Four More Years?

Let’s get this out of the way right now. I’ll be voting Obama in November. Yes, I know. I just made a bunch of Republicans howl in agony, but then I have the same reaction when I see the gang of morons they’re trotting out this year. And why should they run their best and brightest? Why run Rob Portman or Bobby Jindahl or Chris Christie against an incumbent? Likewise, what motivation did Hillary Clinton have to run in 2004?

Let’s be honest. Unless the incumbent is Richard Nixon, Warren Harding, or James Buchanan, canning the incumbent while there’s a war on or the economy’s in the tank is generally a bad idea. Why? Well, look at this year’s field. To a candidate, their chief position is “I’m not Obama.” Hmm… Very much identical to the John Kerry “I’m not Bush” platform. Do I have to reiterate why such a candidate’s every second on television is time stolen from my life?

If you want to oust an incumbent (Jerry Ford does not count.), you have to run a Lincoln or a Roosevelt or a Reagan, someone who can motivate the nation and move them to be better, even the opposition. Obama gets compared to Jimmy Carter a lot, but you don’t run Chester Arthur against Jimmy Carter (or, for that matter, Jerry Ford). You need FDR or JFK or Reagan. People want a leader. Like the Democrats in 1976, the Republicans are only putting up cannon fodder.

But my vote will be a vote for Obama, not a vote against (insert GOP cannon fodder here). Why?

There are a number of reasons. For starters, healthcare reform. And I just made a bunch of Tea Party heads explode. Doesn’t bother me. Most of what the Tea Party has said about healthcare bears little resemblance to fact anyway. (And I know some idiot is going to rattle off a bunch of “facts” in the comment section. Save your breath.) We didn’t get healthcare reform. We got insurance reform. Basically, you have to buy insurance and quit overburdening the ER because you wanted to wait until it’s almost too late to stick it to the hospital. And dude, I totally understand why people do that. I’ve done it. I like having insurance better. In return, insurance companies are not allowed to screw you quite so badly anymore. They can’t tell you they’re just going to let you die because you’re diabetic or had toe nail fungus when you were 25. Perfect?

No, but if you want perfect, I suggest Mother Goose. Oh, wait. Perfect does not exist in fairy tales, either. Oh, well.

Second, let’s look at the economy. Pinheads like Beck and Hannity have done a good job selling people on the idea that somehow, the junior senator from Illinois, through a Vast Left Wing Conspiracy (TM), caused the Great Recession in a bid to turn us into a socialist Islamic republic. For those of us not on crack, the truth is less spectacular, but it did light a fuse that started with the Tea Party and is now burning through the Occupy movement. Put the blame squarely where it belongs. Not on Obama or even Bush, not even the one percent. It’s the banking industry. If ever there was a business that had its head so firmly up its collective ass…

Well, there’s the recording industry, and I’m still outraged they didn’t all go bankrupt. But the banks have been in a collective stupor for a very long time now. They’re like your idiot drunken brother-in-law. Take the locks off the gun cabinet, and he gets into all sorts of trouble. The only problem is that if you don’t bail out your brother-in-law, Thanksgiving is a little quieter this year. If you don’t bail out the banks, well…

The problem is then you end up bailing lots of other people out because, well, the banks managed to lose everyone’s money and now wants all of theirs. So if the banks are whining because Mr. Obama won’t let them sell liar loans anymore, screw ’em. If you thought Gordon Gecko was the hero of Wall Street, you’re too stupid to live.

But the thing that keeps me firmly in the Obama camp is that he’s not a hardliner. Let me be blunt here. Hardliners are worthless. Hardliners cause just about every bad thing that happens in the world. In American, hardliners (both left and right) love to invoke the Founding Fathers to justify their inflexible thinking and unyielding approach to governance (until some sweet, sweet pork comes their way. Don’t kid yourselves. Everyone who says they don’t take pork is a serial offender. Every. Single. One.) Never mind that said Founding Fathers agreed on virtually nothing and could only birth a nation and write a Constitution through debate and compromise. If you’re not open to compromise, would you kindly get the fuck out of my government and leave my country for someplace more your speed? Like North Korea?

That’s not to say I’m happy with Obama. I’m not. I’m disappointed.

For one thing, Obama is too wishy-washy. In the recent biography of Steve Jobs, Jobs told Walter Isaacson he was massively frustrated with Obama for constantly telling him why things can’t get done. OK, one of my complaints about George Bush was that he was The Decider. Not that I dislike decisiveness; I just want a bit more thought and finesse to go into the process. On the other hand, Barry needs to be more decisive. I need once to hear Obama look, not just at the GOP, but at his own party and go, “You know what? Fuck you. I’m the president. This is my job. Lead. Follow. Get the hell out of the way.” We haven’t had that for about twelve years. Not with any degree of nuance or skill, anyway.

Second, this is a horrible cabinet. Gates, followed by Panetta, and Hillary Clinton are the only ones who really shine. That’s it. The rest of them? Yes, these are better people than George W. Bush had around him, but hell, I’ve been on beer league softball teams that could do better than Bush’s cabinet. Geithner is even more wishy-washy than Obama. As Treasury secretary, he should have spent the last four years putting the fear of God into the banks and AIG. Instead, he does it to GM and Chrysler. You know. The companies that actually build stuff and employ people, not spend their days trying to con investors into financing liar loans. And then there’s Steven Chu, the genius behind the Solyndra deal that’s become a symbol of what people hate about Obama’s administration. That guy should have been fired the day Solyndra filed for bankruptcy.

And let’s look at the stimulus, shall we? In principle, pumping money into the economy is classic Keynseian economics. Even Milton Friedman cited it as part of the basis for his own hands-off approach to the economy. But you have to put money into things like highways and the power grid and the Internet. Stuff that will generate income and jobs when they’re finished. (Hmm… Didn’t Clinton do this? Oh, yeah. He presided over a boom.) You don’t fund cops and teachers for a couple of years only to have them laid off again when there’s no more money coming in. And you don’t let idiots like Steven Chu make deals with companies like Solyndra. If you’re going to go that route, you might as well send out those stimulus checks Bush was so fond of. On second thought, don’t. My taxes are going to go up enough as it is when that bill finally comes due. (Yes, Virginia. Your taxes already went up 10 years ago. You just haven’t gotten the bill yet.)

And finally, there is the NDAA. Last I checked, Johnny Reb wasn’t marching on Washington or Gettysburg. That all ended slightly over a century before I was born. The NDAA extends a really bad policy of the government wiping its ass with the Fourth Amendment that started with the Patriot Act. There is no legitimate reason whatsoever for warrantless wiretaps – NONE – nor the suspension of habeas corpus. Yet the Obama Administration actually asked for this to be put into the NDAA.  I’ve got a problem with that.

“Ah, ha!” some of the few Republicans who haven’t stopped reading this to put pins in their Jim Winter voodoo dolls say, “there’s why you shouldn’t vote for him.”

Um, well…  Name me a candidate in the GOP slate who wouldn’t have signed that bill. Ron Paul? OK, name one with a serious shot at the nomination.

Yeah. That’s what I thought.

I’m not happy with this year’s election, but unless someone breaks into a hotel at the GOP convention, none of the bozos wanting to be the new president give me any compelling reason to change course.

If anything, they inspire me to push for reconciliation with Britain.

But only if we can have Eddie Izzard as our governor-general.


Yes, I’m a very happy man this morning.  I lived to see a black man elected president of the United States, and the guy ran on “Yes, we can!”, not “The terrorists win.”

For those of you who backed the winner, go ahead.  Pour yourself a nice big cup of smug.  You earned it.

For those of you who backed McCain, go ahead.  Have a good whine.  You earned it.

And remember, we didn’t have a coup.  The Supreme Court wasn’t involved.  In fact, nobody was poisoned.  It was all punching some serious chad.

Suck on that, Russia and China.

August: The Non-Month In Politics. And Everything Else.

People are looking at the August polls and, depending on which side of the aisle you come down on, are either seeing the sky falling or it’s raining McCain (Hallelujah, they might add). My take on the August polls?


Let’s look at this realistically, shall we? What has John McCain done since Hillary conceded the nomination to Barack Obama? It looks suspiciously like he’s auditioning to be The Daily Show‘s conservative voice. His ads comparing Obama to Britney and Paris are laughable at best. He’s spent a lot of time talking about the man from Illinois, and most of it sounds like fodder for Letterman’s nightly monologue.

What did Barack Obama do?

He went to a foreign country for vacation. Oh, wait. Hawaii’s a state. Damn you, Cokie Roberts! Damn you!

In short, August has been a textbook example of why the French take the month off. Wouldn’t you?

In August, Congress is out. Publishing is dead to the world. My wife, who works in the already-dormant mortgage industry has spent the month on in-cube sabbatical because everyone who’s buying a house (All 3 of them nationwide during this economic downturn) have already moved this summer. The singles, DINKs, and empty nesters are all cramming in vacations before diving into the housing market after Labor Day. (Actually, in this housing market, it’s one single guy, one DINK couple, and a pair of empty nesters. That’s about it.) So it is at BigHugeCo, where everyone’s too busy with kids and vacations to either report they’ve broken stuff or even to actually break it. Looking back at my workload for the month, I should have finished my latest novel and come up with an hour of solid standup material by now.

So it is with politics. McCain’s campaign isn’t even trying. Obama soaked up some rays prior to heading for Denver. The most strenuous thing he’s done all month is meet Joe Biden in Springfield (where presumably they criticized Monty Burns for endorsing George Bush for a third term.)

It’s hard for me as an Obama supporter to get worked up over the current polls. The candidates haven’t done anything worth mentioning (unless you’re one of those wingnuts who thought Obama catching The Dark Knight at a Hilo cinaplex newsworthy. Then you’re a moron.) Were I a McCain backer, I’d pretty much yawn until the GOP big show next week.

Actually, I’ll probably skip that, much like I’m skipping the Dems’ big show in Denver this year. I have Family Guy and Ice Road Truckers eps I’ve TiVo’d, and really can’t be bothered with conventions. Spoiler alert: Obama and McCain are the nominees. The last bit of suspense until the first Tuesday in November will be resolved this weekend, by which time, McCain will have announced his VP pick.

After that, it’s really just a nail-biter for the undecideds.

Oh, and you people backing Nader this year?

Would you people please just move the hell to Canada already and quit pretending your guy is relavant? Even George Bush is scratching his head, and he owes his job to Nader.

At Long Last, Political Establishment, Have You No Shame?

John McCain, a man gracious enough to tolerate the Warren Harding of his generation to raise funds for him, has kissed enough babies with full diapers to get the GOP nom. Barack Obama has narrowly defeated the first viable female candidate for president and is seriously considering her as his running mate.

Now McCain wants Obama to join him in 10 town hall-style debates between now and the election in November.  “What a welcome change it would be were presidential candidates in our time to treat each other and the people they seek to lead with respect and courtesy as they discussed the great issues of the day, without the empty sound bites and media-filtered exchanges that dominate our elections,” he says.

Barry, I say go for it.  If you’re serious about change, if you’re serious about doing business differently, you need to take McCain up on this.  I know this is salt in the wounds of people who live for partisan rancour and ideological chest beating, but so what?  Those people have wrecked America.  If they don’t like it…

Well, it’s your turn to whine about moving to Canada.  Just do us a favor.

Follow through.

(Sorry, Canada.  We have to send the True Believers of both colors somewhere.  If it makes you feel better, send them to Newfoundland.)

Wormtongue Explains It All

Actually, one gets the impression Karl Rove thinks he might have wasted his talents in 2000.  He’s already given advice to Hillary Clinton.  “Quit being an ass” was not the sort of advice I’d expected from The Architect, but there you have it.

Now, The Architect sets his sights on Barack Obama, and I have to agree with Karl on this one.  (Actually, I also agree Clinton needs to quit being an ass.)

“Even liberal commentators who adore you warn you can’t win with a McGovern coalition of college students and white-wine sippers from the party’s left wing,” says Rove.  “Saying small-town voters cling to guns, faith and xenophobia because of economic bitterness hurt you; it reinforced the growing sense you don’t share Middle America’s values.”

He’s right.  While I have, in fact, seen what Senator Obama said up close and personal, it’s not the sort of thing you tell a person when you’re asking for their vote.  The truth hurts, especially when you don’t think it’s the truth.  The fact is if people are clinging to guns, faith, and fear, they probably don’t want to be reminded.

So what does Karl suggest?  Slinging mud at Hillary?  Swift-boating McCain.

Actually, Karl’s pretty pragmatic.  And insists Obama get back to his original message of hope.

1. Your stump speech is sounding old and out of touch. You made a mistake by not giving the bored press (and voters) something new last Tuesday when you lost Pennsylvania. Come up with something fresh that’s focused on the general election. Recapture the optimistic tone of your start and discard the weary, prickly and distracted tone you’ve taken on.

2. When you get into trouble, pick one, simple explanation. And stay with it. Take the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. You said you weren’t sitting in church when he said those ugly things. Two days later, you excused him, saying his comments didn’t give “a well-rounded portrait” of him. Two days after that, you condemned his statements as “not only wrong but divisive” but still couldn’t “disavow him” any more than you could your grandmother. Ten days later, you implied if Wright hadn’t retired, you might have left his church. It would have been better to say from the start that Wright’s words were wrong and offensive and you should have spoken out earlier. The applause would have been deafening.

3. Your lack of achievements undercuts your core themes. It’s powerful when you say America is not “Red States or Blue States but the United States.” The problem is, you don’t have a long Senate record of working across party lines. So build one. In the coming months, say that you’ll appoint Republicans to your cabinet and get a couple to say they’d serve. Highlight initiatives Republicans can agree on. Most importantly, push for a bipartisan issue now before Congress.

4. You speak of the “fierce urgency of now” that calls leaders to confront important challenges. Sounds good, but people are asking, what urgent issues have drawn your enormous talents? It’s counterintuitive, but spend less time campaigning and more time working the Senate. Pick a big issue and fight hard for it. Win or lose, you’ll give your argument substance.

5. Stop the attacks. They undermine your claim to a post-partisan new politics. You soared when you seemed above politics, lost altitude when you did what you criticize. Attacks are momentarily satisfying but ultimately corrode your appeal.

6. To answer growing questions about your inexperience, people need to know, in concrete and credible ways, what they can expect from you as president. That’s missing now. And don’t think those position papers written by academics and posted on the Web do the job. They have a check-the-box quality to them. Americans want to see your passion and commitment to things they care about, in ways that give them confidence you’re up to the job. They can smell when something is poll-tested and focus-grouped, not from the heart.

There are two reasons Senator Obama needs to pay attention.  First off, America needs change, and the right’s assertion that Obama is more of the same – I’m assuming this “same” was culled from a Rush Limbaugh rant from 1990 – doesn’t wash.  A black, left-leaning president who admires Ronald Reagan?  Vs. a pro-war Republican and the Second Coming of the Clinton Administration?  Yes, kids, that is change.  And change is overdue.

Second, I keep hearing “Why can’t Obama close the deal?”  Obama needs to close the deal now, or we will be in for another close, contentious election, and America simply cannot afford that anymore.

Less George W. Bush, Barack.  You’re too smart for that.  Less JFK from 1960.  You’re better than that.  More Reagan.  More FDR.  More second-term Teddy Roosevelt.

And for God’s sake, whatever you do, don’t drive a tank!*

*John, Hil, do us a favor and stay out of tanks as well. 

Attention, North Carolina and Indiana…

Your primaries are on May 6.

May 6 is also the 42nd anniversary of the day I mooned the world (literally) after putting my mom through 36 hours of agonizing labor.

Now, My True Love has told me something about Marylin Monroe and “Happy Birthday” that day, and I’m looking forward to it.  But I want more.*  Citizens of Indiana and North Carolina, you can do it for me.  You can do it by saying no to another political dynasty.

Gimme two Obama victories that day.  That would make for a happy birthday for me.**

*A wide-screen for the family room hooked up to an HD satellite box, a Wii, and a PS/3 would be nice.
**I checked with the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.  Yes, I get to borrow the bus that weekend.  No, there will still be no unicorns under an Obama Administration, though Jeff Jena says a McCain Administration might look into it as a source of cheap meat.

She’s Being Evited

Looks like Ohio and Texas are must-wins for Hillary Clinton, the woman once considered the “Inevitable Next President of the United States.”  While that alone proves America will vote for a female president, it also proves there’s no such thing as an inevitable candidate.

And now the attacks are getting lame.  Even Fox News, which still trots out the “closet Muslim” myth mainly to fill air time these days, doesn’t seem as enthused to embrace the thinnest of smears against Obama.  One senses that even on the right side of the spectrum, people really don’t want to choose between another old white guy and another political dynasty.  The best anyone’s come up with against Barack Obama that doesn’t have me falling out of my chair laughing* is lack of experience.

And lack of experience, ladies and gentlemen, seems to be Obama’s strength.  One suspects the package Hillary is selling will be bought by the electorate, especially since she is appealing to many conservatives as an alternative to John McCain, but that Obama will be collecting the commission.

The fact is people are sick of the establishment.  And for once, we have a smart man who likes building bridges, can run with good ideas, isn’t shifting his stance every time a new poll comes out, and just happens to be different enough from everyone else in the race to send a message to the rest of the world that America is better than its current leadership has demonstrated.

I’m not one of those who believes that Obama will solve all our problems, that beer will spout from every public fountain, and unicorns will magically appear** under his administration.  I simply think we have the best chance of repairing our relations in the world – and only paranoid moron thinks we don’t need the world – and squelching this red state/blue state bullshit that’s poisoned the nation for the past 7 years.

I have no doubt Hillary can pull it off.  I’m sure John McCain can make policies I don’t like work for everybody.  Believe me, this is an election I’m not going to lose sleep over for once.  But I’ve already made my choice. 

And it’s not business as usual.

Welcome back to 1980.

*Or wondering why Tod Goldberg isn’t attacking the person as a fucktard.  I mean they can’t all be writing to Parade, can they?

**Because everyone knows this Administration has diverted millions in unicorn research to Halliburton.

Independent’s Wet Dream

You have absolutely no idea how giddy this makes me.

The presidential race is now down to two men who appreciate the importance of reaching across the aisle and compromising for the good of the nation and a Third Way Democrat. (And if you read this space regularly, you already know what I think of the first and second ways. If you don’t, here’s a hint: They suck.)

I can live with McCain. He might be pro-life, but he’ll never be able to stack the Supreme Court without four years of a Republican Congress. Three words: Not. Bloody. Likely.

And even if that happens, wanna bet the hard-line conservative wing finds itself kicked back into the wilderness for a decade or two?

But if it comes down to it, I’ll vote for Hillary. I don’t like her, but I don’t have to like her. I just have to know she’ll get things done. And she doesn’t have Bill’s penis, so that’s one less distraction. Instead of impeachment, she can just make Bill go sleep on the couch.

But it’s Barack Obama I’m pulling for. Any man who can be pro-choice, address a pro-life crowd, and get applause without backing away from his position is a man who can build bridges.

And we’ve burned far too many bridges this decade.

Kind Of Sad, Isn’t It?

“You can spin a six point loss however you want.”

Those were the words of a Clinton operative when a spokesman for Barack Obama pointed out that Obama walked away from Nevada with more delegates than Hillary.

Lately, it’s not been hard to see why Republicans hate the Clintons so much. Only Hillary Clinton would have the audacity to play the race card against a black candidate. She looks to Republicans like George Bush looks to… Well, everybody but the 33 percenters.

I should be thrilled with this year’s election. A black man or a woman may likely become President of the United States. Hopefully one of them or one of the front runners on the GOP side will go a long way toward restoring our tattered reputation in the rest of the world. Instead, I keep seeing one thing:


And I’m not one of those idiots who thinks everything Bill Clinton ever accomplished was a direct result of Ronald Reagan or that all of George W. Bush’s problems are Clinton’s fault. There’s a word for people who believe that:


The truth is you have to stop praising or blaming the last person in the Oval Office during year two of a given president’s term.  Which means the next guy gets an 18-month free pass to blame W. for all his problems.  (And last I checked, Reagan had been out of office for four years when Clinton took office.  Do the math.)

Back to Hillary.  She’s displaying a lot of the same traits people don’t like about Bush, namely she wants the power more than she wants to serve.  Granted, it takes a certain amount of hubris and ambition to run for president.  I hope so.  You need someone like that to look someone like Vladimir Putin in the eye and tell him how it is.  You might say that’s why Vlad’s holding onto power well beyond the end of his presidency.

But when all the campaign rhetoric is done, and we’ve pretty much figured out which lies appeal to us more in the voting booth, you have to point at something that made the person viable for president.  Much as I dislike them, Huckabee and Romney were successful governors.  McCain has always been a moderate voice.  Edwards is at his most sincere when he talks about combatting poverty.  Obama’s talk is almost always non-confrontational as long as the Clintons aren’t involved.  You get a real sense of why these people want to be president.  With Hillary, you get the impression that it’s her turn.  She hasn’t said it.  I’ve heard a few candidates (Bob Dole comes to mind) backhandedly admit it, but never has it been so blatant without being said as it has with Hillary Clinton.

The bad news is I may have to vote for her on political grounds.  (John McCain might alleviate that dilemma for me.)  Which means I have to hold my nose in November and say yes to four more years of dynasty politics.

So, Canada, what can I do for you guys?