Thursday, January 31, 2008


It seems to me that Clinton has a depth of understanding of issues and government process that Obama simply doesn't yet have. It also seems to me that Obama has charisma that Clinton simply doesn't have. If there's a God, we will have a Clinton/Obama ticket.


Who do you know in the wide world who goes about life without any rules of any kind?

Well, besides W, I mean.

Where two or more are gathered together, there must be some kind of game plan, some set of rules. Etiquette, for instance. If you want me to speak with you, introduce yourself. Hygiene: No, you may not drop trou' and whiz on the floor. Conflict avoidance: You may not take my toys unless I say that you can.

That's "regulation." It's not a bad word unless you want to have your way 100% of the time without any consequences whatsoever. That describes a 2-year-old, and it describes US corporations.

The notion that a corporation that, by law, is required to give precedence to the wellbeing of its stockholders, will voluntarily police itself is fantasy. It's like putting my Doberman in charge of the filet mignon. It's not in her nature to look out for the filet mignon. It's not gonna happen.

The Republican commitment to deregulation is, in fact, total capitulation to corporate self interest. It's exactly the same thing as leaving your neighborhood pre-schoolers alone in the house with the oven on, the iron on, the BBQ fire going, the propane match lying on the floor, and all the doors wide open. It's just not in their own or the community's best interests.

I define corporate self interest by example. Countrywide, Merrill Lynch, and all the other entitites involved in this (projected) $295 billion housing crash put themselves in this position because they followed their nature. Enron cannibalized the energy users of California and the pensions of its own employees because it could not escape its nature. Mattel has not withdrawn dangerous toys all across the land because it cannot behave as anything other than a capitalist corporation. Bridgestone-Firestone cannot refrain from utilizing child labor in its rubber enterprises because it cannot override its nature. Remember this when you see its SuperBowl ad and think twice.

Regulation is setting limits. It's simply how we go about balancing the individual's nature with the community's best interests. We do it instinctually at home with our children because anyone who's spent more than an hour in the charming company of a two-year-old knows the importance of setting boundaries. We should not hesitate to do it in the not-so-charming company of the Enrons and Countrywides and Mattels and Bridgestone-Firestones.

Why? Because what's in the nature of the two-year-old is also in the nature of the 50-year-old corporate CEO. Our bifurcated, sometimes good, sometimes not-so-good human nature doesn't change. It's a given whether it operates on the kitchen floor or in the realm of international commerce.

The glaring example of the housing crash, Enron, and Mattel should be the only lesson Americans need about the importance of serious regulation of American business.

I hope that we are wise enough, mature enough, now, to see through the BS that Republicans like Mitt Romney and John McCain pump out about "free market" and "crippling" regulation.

Now, from where I sit, "crippling" is defined in context. An "uncrippled" corporation is a corporation free to prey on the workers, the natural resources, and the environment worldwide. That leads directly to poverty, exhausting our commonwealth for the profit of a few, and to environmental degradation and global crisis.

Can there be stupid regulation? Sure. Can parents be stupid? Duh. The solution is not to dispense with regulation. The solution is to correct our mistakes and hold firm in the interests of the Earth and all its residents.

Keeping Up with Media Lies, Distortions, Errors

One good way is through Media Matters. Here's an example of just one of the alerts I received by email today. It's nonpartisan, extremely valuable, and free, and I urge you to subscribe:

NY Times, Newsweek articles on Clinton statement on Kazakh president conflict with contemporaneous report
A January 31 New York Times article by reporters Jo Becker and Don Van Natta Jr. claimed that during a September 2005 visit to Kazakhstan, former President Bill Clinton "commend[ed] [Kazakh President] Mr. [Nursultan] Nazarbayev for 'opening up the social and political life of your country.' " Similarly, an article in the February 4 issue of Newsweek by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball claimed that Clinton "praise[d] ... Nazarbayev, an authoritarian ruler with a poor human-rights record, for 'opening up the social and political life of your country.' " However, both the Times and Newsweek versions of Clinton's quote conflict with an Agence France Presse (AFP) article published at the time of Clinton's visit. According to the September 7, 2005, AFP article, Clinton said: "I applaud this statement you have made about opening up the social and political life of your country and [it's] a good point that you made this statement before the election this year" [emphasis added].
There is an important difference between applauding a statement and applauding an action, especially when the action has not occurred and any praise seems to give credit to someone who might not deserve it.

This kind of twisting of the Clintons' actions occurs all the time. It contributes greatly to the suspicion and dislike that hover over the Clintons like Pigpen's brown cloud.


I'm very sad that John Edwards has suspended his campaign, and really mystified at this outcome. No need to write lengthily. The clear question is why, when the last 8 years of de-regulation, no regulation, runaway greed and a tsunami of official corruption have left 95% of us worse off than we were when Clinton left office. It's impossible to weigh how much was the man, the message, the zeitgeist, but it is obvious that the media ignored Edwards relative to the attention they payed to Obama and Clinton. I imagine the coverage was about 8 or 10 to 1. Even before Obama caught up with Clinton, Edwards was essentially cast as an "also ran." And I think the explanation for that is quite clear. Large corporations own our government, which is their feed trough. Of course they don't want Edwards's message to rain down in our ears. Unfortunately, they also own the media.

This calls into question the meaning of the vote today. When the media can outright bar a candidate from even appearing at a national debate, as they did Kucinich, and can lowball other candidates at their discretion, we might well ask what kind of chance the American people actually have today to effect meaningful change. It seems to me that we are trapped within limited alternatives fixed by corporate boardrooms, and that makes me, as a patriotic citizen, perfectly furious.

Closely related is the fact that the same dozen or so people have overwhelming influence on what news we hear and what spin it gets. This includes Chris Matthews, Andrea Mitchell (wife of the former Fed Chief, Alan Greenspan), Wolf Blitzer, Jack Cafferty, the Faux puppets, Lou Dobbs, Tucker Carlson, Joe Scarborough, Keith Olberman (the token liberal), a handful of pretty anchors (male and female), and Bey and Pat Buchanan. Of these, one is progressive and the majority are not moderate but Rightwing. Amazing, isn't it? These same few people control the national agenda and have done so for quite a few years. I so wonder what part of what I'm told is spun, wrong, and trivial by comparison with what I need to know. I mean, I'm pretty sure I don't need to know that a police convoy removed Britney from her home today or that there's new evidence in the most recent dead blonde girl case. I would like to know what executive orders W has signed and what they mean; what really is going on with the market and the dollar and the housing bust; how I would perceive the Clintons if Democrats and progressives had controlled the media over the past 18 years (I'm guessing like Ron and Nancy Reagan are perceived by the Right); the real impact of global warming; the cost of corruption in Iraq and in the Pentagon . . . you know. Stuff like that.

MoveOn wants me to vote now for either Obama or Clinton. I can't. I don't know yet. This isn't an easy choice, and I need more information especially about global warming, regulation, how to address "free" trade and the "free" market, how to ensure that our votes count as voted, and how to ensure the safety and security of this country without pouring our rights and freedoms down the toilet. Oh, and whether the Bush Crime Administration will face justice, ever.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's ALL About the US Supreme Court

The next president will determine the course of US social, political, economic, and military strategy for a generation to come, because he or she will determine the defining seat on the US Supreme Court.

Issues abortion, gun control, regulation of the marketplace, the power of the presidency, and, above all, whether the Constitution is interpreted in light of the need and realities of the 21st Century or in light of the realities of the 18th Century, will be decided by the next Court.

Do not be beguiled into thinking that the Republican Party can be appeased or will drop its extreme agenda and become part of Obama's Coalition America. If you have doubts, please read the series about the rise and the agenda of the US Far Right here on this blog. They didn't invest 30 years of planning and funding to drop everything now and start singing Kumbay with progressive Democrats.

The Republican Party has not changed. The struggle between McCain and Romney is about how McCain is playing in the perceptions of Middle America, and the will and power of the Bush Establishment, which has backed Romney. Remember that Babs and Poppy have introduced him, and that the get-out-the-vote operatives of former FL Governor Jeb Bush were Romney's guys in this Florida primary.

In fewer than 8 years, McCain has moved from arch-critic of the Religious Right's takeover of the GOP to Chief Bootlicker of Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh. The difference among McCain and Romney and Huckabee on social policy is so narrow that a mosquito would have to diet to fly through it. The Republican Party has not changed and is not changing. Guiliani is DOA. So much for a changed GOP social agenda.

Now that he has won FL, defeating the establishment candidate, McCain will trend to the hard Right in order to secure his nomination. Pay attention, America. The "maverick" is not so much a maverick as a weathervane. He is anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-separation of church and state, an enthusiastic supporter of Bush's tax-free wealthy class, pro "free market," anti-emvironmental protection, and pro-endless war. Look for these emphases.

And then imagine the kind of man (word used advisedly) that John McCain will appoint to the US Supreme Court, and ask yourself whether you children and grandchildren can hope to have a viable world if he is elected.

Monday, January 28, 2008

P.S.: The State of George W.

And where was discussion of the economy? And acknowledgement that the people of this country are sick of this war, much less thirsting for endless war? And fidelity to the Founders? Oh please. That was erased by illegal surveillance, the unitary presidency, the diminution of Congress, the politicization of the Justice Department (and the IRS and the FCC), and the breach of separation of church and state, and the assault on our right of privacy . . . .

No. This was a colllection of historical revisions and a cynical shopping list of tasks that he could have achieved had he sincerely wished to achieve them and not their opposites.

One last comment. This was about George. It was not about the state of the union. This was designed to reframe the last seven years by trotting out platitudes of humanitarianism and constitutional reverence and fiscal responsibility.

And I'll bet 20% of the country loved it. There's good news there.

A Small Man's Rhetoric of Cynicism

I doubt there's often been a more cynical State of the Union message, if there's ever been one.

I say so because this President has had seven years in which to achieve a viable alternative fuels program, curbs on earmarks, significant support for public education, the renovation of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, a vigorous pursuit of Bin Ladin in Afghanistan, fair free trade, qualified judicial appointees, clean air and carbon-reduction coal-based technologies, a viable housing market, a vigorous and healthy economy.

Rather than actually do so, this President has instead achieved the opposite in all respects.

What we have learned from bitter experience over the past seven years is that we can expect the diametric opposite of what he says, of the titles of bills he submits, of his press conference promises.

"No Child Left Behind" achieves the opposite. A fair and just approach to foreign policy instead is a preference for war in order to plunder foreign resources and direct resulting revenues to corrupt cronies intent on one-party rule by plutocrats. Confronting "terror" means constructing a nursery and training academy for terrorists. Doing everything possible to prevent another attack on the homeland means doing as little as possible but that with much fanfare. It means ignoring our ports, our airlines, our trains, our subways, our chemical plants, our nuclear plants, our fuel depots, and the arteries of their transport. It means, instead, instituting an illegal and unconstitutional surveillance apparatus more sinister than anything envisioned in 1984. Opposing "genocide in Sudan" is a throw-away line in a presidential address. Fights against global poverty are in fact restrictions on women's access to healthcare. "Programs to purchase crops from developing countries" are actually programs to direct US funds to Monsanto. The AIDS funds he's pledged so far have not been spent, yet tonight he asked for $30M more. It's a cruel, cruel lie.

Reforming veterans care comes a bit late, doesn't it, and so does enriching veterans' benefits. What has he done these 7.5 years except to undermine just these programs? To call on Congress to institute them now is beyond cynical. It is shameless. This President has no ethical moorings. Like a small boat without an anchor, he floats where he will, unaware of where he's been and careless of where he's going. That qualifies as a kind of madness.

Yet this President isn't delusional. He is a congenital liar. He isn't concerned with America. He is concerned with the wallets of a few families. He isn't concerned with your access to health care; why should he be? His is secured and he will call your efforts to achieve universal healthcare "socialized medicine."

As all this is a matter of record, tonight's exercise in mediocre oratory amounts to a cynical cooptation of key Democratic objectives in the midst of the biggest political dogfight in memorable history. It was designed to plump up the rhetorical toolkits of the Republicans seeking the presidency, and to put the Democrats between the rock of his rhetoric and the hard place of his promise to veto--at last--any bill that includes spending he finds useless.

That would be spending for anything that is unrelated to warmaking or corporate welfare.

Remarkable. Shameful. A fitting summary of this small man's miserable reign of piracy and treason.

Political Climates

Maybe I have the gift of stating the obvious, and all the world clearly understands that there is such a thing as "the current political climate." Sometimes I wonder, though, because every day I hear comparisons between W and Bill Clinton that completely overlook the differences in the prevailing political climates then and now.

A conversation is unfolding elsewhere about Samantha Power, in which one person observed that Power didn't criticize Clinton for not going into Rwanda and Sudan to stop the genocides. He could have, and he should have. But he didn't, and a primary reason was the political climate. Republicans controlled Congress throughout his presidency, and railed incessantly about his going into Bosnia to stop that genocide. Maybe the criticism would better target those Republicans for creating a political climate that made further overseas interventions more expensive than Clinton's political capital could afford. There hadn't been anything approaching a 9-11. Not even minor attacks on foreign-based US assets can compare. They simply do not have the catalyzing power that an attack on home turf possesses, and so they don't create the political capital necessary for taking the nation to war.

This political capital thing is one point at which "we, the people" intersect with our elected officials to bring about or retard action. Instead of blaming Clinton--which has replaced thinking--we might blame ourselves for not raising such a loud outcry that not even Mitch O'Connell, Trent Lott, and Tom DeLay could have ignored it.

Kennedy Touched History Today

I believe Sen. Ted Kennedy may have changed the course of the Democratic nomination today, and possibly even the outcome of the November election. His speech at American University was vintage Kennedy, one goosebump moment after another. His emphasis was on the future, on the vast, untapped capacity of America's youth to make a different world. His message, that one again, history tells us that the moment has come for a new generation of leadership, may well be the theme that casts Clinton in the most unflattering light possible. I believe, with Kennedy, that that moment has indeed come. And that is what, I think, will doom Clinton in the end.

It isn't about race or gender. It isn't only about changed policies. It is about a deeper and more profound change, and it is about our giving our faith and blessing to the next generation to lead us to a world that the Bushes and the McCains and the Romneys and the Huckabees cannot see and do not want to see.

Edwards sees that world, but he does not inspire Americans the way Obama inspires Americans. It is too bad, for Edwards' hope of the presidency, that Obama has that ineffable Kennedyesque charisma. It is too bad, because Edwards' portfolio of policies, and his deep and abiding grounding in the traditional New Deal Democratic Party, are desperately needed.

Clinton sees that world, but has not had the courage to lead us there. Too many times she has capitulated to Centrist-Right visions, been too careful about where she placed her feet, too safe, and too focused on her own career rather than the needs of the nation.

I remain an Edwards supporter, but I also know that Edwards will not be the nominee. I hope, in the interim between now and November, to be converted. I hope that Obama can convince me that his centrist-Right capitulations will not turn out to be the real Obama, and instead, that he truly does have a wisdom beyond his years and his experience, and will have the courage to lead us to a greener, more just, and wiser future.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

What's He Done for Us Lately?

Interesting article in Hispanic News about Congressman Ed Pastor of AZ's Fourth District. I guess he stays in office because he's good at constituent services and bringing home the pork. He's also got a great system for responding to to constituents' email and letters. I should know. Other than that, I don't think he does a single, solitary thing for anybody, much less for Hispanics brutalized and intimidated by Sherrif Joe.

But we can be proud that he's not missing any meals.

At the Head of the Idiot's List of Public Policy . . .

is a new bill pending in my fine state that would permit guns onto any K-12 public or private school, college, or university. Now there's a thought. Anyone with a concealed weapons permit could carry.

A concealed weapons permit is a good thing. But it doesn't confer good judgment. I'm just sayin', where's the first place you'd rush to to find exemplars of maturity and self control? It wouldn't be a high school, would it?

I think of things like crossfire, like asking the police to enter a VA Tech environment when everybody's armed and freaked out. Will the real shooter please stand up. I think of things like pissed off frat boys, race baiting, getting a failing grade, somebody keying your car.

I guess we could look on the bright side and call it population control?

NLRB Issues Complaint Against Basha's, Inc.

Friday morning, I had the honor of demonstrating in front of Basha's human rights HQ along with about 100 or so workers and supporters. These included several workers summarily fired for union-related activities, who came to ask to meet with management, and the Rev. Trina Zelle. Zelle is this year's recipient of Tempe's Martin Luther King award for her contributions individually and through Interfaith Worker Justice to defending the rights and dignity of poor workers, most of them of course minorities.

For years, Basha's, Inc.--corporate owner of three tiers of grocery stores and a few assorted other food/beverage venues in Arizona (mainly)--has been engaged in a no-holds-barred war against the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

I take it as a measure of their relative influence that nearly every online search produced the only grocer's point of view, and even the Valley's leading alternative paper, The New Times, chose to print a negative review of the UFCW's war, calling it "dirty tricks." To which I say, yeah, right.

If your reasoning faculties have lately diminished, or you've taken a short flight from sanity, and doubt there's a class system in the USA, Basha's, Inc. can set you right. Just visit, in order, an AJ's, a Basha's, and a Food City.

AJ's markets to the best. Er, well, no. AJ's markets to the wealthiest. (Not the same thing at all.) The AJ's stores are very upscale large gourmet food stores, each with a huge wine cellar, a boulangerie, a bistro, a farmer's market, a butchery and seafood department, and so much more, all beautifully presented. The staff are knowledgeable, crisply attired, and seen but not heard unless questioned.

At an AJ's, everything from floor to ceiling and in between is crystal-clean, sparkling, and fresh as a sunrise. The counters, racks, and bins are as if designed by Thomasville--lots of the Olde Woode look to convey a manorial theme in keeping with the prices. The fresh produce assortment looks like a set from a European fresh-air market, with a truly enchanting assortment, a diversity of potatoes and lettuces and tomatoes and fruits and beans and things that most of us never knew exist. In fact, you could spend a morning just cruising an AJs and have a marvelous time.

Basha's, the mid-tier stores, are your ordinary model. These are the grocery stores we grew up with, before high-end, designer grocery marketing came along. They're clean and utilitarian, well lighted and pleasant enough for the ordeal of family grocery shopping. There you'll find laundry and cleaning products, cards and magazines, beer and wine and booze, and the usual assortment of meats and produce that America has always grown up with. Oh, there might be the odd persimmon or, here in the Southwest, eight varieties of chile pepper, but the emphasis is on supplying the kitchens, pantries, laundries, bathrooms, and tables of Middle America. I wouldn't recommend spending a morning on a Basha's tour, but I'm sure I've matronized a Basha's a time or two for my routine shopping.

And now, visit a Food City. You'll know by the look of the place, before you even enter the store, that you're headed for a venue that markets to the food stamp people, the working poor--which, here, means mostly the Hispanic working poor.

I can't get graphic because I've heard of Basha's wild mongoose approach to criticism. Just now, it is relying on a personal law suit of not just human rights organizations, UFCW, and its Local 99, but also of both individual activists and sometimes even their spouses. Currently, these include community activists, news organizations, a local elected official, and religious leaders like the Rev. Trina Zelle and her husband, the Rev. Phil Reller, not exactly disreputable loose lips.

I will say that once the condition of a Food City meat/seafood area was so offensive that I called out the manager and walked him personally through it. I didn't mask my disgust and anger. Needless to say, I didn't buy anything.

Anglos wouldn't recognize half the products or produce in a Food City here. Much of the canned and bottled and other goods are Mexican brands, and the household goods, produce, meat, and poultry cuts also cater to a Mexican clientele. The liquor is locked away behind glass doors, but there's plenty of beer, up close and personal.

This is nothing new to inner-city dwellers anywhere. The crummiest of the chain grocery store outlets are always in the poor people's neighborhoods. Liberties that wouldn't occur at even a Basha's, much less an AJ's, can no doubt be taken with Food City customers because the people have no power, no recourse, no contacts, and no leverage.

Recently, after a lengthy investigation by the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB)Phoenix office, the agency issued a complaint--the administrative equivalent of a civil indictment--against Basha's, Inc. for more than 70 individual allegations of federal labor law violations. The complaint comes on the heels of a recent finding by a federal administration law judge that Basha's, Inc., broke the law by failing to recognize UFCW Local 99 as the respresentative of workers at nine of its stores.

The allegations include many standard union-busting techniques--threats, intimidation, intimations of surveillance, etc. In fact, we demonstrated on Friday to support workers who wanted to meet with management to protest the latest: a decision to outsource their jobs on a mere two days' notice. I understand that, not coincidentally, most if not all of these Hispanic and African American men had been among those seeking to work with management to address the company's corporate practices.

They were not met with on Friday.

I'll be doing my shopping elsewhere.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rebate Schmeebate

No, it won't help us. It's ridiculous.

Here's what would help: Let's start with a fair share of the return on the productivity we escalated over the last 7 years. You know, the one Bush always talks about. Instead of 90% of that return going into the CEO suite, how about significant raises for all deserving, neglected, hard-working people? How about a tax cut for us?

Then, how about a regulated mortgage industry so we have a hope of getting a fair deal on our houses? Or say: How about a new New Deal. It worked before and is the only thing that will work now.

I don't know why this is rocket science. How on earth do the "free market" creeps expect us to keep on consuming when our cost of living is sky-rocketing, our savings and house values and wages are tanking, and our jobs are being outsourced or cut altogether? I mean, DUH.

See why John Edwards needs to be President?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oppose Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws: Act Now in AZ

A fierce war has raged for several years, out of sight to many of us. It’s happening in one of those numerous parallel universes that we only discover if we happen to discover it. The war is between PETA, on one side, and ordinary Americans and the so-called dog and cat and horse and cattle and sheep and chicken and duck fanciers, on the other. You get the picture. I lack the time to tell the history of this war, but there’s plenty of information online.

My focus now is on dogs, not on hunting or livestock or carrier pigeons or ladybugs.

Those who have dedicated years to this war and who know far more than I do about it have convinced me that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) isn’t all it says it is. They say, and they have avalanches of information to support this, that PETA wants to eventually eliminate animal ownership. That’s actually quite clear in the rhetoric of PETA chief Ingrid Newkirk, and in the legislation PETA pushes worldwide.

One of these measures is the so-called “mandatory spay/neuter” law, and one has just been introduced in the Arizona House of Representatives. It was just a matter of time.

PETA’s rationale for requiring the spay or neutering of all dogs and cats six months or over, unless you buy a permit (fee unannounced) is to cut down on the number of dogs and cats that end up in animal shelters. There’s been a whole campaign to convince Americans that our shelters are overflowing, when, in fact, shelter populations have been steadily declining for a decade, thanks to public education and positive incentives like spay/neuter vouchers.

But setting that aside for the moment, the mandatory spay/neuter approach is a disaster for at least ten good reasons I can think of.

1. It will reduce the gene pool for pure bred animals to a dangerously small number, and, for the rest, will mean virtual extinction in just one generation. Think about it: If today’s dog generation can’t reproduce, there won’t be a generation tomorrow. (That’s what PETA wants, but it’s not what American families and dog lovers want.)

2. The bill is unenforceable. What army of animal control officers is going to comb the state looking for scofflaw households and intact dogs and cats? And if there were such an army, where’s the money going to come from if not you and me? And don’t we have better things to do with our state tax dollars?

3. Veterinarian studies show reason for concern for premature spay and neuter. These can affect bone structure and other health aspects—a serious concern for any animal, but a disaster for working dogs.

4. The bill hits the wrong target. Only responsible owners who already spay and neuter, or already breed responsibly, will comply. Meanwhile, irresponsible, or uninformed, or poor owners—all of whom are the main source of feral animals—will not comply.

5. Wherever MSN bills have been tried, they have resulted in declines in dog licensure and vaccination compliance. People resent the intrusion and the additional fee, and so they don’t risk being forced to spay/neuter by going to get the booster shot or vaccination or license. They prefer to drop out of the system entirely. This isn’t good for shelter revenues or for animal health in this or neighboring states.

6. It isn’t needed. Current measures are already working—mostly, public education and vouchers for spay/neuter. Shelter populations have been dropping for a decade.

7. If the goal is to cut the number of dogs that end up in shelters, it will fail, because half of dogs in shelters were taken by their owners in order to be euthanized. That won’t change. Owners use public shelters to dispose of old, ill, or problem dogs rather than paying a vet for that service. And the other half of owner-surrendered dogs in shelters are already spayed or neutered.

8. The bill could actually increase the shelter population if people on limited budgets decide to abandon their dogs instead of complying with the neuter/spay or paying for an “intact” fee.

9. If enforced, animal control costs will skyrocket, hitting the poorest jurisdictions hardest. Those are the jurisdictions where most strays are found.

10. If enforced, the bill will gradually eliminate the revenues generated by dog- and cat- related events, and by service and product providers who cater to dogs and cats. And folks, in California, just dog show revenue alone amounted to $93 Million annually, according to the AKC.

Unenforceable laws that aren’t needed and that miss their target anyway, and that would impose new regulation without proof that it will work, are bad laws.

We who belong to breed clubs know from experience in other states fighting similar measures that these laws only create a huge public uproar from both sides, and either get pulled or, if passed, eventually get repealed. These are a huge waste of time and money, and a cruel—in fact, an incomprehensible—approach to a badly exaggerated problem.

I can’t imagine a life without dogs. I don’t want to imagine it if I could. The joy, love, security, fun, challenge, and peace of mind ours give to us don’t have a price tag.

Public education coupled with positive incentives such as vouchers for spay/neuter or free spay/neuter clinics around town are a far better way to proceed. We know that. It’s been proved time and again.

So if you live in AZ, do one thing now: Contact your state representative and ask them to oppose HB 2516 when it is introduced. Do it for you dogs and cats, and for yourself. Mandatory spay/neuter is genocide in a generation.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger

Creative brilliance, a superb actor. Our enormous loss.

For those of us in the GLBTQ community, Ledger is something of a hero for his courageous, sensitive, and tender portrayal of a deeply closeted gay man in "Brokeback Mountain." It was clear to us that he thoroughly understood the dynamics that his character confronted, internally and externally, and felt the wrenching conflicts deeply. His was not a safe, surface portrayal, a la a TV sitcom. He had to be willing to assume his character's deepest reality, and that can't be an easy thing for a straight man or woman to do in a thoroughly homophobic world.

I'm really sorry that he's gone, and I will miss his talent and his willingness to risk ridicule and exile in order to show his world a glimpse of ours.

Jaw Flapping

Obama said that the Republicans had been the party of ideas.

Did he praise Republicans?

Hillary says he did. Obama says he didn't.

I understand the dilemma. I, too, have said that the Republicans have out-thought us and, if the simple fact of new ideas were sufficient to earn a win, then the Republicans deserved to win the White House in 2000. This is not the same thing as saying I like their ideas, approve of that party, or am glad Bush got into the Oval Office.

It simply says that they rubbed their brain cells far more energetically than we did. We sat on our laurels of the last 40 years, and didn't pay attention to things like the Republicans' superior use of language to frame issues and box in their opponents. I give you "Pro-Life" as an example.

I made my comments in emails to friends. I wasn't running for office. And that makes a huge difference. Obama said much the same thing, but in the context of the campaign, his comment was a chameleon. In other words, it can be heard as a values-neutral statement, or as praise, and it was heard as praise by a lot of people.

Where Obama, the Democratic candidate for President, dropped that ball and did a disservice to his party was not following that sentence with, "Too bad their ideas were uniformly disastrous."

I think it's very likely that he did not do that because he wants to walk the fence.
Obama wants Republicans and independents to hear that statement--and the statement about Reagan as a transformative president, as well--as compliments. But, but, but: At the same time, if he should be called out for that, as Hillary called him out, his phrasing gives him plenty of wiggle room, and he took it. He said, with technical accuracy, "But oh, I didn't praise the ideas or agree with them!" "I didn't say Reagan was a good president!"

This is disingenuous in the context of the campaign, especially since Obama sees himself as the bridge candidate, the unifer. What would anyone expect from a bridge candidate but a compliment? Obama has been noticeably loathe to attack Republicans. Why would anyone hear his comments as values-free? I don't buy it.

I think Hillary is right to call him on this, and I think that this exactly illustrates what she means when she said he won't take responsibility for his votes. He won't take responsibility for his statements, either--and in the same slippery way. He should have said this: "I stand by saying that the Republicans out-thought us, in the sense of quantity of big ideas. But I should have added that I thought those big ideas are a disaster for the country. Let me make that clear: Just because I say you have more cattle on your ranch, it doesn't mean that you're a better rancher or that your cattle are first rate."


I will post about this separately. Meanwhile, this from the AKC website:

Arizona Alert: Mandatory Spay/Neuter Bill Introduced
[Tuesday, January 22, 2008]

House Bill 2516, which seeks to prohibit persons from owning or keeping a dog or cat that is more than six months old if the animal has not been spayed or neutered, unless the person has acquired an intact permit for the animal, has been introduced.

If adopted, this unreasonable and unenforceable bill will have a profound negative impact not only upon responsible dog breeders in Arizona, but also upon all current and prospective dog owners. It is vital that all breeders and concerned dog owners in Arizona contact their elected state legislators and voice their strong opposition to the bill.

The American Kennel Club opposes the concept of breeding permits, breeding bans, or the mandatory spay/neuter of purebred dogs. Instead, we support reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of purebred dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who take their responsibilities seriously. Additionally, we strongly support and actively promote a wide range of programs to educate the public about responsible breeding practices and the responsibilities of dog ownership.

As introduced, HB 2516 will:
Prohibit a person from owning or keeping a dog or cat that is more than six months old if the animal has not been spayed or neutered, unless the person qualifies for and purchases an intact permit.

Allow the fee for the permit to be set by the county enforcement agent or by the local jurisdiction.

Require the fee for the permit to be no more than what is "reasonably necessary" to fund the administration of the intact permit program.

Provide that intact permits be issued when one of the following conditions are met, including:

For those who provide a business license and federal tax identification number as a dog or cat breeder;

Proof that the dog belongs to a recognized registry and meets show or title standards;

Proof that the dog is a working dog for law enforcement, fire agencies, or private sector working dog organizations;

Proof that the dog is actively used by law enforcement, fire agencies, or private sector working dog organizations for law enforcement, fire service, search and rescue or medical service activities, or is being raised or otherwise prepared for any of these purposes;

A letter from a licensed veterinarian stating that due to age, poor health, or illness it is unsafe to spay or neuter the animal;

Proof that the dog is used for herding or guarding livestock on property designated for ranching;

Proof that the dog or cat is temporarily in the state;

Proof that the dog or cat is being trained or used for any of the purposes permitted by the US Animal Welfare Act; or

A written agreement to allow one male dog and one female dog per household to produce a single litter of offspring within one year after issuance of permit (pursuant to stringent health and care and conditions requirements).

HB 2516 will require breeders to pay an undetermined annual fee for every intact dog they possess, and is a blatant attempt at imposing a significant financial burden upon responsible dog breeders and owners. We believe that any attempt at restricting the rights and liberties of responsible breeders—especially via mandatory spay/neuter laws—must be defeated.

As a recently introduced bill, HB 2516 has not been referred to a committee within the Arizona House of Representatives. The AKC Canine Legislation Department will continue to monitor the consideration of HB 2516 and will notify the purebred dog community when the bill is assigned to a committee. Contact information for committee members will be provided and purebred dog owners should express their concerns with HB 2516 to committee members.


Please contact your State Representative and State Senator and ask them to oppose HB 2516. To find out who represents you in the Arizona Legislature, please click here.

"They's Gold in Them Thar Hills!"

The Arizona Republic reports today that gold mines are being reopened, or opened, across the state now that gold has hit almost $892 per ounce. Rising metal prices are luring both mining companies and weekend prospectors dreaming of discovering the Lost Dutchman or its siblings. It may be fun to weekend prospect, but it ain't easy money! Me, I say hire some diggers and bring a picnic lunch.

Prison Privatization 101

What does that mean, anyway?

It means giving or selling off government assets to private owners. Right away, some questions arise. Those assets have been paid for, and maintained, and operated, by your money and mine: by our taxes. Are they not ours? Should we not be consulted before they are sold at any price?

The theory underlying privatization is Milton Friedman's "free market." In his view, the capitalist marketplace is perfectly self-regulating, and needs no regulation (hence "free") and ought to function even in realms traditionally operated by the federal or state goverment. Prisons come to mind.

This theory raises other questions, on the order of those we ought to direct at anyone who thinks his interpretation of the US Constitution is better than that which has prevailed for the last 250 years. Big questions occur to me, such as: What is the theory underlying government ownership of certain services and certain utilities? What incentives are introduced when these are privatized? How can the public evaluate the performance of privately-held entities, and hold them accountable when they do poorly or become corrupted?

Public (government) ownership of prisons probably stems from the constitutional role of government to maintain the public order. That is, law enforcement, the courts, and the prison system are seen as parts of one constitutional role granted to the government. Such a system theoretically has no incentives other than to maintain order efficiently. In the case of a state or federal prison, for instance, there really are no incentives to hold a prisoner longer than his or her sentence unless the public order is threatened, and in that case, lawyers, courts, and due process are involved. In fact, the economics of prison operations probably creates the incentive to discharge prisoners as soon as legally appropriate.

On the other hand, "privatized" prisons are paid by the government to discharge its penal function. Contracts are awarded based, at least theoretically, on prison economics, and owners are paid "per capita," by the head. Right away, it is obvious that the capitalist market incentive inevitably is to hold prisoners as long as possible, and to get as many prisoners as possible.

When the conservative proponents of privatization are also state and congressional lawmakers, lawyers, and judges--and staff the White House and the Department of Justice and the US Supreme Court--that incentive doesn't go away and isn't regulated. On the contrary: The so-called "tough-on-crime" contingent is very well aware that "three strikes" and mandatory sentencing increase the length of prison terms and increase the numbers of people in prisons. In this way, the "free market" is a hideous joke on those who rely on the government for our freedoms, our civil liberties, our right to fair and impartial justice. None are hurt more than people of color and the poor.

Isn't it worth considering whether the profit motive has something to do with the fact that the USA has more people in prison than any other country in the world? As of 2006, some 7 million--that's right, 7 million people were in prison, on parole, or on probation. The only other country to come close is China, and it has four times our population.

It's all a bit suspect to me, all this rush to build detention centers and the sudden concern about "illegal" immigrants. From all the data I've seen--from reputable sources, I mean--the immigrant "problem" isnt much of a problem since our economy comes out well ahead after all the costs are accounted for. Oh, there may be pockets where new arrivals create issues, but to equate that with the rampaging Mongol hordes as the Right does is ludicrous. So I'm wondering what the incentive might be to hype the immigrant situation in a way that sparks midnight roundups and detention. I'm wondering who benfits? Obviously Wackenhut and CCA and the other prison corporations gain mightily, and the contractors who provide food and beverage, laundry, and facility maintenance services gain as well.

Maybe these considerations help also to explain why our "Justice" Department--I use the term reluctantly--hasn't been all that anxious to address the gross disparities in sentences for African American, Hispanic, and Native American populations, or even the hideous problem of wrongful conviction. Maybe there are too many people at the for-profit prison trough?

This is obviously "Privatized Prisons 101." There's so much more to consider. I really hope that people younger than I am read this post, because I worry that they don't have the life history or the depth of familiarity with the Constitution and all that lies behind it to argue against privatization.

In our culture, success is equated with conspicuous consumption, with wealth, and wealth is about money, and privatization is about money. It's all too easy to forget about the social consequences when somebody's waving green stuff around.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Free Trade, Sex/Slave Trade, and Immigration

Naomi Klein's explosive book about US global economic policy explains everything from the Iraq catastrophe and the Gulf Coast/New Orleans fiasco to Bush's near-wrecking of the national economy. The diabolical practice misleadingly called "free trade" or "globalism" is actually about how, over more than three decades, the wealthy have tested and perfected ways to dispossess the middle classes and the poor. Klein's work is painstakingly documented. There are more than a dozen examples involving Latin American, Asian, Pacific Rim, Middle Eastern, and European countries, as well as a close look at New Orleans. It's all there, and in my opinion, nobody who hopes to understand the main currents of contemporary life can afford not to read it.

The connections are deep and wide. When multinational corporations and their political, academic, and military allies conspire to create or capitalize (literally) on the conditions Klein explains--distracting disasters--the result is that the middle class is destroyed and the poor are abandoned, left to starve or drown.

It doesn't take much imagination to see how this practice--"free trade"--is, then, also fundamentally responsible for creating the conditions that lead to global worker migrations and to the international sex trade.

The former is obvious. If Monsanto introduces genetically altered crops into a country, the natural, organic counterpart is overtaken, erased, as it were, by cross-pollination. In time, crop monopolization occurs, genetically. If aggressive lawsuits then carefully ensure that no one can grow and market Monsanto's trade-marked hybrid without paying royalties to the corporation, small farmers and local growers are forced out of business or driven off their lands to other parts of the country. Then it becomes a race against time.

In the end, wind pollinates, and Monsanto wins. Thus, without their permission, and often over their urgent protest, their fields have been filled with Monsanto's trade-marked corn, maize, rice, soy--whatever--which they are not allowed to grow or sell. Left with few if any alternatives, few skills, and no money, they are forced off their own lands and, ultimately, often out of their own countries.

The connection between "free trade" and the international sex/slave trade is perhaps not so obvious, and I am indebted to a good friend for bringing it to my attention this morning. The dynamics are essentially the same: Extreme poverty with no alternatives forces extreme actions. For instance, what happens to village peasants when post-tsunami developers seize their lands, raze what's left of their villages, and put up luxury tourist spots? Dispossessed of village, family, trade, market, and all means to survive, some of them sell their daughters into the sex/slave trade, not necessarily knowing that it is the sex/slave trade.

These desperate, illiterate people are easy prey to outsiders' promises that their daughters will have a better life, a good education, a fine marriage if only . . . . After all, it doesn't take much to abandon a girl child in a culture where girls are regarded as liabilities due to dowry customs and lower wage prospects (if outside work is permitted at all). All this and pending starvation is a mighty persuader.

The moral depravity of these economic practices is just boggling. Unfortunately, the moral responsibility for ending them extends to us. Pick your cause: Environmental degradation? Sex/slave trade? Immigration? Women's rights? The rights of people of color? Minimum wage? Elder rights? There's virtually nothing that "free trade"--privatization, demolished social safety nets, zero taxes for the wealthy and the corporations, and cuts in wages and benefits--doesn't make worse. So it's imperative to act. Pick your cause, get informed, and get busy. The earth itself is counting on you and me.

Time to Stop the Demospat

I wrote earlier, here, that the Democrats are risking a long-term rupture between Obama supporters and Clinton supporters. How that translates to African Americans and Other is anybody's guess at this point. If we go by what the pollsters tell us, younger African Americans trend toward Obama, and older African Americans trend toward Clinton. We can only hope that the spat ends quickly, and that hurt feelings are sincerely addressed and healed, or younger voters may find other things to do in November. God forbid.

Neither candidate is well served. The media mouths are trumpeting the spat to the heavens, seeming to take joy in making the Democrats--especially Bill Clinton--look worse than perhaps is the case. In my view, the candidates are not out of historical bounds in their remarks, after all. The tempers and sensitivities, however, never easily controlled in matters of race and gender, seem to be rising by the hour. Dobbs and Schneider, Blitzer and Cafferty and Crowley, at least, are talking of proprieties and behavior unbecoming a President, but I don't see that.

What I do see is ammo that Republicans, media critics, and Clinton foes can sack up and stow away for the general election. Two of our three leading candidates are behaving childishly, and that won't play well framed in the Oval Office.

Note to the DNC: Call them into the principal's office and read them the riot act.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I woke this morning thinking how wonderful it is to be in Arizona celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., and how remote Evan Meacham seems in the context of African American people. Among other enlightened acts (not), Meacham called African Americans "pickaninnies," referred to his political foes as "just a band of homosexuals and dissident Democrats," once asked for a list of all gay state employees, and actually rescinded the state holiday on MLK,Jr. Day. It was later reinstated and he was impeached for criminal fraud. Prince of a fellow, eh?

Later, I attended an MLK. Jr., honors award breakfast hosted by Tempe to acknowledge the work of community diversity activists. My dear friend, the Rev. Trina Zelle, received this year's award in the "individual adult" category for her work with Arizona Interfaith Justice on behalf of workers and immigrants. It was good to be in a huge crowd of people of all faiths, classes, races, ethnicities, sexes, orientations, all there to honor one of the contemporary world's great giants, good to take time to remember his life and his great work. I remember him well--his work, his life, his senseless assassination. Dr. King changed my world. He made it better.

The keynote speech was delivered by the remarkable and talented Alonzo Jones, Director for Multicultural Student Services at Arizona State University. His speech was a masterful and novel recounting of the life of the man we all know only for a snapshot of his Civil Rights work, and his assassination. He spoke to the youth among us, saying, memorably, that education is not about earning more money. It's preparation for answering an unknown question--a question that will define your life, give it meaning, and may come at a time when you least expect it.

It was a wonderful keynote. In all respects but one. Remarkably, he said not one word about Latinos generally, or about Mexican immigrants specifically, who, today, are facing a degree of segregation as severe, and ruthless, and ignorant, and shameful as anyting the nation experienced in the 1940s or 50s.

Is it segregation? I think so. There aren't separate water fountains everywhere, but in some work sites, there's no water at all for dirt-poor laborers. There aren't rules about who sits where on the bus, but in this city, there may as well be no buses at all. We have too few to do much good.

But I'm not speaking literally. I'm speaking about a kind of apartheid that defines a people by race and class, ignores that people's desperation in tallying up its "crimes," and entraps and deports its parents while imprisoning their children here in Halliburton-made, for-profit prisons. It's the kind that sakes out Catholic churches in Hispanic neighborhoods--that would be Sherrif Joe and his thugs--just to remind the people that they can be rounded up even if they have lived here for 6 generations. It's the kind that pays the people a fraction of what it actually takes to live, and sometimes doesn't even pay them at all. It's the kind that drives them underground, in terror and despair, after having sent advertisers to their hometowns to lure them here--illegally.

In any other context, we'd call that "entrapment" and the "crime" would either be written off entirely or judged with considerable leniency. But because their skins are brown, and they're poor, and desperate, and unskilled, and without recourse, we don't have to follow rules of justice or even rules of common decency. This is no way to honor Dr. King. This is not what he died for, and not what he taught us by his living and by his words of power.

So, on this MLK Day--and I believe Dr. King would approve wholeheartedly--my heart and my thoughts are with my Latino brothers and Latina sisters, and to them I want to say, one day we will transcend tribe, class, race, and nation. One day all people will know that what goes around, come around, and know that peace indeed requires justice. One day there will indeed be "the beloved community." We shall overcome someday.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pico's Wee-Wee List 3

Dead Fred's comments about HIV-AIDS funding are typical Republican-Think (sorry for the risk--no, the certainty--of oxymoron):

“Christ didn’t tell us to go to the government and pass a bill to get some of these social problems dealt with. He told us to do it,” Thompson responded. “The government has its role, but we need to keep firmly in mind the role of the government, and the role of us as individuals and as Christians on the other.”

“I’m not going to go around the state and the country with regards to a serious problem and say that I’m going to prioritize that. With people dying of cancer, and heart disease, and children dying of leukemia still, I got to tell you — we’ve got a lot of problems here…”

OK, well, see, government IS "us." It's our tax money, and we staff it, whether elected, hired, or appointed. So Pico doesn't buy the red herring that "gummint" is this thing over here, and "We the people" are this thing over here. Whatever government is, it is us.

On the subject of Jesus, he didn't tell us HOW to be each other's keeper. He just said that we ARE.

It's Republican-Think to equate cancer and HIV-AIDS, and to treat Africa as if it's on another planet. A mere two seconds rubbing a few brain cells together should ignite at least this spark: HIV-AIDS is contagious. Cancer and heart disease are not.

Africa is us. This is one planet. If you think we've got a world of turbulence, war, genocide, and migration now, just wait. HIV-AIDS in Africa is about more than decimation (one-tenth). We're talking total economic and political collapse, which means millions at risk of genocide, starvation, and death by diseases including and beyond HIV-AIDS. We're talking feral children in their millions, and an anger unlike anything the world has ever seen. If we can't bring ourselves to care about them, at the very least, we ought to be able to see how HIV-AIDS in Africa affects the political, economic, and epidemiological equation worldwide, and act accordingly.

But no. If you're a Republican, that's their problem and it won't be a bad thing if a few million Black people die. In agony. In despair.

Just do this, Dead Fred: Shut the hell up about Jesus. It's not like you have a clue.

What is it about Republicans that they love to hate so much? Are they all abused children?


Mike Huckabee and the 117,000 South Carolinians who voted for him. Please limit your lever-pulling activities to pinball or we'll have to airlift you to Afghanistan where you'll feel more comfortable.


Obama said what? OK, he didn't explicitly praise Reagan, but of all the SOBs to mention in the context of transforming America! Yeah, he transformed us, OK. He killed unions off; introduced Reaganomics, which Naomi Klein has brilliantly reviewed in The Shock Doctrine; deregulated banks and Wall Street, bringing us to the WONDERFUL home mortgage swindle we're having to live through today; deregulated utilities, bringing us ENRON; and cut funding to mental health programs nationally, dumping millions of mentally ill patients onto the streets--including the vets that the GOP trot out when it's convenient. He also said ketchup is a school lunch vegetable, and that trees pollute more than people do. What a guy!


Speaking of homeless vets: I hear that that sociopath on Faux says there aren't any. Oh? I'd like to introduce him to my dear friend Max who is a physician assistant at the VA here. Max is also an Iraq vet who knows how to deal with problems like O'Reilly.


Cable News for disappearing the story about how Mark Siljander, a darling of the Christian Right and a 3-term former REPUBLICAN congressman, has been indicted for a series of crimes related to getting funding to an Afghan ex-Prime Minister who's a big fan of Al Qaeda. How do you think this would have played if Siljander were of the other party?

Pico's hopping mad this week.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Extreme Christianist Views Need Airing

Huckabee's intention to bring the US Constitution in line with the Bible, and his equation of gay marriage with bestiality, are just two of numerous offensive opinions held by this kind of "Christian. It's time for the country to talk openly about the extreme Christian Right and get its agenda right out on the table so that Americans know where they stand and where they'd like to take us.

I put the word "Christian" in quotation marks because one hallmark of fundamentalism, in my experience, is that its believers give far more credence to Old Testament texts than to the of the Bible where Jesus actually comes on the scene.
Specifically, they, like Mel Gibson, are drawn irresistably to blood, punishment, the wrath of God, Hell's fire, and anything to do with sex. It's all of a piece. Your sex, their violence, but not always. Often their violence, always their deep-seated misogyny.

So that's not Christianity. That's Deuteronomism, or Leviticism.

Let me pause right here to say I'm not talking about the Torah. I'm not talking about Jews. I'm not talking about Judaism. I'm talking specifically and only about how a certain tortured group of people, of this and past generations, have found their religion in focusing on the X-rated parts of the Bible, the parts that, if filmed, couldn't be shown to children. Or at least shouldn't be shown to children.

Huckabee is one of them. It was one thing when people like Huckabee kept their religion to themselves. It was tragic, then, because of what they did to their women and their children, and how their perverse interpretations of this world and the next perpetuated generations of damaged people.

I'm not saying it was OK then, but it was less sinister then than it is now.
For the last thirty years or so, a small group of these disturbed extremists has been busily about seizing control of the Republican party in order to impose its views on the nation. It is a measure of their success that the current President is in office and has placed legions of these people in the judiciary and in government office buildings, and that Huckabee is--so far--a viable contender for the White House in 2008.

Consider how this statement of intent to conform the Constitution to the Bible would have played forty years ago. It would have been shunted off into the round file without any "ado" whatsoever. That it is being spoken out loud on the presidential campaign trail is a barometer that shows us just how far Right the nation has tilted.
And that's scary.

I hope that people will stop referring to Huckabee and his ilk as the lunatic fringe. The lunatic part is right enough, but when a Huckabee can campaign for the White House and be taken seriously, he's not fringe. He's mainstream.

Wake up. The people who want to stone adulters and Queers are coming out of the closet, and it's not a pretty picture.

Siljander Not News for Cable News

I can't say that it was not covered at all, but I can say that CNN didn't see fit to make headlines of a rather stunning story about a Christianist Rightwing Republican congressman's indictment for activities in support of an Al Qaeda enthusiast in Afghanistan.

Two days ago, Truthout and other online forums reported the news (covered by Associated Press) that a former 3-term Republican congressman has been indicted for money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice in connection with funding a terrorist Afghani Taliban warlord. The story has not--that I've seen--made CNN or MSNBC, and was buried in the tiny print in the Washington Post.

From the New York Times:

A former Republican congressman from Michigan was indicted Wednesday on federal charges of money laundering and obstruction of justice. The charges involve his work as a lobbyist for an Islamic charity accused of illegally funneling about $130,000 to an Afghan warlord labeled a terrorist by the United States government.
From the LA Times:
Siljander, a former salesman of prefabricated homes and state legislator, won a special election in 1981 to fill the House seat vacated by David A. Stockman, who had been named budget director in the new Reagan administration.

Siljander, a favorite of religious conservatives, declared war on abortion, pornography, the Equal Rights Amendment and school busing.

But he lost his 1986 reelection bid after urging clergy members to support him in order to "break the back of Satan."

He later was appointed a public delegate to the United Nations by President Reagan.

Since leaving Congress, published reports indicate, Siljander has represented a variety of interests, including officials from the governments of Liberia and Sudan.
From the Washington Post:

The indictment alleged that IARA and its former executive director, Mubarak Hamed, engaged in prohibited financial transactions for the benefit of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan mujahideen leader designated by the U.S. government in 2002 as a terrorist.

Hekmatyar, a former warlord who fought against the Soviet Union and later served as Afghanistan's prime minister in the 1990s, supported terrorist acts by al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and "vowed to engage in a holy war against the United States and international troops in Afghanistan," the government said.

Siljander served in the U.S. House of Representatives from April 1981 to January 3, 1987. He is an owner and director of Global Strategies, Inc., a marketing and public relations company in Washington.

Prosecutors said none of the defendants are charged with providing material support for terrorism, Instead, they are accused of engaging in financial transactions that benefited property controlled by a designated terrorist.

Islamic charities in the United States complain they have been unfairly scrutinized since the September 11 attacks.

It's probably just me, but if I were news editor at CNN, I'd have given this story more play than the murder of a pregnant Marine in North Carolina. And I'd have done so if Siljander were not a Republican.

I'm thinkin' you would, too.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Anti-Clinton Situation Room

I've noticed, not for the first time, that Wolf Blitzer, Jack Cafferty, and Candy Crowley seem to have a thing about the Clintons.

We are some days past the race/gender flap, but today, for instance, Wolfman is interviewing Bob Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, to broadcast Johnson's apology to Obama for a pro-Clinton remark. Never mind that attacking candidates outright for drug use has been a staple of politics at least for 18 years--remember the "I didn't inhale" comment? For some reason it has been deemed appropriate for Johnson even to allude to drug use that Obama himself acknowledged. Not that I care about that. What I care about is, my, how things change when a Clinton runs for office.

Candy Crowley has always struck me as unctious in her anti-Democrat, anti-Clinton comments. I won't call it reporting. Today, she's on their backs about Bill's enthusiastic on-the-trail support for Hillary. Shameful, Bill! Well, actually, no. He should stay home when the senior Bushes don't introduce Mitt or anyone else. Not that I care who endorses whom. I don't. I just think the rules ought to apply across the board, but that's old-fashioned me.

Cafferty carps about the Clintons all the time. Not so much about the Republican candidates.

I don't remember licencing CNN as the voice of the GOP. I must have missed that memo.

Where, oh where, is the "liberal media" when we need them?

Change? Yeah, but What Kind of Change?

A cousin and good friend recently sent me a short op-ed piece that he wrote to sort out his own feelings about the current demand for change in Washington. He made several excellent points. One is that except for Bush I, the presidents of the recallable past have all been outsiders, and yet are the guys responsible for getting us here. (Responsible in hugely varying degrees, I might say.)

The other is that those who say experience isn't all that important in light of a president's bank of advisors, also overlook the part about how every President himself has to sort out the advice. At the end of the day, it's the President's call. And that's where experience comes in most. I surely hope the last seven years have gotten that much across to this nation.

Anyway, Jim got me thinking about this cry for change.

"Change" is one of those flirty words that promises everything and delivers nothing. That is, it's meaningless by itself. It has meaning only when we say what it means.

In order to elect the best candidate for President, we need first to know precisely what change we want. We need to think about that with sufficient focus that we can say to the person on the subway beside us exactly what we want to change. We have to be able to prioritize those wants, and, using that scale of values, plug in the candidates' positions to create a matrix, a grid, that helps us move away from "gut" and "personality" to reasonable decisionmaking. Not that gut and personality don't matter; I'm not saying that. I'm saying that gut and personality aren't the only touchstones.

My priorities? They haven't changed since I cast my first vote. I believe that it's a sign of severe mental illness to say, "Your half of the boat is sinking." Put another way, a rising tide floats every boat.

Regardless of issue, policies that reflect that world view are my priorities. I would rank action on issues by impact and by risk.

To my way of thinking, that puts global warming at the top. We haven't the luxury of waiting, delaying, dillydallying. We have the gravest moral responsibility to our children and grandchildren to demand responsible, immediate, creative, radical actions.

The very close second is ending the disastrous, cannibalistic, evil economics of "free trade," "globalism," and Reaganomics. A Keynesian economics, a radical recission of NAFTA and CAFTA, etc., coupled with a radical, aggressive alternative renewable energy policy--embracing several, not one, alternatives--will do a great deal about the economy, without which healthcare, education, infrastructure, and all the rest cannot be taken on.

Third comes ending the catastrophic war in Iraq--but responsibly: mindful of what the Iraq political, the Middle East political, the military logistical, and the human social realities are in January and beyond. It isn't about winning or losing when winning militarily isn't an option. It's about ending a disaster in the least destructive way, and that has a world of implications that I don't think can be fully enumerated now.

How odd it is that so few of the debates have addressed my top two priorities. The agenda is the responsibility of the debate anchor. How many of these debates has Wolf Blitzer anchored? Just askin'. It's curious, isn't it? Much more attention tonight went to encouraging conflict between Obama and Clinton. In fact, I don't recall a single syllable about the global environmental crisis, and only a passing reference to NAFTA and CAFTA. I need to find out who owns CNN. I should know that already. Duh. It matters.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"Ya Need to Cool that Sh*t Out, and That's the Double Truth, Ruth"

That's the message for these Democrats: "Do the Right Thing."

Baiting and the Peril of the Democratic Party

There's nothing that Tim Russert, Wolf Blitzer, Howie Kurtz, Chuck Dodd, Faux Noise, and their corporate masters would like better than to see Democrats collapse in a sex/race feud.

Listening to a snippet this morning of Blitzer interviewing prominent former Senator Tom Daschle, now Obama campaign adviser, I was struck by two things. Although the adviser repeatedly emphasized that the public is sick of he said/she said, Wolf ignored him and, over and over, pressed for answers on he said/she said, including Bill Clinton's "fairytale" critique and Hillary Clinton's comments about LBJ and MLK. And despite his protests to the contrary, the Obama guy delighted in taking what he hoped would be hits at Clinton on, guess what, he said/she said.

These two candidates must understand that news media like controversy--real or contrived--and that their corporate owners have a dog in this fight and it isn't a Democrat. It's time for a big WAKE-UP CALL to both Clinton and Obama, on equal terms, with equal emphasis, saying, "DO NOT RESPOND TO HE SAID/SHE SAID BY RACE- AND SEX-BAITING. PERIOD."

It's going to be tough because the media keep inventing controversies and distorting especially the Clintons' statements.

Who with two sober brain cells to rub together can be offended by the statement that it takes a president to translate grassroots movements into legislative and regulatory change? Who except folks with chips on their shoulders would hear in that obvious fact of life a slam at Martin Luther King, Jr., particularly when it came from the mouth of one of the most pro-African American politicians in US history?

We, too--we voters--absolutely cannot allow the collective MSM (mainstream media) to dictate this election, whether by running unflattering photos of Ms. Clinton (itself a sexist act because of the disparate value assigned to older men vs. older women), or by picking a let's you and him fight battle between the two leading Democrats in order to divide and conquer the Democratic vote.

We're watching media anchors and spokespersons attempt to do exactly this. Unless Clinton and Obama figure this out and find a greater interest in shooting it down than in trying to make personal points from it, we're going to have a problem.

You can't ride a tiger without being in a very dangerous position.

Let's take a moment to visit the websites of the leading commentators, media, and candidates to let them know we're onto the race- and sex-baiting and want it to stop NOW. Let's start with GOP pimp Tim Russert. A, there were no "tears." Stop repeating the lie, as you did this morning on MSNBC, because it's a lie. B. Stop repeating Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s odious smear, as you did this morning on MSNBC, because it's a smear. Your job is to report fact, not haul around partisan garbage.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Obama on the Record

Here, I think, are the reasons liberals and progressives are concerned about Obama. It has nothing to do with race or gender(!). (Sorry, I thought since gender is so compelling in this election that it ought to figure as prominently in evaluating the male candidates as the female candidate.)

Obama presents himself as a progressive. Like Clinton, however, he is Rightward-tilting centrist, and unlike Clinton, quite explicitly inclined to reach out to the Right. This is an issue of concern not only to white liberals. Surely knowing the man's actual track record on the Hill will be considered a valid means of judging his desirability for the land's highest office.

That either of these candidates is taken as representative of the Democratic Party is an indication of how far to the Right the entire nation has shifted in the last 8 years.

It really is time to find the benchmark by which we will measure our prospective Democratic nominees. Corporate apologists need not apply, IMHO, but alas, I'm only Pico.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Pico's Wee-Wee List 2

There's something else we've never experienced before: An African American presidential candidate being heavily criticized in a hard-fighting campaign. (We've been criticizing Hillary and Bill relentlessly for 18 years, in and out of campaigns. Not new.) And that means, to me, that all of us are going to have to let up on the sensitivities if we're going to get through this without reacting to every comment as if it is racist.

What Bill said--I heard him--was that this whole thing, meaning Obama's anti-war position, is a fairytale. He didn't say Obama's campaign is a fairytale. Big difference. Not every putdown is race-based or an allusion to something race-based. If Sharpton implied something else, he's on Pico's wee-wee list.

And this, snipped from Daily Dish: "If you have a social need, you're with Hillary. If you want Obama to be your imaginary hip black friend and you're young and you have no social needs, then he's cool." - a "Clinton adviser" to Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland.

If the implication is that this is a racist comment, Pico pisses on Sullivan. We're grown up enough to look at class and race in one glance, aren't we? Isn't this pretty much what African America was saying by asking if Obama is Black enough? What's the problem? White Americans are going to be critiquing this candidate, and that's as it should be. What sucks is when any American attacks any candidate using race-baiting and woman-baiting and queer-baiting and immigrant-baiting and so on.

Pico is fed up with Chris Matthews' running sexist sabotage of Hillary Clinton. Whizzzzzzz.

I hear Marion Jones was sentenced to six months today for lying about having used steroids. I want to see Mark McGuire similarly sentenced. I'm not holding my breath.
Jones is the Martha Stewart of athletics. It would be so much more valuable for us all if she were sent out on a national speaking tour to highschools, to talk about steroids, personal character, clean competition, all that. I saw her press conference when she confessed. I've seldom been so impressed by someone sucking it up and taking responsibility. IMHO, she outclasses every compromised athlete in all of sports. Pico wees on the head of this judge.

Sometimes I think that Andrew Sullivan believes he was elevated, on a shell, fully formed, from the sea. He writes:

That's a helpful distinction. Of course, I've long sided with Camille Paglia on this question. I belong to a minority, but I've always insisted on playing by the same rules as straights. I want no special privilege and no government discrimination either. My libertarian-conservative approach to gay politics was laid out in Virtually Normal. It's one reason I don't fit in with the Human Rights Campaign people either. I'm happy to live my life, and let others live theirs'. I don't want or need the government to love me, make me feel better or tell me how to live. My deep difference with Hillary Clinton is precisely this. In my view, it takes an individual. And that's not a function of misogyny. It's a function of believing in liberty.

No if's this time: Sullivan gets to feel the wrath of Pico. Because, duh, it's a function of unexamined privilege. Any notion that he might ever play by the same rules as straights is pure fantasy because straights won't let him, or else there'd be no reason for straights to differentiate him as they do, and, not coincidentally, no way for him to capitalize on his Otherness. Thus, ironically, it's also a function of unexamined oppression. If he weren't Queer, and English, he wouldn't be collectible and if he weren't collectible, he wouldn't have the platform he has. There are thousands of straight boys as talented, and English, and attractive, as he.

Steinem, Just Shut Up

My bad.

Having just excoriated Jesse Jackson, Jr.,for dragging us deeper into a sexist/racist slime fest, I have to say that I should first have taken on Gloria Steinem’s op-ed piece, “Women are Never Front-Runners,” which came out first (January 8, New York Times).

Leading with a hypothetical candidate bio that presumably approximates Obama’s and involves both race and gender, Steinem wants to persuade us that “Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House.”

First off, I think it’s seriously irresponsible of Steinem, who knows better, to inject “Oppression Olympics” into the current charged atmosphere in the first place. On reflection, I see why her piece has triggered a lot of anger in the African American community, and may indeed have helped open the door a little wider to media spokesperson idiocies about the presumptive effects of sex and race on this election. Certainly it has raked open the wound that some white liberal feminists--not all, by any means--created in the Second Wave of feminism by implying that all women are equally affected by sex regardless of race, class, and culture. She surely should have been wiser than to go there.

Second, it’s inane for anybody to make that pronouncement. The assertion is immeasurable, it’s foolishly reductive, it solves nothing, and it goes nowhere good. Ipso facto, the only people who might know first-hand would be women of color, not white women, and among women of color, I really doubt that there'd be unanimity on the question across time and space, let alone across culture and context. Why? Because ethnicity, age, class, education, wealth, urbanity, and gradations of color and gender, not to mention context, are immense complicators, making Steinem’s simplistic binary equation meaningless and needlessly polarizing.

Third, that question just isn’t something any white person can speak authoritatively about. When we do, we really piss off a lot of people—not least, women of color, who feel utterly erased by the remark. They are “disappeared” in the conceptual chasm set up by the race/ gender equation. Besides, when a white person says race is trumped by gender, then his or her whiteness itself becomes a judge in the court of opinion, rendering the verdict a matter in which white and privilege obliterate race still yet again one more time. It’s not cool.

Fourth, in this case. Steinem is on really shaky ground. Women generally have held more powerful House and Senate seats in Washington than men of color. I just don’t know what “women are never front-runners” might mean in that political context. I do know that basing the argument on women’s suffrage is pretty dumb because voting isn’t the only criterion and because it’s a shallow analysis of the history of suffrage. As Anxious Black Woman points out:

I take issue with Steinem using, as her historical analogy, the 14th Amendment - which granted black men the right to vote long before white women did - to suggest that "race" trumps "gender" every time! Considering the way the women's suffrage movement was immediately divided over this amendment - and then encouraged white supremacist women to argue that, to ensure white supremacy, white men must support the right of white women to vote - we may want to complicate our analysis of race and gender in this presidential race.

Even if it had the inclination, today's MSM don't have time, knowledge, or skill to disinter, let alone take account of, all the grim, fluctuating, and sometimes contradictory realities of American history around dynamics of sex and race. Few columnists do, either. So it’s probably best not to try to compare them, as Steinem does here, because grotesque oversimplification is inevitable, and because nobody wins the oppression Olympics. Everybody just gets madder. I'm not saying to pretend they don't exist. I'm saying they can't be ranked.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Jesse Jackson, Jr., Crossed a Dangerous Line

Democrats need to be very careful that the Obama/Clinton competition does not deteriorate into a race v. gender battle, in which we are split into a nasty, bitter, and needless war with potentially enduring consequences.

How could it happen? If either campaign accidentally or intentionally walks onto--or is whispered to have walked onto--that sensitive territory fenced by ugly stereotypes, old wounds will be opended and latent fury will be rekindled, causing a chain-reaction of backlash attacks.

If that happens, the victor will be racists, sexists, and the GOP.

We could be seeing something like that now, nascent still but nonetheless worrisome, in the hyped-up matter of Clinton's tears and the way in which at least one Obama spokesman has chosen to use it.

For starters, there was no "crying." There was an emotional moment and a break in her voice as she spoke about her love for and concern for the nation, a powerful exercise of control, and a very rapid recovery. One Newsweek reporter who was present at the meeting corroborates that, and also clues us about the kind of media manipulation we can continue to expect:

Even as she spoke, a local television reporter was broadcasting live that Clinton had started crying. Other reporters tried to correct him, even as he was still on the air. No, she didn't cry.
WTF? No mystery here. Many interests would be served by a ceaseless incantion that Hillary is too weak (read "woman") to hold down the Oval Office. Republicans, anti-Clintonites, and sexists of both genders apparently wanted that Muskie moment so badly that they were willing to manufacture it. Then, predictably, a MSM snearfest ensued that even John Edwards stooped to join, full of snipes about her sincerity and her timing, and bristling with insinuations about what showing emotion might mean for a US President at war.

Garden variety smear stuff, offensive and sexist and obnoxious. But when Jesse Jackson, Jr., grabbed the opportunity to imply that Clinton never once cried about Katrina (read "the poor African American people of New Orleans") or the troops (read "the mostly poor non-white kids dying for our country"), it went way past routine media misogyny.

If my own reaction is a microcosm, the potential for angry division is unnerving. Of course, maybe it's just me and we can all go back to snooze mode. In case not, however, I want to deconstruct Jackson's nasty little smear both to explain my anger and, I hope, to show the kind of thing we should be vigilant about and quick to stamp out.

We can skip the part about how Jesse Jackson, Jr. isn't in a position to know when Hillary weeps and why, and the part about how no American politician distinguished him- or herself in the aftermath of Katrina, and the part about how any presidential candidate who had called a press conference to weep before St. Louis Cathdral would have been DOA. Those are dime-a-dozen smears and implied untruths typical of slimeballers.

But Jackson took this a step further. His was a callous, calculated, and obscene effort to politicize a national disaster in order to trash a fellow Democrat and a woman, using Rove-worthy smear tactics: the gender card, innuendo, race-baiting, and putting Clinton in the unwinnable, impossible position of proving a negative. I not only don't want this kind of crap in our party and resent it. I also fear it greatly.

His message, decoded, is that Hillary was lying about her feelings and put them on display jus' like a woman to manipulate the voters (read "male" voters). Translated, she's just one mo' manipulative bitch who's too frigid to care about, let alone weep for, desperate, drowning African Americans and poor kids being blown to bits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thanks, hear?

This privileged son of Civil Rights legend, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., hasn't earned the chops to attack Clinton about anything. Unfortunately, by voluntarily putting out a string of sexist stereotypes, he didn't just piss off a lot of women. He enacted live and on national TV the equally divisive, ugly stereotype that African American men despise women. And in the service of what? In order to inject an uncommonly nasty dose of sexist race-baiting into a contest for the presidency? Brilliant, dude.

The likely achievement here is a bunch of infuriated women and a bunch of infuriated African Americans, all jumped up for no good reason--merely on the basis of Jackson's petty little war of choice. (I would expect this kind of thing from Huckabee, but not from someone who knows the Clintons' civil rights record, and not from a fellow Democrat.)

So yeah, Jr. hit a nerve. He and any other Obama handlers who think this is an effective way to fight Clinton need to sit down, shut up, and let the grownups handle this--people with extreme sensitivity to the potential for mutally assured destruction--or they will stir up a whirlwind that the party, the nation, the candidates can't afford to deal with.

God forbid that someone comes out now to retaliate with a comparable slur that pits gender sensitivities against race sensitivities. Unfortunately, that's just the kind of thing a push-caller planted by the GOP would do. We know that this happens. Thsi isn't speculative. Remember the phone campaign in SC that implied that McCain had fathered a Black child? Here's the race-baiting counterpart for Obama: "Would it affect your decision if you knew that Obama is a wife-beater?" Again: that's a hypothetical, utterly untrue. I use it only as an example of a plausible smear campaign that could create a rupture among Democrats along race and gender lines.

I don't need to tell you how that would go down. If such a whisper campaign were laid at Clinton's door, we would inherit a storm of rage that could last a generation whether it came from Clinton's campaign or not. And obviously, there are similar possibilities when the table is turned. If Jackson or anyone else continues in this nasty divide-and-conquer vein, I think we could be in trouble as a party, and potentially lose the election even as we claw each others' eyes out for no reason at all.

I really want you to let me know if you think I'm over the top on this. I want to hear from you, and if you see the potential I see, I'd love to know how you think we can sidestep this kind of mutually assured destruction. Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get us.

She "Cried"!

Menu this morning: Words on toast.

What's clear is that nobody knows how to call it when a woman and an African American are candidates for President. Obviously the pollsters are not asking the right questions, and have an insufficient understanding of how women vote and why. (Not that I did such a great job of prognostication.)

The MSM analysis, such as it is, is fascinating. Every commentary suggests that there is a phalanx of angry New Hampshire women, and that they came out to support Clinton in an act of massive "gender solidarity." Nothing else, mind. Just "gender solidarity." They've reached into their collective subconscious and hauled out the fourth grade playground.

You know what I think? If it weren't so trivializing, I'd think it was funny. Imagine: Thelmas and Louises in their trundling hundreds, galoshing up the snowbanks and down the frozen sidewalks screaming "WOMAN!"

But what we can reliably infer from this fantasy is that there is a frightened phalanx of freudian males writing election commentary. The most obvious tip-off came in that sublimely enlightened "Vaginal-Americans" exchange between Tucker Carlson and Cliff May, President, can you believe it, of the alleged Foundation for the Defense of Democracy. (Footmote: Washington Post writer Eugene Robinson was also present, but to his credit, seemed embarrassed and wasn't having any of it, maybe partly because the premises underlying this projectile vomitfest also implicitly ridicule the African American cohort! That's how clueless these guys are, and on national TV, yet.)

In case you've forgotten:

Tucker Carlson: "Gene, this is an amazing statistic: 94 percent of women say they'd be more likely to vote if a woman were on the ballot. I think of all the times I voted for people just because they're male. You know? The ballot comes up, and I'm like, 'Wow. He's a dude. I think I'll vote for him. We've got similar genitalia. I'm--he's getting my vote.' . . . the Clinton campaign says: 'Hillary isn't running as a woman.' Well, that's actually completely false, considering the Hillary campaign--nd I get their emails--relentlessly pushes the glass ceiling argument. 'You should vote for her because she's a woman.' They say that all the time."

Cliff May: "At least call her a Vaginal-American."

Tucker Carlson: "Is that the new phrase? Boy, that's nasty. I don't think I can say that."
And off they gallop, yukking it up, to Planet Mysogynistica, where they remain, lost and wandering.

Tucker's assertions make two things clear about Tucker. One, he is one of the most intellectually dishonest individuals in media, and that's saying something really damning. Two, couldn't be plainer: When he thinks of "gender solidarity," he goes right to the crotch, to the genitalia, in his words.

The layers of trivialization in that construct are just boggling. The contempt blown across the TV screens is frightening, especially since the disease isn't limited to that little clod, Tucker.

He and his fellow Penile American pollster/spokesmen cannot see that gender encompasses anything else. No brains are involved here. No complex social histories, no variations by race, class, age, culture, religion. Women in New Hampshire didn't vote for Hillary because they support her policies. Their vaginas voted for her vagina.

And at the time, Digby made this excellent point:

For as long as I can remember, the Democrats have been desperate to "recapture" the white male vote and nobody thought it was illegitimate to appeal to a constituency on the basis of their race and gender. But when Clinton is said to be appealing to women, it's as if she's breaking some sort of taboo --- that she's being narrow and opportunistic and cheap.

It's "moronic" in Carlson's jumped up little world for the Clinton campaign to consider what might appeal to 50% of the nation, but it's sound strategy when the boys do it? It's just so. tediously. typical.

And then there's this. "Gender solidarity?" Oh yeah right. I haven't seen "gender solidarity" since Billy Jean King whupped Bobby Riggs in the tennis match of the sexes. That was like in 1973, after Riggs bragged about male superiority.

Gender solidarity? Outside the game field, there never has been any such thing and there never will be, because women are not reducible to a single common denominator--not even biologically.

Too much, maybe 90%, of the commentary about the Clinton campaign boils down to a fixation on gender stereotypes and a sexist "body politics" masquerading as political analysis. Cris Matthews is notoriously obsessed with this stuff. From practically panting for Bush's package to ridiculing Hillary's voice, for Matthews, Tucker, and the boys, it's all about the Cult of Masculinity's revulsion at the mere idea of a vagina in the White House. Can't stand her. It's her voice. No, it's her laugh. Wait, she's too old. It's the woman vote. She's controlling (read self-actualized, thinking person). She's cold. She's unemotional. She cried.

Here's a thought: Let American women make Tucker's nightmare come true. For when they do it unto Hillary, they do it unto you, too.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Delighted to see that New Hampshire has given Hillary a new lease on the campaign.

You know, it surprised me to notice how sad I felt to think that Hillary might be out and done. I realized that I didn't like that outcome, and didn't want that outcome.

And now I'm listening again. I want her to show us who she is, want her to show us her passion, her heart, and her feeling. If she does that, I think she can pull it out.

"Hating on Obama"? I Think Not.

The African American Political Pundit is taking the position that the liberal white blogosphere is "hatin' on Obama." He writes:

Now we learn Markos Moulitsas, has joined the haters group. Yes the founder of the Daily Kos, Jerome Amstrong of MyDD, Jame Hamsher of Firedoglake and Matt Stoller of OpenLeft, are all hating on Obama.

I guess its true, as the Washington post points out, Obama's rise has sidelined left wing bloggers. And the whitosphere is pissed. Check this out, the Washington Post article notes that: Last week, Markos Moulitsas, founder of the popular liberal blog Daily Kos, accused Obama of embracing a "right-wing talking point" as he campaigned and said, "I don't want to go into the next election starting off with half the country already not wanting to vote for Democrats. We've done that in 2004, 2000." In a blog post headlined "Obama slams Gore," Moulitsas wrote: "Psst, Barack, slamming John Kerry and Al Gore is what Republicans do. Last time I checked, Gore won his election. And really, is Obama going to argue now that the nation was divided because of the Democrats' fault? Is that the latest right-wing talking point he wants to peddle?"

The Washington Post also reports: "his relationships with big-name bloggers, such as Jerome Amstrong of MyDD, Jame Hamsher of Firedoglake and Matt Stoller of OpenLeft, has been strained. "What Obama did in Iowa, getting all those young people to vote, was really inspirational. It was a miraculous achievement," Hamsher said. "But the idea that you can reach out to Republicans and they'll work with you isn't so convincing to people who have watched the Republicans in Congress. There are those who are worried that it's a false hope he's giving. . . .

PS: Lets not forget My Left Wing who says: The Irony in '08: John Edwards, White Man, Is the Best Candidate.

AAPP: Hey Afrospear (Afrosphere), the attack of the white liberal blogger has begun against Obama. Hey whiteosphere "Stop Hating."

OK, I gotta say this is totally lame. (I'm speaking as a white Southern queer woman who dropped out of the debutante scene 40 years ago and became a radical activist for civil, women's, and GLBT rights. I'm a white progressive--not a liberal--and I'm not--yet--part of the influential "whiteosphere.")

AAPP: I don't want to debate you if you are unwilling to discuss our differences from the perspective of issues and strategy. If you're going to write me off as a white "liberal" and accuse me of "hating," then I'm going to write you off as a demagogue and ignore you.

That said, what part of "he's leading off with a Rightward tilt" and "you can't appease the rabid Right" don't you understand, AAPP? And why are those charges not legitimate critiques of Obama's policy and position? You don't think that he can't legitimately be challenged, do you?

Kos gave you one example, and Jane Hampsher gave you another. Let me give you a better one still. Obama made the free-will decision to campaign in South Carolina with an out-and-out homophobe at his side. This was the deliberate use of bigotry to pimp to conservative Christian African Americans who haven't figured out that bigotry is bigotry no matter how much you "believe" it.

That's the point at which he lost me.

That's not about Black and white. If you happen to be a Queer, as I am, it's immediately clear that we ought to wonder exactly WTF Obama means when he says he wants to unify this nation. That we all count. If you don't happen to be Queer but do happen to be Black or Brown or Yellow or Red, you know you can't unify this nation if we don't all count, if you're willing to throw the most controversial among us to the wolves in order to fetch a few electoral votes. That's no different from running on Jim Crow. If all aren't free, nobody's free.

Yet that despicable appeasement was his choice. And although all the Democrats are whores on this issue, only one--Obama--has taken it so far as to campaign with a professional homophobe. That crosses the line. that he's Black makes no difference whatsoever. It suggests to me that there is a crack in his ethics that I ought not overlook. Contrasted with John Edwards, who says straight out that he has a hard time with gay marriage, Obama's position is, well, no different from Lester Maddox. I don't dig it, OK? And I don't dig sacrificing immigrants or African Americans or Queers or women or anybody else, and I am frankly infuriated when a Black Democrat does that kind of thing. Does that resonate with you as a fair attack on the issues and the campaign stragegy vis a vis the rhetoric, or does it strike you as a racist attack? If the latter, I'd certainly appreciate knowing why.

To deconstruct AAPP:

(1) Not that my opinion matters, but FWIW, I don't "hate" Obama. I like him a lot but I don't trust him. This isn't personal. It's about his campaign in SC with a professional homophobe, and it's about his promised huggy-kissyfest with the anti-constitution, anti-color, anti-woman, anti-environment, anti-regulatory, anti-truth, pro-white, pro-rich, anti-poor, and xenophobic conservative juggernaut that has pretty nearly plowed this nation. At best I can say that I hope to God that he's not showing anger openly because he's too smart, as a Black male, to think he can be openly angry and win anything but a jail term. The problem is, it's not possible to tell, and his Rightward tendencies leave me seriously in doubt about what kind of pig is in this poke. Then too, his voting record has been actually as centrist as Hillary's. This leaves me thinking that I don't have any way of knowing what he will actually do if and when he's President. It's a crap shoot. I want better information.

(2) The reason I support Edwards is because Edwards supports working America and has done so his whole adult life. I trust him, not because he's white, but because he's pissed off and running on righteous anger. I don't see the zeal to take on and take out corporate crooks on the Obama side. But to be fair, there is that anger thing. I know Obama and Hillary cannot show anger as Edwards can, because they are Black and female, respectively. Anger doesn't play well when it comes from those quarters. I also know that Obama's best bet for winning the nomination is to do exactly what he's doing now. He's channelling John Kennedy (not Bobby), and he is speaking to our best selves. The problem is that Obama is to the Right of the "white blogosphere," not that Obama is an Africa American candidate.

Now that we as a nation are grown up enough to take a Black man seriously for President in the numbers we're seeing now, surely it's time for old-school African Americans political pundits to drop the knee-jerk analysis that any criticism of any African American is based ultimately on race. When it is, it is. When it's not, it's not, and this time, it's not.

It's time for AAPP to speak to the issues, to go to his own ostensible "progressive" core and critique Obama for those things that deserve critique. He can't ask for a pass. It doesn't work to wrap Obama in Teflon and ask the rest of us to support him because he's Black. It's time for a 21st C dialog across race and ethnic lines about issues and positions.

The African American community has a lot of reason to be suspicious of white liberals. Well don't we all. Liberals weren't called "rotten rock" in the 70s for nothing. But to project blanket distrust of white liberals--never mind progressive whites--to the exclusion of giving serious thought to what they're saying, here and now, in context, about the candidates, strikes me as dated, easy, and lazy. I want to spar with people who are talking about issues, not dodge cheap shots about racism. If you have something to say that can inform me about my racism or ours, that's another matter.

But don't you dare accuse me of mere, base racism when my critique is on the substance, and on a substance that needs to see daylight among African Americans and among Anglos and Hispanics and everyone else, for that matter.