Monday, June 30, 2008

Wes' Point

Whether Wes Clark's comment on the lack of Commander-in-Chief justification inherent in John McCain's military service hurts the Obama campaign or helps undermine that side of the McCain candidacy, we do not yet know. However, it has surely disqualified him from the Vice President slot, recalling to mind Sen. Jim Webb's reaction when a reporter asked, a month ago, about Clark as a choice. Webb seemed surprised, saying that it would seem like an unlikely move to pick someone who had never won elective office.

Here's Clark saying something very true, in a very tone-deaf way:

For the Web-video challenged, it goes:
After saying, "I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war," he added that these experiences in no way qualify McCain to be president in his view:

"He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn't a wartime squadron," Clark said.

"I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president."

What's interesting here is the response, with the Mainstream Media calling it an attack on McCain's service record (which it clearly wasn't), McCain himself unleashing his "Truth Squad" lead by one of the same Swiftboaters who smeared his supposed buddy John Kerry's record, and several notable military men coming to Clark's defense.

There are two main reasons the right is going hard after Clark, and why he needs some wingmen to back him up. For one, if McCain is running on anything, it's his service and sacrifice to country. Being buddies with Joe Lieberman sure as hell ain't bipartisanship, not in 2008, and he sure can't run on his judgment. The other reason is that Wes Clark is phenomenally popular as a Democratic foreign policy and military affairs spokesperson:
No one in the entire country is more important to Democratic credibility on foreign policy than Wesley Clark. No one. And this isn't just my opinion, it is the opinion of Democratic congressional candidates who requested him...

Imagine if the top issue in the mind of the electorate was energy and global warming. Imagine if, as a result, Al Gore become the most requested surrogate in the country by Democratic congressional candidates. Then, imagine if the right-wing began attacking Gore in an unfair manner for a benign, true statement. And then, imagine if the Democratic nominee condemned Gore for that statement. Now, you tell me, would dumping Al Gore for the rest of the campaign season be strategic in that case?

Taking out the leading Democratic surrogate on national security would be a huge victory for Republicans.

To his credit, even though Obama has had to (justifiably, in my mind, to keep his campaign consistent) distance himself from Clark's comment, Clark isn't backing down. And good for him because, as noted above, McCain's judgment is lousy now, was lousy on Iraq, and was -- admittedly, by McCain himself -- lousy back then:
On my last mission in Vietnam, having survived several mishaps that could have but did not cost me my life, I wasn't as acutely aware of the danger to my own well-being that the mission entailed. Instead of interpreting my previous experiences as evidence that things can and often will go wrong when flying, particularly in dangerous and stressful conditions--an awareness that should have made me more heedful of the danger--I had developed a false sense of my own invulnerability. And that characteristic of my ego, which I felt no need to check, discounted the danger I personally faced. I placed too much faith on what was beyond my knowledge or control: luck. And my luck ran out that day. When I heard the warning tone that an enemy SAM battery had locked onto me, I was moments away from dropping my bombs on target. I thought I had enough time to do my job and still evade a missile I knew would probably be coming my way.

Click on that link above for a fully explanation of how this plays into McCain's overall recklessness, including his attempt to drop Secret Service protection. If Obama is able to stick his good judgment theme, if he's able to keep consistent on not attacking his opponent's character but rather his policies, I believe he will be our next President.

So thank you, Gen. Wes Clark, for speaking the truth.

Sorry it had to come at the cost of proving Sen. Jim Webb right.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Problems with Obama's middle name?

Maybe the solution is to adopt it:

Emily Nordling has never met a Muslim, at least not to her knowledge. But this spring, Ms. Nordling, a 19-year-old student from Fort Thomas, Ky., gave herself a new middle name on, mimicking her boyfriend and shocking her father.
“Emily Hussein Nordling,” her entry now reads.

With her decision, she joined a growing band of supporters of Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who are expressing solidarity with him by informally adopting his middle name.

The result is a group of unlikely-sounding Husseins: Jewish and Catholic, Hispanic and Asian and Italian-American, from Jaime Hussein Alvarez of Washington, D.C., to Kelly Hussein Crowley of Norman, Okla., to Sarah Beth Hussein Frumkin of Chicago.

Yep, inspired by the movies Sparticus and In & Out. The former climaxes with everyone standing up, one by one and then en masse, to claim they are the persecuted slave named Sparticus. The latter does the same with "I'm gay."

Quite moving in all three forms, although this new real-world version is, undoubtedly, the funniest.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

More McStakes

Seems that the "bumbling" meme may have reason to stick to John McCain:
  • He talks on a press call for 18 minutes when no reporters are actually listening.  
  • He makes awkward wife-beating jokes.
  • He admits having no clue as to the price of gas.
  • And he can't seem to pay his property taxes.  For four years.
How promising is this in an applicant for what is often called the most powerful job in the world?

Friday, June 27, 2008


It's a beautiful thing.

It goes with unity:

Back before this whole primary thing started, I felt that one of Clinton's major weaknesses as a candidate would be her lack of great oratorical skills. I'd always heard she was great one-on-one or in a room talking to a smaller group, and when the campaign began in Iowa and with her more in the spotlight in New Hampshire I felt that my instincts were borne out. She just didn't have what it took to galvanize those who weren't already true believers in her.

Comparing her speech today to those back then are like oaks to acorns. She's so sharp today, so much more down to earth and "herself" that when she delivers her great line about George Bush and John McCain being two sides of the same coin and "it doesn't amount to a whole lot of change," she doesn't oversell it, she lets it play and wins.

Even better is the very real and human moment when she describes the "spirited dialogue" of the campaign and, reacting to the rising moans from the audience adds, "that was the nicest way I could think of phrasing it." She's upped her speaking game thanks to the battle just as Obama was forced to up his own candidate skills.

There will be some Clinton deadenders and that's that, but whether they receive disproportionate media attention or not, it doesn't matter. This unity event in Unity was a stake through the heart of John McCain's Presidential dreams. They just seem so comfortable together, whether or not Obama picks her for the ticket, they're the peers now.

In a weird way Obama gives her more public respect than her own husband. There's no one else out there for Hillary to talk to in the same way she can relate to Obama. I hope he picks a brilliant VP choice other than her, then I hope she gets her name on the health care bill, then I hope he gives her the best job he can.

Time for Bill to come aboard. The train is leaving the station. Republicans can't even run as Republicans this year, and Obama's detractors are only left with racist smears -- idiotic GOP anti-government zealot Grover Norquist calling Obama "John Kerry with a tan" (seriously!) and Karl Rove calling Obama arrogant -- as in "uppity."

Here's to a strong Democratic Party and a strong Democratic Presidential candidate. May they win big in November, and then may they deliver on their promises -- which, having to clean up the wreckage left by George Bush as he did way back with Harken Energy with on a national, federal scale, may be the hardest part of this whole damn process.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Very Smart Bad Guys

The reason I hate David Addington and John Yoo is that I feel like I know them, that we all knew the very book smart, wargame playing armchair chickenhawks with a libertarian bent, but these are two particular ones who got law degrees and put them to work for Dick Cheney, their Grand Vizier writing memos declaring torture legal as long as it's under the President and only the President's authority, as long as he says he thinks he's protecting the country.

Today they squirmed in front of Congress, particularly Yoo. He knows he's in trouble underneath his own smugness, but Addington takes the cake it that department. The smugness of the geek, only that he's smug about Abu Ghraib.

Take a look, even if you have to skip through the clip a bit, but I found it f-a-s-c-i-n-a-t-i-n-g. The first moment of accountability since Scooter Libby got convicted (and we all know how that ended) and these guys won't answer anything they think might box them into being revealed:

Here's more of Addington, this time defining the Vice President as "attached" to the legislative branch, lots of quoting of opinions, smug ammo:

Last clip I'll link to is Addington refusing to discuss the torture policy he and Yoo designed, the shame of the U.S.A. in the eyes of the world, in our owns eyes, how far fallen from "The Greatest Generation" that actually fought a World War for which all citizens mobilized and sacrificed. He won't talk about it, because the terrorists are watching.

Makes one kinda nostalgic for Nuremberg.


Here's a McCain ad that seems to actually sell Obama's energy positions quite well:

Is it true that McCain is essentially, per Simon Rosenberg: any historic measure, a weak and bumbling candidate, ill-suited for a presidential race, and is still struggling to bring his party together -- a party which has never liked him very much anyway.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fightin' Barack

Hard not to like a Democrat acting like he can win.

Obama gets slammed by rightwing evangelical James Dobson:
Dobson used his Focus on the Family radio program to highlight excerpts of a speech Obama gave in June 2006 to the liberal Christian group Call to Renewal...

..."I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said.

Obama slams back:

Speaking to reporters on his campaign plane before landing in Los Angeles, Obama said the speech made the argument that people of faith, like himself, "try to translate some of our concerns in a universal language so that we can have an open and vigorous debate rather than having religion divide us."

Obama added, "I think you'll see that he was just making stuff up, maybe for his own purposes."

Then other clerical leaders, even Bush supporters, come to Obama's aid thanks to the respect and outreach he's made to evangelicals, as does the independent Matthew 25 Network of young Christian activists for Obama, who are acting as fast-response debunking squads for combating smears in Christian media:

Like BenGoshi said in the Diary on the Rec List "Read The Beatitudes Before You Vote." The Matthew 25 Network is resolved around policies for the least of these.

This week our first print ads ran and will be seen by over 200,000 Catholics and Evangelicals in the coming days. The next step is Christian radio.

There has been a lot of indignation on Daily Kos today, and rightly so, for the remarks of Dr. Dobson. You can DO something about it! Donate to our Act Blue Account so we can run ads back-to-back against Dobson. He promised today there would be more segments along these lines – lets have an answer ready.

For too long we have not responded on these stations, in these magazines, and with positive Christian voices. This year, this cycle, that all changes.

Meanwhile, McCain comes up with offshore drilling and a battery-making sweepstakes, but the next moment revealing that he knows it's all placebo:

Mr. Obama was responding to remarks that Mr. McCain made on Monday in Fresno, Calif., when he observed that even though the nation might take years to benefit from offshore drilling, “exploiting those reserves would have psychological impact that I think is beneficial...”

“...‘Psychological impact’?” Mr. Obama said. “In case you’re wondering, that’s Washington-speak for ‘It polls well.’ ”

He added, “It’s an example of how Washington politicians try to convince you that they did something to make your life better when they really didn’t.”

Asked in Riverside, Calif., about his remarks on the psychological effects of lifting the moratorium on offshore drilling, Mr. McCain said: “I think Americans want hope. They want some trust and confidence.”

Way to build both, John.

What's happening here is that Obama is taking it straight to him on the issues, not on the distractions or caricatures we've gotten so used to thanks to a whole generation of political consultants.

What Obama does is much more powerful, because he's actually going after McCain's political character. Not his personal character, as Obama is if nothing else a dignitarian, so as long as the game gravitates towards Obama's terms and away from, say, Karl Rove's, the effect is all the more devastating for being fair play.

Maybe that why even a Republican Senator, perhaps starting a trend, is grabbing at Obama's coattails big time:

This is starting to get interesting.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Real King George

It's difficult to overstate how important George Carlin has been to the evolution of modern stand-up comedy, even if he ended in a class of his own. It's no accident that he was selected to host the very first episode of Saturday Night Live, and he remained as relevant -- and prolific -- as always to the day he died. Which was, unfortunately, yesterday, at 71, still in full possession of more marbles than most of us have at half that age.

When I was a kid at summer camp it was a point of pride to learn the "Seven Words You Can't Say on Television." In honor of George, they were shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits. As for that last one:
...and Tits doesn't even belong on the list. That is such a friendly sounding word. It sounds like a nickname, right? "Hey, Tits, come here, man. Hey Tits, meet Toots. Toots, Tits. Tits, Toots." It sounds like a snack, doesn't it? Yes, I know, it is a snack. I don't mean your sexist snack. I mean New Nabisco Tits!, and new Cheese Tits, Corn Tits,Pizza Tits, Sesame Tits, Onion Tits, Tater Tits. "Betcha Can't Eat Just One."

What Carlin did was to demystify such words, so that after you got your little shock laugh, he had you laughing at how absurd it was for grown adults to treat them as anything other than common language.

His love of wordplay extended well beyond the transgressive, wondering why we drive on the parkway and park in the driveway. His rejection of convention went beyond offensive language as well, decrying organized religion as the source of all evil in the world and choosing instead to worship Joe Pesci as a guy who looks like he can get things done.

He was a stand-up comic as well as a bestselling author, a movie actor, and a TV star, although mainly via his classic, censorless HBO specials. My favorite story from The New York Times obit:
...among several continuing TV roles, he starred in the Fox sitcom “The George Carlin Show,” which aired for one season. “That was an experiment on my part to see if there might be a way I could fit into the corporate entertainment structure,” he said after the show was canceled in 1994. “And I don’t,” he added.

Damn straight.

It's a huge bummer to lose Carlin while he was still thriving, still entertaining audiences by making them laugh and think at the same time. I guess the consolation prize is that we never saw him lose his talent, never saw the cleverness or clarity slip away with age.

He'll be the first posthumous winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, which means he won't be sitting in the customary box seat at the event or giving his speech at the end, and all those friends and fellow comics won't be able to play directly to him.

What the hell -- another first for Carlin. He joins Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor among the great breakthrough comics who changed what we had permission to laugh at. The real King George -- a King of Comedy.

Here's one for the road:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mugabe Wins

The result of this past week's war on democracy by fascist Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe has been the withdrawal of his electoral rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, from the dubious run-off set for the end of this week. Said Mr. Tsvangirai:
...he could neither participate “in this violent, illegitimate sham of an election process,” nor ask his voters to risk their lives in the face of threats from forces backing President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe's government has said "win or war" and war it has been:
A governing party militia blocked his supporters from attending a major rally in Harare on Sunday, the head of an election observer team said. The opposition said rowdy youths, armed with iron bars and sticks, beat up people who had come to cheer for Mr. Tsvangirai.

It was the latest incident in a tumultuous campaign season in which Mr. Tsvangirai has been repeatedly detained, his party’s chief strategist jailed on treason charges that many people consider bogus, and rampant state-sponsored violence has left at least 85 opposition supporters dead and thousands injured, according to tallies by doctors treating the victims.

With the neighbors step up?

Mr. Tsvangirai’s decision to quit the race seems intended to force Zimbabwe’s neighbors to take a stand. There are growing cracks in the solidarity that African heads of state have shown for Mr. Mugabe, an 84-year-old liberation hero whose defiant anti-Western rhetoric has long struck a resonant chord in a region with a bitter colonial history.

The United States and Britain are pressing to put Zimbabwe’s political crisis on the United Nations Security Council agenda on Monday, a step South Africa, the region’s most powerful nation, has consistently opposed.

So South Africa et al are standing idly by while the thug class has been unleashed in classic totalitarian fashion:
Mr. Tsvangirai, a charismatic former trade union leader who has been Mr. Mugabe’s hated rival for almost a decade, charged Sunday that the president’s violent, vengeful strategy had displaced 200,000 people, destroyed 20,000 homes and injured and maimed over 10,000 people in what he called “this orgy of violence.”

That's how it works.

In a just world it'd be next stop, The Hague.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


If I weren't so burnt by our regime change experience in Iraq, I'd say go the hell into Zimbabwe and arrest dictator Robert Mugabe tonight.

The New York Times has a terrifying article on his junta's death squads kidnapping , torturing, mutilating and murdering the peaceful political opposition and even just sympathetic voters in the lead up to next week's bullshit run-off election.

Check out the link but have a strong stomach. I can't even quote from it, it's too horrible. This is happening right now, more as I write this.

It's time for the neighboring countries in Africa to act like a continent and get that vicious 82 year-old criminal, and as many of his henchmen as possible, into retirement.

This should be on everyone's mind and discussed in the U.N. on Monday. This is a real battle for democratic rights, human rights.

Death to tyrants.

Friday, June 20, 2008


So Obama take a slightly nuanced position supporting the FISA compromise but pledging to fight the telco immunity giveaway in the Senate. He admits it's not a perfect bill, but as they say about laws and sausages, it'd not pretty watching them get made.

I'm not terribly torn up about it. Everyone agrees that FISA needs to be updated for new technologies, and everyone in the Constitutionality camp wants to make sure that our government's Executive branch can't violate the rules without oversight from the other two. From what I understand the bill does all that well enough.

The immunity is a sticking point, as wiretaps have been used in the past on civil rights leaders and so-called "enemies" of the particular President of the time (i.e. Nixon). I'd rather the telcos hadn't pitched in when the Bush/Cheney syndicated told them to, but those were heady times and I'm not sure the companies did so enthusiastically.

In any case, rather than blaming Obama for the sins of the GOP Administration, I'd rather get him in office and start the promised transparency January 20, 2009. As President he'll still need to keep some secrets and take steps to protect us all, but it's hard to imagine it will be in the treasonous manner of the mob that still inhabits the White House and associated offices.

While sometimes it's hard to remember, George W. Bush is still in office, and no amount of projecting a President Obama is going to make January 20th come any sooner.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


With a solid wall of Republican Representative votes and 34% of the Democratic Caucus, it looks like the so-called FISA "compromise" bill is going through in ugly, amnesty-laden form:
The proposal — particularly the immunity provision — represents a major victory for the White House after months of dispute. “I think the White House got a better deal than they even they had hoped to get,” said Senator Christopher Bond, the Missouri Republican who led the negotiations.

That's immunity for any of the big telcos that helped the criminal Cheney/Bush Administration break the law and spy on anyone, even citizens, without any warrant, as long as they can produce evidence that they were told it was okay:
Doesn't that actually endorse and extend to private actors the Nixonian view that if the president says it's legal, it's legal, regardless of what the law says and the Constitution says? Wouldn't that set an awful precedent that an administration could get private actors to do whatever they wanted including breaking the law?

The leader of the capitulating Democrats appears to be none other than Majority Whip Steny Hoyer, whom Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not want to get the job for reasons like these:
That's the "compromise" Steny Hoyer negotiated and which he is now -- according to very credible reports -- pressuring every member of the Democratic caucus to support. It's full-scale, unconditional amnesty with no inquiry into whether anyone broke the law. In the U.S. now, thanks to the Democratic Congress, we'll have a new law based on the premise that the President has the power to order private actors to break the law, and when he issues such an order, the private actors will be protected from liability of any kind on the ground that the Leader told them to do it -- the very theory that the Nuremberg Trial rejected.

Are the capitulating Dems just covering their own asses? Here's how the entire House of Representatives voted today. Obama's people have reported they are scrutinizing the legislation tonight, which is being jammed through for a vote tomorrow without any hearings, barely time to be read.

Hopefully Barack will stand on the right side of this one, which could be another game changer as well. Go ahead and tell your Congressperson via their website, or donate here to fight the abridgement of our Constitutional rights.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Doc Bruce Banner,
Belted by gamma rays,
Turned into the Hulk.
Ain't he unglamo-rays!
Wreckin' the town
With the power of a bull,
Ain't no monster clown
Who is that lovable?
It's ever lovin' Hulk! HULK!! HULK!!"

So went the lyrics to the first Hulk theme music ever, back with the Mighty Marvel Marchin' Society cartoon omnibus. Well, the gamma rays have been turned into the more contagion-like gamma blood serum, and the brand new Incredible Hulk would throw puny bull clear across the farm, and as Marvel has taken over control of their intellectual property film productions starting with the refreshing Iron Man, I think they're onto something.

Which is to say, I enjoyed the hell out of this new Hulk movie.

While it may not strive for the admirable but elusive profundity of the Ang Lee version, essentially just a quality popcorn movie with the integrity to run hard past the plot inanities inherent to the comic book genre, I felt more empathy for the protagonist in this movie than in any prior superhero genre offering, including the estimable Tony Stark by Robert Downey Jr.

The filmmakers wisely keep us in the emotional flow of Bruce Banner's journey, a large part because of how Ed Norton shaped his performance and the story, and even Liv Tyler in the thankless Betsy Ross g.f. role elicits sympathy. She owns the most human moment in the movie (and the only one that approaches the frisson of Downey and Gwyneth Paltrow's Cary Grant/Irene Dunne quality scenes in Iron Man), when they start to get down and get stopped by Bruce's racing pulse.

The Hulk fascinates because he's simultaneously the most and the least powerful of all superheroes. In a sense he's not a superhero at all, more the origin and pathology of a super villain, an accidental creation who's emergence can never be fully controlled, nor his return to human form. Bruce Banner never asked to be Hulk, although he has the ability to call on it by self-provocation, and part of the emotional realism of the film is how well it depicts the absolute bummer of being Hulk.

Since the Jekyll/Hyde nature of the hybrid means that Hulk and Banner are two entirely different people, one only barely remembering the experiences of the other, and because Hulk tends to retreat to nature (green to green) to escape or recuperate from battle, the result is not unlike amnesia or perhaps, in movies, lycanthropy. Banner wakes up in jungles, barefoot, shirtless, holding his pants up by hand, with no resources or compass. This will always be the result. There's nothing good that comes from being Hulk.

Except for the destruction.

One of the unique pleasures of cinema is indulgence in the illicit urge to destroy. That's why we keep going to see Terminator movies and dinosaurs. There's watching people make love, watching them drink and smoke and hallucinate, watching them exert power over others or come back from bottom to win, but there's nothing any other medium does better than the movies than to break things. Lots and lots of big big things.

Louis Leterrier, Zak Penn, et al get that right this time. All of the builds to the Hulk sequences are right, and the explosions of rage, of righteous rage, are deeply pleasurable. Y'see, Hulk is clear about it: all he wants is to be left alone, and for you to treat his girl right.

You mess either of those up, you pay the big green consequences.

Tonally, with the doomed man theme (Banner can never be completely cured or it's the end of the Hulk story), this version of the story is for the most part noir, at times bordering on horror (this is a much scarier PG-13 than the new Indy movie, if you're thinking of taking a kid). The story picks up in the slums of Brazil, where the last version left off but five years later, and the first act is part-City of God, part Jason Bourne. Norton does a great job of bringing us along with Banner, a good guy still paying for his original sin of creating the serum, who makes mistakes but never errs with his integrity. By relating to his concrete work on controlling his anger, it's easier to identify with the limits of his surroundings and means, staying hidden from the military force that wants him for dissection and replication.

As for the CGI, there's a few moments in the middle of a fight where I wasn't sure how Hulk and opponent got from here to there, but they've taken pains this time to give CG Hulk weight and physicality, and motion captured Norton and Tim Roth to give corresponding character to the monster movements. Most gratifying, the final battle in particular has a touch of that classic Ray Harryhausen feel, just enough stylization to embed these giants in the subconscious.

Traditionally, action movies get analyzed long after the fact, whether as phallic festivals or metaphors for social history of the time. The resonance is deep in the subtext or affect, not so much in the self-evident plot or dialogue. What always draws fans to the Hulk are his power and his anger, the sense of an avenging golem who's actually you, somehow righting the injustices visited upon you every day with the ultimate punch.

Yes, we begin to gauge Banner's mounting anxiety every time it peaks at 200 and spills over into transformative anger, but the metaphor at the heart of this picture is actually not anger but, to put a point on it, aggression. It's not a huge or particularly profound statement, but it gives the film its emotional through-line.

Bruce and Betsy are the very definition of peaceful, thoughtful, scientific people. When the movie opens Bruce is leading a monklike existence, as Zen as it gets. On the other hand, Betsy's father (William Hurt, confessed longtime Hulk fan) is deeply aggressive, and the silliest thing about the movie is how he keeps attacking when the result is pretty much always the same. Sound like any War we know?

But it's Tim Roth's Emil Blonsky, soldier by nature and rarin' for a fight, obsessed with finding a worthy opponent, who juices the latter half of the story. Hulk's anger is the MacGuffin -- it's the cowardice of aggression that the movie rails against.

Tellingly, Hulk tends to turn and run towards his attackers. When hit by powerful fire, Abomination is seen running away, trying to evade. Hulk is essentially a mensch, while those that attack him -- the General, the super villain -- don't give a damn about anyone who gets hurt in their ego-driven pursuit of peaceful Banner/Hulk. They hide behind the military machinery or their father-status or their hopped-up super power. It's the last defense their egos have.

Fitting for the past 8 years?

Ah, well, maybe it's best not to read too much into such entertainments. Maybe Hulk breaking police car in two is only Hulk breaking police car in two. All in all, it's just gratifying that the Hulk has morphed from this:

to this:


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Peace Talk

So Egypt has brokered a tentative truce between Israel and Hamas regarding Gaza. Who knows if it will hold but it is, as always, long overdue. The skinny:

• The truce takes effect at 6 a.m. Thursday (11 p.m. EDT Wednesday).

• All Gaza-Israel violence stops. After three days, Israel eases its blockade on Gaza, allowing more vital supplies in.

• A week later, Israel further eases restrictions at cargo crossings.

• In the final stage, talks are conducted about opening the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt and a prisoner exchange to free Cpl. Gilad Schalit, held by Hamas-affiliated groups for two years.

Freeing the 21-year old Schalit is a very big deal, captured at 19 and held since then. Jimmy Carter, among others, helped mediate. This has been an open wound for the Israeli people for two years, the first Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants since 1994.

Meanwhile, the worst negotiator in America accuses a British journalist of slandering America when he brings up Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and illegal rendition in an interview.

Wait, is that guy still President?

Monday, June 16, 2008


As of today, there's no going back in California:
In Los Angeles County, longtime partners Diane Olson and Robin Tyler were the first and only same-sex couple to obtain a license this evening. Together 15 years, Olson and Tyler were the original plaintiffs in the 2004 California lawsuit challenging the ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional. The couple were chosen to receive the county's first license "in recognition of their unique role in the court's decision," said acting Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan.

So after eight years of showing up at the Beverly Hills courthouse each Valentine's Day and being repeatedly denied a marriage license, they returned this afternoon as conquering heroines -- with friends, their high-profile lawyer Gloria Allred and a mass of media in tow...

...At the county clerk's window, as Olson's and Tyler's marriage license was prepared, the full measure of the moment hit. "We've never gotten this far before," Tyler said.

"Well, you have, today," the clerk said.

It makes me proud to be in a state that leads the nation on reducing carbon emissions, creating high-tech business and science opportunities, and is near the front on this latest breakthrough in civil rights.

Props to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for pushing the issue several years ago when he ordered the city to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, leading to the historic California Supreme Court decision. The same longtime couple that he chose to get the first one then got it this time:
Lyon, 83, and Martin, 87, were the first couple married four years ago when Newsom told the county clerk's office to start offering marriage certificates to same-sex couples. Eventually more than 4,000 same-sex couples were married in San Francisco that year, but those unions were later nullified by the court. Today, the couple, and dozens of others, had their first chance to make their unions truly legal...

Several feet away sat a couple on vacation from Ireland who happened to stumble on the historic event. Christine Yearsley said she planned to stay at City Hall the rest of the afternoon to witness as much as she could.

"This gentleman just told me there are two elderly ladies who are getting married today after being together for 50 years," she said. "They're obviously committed! I think it's terrific. They're an example for heterosexuals, I think."

Amen, sisters.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Which John McCain are you going to believe regarding El Presidente Bush?:

And what a team he has!


The Barack Obama campaign isn't just talking about helping Americans, it's already responding to the flood disaster in Iowa, utilizing it's built-up online network to help flood victims with donations and information -- check out the campaign site itself.

There's some video of Obama already on the scene, symbolic or otherwise lifting a shovel while John McCain offers prayer. Nothing wrong with the latter, but can one imagine the McCain campaign diverting incoming resources to the flood, even if they had the network? Or thinking of it first, as Obama has once again done, once again demonstrating his leadership?

It's not like McCain's party is even able to offer disaster relief when it as the full resources of the U.S. government itself. On flooding in the past, they've done, um, "a heckuva job..."

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hard News

Tim Russert, R.I.P. Whatever you thought good or ill of his interviewing technique, debate moderation, or shared journalistic responsibility during the run-up sales job of the Iraq War, he seems to have been a decent guy at heart, a family man and a wonderful father.

Even harder to take news, Cedar Rapids now lives up to its name as much of it is under water. Godspeed that help reaches the residents there in a timely manner. Is this, after Katrina, part of the seven lean years?

Obama met quietly this week with “a small group of religious leaders, academics and faith-based organizations” i.e. influential Christian leaders and engaged in a frank give-'n-take, not asking for any endorsements, just talk. And he's even winning some of them.

Iraq doesn't want 58 permanent U.S. military bases in "their" country.

And tonight's 1/2 season-closing episode of Battlestar Galactica is one of the greatest cliffhangers in television -- and maybe human? -- history.

Obama's Snopes

The Barack Obama campaign just went live with a site designed to directly counteract all the Internet and email smears being circulated about he candidate, Fight the Smears. It's the go-to site to send any friends or relatives who believe the vicious lies that Obama's a Muslim, that Obama won't say the Pledge of Allegiance with his hand over his heart, or that his wife used the epithet, "whitey

This is the anti-Kerry, who let himself be swiftboated for several weeks before attempting to counteract the smears. It's another classic case of Obama's campaign knowing how the Internet has developed and works -- it's Obama's Media Matters (which calls bullshit on the media), it's Obama's Snopes, the ultimate urban legend debunker.

It's the right move, another route to controlling Obama's re-branding by the most cowardly and libelous of detractors.

Then there are some things that may have to be handled with pure public condemnation.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Swinging Back to the 70's

I'm halfway in the bag for Swingtown after watching the pilot from last Thursday night.

It's a fictionalized version of creator Mike Kelly's adolescence and parents growing up in the 1970's, something they've called Boogie Nights meets Wonder Years to help you figure it out, but basically it's trying to do for 1976, our Bicentennial Year, what Mad Men did for 1960 (Kennedy/Nixon). It's kinda schizo, as the other executive producer and pilot director Alan Poul hails from Six Feet Under, giving it an HBO feel along with lead player Molly Parker (Alma Garret in the very different period show, Deadwood), but it's airing on CBS and also features a welcome Grant Show, who did a brief recurring Six Feet Under role but is mainly known for his work on Melrose Place.

So without the level of creative freedom allowed on basic cable dramas from FX to AMC, but seemingly committed to a fair retelling of the free sex, wife swapping, 'lude popping era, I think the creators are trying a Brechtian storytelling style where class is a salient factor, but the sex is all kabuki-ed up, a rueful comedy of manners masquerading as a family drama. Much as Mad Men (also spawned of HBO creator, Matthew Weiner who wrote for The Sopranos) is a comedy of manners disguised as a workplace drama.

I'm eager to see the second episode to see what direction they take off the pilot. While all the actors are good, Parker and Show are the recognizable stars, and they're pretty great.

Show has the Burt Reynolds 'stache, plays the buff pilot who brings partners home for his sunny sexual predator wife (rejuvenating each morning after with a dive into in her swimming pool). He's the ultimate salesman for the lifestyle of the times -- attractive, responsive in a low-key way, guiding the situation where it needs to be with a wry grin and a feather touch.

Parker continues to impress, here as a mother of teenagers ready to
see some of the world past her husband, married since knocked up at 18, especially if she can take the trip with him. It's interesting to watch her after Alma, who was so worldly by the end of the series, here rewound to a more innocent stage, but already ready for exploration, giving the go signals to her husband at every new experimental development.

But the secret weapon of the show is the kids, wearing the tight tubular '70's polo shirts, biking all over town, trying to escape from a horrifically coked-up mother. Shanna Collins as the budding intellectual, emerging feminist high school daughter of Parker's character has the beefiest role and the most going on, but there's some nasty twists even in the pilot, and it gives the show it's greatest stamp of authenticity.

What people don't remember about the Seventies is that it was kinda horrid being a kid. There were all these freedoms in the air but when the parents enjoyed them, for the first time in their own lives as well as the first time in American history, the kids got left out. Families did not work the same as advertised. And the freedoms all ended up reaching the kids, much less digested than even now, all with mixed messages borne of the newness.

I've got Swingtown lined up on TiVo and will give it a few more episodes at the very least. I'm hoping that the more cinematic side of the show, the show-don't-indicate side most like the best HBO original series, wins out over network politics. If it works, it won't be a show that will trade shamelessly in heartwarming moments and traditional character lessons.

It it can stay on the Brecht track, against a wealth of network television precedent, it's worth getting over any initial off-network snobbery.

It's a great time to remember that time, and it would be a shame not to give the creators the openings to get it right.

And gotta hope they keep the music budget strong.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Impeachalypse Now?

A "target-rich environment" of crimes. Impossible to walk very far and not "trip over crimes." So says Constitutional Law expert Jonathan Turley of George Washington University regarding the Articles of Impeachment introduced into the House yesterday by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). Destruction of evidence, illegal surveillance, unlawful torture. Turley says:
And what's amazing is that the President is hiding in plain view. He hasn't really denied the elements of these offenses. So all that is lacking is political will.

The long-awaited/GOP-suppressed Phase II of the Senate Intelligence Committee's Report on Prewar Iraq Intelligence came out this week and the only surprising thing is that there is absolutely nothing surprising in it. The gang in the White House these past eight years were exactly as bad as expected all along. And bald-faced about it.

There's co-sponsor support for the 35 articles from Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) as well, and some arguments that it would be good for Republicans to vote for them, although admittedly far-fetched. It's far-fetched to think the articles will even come up for a vote or, if they do, any of them ever pass.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has long kept impeachment off the table, if only as a political tool so as not to let the steam out of the kettle before November 4th when we'll really need to throw them out.

The uses of impeachment include just threat value, per John Nichols a way to stop Presidents before they do something worse. Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) gets it, having threatened impeachment should President CheneyBush attack Iran in any way without direct Congressional authorization.

The core question is whether we believe that we should let George Bush get away with breaking the law or not. There are a zillion reasons why not, but all of them are ultimately strategic. In some sense, the core reasoning deal seems to be, "Don't do anything else big and stupid before January 20th, and we'll let you run out the clock."

On the other hand, the Iraq War, based on their willful lies and manipulation of intelligence for opportunistic purposes, is now in its sixth year.

What about justice for them?

Monday, June 09, 2008

That's Right

Obama comes out of the starting gate the Monday after Clinton's concession speech full steam ahead:
Senator Barack Obama, with the Democratic stage to himself for the first time, began a two-week assault on Senator John McCain’s economic policies in a series of battleground states on Monday, moving to focus on the ailing economy as the central theme of the general election campaign.

Taking it to the man:
"If John McCain's policies were implemented, they would add $5.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. That isn't fiscal conservatism, that's what George Bush has done over the last eight years," Obama said.

With a plan in hand, taking it deep:
Mr. Obama’s aides said some states where they intend to campaign — like Georgia, Missouri, Montana and North Carolina — might ultimately be too red to turn blue. But the result of making an effort there could force Mr. McCain to spend money or send him to campaign in what should be safe ground, rather than using those resources in states like Ohio.

With a plan in hand, taking it all the way into the churches:

The Brody File has learned that in the next two weeks Barack Obama's campaign will unveil a major new program to attract younger Evangelicals and Catholics to their campaign.

It's called the "Joshua Generation Project." The name is based on the biblical story of how Joshua's generation led the Israelites into the Promised Land.

Teaming up with the best:
Obama pledged to make it easier for every American to get good health care, do away with exemptions for pre-existing conditions, stop drug companies from price gouging, and then said something that was greeted with great enthusiasm by the crowd:

“By the way, I’m going to be partnering up with Elizabeth Edwards, we’re going to be figuring all this out.”

Already blowing away the McCain campaign in the very first week, and it isn't even Tuesday yet.

Yep, this is how it's done. On offensive early, issues-only, values-driven. There's always the chance the press will want to tell some sort of comeback story, but we already know how that turns out, we've already been through that experience with Clinton. Don't waste our time now.

Gotta not be too cocky too early, but are we, indeed, watching the making of a landslide?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Johnny Trouble

It's not a done deal and vigilance, activism and commitment are recommended, but John McCain sure looks loserish.

GOP insiders don't have much faith that he's even pulling a message together. One of his biggest supporters and friends is reinforcing the Democratic message that electing McCain means four more years of Bush policies. His treatment of his first wife is cropping up in reporting overseas, and thanks to the blogosphere is leaking over here already. And while there may be some Clinton supporters who remain bitter enough to vote for McCain this fall, it won't be because he will agree with them on or advance any of the issues that Clinton and Obama share a passion for.

And then there's the War, and then there's McCain's reliability, and both are severely critiqued in this video actually made by Ron Paul supporters:

Is America still racist, liberal-phobic and gullible enough to choose McCain over Obama?

After the past eight years, and this sudden blast of inflation and unemployment, I wouldn't bet on it.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


I've been moved twice in the past 24 hours by women on TV surrendering to something larger than themselves and, in doing so, achieving an evident state of grace. Both women are closely associated with the word "President."

Last night's episode of Battlestar Gallactica (SPOILERS COMING FAST) had the most moving ending to any episode I've seen, and there have been some very powerful ones. President Laura Roslin, cancer-stricken but on a life-or-death mission for all of humanity, has visions of her own death that lead her to finally, in the last minute of the episode, admit her love for Admiral Bill Adama.

While that may sound all space opera on the surface, Roslin and Adama are played by master thespians Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos. Thrown together then the Cylons wiped out all but 40,000 human beings in the known universe, they started out fighting for governance over the remaining humanity, appeared to become intimate sometime last season (as Adama became able to admit to Roslin's wisdom), and seemed to fracture recently as Roslin's cancer drove her to a coldness about her decisions, a lack of regard for anything but her own rightness.

So McDonnell gave a shattering performance last night, culminating with those three most dangerous words to say in a movie or TV show, "I love you." And it was Adama's response that brought it home: "It's about time." Considering everything they're up against, the stakes and the cost, it was quite the rewarding moment for show followers. Roslin gives herself over to the truth, and it wouldn't be surprising if the writers have her cancer going into remission.

Then today another woman, who did not achieve the Presidency this go-round but appears to have taken Third place (actually Second since she out polled McCain in the Primaries) gives what is easily the best speech of her career, as she surrenders to Barack Obama, as I did the night he won Iowa in January.

While I've already heard the narcissism charge leveled at this speech, I agree with Matthew Yglesias that:
Far from an egocentric outburst, the talking about herself and her supporters made the speech the great speech that it was and helped a lot, I think, to break down the mutual barriers of bitterness that had built up. Something nominally more focused on Obama might well have come off as half-hearted. What she delivered was perfectly sincere and utterly in keeping with the main themes of her campaign, but also led to the desired conclusion. I think it was very skillfully put together.

And the visuals were the best -- entirely epic -- of her campaign.

What I think we saw as well, and which could not have been possible Tuesday night, or before her private meeting with Senator Obama, was that same post-acceptance rejuvenation that Al Gore started glowing with during his concession speech in 2000. She's free to take non-consultant risks now (like they did such a great job for her), free to seek her bliss elsewhere (won't be VP), free to support a guy she actually seems to like off-trail. She already looks like a new woman, to me much more appealing, in photos like this.

At a certain point, whether her supporters come aboard or not is their problem. Some may stay home, a smattering may vote McCain out of spite or white, but I honestly think the guy below has what it takes to win this election:

Towards the end, when he's telling the staff about the burden on them to not let down all the Americans now looking to them for help, for a better deal at such a dark time, that's when his gravitas comes through.

And I don't think McCain's comes close.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Unity Time

Two big jumps this past day: unemployment goes up suddenly 1/2 a percentage point to 5.5% and the price of oil posts a record one-day leap $11/barrel to $138/barrel.

So much for the Bush and Republican Party legacy.

Saturday is the day that Hillary Clinton will formally concede the Democratic Presidential race to Barack Obama. Now the Party must unify against flip-floppin', now wiretap lovin' John McSame, McInsane, McTired, McYawn.

The New York Times has a video which seems to me the fairest recap of Senator Clinton's campaign, the highs and lows. While the Iraq War vote may have been the critical misstep at the heart of Obama's victory, I really think the moment when she lost the race was when her husband, the former President, made the comment about Jesse Jackson winning South Carolina. When I watched the video, it just stood out, the shark jump if there ever was one.

As I've said in the past, I've been looking forward to this nomination battle to end so I could start liking the Clinton's again. Tomorrow is a one-time only opportunity to show her unquestionable support of Senator Obama against Senator McCain. One wonders what she will do, what combination of rhetoric, stagecraft and sincerity, will she deploy if she truly wants to seal the deal.

Here's one suggestion, and if they take it you can call me prescient: invite the Obama daughters onstage at the end of her speech.

Imagine that -- Obama and his family with Clinton and her family. Chelsea and Malia and Natasha gathered 'round Hillary, the very image of female nurturing, the setting up of generations of women who won't have to worry about the ceiling Sen. Clinton cracked.

Pure power, female style, a statement for the ages, and the image Democrats need to bring Hillary's most hardcore supporters aboard.

Now, supposedly it's family time this weekend for the Obama's, a slumber party for 8 girls and a date for mom and dad, so maybe I'm just dreaming. Or maybe it's a moment at the Convention. But it would work

And scare the pants off the McCain campaign.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Already at the Democratic National Committee, thanks to change agent and Presumptive Nominee, Barack Obama:
Obama imposed on the DNC the same ban on money from federal lobbyists and political action committees that he has placed on his campaign.

It may be hubris that the small donor machine will continue to dwarf the traditional, influence-oriented election fundraising apparati. But it is a breath of fresh air.

Obama has Howard Dean staying on to run the DNC, which makes perfect sense since Dean's 50-state strategy was how Obama won the nomination -- he dissed no states for size or caucus. These comers are ready to redraw the stale old partisan map:
As Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, told The Huffington Post: "I think that we are going to have a larger battlefield in 2008... I think we are going to stretch the Republicans. I don't think they can take for granted nearly as many states as they have in the past. And I think we are going to add several to the Democratic column this year and so our coalition is going to be broader."

The whole article is worth reading, as it really lays the groundwork for the strategy and both how far Dean has come in making it a reality these past four years, and how Obama opened lots of offices in states Dem Presidential candidates previous would write off.

Beyond the desire for victory for the candidate or party that I favor, the core reason why I believe the 50-state strategy is so crucial -- for either party -- is that we so desperately need to be the United States of America again, as we were during World War II, as we maybe have never achieved before.

There's a reason the Civil War was fought 150 years ago. America was not united enough, not by the Revolution or the War of 1812. If we truly believe, as a nation, that there is something special about us, a nation of immigrants (and Indians), a nation unlike all others not based on a sitting single race or religion that predated actual nationhood, a nation that can be a beacon to the world by dint of freedom and equality, then every state needs to be accounted for, every state deserves attention and due.

I don't think this election is a given for either candidate. The final decision-making is just beginning.

By the way, Obama now carries a big stick:

Bam bam.


Our long national...primary appears to be over:

On Saturday, I will extend my congratulations to Senator Obama and my support for his candidacy. This has been a long and hard-fought campaign, but as I have always said, my differences with Senator Obama are small compared to the differences we have with Senator McCain and the Republicans.

I have said throughout the campaign that I would strongly support Senator Obama if he were the Democratic Party's nominee, and I intend to deliver on that promise...

...I will be speaking on Saturday about how together we can rally the party behind Senator Obama. The stakes are too high and the task before us too important to do otherwise.

Assuming there's no huge shock before Saturday, all's well that ends well. Fingers crossed.

Howard Fineman reports that her own campaign staff reached out to Hillary Clinton's Senate supporters to urge her to wrap it up quickly, in a dignified manner, and unequivocally behind Presumptive Nominee Barack Obama.

Sen. Obama just made the first move in his first major decision by appointing three leaders of his VP search. The brilliant choice: Caroline Kennedy.

What is Clinton's leverage? I'd say very little, mainly because as of now, Barack Obama is already beating Sen. John McCain in the polls, for the first time outside the margin of error. While we know polls have been wacky at times this year, Obama as to weigh whether Sen. Clinton as running mate would actually lessen those numbers, losing independent voters responding to his change message.

Now, a once-ignorant El Presidente knows who Obama is. And today, a gift: Obama managed to get Hamas to condemn him for his speech at AIPAC.

One smear down.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

History Night

Congratulations to Barack Obama. It's all about three things now:
  1. Beating John McCain for the U.S. Presidency. Hundreds of key government positions that the President fills at stake, including some of the most powerful in our nation, like Supreme Court Justice, Secretary of Health & Human Services and Secretary of Defense.

  2. Funders, big and small. Big, as in the Clinton money machine which win come over to Obama because they will want to back a winner, they would prefer not to have to wait another four -- or eight -- years. Even if Hillary Clinton herself decides to position for 2012 (an unwise bet, as she'd never get the African-American vote should Obama lose due to her or her partisans), there's the risk that the victor McCain would serve 8 years, or his VP, making any other choice than buying into Obama's Administration simply unacceptable. Small as in any of her supporters who want someone who will do something about the issues so crucial to their lives to be President.

  3. Down-ticket. This is why Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are shutting it down, why the governors who backed Clinton are flipping this week. They have to get Obama out on the trail, drawing huge rallies co-starring their Senate, House, and significant state office candidates. Even mayorial candidates. They are the core of the Washington party -- not the Clintons -- and they need Obama and the money flowing his way. Hillary has shown she can raise money, but she can't manage it, overspends disastrously, and ends up in debt.

What Clinton wants, as she so clearly stated in the narcissistic core of her non-concession speech, matters only as a test for Barack Obama to manage in as organized, thoughtful, strategic manner as he has his entire historic, game-changing campaign. I expect he'll survive. He survived Rev. Jeremiah Wright, including his ghastly sequel appearance in Washington, D.C. If Hillary has any sense about her, she'll remember how Obama was able to cut him off, in good time, at the moment of a proven public case, completely. Before and after.

The Vice Presidency is similarly a test for any candidate, the so-called first decision they make as President, even if it's their last. The names I heard that stood out tonight were Jim Webb, Kathleen Sebelius, Ed Rendell if a Hillary supporter. And I like Ed Rendell -- straight-talker, but old school. My guess is that Webb works for military back-up, but Sebelius gives Hillary's supporters a place to go, which may be the reason she reportedly doesn't want him choosing a female VP if it isn't her.

So now it's up to him. Obama is the nominee-elect.

Here he is:

Your next President, if you make it happen.

Monday, June 02, 2008


I had the extreme pleasure of seeing Bo Diddley open for The Clash on their first U.S. tour. The Clash made it a policy to open every show with a local band, followed by a generally forgotten or discarded rock & roll legend (on the London Calling tour I saw Lee Dorsey of "Workin' in a Coal Mine" fame, excellent but not as good as Bo). The Rentals sucked. Bo Diddley rocked the house hard.

It was easy to pigeonhole Bo Diddley as the guy with the Bo Diddley beat (shave & a haircut, two bits, but fast and repeated over and over) and that's what we expected. While we got it, we got a whole lot more.

Here was a middle-aged guy with a porkpie hat, big square tortoise-shell glasses with thick lenses, and a potbelly to boot. But he took he box-style guitar and on the slow blues he just grinded away like it was his best girlfriend. Vaguely obscene. Okay, not so vaguely. And full of l-i-f-e.

He had a little attitude when he played that fit better with the punk vibe of the headlining act than the more jovial, grateful-to-be-there Lee Dorsey a year or so later. He came out with what I recall was a small four-piece band, himself included, as if he had nothing and everything to prove. And he proved it.

The Clash performance was that much better for the audience having been primed by this living legend, who went on to a minor rediscovery into the early MTV years, no doubt thanks to Joe, Mick and the band's showcasing him. It's no fun learning that he just died, at age 79.

The New York Times has a nice long piece on Bo, which includes this important paragraph:

His original style of rhythm and blues influenced generations of musicians. And his Bo Diddley syncopated beat — three strokes/rest/two strokes — became a stock rhythm of rock ’n’ roll.

It can be found in Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” Johnny Otis’s “Willie and the Hand Jive,” the Who’s “Magic Bus,” Bruce Springsteen’s “She’s the One” and U2’s “Desire,” among hundreds of other songs.

There's a load of videos of Bo Diddley wannabe rock stars here.

Just a taste:

I mean, when you get right down to it, "Why Do You Love?"

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Gateway

This should be an extraordinary week for Barack Obama, and hopefully for the Democratic Party as a whole. A lot seems to be riding on how Hillary Clinton treats her loss, even if it isn't sealed yet by the first round Convention vote. Does she want the Democratic Presidential candidate to win this fall even if it isn't her? Does Bill?

If you are an Obama supporter worried about her holding the Party hostage, here's some facts that may make you rest easier:

- Even though she trounced Obama in Puerto Rico, per tunesmith at DailyKos she underperformed:
Before the Puerto Rico primary, Hillary Clinton needed 79.24% of the remaining delegates (uncommitted + edwards delegates) in order to claim the nomination. She had 1876.5, and there were 303.5 remaining delegates. She needed 79.24% of them to reach 2117.

Now, after winning Puerto Rico, she has 1914.5 delegates, with 248.5 remaining. She now needs 81.49% of the remaining delegates. That's a higher percentage than before winning Puerto Rico. She got a lot today, but she didn't even get the bare minimum to hold steady. She fell further behind today - her nomination is even less likely than it was before.

- Although Harold Ickes and her most hardened anti-Obama supporter may claim that the Democratic rules committee somehow hijacked her chance at the nomination by one vote, for anyone who's been following with a remotely open mind, per hudson at MyDD the facts are different. It is, actually, her own darn fault:

That contest was won fair and square by Barack Obama -- with a lot of help from the inept Clinton campaign. So let me try to list just a few of the votes and other events which collectively "changed everything" for Hillary Clinton -- changed her candidacy from one of inevitability, to one that has embarrassed many who once supported both her and her husband's political careers...

1) Hillary voting to give Bush the power to wage a falsely-justified war;

2) Hillary relying on tired establishment figures such as Mark Penn, Harold Ickes, Terry McAuliffe and Howard Wolfson to steer her strategy and message;

3) Hillary deciding to neglect the Iowa caucuses, until it was too late, giving Obama a huge national burst of publicity and momentum;

3) Hillary failing to prepare for the possibility that the contest would not be decided by the votes cast on Super Tuesday;

4) Hillary failing to comprehend the new nature of campaign fundraising in the internet era, until it was too late;

5) Hillary losing eleven straight votes in states after Super Tuesday;

6) Hillary failing, despite her decades in politics, to understand the importance of a robust 50-state grassroots strategy;

7) Hillary refusing to recognize that caucus voters send delegates to the Democratic National Convention, too;

8) Hillary committing gaffe after gaffe (from Tuzla to RFK) which made Obama's job much easier than it needed to be;

9) Hillary going negative on Obama early and often, causing even some of her own supporters (such as the editorial board at the New York Times, which endorsed her) to call on her to cool her rhetoric -- calls she ignored, further alienating core voters;

10) Hillary using divisive code words and faux-populist posturing in an attempt to divide the Democratic party against itself for her own gain, thus alienating superdelegates, including those on the Rules committee;

11) Hillary losing two out of three contests to an opponent she wrongly underestimated;

12) And most importantly, the millions and millions of votes cast for Barack Obama "changed everything" -- more, by any rational and unbiased measure, than were received by Clinton.

- If you're looking for change, i.e. true progressive leadership, per Peggy Drexler at HuffPo it's not Sen. Clinton:
She supported the Defense of Marriage Act, she co-sponsored a flag burning amendment, she voted to send our sons and daughters into the meat grinder of an unnecessary war. And with close to 70 percent of women in most polls favoring stricter gun control laws, what are we to make of her snuggling up to the NRA with tales of her childhood shooting lessons?

That Defense of Marriage Act vote is the one that always gets me when talking to gay Clinton supporters, the ones who claim they may not vote for Obama in the General Election. When are they going to feel, like the African-American community, that the Clinton transaction can end up seeming one-way?

- She hasn't been vetted -- Obama just never went after her. Or Bill. The Republicans will. They've been planning to, building their portfolio against them, for the past four years.

Without excerpting and exacerbating here, I'm linking to two more aggressive pieces. One is the article in Vanity Fair that the Clinton team, Bill's, is already objecting to. Todd S. Purdum covers all the stuff you haven't been hearing about Bill Clinton, i.e. the fast crowd he runs with, his main benefactors and their links all the way to the Kazakhstan dictatorship, his post-op behavior issues and then the way he's always used people, without taking responsibility for himself.

Think of the monumental amount of GOP media distraction that's being shortcircuited here, that we won't have to bathe in -- unless, of course, Obama makes her his running mate.

- The other piece, by Paul Abrams at HuffPo, lists In Bowing Out, 7 Things Hillary Clinton Must Say to Meet the Standards Set by Hillary Rosen. I leave it to Sen. Clinton to prove me wrong, but I think she will not fulfill 1, 2, 5 & 6. The others I expect she'll be fine with, should she bow out gracefully, this week or next.

And, lastly, something that may not be a fact, but is lovely to contemplate:

- Per Diane Francis at HuffPo, Obama will crush McCain, and why:

1. McCain is McBush and Bush has an approval rating of 28%. In a country that has been roughly 50-50 in the last two Presidential contests, that means that 22% of those who voted Republican are likely to stay at home or vote for the Democrats. If so, that's a landslide for Obama.

2. McCain is having trouble getting the support of the religious crazies in his party and as he panders to them, he alienates the independent, or secular, voters he needs to win.

3. McCain is having trouble getting money from Republican-Bush donors because they know the Party's over for awhile. As he panders and leans on Bush for money, he alienates the independents.

4. Cindy McCain. Her abject refusal to publish her financial net worth, or income levels, is totally unacceptable for the wife of a Presidential candidate. Even John Kerry's wife disclosed information.

5. John McCain's health, not his age. He has Stage 2a melanoma in his declining years...This is a condition which must be checked constantly.

I'd give additional reasons, the foremost of which is that Obama knows how things work now and McCain is not only not up to speed, he's not smart enough to get so in time to save America, even from the diminishment that his Party has gotten us. Obama is, in essence, running all-cylinders on the cutting edge of contemporary business.

It's not Mac vs. PC.

Obama is Google. John McCain is IBM.

As in mainframe.