November 30, 2007

Dueling polls

Earlier today I received an email from the Biden campaign that said this:

Breaking news! A new ARG poll, released this morning, shows our campaign surging past Bill Richardson in Iowa and closing in on the front-runners (Biden 8% - Richardson 4%).
Later in the day the Richardson campaign sent me an email saying this:
We just got a download from our pollster Paul Maslin on how things stand in Iowa. I wanted to pass it on to you before the weekend because things are developing quickly.

First of all, the news is very good. But you're going to have to follow me a little on how to make sense of the data.

What it shows is a statistical tie between Clinton, Obama and Edwards in the low 20s. And Bill Richardson is fourth at 15%.
What? It can't be both. I can't figure out what poll Bill Richardson is quoting from (internal?), but this makes no sense to me whatsoever.

November 29, 2007

Oy

"You've come a long way, baby." *


*Virgina Slims™ slogan from the 70's

Gotta say...

I didn't expect this. Nice to see, however.

I wonder how quickly the liberal blogosphere will turn on RFK, Jr.? You know, like they did with Wes Clark, Joe Wilson, and any of their other former darlings who actually looked at all the candidates and chose to endorse the one they thought best to lead our country?

November 25, 2007

Of horse races and media

Mark Halperin apologizes. Sort of.

For most of my time covering presidential elections, I shared the view that there was a direct correlation between the skills needed to be a great candidate and a great president. The chaotic and demanding requirements of running for president, I felt, were a perfect test for the toughest job in the world.

But now I think I was wrong. The “campaigner equals leader” formula that inspired me and so many others in the news media is flawed.
Ya think?
So if we for too long allowed ourselves to be beguiled by “What It Takes” — certainly not the author’s fault — what do those of us who cover politics do now? After all, Mr. Cramer’s style of campaign coverage is alluring in an election season that features so many candidates with heroic biographies and successful careers in and out of politics. (Not to mention two wide-open races.)

Well, we pause, take a deep breath and resist. At least sometimes.
Sometimes? How about all the time?
In the face of polls and horse-race maneuvering, we can try to keep from getting sucked in by it all.
As Yoda would say, "There is no 'try' there is only 'do.' "
We should examine a candidate’s public record and full life as opposed to his or her campaign performance. But what might appear simple to a voter can, I know, seem hard for a journalist.
WHY? Isn't this your damn job???
If past is prologue, the winners of the major-party nominations will be those who demonstrate they have what it takes to win. But in the short time remaining voters and journalists alike should be focused on a deeper question: Do the candidates have what it takes to fill the most difficult job in the world?
And exactly whose full-time job is it to do this? If I, with my full-time non-journalist job, family, and extra-curricular activities can do this, why the hell can't you? We count on you to give us information gathered from a multitude of sources, and you let us down every time.

Spare me the navel gazing and get to work.

November 24, 2007

The skeptic world view

I stumbled on this post today.

Critical thinking is a complicated subject. You can study structures of arguments, syllogisms, logical fallacies, science, philosophy, epistemology and ontology, all in the name of improving your critical thinking skills. You can learn the difference between an inductive and a deductive argument, contrary and contradictory statements, and a properly constructed argument compared to a simple assertion or conditional statement. However, ultimately critical thinking is the weapon of the sceptic, and scepticism is an attitude. The aforementioned skills help us to evaluate the answers to our questions, but first we must get in the habit of asking questions, the right ones to the right people. It is not just the desire, but the instinct to question everything, that makes a true sceptic.

It is the questions we ask, not the answers we find that dictate our lives. The most important question that any human being can ever ask is, ‘how do you know that?’. It is a question that is often soliloquised, but rarely verbalised. Too many people bite their lips for fear of being thought ignorant or stupid for needing to ask. Worse still, is the dread that their faith may be questioned.

. . .

We can start with the circulation of a meme: ‘how do you know that?’ This should not just be a question, it should symbolise an approach to life, a worldview. It’s ok to question, not just some things, but everything. You don’t have to accept anything because of faith, tradition, revelation or authority. Anyone who wants you to believe anything should be able to tell you why you should. Ask them, ‘how do you know that?’, and demand an answer. Don’t let them fob you off with pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo. Accept nothing less than an explanation that satisfies your private curiosity.

Your mind has a finite capacity, there are only so many things you can believe. There are many thousands of beliefs you could adopt, and plenty of people who want you to buy them. Alien abductees, psychics, mediums, 9/11 conspiracy theorists, astrologers, transcendental meditators, scientologists and Born Again Christians are all falling over themselves because they want you to share their beliefs, and they’ll do almost anything to get the sale. Be choosy, don’t prostitute your belief quota on any half baked old fairy tale to satisfy your fantasy lust. Evaluate the evidence to the best of your ability, consider each possible explanation carefully, and choose class over convenience, truth over comfort.

Most importantly of all, having rejected the superficial, town whore belief in favour of something better, don’t go to the other extreme. Find an answer that satisfies you, but don’t marry it. Evanescent has a saying that I’m rather fond of, “atheists believe what they know, while theists know what they believe”. No matter how certain you may be about something, there is always a possibility, no matter how small, that you could be wrong. You should always keep the door of your mind ajar, and be open to evidence that contradicts what you hold to be true. If you begin to feel sentimentally attached to a belief per se, you are on a slippery slope. ‘How do you know that?’ is a question we should never shy away from asking anyone. Even, and in fact especially, ourselves.

November 23, 2007

Obama organizer takes dump on Nevada Caucus

Here

Video of Hillary's Fernley visit

Jan France at FernleyNews.com has full video coverage of Hillary's visit to Fernley.

Mason Valley News on Hillary's visit to Fernley

Our local papers come out weekly, so we had to wait a bit to see the local coverage of Hillary's visit to Lyon County last Friday.

Patrick Abanathy of the Mason Valley News pens this article. Nice. It touches on most of what Senator Clinton spoke about. I really liked this:

As for health care and the national deficit, Clinton said the word "can't" should not enter Americans' vocabulary when it comes to improving the two systems.

She said the nation needs to return to fiscal responsibility rather than borrowing from other countries such as China and increasing the national debt.

She also said there is no reason to believe the health care system cannot be fixed.

"We're Americans," she said. "(Fixing such problems) is what we are supposed to do."
She got quite a positive reaction from the crowd when she said, "You can't wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time."

wow ... just ... wow

I cannot even begin to comprehend this. And the silence from GW is deafening. This is the sort of thing that can happen when you let laws be determined by theocratic edict. Are you fundies out there paying attention? Is this really what you want? Legislation based on Leviticus? Would this sort of society be just fine with you?

Saudis back rape victim sentence (BBC)

...The 19-year-old, who has not been named, was travelling in a car with a male friend last year, when the car was attacked by a gang of seven men who raped both of them.

She has become known as the "Qatif girl", a reference to the largely Shia town which she comes from.

Four of the men were convicted of kidnapping - but the court also sentenced the woman and her friend to receive 90 lashes each for the crime of "illegal mingling".

Last week the court increased the woman's sentence to 200 lashes and six months in prison.

It also banned her lawyer from the courtroom and took away his licence.
Here is our State Department's official position:
A state department spokesman on Tuesday called the verdict "astonishing", but said it was not its place to call for the ruling to be changed.
Sickening. Are the Bushies that much in bed with the Saudis that they cannot get on the right side of this?

Trouble waking up?

November 18, 2007

Promised pictures of Hillary in Fernley

First off, The Crowd. RGJ says 500. Uh. No. Capacity in the room is 947. We were over that and the campaign count of about 1,250 feels about right. The place was packed to the very back and the fire marshall made us clear the aisles. From left to right (3 pics).

Left side:

Middle:

Right:

Frankie Sue warms up the crowd:


After running back to D.C. to vote on the farm bill, Hillary flew back to Nevada to keep her commitment to us, and at about 7:15ish arrived at East Valley Elementary. Clauda Fadness, principal of the school (and Hillary supporter), and I got to meet Senator Clinton before going on stage.

Then - curtain up and the Main Event begins. (Claudia and I were nervous!!)

First me. I got positive reviews from folks afterwards about what and how I said it, but at the time, I thought I was stumbling along.

What I prepared:

I am supporting Hillary Clinton for President because she won me over. When I started to look at all the candidates I decided that I was going to keep an open mind and that I wasn't going to listen to what everyone else was saying. I wasn't going to believe everything I heard without finding out for myself. So, I took a good look at all the candidates. Their proposals, experience and record, and after doing all of that I came to realize that Hillary is the one candidate who has the experience, the ability, the brains and the heart to lead this country into the 21st century.

She has run a positive campaign that has focused on the issues that concern all of us in this room. She has solid proposals for health care for all, for energy independence, for rural America (and that really affects us!), strengthening the middle class and on and on.

And while others talk about working together, even with people you may not always agree with, Hillary has actually done it. For years.

For these reasons, and so many others, I have pledge my support to Hillary Clinton and have volunteered to be a Precinct Captain in my precinct in Silver Springs.
Then I made a pitch for support in the caucus and for precinct volunteers and then introduced Claudia.

Claudia eloquently spoke of community and the things that unite us, and introduced Senator Clinton.

And then it was Hillary's turn. She spoke about families and children, education, energy independence, growing jobs, strengthening the middle class, and health care. If I can find the text of her remarks somewhere I will post them (not sure if that's available).

After a short Q & A, Hillary worked the rope line for what seemed like forever. My goodness that woman is working hard for every vote!

As people left and I collected commitment cards at the door, I didn't see a single sour face. It was clear to me that she connected with the crowd.

The next day, my husband said to me that he thought she was at her best when talking about families and kids and how things used to be and can be again. I think he saw something he hadn't really been aware of before. This is Hillary's strength, and why she will win.

More pictures from the event can be found here:

http://www.NormMartin.com/hillary

November 16, 2007

1,250 !

That's how many people crammed into the multi-purpose room tonight at East Valley Elementary School in Fernley to see and hear Hillary Clinton. To say we were blown away by the attendance would be an understatement!

I'll post pictures tomorrow after the Lyon County Dems meeting.

'Nite!

TIME CHANGE: Hillary in Fernley this Friday

Hillary Clinton will be at East Valley Elementary School on Friday EVENING. The time change is due to an emergency vote called in the Senate for which Senator Clinton flew back and is now flying back to Nevada to make this appearance in Lyon County.

Hillary Clinton in Fernley!
Friday, November 16, 2007
6:30 PM
East Valley Elementary School
4180 Farm District Road
Fernley, NV 89408

Click here for map and to RSVP.

On a side note, yours truly will have a small speaking part at this event.

November 10, 2007

I just got polled

Aside from the usual stuff about who I was supporting in the caucus and the general, what I thought of the Nevada caucus itself, there were only two questions that were asked of me regarding national policy:

  1. Do you think the number of illegal immigrants in this county is (a) too high (b) just right (c) too low.
  2. Do you think state governments should be allowed to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants?
I refused to answer either question. But I can guess who is paying for the poll.

Shifting gears

I have been considering for quite some time that I'd like to take this blog from being merely a commentary on politics and the "world out there" and move it into more personal territory. I think I am ready to make the move. The changes will come over time as start to remove links in my side bar and add others.

You'll learn more about me, and I hope I learn more about you.

Let's start with this post which is a close parallel to my journey. Yep, I no longer believe. I no longer desperately cling to the hope that Someone Out There (A) feels my pain (B) will make everything better when I die or (C) even exists. From this letting go comes a sense of freedom unlike anything I've ever known and a deep recognition that any change I wish to see in the world will not come from On High, but from me. From us.

And boy, that can make me awfully depressed sometimes. For instance, sweetie and I love each other deeply and truly. We want only the best for each other and our relationship. Yet, even he and I can struggle, can sometimes not see the forest for the trees, can push each others buttons, can talk past each other, can Not Get what the other is saying and sometimes not even care to. We've started talking to someone who can help us fix this. And it's going to be work. We will do it, because we love each other and are committed to each other. Which brings me to my broader point and something I've been mulling about for the last week: What is to be done for a world in which sides are taken, benefit of the doubt never given, and forgiveness rarely, if ever, practiced?

November 7, 2007

Blueprint for Bush?

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." ~ character in William Shakespeare's Henry VI (Part 2), Act IV, Scene II

Things in Pakistan are really bad. And Musharaf is Bush's boy.

Behind the public rage of Pakistan’s lawyers, who protested for a second day on Tuesday, lies a long-smoldering resentment toward the country’s military president, who at first held out promise for educated, politically moderate Pakistanis, but steadily squandered their support.

That disappointment turned to fury after the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, abolished the Supreme Court and scrapped the Constitution, touching a raw nerve among Pakistan’s lawyers, some with degrees from the best universities abroad and with experience in how other societies had preserved legal rights.
Hundreds of lawyers took to the streets again in the eastern city of Lahore and in Multan, about 200 miles to the southwest of Lahore. The police arrested scores of protesters, and more than 100 lawyers were injured in street battles.

In interviews on Tuesday, a day after hundreds were tear-gassed, beaten and rounded up by the police, the lawyers said they had taken to the streets because they felt that Pakistan’s first taste of judicial independence was being snatched away.

“How do you function as a lawyer when the law is what the general says it is?” said a prominent Islamabad lawyer, Babar Sattar, who has a Harvard law degree.
I swear, you could substitute United States for Pakistan, Bush for Musharaf, etc, in this article and it would sound like us. Seriously, this sounds like our country, doesn't it?.
By then, it was clear, he said, that the general was keeping the opposition political parties headed by two former prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Mr. Sharif, out of the political arena.

“That vacuum was filled by the religious forces,” Mr. Minallah said. “Now Musharraf is targeting the liberal forces of this country. Yet they are the ones who want to fight extremism.”

The lawyers have been the only force in the country to mount protests since Saturday night. The political parties have remained notably subdued.

Ms. Bhutto, leader of the country’s largest opposition party, returned to Pakistan in October after living abroad for eight years to avoid corruption charges. She was hoping to find a way to share power with General Musharraf, her old nemesis.
Sigh.

November 6, 2007

Candidates statements on Mukasey

Biden - No statement on Senate web site. No statement on campaign web site.

Clinton - Statement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Her Opposition to the Nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey to be Attorney General of the United States Will vote against.

Dodd - No statement at Senate web site. Late breaking banner on campaign web site. Will vote against.

Edwards - No statement on campaign web site.

Kucinich - No statement on House web site. No statement on campaign web site.

Obama - No statement on Senate web site. No statement on campaign web site.

Richardson - No statement on campaign web site.

Also, Harry Reid is voting NO.

November 4, 2007

Of memos, haircuts and the media

I've said it before, and I am sure I will say it again, the Democrats could nominate Jesus Christ and the right-wing and their lapdogs in the media will still go after our nominee tooth and nail. And it won't quit after Inauguration Day.

Digby nails it, first pointing out that previous VPs who were running for President have never been asked about their private conversations and memos with the President they served with, and then moving on to what we are in for in 2009, no matter who our nominee is:

I don't recall in 2000 Gore being asked to asked to reveal all of his conversations and official papers relating to his position as vice president either. Or Mondale in 1984. Or any other VPs, who are always running at least in part on the basis of their experience in a former administration.

Even weirder, what Russert is asking for is papers relating to personal advice she gave to the president, which I don't recall anyone ever asking from any candidate who had once worked in former administrations or who had a personal relationship with a former president. Cheney wasn't asked to release all of his correspondence with Bush Sr from when he was Sec Def. Bush Jr was never asked, as far as I know, to reveal records of his personal conversations with his father, (although I'm fairly sure if he had been he would have told the questioner to go Cheney himself.)

The fact is that relationships with former presidents, whether as members of the administration, or as close associates, are taken at face value. If the former president thought you were someone worth listening to, the press didn't demand that you reveal exactly what was said. The voter is expected to evaluate that endorsement on the basis of how they felt about the one who gave it --- the former president -- rather than demanding to judge each piece of advice for itself. If you liked Reagan, then you assumed that James Baker and George Bush Sr were your kind of guys too.

Not so for Clinton. Apparently, the thrill of examining every single aspect of that marriage, from sleeping arrangements to pillow talk, is of unending interest to the Village biddies. Why else would they demand that President Clinton release the records for Hillary but not for Al?

Finally, one can only gasp at the extreme irony of Russert pressing Clinton like she was a criminal for allegedly trying to keep some mid-90's advice about welfare reform a secret. Right before his eyes is an administration that has made a fetish of secrecy to the point where we are now waging wars and torturing people which, short of revolution, we can't seem to do a damned thing about. But for some reason Tim doesn't see a problem with that, at least as far as I can discern. He doesn't have problem with the president commuting the sentence of one of his felonious henchmen, and he doesn't have problem with an administration that pretty much says the laws don't apply to him. He doesn't even ask the Republican candidates if they agree with these policies or press them on whether they would endorse these actions.

But, he's hell on seeing Hillary's memos from 1997.

Has Tim ever said one thing about the fact that this White House has taken the nearly unprecedented step of directing its former employees to openly defy congressional subpoenas, leaving the congress' only option to send the Sergeant at Arms to arrest them in their homes and hold them in a little jail in the capitol that hasn't been used in about a century? Has that been a matter of interest to Russert and the kewl kidz, because I haven't heard them fulminating about it, have you? That's the kind of "executive privilege" we're talking about with this administration --- telling the United States congress to shove it, over and over again.

But seeing those thank you notes from 1995 is something that the public demands.

Grab the Maalox kids because I can feel it in my gut. The bad breath and the sleepy eyes and the bedhead are all around us. Come 2009, if a Democrat wins the presidency, the Village press will finally wake up from its 8 year somnambulent drool and rediscover its "conscience" and its "professionalism." The Republicans will only have to breathe their character assassination lightly into the ether --- the Village gossips will do the rest. And if this new president resists in any way, a primal scream will build until he or she is forced to appoint a special counsel to investigate the "cover up" and grovel repeatedly in forced acts of contrition in response to manufactured GOP hissy fits and media hysteria. We're going forward into the past (and judging from the haircut nonsense we've already seen, it isn't confined to Clinton.)

Reforming politics isn't enough. Reforming the media is just as important. The current administration is so power mad, morally bankrupt and inept that their natural heir is a barking madman. (And some excellent reporting has been done to expose them.) But the Village kewl kidz and the queen bees who set the political agenda and dominate the coverage have never found any of that interesting or worthwhile. They care about their silly little shorthand parlor games that they think reveal politicians' "character." And their judgment of character is about as useful to the average voter as Brittney and K-Fed's.

This is nice

My son-in-law posted this on his MySpace page. I thought I'd share it.



Lyrics here