e_legs

Archive for the ‘US Politics’ Category

The War on Terror

In Afghanistan, Children and Youth, civil, Civil Liberties, class warfare, Culture of Corruption, Disaster Relief, Economic Justice, Election 2008, Environment, Freedom of Speech, Global War On Terror, Housing, Immigration, International politics, Iraq War, Media Criticism, Misc., New York City, Progressive Politics, Terrorism, US Politics on March 21, 2013 at 11:36 am

Image

Growing up in Virginia, I have fond memories of the shooting range.  My father even gave me a turn with his .44 magnum which did in fact kick like a mule.  The violence followed me to New York with 9/11, and where I was fortunate to try to give blood and wait things out in my dorm, many others who I’d grown up with or befriended back in VA were suiting up to go and fight, first in Afghanistan, then to Iraq.  A couple days ago, I caught this letter on a friend’s Facebook Feed – which is starting to make the rounds – and at first, I couldn’t read it.  It had been comforting in a way to forget about Bush and the Axis of Evil, of all the squandered potential we poured into the sand.  But as we’re reminded so often in this endless war, we must never forget.  We cannot hide unpleasant things in the shadows.

And yet, for two years after the attack and ten more after our invasion – the two defining moments of our time – we seem content to do just that.  My relationship to guns came into focus in Millbrook, NY where – eating lunch with my band after playing our first funeral – we saw the horrors of gun violence laid bare on the diner’s TV screen.  CNN’s coverage of Sandy Hook still fresh,  our waitress remarking, “That’s a half-hour from here.”  A member of the jazz community in NYC lost their daughter and even Joe Biden says nothing will be the same.

Except it is.  Exactly the same.  After hearings and meetings and press conferences and statements, there will be no assault weapons ban, no reduction in the capacity of magazines, no new safegaurds against the armed-and-mentally ill.  21 children are dead for absolutely no reason, and for all our wails of grief and shock, no one is willing to really do anything about it.  The 1.4% of us who are NRA members must be fairly satisfied by this.

Immigration is looking a little more hopeful, with real-ish players talking about real-ish solutions – path to citizenship, guest worker visas, living wages?? – but if the current legislative process holds true, which it will, we can expect exactly none of these to make it to any real legislation, no leadership or dialogue will take place.  Just as we have come to expect, as we have chosen to remember.  So on we go with stopping people for their papers, exploiting them with unscrupulous employers and siphoning resources away from the state without putting any tax revenue into – or getting any real value from – the community they’re living in.

The current tally on this War on Terror is coming in to around $6 trillion, with about $4 trillion of that going towards the Iraq war, which I think is over at this point.    No further attacks have been made on the home front, and aside from a few pesky revolutions throughout the region, we haven’t had World War III yet, so, mission accomplished.  But this war isn’t being fought by “America,” it’s being fought by less than 1% of America.  The backlash and destruction caused by what we want is being felt by them, not by us, which makes it easier to saber rattle as the threats continue to pop up in far-flung places all over this hostile world.  It is easy to hide the unpleasantness of war, and that much better to remember all the glory and victory, when only a few have to bleed.

We were lied to.  We were lied to and believed in it so much that we lied to the world.  We remember the attack, the victimization we felt at that moment, but we choose to forget – every day – the reaction that has set us on this path.  Something horrible happens, but the real cause is too scary, too political, too much to bear, so we lie to each other, we lie to ourselves, and talk really loud about something else.  Something that makes us feel good, or empowered and that lasts just long enough for the next crisis to come, and the next cycle to start, and nothing, nothing, nothing is ever really done.

But this is politics, this is Washington, this is Gridlock and Sequester and Special Interests and this is out of our control.  It is also quite uncanny to a nervous breakdown.  As a country, we first experienced trauma then threw ourselves into deeper and deeper trauma’s with no discernible solution or responsibility, which eventually lead us to unearth, then ignore, all the skeletons we’ve amassed inside our closet.  Guns, war, immigrants, health care, economy, housing, the list goes on.

But you can’t make guns safer by talking by talking about “freedom.”  Nor can you keep healthcare prices low by invoking “liberty” or create jobs by claiming to be the victims of “class warfare.”  We can’t claim to be a “nation of immigrants” while installing xenophobic laws, nor can we claim to be “pro-life” and fight against affordable health care.  These are things both the right and left have been guilty of doing – or are at the very least both complicit in – and the apathy/isolation of the electorate has enabled these madmen to hijack trillions of dollars every year and immense power around the globe with little accountability.  We are lied to every day and believe the lie so much, we lie to each other, we lie to ourselves.

During the campaign in 2008, I was reading The Argument by Matt Bai and the quote I wrote with then still rings true now:

The story of modern politics was the story of popular movements molding their candidates, not the other way around. Roosevelt didn’t create progressive government; the progressives of the early twentieth century created him. Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy, while they despised eachother, both derived their essential arguments about social justice from the equality movements of the late fifties and early sixties. Ronald Regan would not have existed without the movement conservatives who offered him a philosophical anchor. These were great and preternaturally talented leaders, men who had the charisma and the intellect to synthesize the arguments that each of these movements had made, to persuade voters of their urgency, and to adapt them to the realm of policy making. But they were merely conduits for change, and they would never have emerged as public visionaries had others not laid the intellectual foundations for their arguments.

There is no magical elected official or working group someplace that will be able to fix all of this shit, but this does not divorce government – federal, state and local – from their responsibility in implementing solutions.  We have to decide, all of us, what the fuck we want, what the alternative is going to be.  We have to build it, prove it works, then demand, in no uncertain terms, that it be given to us better, faster and cheaper by those with the money and resources – e.g. government, business, that guy you know – to do so.  Occupy Wall Street accomplished exactly none of it’s goals, BECAUSE IT HAD NONE – and no, press coverage/raising awareness isn’t enough on the world stage.  We have to be able to confront all of those demons on that list, turn the lights on and get right with everything in honesty before we can expect respect from the dilettantes we’ve been ruled by.

Until then, the government will have no problem treating us the way in which we’ve grown accustomed, and we’ll have no problem taking it.  Never forget what we’ve been through.  Never forget that we deserved – and still deserve – so much better.

New Politics

In Civil Liberties, class warfare, Criminal Justice / Prison Reform, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Election 2008, Freedom of Speech, Global War On Terror, International politics, Iraq War, Laws & Regulation, Misc., Progressive Politics, Race, religion & politics, Terrorism, The War On Drugs, US Politics on March 26, 2008 at 12:32 pm

People usually can’t tell what I am by looking at me. My skin is white, like my mom’s, but some tints of my dad’s Filipino heritage peek through, making me look equally Cuban, Puerto Rican, Italian, anything but Asian. I’m lucky enough to have never really had any allegiance to a certain race or identified with any specific notions of it. I often joke with my friends about these things, usually bringing up all kinds of offensive, inappropriate comments about certain groups to get a cheap laugh, most probably because it’s more complicated for me to get the same treatment. But being a man without a team – a free-lance race(er), if you will – I have few preconceived notions about them myself, allowing me to find a lot of humor and joy in the differences we have and how they effect our interactions and shape our perceptions. I kid because I love. I love diversity, I love that my children will have roots on 3 different continents and I love this country for giving me, my family and countless others like them a place in the sun. Obama’s speech last Tuesday was given from this perspective, which is probably why it inspired and impressed me more than anything I’ve seen in politics. That something has finally spoken to me in this way has also engendered quite a bit of resentment towards the reaction to it.

He is a politician, one trying to contain a damaging scandal that speaks to the very heart of his campaign, a scandal so grievous that it caused Hillary Clinton to overtake him in national polling for the first time in months. He is a candidate who often gets by on looks and charm, his silver tongue paving the way through a rather charmed candidacy. The allegiance to Wright and Trinity were undeniably instrumental in Obama’s acceptance in the black community of Chicago and subsequently by the national black community – a voting block that has been crucial in many of his primary victories over a white woman. These are all things we knew before he stepped to that podium and it was impossible to forget while listening to his words. Perhaps it is because I support him, because I am a racial mutt same as he, because I have been seduced by that aforementioned silver tongue, but I didn’t care about any of it.

If my Catholic upbringing has taught me anything, it’s that if you look hard enough at anyone, you will see faults, you will see sin – they even make you apologize for it first thing Sunday morning. All any of us can do is mitigate these as best we can through good works and faith in eachother, neither of which come easy or without failure. Barack didn’t hide behind his press secretary or some other surrogate, he didn’t throw out some half-baked sound-byte of appeasement in hopes things would blow over by the next news cycle, he stood there for 30 minutes and talked to us like adults. He told us things we all know, but never hear. He made no accusations, but rather placed responsibility equally among all of us, himself included. He asked us to stop raising our voices and start listening to eachother. If you don’t believe me, watch the speech or read the transcript in its entirety. The motivations behind these words are unimportant to me. Sure, he could’ve been trying to divert our attention to save his own ass, but I don’t care. I don’t care why he said what he said, just that someone finally did so.

A black man running for President put his campaign on the line, stepped up to the plate and spoke about race in a way no other politician has ever done, but you would have never guessed by reading about it. A great deal of reaction and coverage was spent haggling over details. He didn’t go far enough to denounce a man who baptized his children, he didn’t explain how many times he heard these statements or the ways in which he tried to stop a preacher from preaching, he made us feel guilty for slavery and that was mean. It is as if we are at a beautiful restaurant in front of a gourmet meal but no one is eating because they don’t like the fold of the napkins. Obama’s mistake wasn’t that he stood by his preacher, it was that he assumed people would actually pay attention.

Politics is a dangerous game, not just for the candidate but for those who support them. We pin our hopes and dreams on certain people every couple of years and when they fall by the wayside, so does our resolve. We allow these candidates to paint themselves as the magic bullet, as the only answer to our problems; and so in their defeat lies ours. The one thing that really made me jump into this campaign was that Obama asked us, the people, to work for what we wanted, to help him reach our goals. Part of this is obviously tactical. You can’t fight the Clintons with the establishment, they are the establishment. The most powerful political machine cannot be undone from within, so he was forced to look elsewhere for his support. His relative inexperience and lack of accomplishments give him less to run on by himself, so he needs more help and faith from the outside. He has no record, so he forgoes specific policy items in favor of meta-themes. It is also, though, an undeniable return to history.

In his incredible book, The Argument, Matt Bai put much of the focus on the Democrat’s search for a post-Clinton identity. But he also provided amazing insight into political movements at large:

The story of modern politics was the story of popular movements molding their candidates, not the other way around. Roosevelt didn’t create progressive government; the progressives of the early twentieth century created him. Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy, while they despised eachother, both derived their essential arguments about social justice from the equality movements of the late fifties and early sixties. Ronald Regan would not have existed without the movement conservatives who offered him a philosophical anchor. These were great and preternaturally talented leaders, men who had the charisma and the intellect to synthesize the arguments that each of these movements had made, to persuade voters of their urgency, and to adapt them to the realm of policy making. But they were merely conduits for change, and they would never have emerged as public visionaries had others not laid the intellectual foundations for their arguments.

Barack has often been chastised for a lack of clarity, rhetoric instead of results. But perhaps this is because his movement, his base, has not yet codified their beliefs or their goals. Regardless of why, Obama has caused a progressive awakening in a generation that faces monumental challenges, my generation. One who has grown to see the prosperity of the 90’s – our formative years – become destroyed by forces outside our control: fanatical terrorism, global warming, economic instability. Those in power attempting to fix these problems are not the ones who live with the consequences. It is my friends who are getting laid off, who go to the emergency room for physicals, who are sent off to fight in the desert. We are the most diverse, best educated and technologically advanced generation this nation has ever seen and we must begin to take ownership of it. We can’t afford to be distracted by the horse race, but rather be enlightened by the message. Say what you want about Barack, but you cannot deny that his calls for a recognition of shared responsibility speaks to the best in us, that a house divided against itself cannot stand. If it takes inflammatory remarks by a preacher for us to take stock of our treatment of one another, so be it. If an opportunistic, ambitious politician can dupe us all into working for eachother instead of against, we are the better for it.

But we cannot expect one man to do it all. Elections are not the realization of change, they are the beginning of it. If he loses the nomination, if he loses the general election, we cannot retreat into the background in defeat. If he becomes our President, it is our responsibility to hold him accountable and help to fulfill the promises of his potential and our own. Obama has outed us. The success of his platform and the goals he has set will only be met through the efforts we make. The themes he has brought to bear since his introduction of Senator Kerry in 2004 cannot be ignored, especially as we descend into an ever bloodier campaign season. Hillary – an impressive public servant in her own right – has undoubtedly inspired many young women to pursue ambitious careers. John McCain has given credence to sacrifice and centrism in a party that has been known for anything but. Obama’s message challenges us to recognize the nobility in our foes, to respect differences and approach challenges with optimistic pragmatism instead of cynical ideology. His candidacy might fade, but these ideas must not.

Many have belittled the thinking man in these times, but the consequences of looking tough and acting stupid are keeping us from what we can become. Harsh crime legislation and unyielding drug policy have stopped neither and added non-violent, first time offenders to the ranks of the incarcerated, now accounting for 1 out of every 100 of our citizens. Elliot Spitzer’s demise at the hands of a call girl might have been cheered by the Wall Street firms he savaged as Attorney General, but considering the greed and deception they perpetuated to bring down our economy – with no jail time in sight – one wonders who really got off and who got screwed. If we could have seen the facts in Iraq for what they were, free from agenda, fear or spin, we would have $1.3 Trillion more in our pockets, we would be without 29,000 wounds and be able to hold over 4,000 of our sons and daughters that have been lost to ignorance. We are waging war against an ideology instead of a nation, so it must be considered that our ideas and culture can and must fight as effectively as our military. If we continue to distill these complex issues down to sound bytes and slogans, deny the due process of debate and discussion and pigeon-hole the myriad points of view into mere black and white we run the risk of turning into the same fanatics that seek to destroy us. If we cannot decide the proper course of action through argument, we must find a way to do so through conversation. Obama or Hillary, Democratic or Republican, we all share the same fate. If there is one thing I hope this Presidential race will teach us, it is that there are more important things than winning elections.

Impending Florida Mail-In: Let the Clusterfuck Begin

In Civil Liberties, Election 2008, Freedom of Speech, Laws & Regulation, Misc., US Politics on March 13, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Ever the beacon of our fair, balanced and uncorrupted representative democracy, Florida is at it again. There are several reports hitting the wire that the state “government” is day or so away from annoucing their “plan” to administer a re-vote via mail-in ballots. Here is the plan as detailed by the States Democratic Party chair, Karen L. Thurman:

Under her timetable, fundraising and a public comment period would begin today and end April 12, about when ballots go to production. Overseas and military ballots would be sent out April 19. Fifty temporary election offices would be set up May 1 in poor areas to ensure access to voters with mail difficulties. On May 9, the bulk of the ballots would be shipped out, and the election would officially be on June 3, a day shared with Montana and South Dakota.

The counting will be done by an outside contractor using optical scanning devices and signature confirmation and other validation will be done by state and local election officials. Considering the extremely tight timetable, officials argue, this is the best way to get an accurate vote, thereby representing their electorate honestly.

What a bunch of horse shit. Firstly, the “fundraising” period will inevitably include a good chunk of soft money contributions that have been banned in federal elections, making this process suspect from day one. Secondly, there are no gaurantees with the USPS and even if they were iron clad in their delivery, people have moved, they might be out of town, any number of scenarios can interrupt people actually getting the damn things. Not only this, the opportunities for fraud are as plentiful as fanny packs at Islands of Adventure. The verification process happens only when the ballots are received by government officials, allowing for any number of incidents to occur along the way. Buying ballots, hoarding ballots, soaking mail, the possibilities are endless. And most importantly, IT’S FLORIDA. We’re talking about people who got absolutely confounded by hanging chads, who had to go to the damn Supreme Court to tell them how to count and now they think that they can pull this completely new system out of the bag with 3 moths to go? (Here’s a more professional critique)

I have nothing against Floridians on spec, and they absolutely deserve to have their voices heard like the rest of us. But these rules were established by the DNC MONTHS AGO, in full view of the public, and they went ahead and broke them anyway. Citizens could have told their party leaders not to risk a penalty and representatives should have known better, so they have no one to blame but themselves. I undertsand the frustration of having Iowa dictate terms to the rest of the party. Such a small, rural state having this much influence on a nation as complex as this is a little ridiculous, but you don’t change the guidelines by pretending they don’t exist. That the race is so close, so hotly contested and getting so many’s passions boiling is reason enough to try something drastic, which is exactly why this shouldn’t happen.

No matter the outcome, people have to believe that the process is fair above all else, they have to feel that the election happened by the book and that their choice wasn’t hijacked by someone more connected or a favorable circumstance benefitted one group at the expense of another. Every one of Florida’s House Democrats – whether supporting Hillary, Barack or neither – don’t want any part of this because it simply cannot be trusted. 318 delegates can’t be thrown around on spurious information, and if this goes through, there will be no end to the arguments, litigation or controversy, further deepening the democratic impasse and inflaming hostilities on both sides; regardless of the outcome, no one wins this thing. Floridians are complaining that they don’t want to be disenfranchised, but that ship has sailed. You already voted. You were told – in no uncertain terms – that it wouldn’t count and you went ahead and did it anyway. You were disenfranchised from the day you moved your primary, from the moment you broke the rules and that can’t and should not be changed at the 11th hour by some hair-brained scheme. Since you can’t bring yourselves to obey the law, you get to sit and wait for this thing to play out, the same way the rest of the country did in 2000. When the decision is made, you’re gonna have to eat it the same way the rest of us did in Bush v. Gore.

Maybe Dean can cut you a deal and seat your delegates at the convention 50/50 or some other formula determined after the rest of us are through. Maybe you can come to some reconciliation yourselves and relax at the beach until November. But one thing is for sure: you don’t get to decide this race if you don’t follow its rules. Florida wants their voices heard at the expense of the rest of country, and they shouldn’t get to screw us again.

Let’s Be Frank (furter)

In Election 2008, Food Justice, Misc., New York City, US Politics on March 4, 2008 at 10:35 am

I saw this in a NYtimes blog and just couldn’t pass it up.  Classic!

Obama Doubletalk on NAFTA?

In Culture of Corruption, Election 2008, International politics, International Trade, Progressive Politics, US Politics on March 1, 2008 at 1:24 pm

MSNBC News report says that Obama’s campaign called the Canadian ambassador last month to warn that NATFA would “become part of the debate in the democratic primaries, and that Obama would take some heavy swings at the trade deal, but told the ambassador: ‘Don’t worry, its just plain rhetoric. Its not serious.'”

Dodd endorses Obama, makes great speech

In Election 2008, US Politics on February 26, 2008 at 8:32 pm

“I’ve grown up over the last number of years, listening to people talk about Reagan Democrats. I’m now standing next to a candidate where we can talk about Obama Republicans.

A 7 Mile March to the Polls in Texas (2008)

In Children and Youth, civil, Civil Liberties, class warfare, Culture of Corruption, Direct action, Economic Justice, Election 2008, Freedom of Speech, Laws & Regulation, New York City, Progressive Politics, Race, religion & politics, US Politics on February 20, 2008 at 4:05 pm

An incredible story popped up on Crooks and Liars today describing a beautiful answer to a disgusting act in an escalating primary battle:

Early voting starts today in Texas. In Waller County, a primarily rural county about 60 miles outside Houston, the county made the decision to offer only one early voting location: at the County Courthouse in Hempstead, TX, the county seat.

Prairie View A&M students organized to protest the decision, because they felt it hindered their ability to vote. For background, Prairie View A&M is one of Texas’ historically Black universities. It has a very different demographic feel than the rest of the county. There has been a long history of dispute over what the students feel is disenfranchisement. There was a lot of outrage in 2006, when students felt they were unfairly denied the right to vote when their registrations somehow did not get processed.

1000 students, along with an additional 1000 friends and supporters, are this morning walking the 7.3 miles between Prairie View and Hempstead in order to vote today. According to the piece I saw on the news (there’s no video up, so I can’t link to it), the students plan to all vote today. There are only 2 machines available at the courthouse for early voting, so they hope to tie them up all day and into the night.

Yes, we’re talking about this election – 2008 – where black students are forced to these lengths to exercise their rights and draw attention to these abuses. This is early voting in a primary, mind you, I can’t wait to see what these kids will do for the general election. By the way, don’t think Yankees are invulnerable to this, either. A little publicized story in the New York Times has uncovered a drastic underreporting of Obama votes in several counties in New York’s primary – in some cases, not registering a single ballot cast in his favor. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m an Obama man, but these are problems that have persisted since the clusterfuck of the 2000 election. No matter who you’re voting for, your vote deserves to be counted and no one – not Obama, not Clinton, not McCain and certainly not appointees to local election boards – should be allowed to destroy or steal them. Federalism has its place, but shouldn’t there be some sort of standard in national voting and election oversight? Shouldn’t we at least use the same machines and meet the same requirements to use them? How can the world’s most successful democracy tolerate these kinds of problems? If there are aspects I am ignoring, please, educate me.

Arroz con McCain

In Election 2008, Global War On Terror, Iraq War, Media Criticism, Race, religion & politics, US Politics on February 14, 2008 at 1:36 am

From The Nation

Democrats who think it’s going to be a cakewalk into the White House next November had best remember one name: Condoleezza Rice.

John McCain is a formidable candidate in his own right, but if he has the political imagination to do it, he can cause the party of Jefferson and Jackson indescribable angst with Rice as his vice-presidential pick.

Besides being the greatest two-for in GOP history, Rice brings other huge pluses to the decorated Vietnam hero. Indeed, she may be enough to elect the venerable hero/naval aviator.

McCain’s troubles with the religious wing of his party could well evaporate with the churchgoing Rice at his side. She solidifies that part of his base overnight.

With Rice on the ticket, the GOP would have somebody to get enthusiastic about. The Secretary of State is immensely popular with Republicans. For a party that up to now has been clueless about how to run against either a woman or a person of color, Condoleezza Rice is pure political gold.

Woe to any Democrat who thinks taking her on in a debate is a sure thing. The woman is tough, fast on her feet and able to give better than she gets. Anyone who has seen her in action testifying in front of a hostile House or Senate committee knows that she will be able to wipe up the floor with a plodding, ordinary pol of a Democratic vice-presidential candidate. Take Rice lightly at your peril.

 
 
 
 

Ann Coulter Endorses Hillary Clinton

In Election 2008, political cartoons, US Politics on February 1, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Thats right, folks, you didn’t read that wrong. As if this election couldn’t get any stranger, here comes spindly little Ann mouthing off on Hannity & Colmes about campaigning for Hillary if McCain gets the nod from the GOP. Enjoy (if you can):

Ted Kennedy backs Obama

In civil, Election 2008, Progressive Politics, Race, US Politics on January 28, 2008 at 5:48 pm

Kennedy’s seniority and force as a legislator will be a huge gain for Obama, whose primary weakness in this race may be a lack of Democriatic party connections as compared to the Clintons. Even if he wins the popular vote, the pimary could be decided by “superdelegates,” members of the democratic party who are not required to pledge their vote to any specific nominee. These delegates have been surveyed to support Clinton more than two to one over Obama, and if the race turns out to be a tight one in the state primaries, they could be the deciding factor in the final nomination. (For a breakdown of how the delegate system works, see CNN’s delegate explainer)

This makes Kennedy’s endorsement critical, as his seniority will put him in a position to sway some of the unpledged delegates who have favored Clinton over Obama. The Clinton’s had encouraged him to remain neutral, knowing his influence, but he has decided to be an active supporter of the Obama campaign.

From the International Herald Tribune:

[Kennedy] intends to campaign aggressively for Obama, heading West this week, followed by appearances in the Northeast. Strategists see him bolstering Obama’s credibility for the office and providing particular benefits with union members and Hispanics, as well as the party base. […]

After Obama won the Iowa caucuses, associates to both men said, Kennedy concluded that Obama had transcended racial lines and the historical divisions the Kennedy family had worked to tear down. […]

“For somebody who, I think, has been such an important part of our national imagination and who generally shies away from involvement in day-to-day politics to step out like that is something that I’m very grateful for,” Obama said.

Thanks again, Dennis

In civil, Culture of Corruption, Election 2008, Freedom of Information, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Misc., Progressive Politics, Technology, US Politics on January 17, 2008 at 1:33 am

American politics is so dirty and that it is usually a downer, but every time Dennis Kucinich makes the news he gives us something to smile about. Not long ago, he introduced a proposal for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney. More recently, he managed to see past himself enough to urge his supporters at the Iowa caucus to move to Obama’s corner if he didn’t make the 15% required to be counted in a dictrict. And a few days ago, he asked for a recount in New Hampshire. Now I’m not saying I think New Hampshire was miscalculated, stolen, etc. But in light of certain questionable electoral maneuvers over the past decade (i.e. 2000, florida and 2004, ohio), I have come to the conclusion that asking for a recount can only be a good thing, and that it should be done more often. Candidates have to pay a fee to have a recount done, and Kucinich has chosen to pay for it from his own pocket: beautiful. This, mind you, is a hand recount, meaning that even the votes taken by computerized voting machines will be counted by hand, from the vote printouts they produce.

From TheHill.com,

The lawmaker said he does not expect his own vote count to be significantly affected by such a recount but he added that it is “imperative that these questions be addressed in the interest of public confidence in the integrity of the election process and the election machinery.”

In his request for a recount, Kucinich alleges that there have been “unexplained disparities between hand-counted ballots and machine-counted ballots.” […]

“This is not about my candidacy or any other individual candidacy,” Kucinich said. “It is about the integrity of the election process.”

Let me just be one to say: Thanks again, Dennis!

New Philly Mayor has some Game

In Election 2008, Music, Progressive Politics, US Politics on January 10, 2008 at 1:22 pm

Newly elected Mayor Mike Nutter celebrated his new job with a fairly impressive rendition of the Sugar Hill Gang classic “Rapper’s Delight” during his inauguration party. Not bad to have ?uestlove on the decks, either. After a spotty start, he locks it in around 1:00. Enjoy.

Obama’s next Mistake

In Election 2008, Media Criticism, Misc., US Politics on January 9, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Quieting down the crowd that was cheering for him when he spoke after the primary in New Hampshire.

No other candidate has crowds react like that. The people were making a statement of their own, and he could have let them. The chanting O-BAM-A! might have itself become a contagious media event, picked up, circulated and discussed in the wake of the primary, to help give him some steam and offset an apparent loss to Clinton. The only way for the American public to see the excitement he stirs up in people is to let them make a statement of their own. Silencing a show of approval like that, from your own supporters, is passing up a powerful opportunity. It is “little” things like this that will win or lose an election.

Obama’s Mistake

In Culture of Corruption, Election 2008, Media Criticism, Progressive Politics, US Politics on January 9, 2008 at 1:00 am

Obama just lost the New Hampshire primary when he should have won it.

Why should he have won it? Because he has better policies, more charisma, and more intelligence than Clinton. Additionally, he has the benefit of having an opponent who is alternately nasty and sacharine, and that is never truly appealing.

In the last debate, though, he commited a fatal mistake. Clearly angry at Clinton for leveling unfair attacks at him, he defended himself artfully, with help from Edwards. Later, Gibson’s guest moderator referred to the “double team” Clinton had faced earlier, in which Edwards and Obama both suggested that Clinton represented the “status quo,” and was a force opposing change. Clinton responded oddly, and seemed to be looking for assurance. Here’s the exchange I’d like to highlight:

SPRADLING: My question to you is simply this: What can you say to the voters of New Hampshire on this stage tonight who see a resume and like it, but are hesitating on the likability issue, where they seem to like Barack Obama more?

CLINTON: Well, that hurts my feelings.

(LAUGHTER)

SPRADLING: I’m sorry, Senator. I’m sorry.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: But I’ll try to go on.

(LAUGHTER)

He’s very likable. I agree with that. I don’t think I’m that bad.

OBAMA: You’re likable enough, Hillary.

CLINTON: Thank you…

(LAUGHTER)

What Obama doesn’t get is that this is war. Hilary is treating it like one, and she has shown that she is not above getting nasty to win. Obama was not being called upon to speak at this moment, Clinton was floundering, and silence from his corner would have left her to respond without assurance. This is something Obama should have left her to.

By alleviating the gravity of the situation with this little utterance, Obama moved away from his own frustration, which would have provided a platform for some powerful statements towards the end of the debate.

You will say, “but this is so insignificant.” Yes, deceptively so. The real outlines of a situation between people are in these small gestures. Obama is trying to be all things to all people, even a friend to Hilary. That is fine, but I think there were some beefs to settle first, which Obama ignored in favor of social grace. By doing this, Obama gave Clinton a platform that she wouldn’t have had otherwise.

It is worth noting that Obama did not make a very strong showing towards the end of the debate, and Clinton seemed to find her voice a bit more.

For comparisons, see Kerry’s response to Bush’s aggression in the Town Hall debate in ’04, when Bush refused to let a question go when his time was up. Kerry replies to what Bush is saying, but skirts the more effective (and necessary) approach of taking Bush’s aggression head on and calling him out in it. Does anybody else see any parallels between the Obama-Clinton battle and the Bush-Kerry battle in ’04? I do.

Aggression tends to win the day in American politics, and Obama will have to learn not to lose sight of the realities of his opponent if he wants to win this race. Softening to create a contrast is not a good option here. The American public tends to prefer the aggressive side of that contrast. There is no need to be nice when the other guy would gladly bash you to kindgom come. That’s not to say he should go negative, but that he shouldn’t forget that Hilary has done so.  She is serious about it and will take every pawn left unprotected. This is not about friendship for her.

Food Shortages, Ethanol and Mike Gravel

In civil, Consumerism, Direct action, Election 2008, Environment, Food Justice, International politics, Misc., Progressive Politics, US Politics on December 19, 2007 at 4:52 pm

A disturbing article in the International Herlad Tribune appeared a couple days ago, and has gotten little, if any traction in the domestic press. According to the UN, on top of everything else going to shit on this planet, our food supplies are running dangerously low.

In an “unforeseen and unprecedented” shift, the world food supply is dwindling rapidly and food prices are soaring to historic levels, the top food and agriculture official of the United Nations warned Monday.

The changes created “a very serious risk that fewer people will be able to get food,” particularly in the developing world, said Jacques Diouf, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

There – of course – some seriously alarming numbers backing these claims:

The agency’s food price index rose by more than 40 percent this year, compared with 9 percent the year before – a rate that was already unacceptable, he said. New figures show that the total cost of foodstuffs imported by the neediest countries rose 25 percent, to $107 million, in the last year.

At the same time, reserves of cereals are severely depleted, FAO records show. World wheat stores declined 11 percent this year, to the lowest level since 1980. That corresponds to 12 weeks of the world’s total consumption – much less than the average of 18 weeks consumption in storage during the period 2000-2005. There are only 8 weeks of corn left, down from 11 weeks in the earlier period.

Prices of wheat and oilseeds are at record highs, Diouf said Monday. Wheat prices have risen by $130 per ton, or 52 percent, since a year ago. U.S. wheat futures broke $10 a bushel for the first time Monday, the agricultural equivalent of $100 a barrel oil

….

high oil prices have doubled shipping costs in the past year, putting enormous stress on poor nations that need to import food as well as the humanitarian agencies that provide it.

There are several reasons for all this:

On the supply side, these include the early effects of global warming, which has decreased crop yields in some crucial places, and a shift away from farming for human consumption toward crops for biofuels and cattle feed. Demand for grain is increasing with the world population, and more is diverted to feed cattle as the population of upwardly mobile meat-eaters grows.

Ironically, our own prosperity is driving our demise. Worse yet, our attempts at combating global warming may be deepening the problem.

In the lead story in last week’s Economist, The End of Cheap Food, the British authority pointed their fingers squarely at America:

But the rise in prices is also the self-inflicted result of America’s reckless ethanol subsidies. This year biofuels will take a third of America’s (record) maize harvest. That affects food markets directly: fill up an SUV‘s fuel tank with ethanol and you have used enough maize to feed a person for a year. And it affects them indirectly, as farmers switch to maize from other crops. The 30m tonnes of extra maize going to ethanol this year amounts to half the fall in the world’s overall grain stocks.

There is no doubt that many of the politicians – and subsequently businesses – pushing for ethanol have overlooked this fact in a nakedly political attempt to curry favor in Iowa while looking serious on climate change and American jobs. Sugar cane-based Ethanol produced in Brazil is cheaper and more efficient than our domestic flavor, especially considering the fact that the amount of energy needed to turn corn into fuel is so high that it offsets any environmental gain; but that won’t win you a caucus in Des Moines. It looks as though these concerns are actually being considered as there is an Energy Bill close to ratification that will expand funding and production quotas for non-corn Ethanol.

All this being said, we are still looking at a fundamental challenge to our way of life, something far more serious than terrorism or Iran getting the bomb. Who cares if we defeat the Jihadists if a loaf of bread ends up costing $500 and you can’t afford to feed your family? Emerging countries have been yearning for the protein-filled, doggy bag taking, dangerously obese lifestyle we’ve pioneered in America; and if the devastating droughts we’ve seen in Australia and our own South-East continue, it’ll be impossible to grow enough for everybody.

There will obviously be plenty of initiatives put forth by Governments, NGO’s, think tanks and the myriad brain trusts we have set up to find answers to problems like this. Nothing will be done, though, unless we as a people can control ourselves. People will always be hungry, but they don’t need to be fat. I’ll start with my own country. It is difficult to consume less in a culture and economy that is solely devoted to that very action, but if this crises deepens (which it likely will) eventually we’ll have to realize that resources are finite and the more we take, the less we leave for the rest of world. Steaks are dope, but not necessary every night of the week and gigantic meals are meant for celebrations, not necessarily lunch.

I’m not advocating a hunger strike or anything, and far be it from me to point fingers, but it seems ridiculous to expect progress without sacrifice. If we are concerned about these problems, we must not only be the first to act, but also be capable of accepting the consequences.  It is well and good to want to feed others, but to be willing to give part of your meal, that’s something else entirely.  The same goes for global warming.  It is fairly easy to rationalize that hybrid SUV, but why not demand better public transit and save $34,000?  Want to get rid of illegal immigration?, then go ahead and work in a strawberry field for $5 and hour and demand higher pay.  Do you support better health-care and education for all?, then pay more taxes.  These are somewhat extreme, but we must realize that we are not powerless to effect change.  The success we seek is only sustainable if we’re all willing to work for it.

Mike Gravel’s candidacy might not be remembered too far past January 3rd, but he had moment of brilliance during a recent debate on NPR. When asked to describe an issue he does not know the answer to, the former Senator from Alaska responded immediately:

“I wish I knew how to convince the American people that they are the answer to these problems, not the politicians. I wish I knew how to make that argument.”

Amen, sir.

 

 

 

Hostages Taken at Clinton HQ in dowtown New Hampshire

In Election 2008, Misc., Policing, US Politics on November 30, 2007 at 3:32 pm

There are early reports out of Rochester that around 1pm today a man in his 40’s walked into Hillary Clinton’s offices in New Hampshire, revealed he had a bomb strapped to his chest and has taken 2 volunteers hostage.

Live coverage here: http://www.wmur.com/video/14738085/index.html 

Dialogue and politics aside, this is some crazy shit, more to come, I’m sure.  Who knows what the reprocussions are going to be…

Bill O’Reilly’s Blissfull Ignorance

In class warfare, Culture jamming, Media Criticism, Misc., New York City, Race, US Politics on September 26, 2007 at 12:33 pm

In one of the funnier stories of the last few months, the fair and balanced people at the Village Voice recently reported that after visiting the famous Harlem soul food eatery, Syliva’s, the pugnacious pundit, Bill O’Reilly, remarked at the amazing similarities between blacks and other people:

“I ‘couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship. It was the same,’ O’Reilly said on September 19 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program...

everybody was—it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn’t any kind of craziness at all.”

I mean, come ON. He’s almost making it too easy for us. I wonder, with the first mention of the word “Harlem”, what exactly popped into that tiny, narrow mind of his? Was he expecting watermelon hanging from every iced-out grill, people shooting their “gats” up in the air like they just don’t care, booming voices alternating chants of “black power” and profanity-laced rants against “crackah-ass whitey”?

Obviously, Bill has a long way to go to make it into this century, and he has a looooooong list of making an ass out of himself in regards to race in general, but if I may, I’d like to propose something that will probably get me crucified by all seven people who read this blog. Though this statement is obviously as offensive as it is hilarious, I can’t help but think it’s just a little inspiring. Listening to the full excerpt helped give some perspective.

Firstly, he went up to Sylvia’s to take Al Sharpton out to dinner – could you imagine seeing those two walk in, sit down, and share some corn bread? And in the man’s defense, it was probably the first time he’d ever come to Harlem and actually gotten out the car. I doubt he’s ever experienced regular black folk up close and personal, just sittin around having dinner instead of in some music video, BET, or battling with him on his show or some other forum. I bet all he knows about these Americans is what he heard/read/saw in the conservative media he helps create. It doesn’t make it right that he says shit like this, obviously, but in the absence of experience and knowledge, is it surprising that ignorant, cliched and racist assumptions have been allowed to fester? No.

Behind the “culture wars” and the media machine that perpetuates it exist communities of regular people and I’m glad Billy got to get himself some meatloaf, chill the fuck out for an hour and hear Al tell some James Brown stories. For him to come away feeling good about Harlem, to be able to relate Sylvia’s to his own experiences in his most-likely gated community, that is a powerful thing.  Granted, this won’t bring him to Abyssinian Baptist chruch or the NAACP anytime soon, but it’s a step in the right directin.  If you’re never exposed to other people, you’ll inevitably harbor misconceptions about them. They obviously won’t be as wacked-out and crazy as O’Reilly’s, but one look at how most America has been treating racial issues of late – profiling of Muslims/anyone who looks like Muslims, immigration, etc. – it’s pretty obvious that eating dinner together every once in a while can’t hurt. O’Reilly has definitely been an enormous jackass as long as I can remember, but I’ll cut him some slack on this one, eventhough I doubt he’d do the same for us.

Vietnow

In Children and Youth, Direct action, Misc., Music, Progressive Politics, US Politics on August 2, 2007 at 11:57 pm

I bought an advance pre-sale ticket almost 3 months beforehand, and at the cost of $105 dollars, I felt it a bargain (one of the few times Ticketmaster had ever given me this experience). The line-up for Rock the Bells – Pharohe Monch, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Jedi Mind Tricks, Public Enemy, the Roots and Wu-Tang amongst others – was in itself an impressive menu, and they all put on great performances. However impressive their sets were, though, there was an undeniable feeling that the entire festival was little more than a 9-hour waiting game for the headliner, Rage Against the Machine. The mosh pits started opening up during Cypress Hill’s set, a good two hours before Zack and the rest were slated to come on. After the sun finally set and Wu-Tang left the stage, the chants for “Rage” began echoing throughout the crowd. Cheers rang out when the stage crew began hoisting the enormous red star back-drop behind the stage during sound check. It began to hit everyone then, I think, that this was real, and in a few minutes we’d be able to see them for the first time in seven years. The anticipation was palpable, everyone impatiently willing the lights to drop.

They opened with Testify and everything exploded. The crowd became a seething, incoherent mass of destruction; bodies careening into, around and through each other in a frenzy of insatiable angst. The next 15 or 20 minutes were spent simply fighting for my life as the band followed up with punishing renditions of Bulls On Parade and People of the Sun. I saw a few people who had gotten hurt, went to the first aid tent and came back to the floor – bandages and all – to continue throwing down. A few unfortunate crowd surfers tumbled off supportive hands and onto the concrete floor a few feet below, while others rolled and kicked their way across the horizon. There was hardly time to catch your breath between songs and the little air there was available felt like it had already been in someone else’s lungs, feeble relief against the sweltering heat. Leaning over with my hands on my knees, dripping sweat by the pound, I realized I had missed this almost as much as the music. Despite the hurtling chaos, there was still that pick-you-up-if-I-knock-you-down camaraderie that you can’t really find anywhere else.

Between the incessant shoving and jumping, though, I was able to catch glimpses of the band: the erratic jerking motions of Tom Morello, guitar strapped high against his chest; Brad Wilk striking the cymbals from 3 feet above; Tim Commoford’s completely inked out shoulders. And then there was Zack. His dreads had flared out into more of an afro since I’d last seen, but everything else was just as mesmerizing as I remembered. During the verses, he stalked like a tiger from one side of the stage to the other with that measured, rhythmic gait, spitting each lyric with eyes piercing the far reaches of the crowd. When time came to open the flood gates, he was out in front with that amazing energy. After spending the past few years in relative anonymity, it was good to see the man out and about, finally back where he belonged.

Once everyone calmed down, though, I could tell the sound was a little off. The mix on the enormous sound system was uneven at times, detracting a little from the experience and it felt like the signal they heard had problems, too. The band wasn’t as tight or together as I thought they’d be. I learned to play electric bass on many of their songs, and my inner nerd cried out at missed riffs and drum fills. Their tempo also seemed slow for a portion of the set, but still, it was well worth the money to hear them live again. Songs I hadn’t heard in far too long – Vietnow, Down Rodeo, Township Rebellion, Wake Up – all finding their legs in a new decade. The subterranean growl of Commoford’s bass and authoritative, aggressive drumming from Wilk formed the foundation for the samplified and other-worldly noises only Morello can conjure up; and many times his solos simultaneous slashed and soared over the crowd. Zack’s machine-gun lyrics cut as deep as ever, and his amazing scream hasn’t lost an inch of force. Like all good showmen, they saved some of their strongest efforts for the encore, a medley of Freeedom and Bullett in the Head that sounded just as fresh, and maybe more important, than it did when I first heard these songs. When all pistons were firing, the band was truly impressive.

The high point of the performance, for me at least, came during Guerilla Radio. After Morello’s solo, the band dropped out and along with Zack, the capacity crowd of 80,000 rose up and screamed “It has to start some place, it has to start some time. What better place than here, what better time than now?”. The people, it seems, are still hungry for something better. Whether angst or politics, they spoke to that part of us that yearned for change and autonomy by any means necessary. There hasn’t really been any another act that can move people with such a sense of urgency towards direct action, or at least one that supports and represents those who do, and that is something that has been sorely lacking over the past few years. The re-emergence of not only the music, but of this voice is what gave their reunion such importance.

But their ideology is also a source of great frustration for me as a dedicated fan. There wouldn’t be a Rage show without a diatribe from Zack, and this one even made it into the New York Times:

On Saturday night Mr. De La Rocha responded. He attacked the “fascist” Fox News pundits for “claiming that we said that the president should be assassinated.” As the crowd shouted its approval, he continued, “No: he should be brought to trial as a war criminal and hung and shot. That’s what we said.” Despite the insistence on due process, this still isn’t a position any mainstream politician would endorse. But that’s precisely the point: At a time when unimpeachable causes and pragmatic endorsements are the norm, it’s nice to be reminded that rock stars can get political without sounding like politicians.

Though it is great to finally hear these words being spoken with the blunt aggression that befits the band, the fact of the matter is that they come at a time when Bush’s approval ratings are in the 20s, he’s leaving office on his own in a little more than a year, and the Dixie Chicks said they were ashamed of the man back in 2003. It felt like Rage was a few years too late for the train. They spent their careers preaching against evils like jingoism, the military industrial complex, corporate greed, exploitation of immigrants and the poor, using every album, every show as a scathing indictment of our government and the capitalist system at large. But these were completely useless in the 90’s. A decade of peace, prosperity and inaction across all facets of our country, where the biggest scandal of our day was a blow-job, was not a climate where this kind of message can gain traction. As soon as they broke up in 2000, though, the shit hit the fan: Bush steals the election, 9/11, the War, Katrina the list can go on and on. And where the hell were they?

 

Zack was busy working on a solo album that will never see the light of day, it’s even rumored that a track he did with Trent Reznor was so bad that Trent wouldn’t allow it to be released. The rest of the band was tied up in the half-baked super group, Audioslave, forsaking any political leanings in order to support Chris Cornell’s tan and perfectly groomed facial hair. How, in the face of everything going on in this country and around the world, could they have stayed apart? Imagine if they had been at any of the anti-war protests leading up to the invasion, or in New York during the RNC convention in ‘04 like they were at the Democratic one in 2000. Granted, they might not have made a monumental impact, but they were meant for these times. They represented themselves as people who stand up and tell these opportunistic fascists to go fuck themselves, to demand justice and inspire others to action. But when the opportunity came to do so , they could not find a way to resolve their differences. I’ve played in plenty of bands and am no stranger to the personal issues that break them apart. I must ask, though, how does it take this long to respond in the face of such disastrous times?

 

Don’t get me wrong, I would pay another $1,000 to see them again without thinking twice and I’m not alone in hoping that this is the wake-up call we’ve been waiting for and the tour leads to a new album in 2008 (just in time for one of the most interesting elections in our history). But they do have to answer these questions if they decide to make another run, or at least grow enough artistically and politically to justify such an absence. Other bands can get back together, do tours, make shitty albums, a ton of cash and be forgiven by their fans. But goddamnit, Rage Against the Machine stands for something, for me at least, and I’m gonna hold them to a higher standard. Though their philosophies might be considered anarchist, radical and inflamatory by most, it is – at least – much more substance than most rock bands are able to present these days. They were revolutionary in thought and aesthetic when they went triple platinum with their first album and over the course of their career, they did huge tours and donated part of the profits to activist organizations. The thought of something like this happening at such a critical time, that they might influence another generation the same way they influenced me, it makes me want them back even more. But they must be careful to not ruin what they’ve already built. After 9/11, Clear Channel banned a great deal of songs from the radio that they deemed contained “questionable lyrics”, putting together a list that was forwarded to most stations around the county. Rage Against the Machine was the only band that had every song they released put on that list. How does anyone top that?

Bowl Data – The Republicans

In Election 2008, The War On Drugs, US Politics on April 12, 2007 at 11:12 pm

As a follow up to his Bowl Data – The Democrats post, here is RD’s take on the Republicans:

A political candidate’s viability is often reduced to one simple but telling question: Would you want to have a beer with them? But sharing a few laffs over a pitcher of suds isn’t nearly as revealing as camping out in the rumpus room with a dimebag and a medium sausage lover’s. The real question should be: Would you want to get stoned with them? What follows are purely hypothetical stoner profiles of the leading 2008 presidential candidates:

THE REPUBLICANS

rudy-giuliani-picture-1.jpg

Rudy

Preferred Paraphernalia – one of those metal cigarettes that’s actually a pipe. Because he’s sneaky!

Stoned Songbook – Dean Martin. The original slick Italian. Ol’ Dino was like parmesan-encrusted catnip to impressionable legal secretaries back in the Attorney General days.

Marijuana Movie – Previews of the Giuliani biopic commissioned by his campaign. Coming soon to a theater near you – “Did I Mention 9/11? The Rudy Giuliani Story,” directed by Jerry Bruckheimer.

Munchies, man! – Judith Nathan

Baked Babble – “You know what’s crazy? Ice cubes, man. They’re like these little, perfect squares of coldness, and we totally take them for granted. You know what else is crazy? That a pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-civil union New Yorker might win the South Carolina primary. That’s fucking crazy.”

Dope Demeanor –Kind of jumpy. Constantly killing your buzz with inappropriate comments you try to forget.
jd2005-09-19-chgr.jpg

Mitt

 Preferred Paraphernalia – a Coke can. Because if he’s going to indulge in the forbidden herb, why not make it a twofer and score some caffeine?

Stoned Songbook – the Carpenter’s Christmas album. It reminds him of family, and Mitt Romney is all about family. But only wife. Don’t get it twisted.

Marijuana Movie – “An Inconvenient Truth.” He was the governor of Massachusetts, alright?

Munchies, man! – Pickles.

Baked Babble – “Yeah, Mormons take a lot of shit, and some of the stuff we do is a little nutty, granted. But have you ever taken a close look at the Pope? Homeboy is walking around with a fucking sceptor. Why doesn’t anyone ask Rudy what that’s all about?

Dope Demeanor – Pompously earnest. Earpous.

p1_mccain_all.jpg

John McC .

Preferred Paraphernalia – perfectly rolled joints of legal, medicinal marijuana. He can’t walk without them. Bad hip.

Stoned Songbook – Cher, “Do You Believe in Life After Love?” His wife, Cindy, listens to it every morning during her nude step aerobics workout. She keeps him young, and he loves her for it.

Marijuana Movie – “Apocalypse Now – The Director’s Cut.” And not necessarily because of Nam – it’s just a badass movie.

Munchies, man! – Centrum Silver.

Baked Babble – “You know who sucks? Pat Robertson. I meant it the first time. And you can fucking go to Wolf Blitzer with that – I don’t give a shit anymore.”

Dope Demeanor – Tired, a little cranky, but oddly endearing.

Bowl Data – The Democrats

In Election 2008, The War On Drugs, US Politics on April 11, 2007 at 10:23 am

This article was submitted to the blog by our friend “rd,” who has his own blog here.  Enjoy.

HillaryObamaEdwards

A political candidate’s viability is often reduced to one simple but telling question: Would you want to have a beer with them? But sharing a few laffs over a pitcher of suds isn’t nearly as revealing as camping out in the rumpus room with a dimebag and a medium sausage lover’s. The real question should be: Would you want to get stoned with them? What follows are purely hypothetical stoner profiles of the leading 2008 presidential candidates:

The Democrats

Hilary

– Preferred paraphernalia – a glass pipe (name: Toots McSmokealot) purchased during her freshman year at Wellesley.
– Stoned Song – Journey, “Don’t Stop Believing.” Rated America’s #1 favorite song in a recent Gallup poll; confirmed by Hillary 2008 focus groups.
– Marijuana Movie – “Pretty Woman.” Because she’s still a hopeless romantic at heart.
– Munchies, man! – a 32 oz. porterhouse, rare.
– Baked Babble – “Bill inhaled. I inhaled. Fucking Nixon inhaled. It was the seventies, for chrissake. Give me a break.”
– Dope Demeanor – Paranoid. Very paranoid.

Barack

– Preferred Paraphernalia – Cocaine blunts.
– Stoned Song – Rod Stewart, “Maggie May.” You’d think this would hurt his credibility within the black community, but in fact a large number of African Americans really love Rod the Mod. It’s just one of those weird things.
– Marijuana Movie – “Soul Plane,” allegedly. But he could just be overcompensating for the Rod Stewart thing. In his defense, it’s actually kind of a funny movie.
– Munchies, man! – Half a pack of Nicorette.
– Baked Babble – “Which is a weirder presidential name: Barack Hussein Obama or Millard Fillmore? Tough one, right?”
– Dope Deamanor – Cool as fuck. Homeboy makes Snoop look like Screech.

John Edwards

– Preferred Paraphernalia – a simple, workingman’s joint. Preferably smoked in the company of the family dog behind the toolshed.
– Stoned Song – Alan McGraw. Garth Tritt. Waylon Urban. Bruce Mellencamp. This is his country, dammit.
– Marijuana Movie – “Wild Hogs.” Anything with Tim Allen, really. John Edwards is one of you, America!
– Munchies, man! – Hominy. It doesn’t get more Red State than J-ward!
– Baked Babble – “I pay my Botox guy more than I pay my top consultant. A lot more.”
– Dope Demeanor – Smiley. It’s kind of creepy.

The Republicans – Coming up, as soon as we find the goddamn lighter… Between the cushions, maybe?