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.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Reblog: Housing Crash theme song

I was going through my comments because I got a nice comment from the Communications Director of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (headed by my periennial fave Rep. Mike Honda) and I also saw Malcolm's site.

He has a good nomination for the theme song for our current housing crash under the none-too illustrious Dubya. It's Billy Bragg's "the World Turned Upside Down" although I have to dig through my Steve Earle and see if I can't find a gem there to compete.

New will.i.am Obama video

Hmm, if I wasn't super in love with the first one, well, this one I am definitely not sold on.

It seems overly much hype and almost zero substance, like one of those sugary cereals that supposedly has some fiber in there somewhere, smothered under all the bright flourescent coloring, funny marshmellow shapes and gobs of icing.

I mean, I rewatched the yes we can video and got some hope out of it. This . . . this is just weak.

Also, I have no clue who most of the "celebrities" in the video are and Jessica Alba is the only person to make any real statement about WHY we should elect Obama. And, yes, hell just developed a few icicles as I wrote that last sentence.

The day that Jessica Alba is the smartest person in the room (in a video room) is well, unbelievable up until now. And the chanting of O- ba- ma O-ba-ma does not help with the people who think Obama supporters are cultists.

hollywood and the creatives are capable of promoting great beauty and art, and provoking us to think hard. To touch our heartstrings. The last video maybe had some of that. But this ain't it. "yes we can" is more like "where is the love" and this is kinda like "My Humps" in terms of substance, only less flashy and entertaining.

Actually, between this and the Jin video, I prefer the Jin video, because the vapid in this video is less endearing than the everyday families and people in the Jin video. Basically, this video reaffirms bad Hollywood stereotypes.

I have to say that if I was not an Obama supporter, this video would weird me out a lot more than it already does. Which is to say, this one is anti-effective. Good thing it's not being put out by the campaign.

So far, here is who I recognize.

Ryan Phillipe
Macy Gray
Jessica Alba
the other guy from Black Eyed Peas who isn't Apl.de.ap or Fergie
George Lopez
John Leguiziamo
some white guy who looks like Justin Timberlake/ Matt Damon
Daniel from Ugly Betty, but super scruffy (ick, get rid of it!)

Here's the spirited dailykos debate about it. I'm glad we can talk about things other than waterboarding once in a while. Otherwise I would be more bummed out than normal.

Right now, I'm with laughingman:

Ugh. I thought it was awful (8+ / 0-)

Will.i.am needs to make one with regular people. Who cares what Macy Gray and the cast of Friday Night Lights thinks?

Oh, I just realized that was the geek football player from Friday Night Lights, Landry. (which, if anyone at NBC is reading this, you would be stupid NOT to keep the show on the air. That show has more heart and soul than 200 other shows.) I never thought I would say this about a football show.

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Constantly Lost

Well, I have to give it to J J Abrams. I used to be a huge Alias fantatic, and then then show went downhill when he had other tv shows, unable to juggle managing so many plus What About Brian?

So I didn't watch Lost for the longest time. But the writers strike and what not, and well, "The Constant" is one of the best episodes I've seen in half a year or more. Possibly this entire year.

It's a love story folks, and it nearly had me tearing up. It's better than the last episode of season 3.

So far this season, I would say that J J is constantly finding his niche.

Maybe he just needs an enddate in sight to wrap up his storylines. I'm impressed because he's also working on the new Star Trek, which I hear with have George Takei (original Sulu) in it. Exciting!

(Yes, I watched the finale of Alias. No I didn't think it was a fitting end.)

Throw Mark Penn under the bus

I wrote earlier about how outraged some Latinos in leadership positions were that Patti Solis Doyle, the former campaign manager for the Clinton campaign, had been thrown under the bus for mismanagement of the campaign, but that someone like Mark Penn, who has been called the "architect" of the campaign, has come without repercussion.

That, my friends, is all changing.

“Mark Penn has run this campaign,” said Ickes in a brief phone interview this morning. “Besides Hillary Clinton, he is the single most responsible person for this campaign.

Why now? Because the campaign is still flailing, and they still need a scrapegoat. And the criticism is well deserved and coming from all corners. (By the way, Mike Henry, former deputy campaign manager was right - Hillary should have skipped Iowa. She should have either fully invested early on, instead of hiring 100 field organizers back in Oct-Nov, or she should have largely stayed out. Instead, the campaign invested in things like snow shovels with Clinton's campaign logo for Caucus Day, when it DIDN'T SNOW.)

And also, Mark Penn is no friend of the working class, and unions hate him. Some very politically savvy unions came out for Obama, because Mark Penn's firm has serviced clients like Walmart. And when you go to Ohio and the unions are decimated, it's not bad to heap the blame on a DC fatcat like Mark Penn who is getting paid 2 million in a month when there are mom and pop small businesses filing in small claims court over unpaid bills.

Here once again, on egoism:

When asked about the assertion by one senior Clinton official the campaign was effectively run by committee, diluting Penn’s authority, Ickes was incredulous.

“I don’t know what campaign you’re talking about,” said Ickes. “I have been at meetings where he introduces himself as the campaign’s chief strategist. I’ve heard him call himself that many times, say, ‘I am the chief strategist.’”

Asked if Penn preferred the title of chief strategist to pollster, Ickes said, “Prefer it? He insists on it!”

Being thrown under the bus isn't so pretty. I suspect that Mark Penn will not have much political work outside of New York after this campaign.

Additionally, I want to say that Paul Begala is one of the best Clinton spokespeople and that he needs to be on tv more (as if all the CNN face time weren't enough) - he's affable, believable, and sells the message well. He does this thing where he gets you to buy into what he's saying by seemingly conceding your point but using it as a launching pad for his argument.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Words matter . . . fonts matter?

Newsweek has an interview with a graphic designer who has very high praise for the Obama campaign's typeset, aka font. And their consistency of branding, which is very high quality control.

How else is Obama's design different than what has come before--or what rival campaigns are doing?
He's the first candidate, actually, who's had a coherent, top-to-bottom, 360-degree system at work. Whereas, I think it's more more common for politicians to have a bumper-sticker symbol that they just stick on everything and hope that that will carry the day.

The thing that sort of flabbergasts me as a professional graphic designer is that, somewhere along the way, they decided that all their graphics would basically be done in the same typeface, which is this typeface called Gotham. [See "Change We Can Believe In" sign, above] If you look at one of his rallies, every single non-handmade sign is in that font. Every single one of them. And they're all perfectly spaced and perfectly arranged. Trust me. I've done graphics for events --and I know what it takes to have rally after rally without someone saying, "Oh, we ran out of signs, let's do a batch in Arial." It just doesn't seem to happen. There's an absolute level of control that I have trouble achieving with my corporate clients.

Then if you go to the Web site, it's all reflected there too--all the same elements showing up in this clean, smooth, elegant way. It all ties together really, really beautifully as a system.

Is Obama's stuff on the level with the best commercial brand design?
I think it's just as good or better. I have sophisticated clients who pay me and other people well to try to keep them on the straight and narrow, and they have trouble getting everything set in the same typeface. And he seems to be able to do it in Cleveland and Cincinnati and Houston and San Antonio. Every time you look, all those signs are perfect. Graphic designers like me don't understand how it's happening. It's unprecedented and inconceivable to us. The people in the know are flabbergasted.

. . . .

Right. It's sort of hard to imagine in a voter in Cleveland (or a Newsweek political blogger from New York, for that matter) interacting with Obama's design on that level. How does it affect those of us who aren't graphic designers?
Well, I'm teaching this class at the Yale School of Management, and we were just talking about brand management and politics--exactly this thing before we got on the phone. And one of the things that came up in the conversation is, if you think about it, the challenge for someone named Barack Hussein Obama is that he's such an unprecedented figure in American politics--so much so that everything he's trying to do is, in a way, trying to make him look smoother and more normal. Someone said, "Well, why shouldn't he have revolutionary looking graphics--graphics that make him look like grassroots, like an outsider? Things drawn by hand, things that look forceful and avant-garde." But I think he's using design in a way to make him look as normal, as comfortable, as inevitable as a brand can look in American life. Those are really deliberate, interesting choices. Whether or not a sans serif font like Gotham looks more "American" than a Swiss font like Helvetica, that's in our imaginations to a certain degree. I think it's much more incontrovertible that he's actually using the seamlessness of this branding to convey a candidacy that's not a dangerous, revolutionary, risk-everything proposition--but as something that is well-managed and has everything under control.
And here's a video about Gotham, the font that his campaign uses from the blog of the filmmakers of the Helvetica documentary. A font we can believe in.

fun fun fun.

Also, Everybody Loves Obama? Even the white supremicists?!? (David Duke quotes in link, be warned.)


Words matter, names matter

Words matter - look at why will.i.am, a master wordsmith in his own right, decided to make the whole Obama video. He says that Obama's New Hampshire speech cinched it for him, that before that he was "torn."
and then there was New Hampshire

it was that speech...
like many great speeches...
that one moved me...
because words and ideas are powerful...

It made me think...
and realize that today we have "very few" leaders...
maybe none...
Republicans are well aware that words matter - they've had Frank Luntz, master messenger, on their side for a long time, making phrases that that short but memorable - tax relief, death tax instead of "reducing taxes" or "estate tax." They coined the term "compassionate conservative" to give us a president who was neither.

Words reverberate and they sit inside of us, touching us with meanings and feelings. All words hit different nerves that recall memories, thoughts, gut instinctual responses. If I say "home" it resounds differently for you than it does me, but for the vast majority of people, it brings up pleasant memories. If I say "security" at a time of war, it plays on fears for your home and family.

This is all covered by George Lakoff, progressive linguist.

So why do the Republicans and their echo machine of rightwing talk radio continue to insist on using Obama's middle name of Hussein? Because they want to hit Americans on fear, fears associated with what is really a very common middle name. They want to paint Obama as being anti-Semitic and un-American. When in reality, Obama is the melting pot. He represents America better than any other candidate - all of America.

In the Bible, when God grants Adam the ability to name objects, animals and other items in the Garden of Eden, that is when they first come to life. Words are meaning, words breathe life.

So I really admire Juan Cole's take down of radio host Mike Cunningham and of the Tennessee GOP with his thoroughly researched and cited post on the many many Semitically-named American heroes (hat tip as usual to prolific blogger Ben Smith, my first read every day.)

You should really read the whole thing but here's a teaser from Informed Comment:
I want to say something about Barack Hussein Obama's name. It is a name to be proud of. It is an American name. It is a blessed name. It is a heroic name, as heroic and American in its own way as the name of General Omar Nelson Bradley or the name of Benjamin Franklin. And denigrating that name is a form of racial and religious bigotry of the most vile and debased sort. It is a prejudice against names deriving from Semitic languages!

. . . Barack and Hussein are Semitic words. Americans have been named with Semitic names since the founding of the Republic. Fourteen of our 43 presidents have had Semitic names (see below). And, American English contains many Arabic-derived words that we use every day and without which we would be much impoverished. America is a world civilization with a world heritage, something Cunninghamism will never understand.

Barack is a Semitic word meaning "to bless" as a verb or "blessing" as a noun. In its Hebrew form, barak, it is found all through the Bible. It first occurs in Genesis 1:22: "And God blessed (ḇāreḵə ) them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth."

Here is a list of how many times barak appears in each book of the Bible.

Now let us take the name "Hussein." It is from the Semitic word, hasan, meaning "good" or "handsome." Husayn is the diminutive, affectionate form.

Barack Obama's middle name is in honor of his grandfather, Hussein, a secular resident of Nairobi. Americans may think of Saddam Hussein when they hear the name, but that is like thinking of Stalin when you hear the name Joseph. There have been lots of Husseins in history, from the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, a hero who touched the historian Gibbon, to King Hussein of Jordan, one of America's most steadfast allies in the 20th century. The author of the beloved American novel, The Kite Runner, is Khaled Hosseini.
Juan Cole also notes that John Mccain's adopted daughter, Bridget, is from Bangladesh, and that it's entirely possible that she also has relatives named with some variation of Hussein. He makes the good point that because the Bush campaign race-baited him with having a black daughter in 2000 in South Carolina, that it's understandable that McCain wouldn't abet this behavior, but wonders how far he will go.

Also, is there a particular reason why Bridget doesn't get included in official campaign mailings featuring the family? Or do they relate to her like George P Bush, whom Barbara has referred to as "the brown one?" Lastly, in an ABC interview, Cindy McCain says that her daughter feels hurt that the President of the United States doesn't like her because she's black.

The McCains adopted Bridget from Bangladesh in 1991, but opponents — the senator believes the Bush campaign, but it has denied it — used push-polling to make voters believe that he had fathered a black child out of wedlock.

Bridget, who is now 15, found out about the incident only a year ago when she Googled herself. Mrs. McCain McCain said Bridget was confused and hurt by the discovery.

"[She] was hurt by the fact that she thinks people don't like her because she's black," she said. "She asked me why the president of the United States doesn't like her and I said honey that's not what happened, you know this was about people that were mean spirited and wrong, they did wrong things you know, it's hard, it's been hard I'll say."

But she's really brown, and Asian American. Poor girl.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Talking about anger and hope

My last post was on whether we've just been too angry for too long that it's caused us to turn on ourselves.

Please don't take it as a sign that I mean that we should give up the struggle, but rather that we have to change the discourse so that progressive values are no longer the extreme or maligned, no longer left in a corner as "other." One of the things that Obama does an extraordinary job of is sidelining the GOP haters as extremists and building a popular consensus that progressive values are middle of the road values - family values if you will. He is an incredibly skilled communicator, and Republicans are already calling him our "Reagan" - someone with the innate ability to connect with and to draw voters from the opposite side of the aisle.

We need to include all Americans under the auspices of hope, because at the end of the day, the girl growing up in rural Alabama who is not receiving a quality public education is being denied equality the same way that a boy growing up in Harlem is.

Anyway, here are two songs that I treasure deeply that represent both anger and hope, and how we need both.

I've blogged the Dixie chicks' "Not ready to make nice" before, but I really think that this is a masterful video that powerfully demonstrates the black and white feelings that we have, the pent up anger and frustration that so many progressives have had these 8 years - "shut up and sing or your life will be over?!?!" We're not okay with being told that we are on the fringes that our opinions don't matter because it's not okay. So I and many others ask, "Where is the love?"

We wonder where the love is, and we want people to join together, to reach out to their neighbors, to build something new, something special. But in order to get people to hear us, even people who agree with us, we can't always shout through a bullhorn. We have to inspire them, move them, give them a reason to believe. Give them a solution that can work. Give them the tools to build their new dream home, to fix the schools, to learn the skills needed to find a new job. Sometimes we just have to speak or sing softly, croon our vision.

Bright Eyes - First day of my life

You thought I was going to post the Yes We Can video, didn't you?

Oh, okay, here you go.

*Thanks, youtube, for helping me express what sometimes cannot simply be written.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Clinton's APA staff won't back down

Most people read the Clinton staff letter by over 500 staffers pledging that they were in it to win it as a sign that the Clinton campaign wasn't going to back down.

Me, I scanned it for Asian American names. Keep in mind that this isn't even all her campaign staff - it's those who are the most dedicated and most loyal. By this list, it's not hard to see how Clinton has the most APA staff.

Additionally, it's notable for who is NOT on the list, namely Policy Director Neera Tandeen (who is a fixture in hillaryland), top APA hand Irene Bueno and APA spokesman Jin Chon.

Huma Abedin - Hillary's legendary traveling chief of staff
Nahiyan Ahmad - former healthcare consultant turned phone bank manager
Swathi Bojedla - senate staff assistant
Catharine Chen - former field staff and surrogate scheduler
Dennis Cheng - prev mentioned; NY State Finance Director
Cynthia Cho - former reporter turned Clinton staffer
Lenore Cho - former reporter turned Clinton staffer
Lillian Choi - NY attorney
Anne Gavaghan - Senate legislative aide
Diane Hamwi - California fundraiser
Melissa Ho - Senate side staff, Agricultural policy
Rafi Jafri - Chicago fundraiser
Ioanna Kefala - CT staff
Yekyu Kim - Senate side staffer, Deputy Director of Constituent Affairs
Roger Lau - Massachusetts director
Hyun J. Lee
Johna Ohtagaki
Amee Patel
Shraddha Patel Tewary
Tara Rangarajan
Victoria Ruan - former reporter turned regional field director in Nevada
Rishi Sahgal - LA attorney
Elisa Shyu
Uday Sreekanth

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Angry is the new black/ Hope is here

I want to thank dailykoser superskepticalman for posting a diary on his anger, and how he has allowed it to divide himself from his fellow Democrat, his fellow men and women.
Not only was I trollish, I've been trollish here lately. I'm sorry for that; at no time did I have to be. I don't want to do anything to turn new voters (or experienced voters) off the Democratic Party because of my primary season partisanship. One of me can't do much damage; many thousands more like me could: it would be shame to turn 2008 from 1932 into 1928. Sen. Obama would be the best candidate out there in the fall if he got the nomination. Sen. Clinton would be the best candidate in the fall if she got the nomination. John Edwards, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, and Mike Gravel (who did I leave out?) would each be the best candidate in the fall if any one of them got the nomination.

What happened was that I decided that I had to be as angry at fellow Democrats as I might be at the GOP because of my choice in Democratic candidates. That was just a stupid decision by me, and I'm sorry for being that stupid. I'd be grateful if you all will accept my apology for that.

The passion here for Democratic candidates has been more encouraging than anything I've seen for a long time. The passion of Obama supporters has been duplicated in Clinton supporters (and, while he was in it, Edwards supporters - of which I was one) and in the supporters for many House and Senate candidates. Success by our nominee in the fall will give backbone to our new and veteran Democratic senators and congressmen and women. It will give resolve to state Democratic parties, legislatures, and governors. It will go far to put the GOP on the kind of "manic defensive" that has been long overdue in the face of the Republican noise machine.

Dear Superskepticalman,

Thank you for posting this diary and having the courage to do so.

I think we have all been so angry for so long that we have forgotten how to hope, how to dream. I know that it has been true for me. We have then turned that anger on each other, and on ourselves. Who amongst us has not felt the tight knot in our stomachs every time we hear or see Bush speak, miscommunicating his latest failure of a policy that is too conveniently named in double-speak?

The GOP has gotten all of us - dailykosers, Democrats, Americans, so used to being in our own angry insular bubbles that it is so easy to lose track of the bigger picture.

That we're going to get a Democrat in office and that we'll have a chance to turn our lives, our country, and the world around. We have been failing the world as a leader, and we have the chance to change things. To move forward past these 8 years of misery, pain, deprivation, sorrow (oh look, there's my angry coming out again. . .)

But back to the brighter side of things. The GOP depends on us to stay angry and stay divided. And some anger is not a bad thing, it's a good fuel for when you get tired. But we were all so angry at Bush in 04, and it didn't get Kerry elected. At the end of the day anger must be tempered and guided by the shining light of hope. The civil rights movement was a success because of the burning hot passion of Malcolm X and because of the dreams that Martin Luther King Jr gave us. Because people felt so angry for so long, but also because they sensed an opportunity to change the status quo - they felt hopeful that one day their children would know a better world.

America is a beautiful country because we have been blessed to pass on to every succeeding generation a hope for a better world, even in the face of stark obstacles and worldwide chaos.

If I were a Republican strategist, I would be quaking in my Cole Haan penny loafers right now because there's millions of people who are devoted to working for change, fueled by the possibilities of a better tomorrow. There are millions of us, and we are powered by hope. No longer isolated in our cocoons, too distracted by our anger and too burnt out to do anything, too incapacitated by our mounting, seeming inability to change anything, we are uniting. Working alongside each other. Building dialogues. Building bridges to tomorrow.


Monday, February 25, 2008

SNL gone right

Last post I talked about the horrible awkwardness of Saturday Night Live gone wrong. Now I want to contrast that to when it gets it right, so right:

There will be milkshakes for old men

This parodies a smooth blend (ooh, would like be like a milkshake?) of There will be blood AND No Country for old Men. The impersonation of Daniel Day Lewis as Daniel Plainview is spot-on, the intonation is right, and the affect, as well as the delivery of the lines. Too funny was when he ACTUALLY drank the customer's milkshake using an extra long straw (ahh, the bounty of props!)

Also, here's a fun mashup of the movie and Kelis' notorious Milkshake song courtesy of random youtuber:
There will be Milkshakes.

I previously discussed how Obama drank Hillary's milkshake in terms of voter turnout on Super Tuesday and linked in Kelis. (Yes, I am proud of my political pop culture potpourri . . . or milkshake!)

A snapshot of Hillary as a young attorney on a rape case

Glenn Thrush of Newsday has a good and deep article looking at one particular case of hers when she was a young attorney defending an indigenous client - she attacked the credibility of a 12 year old girl.
But there is a little-known episode Clinton doesn't mention in her standard campaign speech in which those two principles collided. In 1975, a 27-year-old Hillary Rodham, acting as a court-appointed attorney, attacked the credibility of a 12-year-old girl in mounting an aggressive defense for an indigent client accused of rape in Arkansas - using her child development background to help the defendant.
The case offers a glimpse into the way Clinton deals with crisis. Her approach, then and now, was to immerse herself in even unpleasant tasks with a will to win, an attitude captured in one of her favorite aphorisms: "Bloom where you're planted."
This is pretty damning for someone who continually touts her time at the children's defense fund. And it continues the meme that she's willing to do anything to win, a storyline that is currently working against her, and hard.
Rodham, records show, questioned the sixth grader's honesty and claimed she had made false accusations in the past. She implied that the girl often fantasized and sought out "older men" like Taylor, according to a July 1975 affidavit signed "Hillary D. Rodham" in compact cursive.
Ouch - it's easy to point at this and call her craven. And the fallout of the more lenient sentence that adept young legal eagle Hillary Rodham Clinton won?
The victim, now 46, told Newsday that she was raped by Taylor, denied that she wanted any relationship with him and blamed him for contributing to three decades of severe depression and other personal problems.

"It's not true, I never sought out older men - I was raped," the woman said in an interview in the fall. Newsday is withholding her name as the victim of a sex crime.

With all the anguish she'd felt over the case in the years since, there was one thing she never realized - that the lawyer for the man she reviles was none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"I have to understand that she was representing Taylor," she said when interviewed in prison last fall. "I'm sure Hillary was just doing her job."
You can call this a hit piece. It sure hits on many of Hillary's weak points, and questions the morality of impugning a preteen girl. The article also grants that she would have been negligent in her duties as an attorney if she didn't provide him with the best legal defense possible, which is also true.

Don't keep reading if you have a weak stomach . . .
At 4:50 a.m., the girl walked into a local emergency room, badly shaken. The doctor's report noted that she had injuries consistent with rape. Sgt. Dale Gibson, the department's lead investigator in the case, interviewed her as she huddled with her mother. She offered a chilling detail - a threat from Taylor and his friends. "If I did say anything about it, they would catch me out later," she told the investigator.
Ugh, the details just get more and more gruesome - and Taylor was only one of the defendants - it was group rape, according to the girl. And the underage aggressor admitted to raping her as well.

The whole case sounds wretched and well, the article is a must-read.

I feel really bad for that woman who is now all grown up, but who has tried to commit suicide and can't get her life on track. It also sounds like the case affected Senator Clinton, as she "says the case spurred her to create the first rape hotline in Arkansas."

It sure sounds like a seminal case for Hillary, a real life-shifting experience, and I'm struck by how the woman doesn't blame Clinton. But I feel just terrible reading all of this.


SNL's brownface

So Saturday Night Live has largely stayed away from skewering Senator Obama as much as Clinton, largely because they don't have someone who has Obama's mannerisms down, as you'll see form this video below.

But it doesn't help that they don't have many actors of color and that they are trying to pull off political commentary in an election season when race has been one of the central themes.

Watching this video off of Ben Smith's Politico blog, I just couldn't help but think that it was rather awkward. First you have a white guy playing a Latino anchor, but without any of the actual intonation or accent that the anchor has.

It's as if they tried very hard to consider what would push the boundaries of funny and PC and offensive. Yes, it would be too offensive to try to replicate his spanish-tinged American English. Yes, it would be too much to make his skin darker. But it's okay to have a white guy play a famous Univision anchor without actually playing him. I don't really get it. He would have been better off playing John King, who he at least shares a jawline with.

Also, Barack Obama is played by an actor who completely lacks Obama's intonation, mannerisms, gestures, and gravitas. The guy playing him is just stilted and awkward. And I don't care if Fred Armisen is part Japanese American, part Venezuelan American. He just kinda sucks at Barack Obama. Did SNL pick him because he is also of mixed heritage? Who the hell knows. The writers at least had some good lines like journalists saying "yes we can" support Obama, and Fred delivered these well, but it was just exceedingly awkward and painful to watch.

One of the funnier moments - Amy Poehler as Hillary pulling decidedly away from Obama reaching for her hand.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Portrait of McCain's Economic Advisor

Yeah, it almost sounds like a joke, but here's an interview with McCain's economic policy wonk . . . who isn't being paid.

Last time I checked, that wasn't good economics - either something is very wrong with the demand or the supply is overly plentiful.

Plus, I really fear for our economy under McCain and the interview doesn't do much to assuage that.

I think you said-correct me if I'm wrong-that a 10 percent individual income-tax cut would result in a $1.24 trillion revenue loss over 10 years.
That was the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] study? ... I don't remember the details of the study, but that certainly sounds about right.

So the basic argument is that you have to do something about the entitlement programs, correct?

So what does Senator McCain propose? I don't think he is willing to raise the cap on payroll taxes, or undertake any other major initiatives that would really address the issue. Is that incorrect?
There's Social Security, and then there's the health programs: Medicare and Medicaid. On Social Security he's said that you can fix it, [that] you can fix it without raising taxes, and that the real obstacle is political. He has not put forth a plan, because he doesn't want to somehow make it harder to get the political consensus done. He's going to ask Congress to solve it, and if they don't, he's going to send them a plan and ask for an up-or-down vote.

What kind of a plan?
He hasn't put out a plan, it's true. But if you look at the menu of things that are out there-the thing called "Pozen price indexing," which slows the benefits at the upper end [of the income scale], or if you raise the normal retirement age from 67 to 68 ... a combination of things easily brings the system into balance over the long term. This is not rocket science. There are a lot of options. He knows that, so rather than dictate a solution that will run into political problems, he's saying, "Look, I know we can do this. It's a political issue to get it done. I'll call on the Congress to do it the minute I'm president."

So what's ahead is cuts to healthcare and Social Security. Bon voyage!


Jin's new spin for Obama

What do you think of this? Does it work or not? Is this something that would sway swing voters or does it just appeal to an existent base? My guess is the latter.

I like the shots of everyday Americans with their families, the kids with Barack shirts, the barbershop shots but think the production value and clarity could have been higher.

Hit tip Azi Paybarah.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Stuff White People Like

I saw this somewhere, but I forget where. I will remember and thank the blogger though because it is spot on and funny. THe blogger said that it is closer to "stuff that yuppies like" which is also possible.

Know that I am guilty of liking more than a few of these things myself, including Juno and Arrested Development.

Of note, and extra funny and on the ball:
#71 - being the only white person around
#62 - Knowing what's best for poor people (w/ photo of Green party supporters)
#60 - Toyota Prius
# 50 - Irony
This can be used to your advantage. If you need to appear cool to white people, you just need to pick something that was popular 10+ years ago and put it in a prominent place at your desk or in your home. A C+C Music Factory Cassette, or a “2 Legit 2 Quit” t-shirt would both be acceptable examples.
Guest Column - Top Ten hip hop songs white people love
"sir Mix-a-lot - Baby got Back"
This, like a number of the other rap songs White People love, features prominently sexual themes addressed in a humorous fashion. I think it’s White People’s inherent prudish squareness that makes them get all giddy about "naughty" rapper songs.

Oh hells, go and read all of it. Cheers and enjoy this cultural anthropology guide, a la Dave Chappelle.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Liveblogging the Texas debate

Ok, keep in mind that the candidates were speaking so fast, and sometimes over each other, here is my best job, and I tried to clean it up a bit but my hands are tired from trying to type at warp speed. So some things are lost and others are in shorthand. Jeez, I wish blogger came with a find and replace all since certain terms like comprehensive immigration reform kept coming up . . . so tiring to type it all out. My thoughts during the debate, then in italics below. During debate, italics are for the questions from the journos. [Ed. update: I have been pwned - check CNN's transcripts, so much better than mine. Ed voice #2: I don't get PAID for this!]

Opening remarks - Obama is doing good job of sharing anecdotes from Texas, Ohio and demonstrating that he "shares our pain", wants "America to be as good as our promise; clinton did a rote intro.

Cuba - Obama would meet with Castro's replacement, thinks that remittances are very important - [huge issue for all immigrants - this will score big points.]

Clinton says there has to be lots and lots of preparation and diplomatic work before I would do that.

Economy - Obama "you don't need an economist to tell you that people are working harder for less. . this has to be the priority of next president. what's said is that we need to restore a sense of fairness. Stop giving tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas and start giving those to companies who invest in America.

On trade deals, it's absolutely important that we engage not only through the lens of wall street, but also through the lens of main street. . . creating a green economy. we send a billion dollars to foreign countries every day because of our addiction to foreign oil.

Senator Clinton and I agree on many of these issues, and I think it's a credit to both of us that early on many of the other candidates agreed on many of these issues. the question we have to ask is how are we going to get it done? only if we are able to form working coalition for change. Priority that whoever the next president is. . ."

Clinton - "Talking about tax codes. the wealthy and well connected have had their president the past 7.5 years, i think it's time the rest of us had a president. . . We need a trade time out, see what's working, not working. i'd like to have a trade prosecutor to enforce the standards that we have."

Also need moratorium on home foreclosures I've met the families . . .the postal worker who really got hoodwinked, that really wasn't fair to him. I would have a 90 day moritorium so we can get it figured out, and have a 5 year freeze. [huge applause - I think that it was smart of her to brought up this issue because it is a huge concern of people's]

3 ways we need to jumpstart the economy : clean green jobs, $5 B investment would put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work, invest in infrastructure, we don't have enough we need to rebuild America and that will also put people to work, and finally we need to end George Bush's war on science, we need to think about how we fund the future. Think about everything that goes on at this great university to create the new economy.

On Immigration:

Q: federal raids by enforcement officials have generated fear and divided families would you consider stopping these raids?

Clinton - i would consider it except in egregious situations when it would be appropriate. but when we see what's happening babies being left w/ no one to take care of them, with children with no one left to come home to, that is not the America i know. that is against American values and it is a stark admission of failure by the American government. I have been for comprehensive immigration reform, signed onto the first bill.

tough, more secure boarders, of course, i'd like to see more fed help for austin and laredo that absorb healthcare, education, and enforcement costs. i personally would work with our neighbors to the south to create jobs there.

. . . path to legalization, bring out of shdows, pay fine, pay back taxes, and learning english. if they commited a crime in our country or country they came from then that;s a different story. I would introduce that in the first 100 days of my presidency. [major applause, and a smart move. Clinton now realizes she has to move left to recapture the votes that she's losing. Goddamn, she's smart and she truly is passionate about this issue.]

Obama - "couple things I would add - comprehensive immigration reform is something i worked on extensively. 2 yrs ago we were able to get the bill out of senate but it died in the House this year because it was used as a political football.

One, it is absolutely critical that we tone down the rhetoric when it comes to the immigration debate - the ugly undertone often directed at the Hispanic community, hate crimes skyrocketd in terms of . .

We are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants and we can reconcile those two things. [I think this is a particularly strong point of his because it can mean all things to most people - it is like the term compassionate conservative - it can be the idea of human enforcement, it can be the idea that the middle is somewhere in between and it leaves it deliberately murky.]

We need comprehensive immigration reform, strong border security, cracking down on employers who are taking advantage of undocumented workers can't complain if not getting overtime and safety not being observed. but we have to do it in a way that makes sure people with Spanish surnames aren't being discriminated against.

We have to make sure undocumented workers learn english, pay a fine, but also that they go to the end of the line. [Here Obama is looking to the general election debates by inserting this and he smartly pivots to talking about the difficulties of LEGAL immigrants. This plays to APAs, a group that he has had problems with before, the Irish, Eastern Europeans, etc - very global] It is important that we fix LEGAL immigration system because right now we have a backlog that means years for people to apply legally. what's worse we keep increasing the fees, you've got hardworking immigrant family, they have to get an attorney and they just can't afford these things.

It's discriminatory against people with good character who we WANT in this country. We have to improve our relatoinship with Mexico and work with the mexican govt so their economy is producing jobs on that side of border. prob is we have Bush administration that came in promising all sorts of leadership on creating US-Mexico relationship but Bush is so obsessed with iraq that he hasn't been able to ensure that we work with Mexico.

Q: A controversial item that was not held up when the immigration debate collapsed. border fence. to many peopel it's a question of soverignty. but to many people its much more personal - livelihood, personal trade., rancher., walk or short drive to see family. would you commit to finish and speed up construcution. or you think it's time for the president of the US to say wait a minute?

clinton- i think both obama and i voted for that as part of immigration debate. i was at UT brownsville, and this is how absurd there is are it's approipritate. i think when both of us voted for it, we were voting for where there would be appropriate but with most things the bush admin has gone off deep end. there is a smart way to protect borders and a dumb way to protect borders. what i learn is that ut brownsville would have part of its campus cut off. i know it because i've been fighting with them about the northern border - interfering w families, trade. i would have review, listen to ppl who live on border. [applause]

but you know john, there's lots we've learned about technology and smart fencing. there is tech smart tech so that ppl can be supervising limited space and be responsive in terms of ppl crossing , eminent domain actions against homeowners and municipalities. there are places where after careful review and listening to ppl who live along border, let's deploy more tech and personel instead of physical barrier, will give us opp to secure border instead of interfering with family and business relations.

Obama - this is an area where Clinton and i almost agree. key is to consult with the interests whether personal or environmental, the bush admin is not real good at listening, not what they do well. i will reverse this policy, there may be areas where that makes sense, but tech, personell may be better appraoch. i think it is important for us to deal with prob in terms of 100,000s of ppl coming across border if we also want to provide opportunity for 12M undocumented who are already here. . . i think american ppl want fairness,want justice, i think they recognize the idea that you're going to deport 12 mil ppl is ridiculous, but they do also want order to process, we;re not going to be able to do things in isolation. we're not going to be able to deal with prob of 12 mil ppl in shadows and also ppls coming across border.

one last point I want to make on the immigration issue - something we can do immediately is to pass the Dream Act, which allows children who through no fault of their own are here [applause - smart move because it reinforces the idea of Obama as a father and makes voters think about their kids' futures]. . .

I do not want two classes of citizens here in this country, i want everyone to prosper.

Q: There are more than 30M ppl in this country who speak Spanish, many of them are right here. by the year 2050 there will be 130M Hispanics in the US, is there any downside in the US becoming bilingual nation, is there limit?

clinton - important for as many Americans as possible to do something i've never been able to, learn another language but it's important that English remain our ommon unifying language. brings country together in way we've seen generations of immigrants be part of american experience and pursue american dream., i've been adamantly against efforts by some to make english our official language.

we have 170 languages in nyc alone, and i do not think we should be discriminating against ppl who do not speak english who have to go to shops or use court system. so i encourage ppl become bilingual but i want to see english remain common unifying language of country.

obama- important that everyone learns english, binding together as country. also think every student should be learning second language, b/c when you start getting into debate about bilingual ed, i want to make sure children who are coming out of spanish speaking households don't fall behind but i also want to make sure english speaking students get to learn more than one langauge. Part of America's continuing leadership in the world is the ability to communicate across borers. one of failures of NCLB that lots of local and statae officials troubled by there;s emaphsis n standards pushing out a lot of learning that needs to take place. foreign lang is one of those areas neglected and i want to see more of it.

i would say, wait, we need to review this, there may be places wh . .

Clinton - I do not believe that the insurance companies should be able to make life or death decisions for America! [WHOA! This is straight u Edwards style populism]

Senator Edwards said that not having it [mandates] is like not having mandatory social Security or Medicare.

Understand that if you do not have a plan that starts out with universal health care, you will be nibbled to death! [wow]

Obama on health care: Says something about how he and Clinton both said they were for universal healthcare and at that time he was down 30 points in the polls, but now the political climate has evolved. I wasn't clear on what he was trying to say here. Was he saysing that now everyone wants universal healthcare?

Obama - It is clear that John Mccain does not understand the economy e=because he still supports President Bush's failed eocnomic poliic.es [ZING!]

Clinton - Right now we are borrowing money from the chinese to pay saudi arabia, i do not believe that is a good polciy. [Uhm, is this race baiting in two ways? way to go, you stay classy! also, you're borrowing money from Chinese BANKS not from the poor chinese laborers to pay Saudi Arabian oil firms.]

Moment of crisis -

Obama- I wouldn't point to single moment, but the trajectory of my whole life. I was raised by a single mom and my dad left when I was two. what is most important in my own life is lerning to take responsiblity for my own actions. working as a community organizer on streets of chicago. . .

Clintin - Well, i think everybody here knows I've lived through some crises and challenging moments in my life. and I am grateful the support and prayers of countless Amreicas. Ppl often ask me, how do you do it, how do you keep going, and i just have to shake my hed in wonderfment because with all the challenges i've had they are nothing compared with the challegnes of everyday aMericans.

You know, the hits i've taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every in the lives of Americans, and I've resolved every single day that i've been blessed and i've resolved to do everything i can to give others those sme blessings, I was called by my faith and my upbringing , that's what motivates me that's what gets me up in the morning. no matter what happens in this contest, and you know I am honored, absolutely honored to be here with Barack Obama, [Obama shakes her hand] you know no matter what happens were going to be absolutely fine, we have strong support from our family and friends, and I just hope the American people will be fine, and that's what this election should be about. [standing ovation]

[Whoa, she stole that sentiment and framing from Edwards pretty much whole cloth - so much for charges of plagiarism.]

[Obama pulls her chair out for her at conclusion. Hmmm, this is very controversial - there are some people who would take this as a very gentlemanly thing, but others would think that it is patronizing.]

I like this emotional, personable side of Clinton, it's what she showed in New Hampshire, and I think it's better than what Mark Penn endorses - a Clinton on attack. I don't agree with that idea, and I don't think Americans want to see a negative Hillary. We know she's strong because of all that she's weathered. And I would like for Hillary to remain involved with public life, but I would prefer Obama as president. I think that emotional connection matters, and it's why Obama is doing so well. Mandy Grunwald, who is clinton's media person, has advised a softer, more emotional Clinton, and I really do think that has to do with her political smarts and because she is a woman. Mark Penn has had terrible advice so far and needs to get shitcanned. If one of the things that comes out of this campaign, one of the lessons, is that we need to do away with the old style of political campaigning, the "old white boys" club.

I still think Clinton is a better debater overall, but she isn't as likeable. People in the crowd were actually laughing at his lines, and they didn't seem to be terribly prescripted. The crowd seems to be divided pretty evenly, just as the polls say they are, but the advantage usually lies to Obama because he picks up the undecideds.

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It's just one of those days . . .


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Liveblogging Jon Stewart on Larry King

Ok, here's the translation - italics is me, bold is Larry King and normal font is Stewart.

Jon Stewart is an angry somber man.

He really respects McCain and doesn't like clinton so much.

"See, I don;t understand this idea of did they go wrong, did they go right? More people appear to be voting for Obama, but more people are going to parse, her message to the Hispanics is garbled. She was at a stop and she ate a taco but she didn't gobble it. . . Not as many people are voting for her. The idea that it is a recipe and the idea that if you add more sincerity and a dash of humor, it would be right."

"What about a woman president? Are guys not going to be able to drive or what happenend? The very idea of are people ready? Are they going to flee, as if Godzilla attacked the cities..."

I think so much of what it is is a moment in time. I do think the country, a part of the country at least, feels like it has not been heard. And the administration readily admits it. The strategy has been to bsaically only govern for your constituency.

I think the biggest difference between these two guys is they are not partisan animals. How did they turn the steroid hearings into a partisan affair?!?

The right wing's argument against McCain? It's the old idea of you have to be lockstep. These are candidates, Obama and McCain mostly, who are running against ideological lockstep.

The REpublicans are against executive power, until they get a president, and then they are like, "You know what would be great? A unitary executive. . . A monarchy."

Larry shows video of Conan-Stewart-Colbert fight, Stewart gets intensely amused look.

LK: Who came up with this?

I think the three of us came up with ideas for how to waste time, and we can all be part of the most useless 8 minutes of television.

so much of the strike was balancing your obligation to your writers and your staff, and those moments were the perfect counterbalance . . .

Stewart is much more intense and less light hearted than his show persona. He's obviously tired of hte same old same old and is looking for a post partisan candidate. Not unlike how more Americans are changing their registrations to independent, they are also tired of this.

LK: What current movie would you cast Stephen Colbert in?

There will be blood.

Mike Huckabee-

Love him. so entertaining. and then every once in a while you watch him give a speech and you go , ooow.

Mitt Romney, who by the way is that guy a Pixar character?

What about Rudy Guiliani? It turns out that the rest of America wasn't impressed that he got rid of the squeegee people. He got a little 9-11 happy, we used to call it 9-11 Tourettes.

On Clinton relationship:

It's like he says, how dare you destroy her, that's my job!

On Tucker Carlson:

There was this idea that it was personal between the two of us, but really it was about the show. You've been at CNN for a while, if the Hitler Mussolini show got ratings, they'd say, put it on after Larry King.

Why is Jon Stewart such a misanthrope? Man, so bitter...

Wow, breaking - NYT hits McCain on doing special favors for a female lobbyist...


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tidbits: In between Wisconsin and Hawaii

In Hillary's haste to jump aboard the populist bandwagon, she slams hedge funds as not being real "work" like the one where her daughter Chelsea works.

Ben Smith hits Clinton campaign where it hurts, just like how Bill hit Obama for beings presumably only a black candidate who won South Carolina, like Jesse Jackson. He asks, who's Jesse now?

Machinists union president opens mouth, inserts foot.

"Yes we can? Give me a break," he said.

He also compared Obama with "Janus, the two-faced god" of Roman mythology. He called him "silver tongued" and a "thespian" and "the man in love with the microphone."

"He’s not just a trained thespian, he’s a terrific shadow boxer. You know the type. Outside the ring, he pretends he can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee," he said. "But Barack Obama is no Muhammad Ali. He took a walk every time there was a tough vote in the Illinois state Senate. He took a walk more than 130 times. That’s what a shadow boxer does. All the right moves, all the right combinations, all the right footwork, but he never steps into the ring. He walks away from the fight.”

I don't think this is going to help allegations of race baiting much at all. Also, making assertions like "He also drew a contrast between the “editor of the Harvard Law Review or a fighter for working families." doesn't work so much when Hillary and Bill went to Yale Law, so it's kinda galas to macintoshs. And in terms of stepping away from the fight, I believe that it's Hillary's health care plan that went down in flames.

Ugh, we need to get over this old kind of thinking.

Obama takes Wisconsin

CNN calls it for Obama with 1% reporting!

Clinton's speech is full of AFSCME green, and she's talking about healthcare reform and also foreclosure crisis. Damn, she's stealing talking points straight from John Edwards - "we're going to give the middle class a break instead" - I would have NEVER thought Hillary would go so anti-corporate.

They cut from her to Obama's Wisconsin victory speech which is being held in Houston. 9 straight states, day-mn. He gives props to Reps. Al Green, Eddie Bernice-Johnson and Chet Edwards. Props to faith leaders and their circle of prayer, and union support like SEIU, UFCW, and Transport Workers.

Early voting - smart to address right off the bat - Clinton's campaign is going after early voting like mad. He's locking in the votes now. He's making an organizer's ask - also saying that they have to attend the caucus at 7pm to get more delegates. SMART SMART SMART man.

He is going through the process like your average canvassers, saying, don't go alone to the polls - bring your friends and family. Now he launches into his speech.

Talking about civic pride in Wisconsin and how when you go vote, it's 5 degrees outside.

"THe change we seek is still months and miles away, and we need the good people of Texas to help us get there. We will need you to fight for every delegate it takes to win this nomination. And if we win this nomination, if we are blessed to win this nomination, then we will need your help to win this election in November. And if we win this election in november, then we will need you time, help, energy, enthusiasm, voices, to help us change America over the next four years. Understand this Houston, as exciting and as wonderful as this crowd and the energy is, it is not easy and it will not happen overnight. it's going to take more than big rallies,m more than big speeches, more than policy papers and positions and websites. It is going to require something more. Because the problem we face here in America today is not the lack of good ideas, it is that Washington becomes a place where good ideas go to die. Because lobbyists crush them with their money and influence because politicians spend too much time trying to score political points and not enough time trying to resolve their differences so we can get something done.

The problem is we haven't had leaders who can inspire American people to rally behind a common purpose and a greater purpose. . . We're here because we still believe that change is possible. We're here because we know we've never needed it more than we do right now. We're here because there are workers in Youngstown Ohio who've watched job and job disappear because of bad trade deals like NAFTA. Who have worked here for 20 years and then see the machines literally unbolted from the floor. . . We're here because of the mother I met in San antonio just this afternoon, who has 2 year old twins who are blind . . . she needed us to crack down on predatory lenders. she needs change today.

We're here because of the mother who I met in Green Bay Wisconsin, who gave me the bracelet that I'm wearing . . . A year ago, I stood on the steps of the old state capitol in Springfield Illinois and I announced this improbable journey to change America, and there are those who said, why are you running so soon, why are you running this time. And I had to explain to them that I'm not running because of any longheld ambition, I know some people have been digging through my kindergarten papers [ouch!]

I'm not running because I think it's somehow owed to me, I'm running because of Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now. Because there is such a thing as being too late, and that hour is now upon us. we are at a defining moment in our history, our nation is at war, our country is at peril, .

health care reform - Obama doesn't just say that he feels our pain, he demonstrates it through his language.

One year ago when I made the decision to run, it was based on the belief that people had grown weary of a politics that was based on spin and pr, they wanted a politics that was based on honesty. I was convinced most of all that change in America does not happen from the top down, it happens from the bottom up. some of you know that I used to work as a community organizer to bring economic development

It was the best education that I ever had because it taught me that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when given the opportunity. [weird voice talking over him, "..are you becoming Jewish?!?!?" or something like that - This is exactly what I feel about community organizing.]

If we could join together to challenge the special interests in washington, but also to challenge ourselves, to be better citizens, to be better neighbors.

WOW, just looked at the vote count - so far with 18 % reporting, Dem turnout has outpaced Republican by 3 times. in TEXAS!

Makes the ask: The question I have for you tonight Houston, is are you really ready for change? YES!!!

Because if you are really ready for change, we can go ahead and tell the lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda are over. Because they will not run my White House and they will not drown out the voices of ordinary people. I put out a plan that says everybody will be able to get health insurance at least as good as what I've got as a member of Congress. We will emphasize prevention so that we have a health care system instead of a disease care system. We won't do this twnety years form now, we will do it by the end of my first term.

If you are really ready then we can start restoring some balance to our economy, we are an independent and self reliant people, we don't believe in government doing what we can do for ourselves [nice nod to libertarian Texas] but when we've got CEOs making more in ten minutes [CNN employees asking each other if they're off for the night] than what we make in a year and when it's the CEOs getting a tax break and workers are left with nothing then something is wrong and something has to change. So I want to take away those tax breaks to companies that are creating jobs overseas and give them to companies who are investing in America.

We want to promote trade and we embrace globalization but we want our trade deals to embrace labor, environmental and safety standards. . . because if you work in America you should not be poor and that's a goal we will set in America.

The problem is not a lack of plans, but the lack of political will, the lack of urgency.,we think that those children in inner city Houston, that's somebody else's problem, that's somebody else's child. We think that child in East Texas, where there's a low tax base, and they can't afford to buy computers, I'm here to tell you that every child is our responsibility, and every child needs to be nurtured and embraced.

I won't just talk about how great teachers are I will reward them for their greatness by giving them higher salaries and more support, and I want the highest standards in our schools [DAMN, this is a great way of talking about merit pay, if you believe in it. Not that I do, but whoa]

If you are ready for change, we can have an energy policy that makes sense. We send four billion dollars to other countries every day and we're melting the ice caps in the process.

I'm not just someone who will tell you what you want to hear but will tell you what

If you're ready for change, we can start using immigration as

We are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and those two things we can join together, we can crack down on employers who are taking advantage of undocumented workers, but we can also provide a path to citizenship for those who are already here, they can pay a fine, go to the back of the line, and learn English.

We can start reinvesting in cities, we are spending 9 billion dollars, we can reinvest that money right here in Houston, in hospitals and in broadband and employing young men and women, that is possible if you are ready for change.

You know, as your commander in chief, my job will be to keep you safe, and I will not hesitate to strike against any .. .I will do whatever is required, but part of keeping you safe is maintaining the best military in the world, and that means providing our troops with the proper equipment, training and rotations, and that means taking care of our troops when they come home. we have a solemn obligation to honor those who have served on our behalf. part of keeping us safe is deploying our military wisely. and the war in Iraq was unwise, it distracted us from the fight that needed to be fought in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda, it fanned the flames of anti American sentiment, it cost us dearly in blood and in treasure. I oppose this war in 2002, I will bring and end to it in 2009. It is time to bring our troops home.

But I don't just want to end the war, I want to end the mindset that got us into war, I want to end a politics based in fear, that uses 9-11. . . I said earlier that I want to meet not just with our friends but also with our enemies, and there

we should never negotiate our of fear but we should never fear to negotiate. Strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries and try to resolve things without resorting to fear. We will lead not just militarily, yes we will hunt down terrorists,

We are going to lead by example, by maintaining the highest standards of civil liberties and human rights, which is why I will shut down guantanamo, and restore

You can elect a president who has taught the Constitution and will obey the Constitution of America. [love love love]

All these things are possible if you are ready for change.

We need to season and stew him a little more and boil all the hope out of him, but I think you understand that the last thing we need is to have the same old folks doing the same old things, over and over again and we need new leadership to move into a new century.

There are those who would say that you have to be weary about inspiration because you might be disappointed, who say that Obama may make a good speech but what is really going to make a difference is how you work the government, but it is my central premise that the only way we will bring about real change in America is if we can bring new people into the process, if we can attract young people, independents, and stop fighting with Republicans. I want a working majority for change, that's how we win elections, that's how we will govern.

I know there are some who will say what about John Mccain? I revere and honor John Mccain's service to this country, he is a genuine american hero but when he embraces George bush's failed economic policies, when he says he is wiling to send our troops into another 100 years in iraq, then he represents the policies of yesterday and we want to look forward into tomorrow and we want to have that debate.

You know there's something deeper in this argument about inspiration, it really has to do with the meaning of hope. If you think about it, the odds of me standing here are very slim. I was born to a teenage mother, my father left when I was two, so I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents, they didn't have money and they didn't have fame, so what they gave me was love, and education, and they gave me hope. And so I talk about hope, I put hope on my signs, I gave a speech in boston about hope, I wrote a book about hope.

but now some suggest that I must be naive, that you're fuzzyheaded and idealistic, the implication is that if you talk about hope you're passive and you wait for things to happen.

Hope is not ignoring or being ignorant of the challenges that stand between you and your dreams, I know how difficult it will be to provide health insurance to change energy policy because the status quo services powerful people. I know how hard it will be to fight poverty.
American, if it were easy it would have already been done. I know how hard it is to change

I know how easy it is for politicians to turn us on each other to use immigrant and gay people and folks who aren't like us, as scrapegoats. But I know this because I've fought on the streets as an organizer, as a legislator,

Because good intentions aren't always enough, they need to be fortified by power. But I also know this, Houston, nothing good in this country ever happened without someone somewhere being wiling to hope.

A group of patriots founded this empire, slaves and abolitionists resisted an evil system, and how a new president charted a new course to the greatest generation, my grandpa fighting in Patton's army,

tha's how pioneers settled the west, how immigrants travel at great distances to these shore, how women won the right to vote, how workers won the right to organize,

that's what hope is - imagining and fighting for, working for, struggling for what seemed impossible. there's a moment in every generation when that spirit has to come through if we are to make our mark on history, when we are not wililng to settle for what the cynics have to accept, when we are willing to reach for what is possible,

when we determine we are going to keep the dream alive for those who hunger for opportunity and for those who dream of justice. it will not be easy but as hard as it will be, we will join together lock arms and go about the difficult but noble task of remaking our nation. houston, this is our moment, this is our time, and if you are willing to vote for me, if you are willing to stand with me, iuf you are willing to caucus for me, we will not just win Texas, we will win this nomination, we will win the general election, and you and I together will change this country and change this world.

Pundits saying his speech was too long, but I don';t agree it was just right - mix of inspiration and policy and substance. Takes on Hillary and pivots and takes on mccain. soaring highs like Boston 2004, and jesus if I didn't feel love and hope and empowered. Pnudits make the point that Hillary not only didn't congrtualte Obama on his Wisconsin win, but she didn't thank the people who VOTED FOR HER in Wisconsin. BAD ettiquette. Just goes to show that she will use and lose you. Obama started his speech before she was done, forcing the news stations to cover his victory versus her. HAHAHAHHAAH Clinton is claiming to be the candidate of labor. What about serving on the Walmart board!?!? Talking about promises, but people don't trust her. Kinda sad, really.

Looking at the map of Wisconsin exit polls, the only places that voted Clinton in Wisconsin are traditionally REpublican strongholds. what does that say?!?

Obama has essentially closed the gender gap with Clinton - 49%. Plus he is dominating economic issue - 55% of those who cited it as most import voted for him. Plus he got 53% of the white vote in Wisconsin. DAMN.

Obama voters with no college degree - 54%. wow, if I'm Clinton, I'm fucking scared.

One of the interesting things is that Obama is winning big in Green Bay - 56 to 43. Understand that this is one of THE most Republican areas in Wisconsin EVER. Plus she's grasping at straws by saying that Obama is plagerizing, and even touching the third rail of saying that you would go after another candidate's PLEDGED delegates. Why would you commit strategic suicide? Pledged delegates are THE most gungho about their candidate. Who are elected officials are general activists who ran to vote for their candidate.

Ahhh, Mccain - is wife is soooo Stepford, she scares me!

Update: Made some salsa, settling in the for the Hawaii elections.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008


So I've hit the 500 posts mark, and that's pretty cool. Happy 500 to me! (Well, no it's 501.)

I was watching Michelle Obama in Columbus Ohio and I can't describe how much she inspires me - just look at all the faces of the young, the variety of skin tones, the eyes all intent. Damn the woman is a fine speaker. And she will not be a first lady in the model of Laura, but rather, and I say this with the best of intentions, Hillary Clinton. A strong first lady who was unafraid to speak her mind and to show girls across America that it's okay to grow up bold, powerful, and beautiful. And I don't think that girls have to only choose to be First Lady, they can definitely run for President, and I appreciate Hillary for setting that example. That said, women and people of color have to look beyond the color or the shape of a vessel to someone's politics and what they would actually do for our communities - how they would represent us.

I'll admit that when there's a politician of color, that gets them in the door with me, but when I examine their record, their goals, that's what matters.

Feminism takes so many forms, and women of color who have felt the need to choose as Helen Zia has laid out before, who felt the need to check off one box or to splinter their identities, need strong models who acknowledge their birthright in all its shapes and colors.

I was listening to public radio and there was a story about a Latina who looks white owing as her heritage is mixed, working at FAO Shwartz, and her job was to get girls to adopt these baby dolls. For the longest time, she worked hard to get girls to buy the dolls, and then they hit a promotional breakthrough and they couldn't keep the dolls stocked. First, all the white babies sold out, so that when rich upper crust NYC matrons came to buy their girls dolls, they were dismayed that all they could buy were black and brown girls.

It's not unlike the Girl Like Me video where we get taught at a young age to value whiteness as beauty and strength. As desire and as power. I reject all that in favor of hope and a brighter future.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

On cheap transportation - the "Chinese bus"

Chris Matthews is one day going to get canned for his schtick... I know he gets paid to talk, and paid handsomely, but what does this man bring to the world that mothers, lovers, gardeners, and janitors do not?

Dude is the trash. I beg of you - TAKE HIM OUT! By which I mean off the air, and not bodyslamming him. Now here comes his take on the Chinatown buses, thanks to wonkette:

"There's the Chinese bus, you can take the Hasidic bus too. He took the Chinese bus all the way down from NYU just so he could vote."

Plus what is with the weird accents on CHI-nese bus?

I wouldn't be surprised if he also blames the CHI-nese for buying up the US economy and for keeping the yuan pegged to the dollar although technically, that's one Chinese bank and the Chinese government, as opposed to the dirt poor migrant workers of China who are getting rammed every ten ways more than Chris Matthews. But it's easy to blame the victim, no?

Here's my last question - Do buses have national identities? Or is Matthews implying that the buses were respectively made in Israel or China? Or that perhaps the bus is a rickshaw made of eager willing cheap Chinese labor? Maybe he means that once you set foot on the exotic bus on your luxury passage to the Orient (otherwise known as DC Chinatown,) the passengers all automatically become Chinese but only for the duration of the 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 hour long ride? Is the "Chinese bus" some magical Disney ride that I'd never heard of before that I absolutely have to ride? Really, I am so confused, maybe Chris Matthews can explain this to me in his eloquent and lucid English, his native tongue. Which I presumably wouldn't understand, being CHI-nese.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

American Dreaming - hard and soft power

Ron Fournier of the AP has an exceptionally good article that looks at the divides within the party, especially pertaining as to why insiders are eager to ditch Hillary.

Remember when I wrote about Governor Bill Richardson of new Mexico's stubborn refusal to endorse Hillary after originally campaigning hard and blatantly (and somewhat embarassingly I might add) to be her veep during the summer? Well, here's the quote of the week:
Some are folks who owe the Clintons a favor but still feel betrayed or taken for granted. Could that be why Bill Richardson, a former U.N. secretary and energy secretary in the Clinton administration, refused to endorse her even after an angry call from the former president? "What," Bill Clinton reportedly asked Richardson, "isn't two Cabinet posts enough?"
You think the left wing of the party, the Howard Dean supporters dislike Hillary? That's nothing compared to the people who were in power with the Clintons and resented being rode all over. It's because of this entitled attitude that you're supposed to jump through hoops to get to the inner circle and then fall on your sword if needs be, without nary a thank you.

Obama has won 23 of 35 contests, earning the majority of delegates awarded on the basis of election results. The remaining 796 delegates are elected officials and party leaders whose votes are not tied to state primaries or caucuses; thus, they are dubbed "superdelegates."

And they are not all super fans of the Clintons.

Some are labor leaders still angry that Bill Clinton championed the North American Free Trade Agreement as part of his centrist agenda.

Some are social activists who lobbied unsuccessfully to get him to veto welfare reform legislation, a talking point for his 1996 re-election campaign.

Some served in Congress when the Clintons dismissed their advice on health care reform in 1993. Some called her a bully at the time.

Some are DNC members who saw the party committee weakened under the Clintons and watched President Bush use the White House to build up the Republican National Committee.

Some are senators who had to defend Clinton for lying to the country about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Some are allies of former Vice President Al Gore who still believe the Lewinsky scandal cost him the presidency in 2000.

Some are House members (or former House members) who still blame Clinton for Republicans seizing control of the House in 1994.

The list of grievances is long, and is partially a result of the single interest players in the game. It's also a reaction to the way that the Clinton machine uses and abuses people and states, throwing them away like dishrags. If you count the numbers, it gets increasingly hard for Hillary to even hold all the delgates who she has because ultimately they play machine politics - a politics of fear and retribution, carrots and large sticks. She is the ultimate transactional leader, one who pays to play, and who metes our harsh punishment for losses.

"I would make the assumption that the ... superdelegates she has now are the Clintons' loyal base. A superdelegate who is uncommitted today is clearly going to wait and see how this plays out. She's at her zenith now," Duffy said. "Whatever political capital or IOUs that exist, she's already collected."

Few Democrats want to cross the Clintons when they're on top. But how many are willing to stand by them when they're down?

Hillary just doesn't have the same charm as Bill - whereas if Bill were running for office again, Bill Richardson would have probably endorsed him, much of this is personality. And Obama has been gracious and classy throughout the cycle, bailing Senator Biden out of a tough spot at an Iowa debate, and Richardson before him. Obama strikes me as the type of guy who wants to win fair and square, and who has HONOR. That's who you live and die for, who you fight for, and who wins.

Obama wants to win on the merits and he does, and he's probably been told before that whatever he does, he has to work 10x harder than anyone else just to prove that he's equal, as some of my friends have. That in order to transcend the game, you have to not fall into the mud and the dirt.

It's also true that he's the perfect politician in that he serves as a mirror for everyone and anyone to their ideals and hopes. For white liberals, especially those who grew up in the 60s, he represents the flowering of King's dream and their rosy futures. For African Americans, he rebuts 300 years of toil and being told that "you're not good enough." For immigrants, he represents the American Dream. For hapas, he has successfully synthesized dual cultures, multiple cultures. For those who grew up poor, he also represents the American Dream. For those who never had a voice, or didn't think they had one, he is their megaphone. For cynics, he represents a chance to hope, for once, like some kind of punchdrunk love. For the media, he parlays all these stories and writes their stories, a rock star because he is easy to love, easy on the eyes and easy to write about. He confounds the jaded.

In many ways, one could look at him as a Messiah except that he continually reminds us that there is so much work to be done and that he is only one man. That in order for us to see the changes that we want, we have to take action. Obama is our organizer-in-chief, a transcendent leader who is also a superstar.

In some ways, the Clinton camp's feeling of unfairness is valid - how can she compete against a man who reflects the American experience to us, and both idealizes it while acknowledging that there is much work to be done?

And this is where McCain's argument fails - it is not merely a dream that Obama has and shares, it is an achievable future, one that he readily acknowledges necessitates sacrifice and work. Without this balance, Obama's vision and leadership would just be gossamer words. But the work ethic entailed, the positive vision, in the simple slogan "YES WE CAN" describes and unites all of our American Dreams.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Primary impressions

Long lines and bad weather, Maryland polls extended their hours so that people could cast their votes. Obama's 3 to 1 in DC, and 60-40 in virginia and Maryland. Snow across the region, and people don't know how to drive in snow or rain, so bad traffic meaning long lines.

DC was a goner for Obama, with visibility events every single day and even on every corner, every Metro stop and old white hippies, young black students, and everybody in between cheering on Obama. Cross sections of America, of our communities, joining together in victory, unison and hope.

Obama won big, across the board in urban and rural areas, as well as with Latino (53-47) and APIA districts in suburban Northern Virginia, and in working class areas. The mo is shifting, and HARD. I don't know that a majority of Latino voters know about the Patti Solis Doyle stepdown, but this has to have the Clinton camp worried. Also, her deputy campaign manager left - Mike Henry had been under fire for his memo to NOT play in Iowa, but he was right. If Clinton was going to rejigger the machine, she should have done it after Iowa, and she should have done it more decisively (including kicking Mark Penn out.)

Here's the best news of the night for the general election:
With 92 percent reporting in Virginia, Obama is now 102,000 votes ahead of all Republicans combined.

You know, I wouldn't be surprised if Clinton was having a hard time competing because usually you model your voter universe around likely voters - a stable number of tried and true voters. This consistency usually makes it much easier to run the numbers, but the Obama factor brings in an unknowable number of new voters so that you don't know what your opponent's voter universe is, or how big the yield will be. This is an uneasy position to be in. Because you can still target your base of unlikely voters (white women) and you can model what you anticipate Obama's turnout, and try to cut into that base, but when only half the population generally turns out to vote, having a whole other say 25% turnout is CRAZY-MAKING.

CNN says Obama now has more delegates.

Hillary looks TERRIBLE at her speech. And her voice is really scratchy.

"There's a saying in Texas, all hat and no cattle."

"I would require that congress not get a raise until we raise the minimum wage!"

Universal healthcare, the plan that members of Congress, our staffs and federal employees get.

Obama's speech - new political majority. Nice, he's introducing the idea of a $4000/year college credit that you can only get by giving back with public service - "we invest in you, you invest in America." Nicely played to a largely college audience.

Huckabee's speech - he looks a little phased, but not really. Less jolly, more sombre than normal. "We're still working to give voters a choice. All the people who have not yet had an election have as much choice and right to vote as those who have already in the frontloaded race."

I think it's a good tihng that Huckabee is still in the race - it gives the religious conservatives a strong contrast to McCain and if Huckabee doesn't get it, it ruins their hopes and deflates tem even more.

John McCain's post Potomac Primary sweep is a very dour speech - talking about hope and teamwork. He's on the offensive against Obama right now, casting himself as the voice and embodiment of experience and knowledge.

Also he's not even talking about small government, he's talking medium sized government. His supporters must be so bewildered.

I made the offhand mention that McCain is Colonel Tye from Battlestar Galactica which caused a friend to gleefully say, "That's right, he's a cylon! . . . No wait, he's not as noble as Tye."

"I don;t seek the presidency with the personal hubris that history has anointed me in its hour of need" - OUCH! "I'm running to serve America and to champion the ideas that help every America generation make a stronger country and a stronger world."

"Hope, my friends, is a powerful thing. I can attest to that better than many, for I have seen men's hopes tested in hard and cruel ways that few will ever experience. And I stood astonished at the resilience of their hope in the darkest of hours because it did not reside in an exaggerated belief in their individual strength, but in the support of their comrades, and their faith in their country. My hope for our country resides in my faith in the American character, the character which proudly defends the right to think and do for ourselves, but perceives self-interest in accord with a kinship of ideals, which, when called upon, Americans will defend with their very lives.

To encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas that trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope. It is a platitude.

When I was a young man, I thought glory was the highest ambition, and that all glory was self-glory. My parents tried to teach me otherwise, as did the Naval Academy. But I didn't understand the lesson until later in life, when I confronted challenges I never expected to face."

Now he gets back to the Republican talking points, but they are less pointed:

"For a government that takes and spent less of your money . . .

provides strong and capable defense"

"I won't confine myself only to the comfort of only speaking to those who will speak to me"

"And my friends, I promise you I am fired up and ready to yield."

McCain was much more gracious and genteel this time around, less sneering, which can only be to his benefit. but one look at the tv screen is sufficient contrast - McCain has no energy, his supporters who are all older white people have no energy. compare that with Obama's supporters. We are the future!

Looking forward to Wisconsin, it's culturally a mix of Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota. The economic populism is strong, and the people and party are not quite as progressive as Minnesota, nor as open to candidates of color. But Madison has the only out lesbian in Congress, Tammy Baldwin, and Rep. Gwen Moore is a new progressive fighter from Milwaukee. (Baldwin is for Hillary, Moore for Obama.) Wisconsin is a pretty white state - African Americans make up 6%, Latinos 5%, and APAs 2%. These are also mostly concentrated around Congressional districts in Milwaukee and Madison.

The other thing that was prominent was if you overlay the states that McCain has won with the states that Obama has won, they're pretty much the same states - mostly the big Demographic states. And THAT means VERY well for the general matchup, because there's NO WAY New Yorkers, Californians, Washington State, New England (with exception of New Hampshire) or Illinois residents are going to vote for McCain over Obama. Plus Obama has won more states than McCain, and a wider range of states.

Lol, Clinton's surrogate Paul Begala said that "you know, the writers are back, so people will be paying less attention" and thus the calendar is beneficial. Although I have to say, whether it's because of the writers' strike or enthusiasm for Obama or what, people have been more informed this time around than ever before.

Donna Brazile - "People are flocking to Obama because they hear something they are thirsting for."

Ok, back to the celebration-
OH SMACK - eleanor holmes norton on colbert Report, and she's not playing the straight woman or the angry black woman - she's really happy and funny and light hearted. Cute!

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