Monday, 30 June 2008

Legislating Judges

The evening news was populated by bereaved members of the extended family of Nathan Allsbrook, 15, yet another Harlem adolescent killed by a stray bullet. They described how he stayed close to home, worked hard at school and took his mother to church on Sundays. The suggested narrative, sometimes explicitly stated by those interviewed, is that this fellow, of all the candidates for a random death, least ‘deserved’ it as he was trying to survive without becoming part of the rough street culture.

One wonders if Bush’s panting Supreme Court majority would have charged forward so enthusiastically to rewrite local gun laws were white suburban teenagers the ones being mown down with such depressing regularity. (Allsbrook was the third teen victim in New York this week.) Or how they will rule on these same ghetto teens’ habit of packing heat given the enormous dangers they face just to get through the day.

An end to ‘judicial activism’ was the battle cry of the conservatives after the federal courts played a key role in the civil rights movement. But now that the ideologues have the edge, no arena of social policy is off limits.

Saturday, 28 June 2008


The most cynical among bipeds could hardly fail to shudder at a NY Times frontpage photo this week. It showed a tiny Zimbabwean toddler whose legs had been broken by President Robert Mugabe’s thugs to punish his mother for daring to oppose the holy liberator.

Such are the moral depths to which this erstwhile hero of anticolonial revolt has forced ‘his’ nation, similarly crippled by Mugabe’s corruption, demagogy and mismanagement.

African leaders are reluctant to criticize their peers, especially when to do so would align them with the former colonial powers. It is a sign of the extreme gravity of the situation in Zimbabwe that a chorus of such denunciations has arisen in the region while Mugabe’s marauding death squads sow terror throughout the countryside.

But one head of state—the most important one—has lent Mugabe essential ongoing support. While Zimbabwe’s runaway inflation, 80 percent unemployment rate and mass starvation have generated a refugee crisis that recently exploded into an ugly outbreak of xenophobic mob violence in next-door South Africa, hardly in a position to absorb additional millions of the destitute, the execrable South African president, Thabo Mbeki, hasn’t budged from his unctious defense of Mugabe.

Why, when a nudge would save hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives, does Mbeki help keep Mugabe’s nightmare regime alive?

Mbeki is a familiar figure to historians of revolution: the grey bureaucrat who occupies the background of the movement, works tirelessly to build up his influence within the revolutionary infrastructure, favors those cadre blindly loyal to himself over those more competent or more dedicated to the cause and eventually inherits the leadership mantle when the charismatic hero has passed from the scene. In short, Mbeki is South Africa’s Stalin, and it is probably no accident that the South African Communist Party played an important role in the long struggle against apartheid.

Ideology and the personality cult drive these frightening individuals, and had South Africa’s institutions been undermined after a revolutionary overthrow, rather than the negotiated political settlement that did occur, Mbeki might well have evolved into another Jacobin assassin on a massive scale.

As it is, he merely stands to one side with a smile as his pal Mugabe pursues that distinction.

[P.S.] It’s inspiring that Nelson Mandela survived nearly three decades of political prison and very nice that he can have Will Smith and Amy Winehouse celebrate his 90th birthday. But there’s something fetishizing and morally distasteful about 50 thousand people partying blissfully with the man who undermined one brutal dictatorship the same weekend as another one right next door is beating its own citizens to death with metal poles. Nor did any of the glittery stars see fit to mention the irony.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Crew, prepare to submerge

There is a lot of blogosphere and on-air speculation, should you choose to look for it, about the campaigns pulling this or that red or blue state from the other side’s column into theirs, which is mildly interesting but based on an unacknowledged assumption: that the frozen political landscape of 2000 and 2004 is still with us. I dissent.

Most of the political junkies looking at the electoral college map are focusing on a new set of swing states to add to the usual list of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and possibly pissed-off Michigan. They say Virginia is now in play for Obama and New Hampshire could swing back to the Republicans since they actually like John McCain. (He must remind them of Franklin Pierce.) Then they discuss the mountain west and speculate on where Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico might lean. A few return to the razor-thin margins in Missouri.

No doubt there are polls to buttress these and any other suppositions. But there is plenty of evidence as well that November is going to be far more seismic. In fact, every time actual people go to actual polls (rather than answering questionnaires), they give the Republican candidates a historic thumping: upstate New York, Illinois, even Mississippi.

The Democratic candidates consistently pulled out far superior numbers over the GOP during the primaries, hardly surprising when the latter choices were as boring as Romney, McCain and goofy Mike Huckabee. The Obama campaign has a huge war chest and unprecedented fund-raising capacity. They are aiming at changing the baseline numbers by pouring resources into registration of black and youthful voters, and their volunteers are going to be palpably more enthusiastic than the sorry-ass McCainoids, pre-apologizing for themselves among their peers.

Gas at $4.00, ongoing defeat in war dressed up as a tie, floods recalling the Katrina debacle, nation-as-laughingstock of the world. Yes, it looks like a perfect day for a mudslide.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Animal Farm redux

What déjà vu is produced by hearing the pathetic excuses from South African president Mbeki about why he can’t criticize the thug regime in Zimbabwe. Foreign pressure, say the South Africans around Mbeki, is interfering with his ‘quiet diplomacy.’

That was exactly the attitude and even the precise phrase used by the Reaganites to justify their continued support of South Africa’s apartheid regime while the racist clan systematically brutalized all opposition. It didn’t take a PhD to realize that this alleged diplomacy was an excuse for business as usual and back-channel support to the anti-communist bulwark.

Mbeki seamlessly transfers this rhetoric to the new bugaboo: foreign colonialism. In the name of this enemy, Zimbabweans now enjoy not only an annual inflation rate of between 200,000 and 1,000,000% (depending on the source) but now are rounded up in their villages and beaten up for casting votes for the opposition. Dozens have been murdered outright, but that doesn’t faze the South African defender of African autonomy, which in his mind is consubstantial with the holy person of Robert Mugabe.

One alarmed voice suggested yesterday that Zimbabwe may be headed for a Rwanda-style meltdown in which whole sectors of the population could face a genocidal onslaught. This may be an exaggeration, but the logic of the moment doesn’t preclude it.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

As promised

What is most disturbing about the Democratic collapse on FISA [see below] is the strong hint that the political class has learned nothing in Bush’s disastrous years and will lie supine if the outgoing nutjobs decide to expand their highly successful war in Iraq with an attack on Iran. We can’t say we weren’t warned.

Just as the Senate was releasing its long-overdue report on the phony ‘intelligence’ used to bamboozle us into the Iraq conquest, the Israelis were in town announcing that everything is all set for the bombardment of the new bad guys in Teheran. Do I exaggerate?

Here’s Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert emerging from his June 4 powwow at the White House with W:

‘We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat. I left with a lot less question marks [than] I had entered with regarding the means, the timetable restrictions, and American resoluteness to deal with the problem.’

Would we be talking about the end of the Bush presidency by any chance? Olmert cleared that right up for us:

‘George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it, and intends to act on that matter before the end of his term in the White House.’

You are forgiven for not noticing this event as it drew virtually no news coverage. In a normal world one could expect reporters to jump at the virtual announcement of a new war.

Nor did reporters take any delight in reviewing their own shoddy performance as outlined in the Rockefeller Committee report on the failure of the press and broadcasters to see through Bush and Cheney’s lies.

They were too busy fawning over the corpse of Tim Russert and, by extension, themselves.


There I was, bridal bouquet in my demurely folded hands, ready to say, ‘Yes, we can!’ and what does my beloved do but reach down and pluck off those two overrated but nonetheless essential matching thingies and drop them onto the offering plate at George Bush’s church.

You expect the Horrible Party to subvert the Constitution, torture defenseless prisoners and start wars so that they can have all the power and all the money. But the Obama campaign was supposed to be about something, um, let’s see. . . . different?

So now he’s signed onto the phony FISA repeal ‘compromise’ legalizing international email and telephone spying and thereby enabled not only impunity for the telecom companies but the full dismantling of the Fourth Amendment. I expected to be disappointed in wedlock, but not left at the altar.

Maybe Barack’s idea is that he, rather than the Bushoids, is going to spy responsibly. How reassuring. Now, all our conversations can be hoarded by state espionage agents, and any laws that might govern their use become toilet paper.

When Republicans controlled Congress, they tried to get an amnesty for the telecoms through Congress and couldn’t do it. That required the people’s champions, Pelosi and Hoyer, to take over.

Maybe the heat Obama is getting for this unseemly buckle will push his campaign into a fallback position. Lapdog Democrats will perhaps raise some pious Cain about the impunity provision while bemoaning the strength of the Republican-conservative Democrat coalition pushing this travesty through Congress.

Curious how the minority Republicans, on the other hand, always manage to block whatever they really hate by simply utilizing the minority veto through the filibuster and other parliamentary tricks.

When the sitting president is a worldwide joke, his party gets trounced in off-year elections and the country is seething with resentment, there is just no excuse or explanation for a congressional surrender on civil liberties.

Friday, 20 June 2008

All Rise

I’ve realized that organizing meetings, which I have done a lot lately, is quite an art form. You have to balance elements of information dissemination, ego-stroking and entertainment, calculate how long people can go without a loo-wow break and make sure that, whatever your food budget permits, there’s plenty of it. So it’s amazing to see how badly this is done by the so-called professionals.

A group of us wandered down to City Hall Wednesday night for the New York City Council’s Pride Week awards ceremony where my sympathy for the openly lesbian president of that body (and aspirant to succeed Mayor Bloomberg), Christine Quinn, quickly dissipated when it became clear that she has the Hillary disease, i.e. a constitutional incapacity to let go of a microphone.

I know politicians have to recognize everyone from their Rolodex and not leave anyone out, but one could run through the list and ask people to hold the applause. Or hurry through other parts of the program, especially if it starts an hour late. But not our city officials, for whom we had to perform as an increasingly listless claque. Quinn and her buddies were happy in their little world, and we were left to play the ruminant herd standing by to bleat on cue. If they’d have fed us beforehand, at least we could have been chewing our cud.

Politics attracts many people with an unseemly need for attention, and power then feeds their disease as they get used to the slavering masses hanging on their grandiose phrase-balloons. They are joined in those numinous heights by the pontificating classes in a permanent linking of heavenly arms. Tim Russert’s endless papal funeral now makes even more sense.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The Boumediene case

I read through a chunk of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Boumediene v. Bush et al. for my insomniac entertainment last night. The hushed silence outside my window in the verdant northwest corner of Manhattan felt appropriate as I grasped the stunning import of this landmark lifebuoy to the remnants of the Magna Carta and 800 years of Anglo-Saxon struggle against arbitrary arrest.

The remarkable thing about the language of Boumediene is that it is a direct finger-wag in the face of the legislative, rather than the executive branch, and a courageous reminder to the Black Hundreds on Capitol Hill that they, not Rush Limbaugh or John Yoo and not Barack Obama either, still have the power to say ‘what the law is.’

We hasten to blame the wild men in the White House orbit for the abuses being practiced against defenseless detainees in Guantánamo and other dungeons we haven’t even heard of yet. But we seldom stop to consider that it was our elected representatives, including all the major presidential candidates, who seconded these crimes by attempting to tell the judicial branch to butt out in the notorious Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the follow-up Military Commissions Act of 2006.

The five justices remind these 535 election whores that habeas corpus was considered so important to the founders as the basis of the rule of law that it is incorporated directly into the language of the Constitution itself, not the subsequent Bill of Rights. In fact, it is not called a ‘right’ at all but a ‘privilege’, its own special category.

If the policing power of a state, be it the local earl, a jailer, a sheriff, an elected official or Jesus Christ himself descending from the firmament on a heavenly steed, can arbitrarily place a person behind bars and throw away the key, all other promises of rights and liberties become meaningless verbiage.

All persons in a state ruled by laws, including the most repugnant criminals, must retain access to a habeas writ; if they do not, the rest of us are at risk. Demagogues and tyrants understand this and easily cow fearful legislators, so at crucial moments only an independent judiciary will dare to defend us. So far, we still have one.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Endless Mimi

New York boasts an unusual, lush anonymity that allows you to take ownership of the city the morning after you’ve moved in. It also exaggerates the self-absorption that rules the place. It’s no accident that a drag queen named ‘Mimi Imfurst’ is one of the hottest acts in the borough’s nocturnal venues. The assumption is that since no one’s paying attention, you have a free pass to show your balls.

I went to a meeting last night where a young woman came in late, insisted on squeezing her chair into the circle and then proceeded to pick away compulsively at her raw-pink cuticles with no hint of a clue that this might be distasteful to her neighbors. We politely pretended to be transported by yogic bliss to avert our gaze.

Then on the subway someone reached down his back to scrape up some substance found there and proceeded to examine it carefully after each excavation. I had a tissue in my pocket and wanted desperately to offer it for the preservation of these important artifacts.

We won’t even discuss the ubiquitous iPod owners singing loudly out of tune, or the girls who get out their make-up kits and turn public sites into their bathrooms. Just let me know when you’re going to urinate, lady, so I can look away!

So the never-ending Tim Russert funeral and public circle jerk should come as no surprise. We can’t find out whether it’s going to rain tomorrow without also being force-fed TMI about the newscaster’s daughter’s teacher’s birthday party or whether the meteorologist likes white or rye. All is permitted if you have an audience, and getting the biggest one by any means available is a legitimate pursuit. So why not force people to contemplate your pointless life, hear about your neuroses or look at your pus?

It’s amazing to me not only that these phenomena occur and multiply but that hardly anyone perceives them as the assaults they clearly constitute. In North Korea people have to know (and learn) endless crap about Kim Jong Il; here, it’s democratic—you have to know endless crap about everybody.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Trade and Rebellion

[Trade] The Wall Street Journal carried a fascinating article in its June 13 issue on the impact of rising transport costs on the outsourcing of manufacturing. It offered one example after another of production returning from (or not leaving for) China and even Mexico as the petroleum-fueled rise in shipping expenses undermined the advantages of using faraway slave labor.

This is surely a positive development not only for the domestic working class but also for the demented anti-ecology of our times with its vast tonnage of unnecessary goods unnecessarily circulating around the globe for the benefit of capital. I now look forward as well to the accelerated decline of suburbia into the abandoned wasteland it deserves to become as people tire of entrapment in a world where you can’t cut a fart without having to climb into an automobile and driving off somewhere.

[Rebellion] Hooray for the independent-minded voters of Europe who once again have delivered their political elites a large jar of water-based lubricant. The Irish, in yet another act of rebellion against the remote, Brussels-based bureaucracy, voted down the obscure Lisbon treaty that even its own authors couldn’t explain.

Many commentators have pointed out that the NO voters aren’t anti-Europe, but they have this odd belief that their leaders should be able to tell them in simple terms exactly what they are agreeing to, just as we are solemnly instructed to do when taking out a subprime mortgage. But again and again, the 27-state labyrinth finds it impossible to do so.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to decide on a pan-European constitution setting out the broad principles of cooperation and shared sovereignty and then giving the process a good couple of years of debate? The current procedure in which technical details that voters couldn’t possibly understand are submitted to referenda is far too reminiscent of the nefarious free-trade agreements regularly shoved down the throats of one nation after another, including ours.

Since it’s all about making the continent safe for commerce, voters quite correctly are acting like savvy consumers and refusing to sign vague contracts containing thousands of lines of fine print. The powerful then shake their heads glumly and call their citizens backward rubes who refuse to do what they’re told.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Who's up for a principle?

The Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 vote said Monday that U.S. presidents are not yet kings and that those imprisoned by the state are still protected by habeas corpus.

The Bush-appointed dissenting justices went apoplectic and rehashed the favorite White House line (crafted and perfected by the now semi-repentant Scott McClellan) that the decision will ‘lead to more deaths of Americans.’

What an argument. Yes, my dear wackos, protecting human rights and judicial procedure sometimes lets people off the hook when they’re guilty as hell. Some of those people then commit new crimes. So what? Should we just hang anyone who looks guilty of something and be done with it? Plenty of people would applaud if we did—that’s why we have laws, to frustrate the revenge of the comfortable.

It’s amazing that not just average folks worried about their safety but black-robed jurists with law degrees can toss the whole structure of protections built up over centuries into the trash bin without blinking an eye. And please don’t make the mistake of thinking that only the bad old Republicans are conniving at this process. I don’t recall any particularly tough questions about detainee rights being put to Justices Roberts and Alito by our Democratic brethren, who could have blocked the confirmation process of these royalist lapdogs but feared above all else looking like bin Laden-symps.

Despite the political impopularity of protecting the rights of the accused, our judiciary has triumphed over the political winds of the moment. When the nation recovers its mental equilibrium and considers how close it came to voting itself into a police state, it will recall with pride the day its top court—NOT it’s legislative ‘opposition’—restored it to sanity.

Meanwhile, do notice the complete reversal of roles across the pond where the Conservatives (yes, the Tory party of Margaret Thatcher) is digging in its heels against Labor’s attempt to allow ‘terrorist suspects’ to be jailed for 42 days without a hearing. One right-wing parliamentarian, David Davis, even resigned his seat to force a by-election precisely on this issue, saying Gordon Brown’s new rule threatened Britons’ cherished freedom. (It passed anyway by a narrow margin.)

Just listen to the ringing denunciation of the Labor move from this fox-hunting toff and ask yourself if you’ve heard anything comparable from the party of Obama and Clinton:

This Sunday is the anniversary of Magna Carta, a document that guarantees the fundamental element of British freedom, habeas corpus. The right not to be imprisoned by the state without charge or reason. But yesterday this house allowed the state to lock up potentially innocent citizens for up to six weeks without charge.

This cannot go on, it must be stopped, and for that reason today I feel it is incumbent on me to take a stand.

I will be resigning my membership of this House, and I intend to force a by-election in Haltemprice and Howden. I will
not fight it on the Government’s general record.

I won’t fight it on my personal record.

I will fight it, and I will argue this by-election against the slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms by this Government.

Sounds just like Jim Webb or Amy Klobuchar, doesn’t it?

Thursday, 12 June 2008


Another construction crane collapsed here in Manhattan the other day, the second in two months, adding two more deaths to the roster of construction workers felled by the corrupt building business in this still-smells-like-a-mob-town town. A few days later the chief crane inspector was busted for taking bribes, timing reminiscent of the Chinese Communist way of commerce in which you just burrow along producing and palm-greasing away until some shit happens. Then someone gets hauled up for corruption and shot in the town square. Since everyone’s on the take as a condition of being in the game, finding a goose is effortless.

Hard to say if that’s the case in the Big Apple, and it will be fun to watch the reported anti-corruption campaign in the building trades proceed. The winningly nerdy acting commissioner—elevated after his successor took the fall for Accident No. 1—strikes me as too goofy to be actively venial, but of course that’s not necessarily true.

Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg can rend his garment in shock and awe over the repeated toppling of these steel pterodactyls, but one suspects that in the halls of power they know exactly who cuts what corners to enable the construction boom to proceed apace and which of the established goon squads gets what piece of the trickling-down juice.

We have the advantage, for now, of a fairly active news media ready to pounce on misconduct and incompetence, which provides a modicum of civil monitoring over these guys in which the abused Chinese populace would probably take delight. Instead, their kids get buried in shoddy schools that can’t stand up to an earthquake, and anyone who complains is guilty of anti-socialist agitation, previously a.k.a. capitalist-roading.

But I wonder if any biped system can really stamp out this sort of thing once the amounts of wealth involved grow to such skyscraping heights, especially since half the public will snigger in complicity when the smart guy beats the system and manages not to kill anyone too overtly in the process. We reserve our righteous fury for the one who gets caught and prepare to cast not just the first but many subsequent stones at his exposed noggin.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Imitating Hillary

Obama’s performance in front of the most reactionary sector of the Israeli lobby last week was a disappointment and may come back to haunt him if Bush decides to close out his historic disaster of a presidency with an attack on Iran. The fresh guy sounded as ancient as last month’s salad with his tired pandering to the zionist fruitcakes, edging close to supporting the Israelis’ public suggestion of a preemptive strike on supposed nuclear facilities.

What a lost opportunity to keep one’s mouth shut. Now if the attack occurs, he’s going to look a tad opportunistic in denouncing it as the price of petroleum shoots to $300 a barrel.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

The End

Hillary Clinton was dragged kicking and screaming from the nomination fight and now gets points for her generous exit lines. From my seat that’s what they sounded like—a prepared script delivered with far less conviction than her June 3 refusal to step aside. She did the right thing at last although it would have meant more had she figured it out herself before being pushed off the cliff by her closest backers telling her, Enough.

Now the post-mortems have begun, and a lot of the analyses take the position that this or that mid-course adjustment would have reversed the outcome. Maybe so, and we’ll never know for sure. But a lot of the incidents called ‘errors’ are really just examples of who the Clintons are and what they do. It’s like saying Clint Eastwood made the mistake of acting in cowboy movies.

Take the Bill Clinton line about Obama’s opposition to the Iraq war being a ‘fairy tale’, widely considered a gaffe. That looked stupid but only because people actually knew the candidates’ positions on that topic, meaning that one’s actual stance couldn’t be fobbed off as something else, like on 85 other issues. Her failure even to take a clear position on warmaking illustrated how the Clintons operate—opportunistically, covering all bases and keeping everyone happy. In another epoch that might have been comforting for voters, but in 2008 it didn’t fly.

Hillary Clinton also made a decision to run as Clinton II after the disastrous reiteration of the first Bush presidency. Fine, but then you have to accept the baggage, too. Few commentators mentioned it, but it did somewhat undermine Hillary as feminist icon to have the notorious first husband back on the scene.

She also turned out to be a lousy manager, hardly consistent with her image as ‘ready to go on Day One.’ Her campaign was a viper’s nest of intrigue and backstabbing among rivals, less than reassuring for people eager to see professional management of the nation’s affairs.

I suspect that the scale of the current disastrous administration has sharpened the country’s collective sense that we’re not playing around here and that a repeat of the baby-boomer self-absorption that characterized Clinton’s scamper through the Oval Office isn’t what we need. Barack Obama is an unknown quantity and could still turn out to be a big disappointment. But Hillary Clinton lost because we knew exactly what she offered.

Saturday, 7 June 2008


We’ve been treated in the last few days to a series of women supporters of Hillary Clinton talking about how disappointed and angry they are that she didn’t win. I overheard a conversation in a restaurant this week from a woman furious over the way she was ‘shafted,’ presumably by Obama, and seriously contemplating sitting out the vote in November.

Still, I recall the Clinton ad campaign, ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen’. Part of Hillary’s pre-Ohio comeback was painting her opponent as not tough enough to take the rough-and-tumble of national and world politics—in fact, she turned him into the ‘woman’. She was the Type A macho wagging a finger in the other guy’s face with her ‘Shame on you, Barack Obama’ outburst and her feisty-fighter image.

So if she’s winning, it’s good to be a slash-and-burn warrior. But when the fight’s over and she lost, the other side are meanies.

Jon Stewart aired a hilarious edit of Clinton’s Tuesday night non-concession acrobatics, which accentuated the number of times her sentences began with the word ‘I’. Her inability to recognize that she had lost morphed into a creepily narcissistic spectacle.

Self-absorption that mows down anything in its path in the name of feminine emancipation and equality certainly has its appeal, as does any form of whipping up the troops in the name of one’s shared ethnic, racial, national or religious identity. In that regard Hillary is actually closer to Rev. Jeremiah Wright than to Gloria Steinam.

Obama has studiously avoided making himself into the ‘race’ candidate, and except for the post-Wright speech on race in America, he hasn’t had that much to say about it. His appeal is more cerebral, but he treats us as adults, whether we like it or not. It’s a reminder that just belonging to a mistreated group doesn’t make one’s ideas correct or one’s behavior noble.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008


George Bush and Hillary Clinton have one thing in common: they decide what reality is and function based on the assumptions contained therein. It’s not merely communicational sleight-of-hand in which one puts the best face on things to win points, but rather chronic political autism.

In Bush’s case, he’s the star of his own war movie, and no actual events on the ground in Iraq will budge him from playing out every last reel of it. The rest of us are trapped in this Warholian art-house nightmare of his mind, which lasts forever and has about as much plot as ‘Blow Job’ (while managing to be less entertaining).

Hillary could almost be pardoned for her bogus, last-ditch play for the Michigan delegation if it were just a political game that she didn’t really take seriously, but her non-concession speech Tuesday night shows that the Clintons live in a air-tight basement with the windows blacked out. She rehashed all her arguments and refused to glance over at the evening news crawl giving her opponent an absolute majority of the delegate votes.

David Gergen on CNN compared Hillary’s performance to the Nixon Checkers speech, down to the appeal to her supporters to flood her campaign office with pleas for her to stay on. He stuck around too, even after being booted out of the presidency.

What a missed chance for Clinton to show some graciousness in defeat, support the ticket and give a powerful boost to the compelling speech Obama went on to deliver in Minneapolis to 18,000 supporters. That would have contributed to a Democratic victory and to the causes Clinton says are her only motive for going forward. Instead, she did her best to undermine him still insisting that she actually won and now has to claim her triumph.

It’s true because Hillary Clinton says it is. And American troops are bringing peace and democracy to Iraq.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Wishful thinking

The Puerto Rico victory speech by Madame Hillary didn’t sound like it was coming from someone ready to throw in the towel next Tuesday. She rehashed the lie that she’s leading in the popular vote (by assuming Obama got zero votes in Michigan while she was breaking the candidates’ agreement by leaving her name on the ballot). She also keeps hammering away like Chuckie the Killer Doll on the theme of ‘the people have spoken,’ threatens to challenge the weekend compromise over Michigan and Florida, casting herself as the Fanny Lou Hamer of 2008 fighting the segregationists, and insists that no winner will emerge from the final two primaries on June 3.

Pretty much everyone projects onto Senator Clinton their assumptions about what a dignified second-place finish would require from a normal politician and studiously ignores the concrete signals emanating from her. Perhaps the punditocracy knows something we don’t, but if we listen to the actual words spoken and the clear sentiments and worldview lurking behind them, there is no reason to believe that she will permit the party to start to concentrate on November any time soon—if ever.

Clinton is still capable of ripping the Democratic Party apart and everything she says and does suggests that that’s where she’s headed. The superdelegates and the party poobahs can frustrate her nomination, but they can’t stop her from strapping on a suicide belt and heading to the convention with it. Don’t say you weren’t warned—by her.