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Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 10:16 AM PST

Start baking, Betty

by Tallgrass Prairie

I am in Florida, visiting my Mother, coming from the dreary, gray days of Washington for my annual fix of vitamin D. My Mother lives within walking distance of a gulf coast beach (a county park -- the people's beach -- sandwiched in between the private stretches of beach owned by the various scions of earned wealth, inherited wealth, stolen wealth, but wealth, for sure). The weather is lovely. Warm sand between my toes, soothing waves, sun aplenty, all does a body good in the small doses that I have it. While I am here I have a chance to read the small town paper my mother subscribes to. Reading a newspaper is something I seldom do these days: at least with the same avid attention of even a decade ago, when, like many of us, I pleasurably read my local paper (the Chicago Sun-Times, unable for any reason to read the union-busting, fact-shilling Chicago Tribune) for its "locality" and the New York Times (just because). Not surprisingly (gulf coast Florida, relatively wealthy retiree community, south, small town), this newspaper is mostly conservative and shockingly, almost blithely ignorant about much of what it writes (which is very little). This newspaper rotates a number of nationally syndicated opinionists on its viewpoint page -- heavily weighted to the right. These are columnists I usually have heard of, but never read. And I find it edifying, if disheartening. (There are token socialists, of course, as there must be, er, that is, of the middle -- we mustn't stray too far afield, as heads might explode and worlds rock.)

Anyway, to my point. Recently I read a column by Lawrence Kudlow arguing that the Republicans in Congress should force a government shutdown. I won't take the time to debunk the nonsensical feats of illogic and misstatements of fact. Not because I can't, mind you, but it would take a little work to do the research -- a click or two, a cut, a paste, stringing a few sentences together, and, frankly, the ocean calls. The "upshot of last fall's elections," "overwhelming debt," the "minuscule price" of a shutdown. It all seems so tediously, ordinarily wrong on such a sunny day. But this part did raise my salubrious hackles:

Back in the the early ’80s, when I served in the OMB under President Reagan, we went through several brief government shutdowns. Yes, the Washington Monument and a bunch of public parks closed. So what? Non-essential personnel got a holiday. The rest of us had to work.

Ah, yes, noblesse oblige, indeed. Let's put aside the family vacations ruined. I will concede that such a result could be a small price to pay for a greater good. But I cannot put aside the much more fundamental condescension. When is there ever a need to mind the piss ants, after all? Houses will still be cleaned, lawns mowed, dinners served, consumption will be had, in the private sector upper echelons. Never mind the most of us middle/working class stiffs, some of whom work for, gasp, the federal government or its contractors, who actually require the next pay check (sometimes, two or three weeks ago), to pay a bill, buy some food, keep a house, fill a tank (car, propane), have light. Blah, blah, blah. It's our own damn fault. Credit card debt to pay a hospital bill? How can that be? Get a better job. No raise in three years? Slacker. To these ruling oligarchs the new(ish) American reality of living pay check to pay check, not to have boats, and hot tubs, and second homes, and closets full of shoes, and to support sundry other frivolous or wastrel habits (that is, "not my own"), but just to scrape by really is incomprehensible. Republican as cavalier.

Maybe these blatant attacks on a half century of working class progress in Wisconsin, and Ohio, and Indiana will finally inform those baffling number of preternatural Republicans (my father, alas, a factory-working union member all of his adult life) that Republicans, at least this new ilk, are not our friends. They DO NOT have our best interest at heart, or in mind. Mr. Kudlow did have one thing right in his column: his admonition that (in exhorting the GOP to go for the kill): this is the moment. It truly is. Failure here, by us, will have harsh consequences for many people TODAY. And, in the backs of their minds, these more strategic conservative thinkers also know that their days of power (and so, of opportunity) are numbered, as the demography of America bends inexorably, frighteningly away from them. Write in stone, they cry!

There. I know a riff off a few sentences in a minor column should not a diary make, but I had something to say, and Kos says I can. And if some of my friends have a few days, or weeks, or months off when the government shuts down, I know now to advise them to enjoy the leisure time, read a book, bake a cake (because if they can't have it, at least they can eat it).

Discuss

I know this is late in the discussion (and what a turbulent discussion it has been), but as it seems that Senator Hillary Clinton will soon be approved as Secretary of State, what the F*ck. I'm wading in. I don't live in New York. I don't especially care who the next Senator from New York is, although I strongly prefer a good, progressive Democrat. Caroline Kennedy seems to be that. So do lots of others.  Only a few of these have a real possibility of being appointed. That's why it was so amusing to read the jeremiads of those who wrote here that there are so many more qualified than Caroline Kennedy to be Senator. Putting aside the capacity she brings by virtue of being a particular Kennedy, and the unique position in life in which that has placed her (no small capacity indeed, and woefully undervalued by the naysayers, I think, who must simply misunderstand the way things get done almost everywhere), of course there are. Probably thousands in New York City alone. None of whom anyone outside their immediate personal and professional circles anyone has heard of. It reminds me of something I heard once about the chance of snowballs in Hell. The suggestion that somehow this is the pool we should draw from, or measure against, is laughable. That is not the system of selection we have or even aspire to.

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Fri May 23, 2008 at 01:59 PM PDT

Color me STUPID . . .

by Tallgrass Prairie

Because I believe that who leads in the "popular vote" is relevant (neither dispositive nor irrelevant). In fact, it is obviously so. Because it's all about delegates. According to a recent diary, though, the consideration of the popular vote (I'll leave off the quotes the rest of the way, because I don't feel like typing them, but I do know that we are a bit like the 7 blind men trying to figure out the elephant, if there is an elephant, when trying to discern the popular vote) is so asinine, so insulting to people's intelligence, that it hurts the credibility of anyone stupid enough to use it.

Even more, so says kos,

One of the wonders of this primary season has been the ability of the Clinton campaign -- including Hillary herself -- and their supporters to engage in some of the most patently ridiculous and bald faced lies, knowing that everyone else knows they are engaging in patently ridiculous and bald faced lies.

Chief among those lies is the fiction that Clinton leads in the popular vote.

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Yesterday Hillary Clinton won the West Virginia primary by a whopping 41% over Barack Obama, with barely a whimper on this site or among the "cognoscenti." That Clinton would win by such a large margin, after the campaign is "over" should be getting a lot more attention, whichever candidate one supports. Of course, what we mostly get is either microscopic analysis sniffing out the favorable nuggets for Obama (like pigs after white truffles) and detailing how WV is tailor-made for Clinton (all of those "low-information" voters, you know) or dismissive yawns over this "expected" result. This is not to say that we got similar analysis (or yawns) regarding Obama's wins in Mississippi, or Georgia, or South Carolina, and the like (all hailed as triumphs royal) or the fully expected result in North Carolina. (In fact, the only unexpected result Tuesday a week ago was that Clinton won Indiana, a state next to Illinois (remember how much credit many on this site gave Obama for winning Connecticut), which the Obama campaign expected to win by 7%. Somehow, however, these results signaled the end of the game for Clinton.

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I have been reading front page diaries here for years and just recently dipped my toes into the water of diary writing. I have always enjoyed coming here for political "news" and the lively dialogue. I admit that I rarely read the comments and have just recently started doing so. Maybe I picked the wrong time, but it was not at all what I expected, and mostly a disappointment. So today I read (in "The Clinton civil war") that I expected the wrong thing -- that this is not a place for every type of Democrat, but one that subscribes to a particular philosophy and methodology.

(Yea, I get that most people here support a 50-state strategy, which really is great from the ground up, and is for sure Howard Dean's job, and the paramount issue for many unpledged delegates (the down ticket), but for my part I don't want a President who positions himself or herself to appeal to the lowest common denominator that is the South. I was born there, lived there, and I moved because I found it to be a place of repression.

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The latest tempest surrounding the content of some of Reverend Jeremiah Wright's sermons has inspired yet another round of Obama-serving logic and weak analogy at this site and elsewhere. Personally, I'm very wary of the intermix of politics (governance) and religion (faith). I already bring a healthy dose of skepticism in assessing the agenda of the overtly religious in the public sphere. (Which is not to say that I am a doubter of the genuine capacity of so many people of faith, because of their faith. Just the opposite. It is thieir example that makes me so defensive.)

In this instance, though, I take Obama at his word that the statements (and the sentiment reflected therein) of Reverend Wright are reprehensible (and so I don't feel the need to defend or decry them substantively, independently -- it's what he thinks about them that matters here). And unlike many of you, I'm not sure that the mere vehement disagreement with or strong condemnation of those statements now is a sufficient mea culpa. His failure to do more, or act differently, then may suggest a larger, more telling, mea deficio.

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Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 05:07 PM PDT

Obama and Racialism

by Tallgrass Prairie

First some bona fides (in my limited writing experience here, it seems that the logic of one's arguments, or the correctness of one's facts, are less important often than the personal details of who you are). I voted for Jesse Jackson in my state primary twice (1984 and 1988). I have represented a significant number of African-American employees terminated from their employment on the basis of race. I have promoted expansive hiring practices in my place of employment and affirmatively sought to hire (hired) persons of color as a member of my firm's hiring committee (often with some explaining to do). I myself am a member of an "other" class and I understand very well the realities of stigma and discrimination, both intellectually and personally. ALso, I am currently the director of an AIDS service organization that works tirelessly on behalf of persons with HIV disease, yet another marginalized and stigmatized group in our country. And honestly, my best female friend in all of the world is African-American (brilliant, accomplished, dear).

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Mon Mar 10, 2008 at 01:48 PM PDT

I HEART Obama

by Tallgrass Prairie

It's his supporters I can't stand. Well, that's not completely true -- some of my best friends are Obama supporters. And most certainly are decent, rational people committed to an extraordinary candidate. Not without flaws, a little untested and with some questions to answer, but a remarkable man by any measure. So I was wondering the other day why I was becoming more and more resistant to his winning the nomination? It's because I have been reading too many diaries and comments on this website. First, the doe-eyed analysis in favor of Obama is so ubiquitous and the unhinged screeds against Clinton so relentless, it is no wonder that a person becomes more contrarian. I understand just how those women who have been Clinton's lifeline feel. That it is so typical here reveals, sadly for me who thought otherwise, the taint of this site. It really is little different from other sites (albeit usually with a different bias , which is usually easier for me to ignore, or harder to see, because I agree with the target) in the diarists and commenters' selection (or distortion) of facts and manipulation of language (using words like coup, overruling, or stealing in discussing the possibility of unpledged delegates voting for Clinton, notwithstanding the rules) to advance an outcome or storyline.

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Fri Mar 07, 2008 at 07:45 PM PST

Fair and Square

by Tallgrass Prairie

We have read a lot of hyper-ventilated lecturing lately about unpledged delegates and the necessity that they sanction the "will of the voters" by simply ratifying the nomination of the candidate who has the greatest number of pledged delegates. The language is dire: overruling the primary process, or kos writing today that barring some epic Obama collapse, HRC's

only chance will be coup by super delegate -- cajoling the supers to abandon the will of the voters.

Get out, Hillary, before you destroy the party by your naked, wicked ambition.

All nonsense of course. First, why should she abandon her pursuit? Neither she nor Obama will have the majority needed to claim the nomination come August, and she is just as entitled as he is to seek the delegates she needs elsewhere. I suspect that by then, the two candidates will be well within a hundred delegates of each other, and Clinton plausibly will have the greater of the popular vote. Would a pledged, non-majority delegate lead of ONE by Obama entitle him to the coronation of the supers?

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I recently attended the Washington State caucus for the Democratic Party, where I was elected to be a Clinton delegate (by way of disclosure). I support Senator Clinton for reasons (not relevant here) more personal than political, and I admit to sharing many of the same doubts and fears about Clinton that many of you here have expressed (I would say the same about Senator Obama). And yesterday Washington State completed its primary for the Democratic presidential nominee (unlike the Republican primary, a non-binding affair, as the Washington Democratic Party selects its delegates exclusively through the caucus system).

This created a unique opportunity to look into the flaws of the caucus as a methodology (and perhaps, the hypocrisy of those Obama supporters who now so avidly extol and/or tout their results). The caucus sucks. They too easily are non-representative, certainly are exclusionary (ours took place over a 3-hour chunk on a Saturday afternoon, eliminating a vast number of retail workers, at the least), inhibit voter turnout and have other significant barriers to entry (my shy Mother would never think of attending, finding the thought itself anxiety producing).

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