take a second or two to be worried about the whole thing.

. . . . . .

Well, I'm glad that's over.

My point is that people like myself have been urging the Democrats to be tougher for a long time now. Why should we recoil now that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are finally starting to bloody each other up after "only" 15 months of campaigning?

So bring on the blood.

Personally, I'm glad that Clinton and Obama are learning how to dish out the pain. Given that Democrats have been taking it for so long, watching Hillary and Barack be aggressive is a refreshing change.

Everybody connected with the Democratic Party needs to toughen. The candidates need to develop thicker skins and longer claws. Democratic and independent voters should get used to seeing a little political gore on their computer and tv screens. And liberal op-ed writers and reporters need to stop being such all-consuming wimps.

Tough times are ahead. If Clinton or Obama wins, they're going to be facing the mess in Iraq, a recession, and a heavy load of financial and abuse of power scandals left over from the Bush administration.

No doubt, some right-wing twit will be talking about "treason in the White House" even before the winner moves in.

Any Democratic president is going to get an extremely rough ride. So, they might as well prepare for it now.

And I'm still supporting Hillary.

Raising the Racial Sludge

Josh Marshall (of TPM fame) has an interesting take on the relation between Geraldine Ferraro's comments and the Hillary Clinton campaign in an article for The Hill.
But the simple fact is that we wouldn’t be seeing this stuff now if it weren’t for the fact that this is the kind of campaign Hillary Clinton’s staff has decided to wage — often directly and at other times indirectly by not reining it in among her supporters when it crops up on its own. Wright is news today because Ferraro was news in the days just previous. Are her comments racist? That’s a loaded word. And there have been cases where the Clinton team has gotten a bum rap on these matters. What I do know, however, is that Clinton’s campaign and her surrogates have injected the subject of Obama’s race into this campaign too many times now for it to be credible to believe that it is anything but a conscious strategy.

In other words, Marshall isn't sure that Ferraro's comments were racist but does believe that the Hillary is injecting race into the campaign in a way that constantly reminds voters that Obama is "the black candidate."

My view is the polar opposite. Sure racism is a loaded word, but it applies well to Ferraro's comments about Obama being ahead because he's black and she herself being attacked because she's white. When Ferraro said that Obama is ahead because he's black, she was (knowingly I believe) dredging up the racist idea that blacks have become a "favored group" in American society or that blacks can only be successful because of affirmative action. My mother, a Democrat who's even more disgusted with Obama's success than Ferraro, expresses an allied racist idea when she claims that "blacks are taking over everything."

If either Hillary or Obama had gotten farther out ahead, this kind of racist sludge wouldn't have been dredged up from the depths of the segregationist past. However, the white racism was always there and the hard-fought character of the primary battle is bring it up.

But is the Hillary Clinton campaign specifically seeking to dredge up these kinds of white supremacist sentiments by continually reminding voters that Obama is black?

If they were, they would be worse than bigots because they would be trying to stimulate bigotry for political advantage. That would put the Hillary people disgusting in a Karl Rove kind of way.

But I don't think that's the case.

If Hillary Clinton herself or the Hillary campaign were seeking to "inject" racial poison into the campaign, they would have arranged for Bill Clinton to keep making racial remarks after his analogy between Obama and Jesse Jackson served to stereotype Obama as the "black candidate."

In fact, the opposite happened. Bill Clinton was given a new set of talking points, sent off on a Dan Quayle type tour of small towns, and became generally less prominent in Hillary's campaign.

That's a sign that Hillary didn't like the fact that Bill's comments and didn't like the fact that his comments drove African-American voters into the Obama camp.

I've argued several times that much of the Clinton campaign's maladroitness on race comes from their general lack of skill in dealing with African-American audiences and issues. That's because Hillary's staff is largely white and the general clumsiness of whites in dealing with non-whites rather than beinga specific strategy.

The Hillary campaign's problem with race is their whiteness rather than their white racism.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More Ranting About Spitzer

Three reasons I'm so ticked off about Eliot Spitzer:

1. Justice Denied Again. Spitzer made his reputation by going after financial abuses and outrageous salaries on Wall Street. Needless to say the abuses are still going to be there whether Spitzer is governor of New York or not. But Spitzer's diddling around with prostitutes is going to delegitimize the efforts of other people to rein in the abuses.

2. Sympathy for New York Democrats. I've lived in two of the super Republican rural counties in Upstate New York (Tioga and St. Lawrence). I know how hard it is for Democrats to make any headway. Spitzer's morally bankrupt behavior with prostitutes betrayed years of hard work by local Democrats to prepare the way for a popular Democratic candidate like Spitzer was in 2006.

3. Doing a John Bolton Within. Amanda Marcotte writes:
I propose that the problem with prostitution is unique not because sex as a service is unique exactly. I think that the problem with legalization schemes is that prostitution is more, for the majority of the customers, about buying the opportunity to treat a woman like utter trash. In order for prostitution to be legal and yet still viable, the scheme either has to preserve the customer’s right to treat the prostitute like trash (which is why it works in Nevada, though it does the actual prostitutes little good), or an illegal side market of prostitution will flourish next to the legal one.

Just a "kiss up/kick down" guy like John Bolton was always looking for opportunities to abuse those below him, prostitution is about "buying the opportunity to treat a woman like utter trash." In other words, guys like Eliott Spitzer are seeking the opportunity to be assholes without paying any consequences for their degrading behavior toware women.

Too Embarrassed to Gloat

Because of that *&%# asshole Eliot Spitzer, I don't have either the heart or the moral standing to gloat over the embezzlement scandal at the Republican National Campaign Committee. Damn him.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Does McCain Know Any Non-Bigoted People on the Religious Right?

It doesn't seem like it. TPM has a story today on McCain referring to an Ohio megachurch minister by the name of Rod Parsley as a "spiritual adviser." In itself, that's fine. As the case of Eliot Spitzer demonstrates, prominent male politicians need all the spiritual advice they can get to keep it in their pants. But Rev. Parsley also claims that the U. S. has a historical mission to destroy Islam.

I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.

I don't know why. The hundreds of millions of wealthy Europeans who live just fine without religion in their lives are much more of a threat to American Christianity than Islam. Because we view Islam as the enemy, fighting Islam is something that invigorates Christianity. But the Europeans are killing Christianity through lack of interest in religion altogether.

But then again, perhaps Rev. Parsley is trying to "guide" Sen. McCain into a major military assault on Switzerland and other countries with low rates of church attendance.

Drifting Towards Obama or Putting My Mouth Where My Money Is!

I recognize that Geraldine Ferraro no longer has an official connection with the Hillary campaign, but I think the Ferraro episode has led me to drift over the line toward supporting Obama more than Hillary. It bothered me that Ferraro thought she was helping Hillary Clinton with her garbage about Obama only being ahead because he's black and it bothered me even more that Hillary Clinton didn't disown Ferraro imediately.

I'm not overly excited by the idea of switching to Obama and dislike a lot of Obama's facile rhetoric about overcoming race, class, and gender divisions. Likewise, I don't accept Obama's assumption that the war with the right is going to disappear if Obama wins the election. I'm sure I would vote for Hillary if the Kentucky primary were held today.

However, I also sense that my support for Hillary is based more on reluctance to give up my previous support than anything else. One could say that I'm torn about who to support, but it would be more accurate to see me as gradually drifting toward the Obama side. Perhaps I've been doing so ever since the South Carolina primary.

Or maybe I'm just putting my mouth where my money is. I've contributed twice as much to Obama as I have to Hillary.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Eliot Spitzer's Inner John Bolton

I have some advice for Eliot Spitzer. Hey Eliot! Your lame apology is not enough. Now that it's been revealed that you've used prostitutes, you need to grab your sword and fall on it. If you're not satisfied with euphemism, then just run yourself through. No, I don't mean you should kill yourself. You should commit political suicide and resign. If you want to do something really appropriate, you should politically disembowel yourself as well.

Geraldine Ferraro Blows It for Hillary, Updated

A lot of Hillary surrogates have made stupid comments about Barack Obama and race. Bill Clinton, Robert Johnson, and Ed Rendell are probably the most prominent.

So, I should have done this week ago.

But it should now be obvious that there are a lot of Hillary surrogates who have no clue about how to talk about race under political pressure without sounding racist.

Today's Geraldine Ferraro's turn (from Kos).
If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.

What a load of garbage!!! Obama's not leading the race for the Democratic nomination because he's black. Obama's winning because he's an extremely likable figure, who's a bright guy and a super-talented politician. Like anybody else born in the United States, Obama has to play the race cards he's been dealt. But he's played those cards extremely well. Obama has been able to be progressive on the issues without being either a ferocious partisan or heavily identified with minority politics. He has a cool androgyny that plays well with white independents, moderates, and young people while he's also become effective at appealing for black votes.

Barack Obama isn't ahead because the country is "caught up in the concept" of a "black man being president." Obama and Hillary Clinton are pretty much tied in the polls. To the contrary, Obama is ahead in the delegate count because he's made better campaign decisions than Hillary and because his campaign staff has outplanned, outhustled, and outfought Hillary's staff. I still think Hillary would make a better president, but Obama has shown that he's just as much a heavyweight as she is.

That's something that Hillary's surrogates need to catch up on.

Update--Today, Ferraro is claiming that she's being attacked because she's white. It sounds like 75 years of racial resentments are catching up with her. In some ways, she reminds me of my 73 year old mom who is reacting to Obama's success with a lot of racist garbage. It's both sad and disgusting.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

McCain and the "Look at Me Express"

One of the themes of those who disdain the Obama campaign is the idea that Barack Obama is "self-centered." That's especially the case in relation to the various patriotism slips by Barack and Michelle Obama. Here's an item from Blogs for Bush:
Even if he "forgot" to show the proper respect, his "forgetfulness" is illustrative of his priorities; and is likewise illustrative of his contempt toward those who before him have made the ultimate sacrifice so that he and other ungrateful, smug, self-centered adolescent rubes can ramble on about how love of and respect for one's country mean nothing. After all--he didn't have to pay for his freedoms.
Of course, it takes a lot of self-centeredness for anybody to launch a major campaign for the presidency--including Barack Obama. But self-centeredness is not nearly as important to Obama's campaign as it's going to be to John McCain's. Here's Stephen Hayes discussing how McCain's going to campaign after he takes a trip overseas to "look presidential" and gives a "significant national security address."
After that, McCain will begin a cross-country tour emphasizing his life story. His advisers believe that while most Americans have a vague sense that McCain served his country in the military and in political life, they don't actually know his story. This trip--the "Service to America" tour--is intended to fill out that narrative. It will feature stops in cities and towns that have somehow shaped his life. Among them: McCain Field in Mississippi; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where McCain graduated fifth from the bottom of his class; Pensacola, Florida, where he trained at the Pensacola Naval Air Station; and Jacksonville, Florida, where he lived upon returning from his time as a POW in Vietnam. At each stop, the campaign will emphasize one aspect of McCain's character and talk about why it will be important in the White House.
In other words, the main justification for electing John McCain president is going to be his "character" and McCain is going to go from place to place displaying "one aspect" of his character after another. Issues like the war, foreign policy, the economy, and the environment are going to get short shrift as McCain focuses attention on himself, his character, and what it means to be as great as John McCain. Obama and Clinton use personal anecdotes to bring attention to their policy prescriptions. Stuck with unpopular policy prescriptions, John McCain is going to focus on himself. He might as well call his campaign plane the "Look at Me Express."

I'd Pay For Do-Over in Florida and Michigan

I can get behind the Democratic Party doing the Florida and Michigan primaries over. It's the only way to be fair to the Michigan and Florida Democrats whose votes are currently being shut out from the process.

Even more importantly, the do-over would continue the tremendous excitement and enthusiasm that's the Democrats into June. It would raise a lot of cash as well. According to James Carville, it would cost $30 mill to hold the do-over primaries. My bet is that the Hillary and Obama campaigns would be able to raise double that for Florida and Michigan campaigns. I know I'd kick in $50 dollars a so.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that Hillary would have an advantage in both states going in. Holding a do-over in Michigan and Florida would also give Hillary a chance to show that she can go hermana a hermano with Obama in a couple of important swing states and win.

Let's get it done.