Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Rules of the Game

Just to insure a good controversy, the Democratic nomination will come down to "super-delegates", regardless of the remaining primaries. Even if one of candidates had a clean sweep (which wont happen), they wouldn't have enough delegates for a first ballot nomination.
Judging by my email, neither side is happy about this. "Let the voters decide" is the mantra.
Except that this is the direct result of the Democratic party primary rules. Rules so convoluted that even the experts disagree on what the current score is (each of the major networks show a different total delegate count).
The Republicans have a nice, simple scoring system: "winner take all." That's it. Like Baseball, the score is settled and the game is either a win or a loss.
The Democratic scoring system is more like Olympic gymnastics (or figure skating). Rules vary by state, and points (delegates) are awarded on a variety of criteria. So candidate "A" scores points for nailing certain moves (say, districts), while candidate "B" ends with a higher score for the round. Nevada is a classic example of the Democratic muddle, where Clinton won the state overall, but Obama won more delegates.
So the Democratic party, in their infinate wisdom, created "super" delegates to make sure that the final score was "fair." But the super delegates are like the "Austrian" judge in gymnastics: they're suspected of being biased. Their motivation and integrity are in question.
Whoever ends up as the Democraric nominee will be seen as tainted by the opposition, because the final score will be questionable. Because the scoring system is subjective, the results are open to debate.
But those are the rules of the game.
(Graphic added)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Posting the Friday Boobie

Hope to post more later, but here's a pair of Boobies for Friday.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Obstructionism in Action

The Republicans are having a bit of drama today:

Unable to come to agreement on the issue, the House decided to move onto other issues today, including a memorial service for Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), who died earlier this week, and long-pending contempt citations for White House aides who refuse to honor congressional subpoenas.

That’s when everything got ugly.

Moments after President Bush threatened to delay his weekend trip to Africa and force Congress to act before key intelligence programs expire, House Republicans staged a walkout to protest Democratic inaction on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act bill. Frustrated Republicans streamed out of the Capitol and onto the east steps of the Capitol, a powerful act aimed at stopping House floor proceedings and forcing a vote on the FISA bill.

The Republican walkout came after an angry morning in which both sides accused each other of improperly using House floor procedures during the memorial service of Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) who died Monday. Republicans were also angry that Democrats are taking up contempt resolutions against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former counsel Harriet Miers.

Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), led his colleagues out of the chamber in a dramatic gesture, saying “let’s just get up and leave.” But it’s not clear if anything will come of the theatrics, as Democrats have refused to take up a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act bill. Democrats do not want to pass a bill with lawsuit immunity for telecom firms as the White House has demanded.

“Failure to act would harm our ability to monitor new terrorist activities, and could reopen dangerous gaps in our intelligence,” President Bush said in an afternoon press conference.

Republicans took quite a few firm stands this morning, all of which were wrong.

Now that's shameful. Disrupt a memorial for a long term fellow member. Then obstruct procedure for purely partisan reasons.

Whenever congress gets called "do-nothing", remember that it is the Republicans who are the obstructionists.

Current Events

I haven't done much current events blogging lately for a variety of reasons. Head cold (it's better), lack of enthusiasm, and a general anger and disgust.
America has now openly embraced torture. There's a lot of weasel words being used, but the rest of the world sees what we're doing.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush plans to veto legislation passed by the Senate to bar the CIA from using harsh interrogation methods including waterboarding, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

"The president will veto that bill," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

"The United States needs the ability to interrogate effectively, within the law, captured Al-Qaeda terrorists."

And it has the support of at least one Supreme Court Justice:

Today in an interview with BBC Radio’s Law in Action, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia defended torture, claiming that it is not necessarily barred by the Constitution:

Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to find out where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited under the Constitution? Because smacking someone in the face would violate the 8th amendment in a prison context. You can’t go around smacking people about.

Is it obvious that what can’t be done for punishment can’t be done to exact information that is crucial to this society? It’s not at all an easy question, to tell you the truth.

The BBC interviewer, however, objected to Scalia’s use of the so-called “ticking time bomb” scenario to justify government torture. “It’s a bizarre scenario,” he said. “Because the fact is, it’s very unlikely you’re going to have the one person who can give you that information. So if you use that as an excuse to commit torture, perhaps that’s a dangerous thing.” Scalia responded:

Seems to me you have to say, as unlikely as that is, it would be absurd to say that you can’t stick something under the fingernails, smack them in the face. It would be absurd to say that.

And the leading Republican presidential candidate:

The likely Republican nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain, voted against the bill. The former prisoner of war however said that his vote was consistent with his anti-torture stance.

"We always supported allowing the CIA to use extra measures," he said. "I believe waterboarding is illegal and should be banned," McCain said.

Yup, that's some "straight talk"; "I'm against waterboarding, so I'm voting for it."

My outrage echoes Blue Girl of Blue Girl, Red State:

I gotta get something off my chest. I am disgusted by the fact that we have come to the point as a society where we are even having this debate. It is abhorrent; it's sickening and disgusting. It's fucking insane that we have slid this far since we won the Cold War - less than twenty years ago! - by holding forth that we were Americans, and by virtue of that fact alone, we were simply above certain things. Gulags and torture among them. Now, we are infamous for them.

I am appalled that there are Americans among us who openly advocate for and debate the relative merits of the basic tenets of fascism. I remember a time when anyone advocating for the employment of torture (or domestic spying) would be ridiculed and driven from public life. The thought of a Supreme Court Justice absolving the practice was unthinkable.

What the fuck?

And don't get me started on FISA.

A Valentine for Texas

This Valentine's day could be a little more fun for Texans:

Thursday, February 14, 2008 A federal appeals court has struck down a Texas law that makes it a crime to promote or sell sex toys.

"Whatever one might think or believe about the use of these devices," said an opinion written by Justice Thomas M. Reavley of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, "government interference with their personal and private use violates the Constitution."

It's always good to see one of those stupid, silly, sexually repressive laws go away. Go crazy, Texans.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Voter Turnout

One major thing stood out to me on yesterday's Virginia primary: the turnout numbers.
If you need more evidence of which side is fired up, look at the results from Virginia. 972,633 Democrats voted in Virginia. Compare that to 473,500 Republicans. More than twice as many Democrats went to the polls in a state that is turning bluer by the day. And, Obama received almost 620,000 votes -- almost 150,000 more than all the Republicans combined.

In every primary and caucus, Democrats are showing record numbers. There are several reasons for this; hatred for shrub and enthusiasm for Obama are the top two. If this continues into November, I may even become optomistic. I also hope that this enthusiasm carries over to the "down ballot" races, like Donna Edwards win in Maryland, which could lead to a congress that might be worth having. OK, that's probably too much to ask for.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Head Cold

Woke up with one of those head colds where I feel like 5 lbs. of cottage cheese is sitting in my sinuses. Even thinking is painful, so I doubt I'll do any.

Monday, February 11, 2008


I've decided that I want Barack Obama to choose my Governor, Janet Napolitano, for VP. Then I can use the short phrase "Obamapalitano" in political commentary. Let me know if you have any phrases you would prefer.

Say "Bye-Bye"

Looks like my state will lose another corrupt Republican congress critter. John Shadegg is going to "retire":

Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) will announce this evening that he will retire from the House upon the conclusion of his current term, according to a well-placed Republican source.

And his "retirement" has nothing to do with this:

The Arizona Democratic Party is accusing Republican U.S. Rep. John Shadegg of using his political-action committee to skirt laws that limit the amount of money donors can give a candidate.

Democrats say they have drafted a complaint to the Federal Election Commission, but Shadegg maintains nothing was done improperly and doubts whether the FEC will take action.

At issue is money that elections records show was transferred from Shadegg's
political-action committee into his election campaign.

Two Valley businessmen who made the maximum allowable individual donations to Shadegg's campaign in 2007 also wrote additional $5,000 checks to Shadegg's PAC, Leadership for America's Future. Eleven days later, on June 26, the PAC wrote two identical $5,000 checks to Shadegg.

Normally, such a transfer would not be noticed among thousands of dollars in contributions. But in the same reporting period, Shadegg's PAC received no other contributions and paid out only the $10,000.

At this rate, my state may even get a few honest congress critters. But we're still stuck with McCain and Kyl in the senate. Stupid state.

Two Years Ago Today

The vice shot somebody:

On February 11, 2006, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally
shot Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old Texas attorney, while participating in a quail hunt on a ranch in Kenedy County, Texas. Whittington was shot in the face, neck, and upper torso with birdshot pellets from a 28-gauge Perazzi shotgun.

First public news of the incident was called in to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times on February 12, 2006, by ranch owner Katharine Armstrong. [1]
The Bush administration disclosed the shooting incident to the public the afternoon
of February 12. Local authorities released a report on the shooting on February 16, 2006 and witness statements on February 22. All of the witness statements conflict with the Sheriff’s reports over the time of the shooting.

The one nice thing I'll say is that the Cheney is now two years of "shooting friends" free.

Politics and Blogs

I read this blog post at Hoffmania , and I want to echo the sentiment. I wish I had written my views as clearly:

I need to stress to those young voters, and to ALL of us, the importance of being part of the system. It's something the right has done so brilliantly in the last fourteen years, and until we learn from that, we're going to once again end up the chumps.

As much as we scorn the Freepers, the Neocons and the Religious Right, we need to see what they've done. They've been insanely successful at promoting and sealing their agenda.

It comes down to this: Holding up our end of the bargain in this democracy by being engaged, active and roundly participating is a responsibility we need to adopt. NOW.

I can give you a glaring example which we're living through at this moment: The
Democratic Congress. You hear it all the time. We certainly hear it all the time.

"We voted for them to end the war!" "They're not doing their jobs!" "They're just as bad as Bush!"

Waaah waaah waaah.

Let me ask you a question. Have you actually written a letter or an email, or have you actually picked up a phone and let them know what you want?

If you have, you probably didn't hem and haw in your mind to answer that one. You're active. You're engaged. You're a participant.

You know what this government is: Of the people. By the people. For the people.

Chances are, however, that you haven't done any of that. And that's what you need to realize - what the "wingnuts" have realized for a long, long time. You need to beat your reps and leaders over the head with what they need to know and do. Relentlessly. Repeatedly. And with civility.

They work for us. We hired them. We're the bosses. If they screw up, we need to dispatch a memo immediately and put them on notice. If they fail to follow our assignments to them, they'll be looking for other work.

I'm about to open Pandora's Box here, so strap yourself in.

Blogs are a great political community. Just as my posting my diatribes here, your posting your comments on this or any political blog is a great way of letting off steam. It gets your opinion out there. It's a wonderful way to sharpen your argumentative skills. But here's the awful truth:

It doesn't mean a goddamn thing to Nancy Pelosi.

It doesn't mean a goddamn thing to Harry Reid.

It doesn't mean a goddamn thing to whoever your reps are.


Not Atrios. Not Kos. Not Crooks and Liars, Buzzflash or Firedoglake. Not Digby, AmericaBlog or Bartcop.

(Not even this one. And they should. But I'm off-topic.)

Even if they do stumble upon them, do you think in your wildest dreams that they're going to sludge through the swamp known as the "comments"? Atrios throws up a post titled "?" which is composed of the word "Oy" and a link, and that garners 755 comments. Christ, I have time on my hands and I don't have the patience to wade into that.

Imagine, however, if the energy, the words and the passion that went into writing those comments were directed directly toward Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the writers' respective representatives.

Yeah. Pretty damned awesome. Head-spinning. And believe me, you'll have their attention.

Give me a moment here to say that blogs are quite possibly the best way to rally our troops and give you perspective and talking points for the real world. I know I get that from everyone in the blogosphere. If any of you get that from here, well, we're proud to be a handful of fertilizer in your vast field of knowledge.

The word I'm trying to get out here is to vote on November 4th. The presidency isn't the only thing up for grabs. Every seat in the House of Representatives and 33 senate seats will be in play. We need to fill those seats with the best we can muster. We must fight for each and every one of those posts.

Furthermore, your responsibility does NOT begin and end in the voting booth. No matter who we elect for president - and it WILL be either Clinton or Obama - our responsibility goes beyond November 4th. We will need to kick down the barriers between here and the Beltway. We need to lean on these people and make sure they do the job we hired them for. They need to hear from us every day on every major AND minor issue. We need to fight hard for every battle.

We need to let them know there's a real world out here, and we need to keep that awareness front-of-mind. Their attention spans, common sense and concentration become severely handicapped once they're in Washington. It's up to us to maintain their reality check.

That's the lesson we need to learn from the people who have dominated the conversation since 1994.

It's our turn now. We've done it before. We just need to relearn it again.

Get active. Be a participant. Speak up and speak freely. Because. You. CAN.

Permission granted.

As Thom Hartmann says, "Democracy begins with you. Tag. You're it."

My blog is only a tiny piece of my political activity. I consider this a place where I can vent more than a way to effect change. Most of the commenters are already sharing many of my views. As Hoffmania clearly says, we need action, not just posts. I volunteer for campaigns, my representatives all hear from me on a regular basis (even though they are Republicans), I work every election, and attend as many protests as I can. Now I'm asking you, my readers, to do whatever you can to help bring back a government "of the people, by the people, for the people" (I still think that is the most beautiful phrase ever written). I hope I'm adding a little fertilizer to your vast field of knowledge.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Primary Media Narrative

I hate the concept of "identity politics", but the media seems determined to focus on it. This morning NPR is spending a lot of time talking about how Barack Obama is winning as a result of the "black" vote. I'm seeing something different:
DEM (99% reporting)
Clinton 32%

Last time I passed through Nebraska it wasn't a majority african-american state. In fact, it was pretty white. The 68-32 result also refutes the identity politics of the "womens" vote. In short, the pundits narrative does not reflect reality, but rather their preconcieved notions.