Tuesday, January 29, 2008

FreeRice

FreeRice: "How does playing the vocabulary game at FreeRice help me?

Learning new vocabulary has tremendous benefits. It can help you:

Formulate your ideas better
Write better papers, emails and business letters
Speak more precisely and persuasively
Comprehend more of what you read
Read faster because you comprehend better
Get better grades in high school, college and graduate school
Score higher on tests like the SAT, GRE, LSAT and GMAT
Perform better at job interviews and conferences
Sell yourself, your services, and your products better
Be more effective and successful at your job
After you have done FreeRice for a couple of days, you may notice an odd phenomenon. Words that you have never consciously used before will begin to pop into your head while you are speaking or writing. You will feel yourself using and knowing more words.

Who pays for the donated rice?

The rice is paid for by the advertisers whose names you see on the bottom of your vocabulary screen. This is regular advertising for these companies, but it is also something more. Through their advertising at FreeRice, these companies support both learning (free vocabulary for everyone) and reducing hunger (free rice for the hungry). We commend these companies for their participation at FreeRice.

Haiti's poor resort to eating dirt


msnbc.com: "PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums and Charlene Dumas was eating mud.
With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies.
Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.
The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium. But in places like Cite Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal.
"When my mother does not cook anything, I have to eat them three times a day," Dumas said. Her baby, named Woodson, lay still across her lap, looking even thinner than the 6 pounds, 3 ounces he weighed at birth.
Though she likes their buttery, salty taste, Charlene said the cookies also give her stomach pains. "When I nurse, the baby sometimes seems colicky too," she said."

Wal-Mart may sell hybrids

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Chief Executive H. Lee Scott has discussed with automakers the possibility of selling gasoline-electric hybrid cars and plug-in automobiles at the retailer's stores.

"Maybe there isn't room for Wal-Mart in this right now," Scott said in a speech to store managers and suppliers this week. "But something tells me that there may be some role for us in the future." Scott didn't identify the carmakers, other than to say they were "major" companies.

Scott, who has overseen a 31 percent decline in Wal-Mart's stock market value during his eight-year tenure, has staked his reputation on an environmental agenda that he said might save millions of barrels of oil annually and cut consumers' energy costs.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer plans to work with suppliers to make products that are 25 percent more energy efficient over the next three years.

"Wal-Mart has an opportunity to take a leading role in this environmental effort, especially within the retail sector," said David Abella, an analyst at Rochdale Investment Management in New York. He called the idea of selling hybrids at Wal-Mart stores "a bit far-fetched."

Scott laid out ideas for ways to supply energy to consumers, proposing wind turbines and solar panels to generate power so customers can charge electric cars in parking lots at the world's biggest retailer.

Wal-Mart, which continues to fight criticism from social groups and lawmakers that its stores and labor practices harm communities, said it is now requiring its suppliers to meet environmental and ethical standards.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

U.S. Spy Satellite, Power Gone, May Hit Earth

New York Times: "WASHINGTON — A disabled American spy satellite is rapidly descending and is likely to plunge to Earth by late February or early March, posing a potential danger from its debris, officials said Saturday.
Officials said that they had no control over the nonfunctioning satellite and that it was unknown where the debris might land.
“Appropriate government agencies are monitoring the situation,” Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement. “Numerous satellites over the years have come out of orbit and fallen harmlessly. We are looking at potential options to mitigate any possible damage this satellite may cause.”
Specialists who follow spy satellite operations suspect it is an experimental imagery satellite built by Lockheed Martin and launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in December 2006 aboard a Delta II rocket. Shortly after the satellite reached orbit, ground controllers lost the ability to control it and were never able to regain communication.
“It’s not necessarily dead, but deaf,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an analyst for various government space programs.
It is fairly common for satellites to drop out of orbit and enter Earth’s atmosphere, but most break up before they reach the surface, Mr. McDowell said. Such incidents occur every few months, and it is often difficult to control the satellite’s trajectory or its re-entry into the atmosphere. The debris, if any survives the fiery descent, typically lands in remote areas and causes little or no harm.
“For the most part,” Mr. McDowell said, “re-entering space hardware isn’t a threat because so much of the Earth is empty. But one could say we’ve been lucky so far.”"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

If presidential candidates twist facts, why not intel?

There's a question that ought to asked frequently of Sen. Hillary Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama or any of the Republican candidates.

In Clinton's case, it has to do with her campaign's repeated representations of certain statements Sen. Barack Obama made when he appeared before the editorial board of the Reno Gazette Journal and his statement that he never said he supported single-payer, i.e. government-run health care system.

The question is this: Given what happened in the run up to the Iraq War, with the way the Bush Administration selectively presented classified intelligence in a manner that best suited its case for war, why shouldn't voters worry that a Hillary Clinton or Obama, or Mitt Romney administration wouldn't similarly shape intelligence in a way that suited its agenda?

The question arises partly because of the way Sen. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have handled what in intelligence would be called open-source material, Obama's statements in Reno.

As has been widely reported, Sen. Clinton and the former president Bill Clinton have accused Obama of praising Ronald Reagan and the Republican Congress in those comments when it appears to fair-minded observers who've read the transcript and seen the video that he did no such thing.

Instead, he was stating a historical fact, that Reagan did transform the shape of American politics (think Reagan Democrats) and that the congressional Republicans, particularly under House Speaker Newt Gingrich, did seem to be full of ideas about governing in contrast with congressional Democrats who didn't. At least not in the early 1990s. Even congressional Democrats admit as much.

Again, this open-source material. Everyone can see it and assess it for himself or herself. Obama renders history neutrally, he didn't make a value judgment saying that Reagan or the Republican-controlled Congress's ideas were "good."

Yet that is how the senator, her husband and her campaign have portrayed those particular comments.

So the obvious question is, if this is the way Sen. Clinton handles open-source material freely available to anyone, why shouldn't voters wonder how she would handle classified intelligence?

The same question could be asked to a degree of Obama. As has been reported, he clearly said in 2003 that he supported single-payer (government run) health care. Now he's saying when he said that, it was with qualifications though in the video I've seen there were no qualifications.

It's not wrong for politicians to change their minds. In his wonderful letter to Horace Greeley, President Abraham Lincoln wrote: "I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views." (Why more politicians accused of flip-flopping don't use this quote is a mystery.)

But it's a problem when they say they never said something, when there's video evidence that they did.

This of course, isn't just a Democratic problem. Republican candidates have their issues with this too. Exhibit A would be Mitt Romney slicing the bologna thin when he says he doesn't have lobbyists "running" his campaign.

The question remains. If a presidential candidate will twist widely available facts to his or her purpose to the point of distortion, why should voters believe he or she wouldn't do the same with the classified intelligence the public doesn't have access to?

Put another way, how can a presidential candidate make a credible claim they won't misuse intelligence on Iran or some other nation seen as unfriendly to the U.S. and its allies if they're misstating freely available information about an opponent, or his own record, in the course of a political campaign? Why should the public trust them not to do that given how they've handled facts in their campaigns?

Bobby Fischer's final bizarre act


The American chess prodigy's eccentricities didn't end with his death. As Neil Tweedie discovered in Reykjavik this week, the reclusive genius had arranged his own secret 'guerrilla' burial. Now its legality is being questioned

The grave was dug in secret as darkness descended over the white frozen landscape around the village of Hraungerdi, ready for Bobby Fischer's last getaway. Not even the minister whose churchyard it was knew of the funeral planned for the following morning.

So much about Bobby Fischer was a mystery. He liked it that way, keeping people guessing. No way would the fallen angel of world chess have allowed the media a feeding frenzy. Hence the unauthorised "guerrilla" funeral uncovered by the Telegraph this week; a strange secret end to a strange secret life.

Bobby Fischer was 64 when he died last week of kidney failure - one year on earth for each square on a chessboard. Arguably the greatest chess player ever, he ended his life as a recluse, obsessed about his privacy, trusting in virtually no one. Subject to bouts of paranoia, he was vehemently anti-Semitic and convinced the CIA was out to get him. But he was also capable of kindness, gentleness and humour, and commanded loyalty among those who knew him.

He was an exile, too, a fugitive sought by the US government (he had broken sanctions against playing chess in Milosevic's Yugoslavia) but protected by the tiny country that had offered him a passport and a haven. His death made headlines around the world. There was much that Fischer kept to himself: his marriage, if marriage it was, and his daughter, a little girl living far away in the Philippines who may inherit all or part of his still considerable fortune.

The manner of his burial is now the subject of controversy in Iceland, an intimate society of just 300,000 people. Some of Fischer's friends believe the burial is unlawful. If Miss Watai was not his wife, they argue, then she and Sverrisson had no right to carry out the burial without seeking the permission of his estate's legal representatives. There is the additional matter of money: Fischer's Swiss bank account is thought to have held about £1.5 million, and there may be more in gold deposits.

Kristinn Fridfinnson is the Lutheran minister in Hraungerdi. He first knew that Fischer had become a permanent resident of his graveyard through the local media.

"I didn't believe it at first," he says, standing in the still cold air of the small church. "No one had asked my permission. It was a great surprise. Maybe it was a mistake to bring him here, so far from where he lived, but we are honoured to have him here now. The great Bobby Fischer."

Most of Fischer's public life is well documented, but his final years in Iceland are less well-known. Icelanders pride themselves on not being seduced by celebrity, preferring to leave famous visitors in peace. Fischer arrived in March 2005 and found a haven in Reykjavik, where he was supported by a small circle of friends. Some have broken their silence for the first time to talk of Fischer.

"Bobby could be such fun," said Einar Einarsson, one of those who helped get him into Iceland. "I remember him singing My Way as I drove him in the car. He could be gentle and kind, particularly to children. In many ways he was a quite normal person. But there was always that dark side - he believed that dark forces were out to get him."

Was he mad?

''I think that he was an angry man rather than a mad man."

Mr Einarsson was upset by his exclusion from Fischer's funeral and is concerned about its legality.

Saemi Palsson was another close friend. Fischer's police bodyguard during the Spassky match in 1972, he remained in contact with the chess player and was central to securing his release from custody in Japan, after he was arrested by immigration officials. He retains a great affection for the maverick American but admits to being disturbed by some of his more unpalatable views.

"Bobby was a genius, he could have been a great doctor, scientist - anything. But he was not emotionally intelligent - he didn't know how to behave with people. He did not trust many people. He did not trust doctors and that is why he did not want treatment for his condition."

Fischer's life in Reykjavik was a simple one. He was to be seen in the coffee shops and book stores of the Icelandic capital's bohemian quarter, reading and avoiding eye contact. In particular, he frequented the Bokin bookshop, which he would visit twice a week, occupying for hours a chair set aside especially for him in the corner. He devoured everything from history to biography, and was also fond of reading Dennis the Menace comic books imported for him from the US. People asking for autographs were greeted with stern silence.

Fischer's need for privacy was all consuming. Often he would arrive late at a restaurant so as to avoid unwelcome attention. But he was also to be spotted dining with friends, enjoying jokes.

His mercurial streak never left him, though. Friends fell in and out of favour depending on whim. Speaking to the media was a capital offence requiring immediate exclusion from his circle. And there was always potential for the explosive, irrational rant.

Miss Watai was based in Japan but visited Iceland frequently, especially as Fischer's health began to fail, doing his laundry and tending to him at his apartment in the capital. Some in the Fischer circle refer to Miss Watai merely as a "friend" of Fischer. The Japanese embassy in Reykjavik encouraged speculation about the couple's marital status this week when a spokesman questioned the validity of their civil wedding ceremony in Japan, alleging it may have been unlawful because of Fischer's lack of a valid passport at that time.

But another friend of Fischer came to Miss Watai's defence. She told the Telegraph: "There is simply no question that Miyoko was the closest person to Bobby and by far the most special person in his life. She is a woman of absolute integrity who will undoubtedly ensure his daughter is taken care of, should she inherit his estate. She met Bobby in the 1970s and there was probably a relationship from that time. She was passionate about him and is devastated by his death. She promised never to betray his confidences and she will observe that promise."

Robert James Fischer was a phenomenon. There has probably never been a more talented chess player. US junior champion at 13 and a grandmaster at 15, his winning streak of 21 games at top level will probably never be equalled. When so many players aimed for the draw, he went for the throat. He didn't beat opponents, he annihilated them.

Good-looking in his youth, and with a taste for sharp suits, he was saleable in a way that other chess players could only dream of, commanding multimillion-dollar offers in exchange for appearances. But he was mercurial and prone to anger.

It was in Iceland in 1972 that he attained worldwide notoriety, playing in the world championship against Boris Spassky. The match was a metaphor for the Cold War: American kid versus the might of the Soviet chess machine.

It would be 20 years before he played again. In the meantime, he descended into a kind of madness, donating money to a pseudo-religion promising Christ's return in 1975 and developing a loathing for Jews. That his mother Regina was Jewish mattered not. Fischer may even have had a Jewish father, a Hungarian scientist who had an affair with his mother. His legally recognised father, a German-born scientist, left home when his only son was two.

In 1992, a multimillion-dollar pot lured him back into the limelight, again against Spassky in a tournament in Milosevic's Yugoslavia, then the subject of US sanctions. From then on he was an exile, circling the globe. While in the Philippines he met a young woman called Justine. In 2000 she gave birth to a daughter, who could now inherit his estate.

Fischer took to the radio to denounce the US and Israel. The rant celebrating 9/11 was the last straw. In 2003 the US retaliated by revoking his passport. In 2004 Fischer was arrested at Tokyo airport and detained for eight months. It was then that he is said to have married Miyoko, president of the Japanese chess federation. Shortly after, Iceland granted him citizenship and he was released.

Lilja Gretarsdottir, president of the Icelandic chess federation, explains: "Icelanders have always had a soft spot for outlaws. It goes back to the sagas.

"Fischer was exiled from America but he was always an American - in his manner, everything. I think he must have found it hard to know that he could not return to his country."

In the churchyard at Hraungerdi yesterday, the red and white roses on Bobby Fischer's grave appeared as fresh as the day they were laid down upon it, frozen by the cutting Arctic wind. Driving snow obscured the last resting place of the most celebrated exponent of the art of chess.

The press didn't get their feeding frenzy. To the end, Bobby Fischer did it His Way.

Drawing A Conclusion

There are more than 200 syndicated comic strips in U.S. newspapers, but only 15 feature regular black characters drawn by African-Americans. So Darrin Bell ("Candorville") and eight other minority cartoonists have devised a "demonstration" of sorts: on Feb. 10, they will each draw a version of the same strip—a jab at readers and editors who think all their work is alike. Bell spoke with NEWSWEEK's Tony Dokoupil.

You ' re not calling this a protest?
It's more of a reminder that our strips are not interchangeable just because the characters are the same color.

Can you explain the timing?
I just thought, enough is enough. When one of my cartoons gets added to a page, I dread asking my syndicate what I replaced because it's too often one of the other 15 "black" strips, even though they have nothing to do with mine thematically. Many of us have even been told: adding one means cutting another.

And you sense racism at work?
The comics page just seems to be one of those areas of life where bigotry creeps in. If the first thing someone thinks when they see "Watch Your Head" [a comic about black pals in college] is "black strip" instead of "college strip," that's racism creeping in.

How big of a problem is this?
The industry forecast is mostly sunny with patches of racism. We just want everyone in and out of the rain.

Fareed Zakaria Says The War Is Over! Awesome!

by Bob Cesca
It's called the MRAP, or "Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle." With a price-tag of as much as $1 million each, these new armored transports are designed with a wedge-shaped hull in order to deflect explosive blasts away from the cabin, therefore shielding the soldiers inside.
And much like the surge, it doesn't appear to be working.
On Tuesday, an American gunner was killed when his MRAP vehicle hit a roadside bomb south of Baghdad. His comrades inside were wounded despite the MRAP armor. Reports didn't say whether or not the bomb was what's called an "explosively formed penetrator" or EFP roadside bomb which critics have warned has the power to rip through an MRAP's armored hull.
We make better armor -- they make deadlier bombs. Don't be afraid, though. Six months from now we're going to win the shit out of this war. But wait! Don't nobody move! Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria, says the war has ended!
The Democrats are having the hardest time with the new reality. Every candidate is committed to "ending the war" and bringing our troops back home. The trouble is, the war has largely ended, and precisely because our troops are in the middle of it.
Okay. The war has largely ended because our troops are -- huh what? The war is over but if our combat soldiers come home, the war won't... be... over... anymore? The only thing I can make sense of here is that this is exactly the Bush Republican position on Iraq: The surge worked, the war is over, but no-one can come home because the surge worked and the war is over. Hooray for God's America!
And -- nyuck nyuck! -- this really has the Democrats flummoxed. Ya' think? I can't imagine why this Bush Logic would confuse people. It's not unlike being flummoxed by your roommate when he suddenly insists he's a reptilian Sleestak creature; then demands that you make linguistic sense of his constant Sleestak hissing. There's no sense to be made here other than the utter lack of common sense.
What's more disturbing is that The Very Serious Mr. Zakaria defined this as a "new reality." Maybe by "new" he meant "not a" or "I'm about to make shit up about [reality]."
Nevertheless, we can clearly gather that there are now two Iraqs.
There's Fareed Zakaria's awesomely successful "New Reality Iraq" which the traditional media and the Bush Republicans are observing -- mouths locked in frozen grins, and sweaty palms robotically smacking together in a deluded, drone-like round of applause. In the New Reality Iraq, nothing is ever achieved now; everything is achieved six months from now. Maybe. In the New Reality Iraq, Senator Graham bought a wicked-awesome rug for a dollar.
And then there's what I've been calling "Bizarro Iraq": an opposite, alternate Iraq in which the surge didn't work because the political benchmarks the increased troop levels were meant to facilitate... weren't achieved. In Bizarro Iraq, failing to meet those political benchmarks cost us the highest level of American military deaths in the war so far: 901 Americans killed in action and 6,071 wounded during 2007. In Bizarro Iraq, there's no such thing as victory because, in Bizarro Iraq, the president's illegal invasion and occupation, the president's torturing, the president's shock & awe, and the president's criminally botched reconstruction has fostered what are sure to be decades of catastrophic blowback against Americans and American interests.
In Bizarro Iraq, this is just a glimpse at January:
BAGHDAD -- The street battles between members of a messianic cult and Iraqi troops raged for a second day as the death toll from the fighting in two predominantly Shiite southern cities rose from 50 to at least 68. Iraqi authorities said at least 36 people were reported killed in Basra, Iraq's second largest city, and at least 32 in Nasiriyah, including Iraqi security forces, civilians and gunmen. At least 10 people were reported slain in Nasiriyah Friday. - JANUARY 20, 2008
BAGHDAD -- Nine American soldiers were killed in the first two days of a new American drive to kill al-Qaida in Iraq fighters holed up in districts north of the capital, the U.S. military said Wednesday. [...] Six soldiers were killed and four were wounded Wednesday in a booby-trapped house in Diyala province, where joint U.S.-Iraqi forces were driving through a difficult web of lush palm and citrus groves, farmland and fertile river bottoms. - JANUARY 9, 2008
BAGHDAD, Iraq CNN -- A well-respected Sunni leader who was key in helping reduce violence in his northern Baghdad neighborhood was among at least 15 people killed in three separate suicide bombings Monday, officials said. -JANUARY 7, 2008
And all of the following items were reported on January 6, 2008...
BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber wearing an explosives vest killed nine people and wounded 12 others in Baghdad's central Karrada district, a police official said. Another police source said nine people were killed and 17 wounded.
BAGHDAD - A parked car bomb killed three people and wounded 15 outside a restaurant in the Qahira district in northern Baghdad, police said.
BAGHDAD - Twelve bodies were found in various districts across Baghdad on Saturday, police said.
BAGHDAD - Three blasts killed one person and wounded four in Nahda district in central Baghdad, police said.
BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb wounded seven people travelling in a minibus in the southern Baghdad district of Doura on Saturday, police said.
MUQDADIYA - Four human heads were found on Saturday in Muqdadiya, 90 km (55 miles) northeast of Baghdad, police and hospital officials said.
DIYALA PROVINCE - One U.S. soldier died after a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in Diyala Province on Saturday, the U.S. military said.
BAGHDAD - Gunmen killed Ismail Abbas, the leader of the Awakening Council in Shaab district, outside his home in northern Baghdad, police said.
Does this litany of death and violence indicate to you that the war has "largely ended" or does it indicate to you that the people telling us the war has "largely ended" are "largely nuts"? The answer to that question determines whether you're observing Bizarro Iraq or Zakaria's New Reality Iraq. On second thought, don't worry about it -- six months from now we'll reach a turning point in the war which we've already won because the surge worked but the troops will have to stay there or else we won't win.
I can't imagine why Senators Clinton, Obama and Edwards would want to end this goddamn thing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Conan O'Brien Stephen Colbert Feud

Impeachment resolution a matter of accountability

by TAMMY BALDWIN
Posted: Jan. 19, 2008
On Dec. 14, I joined with my colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee, Reps. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), in urging Chairman Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to conduct hearings on a resolution of impeachment now pending consideration in that committee.
Among my constituents, there are those who say I have gone too far in calling for Congress to examine possible impeachable offenses by the Bush administration. There are also those who argue I have not gone far enough. In letters, emails, phone calls, personal conversations and listening sessions, I have heard passionate arguments from those who think we are losing our democracy and that I should do more to hold the Bush administration accountable for its actions.
The call to impeach is one I did not take lightly. But as we said in our letter to Chairman Conyers, the issues are too serious to ignore. We simply cannot discount or overlook numerous, credible allegations of abuse of power by the Bush administration that, if proven, may well constitute high crimes and misdemeanors under our Constitution. To prove this, we must follow the form of the signers of our own Declaration of Independence who wrote, "let Facts be submitted to a candid world."
Impeachment hearings in the House Judiciary Committee will establish the facts and prove whether or not this administration did the following:

• Spied on Americans without a court order in violation of the Fourth Amendment;

• Directed senior members of the administration to ignore subpoenas in contempt of Congress;

• Outed Valerie Plame Wilson as a covert agent of the CIA and then intentionally obstructed justice by disseminating false information through the White House press office;

• Ordered U.S. attorneys to pursue politically-motivated prosecutions in violation of the law;

• Fired eight U.S. attorneys and allowed others to retain their jobs because of partisan political considerations;

• Refused to provide subpoenaed emails and other documentation;

• Purposefully manipulated intelligence to deceive American citizens and the Congress;

• Fabricated a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the war in Iraq - a war that has taken the lives of nearly 4,000 U.S. troops, injured 60,000 more, and that will cost more than a trillion dollars by many accounts;

• Alleged, despite all evidence to the contrary, a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida, to justify the war in Iraq;

• Manipulated and exaggerated evidence of Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities;

• Undermined national security by openly threatening aggression against Iran, despite no evidence that Iran has the intention or capability of attacking the U.S.;

• Suspended habeas corpus by claiming the power to declare any person an "enemy combatant" - ignoring the Geneva Convention protections that the U.S. helped create;

• Endorsed torture and rendition of prisoners in violation of international law and stated American policy and values, and destroyed videotaped evidence of such torture;

• Awarded unlawful no-bid contracts to political friends at home and abroad; and

• Skirted legal consequences by employing paid mercenaries to act as bodyguards for American diplomats in Iraq.

The abuses of this administration demand a formal response. Congressional oversight is a fundamental part of our constitutionally-proscribed system of checks and balances.

I had hoped that Congress could begin to repair the damage that has been done to our democracy, our Constitution and our standing in the world, so that censure or impeachment could be averted. Unfortunately, this administration not only fails to accept responsibility for its misdeeds, but it also blocks attempts to right the wrongs and address the tragic consequences of those misdeeds. We have seen the American people's will thwarted by the exercise of veto power. We have seen subpoenas ignored. We have seen signing statements used to circumvent the law of the land.

If we fail to take action to either impeach or repair the damage, then the next president will "inherit" unchecked powers. Unchecked powers are unacceptable no matter who is president.

It is unlikely that impeachment will move forward this session. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) expressed her view that impeachment should be "taken off the table," and that is her prerogative. I took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution. That sacred pledge gives me no choice but to call for executive branch accountability in any and all forms possible.

Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, represents Wisconsin's second congressional district.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Actor Heath Ledger is found dead

Kelly, I thought of you and your mom when I saw this. My condolences.


Actor Heath Ledger is found dead

NEW YORK (AFP) — Australian-born actor Heath Ledger, 28, the co-star of the Oscar-winning movie "Brokeback Mountain," was found dead in a New York residence on Tuesday, police said.
"Heath Ledger was found dead at 3:26 pm this afternoon," a police spokesperson said, saying he was found in an apartment in the posh district of Soho. "We don't know the cause of the death."
The entertainment website TMZ said Heath was discovered "face down on the floor" adding that "law enforcement sources ... believe it was not a crime."
The New York Times said Ledger was discovered by the housekeeper and a masseuse who arrived in the afternoon for an appointment.
They knocked on the door, but "when no one answered, the housekeeper and the masseuse opened the bedroom and found Mr. Ledger naked and unconscious on a bed. They shook him, but he did not respond," the Times said.
Both the New York Times and TMZ quoted officials as saying pills were found near the body, but gave no further details.
According to the newspaper, the apartment was inhabited by actor Mary-Kate Olsen.
Ledger, who was nominated for a best actor Oscar for his portrayal of a gay cowboy in the 2005 film "Brokeback Mountain," had separated from his former fiancee Michelle Williams in September. The pair, who met on the set of the Ang Lee-directed drama, have a two-year-old daughter, Matilda.
Lee had hailed Ledger's performance as a "miracle" of acting, reminiscent of a young Marlon Brando.
Ledger lost the Oscar for best actor in 2006 to Phillip Seymour Hoffman for his portrayal of author Truman Capote in "Capote," but "Brokeback Mountain" won three Academy Awards, including for best director.
The flaxen-haired heartthrob first came to prominence by acting as a homosexual athlete in little-known Australian soap opera "Snowy Bowles" in 1996. He played a gay cyclist in the teen soap, set at the Western Australian Institute of Sport that portrayed the lives of Olympic hopefuls.
The creator and writer of the series, John Rapsey, said it was clear even then that Ledger, then a 16-year-old sports champion and high school dropout, possessed an unusual talent.
"He himself had absolutely no problem playing the role. He handled all of that with great aplomb," Rapsey told AFP.
"What was noticeable about him was he was concentrated, very quiet, and you could see that he was really observant of other people."
Ledger, who has never attended acting school and who left his home state of Western Australia for Sydney as a teenager, credited his instincts with his success.
"The one thing that's got me to where I'm sitting is my instincts, you know, and I'm impatient. I didn't want to wait for years to work. I wanted to just get out there and do it," he said in an interview with an Australian television program in 2001.
At 19, Ledger left Sydney for Hollywood, where his standout talent was spotted by Mel Gibson when auditioning 500 actors for the role of his son in "The Patriot." The casting was Ledger's first big-time break and led to his leading role in "A Knight's Tale."
Gibson has described Ledger as possessing "the unknown factor" that "sort of lights up the screen".
Ledger continued his steady impact on Hollywood, with a small role in "Monster's Ball" (2001), followed by the lead in the lightweight "The Four Feathers" (2002), Australian drama "Ned Kelly" (2003) and "The Brothers Grimm" (2005).
At 26, the Australian was the youngest nominee for the best male actor category and the outside chance to take the statue away from fellow contenders Hoffman, David Strathairn, Joaquin Phoenix and Terrence Howard.
This month, Ledger had been working on his latest movie, "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," directed by Terry Gilliam, which was due to be released next year. He also portrayed The Joker in a Batman movie called "Dark Knight" to be released later this year.

Ever-popular Florida finds itself becoming less popular

By MATT SEDENSKY
Associated Press Writer
CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- When Eric Feichthaler became mayor three years ago, this town was booming. The city issued 800 permits that month to build single-family homes and traffic at the local moving company was mostly inbound.
Those days are over. Last month, the city issued just nine permits for single-family homes. Callers to Royal Palm Movers are more likely to ask about outbound trucks. Even more likely, they are asking for a job.
But don't blame Feichthaler for the city's downturn - it's not his fault. Blame Florida. The Sunshine State is losing some of its luster.
New census data shows that last year the number of people who moved to Florida from other states outnumbered those who left by just 35,301, down from 268,347 in 2005. It was just the second year since 1990, when the census started keeping such records, that the state saw fewer than 50,000 net U.S. arrivals.
Experts blame the trend on a combination of circumstances: A bursting real estate bubble, steep insurance and property tax bills and a climbing unemployment rate.
The shift is felt most in places like Cape Coral, which went from barren southwest Florida swampland to bustling bedroom community and in recent years has been one of the state's centers of a building and buying boom. But that has gone bust, as evidenced by a sea of unsold homes.
"It was very good before. It was like houses everywhere, buildings coming up everywhere and all of a sudden, everything stopped," said Elliot Aguilar, a 35-year-old electrician who is married with five children. "If this continues, we probably have to move to another state."
There is still much room for growth here.
Less than half of 115-square-mile Cape Coral has been developed. Tens of thousands of residential lots remain empty, many of them sprinkled among blocks partially filled with homes. The city projects it will be 2080 before the city is fully developed.
Feichthaler says he's glad certain folks have left, "the people that came in three years ago in a gold-rush mentality," even if that's causing some economic upheaval.
"A certain amount of pain was necessary to make our community healthy," he said.
The health Feichthaler refers to is more affordable housing and the departure of unlicensed contractors, shady title agents and others who sought to make quick money at others' expense.
All of that, however, is of little comfort to those suffering from the downturn.
Foreclosures in Lee County, of which Cape Coral and Fort Myers are a part, skyrocketed more than fivefold last year, to 12,566, according to RealtyTrac, which records such data. The median sales price of single-family homes in the county fell to $239,300 in October from $322,000 two years earlier, according to the Florida Association of Realtors. And unemployment in the Fort Myers metropolitan area is at 5.4 percent, its highest level since January 1994.
Much of that bad news comes because roughly one in three people here work as real estate agents, title insurers, contractors, or in some other job linked to a sagging housing market.
Barbara Hartman of the Career and Service Centers of Southwest Florida said she is trying to place unemployed residents in any available job. She said the decrease in people moving to the area was actually positive because it means less competition for jobs.
"So many people are out of work," she said.
It's not just here along the Gulf Coast. Across the state, people tired of hurricanes, and high housing costs are reconsidering Florida.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr.

"I Have a Dream"

delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. *We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: "For Whites Only."* We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
(continued at sight)

Friday, January 18, 2008

What About the Ones Who Are Both Sexist and Racist?

by Joan Chittister
One of the more interesting dimensions of the current presidential campaign is that we may all need to wrestle now with the question of which is more prevalent in US society — racism or sexism. This is an alternative that strikes me as a very strange question to begin with, frankly. After all, all races have a male-female question since all men of all races have been raised in the historical mythology of male superiority. All males, any males, everywhere. Which means then that discrimination is also true for all women, any women, anywhere.
As the United Nations Population Fund report puts it:
“At the dawn of the 21st Century, humanity continues to witness massive human rights violations in the form of discrimination and violence against half of the world’s population. The unequal status, freedoms and opportunities afforded to women and girls exist to a greater or lesser degree in every society and country of the world and regrettably, all too often taken for granted as “normal” aspects of society and human relations.”
In fact, we are only beginning to discover that sexism is based on a bad biology that has been theologized. Women, women were told by men,, were physically smaller and therefore secondary human beings, that their single purpose was obviously for pregnancy and child-rearing, that they were more emotional and therefore less rational — read “less capable, less adequate” — than men.
As a result, physical size was confused with intellectual competence and spiritual development, child rearing trumped intelligence for women but not for men, and hard-heartedness was more important than compassion in governance. Which may, from at least one perspective, be true if the town is surrounded by hungry lions and rampaging elephants.
But, in the end, one argument silenced common sense everywhere. Sexism, we were meant to believe, was simply built into the human race by God. There was nothing we could do about it. It was ‘God’s will’ for women.
Everywhere, exceptions were used to prove the rule: a queen here, a cowgirl there, a woman athlete, a couple women scholars. These were all women who could, they said, “think like a man,” or throw a ball “like a man,” or lead a government “like a man” but who were then, of course, always the exceptions, never the norm. The norm was male.
Racism on the other hand is universal, too — meaning found to some appreciable and determining degree in all cultures. The difference is that where racism is concerned, there is no universally acclaimed superior race as males were/are argued to be, by nature, over women. In fact males of all colors have been seen as the “natural” leaders, the superior beings, the social elite from tribe to temple everywhere.
Not so for women.
Nevertheless, where issues of either racism or sexism are concerned in a global society, in a world characterized by seeping borders and compulsory education and open universities, ideas are beginning to change. And society is changing with them. Our commitment to the biological or social notions of inferiority — either racist or sexist — is reversing itself everywhere and theology is struggling to cope with it.
As St. Augustine says, however, we are in “the already but not yet” moment in history. People still live in one of two mental universes everywhere. Or worse, maybe, we’re all living in both of them at one time. Like here, for instance.
Enter the 2008 electoral process and let the confusion begin.
One of the most amusing but least funny of all the analyses of campaign politics to date was the comparison of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton before the Iowa/New Hampshire primaries.
The criticism of Clinton was that she was hard and cold. She appealed to strategy and reason, it seems. She didn’t laugh right or smile right or talk in the right register. She wanted to discuss particular programs and experience instead of being more “likable.” She wanted to talk about the problems we’re having and what she thought would fix them.
Obama, on the other hand - ironically — appealed to the heart. He wanted to talk about the need for change. He appealed to good old-fashioned Americanism, the melting pot, can-do (Yes, we can!) world of national unity and compassionate vision.
There was no applause for her rationality, no criticism of his sensitive and stirring appeals, no acknowledgment of her concern for people- problems, no derision of his vocal register.
He was, that is, what every woman is afraid to be: emotional. And not a word of criticism came from it.
And then the change: When asked how she felt about being criticized for being unemotional, she said, “It hurts my feelings.” And, to their eternal credit, the audience laughed.
And when she lost in Iowa, they asked her why she stayed in the race when she seemed to be losing so much ground so quickly and with tears in her eyes, she said, “(What happens to this country) is personal to me …” And the country blinked.
Apparently, the old categories of hard vs. soft, rational vs. emotional and who is allowed to be them is shifting in the wind.
So now the argument is emerging that some women leaders — the few of them that history provides us — haven’t been so good. So why haven’t we heard any of them argue, on the other hand, that we shouldn’t elect a man because all the male leaders we’ve had around the world, over the ages, then and now haven’t been so good either.
Obviously, the old reasons for why we do or don’t elect someone aren’t as convincing, aren’t as certain anymore as they used to be.
Maybe we ought to just start listening to what our candidates say about how they will do all the things they promise to do and then, male and female, female and male, make up our own minds — whatever their color, whatever their sex — whether what they’re promising is necessary, is doable, is important to us or not. In fact, maybe we ought to just listen to them to see if they’re really promising anything or not.
From where I stand, how people vote is becoming less and less important than why people vote for the candidates they do.
The analysts tell us, for instance, that people voted for George Bush because they saw him as “likable,” as someone you’d “want to have a beer with.” Al Gore, it seems, wasn’t the pub-crawling, beer-drinking type. He was “stiff,” we said. And as a result, we turned down a potential Nobel Peace Prize winner for a winsome warrior. Five years of war later and over 600,000 Iraqi and almost 4,000 U.S. military dead, makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
This time it could even be worse. We could turn down a good president now simply because the candidate is either a gender we don’t like or a color we don’t accept. Then, what we’ll get from voters who are both sexist and racist at the same time, I shudder to even imagine.

Obama and the Reagan Wing of the Democratic Party

by John Nichols
“The genius of American democracy has somehow done it again. George Bush is the right president at the right time.”
So declared the consistently-conservative Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper on the eve of the 2004 election.
The Review-Journal warmly endorsed Bush in 2000, as well.
If there is a Nevada newspaper that offers an unadulterated conservative line, it is the Review-Journal.
And who does this newspaper urge Nevada Democrats to support when they caucus Saturday?
Barack Obama.
In truth, the paper’s editorial on the Democratic contest is more an attack on Hillary Clinton than an enthusiastic embrace of Obama. In dismissing Clinton, the paper’s editors detail a bizarre list of particulars that begins with, “For starters, imagine Sen. Clinton and ‘co-president’ Bill Clinton invited onto a ‘This is Your Life’ talk show where they’re joined by Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky.”
It’s merely predictable right-wing Hillary-hate that underpins the rejection of Clinton.
John Edwards, on the other hand, is slammed for representing the Democratic wing of the Democratic party.
“Meanwhile,” the editorial grumbles, “John Edwards’ anti-capitalist populism is not in this country’s long-term best interests.”
Obama, on the other hand, is championed as “a good politician” who “knows how to speak to individual Americans and give them the feeling he cares about their concerns.”
The old maxim that says “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” holds true here. Conservatives hate Hillary Clinton for who she is. They hate John Edwards for what he says. And they can live with Barack Obama, who could finish off the Clintons, who eschews edgy populism for “hope” and who this week said of a certain conservative: “I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”
The soundest response to Obama’s insights regarding Reagan comes from the man whose populism so unsettled the Review-Journal.
“When you think about what Ronald Reagan did to the American people, to the middle class to the working people,” said John Edwards. “He was openly — openly– intolerant of unions and the right to organize. He openly fought against the union and the organized labor movement in this country… He openly did extraordinary damage to the middle class and working people, created a tax structure that favored the very wealthiest Americans and caused the middle class and working people to struggle every single day. The destruction of the environment, you know, eliminating regulation of companies that were polluting and doing extraordinary damage to the environment.”
“I can promise you this,” the former senator from North Carolina concluded, “this president will never use Ronald Reagan as an example for change.”
Clinton got trashed.
Obama got the endorsement.
But this round goes to Edwards.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Time Warner Links Web Prices With Usage

Wired News"NEW YORK (AP) -- Time Warner Cable will experiment with a new pricing structure for high-speed Internet access later this year, charging customers based on how much data they download, a company spokesman said Wednesday.
The company, the second-largest cable provider in the United States, will start a trial in Beaumont, Texas, in which it will sell new Internet customers tiered levels of service based on how much data they download per month, rather than the usual fixed-price packages with unlimited downloads.
Company spokesman Alex Dudley said the trial was aimed at improving the network performance by making it more costly for heavy users of large downloads. Dudley said that a small group of super-heavy users of downloads, around 5 percent of the customer base, can account for up to 50 percent of network capacity."

Huckabee is a raving lunatic

by PZ Myers

here's his latest suggestion: that we we amend the Constitution to be more biblical.

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution," Huckabee told a Michigan audience on Monday. "But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."

Whoa.

We have a candidate who openly wants to make the US a religious state, and he's the frontrunner on the Republican side. There are a large number of people who want this demented fuckwit to run the country. And the pundits of the news media are sucking their thumbs and watching; here's what one commentator had to say:

Geist further noted of Huckabee that if "someone without his charm," said that, "he'd be dismissed as a crackpot, but he's Mike Huckabee and he's basically the front-runner."

Popularity excuses all affronts, I guess. Did your mother ever ask you, "If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?"

I'm feeling a bit like I'm watching a whole country merrily running towards that cliff right now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Repress U

The Nation: "Free-speech zones. Taser guns. Hidden cameras. Data mining. A new security curriculum. Private security contractors. Welcome to the homeland security campus.
From Harvard to UCLA, the ivory tower is fast becoming the latest watchtower in Fortress America. The terror warriors, having turned their attention to "violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism prevention"--as it was recently dubbed in a House of Representatives bill of the same name--have set out to reconquer that traditional hotbed of radicalization, the university.
...
Meanwhile, some universities have developed intimate relationships with private-security outfits like the notorious Blackwater. Last May, for example, the University of Illinois and its police training institute cut a deal with the firm to share its facilities and training programs with Blackwater operatives. Local journalists later revealed that the director of the campus program at the time was on the Blackwater payroll. In the age of hired education, such collaboration is apparently par for the course."

Blackwater is training on campus?! And I hear about it through The Nation?

Clinton's style clashes with 'The Rules' of dating

chicagotribune.com: "Hillary Clinton may have clawed her way out of an abyss in the New Hampshire primary, but the shadows over her presidential campaign are a reminder that the path she's forging is still in the deep woods.
The major news media -- especially the TV pundits, who were preparing to write off Clinton after her defeat to Barack Obama in Iowa -- seem to have already developed amnesia about that Iowa interlude. By the evening of Jan. 8, they had resumed the pro-Clinton cheerleading routine that's been making them hoarse since summer. But for a lot of ordinary people, the "unlikability" that dogged Clinton in the Midwest has been stirring up complex emotional -- even existential -- issues since her campaign was in its nascent stages.
I'm routinely struck by the number of Democrats who talk about her as though they were caught in a relationship with someone who initially looked good on paper but somehow never elicited a chemical attraction. From men and women alike, the refrain I hear is this: "I really wish I could like her, but somehow I just don't and that makes me feel ... guilty."
No wonder Clinton "cried" in New Hampshire (or almost cried or pretended to cry or programmed her neural interface to register emotion at approximately 0900 hours Jan. 7). That "guilty" sentiment sounds a lot like what women (and men) hear when they're being dumped, an electoral version of "it's not you, it's me." That's not to say that Clinton's brief loss of composure (and, for my money, the moment was real; the woman is many things, but a subtle actress is not among them) was the direct result of any single barb.
True, Iowa just wasn't that into her, and that must have stung. But the relentless chatter about her every move and outfit, lack of sleep, and the sinking feeling that comes from realizing you're a workhorse that's been pulling along a rival you can't see as anything but a show horse, are all good reasons to get a little weepy. If they weren't, girls' bathrooms at high school dances would be very different places."
David Horsey

Debate Shocker: Iraq Returns to the Campaign Spotlight...and Hillary Puts it There

Arianna Huffington
Las Vegas, Nevada -- If I had told you going into Tuesday night's Democratic debate in Nevada that Iraq would come roaring back to the forefront of the campaign, with decisive positioning on the war being done by one of the candidates, how many of you would've guessed that that candidate would be Hillary Clinton? But that's exactly what happened.
The debate got off to a soporific start, with the candidates joining hands and singing Kumbaya when tossed softball questions about the race-tinged rancor that has dominated the campaign in recent days. Obama and the moderators even let Hillary get away with the stunning claim that she was accepting Robert Johnson's ludicrous "Drugs? I wasn't talking about drugs!" routine.
The next 30 minutes were dominated by phony camaraderie and mockable moments: John Edwards saying his greatest weakness was that he is too compassionate and feels the suffering of others too deeply; Hillary fessing up to being impatient when it comes to doing good things for people.
But everything changed when the candidates were allowed to ask each other questions. Clinton seized the opportunity to turn her Achilles heel into a strength by asking Obama to join her in cosponsoring a bill "to reign in President Bush," and force him to come before Congress with any plans that would prolong the U.S. commitment in Iraq. It was a brilliant tactical move, a sweeping gesture intended to blur the huge advantage Obama has as the only one of the three to have opposed the war from the beginning.
By focusing on Bush, Clinton was acting like she was already moving on to the type of argument she would be making in the general election. And she reinforced this when she pivoted away from her Democratic opponents and pointed out how all the Republican presidential contenders had aligned themselves with the president on Iraq, with John McCain ready to commit our troops for another 100 years. You could all but see the fall leaves turning.

Clinton remained on her game for most of the night -- the glaring exception was when she said that she had voted for the 2001 bankruptcy bill but "was happy that it never became law"! One of her most effective moments was her criticism of Obama's support of the 2005 energy bill, which she labeled "the Dick Cheney, lobbyist energy bill." Pounding home her green bona fides while kicking Obama under the table, she managed to slip in that moving "toward clean, renewable, green energy" was "not going to happen by hoping for it." "Hoping." Get it?
And she did not let the "Can't we all just get along?" pretense stop her from refusing to answer in the affirmative when Tim Russert asked whether Obama and Edwards were prepared to be president. And when Brian Williams asked her if she was playing the fear card when she mentioned the terrorist attacks that occurred right after Gordon Brown took office, she got out the hair splitters and tried to make the case that there was a difference between Republican fearmongering and her "recognition, in a very calm and deliberative way, that, yes, we have real enemies and we'd better be prepared and we'd better be ready to meet them on Day One."
In the spin room after the debate, Robert Gibbs, Obama's communications director, and David Axelrod, his chief strategist, pointed out that the terrorist threat she was referring to has gotten much worse because we took our eye off the ball by focusing on Iraq, which she voted to authorize President Bush to do.
Obama's best moments were when he successfully raised the question of judgment -- the inference being that when it came to the biggest issue of our time, Iraq, he'd shown better judgment than Clinton. But by addressing Iraq head on, Hillary was able to defuse Obama's most potent weapon against her.
After the debate, I asked Mark Penn, Clinton's pollster and chief advisor, if he thought national security was going to be the central issue in the fall campaign. "No," he said, "the economy will be the dominant issue." Judging by her performance tonight, Hillary Clinton would do well to ignore Penn's advice and keep the spotlight on Iraq and the disastrous impact it continues to have on our national security.
Because, in the end, even the people of Nevada, which has the highest home foreclosure rate in the country, will vote for the candidate they trust to keep them alive over the candidate they think will lower their mortgage.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hillary's Inner Tracy Flick


Hillary's Inner Tracy Flick
Don't you just hate when some upstart comes along and threatens your best-laid plans? We were struck by how well one of Reese Witherspoon's monologues from the film Election fits the narrative of Campaign 2008.

Politics and Misogyny

By BOB HERBERT
Published: January 15, 2008
With Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s win in New Hampshire, gender issues are suddenly in the news. Where has everybody been?
If there was ever a story that deserved more coverage by the news media, it’s the dark persistence of misogyny in America. Sexism in its myriad destructive forms permeates nearly every aspect of American life. For many men, it’s the true national pastime, much bigger than baseball or football.
Little attention is being paid to the toll that misogyny takes on society in general, and women and girls in particular.
Its forms are limitless. Hard-core pornography is a multibillion-dollar business, having spread far beyond the stereotyped raincoat crowd to anyone with a laptop and a password. Crowds of crazed photographers risk life and limb to get shots of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears without their underwear. At New York Jets home games, men regularly gather at Gate D to urge female fans to expose themselves.
In its grimmest aspects, misogyny manifests itself in hideous violence — from brutal beatings and rape to outright torture and murder. Fifteen months ago, a gunman invaded an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania, separated the girls from the boys, and then shot 10 of the girls, killing five.
The cable news channels revel in stories about women (almost always young and attractive) who come to a gruesome end at the hands of violent men. The stories seldom, if ever, raise the issue of misogyny, which permeates not just the crimes themselves, but the coverage as well.
The latest of these obsessively covered stories concerned a pregnant marine, Maria Frances Lauterbach, who had complained to authorities that she had been raped by a fellow marine. Her body was found last week buried in a backyard fire pit in North Carolina.
It just so happens that the Democratic presidential candidates are campaigning this week in the misogyny capital of America: Nevada. It’s a perfect place to bring up the way women are viewed and treated in this society, but don’t hold your breath. Presidential wannabes are hardly in the habit of insulting the locals.
Prostitution is legal in much of Nevada and heavily promoted even where it’s not. In Las Vegas, where prostitution is illegal but flourishes nevertheless, Mayor Oscar Goodman has said that creating a series of legal, “magnificent” brothels would be a great development tool for his city.
The fundamental problem in all of this is that women and girls are dehumanized, opening the floodgates to every kind of mistreatment. “Once you dehumanize somebody, everything else is possible,” said Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the women’s advocacy group Equality Now.
A grotesque exercise in the dehumanization of women is carried out routinely at Sheri’s Ranch, a legal brothel about an hour’s ride outside of Vegas. There the women have to respond like Pavlov’s dog to an electronic bell that might ring at any hour of the day or night. At the sound of the bell, the prostitutes have five minutes to get to an assembly area where they line up, virtually naked, and submit to a humiliating inspection by any prospective customer who has happened to drop by.
If you don’t think this is an issue worthy of a presidential campaign, consider the scandalous way that women are treated in the military and the fact that the winner of this election will become the commander in chief.

Michelle Obama Reinforces The "Fairytale" Fairytale

by Rachel Sklar
As I wrote in my previous post, I have been appalled and dismayed at how the media have glibly mis-characterized Bill Clinton's "fairytale" comments as being about anything other than Barack Obama's position on the Iraq war, which was clearly the context in which the comment was made. Despite that, the media, commentators, the Obama campaign and now Michelle Obama, explicitly in a televised speech, have mis-characterized that comment to imply (nay, flat-out say) that Clinton called Obama himself a "fairytale," as well as his message of hope and redemption for disenfranchised minorities.
This would be fine if he had said that. BUT HE DIDN'T. So leaving aside the merits of what he did say regarding the Iraq war (which Obama has disputed), the fact remains: The media, TV commentators, the Obama campaign and now Michelle Obama - a very smart woman who has to know exactly what she is doing - is perpetuating that misinterpretation in order to imply that the Clintons are trying to tamp down on the African-American dream.
This is not an exaggeration. Here are Michelle Obama's remarks, verbatim, from her speech tonight:
Sometimes we feel it's better not to try at all than to try and fail. These are complicated emotions, left in our heads and hearts from years of struggle, emotions we must face if we're going to overcome as a community if we want to lift ourselves up. We must do it in the face of those who will attempt to play on those emotions for our own purposes, to discourage us from believing what is possible...to dismiss this moment as an illusion, as a fairytale.
I like Michelle Obama a lot, and I consider her a woman of integrity, so this bothers me -- because it is NOT WHAT CLINTON SAID. And it is certainly not what the Clintons are seeking to do, to keep black people -- or any people! -- from having hopes or aspirations for the future. Come on. That is so patently unfair and plays to the basest of emotions: fear. Isn't that what Obama spoke so eloquently against in his speech after Iowa? Is that really how his campaign wants to whip up support in South Carolina, by whipping up a fervor against the Clintons - on false grounds?

Okay, it's here that I can hear you say, "but what about the Martin Luther King comment? What about 'shuck and jive?'" So fine, let's address this. Sometime late last week, the Obama campaign quietly released a memo detailing five examples in which "either Clinton, her husband Bill, or campaign surrogates, are said to have made comments that could be interpreted as racially insensitive." Okay then, let's look.
One of these is the fairytale thing - clearly about Iraq, not race. Next is Andrew Cuomo's "shuck and jive" comment — in the context of discussing all the candidates as a group, generally, having nothing to do with Obama (and see this list of generic colloquial uses of the phrase, and also how it's equated to "hem and haw" here on HuffPost from 10/06). Inadvertent slip or diabolical insinuation of racially-charged phrase into conversation designed to make the world call him a racist? Right. I'm for the benefit of the doubt where this is concerned. Next there is the assertion that "Bill Clinton implied that Hillary Clinton is stronger than Nelson Mandela." Well actually, here is the FULL context, left out of the Obama memo: Clinton said that he's met Mandela and Yitzhak Rabin, loved them both, but if it came down to it he'd STILL pick Hillary as the steely-eyed person to have in his corner. Guilty of hyperbole? Absolutely. Guilty of racism and anti-Semitism? Jake Tapper didn't seem to think so when he reported it last Tuesday, because he didn't mention it, just that Mandela and Rabin were pretty tough dudes. Okay, three down. New paragraph.
Next we have the drug use incident. First, Bill Shaheen wonders darkly if Obama's youthful drug-dabbling will be trumpeted by the Republicans. It's a matter of public record — made public by Obama himself — but still, it's seen as a dirty trick and the Clinton campaign distanced itself from the mention. Then Mark Penn and Joe Trippi are on Hardball, and in mentioning the incident Penn specifies the drug use to cocaine. Trippi leaps into frame and says accusingly "You said cocaine!" thereby drawing attention to it loudly, repeating and emphasizing it himself. It has always boggled my mind why everyone slammed Mark Penn and not Joe Trippi for this. Anything Clinton stood to gain by a so-called Obama smear would have accrued to Edwards' benefit. But I have also always been confused because Obama copped to the use himself, holding himself up as an example of someone who'd overcome trouble in youth to go on to great things. I have scratched my head over this before.
Finally we have the "Martin Luther King was all right, but he didn't pass legislation" comment. Boneheaded and tone deaf? For sure. Something that only someone really really wonky trying to make a very prosaic point might say and not realize they were being boneheaded and tone deaf? I dunno. I mean, it's really boneheaded and tone-deaf. Even more so the JFK comment that he was assassinated before he could effect legislation. Boneheaded! Like, cringeworthy. But not technically wrong. Movements effect change, force hands. That's what MLK did, in a movement that reached JFK, and then LBJ. But still....BONEHEADED. Of all the comments, this is the only one that I think has any real teeth. But even so, boneheaded does not equal racist. There's a big benefit of the doubt to be offered here. I'm sorry, before I am willing to impute hateful, racist motivations to anyone, I need more evidence than this.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Chicken Soup Chronicles

New York Times: "THE other day I felt a cold coming on. So I decided to have chicken soup to ward off the cold. Nonetheless I got the cold. This happens all the time: you think you’re getting a cold; you have chicken soup; you get the cold anyway. So: is it possible that chicken soup gives you a cold?
I will confess a bias: I’ve never understood the religious fervor that surrounds breast-feeding. There are fanatics out there who believe you should breast-feed your child until he or she is old enough to unbutton your blouse. Their success in conning a huge number of women into believing this is one of the truly grim things about modern life. Anyway, one of the main reasons given for breast-feeding is that breast-fed children are less prone to allergies. But children today are far more allergic than they were when I was growing up, when far fewer women breast-fed their children. I mean, what is it with all these children dropping dead from sniffing a peanut? This is new, friends, it’s brand-new new, and don’t believe anyone who says otherwise. So: is it possible that breast-feeding causes allergies?"

Killing of a Young Hiker Puts North Georgia on Edge

New York Times: "ATLANTA — In the days after a young woman was killed after being abducted on a popular North Georgia hiking trail, instructors offering a crash course in personal safety found classes filling up as fast as they were scheduled, and that they had to turn some women away.
The police said Gary M. Hilton, 61, had led them to the body of Ms. Emerson after striking a deal to avoid the death penalty.
Meredith Emerson, 24, disappeared on a hike with her dog.
“To be honest with you, I asked my wife and some of my friends to come to the one we held yesterday because I wasn’t sure anyone was going to show up,” Jim Stratton, an instructor at Atlanta Budokan, a martial arts studio in Smyrna, said Saturday as he watched a line of women waiting for the next class snake around the building.
Mr. Stratton need not have worried.
The classes, hastily arranged throughout the region by the studio and the local radio station WWWQ, known as Q100, clearly met a need in a community struggling to come to grips with the apparently random attack on the hiker, Meredith Emerson, 24, of Buford, who disappeared near Blood Mountain on New Year’s Day with her dog, a black Labrador retriever mix named Ella. Her body was found Jan. 7.
“It hit close to home because I’m an avid runner and hiker, and I do those things by myself,” said Amanda Lancaster, 25, of Post Ridge, who estimated that she ventured outdoors alone four or five times a week.
Nearly 300 people, mostly women in their 20s and 30s, showed up Friday to the first personal-safety class offered this month in the Midtown area of Atlanta. An estimated 250 women quickly filled the studio at the Smyrna location on Saturday morning, and another overflow crowd packed an afternoon session the same day.
Jenny Hass, 39, an elementary-school teacher and personal trainer from Kennesaw who attended the morning class on Saturday, said that she used to go on walks with her young son every day, but that after Ms. Emerson’s death, her husband asked her to stop. The couple even discussed buying a gun.
“It’s definitely put a deterrent on my outdoor exercise activity,” Ms. Hass said."

Scientists Create Beating Hearts In Lab

but can you give it feeling? we have too many cold hearts walking around as it is...

Bush Says Official Intel On Iran Doesn’t Reflect "His Views"

guess what -- no one cares what your "views" are anymore!! Move over, your time is through!!!! Thank you lord jesus.

Does Chris Matthews have a problem with women?

January 11, 2008


Contact MSNBC Today!

MSNBC
viewerservices@msnbc.com
MSNBC TV
One MSNBC Plaza
Secaucus, N.J. 07094
MSNBC contacts

Chris Matthews
hardball@msnbc.com

When contacting the media, please be polite and professional. Express your specific concerns regarding that particular news report or commentary, and be sure to indicate exactly what you would like the media outlet to do differently in the future.

Dear Friend,

Does Chris Matthews have a problem with women?

Using overtly sexist language, he has referred to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) as a "she devil" and compared her to a "strip-teaser." He has called her "witchy" and likened her voice to "fingernails on a blackboard." He has referred to men who support her as " castratos in the eunuch chorus." He has suggested Clinton is not "a convincing mom" and said "modern women" like Clinton are unacceptable to "Midwest guys." He has called her "Madame Defarge" and "Nurse Ratched."

>> Had enough? Contact MSNBC to tell them what you think.

After Clinton won the New Hampshire Democratic primary, Matthews asserted: "[T]he reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around." He described her performance at a debate last Saturday as apparently "good enough to seem good enough here for women who wanted to root for her anyway."

His sexism is hardly limited to comments about Clinton. During coverage of the New Hampshire primary, he said that Clinton is the only viable woman presidential candidate "on the horizon." He couldn't think of a single female governor eligible to run: "Where are the big-state women governors?" he asked. "Where are they? Name one." In fact, several of the states that currently have women governors are comparable in population to the states in which the male presidential candidates serve or have served as governor.

>> Had enough? Contact MSNBC to tell them what you think.

In November 2006, shortly after the Democrats took the majority in Congress, Matthews asked a guest if then-presumptive speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was "going to castrate Steny Hoyer" if Hoyer (D-MD) were elected House majority leader.

During coverage of a presidential debate last spring, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell was compelled to remind Matthews that Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) wife, Michelle, is a Harvard-educated lawyer after he focused obsessively on her physical appearance.

The good news is that people are speaking out against Matthews' flagrant, persistent sexism.

Of the New Hampshire primary results, the blog TalkLeft, observed:

"It was a revolt of women sick and tired of the likes of Chris Tweety Matthews and the Media Misogynists.

Barack Obama did not lose New Hampshire. The Media did. Their misogynist hatred of Hillary Clinton was soundly rejected by the voters. Especially the women voters of New Hampshire.

How the Media will react to this well deserved rebuke is the question. And let's be clear, Chris Matthews should be removed from covering this race. His offensive behavior is a disgrace to NBC."

>> Had enough? Contact MSNBC to tell them what you think.

It's time to play a little "hardball." Please contact MSNBC and Chris Matthews today and let them know what you think.

Thank you for your continued support -- I hope you'll make sure that your voice is heard.

Sincerely,

Jamison Foser
Executive Vice-President
Media Matters for America

P.S. For more Media Matters coverage on Matthews, click here.

jonesreport

I was looking at an email I sent to someone, and this is what google had in their sidebar -- I just find it very interesting that the very first link is for Fuckabee, when his name wasn't mentioned AT ALL in my email. So if google is pulling a search of ads in their database based on either the words "hillary" or "clinton," etc., Fuckabee's comes up first??
General speaking, Google Inc., you make me increasingly uncomfortable....

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Sign of the Times

A.P. Says It Wants to Know Everything About Britney Spears


The Associated Press is bolstering its entertainment news coverage — and for many readers and viewers, Britney Spears is nothing if not entertaining.

An internal memorandum from The A.P.’s Los Angeles bureau dictating coverage of the troubled pop star was published by several media blogs on Tuesday, prompting some punch lines at the news service’s expense.

“Now and for the foreseeable future, virtually everything involving Britney is a big deal,” Frank Baker, the Los Angeles assistant bureau chief, wrote on Tuesday morning, three days after Ms. Spears was released from the hospital where she had been admitted in the wake of a custody dispute.

“Boy, that qualifies as an understatement,” Tirdad Derakhshani, a Philadelphia Inquirer writer remarked in the online column SideShow. On Romenesko, a popular online media site owned by the Poynter Institute, a commenter added, “Not a good day for journalism as a discipline.”

In the memo, Mr. Baker said that not every rumor should be published by The Associated Press. But “we want to pay attention to what others are reporting and seek to confirm those stories that WE feel warrant the wire,” he wrote, adding, “And when we determine that we’ll write something, we must expedite it.”

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Baby Primary

Go to link to see how successful he was.

CAN I GET MY 5-MONTH-OLD DAUGHTER PHOTOGRAPHED WITH EVERY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE?
By Darren Garnick
As a resident of the "Live Free or Die" state, I'll concede that the New Hampshire presidential primary gives us ridiculously disproportionate influence. But I love the fact that my state's electoral power comes with a great fringe benefit: It's easy to enshrine the next president in your family scrapbook. A sucker for political kitsch, I set out to photograph my 5-month-old daughter, Dahlia, in the arms of every candidate with a prayer of making it to the White House.
My rules were simple:

1. No actual kissing. No Democrat or Republican is putting saliva on Baby Dahlia.
2. No pictures with former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel. He's way too creepy.
With meticulously detailed campaign schedules posted on the Web, it wasn't hard to get Dahlia into the same room with all the major candidates. But this project was anything but easy. It takes tremendous patience and parental magic to make a child sit through a two-hour presentation on health-care reform. It also takes a paparazzi photographer's instincts to get that winning shot. Candidates often have access to multiple entrances and exits at events, and staking out the wrong one means going home empty-handed.
As of the day before Tuesday's primary, I've photographed Dahlia with every candidate except Fred Thompson, who's barely shown his face around here. Now, let's explore how fun it is to transform a 5-month-old girl into a ubiquitous campaign prop!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Unknowing twins marry each other

CNN.com: "LONDON, England (CNN) -- British twins who had been separated at birth learned they were related only after they had become husband and wife, a senior British lawmaker said. The marriage has been annulled.
Former British MP David Alton highlighted the case of the twins who unwittingly married each other.
The couple's identities have been protected for legal reasons.
Their case was first highlighted by Lord Alton of Liverpool during a discussion on donor conception in the House of Lords in December, but only came to light Friday.
The peer told the House of Lords that a court annulled the union as soon as the twins' true relationship became known.
"They were never told that they were twins," he said during the Dec. 10 debate on a law covering human fertility and embryology. They had been adopted by separate families and "met later in life and felt an inevitable attraction, and the judge had to deal with the consequences of the marriage that they entered into and all the issues of their separation.""

Bipartisanship

The Atheist's Daughter


The No. 2 atheist activist in Illinois doesn't have an office or a car.

Reporters have been banned from her home -- her mother is adamant on this point -- so the McDonald's across the street from Buffalo Grove High School has to serve as her impromptu media headquarters.

None of which is surprising, when you consider that Dawn Sherman is all of 14.

Her lawsuit challenging the new Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act in Illinois has already resulted in a temporary injunction blocking the law's mandatory moment of silence for the 13,000 students in Township High School District 214. Now, she and the No. 1 atheist activist in Illinois -- her father, Rob -- are going after a bigger prize: They want the law struck down as unconstitutional.

During a wide-ranging after-school interview, the girl at the center of the legal battle proves quieter and more measured than her outspoken father, but no less spirited and determined.

"She's a rugged individualist, and I say that in the most positive way," says Dennis Northway, Dawn's former middle school choir director, who once jokingly suggested to Dawn that she should sing in his madrigal choir at Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park -- and was shocked when she took him up on the offer.

"She is Dawn, and she is who she is, and that's a good thing. She's an extremely rich human being."

Asked directly if the lawsuit is an effort to please her father, her co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, who has challenged hundreds of local religious symbols in recent decades and engaged in several high-profile legal battles over the separation of church and state, Dawn doesn't hesitate:

"No, it's entirely about me and my rights."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Recipes for the ‘fifth’ taste: Umami

MSNBC.com: "You probably eat umami all the time: It's that meaty, savory, brothlike, full-flavor taste we get from things like Parmesan cheese, mushrooms and red wine. Generally speaking, the more "mature" a food is (say, a Parmesan cheese versus a "younger" cheese like mozzarella), the more umami flavor it will have.
Conventional wisdom used to tell us that there were only four basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Now, in the last decade, umami has been established as the "fifth" basic taste, and is gaining in popularity and influence."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Bumper Stickers:

Hi Hillary,
Here are some slogans I came up with for your campaign.

Clintons: We're Back (B****!)

Piss off a Republican: Vote Clinton.

Party like its 1999!!! Vote Hillary

Clinton: Picking up where we left off.

To Be Continued...

Parade's cover story questioned

**Well, Bhutto gets a cover, but...


Dozens of readers wrote scorching e-mails criticizing the Tribune's decision to distribute a seriously outdated cover story and interview with Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto 10 days after her assassination.

The interview with the former Pakistani prime minister occurred in late November and the magazine went to the Parade printers Dec. 19.

Parade said distribution of 32 million copies to more than 400 newspapers, including the Tribune, began at about the time of her death Dec. 27.

But explanations of production and distribution schedules and the Tribune's contractual obligation to Parade did not wash with readers.

Donna Sack of Naperville called it "inexcusable," both for Parade and for the Tribune, to go ahead with publication. She said it will forever cloud her reading of future Parade articles and that the newspaper should have leveraged its client relationship with Parade to update the article.

Sack added that even the Tribune editor's note that appeared on Page 2 of the Sunday newspaper explaining Parade's editorial decision to go ahead without an update "denies the Tribune's culpability and responsibility" to its readers.

Other readers who called and wrote felt that the newspaper had abdicated its judgment and journalistic principles to publish, under the Tribune name, such an untimely article.

Let me step back and give this criticism some context: Parade is an independent publication that pays the Tribune to distribute the magazine. None of its content is chosen, reported or edited by journalists at the Tribune. At the same time, the newspaper gets lots of feedback every day, and this one hits a nerve because the editors understood how problematic it was going to be to run such an article.

What makes this special is that it deals with the core issue of credibility. The problem, then, is not merely about the number of complaints. Readers expect the paper to be timely and clear about the news articles it presents.

Reader Marilyn Marwedel summed up the concern with this warning: "Now, I will always wonder how fresh and accurate are your news articles and stories."

Women Are Never Front-Runners

By GLORIA STEINEM
THE woman in question became a lawyer after some years as a community organizer, married a corporate lawyer and is the mother of two little girls, ages 9 and 6. Herself the daughter of a white American mother and a black African father — in this race-conscious country, she is considered black — she served as a state legislator for eight years, and became an inspirational voice for national unity.
Be honest: Do you think this is the biography of someone who could be elected to the United States Senate? After less than one term there, do you believe she could be a viable candidate to head the most powerful nation on earth?
If you answered no to either question, you’re not alone. Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House. This country is way down the list of countries electing women and, according to one study, it polarizes gender roles more than the average democracy.
That’s why the Iowa primary was following our historical pattern of making change. Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women (with the possible exception of obedient family members in the latter).
If the lawyer described above had been just as charismatic but named, say, Achola Obama instead of Barack Obama, her goose would have been cooked long ago. Indeed, neither she nor Hillary Clinton could have used Mr. Obama’s public style — or Bill Clinton’s either — without being considered too emotional by Washington pundits.
So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects “only” the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more “masculine” for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren’t too many of them); and because there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.
I’m not advocating a competition for who has it toughest. The caste systems of sex and race are interdependent and can only be uprooted together. That’s why Senators Clinton and Obama have to be careful not to let a healthy debate turn into the kind of hostility that the news media love. Both will need a coalition of outsiders to win a general election. The abolition and suffrage movements progressed when united and were damaged by division; we should remember that.
I’m supporting Senator Clinton because like Senator Obama she has community organizing experience, but she also has more years in the Senate, an unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House, no masculinity to prove, the potential to tap a huge reservoir of this country’s talent by her example, and now even the courage to break the no-tears rule. I’m not opposing Mr. Obama; if he’s the nominee, I’ll volunteer. Indeed, if you look at votes during their two-year overlap in the Senate, they were the same more than 90 percent of the time. Besides, to clean up the mess left by President Bush, we may need two terms of President Clinton and two of President Obama.
But what worries me is that he is seen as unifying by his race while she is seen as divisive by her sex.
What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations.
What worries me is that male Iowa voters were seen as gender-free when supporting their own, while female voters were seen as biased if they did and disloyal if they didn’t.
What worries me is that reporters ignore Mr. Obama’s dependence on the old — for instance, the frequent campaign comparisons to John F. Kennedy — while not challenging the slander that her progressive policies are part of the Washington status quo.
What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age.
This country can no longer afford to choose our leaders from a talent pool limited by sex, race, money, powerful fathers and paper degrees. It’s time to take equal pride in breaking all the barriers. We have to be able to say: “I’m supporting her because she’ll be a great president and because she’s a woman.”
Gloria Steinem is a co-founder of the Women’s Media Center.