Saturday, June 28, 2008

Because the Night

This is what 1:47 a.m. looks like in late June in Oulu, Finland, when, finally, it isn't raining:

And this is 1:03 a.m.:
And here is one more tiny bit of evidence that fear and loathing of feminism is universal (we think, though, of course, we couldn't actually read the article in the magazine, it being in Finnish and all):
(Photo Credits: Moose, though Goose threatened to take her wine away if she didn't get up off her duff and take the sunset shots.)

This brief post was inspired by the bright young Digital Museologist who said over dinner, "I miss the night." The moms know just what she means. The endless evenings of the near-Arctic summer are surreal and beautiful, but they are jarring, too. Time is impossible to judge, which partly explains why the moms slept past 11 a.m. yesterday. You realize in a place like this how much your sense of time depends upon the shifting of the light, the movement into darkness. Without it, dinners (happily!) go on and on, and energies that usually flag with the fading of the light get revved back up -- and so you find yourself strolling the streets of an unfamiliar city at nearly midnight taking silly photographs and laughing with strangers. You have a nightcap, but the night still hasn't come, and your body still doesn't feel ready for rest. You close the curtains to shut out the twilight, but you sense its presence anyway. Even in sleep, it hovers on the edges of consciousness. You miss the night, because without it you cannot recognize the day.

Dickinson wrote, "I see thee better -- in the Dark." I bet she would have missed the night, too.

(With pride in and affection for the Digital Terps who made the journey and performed so well. See y'all back in the 'hood soon.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dreaming in Finnish

Slow day here vacation-wise, because the moms were mostly hobnobbing at the conference and the weather was perfectly dreadful -- cold, raining, gray clouds thick enough to slice. Highlights? A pre-dinner sauna and a dip in the coldest pool on earth. Well, Moose jumped in, because her Teutonic blood can take it. Goose sat delicately on the edge, her toe barely touching the surface of the water.

Just to show the weather hasn't dampened our spirits -- or to prove that our spirits more or less match the Finnish national mood -- we pass along this pants-wetting bit of local video culture featuring the Helsinki Complaints Choir. I have a hunch the Pretty Boys will love it, connoisseurs of camp that they are. Moose is already imagining a Finnish-themed winter solstice party this year that will culminate in a reenactment of this stunning choral performance. Candy Man, you're on keyboards. Prep School Teacher, you'll be directing the choir. qta, you'll handle costumes, catering, obscure film references, and anything else Moose frantically orders you to do at the last minute. The vid is long, so we'll tease you with the song's haunting refrain to make sure you watch the whole thing:

My dreams are boring
Reference numbers are too long
Women are still paid less than men
Bullshitters get on too well in life
The daily paper is too thick
Why always me?
It's not fair!

Touching, isn't it? We think this is the theme song Hillary Clinton's campaign needed. In fact, we think Finland may be just the country for Clinton to lead. Doesn't this chorus of alienated complainers remind you of those armies of Clinton voters who just couldn't catch a break? Don't we all hate our jobs, feel we don't get laid enough, think that all ring tones are irritating, and believe that the ancestors of the Finns could have picked a sunnier place to be? Yes, my friends, the Finns are us. We are the Finns. Alas.

(With thanks to Stan, a Canadian digital humanist with a nose for blog fodder.)

(Closing joke supplied by a Feminist Digital Canadian: What does Finland look like? Ontario after someone had taken a rolling-pin to it. It's like we always tell you, kids: Tell all the truth, but tell it funny.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yoo-Hoo from Oulu!

(Photo Credit: Moose; Copenhagen Airport, 6/24/08)

Sorry for the delay in posting, kids. We've had some technical difficulties here in the north country. I think maybe some reindeer are chewing on the cable lines, which is slowing down connection times and making it impossible for Moose to upload the gargantuan files of the 12-megapixel photos from her super-awesome Canon G9. She had to shrink this poetic shot of the airport in Copenhagen down to practically nothing to get it to upload to Blogger. (Facebook friends can see a larger version on the album Moose set up there, "Chicks in the Arctic, 2008.")

Moose is a little too cranky to do one of her witty travel post cards right now, so I'll give you the short version of their trip so far. (She's still working to get all her brain cells and other bodily systems to accept the fact that it's seven hours later than it was when she hopped aboard a plane late Monday afternoon.) They got into Helsinki in the middle of Tuesday afternoon, took a nap, and went out for a lovely five-course meal, with wine pairings, that, thanks to their worthless Yankee currency, cost approximately 7 trillion dollars (which Moose, in an uncharacteristic fit of generosity, had volunteered to pay for, on account of Goose had taken care of arranging all the logistics of the trip). They dined at Havis on the harbor, and had a sumptuous feast that included an appetizer called "The Life of a Fish" (salmon served five ways from roe to smoked), white asparagus in a goat-cheese foam, and a delicate brill garnished with squid and gnocchi. It was delicious, and the service was impeccable, but when Moose translated the total cost into dollars she wondered if she shouldn't have invested that money in some nobler cause than feeding two jet-lagged middled-aged women. She thought about the floods in Iowa, Darfur, the earthquake in China, cancer, the cyclone -- oh, damn, she thought, where was that cyclone? -- and then she nodded off, and when she awoke it was time for the hotel's bountiful, complimentary breakfast buffet.

After breakfast, they skedaddled over to the train station to catch a 9:30 train to Oulu, site of the conference they'll be attending (where Moose will make her international debut as a "digital humanist," all on account of ME, a dog). The train ride was six hours long through some of the flattest country they had ever seen. "It's like Indiana," Moose said at one point, "with lakes and a lot more trees." In the course of their journey, they had another funny food-related incident, this one involving a woman named Marla who didn't seem to understand that their first-class tickets entitled them to free food in the dining car. The tickets said, in English, show your tickets in the dining car and get a sandwich, yogurt, and muesli (because apparently all Finnish meals are required to involve muesli in some form), but Marla's menu evidently said something different because she smiled politely and said a great many Finnish words to them that roughly translated into, "No free food for spoiled Yankee lesbians," so they returned to their seats, said they weren't hungry anyway, and went back to fiddling on their computers. Marla showed up at their seats in a few minutes, demanded their tickets, and went away. This made Goose quite nervous, but Moose said, "Don't be silly. This woman is not going to steal our tickets and run off to the North Pole. Trust the universe." Marla came back a few minutes later, talking on a telephone, handed back their tickets, spoke more words in Finnish, and walked away saying something about coffee and free cookies. They laughed hysterically, had a couple of cookies -- and were ravenous by the time they showed up at the opening reception for the conference a few hours later.

So, there you have it. They are now in Oulu and have hooked up with their digital humanist pals, with whom they dined on smoked reindeer pizza (see below) for far less than the cost of one day's worth of funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Reindeer is really quite tasty, you know, and they don't feel the least bit guilty about chowing down on Rudolph and his friends. Life is hard here in the rugged north. You eat what you can get -- a free cookie, a pop cult icon, a $400 nibble of fish -- anything Marla will let you have. Peace out, vikings.

(Photo Credit: Moose; dinner in Oulu, 6/25/08)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Strat Memo for the Obama Campaign

(Photo Credit: Alex Brandon, Associated Press; Senator Barack Obama speaks during a meeting of Democratic governors at the Chicago History Museum in Chicago, 6/20/08)

To: Obama for President
From: Call Us Next Time, Old Bitches for Hillary, and Roxie’s World

Re: Wooing Disaffected Clintonistas (Or, How To Turn an Old Bitch into an Obama Girl – Or Not)

Congratulations on nailing down the superdelegates you needed to secure the nomination, despite the ambiguity of the popular-vote outcome in the Democratic primary race. We are proud to belong to the party that put an African American at the top of a major-party ticket for president for the first time in U.S. history. That is nothing to sneeze at, even if we did support the Gritty Girl Who Got the Most Votes -- and, yes, we know that’s merely a technicality and it’s time to move on and blah de blah de blah.

Fine, let’s move on. Let’s start thinking about November. Not that you asked for our input or anything, but America’s favorite dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball has given some thought to how you, the presumptive Democratic nominee, might get a few more unity ponies into the corral in order to increase your chances of defeating the war hero with roughly a thousand years of seniority over you in the Senate. We realize that polls are looking reasonably good for you at this point but Al Gore and John Kerry were both leading at this point, too, and we remain concerned about the rumblings of discontent we’re hearing in the pro-Hillary blogosphere. Besides which, we are not at all certain at this point that we ourselves will be able to pull the lever for you come election day, as we recently declared. We care deeply enough about the challenge before you that my typist is putting this post together 39,000 feet above the surface of our damaged yet still beautiful earth, as she and Goose make their way toward Finland. We interrupt their working vacation to give you some unsolicited advice on how you might earn or forfeit our support in the general election. File this under FWIW, Senator Obama, and we will see which way the pack runs in November.

Quickest way to guarantee our support: Put Hillary Clinton on the ticket. Do that, sir, and we’ll have an Obama-Clinton widget up on our sidebar so fast it’ll make your halo spin. We will set aside all our reservations and do everything within our power to assure that both you and Senator Clinton get to place your hands on the Bible come January 20, 2009. Don’t blink, or you’ll miss our Old Bitches for Obama-Clinton tee shirts as you stroll by in the inaugural parade. We’ll even give you a new blog name. Perhaps, instead of “the Lesser,” you might become known in these precincts as, um, “Good Enough.”

Quickest way to lose our support: Put Sam Nunn on the ticket. People keep talking about it, and it is driving us insane. Some of us are old enough to remember that the 20th-century Georgia senator crippled Bill Clinton’s presidency before the Big Guy had even had a chance to size up the first class of interns over the issue of allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Nunn may have indicated recently that he thinks the policy should be “revisited,” but some of us will never forgive the architect of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Put him on the ticket, and queers with long memories and deep pockets will know you don’t want their votes. Roxie’s World will urge its legions of loyal fans to write in Hillary Clinton. Your new blog name if you make this suicidal move? “Low-bama.”

What else/more you might do to persuade us: Stop pretending you are the most progressive candidate who has ever run when the record shows you are a centrist who on many important issues is actually more conservative than the woman you defeated for the nomination. Stop encouraging voters to believe that transcendence is possible or even desirable in the realm of politics. Politics is hard work because it is precisely not about transcending differences. It is about reckoning with them – through negotiation, through compromise, through deal-making. That doesn’t sully the process. In a very real sense, that is the process. Oh, and stop with the scary/spooky talk about the Supreme Court. Dems have been using that line for decades. If it won elections, there would be compact-fluorescent bulbs throughout the White House and Al Gore would be publicly planning his post-presidency while Tipper geared up for a senate run. Besides, most of us who care passionately about reproductive rights are savvy enough to know that Roe v. Wade has been functionally eviscerated. It will take more than one or two appointments to undo the damage wrought since Reagan began pushing the court to the right in the 80s.

Signs that lead us to think you are still really not getting it (or that you are arrogant enough to believe you really don’t need us and other Democratic base voters to win): Wow, Mr. New Kind of Politics, where do we begin? The closed-door meeting with 40 evangelical ministers whose names you never publicly released? The meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus where your response to women was that they needed to “get over” the primary race because McCain would be worse? The shift in your position on NAFTA and the quip about “overheated” campaign rhetoric? The reversal on public financing of your campaign? You’ve been a busy, busy boy since claiming the nomination, and most of the business has been about tacking to the center quicker than you could say “Clintonian triangulation.” Some of this may just be smart politics (though “progressive” critics of the Clintons have always been less charitable in their descriptions of similar moves), but we don’t see much in these adjustments that make our hearts go pitter-pat for you. Will swing voters who might otherwise go to McCain feel differently? Perhaps, but you might consider making some moves aimed at impressing the 18 million Democrats who voted for your major rival in the primary race. Which leads us to our next point.

Bold moves you could make to get our attention: You might try a little humility for a start. Some of us just don’t think you’ve earned the righteousness you convey in your speechifying and in the casual flicking of dirt off your shoulders. Even some of your sycophants in the press corps have started to make noises about a certain arrogance. Prove that you’re a true progressive: Admit that the health-care plan you advocated during the primary isn’t truly universal and that anything short of that is insufficient. Cut your ties to coal and ethanol. Have the guts to say that anything less than full federal marriage rights for same-sex couples is a form of segregation. Oh, yeah, and fire whoever it was who came up with the idea of that dopey campaign seal that goofily mimics the presidential seal. Some folks are already calling you “Faux-bama,” sweetie. Don’t give them any more ammunition, ‘kay? Last but not least, do a little reading this summer. Start with Rebecca Traister’s “incomplete taxonomy of post-primary rage” among Clinton voters. It’s pretty thorough and not dripping with the kind of contempt toward you that you’d encounter if you browsed the archives of The Confluence. You might want to try that sometime, though. If you could harness the energy of that hatred, Precious, you could rule the whole damn galaxy.

That’s it for now, Senator. We’re available for consultation with your campaign any time, though a couple of important members of the pack may be difficult to reach over the next couple of weeks. I am pleased to report that Moose and Goose arrived safe, sound, and sleepy to a drizzly Helsinki early this morning Eastern time. Stay tuned for travel pics and commentary from Finland, Sweden, and Norway – including one special excursion inside the Arctic Circle! – as the globetrotting moms go off on another one of their most excellent adventures. Who knows? Maybe they can nail down a gig for Hillary Clinton as ruler of some enlightened Scandinavian country. The far northern nations have a history of women leaders, after all, and we think Hill would fit right in with a bunch of ball-busting Viking tough girls. We’ll let ya know! Skoal, beloveds.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Three Fast Funnies

1. For all you hard-working cubicle-dwellers out there, here's a hilarious "Pearls Before Swine" (click on image to enlarge):

2. For those of you who know it's not nice to speak ill of the dead but have no qualms about making fun of them, hie thee straight over to the magnificent Jon Swift, who has emerged from his excruciatingly long (for those of us who can't live without our regular doses of "reasonable conservatism") blog silence in time to plumb the depths of the significance (to humanity) of the death of Tim Russert. The important part of the post is Swift's insightful analysis of what he terms "the Russert rule," which reversed well-established journalistic practices of making all conversations with public officials on the record so that Little Timmy and his friends could enjoy pleasant evenings in Georgetown, but the funny part is Jon's reflection on the enormous shock of Russert's sudden death:
Russert's friends and colleagues were understandably shocked by Russert's premature passing. If an overweight workaholic with diabetes and a history of coronary artery disease can suddenly die without warning, is any one of us safe? Many of the pundits and politicians who spoke at Russert's funeral and during the hours and hours and hours of cable news coverage must have been wondering, for the first time in their lives, Am I, too, mortal? Tom Brokaw has never looked so human.
Moose is going to tape that quote up on the refrigerator to keep her motivated to stick to the Tim Russert Memorial Lifestyle Adjustment Plan she launched in the wake of the newsman's death. (Originally, she was calling it a "diet," but then she clicked over to the Weight Watchers web site and was reminded that just saying the word "diet" is a guaranteed way to gain weight. She did not sign up for Weight Watchers, but she appreciated the sound, free advice.)

3. For those of you planning to sit back and laugh smugly and cynically as Senator Barack Obama proves to be the calculating centrist Roxie's World said he was all along, here's a David Brooks column that you might find amusing. It pains us to agree with the smarmy, insufferable Brooks, but he captures the duality of Obama -- "the high-minded, Niebuhr-quoting speechifier" versus "the promise-breaking, tough-minded Chicago pol who’d throw you under the truck for votes" -- that we think a lot of Republicans and most of his starry-eyed progressive fans have overlooked. The money quote?
Just try to imagine Mister Rogers playing the agent Ari in “Entourage” and it all falls into place.
That nails it, doesn't it? Public financing? Hey, he was for it before he was against it. Call us when Obama puts Sam Nunn on his ticket, will you? We may need you to explain to us, just once more and very slowly, what a truly transformational leader the Lesser is. What's that you were saying about a new style of politics? Let me cock my head to the right a little so you can speak into this old dog's good ear.

Peace out, kids. Much to do today as the moms prepare for their journey to the Arctic. Stay tuned for the strat memo we're preparing for the Obama campaign as it works tirelessly (or is that cluelessly?) to woo disaffected Clintonistas. We'll have it before they take off on Monday. Honor bright.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

California Loving

I had been hungry, all the Years --
My Noon had Come -- to dine --
I trembling drew the Table near --
And touched the Curious Wine --
--Emily Dickinson
(Photo Credit: Noah Berger, San Francisco Chronicle; Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 83, pioneers of modern lesbian activism, are the first same-sex couple to wed legally in California, 6/16/08)

That crunching noise you heard early yesterday evening was the sound of Western civilization crumbling, as the first legal same-sex marriage was performed in the great state of California by love radical San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. The first happy couple to tie the knot was, appropriately, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, lesbo activists and a couple since the 1950s, whom Newsom married four years ago in the renegade weddings he performed before a court ruled them invalid on the grounds that Newsom did not have the authority to order that marriage licenses be granted to same-sex couples. Picky, picky, picky! (SF Chronicle report on the Martin/Lyon wedding is here.) An expected flood of queer hitchings and fabulous celebrations has been unleashed by a ruling last month by the California Supreme Court striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. A flood of painful, expensive un-hitchings is sure to follow, but, hey, that's equality for ya. We're hoping Del and Phyllis will discover that their fifty-five year partnership has been a good preparation for the rigors of marriage.

Roxie's World raises a glass and every paw in the house to Martin and Lyon, to Newsom, and to the CA Supreme Court. We also sincerely apologize for not having called attention to this monumental development sooner, but we've been awfully busy, as you know, trying to control the outcome of the presidential election. The court issued a strong, broad ruling rooted in the precedent of the same court's 1948 decision on interracial marriage (Perez v. Sharp) and affirming that "an individual's sexual orientation -- like a person's race or gender -- does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights." That wee parenthetical "like a person's race or gender" is a significant legal victory because decisions on LGBT rights and issues have hinged upon whether courts saw sexual orientation as like or unlike (the supposedly immutable characteristics of) race or gender. The decision also has national implications, because, unlike Massachusetts, California will issue marriage licenses to couples who do not reside in the state. (Yale law prof Kenji Yoshino blogs on the importance of the decision, which he describes as "revolutionary," here.)

Will issue marriage licenses to couples who do not reside in the state . . . . Huh. Did I mention that the moms have their big whoop-de-do convention that messes up the holidays every year in San Francisco, California this year? Did I mention that? Dear Santa: All I want for Christmas is for the state of California to make honest women of my moms. Love, Roxie

Ahem. We interrupt this sentimental foolishness to remind you that the official position of Roxie's World is that same-sex marriage is an important civil right that should be available to queers in all fifty of these United States, but that marriage as an institution and as a way of structuring intimacy has a dubious history and a tendency to become compulsory in character. We celebrate the expansion of rights, deplore any denial of full equality, and encourage all citizens -- and dogs -- to exercise their rights with care and continue to think creatively about the many possible forms of love. On the other hand, should the day come when same-sex couples are accorded the full panoply of federal benefits and protections attached to marriage, including Social Security spousal benefits, you can be reasonably certain Moose will have Goose in line at the courthouse so fast her head will spin.

By the way, one couple that apparently won't be having a double bridal shower is actress Jodie Foster and longtime partner and co-mom Cydney Bernard. We can't vouch for the story, which we stumbled across in the London Evening Standard, but word is Foster has dumped Bernard for the taller, younger, hotter Cynthia Morton, a writer she met on the set of The Brave One (which we analyze here). Jodie, sweetie, we will allow you a little mid-life crisis if you have to have one, but we would not recommend letting Morton write your next script. The Brave One was not, shall we say, your best vehicle. Call us, Jodie. We really need to talk.

Goodnight, my pretties. May you all be fortunate enough to find someone you can bear to look at, much less say "I do" to, after fifty-five years -- if and only if that is your freely chosen heart's desire and not the compulsion of a culture that privileges the couple as a relational structure.

Dear Santa: They are honest women, but, as I've told you before, they are weird. Love, Roxie

Update: More dish on the Jodie Foster/Cydney Bernard split: This UPI report from late May says that Jodie isn't the only one who dumped a co-mom! New gal pal Cindy Morton reportedly left actress Melanie Mayron (long ago of thirtysomething), with whom she has been raising 10-year-old twins, for Foster. Seems perhaps la Jodie is feeling a tad stressed by the whiff of scandal suddenly surrounding her. Check out this vid of her stuffing a large handbag in the face of a paparazzi trying to photograph her as she was approaching the passenger side of a car being driven by Morton earlier this week. Looks like it's time for somebody to pause and take a deep cleansing breath. What's a matter, Brave One? Is Morton proposing to write a sequel to Panic Room?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Going Neutral

(Image Credit: Where else but Wikipedia?)

Okay, kids, mourning has broken in Roxie’s World. We have fully absorbed Hillary Clinton’s loss in the Democratic primary race and are ready to move forward. Emmeline Grangerford has left the Office of Obits and Eulogies and is taking a well-deserved sabbatical. Flags are back at full-staff, but, as you can see, the flag we’ve run up the pole for the time being is that of Switzerland. Yep, that’s right. We do hereby declare our neutrality in the general election for president.

Permit me to explain. We are yellow-dog Democrats here in Roxie’s World. We will never vote for a Republican for president, no matter how angry we are with our party over
  • its fundamentally flawed and undemocratic nominating process;
  • the irregularities in the closing stages of that process that resulted in delegates being awarded to a candidate whose name did not even appear on the ballot in the state of Michigan;
  • the effort on the part of the party establishment to bring the primary race to a premature close by strong-arming a candidate out of the race when she was still winning by large margins in important states.
We are mad as hell about all of those things. Plus, the disco divas ‘round here are pleased as punch that John McCain is apparently an ABBA fan. Nonetheless, we could never vote for a candidate whose positions on the war and the economy are so dramatically at odds with our own. We have no doubt that McCain will pick up votes from Clinton supporters in the general election, perhaps several from the friends and relations of Roxie’s World, but he won’t get ours.

Having made that (easy) decision, we still find ourselves unable so far to follow Senator Clinton’s lead, hop up on our unity ponies, and install an Obama widget on the sidebar. Moose has spent some time on the Lesser’s web site recently, and she continues to be wigged out by the crypto-messianism of its overall tone and appearance. That whole halo effect thing just is not working for us, dudes, though we can appreciate the temptation presented by the big “O” in “Obama.” Goose insists that since claiming the nomination Obama seems to have shrunk considerably in size. She attributes this miniaturization to a phenomenon Virginia Woolf describes in her perceptive work of feminist criticism, A Room of One’s Own. In patriarchal logics of vision, women function as mirrors for men, fun-house mirrors that serve to make the men look larger and more powerful than they actually are. Remove the woman from the stage, and the man shrinks down to actual size. “Oh, look!” says the viewer. “He really does have funny ears!” Then, put an older white man on the stage beside the younger African-American man, and the dynamics of the situation shift again. It is the latter who fulfills the mirroring function, because patriarchal logic is racialized as well as gendered, and the part of the reflecting other is always played by the non-white or non-male figure. (Don’t get mad at us, kids. We are not endorsing this system of seeing. We are merely describing it.) The Lesser shrinks even more standing next to a guy who looks so much like the Great White Men who have always led the nation. Obama may be more attractive, but McCain offers the powerful comfort of familiarity to voters who crave change a lot less than they think they do.

We made this point in a February post on political marketing and electability when we claimed – quite brilliantly, we thought -- that Obama had been positioned in the primary race as the iPhone while Clinton had somehow been cast as the political equivalent of your grandmother’s rotary dial phone. That’s a distinction that is less likely to be to Obama’s advantage in the general because, as Moose explained to Goose in a bit of dialogue from the earlier post,
McCain can make a contest between him and Obama all about who’s the manliest man, and the old white former prisoner of war is going to win that contest every time. All he has to do is stand there stiff as a board, make a couple of well-timed references to ‘Nam, and suddenly voters remember that grandma’s old rotary phone never dropped a call and didn’t shatter into pieces when it got dropped. Obama looks like a self-involved pretty boy, a puff of smoke. Faced with the two of them, voters realize they don’t want to be cool; they want to be safe.
Now, of course, it’s possible that Obama’s charisma and prodigious political skills will overturn all of these assumptions and power dynamics, especially against a candidate so stiff he can make a victory speech sound like a prayer for a bowel movement. If that is the case, Obama will win with or without the support of this humble dog blog. Nonetheless, so far we’ve only touched on peripheral, subjective issues that go to the question of the Lesser’s electability. That question is in some sense irrelevant to the question of whether we can or should support him. We are members of the Pudd’nhead Party, after all. We have a long, proud tradition of supporting losers in presidential elections. For years, when the self-proclaimed progressives or radicals were righteously sitting out elections or voting for third-party candidates, Moose and Goose stuck loyally by the Democratic nominees – and they’ve got the Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry buttons to prove it. (They’ve got [Bill] Clinton buttons, too, but we’re talking about the Dem losers they have supported over the years.) (Full disclosure: Moose cast her first presidential vote for Barry Commoner, who ran on the Citizens Party ticket in 1980. She attributes that vote to a desire to rebel as thoroughly against her Republican upbringing as she possibly could and to the not insignificant fact that she voted in Indiana that year, a state that would have gone for Ronald Reagan even if Dems had had the original Messiah on the ballot.) Why, then, are they hanging back this time, willing to risk the opprobrium of longtime fellow travelers who have rallied ‘round the party’s presumptive nominee with the enthusiasm of converts to a new religion? It’s complicated.

We acknowledge that part of our hesitation to throw our support to Obama is due to a lingering bitterness over the treatment of Hillary Clinton, her supporters, and some of their issues by the party, the media, the so-called progressive blogosphere, and at times the Obama campaign, which pushed negative stories about Clinton and hyped allegations of racism. We don’t need to re-hash those feelings and their causes here. We hope they will dissipate in time as Senator Obama’s general election campaign unfolds.

Deeper and more troubling to us is that there is in our judgment a taint of illegitimacy surrounding Obama’s nomination. We know that the debacles of Michigan and Florida were not the fault of the Obama campaign. We also know that he benefited significantly from those debacles and refused to support do-over primaries in those states that would have allowed full seating of their delegations to the convention and a far less ambiguous outcome to an exceptionally close race. We cannot shake the sense that Obama 2008 bears an eerie resemblance to Bush 2000, as a candidate claims victory under dubious circumstances and then steamrolls forward as if he had won in a landslide.

As to the substance of Obama's candidacy, we said all along that Dems had a great field of candidates but could nominate poop on toast and probably still beat Republicans campaigning this year with the albatross of George W. Bush around their necks. We basically stand by that point, although, as the primary battle wore on, Clinton truly distinguished herself in our eyes as the most qualified candidate. With Obama, on the other hand, the more we saw, the less we felt we really knew – or the less there was to see. For us, his shrinking began before Clinton left the stage. We continue to have doubts about his experience and qualifications, haven’t seen evidence of the political skill it will take to bring about whatever kinds of change it is he hopes to make, and don’t believe his health-care plan will ever achieve universal coverage. We also think that on the whole his “new” kind of politics is a version of brass-knuckles opportunism that doesn’t feel new at all. His campaign brilliantly gamed the Democrats’ ludicrous nominating process, demonized Clinton for trying to change the rules in the middle of the game, and then happily accepted rule changes that padded his delegate lead in the end. Further, he panders to different audiences as effectively as any politician we have ever seen. Performing on a national stage, he presents himself to majority-white audiences as a trans-racial, post-civil rights politician who doesn’t shush the crowd’s cries of “Race doesn’t matter!” Meantime, back home in Chicago, where cultural blackness pays hefty political dividends, Obama spent twenty years in the pews of a church in which race mattered deeply and in ways that might surprise a lot of voters not versed in the traditions of black liberation theology.

Make no mistake: We cast no judgment on Senator Obama’s (former) church affiliation or his racial cultural politics. Our point is that the senator has played the game of shape-shifting and message adjustment as slickly as any willie in American political history. The problem for him is that he is claiming to do something different. When voters catch him in these kinds of inconsistencies, it matters more, in part because he looks like a hypocrite and in part because they are just getting to know him. Small inconsistencies and dubious associations get magnified, and the next thing you know the internets are on fire with wild speculation about lapel pins and the Pledge of Allegiance. The question, “What else don’t we know about this guy?” may be viciously exploited by racist demagogues bent on destroying his candidacy, but it is one that many voters will raise in all sincerity as they seek to make an informed choice in November. That passionate sincerity should not be doubted or discounted.

Here in Roxie’s World, the question, “What else don’t we know about this guy?” goes to fundamental issues of trust regarding his stance on issues about which we care deeply: foreign policy, reproductive freedom, civil rights for sexual minorities. Since claiming the nomination, he has already – and, indeed, almost instantaneously – shifted his position on Israel and Iran (in his speech to AIPAC the morning after the end of the primaries). Before that, in our judgment, he occasionally voted “present” in the Illinois state legislature to avoid taking a stand on politically sensitive issues, including reproductive freedom. He supports a separate-but-equal solution to the challenge of same-sex marriage and believes it is a compliment to a gay person to say that “He wasn’t proselytizing all the time.” (Just some of the time? And always in an exceptionally witty way?) These are valid concerns about issues of serious import, and “McCain would be worse” is not a sufficient response to them – at least not to us, at least not yet.

It is never inappropriate to be skeptical about someone aspiring to hold the highest office in the land, particularly when that individual has spent so little time in the harsh glare of the national spotlight. To a large degree, voters are being asked to take a leap of faith in supporting Senator Obama. Some of us are still not prepared to make that leap, proud though we may be that our party can claim the historical first of nominating an African-American for the presidency and aware as we are that four more years of a Republican in the White House would be fraught with risk, not just for this country but for the world. Loyalty to party cannot trump loyalty to conscience, and conscience requires us to keep thinking, observing, studying, and considering our options. We welcome your input but not your censure of our stance as we make our way through this process.

In declaring our neutrality, we are also for the time being refusing to cast in our lot with those righteous forces currently coalescing under the banner of Just Say No Deal in order to protest Obama’s nomination and what appears to many to be an unseemly takeover of the Democratic National Committee by the Obama campaign. We are following development of this movement closely and encourage our readers to do so by checking in with involved blogs such as the Confluence and the Reclusive Leftist, which recently offered a most compelling argument on the strategic value of Clinton supporters maintaining and exploiting the leverage they accrued through the primary campaign. Could be we’ll join up with these daring dead-enders (a term we use with irony and affection), but for now we remain officially independent of everything but the dedicated pack of readers here in Roxie’s World. In a follow-up post, we will, out of the goodness of our hearts, offer a strategy memo to the Obama campaign on how to earn – or forfeit – our support.

Stay tuned, kids. It’s summertime, and my typist is (mostly) free of meetings and classes and the evils of Learning Outcomes Assessment. You may end up wishing she had a little less time on her hands, but we hope you’ll enjoy traveling with us on the mystery ride of political (in)decision. Peace out.

Oh, and let us know in Comments if you’d like to join the list of endorsers to our statement of neutrality.

Endorsed by:

Roxie Smith Lindemann, Sole Owner and Proprietor, Roxie’s World
Moose, Amanuensis, Roxie’s World
Goose, Freelance and Occasionally Off-the-Reservation Commenter, Roxie’s World
Mark Twain, Director, Office of Persona Management, Roxie’s World

Saturday, June 14, 2008

If She'd Only Had a Brain

Shorter NYT article on alleged sexism in coverage of Senator Hillary Clinton's run for the White House: Nope, uh-unh, none here, none there. Do you see any, Keith? No, I don't, Chris, do you? Nah-h-h-h-h-h-h. No way!

Apparently, we were all mistaken. Senator Clinton wasn't running to be head of state. She was running to be chest of state. Which should have been a brilliant strategy, given all the boobs we've had in the White House to date. We can't imagine why it didn't work out.

Digby demolishes the Times story here.

Oh, and to the ludicrous, self-serving claim that Clinton and her supporters only started pointing out sexism in the coverage of her campaign when she fell behind, we offer proof that America's favorite dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball began making such critiques last summer, when Clinton was 15 points ahead of her nearest rival in polls. Our earliest, sustained analysis of the problem is here.

We're still working on that post that's going to shake up the world, kids. Be patient. Genius takes time, and the truth is your favorite dog blogger is a sick old pup today -- showing signs of a recurrence of that miserable pancreatitis I had a couple of years ago. Throw a good thought my way if you have a chance today, okay?

Friday, June 13, 2008

News Flash

NBC newsman Tim Russert died in his Washington office this afternoon of a heart attack at the age of 58. Roxie's World expresses its condolences to the Russert family. In his memory, Moose has decided to go on a diet to try to lose the twenty pounds she has gained in two years of typing for America's most famous dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball. She thinks Tim would want her to.

[Respectful pause to honor the man we almost never snarkily referred to as "Little Timmy," unlike some of our fellow/sister bloggers. You know who you are.]

We are working on a major post here at headquarters that will likely shake up the whole blogosphere and the dynamics of the presidential race, but we don't have time to finish it before the moms take off for the first live music event of the summer season, Robert Plant and Allison Krauss, touring their fabulous record, Raising Sand, which, the devoted among you will recall, was 2007's Album of the Year in Roxie's World. We'll let you know how the show goes. Meantime, get out your go-go boots and enjoy this vid of the Everly Brothers doing the original of our absolute favorite cut from Raising Sand, "Gone, Gone, Gone." Rock out, dudes. See you soon.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An Affair to Remember

(Photo Credit: Barbara Kinney, Hillary Clinton for President)

It’s over and you know it, but you’re having a hard time letting go. She couldn’t have been any clearer. She was hurt, too – reluctant, disappointed, honest about her mistakes – but in the end she insisted it was time to move on. She begged you to make a clean break and not waste time looking back, wondering what might have been. “Life is too short,” she gently reminded you, “time is too precious.” She even tried to push you into the arms of someone else, someone with whom, she was convinced, you could do great and important things. Meanwhile, everyone around you is high on consolation and full of advice about what you should do now, claiming she was never right for you anyway. “This other guy,” they say, “really, he’s the one.”

But your broken heart is stubborn and slow to change. For months, you felt as close to her as the tick is to the dog, and you rode the roller coaster of her shifting fortunes. When she was up, you were high as a kite, giddy with possibility. When she was down, you crashed to the ground, convinced the world was ending. Now that it’s over, she still haunts you. You remember all the little things about her you found so captivating – her laughter, her tears, her feistiness, her – yes – feet. You wonder how she is, what she’s doing and feeling. You search for examples of others who are suffering as you are to see how they are coping. You take comfort in the words of praise being showered upon her, even from those who once criticized her and always thought you should be with the guy. You get satisfaction out of the murmurs of criticism suddenly being aimed at the dream guy, as closer scrutiny reveals he may be mortal after all. “Told ya so,” you churlishly mutter.

How can you mend a broken heart? You try shopping, but the new gadget you want won’t be available for a month and the furniture you ordered won’t be in until fall. Clothes shopping is no good because every pantsuit reminds you of her. “I bet she’d like this one,” you catch yourself thinking. “It’s just the right combination of elegance and practicality.” You hit the gym for the first time in months, thinking exercise would be a healthy distraction, but even your iPod is an instrument of torture, as cheesy Madonna lyrics manage to summon up her image: “You always love me more, miles away / I hear it in your voice, we’re miles away.” You’ve got a business trip/vacation coming up, so you could be planning an Arctic adventure, and there’s a long list of movies you didn’t see and books you didn’t read while you were sitting on the couch all those months, waiting to see how things would work out with/for her. Still, nothing feels quite right yet. Nothing really satisfies. A certain bitterness lingers.

Come on now! Get up! Get out! Move on! She wouldn’t want you pouting! Remember what she said as she was leaving?
[I]t would break my heart if, in falling short of my goal, I in any way discouraged any of you from pursuing yours.

Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in. And, when you stumble, keep faith. And, when you're knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can't or shouldn't go on.
Hear that? Get right back up, she said! There's work to be done, dreams to be realized, new worlds to be conquered and new love to be made.

Right, yeah, sure, be right with you . . . .
I'm like a fish out of water
a cat in a tree . . .

I got a big chain around my neck
And I'm broken down like a train wreck
Well it's over I know it but I can't let go
Well it's over I know it but I can't let go
Well it's over I know it but I can't let go
Well it's over I know it but I can't let go

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Roxie Endorses. . .the ABBA Fan!

(Photo Credit: Ricky Carioti, Washington Post; Hillary Clinton and supporters at the National Building Museum, 6/7/08)

(Please Note: The photo above has no particular relevance to this post. We found it, liked it, and wanted to pass it along before we forgot about it.)

Dear Senator Clinton,

I know you told us yesterday that we should throw our support to your erstwhile opponent in the primary race, Senator Barack Obama, on account of it's really important to elect a Democratic president this year to accomplish all that fabulous stuff that you and we really want to see happen -- you know, achieving universal (or maybe universal-lite, which is what your opponent has proposed) health care, ending the war in Iraq, expanding economic opportunity, protecting the environment, restoring America's standing in the world. We agree with you that those goals are like super-duper crucial, and we spent the whole weekend licking our political wounds and reflecting on your call to us to work as hard for him as we had hoped and planned to work for you.

We were thinking about it, really, in between glasses of wine and steaks on the grill and trips to the furniture store to unload the disposable income we had been planning to invest in your campaign. We were slowly coming around to the idea that in this election we might be the kind of voters who would hold our noses and pull the lever (or punch the card) for the lesser of two evils, especially if Lesser* had the wisdom to put you on the ticket as his choice for vice-president. We were getting there, Senator Clinton, I swear, though Goose was still pretty grouchy about the whole damn primary mess, but then Moose was out doing some late Sunday night internets-trolling and stumbled (by way of TalkLeft) across this weird bit of news about
John Fricking McCain being a goldurned ABBA fan,
and I'm afraid that just threw a monkey wrench into the whole works. We immediately dispatched a team to Ishmael's, the bar around the corner from Roxie's World's corporate headquarters, to get Mark Twain and the whole political division back into the office to consider how we should respond to this astonishing development. (They'd been in the bar for several days, drowning their sorrows over your loss.) We knew McCain intended to make a play for your supporters and had already alerted our legions of loyal readers to his nefarious plans, but we had no idea that the senior (and we do mean senior) senator from Arizona would be so cunning, so resourceful, so diabolical in his efforts to lure disappointed Clintonistas into the Republican fold.

We're terribly sorry, Senator Clinton, but (knowing me, knowing you) there is really nothing we can do. McCain has found an iron-clad way to appeal to three of Roxie's World's major, if heavily overlapping, demographic groups: women, disco fans, and the group formerly known as Pretty Boys for Hillary. How can we resist a war hero who pumps himself up for campaign speeches by listening to ABBA's immortal "Take A Chance on Me?"

McCain's campaign blog is even pushing the story, with a brazen appeal to "disaffected Hillary supporters." Please try to understand, Chiquitita, that we had every intention of doing what you implored us to do yesterday. You have, after all, been a total Super Trouper throughout this campaign, and you are and ever shall be top dog and Dancing Queen of our hearts here in Roxie's World. And we really, really get that there are vital issues at stake in this election and that a lot of people will be like totally screwed if Republicans have control of a single branch -- heck, of a single twig -- of government. But, you know, Hill, now that you've been kicked in the teeth in this dirty little game called politics, perhaps you'll understand that we have to follow the guy who shares our twisted musical taste, because, you know, without a song or a dance what are we? Don't worry about the war or health care or the Supreme Court or any of that other bumming stuff. McCain may be an old codger who sold his soul to the re-(s)election of George W. Bush, but he gets that the night is young and the music's high.

Everything will be fine, Hillary, as long as we can dance. Take my hand, Hillary. The sky is blue, why should you be, too? Let the ABBA fan rule the world!

*Lesser shall henceforth be the name by which Senator Obama is known in Roxie's World. We've had fun calling him the Precious and His Hopeness, but we borrowed those terms from, respectively, the brilliant Anglachel and the only sporadically insightful from a conservative perspective David Brooks. Our preference is always for names we make up all by ourselves, and we think we're the first ones to slap this label on the presumptive Democratic nominee. He stands elected to that term in these precincts, so that is that.

Note to Readers: All comments on this post must contain at least one ABBA reference. Them's Teh Rulz of the game, kids, even if we don't know what the name of the game is. (Get it?) Play on.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Hillary's Grace

(Photo Credits [except for the bottom one]: Moose; Senator Hillary Clinton announces suspension of her presidential campaign, National Building Museum, Washington, DC, 6/7/08)

Roxie’s World had three sets of eyes on the scene this afternoon for Hillary Clinton’s incredibly graceful exit from her history-making presidential campaign. Through fortunate timing and clever reading of the situation, Moose, Goose, and Candy Man ended up on the main floor of the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, probably about 20 feet from the podium where Clinton spoke. The floor was packed, and heart-broken but enthusiastic supporters lined two tiers of balconies overlooking the stage in the middle of the magnificent late-Victorian building. They gathered on a searingly hot day to honor and to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishment of the first woman in American history to contend seriously for a major-party presidential nomination. They gathered to mourn the fact that her gutsy effort ultimately fell short and to hear the former candidate exhort them not to give up – on this election, the Democratic Party, or their own dreams.

Moose cried, but the woman of the hour did not. Far from it. She took the stage shortly after 12:30, accompanied by her husband, daughter, and mother, and calmly took command of the occasion. Every word and every gesture made it clear that the formal suspension of her campaign will be but a brief pause in her remarkable journey and that she is by no means exiting the stage of American political life.

To which Roxie’s World says: Thank dog.

Clinton beautifully demonstrated today what the nation will miss if it never has her in the Oval Office. From her opening line, which so gently acknowledged her own defeat and disappointment, Clinton went out of her way to honor and console her supporters. “Well,” she deadpanned when the thunderous cheers that greeted her had died down, “this isn’t exactly the party I’d planned, but I sure like the company.”

Her supporters were weepy; she was serene.

Her supporters were reluctant to embrace the opponent who barely beat her; she was emphatic and enthusiastic, even borrowing his signature “Yes, we can” line to underscore a point she often made on the campaign trail about restoring America’s can-do spirit.

Her supporters were still looking back, still wondering what might have been; she urged them to look and to move forward. “Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward,” she reminded them. “Life is too short, time is too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been. We have to work together for what still can be.”

Some came with heavy hearts, and her optimistic, encouraging words lightened them. Some came with bitterness toward her opponent or the often misogynistic media, and she exhibited a determination to root out the remaining barriers and biases that impede the full equality of women.

She was motherly, yes, but she showed that maternal empathy or solicitude is in no way at odds with strength, with self-possession, with the capacity to lead. Perhaps in time we will all realize that the great accomplishment of Clinton’s campaign is the incontrovertible evidence she offered that the traditional roles of mother, daughter, and wife are wholly compatible with the duties and demands of the nation’s highest office. She opened our eyes to the possibility that a woman might in some ways approach the office differently, but thanks to her many of us can see that those differences might be assets rather than liabilities.

In the days to come, Roxie’s World will let you know if we’ve decided to heed Senator Clinton’s call to support and campaign for her erstwhile opponent. For now, we pass along a link to the transcript of her marvelous speech, a few photos Moose snapped before her camera battery died, and our heartfelt thanks to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton – for moving us, teaching us, inspiring us, and expanding the political horizons of our nation.

Godspeed, Senator – We look forward to working with you again soon to realize the dream of a better world.

Update: Video of the speech is here. If you haven't seen it, you must.

(Photo Credit [bottom]: Reuters)

Friday, June 06, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?

(Photo Credit: Richard A. Lipski, Washington Post; Senator Barack Obama, flanked by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and Senator James Webb, at a post-primary campaign rally in northern Virginia, 6/5/08.)

Dear Pudd'nheads*,

You are so not getting it. The candidate to whom you handed the nomination, via superdelegates who were strong-armed into supporting him over the candidate who actually won the popular vote, faces serious resistance from voters who feel the woman candidate was battered, bullied, betrayed, and disrespected by the party she and her husband had worked tirelessly to build. So what do you do the day after he "clinches" the nomination through an allegedly "new" politics that to a lot of us looks, feels, and smells an awful lot like the old (boys') politics? Do you go out of your way to assure that the words and images that open the general election campaign are as conciliatory and inclusive and affirming of those voters and their issues as they possibly can be? Nah. Nope. Not you. You arrange things so that the nation's political rag of record, The Washington Post, can splash a tableau of three smiling goodfellas on its front page to let the world know that the boys are back in charge. Fear not, America. The change you can believe in is, by some measures, no change at all.

Go ahead and blame it on Hillary Clinton for not conceding on Tuesday night. "She could have been up on that stage," you can righteously sniff, "if she had been a good girl and formally admitted defeat. Instead, she selfishly chose to try to steal his thunder by publicly declaring she needed time to think." Good lord, the temerity! the chutzpah! the rank selfishness of the evil, power-grabbing bitch! That's right, boys. You go ahead and get in a few last licks. You won't have your incredibly convenient and satisfying punching bag around too much longer. Tomorrow at high noon at the National Building Museum in Washington, Senator Clinton will announce that the last dog has died.** She will concede, declare her support for the Precious, and pledge to work her butt off for the man who once declared her "likable enough." She will try to convince skeptics he is "prepared enough" to lead the most powerful nation on earth. She will do that because, when push comes to shove and contrary to so much that has been said or implied, at heart she is a good girl, a loyal trooper, a party animal who will put the interests of the group above her own self-interest. Perhaps many of us who feel such loyalty to her and such anger on her behalf will listen when she urges us to swallow the hurt and focus on electing a Democratic president.

Some of us will listen to her, but some of us will not -- because some of us are already convinced that you are not listening to us. Here's the thing, Pudd'nheads. You got this far without us (and by "us" I mean women, particularly those over 45, and the so-called lunch-bucket Dems [or, as His Hopeness calls them, bitter, gun-toting Jesus freaks] who tend to swing presidential elections), and you made it pretty clear you didn't feel you needed us. Your drank the kool-aid for the new messiah of American politics and didn't seem to notice that he limped across the finish line after a string of defeats that should have caused concern, or at least some serious humility. Instead, your chief strategist is still touting the glories of the new coalition you supposedly forged to win the nomination, which may be why your sudden overtures to us feel and sound -- how shall we put this? -- insincere? hollow? perfunctory? half-hearted? condescending? It may be slowly dawning on you that you are going to need us to defeat a Republican war hero with a reputation for independence that he doesn't deserve, but a lot of us still feel that you don't really want us. So far, it seems you are holding your noses and ordering us to get up on our unity ponies and join in the parade rather than making a sincere effort to convince us we should support and work toward the election of your guy. So far, your courting of us feels about as warm and comfortable as what you see in this cartoon (from the Horizontal World by way of Hillary 1000):

John McCain is listening, Pudd'nheads. He is carefully positioning himself to make a move for disaffected Clinton voters. He has given former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina a prominent role in his campaign on economic issues and encouraged speculation that he might choose her as his running mate.

We've done some polling here in Roxie's World, and so far things aren't looking too good for the Pudd'nhead Party. Obama is doing okay among the group formerly known as the Pretty Boys for Hillary Caucus, but he's faring badly among Moosians and Goosians. Some of the Texas Goosians have already declared they'll vote for McCain -- and they are Yellow-Dog Dems from way back, y'all! There is concern that the newly minted Dems among the Moosians will revert back to the party they were born and raised in, even if it's not nearly as grand as it was in the good old days of leave-folks-alone Republicanism. Meanwhile, here at corporate HQ, Moose and Goose can't even agree on whether Clinton should accept the veep slot if it is offered to her, and Moose has resorted to humming bad 60s pop tunes every time Goose declares that she has divorced herself from the Democratic Party.

And yet, alone in the big red chair where she does most of the typing for Roxie's World, Moose sometimes thinks Riverdaughter hasn't gone far enough in proposing that Clinton supporters join her new PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) movement. She harbors a fantasy of a rabidly feminist watch-dog group she'd call CUNT (Call Us Next Time) that would dedicate itself to hounding the Democratic party for its sordid history of selective attention to women voters and women's issues. (By the way, CUNT would also insist on an intersectional approach to issues and analysis, so that gender and race wouldn't be crudely pitted against one another as they so often tend to be in American politics and media.) Fortunately, the vigilant Department of Standards and Practices here in Roxie's World has prevented her from launching such a crudely, if cleverly, named effort, but we've brought in a team of experts in bitterness management to make sure she doesn't hack into the computer overnight and turn it loose while the rest of us are sleeping. Moose's fondness for colorful Anglo-Saxonisms is one of the main reasons she is not in charge of Roxie's World.

So, do you get it, guys? Do you begin to understand the scale of the task before you? We've told you before that unity, if it is to be achieved at all, has to be earned. We've tried to explain that for many of us our investment in Senator Clinton was as principled, as passionate, and as rooted in a dream of social justice and transformation as the investment Senator Obama's supporters have had in him (a point Senator Obama seemed to acknowledge in his victory speech on Tuesday night). We have not yet been convinced that you truly see the people and the issues whom Senator Clinton so eloquently embraced in the course of her campaign and in her speech when she said, "None of you is invisible to me. You never have been. I see you, and I know how hardworking you are." You can be cynical about her embrace of the downtrodden and the forgotten if you like, but you'd be wise not to ignore those of us who were moved by her calls to a renewed commitment to taking care of the less fortunate. For some of us, that is the sum and substance of the change we fervently hope to realize in this country.

Some of us are persuadable, Pudd'nheads, but you'd better start talking and listening soon. November will be here before you know it, and once you're elected a Pudd'nhead, you can't overturn the results of the election as easily as y'all managed to do in Michigan. Just ask our pal Mark Twain.

Yours sincerely,

*Pudd'nheads is Roxie-speak for the leadership of the Democratic Party and the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama. The precise meaning and etymology of the term is explained here.

**Attention, pro-Hillary fem bloggers: Roxie's World will be at Saturday's last Clinton campaign event. Let your readers know where they can come for photos and eyewitness reports! No live-blogging, alas, but we'll have something up by supper time, we promise. Thanks in advance to Donna Darko and all the gang at Hillary 1000, Historiann, and the righteous Red Queen.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I Don't Want to Talk

. . . but feel free to hold forth in comments, kids. Meantime, Moose and I are taking refuge in disco kitsch. Hum along if you know it, and we know you do:

The world is still spinning on its axis. The girl has not conceded yet. The big blogs all are holding public displays of thoughts, reactions, feelings, and future possibilities. See especially Melissa McEwan's spot-on piece on Shakesville. A few too many not especially gracious in victory Obamaniacs mucking up the comment thread, but there you are.

Wa Po's
second-coming headline this a.m. was almost more than we could bear. Then of course there's the tick-tock piece on our very own Maryland state delegate -- and friend -- Heather Mizeur, who until late yesterday was an uncommitted superdelegate, finally flipping for Obama when the pressure was on.

What does Hillary want? Whatever it is, we will work like hell to help her get it. Peace out.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Last Tuesday

It's the last Tuesday of the long primary campaign, and I feel you out there, feverishly waiting for your favorite dog blogger to tell you what to feel, think, or say as we await returns from Montana and South Dakota, as we puzzle through the rumors of concessions, of deals, of incendiary videotapes of the opponent's wife that may or may not exist. It's a hard day in Roxie's World, which is why Mark Twain is already on his favorite barstool at Ishmael's, the bar around the corner from the headquarters of our global empire, and why I am off at the groomer's, and why Moose spent part of the afternoon power-walking on the trail with the new Madonna pounding in her ears. (Her verdict on the album? Thin voice, thinner lyrics, excellent beat. Thanks to the Candy Man for sharing Hard Candy.) Goose has been writing. And grocery-shopping.

Meantime, we feel pain and uncertainty reaching us from the far corners of Roxie's World -- from devoted lurkers who write to declare, "If McCain puts a moderate woman on his ticket, I will vote for him," or to complain bitterly about Obama's tepid response to the vicious attack on Hillary Clinton that precipitated his resignation, finally, from the Trinity United Church of Christ. She notes his failure to condemn Rev. Michael Pfleger's words as "utterly inappropriate and demeaning of an important public servant and presidential candidate who deserves the respect of every American," and rightly connects that failure to Obama's tendency throughout the campaign to take advantage of the misogyny that has been directed at Senator Clinton.

We are taking it all in, my dearly beloveds, and we are waiting along with you to see what happens over the next few days. As we wait, we are reminded of one of the finest paragraphs we think we ever produced here in Roxie's World, even if it was in a post that ultimately embarrassed us because it revealed our profound limitations as political prognosticators. It's from the post, "Hillary: A Valediction," which we published the day before the Texas and Ohio primaries in March, worried that Hillary would either lose or not win big enough to justify staying in the race. Here is the paragraph that is on our minds today, as we wait to see what the future holds for Hillary Clinton -- and for all of us:
Yes, when women of a certain age and class look at Hillary we see a lot of our selves -- the tests we took, the dreams we had and have, the hard bargains we struck with life, the moments when our best efforts fell short. As we watch what feels like the end of one part of her amazing journey, Clinton achingly reminds us of all the smart girls who never felt pretty enough, all the pretty girls who still thought their ankles were fat, all the good girls who colored inside the lines and stayed late to help clean up. All true, all valid emotionally, but that’s not all. We have been looking at her for sixteen years, and now perhaps we can finally see her – Hillary Clinton is the unfinished work of feminism. If we don’t do it, who will?
Think about that, my sweet, uncertain humans, as things unfold over the next few days and you consider whether you could support an Obama/Clinton ticket or whether you could live with all the pressure to vote Democratic, no matter what, or the lifetime of crap you will take if you don't vote and McCain wins. Think about it, and stay close to Roxie's World, where you know you are loved and where you will always find a passionate fighter for justice or two to hang out with. And because I know a pretty song and a bit of pro-Hillary eye candy will make everything easier to take, click on the vid at the end of this post, which we picked up over at the Confluence. Then, go read this longer post, also from the Confluence, "An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton," by the Boston Boomer. It's the kind of thing we might have written today if we weren't greeting the next round of houseguests later this evening.

Love you, lovelies. Mean it.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Funeral For Half a Dog

(Photo Credit: "Dog Funeral: 1922," from Shorpy, the 100-Year-Old Photo Blog)

A Message from Mark Twain, Director of the Office of Persona Management, Roxie’s World:

Friends, we gather today in Roxie’s World to mourn the half a dog that was ritually murdered yesterday at the meeting of the Democratic Party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee. (Don’t get the allusion to killing half a dog? Read this, and consider curling up with this.) The committee met to try to resolve the debacles of Florida and Michigan created when those states violated party rules by moving their primaries ahead on the calendar. In a not unexpected move, the committee voted to seat all the delegates from Florida at the party convention but to allow them only half a vote each. The Michigan issue was thornier because Senator Barack Obama had, by his own choice, removed himself from the ballot. Hillary Clinton kept her name on the ballot and won the state by a margin of 55% to 40% over “Uncommitted,” a slate that at that time included Obama, John Edwards, and other Dems still in the race. The committee’s murderous solution to the problem of how to apportion Michigan’s delegates was to split them between Clinton and Obama in such a way that Clinton lost four delegates she would have won on the basis of the popular vote results. Obama is functionally equated to “Uncommitted” and picks up delegates on the basis of votes that clearly were not intended for him.

(For details and analysis on the meeting, go here, here, and here.)

One of the mourners here today is Moose’s sister from Michigan, a loyal Democrat who cast a vote for “Uncommitted” in January because she was at that point an Edwards supporter. Yesterday, when the Rules and Bylaws Committee conducted its bizarre exercise in voter-cide and mind-reading, she was a Hillary Clinton supporter. She is no fan of the Precious and would never have chosen him over Clinton in a two-person race. Today, she is so devastated by the committee’s arbitrary act of theft and disenfranchisement that she is considering voting for perennial candidate and certified nutbar Lyndon LaRouche, whose supporters were at the Count Every Vote rally yesterday with banners pointing out that the DNC’s half-vote solution is less generous than the 3/5s of a person formula once used to count slaves as a portion of the U. S. population.

Actually, we don’t know what Moose’s sister is thinking right now because we haven’t spoken to her this weekend, but at least our fantasy of her political intentions is of less consequence than the equally fantastical decision of the Rules and Bylaws Committee. The committee believes it was acting in the interest of party unity and with the goal of placating voters and state-party organizations in two populous states Dems will need in the fall. The mourners here in Roxie’s World and in other pro-Clinton pockets of the blogosphere have a different view and see a different set of likely consequences arising from the Michigan compromise in particular. Goose sees it as a last-ditch effort to drive a stake through the heart of the Clinton campaign on the part of a national party organization that has been determined to thwart her path to the nomination from the beginning. Given Obama’s lead in the overall delegate count, she sees the taking away of four Clinton delegates as a mean-spirited act aimed at propping up a nomination she views as fatally weak.

Two other mourners with us today are a couple of our favorite pro-Hillary bloggers, Tom (blogalicious) Watson and (smart as she is prolific) Anglachel, both of whom worry about the dangerous precedent set by the committee’s reassignment of delegates and the taint of illegitimacy that will attach to any nomination that arises from it. Watson writes:
Can you imagine the effects of this precedent? If you can conjure Leonid Brezhnev sitting in at a Kremlin committee table calmly adjusting the returns from, say, Belarus, then the specter of future "Democrats" engaging in a bit of electoral nip and tuck in New Jersey or Colorado or Wisconsin comes all too uneasily to mind.

The shadow of illegitimacy will now linger on this nomination. Senator Clinton may well take the Michigan appeal to the rules committee on the convention floor, and she will be well within her rights to do so. In my view, Senator Obama should join her challenge of this travesty - and place his name on the record as opposing invented votes and fake elections. If he does not, then he is all but endorsing future "adjustments" of the electoral results. Further, he would guarantee the indelibility of the Michigan* Asterisk on his nomination, on his presidency, and on his legacy - and on his beloved party as well.
Anglachel sees some good news for Clinton in yesterday’s actions, most importantly in that the seating of delegations from Florida and Michigan will likely make her the undisputed popular-vote winner of the primary campaign. However, she, too, is troubled by the procedural irregularity of re-assigning delegates, a move she believes plays right into GOP hands:
The reason I am concerned about the battle over the four Michigan delegate votes is because there is no valid procedure for that reallocation, and alleged Democrat "vote fixing" is one of the Republicans' standard arguments against the Democrats. It is used to push through restrictive voter ID and onerous voter registration rules, and it is used as an excuse to purge voter rolls and install thugs at voting places to "discourage voter fraud". It is used deliberately to undermine minority voting in Democratic districts, and the Republicans will gleefully seize on this one very egregious act of disenfranchisement to serve up a toxic mix of racism - see what happens when "those people" (i.e., non-whites, in this case AAs, but also applied to Hispanics and Asians) start calling the voting shots? They just rearrange things to promote one of "their own kind."

Why is this a really bad thing in the current election cycle? Because the new issue on the Republicans' radar is Affirmative Action. (Gee, I wonder why they picked that theme?) There will be state measures on the ballot in Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri, just to name a few states where Obama is allegedly competitive. Add this crude and blatant vote manipulation to the mix, and the Republicans now have a big campaign issue handed to them on a silver platter.
"What did he reckon would become of the other half if he killed his half [of the dog]? Do you reckon he thought it would live?" Did we really expect the Rules and Bylaws Committee to rescind the punishments meted out to Florida and Michigan and give the states’ delegates full voting privileges at the convention? Truthfully, no, but we also didn’t expect the committee to go out of its way to slap Senator Clinton and her supporters on the face en route to the coronation of a nominee so weak he needs to take votes where none existed. And, yes, Obamaniacs, before you point it out, we are well aware that many of Senator Clinton’s supporters on the committee voted for the Michigan compromise – if only to spare her and fellow Democrats the even more dubious result of having the Michigan delegates split equally between her and Obama.

What troubles us in the tortured denouement of this extraordinary primary battle is that the Democratic Party seems more interested in short-term political expediency than in demonstrating a commitment to basic principles of enfranchisement and the sanctity of the vote. Further, party leaders and the Obama campaign continue to seem oblivious to the steep challenge they face in trying to convince Clinton supporters that their candidate has been treated fairly and respectfully, that the issues she brought to the fore will receive their due if she is not the nominee, and that Obama has the experience, skill, and wisdom to be a good president. With or without those four delegates from Michigan, Senator Obama will in all likelihood end up with the nomination, but he isn’t likely to end up with the presidency without strong support from Senator Clinton’s voters, so this last gratuitous slam seems especially unwise.

That’s the problem with killing half a dog, you see. You end up missing either a brain or a bottom, and it turns out both are essential to a fully functioning dog. Believe me, here in Roxie's World, we are firmly committed to the principle that half -- or even 3/5s -- of a dog is really no dog at all.