Letters to a young Republican

Or - "Why the Arizona Republic is the world's most asinine newspaper".

They endorsed John S. McCain III yesterday, with the most duplicitous commentary I have ever read published by a major paper. Oh sure, blogs can be silly to a degree of ridiculousness that would astound the average bear, but newspapers generally like to put their best face before the public. I would recommend against reading the drivel they published and to protect your from their mendacious meanderings, I have presented below - for your reading pleasure - a brief but deadly assault on their methodology.

Your "revived form of welfare" comment is as misleading as your professed confusion over those votes of "Present" Obama made as a state legislator. Since I have no hope of teaching you Robert's Rules of Order in the width and breath of this post, I will leave that to your further study.

To claim that Obama wants to give a tax credit to people who pay no federal income tax is accurate - albeit inauthentic. Since you are making this endorsement at the end of an almost two-year long campaign season, you have had ever opportunity to learn to be authentic, but I will endeavor once more in the hopes that you might still be encouraged to sip from the stream of knowledge.

This tax credit is going to go to 95% of working families; your attempt to tie it to welfare implies a subsidy to people who are home, sitting on couches, watching televisions and adding to the population more dependents as opposed to being productive citizens.

That is inauthentic on your part.

While it has been many years since my last trip to Arizona, I am sure you still have people who fall into the category commonly known as "the working poor". Furthermore, with the rise in food and energy prices, consumers of all economic categories are feeling the pinch at the pump - where they pay a federal gasoline tax - and at the store - where they pay state and local sales taxes. Additionally, with the economy slowing down, salaries are stagnate to in decline, so even the working middle class - and all of the money they pay in payroll taxes - are seeing their incomes squeezed.

So, you are wise enough to know that not every working family pays income tax, but that also means you are wise enough to know that every working family pays a multitude of other taxes - federal, state and local - all of which prevents them from having money at the end (or even the middle) of the month to use towards the other necessities of life. Presumably, you are also wise enough to know that 75% of our economic growth is based on the activities of consumers. Stop me if I am giving you too much credit for being wise.

Obama - unlike John McCain and George Bush before him - sees these hardworking families for whom they are. He knows they are in just as much - if not more - need for tax relief than the fat cat CEOs of the banks and the oil companies - who have availed themselves of billions of dollars of tax relief over the past eight years (and billions more taxpayer dollars for bailouts), while hardworking Americans "too poor to pay income tax" have received no relief at all.

Tell me, how well did those tax cuts for the people earning the most money go for the economy? Did the tax breaks they received trickle down to those of us below and raise us all up on a tide of prosperity?


No - instead it led to an increase in income inequality in our nation, such that more and more wealth was concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Tell me, how did that work for the investment banks, who grew fat serving their wealthy clientele? What's that? You say there are no more investment banks? You say they either plunged into bankruptcy or into the waiting arms of commercial banks or begged the Feds to come under the warm bosom of regulation that is a commercial bank directly?

The tax policies of George Bush - which John McCain proposes extending ad infinitium - have failed miserably, for themselves, their supporters and our nation. For you to endorse their continuation - and in such a snide manner - only reveals the piracy that lurks within your own heart.

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Smiles, everyone! Big Smiles!

I grind my teeth and clamp shut my jaws as Republicans and fawning members of the press exhort the mythical memory of Prince Valiant - in his modern-day guise as John McCain.

I squelch the urge to rail against the stories of McCain as the triumphant war hero and I douse the flames of rage which rise every time I hear the tale of how our hero was so callously attacked by racists in South Carolina (why is it white people can only see white victims of racism?).

I do all of that in the hope that the larger goal - electing Senator Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America - will be more likely realized if I conceal the depths of my disregard for John McCain and his ilk: Republicans.

No, I try to hold fast to the spirit of positive energy that Obama has released upon the land and I know my bitter feelings are not the end to which he has called me. But they are there. They are real. I am looking for a 12-step program to help me move past them, as I know the challenges before us are so great that I will not make it over on my own or merely in the company of those with a higher degree of correlation of agreement with me. I know that they times they call for all shoulders to be pressed against the wheel; for all arms to be rowing in unison: I am thankful that there are election officials watching the process with the unblinking eyes of a hawk to ensure that no laws are broken and no voters are left with recourse in the safe and secure execution of their right to vote.  

If I can but just focus on all for which I am grateful, perhaps my bitter feelings will but fade away into nothingness.

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Mad as H-E-L-L

We need to be informed of the dirty-tricks the Republicans have in motion already to steal this election from us and we need to be prepared to act to prevent their tactics from stealing yet another election from the people. Read this article. Forward it onto your friends and neighbors. Contact your local election officials to ensure that they have not and will not countenance similar tactics in your district.

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What's In A Name, indeed?

Hmmmm . . . You mean to tell me that 72-year old John McCain, was totally flummoxed by the racism behind the question from an apparently equally old woman? It is almost as though McCain came of age in an era before black people were afforded many (much less all) of the same civil rights as white citizens of this country.  

Can we all not see the innate disdain - if not outright contempt - that McCain has for Obama, written all over his face whenever the two share the stage? It goes without saying - or at least, it should - that McCain has no respect for Obama at all. We could pretend it has to do with Obama's relative youth, but to do that we would have to overlook the fact that McCain is more than smitten with his even younger VP-selection.  

So, we all know that racism exists in America. But that does not change the question: will it have an effect on this election? Thankfully - if one can be ironically thankful to Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan - over the past 40-years, most of the racists have found a home in the Republican Party. Furthermore, while the country has been minting new voters daily - as they reach the age of 18 - the Republican Party finds itself stagnate to in decline, as more and more people tire of the outright and sub-rosa shout-outs to the racist hard-liners in the party. That is why both the Democratic Party and those registered as Independents are growing, along with increasing numbers of members for third-party groups. Ignoring for a moment the even more virulent racism of some third-party movements (Alaska Independence Party, are your ears burning?), we are without question in a period of American history over which racism has less sway than at any point in our short existence as a republic.

This election - if we work hard to turn out the vote of all those with any sympathies for liberals or progressives or merely simple thought - can produce the sort of political landslide not seen since the realignment Reagan created in 1980. Remember: that race was down to the wire and it was the final debate - days before the election - that sealed a shift across so many states from Carter to Reagan, so much so that Reagan eventually carried 44-states and received 489 EV. Those targets are within reach for Obama in this election, irrespective of the racists in our midst. There is a possibility that McCain will merely end up with UT, OK, ID and WY in his camp come Wednesday morn. It will take more work on our part to bring about a realignment this historic, but never before in our nation's history has the need for such a realignment been so great.

Ever - including the Civil War period and "the greatest generation" of WWII.

For we stand not just at the precipice of the end of the American Century, as we grow ever older and more indebted, but we stand on the edge of the end of the Carbon-Era and the end of all the energy we have extracted from the Earth as coal, oil and natural gas. Now we have legions of coal and we have natural gas reserves which are yet to be tapped, so perhaps only oil is becoming harder and more expensive to find. But what good is a resource if the very act of using it leads to our destruction? The miracle of economic growth - which is but a few minutes on the clock of human existence - stands mute before the progress of history and with but a few more years of burning carbon and expelling it into our atmosphere, our world could change irrevocably into one more hostile for our needs as a species.  

Could a small-mined racist like John McCain lead us out of the darkness and into the light?

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Decoy Effect

Twain perhaps captured the "art" of statistics better than any critic before or since, but how many psychologists did he know? Okay, that was harsh - but hear me out.

CBS primetime last week introduced me to a psych concept known as "decoy effect", whereby introducing a third option to a decision matrix can favor one of the other two choices. A quick internet search and I was reading this article - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/01/AR2007040100973.html -
from last year in the Washington Post, that discussed ways for Obama and Clinton to parry the presence of Edwards to their benefit - individually - and it also included this throwaway line on Nader:

"Many people lavished hate on Ralph Nader for presumably taking votes away from the Democratic front-runner in the 2000 presidential election," said Scott Highhouse, who has studied the decoy effect at Bowling Green State University. "Research on the decoy effect suggests that Nader's presence, rather than taking votes away, probably increased the share of votes for the candidate he most resembled."

Intriguing concept. Ralph Nader actually increased voter support for Al Gore in the 2000 election. I certainly never looked at the world like that before, so I am going to spend some time mulling this one over.

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The Sisyphus Journals, 2008, Part I

Parlez-vous francais? Non!

First, I have to place fair - albeit garbled - warning upfront, to our most kind hostess: Mme de lis.

Second, I too share - in fact I think it is clear the world shares - in the anxiety about what will happen next in our credit and financial markets. The incompetence of the Bush Administration is legendary after eight years and the idea that any act they could take would "restore confidence" would be laughable - were the stakes not so high. We all hope for an emergency act of Congress that moves Inauguration Day a pres Thanksgiving Day, so that we might shuffle this insane and incompetent administration off its remaining bearings.

Baring that, I turn almost daily to the Center for American Progress, as these are the representatives of the "administration in waiting". Think tanks have proliferated in recent years as home away from home for politicians and policy apparatchiks, who are in disfavor with one administration or the other. Here is part of what CAP has to say on the bailout: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/10/rescue_package.html

Assuredly, it is not enough and more detailed pronouncements are presumably under development, but I was reassured by their commitment to Green Recovery and what I hope they will rename the Zero-Carbon Economy.

Mon amis.

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El Matador

So, I watched yet one more presidential debate last night. Not because I expected anything to happen that would change my mind on whom our next president should be, but because I do prefer to have my own base of knowledge - my own foundation - before the pundits and the press proceed to tell me what should be my takeaways from the event.

I can do my own takeaways, thank you very much.

So I will not pretend to proscribe for you - dear reader - what your takeaways should be either. What I will say is this: was it just me, or did McCain resemble a bull on stage last night? He paced restlessly around the arena - I keep seeing him appear and then disappear in the background of Obama's commentaries in response to questions - and even when he was answering questions, he paced relentlessly backwards and forwards, apparently in attempts to engage as many members of the hall as possible. And of course, he was constantly on the attack, always searching for an opening that could be used to gore Obama - like with that snarky and childish, "that One!" remark, which seemed to please him to no end.

But what I also saw, was a man so light of foot - so graceful - that these awkward advances were easily paried. I saw a man playfully - and without a hint of the anger that could clearly be seen in McCain - and professionally dance away from the charging bull, but always leaving the bull with a cut here, a stab there to remind him of the dangers of the charge.

Of course, the bull cannot help but to charge again, for that is what a bull does.

The matador, his job is to allow the bull to weaken himself, to expend his energy on foolish and costly charges back and forth across the arena, always being sure to bloody the bull for his efforts. Until - at last - the matador strikes the last blow, right to the heart of the bull.

Can't wait to see the third debate.

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Where they stand?

McCain proposes to tax benefits for the first time in our nation's history!  

This is a great series, but it becomes misleading when it leaves out the fact that small businesses will be taxed on the benefit plans they offer their employees. As small businesses already struggle to pay for benefits, how many of them will just decide to cancel their benefit programs altogether?  

Furthermore, that tax credit McCain provides - $2500 for individuals, $5000 for families - is laughable. Not only is it less than the average cost for health care on the open market - which is $12,500 for a family of four - but it is not even indexed for inflation and we all know that health care costs have been increasing annually at more than the rate of inflation.  

McCain proposes to dump millions of Americans on the open market to purchase their own insurance, with a tax credit for less than it would cost to buy insurance and with no protections for those who have a pre-existing condition. So the effect of his plan is to encourage many small businesses to cancel their benefit plans, while leaving their employees who have an existing illness without insurance for the first time in their lives.  

All the while he maintains his taxpayer-funded health care.  

Just whom is serving whom in this relationship?

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Bedtime Stories

That there used to be these things called, "investment banks" and that they lasted for hundreds of years in America, across all sorts of financial ups and downs - until the age of George Bush the Lesser.

Then, it was found that these banks lost their way, amidst a sea of unregulated acronyms like CDO and fierce beasts known as swaps - which were supposed to be financial instruments to manage risk. And these tools made the banks wealthy until they grew too unwieldy to maneuver with grace and dexterity and they were hoisted on their own petards.

And then, make sure you let your children know, that although the favorite American boogeyman - black people - were trotted out to be slaughtered upon the ritual alter of the scapegoat, a wise young politician led the people to stay their hand with these words:

"You chumps! The CRA is for commercial banks, not investment banks. Commercial banks road through the CDO storm just fine - barring a savings and loan or two (and you know they always catch hell). Nay, it was not the presence of CRA or any other regulation - but the lack of regulation that allowed the insurance companies and the investment banks to fly too close to the sun. Begone!"

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Die Darkman, Die

(First of all; what the h was up with that movie and was that the only title they could use?)

My friend, you know that ol' Dutch was just making that crap up about "supply-side" economics and trickle-down and all of that hooey, right? It was the world's biggest con job, a means to transfer tax dollars to the folks at the top of the ladder, justified by fast talking peddlers like Steve Forbes. Eight years of Reaganomics ended in the S&L bailout; eight years of Bushonomics ended in the investment bank bailout (or bail under, since they were allowed to either collapse or merge with commercial banks) The only question now is: will we once and for all drive a stake through this supply-side monster, or will we once again fall prey to its siren song of money for nothing?

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Bailout / Smailout

Nice analysis. It does lump commercial banks (e. g. - Citigroup, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase) with investment banks (e. g. - Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch). Commercial banks are highly regulated; investment banks were not. I say "were not" as they no longer exist.  

It was the investment banks who created the collateralized derivative obligations - i. e., those investment vehicles that stripped the longstanding relationship between bank and mortgage holder. It was the severance of that relationship that encouraged banks to allow "liar's loans" to come into existence, loans where mortgage brokers created fictional stories to obtain the loans. Banks did not care about the fiction, as they were repackaging the loan and reselling them in those CDOs. So the investment banks who created these new securities - CDO - and were making billions of dollars with them are central to the rationale for this bailout. Bear Stearns was pushed into the loving arms of JPMorganChase; Merrill Lynch into the warm bosom of Bank of America and Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail. Goldman Sachs (and Morgan Stanley) managed to ride above much of the fray and was allowed to convert from an investment bank to a commercial bank - and I think they plan to purchase another bank or perhaps an S&L.  

Regardless, the world of investment banking has come to an end. Banks that bestrode the corridors of power for decades or even centuries, have been tossed onto the ash bin of history. I am not saying that it is all George W. Bush's fault, but many bad things have happened on his watch.  

So the bailout? It needs to also revamp capitalism itself. We need stronger shareholder controls over the board of directors, so that people can raise questions - really ugly and perhaps insulting questions - at board meetings and in proxy statements. As Warren Buffett might say, we cannot wait for the tide to go out to discern just whom is swimming naked.

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21st Century Man / 2045

The two defining musical influences of my life are Prince and Public Enemy; that perhaps gives you a framework - a lens - through which to view my thoughts. Most of APAB has drawn from the Chuck D side of my philosophy, but the more hopeful side - the side that sees the issues we face today but believes we can surpass them on the way to a brighter future, just sent the below series of thoughts to the Obama/Biden campaign. Herewith, my attempt to define the future.

I believe Energy & Transportation must be the core focus area for this upcoming Obama/Biden Administration. A focus here would yield benefits in to many other areas, that it announcing plans on a scale even greater than Eisenhower with his interstate highway program, should form the tent pole of your first 100 Days.

For more than 10,000 years coal has been a source for fuel and it was the motivating force behind the steam engines that powered the start of Industrial Revolution in the latter stages of the 18th Century. That revolution brought us into the era of economic growth and since that time we have been burning carbon - first from coal, then expanding with oil and natural gas - in ways to generate more and additional forms of power. We use carbon to heat our homes, heat our water, to fuel our cars and to generate electricity.

And that worked so well for us for so long, that most people did not even think to look elsewhere.

But we know what burning carbon - whether from coal or oil or natural gas - has done to our environment. Today, we have rivers - too polluted for us to drink; today we have air - that when we breathe gives us asthma; and that is not the half of it. The "easy" seams of coal to mine have already been brought to the surface; to get what is left, we now do "mountain top removal", which dynamites mountains and shoves the resulting rock down into valleys and the rivers below.

Try hunting near one of those.

The point is this: carbon, as a source of energy, has become to costly to our health, our businesses and our society. Oil at $140 a barrel showed us that.

But we know what we need to do. The shortest path to more energy is to more efficiently use the energy we do have. That means smarter appliances that turn themselves off when not in use and less usage of incandescent light bulbs that generate more heat than light, but even this will not be enough.

We need to ignite the wind and solar power era.

We have enough wind off our Atlantic coast, to power heat and electricity for our homes and businesses and even our transportation up and down the population centers of our Eastern Seaboard. We have enough wind across our great plains to power the megalopolises of the Midwest and we have so many sunny days across our Southwest that our entire Western flank can be powered for heat and electricity with capacity to spare. And we can store solar power now, as thermal energy that we use to run steam turbines. And we can do the same with wind, by using excess electricity over current demand to heat molten salts, that again is used to power turbines when the wind slows. We can connect up these "power generation factories" off the Eastern seaboard with underwater DC cabling so that power generated in one place can be shifted to where it is needed. We can use underground DC cabling to connect our wind farms to our Midwestern cities and our solar farms to our Western cities.

And we can use this network of power to build a national power grid, so that we would have fail-over protection we lack today. And we can also use this network of power to connect our nation with high-speed rail links - all powered by clean, renewable electricity. With high-speed rail links connecting our major cities, air travel can be reduced to transcontinental and intercontinental use. This will take a major source of pollution down to almost a background level of emissions. With a network of national, regional and local rail lines, we can move people from where they are to their destination in an environmentally friendly fashion. And we will have the renewable forms of generating electricity that we can use to power the electric and gas-electric hybrid vehicles produced in our revamped factories.

No Nukes.

No Natural Gas / Oil.

No Coal.

These were the solutions of earlier generations and they served a purpose at the time. Our purpose has changed. We need to use forms of energy that are locally sourced, so that the money circulates within our economy and is not sent offshore to countries that seem to love our money, but us - not so much. We have a chance to lead the world in the generation of clean, renewable energies. Students will once again flock to our colleges; our teachings and our technologies will bring light and power to the world. And with those ties will come the search for common dreams, dreams that lead toward brighter tomorrow's and away from the sorrows of the past.

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A new day is dawning

The US needs to turn its attention to the South. It is the states of Brazil and India where some of the fastest economic growth is now occurring and even an African nation like South Africa too. Strengthening our alliances here - perhaps with a sister organization to NATO - would enable us to build the policy bridges we need to cross the challenges that lay before us. Furthermore, we should wipe away the debt of African nations and Caribbean nations like Haiti. It is unconscionable that the US finds itself as the collector of Haiti's international debt. This debt burden was applied by France initially, more than 200-years ago. Collecting this debt is akin to asking the sons and daughters of slaves to pay reparations to the sons and daughters of their former slave masters - for the loss of those slaves as a "business asset", no less! This is a crime. A crime that should no longer be tolerated. If we as a nation are going to stand forswear against paying reparations to the descendants of slaves, we must also stand forthwith against paying reparations to the descendants of former slave owners. Similarly, the debt of African nations was mostly incurred by dictators - empowered by our CIA - and party to our Cold War games against Russia. To ask the sons and daughters of people slain by dictators we installed to pay debt obligations on money stolen by those dictators, is unreasonable in the extreme. It is time for us to own up to our failures and not look for those whom we victimized to cover our tracks.

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October Surprise?

Lets see what we know:

  1. There is absolutely no reason to trust any statement made by any Bush Administration official.
  2. Corollary to Statement 1 - no reason to trust any statement made by any Bush Administration supporter.
  3. Any McCain campaign staffer must be considered as equivalent to a Bush Administration official, as well for indeed, some of them are former Bush Administration officials.
  4. McCain has at least one lobbyist on his campaign team, who "formerly" worked for Georgia.
  5. Former Nixon aide and current VP Dick Cheney, is traveling to Georgia, weeks before the election.
  6. Nixon created perhaps the first "October Surprise", with his back channel negotiations in Vietnam, to prevent Johnson from winding that war down in 1968 before the election and turning the tide toward the Democrats in that year, which - apropos of nothing - was the same year MLK and RFK were assassinated.
We also know that Reagan used a similar back channel negotiation with the Iranians - to encourage them to not release the hostages - much of which laid the ground work for arms sales to the Iranians through Israel as a cutout, with profits used to fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Many of those officials involved in the Contra program - Elliott Abrams, John Poindexter - saw their political fortunes rise with the return of the son of the former CIA Director (GHWB), George W. Bush to the White House.

Everybody all set on the players?


What does this mean?

Anyone - and I mean anyone - who does not think more stuff will hit more fans over the next seven weeks is beyond a delusional state and should not be consulted on the weather, much less the el ection. I expect to witness no less than the most amazing, death-defying, dazzling display of election theft and vote rigging ever attempted by man, woman or child.

I am predicting some turbulence, as we seek to re-establish government of the people, by the people and for the people - to this nation and perhaps to the world. Everyone, please buckle your seat belts and know that our captain has a plan to bring this baby home in one piece. Near as I can read my from my safety page from the seat-back pocket in front of me, we are instructed to:

and Communicate across every hill, dale and yonder with your neighbors, colleagues, coworkers and friends about the importance of this election and why it is requisite upon us all to cast our votes - by any means necessary.

Encourage every sentient being with whom you come into contact, to vote for Senator Barack Obama.

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Lies, Damned Lies . . . and Pollsters?

I am certain of an Obama victory come this fall; I am just as certain that the pollsters are either unable or unwilling to accurately gauge the electorate this year. Their inability to poll accurately became legendary throughout the Democratic Primary process and the erratic nature of the polls since only tells us that they have not gotten a handle on what to do.

Regardless of their intentions, their daily, weekly and monthly polls do have an effect on the voting populace. In a very real sense, they do not just report on how the electorate is feeling - they shape how the electorate feels.

They know (this) http://books.google.com/books?id=DdSPsxHX5BQC&dq.

This tells us that their actions are in furtherance of whatever their goals are. While we are not privy to their internal discussions, we can know this much for certain: their goal - stated or unstated - seeks to reduce the enthusiasm of the Democrats and increase the enthusiasm of the Republicans, in a pathetic attempt to prevent the change we as a nation seek to make from coming to pass.

It will not work.

They will not succeed.

Their attempts are growing more patently obvious by the day.

But all of that is mere words and in truth, purely preamble. Here is the analysis that proves the above hypothetical statements true.

From the latest AP Poll (http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com/), we see the following top-line numbers:

  • McCain - 48%
  • Obama - 44%
Looks bad for our hero, but those Hollywood serials would not have kept us on the edge of our seats if we could tell from jump that the good guy was going to win.

The first lie these numbers tell us is they are based on "likely voters". Now, every pollster has their own "secret sauce" for how they determine "likely voters", but suffice it to say for the external viewer that it consists of a formula based on previous voting experience; demographic data; and enthusiasm. Translated more directly (and we are family here, no?), that means newly registered voters have their responses discounted; impact of white voters is raised - due to their historically higher voting rate compared to other demographics; and adding Sarah Palin to the ticket has boosted Republican enthusiasm - which was beyond lackluster for John McCaain. Three debatable assumptions - as they look backward and not forward - that pollsters treat as gospel.

But there is more wrong with this poll:

View Picture 10 and you will see that the Democratic voters total out to 33% of the "likely voters" polled and Republican voters totaled out to 31% of the same population. Nationally, Democrats have a more than 11M - (according to the AP) http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iyCjg56QEYy3r8Gz2X09TnpaWOMwD9317JU00 - registered voter advantage over Republicans - and that is in states where registration also capture party affiliation. Other news sources (USA Today from 2004) http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/columnist/neuharth/2004-01-22-neuharth_x.htm say that the Democratic advantage is almost 20M - and that lead is only growing with each passing day, as the Obama campaign continues to press for new registrations. And as these folks are registering just for this campaign, they have to be considered more likely to vote! Any poll that does not show a Democratic lead in the poll responders, it flat out false.

But there is even more wrong with this poll:

View Picture 11 and you will see that of the likely voters questioned in this poll, a full 10% more voted for George Bush in 2004 than John Kerry! Now, we are all sad that Kerry lost, but he did not lose by 10%; in fact, his margin of defeat was a mere 2.4%. This means that what this poll is actually showing, is that some folks who voted for George Bush in 2004 are planning on voting for Barack Obama in 2008; I bet you did not see that in any headlines.

But there is still more wrong with this poll:

View Picture 12 and you will see that the pollster is once again forecasting 17% of the electorate will be in the under-30 voter group - which is what we saw in 2004. Ask yourself if you - the average observer of this year's political season - thinks that more, less or about the same number of voters in the under-30 demographic will hit the polls this November? You can take as much time as you like in answering this question and remember - this will count as 25% of your final score!

But there is yet one more thing wrong with this poll - and I am not even a statistician (although I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night):

View Picture 13; here you will see that the pollster is once again forecasting 7% of the electorate will be Hispanic/Latino, as it was in 2004. This almost goes without saying but the primary season alone showed a huge increase in the turnout of Hispanic voters. To believe that they have all decided to vote in the primaries - only to return to previous levels in the fall - is an assertion without evidence in support of it (others might call it an out and out lie, but I am too charitable for such strong language).

I hope this has shown that this latest poll from AP/GFK is more cotton candy than high cotton; I encourage everyone to go to the poll themselves and see just how many others holes are in this thing. All snapshots of poll data taken from the AP source data here: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com/pdf/AP-GfK_Poll_91208_Topline_findings_final.pdf.

For comparison, you can find details on the 2004 election here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2004.

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12 September 2001

I used to think that I would forever remember the events of 11 September 2001; now I am beginning to wonder.  Herewith are my recollections from that day.

6:00 AM: I had to go into the office this day; less because there was any actual work for me to do there (ah, the joys of being a consultant in-between gigs) and more because my sister was staying with me (she had moved out of her apartment in Queens, on her way to be married in a chapel at Howard University and a new home in Maryland) and I wanted to show her the route to the PATH trains into NYC.  Ezina was in town this week - in between performing gigs - and likely to be either in the apartment all day or perhaps off to the club to work-out.

Every day begins in a normal, mundane fashion.  It is only after awakening that the importance of any individual day becomes clear and the little decision trees on the paths taken and not grow or recede in importance.

8:15 AM: With a loving adieu to Ezina, Denise and I hit the trail for the big island - Manhattan.  First we must sojourn over to Journal Square to pick of the PATH and it is here we must make our first choice: WTC train or 34th Street.  I worked in Midtown in those days, so my normal selection is the 34th Street train; Denise worked at the Empire State Building then, so we had to at least consider the WTC.  No direct trains from the WTC to the ESB - and the 34th Street train always seemed to come with a higher frequency - so the choice was an easy, if fortuitous one.  This - E, A, C, 2, 3, 1, 9, N, R - is my list of WTC trains, which I memorized with a little tune sung to the beat of some long forgotten rap, most likely by Black Sheep.  Either way, I was pretty good on the Midtown and West Side trains - the ESB was some old East Side route that would just get me lost, regardless of the 8 years I spent in and around NYC.  So by 0830 hours, Denise and I were Midtown bound on the 34th Street PATH train.

8:45 AM: I walked toward my uptown train, while Denise headed above ground to walk from 6th Avenue eastward to the ESB on 34th.

8:55 AM: Lets say it was the C train that took me to the Rockefeller Center stop, but regardless of the train, I always rode toward the front car as I could then exit at about 50th Street and I still needed to head a few blocks north to 55th, where the Accenture office was located.  And it was here, coming above ground that I noticed today was not an ordinary day.

For rising into the sunshine of was seemed to be a glorious September morn, I witnessed a most incredulous sight: New Yorkers standing stock still on the sidewalk, peering southward through the buildings for a glance at . . . what?  I had no idea and I did not care, so I brushed past the folks pretending to be tourists in a classic, "I'm a New Yorker and only newbies from the sticks gape"maneuver, as I made my way to my office.

9:00 AM: Second sign - the receptionist on the third floor was staring, mouth agape, at something on her computer screen as I walked by and she said to me, "A plane just crashed into the WTC!"

It is possible that my first reaction was to laugh, but I do recall that I was sure it was some dunce in a propjet, who lost control of his plane in a stiff breeze and was pushed into the one of the towers.  I headed for my desk to boot up my computer and get on the internet to see what I could see.

9:02 AM: Passing a colleague in the hallway, he also mentioned the WTC being struck, but added that the second tower had been hit too; and it began to dawn on me that this was some sort of attack.  Reaching my desk, I attempted to call my sister to see if she was okay - but all of the circuits in Manhattan were busy.  I attempted to call Ezina and see if she were still at home, but lines to Jersey City were tied up as well.  The only person I could reach was my Mom - who had seen more of the attack than I had since she was watching television in Pittsford, NY that day - and I was able to convince her that Manhattan was a big island and that I was no where near the WTC.  No mean feat.  I explained that I could not call Denise - and I think she had already spoken to her - so I asked her to call Denise back and ask her to meet me on Sixth Avenue at 34th Street, so we could head back to Jersey City.  Certain that this plan would work, I began to leave work almost as soon as I arrived, feeling more than a little uncertain and with less surety to my step.

9:30 AM: Passing people in the hallway - some still arriving to work, others now leaving - it was clear that a consensus on what to do next had not yet developed.  I said my goodbyes as I headed for the elevator, still wondering where Ezina was and how I was ever going to find Denise in a city of 8 million people.  Little did I know that Denise had turned around even faster than I had, as the ESB was being evacuated upon her arrival there.

Everyone that more attacks were on the way and that the ESB was next.

As she used to work on Sixth Avenue, she was already headed towards me, thinking she was going to stop by her old colleagues and make sure they were okay.  We must have met on Sixth Avenue, just south of 42nd Street.  The sidewalks were full of people, the police were out in the streets and everyone was asking to borrow everyone else's cell phone.

I think the Nextel Direct Connect phones were still working; all I know is I could not call Denise and she could not call me - but we could each reach Mom.

Denise and I began to head west, so that we could reach the ferries heading back to New Jersey.  Thousands of people were migrating the same way, so we ducked into a bodega to get some water - just in case we were on the streets for awhile.

It never connects in one's mind that Manhattan is an island - until getting off it becomes of supreme importance and the roads and the rails are blocked off.

10:30 AM: As Denise and I finally reached West End Avenue, we still could not see the entrance to the ferry way.  Instead, all we could see was a massive line of people and like the good former public school children we were, we blended in with the line, secure in the knowledge that it would take us to our destination.

11:30 AM: We could tell those who were coming up from the site of the WTC, as they were covered from head to toe in dust and still had the shell-shocked look of a survivor that we had previously only viewed from the safety of our television screens in some Hollywood blockbuster.

12:30 PM: Most of the folks in line only had rumors as too what was going on.  Denise and I heard tales of other planes going into other buildings across the country.  The Sears Tower was high on everyone's lips and of course, the Pentagon.  I began to recall the one Tom Clancy novel that ends with a pilot crashing a plane into the Congress and I wondered if we were going to see that occur in real-life.

1:30 PM: Denise and I begin to be able to view the actual ferries boarding, so we know it will not be long now.  To this point, our only view of downtown has been blocked by buildings and smoke, so we cannot yet add our names to the rolls of eyewitnesses to the calamity, at least.

2:00 PM: At last, we board a ferry heading to Hoboken, but instead of straining westward, my eyes are drawn back to the southeast.  Where the towers had stood for decades, there was nothing, save for smoke and flames.  Overhead, flew F-16s or some other fighter jet - on patrol and searching the sky for targets.

Jets that appear friendly and welcoming at an air show, become terrifying when you know that it is seeking something to kill.

2:30 PM: Finally, back ashore in New Jersey - but we are not home yet.  We still need to find a bus that would take us back to Jersey City from Hoboken.  Thankfully, there are people around who point us in the right direction and we load up on a bus and await departure.  I think the woman sitting next to Denise is carrying some sort of dead animal with her - for what reason I cannot begin to fathom.  All I want to do is get home.

3:00 PM: Denise and I finally arrive back home in Palatine and I am at last reunited with my wife.  We place calls to our parents and let them know we are all fine.  And then - Ezina lets loose with the stir craziness that has enveloped her day and starts to talk about getting her hair done.  Denise encourages this sort of talk with comments like: "I really need my hair done too".  So together they depart for the Newport Mall in Jersey City, in the hope that it remains open.

I am unable to leave - after having spent hours attempting to get home, it will take more than a hair appointment to pry me away.

4:30 PM: Denise and Ezina return as they left; the shops at the mall having closed long ago.

I have no idea what happened on 12 September of 2001 and only fragments of the rest of the month. I know by the end of the month I am on a plane again, returning to Miami for my project at Ryder.  I know that this plane is sparsely populated by wary travelers - each of us eyeballing the other and assessing our odds on whether we could take them - should it come to that.

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Methinks the lady doth protest too much

All of this analysis was merely preamble to this prescription:

"A good start would be for Obama to apologize to Clinton supporters for not coming to her defense during the primaries and helping her battle a torrent of sexist media criticism."

It seems that what has really gotten stuck in Ms. Urbe's craw is the thumpin' her candidate took at the hands of this impetuous upstart. You see, according to Ms. Urbe, it is not the voters who select presidential nominees, no - that prerogative belongs to the media elite. The fact that Senator Obama would deign to go over her head and speak directly to the people is - in her eyes - just more proof of his elitism!

"How dare he!, she cries, "How dare he!"

No, Ms. Urbe, how dare you.

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I Try Not to Think of Republicans

Mostly because, they certainly don't think about me.

But this VP selection by McCain does have me flummoxed.

I was certain that Rob Portman would be his choice: Portman is known as a budget hawk - so he plays into the "I am going to trim the federal budget meme; Portman is from Ohio - and that is a state McCain wants to attempt to win; and Portman may have had a role in the Bush Administration - but who holds the OMB Director accountable for the mistakes like Katrina?

When I heard the initial reports, I assumed it was some false fire being sent out to misdirect the media and keep everything secret until the announcement. Instead, the story I thought to be too crazy turned out to be true.

Never to old to learn a new trick, I guess.

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Respect Yourself

If you disrespect everybody that you run into - how in the world do you think anybody gonna respect you?

In this piece from Friday (still returning to normal; long trip back from the DNC in Denver), respected (?) journalist provides his analysis on the convention speeches - with his greatest focus on Obama's acceptance speech and the themes it contained. How does his analysis conclude? Well, like so many in the press, he has some advice for our young hero, so that the good ship Change - as navigated by Obama - does not run aground on the rocky shores of reality. The reality in this case being, attempts to portray this son of a single mom, raised by his grandparents will have a hard time convincing people he is not an elitist - given how thin he is and how "difficult it is to imagine Obama - so disciplined and imperially slim - wolfing down a Big Mac".

This qualifies as political analysis nowadays? One perhaps should not be surprised by this piece from this author and from this journal; after all - it was the National Journal who trumpeted to the world the very liberal status of this Senator from Illinois. Somewhat obviating the fact that his voting record - on which this claim was based - was necessarily impacted by his travel schedule for the 18 months of this presidential campaign. Regardless, let me keep my focus on that "difficult to imagine" line from this "analysis"; apparently - if you are black - you can be too rich and too thin. Sure, Obama is not as rich as John McCain - for all of her charms, Michelle Robinson Obama has never been described as an heiress - but his books have made him wealthy (damn those people who have the temerity to be good writers! John McCain knows that Senators are supposed to have their books ghost-written for them). And his tendency towards frequent exercise and healthy living has led him away from a fast food diet - two tendencies that are most certainly not shared by our increasingly overweight and diabetic society. So of course, it is entirely appropriate for an analysis of four days of convention speeches to zero in on the major problem Obama has: "imperially slimness" and an inability to credibly "[wolf] down a Big Mac".

And this man hopes to be taken seriously as a respected journalist.

Now, I know not what is in Ron Brownstein's heart; I only know the man by his actions. And for him to write that Obama cannot seriously be credited with humble beginnings because he is both now successful - usually a good trait in those we seek for our highest office - and disciplined (horror of horrors!) is to enact journalistic malpractice and or malfeasance. One has to wonder what crosses the mind of a man as he commits such words to electronic ink: do they cause his heart to fill with the simple pride of a job well-done? I know that much is made these days of how little esteem the public holds for the press: I say the press must first respect themselves to engender respect from the public.

When you put your name to a piece of analysis that proffers the difficulties a candidate would face in credibly downing a Big Mac, you disrespect yourself and your profession.

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The Greater Fool

This shouldn't bother me; its just a throw-away line mostly ancillary to the larger point the author is attempting to make: 

"Walking through the Olympic Village the other day, here’s what struck me most: the Russian team all looks Russian; the African team all looks African; the Chinese team all looks Chinese; and the American team looks like all of them."

So says New York Times globalism columnist, Tom Friedman.  You see my problem, right?

"The African team all looks African" - just what team is he referring to here?  Teams at the Olympics are by country and my map has not a country called 'Africa'.  It has a very beautiful continent with that name, but try as I might, I cannot see the country to which he refers.

But isn't this was outsiders in general and white people in particular have always done?  It is interesting that the one place they actually concede the invisibility of political borders is when it comes to Africa.  Mention some small Georgian republic and white folks are up and arms about just where South Ossetia belongs, but they day in and day out express a disregard for whether or not Kenya, Ethiopia or Morocco exist as separate nations.

As I said before, this is nothing new - and in the whole scheme of things I should probably ignore this remark.

And yet, I can't.

Because there is a larger context here: what if there was a United Republic of Afrika?  The UAR could be a mighty force amongst the nations of the world and powerful enough to prevent the corporate looting of the natural resources of the first continent.  The UAR could be strong enough to protect its citizens and project a positive image of Afrikan ability across the world.

Perhaps Mr. Friedman has - accidentally, of course - provided us with a road map on how to make the 21st century an Afrikan century.

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Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest

In my Avis Rental car yesterday, I was treated to an XM Radio discussion on POTUS08 with the author of "The Faith of Barack Obama"; there were several misstatements of Black Liberation Theology as well as what Obama's faith means to him and although I do not have as large a podium as an internationally - indeed, intergalactic - broadcast radio program, I do want to address those with you here in this letter.

First, clearly Black Liberation Theology is too complex for someone such as the author to grasp in the one weekend he spent at Trinity United Church of Christ, so perhaps he is to be forgiven for the mistakes he made of mischaracterizing this theological viewpoint. Even so, his references to the church and its former pastor as "cult-like" are beyond insulting and are no doubt due to his ignorance, as opposed to any specific teaching he may have heard or read about. By example, let me delve into the author's statements that Dr. Cone's phraseology of equating "black" with oppressed and "white" with oppressor is a confusing construct, in that these theological terms of good and evil are not specifically mapped back to the equivalent racial terms; i.e. - being black racial does not equate to being automatically good spiritually and the same is true for white people in that they are not - by theological definition - automatically evil. What the author should have said is these terms were confusing to him - as someone not culturally educated with a view of the world through the eyes of a black man - and especially not the eyes of a black man in the 1960s when Black Liberation Theology was defined. Seemingly the task of attempting to understand the black experience is too difficult for the author, as he was manifestly unable to imagine just how a black man of the 1960s could have many examples in his life of white being equivalent to his oppressor and this makes the author unable to make the spiritual and theological leap that Dr. Cone was seeking to use as a pathway to open the heart of man to the Lord.

Second, the author describes how central doubt is to Obama's faith - and then he criticizes him for having the temerity to express doubt in an example given in his second book, when he was discussing the afterlife with his child. Whereas the author has certain faith, an unquestioning faith, Obama has a faith that says he believes - without requiring specific knowledge of the Lord's intention or his plans. Which one of these men has placed his trust in the Lord and which one has boxed the Lord into a position? More importantly, rather than attempting to gauge the quality of one's faith against another, Christians are called to welcome one another as brothers and not perform faith checks upon one another and call those out whom we find lacking according to a standard of man - and not a standard of God.

Let me close with one example of how the author substituted his own standard for faith: he praised McCain's swift and sure answer to the question: when does life begin? McCain answered immediately - conception - whereas Obama demurred and said that question was above his pay grade. The author criticized Obama for his answer - but provided no example text from the scripture to back up his criticism. This surely means the answer came from the word of the author and not the word of God.

Now, I know not the mind of God so I have no idea whether the author and John McCain are right when they posit that life begins at conception; what I do know is that for that to be the case, the number of abortions that pro-lifers like to put forth as having occurred since the advent of Roe v Wade is woefully inadequate. They are simply talking about doctor-aided abortions; the human female aborts embryos all of the time - we call these miscarriages in some instances. In other instances, a fertilized egg - meaning post conception - is simply allowed to exit the uterus as it occurred to late in the cycle to reach implantation in the uterine wall. As a lay person, I know not the word for this case, but here is the point: if life begins at conception - any fertilized egg that does not reach birth is an abortion - according to McCain, meaning that it is the taking of another human life. As a legislator, McCain has never sanctioned murder, so the logical conclusion of his position and the author's, is that every instance of a fertilized egg that does not result in a human birth must be investigated to determine if a murder has occurred. Does McCain really want to add to the trauma of a miscarriage with the trauma of a police investigation? And how would he even be made aware of the passage of an egg that was fertilized and not implanted? Would he mandate the collection of tampons and maxi-pads for forensic analysis? And would he then fill the jails with women who had sex too late in their cycle for implantation of the egg to take place? They would be knowingly risking the act of conception - creating a human life - with no hope of that life to continue living? Would McCain classify that as murder, manslaughter or criminally-negligent homicide?

Yes - McCain received a roar of adulation from the crowd for both his response and the author's, but this answer was as equally thoughtless as it was swift; perhaps the first response is not always the right response. Perhaps having a President who knows that is a good thing.

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It is possible for McCain to be worse than Bush

So, Russia is threatening Poland?  Why does this all so sound familiar? 

Remember this - http://archives.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS/12/13/rec.bush.abm/ - back when Bush was still young (but apparently post his days of 'youthful indiscretion') and even more arrogant (did I just use the wrong adjective?) than he is these days (I know - sounds crazy, right?), he unceremoniously told the Russians that he was pulling the US out of the ABM Treaty.  He derided the 30-year old treaty as little more than an historical document on several occasions.

Brings his treatment of the US Constitution into bas-relief, no?

Any-hoo, were we to journey past 2002, even back unto those long-ago, halcyon days of yore - 1972 - we could witness some wild-eyed liberal by the name of RIchard Nixon, as he signed an agreement with another group of commie, pinko leftists; said agreement having as its underlying intent to weaken the US defense and . . . 

Wait - that doesn't sound right.

What is right is that this ABM Treaty was brought to us by Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev and its actual intent was to free each nation - the US and the USSR - from the enormous expense of attempting to bring into life the missile defense systems that each nation had been pursuing for decades - unsuccessfully, as it turned out.  It was the advent of Multiple, Independent, Re-entry Vehicles - MIRV - that made previous attempts to create missile defense systems obsolete and so our defensive posture and the Soviets turned toward MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction.  MAD worked for decades as no matter how insane each nations leaders appeared to be in order to gain power, no one was crazy enough to think they could get away with destroying an enemy with nuclear weapons and still escape retribution.

Until - a man, a plan, a canal - SDI: Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative - or 'Star Wars' to its detractors; Reagan promised to end MAD and provide the US with the ability to nuke half the world, while remaining securely ensconced within the warm, safe arms of space-based lasers.

Believe me: it is a much crazier plan than that last sentence made it appear.

I will not go into all of the reasons why that is to; some nice folks over at Wikipedia have given some interesting background information here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Ballistic_Missile_Treaty - as what I really want to talk about today is Poland (aka, "New Europe").

Russia's invasion of Georgia was their way of announcing to the world that they are sick and tired of US poaching on states to close to the Russian border.  Call it a sphere of influence, call it a zone of security, call it what you will: Russia does not appreciate how the US and Europe extended the North Atlantic Treaty Organization right up to the Ural Mountains.  Note that Georgia was on the list of nations who have sought entrance into NATO.  Note also that Poland has been proceeding ahead with plans to allow the US to install interceptors for a missile shield on their territory.  And note, finally, that it was this week that Poland and the US moved to sign the paperwork on that missile shield.  At the same time as those discussions were taking place, not only was Russia letting the world see what it thought of Georgia's plans, they also had one of their generals announce - to the world - that the presence of these interceptors made Poland a target for nuclear attack.

Bush began his administration pulling out of the ABMT; he is ending his administration by placing missile interceptors in Poland; and in between, he has launched to wars: one in the former Soviet client state of Afghanistan and the other in the once and future (?) client state of Iraq.  Contemporaneously with these two wars, the US has gone from a massive budget surplus to an equally massive budget deficit; the price of oil - for our oil-based economy has risen more than ten-fold from $10 a barrel to $115 a barrel; and Russia has gone from an indebted nation unable to feed its own people into the worlds largest purveyor of oil and natural gas.  For God's sake - they have brought the word 'oligarch' back into existence! 

And these are the policies that John McCain wants to expand upon?

No thanks. 

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We do not have a divided electorate

We have an apathetic electorate.

There is a difference.

Most years, we struggle to reach 50% turnout of registered voters on election day; this is what we saw in 2000.  2004 saw almost 60% of registered voters turn out to vote and I predict this year we will cross over 70%.

What does that mean?

Well, first of all it means the polls do not matter.  Polls have a metric they call, "likely voters" and each pollster defines it differently - but the one thing they all agree on is that if you did not vote in the last election, you are not likely to vote in this one.

When you have the Obama campaign spreading out across neighborhoods across the nation and registering people to vote for the first time - what do you think happens when pollsters call them?

High Turnout + New Voters + Enthusiasm = Obama +20 in the popular vote and Obama over 350 in the electoral college. 

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Now we are discussing Black Republicans?

Why do black Americans fret about our membership numbers in the Republican Party? They do not fret about it. Did you see McCain's presence at the NAACP and NUL conventions as more than just going through the motions?

The Republicans made an explicit choice after Goldwater lost in 1964, that they would be the party of all interests antithetical to black people. There were black Republicans; Democrats coveted our votes and so they pursued Civil RIghts legislation. We left the Republican Party as for more than a century after the Civil War, their promises to look after our interests were met with sullen statements about how they could not get simple laws passed that required our voices to be heard. Now, you might put the start date with FDR and someone else might put it with Truman, but the fact is by 1960, the Democratic Party was no longer the party of Woodrow Wilson - who hosted the KKK in the White House and that noxious movie, Birth of a Nation - and it was the party of JFK.

There is a reason that man's photo still hangs in the houses of our aging grandparents.

In five years, the coalition JFK and LBJ built did for black Americans what Republicans had failed to do for well more than a century.

(NB: Have you heard about that book - Slavery by Another Name?)

So has the Democratic Party fallen short in areas since the 60s?


Has the Democratic Party coasted on the good graces earned by their representatives from the 60s?


Perhaps, the problem was not with the Democratic Party. Perhaps - with the candidacy of Barack Obama - we are beginning to see that it was not just the amorphous noun, "the Democratic Party" that was lying stagnate, but it was the black political consciousness - such as it is.

And now that we are experiencing a revival - you want to discuss going back to our former home? The home from which we were thrown and the home in which Rush Limbaugh now lives?

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Can we end this "experience" debate?

First rule for observers of the American political scene is to ignore any media analysis that posits a "horse race" meme. Here are several reasons why:

  1. Journalists interpret their commitment to objectivity as requiring them to balance ever positive statement of a candidate with a negative statement. Reporters, anchors and editors fear applying any value metric - that's subjective! - and so they merely present tables of "this helped candidate X; this hurt candidate X.
  2. Media outlets need to sell papers and get ratings. Conflict, division, battle - these are the themes that attract attention from viewers and readers. Witness how early polls that showed Obama with a wide lead were immediately discounted as false.
  3. Focus on an allegedly tight national poll ignores the fact that we do not elect presidents that way; we elect presidents on a state by state basis. And yet even here - where Obama has held a consistent 20 electoral vote lead by the most conservative estimate since the conclusion of the Democratic primary season - the commentary from journalists tend more toward, "why isn't his lead even larger?" This is the classic case of comparing Obama to a "generic" Democrat and saying that he is not doing as well as that "generic" candidate. This ignores the fact that he was not in a contest against a "generic" Democrat, he was in contest with Clinton, Edwards, Biden, Richardson, et al. Then and now he is performing better than any of those candidates.
But I started all of this with a plea to end this senseless debate on "experience". Journalists create this artificial "horse race" meme and then attempt to fill the space with their analysis. Their faith in how they apply "objectivity" causes them to continually posit pros and cons of each candidate and then they answer their own question as to the state of the "horse race" with opinions as to why candidate X is performing not up to their expectations. They have chosen "experience" as one reason for Obama's reportedly lower performance - again compared to that generic Democrat.

Is it not the very definition of insanity to do what "experience" has taught you to do and still expect a different result? We know what experience told us to do when it comes to energy supplies: go to war to obtain the energy resources needed. That is what WWII was all about, was it not? Did we not cement our alliance with the House of Saud as a result of that war? So when two oilmen enter the White House and develop an energy plan in secret - can we not assume that the plan was developed from their experience?

Experience is changing our environment, this is a confirmed fact that we can all see every day. We do not know what the new environment will be and we do not know if we can live in that environment; why should we risk finding out? Why would we bet the lives of our children and all of their children in some selfish quest to do what our experience tells us to do?

We have a need; we can call that need "change", but what we need is to do something new. We cannot do what we did before - what our experience has taught us to do - as that way is the path to death. The human - the animal - instinct for survival compels us to veer off the well-trod path of experience.

McCain wants you to think that Obama is risky. Nothing could be more risky than electing a man who is so incapable of learning something new - of doing something different - that he has his staff "bring him interesting information off the internet."

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A republic - if you can keep it

To whom should we - the citizens who have ennobled and enriched the free press and its associated television reporters, anchors and commentators - lodge our complaints of malfeasance against the ABC News organization and their corporate overlords at Disney?

I was reading Glenn Greenwald today on Salon.com and he laid out a fairly prima facie case that tied ABC News and their atrocious reporting on the anthrax case to the thin fibers of a causus belli for war to depose Saddam Hussein. What we know now - in the absence of honest reporting by ABC News - is that government officials deliberately lied to ABC News to get an implication of Saddam Hussein's involvement in that anthrax attack. These repeated insinuations have been cited by as high an authority as President Bush as an exemplar of Saddam's status as an original member of the "axis of evil" and just the sort of evil dictator who could no longer be allowed to operate in a post-9/11 world.

- ABC News has information on several government sources who spread false information about that anthrax attack.

- ABC News has not revealed which government operatives were spreading those lies that implicated Saddam Hussein in that anthrax attack.

- We are approaching our second presidential election since a war against Iraq was launched - resulting in the deaths of more than 100K people, final toll TBD - and a "news" organization with critical information on how and why we are at this point is sitting on it; for what reason?

This is beyond a complaint letter to an ombudsman. This is not something that the Justice Department can even begin to investigate as they are hopeless compromised. There is no independent counsel law and who would trust one appointed by this President. Congressional hearings have been debased from the point of view of the public.

To what institution can we turn to redress this ill?

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McCain first played the race card

What follows is my latest attempt to check fools - this time on "John in Carolina". This comment has not made the cut there - yet.

Tarheel Hawkeye: let me be more clear; apparently, I was too diffuse earlier.

Obama has not questioned McCain's status as an American.

McCain has - implicitly - questioned Obama's status as an American ("The American President the American people have been waiting for" - and he did so with a dangling participle)

McCain attacked Obama's status as an American through Obama's African - black - father.

McCain was the first to play the race card in this presidential contest and he did so in the most incorrigible way possible: by insinuating that by the "black blood" Obama carries directly, he cannot be the American President the American people have been awaiting.

This statement was a direct descendant of the thinking that led to the decision in the Dred Scott case of 1854, wherein the Supreme Court of this land stated that no black man had any rights which need be respected by law. The drafters of the Constitution denied citizenship - American-ness - to the African residents of this country; the Supreme Court reinforced that otherness in Dred Scott and nameless other decisions as well. John McCain reincarnated that philosophy with his initial campaign ad of the general election.

I know you have named this blog "John in Carolina", but I hope and pray that it is not beholden to the same old tired rhetoric that claims blacks are not citizens and can never be citizens.

A war was fought over that idea.

Many people died over that question.

Must we repeat that war in the 21st century?

McCain chose to play the race card, because he believes - cynically - that it is his best hope for bypassing the failures of the administration he seeks to succeed.

His act was beneath him.

Defense of that act is beneath you and I alike.

PS - I brought up Helms and Gantt simply for the connection to Carolina and it seemed a nice corollary to the point that bringing up race has long been a component of Republican electoral strategy. A quick read through comments that call Obama an "affirmative action candidate" - firms up that tie-in as affirmative action was the culprit in that Helms ad against Gantt then too.

Black people are not now and have never been the enemy of this country. We have fought for the American ideal in every war this nation has ever waged - even before the fruits of freedom were secured for us and our kin. Anyone who attempts to drive a wedge between Americans of "different" racial backgrounds is seeking to build up their own power base and not to build up our nation.

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Now is the Time!

If I had a nickel for everytime someone told me not to get overconfident in planning for an Obama presidency . . . well, I would have a great many nickels.

I'm just saying.

2008 is not the same as 2000 or 2004 and here is why: the batteground is not limited to just one or two states. In 2000, FL and NM were the states where the vote went down to the wire; in 2004 it was Ohio. A historical review shows that Democrats and Republicans only really contested a few states and Republicans did what it took to win those states. Now, we can debate whether "by any means necessary" included breaking the law, but the fact remains GWB was declared the victor in both those elections.

In 2008, this election will be contested in OH and PA and FL and GA and VA and NC and MT and NM and CO and perhaps even KS. Not even the great and powerful Oz (Rove) can rig elections in that many states on one day. This means that all we - the people - need to do is ensure that we are driving the vote across these states.

I heard a man say once that the people - united - can never be defeated.

Register every voter you can and the people will take care of the rest.

And ignore the national polls! Use the state polls to stay motivated:




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Tom Clancy Novel's Are GR8

Delusional. No other word can describe Joe's thesis that the NY Times "outed" Deuce Martinez because, "he not on their side, they don't like what he is doing".

Martinez, gets information from terrorists by talking to them - not by torturing them. Ipso facto, he is not on Joe's side; Joe has been the Morning Joe voice in favor of terror.

One can only conclude that Joe has become delusional on this point, as he seeks an avenue through which to hammer the NY Times over the revelation of a CIA-agent's identity.

But he has a problem here too: there is no motive in the NY Times revelation - other than gettng the best story (and we all know that without the name, opponents of the paper would have cried 'foul' and insisted it was fabricated). Whereas the Plame revelation by the President, clearly had the intent to discredit a critic of his plan to attack Iraq (and isn't it amazing how a 'slam dunk' policy could need such scurrilous defending; almost leads one to the conclusion tha the President didn't believe his policy was so strong).

Furthermore, outing Plame may not have endangered her life, but as any Tom Clancy novel tells us, the CIA often has assets in front companies, whose role it is to recruit covert operatives in foreign lands - in the hopes that they will be better able to blend in with foreign cultures than the average American.

How many of those recruits who were seen with that pretty, blond American woman (nah - who could have remembered her?) found themselves scrambling through streets all around the world in a desperate run out of town and country?

Oh well, its not like we need CIA assets.

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Dummies in the Attic

This article raises more questions than answers: what makes the Disney movie "more" racist than the stories of Harris; from whence did the "Atlanta society ladies" come by their belief that they were doing with the will of Harris - when he had no will; what was the purpose of raising the essay by writer Alice Walker, if you were not going to analyze her criticisms and either validate them or repudiate them?

Actually - you seemed to come down on the side of repudiation - but you provided no evidence for the reader as to how you made that choice (were that actually your decision, which again was unclear from the reading).

With no evidence presented to the contrary and with all of the evidence presented showing in the affirmative (pre-Civil War Southern male, no discussion whether he fought for our against the South; stated opposition to integration - might this be from whence those Southern ladies drew their conclusions?; profiting for generations from the tales of slaves - with no evidence given how how he pro-offered remuneration to those slaves and their descendants) how are we to conclude otherwise but that Harris was as racist as the Disney movies made from his stories?

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Card Sharks


Please convince your colleagues that this proposal to lift the ban on offshore oil and gas exploration is akin to a shell game; no matter how desperate one is for the prize being offered, one must always remember the first rule of a shell game: the mark doesn't win.  

Oil prices have risen to near $150 a barrel; gasoline prices have risen to near $5 a gallon. No matter how enticing the proposals being made - regardless of the hundreds of billions of potential barrels of oil that are being bandied about - they cannot reduce oil prices and/or gasoline prices one whit.  

What has happened to the Republican Party? Formerly the party of the "rational actor" theory of economics (you remember: the Chicago School and Milton Friedman), they have now become the home for a quasi-behavioral economics and they espouse pop-psychology theories of energy that sound more at home in an infomercial.  


Our economy - and the world economy - is built on growth. Without growth, all of our structures will not merely crumble, they will implode in spectacular fashion. For most of the 20th century, that growth was a US-led growth, as Europe spent several decades either at war, preparing for war or recovering from war; it was only after the fall of Communism and the Berlin Wall that Europe could turn their attention to growth and by then their population was aging. The last decade of the 20th century saw the rise of China and India as economic nations, as they embraced growth in as fierce a fashion as did the early stage capitalists of our own post Civil War Reconstruction. But their populations were/are larger than Europe and they are growing as rapidly as their economies. So, while once the US had the population and the economy to use all of our oil and much of the Arabian oil supplies too, now we have competitor economies and populations for those same oil resources. Were barrels of oil akin to those of Saudi Arabia found off our shores, instead of supporting the economic engines of 300 million people, they would be tossed onto the world market for the 3 billion people of the developed and developing worlds (while we carry along another 3 billion people just as hungry but just out of reach of the bounties of our tables). The economics of supply and demand tell us that not only is there not enough oil to lower the price on a per barrel basis, they also tell us that the longer we wait to transition to a post oil economy the higher the prices will be (and the resultantly higher hardships).  

The only way not to lose a game of Three-Card Monte is not to play a game of Three Card Monte; tell your friends.

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