Saturday, March 08, 2008

Turning The “Patriotism Disadvantage” On Its Head

Last time, I offered three issues that should get up-front treatment by the next Democratic Party nominee -- National Security, Science and the Plight of the Professionals.

Following up on one of those, tonight I want to put forward an unconventional suggestion -- a way that Barack Obama (assuming he is eventually nominated) might neutralize the GOP’s purported “patriotism advantage.” A way, in fact, that he might turn it around, to benefit the America we’re all fighting for.

But first, before focusing on patriotism, an aside for those who agree with me that science and technology should also be part of the 2008 national debate. Let me refer folks to a fascinating recent blog by Marc Andreessen, inventor of the web browser, who talks about “my hour and a half with Barack Obama.” It is a vouch-for by someone who earned his bona fides as an innovator and world-improver. Give it a look.


A week ago, Gregory Rodriguez, in an LA Times op-ed, Rally 'round the flag, Dems, examined the tactical error that Barack Obama made, when he chose to eschew the wearing of an American flag lapel pin. Quoth Rodriguez:

Last October, when responding to questions as to why he stopped wearing an American flag on his lapel, Obama argued that such symbols "became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism," and added that he had decided not to wear the pin because he was "going to try to tell the American people what I believe, what will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to patriotism."

...But ceding old-fashioned patriotic symbolism to the GOP is neither smart politics nor good for the social reform agendas that liberals like Obama tend to advocate. According to polls, most Americans do consider themselves pretty patriotic

The entire essay is well-worth reading. It offers sage advice. And yet, as I said in an earlier missive, Mr. Obama will have to step carefully and correct this situation in just the right way. In a manner that does not make him look weak, vacillating or like someone caving under pressure - all of which are political sins, as devastating as any purported lack of patriotic zeal. This impression, sure to be leaped-on by right wing attack dogs, would make restoring the pin a hollow gesture and source of derision.

That is, unless....

...unless there were a way out. One calling for boldness, ingenuity and guts, but also offering a potential win-win situation.

The premise: Democrats must stop approaching patriotism as a hot potato, to be handled gingerly, and instead clasp it to the bosom, assertively. They should broach it eagerly. Make the topic their own. As FDR, Truman and JFK did.

Picture a stirring moment, during Obama’s acceptance speech in Denver...

“By now, fellow Democrats, you’ll have noticed volunteers moving among you, carrying baskets filled with little pins. Some of you wondered about the real reason why I took off my own American flag pin, months ago. And now it’s time to reveal that reason to you.

“I took it off because I refuse to give in to the hollow gestures of those who have demeaned patriotism in this country, by making it a matter of totems and “sides.” A matter of holier-than-thou loyalty tests and swift boat character assassination.

“But I am here to tell you now that there is a second half to my message. I never meant to let those braggarts and armchair patriots drive me away for long, from a symbol that I cherish. For very good reasons, I chose this moment, standing in front of you, to reclaim that symbol... and I ask you to join me in reclaiming it, as well.

“Let’s admit that Democrats -- in our eager rush to solve practical problems -- have sometimes forgotten the power of symbols, to our own detriment, and that of the nation. But today, let’s remember those who died to keep this country united. Those who fought to make it more just and free. Those who made America better with solutions using both markets and government. Those who marched and argued and legislated and innovated, in order to make our country the brightest beacon of hope in four thousand years.

“And those who we are educating today, to be leaders in a better tomorrow.

“The American flag has been misused at times,
but nothing should and can take away from us the core thing that it represents... that progress. That eager willingness to better ourselves. That hope.

“And so, I say to all of you, never let this flag be a burden on your neighbors, a way to diminish them, a test that they must pass. Do not let anyone demand that you worship it, or wear it all the time! That’s not what it stands for.

“But do show it, wear it, wave it proudly some of the time! Never let the word “patriotism” slip from your vocabulary, just because others screech it and abuse it. Especially when the self righteous have so let our flag and nation down.

“Join me in reclaiming patriotism for the reasonable, moderate, tolerant and decent men, women and children of America, who are willing to argue and compete and cooperate with each other fairly, seeking progress and solutions, the way this very nation was established. A patriotism that is based, above all, upon the decency, savvy and courage of every individual... every citizen.

“Wear it, my friends, not because narrowminded fools would browbeat you over symbols, but because you love what it represents, as I do, the nation and civilization that Abraham Lincoln called the best hope of humankind.”

Addendum: Hillary goes negative. Should Barack reply in kind?

Here’s where you wish you had a win-win. A way for Mr. Obama to score some zingers, while not getting petty or following Senator Clinton down the low road.

And one of you made a cool suggestion. The idea of creating a positive “negative ad’. How might that be done? Well, let's see. Try showing clips of Bill Clinton at his best. Some of his soaring rhetoric about hope and responsibility, in 1992 and so on.

Then follow that with a question “Were these ‘just words?’”

How classy and utterly jiu jitsu. It disses HRC’s recent behavior and tactics, while actually praising her husband! It shows her supporters what a silly-ass thing it is, to tear away at a messenger of inspiration, instead of stepping up with inspiration of their own.

What a judo move!

And finally...

Unlike many other recent Primaries, only Democrats can vote in the coming Democratic contest in Pennsylvania; independents, who have strongly supported Obama in other states, are barred. The state's 984,000 registered voters who are not members of either major party — plus any wavering Republicans — have only until March 24 to sign up as Democrats so they can make a difference. Tell any indies you know in PA!

A reminder: I appear on several episodes of the new History Channel show "The Universe" starting with one on March 11. Not necessarily a brag. Sometimes the producers deliberately chose to show a fellow’s dopiest moments! But this is a good show. Well above average.


Anonymous said...

Well, gosh, David! Now he can't do these things because people will say, "Oh, he's just copying Brin's ideas." -Jumper

David Brin said...

Actually, I thought of that!

But maybe now he'll give me a direct line to send more ideas.

Woozle said...

Speaking in my capacity as a self-appointed member of the Contrary Brin Choir & Contrapuntal Marching Society, I should say that I like this idea very much. You made all the distinctions I would have wanted to make clear, if I'd been writing it.

It makes me think back to the days shortly after 9/11, when for a brief while the American flag felt like it represented something good in the world... (...but then GWB made sure this brief error was corrected, so the flag could go back to being the rightful property of the narrowminded and pseudo-patriotic.)

In the years since then, I've done a lot of thinking about "patriotism". I've decided that I'm a little leery of the word, because of the different concepts hidden under the hood (some of which may or may not be included in any particular person's usage): if you're a "patriot", do you place your country's welfare over that of civilization at large? I decided that I was a "patriot" to the extent that the best of the American ideal -- which I think is something we very much need to start defining, as a country, so we know what we're striving for even as we admit how far we've gone astray from it -- represents the best hope for civilization at large, and I will defend that ideal (or collection of ideals, really) against idea(l)s hostile to it (e.g. the idea that scripturally-prescribed doctrine should take precedence over secular law, or the idea that it is okay to retaliate against "offensive" speech with deadly force).

(There's also being a "patriot" in the sense of standing and fighting when your friends and neighbors are threatened, versus hiding or running away. A topic for another time, perhaps; just had to mention it for completeness.)

David Brin said...

Problem is that if you start quibbling and dividing loyalties, then the jingoist super-pats will climb all over you...

...conflating support of the war with support of the troops...

...despite the fact that about a third of them, if they suddenly had a time machine, would sneak back assault rifles to help Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy kill lots of US troops. (Get A REBEL IN TIME by Harrison.)

Hy "horizons theory" helps to explain much of this. A hallmark of liberalism is not leftism (indeed, democrats did more pro-market deregulating than Republicans even did, and stocks/GDP always do better under a dem-prez) has much more to do with how fascinated a person is with "otherness" and the process of horizon expansion.

Moderate liberals like the process, but keep their feet rooted in older loyalties, too.

Fetishistic liberals give full tribal fealty to the horizon expanding process itself, and consider the old loyalties (like country) to be signs of troglodytism.

Which give ammo to the conservatives, who like to claim that the fetishistic liberals represent the main body of liberalism. The biggest of the Big Conservative Lies. When, in fact, a vast majority are moderate. (And the passion of the tolerance fetishists can be useful, at times.)

Conservatives are skeptical of horizon-expansion. It is the chief hallmark. Though they accept those expansions that they have had time to get used to... e.g. womens' rights and an end to Jim Crow segregation (indeed, pretending that they never obstructed ML King, ever!) they nevertheless, despise the impulse behind it all.

Hence, super-patriotism.

Matt DeBlass said...

As G.K. Chesterton said, about 100 years ago: "'My country, right or wrong' is a thing that no patriot would think of saying, except in a desperate case. It is like saying, 'My mother, drunk or sober.'"

Acacia H. said...

Dr. Brin, I am tickled pink you mentioned my "ad" idea on your site. Thank you.

I'm not sure how your Patriotism speech would work, however. Whatever gesture he does, the Neocons will use it against him. He is going to have to tread quite carefully here in order to be able to deflect accusations of being two-faced about the flag.

What he might want to do is say "patriotism isn't about wearing a flag lapel. It's about being proud of your country and doing everything you can for it."

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Anonymous said...

Poor Stephen Decatur, so often misquoted...

"Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right, and if not in the right then to be set right; but right or wrong, our country!"

Changes the meaning somewhat from the oft stated "My country, right or wrong!"

Anonymous said...

I've posted a rant or two about the DLC, what it is, and why allowing it to control the DNC means we lose no matter who wins this year.

Yes, this article is from the Nation, but it makes the points I want to make very clearly without dredging up a bunch of negativity about Bills deeply flawed policies.


Someday, I'll learn to link properly.

Please, Dr. Brin, read this. A Clinton victory means the end of the 50 State strategy.

This is a race between the DLC and Dean as much as a race between Clinton and Obama.

I think bringing up Lapel Pins ain't Judo.

What would be?

"This is the flag that my Grandfather flew on his last Memorial day.

It's an Heirloom in my family, one that we've treasured. Millions of our fellow Americans have one just like it.

This Memorial Day, we join our fellow Americans in hanging this flag, this simple piece of cloth, in front of our home, and we explain to our daughters, as millions of Americans explain to their Children and Grandchildren, what their ForeFathers and ForeMothers nobely risked and nobely sacraficed that they might breathe this free air.

It is not this simple cloth we honor, nor the dyes upon it, but rather we honor the memories of of Heroes and of Heroism that it helps all Americans, regardless of their Faith, Color, or Creed, to recall.

We honor not this cloth, but we do honor the cause for which it has been flown. As Americans always have, we treat it as symbol of Unity and not of Division, the emblem around which we have gathered to mourn our dead and celebrate our victories for 232 years.

We do not fly this Flag to show we are better than our neighbors, that we love our country more than they do, but to send out a signal to all who are searching for a light in dark places, all who seek to join in love of this country and love of it's promise, that here is a place where Americans stand ready to fight for freedom.

I ask today that once the Flag has been hung, and lessons have been spoken to little ears, that my fellow Americans join us in putting away the Bar-B-Q, forgoing the trip to the Shore, hanging up the phones, turning off the television, and instead take the time to recall how dearly so many have paid for all the freedoms we enjoy.

We hang this Flag, this simple cloth, in rememberance of them."

Anonymous said...

Nice speech David. Jester, liked yours too. It is surprisingly easy to write great speeches, I have mentally written a few classics too. What is so damnably difficult is delivering them with intrinsic sincerity. That's why there are so few Lincolns. Or Obamas I guess.

As a rara avium in these parts, a conservative, I would offer a caveat. Most conservatives/republicans do not regard most progressives/democrats as unpatriotic. Oh, there are a few cretins out there, their voices much amplified by the media. You won't convince them with any words. No, we mostly regard the "other side" as misguided. So a flag speech that was anything less than perfection would do little to convince. I don't see any democrat, at least while still locked in a tough primary fight, delivering anything like that. I think republicans, or at least McCain, have more freedom to scold and repudiate the ninnies in their own party. Can Obama condemn the protestors that will probably burn flags at the national conventions this summer?

Oh, I thought Guns of the South was the definitive Confederates packin' heat novel? Many Brin fans also enjoy Turtledove I suspect.


JD Rhoades said...

Can Obama condemn the protestors that will probably burn flags at the national conventions this summer?

With respect, Tacitus, can you point to actual examples of Democrats (as opposed to anarchists who hate Democrats as much as Republicans) burning flags at conventions, since, say 1968?

As to the wearing of the flag...I'm well known in these parts for writing liberal columns in a conservative county (actually, I'm a moderate, but in this part of North Carolina, anyone to the left of Heinrich Himmler's a liberal moonbat).

I have a flag in front of my house, I have a flag tie that I wear occasionally, and I wear a flag pin to solemn occasions. Occasionally someone will smirk and make some remark that they didn't expect that from me. I just smile and ask "why?" They never have the balls to answer directly.

I'm all for taking the symbol back.

Jumper said...
is illustrative of an effect of transparency not dealt with here as far as I know.

Flag burning. Sigh. My own take is that flinging burning objects around publicly in crowds is already illegal under simple municipal fire and reckless endangerment laws. Other than that I would NEVER burn a flag, say safely with no open fire restrictions on my own property, until the day they tell me it's illegal for "symbolic reasons".

Dave Rickey said...

I still think they missed a real opportunity in the Michelle Obama "I'm finally proud of my country" flap.

I love my country. I love all of the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment. I believed strongly enough that citizenship has duties as well as privileges that I signed up for the military during the Gulf War. But it's been a few years since I was proud of it, I can relate. And I think there are a lot of people out there in the same boat, we love our country and we *want* it to be one we can be proud of.

If the Obama campaign had taken that line, instead of pulling Michelle out of the line of fire, I think it would have found a lot of resonance.

David Brin said...

Well, said, Jester. Either approach would do. Yours offers a bigger prop. Mine lets BHO put the lapel pin thing aside and wear his again.

Tacitus, thanks. And you are our favorite rara avium! Still, you betray your tilted assumptions. Can you tell me when was the last time you actually saw a documented case of flag burning? Especially at ANY Democratic Party event, even a rally of nut cases, outside?

Unknown said...

Jester speaks up for the DailyKos party line, namely, that the DLC is the spawn of satan. I'm not convinced of that. The Kossacks have a point when they slam the democratic campaign consultants and the foolish demo candidates who follow their advice... But as for losing this election? Even if the seas turn to blood and the dead rise in Megiddo, I can't see the Demos losing this election.

Notice something? Anybody seen any satires on Obama?

I haven't.

Meanwhile, take a look at this piece of political satire by Barry Crimmins:

McCain's oratory is inane. Last night he had sheer terror in his eyes when was reading his speech off the teleprompter. At times it sped up and he sped up. You could almost hear the guffaws from the control room. He turned his head but his eyes stayed fixed on the scrolling text.

That the remarks were prepared was the only thing that made them noteworthy because it made you realize, "Holy shit, he planned this blather!"

Friends, we must respectfully discuss our bloodlust.

His speeches sound like a bad local car dealer ad. He calls us all "friends" again and again. And then he asks his "friends" to help him bring glory to our nation with "victory" in a total blunder of a war.

Excuse me, Mr. Hoarse Whisperer, but people who ask me to sign off on indiscriminate carnage are not my friends.

And he's now trying to dismiss Obama's questioning the phony premises for the needless and insane war in Iraq by calling such questions "an old argument.' He then tells us we don't have time for old arguments.

Well how about the five year-old needless argument in Iraq?

The way McCain's looking, he doesn't have time for much of anything. To paraphrase Casey Stengel, "When McCain's father was Whispering Johnny's age, he was dead."

So I guess McCain's message is: It's not time for old arguments--it's time for old candidates.

Panicking over McCain is something I can't quite get around to at this point. Today he gets the French kiss of death by way of an endorsement from George W. Bush. That's just taunting fate for a man in his condition.

Yow. McCain isn't even the nominee, and he's already the butt of jokes. And when we get to the actual campaign? Obama is young, while McCain is older than Reagan was when he ran in 1980.

It's gonna be a slaughter in November. I'd be surprised if McCain carries more than 2 states.

Speaking of which, opinion's already starting to coalesce around the realization that it's over for HIllary. Here's Dick Morris' take -- basically, "It's over."

Of course, this is an ex-Clinton insider & pundit mainly noted for paying a whore to let him suck her toes. But still. The guy's a DC insider and he knows his stuff.

Anonymous said...

Point well made on the flag burning. Its kind of the equivalent of a political urban legend. Still, google up Recreate 1968 for groups purporting to want to bring back those halcyon days!

Best thing for Obama would be (cynicism alert) pay some nuts to do this on camera and have your stirring condmenation ready.

For McCain to condemn the same action would generate a media yawn.


Acacia H. said...

First, Zorgon, yes, there are anti-Obama satires, by SNL which has basically decided to endorse Clinton with a number of anti-Obama skits (such as the latest where President Obama calls Senator Clinton at 3 a.m. asking for her help with foreign policy, showing him as completely inept).

I remember one online commentary piece which pretty much suggested that General Electric (which owns the TV network that runs SNL) is supporting Clinton and is very much against Obama (and his lack of ties to big business). Of course, how accurate those assertions are remains to be seen.

Next, on a much more amusing note, the little girl in Clinton's 3 a.m. television commercial is now a 17-year-old Obama supporter. It seems the footage Clinton used was shot a decade ago and purchased legally by the Clinton camp... and the family of the girl realized that it was her.

She actually contacted the Obama camp and suggested they use her in a pro-Obama commercial, and they're thinking of it. This would be most delicious irony.

Finally, Obama is being painted as the underdog in Pennsylvania, which makes me wonder if we'll see a surprise turnaround. If Obama ends up squeaking by a win in Pennsylvania, we'll no doubt see the Clinton camp turn around and claim Pennsylvania "doesn't count" much like she's claimed for a number of other states.

As an aside, I also e-mailed the Obama camp with the positive negative commercial idea. Hopefully it will be read by the Obama camp, though considering the sheer amount of e-mails they get I doubt they'll bother showing it to the Obamas.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

"Gustave Hervé, another great anti-patriot, justly calls patriotism a superstition--one far more injurious, brutal, and inhumane than religion. The superstition of religion originated in man's inability to explain natural phenomena. That is, when primitive man heard thunder or saw the lightning, he could not account for either, and therefore concluded that back of them must be a force greater than himself. Similarly he saw a supernatural force in the rain, and in the various other changes in nature. Patriotism, on the other hand, is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his self-respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit."

From Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty by Emma Goldman.

Acacia H. said...

And it seems like the Clintons are pushing hard for a Clinton/Obama ticket. I suspect they're trying to do this because they know they can't win the primary election, so they're trying to force the issue on the Superdelegate level. If they can get the Democratic party itself to pressure Obama to step down and accept the #2 position, then Senator Clinton thinks she will prevail and be able to deride Obama as a divisive candidate if he refuses to step down.

Fortunately, a lot of people are actively dismissing the suggestion, and Obama hasn't once suggested the alternative (because he knows Clinton's a poison pill).

Rob H.

Dave Rickey said...

Let me spin a scenario, based on the premise that the right does *not* plan on taking their lumps this November and coming back in 2012, and that Hagee's endorsement of McCain (and McCain's embracing of that endorsement and appearance in front of CUFI to accept it) is not just a sideshow.

Bush seems to be moving to start a war with Iran before the election, no matter what it takes. Hagee's "Rapture Scenario" is very public, and says that the US has to fight a war with the entire world, a war that will be won by divine intervention.

Imagine that Bush, bootstrapping off of the 2001 AUMF, opens a war with Iran. This sets off the "Rally 'round the flag" reflex in the GOP base. If neccessary, states of emergency are declared in the large cities to suppress the vote with curfews. Perhaps other maneuvers are used, staged or real terrorist attacks, astroturfed "riots" like those seen in Miami in 2000. One way or another, McCain is elected.

We're assuming that they're going to play by the rules. Haven't we learned by now, they play by the rules for only two reasons: The game is rigged in their favor, or; They're waiting to break them when everyone is not looking.

Yeah, it's a hypothetical, and a little tinfoil. But at this stage, if you're not at least considering tinfoil scenarios, you haven't been paying attention for the last 7 years.

Acacia H. said...

The problem with that scenario is that the U.S. people won't accept it. There are enough people who distrust the government as it is without martial law or juryrigging elections. If that happens, then you will see armed revolt as a result... and the military itself may refuse to step in to stop it.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Dave, please. Take a deep breath!

No, I do not completely discount an Iranattack. It could happen. But only in the extreme Manchurian Scenario, as a way to inflict massive damage on the republic before leaving office.

An Iranattack BY ITSELF would run into huge opposition from the CIA, the military, everybody except the Air Force... which of course, is the exact service that will click heels and carry it out. The Navy will work-to-rule, then fight to defend the battlegroups against Iranian counter-attacks. (In the extreme manchurian scenario, destruction of those battle groups would be a major priority.)

But please. I can only wear the tinfoil hat for short stretches. And, while I am angry that no one else will even ponder the manchurian family of scenarios enough to notice their consistency... I nevertheless cannot keep myself that paranoid for long enough stretches to be truly fervent.

Barryin manchurian reasons, I cannot imagine how the goppers could perceive an Iranattack as a viable political pathway, right now. Yes, the true Reds would rally... but at least five million ostriches would get shaken out of their holes. And that would include the professionals at whom I have been railing for five years, urging that they stand up.

Dave, martial law only works if it can be enforced. Most urban police departments won't obey such insanity. The National Guard is either in Iraq of blisteringly mad. Who do you envision enforcing such a thing, Blackwater? Oh, if only they would try.

There remains one scenario... a major "terror attack" that in my new novel is called "Awfulday." That's scary in twenty ways. And Obama needs to start marking territory about that, right now! So that the spin will be skeptical about the timing of such a blatant attempt to influence our election cycle.

Kelsey Gower said...

I agree with jdrhodes and almost everyone else on the board that we have to take the symbol back.

And I can see the smear machine try to paint Obama's supporters as flag-burners, which Tacitus seems to be hinting at. It will be harder to brush off attacks that he's unpatriotic as he election draws nearer. They're only going to get louder. Unless Obama could stop them, by having his supporters and himself suddenly start wearing flag lapels? Maybe right before the convention?

I like this idea. But I don't want cries of plagiarism to bite him a second time. You never know who might be reading this blog. Perhaps, David, you could give permission for him to use your idea? Maybe yours too, Jester?

And Robert, I love your idea of using Bill Clinton in a "Just words" speech, but I'm not sure how well it would go over. I remember seeing a clip were Bill Maher was talking to Terry McAuliffe and he made the comparison between Obama's and Bill Clinton's experience. McAuliffe used the post-9/11 world excuse again.

God, the way Clinton is running her campaign is making me sick. Her supporting John McCain over Obama experience-wise was uncalled for. I swear, if she attacks Obama's patriotism in anyway before the convention and she gets nominated, then I will be voting for John McCain on election day. I'm not going to tolerate her burning the party down just so she can be the nominee.

Dave Rickey said...

Like I said, it's a little tinfoil. And there are all kinds of reasons it wouldn't work. But unfortunately, we can't count on the sanity, intelligence, or honest patriotism of the principle actors involved to keep them from *trying*. It's not "can they get away with it," it is "do they *think* they can get away with it?"

The hypothetical allows disproof, in that it makes certain predictions that, if they don't happen, rule out the scenario. If we don't get a war with Iran, it's off the table, for example, and I'd be as relieved as anyone.

But.... Why replace General Fallon? Why even float balloons about such a non-sequitor? If that happens in the next couple of months, we need to be paying very close attention.

I can think of all kinds of ways the neccessary crisis could be manufactured without leaving obvious fingerprints. We never did find the sender of the anthrax letters, for example. I'm sure you can think of more.

JD Rhoades said...

Next, on a much more amusing note, the little girl in Clinton's 3 a.m. television commercial is now a 17-year-old Obama supporter.

This is far too good an opportunity to pass up.

Anonymous said...

No, no, I am not hinting at Obama's supporters being anything other than fallible humans. I do not question the patriotism of anybody in the democratic ranks. Just the judgment of some of them. About the same percentage of republicans that I also question for related reasons. I actually like Obama on several levels, and in the right circumstances he may do well as Pres.

This was started as a thread specifically asking how Obama could handle the matter of people's perceptions of the flag as a symbol.

Patriotism is a coat that either candidate can wear. It is just a more natural fit on McCain. I think both men love their country equally, even if from different perspectives.


Kelsey Gower said...

Sorry, Tacitus, I just realized how bad that looks. I didn't mean to say you hinted at Obama's supporters being flag-burners. Just that it would be easy to find some young protesters burning flags during the Republican convention and try to portray them as Obama supporters. It wouldn't matter whether the protesters hate both parties, aren't actually voting, or whatever. The imagery would be a blow to the Democratic party, unless Obama was ready for it.

Anonymous said...

Talking about flag burning, here is a skit from an Australian comedy show in 2000.

Shaun Micallef - American Flag Maker

Kiel Bryant said...

STS-123 launches tomorrow, bringing Dextre, the dexterous robot maintenance platform. Let's strap engines to ISS so it becomes Mars SS.

Acacia H. said...

Senator Clinton has reversed her position on pledged delegates, stating that even pledged Delegates can change their vote, hinting strongly that she might try to take Senator Obama's delegates through various methods. Okay, Dr. Brin, I know you've supported her in the past... let's see you defend this latest action of hers.

Because seriously... this leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If Clinton wins the primary through crook... then I will not vote for her even if it means Senator McCain gets elected.

Rob H.

dmon said...

Maybe it's time for a "Just symbols?" speech. Or can he get away with saying "I don't wear my religion on my sleeve, or my patriotism on my lapel. I carry both in my heart."

Acacia H. said...

Dr. Brin, I believe in your previous blog entry you called for another You-Tube song for Obama by a popular singer. Well, I'm not certain if Calvin "Cocoa Tea" Scott is exactly what you're looking for, but he is recording a pro-Obama tune that will draw in reggae fans at the very least.

What I'd like to see is a good-old-fashioned rock-and-roll song for Obama. But hey, I'm a rock classicist. I'm not into a lot of the newer musics (and have a significant dislike toward rap - if I want chanted music, I'll go for Gregorian Chant instead ;) ).

There's also an interesting article about how Senator McCain is imperiling Republican Pork spending and how Democrats might manage to (due to Republicans dragging their heels and trying to weaken anti-Pork measures) steal a march on the Republicans in eliminating Pork spending.

I guess these politicians can't see the writing on the wall. I mean, they could have alleviated some of the displeasure against the Republican party if they'd shown even a modicum of reformist tendencies. Instead, they went for greed... and have damned the Republican party.

Note: I don't have the news article on hand, but there was another article about how the Republicans are worried about Senator Obama getting the nomination as they believe an Obama Presidential Campaign could very well cost them multiple seats in the House and Senate. I have a strong suspicion that the Democratic Superdelegates will join forces behind Obama if only to utilize his energy in gaining significant control over the House and Senate and bringing about significant shifts in the political environment of dozens of states.

Why again is Senator Clinton insisting on being the Presidential candidate, considering how much an Obama Presidency can help the Democratic party?

Rob H.

Unknown said...

More inside baseball: Obama continues to pick up superdelegates, TX has now been called as a victory for him (last week the media claimed Hillary won TX), and

on Saturday, Obama provided material help in Bill Foster's dramatic upset victory in IL-14, filming an ad and sending hundreds of volunteers into the district. The Republicans had John McCain campaign for the Republican candidate, yet still lost proving that Obama 1) is more focused on party building and down-ballot races than the Clinton campaign (where was she?), 2) that he could out-battle McCain in the first proxy battle of the season, and 3) that he's got some serious coattails.

Daily Kos article here.

You guys can continue being pessimistic. Me, I'm delighted that Karl Rove is now advising McCain's campaign. 2006 showed that the Rove hate-and-lies-and-Joseph-McCarthy-style-smears doesn't work anymore. The American electorate is sick of it. Rove and McCain think it's still 2003. It's not. Repub voters in 2006 got angry when the Repubs went negative, and they voted Demo in disgust. Prediction: they'll get angrier in November 2008. Want more evidence? Tucker Carlson's show just got cancelled.

People are tuning out from the hatemongers. They want change.

dmon said...

Zorgon, another point about IL-14: it was Dennis Hastert's district, went heavy for Bush twice. This heavily Republican district went decisively for this Obama-hitched Democrat. Here's hoping that the superdelegates are paying attention and let this factor into their electability calculations.

Anonymous said...

Damn . . . count out Elliot Spitzer as having any role in a coming Democratic administration. I had high hopes of his being a kick-ass AG.

He should resign immediately, if he hasn't done so already, so that any Republicans caught dipping their wicks have no excuse not do the same.

David Brin said...

Grea stuff you guys.

Wow! Well it seems that somebody read my original call for a BUSH-CLINTON, CLINTON, BUSH online youTube satire! Alas, it’s an overdone and somewhat silly-looking rap piece. The one I sketched out would be much shorter and yet very vividly to the point. And more accessible to the less-hip voters in Hillary’s base. Still, it’s fun and worth viralling!

Here's my earlier screed about this "dynasty" theater script. Pass it on to any folks who might want Obama to win in Pennsylvania. your.html

Alert for whistle blowers. It might be interesting for some disgruntled person in the Clinton campaign to corelate how much money is flowing into HRC’s campaign from Republican sources. NOT her fault of course. Still, one can be sure that Hannity and Rush have sent the max.

darkdroid re Dextre... yay Canada!

Robert, I have never “supported” Senator Clinton. I do know that she’d make a better president than any Republican, just by virtue of the fact that adults would manage the administration and let the civil service do its job. But this recent stuff is just foolishness and insipid. I hope it is turning BHO against any possibility of offering her the VP spot.

If she keeps this up, it won’t be Secretary of State, either.

Speaking of the next cabinet, anyone hear this mess re NY Governor Spitzer? Dang! He'd a been one helluva'n attorney general. And now he also tips the "perversion balance" which had been tilted way over in the GOP's "favor." What a let-down.

Acacia H. said...

My apologies, Dr. Brin. When I said "supported" I meant "defended." However, Senator Obama has already rejected the thought of being Senator Clinton's VP as ludicrous and he has further turned it on Clinton's ear by bringing up the fact that a VP needs to be ready to be President on Day 1. He's brought to question Clinton's assertion that he is not ready for the Presidency yet claims he is ready to be VP... which means he's ready to be President.

I seem to recall reading a second one where he rejected selecting Clinton or anyone else as a VP candidate at this time. While he didn't rule it out (and he is correct that it's not exactly wise at this time to select a VP candidate), I had the feeling that he was ruling out an Obama/Clinton ticket, and he will likely not be pressured into it.

Prediction: While Clinton will win (and possibly by a 10+ point spread) in Pennsylvania, Obama is going to carry the majority of the remaining states and increase not only his delegate count but also the popular vote. I suspect before the final primary in Puerto Rico, the Democratic leadership will force Clinton to step out of the race. Assuming of course that something else doesn't come up to significantly damage Obama.

Unfortunately, this little situation might be blown up out of proportion and used to smear Obama worse, in a case that will be much ado about nothing when all is said and done (except for tarnishing Obama's image further).

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Rob, the tarnish link didn't work.

Acacia H. said...

They seem to have yanked the story. How odd. Basically it was something about Obama having been one of several officials who was on a committee that selected a person for (if I remember correctly) a medical program who ended up charged with corruption.

Okay, I was able to find it finally. Here's a related article by the AP. The original article that I linked had this on the Google site:

"Obama consulted on health board appointees, trial told
Chicago Sun-Times, United States - 4 hours ago
The memo was discussed Monday at the trial of Antoin ''Tony'' Rezko, a Chicago businessman who was a prominent contributor to Obama and Gov. ..."

I was unable to get a cache file to see what else it said initially, but the AP article sums it up nicely. The problem is, even though they're saying Obama isn't implicated, it won't take much twisting for Obama's detractors to make it seem to stick. I sincerely hope I'm wrong about this being used as the vague allegations are hardest to defend against.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Regards Spitzer, some observers actually keep track of how often party affiliation is mentioned in news articles like this. The intial blurb on Yahoo did not identify him as a Democrat. Although the link to the NY Times article did.

Yep, time to resign.

Power corrupts. The ascendent party must beware.


Kelsey Gower said...

"And now he also tips the "perversion balance" which had been tilted way over in the GOP's "favor." What a let-down."

Gotta agree with Tacitus again. Humans are fallible. There's nothing inherent in the D next to their name which keeps party members from committing crimes.

The Democratic Party has been able to keep itself honest so far, but only because they've mostly tried to stay true to their ideals. It doesn't work when hypocrites and liars in the party don't believe in those ideals. Or when monsters take over the party...

I believe Spitzer was endorsing Clinton. I won't fault her on that. However, I will watch how she reacts to this news. I don't think she should hide the fact that he endorsed her. But she should reject and/or denounce Spitzer, and call on him to resign. She could gain some points that she lost earlier with me if she does this.

I'll be watching Obama's reaction to this as well. But I'm not too worried. Corruption should be an issue both of them can agree on.

Acacia H. said...

And a few other little snippets... Senator and President Clinton may have irreparably harmed the long-standing relationship between black voters and the Democratic party. It is very possible that if Clinton does win the nomination, she will lose more than the youth vote that is homing in on Senator Obama's message of Hope. She may also lose the black vote... and permanently.

The damage may already be done, even if Obama gets the nomination. While the majority of the black community will vote for Obama, they may think twice about voting for other Democrats. The well has been poisoned... and the Democrats may very well have suffered irreversible harm as a result of this egofest of the Clintons.

In addition, Senator Obama has all-but-stated he will not have Senator Clinton as his running mate. The article quotes Obama as saying: “I don’t want anybody here thinking that I, somehow, well you know, maybe I can get both. Don’t think that way. You have to make a choice in this election. Are you going to go along with the past or are you going to go toward the future? They are trying to hoodwink you.”

I think that pretty much kiboshes the fears that Clinton might attach, lamprey-like, to the Obama campaign and leech it of life and energy while invigorating the Republicans against her.

Finally, I find it interesting that Senator Clinton is distancing herself from Governor Eliot Spitzer, a firm supporter and ally of hers. Even if he prevails against the charges, I have to wonder if Clinton's abandonment of him will result in Spitzer shifting his Superdelegate vote either to Obama or neutral.

No doubt the whole Spitzer affair brings back memories of Monica Lewinsky and of the humiliation that went on with her husband's affair. Still, it was Clinton's abandonment of Spitzer to the wolves by Clinton that started the cries for Spitzer to resign. If she had promptly rallied behind him and preached forgiveness... then it is likely only the Republicans who would have gone after him. Now? I doubt he will survive politically.

This also has the potential of painting Clinton in a very bad light. She abandoned Spitzer to avoid any tarnish on her campaign. Will her other allies among the Superdelegates and supporters start to realize they mean nothing to this woman, that they are just stepping stones in her quest to the White House? A few quiet words spread not by Senator Obama but by those of us who see Clinton to be a threat to the progressive reforms that America needs could result in a premature death of the Clinton Campaign... as her supporters abandon her much as she abandoned a firm supporter out of fear of embarrassment... embarrassment that she has successfully faced before, and which Obama would not bring up.

For shame, Senator Clinton. For shame.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Matt DeBlass said...

RE: Rove/McCarthy style hatemongering.
Yesterday was the 54th anniversary of Ed Murrow's See It Now broadcast attacking Senator McCarthy. IMHO it still ranks as one of the finest pieces of editorial journalism of the broadcast age, and there is a lot of wisdom (and juicy quotability) to be found in it still.

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men— not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.
This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.
The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it— and rather successfully. Cassius was right. "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."
Good night, and good luck.

David Brin said...

Kelsey, careful. Hillary cannot denounce Spitzer too hard. After all, she did not make her husband resign when he strayed. Also, this is a more than usual piss-off for me, because Spitzer really was an alpha. From 201 to 2006, he was the main reason that Wall Street stayed as honest as it did... in other words, only half-corrupt.

Frankly, if it were up to me, I’d let Mrs. Spitzer define the punishment. She’s the injured party.

I agree that HRC throwing Spitzer to the wolves is shortsighted, foolish and very easy to ridiculke. Her campaign is a mess.

Robert said “..ven if Obama gets the nomination. While the majority of the black community will vote for Obama, they may think twice about voting for other Democrats....”

Whaaaaaaa? What Hannity/Rush desperate delusion-machine spun THAT one out? Hey bro, chill. It’s patronizing to assume that people are so shallow they’ll let a moment’s tiff cancel out a lifetime of good work. Ain’t gonna happen.

Matt, you can reprint Ed Murrow any time you like. There were giants, then.

(But, lest we forget, the man who REALLY brough McCarthy down was a simple member of the US Officer Corps, who, at a time when both the country and the military were hard ravaged by right wing madness, looked "Tailgunner Joe" in the end and asked (before the cameras):

"Senator, at long last, have you no shame?"

Tony Fisk said...

...From Murrow to Microsoft, an interesting report with relevance to the amateur v professional wars. It appears that increasing numbers of office workers are obtaining software tools they need from the web rather than going through their IT departments:

Who needs IT experts? Workers take control

Forrester refers to the movement toward user control and individual empowerment as "Technology Populism," others refer to it as "Office 2.0." Less sympathetically, consulting firm Yankee Group, in a 2007 report entitled "Zen and the Art of Rogue Employee Management," sees it as a threat for IT managers.

Unknown said...

More reasons for optimism:

Turns out Bill Foster, who won Hastert's hard-red IL-14 congressional district, wasn't just any democrat, he was a physicist from Fermilab!

Bill Foster isn't just any Democrat. He was a successful businessman, who started a business quite young which now supplies the lighting equipment for most theaters. He then went on to become an eminent physicist at Fermilab. This guy is smart, a great manager and brings an understanding of science to Congress. We need that these days.

This is the true revolt of the professionals. If the scientists have gotten so ticked off they're now entering politics and bringing common sense and reason and the test of reality into the political process, that bodes well. We could use a lot more scientists in both houses of congress.

It's interesting that you guys mention the Murrow McCarthy speech. Just today, students in Iowa heckled Karl Rove so badly that police had to be called to remove 'em. In fact, two students tried to perform a citizen's arrest on Rove for the crimes he committed while in the White House!

At one point during the speech, Rove reportedly lashed out at some of the students, saying, "You got a chance to ask your questions later and make your stupid statements, let me make mine."

Police also were forced to remove two people after they tried to perform a citizen’s arrest on Rove for what they said were his crimes while a member of the Bush Administration.

It seems clear that Karl Rove is one of the most hated people in America -- if not THE most hated.

Once again, great news that Rove is advising McCain's campaign. Karl Rove is now as politically radioactive as Joseph McCarthy was after 1954. I look forward to seeing McCain's campaign go down in flames when Rove tries his smears and swift boating on Obama. The more I think about it, the more it seems unlikely that Obama will have to worry about any kind of alleged "patriotism deficit." The reptiles in the White House have turned "patriotism" into a dirty word over the last 7 years. Nowadays, "patriotism" means the Department of Defense billing brain-damage Iraq war vets to recover the cost of their lost helmets. "You lose your helmet, you have to pay. If you get blown up and [brain-damaged and] you lose your helmet, they still bill you."

Also -- intriguing article in Newsweek: "Revenge of the Experts":

"The individual user has been king on the Internet, but the pendulum seems to be swinging back toward edited information vetted by professionals."

Anonymous said...

Clinton REALLY would be wise to shut up about Rezco, since she and Bill will be giving testimony in the Peter Paul case in California well before June.

In adddition, well, this just makes me...I can't even take bitter joy in the damage this will do.

Clinton accepted over a hundred thousand in funds raised by a Turkish-American man who produced a Turkish Film titled "Valley of the Wolves : Iraq" in 2006.

The film was denounced by the ADL as Blood Libel, and while I do think the ADL tends toward hyperbole from time to time...this is not one of those times.

The film is about a Jewish doctor stealing organs from healthy prisoners in Iraq and selling them to "The rich Jews all over the world".

The Clinton Campaign can't be expected to run a background check on every fundraiser, of course, but they were notified that Mehmet Celebi produced this film on 2/11/08, and had no comment.

They now say they are no longer accepting funds from him, and have taken him off the "HillRaiser" list, but have not appologized, denounced him, rejected his support, given the money back, or donated the money to charity.

The Clintons would be very, very wise to hush about other peoples fundraisers. This will lose Florida for her, hands down.




You'll have to copy and paste in three parts, sorry, I still can't figure out linking here.

This is NBC, not some Kos diary, confirmed by the New York Post, although that's not exactly a top notch source ;)

Acacia H. said...

I stand by my assertion, Dr. Brin. Nor is a black move away from the Left necessarily a bad thing. The article I linked above and several others I've read all suggest that black voters are feeling betrayed by the Clinton Campaign attacks on a black candidate which raise an all-too-common specter of yet another qualified black candidate for a job being "not good enough."

We hear of the glass ceiling against women. There is one against a number of minorities. There have been instances of minority job applicants denied a job that they are qualified for. (There are also grumblings among white candidates about reverse discrimination, mind you, and no doubt both happen. That's the nature of the beast.)

More seriously, however, are the attacks that President Clinton made in South Carolina. This is the man who was in the black community called the first "black" president. They considered Bill Clinton one of them, someone who understood. And then he went and smacked them in the face and played the race card against them.

As I said above, it is a good thing that black voters are starting to honestly weigh their options. Blind voting is never healthy, and people should research the candidates and find the person best qualified for the job, be they Democrat, Republican, Independent, or a minor party.

Here's a question for you. Is the news media being unfairly harsh against the Obama volunteer staff? We have had some rather nasty things said by the Clinton Campaign staff against Obama and crew, without a resultant media storm. I've not seen the media reporting of campaign staff resigning in disgrace. There have been firings, but that was of higher-level campaign staff after the campaign failed to halt the momentum Senator Obama had gained.

But with Obama's staff, a woman gets hot under the collar and calls Clinton a "monster" and resigns the next day under calls for her ouster. The Clinton campaign continues to wave the monster flag and raise sympathy for Senator Clinton (which is ironic considering it was another woman who called Clinton a monster, not a man... so it's not sexism at work here). Goolsbee and Rice likewise say things that result in an electron microscope being used on them to help in dissecting them. Yet while there is some interest in Clinton staff gaffs, it's mentioned more in passing and not emphasized nearly to the same degree.

The pendulum swings, and right now the media seems to be moving away from "worshiping" Obama as per the accusations of the Clinton campaign. But in giving the Obama campaign some needed vetting, are they perhaps ignoring the Clinton campaign's own mistakes?


So, Dr. Brin, you've been somewhat silent of late. Do you have any words of advice for our candidates? Methods for the Clintons to repair the damage they have wrought with the black community? Suggestions on what Obama needs to do to try and ensure his nomination? And should the Democratic Party work to wrap up the Democratic primary earlier rather than later (which would pretty much give the campaign to Senator Obama at this point) lest passions remain inflamed by the other side and Democrats sit out the campaign because "their" candidate lost? Ironically enough, Republicans are starting to rally behind Senator McCain... just when the Democrats are truly becoming fractured. If Clinton and Obama are not careful, we could see a split in the Democratic party right when unity is needed... and the Neocons managing to sneak in another four-to-eight years of corruption and bile.

Rob H.

Acacia H. said...

And another snippet: the media is behind Hillary Clinton's continued Presidential campaign, according to one blogger who insists that the media "do its math" concerning the so-called "momentum" of the Clinton Campaign. Indeed, Paul Hogarth compares Clinton's efforts to Mike Huckabee, but states that Huckabee was ridiculed while Clinton is cheered on.

I wonder at times at the media blindness as to the political realities going on here. Senator Clinton is being touted as having had a "comeback" when in fact her campaign cannot prevail without backroom deals, which seems unlikely in the face of the huge delegate deficit she's under. Add in the fact that Senator Obama has campaigned for other Democrats (Bill Foster, at least) and Senator Clinton is considered a divisive element for other democratic campaigns... and I wonder why there is so much praise currently being heaped on the Clintons over Obama. Is it backlash for perceived favoritism earlier in the campaign?

Back to campaign staff being given passes, Clinton campaign finance committee member Geraldine Ferraro claims Senator Obama is where he is because he's black. He goes on to claim the media is being very sexist... nevermind the fact that Clinton is where she is because she's Bill Clinton's wife. It seems sad that people can be so short-sighted as to claim color or gender is behind one's success... because Obama's success seems more due to his charisma and message than his skin color.


A small amusing tangent, Obama's Secret Service codename is "Renegade." His wife's codename is "Renaissance."

Rob H.

Unknown said...

McCain blasts Obama for dodging the Viet Nam war.

McCain has a point. Of course Obama was only 7 years old at the time... But still, if Obama had _really_ loved his country, he would've strapped grenades to his body, hidden inside the wheel well of a 747, and jumped out over Nam screaming "Die, Cong bastards, die!!!"

This is like a Monty Python routine. And they're not even out of the primaries yet.

Meanwhile, military leaders are starting to speak out against McCain as "too volatile."

Miss Piggy (Rove's nickname in the D.C. gay bars) and the Hoarse Whisperer: they're turning into the Beavis and Butthead of national politics...

Big C said...

Um, Zorgon, that USATommorow website appears to be a joke site in the same vein as The Onion, right? Even McCain's not that stupid.

Anonymous said...

Robert is correct that Clinton has burned a lot of political capital with black voters. Between her subtle and not so subtle use of the race card, the LBJ/MLK gaffe, comments that states with large black voting populations don't count, and the suggestion that her team may have darkened his skin tones in the Phone Call ad, teh trickle of black voters away from her has turned into a flood. That said, I don't know if her winning the nomination would necessarily turn them away from the Democrats in general. If she games the nomination through backroom deals, then maybe. At the very least, a lot of them will stay home. But then, that can be said of a lot of Democrats in general. Not only is Hillary on the ticket worth an extra million Republican voters who would have otherwise stayed home, if she weasels into the nomination (realistically, the only way she can get it at this point), that could be as many as 2 million Democrats who stay home.

On another note, the experience argument is still out there. Somebody did a correlation between experience (years in elected office at the state and national level, cabinet positions, generalship) v. quality of presidency (based on the various scholarly rankings). End result: zero correlation. The man with the most experience going into the office was Buchanan. The top 10 in experience contain 3 from the bottom quartile in quality and 2 more from the 3rd quartile, with only 2 from the top quartile (and one of those is Polk, who I find rather overrated). Whole thing here.

Acacia H. said...

I truly hope the Obama camp has been keeping an eye on Contrary Brin, seeing that Senator Clinton is once again attacking "words" though in this case she's claiming his promises to pull out of Iraq within 16 months are "just words" along with his interest in green technology.

Now would be the perfect time for Senator Obama to launch back a salvo of President Clinton's words, carefully selected to slap down Clinton's assertions. After all, they're "just words" as well. But if Senator Clinton attacks those words, she is attacking her husband's legacy. I would expect her to lose some of her support as a result, even if her husband remains hush on the criticism.

Further, if she claims those words count but Obama's words don't, she's applying a double-standard that will make her look bad.

It looks like between Ferarro's little tirade and other strains appearing, the Clinton campaign might be starting to crack under the pressure. Clinton is now directly stating she'll poach delegates (I guess her statement earlier that she wouldn't was... just words?) and the math pretty much states that she can't beat Obama. In all likelihood, Obama will win the popular and delegate votes and prevail in the Democratic Primary.

I seriously doubt the Superdelegates will work to override the will of the people, no matter how badly she tries to smear Obama and make him look unelectable. Even if he does end up losing that shine... the splatter effect on Clinton will be so significant that she'll not only destroy her own chances to be President, now or in the future, but very likely destroy her chances at being reelected as a Senator in five years.

Rob H.

Kelsey Gower said...

Actually, David, the quote was, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" - Joseph Welch

As for Eliot Spitzer, I don't know. I don't know much about him that I haven't gotten from either the news or this blog. This news surprised me.

Yes, Mrs. Spitzer should have a say here, she is the injured party. However, this case is different from what should have been a private matter between Mr. and Mrs. Clinton. As far as I know, Bill Clinton never committed any crime and should never have been charged with perjury. Eliot Spitzer probably has committed a crime, a crime he railed against when he prosecuted two prostitution rings when he was New York's attorney general.

Here's my question: Can public officials follow the laws that they expect us to follow? If the answer is no, then I don't want them in my government.

(A secondary question might be: Which laws are even valid? I have mixed feelings about prostitution.)

And then there's the question of using a wiretap to catch the guy. Is the administration listening to every Democrat in office? Perhaps they are, and this is the only Democrat they've caught doing anything illegal? That would be something.

However, and I know you've suggested it David. They could be blackmailing other Democrats with horrible secrets of their own. That might be why they haven't pursued this administration yet.

Anonymous said...

Hubert Clinton is not running for 2008 anymore.

She's running for 2012.

She knows she can't beat him, she's just trying to burn him down so badly that he loses to McCain and she can come back in four years smirking and saying "I told you you needed a fighter".

Obamas loss, if it happens, will be touted as a reason to ditch the 50 State strategy and give Dean the boot. It will also be used as an excuse to eliminate several caucuses, and change the Primary Calendar for 2012 so that it's front-ended with Clinton Friendly big delegate payoff States.

That way, she really will be inevitable.

I warn you here and now, Obama will win the Nomination, and Hillary Humphrey will find an excuse to spin it as a personal slight, and storm off in a huff without endorsing.

Acacia H. said...

That strategy risks biting her in the glutenous maximus. After all, if by some miracle or the use of tremendous charm, charisma, and endorsements by the rest of the Democratic party Senator Obama ends up winning the Presidency... then she's just made a very powerful enemy. In addition, by going off "in a huff" and refusing to endorse Obama, Senator Clinton would risk alienating the Democratic party. While I am sure the Republicans would welcome her with open arms, in four years she'd lose her Senate seat and vanish into obscurity.

I pray she is not so completely power-mad as to destroy her own party's one shot at getting the White House out of petty vindictiveness. If she continues down this road, in all likelihood she will be censored by the Democratic party and told to stand down. If she refuses? Then her own supporters would abandon her out of self-interest.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Jester, interesting scenario. She'd have to play it very smart, though. Storming in a huff would kill her off forever. SHE would get the blame for BHO's loss. She'd have to put on a show of endorsing him, while sabotaging from the side.

Still, even as a thriller plot, I don't see it. BHO's "new wave" is bringing in so many new people it will change the dems, permanently... and meanwhile, many HRC supporters are old and dying!

Also, psychology. The intense flattery and adrenaline of a campaign makes people crazy... clearly it is tipping HRC over the edge into hysteria. But that is a far cry from deliberately and coldly planning a long range scheme to betray her party and her country in a stab at eventual vindication and power.

I do not believe the latter of her. Not for an instant. She knows what's at stake. Right now, she has been flattered by sycophants into thinking she is America's salvation. But in August, she'll take deep breaths and come around... or the party centrists and office seekers and would-be appointees will crush her.

The aspect of all this that everybody misses is Obama's lead in the total popular vote. That is what BHO has to fortify and protect. For all the caucuses and superdelegates and all the delegate counts etc, the dems simply do not dare pick the candidate who got fewer overall votes, nationwide.

Unless it is VERY close, the superdelegates will not dare over-rule that symbolic lead.

Anybody know how many delegates Edwards has? Enough to matter?

No, the party brass are drooling like mad over BHO's ground troop organization. They want it. They want the new statehouses and state legislatures he might win the party, by aggressively pursuing Dean's in-your-face 50 state strategy, forcing the GOP to defend once-safe seats.

I want all those things too, but for reasons that are a bit more abstract, long range and apolitical. It could mean a rout. It could end culture war. It could put the gerrymandering issue into play. So many reasons.

Somebody let me know when my transparency essay runs in WIRED online!

Anonymous said...

It's absolutely true that there will be damage, but memories are short.

I'm not saying she'd leave the party, I'm saying she'd point to a "gender divide" among Supers or something and cry about the Old Boys Club (tm).

Many of the comments she's already made will damage him in the general. There is no unsaying that she doesn't believe he's fit to be CiC, or saying that McCain has "crossed the threshold" and Obama hasn't.

McCain wins, Democrats lose seats in 2010 as the battle continues, the DLC regains it's stranglehold on the DNC, and she rides to the rescue generously forgiving all the little people who were just too stupid and deluded to vote for her this time.

I'm not certain it would work, but the behavior of her staff (Ferraros recent comment attributing all of Obamas sucess to his race is probably just bitterness about being outperformed by Jackson 20 years ago) leads me to believe I'm right on this one.

She's surrounded by people who made their entire fortunes based on their connection to the last Clinton white house. They want back in, and they want back in BAD.

It's still a long shot, but it's much better odds than winning the nod this year. She's sacraficed her hopes in the general already, making her entire argument one about experience, an area in which she cannot begin to compete with McCain, and insulting both African American and "latte swilling" educated Democrats.

Two months ago, had she gotten the Nod, I would have literally put a clothespin on my nose and voted for her. Two weeks ago, I would have voted Peace and Freedom.

Now? I'd vote McCain.

Acacia H. said...

Considering how divisive recent events have become, Dr. Brin, do you see the Democratic Party leadership stepping forward and telling Senator Clinton to cease and desist? We already had Senator Pelosi tell both candidates to tone it down... but Clinton has been doing some truly reprehensible things in attacking Senator Obama's credibility as a leader and stating that his Republican opponent is a better leader than he is. These are sound bites that McCain and Carl Rove will use to paint Obama as a worthless leader, and state "We are only repeating the words of Senator Hillary Clinton, who has considerable experience in worthless leadership" (or something to that effect). Basically, this Democratic candidate has endorsed through her words John McCain.

It has to stop. But do you see the Democratic Leadership telling Clinton to either cease her attacks or to resign from the Presidential race? And do you see Clinton accepting facts and giving up if the remainder of the Superdelegates all joined forces and endorsed Senator Obama, giving him the votes needed to win? Or will she continue to fight on, and insist she'll take Obama's delegates from him?

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Dr.Brin -

I don't she's the one doing the cold calculation. I think you're right that she's being heavily managed by the "get tough" crew that took charge when everything blew up.

They've brought in a lot more money, and gotten her more votes, than Solis-Doyle did. She's listening to them.

I've seen the awe on her face when Obama refused her bait in the debates. I don't think she's evil incarnate, but I do think she is now surrounded by and managed by people who DO want to get back on the White House gravy train.

Don't missunderstand that remark, I don't believe the Clintons, while in office, were involved in deals to line their pockets. There is no denying, though, that having the "Presidents ear" brings a lot of financial opportunities, and getting a President elected brings some big cash...especially if you run a PR firm.

Would she ever admit, even to herself, what had happened if Obama loses because of her attacks, and she has the chance to run again in 2012?

Penn, Ickes, and crew are betting she wouldn't, and they know her pretty well.

You're right about the popular. It's one reason the Obama Campaign is pulling out all the stops in trying to get as many voters to the polls in the MS primary today, despite the fact that victory is a foregone conclusion.

What really blows is that the "popular vote" totals aren't being updated by the media as the certified results come in. Obama picked up a point and eight delegates from CA (turns out, she won by 8.9)when the real results posted last Tuesday, and about 20,000 votes net.

That, and we don't have any vote totals from many of the the caucus states, just delegate totals.

Edwards has 26 delegates. It may matter, a little.

Dave Rickey said...

My "tinfoil scenario" clears the first hurdle. General Fallon resigned as CentCom commander, citing "ongoing misperceptions about differences between his ideas and U.S. policy are making it too difficult for him to operate".

Next step would be a ratcheting up in agitprop about the Revolutionary Guards and their connections to Iraqi insurgents. A report gets "leaked" that claims they are behind either insurgent attacks in general, or directly tracable to some particular attacks, is my guess. Possibly renewed "Oh my god they're getting an atomic bomb!" rhetoric, as well.

It's possible they do something more subtle, but in one way or another we're going to see a pretext laid that combined with Kyl-Lieberman establishes a prima-facie case for bombing Iran.

Anonymous said...

(Catfish N. Cod -- non-encoded login failing me)

The mere *suggestion* that Fallon was in trouble
was used as the excuse to go ahead and fire him.

Read the story twice. Notice how much of it is devoted to pouring cold water on the idea that this has anything to do with Iran... despite the fact that the rumors themselves are supposedly the reason for "early retirement"!

The easiest way to quash rumors of a split would be to announce that Fallon's offer of resignation was rejected... thereby making it clear that any differences of opinion were irrelevant to the tasks at hand.


Instead, firing Fallon -- and no matter what they say, he was fired, if only by passive means -- confirms all suspicions. There are two logical conclusions:

a) The Adminstration wants the rumors to ring true;
b) The Administration puts the appearance of loyalty above competence.

At least one of these must be true... b) is certainly proven by many previous examples, but a) cannot be discounted. After all, appearing crazy in an effort to enact concessions is a longstanding Administration tactic, most likely suggested by Henry Kissinger -- who deployed it against the Soviets during the Nixon Administration.

None of this proves anything about Administration intentions concerning an Iran attack... but it removes an impediment to such an attack, and it confirms the War on Professionalism. Alas, the media are far too consumed with the minutiae of voting in my home state today to notice any of this.

It now becomes rather urgent to determine the stance of LTG Martin E. Dempsey, U.S. Army, who becomes CENTCOM Commander as of March 31st.


Rickey, your scenario won't work. Anything done now to forment war must be done under the radar and can't be achieved by agitprop. The Democratic candidates have control of most of the airwaves, and anything that smells like "wag the dog" will be grabbed upon rapidly and used against McCain. This trick will only work if the (no longer vast) RWC seizes and holds the initiative, without a chance for Hillary or Obama to point out the fraud and hypocrisy.

No, this only works for a Pearl Harbor/Gulf of Tonkin scenario where enemy action forces the Armed Services' hands (thus necessitating the best war president possible, i.e., McCain). That's also the only way to ensure the Armed Forces go along with it; and it must look plausible to the generals that this is not Wag the Dog. Any other casus belli will be immediately recognized as an attempt to fix the elections.

For crying out loud, the Security Council just voted 14-0 (Indonesia abstaining) to thwack Iran; Russia is begging them to stand down again! The CIA report that cut Cheney off at the knees did wonders for the anti-Iranian coalition; people believe the Europeans when they say Iran is up to no good. There is no way that an attack in the next eight months is good for resolving the Iranian situation; it only helps the RWC maintain power in America.

If Cheney really believes that an attack is necessary -- and that the next Administration will chicken -- he can damn well launch it in December.

(Please note that I really don't think we are going to attack Iran, because a lot more general officers would move to stop it if it were real. I think this is a deliberate stance (though a foolish one) of provocation, combined with the War On Professionalism... which are each bad enough.)

Acacia H. said...

A Republican speaks up as to why he's changing his party affiliation to Democrat and voting for Senator Clinton. We now have actual written proof from a Republican that is working to ensure Senator Obama not win the primary and thus help Senator McCain win in the Presidential election.

Why do I suspect Clinton is either not going to see this or will ignore it if it's pointed out to her?

Rob H.

Dave Rickey said...

@ Catfish

The Democratic candidates have control of most of the airwaves, and anything that smells like "wag the dog" will be grabbed upon rapidly and used against McCain. This trick will only work if the (no longer vast) RWC seizes and holds the initiative, without a chance for Hillary or Obama to point out the fraud and hypocrisy.

Yes, except that we're about to enter the "Pennsylvania Interval". Mississippi votes today, then there's absolutely nothing at all for 6 weeks until PA. That means the press is going to get tired of a narrative that centers on a race that isn't going anywhere.

You could be right, maybe they'll drum up some "Gulf of Tonkin" scenario, like a "smoking gun" that leads directly from an insurgent group or attack to the Revolutionary Guards.

And maybe it's just coincidence. The theory is still in tinfoil territory.

David Brin said...

I will comment on the firing of Adm Fallon tonight.

One of you said:
“She's surrounded by people who made their entire fortunes based on their connection to the last Clinton white house. They want back in, and they want back in BAD.”

You just don’t understand patronage. If Obama seems the surer bet to getting a job in 09, why torch him, make him an enemy and then wait for an iffy chance in 2013? Only the very top friendsof Hill would think that way. The rest will ask their contacts in the BHO camp whether there’s a place for them at the table.

Jester, please, settle down. Tell you what. If she kisses and makes nice with Obama, hugging him on stage and praising him, will you forgive a little? And if, by hook or crook, she becomes the nominee... please... the appointments. The civil service. The officer corps. The war. The secrecy. The Constitution. Think of them, close your eyes and try to imagine she’s somebody else.

Yes, I think the party brass are leaning on HRC. But how do they dare do much? She’s a minority-person, surrounded by prickly feminists who will perceive “macho bullying”. That’s why only Pelosi has dared speak in public. I saw the same thing back during the battles over the ERA. And it is so, so silly.

If the dems or the blogosphere have half a brain, they would assign researchers to measure the number of republicans who switch and for what reasons.

Dave Rickey said...

There's both anecdotal and statistical evidence for the "Limbaugh Spoiler Vote" here in TX. Over at Red State they were giving each other virtual high-fives about it, and it was a commonly heard thing in workplaces and the voting lines themselves.

Beyond that, a block of votes that had been heavily favoring Barack (independants and crossovers) suddently became a near tie in TX. And a lot of *extremely* red rural counties showed very high vote counts (in excess of 50% of registered voters voting in the Democratic primary, in places where Democrats are rare) and heavy Hillary counts.

Can it be proved? It would take a better analyst than me. But it sure stinks to high heaven.

Dave Rickey said...

Following up on "Spoiler Republicans". For the first time, Obama lost crossover Republicans in MS, and by a big margin (77-23, with that being 13% of the vote instead of the usual 7-8%).

Exit polls also show the "Scorched Earth" strategy is having the predictable effect, with 3/4 of Clinton supporters and 1/2 of Obama supporters expressing that they'd be disatisfied if the other candidate won the nomination. 74% of those expressing "highly favorable" opinions of McCain were Clinton voters, as well.

Anonymous said...

Most of her top folks have thrown the chance for a seat at that table away, Dr. Brin. They know it.

They're facing the destruction of a power base within the Party that has made them very, very wealthy. This is about a lot more than who takes the White House.

It's about whether or not we have one truly decent major Party. A Clinton win, if she brings her current crew, means that's delayed at least 8-12 more years.

If I can't turn off the burner, I'll turn it up so the frog jumps.

I'm not predicting sucess with such tactics, BTW, but if you really grok who Penn is, it's far from tinfoil hat.

Penn advised Blackwater.

I don't know what else to say. I voted for Bill. I don't "hate" the Clintons. I don't reject the truth out of loyalty to them and fond memories of the 90's, either.

My Father was two weeks from losing his unemployment when Bill became President, a blue collar factory worker in San Diego dealing with the massive reduction in military contracting and the base closings, which hit our County far harder than the nation in general.

If Bill hadn't pushed through and signed those benefit extensions, he literally would have been on the street. I don't "hate" the Clintons.

If Clinton rejects the Penn/Wolfson plan, you better believe I'll breath a huge sigh of relief. Heck, I'd go so far as to say that I'd donate to her 2012 Senate campaign, but she won't need it.

If she canned Wolfson and Penn tomorrow, you'd see me do ALMOST a one eighty. There is no hype in saying that this pair is of nearly on the same moral plane as Rove.

The refusal to dismiss Ferraro, as Ferraro continues to dig the hole deeper and claim people only have a problem with her comment because she's white? That doesn't seem to me like a step on the road to reconciliation.

I think open Primaries, which were once great for Obama, are going to start getting worse and worse for him now that the Republicans have a nominee.

They think they can beat her this year, and I think they might well be right.

Acacia H. said...

It might poison the Clinton Campaign's watering well however. Because a lot of people rightfully distrust the Republicans. When word gets out that Republicans are jumping over to the Democratic ticket deliberately to vote for Senator Clinton because they believe Clinton is easier to beat than Senator Obama, then we will see people who reflexively hate the Republicans voting for Obama out of spite.

It's kinda sad actually. Obamacans are Republicans who truly believe Obama holds promise for us all. Clintoncans are the sort of spiteful presence that goes on the American Idol website and votes for the worse candidate "for amusement sake" and the type of person who haunts the 4Chan and similar forums and preaches hate, be it of books, webcomics, movies, movements, what have you. They are the young barbarians who want so badly to storm the gates of progress and overthrow everything we've worked for out of a sick perverse enjoyment of destroying other people's work.

I may be a pessimist and cynic at times, but I am sickened by those types. I truly hope that people reject these Clintoncans and peddlers of hate. We stand on the edge of a precipice. They stand there with us... and want nothing more than to give us a shove and send us falling over the edge while they laugh.

Or that might be the lack of caffeine first thing in the morning talking.

Rob H.