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Short Takes for 2008-04-29

  • Remember DNC Rules Committee member David McDonald, black hat of the Florida sanction hearing? NPR has a recent clip of McDonald re his role as an undecided superdelegate. In brief he’s up for grabs, will not be rushed to judgment, will not let the pledged delegate tally control his vote, and will commit to the candidate who in his opinion stands the best chance of winning in November.
  • Polls and panics: Hillary looks strong in Indiana (SUSA), coming from behind in NC (SUSA), edging Obama with independents vs McCain (AP-Ipsos), and Josh Marshall’s gut read of his in-box says the natives are restless in Camp Obama. Meanwhile, Obama and his spiritual mentor are duking it out the roof of a moving bus (a la Raiders of the Lost Ark) to see who ends up under the wheels.
  • NC Gov. Mike Easley endorses Hillary. A Pennsylvania primary morning-after conference call featured very upbeat assessments from current governors of PA, NY, NJ, MI, OH, plus (fmr IN gov) Sen. Bayh and FL Sen. Nelson. There’s a distinct difference in perspective between officials elected to express opinions and propagate ideas, and those elected to make programs (including other people’s programs) work.
  • Rev. Wright: Obama is in a bind, having used up his one alloted one great inspirational speech on the topic, and having to walk back some of that rhetoric. He can’t deliver a second “greatest speech since ‘I Have A Dream'”, he can’t Sister Souljah his mentor, he can’t escape the unsavory inferences people less familiar with the tradition may extrapolate from Wright’s inflated rhetoric, and he can’t retrieve his “authenticity” — or maybe even his “identity”. Obama is justifiably angry … but isn’t his response to Wright’s campaign convoy IED also just a tad bit petulant? (Stay tuned — will Wright get the furtive finger too?)
  • Beyond that, Marc Ambinder endorses a reader’s read between-the-lines to the effect that President Obama would threaten the rhetorical framework on which Rev. Wright built his career:

It would be difficult for [Wright] to preach that the government systematically destroys the lives of black people if a black man is sitting in the White House.

  • Gas tax holiday: everybody is wrong: Clinton and McCain because consumers need to be led to reality (where gas is expensive and will get more expensive until we stop driving); Obama with a phony objection (pretending Clinton’s version would destroy highway construction jobs – in reality it makes up highway fund revenues via windfall taxes on Big Oil) . If our political system won’t come to grips with real problems, the fault is not in our stars (or in our lobbyists) but in our selves.
  • SCOTUS OK’s picture ID requirements at the polls. The playing field just tilted uphill against Democrats and against economic justice.

Open Thread: Stonings and BLASPHEMERS!

So, Governor Easley said Hillary Clinton made Rocky Balboa look like a pansy, a small fragile spring flower that wilts easily. Suddenly, his office is flooded by phone calls, people are outraged and turning purple that he used a slur against gays.

FOCUS, people! Everyday, we use words and phrases that have the ability to piss off one group of people or another. In the great majority of cases, no offense is intended and none is taken. If we start taking it up to 11 on every word not separated from another word or concept by an appropriate distance, we will be reduced to grunting and the time remaining until August will be like pure torture to the more verbal among us.

Now, nobody throw any more stones until I blow the whistle even if, and I want to make this absolutely clear, someone does say “pansy”.

Keep your eyes on the prize.

This is an open thread.

Obama Debate Acceptance Watch- Day #4

We have movement, guys. It looks like the Wright disaster is sucking so much mojo out of the Obama campaign that the Lincoln-Douglas style debate, even on the back of a flatbed truck, doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. From the Billings Gazette:

Obama’s Montana spokesman Matt Chandler said Obama has participated in 21 debates, including four nationally televised one-on-one debates with Clinton. “We’re still evaluating the debate offer and are considering it in the context of our number one priority, which is making sure the senator is able to have a direct conversation with Montanans on issues important to them.”

I can just imagine Obama now: “Um, Dave (Axelrod), you know, inasmuch as I have made a committment, uh, to the people, uh, of Montana and, uh, North Carolina, to appeal to them directly, uh, there’s no harm, to, uh, consider the offer of the debate with, uh, uh, Hillary, even if it is on the back of a, uh, flatbed truck, unless of course, um, the flatbed in question, uh, is foreign made and, uh, not, uh, a Detroit manufactured, uh, Chevy truck, not the van, the truck. I think, uh, we should explore, uh, the possibilty.”

No, it did not escape my attention that he is postponing the debate until after the May 6 primary in NC and IN. Chicken.

Aside: Governor Easley of NC endorsed Hillary today and said this at the end: Hillary “makes Rocky Balboa look like a pansy.”

Which makes Barack Obama *what* exactly? (I’m stickin’ with chicken)

Sneering sarcasm beats soaring rhetoric

[UPDATE] I speak only for myself. For another view, don’t miss Riverdaughter’s post

I guess we just naturally try to block out sounds and images that are too distressful or disturbing. And since the eruption of the Rev. Wright issue a lot of people blocked out the sound and vision of Rev. Wright as he mocked President Clinton and Hillary from the pulpit. In conversations about the issue my friends talked about anything but that. It was just too distasteful.

And that’s pretty much how the televised and online conversations went too. We’ve heard a lot of conversations about Race and the Black Church Tradition and Liberation Theology. But, we haven’t heard much about publicly mocking people who aren’t there to defend themselves. There’s been no discussion of that.

With his speech, Obama contained the Rev. Wright issue to a discussion of race. And it looked like that might work, at least during this primary season. But, the Wright issue is also a respect issue and by refusing to discuss what Wright said about the Clintons we never addressed that at all.

If we had, we might not have been so surprised by Obama’s campaign style. We might have been prepared for Obama giving Hillary “the finger”. After watching the NAACP speech, couldn’t you see the Rev. Wright making that same gesture if he thought it fit?

If there had been discussion of the laughter in that church as Rev. Wright rocked against the podium supposedly mimicking President Clinton, we might not have been surprised at Senator Obama laughing at voters in San Francisco earlier this month.

This weekend, we saw that it’s Reverend Wright’s style to insult people by name. This week it was Presidents Kennedy & Johnson whose accents he mocked. I can only imagine that it’s always someone. Someone who isn’t there to defend themselves.

It’s obvious to me that in style at least Obama is a faithful student. In tone and gesture, he can match his teacher. That’s why “The Wright Issue” resonates with me. It’s going to be a long time before I stop the sound of Rev. Wright sneering, “Ask not what your country can do for you” out of my ears. There is no worthy context for that.

Tuesday: Stone proverbs

In The desert, there is no sign that says, “Thou shalt not eat stones.” -Sufi proverb

RD’s layman interpretation: I never promised you a rose garden. We don’t always have a choice as to the circumstances under which we make our toughest decisions. Sometimes, we do what is necessary, not that which is ideal. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Dean: Dems Could Fail if Divided
As Clinton Seeks Gas Tax Break for Summer, Obama Says, “No”

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”- John 8:7

RD’s layman interpretation: If I had a penny for all of the stupid things I’ve written or said in the past, I’d be rich and no one here would call me a friend. Reverend Wright is wrong about a lot of things. His take on AIDS is just dumb (I can say this from a professional standpoint). But no one I know hasn’t said idiotic things from time to time. Pastors may have greater culpability because it is their jobs to get it right. But black preachers are no more culpable than white ones.

Jeremiah Wright Goes to War

Obama Addresses Ex-Pastors Media Blitz

“Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believed in me, it were better for him that millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:6

RD’s layman interpretation: People who destroy another’s character and undermine the faith of others, especially for political expediency, deserve severe punishment. This applies to the person who started it and the people who perpetuate the crime. One of the saddest outcomes of this whole Jeremiah Wright episode is the siege mentality of the African-American community. The resentment that has resulted from Obama campaign’s foolish playing of the race card in order to destroy the Clintons’ reputation and alienating them from African-American voters, combined with the media’s magnification of that error, will leave a legacy haunt us for decades to come. This will damage Obama’s career and truncate his political aspirations, a fitting millstone.

You’re a racist!

The summer we gave all our money for gas: How high can it go?

I get stopped at a certain corner every morning giving me plenty of time to look at the price of gas on the sign there. And I swear, it’s going up at least 3¢ a day — and it has for weeks. Last time I filled my tiny gas tank, I paid $35 the last time I filled up. Gas has gone up nearly 20¢ a gallon since then (shaking my head).

Hillary has Plan to Address Soaring Prices at the Pump

Americans are being squeezed at the pump like never before. The price of oil is approaching $120 a barrel. Gas is at a record high in North Carolina of $3.59, up from $3.26 a month ago and $2.90 a year ago, a 23 percent increase in just one year. And while the average family’s energy costs have gone up $2,000 a year since President Bush took office, average North Carolina family incomes have fallen by almost $5,000. Record oil prices are contributing to higher energy prices, food prices and a squeeze that is making many middle class families feel like they are falling further behind. American families are hurting now. They need a President who will focus every day on ensuring that they can make ends meet. That is why today, Hillary is unveiling her aggressive plan to address the problem of skyrocketing gas prices. Hillary’s plan includes:

  • Imposing a windfall profits tax on oil companies and using the money to suspend the gas tax for the peak summer months;
  • Closing $7.5 billion in oil and gas loopholes and using the funds to provide assistance for lower-income families to pay their energy and grocery bills;
  • Cracking down on speculation by energy traders and market manipulation in oil and gas markets that are driving up the price of oil by at least $20 a barrel;
  • Pressuring OPEC to increase oil production, including by filing a WTO complaint against OPEC countries
  • Stopping new additions to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and standing ready to release oil to counter market spikes and reduce volatility.

This plan builds on Hillary’s long-term plan to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and address global warming. She has committed moving America towards energy independence by cutting foreign oil imports by two-thirds from 2030 projected levels, more than 10 million barrels per day. (read the full plan)

But Obama isn’t quite so concerned.

Clinton highlights Obama’s objection to gas tax holiday

Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday criticized Barack Obama for opposing the concept of suspending the gas tax during the peak summer driving months, a plan both she and Republican John McCain have endorsed.

The idea to suspend the 18.4 cent federal gas tax and 24.4 cent diesel tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day was first proposed by McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee, as a way to ease the economic burden for consumers during the summer.

Obama does not support the “gas tax holiday” and has said the average motorist would not benefit significantly from such a suspension; by some estimates, the federal government would lose about $10 billion in revenue.

“My opponent, Senator Obama, opposes giving consumers a break,” Clinton said, campaigning in North Carolina. “I understand the American people need some relief.”

Clinton said she would make up the difference in revenue by imposing a “windfall profits tax” on oil companies.

I think this is a good chance for the candidates to prove they can work across the aisle. But, maybe he thinks working with McCain would be a sign of weakness? Hillary’s fearless though. The idea might have started with McCain but, she found a way to make it work within her plan. She keeps coming up with ideas even while she’s running for president. Her responsibilities aren’t on hold for the campaign.

It’s so nice to know that more and more voters are appreciating her message.