The Great Shrug: will Baby Boomers vote Trump?

I am very worried about a Trump Presidency. I know the polls don’t really show it. I know it’s not the sentiment reflected back to us by our televisions. But I’m worried, nonetheless.

I’m not worried about racists. We know what part of the political spectrum concentrates its power with the Southern Strategy. Racist who vote at all will vote predictably.

I’m not worried about Brexit America. Not exactly, anyway: I genuinely think there is some unique and perplexing thing about British citizens who time and time again said they didn’t think their vote would matter. Or perhaps it is we that are the perplexing ones. Either way, in America, if you don’t think your vote counts you generally don’t vote at all.

What worries me is that even among the staunchest of liberals in my father’s generation, I hear a common sentiment. That sentiment is that “in the 60’s, it was about all of us. Peace and love. But I guess now it’s just about black lives mattering.” I do hear it. And I hear it often.

Never mind that the fight for civil rights far predates and postdates the Flower Power movement. Set aside the fact that the 60’s entire claim to fame basically boils down to That Time Privileged White Kids Cared About Social Justice. Baby Boomers seem to think that every stride Black America has made since Hendrix was because they bought the same albums and smoked the same pot.

And now that the rallying cry doesn’t include them, they seem put out. “All Lives Matter!” they cry. Because the one thing you can’t do to a Baby Boomer is uninvite them to the protest.

For how many of our parents’ generation does a vote for Trump represent the Great Shrug of Baby Boomer indifference? Like a sullen Randian character, do Boomers simply reject the politics of the day? Do they throw off any pretensions of liberalism, conservatism or even stewardship and simply vote “Crazier than You?” Maybe I really am worried about a Brexit. Even a Boomer sit-out might be enough to sway the election. Everybody in the Liberal wing of the Boomer gen just sits down, smokes their medical marijuana and says, “I’ve done enough.”

Will the Great Shrug be a vote to reanimate Barney Fife? Donna Reed? Sammy Davis, Jr? Will the Great Shrug be the collective sigh that pines for the days when television told you what to believe and cameras never interfered with the message? Because the sentiment in my parents’ generation feels a lot like technoshock: the moment when you stop understanding what your technology is telling you. That moment when the world moves beyond what you can cope with.

I can sympathise with anyone who can’t handle Hillary Clinton. I’m not anti-Hil, but I certainly would have preferred a better choice than between the Orange Menace and yet another sample of the Bush/Clinton/Bush years. But I smell something nasty in the wind. I hope I’m wrong.


What is Ted Cruz eligibility to be President? Let democracy sort it out.

Don’t get me wrong: I just love the schadenfreude of Republicans, having now purchased eight years of good will and continued power on the basis of a wink-wink/nudge-nudge Birther flirtation, finding themselves with a potentially – even just arguably – illegitimate candidate for President. Or more specifically: that Republicans have a choice of leadership between a lock of hair with an Il Duce complex or an illegitimate alien. Love it, love it, love it.

But as a citizen, I’m actually a bit caught off-guard that this question even exists? What is and what is not a legitimate candidate for President? Our nation’s relationship with Europe before and after the Revolution was a lot closer than it is now. I would have thought this question would certainly come up quite a bit.

Senator Ted Cruz’s eligibility to become President of the United States seems very-much in question, hinging on a very arcane set of conventions and historical interpretation of what a “natural born” citizen is.

Obama, McCain and The Ted Cruz Eligibility Problem:

In order for a person to become the President of the United States, that person must meet only three criteria: they must be over 35 years old, have lived in the United States for 14 years and be a “natural born” citizen of the United States. I think the Senator would forgive me if I say we’re not worried about his age. And he’s been in American political life for longer than 14 years, so we’re ok there. But this “natural born citizen” business? That’s different.

Ted Cruz is born to an American mother and a Canadian father, in Canada. To the casual observer, this would seem to be a pretty cut-and-dried case. But I’ll bet if you compared notes with your neighbor, you’d find that you came to different conclusions.

History isn’t much of a guide and the Constitution never makes clear what a “natural born citizen” is. Perhaps this is because at the time, there wasn’t a question: American law was founded by the British before the Revolution and after the Revolution, American lawyers would have followed British Common Law. The Constitution only concerned itself with building a government and the rest was left to the citizenry.

The Common Law process for citizenship would have been to base the solution on the patrilineage of the child. In other words, where Dad’s from is where Baby’s from. That puts Ted Cruz up to his flag pin in maple syrup.

This is actually a very different case from the two previous (and in President Obama’s case, perpetual) cases of citizenship and the Presidency. Conspiracy theories notwithstanding, the paper trail of President Obama’s life is one of an American born on American soil in Hawaii. In John McCain’s case, an American father and mother gave birth to a son on an American base, therefore American-occupied soil. Senator Cruz is very clearly born in Canada. Only the question of his parentage remains.

To any modern ear attached to any modern-thinking brain, this sounds pathetically, backwardly sexist. Like, wenches-and-knights sexist. Leprosy-and-mutton-legs backward. But it’s also the law, and you can’t just ignore it because you don’t like it. And so the issue remains.

Right now, there are Constitutional and legal scholars pouring over the records for some kind of precedent. Anything that would prove that, in the United States, the law was widely interpreted one way or the other. But they probably needn’t bother: it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Americans would have broken with sexist tradition unless it was very, very recent.

The Good News: it’s not a Constitutional question.

As complicated as the question might be, it strikes me that this doesn’t necessarily have to be a question we leave to the scholars. For a start, since the basic problem is that the Constitution does not proscribe a solution in this case, this isn’t really a Constitutional question at all.

It is a question of whether we choose to live in a society that embraces a backward legal interpretation at the expense of modernity and gender justice. It’s also a question of whether we choose to live in a society that ignores legal precedent when it is inconvenient to our mores. It’s a hell of a question, as a matter of fact. And it probably shouldn’t be answered by anyone else but us.

A Dangerous Game in FEC Nomination Battle

I posted this article to the DFE News Updates section a moment ago (BTW, pick up the feed!), but I thought this one deserved a lot more attention than the national media has given it. A little-reported and highly important battle is being waged within the Senate over the appointment of members to the Federal Election Commission.  The line is being drawn over a Hans A. von Spakovsky, who was formerly a member of the highly-dubious “Justice” Department of the Bush “Administration.”

And the battle lines are of immediate concern to the primary antagonist of the battle, Barack Obama.  His political future may depend on the makeup of that body, especially given all the hanky-panky the Republicans have been willing to play.  But in putting up the fight against this nomination, Obama is playing a very dangerous game for which I see only very scant chance of victory:

Senate Battle Over FEC Nominee May Hamper Agency’s Ability to Act –

“Historically, they’ve been done as a group to prevent one party’s nominees from going through and not the other’s,” Stewart said. “That’s the way we’ve always done them, and Senator McConnell sees no reason that should change.”

Obama and three other senators who have formally objected to a Senate vote on von Spakovsky said they want each FEC nominee to be voted on separately. They said it should take 60 votes for him to be confirmed.

As for the fate of the FEC if the stalemate persists, those on both sides agreed that members of the commission’s staff would be able to continue to conduct routine work, but little else would get done, at least until Bush made four new recess appointments. Such a move would mean he was conceding defeat on the von Spakovsky nomination.

I don’t mean to suggest that there aren’t perfectly good ethical reasons for concern over the von Spakovsky nomination: he has presided over some very dubious Justice decisions including the Tom DeLay Texas redistricting scheme.  Even if it means a partisan fight where there has previously been none, this does seem like a fight worth having.  But if the end-game here is that Bush can just nominate whomever he so chooses in a recess appointment, that’s not a game Republicans can lose by playing.  If the media won’t even pay attention to the story, where is Barack’s ammunition coming from?

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I See, a Bombardment “of Some Kind. . .”

Former governor of Massachusetts and current Republican Stooge Mitt Romney, in a bid to show off his foreign policy chops, has made this stunning announcement:

Romney Open to Iran ‘Bombardment’

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) – Republican Mitt Romney said Thursday he would be willing to use a military blockade or “bombardment of some kind” to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon. The former Massachusetts governor’s comments came as the Bush administration announced new sanctions designed to isolate the government in Tehran. Romney applauded the move, while several Democratic presidential contenders spoke out against it—and used it as an opportunity to criticize front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Ah. This was your opportunity to criticize Hillary Clinton?  It would have been as well had you not bothered.

What’s in Rudy’s Cabinet?

Well, certainly we know it’s not working radios. . .

No, what’s in his cabinet is a group of “thinkers” who were even too nuts for the Bush Administration. Not the least of these is Normal “My Pud Hurts” Podhoretz, the father of the Neo-Conservative movement and the man who recently implored George Bush to please go to war with Iran. Guess what a Rudy Presidency might mean for the prospects of peace? Josh Marshall has the gory, gory, gory details:


Steven Colbert Writes for Maureen Dowd

This is the best opinion piece written for the New York Times in a long time.  Don’t miss it!

A Mock Columnist, Amok – New York Times

So why I am writing Miss Dowd’s column today? Simple. Because I believe the 2008 election, unlike all previous elections, is important. And a lot of Americans feel confused about the current crop of presidential candidates.

For instance, Hillary Clinton. I can’t remember if I’m supposed to be scared of her so Democrats will think they should nominate her when she’s actually easy to beat, or if I’m supposed to be scared of her because she’s legitimately scary.

Or Rudy Giuliani. I can’t remember if I’m supposed to support him because he’s the one who can beat Hillary if she gets nominated, or if I’m supposed to support him because he’s legitimately scary.

And Fred Thompson. In my opinion “Law & Order” never sufficiently explained why the Manhattan D.A. had an accent like an Appalachian catfish wrestler.

The Fascinating Dobson Effect

The announcement of James Dobson that he will actively encourage his supporters to support a third party candidate in the event that Rudy Giuliani gets the Republican nomination is fascinating on a number of levels. The Veracifier, Talking Points Memo’s video production site, recaps the conversation between Sean Hannity and Dobson on the subject:

TPMtv: The Rudy Apocalypse || Veracifier

The Republicans just started debating at 4PM. Find out why the air looks to be going out of the Rudy balloon as mullah Dobson issues the word and watch Fred Thompson as he finally wheels his hat into the ring — all today in today’s episode of TPMtv.

Fred Thompson: Man of Character

Ah, yes.  Good old Derf Thompson.  He is, in fact, a man of several characters, off screen and on.  Brian Ross’ The Blotter recommends to us yet another treatment of the man’s ability to act.  This time, Freddy attempts to act principled while simultaneously opening the biggest window he can for Richard Nixon to weasel out of:

The Blotter: Nixon on Thompson: ‘Dumb’ but ‘Friendly’

Fred Thompson has made much of his role 30 years ago as a young Senate lawyer helping to lead the investigation of the Watergate scandal and President Richard Nixon. . .

“He isn’t very smart, is he?” Nixon asks.

“Not extremely so, but –,” Buzhardt says, interrupted by the president.

“But he’s friendly,” Nixon says.

“But he’s, he’s friendly,” Buzhardt echoes.


A few days later, White House aides are heard saying Thompson will be even more helpful than his boss, Sen. Baker, and that Thompson agreed to secretly help undercut the credibility of White House whistleblower John Dean.

And say, Brian! Take the goddamned phone away from your ear. You don’t look hip, you look like a senile grandpa trying to figure out how to use his remote control.  Note the vacancy in his eyes. . .

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Join the Effort to Put Barack on the NY Ballot!

Some of you certainly know, though I have not formally announced on this website, that I actively support Barack Obama for president.  I think he has what it takes to inspire people, bring together coalitions and move the country forward; while the national media obsesses over near-meaningless national polls, polls where Obama campaigns and where the votes will count has shown him as a much clearer winner.

All of that confidence in the poll numbers is, of course, so much dust in the wind: how people address pollsters and how they actually vote are often two different things.  However, in the last two election cycles, that has not really been the case, save for a percentage point here and a percentage point there.

Anyway, there is an initiative to get Barack Obama on the ballot here in New York.  It is doubtful that New York’s primary will make any real difference in the outcome of the primaries, but having him on the ballot and polling well here – even if he does not win – would be a powerfully meaningful symbol.

If you support Barack Obama for president, you might want to check out the details of the campaign by checking out the meeting.  Details are on the Barack Obama website.

Nothing Else Matters

Forget whatever else you’re worried about, locally.  Forget Maggie’s fast one, forget school superintendent searches.  Sy Hersh is reporting that, as many of us suspected for years, the president and the White House are moving in the direction of an open war with Iran.  They’re working up the talking points and planning excuses to make this happen.  What’s more, it’s not just the Administration of this country, this time.  Sy seems to have it on good authority that France and Great Brittan are as interested in this as anybody, this time around:

Crooks and Liars » Sy Hersh on Bush and Iran: Shifting targets: New Propaganda push to attack their Revolutionary Guard

Sy Hersh joined CNN’s Late Edition and discussed his new article out in the NewYorker: “Shifting Targets,” which says that the WH has a new talking point which it will sell attacking Iran and as usual, our media will lap it up. The CIA has created an Iran Study Group with dozens of new members with the goal of launching a strike against Iran, including ground forces. Bush feels that using the nuclear threat as the reason to bomb Iran has failed miserably, so they switched talking points and are going to say they are defending themselves against Iranian meddling in Iraq. We told you so….

Mr. Hersh is a fairly reliable journalist, more or less the only such journalist allowed to practice his profession these days.

Can we allow this to happen? Can we count on Democrats to do anything about it? Just so we’re on the same page, Iran and Russia have been staunch allies for a long time and there are billions of dollars of outstanding debts between them. Use your imagination and see where that might lead us. This is not a joke, this is a problem.

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Ted Koppel’s Super-Popular With the Prez

Ted Koppel is speaking out about the Dan Rather roll-over moment and his impending lawsuit.  Like most thinking people, Koppel realizes that the whole firing was crap from the beginning.  Towards the end of this article, though, he reveals an interesting freeze-out of one of journalism’s top news men (him) by the White House simply for crossing the former failed baseball manager a slight bit in an interview:

Koppel on Rather Suit: Squeezing Out of Newsman was a ‘Travesty’ – TVWeek – News

When Mr. Bush was running for president, Mr. Koppel asked then Governor Bush what qualified him to be president. Mr. Bush cited his experience as governor of Texas, his experience running the Texas Rangers baseball team, as well as the fact that he was a loving husband and father.

Mr. Koppel replied that those qualifications would seem to be good qualifications if one were running for president of the Kiwanis Club, but not for president of the United States.

Ever since then it’s been the big freeze for Mr. Koppel from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

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Romney Campaign Video

This is hysterical.

Don’t miss this latest Mitt Romney campaign video (not really), it’s moving.

Oh, those brave, brave boys!