Archive for February, 2006

There aren’t a lot of black Senators

Friday, February 24th, 2006

A brief bit of meta-blogging:

I was going to post an entry on February 28th (I guess I still could) entitled “Black History Month K-12 Educational Simulation”, wherein I post a link to a wikipedia article about black soldiers in the Civil War, and thus make fun of the tokenism that greeted me with Black History Month through my public schooling. That goes back to my Freshman year of high school, where on the final day of February the teacher showed us… a film about black soldiers in the civil war… and it was a last minute schedule change on the part of the teacher, who evidentally had a “Holy Crap! This is Black History Month!” moment. A test that students may or may not have studied for was thusly delayed.

There haven’t been many blacks in the US Senate. There were a couple during Reconstruction, and then… nothing… until Edward Brooke’s two terms beginning in 1968… and then nothing until Carol Mosley Braun’s term from 1993 through 1998, and now Barack Obama, who defeated notable gadfly (and black) candidate Alan Keyes. We now approach the 2006 election, and I note that we may have two black Americans duking it out in Maryland, and that Harold Ford, Jr. is running in Tennessee (either a credible campaign, or not. I hear the Ford name has been tarnished as of late).

Maryland’s Republican black Senate hopeful, Michael Steele, has gotten in trouble for comparing stem cell research to Nazi Medical Experimen. He apologized for it, though pointedly insists he never used the word “Holocaust” which is I guess the most stinging charge of what sticks into people’s minds about the situation. The former black Maryland Senate Republican hopeful, Alan Keyes, would never have apologized, but I guess he never thought he had a realistic shot of winning a Senate seat. But the point here is that it threw Steele’s Senate campaign completely off balance, and may help make him as unelectable as Keyes was in both Maryland and in Illinois. If I were in Maryland and a registered Democrat, I may just pull the lever (or the bubble) for Kweisi Mfume in the Democratic primary over his primary opponents due to the simple historical joke that is the paucity of blacks in Senate history. I guess with his election, we’d then have a Senate black Caucus of two? An odds-against chance at three, with Ford… for what it’s worth the Black Commentator does not liketh much. Or very much at all.)

Trent Lott’s token Democratic opponent, Erik Fleming, is black. But the Mississippi Democratic leader threw his reluctant support behind Lott. The Democrat is a LaRouchite of some sort, a scandal that played itself out in the comments of politics1.com. He ended up denouncing LaRouche. But it looks like NORML will be endorsing him. Trent Lott, incidentally, I read recently, receives something on the order of 90% of the white vote and 10% of the black vote in his Senate elections. I don’t think you have to probe very deeply to figure out where this racial discreprency stems from.

Despite what Rush Limbaugh may think, Ohio Democratic nominee Sherrod Brown is not black. As he said, “And don’t forget, Sherrod Brown is black. There’s a racial component here, too. The newspaper that I’m reading all this from is The New York Times, and they, of course, don’t mention that.” But, Rush Limbaugh has race seered in his mind — as his rather bizarre ESPN commentary about quarterback Donavan McNabb demonstrated. Limbaugh’s retraction: “Sherrod Brown’s a white guy? Then, I’m confusing him with somebody. … Must be somebody in New York [who] has got a similar name.” It’s a disappointment. The Senate black Caucus after the 2006 election will thus either remain one, be doubled to two, or tripled to three… but will not sit at four, as it might had Sherrod Brown been black.

Those PSAs bring out the Evil in me

Friday, February 24th, 2006

There’s a new set of anti-drug public service announcement that have been playing on the radio as of late.

First the scene is set. We have a set of 13-16 year olds at a standard social. #1 “How’d you hear about my party?” “Everybody knows about this party.” “Yeah. Pretty crazy, huh?” “Totally.” #2: “I can’t believe you got tickets to this show.” “Yeah. Pretty crazy band, huh?” “Totally.” #3 (and my favourite): “Thanks for giving me a ride.” “Hey. No problem. Just because you’re a sophomore doesn’t mean I can’t talk to you.” (uh. huh. The PSAers are laying it on pretty thick here, aren’t they? Sorry, I can’t sneak in a “pretty crazy” “totally” into that set up.)

Next, the drug is offered. For #1, #2, and #3, we have: “Hey! Wanna get high?” (For some reason the background music at the party and at the concert just stops dead right here.) “This is some good stuff. You’ll like this. Here you go.” AND — the response: “UH–”

The voice-over comes in with a “This is the time your guidance can help your kids say no to drugs. Call for a free pamphlet!”

But in my mind, I can’t help but think: “Toke! Toke! Toke! Toke! Toke!”

My question: Does that make me evil?

Why are there so many cops around?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Is it just me or is there a heavy police presence around downtown Portland today?

Okay. A bit less weak and unequivical a question: Why is there such a heavy police presence around Portland today? Is there some sort of Meth Shut-down operation going on, or is this some joint operation with the Portland Business Alliance that makese the average consumer of downtown Portland feel safe? (I don’t really understand the mentality; I guess it’s the “Conservative is a mugged liberal” thesis which brought into power Richard Nixon back in 1968.)

Then again, there is the basic theory I have that the police presence is the same as it always is — it’s just that today, they’ve lurched out of the anonymous shadows to make themselves known to the public at large. Like the vampires, so they go.

I’ll throw my hands up in the air, and since I assume everything in this city leads back to Meth that it’s a Meth Crackdown Operation… whether I believe that or not.

So… does anyone have a copy of the anarchist book Our Enemies in Blue that I can throw in my backpack in case they decide to stop me, and in the event that I’m just a glutton for punishment?

… no, Lieberman is not a Whig. Chaffee is, though.

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

If Lieberman lost his primary race, “it would be catastrophic for the Democratic Party because it would send a message nationally that centrists are unwelcome,” said Marshall Wittmann, a senior fellow at the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.

I guess the biggest Republican primary challenge to an incumbent Senator is happening in Rhode Island. Lincoln Chaffee is not a Republican, but he’s not a Democrat either. There were rumblings from Democrats a year back hoping that Lincoln Chaffee would switch over and become a Democratic-voting Independent. But really, Lincoln Chaffee is a member of the Whig Party. (There was this bizarre post on daily kos saying to the Olympia Snowes of the world that the Republican Party has left you, and there’s room enough in the Democratic Party for the Olympia Snowes of the world… which doesn’t seem like a good way of moving a party forward, bringing in pre-Bush Republicans to make… what? A party that looks suspiciously like the Republican Party? Nay. You can accept one or two Whigs across the aisle into the party, but not the whole lot of the Whigs.

You know that former Republican in Oregon who became an Independent to run for governor? Ben Westlund is his name. He’s a Whig! Just toss that funny white aristocratic looking wig on him and we’re all set!! Not to say you shouldn’t vote for him.

Back to the Lieberman challenge: The angry left detests conservative Democrat Joe Lieberman. But a recent poll shows that their anger may want to be channeled in another direction as the incumbent is coasting towards re-election in 2006.

The bitter folks from the fringe have rallied behind a Democrat named Ned Lamont in the hopes of taking out Joe Lieberman in a primary.

The channeling of direction is in taking out Henry Cuellar and replacing him with Ciro Rodriguez. Henry Cuellar’s crimes have been documented on the liberal blogosphere: he sat on the Republican side of the aisle during the State of the Union speech and has a record that appears to be too conservative for the Blue Dog Democrat coalition, and he’s the first Democrat in history to be endorsed by the Club for Growth. But I note for Lieberman’s benefit that there’s this crowd-shot image of the State of the Union speech that shows Lieberman standing, and basically nobody else: Then again, if you’re not looking for Lieberman, how do you even spot him in this image?

The primary challenge du jour in the 2004 season was the battle against the Republican Party’s most hated Republican Senator — Arlen Specter… whose “moderation” has proven to be mooted in this sesson of Congress. Pat Toomey nearly pulled it off, and the saving grace for the “the bitter folks from the fringe” in sending Marshall Wittmann into conniption fits is that Toomey’s numbers were supposedly similar to what Lamont’s are right now (as well as Specter’s versus Lieberman’s.)

I kind of wish primary challenges had a better record of success than they do. Something about shifting the political currents against stagnating the political currents. Ah well. You deal with the system that you are given.

Repeat History. Rinse. Carry on.

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

A simple question:

At what point can we stop saying that Iraq is approaching Civil War, that the latest act of sectarian violence is bringing Iraq close to Civil War, that there’s a Civil War brewing in Iraq, etc etc…

… and just say that there is a Civil War going on in Iraq?

Early today in another of those senseless actions from a seemingless senseless people, people of the Sunni Sect of Islam detonated two bombs in the 1,000 year old (I believe that age is about correct) al Askariya Mosque, located in Samarra, Iraq. This is/was the most holy place of meeting and prayer known to the Shi’a Sect of Islam. I have seen it, stood inside it, and from many angles marveled at the sheer beauty of the thing; today, one of the most despicable crimes of the new century has been committed. I am not Muslim nor can I ever be but I could cheerfully kill the people who did this. The true horror of the act is the same as in the story of Humpty Dumpty; it can never really be put back together again.

This building was a Classic of its Design Type, having a beautiful golden onion shaped Dome (the golden dome is much more recent than the Mosque itself) with room for an great number of worshippers, a building by its very name sacred to the memory of Ali, the Prophet’s grandson and designated successor, a place of Pilgrimage for the Shi’a and anyone else who cared to go there. Ali was never able to assume the Prophet’s Mantle bequeathed to him by his grandfather; he was murdered by the Sunni shortly after the Prophet’s death. The death of Ali was the first Great Schism within Islam, never since have the Shi’a recognized any other to be the legal successor to the Prophet.

I cannot but feel the misery and sorrow they must have who are Devotees of this Sect. Something seemingly eternal has been cut from their lives and anything that replaces it will be a poor substitute indeed. It is to them the same as it would be to me if Sancta Sophia in Istanbul were to be blown up and totally destroyed. For those of you who have forgotten, from 537 A.D. to 1457 A.D. the Church of Sancta Sophia (Holy Wisdom) was the greatest constantly used edifice of ANY kind in the entire world.

As you may have already heard. the revenge killings have started and I do not think they will cease anytime soon. Iraq has now descended into what me and my old-time cohorts used to call “The Snake Pit” mode
of operation which will not end by some Imam doing a handshake agreement with another. A late breaking note is that the Sunni and their Mosques are now being attacked with everything from pistols to Rocket Launchers.

I am sure before and after views of the al Askariya Mosque will be on TV News sooner or later. Take a good look and mentally hold the picture for awhile. Say to yourself, This Is How Crappy Human Being’s can Be When They Are Bound By Superstition and Bigotry and this is what makes them able to destroy a building that has withstood the usage of over 1,000 years (first erected in A.D. 830-840 or thereabouts).

It is the destruction of history, for the sake of destroying history. Recall the Taliban blasting away at those Buddhist idols in the Spring of 2001. Except, in a fairly perverse sense, at least that made some sort of sense (Blasphemy, I say!)

I recall the careful moving of Iraqi-held museum pieces in anticipation of “Operation Iraqi Liberation” (Operation OIL) by museum curators who cared. That would be rescuing history from the abyss (against America’s bombs of destruction, naturally). Of course, the post-war looting would be, again, the destruction of history.

So what do we have in America? I guess the re-classification process of unclassified official documents. That’s a little bit different, I have to admit. I’m trying to google up that story about the KKK guarding a church. They’re preserving history, right?

Those who don’t know their history are condmend to repeat it. But then again, those who do know their history are as well, it would seem.

What the heck is a United Emirate?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

In either the issue of Mental Floss that is on the stands right now, or the issue that is being removed from the stands right now to make way for a brand new issue…

… there’s an answer to the question of What the heck is a United Arab Emirate? It’s a good question, and one I doubt you’ve thought much about whenever the UAE has floated itself into the news cycle (as it has right now).

The United Arab Emirates are a confederacy of seven emir-controlled nations. The boundaries on which emir controls what part of the UAE are loose and fudged: when the British tried to map out the boundaries, they failed and threw up their hands. Simply put, one person throws their allegiance to one emir; his neighbor throws his allegiance to a different emir, and his neighbor throws his allegiance to the emir that the first person throws his allegiance to. If 2 out of 3 people in the region obeys the one emir, that still leaves that 1 out of 3 who obesys that other emir, right? So, what emir controls that stretch of the UAE?

Sigh.

Any way, I’m thinking that George W Bush is a crypto-isolationist. He’s working to make “Isolationism” look good with compared to the current way of working with the world. The selling of bases to the UAE is part of that strategy. There’s a bit of a revolt spewing, and frankly this would be a no-brainer for Republican politicians to stand against — it does indeed dove-tail into the party’s stated principles and the principles of their (xenophobic) constituency… as well as being the right stand, naturally. (Do you trust the United Arab Emirates?)

What stands is the Congress’s way, and the reason that they will in the end crumble and give way to Bush, is that they are an exceedingly lame bunch. That being said, I do wonder about something on how this is unfolding. Bush threatens to veto any bill designed to stop the sale of these ports to the UAE. Shouldn’t the scale of power be that the Congress is the branch of government that allows for the sale? Imperial Presidency, indeed!

“We all vote for whomever in the primaries, than we rally behind the party’s nominee.”

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

You will remember that the topic of presidential endorsements came up in the 2004 US Senate race from Oklahoma between Tom Coburn and Brad Carson. Tom Coburn was repeatedly asked, particularly outside of Oklahoma, about his 2000 endorsement for Alan Keyes. Tom Coburn was oblivious to any implication of what endorsing Alan Keyes says about the endorser of Alan Keyes — which is to say he never seemed aware that he was being insulted — and Coburn gave a spiel about how Republicans endorse different candidates, and rally behind the eventual nominee. As it turned out, Oklahoma wanted a white Alan Keyes over a Democrat who’d skew as close to the “Center” as possible, and thus… Coburn won by a larger margin than the generally thought-to-be-non-race in Pennsylvania: greater than 12%.

Flash forward to 2006, and there’s a special election being held to round out the Kentucky state Senate. And here’s the Democrat:

Mr. Clark, on the other hand, has made himself a marginal figure by following his libertarian beliefs all the way out to the fringe. For example, in the name of liberty, he was one of only three House members to vote in favor of allowing 14-year-old girls to marry. He was the featured speaker for a militia group a few years ago. He has been an outspoken supporter of the perennial and controversial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche.

Libertarians hate it when anyone connects Lyndon LaRouche to their cause, and frankly they have every right to be aggrieved: LaRouche is a statist, like it or not. But I have to wonder about Clark’s political judgement:

Clark, a Democrat, said he’s not a political eccentric as a Peden advertisement suggests, although he acknowledges he is a supporter of fringe presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, who once reportedly claimed that the Sept. 11 attacks were carried out by “some kind of rogue operation inside the security screen of the United States.” Clark acknowledges that some of his votes may seem “oddball” at first blush. But he added, “When you really think about them, they really aren’t too far out of the mainstream.”

How does Clark explain himself? Thusly:

Clark endorsed LaRouche in 2004 for his economic policies and position on extracting U.S. troops from Iraq “quickly.”

While I suppose one can sympathize with the plight of where to throw your vote if you want to high-tail us out of Iraq (remember that Dean held the position that we need to stay), I have to wonder which economic policies he was championing. But maybe I haven’t really read the pamphlets too deeply — something about FDR and Truman being a right-wing idiot. Actually, there was this semi-famous incident in the 2004 Democratic primary where at a Kerry townhouse meeting, someone said to Kerry that he was “deciding between Kerry and LaRouche” and went on about what “new economic framework” Kerry would create… not being up to snuff with the “new economic framework” LaRouche was all set to create. Kerry’s answer was a verbal rolling of the eyes.

As for Clark, it is interesting to note that he isn’t running his campaign with this pattern in mind:

When a LaRouche follower runs for office…their ads often follow this formula:

(1) LaRouche follower introduces his/herself
(2) LaRouche follower says “I agree with Lyndon LaRouche who says…”
(3) tape of Lyndon Larouche speaking is played

I’ve heard this many times..it’s so weird that they don’t speak for themselves.

So I guess he’s not wrapped up totally in the cult of LaRouche. At any rate, I guess I’ll bring you up to date on who wins this pivotal Kentucky state Senate race. I know you’re on the edge of your seat, since the balance of the nation is at stake with this election.