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.

Monday, March 31, 2008

NY Gov. Hillary Clinton: Say it ain't so

Oh god, please say it ain't so, I don't wanna know. . .

Jonathan Alter of Newsweek is talking about "giving" Hillary Clinton the NY State governorship as a consolation prize for not winning the presidential nomination.

This is ridiculous. First of all, just because Paterson is currently having problems does not mean that he will have to resign, and second, the reason why I don't want Clinton as my president (apart from issues of judgement) is that she feels entitled to it. It's as though her parents didn't get the big huge stuffed panda and now she just has to settle for the still large but just slightly smaller one.

Get over it.

Maybe this prospect would have seemed more appealing if she hadn't totally botched her campaign and if she hadn't started down the nuclear path. But more importantly, you don't just get handed a governorship. You should have to work for it. The way she worked for her first Senate campaign, and the way that she worked to represent the people of New York.

I don't have a problem with her having higher ambitions - if politicians didn't, they probably would never get anything done. But she consistently just uses and loses people, cities, states. Look at how certain states (Iowa and oh, about 20 states) were important and then not so much. Look at how Bill Richardson was important, and now not so much.

I mean, c'mon. When's the last time the people of New York had a competent governor for a long period of time? Mario Cuomo? Oy.


Starts and stops

Just wanted to highlight two of my fellow APIAblog network bloggers. H Super Political started a whole new blog to document all the ways in which John McCain is not our friend, in case you thought he was a cuddly teddy bear.

And Reappropriate is taking some time off to focus on work and to take a breather from negativity. I guess I am blessed or cursed with only a few comments on my blog, so I don't get the chance to hear back from my readers but I guess I also am shielded from the occasional pettiness that blog back and forths can take.

Blogging is a long path full of many start and stops. It's a marathon, and many blogs go dark after 2-3 years for a host of reasons. I can still remember some of my favorite blogs that have gone by the wayside - Steve Gilliard is tops. It gets to be kind of draining sometimes - a burden rather than a release. Sometimes I have also stopped production of posts because of work or illness or whatever. I guess the thing I would say is to remember that the person you are talking to on the blank white screen is human, and not some robotic monkey who doesn't feel the flames.

But then again, asking for civility on the internet is like asking the LOLcats to learn how to spell. and I do hope that Jenn feels refreshed after her blog vacation.

Lou Dobbs goes off on cotton (picking) politicians?

This is a fine way to criticize others' dialogues on race - Lou Dobbs gets into his rant and barely prevents himself from saying the full thing:

"not a single one of these cotton p-- erhm, these . . . just ridiculous politicians should be the moderator on the issue of race. We have to have a far better discussion than that."

Cotton picking?!?!?


Wow, where is the media outrage over this one? That's such a racist thing to say - to say that black politicians are slaves.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hillary's hardball tactics backfire

As I predicted in previous posts, Hillary and her campaign's shenanigans and hardball tactics are turning off supporters and undecided superdelegates.
The Clinton campaign has been actively wooing these delegates, believing a plurality represents the strongest, and increasingly the only, way for her to win the nomination. But one undeclared delegate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the recent tactics are turning her and other superdelegates off.

"I don't think anybody's saying 'step aside,' but 'stop with the garbage' is what people want to say," the delegate said. "Just chill a little bit."

As activists committed to the party, they said, they have been impressed by Obama's ability to bring new Democrats into the fold, and they worry that Clinton is threatening that.

"We like the fact that there is a candidate that has won so many states overwhelmingly," the delegate said. "We're feeling her advisors are leading her in a path that diminishes her as well as him."
And really can you blame them? Between crazy jabbering about "converting" (read: stealing) pledged delegates and mentally incompetent jawboning about Richardson as Judas (expect to see some Latino leaders walk away soon - first the firing of Patti Solis Doyle and now the description of the nation's highest ranking Democratic Latino as "Judas", well this is kinda starting to show a trend where Hillary is just using them as tokens and discarding them just as quickly.)

Plus Clintonites recognize that Pelosi ain't so happy with Hillary and now are trying to force her back into a corner. Read their letter to her here including this thinly veiled threat from some of the Democratic Party's major fundraisers: "We appreciate your activities in support of the Democratic Party and your leadership role in the Party and hope you will be responsive to some of your major enthusiastic supporters."

It's hard not to read this as a threat to withhold funds from the DCCC. And it's true that these people are no joke - Maureen White was the former finance Chair of the DNC, Steve Rattner was behind the Atlantic Yards project in New York, Susie Thompkins Buell founded Espirit, and Haim Saban created the Power Rangers franchise. These people give massive amounts of money to the party, but it doesn't mean that their voices should count for more than the millions of voters.

This is probably the stupidest thing they could have done, and will just result in her unleashing her deputies to a greater degree. In case they forgot, Pelosi is the speaker of the House, the titular leader of 233 of the superdelegates, and many have not publicly sided, belonging to the 400-odd group of undecided delegates (the super-undecideds?) Also, Pelosi is no stranger to hardball politics, but unlike Hillary she is able to pull people back into her corner. (Witness her election as Speaker when several Dem congresscritters voted present rather than voting for her as Speaker. She has done an excellent job of maintaining party unity for the most part, and has gained the respect of those previous holdouts.)

Pelosi knows how to count and whip votes like nobody's business, and I want to point to Dan Lipinski, who reps the most conservative district in Illinois that's held by a (nominal) Democrat. Today he endorsed Obama, leaving Rahm Emanuel the lone undecided in the Illinois Democratic delegation.

Basically, having run a number of campaigns, Clinton is desperate because she's running a sinking ship. By the time you have to arm wrestle your supporters, you've already lost. And the crazy, desperate, haphazard flailing and failing actions you take are ones that unnerve even your supporters. You lose perspective and try to be too ham-handed, and it's not good for anyone, least of all your campaign. If you had a campaign that was doing well, you would be attracting superdels and volunteers and donations like flies to honey. Kinda like what Obama's campaign is doing.

Instead, your pressuring of Dean, Pelosi, and other national leaders has given you a black eye and brought it to the point where Harry Reid, whose son ran your successful Nevada operations, is saying that this will be over soon.

It's not too late to leave with grace and dignity. After all, when Kerry starting making noise about running for president again, he got some serious primary challenges floated. Don't think the same won't happen to you.

UPDATE: correction - posters are correct, these are two different people. Bruce Ratner is the Atlantic Yards developer and Steven Rattner is the American venture capitalist. I apologize for not double checking and researching. Thanks to readers for catching this.


Hillary: the Tonya Harding option

Well, I barely resisted the urge to call her that in my Sunday post, but a DNC official has gone public (in that anonymous DC fashion), calling Hillary out.

Jake Tapper of ABC has the scoop:

What will she have to do to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, in order to eke out her improbable victory?

She will have to "break his back," the official said. She will have to destroy Obama, make Obama completely unacceptable.

"Her securing the nomination is certainly possible - but it will require exercising the 'Tonya Harding option.'" the official said. "Is that really what we Democrats want?"

The Tonya Harding Option -- the first time I've heard it put that way.

It implies that Clinton is so set on ensuring that Obama doesn't get the nomination, not only is she willing to take extra-ruthless steps, but in the end neither she nor Obama win the gold.

(In this metaphor, presumably, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would be Oksana Baiul. Does that make former President Bill Clinton Jeff Gillooly?)

Here's what I said:

"If this is an example of how she is running her campaign (and it is), I don't see why more superdelegates aren't running in the opposite direction. This is a prime example of why Democratic activists are afraid of endorsing because they are incredibly sore losers who will try to handicap your knees."

Why did I not want to fully call it that, and instead just alluded to it? Because I do think that it is slightly sexist. It plays into people's perceptions that Hillary is a fighter, albeit a dirty fighter who is willing to do anything to win, who is a rough and tumble gal. I think that Hillary's hardball antics are increasingly turning off a number of high profile Dems, Richardson and Reid among them. It's the Judas-calling kinda stuff that reminds people that she has high disapproval ratings amongst parts of the Dems and the GOP, and the independents.

This meme is so powerful that it will be the one to end her presidential campaign, and it may factor into a netroots/progressive Senate challenge in about 4 years. It's catching fire and soon youtube will be flooded with videos comparing the two. Only, this time it's not going to be a challenger like Jonathan Tasini, it will be someone who is better funded, and who is going to do a much better job of drawing votes from various disenfranchised communities. If you think that the media is just eager to cover this angle, you forget how much the media despises Hillary (despite her well-trained press team.)

And Hillary won't have the backing of the Governor's machine this time around because he's busy enough trying to save his own political hide. Sure, she might have his verbal backing but when the knives come out, he won't be in her corner.

She has poisoned her own well, and she's going to have to drink from it sooner or later.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Clinton: The Audacity of hopelessness

Ouch. Well, one could have expected it to be coming from one corner or another. This time from conservative-ish New York Times commentator David Brooks who estimates that Hillary's chances of winning have dropped to 5%.

For the sake of that 5 percent, this will be the sourest spring. About a fifth of Clinton and Obama supporters now say they wouldn’t vote for the other candidate in the general election. Meanwhile, on the other side, voters get an unobstructed view of the Republican nominee. John McCain’s approval ratings have soared 11 points. He is now viewed positively by 67 percent of Americans. A month ago, McCain was losing to Obama among independents by double digits in a general election matchup. Now McCain has a lead among this group.

For three more months, Clinton is likely to hurt Obama even more against McCain, without hurting him against herself. And all this is happening so she can preserve that 5 percent chance.

When you step back and think about it, she is amazing. She possesses the audacity of hopelessness.

Our party is being torn apart, rendered asunder form within. Someone asked me last night if a long primary wasn't good for the Democrats, and I said "Yes, up to a point is drags out and brings to light things. But it's gone beyond the pale. Calling someone a Judas?!? Saying that the Republican candidate would be better as president than your fellow Democrat?!?"

In other news, I think the wall against Clinton is rising as more party leaders cement their opposition to Clinton's strategy of "well, if I can't have it, I'll break it." Harry Reid, who is as much of a fixer as anyone in DC, who knows how to play the game, hints at a deal in progress.

From the review-Journal:

Asked about it last week, Reid said he remains convinced the nominee will be decided well before the August national convention. He wore a serene and mysterious smile.

But Reid isn't one for lengthy explanations. The conversation went like this:

Question: Do you still think the Democratic race can be resolved before the convention?

Reid: Easy.

Q: How is that?

Reid: It will be done.

Q: It just will?

Reid: Yep.

Q: Magically?

Reid: No, it will be done. I had a conversation with Governor Dean (Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean) today. Things are being done.

That's all the Nevada Democrat would say about it.

So it also looks like he thinks that Michigan and Florida delegates will be able to be seated but not get to vote. I am not sure that this is any better of a solution than not letting them come, since it is eerily reminiscent of 2/5th of a vote (and I'm one of the main people who thinks that they broke the rules, the Clinton camp broke the rules and they can't keep changing the rules.)

But more importantly, it sounds like Clinton's rampage is coming to an end.

And thank god, because some of her lead advisors like James Carville are unapologetically craaaaaaazy, that's for sure. He refuses to resign or in any way apologize for calling Richardson a Judas: "I was quoted accurately and in context, and I was glad to give the quote and I was glad I gave it. I'm not apologizing, I'm not resigning, I'm not doing anything."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Clintonite calls Bill Richardson "Judas"

WOW! Just when you thought the kitchen couldn't get any hotter, Ragin' Cajun James Carville throws some tabasco sauce in the mix, calling Bill Richardson a Judas (!!!) for endorsing Obama over Hills:

"An act of betrayal," said James Carville, an adviser to Mrs. Clinton and a friend of Mr. Clinton.

"Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic," Mr. Carville said, referring to Holy Week.

Damn, talk about over the top. I mean, obviously the Clintons are pissed that Richardson didn't go with La Famiglia, but this is WAY over the line. And I am saying this as someone who doesn't love Richardson (mostly because of how he threw Wen Ho Lee under the bus as Sec. of Energy.)

I mean, the whole Mark Penn saying that Richardson was significant before he was insignificant is par for the course. But Judas?!? Does that mean they think Hillary is Jesus?!?!?

Not okay. They just insulted the top ranking Latino in the US, is she trying to kill her base?!? I mean she has a large part of the Latino vote, is she really trying to throw them over?

If this is an example of how she is running her campaign (and it is), I don't see why more superdelegates aren't running in the opposite direction. This is a prime example of why Democratic activists are afraid of endorsing because they are incredibly sore losers who will try to handicap your knees.

This is just beyond the pale, and incredibly bad taste. This is why people hate the Clintons. Carville needs to be fired for this.


Tidbits for Easter: Pelosi and Peeps!

Very cute and fun - the Washington Post had a Peep diorama contest, and some of the entries are adorable. Maybe next year I'll enter!

Pelosi claims to be neutral, no one believes her.

Clinton can't beat the media or the facts - this race is oh-vah!

Plus Democratic activists want this whole thing to be over.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Civil war at Fox News over race, hell froze over

Wonkette has the goods on civil war at Fox News over different interpretations of Obama's comments on his grandmother being a "typical white person" on a Philly sports show, and his speech in general.

Chris Wallace of FOX is defending Obama on his own show, and a Fox in the Morning anchor storms out over boneheaded arguments from his co-anchors.

I mean, what has the world come to when people try to have a normal and reasonable discussion about RACE on Fox?!? A debate that isn't just "pander and inflame"? I know we talk about the GOP driving a wedge, but I think it's possible that Obama is weding the traditionally Republican base. And this, my friends, this is amazing. Remember what I said about Obama taking progressive stances and making them so resaonable that most people could agree?

Well, it's happening to even conservatives. I have NEVER seen a Democrat able to wedge the GOP like he does, only the opposite (i.e., Reagan.)

Obama is the exceedingly rare politician who can do this, who can make people hope again, who can get things that never get talked about like race, back on the table. Our country is having an entire discourse on race and it's done much more for our nation's discourse than Bill Clinton's roundtable. Because EVERYBODY's talking about race around the watercooler and the dinner table. I am in awe of his political skills.

And this is totally separate from his ability as a politician. Because Obama didn't shy away from talking about the issue, he elevates our political discourse. When Romney talked about religion, the average person didn't care. Because he didn't really make us question our assumptions and re-examine our values. This speech - we are all reconsidering our impulses.

And if Obama can do that on race, he can do that on other issues, like immigration. Like war. By gods, can you imagine what this country would have been like if we fully weighed the implications of going to war with Iraq? If newcasters actually debated the merits and consequences?!?!?!? Instead of just being scribes, paid to write and read whatever the administration put out (to paraphrase the immortal Colbert.)

To be fair, not everyone who works for Fox is crazy conservative. I've known a few people who were producers and anchors, and they were normal, even *gasp* Democrats. Granted, these were people of color who said that working at Fox is a crazyhouse, and that they had to leave for their own sanity.

To be more in depth, I did my research, and Chris Wallace is a registered Democrat in D.C., which he says is because there is really only one party in DC and in order to have a voice on local elections, you have to be able to vote in the primary. Fair enough.


Richardson for Obama (now plus video)

I just want to state how shocking this endorsement is, given where all the chips were stacked at the beginning of this marathon round of poker (i.e, in Clinton's corner.)

VIDEO of richardson endorsement

As of Richardson refusing to endorse after Feb 5th, this is much less shocking, but still amazing given that Richardson had been seen by many as campaigning to be Hillary's veep. You can see it in the debates, and in his comments and his steady defense of her when she's down in the debates (witness the exchange after her major stumble on drivers licenses in October).
For instance, in this last debate, after repeated attacks on Hillary’s honesty, Richardson used the precious few seconds he had on one of the few questions he was asked to defend her against accusations that she was in the pocket of special interests:”You know what I’m hearing here? I’m hearing this holier than thou attitude towards Senator Clinton that - it’s bothering me because it’s pretty close to personal attacks that we don’t need. Do we trust her? Do we - did she take money from special interests?” (Blogger News)
Even as late as December 2007, he and her are flirting with the thought:

After first comparing himself to former Arkansas governor and former president Bill Clinton saying they were both CEOs and have both balanced budgets, Richardson asked Clinton, "Don't you think that governors make good presidents?"

Richardson may not have anticipated the response she gave after the laughter and applause subsided.

"Well, Bill," Clinton said, "I think they also make good vice presidents."

But he's been moving at a snail's pace toward endorsing Obama. Slowly but steadily, his public comments have indicated that he prefers Obama's character. On March 3, he defended Obama's judgment against Hillary's "red phone" ad:
He was outspoken in his criticism of Clinton's new "ringing phone" ad, which suggests that Obama is not ready to become commander in chief.

"I happen to disagree with that ad that says that Senator Obama is not ready," he said. "He is ready. He has great judgment, an internationalist background."

And if this bolded bit from 10 days ago (emphasis mine, quote courtesy Los Angeles Times) doesn't indicate how he feels about being told that he "owes" Bill for being appointed as UN Ambassador and as Sec of Energy, well, nothing else does:

Richardson, as New Mexico governor, is a Democratic Party superdelegate, and he demurred on the question. But his answer still served as tea leaves to be read. "I'm truly conflicted," Richardson said. "I'm torn. I see ... a lot of loyalty I owe President Clinton. He made me U.N. ambassador. He made me secretary of Energy. He's treated me extremely well. But you know what? I paid him back. Because I served well." Richardson described Hillary Clinton as "enormously capable ... but I did run against her."

Then he focused on Barack Obama, someone he said "I don't know as well. But I think there's ...

something that is very special about this guy, that is good." Richardson related an anecdote from one of the debates: He fielded a question and then, as the next point went to another candidate, leaned toward Obama next to him on the stage and whispered, "'Boy some of these debates really boring, aren't they?' Or something like that. And he said, 'Oh god, yeah, you're right.' "

As the two were whispering, a question suddenly veered back to Richardson -- who hadn't been paying attention. "I looked at Obama and he says [whispering] 'Katrina. Katrina.' And I go back and say, 'Well, my three-point plan on Katrina is ...' Obama could have thrown me under the bus. But he didn't. So I said, 'Thanks, Obama,' and he said, 'Just listen next time.'"

Earlier I wrote that Bill Clinton apparently tried to play hardball with Richardson.
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?"
Apparently heavy-handed tactics were enough to turn him off. That's right, cos no one likes being forced to be the token water boy.

I think it's good for Richardson to have endorsed Obama, I just think it would have been better for Obama had he done it sooner, like in time for Texas. (Yes I know Obama won the delegate count but he lost the popular vote.) Also, I am impressed that he was able to buck the Clinton machine. There is a tremendous amount of pressure there, and be assured that they will find some way to get back at him.

In the general election, it will help. And for now, Richardson is one of the big name players who have been sitting on the sidelines. So this will encourage other supers to get a move on. I mean, this is really something - for someone who was supposedly auditioning for her VP to go an back Obama. Whew!

UPDATE: Apparently Richardson is saying he's endorsing Obama specifically because of his Philly speech on race. Nice validation. Man, Obama having a spine shows other Democrats what it means. I'll take that ANY day over Clinton's waffling sort of leadership.

UPDATE 2: Posted video at top, and here's a notable Richardson statement: "It is time, however, for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and to prepare for the tough fight we will face against John McCain in the Fall."

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Clinton's perceived honesty gap and some basic questions

A new Gallup poll has it in pretty stark numbers: a majority of Americans don't consider Hillary to be honest.

Obama and McCain's numbers are within the margin of error, so they are essentially tied with 2:1 ratios of voters trusting them to be honest.

It's something that I've flagged as a problem of hers before, and the results don't surprise me, because those numbers include both Democrats and Republicans. Hell, the thing I hear the most from people who don't like Hillary when I ask "why?" is "I don't trust her."

Now, this trust issue spans a lot - it spans that they don't trust her to tell the truth, but it includes not trusting her to fully defend progressive values, not trusting her to lead our country in the right direction. Some of this is mistrust on how she's seemingly willing to tear down the party to prevent someone, anyone else from winning the presidency (on the Democratic side.) Some people don't trust her because she used to be a College Republican and they think she continues to use Republican tactics. But I also hear it from apolitical people and swing voters, as well as Republicans. I hear it from Asian Americans, Latinos, whites, and African Americans. I hear it from all ages.

I'd say this is her major hurdle to overcome. The general populace is inclined to believe that she has the experience. They just don't believe that she won't use that experience to either stab us in the back or to fail to stand up for the little guy or girl.

One of the only positive side effects of the rev. Wright thing is that it has helped to wash away the Muslim smear. Instead there's a black nationalist smear. But Obama took a risk and was open and honest about how he personally connects to the issue. And I think that people appreciate that kind of courage and convictions.

It would have been easy for him to throw Rev. Wright under the bus, to completely disown him. But Obama didn't - he said, this man has raised me and brought me into the church. That shows loyalty, a kind of loyalty that the Clinton's haven't shown to their supporters, for the most part. During the Clinton-Gore campaign of 96, the APIA community got shafted and scapegoated for participating in our democracy. Staffers were afraid for their jobs, leaders felt silenced and our community - which was very much still emerging at the time, just on the cusps of starting some foundational new organizations - well, we just shut up. (There's a lot of reasons for this, including lack of infrastructure and even less power then. Check previous posts.)

I keep referencing this because if they would distance themselves from us over some bad checks, what do you think they would do if it comes to a harder issue of deeper importance, like immigration and keeping families together? I don't mean on an individual case by case basis but rather if the GOP wants to use us as the economic grinding-stone of white working class anger? Listen to Obama's speech for a good perspective on both sides.

It's already happening to some degree, and I've seen this movie before. It doesn't end pretty. In 1996, hate crimes increased 17 percent. In the 80s, there was the beating of Vincent Chin and movies like Rising Sun. There's legislation out there that would more clearly define and punish those who perpetuate hate crimes, and we can't seem to get it passed.

Hillary has proven that she fumbles hot potatoes like the drivers licenses issue, that she finds these issues radioactive. But the question is: when will she take a stand? My fear is that despite everything that there is to admire about her (and there is a significant amount), she either won't stand up for our community on the most important issues and really put her weight to bear on preventing bad legislation or passing good bills. Or that she'll fumble because she lacks the coalition building ability like with HillaryCare.

Obama puts himself in everybody's shoes, and as painful as that thought is to some reflexive progressives, I think it makes for a better argument for our case at the end of the day. It helps you spot the objections that other parties have and to address them. Too frequently, we are blind and deaf to the base concerns of Americans, and that's why we are unable to seal the deal.

Obama listens, and that informs his speeches. He makes his position and our position the majority one in simple and plain terms that make it easy for people to understand why he supports his positions.

One could argue that he puts himself in everybody's shoes because he has to walk in a lot of paths, but the who and why is not as important as the how. Because the how is what allows you to walk further down that path and to cross the bridge.

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Biggest post ever, thanks to the Big Lead

Wow, I'm really honored for the link. So far the single posting that I have ever written which just got me mad hits today was on DMX not knowing who Barack Obama is, and it's a link from the guys over at The Big Lead. Which is a sports site. I must admit that my knowledge of sports is scant compared to my knowledge of politics, so this is an honor.

While I am mostly a political-personal blog. This has engendered even more hits in just the past hour than when Craig Newmark linked me after appearing on the Colbert Report. It is good to see politics and the interwebs bringing the jocks and nerds together. It's kinda like a high school reunion, only with less drinking and awkwardness. *Cheers*


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

LOL Peep Show

Maybe I am wrong but I would have thought a "Peep show" would have the marshmellow chick peeps on stage. Anyway, this wraps up the past week and a half of Spitzer-Paterson sex stories. I go to LOLcat to escape the depressing news only to see it reflected. Bummer.

Maybe this LOLcat is better.


Obama's speech and affirmative action

He talks about race, class, and religion, all in a very nuanced fashion. He feels the pain of both white working class voters and African Americans. And it should be noted that Obama is the only person who consistently addresses all Americans including African Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans and American Indians, if only to say that there is no separate and distinct each of these, but that we are all part of America.

He talks about the power of hope, and the GOP ability to divide and conquer, our inability to see the corporation who left us and our families stranded as the problem versus the black family down the street, or to stop hating the white family who didn't perpetuate the "sins of slavery."

In all so many words, he basically talks of the Other and being the Other, but rejecting that label and declaring himself an American. As deeply part of the American fabric and story and dream. It's the kind of discussion that we would have in college after reading too many ethnic studies textbooks, only deeply personalized.

He draws on the ideals upon which our nation was founded, "we the people", "a more perfect Union", and blends it with a very 2008 understanding of how we relate to each other. I'll admit to crying while watch this speech, because it's unlike anything I've heard a politician say to a national audience in well, forever.

And if this speech doesn't cement him as being the more real and honest candidate, the candidate who you want to be, who you want leading this country, and making decisions, then I don't know who you would want. After these long years of Bush and his inability to speak or pronounce words, much less write a speech like this, well, I for one and looking forward to an Obama presidency.

One of the things that strikes me about Ferraro's comments that Obama wouldn't be here if he was a white man, implying that he is our presidential affirmative action candidate, well all I can say is - Obama vastly outguns, out-classes, and out-smarts everyone. He's a better candidate than Clinton, he's run a smarter campaign, and he's brought hope to a nation that needs it. Bringing it back to something I've opined on before (higher education) I will say however, that George W. Bush is the ultimate legacy. He's the ultimate frat boy who got into Harvard and Yale, who fucked around and acted the clown, drinking and doing god knows what drugs. He was given companies to run (which he ran into the ground), and then he was handed the presidency and stewardship of this country, which he has treated like his own personal piggybank. And now we lie here, broken into pieces, with the coins dribbling out, being ransacked by Bush's friends, not unlike some episode of Lil Bush (which is getting better and better.)

So is Obama the affirmative action candidate? I wouldn't bet your sweet life on it. There are so few politicians of any race or gender in this country who have his ability to orate and to move crowds. Unlike Bush, he worked hard and got into Harvard Law and became a community organizer. Instead of running companies, he built community strength.

In thinking about what DMX said in his interview, that basically, the nation is only giving a black guy the chance to run the country now that it's all fucked up, well I don't necessarily think he's wrong. Republicans have said as much - that the next 4 years are going to be a hellride, so why settle for McCain?

I think the country is sick of what a legacy president has done to us, and we are desperate for change. In the background is the economic insecurity, the shadows of a war that Bush started but doesn't plan to finish, the increasing sense that our nation is adrift and that clouds are looming ahead. It is in this context that Americans are willing to give the new guy a chance, like the fourth quarter of a basketball game where the home team is struggling and the starting roster is busted, played out and lackluster, unable to get the ball down the court. The forward has fouled out. The coach makes the decision to turn things over to the rookie b-baller, who has the chops to turn things around. That man is Barack Obama.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What Dean fought for

I know Howard Dean has been under attack in some quarters of the left, mostly by Hillary supporters as of late. But I was watching this video of what it was like being in the room when he gave his now infamous Iowa speech and "scream" and the dkos poster is correct - the media frame and filter always colors how they present the news and consequently, what ordinary Americans see and believe.

So yes, I believe that the media's portrayal of Wright is just snippets and not necessarily representative of everything Obama's preacher said or did. But going back to Howard Dean, who came across so angry.

Now, the average public may not understand the technical difference between a vocal mic and a room mic. And so they may not understand how manipulated the infamous "Dean Scream" really was. But I can assure you with 100% certainty that the people at CNN, NBC, and Fox knew exactly what they were doing.

And they know exactly what they are trying to do to Barack Obama.

Whether it's to drag this race out for increased advertising revenue (political campaigns are big bucks) or to eliminate a threat, this spectacle is nothing less than the media manufacturing "controversy" to manipulate American democracy.

Everything that Howard Dean said is right - we want to take back America for the normal people. We want and need to run a 50 state strategy so that our message is carried in all corners by everyday Democrats. So that all Americans see that Democrats care about them - about Democrats in big and small states, in states that have traditionally been ignored, and in states that have traditionally acted as ATMs.

It has been said before, but it bears saying again - Howard Dean was right about most everything - his opposition to the Iraq War, his desire to move Southern voters beyond god, guns, and gays, his drive to talk to voters in all 50 states. And as DNC Chair he is implementing these things, but he's not on the Sunday talk shows like Terry McAuliffe used to do, because his audience isn't the politicos who are up watching Sunday talk shows. Indeed, he knows the media isn't his friend.

Witness the incredible turnaround from when they were raising him up as an insurgent, and then the quick Icarus flameout when they roasted him on a spit, turning his words over and over in the eyes and ears of the American people via their cruel instrument of tv.

Instead he has organizers on the ground in 50 states, paid staff that have rejuvenated the party in states like Idaho and Montana, as well as South Carolina. Obama has taken Dean's strategy and expanded upon it, with just results. But Obama know he has to be just as wary of the fickle media, because they can make or break you.

He gave a good speech, one that resonated with people across the country. He gave a speech where he reminded us of the best that this nation has to offer, and he did it all by himself, writing and crafting it by himself.

I think part of it is that the media is just friggin glad to have a president who can think and talk for themselves, but this doesn't mean that they don't want to roast Obama so that the race drags on, whether for ratings or otherwise.

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DMX doesn't know who this Barack Obama is

Pretty funny interview. In a time when everyone is glued to CNN, the home of politics, and previously totally unpolitical people are gorging on politico, DMX doesn't know who Barack Obama is. He's flummoxed that someone would name their son Barack.

From XXLmag:

Are you following the presidential race?
Not at all.

You’re not? You know there’s a Black guy running, Barack Obama and then there’s Hillary Clinton.
His name is Barack?!

Barack Obama, yeah.


What the fuck is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa?

Yeah, his dad is from Kenya.
Barack Obama?

What the fuck?! That ain’t no fuckin’ name, yo. That ain’t that nigga’s name. You can’t be serious. Barack Obama. Get the fuck outta here.

You’re telling me you haven’t heard about him before.
I ain’t really paying much attention.

I mean, it’s pretty big if a Black…
Wow, Barack! The nigga’s name is Barack. Barack? Nigga named Barack Obama. What the fuck, man?! Is he serious? That ain’t his fuckin’ name. Ima tell this nigga when I see him, “Stop that bullshit. Stop that bullshit” [laughs] “That ain’t your fuckin’ name.” Your momma ain’t name you no damn Barack.

Well, to be fair, he can't vote because he's a felon, so he hasn't been following it at all, but he has a pretty pessimistic view on what a president really is able to do.

Also, Ben Smith thinks Obama's speech is Walt Whitman-esque.


More on Paterson's affairs

Apparently Paterson also had dalliances with some state employees, including a woman who worked for Gov. Spitzer, who the new Gov. Paterson has also "inherited" (in his terms.) Why can't politicians keep it in their pants?!?!

In the earlier news conference, Mr. Paterson said he was speaking out because he did not want the state to become embroiled in another sordid distraction.

“I wanted to come forward because I didn’t want it hanging over my head,” Mr. Paterson said. “I didn’t want to be compromised, perhaps, by innuendo or some sort of message that you better not do something or we’re going to out you about the infidelity in your marriage.”

Mr. Paterson flatly denied that he had ever used any campaign money in connection with the affairs. “I would never use campaign funds for that purpose,” he said.

Mr. Paterson did most of the talking during the news conference. But twice Mrs. Paterson spoke in a hushed, soft voice. “There’s no marriage that’s perfect,” she said at one point.

But as I said yesterday, I think it's smart of him to get all this stuff out now in the interest of transparency, rather than wait for the GOP to pounce on it later.

I'm not someone who demands marital fidelity of elected officials, although it would be nice. Mostly I think this is stuff that is very personal and only when it impinges on how the govern or on policies, then that is when I care.

The weird thing is, in Spitzer's case, it's not as though he made anti-sex trafficking laws easier on the johns, he made them harder. As if perhaps to punish himself or because he didn't think he would get caught.

That's why Republican controversies like David Vitter and Larry Craig caught fire so quickly - because they both did things that opposed family values. And because Larry Craig had voted against many many gay rights bills. (And why haven't those two stepped down already?!? Vitter even has the nerve to claim that his case is totally different from that of Spitzer's even though Vitter went to a prostitute to indulge his diaper fetish. Totally distasteful.)

I don't expect personal concerns not to be reflected in politics - after all, people run for office because there are certain things they want to change, certain ideas and issues that are most important to them. But when I say that I hope bedroom trysts don't impact politicians' choices, I mean it in the sense that I'd hope that they don't decide to benefit that person's family or business in some way. That the individual hopefully doesn't persuade them to take a position counter to the interests of their constituents.

In light of the fact that politicians seem to be incapable of keeping it in their pants, I'd say that that's the minimum standard. Although of course, I have high standards for politicians whom I personally believe in. Because at the end of the day, they are human just like us. People don't magically attain a halo when they get elected, although some behave as though they do. They do however have the spotlight of public inquiry on them, and should try to behave as though they have halos.


Monday, March 17, 2008

A GOP "Macaca" Runs in Virginia

Amit Singh is an Indian American running for Democratic incumbent Jim Moran's seat in the 8th District. The twist is not that he's an Indian American running in Virginia, home of the real Americans, to paraphrase former Senator George Allen. The twist is that he's a running as a Republican, but he doesn't identify himself as such on the website.
An Arlington small-businessman, Amit Singh is committed to protecting his nation and serving the people of the 8th District.

Like many of you, he is unhappy with the direction that the politicians have been taking us. Our freedoms, our rights, and our civil liberties are being eroded through compromises allowing the Real ID and the government taking power from the people. Our economy is sinking, the debt keeps growing, and the politicians keep spending our children’s future on pork barrel projects for their friends.
Which is probably smart for the Democratic leaning Northern Virginia district that he's running in. As Sepia Mutiny points out, he should know that real Americans, real GOPers know that you don't call those other brown people "undocumented workers" but rather "illegal aliens" or whatever Lou Dobbs is saying these days.

Moran has been controversial because of some of his anti-Israel stances and comments, but I still think that Amit has an uphill battle. Not a bad looking guy though. Plus he seems to be a libertarian, small government Repub, so theoretically better than your run of the mill GOPer. But I'm not endorsing and I doubt he'll win the primary anyway. But maybe he should consider seeking George Allen's nod.

New Gov. Paterson admits to extramarital affair

Well, that was fast.

Just days following Spitzer's admission of "wrongdoing" his replacement (who was only sworn in today) admits, in a joint interview with his wife, to BOTH OF THEM HAVING AFFAIRS.


NY Daily News has the scoop:

In a stunning revelation, both Paterson, 53, and his wife, Michelle, 46, acknowledged in a joint interview they each had intimate relationships with others during a rocky period in their marriage several years ago.

In the course of several interviews in the past few days, Paterson said he maintained a relationship for two or three years with "a woman other than my wife," beginning in 1999.

As part of that relationship, Paterson said, he and the other woman sometimes stayed at an upper West Side hotel — the Days Inn at Broadway and W. 94th St.

Dude, is New York going to run through a string of electeds until they come to someone who is clean? I mean, not just in terms of marital fidelity but also ethics? Cos obvs Senate Majority Leader (by a thread) Joe Bruno ain't so hot on the ethical count. I guess NYers will just work their way down to the janitor who cleans up all their messes in the Capitol.

Also, this is just kinda gross:
Asked if he had stayed with anyone else since 2001 at the same West Side hotel, Paterson said, "From time to time I used to take Michelle to that hotel."

. . . He and his wife went to the West Side Days Inn when they were trying to rekindle the romance in their marriage, he said.

They did so after a marriage counselor he used recommended they introduce "new and exciting things" into their relationship, Paterson said, and so they could be alone and away from their children.

"It's convenient since it's only four subway stops from my Harlem office," Paterson said.

Nasty - I would not want to be their kid. I really don't need to know where my parents are trysting. And I don't think I would want the rest of NYC knowing that either. Why did they decide to come out about it? Because they wanted to preempt the leaking of it by reporters or political aides.

Well, I doubt that the NYS Republicans will be calling for his head immediately because that would just be a cold war with everybody outing everybody's bid-nasty. And I'm sure they've got very deep closets stacked high with bony bodies. It's actually smart of him to get it out in the news today because everyone's just excited to move beyond the Spitzer mess and get a new Gov. Plus other things have been dominating the press, like the meltdown of the markets and the buying of Bear Sterns. Cos well, sex is entertaining and everything but there's real things going on like job and home losses.

Props to Juan Gonzalez on the scoop.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pelosi pushes for Obama and the future of the Democratic Party

As I've noted throughout, Speaker of the House Pelosi (god I love that phrase) has been pushing for Obama in every so slight and subtle ways, including with her lieutenants Jan Schakowsky and George Miller endorsing him. More recently, she said that a Clinton Obama ticket was never going to happen because of the things that had been said, which supports his position that he would not be her veep (and can we talk about how ridiculous it is for the Number 2 to be offering the front runner a veep position?!?!)

Now, Pelosi comes out even more, and supports his stance on delegates. She is perhaps the single most important player in the Democratic party, as someone who has the support of the liberals and who understands how the game is played. Keep in mind that when she supported Mike Honda in a tight race for the DNC Vice Chair position, he got there.

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says it would be damaging to the Democratic party for its leaders to buck the will of national convention delegates picked in primaries and caucuses, a declaration that gives a boost to Sen. Barack Obama.

"If the votes of the superdelegates overturn what's happened in the elections, it would be harmful to the Democratic party," Pelosi said in an interview taped Friday for broadcast Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

. . .

Pelosi's comments could influence other House Democrats who are neutral in the presidential race and will attend the convention as superdelegates.

In her interview, Pelosi also said that even if one candidate winds up with a larger share of the popular vote than the delegate leader, the candidate who has more delegates should prevail.

"It's a delegate race," she said. "The way the system works is that the delegates choose the nominee."

She understands what is at risk - a divided party is not going to be good for downticket races or for the future of the Democratic party. Indeed. what is ironic is that Hillary shares the same sector of voters that McCain does, at least in age. She has all the older voters, and something I am hearing more and more frequently now from the 30 and under cohort is that they will not vote for Hillary if she is the general nominee. This is from people who are NOT Naderites.

REPEAT: These are not Naderites. Naderites are the lunatic fringe. These are normal people in big cities and suburbs, some married with kids, of all races.

They are not the fringe of the party, but rather party activists and loyalists. And even people who have been less politically involved and engaged up until now. Who are now reading politico.com obsessively and whose watching of CNN is starting to rival mine (!!!) Many of these people are not political junkies and have never been. But they are deeply passionate about Obama and his message of change, and this is the future of the Democratic party.

Some of these people are the independents (a slice of the electorate that has been steadily growing) who want to come to the Democratic fold.

I am shocked and pleased at how informed people in the US and internationally are about our election. At the general enthusiasm and excitement. I wish it would stay this way but I'm increasingly concerned that some people will be turned off of politics for good if the current level of debate goes on like this and Clinton wins. I am going to support her and work for her regardless if she is our nominee, but I'm alarmed at WHO is saying that they won't. More than the party activists, I'm alarmed at the "normals" (if you will) who are making these declarations.

I hear that the campaigns are going to play cleaner for a bit, and I hope they stay there. Because all of this dirt and outrage is going to be played back by the RNC and McCain's campaign in the general election. And Pelosi is right - there's no way that if Obama wins he puts Hillary on the ticket just so the RNC can run ads with her saying that John McCain would be a better president.

That is beyond the pale. And if she was smart, she would stop trying to burn our house down. This level of naked ambition isn't going to do her well if she is trying to position for 2016, because all these millennials and the 30 and unders who are disgusted with her tactics are going to remember and never let her get a chance again. But maybe that's what's driving her fierce urgency this time around. The Democratic Party is changing, more rapidly than people could expect.

It's a good and healthy thing for us to be evolving. Good lord, it's been so long! But Clinton donors are trying to put the squeeze on Howard Dean as DNC chair because they are afraid of the evolution of the Democratic party, and afraid of losing their stranglehold over the power.

Pushing to seat the Florida delegates, at least one top Clinton fund-raiser, Paul Cejas, a Miami businessman who has given the Democratic National Committee $63,500 since 2003, has demanded Democratic officials return his 2007 contribution of $28,500, which they have agreed to do.

“If you’re not going to count my vote, I’m not going to give you my money,” said Mr. Cejas, who was the United States ambassador to Belgium from 1998 to 2001.

Christopher Korge, a Florida real estate developer who is another top fund-raiser for Mrs. Clinton, held an event last year in his home that brought in about $140,000 for the national party, which was set aside in a special account for the general election battle in Florida. But he told committee officials this week that if Florida’s delegate conundrum was not settled satisfactorily he would be asking for the money back.

“If we do not resolve this issue,” Mr. Korge said, “I think it’s safe to say there will be a request for a return of $140,000.”


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Monday, March 10, 2008

NY Gov. Spitzer linked to prostitution ring, apologizes

I am really blown away by this news. Spitzer made a name for himself as Mr. Clean, and he campaigned on a reform mandate - he cleaned up Wall Street, and organized crime. He even prosecuted prostitution rings as an Attorney General and passed an anti-sex trafficking law as Governor. He was a populist and an overachiever.

I am just shocked and well, I don't know. I thought that he was really one of the good guys. I guess it just goes to show that the higher you climb, the harder you fall. Ben Smith reports Spitzer has no allies left, having been a hard-hitting prosecutor of Wall Street, and with terrible relationships with his state legislative leaders.

His wife is standing by his side, and she looks gaunt and absolutely devastated. Silda Wall is a beautiful woman, and she does not normally look like this. Spitzer's married with 3 kids, and I just can't believe that someone this smart would be so dumb or unethical. The NYT story has the details and apparently one of his aides was crying while waiting for him to take the stage.

Spitzer didn't take any questions and didn't say he would resign, but I don't know that he can stay in there.
"I acted in a way that violated in my obligation to my family...I apologize first and most importantly to my family, and to the public, I promise better."

"I am disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected my expect I must dedicated some time to regain the trust of my family. I will report back."

Ben Smith is a must read today, and he has a look at the prospective successor, Lt. Gov. Patterson. Apparently if Spitzer resigns, and Patterson accepts, he would be the state's first black governor, and the first blind governor. If Patterson refuses, the state's governorship would go to NYS Senate leader Joe Bruno, Spitzer's arch-nemesis.

Wow. Just wow. It's kinda like if you found out that Eliot Ness was using prostitutes.

Here's the NYT with some details:

The man described as Client 9 in court papers arranged to meet with a prostitute who was part of the ring, Emperors Club VIP, on the night of Feb. 13. Mr. Spitzer traveled to Washington that evening, according to a person told of his travel arrangements.

The affidavit says that Client 9 met with the woman in hotel room 871 but does not identify the hotel. Mr. Spitzer stayed at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on Feb. 13, according to a source who was told of his travel arrangements. Room 871 at the Mayflower Hotel that evening was registered under the another name.

Federal prosecutors rarely charge clients in prostitution cases, which are generally seen as state crimes. But the Mann Act, passed by Congress in 1910 to address prostitution, human trafficking and what was viewed at the time as immorality in general, makes it a crime to transport someone between states for the purpose of prostitution. The four defendants charged in the case unsealed last week were all charged with that crime, along with several others.

Here's some from the conservative Daily Sun.

Politico has links to the court affadavit.

The difference between this and the Larry Craig scandal? No one expected this - it wasn't whispered about, and this mistake, of all things, is one of the worst things he could have done. Because he has run as a strict moral crusader and advocate, he is probably done for. All his legislative success or anything else will be done.

Whew. I think I am just recovering from the shock.


Friday, March 07, 2008

McCain blows up at NYT reporter

THe funniest part of all of this is that it's at Elizabeth Bumiller, who is generally not considered to be the one asking the hard questions or even the followup questions. She's a GOP scribe and lapdog if you ever saw one.

I bet that this is probably the last time she even bothers asking a question apart from, "May I have some fries with that?"

I mean, cos it's soooooo terrible for the man who was previously "enchanting" you on his ranch and feeding you BBQ to now be getting angry at you like your grandpapa. McCain's temper and ferocity is legendary - he's said "fuck you" to many GOP senators, and had to apologize many times over. Is this the man you want with his finger on the red button!?!?

now documented here, here and here.

The following is an ABC News transcript of the conversation:

New York Times correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller: Senator can I ask you about Senator Kerry. I just went back and looked at our story, the Times story, and you told Sheryl Stolberg that you had never had a conversation with Kerry about being, about Vice President –

John McCain: Everybody knows that I had a private conversation. Everybody knows that. That I had a conversation. There’s no living American in Washington -

EB: Okay.

McCain: - that knows that, there’s no one.

EB: Okay

McCain: And you know it too. You know it. You know it. So I don’t even know why you ask.

EB: Well I ask because I just read –-

McCain: You do know it. You do know it.

EB: Because I just read in the Times in May of ’04 you said.

McCain: I don’t know what you may have read or heard of, I don’t know the circumstances. Maybe in May of 04 I hadn’t had the conversation --

EB: But do you recall the conversation?

McCain: I don’t know, but it’s well known that I had the conversation. It is absolutely well known by everyone. So do you have a question on another issue?

EB: Well can I ask you when the conversation was?

McCain: No. Nope, because the issue is closed as far as I’m concerned. Everybody knows it. Everybody knows it in America.

EB: Can you describe the conversation?

McCain: Pardon me.

EB: Can you describe the conversation?

McCain: No, of course not. I don’t describe private conversations.

EB: Okay. Can I ask you –

McCain: Why should I? Then there’s no such thing as a private conversation. Is there (inaudible) if you have a private conversation with someone, and then they come and tell you. I don’t know that that’s a private conversation. I think that’s a public conversation.

EB. Okay. Can I ask you about your (pause) Why you’re so angry?

McCain: Pardon me?

EB: Nevermind, nevermind.

McCain: I mean it’s well known. Everybody knows. It’s been well chronicled a thousand times. John Kerry asked if I would consider being his running mate.

EB: Right.

McCain: And I said categorically no, under no circumstances. That’s all very well known.

EB: Okay, let me ask you… (moves on to another question.)

UPDATE: Hmm, here's some video footage, he doesn't look as angry as thought. however, it does seem as those he snaps at her. Supposedly McCain has been taking anger management classes . . . perhaps it's helping a little. I still wouldn't want him near the red button. Or the red phone.


Housekeeping - updated blogroll

I have been reading and linking to an awful lot of Marc Ambinder, so I replaced Wonkette with his blog. Plus he links to angry asian man, a rarity for mainstream political bloggers. Mainstream political bloggers tend to be focused on . . . well, anything but APA culture and politics.

I'm increasingly liking Ambinder not just for his willingness to call it what it is (see previous post on "white guilt") but also his insights. Including his post on the Yeldarb effect (the opposite of the Bradley effect.) He's literary and well, his style suits The Atlantic's. Smart, incisive and sociological commentary.

I had to replace wonkette because it's watered down. It's not as sharp or funny or breaking. queen wonkette has a mainstream media stage now (and I might add ana marie cox's tumblr.) They lack a female voice, which really is just too DC now that I think about it. Maybe I'm growing out of that kind of humor, or they're just doing it less well or both. But I find myself less drawn there than ever before. I'd say I read more jezebel at this point, and I get my political news and analysis from much more sophisticated sources.

Also added Stuff White People Like to the blogroll. We'll see if it stays up more than a few months, but it's been spot on and had me chuckling. And really, in my line of work, I need more chuckles.


Should Clinton be Obama's veep?

Is the question that a lot of national pundits and some grassroots activists are asking. Is even the case that Governor Ed Rendell is pushing.

They argue that the Democratic base is so divided that we need these two on a ticket to bring the fold back together. That Hillary can retain and bring the female vote.

My gut response is no, no, no. NO. NO. NO!

Although my friends argue in discussion that Clinton's media discipline and DC insiders' knowledge are useful in the White House and in moving policy, my reasoning is that Clinton would hamper Obama from making real and meaningful change. That her veep advisors would overwhelm and hamstring and doublecross his WH staff on the Hill and around every bend if there was an issue that they disagreed on.

That whatever initiatives these are would go down like Hillarycare. In flames, and over disagreements about how we get there.

And this doesn't result from a dislike of Hillary. I find that they agree on many issues, but I am sure that Obama's ways of getting there would be vastly different than Clinton's, and I don't want a change president hampered by the exact opposite.

Not to mention that I really don't think we can win with Clinton on the ticket. Not a national general election. This is apart from the GOP base hating her fanatically. Either Obama or Clinton, if they became the nominee, would need someone to balance out the ticket - someone either with tremendous amounts of military, executive, or economic experience. Ideally all three, but 2 out of three ain't bad.

Here's what voters care about this election: Iraq and the economy. Increasingly, the economy is a major concern, and I'm sure that voters in Ohio care more about that than other issues.

If an Obama candidate brings someone to the table with lots of military experience like Jim Webb, then we can at least draw neutral with McCain on the military experience issue. If we can neutralize him on that we go after him on his total lack of understanding around the economy and his lack of judgement on Iraq and "bomb bomb bomb Iran."

Democrats are already more trusted on economic issues, so I think Obama needs to go more populist and talk more about the economy, but to also really figure out how to connect with lower income voters. Part of that means going to Appalachia.

If Obama brought someone with both economic sense and executive experience, like Mike Bloomberg, then he would still need to hammer on the military stuff some. Don't get me wrong - I don't think Webb is the most progressive guy, and he hasn't been great on immigration. But I think he can also talk to Appalachians and lower income voters and he relieves people's mind son the security question.

The last time that we pushed our national front runner to adopt a veep because they were next in the popular vote, we got Kerry Edwards. Kerry and Edwards didn't necessarily get along, it was more of a shotgun wedding. And no wonders that it didn't last. The GOP kept taking things that Kerry had said about Edwards or vice versa in the primaries and using them against us. In order to create change you have to have people who welcome it. The spectre of Mark Penn in the White House is not something I want.

I also don't trust her to cut and run on crucial issues. To use Penn to read the public's opinion on a given week and to decide based upon numbers what is good and right. Hillary has MAJOR trust and credibility issues. It is the biggest complaint that I hear from people who are apolitical, from people who are conservative, and who are liberal. We don't trust her to do the right thing, and I cannot have someone that high up in the Executive Branch like that. People trust McCain's judgement - under pressure he stayed under torture rather than use his connections. That is huge and it is vastly different than George Dubya. There's as contrast that McCain can draw, right there.

We want someone who is going to fight for the everyday people, and Hillary is not that person. Barack Obama has community organizing experience, but Hillary went corporate. She was on the WalMart board. Her adviser Mark Penn has done lots of work for WalMart.

Hillary has run a BAD campaign, whether it was led by Mark Penn or whomever. At the end of the day, she has to take responsibility for that and for overseeing and hiring the wrong people. I don't want that kind of decision making in our White House when we have just suffered under a terrible president.

And I'm going to put this out there, for what it's worth. Someone asked me if we shouldn't just put Hillary on the ticket just to prevent her from bringing the whole house down. Just because she's on the ticket doesn't mean she can't subvert it from the inside. If not during the campaign, then over a 4 year term. Her machine is known for being ruthless in getting what they want. And she wants to be top dog.

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Previous wallflower states now treated like the prom queen

Well, all these states who are used to their votes not mattering now might get to decide who our nominee is. Pennsylvania for one has had Chelsea Clinton in the past few days and a massive influx of resources and staff.

Will Bunch of Attytood thinks that it's not PA Gov. Rendell who's the ace in the hole for Hillary, but rather Philly mayor Nutter, since his prominent support of Hillary assures white voters that they aren't being racist by voting against a black man.

A blogger finds that Obama has a hard time in Appalachia. This has big portents for Pennsylvania and explains a good deal about the Ohio turnout.

Puerto Rico is changing up its June 7th caucus to a June 1st primary (in a move that can only benefit Hillary.) Don't forget that one of the largest concentration of Puerto Ricans is in New York State, and that also Hillary has been doing better in primaries than in caucuses, where her field staff don't get how to organize (and admittedly the seniors have a hard time getting to, so there is an age discrepancy.)

Michigan will revote, Florida (in the form of Democratic senator Bill Nelson) is trying to shake down Howard Dean's DNC for money for a recount. I heard the Michigan definitely will revote line a few weeks back from an on the ground source. I'm glad that Michigan will revote - I'm all for people voting and being able to vote. But Florida - this is really ridiculous by the way - if the state hadn't decided to flaunt the rules to begin with and try to draw more national attention and prominence to their state and increase the value of their votes, then they shouldn't have changed their primary date. Now, they get the prominence that they want if they decide to schedule revotes in June, and they're trying to bribe/extort money for that revote from an entity that is supposed to be neutral?

If Dean gave Michigan and Florida the money, it would encourage other states in 4 years to also flaunt the rules and then whine and cry and extort more money to hold revotes. Moreover, holding a revote and paying for one would be seen as being partial to Hillary since it 1) encourages rule-breaking and 2) Michigan and Florida both went for Hillary already. That's not the role of the DNC. If Florida finally decides they want a revote, they have to figure out how to pay for it.

Lastly, on the press and bias, I wanted to point some attention to Marc Ambinder's excellent analysis. He brings up white guilt (I can't believe no other reporters have the guts to use this term.)
Then there is white guilt, magnified by the progressive political impulse found within the professional set's cultural liberalism. We are transfixed by race, obsessed with it, we whites are obsessed with expiating the collective sins of our country, and that works to Obama's advantage. I think we feel we are done with gender (we aren't, but we feel as if we are) and so we don't meditate on those questions as much.
Whether or not you agree that the press has been treating Obama kinder, or whether you believe that the press leans left, you need to read this. I don't know that it's just white guilt because there is also a class guilt that comes from being the white collar tastemakers/spinmakers and being the Fourth Estate. That comes from some of the top reporters and editors having been Ivy League educated. That comes from reporters generally being educated, and therefore falling into the Obama demographic camp is they tend to be Democratic.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Reasons why Hillary will stick it out until April

From Mark Halperin:

1. She thinks she would be a better president than Obama.

2. She thinks she would be a stronger candidate against McCain than Obama.

3. She feels an obligation to her supporters to keep fighting.

4. She thinks she can win Pennsylvania.

5. She thinks she is finally gaining traction on the “national security experience” argument.

6. She thinks the one-on-one debate has only just begun, along with the heightened scrutiny of Obama.

7. She is finally raising enough money to fight the fight with paid TV ads.

8. She knows the Rezko trial is getting started.

9. She knows Obama is still well short of winning a majority of the delegates.

10. Clintons don’t quit–and she really, really, really wants to win.

Not saying that this is what I want or necessarily think will happen, just that an awful lot of people seem to be writing her out of the picture before she's formally exited, stage right. Never forget that she has the capability to bring the house down with her by going nuclear, and that the Clintons are sadly, very sore losers. The main reason so many of the superdelegates have yet to commit is not that they dislike Obama, but rather that they fear the wrath of the Clinton machine.

Also, reasons why Mark Penn needs to own his failure, courtesy of Marc Ambinder. Along with this stinging volley, which I consider quote of the week:

First, giving a quote like this to a reporter while your candidate remains viable is like the NTSB issuing a report on an airplane before it's crashed.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Hmong American soldiers

Hmong Today has a good article on the Hmong Americans who are serving in Iraq and their link to the Hmong soldiers that fought on behalf of the US during the CIA's "secret war."

I thought that this was a very moving article and describes the legacy and history of the elders being passed onto a new generation.

History was in the making both as Americans and Hmong. The young troops added to the legacy of Hmong on the battlefields, brave younger soldiers who put their lives on the line to fight for freedom. "Your sons and daughters, new to America, put on their uniforms and served us again," commended U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum. When McCollum requested the honored troops as well as veterans to rise from their seats, one glance around the room proved that at that moment, a link in history was being created between the elders who could recount the Secret War via memory and their children who came years later but were being honored that day.

In the past, the Hmong served the U.S. as allies, this time, they served as citizens who honored their country. "To you men and women, I am awestruck. We are so fortunate for you. We are fortunate for your parents that they came to this country. We are one as Americans," acknowledged former Gov. Al Quie who expressed his appreciation for the Hmong, both as service personnel and community members.

"People who have suffered bring something that people who haven’t don’t know," Quie continued. "You cherish freedom and human rights, because of what you experience, not what you read. That’s what you’re bringing to us, a wonderful, wonderful strength of character…. Tell those stories to your children, but tell it to us too because we can learn from it too."

Indeed the troops who were honored Sunday brought back to the states experiences that could open the doors to greater understanding and advancement. Not only did they voluntarily put their lives on the line to protect, they took on toil and hardship to return home, and guide. And yet many of these humble service personnel repeat to others what was said to State Sen. Mee Moua. The microphone in her hand, Moua tilted her head and glanced over at the 25+ troops seated to her left, "I know that you didn’t do it to be a hero," she explained and paused as the thoughts of unknown danger and sacrifice passed through the minds of audience members, "Many of you said ‘I’m doing this ma’am, because it is my job.’"

One Hmong-American soldier has died in Iraq, Qixing Lee. He lost his life in battle last year.

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APAs for equal marriage

This is pretty cool - a whole slew of APA groups (over 60) have filed an amicus brief so that everyone can have the freedom to marry. (Story found at the Bay Reporter.)

In recognition of Freedom to Marry Week, Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) is featuring the Asian Pacific Americans' amicus brief filed by several Asian American Bar Associations throughout California and over 60 Asian Pacific American civil rights organizations; including the Japanese American Citizens League, National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

. . . The brief begins by saying, "As Asian Pacific American organizations, Amici are familiar with the history of discrimination, especially California's history of exclusionary efforts targeted at Asian immigrants which made it difficult to marry, establish families, have children, build communities and integrate into the larger American society. We see important parallels between the contemporary exclusion of lesbians and gay men from marriage in California."
One of the main plaintants, Stuart Gaffney, actually is the product of an interracial marriage which wasn't recognized in states like Missouri, since laws related to the Chinese Exclusion Acts had yet to be banned there.

"At the core, this discrimination was motivated by stereotypes about each group and the putative threat each group posed to whites in California. For example, some argued that American institutions and culture would be overwhelmed by the habits of people thought to be sexually promiscuous, perverse, lascivious and immoral. These stereotypes led to the enactment of laws that not only impeded full integration into society, but promoted segregated communities and institutions." – APA amicus brief

When the parents of Stuart Gaffney, a marriage plaintiff and Marriage Equality USA Asian Pacific Islander (API) Outreach Director, met at the University of California at Berkeley and married in 1952, (just five years after the California Supreme Court had struck down California's own anti-miscegenation law) their marriage was still not valid in many states.

In fact, when they moved to Missouri and started looking for a home, they learned that their marriage was null and void under Missouri law. One generation later, Gaffney and his partner of more than 20 years, John Lewis, are challenging the current exclusionary law prohibiting them from marrying.

"We have shared our family's story to raise awareness of our state's history of exclusion and to encourage our society to continue to challenge unjust laws and embrace the American tradition of fairness and equality for all," said Gaffney.

"The exclusion of gay couples from marriage pushes them outside of the common framework and vocabulary of family and civic life; it forces them to be outsiders." – APA amicus brief

I'm proud of our community for supporting and coming to the forefront on this issue.

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Open letter to Asian American journalists

Dear Asian American journalist,

I am glad you succeeded in your dream of being an Asian American journalist. I understand you work long hours, with few resources, and frequently work under very short deadlines.

That said, you are in the business of writing or producing or editing or researching the "truth." Whatever you put out get believed by thousands (or millions, depending on your media market) of people. It gets quoted and recited as the gospel - "Did you hear what they said on Channel 11 about those alligators breaking out of their cages?"

Whether or not it's true, whether or not it's a story, whether or not you or your writers have done all the research, people still believe it. I don't know why, but media still shapes our views. Perhaps because you get access to politicians and decision-makers and business people who we've only ever seen on the front pages of your magazine.

Take, for example, this recent Austin News 8 story on how Asian Americans are the swing vote. Thank you for finally saying that we are the swing vote. It is so much better than when an Asian American AP reporter writes that the "Asian Population Lacks Political Clout" and it gets published everywhere and internationally. And, yes, this was in 2004.

I'm not going to get into all the stats he quoted that drove me crazy, when he could have looked at the numbers in a different way, but he chose to report on us as having the least political agency possible.

So back to the Austin tv story, which is reported on by Heidi Zhou. Although the premise of th story is positive, she doesn't interview any of the Asian American elected officials in Texas (Jennifer Kim is a city councilwoman in Austin) or even the local heads of the OCA, JACL, or other Asian American institutions. She doesn't interview anyone from the college, where I'm sure you could find some ardent pro-Hillary or Barack supporters who are APIA. She doesn't interview someone from suburbia who speaks proper English. No, instead she, like other reporters, interviews someone whose English is less than perfect:

If members of that community vote the same way they did on Super Tuesday when they voted 3-1 for Clinton, Obama could be in trouble.

"I think he probably needs more experience. Because from here jump to here, that needs a lot of work," Chialing, an Austin area resident said.

This doesn't mean that I disavow that Asian American immigrants who speak less than perfect English are not representative of our community. It does mean that I believe that APIA reporters can also do their bit to make sure that the few times that someone who looks like us appears on TV, that we don't reaffirm stereotypes about ourBlogger: Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril - Create Post community being unable to speak English.

Contrast that with this recent Los Angeles Times story on Vietnamese American voters moving left - well researched and written by an Asian American reporter (perhaps the LA Times is trying to make up for their hatchet job on Clinton and Chinese American donors in New York.)
The widening political bandwidth is a sign of change in the Vietnamese American community, where the agenda -- once sharply and nearly exclusively focused on foreign affairs -- now includes domestic issues such as poverty, healthcare and Social Security.

"For so long, there has been a one-party monopoly in the Vietnamese community," said Kim Oanh Nguyen-Lam, who became the first Vietnamese Democrat elected in Orange County in 2004 as a Garden Grove school board member. "We Democrats are coming out of the shadow."

Long Dinh Dang, 67, is an example of the shift. Dang became a Republican after he immigrated to Orange County in 1994 and was worried that Democrats had become too cozy with the Communist regime when former President Bill Clinton lifted the trade embargo with Vietnam.

But now, a man who twice voted for President Bush says he has had a change of heart. He switched to the Democratic ticket last month to vote in the presidential primary. More than communism, he worries about the slumping economy, Medicare and the Iraq war.

"Democrat, Republican, it doesn't matter," he said. Particularly in local elections, "I judge candidates more on their ability to be closely connected with our Vietnamese community," he said.
Granted, a newspaper article is much longer and in depth than a tv piece, but doesn't that just make the one person you interview that much more important, and the single representative? I mean, why not go interview someone in the suburbs as well?

I'm not asking for journalism advocacy, just for all sides and perspectives to be represented.


Power and Politics

P.S. On a side note, here's a Los Angeles Times opinion on Fred Armisten playing Obama. The author has a different stance than I do and thinks he played a believable Obama. He also ties in the Miss Saigon yellowface controversy. Although I don't agree with his conclusion, I do appreciate that he researched and has included the yellowface travesty as a comparison point.

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Two soundbites: McCain and Hillary staff

At this juncture in the race, I wanted to alert you to two soundbites. One is this video of John McCain calling himself a "proud conservative liberal Republican" and the editor has helpfully mashed in some pictures of weed and colorful 60s tie die waviness. Marc Ambinder helpfully confirms that he did indeed say this.

The other is rather more serious - it's John Dickerson from Slate on a call with Clinton advisors asking when in her career, has she ever been tested by a foreign crisis?

The long silence is deafening, and the sophomoric attempts to make shit up afterwards don't help.

"What foreign policy moment would you point to in Hillary's career where she's been tested by crisis?" he said.

Silence on the call. You could've knit a sweater in the time it took the usually verbose team of Mark Penn, Howard Wolfson and Lee Feinstein, Clinton's national security director, to find a cogent answer. And what they came up with was weak -- that she's been endorsed by many high ranking members of the uniformed military.

Go to Hotline blog, which has the audio.

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