Thursday, December 04, 2008

Moving on....

I've moved on to Wordpress, and while I'd tried an automatic redirect, Blogger got a little pissy about that, so I'm just providing the link to my new name and home.

The Random Opinionator.

I'll be talking about more than just politics there, and I hope you enjoy. It looks a lot better, too.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes. We. Did.

"This is for real, this time I mean it..."--Motion City Soundtrack

I said it a little more explicitly on my MySpace and Facebook profiles, but we did it. Barack Obama, an African-American, is our new President. A young man with the blood of the world flowing through his veins, who traced a path through Kansas, Indonesia, Hawaii, Kenya, and Chicago is going to be the leader of the free world, and judging by the reaction of the world, it looks like our friends will be a lot friendlier again, and we probably made some new ones too.

I yelled for joy last night. I jumped up and down and yelled like I'd just won the Stanley Cup. But then I sat down, and it sunk in, and then I cried. For almost five minutes, I cried tears of joy and of relief. From four years ago, when I wrote that:

In probably 8 to 12 years, this guy could and should run for President. He has presence. He has compassion. He has energy. He has desire. He has the blood of America running through his veins, a mixed-race guy who has been breaking barriers. If there is going to be a black President, it'll be him.

So of course he announced his run a little over two years after I wrote that, and for two years, I sweated, I prayed, I donated and raised money for the first time in my life, I bugged the crap out of people to get out and vote, I rallied, I blogged, I emailed, I gave up time off to once again run a precinct on Election Day.

But last night, and still some this morning as I read the headlines and see the photos, I cried. We really did it. We really showed that we are a better people and nation, that we took the last step and elected an African-American our president. There was no Bradley Effect, in fact, Obama crushed the hell out of it, and if Georgia and North Carolina finish get their votes finalized, he might have taken four Southern states. Forty years after Dr. King's assassination, and 145 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, who would have imagined that a young black man would get the votes of Southerners in the numbers he did, that Virginia, the heart of the Confederacy, would vote for Barack Obama?

Dr. King had a dream, and tonight, his dream was fulfilled. This is for all who fought, all who died, all who fought against the tide and pushed forward to achieve equality for all. God Bless America, indeed.

Monday, September 08, 2008

This Is Why You're Losing

Christ, they don't get it, do they?

MSNBC tried a bold experiment this year by putting two politically incendiary hosts, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, in the anchor chair to lead the cable news channel’s coverage of the election.

That experiment appears to be over.

After months of accusations of political bias and simmering animosity between MSNBC and its parent network NBC, the channel decided over the weekend that the NBC News correspondent and MSNBC host David Gregory would anchor news coverage of the coming debates and election night. Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Matthews will remain as analysts during the coverage. [snip]

The McCain campaign has filed letters of complaint to the news division about its coverage and openly tied MSNBC to it. Tension between the network and the campaign hit an apex the day Mr. McCain announced Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. MSNBC had reported Friday morning that Ms. Palin’s plane was enroute to the announcement and she was likely the pick. But McCain campaign officials warned the network off, with one official going so far as to say that all of the candidates on the short list were on their way — which MSNBC then reported.

“The fact that it was reported in real time was very embarrassing,” said a senior MSNBC official. “We were told, ‘No, it’s not Sarah Palin and you don’t know who it is.’ ”

The bolded section says it all. McCain's campaign bitched and whined about how UNFAIR the coverage was, and then went out and deliberately played a dirty trick on MSNBC/NBC to humiliate them. NBC then decides it can't afford to have Olbermann and Matthews hosting, and puts toolbag David Gregory in the big boy's chair. You know why Fox succeeds? Because Democrats don't pull the same stunts with Fox, and because Fox has no morals on these matters. Fox sticks by its people, right or wrong.

Okay, yes, there were slanted moments, but that's cable news these days, and Olbermann's questioning, while pointed, is incisive and intelligent. Matthews has always been incendiary, so for McCain to be bitching about it now is just sour grapes, because Matthews was very praiseworthy of Palin, and it was the REPUBLICANS in Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan who ripped the idea of a Palin pick before it came official. Which, speaking of, Joe and Pat got as much speaking and airtime as Olbermann and Matthews during these conventions, and it was PAT BUCHANAN who called the Obama speech the best one he's ever heard at a convention.

This is part of McCain's bomb the media strategy. He's pulling Bush's dissent suppression card out of his deck and laying it on the table, hoping to stifle criticism, just like the false claims of sexism after the Palin firestorm hit. He's done a pretty good job of weathering it, mainly because the media is letting themselves be cowed. They need to hit back, and not stop asking tough questions, because Sarah Palin is so inexperienced it's not even funny. Lest we forget, she's also petty, vindictive, extreme right-wing, and an activist evangelical, who thinks we are on a mission from God in Iraq. Oh, yes, and she's a liar.

She lied about the Bridge to Nowhere, lied about how the Alaska state jet was sold, lied about her ties to the Alaskan Independence Party (and yes, even if just her husband was a registered member, that's a big deal, since they are secessionist), lied about earmarks, etc. You get the picture. It's not a pretty one for her.

Press digging into her, her background, her experience, her political beliefs, are not sexist or unfair. She is a cipher, an unknown, to most of America, and the American people deserve to know her, for better or worse, and the McCain camp is hiding her because they know that these questions are lying out there for her, and they don't want them asked.

Long story short, MSNBC, you let the Republicans roll you again. Good job. I hope you feel good about being played.

Friday, September 05, 2008

If Obama Is God...

then Joe Biden is St. Peter. Talk about an ass-kicking today. I wanted to hug my screen watching this.

Sexism, Experience, and Elections

2008 has been a very interesting year for elections, as it is the first year we've seen not one, but two female candidates involved in a race for the White House. Senator Hillary Clinton came oh-so-close to becoming the Democratic nominee, while Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, has been nominated by the Republicans for vice-president. In it, though, there have been some inconsistencies in the criticism about the media's treatment of these female candidates, and also, in the larger picture, a continuing debate about how much experience matters. I will tackle both of these subjects in this post.

The sexism issue has been blown out of proportion all year long, and sadly so. While complaining of a double standard in the media, both Senator Clinton and Gov. Palin are themselves creating a double standard, one which ties into politicians' longstanding gripes about media coverage of candidacies. When the media digs in deep, and runs waves of stories that give unflattering portraits of the truth behind the image that politicians are seeking to build, politicians always complain. However, both Sen. Clinton and Gov. Palin bump this up a notch by complaining of sexism in the media, of an old boys network. Never mind that many of these stories and interviews were done by female reporters, such as Campbell Brown, Katie Couric, Andrea Mitchell, etc. Never mind that both these woman made such strong cases for being treated with seriousness and then undermined it with their complaints.

Quite frankly, if Senator Clinton or Gov. Palin want equality, then they cannot use the excuse of sexism in the media for negative publicity. Men do not have that excuse to use, and plenty of male candidates took a beating this year, such as John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, and the like, all for different reasons (personal affairs, extremist ideas, robotic personalities, etc). The media is wont to attack whoever they feel is vulnerable at the time. When Sen. Clinton spoke of being under sniper fire in Tuzla, and video showed no such thing happening, she was rightly mocked for making an exaggerated claim. When Gov. Palin has spoke of rejecting the bridge to nowhere when contemporaneous evidence shows otherwise, the media has every right to call her on making a fictitious claim.

Doing this isn't sexist. Yet, when the heat was turned up, both these candidates turned to claims of sexism, and it does both women a disservice. There is no doubting that both Sen. Clinton and Gov. Palin are strong women, deserving of respect, achievers of high office. Why on earth, then, would they resort to a claim that widens the divide that they seek to bring together? Why claim sexism when all that does is make them look unequal, not up to the offices which they seek? If they want to be seen as equal, they cannot do that. Gov. Palin herself said as much in March, when she said:
She does herself a disservice to even mention it really. You've got to plow through that. You've got to know what you're getting into."

She [Palin] says "any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism...I think, man, that doesn't do us any good, women in politics, women in general, wanting to progress this country."

Gov. Palin had it right, but now her and the McCain campaign are hurting themselves by doing the same thing she rightly criticized Sen. Clinton for doing. She's right, it doesn't do good, and she should come out and say she doesn't agree with McCain's spokespeople for saying sexism is driving these stories. She should defend herself and women as ably as she did in that Newsweek interview I quoted. Gov. Palin showed on Wednesday she's capable of holding her own, and the McCain campaign didn't need to say it was sexist for the media to run the huge swath of stories they did.

Had they let Gov. Palin spend the weekend defending herself, they might've gotten a poll bounce out of it, because having her come out strong in front of the cameras instead of sending inept spokespeople onto CNN would've sent a signal that she doesn't need men to defend her, that she can defend herself, and that would have sent a strong signal to the Clinton supporters they are trying to court. By assenting to this, Palin hurt herself, and it is disappointing that she blew a chance to make a statement about equality that no one could've ignored.

As for experience, this has been one of those things that has been part and parcel of presidential campaigns since the beginning of our Republic. It's always been argued, especially so in our post-World War society. Nixon in 1960, Carter in 1980, Bush in 1988 and 1992, these are just a few examples where "experience" was the tagline.

But how much does it matter?

Right now, this is one of the big arguments between the McCain and Obama campaigns. Both Obama and Palin are short on experience nationally, while McCain and Joe Biden have a lot of it. Does it make that much of a difference?

Historically, we've had some fantastic presidents that were short on experience. Talk about inexperienced, Abraham Lincoln had a political resume shorter than Obama's, with only eight years in the Illinois Legislature, two years as a congressman, and a failed Senate campaign in 1852. Yet, by the sheer force of his intellect and will, he held together America in its darkest hour, with a Civil War rending the nation in two, and along with Generals Grant and Sherman, won the war before being fatally shot.

Harry Truman, with a short national resume, stepped into giant's shoes replacing Franklin Roosevelt in the midst of World War II, and managed the end of the war and the subsequent peace magnificently. He recognized Israel within 24 hours of its founding, he engineered the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, and he had the political courage to fire General Douglas MacArthur in the middle of the Korean War for insubordination when "Mac" was as popular as anyone.

Theodore Roosevelt had been Vice-President for a matter of months and New York's governor for only two years when he became President, and he reformed government, fought monopolies, built infrastructure (including the West Wing of the White House and remodeling the Executive Mansion), built our navy into the envy of the world, negotiated an end to the Russo-Japanese War, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in the process, created the national park system, heck, they named the teddy bear after him.

John Kennedy was tagged as inexperienced by Richard Nixon and Eleanor Roosevelt, yet he ran a bipartisan administration (several Eisenhower people served in his cabinet), strove for balanced budgets despite grave security threats, worked to bring about equality, appointed the first black to a Cabinet position, and brought an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis, a very dangerous point in our history, and did so without compromising our safety. Ronald Reagan was blasted as inexperienced and dangerous by Jimmy Carter, but he restored our military strength, got our economy out of the gutter, gave us our pride back, and was there to cash in when the Soviet Union started to crumble.

These are five examples of presidents whose "inexperience" turned out to not be a problem at all. Lincoln and Roosevelt did especially well (check out Mount Rushmore lately?) despite their inexperience. Experience may be important, but history bears out that it's not necessarily the most important thing. Obama does have one thing right: Judgment matters an awful lot. Ultimately, this fall, Americans may be concerned about experience, but if history is a guide, whose judgment they consider superior will determine the winner of this election.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

No, She Doesn't, Tom

Tom Shales was all over Sarah Palin's speech last night.

She proved herself in the great arena; that's what counts politically. Nobody could watch that speech and still consider her a joke, no matter how flimsy her credentials and qualifications may seem on paper. The joke, it seems, is on those who'd been laughing at her. Last night the laughing ended -- and the cheering began.

This was the most empty speech I've seen in a very long time.

Style points, yes. She got up there and put on the beauty queen act and threw red meat to the wolves in the audience. She made lots of jokes and took some NASTY swings at Obama (insulting community organizers? Really? They'll be organizing alright, organizing voters to vote for Obama this fall).

When it comes to substance, though, she has NONE. There was none of it in that speech, and none of it in her few appearances so far. Maybe 30 seconds to a minute even minutely focused on policy, and what was it? More drilling! "As someone who knows the North Slope, I know we've got plenty of oil to go around." That was a big applause line, but like all of her other lines, reality gets in the way. The current North Slope production is less than 900,000 barrels a day, according to a January 2008 DOE study of the area and its future production, with only an estimated six to seven billion barrels left in the fields. That will last until 2015, roughly.

If ANWR were opened, while it would lead to a tremendous amount of natural gas being opened up, DOE still estimates only an additional 36 billion barrels of oil being available. That. Is. Peanuts. So, plenty to go around? Eh, not so much.

Just like her Bridge to Nowhere claims, just like her earmark claims, just like most of her claims, the truth is FAR separated from them. She fires up the base, but she's going to turn everyone else off, because she is going to have to face tough questions, and she's going to get exposed for the empty vessel she is, all nasty rhetoric, no grasp of reality.

Furthermore, I wouldn't put down her guard yet. She's made lots of enemies in Alaska, and you know they're salivating at exposing her. She didn't get that "Sarah Barracuda" nickname for nothing. What we've seen this week is the tip of the iceberg, and as long as this election is about her, McCain will have no shot at winning.

Tom, the cheering only began inside the Xcel Center. The rest of the country was probably turned off by the nastiness, and most will still be offended at her miserable excuse for a resume.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

O Is For Outstanding

He did it.

Barack Obama went out in front of 75,000 people at Mile High Stadium/Invesco Field and stood tall, stared down the GOP talking points, and punched them right in the face.

This was the sort of tough, in-your-face, unabashedly proud liberalism that we haven't seen since John F. Kennedy. No triangulation, no ducking, no holding back. Barack Obama lined up George Bush and John McCain and hit them in their face with all the tired garbage we have been subjected to for eight years now.

  • "I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

    You make a big election about small things."

  • "For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy -- give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is -- you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps -- even if you don't have boots. You're on your own.

    Well it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America."

  • "And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.

    I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as president of the United States."

  • "We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans -- Democrats and Republicans -- have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.

    As commander in chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home."

  • "These are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain.

    But what I will not do is suggest that the senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.

    The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America -- they have served the United States of America.

    So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first."
This was simply amazing. He wrote it himself. He sat down for weeks on end and worked at it, and then he went out and smacked the living hell out of Bush, McCain, and all the silly, squabbling, SMALL complaints from the GOP. "He's presumptious, he's speaking from the temple of Obama, he's a celebrity, he's not a POW, dammit!" is all we've gotten from these useless fucktards. We ducked these things in the past, but not tonight. Tonight Obama walked out there, took their arguments, and threw them right back in their face. "They make a big election about small things."

That line defined the GOP's methods of attack for twenty years now, and for the first time, somebody called them on it, and did it with a ridiculously large audience watching. There are a lot of Americans tonight who watched this speech and will wake up in the morning with a new outlook about the GOP, and it won't be a positive one. They got owned by the greatest speaker of our generation (sorry, Bill) and even Pat Buchanan loved the speech. It was that good.

To John McCain, I'd say watch your back, but Obama doesn't strike from behind. As he showed tonight, he walks up and punches you right in the face. There's 68 days to go. Get used to it.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Panic In Detroit

Crossposted over at the American Princess.

Kwame's going to jail! Kwame's going to jail!

*breathless (pant, pant)*

Yes, it's a real holy hell day here in Detroit. Our dear mayor was hauled into court for a hearing on his bond after he violated it twice in the past week, once for a trip to Windsor that he didn't notify the court about and for his physical altercation with a process server trying to serve a subpoena on his friend Bobby Ferguson. Judge Ronald Giles decided he'd had enough and ordered Kwame's bond revoked and ordered him to the Wayne County jail for processing. At this time, the Kilpatrick attorneys are trying to get an emergency appeal after Giles flat-out rejected their request for a stay of his ruling.

Either way, at this moment, the City of Detroit is rudderless. The good news for city workers is that the city's layoff plan will probably be put on hold, since he can't exactly run the city from jail. Even better, this may finally be the last straw to either force the resignation of this disgrace of a public official or help Gov. Jenny quickly decide on moving his sizable tucchis out of office.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

Update: Judge Thomas Jackson told Kilpatrick's attorneys that he will not hear their case until tomorrow, ensuring that hizzoner will be spending a night in jail.