Archive for March, 2008

BartCop doesn’t love me “anymore”

Friday, March 21st, 2008

I’ve apparently now received Bart’s “right boot.”

Why do I feel more like I’ve gotten a whiff of the breath of a skid row bum?

Since there really isn’t a lot of substance to respond to here, let me simply make a suggestion: Bart, if you don’t have time to research whether an attack on thousands of people is justified then maybe you shouldn’t make the attack. Just a thought, mind you.

By the way, I still like Bart (I’m a masochist in that way). My guess is he’s been hurt by angry Obama supporters pulling their support the same way BuzzFlash has been hurt from the opposite side. For what it’s worth, that represents short term thinking on both ends (we’ll need both of these voices in the days ahead). So, send Bart a buck or two if you feel like it (as well, of course, as BuzzFlash). Tell Bart that the Last Chance Democracy Café sent you. Maybe that will have a sobering influence on him (ha, ha, as Bart likes to say).

On a serious note, Bart went out of his way to note in bold print that the café is a product of BuzzFlash (I hope this wasn’t intended to damage BuzzFlash in some fashion because that would be childish). I should note for the record that as is true with most bloggers (and should be with all bloggers) I have complete freedom of expression. The post in question was not cleared by (or suggested by) anyone else and no one other than yours truly is responsible for its content (as is also true of this post).

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Missing Dad

Friday, March 21st, 2008

As regular café visitors may remember, I lost my father a year and a half ago. It’s funny the way the memory of a lost parent can sneak into a day unannounced. Driving to work this morning, for some unknown reason, the memory popped into my head of how, when we used to watch All in the Family when I was a teenager, it drove my dad crazy that he couldn’t make out a couple of the words in the theme song.  Archie and Edith sang it while seated at a piano and near the end the words became unintelligible.

Every week, Dad would tell us to be quiet and would listen with all his might, but he never figured it out. Apparently, I now discover, this was a widespread complaint.

Anyway, it occurred to me this morning that the answer is probably now easily accessible on the web. And sure enough, one Google search later and I had it.

I wanted to call Dad up and tell him. But, of course, I couldn’t. And to be honest that kind of sucks.

More on Wrights and wrongs

Friday, March 21st, 2008

One thing I love about this place is the quality of the comments: thanks people.

Larkrise says this: “I simply will not condone Jeremiah Wright’s hate-filled oratory any more that I will condone the rantings of Pat Robertson or other purveyors of intolerance.”

I have to admit I’m a little torn on this. My outrage relates to what I perceive to be almost McCarthy style guilt by association directed at Obama, not over the well deserved criticisms of Wright’s verbal excesses. I have to admit, however, that I do feel some compassion for Rev. Wright, in light of the viciousness of the attacks he’s currently receiving, given that he is a person who seems to have done much good in his life.

While I obviously strongly denounce the hateful language, if for no other reason than it’s counterproductive, I do understand the anger.

Did anyone hear the segment on NPR this morning where they played the oral history from Mary Ellen Noone, a black woman, speaking about her grandmother? You can listen to it here.

Noone was relating a story her grandmother told her about why black woman once could not wear nail polish:

To explain, Powell told a story from when she was a girl. Around 1910, Powell lived on a plantation in Lowndes County, Ala., where “she would wash and iron for this white woman.”
“One day the lady had thrown away some of her old perfume and nail polish that had dried up. So [Powell] took it home and added some ingredients to the nail polish that made it pliable,” Noone says. “Well, when Sunday came, she got all dressed up and painted her nails and put on that perfume and went to church.

“On Monday, she went to the general store, and when she was ready to check out, the white owner asked her, ‘What are you doing with your nails painted up like a white woman?’ He proceeded to pick up a pair of pliers and he pulled out my grandmama’s nails out of its bed one by one.”

Noone, 65, says she often wondered as a child why her great-grandmother’s nails were so deformed.

“Every time I look at enamel red finger polish, I have a flashback, and I see red,” Noone says. “I still have that anger inside of me that someone would have that control over one person just because they wanted to feel like a woman.”

Jeremiah Wright was born in a time when the law still enforced racial segregation in many parts of the country, when the lynching of black Americans still occasionally occurred and when black people were still threatened with violence if they tried to exercise a right of citizenship as basic as registering to vote.

I am in no way suggesting this excuses Wright’s occasional use of hateful language today. People remain responsible for their conduct regardless of what grievances they bring to the table. But it does help to put things into better perspective.

Question of the day: will Democrats reunite once the nomination is settled?

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

The question is overly broad, of course: the truth is that some Democrats supporting the losing candidate will “come around” and some won’t. The real question is whether enough will refuse to sink the party’s chances in November.

And sorry to say, but at the moment the odds don’t look much better than 50/50 to me. That’s how deep the bitterness is running on both sides.

Obviously, many people who today are threatening to bolt will change their minds before the election. But the race is likely to be very close, given that the Democrats will be running an unconventional candidate (subject to the small but not microscopic possibility of a deadlocked convention turning to someone like Al Gore). And in a close election, even a fairly small number of Democrats staying home, or, worse yet, voting for McCain, could sink the party’s chances.

So, what do you think? Will Democrats reunite once the nomination is settled?

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Oldfartgate still going strong

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

As the originator (and so far only user) of the term Oldfartgate in regard to John McCain’s age, I feel compelled to note the likelihood that one day soon Oldfartgate will merge with the current McCain mania of Constantlyfuckingupgate creating the new sensation of Oldfartconstantlyfuckingupgate.

As to the latter (MSNBC):

When McCain made a foreign policy gaffe in Jordan on Tuesday, it was Sen. Joe Lieberman who quietly pointed out the mistake, giving McCain an opportunity to correct himself in front of the international press corps. In Israel yesterday, NBC’s Lauren Appelbaum reports, Lieberman once again intervened when McCain made an incorrect reference about the Jewish holiday Purim — by calling the holiday “their version of Halloween here.”

I’m probably not supposed to point this out, but the combination of McCain trying to become the oldest man ever elected president and his repeatedly needing to rely on Joe Lieberman to correct his mistakes may prove politically problematic.

And maybe it should.

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Remembering the times when, like Obama, I didn’t walk out

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Following up on Barack Obama’s speech About Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the issue of race, I decided to spend a little time visiting pro-Clinton sites. I had actually already started doing this from time to time even before the Wright controversy, hoping, as an Obama supporter, to avoid the tunnel vision that can come from only listening to the hymns sung by your own choir.

But to be honest, I’m finding it harder and harder to go back.
The glee — no, more like self-righteous ecstasy — awash in these sites over the Wright controversy is becoming more than I at least want to take. What I guess is starting to overwhelm my senses is the clear willingness of many vocal Clinton supporters to overlook the undeniable racist element to the issue (as reflected in the inconsistent treatment of Wright’s comments as compared to those of controversial white clergy). Instead, they are luxuriating in the sheer joy of seeing Obama damaged, seemingly unconcerned with such details. 

(In fairness, the Clinton campaign itself is, at least officially, standing clear of the controversy — or perhaps not.)

Here’s an example from BartCop, a site I have had some fondness for in the past. The main text is a reader’s email; the words in bold are from Bart himself:

Bart, Obama has attended this church for twenty years.
He brings his impressionable daughters to hear this hateful speech every Sunday?
Good point.
How in the world can we heal the racial divide if black children listen to this hatred?
How can these children listen to this kind of racially charged demagoguery on Sunday
and then sit next to white classmates on Monday and not feel hatred?
If you are taught to respect the pastor, how can these children grow up without hating white people?
If Barack Obama truly wanted to heal the racial divide, he would not participate in a church
that does not embrace people of all colors and races. If he truly believes in the the teachings
Pastor Wright and his church, how can he be the leader of the USA?
If he did not condone this hatred, he would have quit the church long ago.
Instead, he had Pastor Wright as his campaign spiritual advisor.

“Good point,” huh? So, I take it then, Bart, that you’ve concluded that Trinity United Church of Christ — a congregation of several thousand people — is unfit for small children. I mean, that has to be what you’re saying, right? It can’t be unfit for Obama’s kids, but okay for everyone else’s — only a hypocrite taking a cheap shot would suggest that.   
So, Bart, I’d be interested in knowing exactly what research you did to support this condemnation. In case you’re interested — and I’m guessing you’re not — I have done some. And it doesn’t even begin to support your slander. Trinity UNC is in many ways an extraordinary church, with anything but a separatist philosophy, always welcoming to white visitors, and with a strong tradition of public service. Even Rev. Wright himself, while at times controversial, is nothing like the caricature that’s been painted of him.

Do you care about that Bart? Do you give a rat’s ass, or is this just a golden opportunity, probably the best one remaining, to bring Obama down so that your candidate can prevail (although don’t count on that being the outcome if Obama does falter)?


Defeat by any other name still stinks: five years in Iraq

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

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Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

The first words he spoke upon passing through the door in the great monolith at the gates of heaven:

“My God, it’s full of stars!”

Arthur C. Clarke, dead at age 90.

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The daily doom: old ice goes bye-bye edition

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

To repeat myself, yet again: Does a day ever go by anymore without another terrifying revelation about global warming?

(Reuters) Thickest, oldest Arctic ice is melting: NASA data

The thickest, oldest and toughest sea ice around the North Pole is melting, a bad sign for the future of the Arctic ice cap, NASA satellite data showed on Tuesday.

“Thickness is an indicator of long-term health of sea ice, and that’s not looking good at the moment,” Walt Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center told reporters in a telephone briefing.

This adds to the litany of disturbing news about Arctic sea ice, which has been retreating over the last three decades, especially last year, when it ebbed to its lowest level.

Scientists have said the trend is spurred by human-generated climate change.

The good news here, if you can call it that, is that melting Artic ice isn’t as big a deal as, say, melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica. The reason, of course, is that unlike the miles deep ice of Antarctica, the ice sheet at the North Pole is actually fairly thin.

The bad news is, first, every little bit hurts (white ice being replaced by dark water increases global warming because the dark water absorbs heat from the sun), and, second, since everything is connected — you know, all the latte drinking liberal ecology shit — the fact the ice is melting up North tends to confirm the evidence that it’s melting everywhere else.

Fortunately, we can count on George W. Bush to get right on this.

As the great scholar once said, “We are so fu*ked.”

Obama and the courage thing

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Tomorrow I’ll worry about the politics.

Today I just want to feel.

Wow. While I know it’s far from cool to gush this profusely, I can’t help but think that much of what so many of us have felt has been missing from American politics for so long, something we’ve been thirsting for, just flowed like water over Niagara Falls in Barack Obama’s words. It was extraordinary, really — the first truly serious discussion of issues of race by a major presidential candidate in memory. But it wasn’t just the topic that made this speech extraordinary. It was the depth of the discussion, from the strong dose of historical truth, all the way through the willingness to accept the nuances inherent in the subject.

This was a speech, quite simply, spoken in the manner of an adult speaking to other adults.

Will it sell?

I don’t know, and right now, I don’t care — not today. That’s for tomorrow.

He didn’t pull his punches. Not in this speech. In an age when over-reliance on public opinion polls, focus groups and namby-pamby political consultants has turned political rhetoric into vanilla pudding, Obama offered up a presidential feast. Real words. Real issues. Real pain. And real truth.

Surely, campaign consultants warned him that calling Rev. Wright family would provide the perfect soundbyte for those attacking him. He said it anyway. And on a broader scale, undoubtedly some of those same consultants warned him that this type of open discussion of race relations, especially when offered, in part, from the African American perspective, could doom his campaign, by making white voters view him as the “black candidate.” He gave the speech anyway.

And, yes, in light of the Wright controversy, he had to give a speech: he didn’t, however, have to give this speech.

To be honest, this has always been one of my nagging concerns about Obama: when it comes right down to it, will he have the courage to take the tough stands? Today, for me at least, he put that question to rest.

He trusted Americans to have the wisdom to see the broad picture. And that’s something few politicians have been willing to do for a very long time.

I don’t know whether history will prove him right.

I do know one thing, though: For the first time, in a long time, a politician has made me feel proud.

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