"Politics is not left, right or center ... It's about improving people's lives."
-Paul Wellstone, Election Night 1990 acceptance speech
Pontifications on books, history, politics, society, worms, and other topics of interest.
"Politics is not left, right or center ... It's about improving people's lives."
-Paul Wellstone, Election Night 1990 acceptance speech
Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself but I have a confession to make. I'm in my fifties and I never thought that I would see an African-American elected President of the United States in my lifetime. I just didn't think we had it in us but it appears that we have most assuredly come a long way.
I remember when I was nine years old, sitting in the back of my parents car getting ready to leave Torrey Pines State Beach when they announced on the radio that the authorities had found the bodies of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner; I remember it as distinctly as I remember when JFK was shot. The announcer called them "civil rights workers" but I didn't know what a civil rights worker was. I thought he was calling them "civil service workers" which, to my nine year-old mind, was like a postman or the guys who picked up the trash. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to murder them. Later, when I understood who they were and what they were doing, I understood it even less. Murdering someone just because they were trying to help people register to vote? I couldn't comprehend the hatred of a people who could think that way. I just knew that they were vicious and they were stupid.
Later, when I was in the eighth grade, I read Les Miserables in class and I came across this: "There are souls that, crablike, crawl continually toward darkness, going backward in life rather than advancing, using their experience to increase their deformity, growing continually worse, and becoming steeped more and more thoroughly in the intensifying viciousness."
...and I realized that I knew exactly the type of people Victor Hugo was writing about.
Now, forty-four long years later, I will have the opportunity to vote for (and more importantly, so will my daughter who has already cast her vote in this, her first election) an African-American for President of the United States. The same type of "person" James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner lost their lives for; not so they could become president some day, but simply because it was their right to participate and have a voice within their own country.
I won't say 'what took us so long?'. I'll just say that I'm glad to be here to see this day come.
Oil and coal? Of course, it’s a fungible commodity and they don’t flag, you know, the molecules, where it’s going and where it’s not. But in the sense of the Congress today, they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first,” Palin said. “So, I believe that what Congress is going to do, also, is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it’s Americans that get stuck to holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here. It’s got to flow into our domestic markets first.
I hope Senator Obama and other Democrats are ready to take on this pandering. They need to be prepared because the public wants to believe there are ready solutions. We should be honest with them—but sometimes, that isn’t the best political solution is it?
Flo and Sam's conversation also made me think about my immediate response. Should I have said something, should I have given them a copy of the New York Times article which I had with me? Probably neither would have been a good idea. The St. Paul diner crowd don’t need a lecture from a liberal college professor.
But it does make me want to keep blogging, and talking to people when I have the chance, and educating students and the public on these knotty issues. Sometimes the solutions aren't what Flo and Sam want to hear, but I think they can accept the consequences if talked to honestly. At least I hope that's the case.
It was reported last week in the national media that Hillary Clinton would simply not accept another woman on the ticket as Barack Obama’s running mate. If she wasn’t the choice, then Obama would have to select a man.
I am not sure of the accuracy of this report, but the political dilemma is worth discussing. If Senator Clinton still dreams of being the first female president of the United States, it would not be in her interest to have a competitor. And even if Obama loses in November, his running mate would become, along with Senator Clinton, a strong contender for the 2012 election. That would set up a pleasant situation—two women heading the list of possible Democratic presidential candidates. Nothing wrong with that.
If (or should I say when) Obama wins in November we will have a different situation. The nation's first female vice-president would immediately become the heir apparent to President Obama--although 2016 is a long way off. Clearly however, Hillary Clinton’s chances of becoming president would decline precipitously.
But what will the Clinton supporters think of a different women being named Obama’s running mate? In my opinion, they would be unable to criticize this choice even if disappointed. Would they deny another female a spot on the ticket? Even if Clinton is not the choice, wouldn’t it still be remarkable to have an African-American/female team? Much of Clinton’s campaign would be validated to a great degree and her supporters would have to feel some amount of satisfaction.
Finally, could Clinton stop Obama from selecting a female? I suppose she could put enough pressure to do just that. But what if the word got out? It would simply reinforce an image of Hillary Clinton as a selfish and ruthless politician who cared only about her own self-interest—not the party, and not the feminist movement. No, she simply cannot make this demand. If discovered, her future role as a party leader would be diminished severely. Even her chances of running for president in the future would be damaged.
The fact is, this is the perfect time to select a female running mate. Hillary Clinton has opened the door for a woman to be selected immediately. Obama needs to take advantage of that opening. Yes, it would probably end Clinton’s presidential hopes—but her chances are slim anyway. The Clinton 18-million would have to be supportive. And finally, it would give an opportunity for a number of Democratic women (and Republican women also) to run for president in the next few election cycles.
History will give Hillary Clinton credit for making this situation possible now. This might not be what she had in mind--but it isn't a bad legacy. Now Barack Obama must make the next move.
Overturning Roe v. Wade
John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench. Constitutional balance would be restored by the reversal of Roe v. Wade, returning the abortion question to the individual states. The difficult issue of abortion should not be decided by judicial fiat. However, the reversal of Roe v. Wade represents only one step in the long path toward ending abortion. Once the question is returned to the states, the fight for life will be one of courage and compassion - the courage of a pregnant mother to bring her child into the world and the compassion of civil society to meet her needs and those of her newborn baby. The pro-life movement has done tremendous work in building and reinforcing the infrastructure of civil society by strengthening faith-based, community, and neighborhood organizations that provide critical services to pregnant mothers in need. This work must continue and government must find new ways to empower and strengthen these armies of compassion. These important groups can help build the consensus necessary to end abortion at the state level. As John McCain has publicly noted, "At its core, abortion is a human tragedy. To effect meaningful change, we must engage the debate at a human level."
McCAIN ON ABORTION....One of the inexplicable side effects of John McCain's maverick reputation is the number of people who believe — or, perhaps, desperately want to believe — that he's basically pretty moderate on abortion rights. Columnist Froma Harrop is one of them.
First, Harrop is willing to gamble, but pro-choice Democrats have to know better....[Harrop] concludes that McCain's voting record of complete and total opposition to reproductive rights for nearly a quarter century is insincere, and once in the White House, he'll suddenly transform into a moderate. This is sheer fantasy.
Second, McCain is going to great lengths to prove how completely wrong Harrop really is. Indeed, McCain is telling anyone who will listen that he'd be even further to the right than Bush on this issue, subtly criticizing Griswold, and by extension, the very notion of a right to privacy.
And third, it's utterly foolish to narrowly focus the inquiry to the Supreme Court. McCain is practically desperate to stack the court with more far-right justices — his active support for Bork wasn't an accident — but if we take a more general look at McCain and women's issues, we see that McCain will maintain the global gag order, supports the court's ruling on Ledbetter, has expressed no interest in civil rights protections for women, and has voted against everything from requiring health care plans to cover birth control to international family planning funding to public education for emergency contraception.
McCain tends to use soothing, nonconfrontational language when he talks about social issues, but his actual record on abortion is about as hardline conservative as you can get. A lot of moderates who like McCain seem to be averting their gaze from this and trying to persuade themselves that it's all just politics and the real McCain is a lot like them: not a big fan of abortion, maybe, but not really extreme about it either. Unfortunately, it ain't so. If McCain gets into office, his record is pretty clear: he'll do everything he can to reduce or eliminate access to abortion, starting with poor women and working his way up.
Finally, the Christian Science Monitor chimed in a few months ago on McCain’s possible judicial nominees. It is clear what kinds of judges McCain will appoint.
A particularly sore point has involved McCain's alleged liberal perspective on selecting federal judges, especially for the Supreme Court. But on this score, conservative fear is misplaced. A careful reading of his statements and his Senate record shows that McCain's "maverick" approach bodes quite well for those who cherish a conservative judiciary.
The senator has carefully repeated the conservative Republican Party mantras regarding federal judicial appointments demanded of all viable GOP candidates. For instance, McCain has praised President Bush for selecting justices "who strictly interpret the Constitution." And he observed that "one of our greatest problems in America today is justices that legislate from the bench."
He has pledged to appoint jurists who construe the Constitution and legislation, rather than make social policy or assume the role of judicial "activists." Indeed, one critical line of McCain's Super Tuesday speech was a clear, direct appeal to the GOP base: "I am a Republican because I believe the judges we appoint to the federal bench must understand that enforcing our laws, not making them, is their only responsibility."
McCain has also made the standard promise to name Supreme Court justices who share the perspectives of Chief Justice John Roberts as well as those of Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas.
When some conservatives attacked McCain for remarking that he was reportedly troubled because Justice Alito "wore his conservatism on his sleeve," he set the record straight: "I will try to find clones of Alito and Roberts."
McCain may be less ideological than certain conservative Republicans would like. Nevertheless, his record suggests that they should not be concerned. In fact, McCain might rectify or temper the accusations, recriminations, divisive partisanship, and paybacks that have plagued the selection process by cooperating with Democrats, who may enhance their Senate majority in November.
It would be nice if you actually knew something about history before bringing it up. It really makes you folks look like fools. I do realize that most of you think intellectuals are evil people who don't attend church on Sunday and refuse to wear flag lapel pins. But most of us honestly try to understand an issue before we engage in a debate.
Now let's talk about appeasement. Your President Bush mentioned the word during a speech in Israel this week--which immediately led all of you conservative screamers to label Barack Obama an appeaser since the Illinois senator has said he would talk to Iran and other so-called "enemy" nations.
Let's be honest, you folks have no idea what the word actually means, and you don't understand one thing about the historical context. It's just a word you throw around because you think it is supposed to frighten liberals. Here is how Paul Kennedy defined it: "the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and compromise, thereby avoiding the resort to an armed conflict which would be, expensive, bloody and possibly dangerous."
Avoiding armed conflict--now there is a novel concept. But in reality we all know the word gained negative connotations when our friend Neville Chamberlain (pictured above) continually met Hitler's demands during the lead up to World War II. When Chamberlain basically gave away Czechoslovakia to get "peace in our time" the policy of appeasement was forever tarnished. How many times have we heard about this infamous 1938 Munich agreement?
The Bush administration has learned what from Munich?
1. Don't give up anything to evil dictators for they will always want more.
2. Build up your military to such tremendous might that the evil dictators won't even dare ask for anything.
3. If the evil dictator even thinks about making demands, blow the fuck out him.
4. Then spend more and more money on the military so appeasement will never be an option just in case some sissy liberal does get elected.
5. Take all money out of social programs and spend it on big, hard, stiff
My Republican friends, we all know these lessons are a crock of pure shit. This twisted logic has been served up in order to gut social programs and to scare the hell out of the public so they will vote for your side. Yet Munich has become part of American diplomatic terminology. I had a girlfriend once that basically demanded better and more expensive gifts every week. I didn't know what to do. Then I thought of Munich--I can't appease this
bitch lovely young lady, if I do she'll keep asking for more and more. And she'll be in Poland before I know it. That's kind of how you guys think isn't it?
But let me tell you what appeasement isn't--and I don't expect you to understand.
-it's NOT appeasement if we talk to another nations
-it's NOT appeasement if we talk to nations which we consider enemies
I am writing this the evening before a critical five primary/caucus weekend. We all know that currently, the Clinton-Obama race is practically tied. Now the pundits and pollsters are saying that this weekend’s contests, as well as those next Tuesday, all decidedly favor Senator Obama. He could win the lions’ share of these next eight races and take a slim lead in the delegate count.
But here is precisely one of the areas where the Clinton camp has out-maneuvered Obama--the important Expectations Game. The way these next few races have shaped up, Obama has to win. Clinton can lose most, if not all of these primaries and caucuses. If Obama stumbles just a bit, it will be a perceived setback. If Clinton wins one (Maine possibly), she will have exceeded expectations (a Comeback Kid sort of scenario).
The Obama people desperately need to deal with this problem soon. They are letting expectations form the campaign narrative--and this has already hurt them. Obama tacitly allowed the public to anticipate a New Hampshire knock-out win over Clinton. And then last week, he failed to damper very high Super Tuesday expectations.
In a race this close, where a few delegates (or super delegates) can be swayed by perceptions, the Obama campaign needs to stop letting Clinton and/or the media write the script.
Louisiana: February 9 (primary)
Nebraska: February 9 (caucus)
Virgin Islands: February 9 (caucus)
Washington: February 9 (caucus)
Maine: February 10 (caucus)
D.C.: February 12
Maryland: February 12
Virginia: February 12
Hawaii: February 19
Wisconsin: February 19
Texas: March 4
Ohio: March 4
Rhode Island: March 4
Vermont: March 4