Friday, February 15, 2008

Poll shows Clinton far ahead in Ohio, Pennsylvania, but unclear on Texas

It's alka seltzer time again, folks.

If you're an Obama supporter, you probably won't be able to watch the entire video below. I understand, and that's o.k. But if you're a Hillary Clinton supporter and need a little pick-me-up before we head into the weekend, I think you'll enjoy Alicia Keys singing "Superwoman."

Obama an agent of change? Really?

This looks like "old school" politics to me:
Superdelegates get campaign cash

Many of the superdelegates who could well decide the Democratic presidential nominee have already been plied with campaign contributions by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, a new study shows.

Obama's political action committee has doled out more than $694,000 to superdelegates since 2005, the study found, and of the 81 who had announced their support for Obama, 34 had received donations totaling $228,000.

Clinton's political action committee has distributed about $195,000 to superdelegates, and only 13 of the 109 who had announced for her have received money, totaling about $95,000.
So, tell me again how Barack Obama is different from the rest of the politicians? He's been buttering up the super delegates for 3 years! (Quick math check if you don't egt what I'm saying: this means he's been doing it since he was first elected to the U.S. Senate.)

Obama has a political machine behind him. He is not a Washington outsider. His passionate claim to be "different" other politicians is not merely misleading — it's a lie.

This is the kind of backdoor politics I fear we will have with a President Obama, and it's why I worry so much about his supporters who seem to be blinded by that double-barreled shot: charisma and good speechwriters.

Maryland Attorney General Voices Opposition to State Marriage Ban

What do you know? Some indication of sanity from our elected officials. From today's Baltimore Sun:
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has become the most prominent official in Maryland to endorse gay marriage, telling state legislators yesterday that he believes the current ban on same-sex unions amounts to discrimination.

"It would be hard for me to have this job knowing there is something so wrong in our society," Gansler told the Senate panel considering a bill to legalize gay marriage. "I just think it's wrong to discriminate against any people because they think differently or because of their sexual orientation."
Anyone who wonders why we need elected officials to take the lead on subjects like this need simply read the words of a stay-at-home mom who testified for keeping the ban in place:
the "homosexual lifestyle" is "devastating. Redefining marriage is an activity undertaken to the peril of our civilized society."
That would be the same civilized society that sentenced the Lovings of Virginia to a year in prison in 1959 for marrying inter-racially. They had violated something called "The Racial Integrity Act." According to the judge in that case:
Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
So, yeah. That civilized society.

Hello Kettle? It's the Pot — You're Black.

Michelle Malkin is offended, my friends, by Jane Fonda. In fact, she says of Fonda:
"The woman has no class. You already knew that."
What did Jane do, you ask. I mean, for someone of Malkin's level of class-ness to call her out, it must have been pretty awful. Well it's really a question of what NBC did not do that has Malkin in a tizzy. Fonda appeared on The Today Show with playwright Eve Ensler to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the play Vagina Monologues. Now I'm no t.v. producer, but I would think (a) someone on the show would know what was play was about, and (b) someone would be near the bleeper button just in case a word not appropriate for morning television might come up in conversation.

Do these people do any research at all?

Here's what Fonda said: "I hadn't seen the play. I live in Georgia OK. I was asked to do a monologue called 'Cunt,' and I said, 'I don't think so, I've got enough problems."

A perfectly acceptable use of the word, if you ask me. But the Repugs are in a lather over the corruption of our youth. Which makes me think of the line from Apocalypse Now with the colonel ranting along the lines of "We can drop bombs on children but we can't write "fuck" on the side of the plane?!"

You can see it for yourself here, as well as Meredith Viera's post-cunt apology. And then read — or better yet see the play, if you haven't done so already. It is awesome.

Our Man in Pakistan

We need to remember to every once in a while step back from the drunken stupor that is politics in America today. We are but one nation on this rotating orb, and there's a whole lot of mess out there. Case in point, let's check in with "Our Man in Pakistan" (with apologies to to Graham Greene), President-for-Life Pervez Musharraf:
"Pakistan is more important than human rights," Musharraf said recently during a global economic forum in Sweden. "Human rights serves Pakistan; Pakistan does not serve Human rights."

Musharraf accuses his questioner of trying to impose a "Western Human rights considerations and standards" on Pakistan and seems to argue his country would be thrown into turmoil if it upheld such standards.

"[Human rights] functions in accordance with our environment," he said. "Now if somebody, whether he's anybody, is trying to create such anarchy that maybe Pakistan's integrity is at stake maybe our economy ... will collapse. I don't consider any human rights in such situations. We will deal with it, whatever it costs because Pakistan is more important than human rights."

Read more at Raw Story.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day. Now can I please marry my partner?

Ah yes, love is in the air. My sweetie and I will be going out to dinner tonight to celebrate this international day of love. We've been together for almost 10 years, through graduate school, career changes, unemployment and underemployment, no health insurance, home buying, surgery, family deaths and births. In other words, through sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy.

But god forbid we get in an accident tonight and one of us has to go to the hospital. You see, we have basically no legal rights to make decisions of health or welfare for each other. For example, although we both pay the mortgage, only my name is on the deed. The cost of adding my partner's name is prohibitive. It is easily affordable to add one's spouse to a deed, but of course, she's not my spouse. In the eyes of the law, she might as well be a renter. And thank god she has a job with health benefits now -- for 5 years she didn't, and I couldn't add her to my health insurance. We paid a lot of money out of pocket during those years for a trip to the emergency room and for prescription drugs.

We, like so many of your neighbors, are taxpaying good citizens. We mow our lawn and plant flowers. We recycle. We're members of the neighborhood association. We live in a committed relationship of marriage. Yet in an instant our lives could be turned upside down should some health or financial tragedy strike.

This is the 11th annual national Freedom to Marry week. The Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and the right to marry belongs to us all. Please join me in signing the marriage resolution from the Freedom to Marry to help end this discrimination. When we protect and value all of our citizens, we build a stronger and more stable community -- and nation.

Baby held in locked room at airport dies

If by chance you still think the rules and regulations of airport security are working just fine, read this disturbing story in the Honolulu Advertiser:
A 14-day-old infant traveling here for heart surgery died at Honolulu International Airport on Friday after he, his mother and a nurse were detained by immigration officials in a locked room, a lawyer for the boy's family said.

The Honolulu medical examiner's office yesterday identified the infant as Michael Futi of Tafuna, American Samoa's largest village, which is located on the east coast of Tutuila Island. Autopsy findings have been deferred.

According to police, the child died at 5:50 a.m. It is unknown why immigration officials detained the mother, the nurse and the child.

Scott Ishikawa, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the child went into respiratory failure while in the customs office, which is located near the baggage claims area of the overseas terminal. Airport paramedics were called about 6:10 a.m., he said.

The group arrived on a Hawaiian Airlines flight that landed at 5:30 a.m.

"We were later told the baby was coming here for heart surgery," Ishikawa said.

Attorney Rick Fried said the child had come to Hawai'i from American Samoa for heart surgery.

The boy's family plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit, Fried said.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How to survive this election season

Since we're on the subject of change and all .... I was listening to the college radio station yesterday afternoon while I was stuck in traffic, and darn if those guys didn't have a most excellent idea for this election season: The "change" drinking game! (Some of you my age may be familiar with "Bob," the drinking game wherein you watch "The Bob Newhart Show" and take a drink every time someone says "Hi Bob!")

Here's how we'll play: While watching Obama's next speech, take a drink of your favorite beverage every time he says the word "change" (or "hope," but don't pick both "hope" and "change" because you'll be passed out before the speech is over).

I think I'll do jello shots. Vodka.

Wednesday poetry break

Late getting to posting today because the past 24 hours have been crazy. Actually, it all started at 4:30 am yesterday when I was blasted out of a deep sleep by someone leaving a loud message on the answering machine about picking up a dumpster. For the record, I do not have dumpster. Never have. But the caller was so loud and intense that we all woke up and the dog started barking, and well, not a good way to start the day.

Next up was the weather. An ice storm here in the DC area caused traffic jams of epic proportions. It took me over 3 and half hours to go 40 miles. Then I slid to the polling place and voted. For Hillary Clinton. Who lost in Maryland. And DC. And Virginia.

You may sense some weariness, perhaps even cynicism, in today's poem.

Subject To Change

A reflection on my students

They are so beautiful, and so very young
they seem almost to glitter with perfection,
these creatures that I briefly move among.

I never get to stay with them for long,
but even so, I view them with affection:
they are so beautiful, and so very young.

Poised or clumsy, placid or high-strung,
they're expert in the art of introspection,
these creatures that I briefly move among—

And if their words don't quite trip off the tongue
consistently, with just the right inflection,
they remain beautiful. And very young.

Still, I have to tell myself it's wrong
to think of them as anything but fiction,
these creatures that I briefly move among—

Because, like me, they're traveling headlong
in that familiar, vertical direction
that coarsens beautiful, blackmails young—
the two delusions we all move among.

— Marilyn Taylor

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"O's put brave face on 2008 season"

Oh man! This really is going to be a very long season, isn't it?
Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail made the point this offseason that the organization's focus is more on 2010 than 2008.
And the fans know it:

Happy Darwin Day!

What's that? You didn't know that today is Charles Darwin's birthday? Or that today is International Darwin Day? Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster! You'd better get with it!
Darwin Day is a recently instituted celebration intended to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin on February 12, 1809. The day is also an opportunity to highlight Darwin's contribution to science and to promote science in general.
You can find events in your part of the world at the Darwin Day website. There's something for everyone, including a barbeque in Australia; a symposium in Austria; a potluck in Calgary; atheists, beer, and books in Copenhagen; lots and lots of events in Italy that I can't understand because I don't speak Italian; and lots and lots of other things around the world.

The push/pull of Republican Obama love

You may have heard that CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference) recently held its annual meeting in Washington, DC. Their conference slogan is "A blockbuster event enjoyed by all!"

They also sold hats and shirts and lots of fun souvenirs. It's no news that they poked fun at Hillary Clinton. (Personally I think the Hillary "nutcracker" is awesome!) But here's a little peek into what the else the fall may bring, my friends, via Digby:

I know what you're saying: "Wait, I thought the Republicans like Obama?" It sure is confusing. One the one hand we have Peggy Noonan, George Will, and David Brooks saying wonderful things about Barack Obama. And now on the other hand we have the Republican rank and file gnashing their teeth in anticipation of lampooning and ridiculing him. Hmmm. It's almost as if the pundits are setting up Obama just to attack him in November.

I'm just sayin'.

Obama Fever — Catch it! (Or not)

I'll be voting in the Maryland Democratic Primary later today. As my readers surely know by now, I'll be voting for Senator Hillary Clinton. I feel very comfortable with my choice, although anxious about how she will do overall in what's being billed as the "Potomac Primary" (Maryland, DC, and Virginia). Both candidates have made the rounds in recent days, with Clinton doing numerous small venues, as Obama held only two rallies but in large arenas.

Watching the coverage makes me anxious. While Clinton's shown shaking hands with workers at the GM transmission plant, Obama's got crowds of young people waving signs and chanting. As Morra Aarons wites over at BlogHer:
Being a Hillary supporter is like being the person in the dorm who yells at her partying neighbors to shut up, because she's studying for a final exam. You know you have a good reason, but you’re a little annoyed at yourself for being such a pill.
I feel like a party pooper because I'm not shouting "Si, se puede!" But Senator Obama, se puede? Could I have some more details on how se puede?

Again from Aarons:
Depends on what you want from a President. Obama has exhibited great leadership. He has created a brand and a message and it works. He's brilliant and charismatic and he gets our zeitgeist. I suppose he can hire a great Cabinet, the way he clearly hired a crack campaign team.
Make no doubt about it — Barack Obama knows what he's doing. He knows America is desperate for change , and he has inspired record numbers of young people to come out and campaign for him under that banner. He makes passionate and inspiring speeches. On the campaign trail. But where has he made any of this historic movement toward change in his time in the Senate? As Joel Stein of the LA Times notes:
What the Cult of Obama doesn't realize is that he's a politician. Not a brave one taking risky positions like Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich, but a mainstream one. He has not been firing up the Senate with stirring Cross-of-Gold-type speeches to end the war. He's a politician so soft and safe, Oprah likes him. There's talk about his charisma and good looks, but I know a nerd when I see one. The dude is Urkel with a better tailor.
So excuse me, Obama-ites, but will you please shut up?! The world is a mess right now, and I'm trying to study!

Monday, February 11, 2008

FBI and business community: New BFFs?

Private individuals gathering surveillance intelligence from within the community, passing it along to the government, and getting special treatment in return. Where have I heard of this before? Well, whatever. I'm sure it's nothing to worry about. "Cause now we're lucky enough to have it right here in the U. S. of A!
The FBI Deputizes Business

Today, more than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. The members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does—and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials. In return, they provide information to the government, which alarms the ACLU. But there may be more to it than that. One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law.

InfraGard started in Cleveland back in 1996, when the private sector there cooperated with the FBI to investigate cyber threats.
But wait, it gets better:

FBI Director Robert Mueller addressed an InfraGard convention on August 9, 2005. At that time, the group had less than half as many members as it does today. “To date, there are more than 11,000 members of InfraGard,” he said. “From our perspective that amounts to 11,000 contacts . . . and 11,000 partners in our mission to protect America.” He added a little later, “Those of you in the private sector are the first line of defense.”

He urged InfraGard members to contact the FBI if they “note suspicious activity or an unusual event.” And he said they could sic the FBI on “disgruntled employees who will use knowledge gained on the job against their employers.”

In return for being in the know, InfraGard members cooperate with the FBI and Homeland Security. “InfraGard members have contributed to about 100 FBI cases,” Schneck says. “What InfraGard brings you is reach into the regional and local communities. We are a 22,000-member vetted body of subject-matter experts that reaches across seventeen matrixes. All the different stovepipes can connect with InfraGard.”

Good 'ol privatization!

He probably wants you to spend your rebate on heating oil, anyway

From Grist Magazine:
President Bush will sign an economic stimulus bill Wednesday, meaning you may have a check winging your way after tax time. Not included in the bill: funding for clean-energy credits and green jobs, which were dropped from the Senate version after narrowly failing to get enough votes. Undeterred, Democrats in the House of Representatives may introduce separate legislation this week that would extend clean-energy tax credits and slap taxes on big energy companies.

The Democrat's Dilemma

What a time to be a Democrat! I mean really -- how many times in your life have you gone to the polls thinking: (a) my choice is the best of two evils, and (b) my vote's not going to make a difference anyway. I have only voted in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia -- all states with primaries in mid February. Normally, the Democratic candidate is clear by this point, so although I always vote, it usually feels a little pointless. But not this year! This year I get to choose between two highly qualified candidates, and my vote still counts!

So how to choose? I decided a while ago that Hillary Clinton is my first choice for the nomination, but how did I come to that decision? Well, I decided to look at it as if they were candidates for a job -- which, really, they are. It just happens to be the most important job in the country. I've served on several hiring committees, and we have a checklist rating system to use with each job candidate. Using the same system with Obama and Clinton helped clarify my choice.

On paper, the candidates have very similar qualities. Both are extremely intelligent, highly educated, motivated. In the "interview" portion of the process, their answers on policy issues are also quite similar, with slight differences in their ideas on health care and foreign diplomacy. But we're trying to fill a position that is extremely important to the success of our institution and is highly complex in nature. The dealmaker to me is this: Who has evidence of their abilities? I find Obama engaging and inspiring, but is that what's really needed in this position? Will me being more "inspired" by Obama actually help our nation right now? Or will we be in better shape with Clinton's experience working in both the White House and in the Senate? (And for the record, I also find Hillary Clinton quite inspiring, too.) Enthusiastic as he is, Obama's only been in Washington for 3 years -- is that enough to know how to get things done there (and abroad)? We have a lot of things that need to be fixed, and all involve working with the Congress, Republicans, and foreign leaders.

If I were the hiring manager, I would say that we should go with the candidate who has shown they can do the kind of work we will require of them. It's just too important a position to rely on enthusiasm and inexperience. As a part of this national search committee for this job opening, my vote goes for Hillary Clinton.