Friday, February 29, 2008

Those Draft Bloomberg people sure are angry!

Okay, I signed the Draft Bloomberg permission as First Name: Stupid and Last Name: Dumbass, just to see if they were paying attention. I didn't expect a letter like this! - logo

Dear Stupid,

Thanks for signing the Draft Bloomberg petition.

As I am sure you know by now, the Mayor has decided that he will not run. He has asked us to pass along these words to you:

"I have been greatly flattered and gratified by your encouragement, but as you know I have decided not to seek the presidency. If one of the remaining candidates chooses an independent and non-partisan course to meet the severe issues confronting the country, I will be fully engaged and supportive, and I hope you will be as well. Thank you for your confidence."

It is surprising to realize that it has been less than two months that the Draft Bloomberg effort first took shape even before the first vote was cast in the Iowa caucuses. The goal was simple: To enable the American people to have the option on the November 2008 ballot to vote for a candidate who would meet the enormous challenges in front of the country and change Washington's broken politics-as-usual forever.

Michael Bloomberg would have done that and could have won.

But an interesting thing has happened since then. The American people, sensing those challenges themselves, seem to be in the process of choosing the most likely candidates in their parties to do the same thing. A contest between Senators McCain and Obama would be transformational in itself; the small-time, bickering, schoolyard politics of Washington seems on the verge of change.

Your voice was one of the many demanding the change that is happening. That's the way the system works: What the people demand they get. And while a Bloomberg candidacy and presidency would have been an appropriate answer, thanks to you and millions like you there is still hope for transformational change in front of us.


Doug Bailey
Jerry Rafshoon

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I'm so desperately unhip that I got this link from Newsweek, but it amused me. (It's funnier if you've seen the Obama video first.)

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Fifteen Percent

So most of you know that Mike and I grew up in New Mexico. Part of my growing up was running cross country in high school.

I was pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. I ran my thirty to forty miles a week hard (though I bitched whenever I had enough breath), and I usually beat way more people than beat me. Still, I knew that my chances of a college scholarship were pretty much nonexistent (I got lazily recruited by precisely one school, which was never going to give me a scholarship--not sure it gave anybody scholarships). And I knew my chances of competing at some level beyond college were slightly worse than those of becoming an astronaut. So I was fine with putting in my miles, drinking my lemon-lime saline water, and occasionally barfing after a really tough race. Good friends and relative success were all I needed from sports. I was going to prep school, after all. I was supposed to go to college to do things with books, and I did. Now I work at a desk and hit the treadmill and wonder how I gained thirty pounds overnight. (Oh, wait, over fifteen years. Crap.)

Anyway, I remember running against guys who took the sport way more seriously. A lot of those guys were from tribal schools. And those guys, the serious ones, man they ran hard. As far as I could tell as an outsider, for a lot of the Native American runners cross country was like football for poor kids in west Texas.

A varsity cross country team puts seven runners in the race, the first five of whose scores count. My senior year (after an injury to our best runner) I was usually the fastest on our team. But there were certain schools--mostly the big tribal schools--who were so good that I sincerely felt proud if I could beat their slowest scorer. During my time, Gallup was the school to beat. They weren't a tribal school, but I think all their runners were Navajo. (Gallup is right at the edge of the Navajo Nation.) I couldn't tell you what Gallup's top runners' faces looked like, but I remember the back of their jerseys. Those guys could run.

Our team had certain teams that we disliked or outright hated--Sandia, La Cueva, Manzano, St. Pius. Those were teams from bigger schools or teams whose dickhead coaches passed on their dickhead ethos. (Even more obnoxious than John Kreese telling all his little Cobra Kai students "No mercy" is some douche in with a stopwatch and a whistle doing the same thing beside a chalk line through a New Mexico mesa.) We never hated Gallup, though. It would have been like going to the beach and hating the tide. They ran hard. They won. The sun set, the sun rose. Besides, even then we all knew there was something deadly serious about how the guys from Gallup ran (about how the guys from Laguna Acoma ran, the guys from Shiprock, from Zuni). They trained seventy miles a week. They ran before the sun rose, after the sun set.

We had one kid on our team--a freshman when I was a senior--and he ran hard too. He had talent and, more to the point, he had something to prove, though I never quite figured out what. He left himself jelly-legged after every hard workout. (It paid off. He went on to be a Gatorade All-American I think, maybe regional All-American.) Running against a lot of the tribal schools was like running against squadrons of that kid. I'm not saying they were inhumanly great or glassy-eyed zealots, of course. But they did seem more intense than the guys I ran with.

I had some sense of why that might be, of course. Like I said, I grew up in New Mexico. If you actually read the history book they plunked in front of you in seventh grade, you could take a pretty good guess as to where least some of that urgency and intensity came from. ("And then the Spaniards returned to the rebellious village and cut the right foot off every man and child older than twelve." "And then the US broke another treaty with the Navajo or the Apache, you know, to keep in practice.") But I'm not sure if that ever really sank in for me, or even if it has now.

I bring this all up now because I just read a story in the New York Times about Wings of America, an elite cross country team that draws from reservations schools across the US. The team sounds like it offers an outlet and an opportunity for a lot of runners, and I'm glad it's there. But the story had this quotation in it:

In the Navajo Nation... many of the statistics concerning health problems are even higher than for the overall numbers for American Indians. A study in the American Journal of Public Health showed that nearly 15 percent of youths in the Navajo Nation in grades 6-12 had attempted suicide....

“There’s this element of historical post-traumatic stress that’s occurred in Indian communities,” said Dr. Chuck North, the chief medical officer for Indian Health Services. “The history of Native Americans in the United States is one of loss: losing land, losing language, losing culture and losing family members.”

As far as I can tell, North is pretty much right, although no surviving people's history is entirely a history of loss. Anyway, it made me remember those Gallup runners. More important, it seemed astonishing. 15%! The average rates of US suicide in other ethnicities in that age group run from 1.5-6% (girls rank nearer the high end, boys lower). That's horrifying enough, but 15% is triple or quadruple that rate. Why don't we talk about this more?

Lord knows I waste enough time posting about soccer jerseys, but wow. The shit we talk about and the shit we don't.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Victory Is Mine!

Actually, both Clinton and Obama did very well. But Hillary isn't getting proper credit for her achievement.

Winning New York and California is big.

Losing Connecticut is bad because she should have won the tri-state area.

But winning Massachusetts is huge. Senators Kennedy and Kerry endorsed Obama, as did the state's very popular governor. Not only that but the Kennedy endorsement led to ridiculous media coverage of other Kennedy family Obama endorsements (including Caroline Kennedy and Maria Shriver, neither of whom are more qualified than the average non-rich or famous person to make an endorsement). The Massachusetts political machine was dead set against Hillary and the media helped the machine along. She still won. That should be a big story of the night. She's that kind of fighter.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Is Hillary an Opportunist?

Is it down to Barack the idealist vs. Hillary the opportunist? Well, my fellow blogger Jon makes a good point about Hillary's Iraq war vote, which was clearly a vote of political expedience. It is hard to watch her claim that she didn't think George W. of all people, wouldn't rush to war as soon as he got the authorization. She was just afraid to be on the wrong side of it. What if it turned out to be a quick war that ended with us finding a bunch of uranium in Baghdad? That's how people were thinking at the time.

I'm not proud of Hillary on that point.

She's an opportunist. It's true. But, I think she has ideals too. I doubt anyone would disagree.

Now here's the truth about Obama -- he's an opportunist too. He's the product of the dirty Chicago political system, and he'll allow an antigay gospel singer to campaign for him, or he'll no-show women's rights votes just the same way Hillary would.

Obama is an opportunist too, but he pretends to be a pure idealist.

Hillary is a player who says "you can trust that my ideals will have me mostly playing for the right team." Obama doesn't even want you to know that he's playing, but he is.

I have to admit that I'm kind of annoyed that Obama is able to somehow credibly claim to be "above it all" when he most definitely isn't.

Meanwhile, Over on the Group W Bench...

Okay, I'm late to the party with this, but I just noticed that Arlo Guthrie, probably most famous for his song "Alice's Restaurant," has endorsed Ron Paul in this year's the Presidential election.

Strange bedfellows indeed.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Voting on Tuesday

My vote was going to go to John Edwards but since he's out...

I'll be voting for Hillary Clinton. Yes, I'm irked by her Iraq war vote but this is the woman who has understood the Republican attack machine from the very beginning. When she was first lady and she called out the "vast right wing conspiracy" she articulated something that's true in contemporary American politics. The Republicans have beaten a lot of our party's best with that machine. But they've never beaten a Clinton. When they tried to impeach Bill he not only stopped them but took down Newt Gingrich even while he was on defense.

Hillary understand that politics is war. Partisanship is not a bad thing. People are supposed to coalesce around the ideas that they think are important. Then people are supposed to disagree, loudly and proudly. I think calls for "unity" tend to lead to compromise solutions that satisfy no one.

I don't believe that Barack Obama has enough fight in him to deal with an angry, out of power, minority party that will have just enough representation to stymie everything. He'll try to reach across the aisle and he'll pull back a stump.

Hillary knows what she's up against. She knows you can't compromise with it, or play nice with it. Hillary's a fighter and I'm voting for a fighter in Tuesday's primary.

I also have to admit that I find Obama a bit... disturbing. His supporters so often seem in thrall. He's Messianic about his own candidacy. For example, he recently argued that if he's nominated he'd easily get the votes of Hillary's supporters but that if she's nominated the reverse isn't true. If that's what Obama's supporters are really like (him or nothing) then I'm a bit weirded out by Obama's supporters.

Let's face it -- the two are identical on policy. When they tried to articulate their differences during the last debate, they really had to stretch. So anyone who supports Obama but won't vote for Hillary has to admit that they're basically making a decision based on Obama's charisma. It's a cult of personality. Because of the issues were at stake here, than either candidate would be able to count on the other's supporters in the general.

Well, there you have it. I'm voting for Hillary. I hope she wins and I think she'll make an excellent president. She's really earned it, too. She's already made history as the first former First Lady to be twice elected to the Senate. She's ready to make history again.

The only difference between her and Obama is that she understands the other side and he doesn't get it. He's just too precious right now. Let's send him back to the Senate and maybe warm him up for 2016.

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