Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Women with big......drums

From the Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo Park , May 31, 2008.

The Batala Percussion Band started in Washington, DC in June, 2007. We're an international all women band, that plays Afro-Brazilian / Samba-Reggae rhythms.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Senator Clinton isn't ending her campaign anytime soon

Conventional Wisdom six months said Hillary Clinton would coast to the Democratic party nomination and the Presidency. Today's CW: she can't win and will surely drop out after Pennsylvania or North Carolina.
This morning Clinton loyalist Lanny Davis ("speaking only for myself", he notes) pens a Wall Street Journal op ed on Obama's Minister Problem. There is nothing new here. Davis asks the same questions that were asked when Wright's sermons first became famous, but he warns the Democrats,
This issue is not going away. If many loyal, progressive Democrats remain
troubled by this issue, then there must be even more unease among key swing
voters....If Mr. Obama doesn't show a willingness to
try to answer all the questions now, John McCain and the Republican attack
machine will not waste a minute pressuring him to do so if he is the Democratic
Party's choice in the fall. But by then, it may be too late (emphasis added).

Whoever wins the popular vote in Pennsylvania and North Carolina wll be hailed as a victor, neither candidate will come away with a huge delegate lead. Senator Clinton has no reason to quit unless and until the superdelegates start to turn to Senator Obama. She has every reason to hold on until a convention credentials committee in Denver decides what to do with the Florida and Michigan delegates. (Both Senators Obama and Clinton probably have a few lawyers on retainer to file injunctions at that point, too.)

Lanny Davis's op ed is a warning: the Clintons are not going to go away.

I expect interesting campaign news before the Pennsylvania primary.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Car Bomb at the Guggenheim

I love NewYork City. I love to walk the streets, watch the people, listen to the little snippets of conversation. But sometimes it feels like an alternate universe.
We visited the Guggenheim on Friday. Primary exhibit is Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang's I Want to Believe.
It's not surprising that the Guggenheim describes the exhibit in the sort of dense prose that seems to have lost any meaning.
Cai Guo-Qiang is internationally acclaimed as an artist whose creative
transgressions and cultural provocations have literally exploded the accepted
parameters of art making in our time.

Nor is it a shock that the Guggenheim has turned over most of the Museum to an ardent admirer of Mao Tse Tung and the Chinese Cultural Revolution. These folks probably have Che T shirts too.

I've got to admmit, the exhibit is fascinating. Cai Guo-Qiang uses gunpowder as an art form. He specializes in "explosion events": he has strung explosives around the Tate Gallery in London, (and on the East Rver in NYC, among other spots), set them off, and recorded it all on film. This is more than just a fireworks show- no damage done but you know what it represents. (While watching one of the videos on Friday, a man behind me commented, "it's shock and awe in Baghdad.")

The centerpiece of the exhibit is Inopportune: Stage One, which
presents nine real cars in a cinematic progression that simulates a car bombing,
occupying the central atrium of the Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda.

It's riveting. What baffles me is that the Museum introduces the exhibit by stating that they have allowed Cao to invade the building. They are proud that they have allowed him to explode a simulated car bomb in one of the leading art museums in a city where Islamic terrorists killed nearly 3000 people six and a half years ago.

I wonder what Cao thinks of Tibet?

NYC six years on.....

We took a quick tourist trip to New York City this weekeend; rode the PATH train in from New Jersey. It was our first visit to lower Manhattan since 9-11. The train pulled into the station in the middle of the WTC pit; we walked out to the street, looking at the hole in the ground, stopped at one point and gazed silently. I thought, this is holy ground.
After a long minute my wife turned to me and said simply:


Another sign of the impending apocalypse: Giant mutant pink flamingos.

I blame Bush- Cheney.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Denver in August: Panicked Democrats turn to Lord Palpatine

David Freddoso at NRO does Delegate math for Dummies

This is the outcome Democrats dread most, the one likely to cause hard
feelings more than any fair-and-square election victory ever could. The
salvation of the Democratic system has previously been the propensity for
voters to unite around a winner early ... This time, the Democratic race has
come down to just two candidates, either of whom could win. It is going into
the late states, no matter what. It is an undemocratic game in which the
voters are mathematically incapable of picking the winner without the help
of unelected party elders.

He has a lot of company in this opinion. This looks to be the first party convention since 1976 (Ford and Reagan) in which the nominee has not been sure thing before the delegates gathered.

I've thought for the last six months that Hillary Clinton would not be nominated. I'm still not sure she will be, but I think the Democrats, at the wire, will pull back from nominating a two- year Senator from Illinois. There are too many flashpoints inthe world right now. Before August, one or more will ignite, and foreign policy or terror or both will be more on voters minds than the economy.

Senator Obama would make an exciting peacetime presidential candidate. In a time of war, the Democrats will want someone more experienced.

But it still may not be Hillary.

Hillary and Barack fight all the way to the convention. It gets nasty. After the first ballot, with neither a winner, the convention lights go out as spotlights illumine the podium. The curtains behind the podium part and Al Gore descends a staircase, a halo above his head, his Nobel in one hand, his Oscar in the other. The crowd goes wild, drowning out Bill Clinton's cries of anguish. Hillary rushes the stage but is restrained by the Secret Service. Gore and his Veep Obama are nominated by acclamation.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

More voter suppression in Bush's America

Throughout Virginia on Super Tuesday, voters showed up at their usual polling places only to find them closed, Fox News reports.
By noon, the State Board of Elections had received about 400 calls, many of them
from callers asking why their polling places were closed.

Virginia's primary is next Tuesday ,February 12.
A half dozen people also showed up at a Milwaukee polling place on Super Tuesday to vote. Wisconson doesn't have a primary today either.

Thoughts on Super Tuesday and beyond

McCain could put Romney away today. Romney can slow McCain's momentum, but it will take more than a Romney victory in California. Is the groundswell of anti McCain sentiment enough?
On the Democrat side, a draw in popular votes and delegates today - even a narrow win for Hillary- counts as a victory for Obama, no matter how much the Clintons spin it. Obama has the momentum. Watch for the the gloves to come off in the Clinton campaign. This one really may go to a convention floor fight, and some great television.

Down the road, who do the nominees pick as veeps? If the Clintons go nuclear to stop Obama, Hillary- Obama is unlikely. If Obama wins, to maintain the change mantra he needs to turn to someone else; the same 40 some odd percent of Americans who don't want a Clinton back in the White House, don't want them in the Vice President's home either.
VP's have been chosen for geographic balance (Kerry- Edwards, Kennedy- Johnson) and for party unity (Reagan- Bush). It seems George W. Bush chose Cheney because he liked him and thought they would work well together. (Why did George H.W. Bush pick Dan Quayle?) Bold moves are usually seen as desperate pandering: think Reagan - Schweiker or Mondale- Ferraro.

If McCain or Romney go up against Obama or Clinton, it's arguable that they need to pick a woman, or an African American, as VP. Yet the potential candidates look either politically untenable (Condi Rice, Colin Powell) or are Quayle/ Ferraro political nobodies (J.C Watts, Michael Steel, Alan Keyes.) And would a Michael Steele do the ticket any good?

For both McCain and Obama, the VP choice is critical. If McCain is nominated, his age ensures we'll see stories this fall about President Reagan's Alzheimers. For Obama it is his first major appointment. He needs some foreign policy gravitas to complement all the change. The Democrats have won twice since 1964: Carter, (post- Nixon), Clinton, (post Cold War). Are voters ready to trust the Democrats again in a dangerous world?

The Republicans have one advantage: they go last. If there is a fight at the Democrats' shindig in Denver, the GOP may be able to take advantage of it.
McCain- Giuliani
Obama- Richardson.
But six months is a long, long time.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Does Bill Clinton want to be the President's spouse?

The New York Times reports on a friend of Bill's who's done far better than a $100,000 gain on cattle futures.

After Kazakh mining deal, financier donated $31 million to Clinton charity.

Bill Clinton, ex-President and Senator's spouse, doesn't have to look for fundraising opportunities. They just come to him. Most of them probably avoid media attention. As the President's spouse, the money may not dry up, but it will certainly be tracked more closely. What's the opportunity cost of living in the White House again?

Maybe it's so high that with the economy a campaign issue, it makes Bill Clinton say that

We have to slow down the economy to fight global warming

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Kennedy endorsement

The Kennedy family's anointing of Barack Obama as the true heir of JFK must be particularly galling to Bill Clinton. He was supposed to be the Second Coming of JFK. Bill's most cherished political (and personal?) icon is the photograph of himself at Boys Nation, shaking hands with President Kennedy.
Barackomania seems to be another recurrence of America's quest for a knight in shining armor. Whether Obama can fulfill that role for longer than it takes some intrepid investigative reporter (with help from James Carville) to expose details of the Senator's days in the Illinois legislature is a good question. Obama's similarities to JFK are few. Kennedy represented generational change. He had interesting rhetoric but was vague on details. Both come from ethnic groups that one can argue are on the verge of assimilation into mainstream America. (See, for example, How the Irish Became White.) But beyond that?
JFK was a war hero, fifteen years after the end of the Good War. I'd argue that much of his popularity while in office resulted from the Cuban Missile crisis, (just as George W. Bush enjoyed a surge of support after 9-11.) He captured our imagination with the Apollo program. Our guesses on what Kennedy would have done, had he lived, on Vietnam, civil rights, and economic policy, depend as much on our own political views as on any real knowledge of the choices he would have made. Kennedy only became a god after his assasination. That is not a model that many would choose to emulate.

Caroline Kennedy's endorsement of Senator Obama invokes our memories of her father and our dreams of Camelot. But for thirty years, Ted Kennedy's name and his legislative ideas have beene a key component of successful Republican fund raising letters. Senator Kennedy's endorsement may win Obama the nomination; but he will need to distance himself from the Ted Kennedy wing of the Democratic party to win in November.

Quests for knights in shining armor- whether one is looking for a spouse or a Presdent- tend to end badly. Let's hope for a gentle letdown from Barackomania.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Shooting themselves in the foot?

Here's an interesting use of money.
Liberal Group Plans Yearlong Anti-Bush Campaign With Goal to Deny Positive Legacy

one goal is to make sure Bush does not enjoy a resurgence in public approval
that could help Republican congressional candidates and the Republican
presidential nominee in this year's elections.

Funny thing, it all goes back to Reagan who

became a rallying cry for conservatives and their ideology. Progressives are
still living with that.

The Democrats can't run against Bush this year. He isn't on the ballot. They need to give voters a reason to vote for them. And whoever the Republicans eventually nominte, he will not run as another Bush
It's just that much more money that they can't spend on Obamary.