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I’ve received mixed input about my coverage of the primaries. Some have asked me to spend less space on it to allow for more discussion of local issues. One person is even concerned that “the only Mateel post” will be pushed off the page “too early.” (I guarantee it won’t be off the page before tomorrow night’s meeting, after which there will be a new post I’m certain).
My goal is to present some alternative angles to the talking head shows flooding the airwaves. I try to link to uncommon and original thoughts about a process which has bearing on the life of every biped walking the planet. Plus, I find the process fascinating. Whatever cynicism you hold about the political system, about false counts, popular culture, whatever – it is remarkable that in a few centuries we have evolved to the point where everyone in power has to pay at least lip service to the idea of a representative democracy, not to mention the concept that the government exists for the benefit of its people, and that individual expression is valued at a premium. We take this for granted. We see what we are lacking. We don’t see what we have. We don’t see that we live in a grand experiment that is really still in its evolutionary infancy if you consider the extent of the history of human civilization; the constant seductions and temptations of systems which vest power centrally which play not just on our lower impulses, but even more profoundly on our higher intentions; the power that wealth affords its bearers in any system; and the aspects of human consciousness which make it difficult to comprehend the social aspect of the human condition beyond the daily grind – so that the experiment faces steep opposition in the inadequacy of supporting ritual and tradition, apathy, and power itself.
It’s not about this candidate or that candidate. It’s about the process. If we can survive the technological forces our intelligence has unleashed, it will evolve into something profound and meaningful. I believe in progress, whether it’s guided by some higher force, something we are creating by random intelligence which transcends the momentary concern for survival and preservation of the species, or some combination. We have found ways to meet some social needs and resolve conflicts which do not have to involve violence or excessive deprivations of freedom. That’s something to celebrate, even if we ultimately don’t choose the candidates you like; whether the system is “owned by big money,” or “special interests” or whatever. We have near universal literacy and the opportunity to participate on some level. You can take that opportunity, and opportunity which people around the world are risking lives and well-being to obtain for themselves, or you can squander it. Personally, I revel in it. Yes, even if elections are “stolen.” We still have the idea and the idealism which drives the participation from the best of us as well as the worst of us.
For those of you already burning out on the primaries, take comfort. Whereas the primary season used to last from January to June, it’s all going to be wrapped up by February 19 – the date of the Hawaii caucuses and primaries in Washington and Wisconsin. California’s June primary was the last of its kind. It’ll probably be over as a practical matter by February 5. So bear with me. I promise to cover local issues as they come up. They’re a bit slow right now as you can see from the local media and the other blogs.
Sorry my posts this morning are so grim. But we haven’t really taken this topic on directly on this blog – not to my memory anyway. I’d like to see a discussion involving some of the anti-marijuana prohibition people. I often hear callers on the CLMP shows asking why more effort isn’t spent on the “real problem.” But do you advocate the federally backed crack-downs facing marijuana growers?
I’ve long had some concern since my days on the CLMP Board that there is a little bit of a class issue involved. Sort of like the differences between attitudes and sentencing for rock cocaine vs. the more expensive pure stuff.
The photos which we’ve all seen in Court buildings and police stations comes from this Wyoming government site. What amazes me is that meth causes such dramatic hair color changes.
Actually, she doesn’t look healthy in the first photo. What’s amazing is that she lived those 10 years. Maybe meth extends life?
I don’t have the time to research/link this post at the moment, so I’ll just summarize what I heard on the radio. There is a case before SCOTUS today which is the first in decades to challenge a method of execution as a “cruel and unusual” violation of the 8th Amendment.
The method is a three course cocktail of drugs. The first is an anesthesia. The second is a paralytic (to prevent twitching and convulsions to maintain a “comfort level” for observers). The third attacks your heart.
The problems are several. If the first drug isn’t precisely mixed and it’s admitted into tissue rather than a vein, it can fail. So when the killing agent is introduced, it can cause the veins to feel like they’re “on fire” among other excruciating pain – even worse if it’s also not admitted properly. The problem is that the paralytic can prevent medical personnel (often they are not even allowed in the room with the warden, who is not qualified to detect anything) from determining whether the anesthesia is working, and certainly prevents any communication from you.
This method was abandoned by veterinarians a long time ago due to the potential cruelty to the animal. What they due is simply introduce a massive injection of the killing agent sans anesthesia or paralytic. It’s almost impossible for you to suffer, but there may be twitching and convulsions which may upset anybody watching. As we know, these things are practically a spectator sport in certain states.
The story by Nina Totenberg (spelling?) indicated that there are members of the Supreme Court who don’t believe a painful death violates the 8th Amendment. Gee, I wonder which two those could be.
The photo comes from Truth in Justice which chronicles some of the problems of false guilt in the criminal justice systems.
Addendum: Here’s the NPR story.
Second addendum: One of the two.
This terrific site, FactCheck.org started up during the 2004 campaign. They do their homework. They are not partisan. They spare nobody. And they’re brutal.
Sometimes I think they’re taking comments made in the course of debates too literally. For instance, they criticize Obama:
Obama stated that U.S. medical care costs “twice as much per capita as any other advanced nation,” which is incorrect. U.S. spending is double the average, but not double that of all others.
I think it’s a stretch to think it was a deliberate attempt to mislead, and it’s an easy mistake to make. In fact, I’m not certain the difference between the two statements is all that significant in terms of emotional impact.
First, let’s report the score.
Clinton – 169
Obama – 66
Edwards – 47
Richardson – 19
Kucinich – 1
So why is Clintion ahead when she lost the only contest so far? And for that matter, why are there so many delegates accounted for when there were only 45 delegates up for grabs in Iowa?
The answer is a very undemocratic feature of the modern nomination system – the “superdelegate.” Katrina vanden Heuvel explains and laments.
There was actually a Republican caucus in Wyoming yesterday, though nobody really cares. The Mormons there delivered to Romney his first and maybe his last victory before his 15 minutes come to an end.
In a Kos report on yesterday’s Democratic Party debate in New Hampshire yesterday, he played up the “change vs. experience” theme governing the discussion at the moment.
Obama didn’t have a great performance, but neither was it a bad performance. But it was at least adequate, and that’s all he needed. Right now, he has major momentum. Clinton’s inevitability gambit has failed, and it’s unclear whether she has a viable Plan B. She showed tonight she couldn’t effectively knock Obama off his game, especially by relying on the experience vs change motif, and it probably will hurt her a bit to be seen as attacking and being negative. The fact is, people want change, and there’s really nothing she can do to present herself as a greater representative or symbol of change than either Barack Obama or John Edwards. (emphasis added)
“Change” was, by the way, the theme of Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992. He used the word literally thousands of times during the campaign.
On the meaning of the Obama campaign, a Guardian piece explores the contrasts between Obama and Jackson as “the babies Jackson kissed” are voting for Obama. It focuses on the topic raised in an earlier thread about the satisfaction some conservatives are taking from Obama’s campaign, which is about race but not about race. Or rather it’s about how race isn’t important except insofar as to point out that it’s unimportant.
In all of this, beyond some civil rights references, race is virtually absent from his message but central to his meaning. He doesn’t have to bring it up because not only does he espouse change, he looks like change. He has the role of an inadequate and ineffective balm on the long-running sore that is race in America. His victory would symbolise a great deal and change very little.
The assumptions and the anti-assumptions. We have a frequent poster here convinced that Obama will change his mind about the Middle East once he’s in power. We have liberals assuming he’s more progressive than Clinton, voting record and platform to the contrary. We have conservatives convinced he’ll neutralize race as an issue. Why? Because he’s black. He’s clean. Articulate. And he’s not like… those other guys.
I can live with Obama, and he can win if he gets the nomination. But Chris K.? Anybody in the Edwards campaign? If you’ve got a trump card, now is the time. Apparently Edwards did get a bounce from Iowa at the national level, but it’s a month until Super Tuesday and Obama is well out in front in the polls. (Also check out the George Will quote in the bounce link).
After New Hampshire, the unions finally come into play a week from Tuesday in Michigan. If either Clinton or Edwards are going to make a move it has to be there. Otherwise it’s probably over as there’s really no other firewall opportunity before Feb 5. And she’s been counting on California to deliver for her, but there is all of the sudden enthusiasm for Obama in San Francisco which several pundits believe could spread to the other urban areas even though the rural areas will probably stick to Clinton.
Meanwhile, on the other side McCain’s bid to become the Republican Mondale is looking up.
That was tongue in cheek by the way. The way the media is writing this thing up, Obama’s victory next fall is inevitable. Karl Rove hasn’t chimed in yet for one thing.
And traditionally, the Clintons are at their best when their backs are up against the wall. She’s not going down without a fight. And unlike other candidates, including her husband, she’s not leaving it to her handlers. The weight-challenged woman isn’t singing yet.
Addendum: A couple of the Republican contenders are edgy over the whole “change” meme.
He (Fred Thompson) and Rudy Giuliani scoffed at the notion that change should dominate the political debate — as Thompson noted, just because Iowans said so in their caucuses last week.
Giuliani added, “Change is a slogan, and the examination has to be is it change for good or change for bad?”
Third addendum: Scratch my analysis of the Michigan primary. Apparently it isn’t being contested. Clinton will take the state, but here’s why.
Edwards, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson decided not to participate in Michigan’s primary because the state Democratic Party’s decision to hold a primary before Feb. 5 violates national party rules. The Democratic National Committee has threatened to not seat Michigan’s delegates at the national convention, though state party officials say that won’t happen.
You have to protect that privileged white vote in Iowa and New Hampshire!