Thursday, February 28, 2008

Comparing the Recently Departed: Buddy Miles and William F. Buckley, Jr.

One guy sang about "Them Changes" while playing the drums in my favorite three-piece band ever. The other taught me how to say, if not comprehend, big words when I was a kid.

Buddy Miles died recently.
William F. Buckley, Jr. died yesterday.

One guy sang about changes, while the other guy was left behind by changes in political philosophy, race politics and such, ending up in the role of some quaint, wacky older uncle who nobody listens to anymore.

Maybe Buddy Miles' afro went out of style, but Buckley's whole paleo-conservatism got left behind.

I eventually learned what a few of those big Buckley words meant ("hegemony" in particular comes to mind), and even learned to listen to his wacky uncle orations for the occasional kernel of wisdom they provided.

But between "Firing Line" and "Machine Gun"? Are you kidding?

No contest. And yeah, I know it's a Hendrix showcase, but anyone who had anything to do with "Machine Gun" had more to say than all the big words W.F. Buckley, Jr. expressed put together.

Besides Miles was that rare drummer who sang and could actually sing while playing the drums. I've tried to play the drums. I've been accused of trying to sing. Have you ever tried to do both at the same time?

R.I.P. Mr. Miles and Mr. Buckley, Jr.

Oh maybe we could suggest to any Supreme Being who might exist out there (and handles this sort of thing) to let Buckley not exactly rest in peace for, say, a weekend, to pay for those anti-desegregation sentiments and his defense of McCarthy. Maybe a three-day weekend spent floating down a river of molten tungsten while being forced to listen to Kate Smith sing "God Bless America" on continuous loop would be in order. Then he could be plucked from the molten river and left alone for the duration.

It's just a suggestion.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Let's Play Spot That Fallacy!

"..Instead, districts will give their students "short-cycle assessments" in ninth and 10th grades, which will consist of a series of three exams throughout the year, McKernan said.
The districts will use them internally to diagnose their students, finding out what they know and what they need to learn.
All those assessments, McKernan said, should also help students pass the NCLB test by the time they reach 11th grade."
--"Getting A Diploma Could Get Tougher", Zsombor Peter, Albuquerque Journal, 2/26/08

Okay, in the quoted material above can you spot that fallacy? Is it:

A. The idea that the more assessments one takes, the greater the chance of passing a new assessment?
B. That APS schools would have it together enough to "internally diagnose their students"?

C. Both A and B?

D. A trick question, as the whole paragraph is one big stinking pile o' fallacious thinking?
E. I'm an APS graduate, what does the word "fallacy" mean?

Write your answer on the back of a $100 bill and send it to this address:

Whichever Presidential Candidate Will End This Testing Nightmare The Quickest
Campaign Trail

Anywhere, USA

Drawing Out the Absurdities in Standardized Testing

You can literally sense the boredom in the air as another six-day grind of standardized testing begins at my beleaguered middle school. Yeah, that middle school. The one, apparently the only one, where the kids don't write good.

As my school and the inability of its students to express themselves in a written form has become the local news equivalent of Britney Spears not wearing panties or Michael Jackson dangling a baby off a balcony, there is little need to further address that issue here.

Besides, it's "Opening Day" for standardized testing. Time to shake off the bad press, get that old confidence back and mind-numbingly bubble some answers, hour after hour, a half-day at a time for two weeks.

Oh, sorry..I just went into a little coma.

Just as with everything else pertaining to education, standardized testing has controversies. Many don't like the idea of testing at all. Some oppose aspects of how the tests are administered. Plenty of folks don't like the emphasis ("high stakes") on these bubbling fests.

Others complain about the nature of the actual test questions, that the tests aren't really "normed", that the little stories questions in the tests are laughably inane and so on, and so on.

"All of the above" is true, but there is one stupid testing requirement that shines above all others. It is the one testing criteria that absolutely no one likes or can even comprehend.

It is this: When students finish a section of the test and must wait for the next section they are not allowed to draw. They must not doodle, cross-hatch, shadow, etc. Stick-figures, 3-D portraiture and landscapes are forbidden. Action scenes involving "ligers", dragons and bloody swords...can't do it.

For years now we teachers have been told this, and not a single one of us can figure out why this rule exists. It has achieved something of a questionable "urban myth" status, yet every year the question comes up, the answer is the same, the staff derisively laughs and, being the little law-abiding sheep teachers are, we dutifully write down "no drawing".

I reckon finding Orwellian elements in standardized testing is like spotting bad grammar in a 6th grader's essay. Pretty damn easy. But this "no drawing" thing just has an Animal Farm meets "Brazil" bureaucratic mindlessness to it that's hard to beat.

With that happy confluence of images, we in Team Jefferson MS are ready for another soul-crushing "Opening Day". Play Ball! And stop dangling that baby participle!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Still No Word From Gus Hall or George Wallace

In the graphic above, Ralph Nader would represent which of the pictured elements?
If you said, "thin scummy layer of soil which helps prevent the plant from breaking through to the surface" you're right! (insert remainder of deeply profound photosynthesis/Election 2008 metaphor here)

Ralph Nader announced today that he is still alive on "Meet The Press". Next week's guest on "MTP": Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who is expected to announce he is still dead. Nader also added that, since he's alive and all, he might as well run for President again.

In other important news, the humble scribe of "Burque Babble" has allergies this morning, plants continue to grow through a process known as "photosynthesis", and a "stitch in time saves nine". It is unknown whether Mr. Nader's continued living status will have an impact on the presidential race, my allergies or figuring out what the hell "a stitch in time saves nine" actually means. Photosynthesis is expected to continue, despite Mr. Nader's very, very important announcement.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Butt Wut About The Childrens?

I briefly mentioned "JeffersonMSlbadwritersGate" earlier today (irritating viewing of ancient Journal sports ad required), but did not anticipate the shocking news that 6th graders can't write well would eclipse Obama/Clinton, McCain/Shady Lobbyist Lady, and Burning American Embassy/Serbs in news coverage, at least in Albuquerque.

Having returned home from a day spent in the cesspool of inadequate editing that is Jefferson Middle School, I now see a highly commented thread of indignant folks over at DukeCityFix, an updated "story" from KOAT-TV featuring quotes from aghast parents, and the following email response from equally aghast, bothered and bewildered Superintendent-in-Waiting Linda Sink:

February 21, 2008

Dear APS Community Member,

I was troubled by a page of letters from middle school students that was published in the Albuquerque Journal yesterday. Their content didn't bother me; indeed, we ultimately want our students to be able to think critically and express themselves. What I found unsettling is that the letters appeared to be in "first draft" form.

We need to set the expectation by showing our students examples of strong writing and working with them to improve. The final draft must exhibit their best effort of reaching the standard for writing expected at their grade level. They will be carried by the confidence that comes from knowing they have done the job well.

Teachers are expected to oversee and, where necessary, correct students' work before publication. When students engage in a writing exercise such as writing letters to the editor, in order for it to be a truly valuable learning experience, the writing process must be followed to its completion with a first draft, followed by review and proofreading, followed by a second draft with perhaps more editing, and finally, production of a final draft for publication.

Linda Sink, Interim Superintendent
Albuquerque Public Schools

We also have unconfirmed reports of the U.S. Military moving to Defcon-1, millions fleeing to underground bunkers, the grounding of all commercial airplane traffic, and closure of the interstate highway system nationwide in response to these ineloquent middle schoolers and their atrocious spelling/grammar.

President Bush is planning to address a worried nation on the subject later tonight. Stay in your homes. Repeat: stay in your homes.
Citizens are urged to monitor local civil defense broadcasts for further instructions on dealing with this urgent grammatical/syntactical crisis. Not to mention the spelling. Oy vey! The spelling!!!!

P.S.: I just noticed Superintendent-in-Waiting Linda Sink needs some remediation help with her use of commas. Or maybe her email's poor use of multi-comma sentences is, in itself, a profound teaching statement on the power of the editing process.

As demonstration of this, let's use one of her sentences and plug it into a standardized test question format:

Question 1: In the unwieldy sentence...

"When students engage in a writing exercise such as writing letters to the editor, in order for it to be a truly valuable learning experience, the writing process must be followed to its completion with a first draft, followed by review and proofreading, followed by a second draft with perhaps more editing, and finally, production of a final draft for publication."

should the sentence be corrected to read:

A. "...more editing, and, finally, production...."
B. " a writing exercise, such as writing letters to the editor,...."
C. Both A and B
D. The unwieldy sentence is, just that, unwieldy, but needs no correction.
E. None of the Above, as there are just too many damn commas in that sentence as it is.

Answer: You tell me.

The Only Newspaper We Will Ever Need

Evidently the ABQ City Council meeting was so boring last night it busted the ABQJournal website. Okay, maybe that is specious reasoning. But it was really darn boring. The whole Council looked and sounded (at least what I watched before I almost fell asleep myself from ennui) like it just wanted to go home and take a nap. They couldn't even get riled up about a fight over public art.

And having busted the ABQJournal website is a shame, too, as I was planning on directing you, fine reader, to some horribly misspelled and generally crappy student letters to the editor sent by kids at my school. It's a long story as to how the letters got there, but the upshot is that 6th graders at Jefferson Middle School need better spell, grammar and compositional checkers on their Microsoft Word. The letters read like a bad Huck Finn impersonation rambling unfixedly about standardized testin' and remediatin'.

For reasons not entirely clear, the (now officially called) "only newspaper you will ever need" seems to have a large daily news conduit running between Jefferson MS and the said newspaper. Hardly a day goes by that someone from my school isn't quoted about educational issue this or horrible idea that.

All of which would be fine if we at Jefferson MS really had anything interesting to say. Trust me, we don't. Hell, look at this blog and you got all the proof you need on that score. If you want further confirmation, feel free to attend a staff meeting at JMS. No, I take that back...I wouldn't wish attendance at a JMS staff meeting on anybody. Lethal injection might be a preferable sentence to attendance at a JMS staff meeting. Forget I mentioned it.

Meanwhile, it became official yesterday that the Trib's last edition will be this Saturday, leaving us with the "only newspaper you will ever need (ONYWEN)". Yes, this makes me sad. No, it doesn't make me as sad as a genocide or students shooting other students or global warming.

And no it doesn't make me sad because my pathetic little rants will no longer be published. I'll miss the beer money generated from those piddly missives, but the world hardly needs someone else telling us how incompetent George W. Bush has been. No, I think it's sad because we already have too few places to rely upon to learn about our world and community, and now another one is gone.

I also think it's sad because the "only newspaper you will ever need (ONYWEN)" is far, far, far, far, really FAR from the only newspaper we really need. I'm not one of those who feels the Journal is part of a world-wide conspiracy or that it is categorically awful. It has, in my humble opinion, elements of quality. There just aren't enough of them, and not nearly enough of them to be the "only newspaper you will ever need".

Au revoir, Tribune.

P.S.: It's supposed to appear more heartfelt when you say "goodbye" in a foreign language. In that case, I'll add "auf wiedersehen" and "sayonora". Not to mention that "aloha" also means goodbye.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Family Feudin' NM Democrat-Style and A Republican Sheriff Doesn't Get It

I've been instructed by a good friend to write shorter posts. Something one could read while urinating, if one could arrange to have a laptop installed at a proper height above a toilet (or other logistical configurations).

With that in mind, I will dispense with the scheduled 5,000 words comparing the obvious hatred between Governor Bill Richardson and Feudal Prince Marty Chavez with that of other feuding politicians through the ages like John McCain and George W. Bush, Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr and other Iraqi Shiite leader guy Abdel Aziz Al Hakim, and Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.

I'll just cut to the chase and say the "red light cameras will stop at precisely 5:00 p.m...gentlepeople start your engines!" announcement and everything right now between Feudal Prince Marty and bearded-like-he just-ended-a-three-week-bender Big Bill is very funny. It is bad to kinda long for the days of duels? I'd take Marty in a duel...he'd cheat and claim three feet was 10 paces.

Meanwhile, in more serious news I'll dispense with 10,000 words on the sad legal denouement of killed cyclist James Quinn, and instead just direct the reader to Johnny Mango's piece in DukeCityFix. Mango's story/rant is well done, encapsulating both facts and the obvious attempts by Bernco Sheriff Darren White's office to quietly escape a bungled public relations snafu. The blogpost is another example of both the power of blogging v. the dying media of newspapers (I'm not even counting TV news here), and the expanded role of opinion in such news blogging. Mango's work informs and provokes. As dying media increasingly fails to inform, maybe that's the bargain we as readers will strike with the new media.

Frankly, I always thought that "on the one hand, on the other hand" stuff was bullshit anyway.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Proving Once Again That "Sneak Peek" Doesn't Mean Much

As is true with phrases like "Breaking News", "First on Four" and "The Fed Has Lowered Rates Again", just because something is a "sneak peek" doesn't mean it's worthy of attention, peeking or otherwise.

For example, the following.

But, being as I've noticed that almost nobody reads both Burque Babble and the Albuquerque Tribune, I post below my tentative, day-to-day, playing with pain Trib column for this Wednesday. (Or maybe it's just that nobody reads Burque Babble...but pshaw, for you dear reader are reading this very parenthetical interjection).

Anyway, here's the unedited, Trib cannot be held responsible version....

I’m taking a wild guess that this is the last Tribune column from me. The apparent demise of this paper is a shame, and one I could blather on about for thousands of words, but I’ll let others more eloquent tackle that.

Instead, before heading out, I want to discuss a fact that will live on beyond the Tribune, me, and, most likely, even the concept of “newspapers”.

George W. Bush is the worst United States President ever.

In a mere 335 days we Americans can claim to have survived the Bush Administration. It hasn’t been easy, and not just for “liberals”. Sure, every single act, gesture and breath of the man has angered anyone to the political left of Jerry Falwell’s ghost, but it goes beyond that.

Fiscal conservatives are apoplectic about Bush tax & spend policies leading to massive deficits. Social conservatives are unhappy the Administration hasn’t overturned Roe v. Wade or gotten the Bible back in public schools.

Osama is still out there somewhere, Iraq has been a preventable quagmire and our number of international friends has dwindled to near zero. Europe is passing us economically, and China is getting larger and larger in the rear-view mirror.

Listing the failure of Bush initiatives is long and embarrassing. Remember when Bush tackled Social Security? How about Bush style immigration reform? This while the President’s own party has been in control of Congress most of the time.

Bush’s only “successes” revolve around fear. Fear has been his best friend, allowing passage of pernicious legislation such as the “PATRIOT” Act and FISA extensions that expand surveillance power and cripple civil liberties. Just ask President John Adams what fear-based legislation did for his long-term reputation. His “Alien and Sedition Acts” are still models of what NOT to do in the face of fear. Or they were until George W. Bush came along.

Then there’s the “Don Knotts Problem”. I love the comedy of Don Knotts. I just never wanted him to be President of the United States. Back in the early carefree days of the Administration, the President was ridiculed because he talked funny, and said things like “nuculur”.

We chalked this talking funny thing up to Bush allegedly being Texan and moved on. Then we found out he didn’t only talk wrong, but made laughably boneheaded decisions. My favorite: the proposed Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court.

One could easily imagine Knott’s famous character Barney Fife goofily defending the Miers nomination for days when it was apparent to everyone, conservative and liberal alike, that this was the gosh-darn stupidest idea since Plessy v. Ferguson.

Two or three years ago considerable discussion took place about whether George W. Bush has been our worst president. Then scholarly discussion died down, a few folks got “Worst. President. Ever.” bumper stickers, and we trudged on through waterboarding, “signing documents” and an economic stimulus package (i.e. “Paying for Votes: 2008”).

But before I, the Tribune and the Barney Fife-in-Chief head out the door it’s worth bringing up again. It’s been rough, almost impossible at times, but we’re gonna survive the Bush Administration. And oh, the stories we can tell our children, grand children and presidential historians.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Trouble Making Deadlines? Dems Say Just Move The Goal Posts!

Because we could all use a good laugh on the Friday following "Middle Schoolers Ramped Up on Sugar and Love Day" (a.k.a. "Valentine's Day"), the Democratic Party of New Mexico helps with a couple of gems in its "caucus" final tally press release:

"(Albuquerque, NM) Today, ahead of deadline, the Democratic Party announced the canvass results of the 2008 Democratic Caucus."

And the winner of the "Lower Your Expectations Enough and You'll Always Succeed Award" for 2008 goes to.... Meanwhile, later in the release:

"The biggest surprise of this caucus was the more than 3,500 voters---Independents, Greens and Republicans---tried to vote in the Democratic Caucus," said Chairman Brian Col� Clearly, their message to us was---they want change in this country."

That was the biggest surprise? You mean bigger than the fact it took ten days to announce the results? And maybe the message from "Independents, Greens and Republicans" was that they want an open primary, not a closed whatever the hell this train wreck was.

Thanks Democratic Party of New Mexico! I can face those post-Sweethearts candy sugar rush crash victims this morning now with a smile.

Have a good weekend everybody.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Applause For Our Newsy Blogs and a Vague Call For More

From an excellent piece by m-pyre's Marjorie in Duke City Fix:

"That Bernalillo County would hire a lobbyist to speak against this reform demonstrates well what we have all pointed out: allowing the creation of TIDDs for new Greenfield housing developments leads to a balkanization of our State, with local governments only looking out for their own bottom line. How else can we interpret the lobbying of Bernalillo County against a bill that protects the future state ability to meet its fiscal obligations to all the small towns of New Mexico?"

And DemocracyforNewMexico tells it like it is concerning fellow-blogger (and symptom of legislative rot and decay) Joe Monahan.

"Too cowardly to speak their piece in public, too many of the most status quo/reactionary legislators, hangers on and lobbyists for elite special interests are content to leak unsourced material by taking on the personnae of the much cited Alligators over at Joe Monahan's place. It's a convenient ploy that can be used to try and gain political advanatage -- whether or not such Alligators really exist in terms of a specific issue. Who's to say where the gossip and spin are really coming from and why? After all, I could put all kinds of statements onto DFNM and claim "birdies" told me so. Who's to argue? There's no proof one way or the other."

Then there's every post Coco writes...

Both in factual content and analysis, the quality level of local blogs just gets better and better (the pathetic blog you are currently reading notwithstanding), and, as media outlets shrink further and further both in sheer number and their ability to adequately cover the news, perhaps it's time for blogs in ABQ to go the next step. What could that next step be?

And why does Marjorie's great post at DCF have three comments, while a DCF ditty about "mustache parties" has fifteen? Not that anyone should make a mathematical formula like: number of comments = quality of post, but maybe it's time...maybe it's time.

Time for what exactly, I don't know....somebody think of something.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Remediation High: Home of the Lawsuits

"No Child Left Behind" continues its inexorable march toward Lawsuit City.

Andrea Schoellkopf has a story in the Journal this morning on remedial classes soon to be required of high school students who aren't "proficient" in Reading or Math on the standardized tests. That "Failing" students would have to take these remedial classes instead of an "elective" is the gist of the story.

The implications of such a move could be vast, and highly "actionable" as the lawyerly types like to say. A few reasons why:
  • A very high percentage of those who aren't "proficient" are Special Education students and what we call "English Language Learners". Penalizing these students by requiring them to take remedial classes instead of electives is certainly going to lead to lawsuits, both from Special Education advocates and civil rights activists when they start to see the terribly high percentage of second-language learners in remedial classes.
  • The trend toward a two-class system of public high school education will reach apogee, especially at "failing" schools with 50/60/70% rates of non-"proficiency". A small number of students will be eligible for electives while the majority will not. As this already present situation becomes more pronounced, look for lawsuits to start flowing along these lines.
  • High schools will almost certainly go to "block schedules" to accommodate more classes, and thus try to keep "failing" students eligible for electives. This will have impacts on the quality of all classes, especially if a significant portion of the day now has to be dedicated to these remedial classes.
  • Subjects like Science and History will, necessarily, be treated as second-class citizens in a such an arrangement because remediation is based on scores only in Reading and Math. More time of the school day spent remediating Reading/Math means less time and, perhaps more importantly, money going to these other subjects.
Oh, there are a ton of other ramifications, but let's just stop there and notice how great our K-12 administrators are at thinking up negative consequences (if you don't pass you will have remediation) and not mentioning much in the way of positive consequences (if you pass you get a tangible asset like a brand new car, or maybe a lollipop).

One other thing these stories often fail to mention. There is a significant delay between the taking of the standardized tests and the announcement of scores (several months). That means 8th graders at my school will take this test in late February/early March and the scores won't even come out until the first few weeks of Fall Semester. does the high school schedule an incoming 9th grader for Fall given this reality?

I feel my inner-wonk really starting to come out on this thing....

Oh, and another thing, aren't many of the Reading/Math classes at APS high schools already "remedial"?

P.S.: Alot of people, teachers especially, look to Election '08 as a magic wand that will cure us of this evil "No Child Left Behind". I'm not so sure. Especially given the Democratic performance when taking over both house of Congress I'm not sure a FDR "First 100 Days" of sweeping immediate reform is possible. Also, school "accountability" is still a popular subject, and I could see "NCLB" survive in some form for some time.

At least until the lawsuits start.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Democracy Gone Wild: Mob Scenes and "Invisible Ink"

In one of the strangest headlines of recent times, the ABQ Journal website has an AP story it entitles "Overall, Voting Goes Well" followed by story after story of how chaotic the New Mexico Democratic voting really was. You gotta hand it to people passionate enough to stand in line for three hours to vote in a "caucus", but you can't really call that "going well". To wit:
"Chaos is going on," frustrated voter Angela Starkey said at Mary Ann Binford Elementary School in Albuquerque. She reported a mob scene and party workers unable to make order of the crowd. "People yelling and screaming. I stood in line for over an hour and I left (without voting.)"
Yup, overall things went well...

But my favorite "
Officer, please, for God's sake, they're looting the Food King!" Super Tuesday anecdote comes from Chicago and the very AP story with the "Overall, Voting Went Well" headline:
Some votes were apparently lost, however, when about 20 voters at a Chicago precinct were given styluses designed for touch-screen machines instead of ink pens. When voters complained the styluses made no marks on their paper ballots, an official told them the devices contained invisible ink.
"After 20 people experienced the same problem, somebody said, 'Wait, we've got 20 ballots where nobody's voted for anything,' '' Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen said. Officials were trying to contact the voters; Allen said the voters and the judge believed the invisible-ink theory.
As the Kevin Bacon character screams in "Animal House" just before the "Food King" line stolen above: "Remain calm! All is Well!" I think he also adds..."it's alright, it's invisible ink!"

And then the Kevin Bacon character gets flattened by a mob not unlike that which stood outside for hours at several places around Albuquerque yesterday.

P.S.: And oh yeah, we still don't know who "won" New Mexico yet. So overall, things are pretty much in control and normal around here.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Late Night Midweek Confessions: Super Tuesday Edition

(Spoken in Jeff Foxworthy-meets-James Carville drawl)

You might be a political junkie if....

You're prepared to stay up way too late on a school night to watch the California Primary returns when it's only a Primary, it's not winner-take-all, and everybody has already decided the race isn't decided.

Hi, I'm Scot, and I might be a political junkie.

What Really Matters According To the NY Times

At its generally killer primary/caucus info site, the New York Times has the following "profiles of the voters" for the two main parties. Note the most important factor, evidently, for each (these numbers are for the close state of Missouri, btw)....

Profile of the Voters


Based on questionnaires filled out by voters across the state.
% of total Clinton Obama Edwards
37 White men 48 39 6
43 White women 57 38 5
6 Black men 12 80 3
9 Black women 28 72 -
22 Independent or something else 31 59 3


Based on questionnaires filled out by voters across the state.
% of total McCain Romney Huckabee
28 Moderate 48 22 17
65 Conservative 25 35 34
54 Born-again or evangelical Christian 24 28 40
60 Candidate's position on the issues is most important 26 32 31
37 Candidate's leadership is most important 43 26 24

Am I the only one pissed off by this race/gender v. political philosophy dichotomy?

Papa's Got a Brand Old Bag

Last night I wrote a little thing in which I compared a Hillary Clinton presidency to...oh, I'll just quote myself (yikes!)

...part of me sees a Clinton Presidency as something like being at the airport baggage claim waiting for your bag and watching somebody else's same old suitcase go round and round and round the carousel, while your bag never appears.
And somebody commented that it was shameful for me to call Hillary Clinton "an old bag".

Just to keep things straight, I wasn't calling Senator Clinton "an old bag". Instead I am calling the entirety of the following "an old bag":

  • Hillary Clinton
  • Bill Clinton
  • The Democratic Leadership Council
  • (insert other centrists "Democrats" here)
  • Capitulating To President Bush and Company for years
  • Madeleine Albright, Robert Reich and the rest of the Bill Clinton Administration
  • James Carville
  • Failed Health Care Reform 1993
  • Trying to out Republican Republicans
  • Taking the FDR Democratic Coalition for granted
  • Dukakis, Mondale, Ferraro, Bentsen, Hubert H. Humphrey

In other words, pretty much everything The Democratic Party has represented from 1968 Democratic Convention to the present strikes me as "an old bag". It almost appears that Barack Obama is talking about a Democratic Party pre-Chicago '68. That seems to be attracting some voters, and the idea attracts me.

We'll see as the night goes on if that attraction is enough to keep Obama in the race or if this thing is over. The Massachusetts and New Jersey results point to a Clinton night, but both the number of races and delegates splits instead of winner-take-all make it unlikely a definitive knock-out will be scored.

And then there's California....if anything can be pre-1968 maybe it can, with flowers in its hair....

P.S.: I don't count McGovern '72 above because it always seemed to me that the Democrats themselves abandoned the guy in a way that made a Watergate break-in and "dirty tricks" totally unnecessary. By the way, if nothing else, I'm glad Barack Obama has at least rekindled thoughts back to a time as far back as '72 or ' long has it been since anything close to that spirit has surfaced?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Tuesday Rockin' Eve: Tales of Luggage Old and New

Speaking Democratically in tomorrow's Megalomart of voting known as "Super Tuesday" will it be the Devil we know, or the Devil we only know as an idea at this point?

Given the panoply of states with primaries and caucusi (new plural o' caucus?) and how Barack Obama has tightened things up in several states it will most probably be a mix of Devil's old and new.

I'm spending tonight perusing the vast array of Internet punditry, polling and pledges of support, and it's pretty clear that if Super Tuesday was a blogosphere-only event Obama would have 7 trillion delegates to Clinton's 11.

But, shocking as it may be to some, there's a few people out there who don't have blogs...who don't even read them. And yes, we're hoping that with advances in medicine this horrible affliction can be overcome. But while reading the 199,784th blogger tonight who has pledged her/his support for Obama I wonder about those others amongst us.
  • Who will vote/attend caucusi? How many "normal" (i.e. non-blogger political junkies) people will vote/attend? Or does voting/attending a primary immediately make one "abnormal" in a country where we can't get half the registered voters to ever show up?
  • How many Democrats in New Mexico have received call after call after call after live call after recorded message after live call from "Hillary For President"?
  • How many of those receiving such a litany of calls are saying to themselves: "you know, I was on the fence about Hillary until that 7th call I got, and now I'm thinking....yeah...Hillary!"
  • How many of those receiving all these calls no longer have a phone because they threw it out the window into the snow, then went out into the snow and stomped on it until the phone and snow were mingled in a icy panoply of plastic and wires?
  • How many Democrats who aren't obsessively reading blogs and watching unwatchable pundits actually know Obama or Clinton's position on anything? Is Barack a single-payer guy or just a universal health care person? What week/year/decade/century will Hillary pull our troops out of Iraq?
  • After the New Hampshire polling fiasco why does anybody pay attention to these things anymore? Why didn't anybody pay attention to them before anyway?
So I have to admit, I'm finally hooked into Election '08, and really I have Barack Obama and his campaign to thank for that. Clinton in a fait accompli series of meaningless primaries would have been as exciting as a toothache.

Right now I'm trying to look within my soul and molars to determine whether I think the idea of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for President '08 is in itself as exciting as a toothache.

Part of me is stoked that she stands a darn good chance of being President. Another, perhaps larger, part of me sees a Clinton Presidency as something like being at the airport baggage claim waiting for your bag and watching somebody else's same old suitcase go round and round and round the carousel, while your bag never appears.

I just don't know if Hillary Clinton is my bag.

But who cares what I think because, as I've mentioned about eighty times before, I'm a registered Green (i.e. independent) and won't be participating in tomorrow's caucus. I'm absolutely sure that I will happily vote for whichever Devil comes out of the Democratic Super Tuesday and beyond with the nomination. I just have to say I share the blogosphere's love affair with the idea of Barack Obama.

And I wish I could see Hillary Clinton as something other than an old suitcase owned by somebody else. I'll keep working on that. Or maybe, just maybe, Mobamamentum will make that unnecessary and I will instead be faced with the need to actually know something about Obama beyond the mere idea of him.