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Archive for May 2008

Bush’s lack of truthfulness much more disturbing than whether he tried cocaine

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Fri, 05/30/2008 – 9:27am

I have never tried cocaine.

I know this. I know I haven’t been offered cocaine. I know that, too. True, I haven’t been in such an alcoholic stupor that it’s possible someone put cocaine into my bloodstream through my nasal passages without my knowledge.

So we are supposed to believe George W. Bush doesn’t quite know if he took cocaine? At least Bill Clinton knew that he smoked a joint (even if he claimed that he didn’t inhale).

Here’s more on the story:

In 1999, at a hotel suite “somewhere in the Midwest,” McClellan recalls the Bush mind when dealing with rumors that the then-Texas governor had used cocaine.

Writes McClellan: “‘The media won’t let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,’ I heard Bush say. ‘You know, the truth is I honestly don’t remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don’t remember.’

“I remember thinking to myself, How can that be? How can someone simply not remember whether or not they used an illegal substance like cocaine? It didn’t make a lot of sense.”

And yet, McClellan concludes, “I think he meant what he said in that conversation about cocaine. It’s the first time when I felt I was witnessing Bush convincing himself to believe something that probably was not true, and that, deep down, he knew was not true. And his reason for doing so is fairly obvious – political convenience…”

As citizens, it’s fair to say we don’t care if Bush did cocaine, or whether Clinton smoked marijuana, or whether Barack Obama experimented with marijuana and cocaine. So why not just tell us the truth?

Clinton’s story, however pathetic, had to be the truth because why would someone make that up? After all, Al Gore and Newt Gingrich admitted marijuana use.

We hope we’ve come a long way since 1987 when Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee Douglas H. Ginsburg was hounded for his admitted marijuana use.

Given the obsession against marijuana in this country, maybe it’s time we had someone in office who understood what marijuana is really all about and find a more practical reasonable strategy for the “drug war.” Clinton’s story diminished his credibility to reform marijuana laws, even if the story was true. And Bush’s refusal to even discuss any drug use, especially alcohol, means he won’t help either.

It would be nice to see that Obama can do some good, perhaps if nothing else, call off the dogs on going after state medical marijuana laws. And if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, it would be great to see some changes from her, regardless of her previous drug use or lack of it.

So we don’t care that our leaders have experimented with drugs, and they won’t suffer politically for doing so. But if they can’t be straight with us, it speaks volumes for their ability to lead: Clinton and Obama have been straight with us. Bush claims he doesn’t know what the truth is. And it shows.

Written by democracysoup

May 30, 2008 at 9:27 am

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If you ran the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, how would you divide the Michigan and Florida delegates?

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Fri, 05/30/2008 – 7:58am

And who ever said political fun can’t happen on a Saturday? It’s not a primary or a caucus, but it is where the political spotlight will shine on Saturday. It’s a meeting of the Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws Committee.

Michigan. Florida. Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton. Voters. Delegates. Superdelegates.

We know the committee will rule not only on the percentage of votes from the two states but also whether the delegates will be seated at full strength or half-strength or possibly not at all.

I am offering my own personal opinion (and not that of BuzzFlash management): I would like to see the delegates awarded based on the vote totals in Michigan and Florida (no matter how flawed the elections were), where Sen. Hillary Clinton would get 55% in Michigan and 50% in Florida. Sen. Barack Obama would get the rest of the delegates, essentially all the non-Clinton delegates. If you first want to give the Edwards delegates in Florida to Edwards, then that’s fine with me. They will likely end up in the Obama column anyway. As for full- or half-strength, I’m not as passionate about that stance. Seating the delegates and giving them half a vote seems a fair penalty, and matches what the Republicans did.

But perhaps you have a different take on what the committee should do. So put yourself in the committee’s shoes: if you got to decide what happens with Michigan and Florida, how would you divvy up the delegates in each state? Let us know what you think.

Written by democracysoup

May 30, 2008 at 7:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Does facial hair or a modern hairstyle influence whether you would vote for a candidate?

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Fri, 05/30/2008 – 6:24am

picture of me from me

We’ve talked about many things that can unofficially disqualify you as a president or vice president, e.g., not having a religion. But one thing that presidents and vice presidents used to have and haven’t had for a long time might be making a comeback: beards.

The picture up above is my beard. Does that disqualify me from being president or vice president?

Photo: Alex Brandon/Associated Press
Here is a picture of Bill Richardson with a beard next to Barack Obama.



Photo: Manuel Bruque, AP

And here is Al Gore with a beard.

The last president with facial hair was William Howard Taft with a nice mustache. The last president with a beard was Benjamin Harrison.

photo from here

Is there a difference between a full beard along the lines of Abraham Lincoln and a Van Dyke like mine? Does that make a difference?

I looked at the other major vice presidential candidates to see if any of them had beards. Republican politicians would seem more reluctant to grow facial hair. I knew none of the major Republican contenders had a beard, though I had to check Florida Governor Charlie Crist, since I didn’t know what he looked like. I looked at Crist, and I didn’t see a beard.

Now we don’t want to be biased against women in this feature. Generally, women politicians wear conservative hairstyles. Could a woman contender wear a more modern hairstyle or wear streaks in their hair and still get elected?

picture of the singer Pink

Dyeing the hair isn’t an issue at all. If we could live through the jet-black hair of Ronald Reagan, hair color won’t matter.

But let us know what you think. Would facial hair cause you to be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate? What about a modern hairstyle for a female candidate: more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate?

Written by democracysoup

May 30, 2008 at 6:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

So far, so bad when it comes to media coverage of the 2008 presidential race

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Thu, 05/29/2008 – 9:26am

If you never got punished for breaking a lamp, would that increase the chances of you breaking a lamp?

John McCain parlayed a classic tactic from the Busheviks, and got the same treatment the Busheviks got for doing it – nothing.

What feat did McCain pull off? “Releasing” his medical records on a Friday. And McCain, knowing that after eight years of Bush, you have to add something new to the mix: not only doing so on a Friday before one of the few holidays we get as Americans, but also showing some of the pages to a select few reporters for a short period of time with no photocopies. George W. Bush was probably so proud of McCain at that moment.

Now that to the average non-pundit, what McCain did was asinine and should be showered with scorn. And even worse than his “release” of his tax returns. But in the MSM, McCain got away with something that even Bush hadn’t done.

So honestly, why shouldn’t McCain keep doing cheap crappy stunts such as this? If you don’t think you will get punished, why wouldn’t you keep doing it?

We have reached a logical point to assess where the media has been so far. Disappointed? It’s a natural reaction: we’ve had Charlie Gibson’s obsession with capital gains tax rates and rich “middle-class” people, Chris Matthews’ misogyny against Hillary Clinton, obsessions with flag pins, FOX ‘News’ false and unprovoked attacks, especially against Barack Obama, one-sided obsessions over pastors, and a lovely mix of racism, sexism, and anti-Muslim bias in a race where no Muslims are running.

And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it will get worse. The MSM loves McCain, so there are many more mistakes he will make where the MSM cries out “oh look, Grandpa said something wrong and/or inflammatory. Isn’t that cute?”

We’ll have many wonderful stories about whether Obama can appeal to white people or older white women or Hispanics or left-handed Asians who are lactose intolerant and don’t like baseball. We will have no such story about whether McCain can appeal to blacks or Hispanics or even independents.

And let’s not leave off the alternative media as well. They have picked up the slack for the MSM (once again), and their efforts are appreciated. But there is one glaring error.

We pick on the MSM when they start a lie and then repeat it so many times (e.g., Al Gore invented the Internet). So when the alternative press does something similar, they need to be called on the carpet.

This is a statement that has been repeated ad nauseam, and it isn’t true: “Hillary Clinton was the only candidate on the ballot in Michigan.”

This statement could be true if you added the word “major” before “candidate.” It would be insulting to Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd, and Mike Gravel, but you could easily argue that it’s true.

So why has the lie been repeated? You could argue that it’s not a lie, they are using short-hand for “well, Barack Obama or John Edwards weren’t on the ballot.” Well, it’s a nasty habit that the MSM does all the time, and it’s still bad.

Harold Meyerson, in yesterday’s column in The Washington Post, had a funny take on the subject.

“Seating Michigan in full would mean the party validates the kind of one-candidate election (well, 1.03, to give Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd and Mike Gravel, who also remained on the ballot, their due) that is more common in autocracies than democracies.”

But hey, Meyerson didn’t spread the lie.

On January 15, you could have argued that Clinton, Obama, or Edwards would win Michigan if all their names were on the ballot. But if Kucinich had won Michigan, the script would have been rewritten. Watching the early stages of the presidential race should be like cooking rice: Let it simmer and don’t stir it up. Let the process happen.

There have been a few good things. Steve Kroft in Ohio telling an interviewee, when that interviewee said Obama was a Muslim, corrected him on camera and said he wasn’t a Muslim. But overall, the media has been sloppy, and in the case of the MSM, lethargic and having a bit of a man-crush on John McCain. Time for the second half, media: let’s do a better job out there about talking about the issues that truly reflect Americans. And in the words of the great philosopher Phil Esterhaus: Hey, let’s be careful out there.

Written by democracysoup

May 29, 2008 at 9:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Obama vs. McCain = Generation X vs. Traditionalists: Which direction do we take?

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Wed, 05/28/2008 – 9:05am

Largest age contrasts on Election Day

Year Older opponent Age Younger opponent Age Age Difference
2008 John McCain 72 Barack Obama 47 25
1856 James Buchanan* 65 John C. Frémont 43 22
1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt* 62 Thomas Dewey 42 20
1844 Henry Clay 67 James K. Polk* 48 19
1852 Winfield Scott 66 Franklin Pierce* 47 19
1812 James Madison* 60 DeWitt Clinton 43 17
1896 William McKinley* 53 William J. Bryan 36 17

* presidential winner. Ages given are on Election Day

I was at a seminar last night that had nothing to do with politics. The speaker started the presentation with an analysis of four generation groups that while nice, had nothing to do much with the subject at hand. But the generational analysis was helpful in putting into perspective the Barack Obama – John McCain matchup in November.

This country has been electing presidents for over 200 years and it is fair to say that generations are now more studied than ever before.

The Barack Obama-John McCain matchup gives us the largest age difference among major party candidates in the history of the United States – 25 years.

The only two previous matchups with a 20+ age difference were 1856 (James Buchanan, 65; John C. Frémont 43 – 22) and 1944 (Franklin D. Roosevelt, 62; Thomas Dewey, 42 – 20).

This country is in the last throes of a 16-year run by Baby Boomers. Short of an upset by Bob Barr or a magical emergence by Hillary Clinton or Al Gore, we are not having a Baby Boomer president in 2008.

The battle will be between, as the seminar presenter labeled them, the matures or traditionalists (John McCain) vs. Generation X (Barack Obama).

Now you might say, “Well, Obama was born in 1961, so technically he’s a Baby Boomer.” The experts sometimes define Generation X as 1961-1981, even if the standard for Baby Boomers is 1946-1964. But whether Obama fits a technical definition is missing the big picture – Obama speaks and acts like Generation X.

I confess to being heavily biased and thrilled that we have a Generation X candidate, given that I am, well, Generation X. This isn’t a knock against Sen. Hillary Clinton (1947) or Sen. John Edwards (1953). At some point, we were going to have a Gen X candidate, and now is a good time for that.

And this isn’t a knock against Baby Boomers, but we need a fresh perspective on the woes of our country. And we need a non-Baby-Boomer perspective. The Baby Boomers did try to change the world 40 years ago, and we still applaud their actions. For those who sold out, their performance lately has been sad. Short-term visions, pandering to middle-class tax cuts, even Bill Clinton’s obsession with school uniforms were part of the Baby Boomer leadership mentality. And this isn’t even counting the travesties of George W. Bush’s short-sightedness.

The seminar presenter was talking about how her generation (Baby Boomers) wasn’t as comfortable with technology as younger generations. Obama’s use of the Internet to raise money is an excellent example where a younger generation’s perspective is useful.

We are getting blown away compared to Japan and South Korea in terms of broadband coverage in the country. For a country that prides itself on using a lot of technology, the United States is far behind the curve. This is an issue that Gen X and Gen Y are concerned about that hasn’t really occurred to the Baby Boomers.

And again no offense to Sen. Clinton but it seems like Obama has a better sense of alternative energies and has a better vision for cars to run on electricity or hydrogen.

This gets us to Sen. John McCain. If the Baby Boomers are clueless about technology, you can imagine what McCain thinks about IM and text messaging LOL. George H.W. Bush is in McCain’s generation, and there were certain prudent moves that someone from that generation would be known for, e.g., not going further into Iraq in 1991. Whether McCain would run the country as a Traditionalist depends on whether he cuts back on the current rhetoric over Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran.

John McCain is not too old to be president – provided he can handle the duties involved. The president on January 20, 2009 will have a lot of work to do, and we can’t have the vacation schedule of George W. Bush. The fact that McCain set so many rules and guidelines for the “release” of his medical records is a very bad sign.

But it’s also that the challenges of the 21st Century need to be met by someone who truly understands the modern world. Barack Obama at 47 makes a lot more sense for the future of this country than John McCain at 72.

Written by democracysoup

May 28, 2008 at 9:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Has Hillary Clinton ‘jumped the shark’?

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Tue, 05/27/2008 – 10:17am

the original “jump the shark

Has Hillary Clinton jumped the shark with her RFK comments from last week?

That isn’t necessarily my question, but it does ask a better question: When do we know when a presidential candidate has jumped the shark? Or and a related question, what does it mean to jump the shark?

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way: “jump the shark” is when a TV show has lasted too long, the producers and writers have run out of ideas, and they introduce an element that is so preposterous to who the characters are that the show “jumps the shark.” The literal meaning stems from the TV show “Happy Days” where Fonzie jumps a shark on water skis. No, I’m not kidding. And the irony is that the shark jumping happened in 1977 in the show’s fifth season. And it went on to do 11 seasons.

The phrase “jump the shark” has become so prevalent in TV lore that there has been a Jump the Shark Web site since 1997 that examines whether TV shows have “jumped the shark.” At the beginning of Season 5 (in January 2008), “RENO 911” had a sequence where Lt. Dangle literally tries to jump a shark for autism – it’s a tiny shark in an aquarium. Dangle tries to jump the aquarium and smashes into the glass.

Despite what Sen. Clinton says about the 1992 campaign her husband was in, the better analogy was 1984 with Walter Mondale and Gary Hart. And as close as that race was, this is a closer race. So the issue isn’t Sen. Clinton’s viability.

But she hasn’t done a good job of selling herself as to why she should stay in the race. She has talked about making sure the voters count in Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota, and Puerto Rico. She has talked about making sure the voters are counted in Michigan and Florida. And all of these things are admirable.

Oh, she has mentioned that she can beat John McCain. But Barack Obama can beat John McCain. John Edwards could beat John McCain. That isn’t enough.

If she even offered a theory that she would be the better candidate down the line, getting more Democrats to win in House and Senate races along with state races, that theory would be viable. It likely isn’t true, but it would be something.

Like TV shows, presidential candidacies should keep going only if they have something to say. Ironically, we have far too few presidential candidacies that last all that long. Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, who ran for months, lasted through Iowa – all the way to January 3.

The British might have a better way on both accounts. A number of their successful shows: “Coupling” and “The Office” don’t actually have all that many episodes. The creators said what they wanted to say and left the scene. The parliamentary system leads to short campaign seasons. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from our former colonial powers.

Written by democracysoup

May 27, 2008 at 10:17 am

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For Barack Obama’s consideration, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg for vice president

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Tue, 05/27/2008 – 9:13am

(Photo: Chitose Suzuki/AP Wide World)

Whether you are a supporter of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, the one idea associated with Obama is “Change.” Obama supporters are looking for a new direction of leadership. Those who are tired of the infighting politics want something different from Washington. And Obama represents that for them.

Now we know that this infighting started with Newt Gingrich and his cronies after Bill Clinton got elected, and how the MSM finally got tough on a president (funny how it was a Democrat, after all). But the people who are fresh onto the Obama bandwagon, the true independents of this country, and those who don’t vote for president on party but on the person don’t really care who started it and why. They just want it to stop.

I have argued that Obama needs to send a new message in picking a vice president, to go in a direction that truly symbolizes change. And I think I found someone.

Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg

After you have stopped laughing, consider these points.

Yes, she doesn’t have political experience, and has never been elected to public office. But she does have a track record as an attorney, editor, and writer. She and Ellen Alderman have written two books together on civil liberties, a topic that certainly needs to be addressed in an Obama administration. Kennedy Schlossberg is one of the founders of the Profiles in Courage Award. And she has represented her family on a number of occasions, a task vice presidents have traditionally had to do.

Also, she is a woman who didn’t come out of nowhere. If Hillary Clinton isn’t going to be on the ticket, and a woman ends up on that ticket, it will be difficult for Clinton supporters to say Kennedy Schlossberg doesn’t deserve a shot. She is a name that voters know. And she is at an age (50) where her youth will be appealing standing next to 46-year-old Barack Obama.

Kennedy Schlossberg is also a fervent Obama supporter. Her January 27 essay in The New York Times spoke volumes of her feelings for Obama.

“Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.”

And that gets me to my next point: “put aside our plans.” It is fair to say that she hasn’t campaigned for higher office, but if Obama were to come to her, she might have to follow her father’s own words, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

There is the Kennedy factor – pro and con. She is well respected for her stands and views. It will be difficult for Republicans to attack her personally, even if there will be attacks on her family. And there is the Ted Kennedy legacy. You can easily imagine Sen. Kennedy will give a speech in Denver during the convention in what might be his last Democratic National Convention. Imagine the joy and splendor of him speaking, knowing his niece will be on the Democratic ticket in the fall.

There have been some in her generation of Kennedys who have stepped into higher office: her cousins former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), and former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-MA). But so far, Kennedy Schlossberg hasn’t heard the calling. But Obama and 2008 may change her mind.

“There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future.”

There is an appeal to her not wanting a lot of power. She won’t be swayed in a situation, unlike Dick Cheney, to abuse her power and trust. She can be trusted in great part because she isn’t eager to be a part of the process.

And there is nothing that says she has to go on and be president. If she were the pick and served eight years, she might have something in common with Dick Cheney: she may not choose to run for president. And that could open the door for someone else to run in 2016, such as Sen. Hillary Clinton, among others.

Unlike Clinton or McCain, Obama has a chance to reshape the vice presidency. It would be a huge risk to pick someone out of the political process. But to those independents, those outside observers, picking an unconventional choice could have strong appeal. And as for Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, this may be her time to step up and be a part of the political process.

Written by democracysoup

May 27, 2008 at 9:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized