Monthly Archives: January 2008

How History Shapes Our Views of Hillary and Obama.

Because they are both firsts, I’m afraid we might be holding Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to impossible ideals. Both possibilities come shamefully late. But, unless the impossible happens they decide to run together, we only get to choose one.

When Barack Obama gave his victory speech after winning the Iowa caucuses, he was, almost by necessity, compared to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Obama’s speech, which painted the picture of an America falsely divided among red states and blue states, was about the hope of change on the horizon.

Does Obama benefit here from the unconscious association with black leaders from the past? Does he feel inspiring because the leaders who he evokes were inspiring? Are we simply reacting to the symbolic association? More…

Kilpatrick Apologizes.


In Haiti, Literally Eating Dirt to Survive.

As the cost of oil around the world continues to climb, the price of food has increased to the point where many Haitians (where most people make less than $2 a day) have begun eating cookies and pies made of dirt and mud.

Carrying buckets of dirt and water up ladders to the roof of the former prison for which the slum is named, they strain out rocks and clumps on a sheet, and stir in shortening and salt. Then they pat the mixture into mud cookies and leave them to dry under the scorching sun…

The finished cookies are carried in buckets to markets or sold on the streets.

A Haitian doctors say depending on the cookies for sustenance risks malnutrition.

“Trust me, if I see someone eating those cookies, I will discourage it,” said Dr. Gabriel Thimothee, executive director of Haiti’s health ministry.

Marie Noel, 40, sells the cookies in a market to provide for her seven children. Her family also eats them.

“I’m hoping one day I’ll have enough food to eat, so I can stop eating these,” she said. “I know it’s not good for me.”

Poor Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt.

Granny, Don’t!

Ralph Nader — activist, flamethrower and depending on whom you ask, the guy who cost Al Gore the White House in 2000 — is mulling yet another White House bid. No, for real.

He has harsh words for the leading Democratic candidates, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, chastising them for failing to advance aggressive plans to tax corporations more fairly, and to fight for a vastly higher minimum wage.

Obama, he said, is a particular disappointment, since his background suggests that he knows the importance of progressive issues yet hasn’t fought for them in the Senate.

“His record in the Senate is pretty mediocre,” Nader said. “His most distinctive characteristic is the extent to which he censors himself. He hasn’t performed as a really progressive first-term senator would.”

His natural base is Kucinich supporters (and maybe some Edwards voters) who’ve been cast adrift and want another candidate who doesn’t understand the law of diminishing returns.

WTF? ‘Crash’ To Become TV Show.

Crash, the singularly awful film about race and implausibly stupid coincidences that inexplicably went on to win the Oscar in 2005 for Best Picture, is about to become a television show.

Resolved: I’mma vote for whichever presidential candidate keeps this booshee from happening. More…

Heads up: ‘The Wire’ on New York Public Radio.

Clarke Peters, Jamie Hector, and Gbenga Akinnagbe, as well as the show’s music supervisor Blake Leyh, dropped in on The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC to talk about the show.  The audio isn’t up yet, but it can be found here.

Edwards, Giuliani Call it a Campaign

I’m no John Edwards fan (we’re generally ambivalent up in here) but I read a thoughtful piece yesterday by Alice Bonner on The Root, who said that being the child of a poor Southern laborer — like John Edwards, the son of a mill worker, in case you hadn’t heard —- was as much a part of what concerned her as being a woman or being black. “Certainly we must hammer away at racial and gender inequities, but we also need someone like Edwards to make sure we remember the left-behind people, someone to embarrass us for scorning people based on where they happened to be born, by place and class.” Can’t be mad at that.

After not winning or finishing second in a single Democratic primary, John Edwards is officially making the bid for the Democratic nomination a two-candidate race. What’s next for Edwards? At 54, he’s young enough to mount another bid in eight years (assuming a Democratic victory, by no means a guarantee). But would he want to? Would anyone else want him to? He ran up against two political rock stars in Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama this time, but in ’04 he couldn’t even outshine John Kerry. It’s possible that this is his political ceiling. He could hitch his wagon to the ticket of Obama or Clinton, and if they go on to be elected, he could run on the experience platform. He might even be the frontrunner (if Obama hasn’t won a nomination by then, of course).

Not too long ago, Rudolph Giuliani was the front-runner for the Republican Party nomination. As a New Yorker, that meant having to listen to annoying assertions by fellow residents that they’d “leave the country if that fascist Giuliani” were elected president. To say I deeply distrust Rudy Giuliani would be an understatement, but I just couldn’t get that worked up about his campaign; his inflated poll numbers would evaporate as the campaign wore on and Rudy acted like, well, Rudy.

Rudy didn’t disappoint. He decided on a risky strategy where he would cede the first primary states and campaign hard in Florida, hoping a big win there would slingshot him forward going into the Super Tuesday primaries. Well, it didn’t work. Can’t be mad at that, either.