Bourgeois Deviant

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Must read

David Brooks in today's Times is good.

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POTUS's SOTU etc...

Last night's state of the Union speech evoked an unexpected reaction from me. Complete relief. I didn't really even pay that close attention to it. I just let it wash over me knowing it would be over in good time and the rest of my evening would progress unabated. In the past, I have watched these speeches, especially over the last eight years, paying great attention to the language, invective and detail of their delivery. This attention was mostly followed by some manifestation of anger. But not last night.

Simply put, the end is in sight. This final Bush state of the Union, with all of its flaccidity and ineloquence was the last we'll have to deal with. His executive abuse of power, plutocratic plunder/fortifying, national image damaging, amoral malfeasance and war mongering aside, what was most objectionable about Bush the man was that he is the antithesis of inspiring to me. A true leader leads in two chief ways; inspirational in words, ideas and example; and by the actions he takes with the power granted to him by the people and its government. It is surely no surprise that the Bourgeois Deviant take is he's been a colossal failure on both counts.

In water cooler discussions this a.m., what came out is that most of us just missed good, head-of-state oratory. Bush's plain spoken-ness simply hasn't inspired me. Given the station the the office of President holds in American government and general zeitgeist, rousing the electorate to aim high, etc... just hasn't been happening. In effect, as President and especially in this regard, Bush has epitomized the soft bigotry of low expectations. This American knows irony when he sees it.

The only genuinely vexing element of the entire experience, thankfully momentary, was seeing Vice President Cheney over President Bush's right shoulder. Sitting in his chair with a smile like he was a winner. It was irksome, but thankfully not for much longer. I just hope that Bush and Cheney take a little trip to Vermont in the near future. Call it reaping what they have sewn.

Kathleen Sebelius gave the Democratic response. It was pretty good in content, but the sense of relief from the prior speech overwhelmed whatever adamance I may have had to agree with her.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Too funny

Speaks for itself, doesn't it? Nod to Andrew Sullivan.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hear ye, hear ye!

Available for pre-order. Release 2/4/08. Get with it.

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The Bush Administration lied nine-hundred and thirty-five times regarding Iraq leading up to and during the war.
When questioned, I am sure it will depend on what their meaining of "is" is. Perhaps they "don't recall" or "can't recollect" all of them. It doesn't matter. They've done damage and need to, in the parlance GWB should appreciate, atone for their sins. Impeach the bastards.

(Source: TPM)

Search for your favorite lie here.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Band Game

The Band Game...

Album cover (above)
Band Name: Spindle (stationary)
Album title: I approved of it.

Via DCeiver via Cat Andrews. I am not tricksy enough to actually get the deets on the pic. Woe is me. But, despite the randomness, I approve of all three.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Considering a VP

Its the first mention outside the usual suspects I have heard of. Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as Obama's running mate? However unlikely, it would be sharp.

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I *heart* Populism

Sasha Abramsky has a good post on Edwards in Nevada. Despite the poll numbers, I am not counting him out of the running. Again, it would be great to have a three way race going into Tsunami Tuesday.

As of 1/15, American Reasearch Group shows:
Obama 32%
Clinton 35%
Edwards 25%

Its still anyone's race.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

What I'd like

So, my favorite blogger posted a list of what he wants out of the candidate who is to be the recipient of his vote in the '08 Presidential election. Its quite good. The criteria I particularly like are:
  • Restoration of Habeus corpus;
  • Repeal of NSPD-51, a directive signed by the current President that empowers the Executive to legally seize all powers of government;
  • Cessation or severe curtailment of the use of Signing Statements;
  • Cessation of all extralegal activities of the Executive Branch with regard to FISA;
  • Cessation of all extralegal or otherwise inhuman methods of treatment of captured "enemy combatants";
  • Assertion that the Vice-Presidency is in the Executive Branch;
  • Refusal to grant pardons in which they have a vested interest;
The other three on the list are totally valid, but these seven truly float my boat. In the past, I have pondered the next executive to hold the office of President and the powers they will inherit. What Checkypantz has done is to remind me of this and make me wonder why no journalists are asking questions about this stuff. Seriously. Habeas corpus, NSPD-51, Signing Statements, FISA and the actual place of the office of the Vice President in government have all been major stories over the last seven years and have total relevance and bearing on the next President to hold office. So why aren't the candidates being vetted on such issues?

These questions need to be asked and definitive answers need to be given from all the candidates. Over the last eight years, the American people have let too much slide with regards to their rights and governance. That has to stop and the effort begins with this election.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Al Franken for Senate!

Via HuffPo

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Michigan, Hillary and Obama

Watching the Michigan primary results last night and then flipping over to the Nevada debate hosted by MSNBC proved fine entertainment indeed. To add to my AADD, I was also constantly refreshing my browser window for TPM getting live coverage of both television events. I was and am pleased for Romney. Mostly for similar reasons that I stated yesterday. Competition is good. Its the American way. And it was almost comical how Romney appeared to be releived to get the win. Telling, don't you think?

Just as a side note, Rudy beat Dennis Kucinich in Michigan. What a relief. And I thought Il Duce's campaign was floundering. Florida can't come too quickly. Shut the blowhard up once and for all.

One thing last night did reveal, despite a crisp debate performance from Hillary, is that she has a major weakness with her campaign. Despite the fact that she was the only major candidate for the Democrats on the ballot in Michigan, she failed to garner anywhere near a majority of the Black vote. In fact, CNN's polling suggest that Obama would have netted about 73% of the African American vote. Even if its not entirely accurate, its too large a number to ignore. This projects heavily on her standing and/or chances in South Carolina.

Given the unreliability of polling lately (which is awesome, IMO), Clinton could be facing third place finishes in South Carolina AND Nevada. (Well, maybe. A fella can dream.) All the same, I thought Edwards and Obama were quite good in last night's debate and showed that however sparkling Hillary can be, the field is really strong as a whole. That is, relative to the Republican field, of course.

And for once, I'd love the Democrats to emulate the Republicans. I.E. a course de trois manières, if only until Tsunami Tuesday.

The last thing that was gleaned from the African American vote in Michigan was how it reflects, actively or passively, on Obama's campaign. Until the Iowa caucus, it seemed that much of the African American community thought that a Black man could not be elected President of the United States. Then in one of the, if not THE whitest state in the nation, that all changed. And it was too big a win for it to be considered a fluke as Hillary, who's husband is considered the first Black President by some, finished third.

So with a substantial key demographic in play, last week's "race" flair up between the candidates and their supporters could foreshadow excactly how in front the race issue really is. Whether in reality it is or isn't does't matter. What does matter is that this Presidential election season is riveting and its keeping peoples involved. All we can hope for beyond this is that United States style democracy and the nation as a whole comes out the better for it.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Looking at the entire field

Clinton's claim to superior experience isn't merely dishonest. It's also potentially dangerous should she become the nominee. If Clinton continues to build her campaign on the dubious foundation of government experience, it shouldn't be very difficult for her GOP opponent to pull that edifice down. That's especially true if a certain white-haired senator now serving his 25th year in Congress (four in the House and 21 in the Senate) wins the nomination. McCain could easily make Hillary look like an absolute fraud who is no more truthful about her depth of government experience than she is about why her mother named her "Hillary." Dennis Kucinich has more government experience than Clinton. (He also has a better health-care plan, but we'll save that for another day.) If Clinton doesn't find a new theme soon, she won't just be cutting Obama's throat. She'll also be cutting her own. (Slate via TDD)

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Dark horse?

Ian Welsh says that we shouldn't count Edwards out yet. His reasoning is pretty good. I am happy oblige him because Nevada is a statistical dead heat.
Barack Obama: 32 percent
Hillary Clinton: 30 percent
John Edwards: 27 percent

Does anyone else think that this is all great for American politics? I mean, what with the writer's strike, there's not much on TV, so we're left to our Netflix ques and the Presidential race. If it reinvests the electorate's interest in governance and increases scrutiny of those who would take office, it can't be a bad thing for our society. It could also be read as the American people wanting to make sure they don't get Bush-whacked again.

If I were to have my druthers, I'd like Edwards to win this one to spite the polls yet again. And/or to string out the suspense and intrigue of this process until (poorly renamed) Tsunami Tuesday. In any case, it doesn't matter to me if he gets the party's nomintation. For once, his presence on the scene could make the national convention an actual convention with some intrigue as opposed to the pep rally. So, go Edwards!

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Taking the late train

Last night, a friend was generous enough to bring me along to see Is He Dead? While it wasn't a great show, it was certainly enjoyable and very well done. As it is still in the infancy of its run, the cast hasn't quite gelled into a well oiled machine in terms of timing and taking opportunities as the full subtext of any play might provide. The knocks will work themselves out soon enough and it will have a good run of it.

But I come not to bury, not to praise,
But to speak of other things, my ride home.

As you might note from my media list to the right, I am reading Steve Martin's Born Standing Up. It is excellent. I am mid way through the book and hell bent on finishing it soon. So, as with any good reading, I am loathed to be distracted by what is going on around me. None the less, my attention was diverted, somewhat by coincidence relevant to the content of the pages before me.

Sitting behind me, to my left, were two college men. My guess is that they were headed back to Montclair State University after a night out in Manhattan. They were involved in a three way conversation with one of their cohorts over a mobile phone. One of the lads seemed to have a post-cryogenic-thaw inability to control the volume of his voice. In other words, I could not help but notice the content developing in my proximity.

Whoever was on the other end of the call had apparently been the victim of theft. Actual linear time aside, college doesn't feel that far off, so the tone they had adopted was vaguely familiar. As it turns out, the stolen item was a bottle of Baily's Irish Cream. Nothing else. The discussion ranged from likely suspects to if the crime should be reported to the proper authorities. As the fellow with the voice problem stated, at least it wasn't the guy's teevee. However, this bottle of Baily's was imported by the victim's own hand from his stay in Ireland and had only been sipped six times.

While I can see the sentimental value of that kind of loss, the gravity with which it was being treated was equivalent to that of a 60 year old bottle of Oban's going missing, or a brand new plasma screen teevee. Those losses I can rationally comprehend. But, in efforts to get my head around the problem, however one sided my intelligence gathering, I supposed that the victim might not have been of age and therefore liquor, whatever its kind or source, had a vastly inflated value given law, etc...

When I was of similar age, there were two finished bottles of Cuervo Gold that I had a large hand in emptying and was disproportionately attached to. I spent a great deal of time turning them into candle sticks with multi-colored wax dripped all over. (Creativity is so relative.) When one broke, it was a sad day. I did get over it quickly, however. The other I resolved to leave behind with my college days upon graduation. Equivalent inertia felt and a faster recovery made.

The conversation kept going back to the missing Baily's to the point of sounding contrived. However, I couldn't be sure how much alcohol anyone had consumed and I was failing to recall what life was like at that time. I.E. the irrelevant and unimportant being able, by choice or circumstance, to be come utterly salient and paramount.

My stop was coming up when, back tracking in the book because of the repeated distraction, I noticed this: "Of course, we were all beautiful. We were in our 20s." Throughout his book, Steve Martin writes with such warmth and affection for so much he recollects. Its easy to understand his perception of beauty. While I don't share that perception (yet), especially in relation to the fellows I couldn't help eavesdropping on, I do feel it for that time of life and its care free, consequence free existence. I will probably always feel that kind of inertia for those salad days, but like fine wine and some women, they'll just get better with age.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Summing it up

In the seven years that I've been the President we've had a recession, corporate scandals, the 9-11 attack, major national disasters...uhhh...two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq--all that created was uncertainty. Each one of those instances. We've been able to come through it because we've been resilient.
-President Bush 1/8/08
(Via DCeiver ala HuffPo)

Let this be his monograph. And heavily caveat the resilient bit. He gets no credit for it.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Prius vs. Civic

Now that the Deviants live in suburbia, the lifestyle adjustments are sinking in. One of the big adjustments is the need for a second automobile. At present, Mrs. Deviant's employer provides us with a company car that has served us in terms of our urban living. It has certainly had its liabilities (parking, size and parking) but with public transit so readily available and most things within walking distance, a second car wasn't required.

Suburban living has strongly determined that we get a second car for reasons of lack of walkablity to most stuff and schlepping the BFD when the parents Deviant have disparate schedules or commitments. Being on a budget and green minded, getting a hybrid car was an easy decision. Past that, narrowing the field was fairly simple as well. We have a budget and must consider the actual size of our garage. Its very small.

On a bit of a whim, we decided to look at Nissan. They now make an Altima hybrid that is brand new to the market. We went to the local dealer and took a test drive. It was NICE. The car drove wonderfully, had a very comfortable interior. The efficiency was better than the pure gasoline models and comparable classes, but not as good as the Civic or Prius. Strike one. Upon getting back to the dealership, we checked out the spec sheet and found our strike two. It was too big for our garage. It was officially out of the running. Mrs. Deviant was bummed.

Our next foray into test driving took us to the Toyota dealership to check out the Prius. We had done a fair amount of research on the car and knew the mileage benefits and that the federal tax credit on hybrid vehicles had already expired for the Prius. Sharing this with the sales person helping us was either prohibitive or the guy was a shmoe. He did very little to sell the car and the test drive felt like we were imposing on his time. So, the experience was tainted, but we thought the car drove relatively well for what it is. I.E. an economy-ish car where efficiency is the selling point as opposed to comfort or performance in handling.

Its worth it to note that I thought the Prius was just fine. I liked it and found it roomy, comfortable and covered all my bases for features, etc... Mrs. Deviant, who is a driver by virtue of her job and is consequently particular about her demands from a driving experience. She was luke-warm at best about the driving experience and really did not like her perspective in the driver's seat. She felt a bit too low and disliked how far away the dash components were relative to her position. She's petite and perspective when she's driving is important. The Prius has an adjustable seat, but does not shift vertically. That is 1/2 of a big strike. (I say only a half because whatever we get, I'll be the primary driver.)

Finally, we sought out the Honda Civic hybrid. Firstly, it was a great sales experience. The fellow we dealt with was wonderful and we walked away feeling like we could buy the car on the spot. Never doubt the effect a good salesperson can have on your thinking. Relative to the Prius, the Honda Civic hybrid (HCH) does not get as good city mileage (40 mpg vs Prius's 48). It is equivalent for highway mileage (45 mpg). The Deviants both agreed it drove fine. This is to imply that Mrs. D. liked it better that the Prius. The orientation of the interior was more like a standard car and was comfortable. This was a plus for both of us. Again, a bit more so for the Mrs.

When we returned from the test drive, our sales person gave us a comparison sheet listing the HCH and the Prius. Having done a fair amount of comparing ourselves, his literature did not overly favor the HCH one way or the other. They really are very comparable automobiles. It seems more a matter of what your needs or interests are from a car. This is where the house Deviant is divided. But more on that in a bit.

Speaking strictly of cons, the HCH only has an obvious few. In 2007, it was still eligible for the federal tax credit. A casualty of the legislation process means that as of right now, that tax credit is not active until they renew the legislation. And Congress is too busy with other things, so HCH's column gets a phantom strike listed. Next, the seats do not fold down to increase cargo space. This is prohibited in its design by the battery for the car. The trunk is fairly small, but enough if you pack modestly and efficiently. This gets a half strike from me as I am more concerned about schlepping the BFD's stuff than Mrs. D is. Lastly, I have read a lot on the 2007 HCH in forums and the like and they complain repeatedly of rattles and the car not feeling well made. I have not seen similar complaints of the 2008, but its relatively early still.

As a counter and redirect, I did speak with a friend of the family who has had an HCH for 2+ years and he hasn't observed anything like that to complain about. What he has noted is that his model year ('06?) is vulnerable to temperature. Apparently, when the outdoor temperature dips below a certain degree (near freezing, it seemed), the crossover switch from gas to electric did not function as well and he lost efficiency to the tune of about 8 - 10 mpg. I have no idea if the '07s or '08s have progressed beyond that issue or not, but will follow up on it with our Toyota guy in the weeks ahead. If it is still the case, its a big strike even if suburbia is fairly temperate relative to our friend's northern example.

Cons for the Prius are firstly, that it is a hatch back. This is just something we're not used to as the sight lines take some adjusting to. Also, the camera in the back is a nice safety feature, but the screen at the center top of the dashboard is a bit distracting from the driving experience. Again, I am sure you get used to it pretty quickly. As mentioned before, the driver's seat is not adjustable vertically, so shorter people are more constrained by the different sight lines. The Prius doesn't have as good a pick up as the HCH. This isn't to say that its a turtle off the start, but its definitely appreciable. Some people like the way it looks. I am ok with it, but I wouldn't say I am thrilled with the aesthetics.

So, with the Prius, the complaints are more aesthetic and design oriented. The HCH has some significant question marks and is shorter on space (by approximately six cubic feet). The difference in engines is significant as well. Aside from an efficiency and power difference, its important to note that the HCH has a larger gas engine that is helped by the smaller electric engine while the Prius has a larger electric engine that is assisted by the smaller gas engine. Both cars meet the California emissions standards with the Prius being slightly better than the HCH. Similar warranties are offered and the service is comparable. Honda has a one point better safety rating, though both have excellent records.

As far as neat-o bells and whistles, both have mp3 ports and nifty, frilly whiz bang gadgetry by way of GPS, etc... Though the HCH does not have blue tooth standard, I think. The Prius has it as part of some of the upper tier packages.

Breaking is fine in both cars. The chief difference is that the HCH battery is charged off the breaks solely. The Prius can charge off a down shifting option that is standard on all models or off the breaks. The advantage to this saving wear and tear on your break pads. This, to me, is appealing.

It may be abundantly clear which car is the better choice, but the differences, pluses and minuses, have different values. Marriage is a two way street and time will tell. FYI, anyone facing a similar question, I've found quite helpful in getting general questions answered. Finally, any motor heads out there in the know with knowledge of the Ritz Power Shift, if you would drop me a line and tell me if it actually works to your benefit, it would be much appreciated.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

The odds

Obama Has 90% Odds of New Hampshire Victory, Online Traders Say
Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has a 90 percent chance of winning the New Hampshire primary election and is likely to capture his party's nomination, online traders say.

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From the blogroll

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Must read

Yesterday in the Washington Post, George McGovern had an OpEd entitled Why I Believe Bush Must Go. Nixon Was Bad. These Guys Are Worse. It is a piece on the need for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. It is realistic and argued with the full knowledge of its unlikelihood. However, he calls impeachment's persuit "the rightful course for an American patriot." It will come as no surprise that I agree as evidenced by these entries.

McGovern was before my time and I don't know a great deal about him. My perception has nearly always been that he was a sort of sacred cow of the Democratic Party. When he speaks out on an issue, which appears to be rarely, people do, or should, listen. Hopefully this will be the case and affect action of American patriots.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Republican entertainment

I have paying a consistent passing interest to the actual content of the Presidential debates and have noticed how the notion of "change" is so prominent in much of the content of discussion. Edwards and Obama chided Clinton last night in New Hampshire for being an establishment candidate, which she in fact is, more than the others save for Richardson perhaps, but he doesn't count so much for obvious reasons.

Anyhow, the clip below came to mind. Mostly for how Republicans might see Hillary's candidacy. However the same is applicable, perhaps more so to Romney (particularly if you're Lawrence O'Donnell). It all depends on what side of the isle your standing in. This isn't to condemn Hillary, mind you. This is just my strange effort to entertain a broader audience. So, try and enjoy.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Jigga wha???


Of all the people running for president, I’ve been the most vetted, the most investigated, and — my goodness — the most innocent, it turns out...
- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

(Politico via TDD)

Are you kidding me? The investigated part I'll buy. Vetted and innocent, it turns out, is some of the finest bologna available.

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From the blog roll

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Well, last night was great. It was great for American democracy, it was great for American history and it was great for America's political system. There's so much to be taken from the results. Its not within this blogger's capacity to hash out everything it means, could mean or even or will mean. Mark Shields and David Brooks did a good job of scratching that surface last night on PBS. See that here.

And, in case you missed it, Obama's speech last night was REALLY good. Worth the time spent. Spend that time here, if you wish...

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Justin in case you missed it

From 12/31/07 NYT. Must read editorial.

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Of Iowa and Primaries

I just have to say, this is the first time in quite a while there has been this much buzz in the air generated by those around me relating to anything even remotely political. I have always talked about politics as a near and dear subject, but since I moved from the DC area, very few people have shared my conversational proclivities.

That is all different today. Over the last few days, its all people can talk about and I love it. It feels like Christmas Eve or the night before the NCAA tournament when I used to care about basketball. My giddiness is slightly accelerated by Eschaton's mirroring my private prediction about Iowa.

This big tot with his eyes all aglow will find it hard to sleep tonight.

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Debate this!

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From the a.m. blogroll

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Primary Season Eve Thinking

So sayeth TPM, Rudy is in free fall. To this, I say hooray. The once front runner is falling from the fore and for good reason. So, if he does bow out, rather, when he bows out, who will he endorse? Moreover, who will his cash and/or backers go to? Its hard to see him getting behind Huckabee or Romney. McCain's tide is coming back in and, as far as Republican candidates go, he's the most tolerable of the bunch. He also seems to be the least distant from Giuliani in terms of core issues. But I could be wrong on that given my proximity to the left.

Anyhow, you still have to consider the Paul haul of cash, Huckabee's popularity w/ the Rapture crowd (which was largely responsible for Bush's success at the polls), Romney's flip-flopping machismo to those GOPers that just want to win for winning's sake and lastly, the oddly dogged Thompson supporters who claim he's the guy for the job because he'd be loyal to the Constitution and he looks the most presidential (whatever that is). In the end, despite what others say, I think the betting person should be placing their money on either McCain or Romney. As to who ends up endorsing who, only time can tell. But its an entertaining speculation for another time.

Hillary is not doing so well. And the way in which she is not doing so well portends of how it might be if she is the nominee, or elected President for that matter. See here and here to see what I am alluding to. Frankly, its worse than watching Rudy and smacks of the Bush '00 and '04 playbook, but softer. Sort of. Meanwhile, Obama is advertising on Drudge and has voted for every funding bill for the Iraq War that has crossed his desk, despite having voted against the War in the first place (as he frequently reminds his audiences). Clearly he walks the politicians' walk in this regard

John Edwards is consistently in third place overall and nearly every one's second choice. He has been a populist for his entire campaign, not to mention is '04 run. The tone of his populism has strengthened as the primaries have drawn closer and now he is saying he'll have the troops out in ten months. While the initial appeal of that promise is alluring, you have to realize that given the size of our forces in the region, to leave Iraq would take ten months in the best and fastest of circumstances. So, like all the other candidates, he's giving the best case scenario. The reality is most assuredly to be starkly different.

Like Michael Moore, I am not endorsing Edwards. I have called him an ideal candidate and consider his poll position to be a vindication of that prediction. I think he is suited for the job and has championed causes that I think are the most important. However, circumstance and the reality of our modern times are stacked against him. Senators Clinton and Obama are the inheritors of that circumstance and the symbolic, reactive progression of history's equation to date.

America wants change desperately. The blunt, obvious antidote to what we've had in our new security age is either a woman or a man of (if partial) minority dissent. To have a brown skinned man be the President of these United States may be the most important and symbolically helpful thing we can do as a nation to send a message to the rest of the world that we can change, definitively. Electing a woman to the office surely wouldn't be harmful in terms of symbolism. It would, in fact be a great achievement in the identity politics of America as a nation, but only inwardly. The world community has had international women leaders before and will continue to.

Now is not Hillary's time. For all her "experience," Hillary Clinton has not demonstrated to this blogger that she can master the helm of a ship that is currently stern deep in threatening and mineable waters. We are a great nation founded on great ideas. Those ideas and this nation need either be served by someone possessing great ideas or able to seize upon the great ideas that will restore what has been so badly tarnished and worn.

Speaking as a Democrat, if Hillary is nominated to run as the Democrat's candidate for President, she'll likely lose. That is if McCain or Romney are the Republican nominee. If Democrats look past nostalgia, baby boomer gender politics and obvious easy choices and really look forward to righting Bush's wrongs and voting for leadership that will steer our national ship of state to safe shores, Edwards or Obama are the better votes.

Update: Freddy T. likely to bow out! Likely to support McCain!. Tick one of the speculation list. Sorry ALa.

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