Thursday, March 27, 2008

Farewell Hillary, Hello Bill

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows Hillary Clinton's popularity dropping significantly, even in the midst and in the wake of the Obama/Rev. Wright debacle. Not good news for Hillary, whose chances now seem very slim. Even a win in PA, unless a landslide (defined as 60+% of the vote), cannot save her campaign now.

I would have to count myself among those whose regard for the New York Senator has dropped. She's proven herself Old School, and I don't want Old School. She may be on the right side, and her politics are perhaps capable, but they're not attractive. She's not got the air of high statesmanship. She's a wonk in the trenches, and that is where she needs to be. She will, after her run, thrive as a notorious and increasingly powerful Senator, a la Ted Kennedy, until she retires.

As long as Clinton has been running for office, I have wanted nothing to do with her husband, Bill. He's been a pain. But that could change.

If Senator Clinton were to win the presidency, Bill's presence, and even more so any actual involvement, would be seen as cronyism. We'd never hear the end of speculation and investigations into his role in a Hillary White House (which should, like wedding dresses for second and subsequent marriages, be repainted off-white, if not yellow or pink).

But if Senator Obama were to win the presidency, any involvement by Bill would be seen as resourceful team-building, as reaching out, as a la Martha Stewart cleaning house, a good thing.

And so let's hear it for some positive team-building.

And the good news for Hillary: with the end of her push to be president, her negatives will sink, and her positives will go up. Her slightly martyred and slightly heroic stature will rise and stabilize.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The 55th Governor of the State of New York

David Paterson may not be the light at the end of the tunnel for New York, but he is at least a light in the tunnel, a significant, symbolic, inspirational, comforting light (irony perhaps intended for the blind and yet hardly disabled man from Harlem). He is, especially in contrast to the fire and brimstone that preceded him, a beacon of hope, of some reconciliation, if not outright peace. And Paterson's reaching out, his deft touch and his very welcomed tone, encompassing and non-threatening, bode well for what might happen in New York and elsewhere, even on a national and global scale if we elect politicians who want to serve the people, as in all of the people.

Welcome, David Paterson.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bush wins Brown Thumb Award

Well, as if there were any doubt, this is the clincher: The EPA comes out with tougher standards for air quality in 20 years, and at the last minute, the White House and President Bush kneecap the deal. MSNBC posts the AP story here.

Two days ago, some of us were thinking things were looking up. Some presidents, desperate to put a more positive "legacy" spin on their final years in office, sometimes do some encouraging things, things which run counter to their generally corrupt corporate/good ol' boy favoritism.

I was even about to blog on the idea that Bush might pull out his best year yet, though that would not be saying much. The man hasn't really had a good year, I'll bet, since he somehow snared Laura to be his lucky wife or way back when he was yucking it up at Yale.

The man does not have a gold thumb for business, a gold star for good behavior, or even a tin star for the law. And he certainly doesn't have a green thumb for the Earth or anything growing on it. More like a Halliburton-steeped/Brown & Root Brown Thumb.

By undermining the EPA, Mr. Bush proves he is an enemy of our health and well-being. His bitter legacy is cynical, insulting, snide, poisonous, noxious, toxic. Surely, there must be a law -- or should be -- to stop such wanton destruction, such woeful corruption.

Corporate greed may be public enemy number one, but Mr. Bush, you are number two.

And therein, Mr. Bush, can be found your Brown Thumb.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cynical Predictions

Crystal ball, March 2008:

The Dems' "dream ticket" will prove naive.

American forces will come closer to capturing Osama bin Laden, and if they can nab the main man, they'll do it in October.

Dick Cheney will, with gravitas and a grave air, endorse John McCain for president.

Barack Obama will make sure his VP choice is a Pentagon pal, strong on defense, perhaps Wesley Clark.

Hillary Clinton will choose a very masculine and "experienced" running mate, perhaps Wesley Clark.

Profits for the weapons builders and warmongering corps will continue to rise, even as the American Dream tanks.

In other words, the domestic dreams of this country will fall further victim to the goals of empire.

And glossy ads will work hard to keep us from harping too much on our downfall.

The economic stimulus will pale compared to the printing of money and the bailing out of banks.

Spending will drive the middle class, even in recession, and saving will become something only the rich actually do.

Entertainment will continue its march as biggest business in the world, especially if we consider the slings and arrows of war to be just another thrill ride, just another necessary cost of doing business.


Monday, March 10, 2008

The Medium is the Monster, Part 2

The more that comes out about Hillary Clinton's "3 A. M." ad, the less likely I am to in any way support her continuing political career at any level. Within its soft yet sinister storybook implications, it is a prime product of desperation and fear-mongering. It is a deftly composed yet stodgily old-fashioned dose of anti-hope, anti-bravery. And Hillary Clinton approved this message. She said so herself.

This ad looks like one of those ads on TV for a drug, where the side-effects are summarily buried behind Utopian pictures of soft ecstasy and rampant, even rapturous pleasure, as if the only real side-effect is a world in which everyone is smiling and making even the most mundane everyday tasks child's play... all in slow motion.

Friday, I said the medium is the monster. Or I should say media, plural. The media are the monsters. And then I was referring to the media outside the campaigns. But the media hired by the campaigns are monsters of a sort as well. They, like the pharmaceutical ads, are not meant to be informative. They are drug pushers, ripe not with information but with propaganda. Anyone who forms their options or decides their vote in any way swayed by a television ad is a victim. These ads are designed to victimize voters.

And so, once again, I've got to offer up my suggestion that all political campaign ads be limited to the candidate speaking into a camera, point blank, with no voice overs, no sentimental images, no slow mo, no flags, no pep rallies, no ad agency gimmicks, whether mundane or monstrous. Just the candidate facing the viewer, face to face. And then we'd see the candidates taking more responsibility for what's out there. At least they'd be speaking every word themselves, not just signing off on the work of others.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Medium is the Monster

Now, huh?

Who's the monster?

Not Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton, compared to many candidates, is no monster.

But look at the rabid junkyard dogs of the media.

Radio. Television. Print. Web.

The media are the monsters.

The media are all over this up and down, and one could argue, they drive the negativity of the candidates, quite often. The media are absolutely rabid for the ups and downs, the stellar ascensions and tawdry downfalls, the headlines and endless/daily intrigue. AND THEY HELP MAKE THEM.

The media help escalate, exaggerate and exacerbate, even masturbate these things to a FROTH.

They're jerking off and jerking us off. For what?

For sales? For viewers? For audience share.

We're always in danger of having plenty of FREE press but very little just consideration, thorough consideration. Both politicians and journalists are now, to some extent, in the same game: sales. Promoting sound bites.

Feel free to fear not for the fate of a free press but of a market-driven press. Feel free to fear for the fate of any semblance of a healthy, progressive democracy.

Hillary is not the monster (though plenty say so at happy hour and not-so-happy hour). The drive, the DRILL TO WIN is the monster.

Have a nice weekend, and as ever, happy campaign trails!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Clinton Can't Be Serious

Good lord.

Hillary Clinton is now calling, rather urgently I might add, for the results of the Florida and Michigan primaries to stand, even though the candidates agreed to not campaign in those states, and even though neither John Edwards nor Barack Obama were on the Michigan ballot.

I used to think Clinton would be a reasonably runner up to Obama. Now, no. Not with her suggesting that the results of those improperly conducted and unfairly contested primaries should have any say in the outcome.

Party and governmental officials in Florida and Michigan are themselves to blame. Surely, the voters are not to blame, as they were not in a position to insist that the two states move their primaries up the calendar, ahead of the open season for primaries, which began February 5th.

Howard Dean is not at fault. He is the good cop, having tried all along to get all 50 states to abide by the rules. Now, he's saddled with a historic mess. It's up to Michigan and Florida to fix it, at their own cost.

All of this shows how urgently we need a more reasonably, less impetuous primary calendar. The current "system" looks like bullies and babies throwing sand in the sandbox. As it is, whatever maturity is shown early on by the campaigns and the electorate is reduced to childish play by the first day of spring.

There is no reason the primaries and caucuses should be going on in January anyway. And early February even seems too early to me. Why not contract the whole thing, starting on Presidents' Day? How about if only four states get to go in February, leaving the rest to March through May? The campaigns would be less costly. The news media would have less dead time to fill with hype and dirt. The weather would be better. And, I believe, the candidates and the voters/caucus goers would be less confused, better prepared -- and better behaved.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Doing the Texas Two Step: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the caucus

Many were thinking the Texas Two Step would be a mess. A month or so ago, Senator Clinton said that, within her strategy team, 'grown men were crying over it'.

But I've survived and even thrived in my second caucus experience, and I have to say I am now an enthusiastic fan of the caucus format. It might seem like caucusing is undemocratic, that it gets in the way of 'the will of the people'. But it's face to face, it's at least a bit more personal than a voting machine, and it's social.

If some of us are unaccustomed to caucusing, then let's have more of them, not less. How about caucusing every two years?

The big draw, whether in a presidential election or midterm election cycle, would be the introduction of resolutions and perhaps even referendums to be presented to the current Congress and administration. Caucuses are our chance to become more involved in direct democracy, and given the chance to practice them more regularly, every other spring, they could become even more so. And the quality of our democracy might well improve. Or, at the very least, we could feel we have a clear chance to take responsibility for how things are going.

It is, to some extent, our alienation from the party players and the powers that be that alienate us to the process and the workings of our government and the fate of our nation. Caucusing, even for just two hours every two years, would give us a chance to connect, a chance to affirm and to offer official criticism, a chance to feel involved and perhaps even truly become involved, dedicated to the grand tasks at hand.

Some would not want that responsibility. Some would resent the implication that the citizens are responsible, to some extent, to any extent. But isn't that what John Kennedy meant when he suggested we "ask what we could do for our country." It seems that a nationally instituted caucus, available in all states, would give us a chance to both ask and offer.

That, to me, would be a better democracy, a more democratic democracy, more social, more personal, more mature -- and more hopeful.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Obama-Gore: You heard it here first

Obama-Gore: You heard it here first, or maybe you didn't, I don't know. I haven't googled this speculative ticket yet.

But what a ticket.

The "experience" issue is solved. The international experience issue is solved. The global warming issue is solved. The name recognition issue for the VP is solved. The "executive" issue is solved. Laurie David and Oprah are happy. The Gore hopefuls are happy. The Obama camp counts ku. A powerhouse team is born.

Obama and Gore agree about several basic things, and the Iraq War is at the top of the list.

Everything else could be worked out. Gore would, post-Nobel, bring in Tennessee this time, an electoral advantage, and sans a noble Nader, he'd probably bring in Florida this time, too. And how about Ohio? John McCain's not gonna take Ohio (or Minnesota or Nevada) from these two.

This ticket would summarily END the Republicans' chances to win in November.

No other ticket comes close.

Obama-Gore '08.

And maybe, just maybe, you heard it here first.