Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday afternoon video getaway

My sweetie and I are getting ready to head off for a week of rest and relaxation, and I've got much to do before I leave, and miles to go before I sleep! I promise I'll be doing some posting next week from our undisclosed location (!). Especially if anything interesting takes place with the West Virginia primary. But in the meantime please sit back and enjoy this video from Robert Smith and the rest of the boys from The Cure.

Love ya sweetie!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Baltimore to honor local son Frank Zappa

That's right, it's not all about politics here. We do music, too! I'll bet you didn't know that Frank Zappa grew up in Baltimore, did you? Don't feel bad, neither do most Baltimoreans. From today's Baltimore Sun:
Most Baltimoreans are aware of their hometown's claim on Edgar Allan Poe, H.L. Mencken and John Waters, but fewer know that Zappa, who made more than 50 records between the late 1950s and his death in 1993, was born in Baltimore, the son of immigrants from Sicily.

His family lived in the 4600 block of Park Heights Ave., then moved to Edgewood in Harford County. Zappa's father, a chemist and mathematician, had a job nearby at Aberdeen Proving Ground. They moved to California when Frank was 10.
But Frank's early years are about to emerge from their of obscurity, thanks to some ... Lithuanians?
"We're honored to have a chance to present this Frank Zappa monument to the city of Baltimore," said Saulius Paukstys, 43, the president of one of the biggest and arguably most dedicated Frank Zappa fan clubs in, of all places, the Republic of Lithuania. "As an artist, and much more than that, he has meant a great deal to the Lithuanian people."

If Zappa has been something of an unknown prophet in his own land, people like Paukstys, a photographer, have long held him in high regard as a symbol of free expression in the post-Cold War former Soviet bloc. "Before 1990, you have to remember, [Lithuanians] could not criticize society," Paukstys said through an interpreter. "Frank Zappa was a voice of freedom."
Kind of makes you want to move to Montana, become a dental floss tycoon, doesn't it? Yes, go dig out those old Mothers of Invention albums. You know you wanna.

Poetry Break

It's been a hectic week getting ready for vacation; I apologize for missing this weekly feature yesterday. But here's an appropriate one from one of my favorite contemporary poets, Billy Collins. Enjoy!


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue
or even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall

on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

— Billy Collins

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

McCain Watch: "Elections have consequences"

Hey, he said it, not me:

"Elections have consequences. One of the consequences is the president of the United States gets to name his or her nominees to the bench."

Yeah, let that sink in for a minute. "President" McCain would most likely be nominating one -- if not two -- Supreme Court Justices. From NewsDay:
As models, McCain named Roberts and Alito, both solid conservative votes on rulings, and the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, an Arizona native and for years the most conservative member of the court.

That's in contrast to the type of judges both Obama and Clinton have said they would nominate - jurists who would uphold civil rights, privacy and other social issues opposed by conservatives. McCain attacked both Democrats, but singled out Obama for his sharpest critique, suggesting Obama sounded like a "judicial activist" himself in defending his no vote on Roberts.
Yeah, I'm depressed that Hillary Clinton didn't do better in the primaries yesterday. But I have no doubt of the importance of keeping John McCain out of the White House. No doubt.

Take me home, country roads.

Next stop, "West Virginia, mountain momma."

You're probably hoping this nomination decision is over soon -- if for no other reason because then, and only then, will I stop using song titles from the seventies in my posts. (C'mon, you know you're lovin' it!)

Everyone, including Hillary Clinton, knows at this point that Barack Obama will be the democratic nominee. But my prediction is that she will not concede the nomination until after the West Virginia primary, and I think she deserves the right to do that. After all, she is currently ahead in the polls there at 56% versus Obama's 27%, according to Rasmussen Reports. She's going to win, and probably win big. And although it will be merely a symbolic win (there are only 28 delegates at stake), it will be a strong win. She can announce she's ending her campaign and balance that news with the joy of victory. It will make her supporters happy, and it will allow her to bow out with a positive image ("See, she can win primaries"). Her political future will still be bright.

I have heard some folks pondering her ambitions for 2012. I can't even conceive of the confidence and strength it would take to run for president again after everything she has been subjected to this season. But I have become incredibly impressed with Hillary Clinton as a person during this election -- even though she still disappoints me with some of her policies. So I wouldn't put it past her to have the strength and ability to come back in 2012 and once again take on the old boy's club.

Meanwhile, I'm having flashbacks to when I was a kid happily playing flag football with the boys in my neighborhood every day. I had a pretty good arm, and was also a reliable receiver. And then one day they all signed up for tackle football and I wasn't allowed to play anymore.

Just sayin' ....

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Yes I'm goin' to Carolina in my mind


Pass the alka seltzer, friend.

McCain Watch: Hypocrisy

From ThinkProgress,
After Voting To Declare English As The National Language, McCain Launches Spanish-Language Website

Today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) launched a Spanish-language campaign website, greeting voters with, “Bienvenido! Estamos Unidos con McCain” (Welcome! We are united with McCain).

This new website comes despite the fact that McCain voted in 2006 for Sen. James Inhofe’s (R-OK) amendment to “declare English as the national language of the United States and to promote the patriotic integration of prospective US citizens.” In March, McCain skipped a vote on an amendment by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), aimed at “blocking lawsuits by employees challenging English-only workplace rules.” Both Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-IL) voted against the measure, but McCain left Washington to attend a fundraiser.

And this is why "Slate" is no longer on the blogroll

I removed Slate from my blogroll quite some time ago when it became clear the site had become just another in the long line of unabashedly pro-Obama love-fests. I mean, it's one thing to be a blogger who promotes one candidate -- I do it. But you know this is all my commentary here, and I know it's commentary when I visit another blogger who supports Obama. We are speaking with our own voices, giving our personal opinions.

But the sites of larger, "professional" organizations -- Slate, Huffington Post, Raw Story etc. -- used to have a more balanced tone. These sites have many writers on staff and on-call, and they used to publish diverse opinions on topics of the day. Because it became all one voice over there, I really haven't visited Slate in a long time. But apparently I haven't missed much. Tennessee Guerilla Women did a little survey on Slate's ... ahem ... "journalism" and reports:
Hillary Sexism Watch: Slate's Arrested Development

By now we've had our faces repeatedly rubbed in the fact that the historic bid for the presidency by the first ever viable woman is nothing more than an opportunity to wallow in cheap misogyny by the mainly male media.

The historic campaign that means so very much to girls and women all over America, as viewed by the apparent adolescents at Slate:

Hillary's "Lapse" Dance by Mickey Kaus

Hillary Clinton, Fairy Princess By Timothy Noah

The Hillary Deathwatch By Chadwick Matlin

The Hillary Deathwatch Index

The Hillary Deathwatch Widget for your blog, iGoogle, or Facebook page
Please go visit the Tennessee Guerilla Women. They do good stuff over there.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cutting through the fog on the Iraq Authorization vote

Ambassador Joseph Wilson has an extremely well-reasoned essay on the the Iraq War and what the experiences of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have to do with it. Ambassador Wilson knows a bit about foreign policy. Taylor Marsh posts it here, but here is a brief excerpt:

Obama's campaign has been built upon his supposed transcendent qualities and intuitive judgment. His foreign policy experience is limited to having lived in Indonesia between the ages of 6 and 10, and having traveled overseas briefly as a college student. He further claims that a speech he gave against the war in Iraq six years ago to extremely liberal supporters in a campaign for state senator in Illinois is sufficient proof of his superior judgment in national security matters and qualifies him to be president and commander-in-chief of U.S. Armed Forces at a time when we are fighting two extraordinarily difficult wars. As with his relationship with Wright, a closer examination is warranted.

In the U.S. Senate, to which he was elected in 2004, a year after the launching of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he has done little to act on his asserted anti-war position, and has said repeatedly that had he been in the Senate at the time of the vote on the authorization for the use of military force he doesn't know how he would have voted. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Europe, with jurisdiction over NATO, he has held not a single oversight meeting because, as he admitted, he was too busy running for president, even though NATO's presence in the Afghanistan war is critical to success in that venture.

One of my biggest concerns with Obama has been just this: while he says he is anti-war, what has he done since getting elected to the Senate? As for Hillary Clinton's vote to give the president authority, Ambassador Wilson explains it clearly:

Obama repeats the incorrect and politically irresponsible mantra that Sen. Hillary Clinton voted for the war and that therefore he is more qualified to be president. Unlike Obama, as the last acting U.S. ambassador to Iraq during the first Gulf War, I was deeply involved in that debate from the beginning.

President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell made it clear publicly and in their representations to Congress that the authorization was not to go to war but rather to give the president the leverage he needed to go to the United Nations to reinvigorate international will to contain and disarm Saddam Hussein, consistent with the resolutions passed at the time of the first Gulf War.

With passage of the resolution, the president did in fact achieve a U.N. consensus, and inspectors returned to Iraq. Hans Blix, the chief U.N. inspector, has said repeatedly that without American leadership there would have been no new inspection regime.

Just to be clear, I'll say it again: If Barack Obama wins the nomination, I will vote for him. But I'll still always think Hillary Clinton would be better.

Indiana wants me .... Lord I can't go back there

Oh, actually I could. I spent 4 years in Richmond, Indiana, earning a B.A. in Political Science at a small liberal arts college. I haven't been back since, only because it's kind of in the middle of nowhere. I mean, I can't even pretend to swing by there on my way somewhere else. It's one of the reasons I chose to go there in the first place.

I think I've mentioned before, I grew up "inside the beltway," and have always hated that phrase. It disparages an entire population of hardworking dedicated public servants like my dad, who worked for the Federal government his entire life, started with his enlisting as a private in 1944, and ending with his retirement from the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration (yes, I come from old wonk stock).

Back to Indiana ... I just don't think it gets much more "America" than Indiana. This is a state that has just about every cross section, with rural areas and industrial cities, progressive liberals and strict conservatives. Its a place where the most important event in May (until this year, perhaps) is the Indianapolis 500. NASCAR before NASCAR was cool, man. When I was 18, I just wanted to spend time away from the D.C. area, and little did I know how far away I was going. Not geographically, but in just about every other sense. I mean, I went from watching the D.C. evening news cover world politics as the majority of their reports, to the Richmond Saturday morning hog reports. Seriously.

So it's very interesting to me to see how much attention is being paid to this state now, and to see how the polls are going. A poll by WTHR in Indianapolis found that the swing voter in this election may be the "undecideds," who are at 21% of those polled. I know there are several readers here with connections to Indiana, and I'd be really interested to know what you think about tomorrow's primary.