Klingons for Obama

May 11, 2008 at 7:28 pm | Posted in Misc. | Leave a comment
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If you rummage through the highbrow geekery of the US blogosphere as much as I do, you might find some chatter about how John McCain is secretly a Klingon. The implications of this are obvious: that both are aggressive, emotionally-stunted, warlike and born with an unhealthy fixation with their ‘honour’. In this blogger’s humble opinion, it’s a comparison that paints a misleading and unfair stereotype of the Klingon people.

Thankfully, Lt Worf – one of the all-time-greatest Klingons and a man who has seen similar adversity in his battle-scarred life – puts an end to such closed-minded bigotry by traveling back in time to endorse Barack Obama:

Surely, I am moved by the story of his humble origins, his absent Kenyan father, his mother working to make ends meet, and growing up without his father in an environment where his racial identity was unclear.  After all, I, Lieutenant Worf, am a Klingon by birth, but raised by Caucasian humans, the Rozhenkos, on the farm world of Gault.  So I know a little bit about absent fathers, and being a dark-skinned man, looked upon as an alien in a white world.

[...]

But there is more that I see in him.  Just as the transcendental challenge of your time is Moslem extremism, so in my future it was the Borg.  The Borg are as alien to us as bin Laden is to you.  And if I, a Klingon by birth raised by Russian farmers, can command the Defiant in Admiral Hayes’ fleet against the Second Borg invasion and fight off the Borg’s would-be temporal sabotage, then I think Obama, with whom I have so much in common, can lead the fight against Islamofascism to a successful conclusion.

When you’ve lost the Klingon vote, you’re in danger of losing the entire Alpha Quadrant. The only way McCain beats this is if he wins the much sought-after Vulcan vote.

Update: Too late. Obama’s even got Spock’s endorsement. Perhaps McCain could try the Romulans?

‘I’ll vote for the candidate who helps me get over my image problem’

May 6, 2008 at 8:03 pm | Posted in Barack Obama, Democratic Party Presidential Primary | Leave a comment
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I remember being happy when the Arctic Monkeys made it big, if only because it meant girls might be more susceptible to my northern charms. Using the same logic, Daniel Nasaw argues for an Obama presidency on the basis that his skinniness might work in his favour the next time he’s flirting with someone on Facebook:

Full disclosure: I too am a skinny man. At 5-foot, 10 inches tall, I weigh in at 155 pounds, in a sopping-wet woollen suit, after downing a porterhouse. I’m drawn to yoga, not weight training. In high school I was an orchestra geek, not a ballplayer. If Obama is elected president, the politically minded young women of Washington will spend the next four years focused on a sex symbol with my build. Lots of them live here: census data show that in the 22-to-34 age range, women outnumber men by about 11,000, or 54% to 46%.

There you go, now there no reason to support Clinton! Vote for Obama and the scrawny boy-geek with the ‘Yes We Can’ badge gets laid! Now that’s Change We Can Believe In!

There are still 6 months ’til the end of these elections. Right now, that seems like a lifetime away…

Obama-Clinton?

May 5, 2008 at 9:23 pm | Posted in Barack Obama, Democratic Party Presidential Primary, U.S. Politics | 2 Comments
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Andrew Sullivan, a Conservative who’s even more of an Obama partisan than some on the left, thinks the unthinkable:

His model in this should be Abraham Lincoln. What Lincoln did, as Doris Kearns Goodwin explained in her brilliant book, “Team Of Rivals,” was to bring his most bitter opponents into his cabinet in order to maintain national and party unity at a time of crisis. Obama — who is a green legislator from Illinois, just as Lincoln was — could signal to his own supporters in picking Clinton that he isn’t capitulating to old politics, he is demonstrating his capacity to reach out and engage and co-opt his rivals and opponents.

[...]

Done deftly, picking Clinton could even resonate with Obama’s supporters as a statesmanlike gesture, a sign of the kind of reconciliation he wants to achieve at home and abroad and energize his own party for the fall. It is consonant with his core message: that he can unify the country in a way few other politicians can. It would even help heal the gulf that has opened up between the Clintons and black voters in this campaign. It’s win-win all round.

I hesitate to propose this, but I do think it is now worth actively considering for the first time in this campaign. The test of a president is his ability to recognise his own weaknesses and adjust to them. If he can do that while strengthening his core message, and make his own election close to unstoppable, what would hold him back?

There are advantages to it, if only that it’d stop Clinton’s compulsion to continue destroying the Democrats’ best hope of beating John McCain.

At the same time, having Clinton on the ticket could be a serious handicap given the amount of animosity between them. How would Clinton be able to talk her way round the suggestion that Obama hadn’t passed the commander-in-chief theshold, whilst she and McCain had? How could Obama disown his statement that Clinton’s ‘totally obliterate Iran’ remarks’ resemble those of George W. Bush? These two have made enough negative statements against each other to give the media months worth of headlines, and all the while John McCain would get a free pass.

There are many others – like Jim Webb & Bill Richardson – who could bring as much political muscle to the ticket as Hillary can. They also happen to be better-qualified.

Photo by Jim Lehr’s Newshour (Creative Commons)

I believe this is known as ‘buyer’s remorse’

May 1, 2008 at 7:27 am | Posted in Barack Obama, U.S. Politics | Leave a comment
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Wow. When your approval ratings are lower than an unhinged demagogue whose sermons include such Kumbaya classics as ‘God Damn America’, ‘America brought 9/11 on itself’, ‘The Government Invented Aids To Kill Blacks’ and ‘All People Who Disagree With Me Are Racist’, it’s probably a good idea to spend more time with your dog than, y’know, any ordinary citizens.

Via Kos, an NBC poll found that more Americans are concerned with John McCain’s links to George W. Bush than they are Obama’s links to Jeremiah Wright.

I presume there won’t be much of this on the campaign trail, then?

Flying pigs for Obama

April 28, 2008 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Misc. | Leave a comment
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File this one in the gallery of the absurd. From the AP’s report on Roger Waters‘ headline performance at Coachella:

Waters’ biggest prop was an inflatable pig the size of a school bus that emerged while he played a version of “Pigs” from 1977′s capitalism critique, “Animals.”

The pig, which was led above the crowd from lines held on the ground, displayed the words “Don’t be led to the slaughter” and a cartoon of Uncle Sam wielding two bloody cleavers. The other side read “Fear builds walls.”

The underside of the pig simply read “Obama” with a checked ballot box alongside.

Well, if nothing else, it at least counteracts that whole ‘Obama is a Muslim’ smear…

The audacity of hype

April 28, 2008 at 1:57 pm | Posted in Barack Obama, Democratic Party Presidential Primary | Leave a comment
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For those of you who’ve been following the “Obama in crisis” myth that’s been doing the rounds, Sunny rightly reubts by pointing out that unless a massive majority of the uncommitted superdelegates decide en masse to disregard the popular vote, alienate their party’s most dependable voters and ‘roll the dice‘ in favour of a woman with more baggage than Terminal 5 and a bigger electability gap than Gordon Brown, the Illinois Senator remains the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party.

Nonetheless, we shouldn’t underestimate the scale of the challenges Obama faces, nor can we easily-dismiss the weaknesses in his electoral coalition that’ve been exposed by both Clinton’s kitchen sink strategy and the Republicans’ nomination of John McCain. To be specific, his weakness among older voters, the white working class and hispanics, whilst exaggerated, is certainly large enough to be exploited by an opponent who enjoys considerable goodwill amongst these groups.

This isn’t something that’ll damage his electability too much if he balances the ticket with a Vice Presidential pick whose presence can win enough reluctant working class and/or hispanic voters who haven’t been impressed by him thus far. Unfortunately, there’s probably only one man in the entire party (aside from the Clintons) who can claim to have a genuine appeal amongst both groups, and electorally he’s something of a busted flush. Which narrows the choice down to these two men; both strong, experienced and effective politicians able to win over considerable number of voters in his weakest areas and not only be genuine assets to the campaign, but to the country once elected.

I believe they call this a win-win.

Springsteen: “Your Town Is Full Of Losers”

April 18, 2008 at 9:25 pm | Posted in Barack Obama, Distractions | Leave a comment
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This Slate parody reveals just how bad that Springsteen endorsement could be for Obama

Maybe he could woo Celine Dion instead?

(Hat Tip)

Hillzilla vs Obambi (Round 107): Clinton vs Obama debate reactions

April 17, 2008 at 7:47 am | Posted in Barack Obama, Democratic Party Presidential Primary, U.S. Politics | Leave a comment
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So you thought you’d seen this campaign at its nastiest? That you’d seen the media at its most insipid and so obsessed trivialities that they forget the issues that actually affect people’s lives? Ah, my poor, squeamish, gunshy readers, you haven’t seen the worst of it. On the same day that Gordon Brown praised American television and its contribution to ‘culture’, today the viewers of the ABC Democratic Primary debate were subjected to a nasty clusterfuck of a contest that reveals just how destructive, depressing & alienating the media’s coverage of politics can be for ordinary people.

Anyway, here’s how the blogs reacted:

Continue Reading Hillzilla vs Obambi (Round 107): Clinton vs Obama debate reactions…

“He is not the fucking messiah”

April 15, 2008 at 10:45 am | Posted in Barack Obama | 1 Comment
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A much-needed reality-check for Obamabots (or whatever they’re called) from a Clinton supporter:

You have almost succeeded in crowning Obama the nominee. Way to go. But that is just the beginning. And as far as building him up for the general goes, fawning over him and freaking when he’s criticized is not helpful. You need to recognize that he is not the fucking messiah, that the media does not love him more than they love McCain, that you have not seen the tip of the goddamned iceberg when it comes to opponents trying to take him down–and neither has he. You need to recognize that he has a bad habit of saying things that come off badly to a whole lot of people, and you need to figure out some more effective counterattacks than, “But Hillary’s got cooties!” You need to stop exhaling when some gaffe of his “blows over” and understand that nothing has blown over yet, because the GOP hate machine has not even fucking bothered with him yet.

[...]

You want to keep telling me the primary is already over and Obama’s got it in the bag? Great. Then get to thinking about the much more important fight ahead already. And here’s a hint: the question is not just “How do we defeat McCain?” The question is also, “How do we sell Obama?” Quit getting so fucking butthurt every time a fellow Democrat suggests your candidate isn’t perfect, and start asking yourself why they’re saying that and how to argue against their points using Obama’s actual merits instead of just hatred for his opponent.

See, ‘Hope’ does have it’s limits, after all. He’s neither a perfect candidate nor a perfect man. He has disappointed progressives and will disappoint them time and again throughout his campaign and his presidency. Some of his supporters can’t recognise this yet because all the scandals and criticisms are seen through the distorting lens of campaign politics where every critique is attacked as an act of war, regardless of how relevant it may be. Even so, they should be honest with themselves about Obama’s flaws, or else risk suffering an almighty comedown.

In the end, we won’t know until a few years into his first term (if he wins) whether he was worth all the advocacy, activism and adulation. Only hindsight will help us balance his strengths with his flaws, his successes with his failures and assess whether he really did provide a change for the better or offered little more than a messianic personality cult. For now, I still think there’s plenty of reason to hope, but a dose of healthy scepticism would do everyone a world of good.

Photo by Flicker user Justin Shearer (Creative Commons)

In praise of elites

April 14, 2008 at 7:50 pm | Posted in Distractions | Leave a comment
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As a coda to the last post on Obama’s ‘elitism‘, this old video from Bill Maher’s show explains why having ‘an elite’ really ain’t such a bad thing:

Real Time With Bill Maher

The politics of bitterness

April 14, 2008 at 7:39 pm | Posted in Barack Obama, British Politics, Democratic Party Presidential Primary, U.S. Politics | 12 Comments
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Barack Obama by Flickr user Daniela Zalcman (Creative Commons)

For those of you who haven’t been subjected to this spat already (otherwise known as the ‘I have a life’ brigade), last week Barack Obama made some comments to fundraisers about the problems he’s had selling himself to the people of Pennsylvania, the next key state in the Democratic Party’s primaries. Here’s part of what he said:

“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And it’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

And thus another scandal was manufactured. His words were repeated breathlessly into television cameras, cut & pasted over countless blogs, disected in op-eds and debated over & over again on cable news shows.

Clinton & McCain went in for the kill. He’s an elitist! they cried. He’s out of touch with the common man! Never mind that with their combined total of over 40 years in Washington – only venturing outside when there are votes to be won – they can hardly sell themselves as men and women of the people, these comments showed Obama as a snide, condescending stuffed-suit who belittles working class people, their culture and their beliefs.

There’s no question that it was a gaffe – even Obama apologised for the infelicitous choice of words. But, in the tradition of history’s most damaging political gaffes, there happens to be a considerable amount of truth to what he said.

On a national scale, the people Obama’s talking about folks who don’t often vote for Democrats. Having endured many years of wage stagnation, healthcare costs spiralling, fuel & energy costs rocketing, jobs disappearing and communities losing their young people to places with greater opportunities, it’s no surprise that people in these communities have lost faith in politicians of either party to address economic inequality. But when a Republican comes along and claims that the Democrats will take their guns away, denigrate their religion and allow immigrants to steal their jobs, they at least believe they can vote on something that matters, something they believe in. As Senator Jim Webb – no one’s definition of an elitist – has argued:

“The politics of the Karl Rove era were designed to distract and divide the very people who would ordinarily be rebelling against the deterioration of their way of life. Working Americans have been repeatedly seduced at the polls by emotional issues such as the predictable mantra of “God, guns, gays, abortion and the flag” while their way of life shifted ineluctably beneath their feet,”

And so, election after election, they give power to those who rob them blind.

Why should this have any great resonance with this blog’s British readers? Well, in a year when the British National Party is expected to take its first seat in the London assembly and probably make gains in the national local elections, it’s in our interests to pay attention when leaders of other countries try to engage with the economically deprived and ask them what matters more to them: the frequent skirmishes in the culture wars or the challenge of making our countries fairer, safer and easier places to live and work. Now, I’m not for one moment trying to claim the Republican Party is as noxious or sinister as the British far-right, but what they both have in common is a tendency to focus on issues (God & Guns for the GOP, Immigation & Race-baiting for the BNP) that are not only divisive and exclusionary but also seem like absurd distractions from the very real hardships people face.

Following Obama’s initial misstep, the signs are encouraging:

The politics of bitterness can be overcome in both Britain and America, but it can only be overcome through dialogue such as this; dialogue that’s honest, empathetic and undaunted by the scale of the challenges ahead.

Photo of Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) by Flicker user Daniella Zalcman (Creative Commons)

Get bitter

April 14, 2008 at 1:06 pm | Posted in Barack Obama | Leave a comment
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Bitter Voters For Obama

 

You’ll find the context here. Hopefully I’ll write a follow-up on the subject later tonight, but for now it nevers ceases to amaze me how quickly these things get started. Thank God for time-rich college kids.

50 Cent: “I’m Obama to the end now, baby!”

April 1, 2008 at 2:02 pm | Posted in Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, U.S. Politics | Leave a comment
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You thought it was bad for Hillary when Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama? Or ex-Clintonista Bill Richardson? Or Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar? Well, maybe these are important developments if you still live with your parents, know who Ron Wyden is and watch C-Span to see the grey parade of stiff-necked politicians pander for their lives, you saddo.

But if, like us, you’ve got your priorities in the right order, you’ll know that what really matters in this campaign is what’s going on in the mind of automated rap-bot & serial death-defier Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson. The omens are not good:

“I heard Obama speak,” the rapper told the MTV News crew assembled at his Connecticut mansion to hear the new G-Unit LP and talk about his upcoming video game. “He hit me with that he-just-got-done- watching-’Malcolm X,’ and I swear to God, I’m like, ‘Yo, Obama!’ ” He threw his fist in the air. “I’m Obama to the end now, baby!”

Which is probably enough to throw the Clinton campaign into crisis mode. Hopefully, much like his insistence that he’s a ‘gangsta for life’ (whilst living in Connecticut? everyone knows that gangstas don’t do long commutes) and the declarations of love for the women in his rap videos, Fiddy’s Obama crush will be just as short-lived:

“To be honest, I haven’t been following that anymore. I lost my interest,” he said. “I listened to some of the debate and things that they were saying, and I just got lost in everything that was going on. … Don’t look for my vote, for me to determine nothing on that. Just say, ’50 Cent, he don’t know, so don’t ask Fiddy.”

Thanks Fiddy, we won’t.

The revelation comes at a testing time for the Clinton campaign, which has been working round-the-clock to snatch the gangsta rap vote from Obama. Her recent recollection that she had to dodge sniper fire on a trip to Bosnia was seen as a direct appeal to rappers whose songs are full of similarly dangerous exploits. Although she later admitted that she lied exaggeratedmisspoke‘ about the trip, this was not thought to damage her street cred as, well, rappers do it all the time.

Democrats for McCain?

March 26, 2008 at 8:45 pm | Posted in Barack Obama, Democratic Party Presidential Primary, Hillary Clinton | 2 Comments
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Via TPM, Gallup reports that 28% of Clinton supporters would vote for McCain is Hillary didn’t get the nomination:

Clinton supporters appear to be somewhat more reactive than Obama supporters. Twenty-eight percent of the former indicate that if Clinton is not the nominee — and Obama is — they would support McCain. That compares to 19% of Obama supporters who would support McCain if Obama is not the nominee — and Clinton is.

This is neither surprising nor something Democrats should get too anxious about. With each day there are fewer undecided voters in the primary race, and the more emotionally invested a voter becomes with one candidate, the more likely they might be to threaten to act churlishly and vote for the ‘enemy’ if their candidate doesn’t win.

Also, I’d like to bet that a sizeable portion of Hillary’s base doesn’t regard McCain as a partisan ‘enemy’ in the first place. One demographic group she practically owns is seniors (or if we’re being uncharitable, Doddery Old White People), so it makes sense that if Hillary isn’t nominated, they might look more favourably towards the Doddery Old White Man Sage Senior Statseman than the Uppity Negro Kid Charismatic Neophyte.

She also has a strong lead amongst Latinos, and given that John McCain is practically alone in his party for refusing to demonise hispanics/immigrants AND proposing sane, non-xenophobic immigration reform, they may be tempted to give him a fair hearing. None of which matters, of course, if Obama offers Bill Richardson the chance to be the first Hispanic Vice President…

Clinton’s long defeat

March 25, 2008 at 8:58 pm | Posted in Democratic Party Presidential Primary, Hillary Clinton, U.S. Politics | 1 Comment
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I wouldn’t normally link to David Brooks for anything more than another example of worn-out right-wing orthodoxy, but for a hollowed-out Beltway hack, he writes better than most.

A few days ago, a Clinton aide confided to the Politico that Hillary had no more than a 10% chance of securing the Democrats’ nomination for President. Brooks argues that those odds have since halved and ponders the full extent of the harm she’s inflicting on her own party by doggedly pursuing that 5 percent chance:

Let’s take a look at what she’s going to put her party through for the sake of that 5 percent chance: The Democratic Party is probably going to have to endure another three months of daily sniping. For another three months, we’ll have the Carvilles likening the Obamaites to Judas and former generals accusing Clintonites of McCarthyism. For three months, we’ll have the daily round of résumé padding and sulfurous conference calls. We’ll have campaign aides blurting “blue dress” and only-because-he’s-black references as they let slip their private contempt.

For three more months (maybe more!) the campaign will proceed along in its Verdun-like pattern. There will be a steady rifle fire of character assassination from the underlings, interrupted by the occasional firestorm of artillery when the contest touches upon race, gender or patriotism. The policy debates between the two have been long exhausted, so the only way to get the public really engaged is by poking some raw national wound.

For the sake of that 5 percent, this will be the sourest spring. About a fifth of Clinton and Obama supporters now say they wouldn’t vote for the other candidate in the general election. Meanwhile, on the other side, voters get an unobstructed view of the Republican nominee. John McCain’s approval ratings have soared 11 points. He is now viewed positively by 67 percent of Americans. A month ago, McCain was losing to Obama among independents by double digits in a general election matchup. Now McCain has a lead among this group.

For three more months, Clinton is likely to hurt Obama even more against McCain, without hurting him against herself. And all this is happening so she can preserve that 5 percent chance.

When you step back and think about it, she is amazing. She possesses the audacity of hopelessness.

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