Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sad Goodbyes

Hillary didn't do herself any favors last night. I watched for as long as I could bear it, and felt that I was watching hurt and exhaustion meet desperation in the nation's first viable female presidential candidate. I felt sad, disgusted, and weary, and wanted it to end.

How to account for this outcome? Old-style politics, 20 years of media spite and malice, an unfortunate manner and look, decisions about leadership, and a couple of disastrous public policy decisions.

In all respects but the second, this is the name of the game. She paid her money and took her choice, and it didn't work. If she had differentiated herself from her husband's centrist-to-right politics, it's possible that she could have inflamed the base in a good way despite the other circumstances, but she tacked to the Right during her time in the Senate, and we noticed.

The Iraq vote, the Iran vote, and the care NOT to lead on issues of critical, vital importance to us--on domestic intelligence, judicial appointments, the Occupation, alternative energy, women's and gay rights, and education, to name a few balls dropped by this and the last bunch of congressional Democrats--will cost her her place at the head of the Party, and she earned the loss.

Why not apply the same standard to Obama? I do. But Obama has a shorter track-record on centrist-to-Right votes. His position on the Occupation distinguishes him as someone capable of applying sense even in the midst of a jingoistic, xenophobic hoorah hoopla. This offsets, to some extent, the perception his moderation creates with the Left side of the base.

Obama's manner and look work to his advantage, not to his disadvantage. He is bringing a desperately needed tone of rationality and civility to the public discourse. In the process, the Right is being shown up for what it is. This is something that Dean didn't accomplish and Clinton couldn't, both of them because their caustic attacks (however gratifying) didn't create the foil necessary to expose the Right's nastiness. Obama shrewedly read the mood of the nation and judged the correct tactic for dealing with the likes of Ann Coulter. Let us pray that his strategy will prevail through the general brawl coming up.

What he hasn't had to confront, and this makes the competition a lot less than even, is 20 years of incessant, non-stop media harrassment. I sincerely doubt that most men and any woman could prevail given that huge and relentless chorus of vilification. It never stopped. No matter what she says or does or wears, no matter where she goes or who she speaks with, it doesn't stop. And the smug satisfaction being communicated in various ways by Blitzer, Crowley, Matthews, and the rest, is really too much.

This must hurt, and I can't blame Hillary for being eroded and beaten down and wearied to the point that one nice word from a stranger in the crowd could bring tears to her eyes. There are times when all of us have experienced ostracism of the kind that seems to permeate every port in the storm; we can relate. But I don't know how many of us have experienced this kind of relentless mockery, scrutiny, disparagement, and distortion for 20 years. I feel sorry for her, and angry at the country that couldn't or wouldn't do better by her.

Now I want her to get off the horse, take a long, hot bath, and sleep for a couple of months. When she wakes up, I hope it will be to a kinder world.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Things Haven't Changed All That Much

This is for a beautiful Oxnard, CA eighth-grader, Lawrence King. He was gay and he's dead now.

If it can happen not far from Malibu, CA, it can happen anywhere.

Violent language is violence, and it’s also an enabler. We’re hearing more and more of it lately. A lynch-mob might be appropriate for Michelle Obama, suggests O’Reilly. That new anti-Hillary group founded by prominent Republican strategist Roger Stone, called CUNT. Really. The daily sludge spewed by Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh. The anti-immigrant rhetoric.

The more we hear it, the less it bothers us. The less it bothers us, the more we enable it. The more we enable it, the more violent the airways, and soon, the more violent the culture itself.

There’s been a 30-year escalation of violent speech against liberals, gays and lesbians, women, and people of color. Not surprisingly, there’ve been corresponding spectacularly vicious attacks on all the above.

Some we hear about—especially when the victims are pretty, blonde girls, we hear about them for days and days and days. Not a coincidence. Short, sanitized snuff flicks pitched to the worst instincts and the schadenfreude in all of us. In time, the result is that we grow bored. Read “acclimated.”

But most we don’t hear about. Most are publicized only in “gay” media or “black” or “Hispanic” media—not “important” enough to make the mainstream press. If you can’t think of examples that would support my contention, don’t be surprised. You’re not supposed to know about them. You’re not supposed to remember them.

The really bizarre part of this—the REALLY bizarre part—is that the chief purveyors of vicious language have been prominent Christian conservatives, both in and out of the pulpit. When violence is preached from the pulpit—literally or in its name-- violence is endorsed by authority. It’s that simple.

Things haven’t changed all that much since I came out 35 years ago, to accusations of “abomination.” In fact, things have gotten a lot scarier, especially for GLBT kids.

That’s our doing. Yours and mine. Because we haven’t stopped it, have we? I mean, what kind of people tolerates conditions that enable mass slayings in public schools, and looks the other way when kids call kids “faggot,” “nigger,” “dyke”?

Our kind of people, apparently.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

McCain Ohhhh La La!

The New York Times's revelation about McCain and the "lady lobbyist" raises a number of questions.

One: Who leaked this?

Two: Why now?

Three: Where's the beef?

Four: If extramarital sex is relevant for Bill, why not for John?

One. My guess is that the campaign leaked it to get it out, over, and done with before the November election. Either that or, hedging my bets, this is a slimeball hurled via the NYT by the hardcore conservatives who hate McCain, and is intended to put Huckabee in the driver's seat. A bit late, that. And I'm not aware that the NYT carries water for the Far Right.

Oh my, the intrigue, the intrigue!

Two. Why now? Because better now than later.

Three. It will be interesting to see where the evidence is. Now the monkey is on the NYT's back to show the proof.

Four: Well, it won't be. We know that. Plagiarism for Obama is not what plagiarism was for Joe Biden. Avoiding Vietman service was not for W what it was for Bill. We in America have amazingly elastic standards. It all depends on who you are, what you spend, and where you spend it. There were rumors, you might recall, that 41 had a mistress, but that was well and truly quashed. My sense is that what gets quashed has to do as much with perceptions of "aristocracy" as with perceptions of "clout," not that the two don't co-vary significantly--meaning that aristocrisy virtually always has clout, and nouveau does not. Ergo, Clinton is fair game and 42 is not fair game.

I think we will speedily see the Powers That Be coalesce to ensure that this, too, will pass. You will notice that Monica and Bill and Whitewater and Hillary have not "passed."

There is a Five. It is, what will Cindy do now? If she gets her panties in a bunch, there goes John's money. Bummer!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

We're Winning the Race to the Bottom of the Swamp

There's a great piece in the New York Times today that got me started. Can you believe two adult males in business suits who think Pearl Harbor was when the Vietnamese dropped a bomb in a harbor and started the Vietnam War? Can you believe an American idol idol who thinks Europe is a country and has never heard of Hungary?

This isn't the first time I've moaned about the militant ignorance in this country. I don't get out all that much, but even I encounter it and that's saying something.

And when I say "militant," what I mean is "I'm stupid and proud of it, and if you don't like it, GFYS." Where does it come from, this rapid rush to mute, slovenly serfdom? Apart from our puritanical distrust of knowledge, I mean. More about that when I'm in a better mood.

Picture an upside-down triangle. Divide it into fourths, horizontally. The top level is the diversity of knowledge imparted to my parents in the eighth grade. The second level is what I learned. The third level is what today's 30-40-somethings learned, and at the bottom, that tiny tip, is what today's kids are getting.

I first figured this out when I was hired by a community college to copyedit all its courses for online delivery. If I can edit an algebra or chemistry course, the world will be coming to an end very shortly. If I can correct courses in biology, history, and Spanish I, and cause a whole sociology course to be yanked right out of the curriculum, the state of teaching in at least one community college is flat-out abysmal.

I attribute this grim condition to (1) the inverted triangle, above; (2) schools' increasing reliance on "adjunct" faculty; and (3) the school admin's focus on paying students, not on providing basic education for a quality life. It's about pushing more and more courses through the factory, not about Quality Control.

Things are so bad, in fact, that sitting instructors actually believe they are entitled to say anything they please, as a matter of "academic freedom," and they do. If they think "pretty" is a verb, it's a by-God verb. And since nobody presently in the faculty or the administration has a clue what "academic freedom" really does mean, the thought of peer reviewing course manuscripts before they are posted for all the world to see has never darkened their brows. Imagine their shock when I marked up their courses like a freshman term paper. My name is still invoked as t'were a curse.

This really doesn't bear contemplating by anyone my age or older, because what it means is that we are entering our decline just as these cretins are assuming control of the country. I think George Bush has give us a preview. In fact, he has also given us a larger-than-life example of militant ignorance as well as a not-very-entertaining ride through the Land that Learning Forgot.

All these 20-somethings running around loose will be running nursing homes just as my weary bones give way. It's a terrifying concept. Just imagine the possibilities for disaster. If I ask for an aspirin, will I get a tattoo? I'm really scared.

And don't get me started on manners. We were talking about this last night. One of our all-time faves happens when somebody delivers a scathingly rude statement about someone standing there, and then says, "Well, I'm just being honest!" The only response is, "Marvelous. Maybe when you learn good judgment, you'll be fit for decent society," to be delivered while striding away in haut peeve.

Here I think I'll defer to the redoubtable Lynne Truss, she of the exceptional Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero-Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. (That's the third book I wish I'd written.) See her Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, Or, Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door. But don't bother unless you're at least 45; it'll be, like, waaaaaaaaaaaay over your head.

Here's a contest. Send me your favorite example of drooling ignorance or thudding bad manners, and I'll send you your very own copy of Talk to the Hand. (USA only, sorry. Can't afford the postage.) PS: If I don't get 30 entries or more, the deal's off.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Dumb damn Democrats.

Honestly, do they canvas the country to find the chief engineers of failed campaigns and hire them to be consultants to the DNC? I think maybe.

But first, who's bright idea was it to make Harry Reid the Senate Majority Leader? The same braintrust who thought Tom Daschle would be great, too. Both are, or were, senators in conservative states. Neither can keep, or could have kept, his seat without constantly appeasing his state's conservatives. Now ask yourself how well that fits with leading Democrats against Republicans in the US Senate. No wonder we've passed every illiberal, anticonstitutional, fascist and screwed up bill the GOP has pushed this Congress. Hence this week's FISA vote.

Then there's this moronic notion to disenfranchise the Democrats in Florida and Michigan. I don't understand why there had to be any punishment at all for two states that dared to change the date of their primaries, but the geniuses at the DNC felt that kicking their delegates out of the forthcoming Democratic convention, where the next president wil be chosen, obviously are smarter than I am.

Now, if it were me, I'd think (A) this is inconvenient and I wish they wouldn't tinker with the candidates' travel schedules thus, but (B) this is a democracy and people can hold their state primaries when they like. (C) If I disenfranchised their delegates at the national convention, they'd be really ticked off and (D) we would lose the voice of two states in the selection process. (E) That can't be a good idea. (F) Nope. Better let that one go. (G) Sigh.

On a good day, I might even realize how much fun that jackass Wolf Blitzer would have building broadcasts around the problems of the Democratic Party, and decide that (H) I really should just let this go and work toward party unity.

But I'm not the DNC, that selfsame apparatus that thought undocumented immigration would be a good thing to pop off about, and that Hillary Clinton would be a shoe-in. Where do we find these people? Can we dump them and find some new ones, please?

And is it me, or do the Democrats have two electoral colleges when one is already one too many? What's with this "superdelegate" stuff, please? I thought we had "one person, one vote, one Electoral College rule" in this country. But no. Now it doesn't matter who I think we should nominate. (Thanks, Edwards. You dropped out just after I voted by early ballot.) It only matters who Arizona's "superdelegates" think we should nominate. That definitely yanks my chain.

And I can't wait until the "superdelegates" decide that Hillary Clinton will be a better bet than Obama in the general election. Or vice versa. This party's going to end early, and it won't be pretty either way.

It takes work to hash up this much significant stuff. Somebody has to get up early in the morning for days on end and cudgel his brains (no woman could come up with this dookey) all day long to come up with such obviously clumsy, counterproductive, stupid, undemocratic, and infuriating approaches to party unity. Who was it? Karl Rove?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

This is the Real John McCain


Maverick Fails The Test: McCain Votes Against Waterboarding Ban
Today, the Senate brought the Intelligence Authorization Bill to the floor, which contained a provision from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) establishing one interrogation standard across the government. The bill requires the intelligence community to abide by the same standards as articulated in the Army Field Manual and bans waterboarding.

Just hours ago, the Senate voted in favor of the bill, 51-45.

Earlier today, ThinkProgress noted that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a former prisoner of war, has spoken strongly in favor of implementing the Army Field Manual standard. When confronted today with the decision of whether to stick with his conscience or cave to the right wing, McCain chose to ditch his principles and instead vote to preserve waterboarding:

Mr. McCain, a former prisoner of war, has consistently voiced opposition to waterboarding and other methods that critics say is a form torture. But the Republicans, confident of a White House veto, did not mount the challenge. Mr. McCain voted “no” on Wednesday afternoon.

The New York Times Times notes that “the White House has long said Mr. Bush will veto the bill, saying it ‘would prevent the president from taking the lawful actions necessary to protect Americans from attack in wartime.’”

After Bush vetoes the bill, McCain will again be confronted with a vote to either stand with President Bush or stand against torture. He indicated with his vote today where he will come down on that issue.

John McCain: He was against waterboarding before he was for it.

So what this means is that McCain, himself tortured, is fine with our instituting torture, which he himself has said will result in the torture of American POWs.

Tell me, where exactly is the moral high ground here? Where is the principle on which the stalwart McCain supposedly stands

I'll tell you: He has one principle: The advancement of John Mccain. End of story.

Don't Try This at Home

Yesterday, the vet said that she wants a urine sample from my dog.

My male Doberman. My 70-lb. skittish, fast-as-lightening male Doberman.

So I grabbed a mason jar and approached him, slightly off plumb so as not to freak him completely. He bolted. This dog has obviously seen some really bad glass in his day. One look and he was out the door. It was like he could smell something weird coming on.

"Fine," I thought. "We weren't going to take a specimen indoors anyway."

I spent the next half hour traipsing behind him cooing, "Go pee, Mr. Bey, go pee!" in my nicest voice. The more I tracked him, the more weirded out he got. By the time I realized that any specimens collected today were not going to be from this dog, he was in full Warp drive. All I could see was flared nostrils and the whites of his eyes.

Whatever he's thinking ain't flattering. Either, having had his wobblies removed, he's not going to take any chances with his pocket rocket, or else I'm right up there with dog molesters.

It hasn't been a a pretty sight. Since I am an abject failure, I took him to the vet to have her do the deed. The vet who said, "Oh sure, it's easy. Just take him to his favorite bush." That was at 7:30 this morning, and I hadn't let Bey out for his morning business. He's got a full tank. I wanted to give her every advantage to show I'm a good sport.

It's 12:45 now and he still hasn't peed. I'm sure they can hear him sloshing.

If you can do a rain dance, would you please?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


My sense of what's going on in the Obama sweep is this.

First, there has been, without doubt, an incessant media assault on Hillary Clinton. Actually, truth to tell, it began 18 years ago, with Chris Matthews and Tim Russert, who haven't stopped the innuendo, baiting, negative characterization, insulting comparisons, questions of motive, and allegations of strong-arming. If this hasn't tinctured the environment, then why do we spend millions for television advertising? The commentators can hardly contain their glee that Clinton is trailing Obama tonight. Why should they? It's been a partisan rampage without any bigotry whatsoever, and they appear to be winning.

Second, Clinton fatigue. Even strong Clinton supporters aren't all enthusiastic about having to endure more sour and divisive media attacks on the President and First Gentleman.

Third, campaign style. Clinton just isn't a fascinating stump speaker.

Fourth, the Iraq occupation vote and the Iran vote.

Fifth, misogyny is alive and well. Behaviors that don't register so much as a grimace in male candidates are framed in the least flattering terms when seen in a female candidate. How much of this is true of the grassroots is a good question, but again, the influence of mainly male media commentators has to have had a negative effect. Then, too, men by and large do not support this female. I strongly doubt their view is entirely substantive. The probability is that they can't hack the prospect of a woman war president.

Sixth, this Democratic Congress has dragged Hillary down. It has capitulated, underperformed, chickened out, and altogether failed to stop the most disastrous presidency in US history. As a result, when the voters demand change, they don't just mean "from Republicans." Clinton and Obama are both senators, true, but only she is associated with a past Democratic administration. She has the misfortune of campaigning at a time when the country is fed up with old political faces.

Seventh, Obama is a brilliant candidate--an inspiring orator, a quick wit, an attractive presence, and a vigorous young man.

And eighth, and I believe this to be determining: the nation is desperate for a statesman or stateswoman, not a politician. Fatefully, for good or ill, Obama appears to fit that bill, but Hillary fits the other. Here her karma has caught her. All those careful centrist to Republican-Lite votes that enabled her candidacy threaten, ironically, to sink it. McCain's polling backs this up. Time and again, people say that they vote for him because they want a straight talker, a leader. That is he no such thing is beside the point. Perception is all, and what's winning this contest is the perception that we have a statesman on our hands in Barack Hussein Obama.

The hunger for leadership, however, is mirrored in this country by revulsion at the prospect of a progressive leader. We've known this since FDR at least, and we've seen how far that revulsion is prepared to go in JFK and Bobby. You will understand, and perhaps forgive me, if I say that I fear for him. Those who believe that Armaggeddon will usher in the Second Coming also see it as a political priority. This is a measure of their extremism and a pointer to the source of their fervor. If we thought the anti-Communists were formidable, the Christianists, Survivalists, Militiamen, the mercenaries, the race purists, the male supremacists, and the Dominion theologists will make them seem like guests at a bridge party.

See a Whole New World!

Sometimes I run across a website that changes the way I think about things. Try this one. simulates how three kinds of colorblindness affect perceptions of the world.

You'll need to have a very colorful picture in your Pictures file or available online to use for the experience.

The site also includes a tool to correct for colorblindness, and a link to a site showing how babies see things.

Fascinating. I always thought red/green colorblindness meant that someone couldn't tell the difference between the two. I guess I thought that resulted in seeing random reds and greens. Duh.

The Chalice or the Blade: Choose Now

One way to look at the gradual rise of the Far Right is through the lens of relationship models. There really are only two ways that human beings can be in relationship. We can relate as dominator/dominated, or we can relate as partners.

I first heard this way of looking at things from my brilliant friend, Nancy Hartsock, when we were both on the editorial staff of quest: a feminist quarterly. This was in the early-to-mid 1970s. As we developed each edition of the journal, the editorial staff sat around the quest office hammering out theories of human relationship from a radical lesbian feminist perspective. Not all of us are lesbians, but all of us are radical feminists, meaning feminists not willing to settle for tweaking our social arrangement so that women have more transitory "privileges." We were and are interested, although quest ceased publishing many years ago, in identifying and altering fundamental social consciousness so that all the things we mean when we speak of "equality" are the norm.

Nancy was writing an article about power, that most basic element in social relationships. As she talked about her ideas, I heard for the first time that power can be "power-over" or it can be "power-to." It was a breakthrough moment. Maybe it seems commonplace to you now, but thirty years ago, few people conceived of power in any way other than as an instrument of domination, and often of force.

In 1987, Riane Eisler wrote an international best-seller called The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future. Eisler, too, focuses on human relatioships, and in this spellbinding work, sweeps through epochs and across continents, showing that there are clear patterns in human relationship. Namely, the hierarchical dominance model, represented by the sword or Blade, is associated with patriarch social arrangements, and the egalitarian, partnership model, represented by the cup or Chalice, is associated with matrilinear, matrilocal arrangements.

I can't recommend The Chalice and the Blade more strongly. Get it, read it. If anything, the predictions and patterns Eisler explores in it are clearer now than the were in the mid-80s.

Essentially, she says that we are in living through a monumental existential struggle between the patriarchal, dominatory way and the matriarchal, partnership way. She doesn't equate all males with the former or all females with the latter. She's not simplistic. But she does make an irrefutable case that the patriarchal way will not yield easily or nicely.

I'm not doing this justice, but I hope that you can glimpse in this shorthand synopsis why racism, misogyny, homophobia, and the dominion approach to nature and to religion (i.e., Christian fundamentalism) routinely ascend together or wane together, as they began to do during the US Civil Rights era, for instance. Just one metric may remind us how it was for a time. For a decade, the tide toward equality was so strong that anybody who was a racist, sexist, or homophobe was quiet about it. It wasn't cool.

That might not be much, but it's a world away from today's Chris Matthews, Don Imus, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, etc. Using Eisler's model, these are both agents and symptoms of the ascendant Blade--the dominator model. So, indeed, is the entire Republican agenda. I mean it's hard to imagine a more explicit expression than Cheney's "one percent" doctrine, in which even a one percent chance that another nation is a threat to the USA is reason to take it out in a violent "preventive" strike. No evident is necessary. Just a hunch. As in the hunch that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, our president's macho-centric personal style conforms perfectly with his approach to both domestic and international politics. Whether business or international relations, his black-or-white polarities permit just one arrangement: Dominate or be dominated.

If I understand Eisler correctly, she seems to be saying that the closer the partnership model comes into being, the more violent and brutal the dominators will be. In that sense, the rise of a purely patriarchal Christianist Right and Republicans' parallel, swaggering contempt for the poor people of New Orleans during Katrina; pride in constructing torture chambers and "rendering" people completely out of any realm of God-given human rights; readiness to suppress the vote through violence, deception, and fraud; gratuitous slaughter and displacement of millions in Iraq; flagrant assaults on nature--air, water, national parklands, the sea, the mountaintops--all these and more are signs that the patriarchal old way knows that change is coming.

In this analysis the misogyny and racism expressed by the likes of Imus and Matthews are intentional and systemic, as well as merely symptomatic of something much bigger. And the mainstream media's relentless and fraudulent attacks on the Clintons and Democrats are simply predictable attempts by the old Dominator to squelch that change.

I certainly don't equate the fullness of the Partnership Way to a woman president. That's not the point, even though the fact of a female and a minority male campaigning for the nation's highest office are symptoms and symbols of the change I'm speaking about. What I'm suggesting, using Hartsock's and Eisler's analysis, is that we are both in for a hell of a ride, AND we still have a choice.

That choice is not merely about who'll be president. Either Democrat will effect some degree of the kind of life-affirming change we so desperately need--which Eisler represents as the nurturing Chalice. More fundamentally, that choice arises in every single threat to justice, equality, peace, and environmental sanity.

That change will come if and when WE choose it. If ever there were the time to do so, it's now.

Republicans Driving Immigrants out of AZ's Economy

As we predicted, the employer sanction law is pushing both documented and undocumented immigrants out of Arizona. Together with the Republican-engineered tanking economy, the Republican-engineered "employer sanction" law, which punishes employers for hiring undocumented workers, is driving down school enrollment, apartment occupancy, home buying, and retail sales in what undoubtedly will be a continuing spiral of decline for as long as the Republican-engineered home mortgage fraud crisis and the resulting Republican-created credit crisis persist.

How marvelous for us all.

If there's anyone in this state who has the unmitigated gall to vote for any Republican anywhere at any time in the future, it will prove beyond any remaining doubt that a sack of cement is smarter than a Republican.

Ask me if I'm angry.

Republican Russell Pearce and his merrie band of Republican racists has declared war. Unfortunately, like his White House mentors, Cheney and George, he's shot the wrong target. As Republican Sherrif Joe Arpaio and his thugs round up brown people, they are creating a climate of fear--called "panic" in this NYTimes article--that is enveloping not just undocumented workers but documented residents of 24 years and more. This is because they can't find jobs when the economy is depressed, and they have relatives here who are not documented, and they feel the flood of hostility being intentionally whipped up at Mexican immigrants. They don't feel welcome anymore, because they aren't.

The hysterical reaction of Republicans to the influx of (invited and lured) citrus harvesters, cotton pickers, farmworkers, construction workers, restaurant workers, hotel and motel service personnel, food service and grocery workers, landscapers, miners, and domestics--terrifying bunch, huh?-is rapidly worsening an economy that is already bringing record foreclosures and other disasters.

As these families leave, they withdraw their children from our public schools and school revenue, based on headcounts, tanks, too. They leave, and when they do, they leave groceries, gasoline, household goods, school supplies, sundries, prescription medications, clothing, shoes, and all other consumer goods on the shelves. Then businesses close and homes go into foreclosure, and when businesses close and homes are abandoned, city, county, and state revenues plummet and neighborhoods deteriorate. When these things happen, everybody--brown, black, yellow, red, and white, turns blue.

This is predictable in a state that historically has always depended on Mexican laborers for its prosperity. It doesn't take a genius to connect these dots. Apparently, however, it takes a bunch of Republicans.

Monday, February 11, 2008

AZ's Guestworker Program: Questions for our Lawmakers

If you believe that employers are utilizing foreign workers (Mexicans, predominantly) to undercut the wage that they would be forced to pay to US citizens if there were no alternative labor source, then you will have questions about SB1482, a guestworker bill pending in the AZ Senate and endorsed by Democratic Governor, Janet Napolitano.

Some background considerations: Because this bill raises many of the same questions raised by a new Department of Labor proposed guestworker rule, it's relevant to note that under a Friedmanian/GOP "free market" approach, there would be no guestworker program. The domestic marketplace would determine the wage, and if an Arizona cotton farmer couldn't find cotton pickers for $5/hour, then he might have to pay, oh, I don't know, $25/hr. (Amounts are purely hypothetical, understand.)

But we know, or should, that the "free market" as conceived by Republicans does not include letting the market determine wages. It is weighted to the needs of "bidness," not to the living needs of the people.

That said, we also know that Americans are not likely to receive the inevitable cost passthrough of $25/hr for cotton pickers. I guess that would make a $75 Izod polo shirt cost, what, $200? Just guessing, have no clue. I get my polo shirts for $15 from Mervyns, and I think anybody who doesn't is a moron.

Listen up: You and I, every day, either benefit from the gamed wage/price structure installed by very powerful business interests, or are screwed on purpose by that structure--as in the case of the cost of prescription drugs in the US generally, and under Medicare particularly, and as in the case of flat US wages since 1970. So we are both oppressed victims of the system and its beneficiaries when it comes to produce, for instance. We are not merely innocent bystanders observing the greed of the US employer and the exploitation of the Mexican laborer. We are complicit in his and her exploitation, too. I reckon that our share of the ripoff pales by contrast to the share raked in by the CEO and the shareholders. But still.

So. If you both care about the capability of the US worker to earn a genuine living wage, AND the Mexican workers' vulnerability to rank exploitation in termns of payment and working and living conditions, then you have a duty to ask your legislator some tough questions.

1. How does the bill define "labor shortage" and who decides?
2. What measures are in place to prevent AZ employers from utilizing cheap foreign labor to undercut market-based wages for native workers?
3. What safeguards are in place to ensure decent working and living conditions of guestworkers and native workers equally and alike?
4. What safeguards are in place to prevent the wages paid to guestworkers from eliminating native workers qualified for an interested in equivalent positions
5. What criteria ensure that AZ employers have genuinely been unable to hire native workers at a fair, living wage given the conditions of the jobs involved?

This is, given the present state of capitalism, a matter of balance or the whole house of cards will collapse. It does no good to pretend otherwise. At the same time, every reputable measure indicates that worker productivity in the USA is going heavily to benefit the CEO and scarecely at all to benefit the worker. I am sure that there is a lot of manuverability in this sum/zero equation. I am sure beyond any doubt that we can effect a sum/sum equation, and that our collective future depends on our doing just that, here and in every sector of the market. It's the job of our elected lawmakers to ensure that this happens. If they don't do it voluntarily, it's our job to make sure they do it anyway.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

AZ's McCain Unfit for Public Office

A tip of the ear to my buddy at Blog for Arizona for this definite "need to know" piece.

Did you think forcing Native Americans off their ancient lands and stealing their resources was a thing of the past? Think again. This hideous story centrally involves the Republican presidential candidate, spans 18 years, involves over 10,000"relocated" Native Americans, and entails cruelties that most Americans do not think are possible in this country on this scale. In addition to McCain, it involves many of the same old DC Republican/Neocon insiders and corrupt corporations, and gives us a real big clue where McCain's heart will be on energy, and why.

Please, folks: Read this report summary, follow its links, and help us get the word out. This repulsive story deserves the widest exposure, and in a centered, balanced, sane world, would be widely reported. For, in the words of the spokewoman for the UN Human Rights Commission:

The Black Mesa region in Arizona, USA is home to the indigenous communities of the Dineh (Navajo) and Hopi peoples. This region also contains major deposits of coal which are being extracted by North America's largest strip mining operation. The coal mines have had a major impact on families in the region. Local water sources have been poisoned, resulting in the death of livestock. Homes near the mines suffer from blasting damage. The coal dust is pervasive, as well as smoke from frequent fires in the stockpiles. Not coincidentally, the people in the area have an unusually high incidence of kidney and respiratory disease.

The Dineh (otherwise known as Navajo) were stripped of all land title and forced to relocate. Their land was turned over to the coal companies without making any provisions to protect the burial or sacred sites that would be destroyed by the mines. People whose lives were based in their deep spiritual and life-giving relationship with the land were relocated into cities, often without compensation, forbidden to return to the land that their families had occupied for generations. People became homeless with significant increases in alcoholism, suicide, family break up, emotional abuse and death. -- Marsha Monestersky for the UN Commission on Human Rights and Women Enacting Change at the UN. "The forcible relocation of over 10,000 (Dineh) Navajo people is a tragedy of genocide and injustice that will be a blot on the conscience of this country for many generations."
Study synopsis:
ACSA study reveals that after assembling a team of "pro-Peabody Western Coal" Indians and obtaining a false "Hopi-Navajo" Tribal Counsel designation by the [notoriously corrupt US] Bureau of Indian Affairs for these paid Tribal representatives, in the period 1974-1996, Senator McCain was able to get large bands of the Dineh-Navajo relocated off their lands, so that Peabody Western could mine the coal under their farms at nominal expense. Common Cause has suggested McCain was indirectly compensated by street name cash contributions to his Federal Election Fund during three Presidential runs, and through family business with Las Vegas Casinos who benefited from the coal driven power he supplied.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Misogyny in America

As night follows day, any rise in homophobia is paralleled by a rise in woman-hating. So it shouldn’t surprise anybody that, after two decades of virulent gay-hating from the Right, we are seeing a proud and public form of misogyny in America we haven’t seen since, oh, George Gobel.

I’m not suggesting a cause-effect relationship here. I’m saying that homophobia is fundamentally also an expression of misogyny. When a gay man is bashed, he’s being savaged because he isn’t conforming to his assigned male supremacist role. He is stepping OUT of that role defiantly because—regardless of the actual acrobatics—he is perceived to be willfully assuming the role of a woman. He is being punished for breaking ranks but despised for (symbolically) behaving like a girl.

Hillary Clinton is just the most obvious lightening rod for the woman-hating tribes. She, too, is stepping OUT of the assigned role and defiantly competing with men as an equal.

The symbolism is inescapable and the consequences predictable and the punishment swift and ceaseless. She can’t easily be attacked physically. (Oh, it could happen and it might still happen, but it can’t be done easily. She has Secret Service protection.)

But she can be subjected to incessant ridicule and subversion from the mainstream corporate media. It is a given that she would be. The corporation, that playpen of male domination into which frustrated gladiatorial violence is sublimated in glass ceilings and the myth of masculine commentatorial “gravitas.” The media, the collective mouthpiece of male-supremacist culture which speaks, as misogyny always does, out of the mouths of both men and women; otherwise the game would be too, too obvious.

After Fox, the most visible (but by no means the only) culprit from our vantage lately, anyway, is MSNBC: Chris Matthews, Tucker Carlson, David Shuster. I’ve already commented on Matthews and Carlson. Their buy-in to male supremacy is as deep and unexamined as the color of their eyes. Carlson, especially, exudes contempt for women and people of color unless they know their proper places: cheerleaders for the Right. It’s just as incessant but more subtle, oily and oblique, the gentleman's country-club idiom. The "vaginal-American" exchange comes to mind, a coinage that somehow managed to demean everybody all at once. While Carlson didn't utter it, he didn't rebuke it either. He used it for all the yukkety-yuk value he could get.

Matthews’ misogyny is much more obvious. He’s a brawler, like McCain. (Remember when McCain joked--joked, please--"that the reason Chelsea is so ugly is that Janet Reno is her father"? There's something core frightening about any adult male who will attack any girl, let alone publically and by means of a classically misogynistic/homophobic formula. It's of a piece with McCain's violent, racist joke "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," and it makes me wonder what goes on behind his closed doors.)

What else would we expect? Matthews' fixation with Hillary Clinton is legendary, and the depths of his misogyny as expressed in his incessant trivializing commentary about her is profoundly shocking as much for what he says as for his utter cluelessness about it. He breathes misogyny in and out, in and out, like oxygen, and is no less oblivious to it. It’s his natural element, taken for granted.

And that is what tripped up Shuster. Apart from the stunning contrast between how goons like McCain and Matthews ignore the Bush twins and pillory Chelsea, and the nastiness of the whore metaphor, I was offended because it never even once occurred to Shuster NOT to use that metaphor for someone's daughter. It was just so natural because it is just so natural. Just so Don Imus.

Women in America are waking up. Hillary and Chelsea are all of us, and we are seeing a play we don't like very much. In fact, we are enraged.

More on this subject anon.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

"Reprise the 100-Year War," and Other Purgatives

Lordy what a wasteland is cable news. My choices at this hour are Lou Dobbs and Chris Matthews. It's reminiscent of that crack Dorothy Parker made about Katherine Hepburn: that she ran the gamut of emotion from A to B.

If Chris hadn't already lost my confidence some years ago, nothing he could do would so seal that deal as inviting Tom DeLay on his show. That's sticking his hand into the sewage and pulling up a . . . well, you get the picture.

But if the conservatives want to field a piece of crap for national cameras, that's fine with me. Let's go for it. Let's remind voters of the four horsemen of the conservative apocalypse: DeLay, Abramoff, Scooter, and. . . . Gee, there are so many it wouldn't be fair to choose only four. Taft? Reed? George Allen?


So McCain is it? I know why conservatives can't stand him. Neither can I. I haven't forgotten that he said that having an abortion or not would be his 15-year-old daughter's decision if she got pregnant, and he hoped the procedure would be legal and safe. I remember very well when he called Falwell an agent of intolerance because it amazed me that he'd show that kind of integrity. But that was before he donned the bishop's cap of "Christian" fundamentalism and decided to oppose safe and legal abortions and write gays out of the Constitution.

No straight-talker, he. McCain is, if anything, even more opportunistic than his former competitor, Romney. Since the end of his military career, it seems to me that McCain has mostly sought new opportunities for self aggrandizement, no matter who he's had to shaft and no matter who he's had to blow. He divorced his first wife, married a pile of money, got tangled up in that very dirtyKeating savings and loan scandal (caused, in part, by Republican deregulation, just like today's mortgage crisis), and shifted political positions like a Vegas dealer shifts cards. McCain not only sails where the wind blows. He blows the sails when necessary, as in his little cuddle with the Bushman. McCain should have had the regard for his wife and children to denounce Bush, not kiss him. He's as phony as they come.

Let's make our anti-McCain campaign slogan "Four more years!" That should do the trick. That or, "Reprise the Hundred-Year War!"


Remember when Romney said that his sons were serving the country by assisting his presidential campaign? That's when he lost the nomination. So much arrogance was revealed in that remark. It was a genuine Marie Antoinette moment, and Americans saw it for exactly what it was. Good riddance--at least from the TV screens for now.


Do I really have to think about a Vice President Huckabee? "IthinkI'mgonnabarf!"

AZ's Pearce: Give Me a Child for It's First Seven Years. . .

Arizona's Republican legislators, led by the notorious Russell Pearce and Karen Johnson, never cease to amaze us. They propose allowing guns in public schools, and slashing our education budget. Arizona is already somewhere around 49th in state per capita education spending, but I think I see the genius here. If we can just kill off the kids fast enough, we won't need much education funding. Heck, if we get the timing right, we could even rank 48th next year.

Sheer brilliance.

This might be amusing, except that it's anything but.

For some 20 years, attacks on public schools have been at the center of conservative Republican ideology. There's a reason.

Underfunding public schools sets them up to fail, which creates a climate in which "No Child Left Behind," vouchers, and home schooling seem reasonable. I wrote recently about "political climates." This strategy is a case study in how to manipulate public policy to make the unthinkable--such as Rightwing control of the curriculum through home schooling and through "faith-based" private schools--seem eminently sane.

But. The fact is that the old standard liberal arts curriculum was the terra firma on which Americans achieved technological and economic greatness, between the invention of the automobile and the airplane, and the moonwalk. However, it also gave us critical thinking skills, a fairly decent knowledge of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, a common approach to good citizenship and ethics, and the wherewithal to perform well in a changing global economy. All these are anathema to fascism, propaganda, spin, and distortion.

Rightwing, fundamentalist, fascist prosperity depends very centrally on controlling the curriculum for future generations. This is far easier to do outside the public sphere and beyond public accountability. Ergo, failing, unfunded public schools, attacks on teachers' unions, cuts in education funding, deteriorated physical plants, challenges to "liberal" teachers and course content, lawsuits, and all the rest pave the way for a New World Order, if you will. Enter standardized Far Right curricula marketed innocuously through privately controlled home schooling associations, "faith-based" private schools, and fundy factories pretending to be colleges and universities. By these means, a whole new crop of hardcore conservative automatons is cultivated for civil service, the military, the legislatures, the courts, and the White House.

If you doubt it, take a look around. All these things have come to pass in approximately the last 20 years, thanks to master strategies, organizing, and funding from the Far Right.

The consequences for America have been written for seven years in day-glo orange for the whole world to see. The caliber of Bush appointees to Justice, HHS, FEMA, FCC, the appellate courts, the US Supreme Court. The Iraq invasion. The demise of a vigorous middle class. The complete meltdown of any sense of common purpose and any awareness of common interests. Our deteriorated infrastructure. The recession. The chilling rage of one half the country at the other. All these markers of catastrophe can be traced, directly or indirectly, to priorities nurtured in the Far Right's gradual and surreptitious dismantling of our great Jeffersonian, liberal arts, free public education system.

If Arizonans want this future, they're well on the way to having it. As for me, I have a better opinion of our state, our country, and our kids. They deserve our very best, not--as Pearce and Johnson embody--our very worst.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Like I Said, Pearce Has Shot AZ 's Economy in the Head

It's rare for racism's effects on the economy to show up this clearly, but as I've been warning for some time, Russell Pearce and his racist anti-immigrant thugs' employer sanctions law are only hurting Arizonans. With friends like Republicans, who needs enemies?

This from Latino Politico:

by Man Eegee
The percentage of apartment vacancies is going up.

No one knows for sure how many immigrants are leaving Arizona because of the sanctions law. But apartment complexes with affordable rents in areas with large numbers of immigrants are being hit hardest by the departures.

The departures are coming at a bad time for landlords. The slow economy is making it hard for some apartment dwellers to cover their rent. And others are renting houses instead of apartments as those rents have fallen because of the housing-market collapse.

"It's a pretty soft (apartment) market to begin with," said Terry Feinberg, president of the Arizona Multihousing Association.

The state's apartment-vacancy rate hit 10.1 percent during the third quarter of 2007, up from 7.7 percent during the third quarter the year before, he said.

Data for the fourth quarter won't be out until next week, but Jodi Bart, co-owner of MEB Management Services, expects Arizona's apartment-vacancy rate to hit 15 percent for the first time in years. Her company manages 60 apartment complexes in Arizona, totaling about 15,000 units.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Karma Elephant

This from Andrew Sullivan's site today. Couldn't have put it better myself:

'So far today I have gotten the usual daily spam e-mail from various fringe and self-acclaimed conservative groups and personages — variously alleging that McCain was not a real war hero, questioning his conduct during capture, commenting on his marital situation, and suggesting he was unhinged and identical to Ted Kennedy, Hillary (fill in the blanks).'

There is karma here, isn't there? These were the same kind of tactics used against John Kerry in 2004 - except then they were accepted by the conservative establishment. What's triking to me is how the fanaticism of the far-right, aided and abetted by Republican elites, may now be coming back to bite them. McCain is the victim. But perhaps the poison the right has peddled in these past few years has to work its way through the GOP bloodstream before being overcome.

Since the days of Terry Dolan, the GOP has been a bile-spewing, filth-propagating, divisive, and sharply polarizing force--and not just in the USA. But we're talking elections, and that's a home issue, and the GOP has studiously cultivated division, fear, suspicion, distrust, and outright rage in every election from Soddy Daisy's chief of public signage to the nation's President.

Given that heritage, it's ironic, and amusing, to watch three of its chief ghouls go after John McCain, one of their own, still yet again, but this time, apparently without regard for their party as a whole. I hope they keep it up, the Limbaughs, the Dobsons, the Coulters. If they fail--and I think they will; I think McCain will be the GOP candidate--they will have written "DOA" on the Far Right wing of the GOP, and that just can't be a bad thing, now can it?

These guys seem to have missed the memo that evangelicals woke up sometime around 2005 and realized that the environment, energy, the war, and poverty are (duh!) issues relevant to conservative Christians. Since then, there hasn't been a highly focused, united flying wedge of conservative Republicans.

Since then, that very constituency has seen, time and again, evidence that one of their own, W, is a liar, a thief, and a profligate with the national treasury, the national environment, and the nation's youth. From this undeniable evidence, they have rightly concluded that they cannot trust--guess who--Limbaugh, Dobson, Coulter, Savage, Reed, and all the rest.

They've decided to face the future armed with their own intelligence and the evidence of their own lives, with reference to the New Testament as contrasted with Leviticus.

Let's hope they continue to do so. They will vote for an Obama before they vote for a Huckabee or a Romney.

Message to AZ Progressive Bloggers

This morning I listened to an American father weep as he described getting one day's notice that his job would be outsourced. His crime? He had approached management three times asking to meet with a committee of workers to improve the safety conditions in the warehouse. This is a prominent employer. This is also a place where just one hour's sick leave, even with a doctor's written confirmation, results in "points" on your record, and where 16 points means you're fired.

My friends, low-paid Arizona workers are suffering in huge numbers, and it isn't only our undocumented workers. We may hear more about them, but worker exploitation and dehumanizing, dangerous workplaces are far more common here than the largely church-going, generally kind people of our state understand.

In this notoriously anti-union state, many employers, large, middling, and small, routinely engage in labor practices that would sicken a decent justice-oriented person. Withholding water from construction worksites. Cheating workers of earned wages. Punishing pro-workplace safety leaders by outsourcing their jobs on a day's notice. Subjecting workers to intimidation, harrassment, surveillance, and sabotage to suppress efforts to win fair and safe working conditions.

When these things happen, decent, hardworking people lose their lives, their limbs, their eyes, their wages, their homes, and even their families. Unsafe workplaces mean reckless operation of heavy equipment. Foundry furnaces operated by people without training, or furnaces with broken door hinges, resulting in a young man's death. Doubled-up work orders for "troublemakers"--that is, more work than one person can do in the allotted time--that result in exhaustion and serious accidents for themselves and their co-workers.

This doesn't lower our costs. On the contrary. It raises our costs in every way.

The problem is that most Arizonans do not know. We just don't know.

The reason is because there are no firewalls between media marketing and media editorial operations. Too often, the companies whose advertising dollars keep large state newspapers, magazines, and websites in business are also the companies that deliberately endanger and exploit their workers. They can do that because nobody knows.

There's no sunlight on exploited workers and filthy, unsafe workplaces.

It's a vicious circle that doesn't just corrupt management and exploit laborers. Generally, jurisdictions that discourage fair labor laws also discourage fair consumer protections. It doesn't take much imagination to see that a company that will cheat its stockroom workers of earned wages won't have any problem stocking expired or substandard merchandise. It can do those things because nobody knows.

Just as bloggers nationally force the mainstream media to cover news that is in the best interests of the people as a whole, so Arizona bloggers can help bring our state into the 21st Century with regard to workers' issues. We can help guide our citizens into a new future where employers and consumers alike understand that a healthy workplace ecology means a higher level of prosperity and quality for all.

We need to care about the fundamentals in our state: our workers, our workplaces, the wages our employers pay, and the benefits they provide, as well as workplace health and safety and product quality control standards. These are the building blocks of our own communities and of our own quality of life: When we take care of the fundamentals, everyone benefits. There's no such thing as half a boat sinking.

So I'm calling today for progressive Arizona bloggers to devote some of our energies to publicizing what's going on. I'm both asking for grassroots reporting, for organized networking, and for giving some of our Internet exposure to media releases that cover these issues. This information sharing on behalf of Arizona's low-wage families is our responsibility so long as we call ourselves "progressives.
Why? Because justice is a fundamental, non-negotiable progressive value.

If you are interested in being part of a statewide information/justice network for AZ's lower-tier workers and their families, please contact Pico. Let me know. Flip me an email at . In this way we can keep each other informed, with media releases, stories, and reports that more conservative mainstream media either block or ignore. Let's work together to raise Arizonans' awareness of the basics. It's not just about lower-tier workers. It's also about our families, our kids, and our collective future.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Where's the Sexism in this Contest? All Over the Place

1. Hillary did not merely ride Bill's coattails. That's way misleading. Look at her own record up to the WH. Pretty effing impressive if you ask me. Moving right along: Starting after the WH years, the reality is that she picked a state where she was a carpetbagger, worked her butt off, and won the Senate twice on her own merits. Bill's Harlem office doesn't mean Jack in Buffalo. She had visibility and name recognition. Besides, the coattails argument erases her contribution to Bill's two victories--contributions seen and not seen by the public.

OK, sure, she was well known because of the WH years, but don't forget, in her case, "well known" is hardly undiluted glory. As of Monica, if not long before, Bill's coatttails were thoroughly muddied. As a result, Hillary couldn't do anything right. If she stood by her man, she condoned his behavior. If she didn't stand by her man, she didn't stand by her man. Same old, same old. A woman in public is damned if she does, and damned if she doesn't.

Also--and this is crucial: The Right spent $90M attacking her for Travelgate and Whitewatergate and the cookie episode and on and on for 8 years, followed by 8 more during her Senate tenure. That's a LOT of bad press. We're talking CONCENTRATE. No candidate has that to contend with. I doubt that any candidate ever has, with the possible exception of Lincoln's second run.

So tell me, you who say she is coattailing: What should she have done? Cancel her own ambitions because people would say she's riding his coattails? I think that's buying into a rightwing smear. I really do. It completely elides her own accomplishments AND the severe press/investigative obstacles she had taken on--is still taking on--for lo these many years. It also subordinates her own volition and career objectives to his shadow. That's hardly an enlightened feminist stance.

IMHO, to say that she rode his coattails to this candidacy is to completely overlook that 3/4ths of the story! Its not like she didn't travel to 75 countries, or whatever, and have to be seriously briefed politically, socially and culturally while First Lady for 8 years, and make highest-level international contacts, and sit in on highest-level assessments of it all. For all we know, she was the brains of Bill's best moves. It's not like that's never happened, is it? So shouldn't we give that possibility just the teensiest consideration? He's smart, but he's also charismatic. He hasn't had to be anything like as brilliant as she.

And puh-leeze. It's not like she was Mamie Eisenhower relative to his Ike, either. Of course she has experience, and it's legitimate.

However, I do admit that it's hard to see where she starts and he stops, and that, I think, is a real feminist issue now.

At least I feel, in myself, that I owe her a clear-eyed look at who she is independent of him, of his fuckups and his triumphs. For instance, I have to believe that she has learned a lot in the last ever how long it's been since she was in the WH.

To think that we know her now--through the crooked prism of Senate politics--is naive. IMHO. Take the Iran vote. If she had voted against it, she would have lost every pro-Israel Jew in the country.

What? We should blame her for manuvering to position herself for a run for the WH when every other politician in history has done the same thing? I think SHE is getting incredible scrutiny here, and on the "crying," and on the sincerity, and on the toughness, and on the "coldness," scrutiny that no man would EVER get or has ever gotten. Show me a man who's had to deal with Candy Crowley and Wolf Blitzer.

Bottom line. This means that you and I have to wade through six feet of sewage to get to the place with Hillary where Obama and the GOP guys are starting from. It's not easy.

I can't judge Hillary by the same standards that I would apply to a man because we live in a sexist world and because she has picked up a HUGE amount of collateral fire thanks to Bill. And then, adding to THAT, don't forget that Hillary qua female, qua woman, brought out the raving misogynistic Right. They're slithering all over the tube now, too, as they have been for the last 16 years. You think this hasn't had an effect on our appraisal of Hillary Clinton today? You'd be nutz.

Some days I'm amazed she's still walking around upright. Nixon would have said, "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore!"


This doesn't mean that I approve of her every vote or utterance. There are consequences with me for playing politics with votes like Iran. And yes, I am angry that she did not show actual LEADERSHIP during the 2003-2007 years, even as I know that if she had, she'd be DOA because she is (a) a woman, and (b) Mrs. Bill Clinton.

I think it's this asymmetry--this sexism factor--that makes it so difficult for me to weigh her against Obama cleanly and clearly. I don't think it can be done easily. The last 16 years have added quite a few feathers to her side of the scale, and I don't mean in a good way.

And no, I do not think that, so far anyway, O has had a countervaling racism factor to deal with. He might yet, but he hasn't so far, IMHO. He's very "clean," in Biden's words.

This is tough going for me. I'm struggling to see this all clearly.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Whe-eh-eh-ere Did De Money Go?

This from today's New York Times kind of makes you wonder where all the trillions we've spent for homeland security and military preparedness have actually gone, doesn't it? And yet I don't think I've heard one single member of Congress form that obvious question, let alone do subpoena-style investigations. I suspect the reason has something to do with protecting those who might be illuminated if light ever hits the end of that tunnel:

Military Is Called Unprepared for Attack
Published: February 1, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States military is not prepared for a catastrophic attack on the country, and National Guard forces do not have the equipment or training they need for the job, according to a new report.

The study of the military’s readiness to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear weapons attack found “an appalling gap that places the nation and its citizens at greater risk.”

The report was released Thursday by the Commission of the National Guard and Reserves, which is charged by Congress to recommend changes in law and policy concerning the those forces.

Last Night's Democratic Debate

Loved the tone. The grown-ups came back. Loved the attacks on Republicans instead of each other, for a change. A favorite moment: Hillary was talking about why she voted for invasion authority. When she was done, that idiot Wolf Blitzer said, "So I'm hearing you say you were naive about the president?" And the crowd booed him. Really let him have it. FINALLY. Are you sick of the constant belittling of Hillary? It's time to tell the media puppets to shut their moufs. They aren't, as they say in consulting, "adding value."

Hillary came off as by far the better informed. Time and again she delivered a depth of discussion that impressed me and that cast Obama in a less than flattering light. It wasn't helped the few times the camera caught him looking skyward, vague, bored perhaps. He didn't look engaged and on top of the subject. That's my point.

I love Clinton's uncompromising insistance that universal health coverage is a core Democratic value. Paying for health care is the number-one cause of bankruptcy in the US. It's not in our own families' interests to let ancient Republican chatter about "socialized medicine" scare us away. I prefer Clinton's approach to health care, and I am totally fine with eliminating Bush's tax cuts on the wealthy. Let them pay their fair share of the cost of living in the USA. It ain't like it's free.

Obama is a terrific speaker. He's definitely in Bill's league in his ability to speak easily in public and establish real rapport with the people. He has a delightful personality, and I have a great deal of confidence in his wisdom, which is the essential characteristic of a good president. (W illustrated this by demontrating its utter absense.) I need to hear more specific programs from Obama--and Clinton, too--on the environment, the economy, immigration, "free" trade, the "free" market and corporate regulation, the housing crisis, reigning in fraud and corruption in the defense industry and at the Pentagon, and domestic security issues like the so-called "Patriot Act."

It's a tough call. I'm pissed that MoveOn has endorsed Obama so soon because I'm not ready to choose yet and I think I've got a lot of company. Substantive discussions like last night's, only less hurried, would be a huge help.

And so a lot less static from Wolf, Joe, Chris, Bill, Candy, Andrea, and the rest of the tired old, same-old, same-old dreary political commentators. Is there a place where these people can retire, out of sight and out of mind?