Saturday, November 03, 2007

Saturday Morning Malamute Blogging

Kodi found a chocolate bar on our post Halloween morning walk and swallowed it before I could get it out of his mouth. He was in bloodhound mode for the rest of the walk. Pictured above with a stomach ache.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Speaking of race, gender and inequality...

Hell, she's not even my third choice for president, but I'm defending Hillary an awful lot these days and I really have to weigh in on the whole Hillary's playing the gender card theme that's got everyone's panties in a knot.

So she gave a speech at her alma mater and said,
"In so many ways, this all-women's college prepared me to compete in the all-boys club of presidential politics."
Hmmm...not sure what the problem is with that statement. What else you got?

Tim Grieve over at Salon's War Room is getting the vapors because one Clinton strategist characterized the debate this way:
"Ultimately, it was six guys against her, and she came off as one strong woman."
If the group was engaged in arm wrestling, tractor pulling, or even pie eating, I have a feeling this would be an acceptable assessment.

Obama plays the race card by bragging that he didn't play it when he could have on the Today Show:
"Well, look, I am assuming and I hope that Sen. Clinton wants to be treated like everybody else. And I think that that's why she's running for president. You know, when we had a debate back in Iowa a while back, we spent, I think, the first 15 minutes of the debate hitting me on various foreign policy issues, and I didn't come out and say, 'Look, I'm being hit on because I look different from the rest of the folks on the stage.' I assumed it was because there were real policy differences there. And I think that has to be the attitude that all of us take. We're not running for the president of the city council, we're running for the president of the United States of America."
So it's OK with Barack if a woman takes advantage of her gender if it's simply the city council?
She's used to playing in national politics. And in fact, that is one of the things that she has suggested is why she should be elected is because she's been playing in this rough-and-tumble stage. So it doesn't make sense for her, after having run that way for eight months, the first time that people start challenging her point of view that suddenly she backs off and says, "Don't pick on me."
I have a hard time picturing Mrs. Clinton shrinking from a fight. I see her more as the "Throw me the ball!" kind of player—the one who wishes they would pick on her. And since when is this the first time people are challenging her point of view? Send up a flare, Barack, and let us know where you are, because on this planet everyone who's anyone has challenged Hillary's point of view.

It's curious that now that a woman is the frontrunner in a presidential race we're being told by men that gender solidarity is sad and no voter should let a candidate's gender affect their vote. And isn't it unseemly and embarrassing that Hillary called Washington politics a "boy's club." Gentlemen, puh-leeze. Next thing you know they'll be telling us not to let someone's race affect our vote. Yeah, that'll be the day.

Just a note: women and non-white male voters have proven time and time again that they will support a candidate who doesn't share their gender or ethnic background. It's the white male voter who has difficulty voting for anyone who doesn't look like him.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Race, Gender, and Inequality

The resignation under pressure of Stanley O’Neal, the now-former Merrill Lynch CEO who happens to black, has led to some discussion of what his departure says about the prospects for blacks and women in senior management positions. How concerned should we be about the numbers of blacks and women at the top of corporate America? Maybe about as concerned as we ought to be about blacks and women in the Republican Party, which is to say, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, racism and sexism are still problems in corporate America but perhaps the following quote from the Nov 1 Wall Street Journal will help put things in perspective:

The gap between women's wages and men's is narrowing, but the gap between economic winners and losers of either gender is widening. And the patterns of inequality among women are more similar to than different from the patterns among men: Earnings at the very top are growing much faster than those at the middle or the bottom. Everything else is detail.

Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers puts it sharply. If the distribution of income in the U.S. today were the same as it was in 1979, and the U.S. had enjoyed the same growth, the bottom 80% would have about $670 billion more, or about $8,000 per family a year. The top 1% would have about $670 billion less, or about $500,000 a family.

The point is that with the precipitous rise in inequality it’s possible to narrow the wage gap between women and men or between blacks and whites by getting more blacks and women into the top 1%, while leaving most Americans, blacks, white, and otherwise with the short end of the stick.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

poor puppy... does he look humiliated to you?

my Dick Cheney pumpkin...

The professor carved one even though he's on the phone with Mr. Reed and feeling a bit under the weather.

Greg's Homestar Runner and Angele's first pumpkin ever! Her reaction to it when it was all lit up was adorable.

Dem Debate Postmortem

The surprising thing was that Richardson, Clinton, and even Biden and Dodd turned in the best performances of the debate.

Given that Obama's campaign rests on the idea that he's the one who will change the way politics is conducted, Obama didn't deliver the goods. He set the stage so that the only thing he could do was attack Hillary. And it wasn't attractive.

Edwards, who came across as desperate in his assault on Mrs. Clinton, really needs to concentrate on his progressive agenda. He's got all the right moves, if only he'd use them. What the Democrats need is strong, credible, and electable voices coming from the left so that if Hillary does turn out to be the nominee, she'll have to do so by playing to the left rather than the right.

Kucinich always sounds passionate and his criticisms of the others don't play into the rightwing gameplan, which I applaud. He gets points for repeatedly bringing up impeachment and for questioning W's mental health earlier in the day. But the whole UFO thing helps the media make positions on the left, ala guilt by association, seem loony.

Dodd is an interesting case. I discounted him from the beginning, but he's growing on me.

Biden has always been good with the one liners, but he's wildly inconsistent in the clutch.

I was impressed with Richardson. He often comes across as a bit bumbling and underprepared, but last night that seemed mostly under control. He has an impressive resume and is the most likable of the candidates. He's not the most progressive candidate, but he has the best ideas on immigration reform, veterans' healthcare reform, and ending the war in Iraq.

As for Hillary, she was poised and showed a strong presence. In this crowd, she looked downright presidential. The post-debate commentary on MSNBC was focused on her "stumble" in the final minutes. So she waffled on driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. So what? State officials have to work out remedies for what are issues in their states, as she said, given the absence of a national policy. This is the kind of controversy that the dems would be better off avoiding altogether because the whole thing plays to the right. The hidden subtext to the question, which she was right to reject was, "is this your national policy on immigration?" It was unfair as a question and Dodd, Edwards and Obama should be wary of trying to take advantage in situations like this, because this is the tactic that both the right and the media are going to be employing against them. The right and the media are going to be trying, at every instance, to turn pragmatic responses into general principles and then calling candidates hypocrites and flipfloppers when the two don't line up.

President Codpiece has made such a big mess on so many issues that any candidate forced to deal with them is going to have to have a patchwork set of responses.

Bottomline: every one of these candidates is head and shoulders above their Republican counterparts and a considerable step up from the present administration. While that may not be a ringing endorsement, it is certainly progress.

with the professor

Monday, October 29, 2007

Are the Dems Listening?

Reading Frank Rich’s October 28 Sunday New York Times column brought to mind those bumper stickers from the 1980s proclaiming, “The Moral Majority is Neither!” reflecting a largely unsuccessful attempt by some on the left to redirect Washington politics. This wasn’t just empty sloganeering at the time: Yesterday’s evangelicals were just as hypocritical as today’s, and many of the numbers for the so-called movement were Potemkin villages constructed to preoccupy the media, which continues to want to be hoodwinked, as Rich points out in an astute accounting for the surprising strength of the Giuliani campaign. Rich argues that “the most obvious explanation” for Giuliani’s success

is the one that Washington resists because it contradicts the city’s long-running story line. Namely, that the political clout ritualistically ascribed to Mr. Perkins, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Gary Bauer of American Values and their ilk is a sham.

These self-promoting values hacks don’t speak for the American mainstream. They don’t speak for the Republican Party. They no longer speak for many evangelical ministers and their flocks. The emperors of morality have in fact had no clothes for some time. Should Rudy Giuliani end up doing a victory dance at the Republican convention, it will be on their graves.

The kicker is that Rich cites a poll showing that “Like most other Americans, [evangelicals] are more interested in hearing from presidential candidates about the war in Iraq and health care than about any other issues.]

In the meantime the Democratic frontrunners have been tripping over themselves to proclaim the importance of their religious values. Why, one wonders, aren’t they listening?

Perhaps we need to face the fact that, for the most part, our Democratic Party leadership is like the ship’s captain who needs only to hear a bump against the hull to claim he’s struck an iceberg and that emergency measures are needed to save the ship. We (and I mean myself, too!) have got to ask ourselves why we spend so much time trying to keep our guys from throwing our precious goods, and so many of our fellow crewmembers, overboard, with the justification that some sacrifices will have to be made if we’re going to bring this ship into harbor.

Have we ever stopped to think that maybe, just maybe they’ve got no intention of going where we want to go anyway? What if we look at all the things they’re saying and doing now not just as the things they have to say in order to get elected but as things they really want to do? They want religion to play a role in public life. They want to protect corporate profits. They want to chip away at Great Society Reforms rather than build on them. To take one example, Grover Norquist and the Republicans have admitted publicly many a time that their assault on Social Security has nothing to do with the alleged impending insolvency of the system and everything to do with ideology. Norquist believes that without Social Security people “are more likely to be available to the Republican Party." Thankfully, both Obama and Clinton oppose privatization, but both acquiesce in the Far Right fiction that the problem somehow lies within the Social Security system in the first place.

I’m going to assume that the Presidential candidate whose views track most closely to most people reading this blog is Dennis Kucinich. I’m also going to assume that like me, everyone reading this blog knows that Kucinich has got as much chance of winning a primary as the Kyoto Protocols had of becoming national policy in the Bush Administration. So most of us are going to vote for a Hillary and Obama or an Edwards, all of whom are going to spend a lot of time on the stump distancing themselves from, say, single-payer, not-for-profit universal healthcare. Nonetheless, we’ll vote for one of them knowing that Kucinich can’t win because people think he’s a low-charisma dweeb, and we'll lament that if only an Obama or a Hillary would embrace slightly more progressive policies, we might be able to get something through. But at the end of the day this turns out to be a dodge that prevents us ever from putting single-payer healthcare or universal higher education into play for serious discussion because our candidates will have won precisely by disparaging the very things that will make all of the difference.

So am I saying we should vote for Kucinich, at least as a way to try to get the attention of the frontrunners? Well, alas, no, because they aren’t listening anyway. What I am saying is that we’ve got to talk seriously about how to change the game so that we don’t have to ante up by giving up our central issues. Hey, if the Republicans were able to put up the beady-eyed moron currently occupying the White House, our problem is not candidate electability but something more fundamental.