The Talking Dog

May 31, 2008, Party like it's 1968, 1972, 1980 or 1984

Those of course, being years when Democratic also-ran candidates "took it to the Convention" and as conventional (as it were!) wisdom holds, cost their party the Presidency in each of those years. And so it seems, it's the Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting today in Washington, amidst protests organized by Team Clinton (and supplemented by Team McCain), in deciding the fate of the Florida and Michigan delegations, that will help determine whether Sen. Obama joins Humphrey, McGovern, Carter and Mondale as Dems done in by spoil-sport fellow Dems, or whether some actual resolution is possible here.

The Unseen Editor reminds me of the prime directive: Never Bet Against a Clinton. Some of her supporters have, once again, threatened to "take the fight to the Convention." I cannot discount this possibility: Hillary would much prefer to see John McCain win this year over Barack Obama, and if she believes that "taking it to the Convention" maximizes she and Bill's chance of taking That-which-is-rightfully-theirs(TM) in '12, then that's not what might happen, that's what will happen.

To his credit, Obama is building a humongous grass-roots movement entirely loyal to him (he knows the God damned party is utterly worthless, as amply demonstrated by the fact that nearly 200 superdelegates with the power to end this right now are sitting on their asses eating popcorn, giving the Clintons the time they need to screw the party again).

Will Obama's efforts it be enough to overcome the Fifth Column from Arkansas Georgetown Chappaqua? Time will tell, and Obama has been nothing short of masterful thus far. In the meantime, political junkies will enjoy today's show regardless. [It does seem unlikely that Sen. Obama will be at the class reunion dinner tonight, though.]

May 30, 2008, R.I.P. Heddy Hedley Lamarr

Actor and comedian Harvey Korman has passed away at age 81.

He was simply one of the greats.

May 29, 2008, Dear Friends...

Thus began a letter written to his college classmates from some guy who might have shown up at his 25th college reunion, but for some woman who is forgotten but not gone insisting on continuing her quixotic quest to destroy her own party by trying to keep racism cool and otherwise trying to minimize her own party's nominee's chances in '08 so she can give Bill Clinton that third term he has always coveted... in '12.

Our classmate Dan Loeb read a note at the Columbia '83 reunion class cocktail party from his friend and classmate Sen. Barack Obama (I took notes about the letter, and, being me, then proceeded to lose said notes! Note to self: watch those gin & tonics...) in which Barack mentioned justice and s*** and otherwise how he hoped we would all to aspire to be the kind of country (and world) where everyone could aspire to the success that those of us in his college class have achieved. [Personally... in the words of the husband of that other candidate mentioned in the first paragraph... I think we can do better.] Well, we'll see what happens at the class dinner on Saturday... nah, he won't show.

Another college classmate of mine, Eric (with whom I also went to high school) recalled that he met a Black guy from Hawaii once in the Barnard College cafeteria. That, my friends, is confirmation... because no one else I met remembered him... or with few exceptions, me for that matter! (It was that kind of a place!)

And there you have it. FWIW, Estrada wasn't there either. Saturday night awaits...

May 28, 2008, Half Measures

The legal denizens of the Democratic National Committee have rendered public their legal advice to the Rules Committee, set to meet on Saturday to finalize the seating arrangements at the Democratic Convention in Denver in August for Michigan and Florida; their advice, unsurprisingly, is to seat half the delegations, and in roughly the proportions won by the respective candidates in their respective beauty contests. While the Clinton campaign may cry foul (and continue their candidate's ongoing efforts to despoil Democratic chances in November so that the Clintons can assume their rightful restoration in '12), this is the penalty actually called for by the party's rules, and IIRC is pretty much how the Republicans treated these states for moving up their primaries ahead of Super Tuesday.

Al Giordano does the math... and Clinton's chances ain't good, no matter how it comes out.
Stay tuned!

May 26, 2008, Stuck wth it...

Thus sayeth SecDef Robert Gates with respect to America's excellent hospitality facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, because as he sees it, in the case of 60 or 70 people who have been arbitrarily held for the last six and a half years, their home countries either won't take them, or worse, might actually not arbitrarily jail them themselves, and they might end up like, you know, that guy who was released and like became a suicide bomber and sh*t; Andy has more on that particular bit of Pentagon propaganda. [Gates and Joint Chiefs Chair Adm. Mullen also noted many of the other things we are "stuck with" including the Iraq War... one might wonder at some point why this nation's military is deployed in over 120 countries in the first place... no, better not ask such questions...]

Of course, back at GTMO, we might actually consider giving these guys, you know, fair trials or otherwise non-rigged opportunities to demonstrate that we shouldn't continue to hold them, assuming that we should have ever held them in the first place, considering that we have already released around 500 of the nearly 800 held there as arbitrarily as they were first held. I understand that this is crazy talk, of course.

My current reading is of former GTMO guest Murat Kurnaz's book (his lawyer Baher Azmy is interviewed here). I recommend it highly, as even for those of us who think we are familiar with the actions taken in the name of our "security," we can still continue to learn more, whether it be of the outright torture (Kurnaz says he received electric shocks, hanging from hooks and waterboarding while in American custody, albeit at Kandahar rather than at GTMO itself), or of the sheer pettiness of day to day detention of men who were handed over for bounties because they fit certain stereotypes (Kuraz from Germany = Atta from Germany, for example; he went for $3,000)... sadly... there is always more to learn on this.

We also learn that, as outrageous and immoral as the incredible wasted effort that went into tormenting so many completely innocent men is, the bigger outrage (if possible) is that the entire exercise of holding them in the first place was simply a giant kabuki to make a not-very-bright-and-scared-sh*tless-as-it-was American public believe that their government "was doing something... anything" to protect them. (And being a kabuki, there's no possible way of admitting that... and hence, even as the government plans releases and pitches other countries to take these men, it repeats the "worst of the worst" canard.)

And so... it seems... we're stuck with GTMO. And the abuses in the war on terror. And everything else we've come to love about the Bush Admin. At least for the next 238 days or so.

Deep sigh.

May 23, 2008, California Quake (politically speaking)

From Al Giordano, our newest side-bar denizen, we give you this story of a flood of Biblical proportions... well, a political earthquake of 40 delegates and/or super-delegates (epicentered on California Congressman Cardoza) now committed to back Clinton will soon be announcing their support of Obama. Maybe they will, maybe they won't, but right now... that's probably how you bet.

I noted that after Obama held serve on North Carolina/Indiana night, the last big distribution of pledged delegates in primary season, the super-delegates would start breaking for Obama. And indeed they have; right now, 23 May 2008 at around 2100 EDT, at least according to Democratic Convention Watch, Obama is just 56 delegates away from clinching, with Clinton nearly 5 times that distance.

I said to a Clinton supporter just today that if I were Sen. Clinton, I personally wouldn't withdraw until Obama had finally locked it up; politix is funny and one never knows when they'll be this close again. Anything can happen, as this year (and indeed, the very rise of Obama from recent-state-legislator to the cusp of the Presidency, and the amazing fall of some other politicians including Clinton herself and some other guy from New York) should be more than a sufficient justification for her to hang in there.

Of course, while anything can happen, talking about certain contingencies is in uniquely bad taste, but then, Sen. Clinton and Team Clinton have been shooting themselves in the foot for some time, have they not?

Still and all, it seems unlikely that Sen. Obama will be going to his (and my) 25th college class reunion in Morningside Heights next week... I'll likely go anyway... even as I have been having more repressed memories of the younger Barry Obama return to me... or have I? Well, perhaps I'll discuss with fellow alums... all men (Columbia's last such class, btw).

Well, no matter. It seems we have our nominee, and whenever he sees fit, we will have our ticket, locked and loaded, and on track for a historic election. And if Sen. Obama does get himself elected President of the United States, his predecessor will have handed him one hell of a job to do. But I have every confidence that Sen. Obama would be up for that job. We will see. The fact that our nation's largest political party's rank and file have chosen a woman and a man of color as its front-runners tells us that large parts of this country have already come a hell of a long way. Now, as that party gets ready to unify behind its candidate (and no matter what some say, Sen. Clinton will withdraw in a most gracious manner shortly after either Puerto Rico or South Dakota/Montana push Sen. Obama over the top), we will see just how far the nation as a whole has come.

May 21, 2008, Mother of God

Is that super-secret NSA program we're not supposed to know about a government database of around 8,000,000 names and counting of who to round up in the event of martial law? Emptywheel and Digby tell us more about "Main Core"... an absurd name for an absurd program, but then, who knows?

Sometimes, the issue isn't whether you're paranoid... but whether you're paranoid... enough.

May 20, 2008, The Beat[ings] Go On

The Grey Lady tells us of yet another report from the Justice Dept. Inspector General, concerning extensive "disagreements" between the FBI and the CIA concerning the latter's blatantly illegal, unAmerican, morally reprehensible, so-bad-they-helped-al-Qaeda-recruit terrorists, counterproductive and absolutely evil troublesome practices with respect to "harsh" interrogation of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

Among the revelations include assisting Chinese interrogators in tormenting Uighur prisoners (prisoners later found to constitute absolutely no threat to this country, and indeed, some of which prisoners we found new homes for in Albania) and a female detainee bending back a detainee's thumb and grabbing his testicles.

This is coupled with reports showing extensive cooperation with some of the other most reprehensible countries in terms of human rights abuses on the planet (including China, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Russia) [via Candace], and of course, the delay in kangaroo court military commission trials pending yet another imminent Supreme Court decision, even as the GTMO census declines to around 270, 280 or so.

It seems that the war on terror did indeed require a vast "coalition of the willing": nations willing, that is, to abuse if not outright torture their own citizens to the same extent or worse than this country abused if not outright tortured them, only in an American controlled detention facility with American officials watching, if not outright facilitating.

None of this will get much prettier. The next President will need a whole lot of whitewash to cover the stains that the current one has allowed to accumulate on what's left of our nation's moral fiber. I have full confidence that best efforts will be applied to that effort nonetheless. (Alas, Sen. Obama, who has passed the majority of pledged delegates tonight and moved to well under 100 delegates needed to clinch with his split decision of winning Oregon's Dem primary while Sen. Clinton won the Dem primary in Kentucky, may not be up to imposing the kind of pay-back accountability required by, say, Charlie Pierce, or m'self, but he is at least our best shot for it).

All things told... deep sigh.

May 20, 2008, Scion of tragedy

Being a member of the Kennedy family has always seemed to simultaneously wed political triumph with personal tragedy; today, the tragedy part seems to be back, with the announcement that Sen. Edward M. "Teddy" Kennedy (D-MA), the last survivor of his brothers, was diagnosed with a likely terminal form of brain cancer following his recent seizure.

We wish the best to Sen. Kennedy and his family, and regardless of how one regards the political merits of his career or the mistakes he may have made in the course of his life, he has served the nation honorably for decades, and this news is... tragic.

May 18, 2008, P.R. Geniuses

Where to start... I suppose we'll jump right in with this account of the U.S. military's apology to Iraqis (and the Muslim world) for an incident involving a soldier taking target practice at a Koran. "Cultural insensitivity" is the understatement of the year. It's moments like that, and Haditha, and Abu Ghraib that just seem to undermine the locals' confidence in their American oil thirsty imperialist oppressors allies.

Of course, as this brilliant discussion by The Editors over at The Poor Man Institute tells us... who cares? The Editors quote from "a dissenter" over at Andrew Sullivan's:

President Bush is a good man who has tried to do what he thought was best for the country without regard to the political costs. Calling him a war criminal is an easy and unfortunately popular thing to do these days - but the real debate needs to be over what do we do to both protect ourselves and our allies and gain the kind of rights to which we believe all men and women are entitled in the Islamic world.

A religion that permits - indeed requires - the murder of gays and women who go against the principles of a barbaric code is not a religion and it is time we all deal with this “elephant in the room.”

President Bush standing firm for the rights of gays and women? And for their rights in the Muslim world no less? No, no, I couldn't possibly comment further. I will just say that this sort of interesting perception of the world by segments of the American public is what often ends up leading to incidents like the Koran shooting (and similar incidents like abuse of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, etc.)... the sort of thing that just makes it hard to win hearts and minds that we will need on our side if we are to ultimately win this war on terror thing.

And speaking of President Bush, he has gotten rave reviews (as William Kern at the Moderate Voice tells us here) for his Middle East trip, and in particular, his unabashedly pro-Israel speech to the Israeli Knesset (in which he tacitly accused Sen. Obama of "appeasement" for suggesting opening a dialog with Iran... a dialog supported by Obama's fellow traitor/appeaser Defense Secretary Robert Gates). Details, details.

And there you have it. All one can say is... 8 months, 2 days... but who's counting?

May 17, 2008, Hard hitting blog interview

No, not by me. While this blog prides itself on its original interviews, there is still one blog that proves it can do it better, no matter what it might be. It truly is... the best blog(TM).

To the great Fafblog (now proudly restored to our sidebar), we simply say, "we are not worthy."

From Fafnir's interview with Hillary Clinton:

FB: Now, back when your husband was president he cut nine million poor women and children off welfare. But now you're the candidate of women and poor people and poor workin women. So did you approve of what your husband did at the time, and if not are you going to reverse it as president and give all those poor people their money back?

CLINTON: Ha haaa! That's an excellent question, Fafnir, and the only way to answer it is with a hearty chuckle followed by a complete non sequitur!

Simply put...we are not worthy.

May 16, 2008, Elephant blood on the water?

It's not terribly often that I read a Peggy Noonan piece with which I have just about no disagreement at all, but Nooners hits it out of the park in this WSJ Online-er Declarations column noting that there is a party in huge disarray now facing a world of hurtin' come November... and it ain't the Democrats.

Quoth Nooners:

They are also – [Republican] Hill leaders, lobbyists, party speakers – successful, well-connected, busy and rich. They never guessed, back in '86, how government would pay off! They didn't know they'd stay! They came to make a difference and wound up with their butts in the butter. But affluence detaches, and in time skews thinking. It gives you the illusion you're safe, and that everyone else is. A party can lose its gut this way.

Many are ambivalent, deep inside, about the decisions made the past seven years in the White House. But they've publicly supported it so long they think they . . . support it. They get confused. Late at night they toss and turn in the antique mahogany sleigh bed in the carpeted house in McLean and try to remember what it is they really do think, and what those thoughts imply.

And those are the bright ones. The rest are in Perpetual 1980: We have the country, the troops will rally in the fall.

"This was a real wakeup call for us," someone named Robert M. Duncan, who is chairman of the Republican National Committee, told the New York Times. This was after Mississippi. "We can't let the Democrats take our issues." And those issues would be? "We can't let them pretend to be conservatives," he continued. Why not? Republicans pretend to be conservative every day.


What happens to the Republicans in 2008 will likely be dictated by what didn't happen in 2005, and '06, and '07. The moment when the party could have broken, on principle, with the administration – over the thinking behind and the carrying out of the war, over immigration, spending and the size of government – has passed. What two years ago would have been honorable and wise will now look craven. They're stuck.

Mr. Bush has squandered the hard-built paternity of 40 years. But so has the party, and so have its leaders. If they had pushed away for serious reasons, they could have separated the party's fortunes from the president's. This would have left a painfully broken party, but they wouldn't be left with a ruined "brand," as they all say, speaking the language of marketing. And they speak that language because they are marketers, not thinkers. Not serious about policy. Not serious about ideas. And not serious about leadership, only followership.

This is and will be the great challenge for John McCain: The Democratic argument, now being market tested by Obama Inc., that a McCain victory will yield nothing more or less than George Bush's third term.

That is going to be powerful, and it is going to get out the vote. And not for Republicans.

From your lips to the electorate's ears, Ms. Noonan... we shall see. But once again, Democrats who are content to be at each other's throats for the moment, please note that either of our remaining candidates is eminently electable, will quite frankly have a huge leg-up going into the general election in the fall, and either candidate will be blessed with healthy Congressional majorities as well as a mandate, and the nation is ready for some dramatic progressive reforms. Heady times... if we keep our eyes on the prize.

May 14, 2008, Classy lady decides to leave on a high note

Could it be... Hillary Clinton, succumbing to the inevitable after her big win in West Virginia is almost immediately overshadowed by John Edwards's long overdue endorsement of Barack Obama?

No... the world's no. 1 ranked tennis player Justine Henin of Belgium announced her retirement from the sport, the first woman to do so while holding the top rank.

As to Senator Clinton's ongoing efforts...

I see dead campaigns...

May 13, 2008, Strip-mine strategy

It seems fitting that Hillary Clinton will win West Virginia's Democratic primary. West Virginia is a state whose major industry is extractive and destructive, to wit, coal mining and these days, often by strip mining. So, in its tradition, Hillary proceeded by simply discarding the Black and educated "overburden" of the Democratic party and going right for those valuable ores and nuggets: older, less educated, hard-working White Americans.

Every time I think of that statement, I immediately think of the telegram sent to the Governor in Blazing Saddles:

We, the White, God-fearing citizens of Rock Ridge wish to express our extreme displeasure with your choice of sheriff. Please remove him immediately. The fact that you have sent him here just goes to prove that you are the leading asshole in the state.

Because, of course, that is exactly what Hillary is pitching to the Democratic primary voters of West Virginia (and presumably Pennsylvania, Ohio, and soon Kentucky) is that like the "White God-fearing citizens of Rock Ridge," it is perfectly cool... no, it is laudatory, that they should not wish to live under the governance of a Black man-- any Black man. Simple as that. She said it. This is why she should be the choice of the super-delegates, because, despite Obama's significant lead in delegates and votes, (1) he's still a Black man and hence cannot win a general election, and (2) his big lead is as a result of overwhelming support among Black voters, who, since they are not the target demographic, should be discounted accordingly.

Any Republican who dared make such a statement might not be forced to resign immediately, but could certainly count their career as over. I'd like to think the same of both Clintons, but I know better: the Democratic Party has always been forgiving of them, no matter how destructive they are, have been or will be, to their own party.

And for what? For West Virginia's lousy 28 delegates? The margin is not yet known, but even if Hillary wins 75% to 25%, she'll only edge closer to Obama's nearly 150 delegate lead by, at most, around a dozen delegates... big deal. Four more superdelegates went to Obama today alone. Why the rest of them continue to sit on their haunches while the Hill-Billy Mining Company despoils their party's environment to the point where it may not be habitable much longer... remains a mystery to me. But there you have it.

Congratulations on a glorious and Pyrrhic victory for Sen. Clinton in West Virginia. Hillary, you earned this one... and you won it West Virginia clean: clean like a slurry run-off.

May 11, 2008, The "Show Me" State

It seems that Missouri wants to live up to its state nickname, by proposing to pass a requirement that prospective voters not merely show identification, but actual proof of citizenship not only to vote, but to register to vote.

Obviously, much publicity has surrounded the Supreme Court's recent upholding of Indiana's stringent photo identification law for voters, a rule which excluded a dozen nuns from voting there, but the war-to-make-sure-that-the-majority-will-never-prevails continues.

The beauty of the current initiative in Missouri is that, unlike the usual photo-i.d. initiatives that seem almost designed to favor "hard working WHITE Americans" (thanks for the expression Hillary) at the expense of, well, non-White Americans, the Missouri initiative can pretend that it is targeted at those pesky illegal aliens, who over the course of years, have voted in American elections by the... dozens? Kind of like the vast voter fraud driving i.d. laws... of which there seems to be no record. I know... details, details...

But you get the idea. At some point, of course, the government might just have to issue all of us a national i.d. card as a matter of national security that will solve these problems, and, rather than have Big Brother implications, it may well prove to be the only effective way we have of preserving our democracy. Because of which, we can probably rest assured that we will not have to suffer the indignity of any kind of national i.d. card (national security be damned).

In Missouri anyway, you'll just have to listen to that poll-gatekeeper, when he or she says "show me" those papers, unless of course, the voters of Missouri realize this for the mean-spirited disenfranchisement device it is, and send the proposed measure to a deserved ignominious defeat. THAT, I suppose is something that you will have to show me.

May 11, 2008, The Killer Endorsement Finally Comes

No, not from John Edwards, or from Al Gore.

Lieutenant Worf now endorses Barack Obama.

Q'a pla!

Lt. Worf, the first Klingon Star Fleet Academy Grad endorses the first Black President of Harvard Law Review

May 10, 2008, Super shift

The one metric on which Senator Clinton did not have to resort to Enron accounting in order to count herself ahead, superdelegates, has finally fallen, as Sen. Obama has picked up enough superdelegates to be ahead in that category as well. The Grey Lady piece cited notes that Sen. Clinton "regrets" making her remarks about she being stronger among less-educated White voters.

The cynical among us would say she regrets it because it didn't work, and only accelerated a pre-existing trend among super-delegates to bolt for Obama. I will give her the benefit of the doubt, and say that in her exhaustion and frustration, she simply forgot that the point of dog-whistle code words like "blue-collar" and "small town" is to at least have the cover of arguing that you were not "going racial"... cover lost when actually "going racial" and using words like "hard-working White Americans." In other words, a simple gaffe, like Obama's use of the term "bitter" (and clinging to religion and guns) to describe rural Pennsylvania voters. [The Onion, as always, has the lowdown on this.] But the trend was inevitable anyway, as the real metric-- delegates selected by the voters, is pretty much locked in with Obama having an insurmountable and not insignificant lead.

And there we have it: the rationales for the continuation of Sen. Clinton's campaign continue to erode rapidly, as Obama continues to edge closer to clinching the nomination, just as Sen. Clinton's uphill battle faces even steeper odds as some of her own supporters among superdelegates are bolting to Obama, while none of his defect to her.

At some point, someone will have to honestly ask if the net gain of increased coverage of Democrats caused by the continuing horse-race (appropriate that the horse-race travels through Kentucky soon) is offset by internal divisiveness, and getting White Democratic voters used to voting against their nominee.

Time will tell. For the moment, the tone of the race may be less rancorous for a while, and Team Obama prepares for the general.

May 10, 2008, Kangaroo Wrangler Wrung

And so, Navy Capt. Allred, currently chief kangaroo judge of the GTMO-based proceeding to dispense kangaroo justice at the military commission "trial" of former OBL motor pool member (and occasional chauffeur) Salim Hamdan, has decided to exclude Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann from any further role in the prosecution, on the basis for Col. Morris "Moe" Davis's earlier testimony about the unseemly political pressure placed upon Davis as prosecutor by Hartmann.

We're not at all sure what this means either, as it is not clear what Hartmann's role as advisor to "convening authority" Susan Crawford (a/k/a "Dick Cheney's handmaiden") has to do with the nitty gritty of specifically prosecuting this one particular rube (for the high crime of "beating the Bush Administration before the Supreme Court".)

In the end, Congress had already thought about how we would try suspected war criminals, by providing for such trials either in federal courts or before military courts martial. So there was no need for the improvised house of cards that was eventually constructed... except, of course, for the political pressure not to have any acquittals (lest the Bush Administration be revealed as somehow imperfect), which meant that it was necessary to permit evidence obtained by torture, hearsay, or if necessary, no evidence at all, and to have a civilian overlord available to declare the suspect guilty no matter what, and of course, even if acquitted, to give the Bush Administration the ability to continue to hold on to the suspect.

Which leads to the absurd results we see now, such as an "exclusion" of the apparent head of the prosecuting office from what would be scheduled to be the very first actual prosecution (not counting Hicks' plea, which after all, got him sprung.) And none of this reassures the rest of the world that we stand by the rule of law, nor does it do anything to insure anyone other than the dumbest Americans that terrorists actually responsible for attacking the United States are being brought to justice in any meaningful way.

I know, I know: picky, picky, picky...

May 9, 2008, Political dividends

First, happy birthday to TD Dad.

And now... on with the opera. It seems that after the Koran desecration incidents and the forcefeeding of hunger striking detainees, the operation of GTMO was not exactly the most popular thing we were doing, in the eyes of the Pakistani public and media. Hence, the decision to post former GTMO commander Gen. Jay Hood to the embassy in Islamabad met with a great deal of derision and resistance, and, amidst that, has now been withdrawn by the U.S. government.

You will recall that after allegations of a Koran being flushed down a toilet at GTMO, riots broke out in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and around 17 people were killed in them. While those particular allegations were debunked. at least two accounts on this blog from soldiers serving there (Saar and Yee, both of whom served before Hood, btw) confirmed that the detainees' religion was certainly being disrespected at Guantanamo Bay.

In any event, our military liaison in Pakistan, home of both OBL and nuclear weapons, is kind of important. But apparently, our little project down Cuba way to show the rest of the world how tough we were was evidently more important, and hence, it seems, our government will have to chose someone without a GTMO taint to serve in Pakistan.

Just another day at the office, I suppose. Six and a half years and counting, if the office is Guantanamo Bay, and around 256 days left of the Bush Administration. Deep sighs all around.

May 8, 2008, Destroying the Village Party to Save It?

You know, I believe I have a certain familiarity with Hillary Clinton's personality insofar as she is 15 years older than I, to the day... we Scorpios are often maniacally loyal (think about why she stays with Bill) and maniacally driven (I've completed 18 marathons, despite a complete lack of physical talent, and I continue to write my blog, week in, week out, six and a half years on, despite a lack of particular literary talent or tremendous popularity among blog-readers, while Sen. Clinton continues to run for President, despite an obvious lack of political talent or popularity among voters).

There: I said it. She doesn't GET that her husband has more talent in his one little wagging finger than she has in her whole body (and Mark Penn's too). She became my fair state's junior senator solely on the strength of her famous husband. She somehow thought that being an otherwise underachieving back-bench senator and Bill's wife qualified her not only to run for President, but to win her party's nomination by acclimation. This led her to run a cynical and vapid campaign that just assumed that the nation's Democratic voters would be as forgiving and fawning over she and her famous husband's as New York voters were (in her decisive victories over political heavyweights Rick Lazio and John Spencer). Like George W. Bush, a man also in his current job because of a famous relative, Hillary actually believed that this nomination was hers, without having to earn it with actual voters. Which is why, presumably, she may well be living in a bubble where she actually believes that the battle for the Democratic nomination isn't over.

And let's talk about "35 years of experience". The thing is, Sen. Clinton's own experience is actually quite interesting, and quite unique, and in its own way, quite compelling. Something tells me there weren't many women attorneys working on the Watergate investigation committee, or at the Rose Law firm, where she was a partner for many years. The fact is, being a law partner (in the Deep South, no less) among legal and corporate barracudas is actually pretty good experience in its own right for a prospective commander in chief. And she could take credit for "participating" in the Bill Clinton Administration, though admit that not accomplishing anything on health care (other than costing her own party Congress) "was one of those humbling experiences that make me understand the system like no one else". And of course, being First Lady of a state and of the nation, and serving as a Senator from a fawning state which doesn't demand that she actually do anything. But she didn't run on her own record: she ran on Bill's (perhaps he's paying for all this).

And we might forget that, on policy, Sen. Clinton has hardly made friends among traditional Democratic primary voters. Among other things, she voted for the Iraq war, and as to legislative achievements, the only major bill her name has ever been attached to remains "Bill CLINTON".

All of this serves as my wind-up for Sen. Clinton's unbelievably blunt and downright racist statements conveyed in her USA Today interview, to wit:

"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

"There's a pattern emerging here," she said.

A pattern indeed: that of a spoil-sport loser now clearly willing to destroy her own party to satisfy her own ambition. The point has been made by others of just how outrageous it is for her to ostensibly write off Blacks and college graduates (Sen. Obama, as both is presumably doubly written off), so I won't go there. I will simply repeat a point I have seen made by others: she is now asking the
working, hard-working Americans, white Americans
, Democrats in West Virginia and Kentucky, states where Democrats have a shot in the fall, to get used to voting against their own nominee because he's a Black man.

And, perhaps, in the year 2008, enough Americans really do still have sufficient racism in their hearts so that they can't bring themselves to vote for a Black man, any Black man, even one with a White mother, raised by his White grandparents, who attended private schools including an Ivy League College and attained the presidency of the Harvard Law Review, to the point where that Black man can't win a Presidential election. And that may well be a sad fact of life.

But to hear that kind of sentiment from the mouth of a candidate for President from the Democratic Party (let alone the wife of "America's First Black President" and someone running to the "the first" __ president herself) is just something none of us should abide. Period. I fervently hope-- no, I demand, that the remaining super-delegates get off their duffs and take this away from this party-destroying race-baiter immediately, before Sen. Clinton achieves her goal of ultimate burning her own party's nominee with her "if I can't have it no one can" sentiment.

There. I said that too.

May 6, 2008, Good night Irene Hillary?

In today's last-big primaries left (187 pledged delegates up for grabs of the 404 remaining) day, Sen. Barack Obama scored a decisive victory (around 15 points or more) in North Carolina and Sen. Hillary Clinton holds around a 4 point lead in Indiana with around 85% of precincts in, as of 23:00 "fast time" (EDT). Insofar as North Carolina is significantly bigger than Indiana, and insofar as Sen. Obama's margin of victory there will be greater than Sen. Clinton's margin in Indiana, assuming she even wins it at all, Obama will improve on his around 150 pledged delegate (and 135 or so overall delegate) lead, with only 217 pledged delegates left for grabs, in contests in Kentucky, West Virginia and Puerto Rico (likely for Clinton), and in Montana, South Dakota and Oregon (likely for Obama)... i.e., they'll all net out or come pretty close to doing so, and Obama's lead will hold... and superdelegates will start breaking in droves... for Obama.

The game is called "delegates;" telling us that if you count Florida and Michigan, (and only count White people at that) that Hillary "actually won" the "real" popular vote... or that some poll tells us Clinton will do better against McCain in selected counties in Florida and Ohio... really tells us nothing. If Clinton supporters want to make the case that the Rev. Wright has rendered Sen. Obama unelectable, apparently, the voters in both North Carolina and Indiana don't seem to be accepting that, given the respective margins tonight, which, as noted above, will give Obama a net delegate pick-up, despite "Hillary's momentum" and wall to wall Rev. Wright coverage on broadcast media (and of course, the shameless pandering on the gasoline tax).

If we accept polls that show that raw racism is something that Democrats should respect (i.e., evidently, a significantly higher number of Clinton voters say they would not vote for Obama than vice versa, and, as their policies are pretty much indistinguishable, I think we know why they would say this), then the Democratic Party may as well start selling the furniture at DNC headquarters, because it will no longer have a reason to be, nor would it ever again be assured of its only reliable base (hint: it's neither unions, nor working class White people).

So... while this election may be too important for Democrats to lose, if it involves "winning" by elevating the candidate in distant second place in delegates, "winning" may well be a Pyrrhic victory: the end of the Democratic Party in any meaningful sense. Not that Sen. Clinton (and certainly Pres. Clinton) seem to care a jot about this. If the argument that Obama-- a man who was a state legislator just three and a half years ago, is unelectable, then the answer to that problem might well be "Al Gore" (Gore-Obama?), but it is surely not the candidate with every conceivable advantage of name recognition, organization and fund-raising prowess and a popular husband ex-President to boot who still couldn't beat the man who was a state legislator three years ago (because she ran one of the stupidest campaigns in the history of the world).

Does Sen. Clinton have every right to soldier on? Yessirree, and frankly, if I were her, I might well myself, because this may well be her last opportunity to run, and certainly, she may never be this close again. Of course, it's quite possible that her campaign is broke (again). And superdelegates are now going to start committing in droves, insofar as, while there are nominally 5 or 6 more contests, they are, combined, barely more than tonight's total, which included an Indiana that had many demographic similarities to Clinton-strongholds Ohio and Pennsylvania, and yet, it might well only be Rush Limbaugh's operation chaos that pushes her over the top there.

Is primary season and the race for the Democratically nomination technically or mathematically over? Not by a long-shot. Is it over? Yes, boys and girls, I'm afraid that it's over.

Hey, who knows? If Sen. Obama can wrap this up in the next few days, he might even have time to come to our Columbia '83 class reunion in three weeks time. No... crazy talk on my part. But unless Sen. Obama is videotaped on a boat called Monkey Business, or shows up on the client list of the Emperors Club, or some other outrageous scandal that involves sex, any doubt that he will be the Democratic nominee has by and large just been removed.

Update: It's around 00 45 on 6 May, and Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice tells us that votes are still being counted in Lake County, home of Gary, IN, and turnout was so high, that Obama might pull out a win in Indiana. If this is indeed the case, then, without mincing words, it's all over tonight. Stay tuned; follow along with Joe and TMV to keep up; Joe's in San Diego, so he'll be up a bit longer than I, who end my blogging evening... right now. G'night everybody!

May 4, 2008, Shining Light on the Darkess at Caribbean Noon

America's favorite gulag in the news.

We'll start with this Nicholas Kristof op-ed in the Grey Lady, comparing and contrasting the Zimbabwean legal system with the American legal black hole down GTMO way (hint: Zimbabwe comes off better). Note that Kristof devotes several paragraphs to our friend Candace and her client, Abdul al-Ghizzawi, whose plight we are quite familiar with.

[We can best be summarize his plight as "he may be dying of chronic liver disease that the government would rather not treat because it has no idea how to treat so it's all al-Ghizzawi's fault; for fun, some members of the medical staff told al-Ghizzawi that he had AIDS, though they later denied it; the military categorically refuses to release al-Ghizzawi's medical records, and a senior military intel officer assigned to al-Ghizzawi's original Combatant Status Review Tribunal ("CSRT") found that the evidence on which al-Ghizzawi is held is 'garbage' and hence he should be released but the government decided that a do-over CSRT was required until it came up with the answer that it wanted, a situation troubling enough for the United States Supreme Court to grant an extraordinarily unusual motion for reargument in the Boumediene case." Candace has filed an historic original habeas corpus petition with the U.S. Supreme Court for al-Ghizzawi, and the decision on that petition may well come down at the same time as the long-awaited Boumediene case.]

Kristof's column also mentions newly released Sami al-Hajj. Our friend Andy tells us about Sami (in a series of posts)... in short, al-Jazeera camerman Sami al-Hajj has been transferred to Sudan from GTMO after his six year ordeal (including an attempt to participate in the hunger strike responded to with force-feeding); Sami is anything but reticent concerning his treatment, as well as our government's efforts to try to turn him into a mole against al-Jazeera, probably the most prominent independent media in the Arab world (and with whom the Bush Administration, and the President in particular, may have been obsessed) and describes his treatment as nothing short of torture.

Could we finally be seeing momentum on this issue of the United States's... problematic treatment of what should be its humanely treated prisoners of war? Maybe, but as I often say, that's probably not how you bet.

The Bush Administration has 260 days to go. That's around the number of men left at GTMO. We will not be seeing an average of one a day released; at best, this President will release no more than a few dozen more, and hand off at least 200 or so prisoners to the next President, with kangaroo-court-commissions proceeding for the so-called "worst of the worst," who notably include Salim Hamdan ("OBL's motor pool mechanic and occasional driver") and Omar Khadr (a 15 year old boy captured in a combat situation, and held in abysmal conditions ever since, including the deliberate decision not to treat his combat wounds).

In the end, there may well be some kind of Nuremberg-like scenario at the end of Guantanamo and the war on terror, but if there is any justice in the world (something your talking dog is at best agnostic on), it might come off a wee bit differently from how the Bush Administration envisions it. This has been... "Shining Light on the Darkness at Caribbean Noon".

May 4, 2008, Guamentum!

By 7 votes, Barack Obama has won the Guam caucuses, a crucial harbinger of popular opinion going into "Biggest of What's Left" Tuesday in North Carolina and Indiana. Both Clinton and Obama pick up two delegates each, with Obama holding on to a projected 136 or so delegate lead.

While the much vaunted "momentum" appears to have shifted away from him as a result of Sen. Clinton's win in Pennsylvania, and of course, the media's endless fascination with having an angry Black man available to show over and over again (even if he isn't Sen. Obama himself, Rev. Wright is "close enough")... if anyone actually buys the importance of primaries, caucuses and the delegates selected thereby... Obama is still ahead, and "plan A", coming into the convention with a lead, still seems a go.

Stay tuned.

May 3, 2008, Vox parvi populi

Your evil mojo will not make me into a porcelain doll, you beasts!

Now that the kids, tweens and teens of the world come to Daddy's talking dog blog to see pictures of the same people they see on t.v. (and there doesn't seem to be anyone at all interested in Daddy's political ravings... what else is new...) it's time, once again, to get all "controversial" and give you... the Miley Cyrus Vanity Fair photograph above, in which a 15 year old girl pretends to be a statue, and I ask... what is the big deal?

[Some of you might also be asking what I'm doing up so late on a Saturday night... well, Daddy has to get up early to run somewhere tomorrow, so carpe diem! (Daddy says that means "seize the day" or evening as the case may be; he says he's going to save a fortune on a Latin tutor, simply by having me eventually recite every Latin platitude he knows in this column.)]

Anyway, Miley Cyrus is not, as far as I know, a porcelain doll. She is, in fact, an android made out of really authentic looking flesh-like plastic and stuff, and not a porcelain doll at all. But, as Daddy says, talking about Miley means we're not talking about the Rev. Wright (whoever that is). Daddy!!!!

This has been... carpe diem e pluribus unum Brittania est parva insula VOX! PARVI! POPULI!!!!!

May 1, 2008, More Wright Stuff

Well, well... consistent with my post below, former GOP candidate Mike Huckabee makes a similar point to mine: the Rev. Jeremiah Wright needs Obama to lose, to justify his own anger (and though Huck didn't say it, I will... to justify his own existence as a street corner demagogue).

Of course, Obama's bleeding in the polls continues, as, naturally, working class White people may now have that all-important excuse not to pull the lever for a Black man (even if, as is likely, Obama loses Indiana but still wins much larger North Carolina). Well played, Senator Clinton. And Rev. Wright. Still, Obama will still pull into the convention with a significant pledged delegate lead, barring catastrophe. Obviously, it matters a great deal how significant that lead is.

We will see how this plays out; obviously, Rev. Wright has been a problem for a while, as noted in my post of January 17th, a TD friend (she knows who she is) suggested that Wright was going to become a big liability for Obama... and indeed, he certainly has. OTOH, there's still plenty of primary season to go (over a month), and Sen. Clinton may well close the pledged delegate (and raw vote) gaps, and may even "make the case" to enough super-delegates to pull this one out. Though that would be taking it away from the voters, for a change, at least, she would be playing by the same rules as everyone else.

Stay tuned.

May 1, 2008, Mission Accomplished: Fifth Anniversary

The President on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln announcing the end of major combat operations in Iraq  on May 1, 2003