Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

CNN debate - Hillary v Obama

Ok, liveblogging begins now. My thoughts are in italics.

Very civil intros by Obama and Clinton. She didn't look like she was prepared for such a civil intro and had to do a copycat intro. Both did an appeal to Edwards. Hillary looks really good - the brown turquoise mix is nice, and Obama also looks good. hillary looks better than normal though.

First q: what are policy differences?
Hillary has a healthcare program like edwards; Obama doesn't have a universal healthcare proposal, it's voluntary but creates incentives for people to buy. [this is the one area that I feel like he should and could be stronger. Hillary's is closer to universal; Edwards had the best.]

OH! Obama is taking a swipe at Hillary on the drug company profits and lobbyists when he says that it should be broadcast on C-Span and that it will be transparent. The audience seems to be more with Hillary - she got off a good point on how she did success in getting S-CHIP for children's healthcare. She's got some sharp talking points on healthcare and she's clearly comfortable discussing the finer points since she has experience debating it.

[Ed Helms from Daily Show and the Office is in the crowd.]

wow, she is referencing local issues and also electronic records.

OOOh, first question is a divid and conquer wedge about negative consequences of immigration on African American community. Senator Obama, do you want to go first?

Nice, he makes the point that as a community organizer, he worked with white, black, Latino and Asian workers, and they have always felt economically insecure. "To suggest somehow that the economic insecurity that we see now, somehow, is attributable to immigration, I do not believe it. I think it is an instance of scrapegoating [big applause.] Now, here's where we're different from the other party.. . I do believe we have to crack down on employers . . . We should not use immigration as a tool to divide" [huge applause] Excellent response that calls it out as the wedge question it is.

Followup question for Clinton: driver's licenses.

Hillary: "I believ ein many parts of our country, because of employers who exploit workers, there are job losses, and I think we should be honest about that." References comprehensive immigration reform.

We've got to say, "come out of the shadows" for the vast majority of people who here.

Do I think we ought to talk about privileges like driver's licenses? I think we need to talk about the masic labor problems first.

Obama: when this issue came up, not drivers' license but comprehensive oimmigration reform generall, I worled with Ted Kennedy, dick durbin, and John McCain, although he might not admit it now. This might not be an issue that polls well, ut I think it is the right thing to do. It is important for us to recognize that the problems that workers are experiencing generally are not caused by immigration.

Children who were brought here through no fault of their own are able to go to college, so that they can get a good education and a good job. I don't believe we ned to deal with this issue as we sid before, because people don't come here to drive, people come here to work. [applause] NICE!

Wolf: were you missing in action when Obama and Kennedy and Durbin were

Well actually I cosponsored comprehensive immigration reform in 2004 before Senator Obama came to the Senate. So I have been on the forefront of these issues. References farmworkers' endorsement. NICE. Knows her audience.

so we may be looking at the immigration issue as a political issue, by those who are undermining . . .

WOW, Clinton has an amazingly good talking point - "I hear this all the time from people, and they often ask it with an edge in their voice, just like Kim, and so I ask them, "What would you do? Would you round up and deport 10,000 people and their families? and how many additional Border Patrol authorities would you have to hire for that? ow would you do it?" [I think this is a really strong point - people who complain don't have an answer to this.]

Why not then, if you're that passionate about it, let them get drivers licenses.

We disagree on this, because and I believe it is a diversion from creating a coalition of those who are trying to get comprehensive immigration reform.

Senator Clinton gave a number of answers over the course of six weeks on this issue, and that did appear political. Now she has a consistent answer, and that is good. From my perspective, I agree with Bill Richardson, from a public safety issue, and I dont want a bunch of It's important to recognize that this can be tough, and we need someone who can tackle it and solve it.

She's doing really well, and Obama and Clinton got off good shots at Romney.

Obama smartly avoids diminishing accomplishments of Clinton administration.

Her bigggest line of the night: "You know it did take a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush, and it might take a Clinton to clean up after the second Bush." [long, sustained applause]

Wow, Hillary just sounds more presidential. She doesn't even really engage Obama she mostly hits on Bush as though she is the frontrunner. She is returning to that campaign default of the incumbent's stance. She's also addressing the people from Politico who ask questions with their names, which makes her seem more personable. (Yes, it's also a stalling tactic to figure out what you want to say.)

[Tobey MacGuire's in the audience.]

Clinton's giving her answer on why she didn't vote for the Levin Amendment, and she sounds insincere and she's grasping.

Ugh, she sounded really good, and now she is just boring me. I think that Obama has the audience on Iraq "I think it is important to be RIGHT on day one."

Well, I guess it's good that this doesn't have as much sniping and fireworks as the GOP debate - I think both of them are still going to come out looking presidential.

OBama: The primary responsibility is for parents. [audience of writers, actors, hollywood types clap. Speilberg is in audience and nods. I think that was Stevie Wonder who clapped and nodded.]

OUCH! If you can't control your spouse on the campaign trail, what will it be like in the White House? [audience groans, boos]
Hillary takes responsibility for all the decisions, says "she is fully prepared to [make the call]". "At the end of the day it's a lonely job in the White House." [lots of applause]

DREAM TICKET question [audience really likes this, both candidates laugh] - would you consider an Obama-Clinton or a Clinton-Obama ticket?:

Obama; well, obviously there's a big difference between the two. I respect Senator Clinton a lot, we've been travelling this road together. I think it would be premature and presumptious to be talking about vice presidents.

Clinton: "Well, I would have to agree with everything Barack just said. This has been an extraordinary campaign, and both of us has been overwhelmed by all the affection." Shills her nationwide townhall.

Well, that's it - it wasn't very divisive, it was sorta boring, and they I think were both conscious that any of their statements could be used in an attack ad against either of them by the GOP in the summer and fall. It was really quite civil. I think this was almost a draw, and that both of them got in good passionate reasons why they would be good. But I have to say I think Senator Clinton came off better, slightly more presidential. And this has nothing to do with my personal preferences, I was just watching to see who did better. Obama had a lot of "uhms" and pauses whereas Hillary came out strong and confident in most of her responses. She sounded quite sure of herself and presidential for the most part, especially the beginning segments. I started getting really bored in the latter half, and I don't doubt that most people did as well (and they're not even as political as me.)

Anyway, I thought this was a much more cohesive, about the issues debate than the GOP one and voters will look at the two and think, who would I prefer running our country? And they would have to say the Democrats.

Also, I really don't think that Obama would put Clinton as his vp, and it wouldn't do him any favors electorally because all the people who would vote for her would vote for him - he has a broader appeal. Clinton, on the other hand might. But I think she can't afford to have someone who doesn't have actual military experience.

Ugh, the more I think about it, the more I think that Clinton got the better in this debate - when Obama said that Clinton would certainly be on anyone's short list, she just said "I agree with everything that Obama said." So she didn't necessarily have to mean that she thought Obama would also be an excellent vp, just that she would be on anyone's short list. Also, she wouldn't necessarily be willing to be a vp having had the White House experience. But as some of the CNN commentators noted, she would probably be willing to float the idea of an Obama vp just to gain some additional voters.

Update: Is it possible that people who watched only half the debate thought that Hillary won? I think that one of the things that charmed people was that Obama was perfectly courteous. I'm not sure if he was trying to show himself as being above the Clinton fray of war, but I thought that his performance on healthcare was really weak. I thought his immigration stances were spot on, but that Clinton was more forceful with her stances, even if I don't agree with them. Also, what was this drivers licenses are risky for immigrants bit? No one seems willing to touch it, not even her top surrogate in the Latino community, the Los Angeles Mayor.

But you know, it was nice to hear some real passion in her voice when she was talking about immigration, some real heat. Even Wolf acknowledged it. It's like how she looked when she was first asked that question about drivers licenses. She looked raw emotionally, and I could see her internal struggle - the struggle between what she really believes, and what she knows is politically popular. Now she seems to have reconciled it all, relegated drivers licenses for immigrants to the trashheap of unpopular ideas, and she's not willing to fight for it, for us. I don't actually disagree with her assessment that drivers license are a wedge issue that the Republicans use to drive up fear and hostility, and I think that immigrants rights advocates could be doing a better job of discussing drivers licenses, or pushing Dream Act more. I thought Obama did a great job when he said, "people don't come to this country to drive, they come here to work."

And I also hear that edge in people's voices when they ask that question about immigrants taking "our" jobs. There are things like that which remind me that Hillary's real and that she cares, but then just as quickly she turns the corner and puts on her mask, and does battle with the forces of what's popular and what's not, and at the end of the day, I don't know if she's fighting for what's right anymore, or just fighting to save her political hide. I want someone who is going to lead on immigration, because it's not a popular issue. It's thorny and as contentious and personal as anything, and I want someone with the moral certitude and willingness to go to bat for those who are voiceless. That someone is Obama.

Obama was perfectly genteel. I think he may have disarmed Hillary in the beginning with his intro, and she seemed really surprised, as if she had been ready to attack. And as if she was really happy that the cool kid had validated her.

Hillary could not explain her vote for Iraq in any passable way with a straight face.

One of the things that I noticed about the end of the debate is that Obama went immediately to the crowd, which was lining up and piling up to reach and touch him. Hillary stayed on stage with her daughter and husband. Perhaps she didn't think she would have that type of reaction?

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GOP Populists? If Huckabee parallels Edwards and Romney: Hillary, does that make McCain Obama?!?

LOLs, I am watching a repeat of the GOP debate and watching Mitt Romney, the biggest capitalist in the GOP race, who made mad amounts of money from investment banking at Bain Capital, trying to talk like a populist is laughable.

Then there's Mike Huckabee, who can credibly talk like a populist and even works in some references to the building trades, and Ron Paul who talks passionately about the middle class, and John McCain who can't seem to answer the question "Are we better off than we were 8 years ago?" with a straight answer.

Quite hilarious, and ingenious having Anderson Cooper interviewing them - he had them at their throats. Especially McCain and Romney trying to out-conservative and out-Reagan each other. Also, it is clear that when John McCain growls "my friend" at Romney that he means anything but. He looks like an old lion who wants to snap Romney's tanned neck in half. Sorry I can't help but be gleeful watching this: when McCain says, "all the conservatives who endorse me, in fact, your Lieutenant Governor"

Then Romney says, "Ok, I have a lot of work to do. My Lieutenant Governor, Heleay, is supporting me. My predecessor, Jane Swift, is supporting you. And in fact, the study you cite on jobs lost includes her term." Bwahahahahaha.

Huckabee is kinda playing the role of Edwards in the pissing match between McCain and romney. He comes across as credible and real, as opposed to Romney's tanned patrician wealth and McCain's smug independence. Apparently he has the ladies' attention too.

Jim Vandehei from politico looks really nervous on stage and while asking questions. Not so nice to be the one getting the attention, is it?

Wow, Huckabee is really the Edwards of the right - he's talking about how frequently GOP candidates look more like the guy who laid the average voter off than the guy who they work with. asked to explain this, he says, "The Republican party is really going to be in trouble because we keep nominating people who don't understand what the people out there are feeling, when they are carrying the feight, etc." Strong language and apt for someone who grew up poor.

Huckabee's wrap up speech is humble, and he talks about how he isn't going to claim that Reagan would endorse him, but that he endorses Reagan's ideals. Romney is getting painted consciously or not by McCain as someone who flip fliops, not unlike Hillary. So I guess that makes McCain the Obama of the crew?!?!

On another note, here's one of the best articles I have ever seen on Hillary's faith: Hillary's Prayer. Kinda creepy, but it's co-authored by Jeff Sharlet, who is IMHO one of the best investigative reporters out there today. It is an INTENSELY good read - I cannot recommend this highly enough.

So tonight I'll be watching (and live-blogging) the debate between Obama and Hillary. I'll be able to better judge where the chips fall on Super Tuesday after that.


Hillary silent during Walmart anti-union board meetings

I know it is popular amongst the left to hate on Walmart - it seems almost reflexive, and fashionable. It seems even trite sometimes, because those of us who live in big cities with our lattes and our Volvos can afford to hate on Walmart, with other options such as Trader Joes and Whole Foods nearby, and farmer's markets for the localvores.

But the reality is that Walmart depresses the economy everywhere it goes, and that their employees don't even make enough to have health insurance, placing them amongst the working poor.

So this well-timed piece of oppo research (found on ABC by way of dkos) was conveniently leaked the day after Edwards, the populist crusader, dropped out of the race. Hillary Clinton, in her years on the Walmart Board of Directors, was silent on the issue of taking down unions.

In six years as a member of the Wal-Mart board of directors, between 1986 and 1992, Hillary Clinton remained silent as the world's largest retailer waged a major campaign against labor unions seeking to represent store workers.

. . .The tapes show Clinton in the role of a loyal company woman. "I'm always proud of Wal-Mart and what we do and the way we do it better than anybody else," she said at a June 1990 stockholders meeting.

This is going to hurt her big time with the California-New York elite axis of liberals who were formerly for Edwards, and also with the mainstream blogosphere.

And Bill's not really helping here:

President Clinton defended his wife's role on the Wal-Mart board last week after the issue was raised by Sen. Barack Obama in a CNN debate.

His wife did not try to change the company's minds about unions, the former Arkansas governor said.

"We lived in a state that had a very weak labor movement, where I always had the endorsement of the labor movement because I did what I could do to make it stronger. She knew there was no way she could change that, not with it headquartered in Arkansas, and she agreed to serve," President Clinton said.

At the end of the day, Barack's comment about Hillary serving on the Board of Walmart during the SC debate was intentional - it was meant to highlight that she can't be trusted. And this isn't really new news - we already know about Mark Penn and his work for crappy businesses, and it's not really new that Clinton was on the board. But I think it brings all of this up in a very visual light, one that strikes people hard.

I feel like Obama's got the mo back heading into Super Tuesday. He's got Teddy and the Kennedy imprimatur, and the blowout win in South Carolina. He's got over $32 million raised, JUST IN THIS MONTH. That's a pretty crazy number - most people would consider that a deliriously good haul for the QUARTER. He has, for better or worse, the endorsement of Rupert Murdoch's NY Post, which Hill and Bill have spent the past 6 years cozying up to. So what does that say?!?

On where Edwards voters go, Chris Bowers and Joe Trippi both offer their takes. I do think it will make it harder for Obama to take Feb 5th overall, but I feel . . . hopeful.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Immigration is the key

The Republican Party seems to think that race-baiting and immigrant-bashing is the key to winning federal elections. Just look at Mike Huckabee, a preacher who once supported the Dream Act, spin and deny as recounted in Rolling Stone:

Even the Rev. Huckabee is chugging the GOP's nativist Kool-Aid: In December, the same man who two years ago called on America to "be a place that opens its arms, opens its heart, opens its spirit to people who come because they want the best for their families" unveiled his "Secure America Plan," which would target 12 million of these good folks for mass deportation 120 days into his first term.

In the process, the good preacher won a new convert - militant xenophobe Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, which acts like a vigilante Border Patrol. (No, I'm not providing you the website for hate speech, go look it up yourself.) Well, Jim actually got deposed for embezzlement, but what's a few dollars amongst haters?

Of course, not all GOP candidates and strategists are public racists, they prefer to vilify in secret. For example, Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove were both great practioners of say one thing, do another. Mehlman would go to civil rights conventions and claim hope and unity while Karl was busy slicing and dicing Texas congressional districts and disenfranchising minority voters.

Kos makes an excellent point - why are Republicans so much better at framing the issue?!?

Grover Norquist, a top ally of Karl Rove, believes that the "vicious" rhetoric by GOP candidates could prompt Hispanics to flee "in droves" to the Democrats. "Talking about a strong border is one thing," Norquist says. "It's when you get into enforcing the law — which means deport — that you lose people's votes. Oddly enough, people resent the idea that you might throw their mother out of the country."

Mike Huckabee once defended his support for the Dream Act by saying: "I don't believe that in this country we punish children for the crimes of their parents."

Why can't any of our Democratic candidates say anything this simple? Why does Hillary have to do some verbal contortions over driver's licenses? Why not just say you're for it, and STICK TO IT?

And for those Democrats who think it's okay to throw immigrants under the bus, I have got another think coming for you - we're going to primary the hell out of Rahm Emmanuel and his lapdogs. It is no longer acceptable to scrapegoat someone because of the color of their skin. It is no longer acceptable to tell people to "go back to their home country if they don't like it" and it is no longer acceptable to write and pass such ass-backwards legislation that you try to detain, intern, or deny certain communities. (You can shove the Exclusion Acts up yours, mister.)

We're kicking ass and taking names on the GOP side, in between the Cuban vote helping Romney lose Florida, and forcing xenophobic Congressman Tom Davis to resign. Justice does not have a political affiliation.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gore v Bill Clinton

Ugh, Gore had the sense to stay low and let the current candidates shine - why can't Bill have the same sense. Even nonpolitical observers have told me that it feels like Clinton is running his wife's campaign. And this message coming from not particularly politically active WOMEN undercuts the root of Hillary's appeal to women, both implicit and stated by the campaign.

per political wire:

Marc Ambinder notes that Al Gore "has not told any of his political advisers and friends if he is considering an endorsement. During the past year, he has spoken privately with all three leading Democrats."

However, an adviser said that Gore "had long ago decided to lay low once the Democratic delegate selection contests began so as not to interfere in the race."

Now there's a man with good sense and sensibility who knows when to leave the stage. Bill on the other hand, not so much. This Politico piece lays it all out:

Who can say what Clinton’s effect on the campaign trail really is? However much journalistic critics and Obama supporters cringed at Bill Clinton’s performances, they seemed to help Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and Nevada.

But those experiences seemed to unleash something more antic and unruly in Clinton’s attacks on Obama and the media, making the Clinton campaign even more about him and less about her. The effect was a bit like a dieter who reads on the Internet that doughnuts are actually good for you.

But the gluttony strategy backfired in the South Carolina primary, and it backfired again in the Kennedy endorsement primary.

In his own career, Clinton’s errors have always been followed by recovery, self-indulgence by self-correction. The next several weeks will determine whether he can follow the same pattern on behalf of his spouse.

Also, Congressman Raul Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona, has switched his support from Edwards to Obama, according to local papers:

Grijalva had endorsed Edwards on May 3, saying the former senator from North Carolina "has shown principled leadership on the way in Iraq and on economic opportunity in America."

Grijalva will be very helpful in Latino outreach, especially since California is one of the biggest prizes on Feb 5th. And apparently the first interview that Teddy Kennedy and Obama did after the historic speech and endorsement was with Univision - way to understand your audience. Teddy Kennedy is remarkable - he carried Kerry on his back in Iowa, with the farmers, and the Reagan democrats, the white males, and the union members. He has the trust and respect of many of the Latino voters and civil rights organizations. Teddy Kennedy is like instant cred.

Which Hillary could have used, right about now, as her husband appears to be flailing in his own ego and hubris.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Are the Clintons trustworthy? Or, will you still love me tomorrow?

This dkos post gets at the heart of the matter - why people are wary of the Clintons. I hear some form of this from relatives, strangers, friends, people in bars, people in cars. From total political junkies to political neophytes -

Will they stab us in the back? Will they be there for us when the chips are down?

It's what everyone wonders and what progressive activists are most afraid of - that when push comes to shove, Hillary and Bill will push us all over the cliff before they get dragged over. It's what I'm most afraid of, and what I am pretty sure will happen - not when, but if. And I am not even as close-minded to Hillary as most of my friends are (you know, the run to Canada or not vote in the general election type.) It's Clinton's Tracy Flick and she needs to deal with her husband being Slick Willie. It's throwing aside Iowa and South Carolina and praising states like Florida and Michigan only because they can benefit her in the delegate count. If Florida winds up apportioning most of their delegates to Obama, will she still love them tomorrow?

Several people who are close to the President said Mr. Jackson's emotional support should not be underestimated. "Jesse Jackson has been as good a friend as we've had in this," said Paul Begala, a senior aide to Mr. Clinton. "Oh, he's been good."

Indeed. Throughout their personal and political crisis, when Jackson was needed by the Clintons, he was there for them. During the impeachment proceedings, Rev. Jackson rallied thousands on the steps of the Capitol:

"The American people do not view Bill Clinton as a bad man," the Rev. Jesse Jackson told the crowd. "They see him as they see themselves -- as flawed, as less than perfect."

Everyone knows someone who has betrayed them, and no one wants that person to be the President of this country, especially after the complete incompetence of Bush. If this is what Obama is hitting on, it's brutally effective, especially since they see the Clinton camp's desperation.

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More Asian Americans on the campaign trail

Apparently Roger Lau is Hillary's go to guy in Massachusetts.

Members of the staff were not available to comment, although state campaign director Roger Lau did release information about the former first lady’s statewide organization.

Organizing meetings throughout Massachusetts, and especially in the Boston area, have been very successful, according to Lau. A meeting in Cambridge drew 126 supporters and one in Newton brought 64 supporters. The organizing meetings are planned not by Clinton staff, but instead by local volunteers.

Lau apparently has worked for Senator Kerry, former Congressman Meehan, and managed Niki Tsongas' successful Congressional election. I wonder how big a hit it was when his former employer and the state's senior Senator went for Obama...

In Washington State, former Governor Gary Locke is a co-chair of Hillary's campaign there.

In California, Obama hired Van Tamom to be his Deputy Political Director and director of APIA Outreach. Apparently he ran for the state legislature and was endorsed by Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, which might explain her break from her sister who is supporting Hillary. Also, this is probably the most beautiful and artistic campaign mural EVER.

In other news, the DNC has named a number of APAs to Convention committees.

Musical musings

Hot track that I found on Fred Wilson's new tumbler player. (It's on the left hand sidebar and it rocks!) It's the hidden track on Nux Vomica by the Veils and the lead singer's got a misty, ironic voice paired with some jangly coffee-fueled beats. Think of a revived Morrissey crossed with Erasure's DNA.

I've felt like this about some campaigns. . .

The yahoo sample.

Here are the lyrics: Night Thoughts of a Tired Surgeon

I’ve been brought back to life so many times I don’t know what’s real

Take the scalpel, Miss Ivonne
Time of death is 1 am
The blood is going to my head,
By God, I’ll never touch another’s heart again

I’ve been brought back to life so many times I don’t know what’s real
I’ve been brought back to life so many times I don’t know what’s real

Pass that ashtray, Miss Ivonne
I’m gonna stick it into his ear
Let’s dance the night away in peace my love
Come in we’ll flee like hounds in search of something [lessen sincere](?)

I’ve been brought back to life so many times I don’t know what’s real
I’ve been brought back to life so many times I don’t know what’s real

But this is all I’ve ever known
No one does it like I do
There must be something in my blood
‘Cause all I know right now is that I love you still

I’ve been brought back to life so many times I don’t know what’s real
I’ve been brought back to life so many times I don’t know what’s real

And here's another track from Fred Wilson's player - Apartment Story - The National

The singer has an amazing just-past 4 am voice that alternately caresses and alienates with a distant fuzz as if broadcasting from our inner radio hearts. This one is perfect for a movie soundtrack.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

McCain's Senior Moment

Ouch, Ron Paul's remix of McCain's stuttering, stumbling answer on the economy is pretty awesome.

Now, the remix with Miss South Carolina's incoherent babblings interspersed. McCain doesn't know jack about the economy.

McCain's actual response: The economies! Back in mah daze, we climbed up the hillz, both waez, and then downs. . . A list of names. Clearly a gotcha question, but one that hit its mark.

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Change is in the air in SC - liveblogging speeches

So Obama won 55, Hillary 27, and Edwards 18. This means that about 3/4ths of the people who voted voted for change.

Damn, Obama is taking a lot of talking points from Edwards. One friend asled, "did Edwards just give Obama his victory speech and say, 'Hey man, you can take it?'" Lots of economic populism in here.

He seems really exhausted, and this is kind of a depressing speech. Obama doesn't even look happy. This is full of digs at Hillary, and not very subtle, like against those who would "say anything, do anything to win." He needs to bring it back to the hope. He doesn't look like it's a victory speech, he looks angry and upset.

He flat out looks like he's been crying. He has some lines like Dean, and the difference in perception by others is HUGE - between an angry white man and an angry black man.

Ok, he is finally getting into the swing of things, and he is getting cocky at the end. Damn, that line about the woman who worked for Strom Thurmond who doorknocked for him is good. Why is he only getting into the swing of things and upswing at the end? He has more heft and authority to his voice now, it's stronger. He only cracks a smile toward the end, and Michelle gets on the stage and she makes him smile more. She looks fantastic. Obama is saying something strongly in her ear.

It has some King references, some Edwards references, and lots of very patriotic imagery. almost a 30 percent victory, which is really impressive in a Southern state.

Wow, the turnout was expected to be 300,000 and it was over half a million! The CNN exit polling also shows:

# Obama took more than 80 percent of African-American vote, polls show
# He had support of nearly a quarter of white voters; Clinton, Edwards split remainder
# Polls showed Obama winning majorities across nearly all demographic groups
# Clinton won among voters older than 65, Obama won 18- to 64-year-olds

Edwards is speaking - he did much better than in Nevada, and he is to be congratulated. Edwards strangely looks less tired and angry than Obama even though he came in third. But he did manage to take a large chunk of voters woho would have gone Hillary. Edwards has a strong and upbeat message. He looks young and fresh but his message is not that interesting because he is saying lots of things he has said before. Nice, I am liking this double-teaming by Edwards and Obama. This is interesting because he's not bashing anyone.

OMG the other crazy thing is that ALL the CNN analysts have nice things to say about Obama. From Donna brazile to Bill Bennett to other people. NO ONE has said anything bad about him - I haven't seen this kind of "balanced" reporting since FOX News. LOLS! By the way, Billary's race-baiting has pushed Donna Brazile squarely into Obama's camp - Brazile is rattling off Obama's talking points on the politics of hope, bam bam bam. She doesn't have to say that she is pro Obama, it shows. Bill has really done her wrong on this.

hillary's voice in Tennessee is raw. She's PO'd. And what was the woman who introduced her wearing?!?! And why isn't she even speaking from South Carolina, such a diss. She's not even giving her speech from South Carolina, she clearly doesn't care. She even gave iowa the middle finger after she lost. She discarded South Carolina like last night's bad sushi, and how can we expect her to care about the rest of the country?!? Hillary is really pushing the Florida thing. It is kind of sad because even HER crowd doesn't laugh at her lame jokes. she is just not a funny woman. and her crowd isn't even fired up.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Now she;s trying to throw a bone to the students at young people in Tennessee when she had tried to prevent them from voting in Iowa. Who's the scary gothic blond chick behind her. The people behind her look totally bored. They look like they are trying to just stay awake. (!!!) What the fuck is she talking about? We've been privileged and benefited from what? This is MUCH more boring than Edward's speech

OH MY GOD, Wolf Blitzer just rudely cut her off and minimized her on the screen saying "Hillary is now going into her stump speech"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then CNN flashed a sign saying "To continue watching Clinton live, go to cnn.politics.com" I have not seen anything that funny on tv in a really long time.

Damn, Carl Bernstein hates Hillar calling it "one of the worst nights of her life."

Also even the white woman Gloria borger is saying that Obama has had HUGE turnout, and the guy next to her says that Obama's turnout has been bigger than McCain and huckabee combined.

John Edwards is doing live interview with Blitzer. Very Johnny Sunshine. Did a GREAT job on deflecting the Florida/Michigan DNC delegates question and got back to how he's in it for the people "who need a voice in this country." Wolf is giving him major softballs.

OMG, if Edwards isn't AG, and Dean can't stay as DNC Chair, then I want Edwards for DNC Chair.

Plus, Obama got endorsed by Caroline Kennedy in the NYT: A President Like My Father.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

Sweet. PLus apparently Hillary is scared of losing Teddy Kennedy to Obamania.

and Bob herbert is pisssssssed.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Hillary and Howard, Obama needs to fight back

I don't know, but I would guess that Hillary and Howard Dean have a working relationship, but that if Dean supported anyone, it would be Edwards or Obama. Obama because he is running the 50 state strategy and understands the need to engage more people into the Democratic party, to open it up and make it inclusive.

Well, one of the best things that Dean ever did was to change the primary/caucus system so that it included the more diverse states of Nevada (APIA and Latino voter concentration) and South Carolina (African American voters), not to mention, it increased geographic diversity. So while I feel bad that the people of Michigan and Florida don't get to have their delegates count, it was a compromise. And yes, these two states also have a lot of minorities, but their state party leaders decided to muck up the whole process by cutting in line. Hillary should not go and explode the delicate truce by demanding now that these voters are heard when her campaign was more than eager to disenfranchise Casino workers on the caucus strip.

Actually, I have to say that this was a friggin' BRILLIANT strategy by the H-camp - they distracted the Obama campaign with a head feint while beating them with their organizing of other workers near the Strip. Because the lawsuit was bogus, they knew it was bogus, and the judge knew it was bogus. But they knew it would draw media attention, and also the resources and energy of the Obama campaign and throw them off their game. I have to admit that they are excellent at practicing sleight of hand, or "pay no attention to the left hand that is going to sucker punch you when you least expect it."

By winning over Casino workers and turning out other union members, whose leadership FAILED to give them some direction for months, they did an artful job. Of course, they also provided the GOP with fodder for all the upcoming elections to disenfranchise Democratic voters and union members. But nevermind the long term view as long as Hillary can win.

Also, Asian Americans in Nevada apparently voted 2 to 1 for Hill and Bill, whereas Latinos voted 3 to 1, an astonishing lead. I wouldn't be surprised at all if these figures didn't match the national sentiment.

Lastly, I wonder if Hillary calling attention to gaining the delegates of Michigan and Florida isn't another feint designed to draw attention away from something else. I gotta say, the Clintonites understand how to spin, what will lure reporters pads and pens more than anything else, and they know how to use it. They might complain that they don't get good press and well actually the worst press, and they might but they also know how to work it.

Really lastly, when is Obama going to get some surrogates who go negative on the Clintons? He's expending all his energy attacking Bill, for whom there is some nostalgia (if only because we remember him so fondly compared to the current piss poor excuse for a national leader that we have.) So Obama has to disengage from that while shining his bright hopeful beacon smile and getting Jesse Jackson Jr and nother notables to be hitting the Clintons hard. I understand that it's not supposed to be politics as usual but there are ways to hit the Clintons without slandering their character.

Also, Hillary is basically setting Bill up like some kind of giant media-sucking net, to take and deflect all the blows. Meanwhile hillary's up to something, I don't know what shape but I can feel it.

He needs to hit hard, and now, because the New York Times endorsement is not insignificant. I mean, I knew it was coming for Hillary because she's their home state senator (or carpetbagger, if you prefer) and well, it's going to do some damage.

Okay, last bit I promise, but so much the day before South Carolina. Obama's folks have answered my Fantasy Democratic Administration prayers and are floating the idea of Edwards as Attorney General. So exciting! (Well, if you can trust bob Novak farther than you can throw him...) Oops - I had Edwards as Labor and Spitzer as AG but I think both would be great in either position. Edwards is a fantastic trial attorney.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Entitled bloggers, cry me a river

So I am less and less thrilled with John Aravosis' posts recently. First he puts up a pretty racist post blasting a Chinese artist for creating the MLK Memorial, and now, he's whining about how he and other people earning between $75,000 and $150,000 don't get anything from this sham of an economic stimulus package.

At first I couldn't believe it was real, but now I am pretty convinced.

That means that if you make $75,000 or more a year, no check for you. Forget that fact that you live in NYC or DC or San Francisco, where prices from property to food are outrageous. No, forget that. Some guy living in a mansion in Topeka making $74,999 a year will get his little gift from the US Treasury and you, living in NYC making $75,001 out of a 300 sq ft studio apartment will get nothing.

Cry me a fucking river. I have very little sympathy for this kind of entitled whining from people who are actually upper middle class. Please refer to my post on Harvard single-handedly redefining the middle class by increasing the ceiling of financial aid to families making $200,000. Take how I feel about that, and apply it to this, but decrease the volume by half. It's this kind of privileged bitching that leads to scrapegoating the hard working immigrants who barely scrape by on $16,000/year.

Let's look at it another way - giving money to the lower income families means that money gets spent quicker on necessities, and rejuvenates the economy. When you give tax cuts to rich people, they invest in stocks, bonds, and Wall Street.

And yes, I am a blogger, and yes I am comfortable. But I would still qualify for the tax rebate. And yeah, NYC and DC are expensive cities, and you have the option of living further out and commuting in if you want cheaper housing. For everything there is a trade off.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tidbits: Thompson out, APIA history and the state of the race

Thompson bows out, as lazy as he stepped in, assured that the GOP base was looking to him to be their savior without him having to lift a finger. Man, at least Huckabee works hard for it, even if his campaign lacks the moola. Well, the good news is that the GOP base seems as lackadaisical as Thompson. Which means that we still stand a strong chance of winning, Democratic teardown or not.

Also Edwards (and his staff) have Clintonites and Obamaniacs courting them.

As the candidates waited, one Edwards staffer was approached first by Clinton's campaign and then later by Obama's campaign, looking to gauge the staffer's interest in joining up at some point in the near future. The staffer was both flattered and offended by the audacity of the approaches.

But there is more than talk at the staff level. Over the weekend, Edwards had conversations with both Clinton and Obama. Aides to the candidates will not describe the content of the calls and there is some confusion about who initiated them. One report has Edwards calling Clinton to congratulate her on her after her victory in Nevada. The fact that the calls took place at all highlights the fluidity of the Democratic race at this point and the likelihood that both Clinton and Obama are vitally interested in Edwards's future.

Of course, this follows a keenly-observed Edwards-Hillary talk. But of course Edwards is more ideologically similar to Obama in terms of wanting change in national and Democratic politics.

On the endorsements front, Hillary picked up Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, which makes a lot of sense since he has centrist policies. Obama is seeking Sebelius, Democratic Governor of red, red Kansas which is slowly bleeding purple.

Also, I thought this was pretty cool - Fairfax County in Virginia is doing a county-wide Asian American history project:

History Project Highlights Asian American Residents

Asian Americans and others interested in a countywide Asian American history project sponsored by Supervisor Sharon S. Bulova are invited to attend a meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Braddock Hall, 9002 Burke Lake Rd., Burke.

The project aims to tell the story of Asian Americans who have made Fairfax County their home. Members of Asian American groups are asked to help record experiences.

The meeting will include presentations on Asian immigration to the county and how similar history projects are organized.

For information on the project, contact Cora Foley at 703-250-1830, TTY 711, or corazonfoley@fanhs-nova.org. For information about the meeting, contact Christina Fullmer at 703-425-9300, TTY 711, or christina.fullmer@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ugh and Uggs

Ugly and uglier. "While I was working on the streets, watching these folks lose their jobs, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board of Walmart." (Totally true by the way.)

But still nothing compared to what Republicans have thrown (remember Vince Foster? Or Gennifer flowers? Or Howard Dean morphs into Osama bin Laden?)

also, if Bill Clinton doesn;t think that he is ruining his legacy by tearing down the first serious black frontrunner (for a time) candidate for President, I don't know what he's smoking.

Post MLK Tidbits, more gender and race

Day after Martin Luther King Jr's holiday in remembrance of his wisdom and his courage, I find myself missing Steve Gilliard's sharp and incisive commentary on issues. I miss having his voice around during the crazy Clinton-Obama race-fest, and I miss his overall spot-on political analysis. So I stopped by the Group News Blog to see if I couldn't get some Steve-style lovin' and I did, so I am adding it to my blogroll.

On the race versus gender thing, I don't think that people are race traitors or gender traitors by who they vote for. It's not as simple as all that. There's who you think is going to do the most to improve the economy, help immigrants, be a voice for the disenfranchised, end the war, and change so many of the things that have been going wrong for the past 8 years. There's the issue of being tired of being angry and wanting to go back to an America where we could talk to each other about issues and come to a common understanding. There's all our civil rights and civil liberties which Bush has just trampled on, lying in a broken heap on the floor, like toys that a 5 year old got sick of playing with, as opposed to our basic human freedoms.

I miss having a Martin Luther King Jr type figure in the African American community, not just for the betterment of my countrymen and countrywomen, but also for our global community. And yes, it might surprise John Aravosis that even Chinese artists are inspired by King's work and legacies. So what if a Chinese artists and not a Chinese American artist is building his statue? A lot of people from the establishment to the veterans to deans of architecture schools had frankly racist qualms about a Chinese American designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, because apparently China is the same as Vietnam, and well, all Chinese are communist, nevermind the ones who fought in the civil war and fled to Taiwan. Or that Maya Lin was also an American. What disturbs me is that Aravosis calls it "rather disgusting" that the MLK Memorial is to be "made-in-China." I know it's currently popular to China-bash because of our country's economic insecurity, but when a leading progressive blogger does it, that just makes me flat uneasy.

No one complains anymore about the Vietnam veterans memorial, instead, I think it's really one of the most beautiful and visionary memorials in DC. It's not an homage to the singular Great Man, but rather to great men and women, and a reminder of the deep rift and cleft that it caused in our nation. It is poetic justice in stone, living physical memory that transmits sorry and pride through touch. I rmeember visiting when I was young, really young, and not knowing that it was designed by Maya Lin, scarce having an understanding of the Vietnam War, and running my hand along all those names, names of military men and women who I did understand had died for us. Someone told me that I wasn't allowed to do it, but already, in the fog and mist, the sorrow and solemnity had been transmitted to me. And I stood aside and wept.

We don't have anyone who has the level of respect as Dr. King, who is as widely recognized. And I agree that leaders emerge from the community when we most need it, but sometimes, leaders fail to emerge despite the leadership vaccuum and the community gets razed over anyway. You could say that it's a symbol that the community didn't really care about the issue, but that community is still gone, and some new 25 story shiny metal behemoths are up in its place. Our African American community desperately needs a new generation of leadership, and so does our Asian Pacific American community. I don't just mean elected leadership, but leadership outside of the halls of power, unbent and unbowed.

Race versus gender, and the old pit you against him or her while I make off with the booty. It's just plain old not so simple. At least for me.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Swiftboating: McCain gets shat on

Readers of this site will know that I do not love John McCain, especially not his "gook" comments or his disavowal of the immigrant rights movement. But I do think that even for Republicans, the other side has sunk to some new lows.

Someone put out new ads by the "Vietnam Veterans against John McCain" alleging that he abandoned Vietnam Vets.

OUCH! Talk about kneecapping and political jiu jitsu - this is what happened to John Kerry in 04, almost exactly. Shadowy GOP opponents take one the the candidate's main strength (valor in military service) and turn it around on them. Especially one who purposefully did NOT accept offers to leave imprisonment and confinement early due to his status. Instead, he wound up staying a few years extra in prison, being tortured.

I mean, OUCH! Look at me defending McCain!

So who do I think is behind it? Some Romney funders, most likely, since Huckabee doesn't have the money for this, and is more likely to hit McCain on Christianity and liberalism. Additionally, he seems to go out of his way to praise McCain and shares some slightly less crazy views on certain social issues. Also, Romney has shitloads of cash, and would benefit the most. I would be surprised if Giuliani's folks put this out, because it's so evil and strategic, and well . . . his campaign has shown a remarkable lack of strategy (who came up with the let's wait to battle it out after 5 states and 5 weeks of media time have gone by?!?!) Also, how much does it hurt that Giuliani is running behind McCain in his home state of NY?

It sure seems like McCain just can't catch a break from his own party - first being accused of having a "tar baby", a black lovechild by the Bushies in 00 in S Carolina, when really he has an adopted Bangladeshi daughter (but we all look the same right??!!?)

Unless, you are really an evil genius, and McCain's people did this to himself to 1) boost his standing in the general election - remember, McCain has spent most of his time running as an incumbent this time around (can't say that's worked great for him since his 00 appeal was his maverick willingness to speak the truth.) anyway, if he can hit back strong, and the vets go away, it only highlights his military experience and makes people feel bad for him (sympathy vote.) Oh wait, that only works with liberals like me in the general election. anyways, it's probably registered as a 527 so we can't get to the bottom of who the funders are really, since it takes advantage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform laws.


Democratic South Carolina debate thoughts

Wow, this was the hardest hitting Democratic debate so far.

First, why do all the (mostly white) political commentators keep saying, wow, race is being talked about? or "Wow, race is an issue" like dumbasses?!?! It's a lil ridiculous folks. Obama self-identifies as black, but also as global. Of course we;re going to talk about race. (And a big thank you goes to Howard Dean.)

What was interesting is that the format of the debate was formal debate with moderator in the first half, candidates in chairs without rules for the second half. Weirdly, the first half had more hard-hitting back and forth and some moments where audience members (and I) went "ouch!" at candidate's statements. But in the chairs, the three candidates (Edwards, Hillary and Obama) were more relaxed and actually exchanged boxing gloves for white ones of civility.

Hillary was really throwing a lot of stuff at Obama, and I was semi-surprised that Edwards also piled onto Obama with her, landing harder punches esp on the healthcare stuff.

Edwards, again, hits Obama with greater dexterity than Hillary manages, this time on single-payer:

The problem with this argument is you can make exactly the same argument about Social Security," he says of Obama's plan not to insist that everyone buy health care.

Hillary piles on, to make her case: "This is kind of like the present vote[s]."

Obama responds on a point that's very much subject to how much the plan winds up costing: whether or not a mandate will be "affordable enough."

I have to say again that I was kinda surprised by Edwards landing these blows, and that it seemed the tactical and tacit alliance between Edwards and Obama that seemed to be in place earlier has switched. I don't know why it's switched now, in a state like South Carolina, in front of a predominantly black voting audience, but it has. And it doesn't look good. I understand that Edwards' campaign might be pissed for personal reasons about the UNITE HERE endorsement, esp since the union's former chief of staff is an Edwards adviser, but I'm pretty sure it goes beyond that. Edwards has an anti-Hillary line, and anti-establishment line, and he started hitting Obama after Obama's endorsement and subsequent rollout of ads on his behalf because well, Obama was definitely hitting Edwards and Hillary on independent expenditures by unions.

Nobody saw that one coming: Edwards — for tactical reasons, or out of pure courtroom instinct — pressed Clinton's assault on Obama's "present" votes, and the question — unanswered at that point — of why Obama hadn't just voted "no."

"You criticize Hillary, you criticize me for our votes," he said, trying to deny Obama the moral high ground he'd sought.

Edwards asked "why you voted present, rather than yes or no, when you had a chance to vote up or down," he said.

Obama responded that the present votes were meant to signal "technical problems with a piece of legislation" he might otherwise have voted for, or, in other cases, strategy -- a response that's borne out in many of the cases they're talking about but doesn't help with the broader case that there's a gap between the clarity of his rhetoric and the pragmatism of his politics. (Though whether that's a problem is a different question.)

Edwards was really convincing and eloquent on this one, and I know it landed. Ouch.

A particularly BAD moment for Obama was when he said that he has "never been for universal health care." Bad for Democratic activists to here, and bad for him to say. I understand he's still trying to appeal to the general election voter, but when even a high profile, nonpartisan and well-trusted (for some reason) group like the AARP is saying that we need universal healthcare, I think it is TOTALLY OKAY to say we need universal health care. There's a lot of room there for some primary attack ads, and it's a hard thing to back down from in a general election with the GOP. As someone who is really passionate about health care, it was a pretty disheartening moment.

Hillary tried to pull a "Obama voted against the war but then voted for funding it", which would have paralleled John Kerry's own admission "I voted for it before I voted against it" except I don't think that punch landed so much. I thought Obama did a good job of defusing the question of whether he thought "Bill Clinton was indeed the first black president" by saying that:

First, cleverly, he linked Clinton to Edwards, casting him not as a unique figure, but as one of many honorable white sons of the South who eschewed racism.


"I would have to investigate more Bill’s dancing ability and some of this other stuff before I accurately judged whether he was, in fact, a brother," Obama said, to laughter.

"I'm sure that can be arranged," Hillary responded.

This was smart, funny, and honors the white allies and detracts from white (liberal) guilt. This was in the second half when they were all seated, and Obama definitely tried to de-escalate the tension levels.

If I had to pick one person who won, I would actually say Edwards, because he got to point at the bickering children on stage and ask if their bickering was going to get children the health care that they deserve. So he got to rise above. But it was clear that the audience was with Obama and I wonder if the image of a black candidate being attacked from both sides by white candidates, one female, one male, won't be burnt into the eye sockets of many South Carolina voters.

One might ask what the difference between this and Clinton complaining last summer that the boys were ganging up on her because she was female (which I wasn't particularly sympathetic to - she was the national FRONT RUNNER by money, staff, and endorsements then, and that is what happens - it's simply smart politics) is that Obama isn't the clear national frontrunner. He is only the front-runner in SC. In fact, I would bet that although Obama has built a 50 state strategy, training and recruiting people who have never been involved in politics before, along Dean's ideals (having the resources to do so, unlike Edwards), Hillary still has better national name recognition, for better or worse. Time will tell whether his recruits are more or less adept than Dean's. And she has the Democratic establishment behind her especially in delegate-rich NY and CA. So it's not quite a toss up, but more analysis later.

NEXT UP: McCain Gets Swiftboated

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Rep. Clyburn: Bill needs "to chill"

I am liveblogging his appearance just now on CNN Situation Room.

Rep. Clyburn, a senior leader in the party, says that he is afraid that GOP will use Clinton's talking points and that it will suppress and depress the minority vote. Same point I have been making for a while.

Also says that what Barack Obama said about Reagan being a "transformational president" "made him cringe", "to what extent you praise Ronald Reagan, make very sure you don't cross the line and praise his policies. It's one thing to praise his personality, but his policies were very bad for African Americans. . . Reagan WAS a transformational leader, but the problem is what way it was transformational. His policies were very bad for African Americans."

Smart man.

"History is a great predictor of the future, and we always have to stay vigilant to not allow history to repeat itself. So we have to make very sure as a Democratic party. . . a lot of the differences in [Carter's campaign] is that African America voters stayed away in droves, and they did it because they were depressed and disenfranchised"


Friday, January 18, 2008

Hillary is Flick

So remember when I said Hillary is Tracy Flick? Here's a video to prove it . . .

Also, long live the most recent Wonkette. Megan, as Anonynmous Lobbyist, and then herself, brought so much sparkle back to the website (no coincidence that she's a girl.) Now Wonkette has no female writers again, which will severely decrease theitr perspective and snark ability. Wonkette's snarkiness quotient is going down fast, and that's a shame - I need to be able to laugh about this craziness. And I probably still will, but it won;t be because of wonkette.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Vegetable Instruments

This guy in Japan made a whole bunch of instruments out of vegetables. Here is a broccoli ocarina and him playing "Angels we have heard on high" - this is one of the cooler things I have seen on youtube.


Politico covers disgruntled Asian American voters

Or at least Ben Smith does. It's about what Alvina wrote in the comments - apparently Asian Americans weren't invited to the official Democratic debate, so we get a "kiss and make up" rally with Congressman Honda and Senator Harry Reid. I love both of them, but this is kind of a major mistake/ oversight by Nevada Democrats. 150,000 people is kind of a big deal when you only expect 20-100,000 people to show up to caucus.

Here's some local coverage.

"They forgot about almost 150,000 Asian people in this town," said Mike Vaswani, president of the Las Vegas Asian American Group, an umbrella group for Asian associations. "The Asian community is also a significant minority community."

The debate is being put on by the Nevada Democratic Party and MSNBC, cosponsored by the 100 Black Men of America, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the IMPACTO political action arm of the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce, the Nevada African American Democratic Leadership Council and the College of Southern Nevada.

Vaswani said he respected all those groups, but that too often, in conversations about minorities, Asians are left out.


Attack vid on Huckabee and clemency

Americablog always has the funniest videos. Here's a vicious attack video on Huckabee's clemency records of releasing known criminals who go on to kill, all pleasantly set to the tune of the Beatles' Yesterday:

You can get it from Mike Huckabee
. . . Why he let them go, we don't know,
He wouldn't say
So I've bought a gun for the scum that he set free

Clemency, you can kill your whole damn family
And Huckabee might set you free
The Governor grants clemency"

Clearly there are some parts of the GOP that DO NOT WANTZ TEH HUCKABEEZ


Clinton campaign IS using divide and conquer on race

So I wrote about this earlier in an angry tone, because I don't like the "dog whistle" type of politics of fear that the Clinton campaign is using by having her surrogates - Billy Shaheen, Bob Kerrey, Andrew Cuomo, Robert Johnson (BET), even Bill Clinton refer to Obama's race or his disclosed drug usage.

I don't like it one bit, and earlier I wondered if it was indeed a campaign strategy. Now Ryan Lizza confirms it in the New Yorker, and I feel sick. This is not one of those things I like being right about, and this dailykos post has the ugly, incriminating details.

When I asked Bendixen about the source of Clinton’s strength in the Hispanic community, he mentioned her support for health care, and Hispanic voters’ affinity for the Clinton era. “It’s one group where going back to the past really works,” he said. “All you need to say in focus groups is ‘Let’s go back to the nineties.’ ” But he was also frank about the fact that the Clintons, long beloved in the black community, are now dependent on a less edifying political dynamic: “The Hispanic voter—and I want to say this very carefully—has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates.”

This is not what I signed onto the Democratic party for, this is not why I believe in Democratic values, and this is not what any Democrat should be aiding and abetting. It is ugly, and it is the kind of tactic that Rove would use. These are rightwing tactics of divide and conquer - pitting blacks against whites, Latinos against blacks, etc.

If Hillary really thinks this is going to win her the presidency, then she needs to wake up and open her eyes. She is turning off a lot of voters (not to mention politicians like REp. Clyburn and seasoned operatives like Donna Brazile) with this shit, and it needs to end, because she is turning off the voters who stayed home when John Kerry ran against Bush - the young voters, the minorities, the independents. If she wins our primary with these kinds of tactics, I am going to feel incredibly disappointed in our party and our country. Because she'll just lose the general especially if Huckabee really is able to pull the Reagan coalition back together.

Look, I am sorry that no one likes Hillary or thinks she has any kind of morals, but it's stuff like this - sinking to the level of Rove - which makes people believe this. I try and I want to like Clinton, and I try to give her the benefit of the doubt, but it's dirty tricks like this that turn me off. These aren't talking points - it's what people across the board are observing, and it's horrifyingly ugly. She really IS Tracy Flick. And that might get us somewhere in the general election, and it might not. She might have turned enough people off of politics that many of Obama's voters stay home, and then we'd have 12 years of Republican idiocy straight.

Look, one of the things I've learned is that these groups, particularly minorities, don't come out to vote unless they have a reason, and a compelling candidate. Obama is one of THE most compelling candidates we've had in my lifetime, and the energy that he's brought into this race is inspiring. He's made it sexy to care about politics again. And he's made voting cool.

And you know what, I don't care if these aren't particularly wonky reasons to vote. It doesn't matter, because for the first time in a long time, it seems like disenfranchised groups are making themselves heard. It's a mighty good thing, and I wish Hillary's campaign would see it that way instead of actively trying to disenfranchise voters (students in Iowa and casino workers in Las Vegas.) Just because it's her surrogates saying these racially-tinged things doesn't mean that it's okay.

Where I saw a pattern, others have pieced it all together. And we all know Hillary wants to win at any cost. She a fighter. But why are we tearing each other down when the Republicans are perfectly capable of doing that? And when they are doing such a good job of self-destructing, imploding from the inside out?

It seems like Hillary and the Clinton camp aren't just sore losers, they'd rather keep Republicans in office for 4 more years if she isn't the candidate. And that's not being a good team player. Why can't they recognize that the Clinton nostalgia is strong, but gracefully move on and let new leadership take their place?!?

I abhor what's going on, and it's not ok. It's plain nauseating.

UPDATE: Americablog's analysis is that Clinton talking about race is pretty much only win for her team because if Obama responds, it reinforces the message that he's black, and if he doesn't, they continue driving the race point home. Meaning that it apparently only hurts Obama for people to remember that he's black.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Entertainment - political and other

oooh, Friday Night Lights is back and boy is this an amazing show, full of heart and good actors. Great music, and great writing. Too bad the writers strike is on, I'm jonesing for some more eps.
Also, caught this political campaign game over at miniclip. It's slightly addictive, but I have to admit I'm not very good. Kinda embarrassing, I know. But you can play as one of Hillary, Edwards, Obama, Romney, Guiliani or Fred Thompson (I think this game must have been developed a long time ago...)

Lastly, I have been watching a lot of cable. Like Project Runway. I'm sorry to say the Asian American woman on the show is really passive aggressive and snide, not someone I can root for regardless of race. My favorite designer, the Bjork-like woman got booted, so now there's less incentive for me to watch.

Play this free game now!!


Obama's endorsements, the GOP state of play

His most recent round of endorsements by purple state officials, and female to boot, are helping to offset the idea that Hillary is inevitable. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) and Governor Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) are all in purple or red states, and boost Obama's appeal to independents. The addition of McCaskill and Napolitano in particular are a big boon as they are popular and could offset Hill's appeal to women voters in those states.

On the Republican side of things, it's been a long while since I took a look at Huckabee. His lack of foreign policy prowess is getting him into some tights spots, and meanwhile McCain is doing a doozy on Romney. McCain's New Hampshire win means he is the golden geezer again and Huckabee's the movement candidate of young evangelicals, not unlike someone on the Democratic side for youth voters. Guiliani's staff are forgoing salaries up until Florida (meaning that the ship has just about tipped over.) Shame, since I think any of our candidates could make mincemeat out of him and Romney.

Lastly, the best quote I've seen about Huckabee's appeal, ever, from Judith Warner:

"If I did not have trouble believing that there were dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark, I might follow this man – and the very pleasant Chuck Norris, of course – to the ends of the earth."

Of course, my pick for Pied Piper is still Colbert.

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BET Founder calls out Obama

Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, just called out Obama on his past drug use at a Clinton rally.

He then added: “And to me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood –­ and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book –­ when they have been involved.”

Moments later, he added: “That kind of campaign behavior does not resonate with me, for a guy who says, ‘I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sidney Poitier ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.’ And I’m thinking, I’m thinking to myself, this ain’t a movie, Sidney. This is real life.”

Here's the question - is it okay when a black person does it? And doesn't this mean that Camp Hillary hasn't learned anything from the Billy Shaheen incident in New Hampshire? Or does it mean that the campaign thinks it worked all too well and is what contributed to their win?

These questions are pretty depressing, and I don't really want to think about them. But I will, because it really just reinforces the politics of fear. And I'm not sure that this isn't what pushes more black politicians over the edge, like Clyburn, to endorse Obama.

Mr. Clyburn, a veteran of the civil rights movement and a power in state Democratic politics, put himself on the sidelines more than a year ago to help secure an early primary for South Carolina, saying he wanted to encourage all candidates to take part. But he said recent remarks by the Clintons that he saw as distorting civil rights history could change his mind.

“We have to be very, very careful about how we speak about that era in American politics,” said Mr. Clyburn, who was shaped by his searing experiences as a youth in the segregated South and his own activism in those days. “It is one thing to run a campaign and be respectful of everyone’s motives and actions, and it is something else to denigrate those. That bothered me a great deal.”

You would think that the Clintons had had enough of this with the allegations about Bill and whether or not he smoked up, and with Monica. You would think that because they had had their names dragged through the mud, ripped to shreds and thown into the mulcher that they would not want to do the same to other people. But it doesn't seem like that. It seems like Bill and Hillary are intent on personal destruction, and it makes me sick.

Moreover, the movie he is referencing, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, is about an Ivy League educated black man whose white fiance brings him home to her wealthy San Francisco parents. Yes, it's a movie. So this only recalls Bill's words that Barack's candidacy is a fairy tale. And as a minority American, I deeply resent that. Obama has never said that Hillary's campaign is a fairy tale, has never called her Cinderella or Tracy Flick.

And there's no end of comparisons to be made here - Tracy's cupcakes smell of desperation just as much as Hillary's shovels for the voters of Iowa.

There IS such a thing as too much hardball. It can work for Obama the way that the female bashing worked for Hillary. No one likes it when you bully someone, and yes, women can also be bullies.

On one hand, this is the kind of go for the jugular gusto that some people want to see in a Democratic candidate - someone who is willing to fight, and who goes for the kill. On the other hand, it is pretty darn disgusting, like watching a vulture feed. And Hillary, well, she has always been the gunner who rubs people the wrong way, regardless of her intentions. A few moments of niceness, of openness and of emotion, doesn't negate a lifetime of being closed off. Our memory is too deep. In fact, those of us who had bitter high school experiences should recall them and question - "Why exactly is Hillary showing her soft side and being nice to me? What does she want?" And remember that in high school, just as in real life, once the gunner gets what he or she wants from you, they move on to their next victim.

You know, I am a bleeding heart - this means that I am pretty hardwired to feel bad for the person being attacked - I felt bad for Hillary when she was getting hit on the non-existent Chinatown donor can o worms that the LATimes opened up. And it definitely helped me to appreciate her position more. Who's to say that her campaign doing this isn't pushing other similarly-minded Democrats toward Obama? Every time she or her husband talk about it, apologize or spin, it reinforces Obama's blackness and his cocaine. Which might be a strategy all in itself. But that kind of shit don't fly in majority minority states.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

For the political geeks, Nevada

Here's a handy wiki guide to who's supporting who in Congress on the presidential race (this factors into delegate count.) As you can see, there's not that many names left blank.

Also, Hillary plays hardball with Obama and the Culinary Workers Union by outflanking them and stealing supporters from within, all on live TV. Hillary never had a chance of winning Culinary's endorsement, so she apparently feels free to kneecap. Pretty deft move on her part, but even ballsier for the State Rep who escorted her around to his supporters' homes. Because once Hillary leaves, the guy is in for a world of hurt back home.

A day after the 60,000-member Culinary Union endorsed Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for president, Clinton walked a northeast Las Vegas neighborhood heavy with Culinary workers and won the support of several.

Her campaign’s message: the endorsement means nothing and Culinary members should follow their conscience and not the order of union Secretary-Treasurer D. Taylor.

It was a political kick in the shins to Obama and the union, all delivered with the New York senator’s trademark wide grin.

. . . Clinton’s walk through the neighborhood wasn’t exactly a spontaneous stroll. The homes Clinton visited were the same ones that Kihuen canvassed with a Sun reporter last month, which seemed to undercut any claim to authenticity.

Many of the neighborhood residents either weren’t citizens or weren’t registered.

Clinton must have been a bit baffled, for instance, when Kihuen took her to visit Esperanza Solorio, who’s not a citizen. Kihuen explained her importance: She is a community activist who can move voters.

I'm assuming he's placed himself under Hill's protection and is betting big that she wins, because you do not want Culinary after you. This is Vegas folks, and odds are high, but the punishments can be even more severe. If Hillary wins, it means he has good chances of going up the ranks, and if now, well, I'm pretty sure Culinary will take him out in the next election. Hell, he still stands a chance of being defeated.

Besides, she spoke with a few voters, so this is mostly a symbolic gesture, a giant "F-you" to Obama and the union. At the end of the day, Culinary produces results and has immense loyalty form its membership of 60,000. It was definitely a shrewd move, but very ballsy. Expect the national union to come out hard against Hillary, real soon.


Obama v Colbert

Recent upsurge in traffic, which is pretty cool. I have several House-side visitors, even the Department of Justice.

Never when I launched my lil ole blog did I think I would get so many hits.

This election has been better than the Craigslist bump, and no, I don't mean "baby." Btw, Craig Newmark [Ed: edited from Venter, my mistake] is an Obama supporter, not a Colbert supporter, but I will forgive him for that. Not everyone has the ability to dream big.

And with that I present to you my comparison list of Obama v Colbert, just one in my ongoing lists of candidates' strengths and weaknesses.

This list is urgent, as voters in South Carolina go to make up their minds at the polls. Folks, it's never too late to support a winning candidate on these crucial issues that matter to the American people, especially in an ill-planned WRITE IN CAMPAIGN.

1)LOOKS - public's top concern, and what we vote for
Obama has an easy smile and a tall lanky frame. His skin is mocha colored. He has no hair and his ears are rather large for his face.

Colbert has a wicked smile and mischevious eyes. He does not see skin color. Colbert has a fine modern pompadour and one of his ears sticks closely to his face.

Decision: TIE

2) STYLE - consider it a subsidiary of Looks
Obama rocks the suit and open button down at the collar. A crisp yet relaxed image, with suits that gracefully drape his body

Colbert has extremely well fitted suits as well, including a smashing pinstripe number. But he always buttons his shirt and wears a slim fitting tie. Come on, how can you trust someone if they aren't wearing a tie?!?

Decision: Colbert

CHARISMA - this is how you get away with telling the American people that you're "the decider"; infalliable for selling stupid ideas like war with Iran
Obama is frequently described as a "rock star" and draws huge crowds. His 10,000 megawatt Democratic National Convention speech on behalf of Kerry blazed a trail all the way for him to make his own presidential run. Has throngs of adoring fans.

Colbert is often described as "a takeoff on Bill O'Reilly." He draws crowds and has throngs of adoring fans. His stage persona is so charismatic that he got Justice Scalia to laugh riotously at Colbert mocking him during the White House Correspondents Association dinner. How very meta.

Decision: Close call, but Obama. Obama's charisma is cooler, so maybe it's blue. And Colbert's charisma is warmer, so it's red. So this is a purple tie, not unlike one that Obama would wear to appeal to those purple states.

Obama launched his US Senate, then presidential campaign on the strength of one speech alone. Who else can top that?

Colbert launched the smartest, most incisive diatribe against the complicity of the DC press corps at the WHCA dinner that I have ever seen. Better than anything I could have dreamed of, toppled the egos of giants who only wish they had his speaking ability. Plus he manages to stay in character nearly ALL THE TIME. On TV. Do you know how hard that is?

Decision: Obama, because he has to stay in character all the time.

Obama is unafraid. So unafraid that he dares to be hopeful. Talk about a gloom-killer.

Colbert is afraid of bears. Like Papa Bear Bill O'Reilly, and polar and brown. (I wonder if he's also afraid of the Turkleton? I;d be afraid of his wife - she's fierce!)

Decision: Obama

Hmm, it appears that Obama would win 3-1-0. Nonetheless I'm sticking with my guy. Because my gut tells me so. And I always listen to my gut, as it is prodigiously larger than my brain. So right on, WRITE IN!

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Richardson's classy exit, Hillary's realization

Well, I was really touched by Gov. Bill Richardson's closing email, and I definitely have not been one of his biggest supporters.
Senator Biden's passion and intellect are remarkable.

Senator Dodd is the epitome of selfless dedication to public service and the Democratic Party.

Senator Edwards is a singular voice for the most downtrodden and forgotten among us.

Senator Obama is a bright light of hope and optimism at a time of great national unease, yet he is also grounded in thoughtful wisdom beyond his years.

Senator Clinton's poise in the face of adversity is matched only by her lifetime of achievement and deep understanding of the challenges we face.

Representative Kucinich is a man of great decency and dedication who will faithfully soldier on no matter how great the odds.

And all of us in the Democratic Party owe Senator Mike Gravel our appreciation for his leadership during the national turmoil of Vietnam.
I think that's one of the nicest things about this primary - there really has not been the level of mudslinging that I remember from the last one, and if that is because Obama has asked to elevate the level of debate, well, thank goodness. I mean, it's not terrible for our party to talk about the issues for once. And people are tired of dirty politics and the same old same old. We want to believe and be inspired because these past 7 years have been an ugly long nightmare. We want to wake up and be comforted by the thought that a whole bunch of nations aren't angry at us and want to nuke us. We want to wake up and know that we still have a job, and a home, and that our kids aren't going to face a worse off world.

Also, I'm reading this interview with Hillary in TIME magazine and wondering why she couldn't have seen the writing on the wall a long time ago? Is she really that controlled by Mark Penn? I know that one of the problems of having too many consultants is that you get boxed in, fenced in and you start to lose a sense of identity.

But this article title makes her sound like a cyborg who is reconnecting. Not good. but the meat of the article is rich and fascinating. In her own words:
And I think what that moment really illustrated is — guess what? Those of us who get up on the stage and make the speeches and shake the hands and do the interviews, are also human beings. And the empathy goes both ways. I really felt touched when that woman said "Well how are you?" because it said to me that she was seeing me as a human being as I had been seeing her and all the people there. And it's that kind of connection that I think is a very strong basis for us to go forward together.
Detach from being detached woman! Many of us, particularly on the left, regard Hillary with a complex love/hate mix. We would love to hate her (no, bad joke.) We hate her for what she represents - the DC establishment. But some of us would really love to just get to know her better, and to believe that she isn't superhuman. One of the most painful lessons of Dubya 2004 is that voters like empathy and compassion and emotion. They will even pick it over someone smart, talented, and yet whose face sometimes looks like its carved out of wood. Who walks like a marionette, but thinks like Kasparov. Would pick the real puppet over the Democrat.

So Obama was a breath of fresh air, and Dean before him. Dean is one of the most "real" politicians I can think of. Says what he thinks, stays grounded, takes the metro, not a limo unlike Terry McAuliffe, his predecessor.

I am going to have to call BS on this part though: "Well I really am facing the reality that despite the fact that it's been very costly to run this national campaign for a year, we didn't have enough people and we didn't have enough, you know, the breadth and depth to be able to cover all this ground that we have to cover." If you didn't spend mega bucks on the craptard Mark Penn, you would have more money to invest in the field. And if you actually ran a grassroots field operation, you wouldn't have to pay for shovels to bribe people to come out and vote for you. You would have built in cheap (free) labor in the form of legions of volunteers.

So overall, I am excited about Hillary 2.0. Or maybe this is really Hillary 1.0 or 0.5. Not enough to vote for her as a primary candidate, but because this is the face of true leadership. Real leaders are real. Don't be the plastic Romney on our side. Don't cover it up.


Endorsements fast and furious and more on Nevada, gender v race

On the heels of yesterday's union endorsements for Obama, he picks up 2 allies, Political Wire reports - John Kerry and Rep. George Miller. Yes, John Kerry has the emails of 3 million people who were desperate for anyone but Bush, but I would argue he has no real national base. So even though he is a household name, I don't think this endorsement holds much water. In fact, the NYT reports that the Obama campaign wasn't sure that they should even release it before Iowa:

The newspaper says the endorsement is weeks in the making. "In the final days before the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Kerry was on the verge of endorsing Mr. Obama, several senior Democratic officials said, but a final decision wasn’t made because it wasn’t clear how it would affect the campaign. So Mr. Kerry decided to hold off on the endorsement until after the New Hampshire primary."

I am not surprised by Kerry endorsing Obama because he has never been a Clintonite. Kerry still has a remarkably liberal voting record, despite the "I was for it before I was against it" gaffe that probably cost him the election. And I do believe that John Kerry is for change, even if he is not the right standard bearer.

More interesting than Kerry is George Miller's endorsement. He is like a capo for Nancy Pelosi, so he wouldn't have moved without her consent. He is also a liberal stalwart like Teddy Kennedy, a liberal old lion. Miller is a staunch fighter for the middle class, the environment, and many of the left's most central issues. I would have figured him for an Edwards supporter, but I suppose he thinks Edwards is over. Other Pelosi accolytes who are on board with Obama include Jan Schakowsky, who is Obama's campaign chair in Illinois, and Mike Honda, DNC Vice Chair, who has not declared his allegiance yet. (But I would bet Obama, and ditto for Dean.) It would be interesting if it came down to a Pelosi-Reid showdown that was behind the battlefield for Obama-Clinton. In Nevada, the sole Democratic congresswoman, Shelley Berkeley, came out for Clinton after saying that she, like Senator Harry Reid, would not endorse. Berkeley hasn't been in office long, so I am not sure that she has the same machine that Culinary has. And she definitely doesn't have Culinary's notoriously skilled organizers.

On the other hand, Nevada is a conservative/libertarian "live and let die" kind of culture that isn't afraid to elect female representatives. Berkeley is the second woman elected to Congress from Nevada, and well, at least her views are in line with Clinton's votes on the war - she was one of 81 House Dems to vote to go to war. More on Culinary's power and numbers here - estimated turnout of 10,000 out of 60,000 members ain't shabby, but I wouldn't be surprised if the number doesn't wind up being higher. Estimated turnout overall for Nevada caucuses ranges wildly from 28,000 to 100,000 (!!!) Talk about the difficulties of polling that wide a disparity. Also, 28,000 still seems on the low side for a state that had over 800,000 turn out total for the presidential in 04.

More on the race-gender divide: Aravosis asks if the voters weren't afraid of seeming racist to the pollsters.

MSNBC’s “First Read” political blog framed it this way: “In fact, we can only think of three races in which the public polls and the final result were SO off, and they all involved African-American candidates: Bradley's '82 gubernatorial campaign in California, Doug Wilder's surprisingly narrow '89 victory for Virginia governor, and Harvey Gantt's surprise loss for North Carolina Senate.

UGH. Does this mean Iowans are afraid of electing a woman and New Hampshire residents afraid of a black president? Let's not be so reductive.

UPDATE: Senator Tim Johnson (D-ND), who holds one of the reddest Democratic seats, just endorsed Obama. Expect more Senate endorsements to roll Obama's way soon - he needs to make up the superdelegate gap. It's one of the benefits of having a true 50 state strategy and actually putting resources and money on the ground in ALL states to develop and grow the Democratic party.

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