Saturday, April 19, 2008


Observations on Carville-Matalin

Some random thoughts on seeing James Carville and Mary Matalin last night:

1. I was surprised at the lack of young people in the audience. This was at Brenau University, and the tickets for students were free. I could count on one hand the number of students there, yet the auditorium was packed. Either young people aren't as involved politicially as I would hope/expect, or Carville and Matalin just don't resonate with the young (which is possible).

2. I was there with my dad, my step-mother, and my wife. Pretty scary when you consider the "baby" of the group was me (age 43).

3. I finally figured out the mystery of their marriage. They aren't ideologues. Sure they tease each other mercilessly about ideology, but they don't take it seriously. For them, it is all about political strategy, and they mutually respect each other's abilities in that area. They just happen to work for opposing sides.

4. They made some VERY good points about our current election, specifically about how we have never had one like it. Matalin said that McCain's early leadership followed by his slump, allowed his campaign to regroup. Carville correctly pointed out that the last election which did NOT involve a sitting president or vice president was in
1928 (President Coolidge chose not to run for re-election, and Vice President Charles Dawes did not run). We are in new territory for political strategists.

5. Carville talked about his test for the best vice presidential choice: It makes the opposing campaign manager "throw up". He suggested the best choice for McCain would be Colin Powell. Ironically, both my dad and I had the same thought at this: Why not Condi Rice? Later it occurred to me that Rice is too closely associated with the Bush administration, and an opposing campaign manager might salivate at that choice.

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Friday, April 18, 2008


Open Thread

Thread away!!

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Looking at politics from both sides

I will get a political treat tonight when I will be seeing James Carville and Mary Matalin appearing together over at Brenau University.

Some of the luster has been taken off their political shine by their support of losing candidates this year (Matalin supported Fred Thompson and Carville supported Hillary Clinton's slowly dying campaign), but it should still be interesting.

When I have seen them interviewed in the past, I found them both very partisan to an extreme, although I hope to gain some insight into the concept of partisanship by listening to them. Specifically, is it possible to find a middle ground without giving up your political beliefs?

That is the political anomaly of the Carville-Matalin marriage.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Boulder Memories

That dynamic duo -- Jello Biafra and moi.

Craziest Day: Thursday. I was already on two panels -- "Dude! Where's My Constitution?" at Boulder High School and "Should National Service Be Mandated" back on the campus. I receive an early morning call to see if I can sit on the panel, "Beatboxers, Hip-Hoppers & Punk Rockers: A Battle Cry For Social Change." Apparently, my revelation to Jello Biafra that I was a punk rock fan intrigued the organizers. They wanted me to fill in for a last- minute cancelled. I said sure, but the music panel ran until 1:50 and I had to be at the high school at 1:20. So, they said, OK. Do the music panel; we'll grab you in the middle and take you over to the HS. That's what happened.

I started off the music panel by asking the audience a question I knew they were almost assured of getting wrong. For one thing, this was a rare panel where college students made up more than two-thirds of the audience (not surprising, given the topic. The rest were various Gen-Xers, boomers, et al. The question was: "Who was British prime minister when the Sex Pistols and The Clash released their debut albums?" Sure enough, immediately, a handful of voices yelled out, "Maggie Thatcher!" WRONG! Now, one might argue that in our history-challenged society, Thatcher and Tony Blair may be the only British PMs Americans know. However, given that the New York Times made the same mistake -- in the middle of a Joe Strummer "appreciation" shortly after he died in 2002 -- I felt it was fair of me to ask this to make my broader point.

The PM by the way, was the little remembered Labourite James Callaghan -- preceded by another Labour PM Harold Wilson, who was completing his second tour in 110 Downing St.

The overall point was that so-called "protest" or political music isn't necessarily inspired by conservative governments or politics. Punk arose from economic and social frustratrions that had been building for decades, but broke out during a Labour government. Much of the protest music associated with the '60s was a response to liberal Lyndon Johnson, rather than the (relatively) conservative Richard Nixon. Hip-hop began in the late-70s under a Jimmy Carter presidency (even though some of the more lyrically provocative artists emerged in the late-80s of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush).

I was followed by hip-hop artist Shamako Noble, who surprised me by thanking me for my comments and saying that he didn't want rap to be co-opted by Democrats -- or any party, for that matter. While his view that he wanted a world influenced more by love than anything else may strike some as naive, his broader point of wishing for independence from explicity partisan views was refreshing.

Jello Biafra followed and spoke of his own evolution and how he was finally inspired to start his own punk career after seeing the Ramones (apparently, it was the same concert attended by the future leader of the aggro-punk band Ministry). After he finished, I couldn't resist scribbling a note to him an observation I forgot to include in my original comments: "Remember, Johnny Ramone was a Republican!" He whispered back, "Yeah, I know. They finally broke up because Joey couldn't deal with Johnny listening to Rush Limbaugh all the time." He was serious -- and I think that is roughly true approximation of event. Ah, Johnny and Joey Ramone, RIP.

It was a special moment as Jello and I bonded.

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Monday, April 14, 2008


Open Thread

Recovering from my Boulder, Colorado, um, Procul Harem ("A Whiter Shade of Pale") experience. Full wrap-up tomorrow.

Mega thanks to Ed and David on their contributions this week.

In the meantime, chat away. Please keep the bitterness and gunplay to aminimum.

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Comparing the Candidates Part 2: Iraq

Following is part 2 in a continuing series comparing the presidential candidates and where they stand on the issues. (part 1 link)

While all three candidates are pretty clear on their overall view of Iraq, they each have subtleties in their positions which are not as well known (all quotes are from the candidates' websites linked to their names below):

Hillary's position is clear: Get the troops out of Iraq. However, her position relies on a diplomatic initiative which will require the support of the U.N. and cooperation from "key allies, other global powers, and all of the states bordering Iraq."

Obama's position is similar to Hillary's, with one key exception:
He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.
Based on that loophole, Obama could conceivably keep troops in Iraq for the entirety of his presidency.

Everyone knows about McCain's "100 years" comment about Iraq. His position supports that view, as he plans to INCREASE the number of troops we have in Iraq:
More troops are necessary to clear and hold insurgent strongholds; to provide security for rebuilding local institutions and economies; to halt sectarian violence in Baghdad and disarm Sunni and Shia militias; to dismantle al Qaeda; to train the Iraqi Army; and to embed American personnel in Iraqi police units. Accomplishing each of these goals will require more troops and is a crucial prerequisite for needed economic and political development in the country. America's ultimate strategy is to give Iraqis the capabilities to govern and secure their own country.
If Iraq is your primary issue going into the election, the choices are pretty clear. McCain wants to fix Iraq, Clinton wants us out of Iraq, while Obama wants us out but is willing to consider staying there if circumstances require it.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008


This Week...

In addition to my few updates from the Conference of World Affairs in Boulder, Ed McGonigal and David Bernstein are guest-blogging at RT. So don't be too shocked by the differences in voice, subject matter, etc.

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