New BOW Award!

August 31, 2008

This week’s BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award comes right in between the two political conventions and in the midst of the desperate preparations for Gustav’s landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast.  Whatever our differences on matters of electoral politics and policy, I know that every person in the country joins me in hoping that there are no casualties and that there is minimal property damage.


Perhaps because we are in the middle of the most scripted, rehearsed, canned (choose your adjective) part of the political campaign, there was far less buffoonery than usual coming from the campaign trail this week.  Which is not to say there was none, but rather that one had to dig a bit deeper to find it.

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Well, I have to hand it to McCain:  He surprised me.  I didn’t think he was capable of doing something so unexpected.  That said, I’m not sure it’s a good choice.  Why?

1)  He has essentially given away the experience issue.  As the oldest man every to run for a first term in the White House (Today is is 72nd birthday) McCain had to take special care with his VP choice.  Whoever it was had to meet the same test he’s been claiming that Obama fails to pass, namely that this person is ready to assume the duties of President on day one.  Sarah Palin has been governor of Alaska for less than two years.  Prior to that she was mayor of the town of Wasilla and chair of the Alaska State Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for two years.  Her resume is thinner by far than Barack Obama’s.  If he’s not ready, neither is she.  Or perhaps more to the point, since clearly McCain is making the claim with this pick that she IS ready:  If she’s got the experience necessary to be President, then Barack Obama certainly does.

2) This is a pick that some Republicans claim is intended to make the GOP ticket more attractive to Hillary Clinton supporters.  I’m not convinced that it does that.  Yes, Palin is a woman, but to suggest that Clinton’s supporters liked her simply because she was a woman is, frankly, insulting.  Hillary’s supporters were drawn to the Clinton campaign by the Senator’s years of experience, her life story, her strength, her strong support for health care reform, environmental reform, and a woman’s right to choose.  Clinton’s supporters want to see progressive judges appointed to the Supreme Court. They want to see an end to the war in Iraq.  Sarah Palin doesn’t agree with any of those positions.  Apart from her gender, she has nothing in common with Hillary Clinton, and I believe Clinton’s supporters, even those who were disinclined to support Obama before the convention, will recognize that.

3) Even veteran GOP operatives know very little about this woman.  And in fact a simple Google search of her name brings up an August 1 news story, which indicates that she’s under investigation for firing her ex-brother-in-law from Alaska’s state police force.  She could be a risky choice.

4)  Finally, unlike Tim Pawlenty, who could have made Minnesota competitive for the GOP, or former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who could have helped in Michigan, where he grew up, and New Hampshire, which borders MA, Palin can’t really help in any of the battleground states.  Alaska is solidly Republican and already leans heavily to the GOP.  Now this same argument could be made against Obama’s choice of Joe Biden, but I think Biden brings much more to the table than she does.

All of that said, I’ll be interested to see how this plays out over the next several days.  And I’d be very interested in hearing your opinions on the matter.  So please share!

Yesterday we learned that U.S. Forces in Anbar Province, Iraq will be pulled out on — what a coincidence! — Monday, the opening day of the Republican National Convention.  Today, just hours before Barack Obama gives his much anticipated acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, and just a few days before the RNC, the Bush Administration has announced that economic growth in the second quarter of this year was MUCH better than anticipated.  Wow!  Turns out the Republicans didn’t mess everything up after all!  Things are just fine now!  So it’s okay to give John McCain the White House for George Bush’s third term.

Bush and Cheney:  They’re like little kids who break their Mom’s favorite vase, put it back together with super glue and duct tape and twine, and hope no one will notice that it was ever shattered.  Right.  Good luck with that, boys….

No Coincidence

August 27, 2008

Yeah, okay, I’m in political mode.  But this is just too outrageous to ignore.  Want to know why David Petraeus is John McCain’s BFF?  Just check today’s news headlines.  It was announced today that U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq will be handing over military control of the Anbar Province to the Iraqi Army on Monday, thus marking the culmination of the military’s one great “success story” of the Iraq conflict.  What’s the big deal you ask?  Well, as I said, this was announced today — and today the themes of speeches at the Democratic Convention will be focused on national security and foreign policy issues.  Think I’m being paranoid?  Monday, the day of the actual withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Anbar, marks the opening of the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities.

Keith Olbermann has spoken often of the “nexus of security and politics” on his wonderful news program, “Countdown.”  This is a perfect example.  With the Bush Administration, the tail always wags the dog.

Nine weeks from tonight, when the election returns start to come in showing that Barack Obama has been elected President, he and all Democrats will look back on this night and thank Hillary Clinton.  Her speech tonight was gracious, eloquent, funny, hard-hitting, and exactly what Obama and the party needed.  I’ve been critical of Clinton in the past in this space, and I wrote critically about her supporters just the other day.  But tonight she showed herself to be not only a brilliant politician, but also a class act, who has dealt with a painful defeat and turned it into perhaps the defining moment of her career in public service.  She was extremely generous to Obama tonight, and I hope that he will be no less generous to her in his speech on Thursday.

A Post About Distractions

August 25, 2008

Today’s post, “Distractions,” can be found at  Come to the site and check it out.  And, of course, enjoy!

On the night when Barack Obama clinched the Democratic Presidential nomination, I wrote the following about Senator Hillary Clinton’s supporters, who were still hurt and sad and, yes, angry about the primary results:

I hope, though, that after dealing with their disappointment and taking time to get used to the idea of an Obama candidacy, they will take a close look at the policy positions of Barack Obama and John McCain.  I hope they will think about what a McCain Presidency would mean to the future of the war in Iraq, the composition of the Supreme Court, the state of the economy, the prospects for health care reform, the ballooning of our budget deficit, improvements in public education, and a host of other issues.  The differences between Obama and McCain are far greater than any differences that exist between Obama and Clinton, and when it comes right down to it, these and other issues are what this election ought to be about.

Here we are, two months later, on the eve of the opening of the Democratic National Convention, and, sadly, we are still hearing about disaffected Clinton supporters who are angry with Obama about this or that, and who are, remarkably, considering casting their votes for John McCain.  The latest slight, in the eyes of Clinton’s supporters, is Barack Obama’s choice of Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his running mate.

Personally, I would have liked for Obama to choose Hillary as his running mate.  Of course, I also would have liked to see Clinton release her delegates prior to the convention.  Things don’t always work out.  I have been pretty sympathetic to Clinton’s supporters in the wake of the primary season.  As I said the same night I wrote the quote given above, Clinton was treated shabbily by the press and forced to deal with a level of vitriol from the right, most of it rooted in sexism, that few modern Presidential candidates have ever had to endure.  But enough already.  Hillary Clinton lost the nomination to Obama.  She wasn’t cheated.  Obama did nothing wrong.  He simply outworked her and outsmarted her.  He ran a brilliant campaign that focused on grassroots organization.  That’s why he creamed her in all the caucus states.  Now Clinton’s supporters might not like the caucus system — I’m not sure I do either — but she signed off on those rules when she was still the frontrunner.  She also signed off on the punishments meted out by the DNC against Florida and Michigan.  Only when the campaign started to get away from her did she start to complain about the caucuses and rail against the “injustice” done to the voters in the two states facing party sanctions.  Obama did nothing wrong, but Clinton went out of her way to paint him as a cheat in order to keep her voters riled up.

As for the VP decision:  When Hillary Clinton finally conceded the race to Obama, she made a point of NOT ending her campaign.  Instead, she suspended it.  I’m sure she had good reason for this — it might have had something to do with campaign finances and the debt her campaign had incurred.  When discussions began on how the convention would be run, Clinton insisted on having her name placed in nomination.  She said it would give her supporters a chance to have some closure — a catharsis of sorts.  Obama agreed.  Clinton will also have floor whips in place at the convention:  campaign lieutenants who will make certain that the Clinton delegates behave and vote as they are supposed to.  Clinton’s campaign representatives have said that they want to avoid anti-Obama demonstrations, and that this is why they want the whips in place.

All of this is easy to explain away.  It can all be seen as innocent.  But the fact remains that Hillary Clinton has done everything she could to maintain her viability as an alternative to Barack Obama.  I can’t blame her really.  The margin between them was thin, and he is a relative newcomer to the political scene.  He might have made a mistake even after clinching the nomination, and she probably wanted to be in position to capitalize when he did.

My point is this:  Hillary Clinton and her supporters can’t have it both ways.  If Clinton’s campaign is merely suspended, if her name is to be placed in nomination at the campaign, if she is going to have a full compliment of delegate whips on the floor at the convention, then she remains, in fact, a rival to Obama for the Presidency.  She can’t also expect to be considered for the Vice Presidency on a ticket headed by Obama.  It would be presumptuous of him to ask her, because he’d be dismissing her candidacy.  And it is presumptuous of her and her supporters to believe that she can actively pursue both offices.

The bottom line remains the same as it did the night Barack Obama clinched the nomination.  Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both progressive Democrats who support an end to the war in Iraq, a tax system that doesn’t benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor, enlightened environmental and energy policies, a Supreme Court that will protect a woman’s right to reproductive freedom, meaningful reform of our nation’s health care system, and a qhole host of other policy initiatives.  Clinton supporters who vote for McCain simply because they are angry that Hillary lost the nomination are turning their backs on everything Clinton has fought for throughout her political career.  As she said any number of times, this election was not about her, but rather about the future of our nation and the well-being of our children and their children.  Clinton has swallowed her disappointment and spoken eloquently on Barack Obama’s behalf.  It’s time for her supporters to let go of their disappointment and follow her lead.  This election is too important for this nonsense to continue.

Most of the major organizations that give out awards — the Academy of Motion  Picture Arts and Sciences, which gives the Oscars; the Baseball Writers Association of America, which gives the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year Awards to name a few — don’t like to recognize the same person twice in a row.  Generally it takes a performance in the second year that is so overwhelming that it simply can’t be ignored.  For instance, Tom Hanks won the Oscar in 1993 for his terrific performance in Philadelphia.  But the following year his work in Forrest Gump was so outstanding that the Academy had to give him the award again.  Same with Mickey Mantle’s back-to-back MVP awards in 1956 and 1957 — he was the best player in the league both years.  How could the baseball writers deny him the award?


Well, gentle readers, I find myself in the same position with this week’s BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award.  Last week’s deserving winner was Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, whose statements and actions in the wake of the Russian military’s incursion into Georgia were shameful and reckless.  How could I have known that McCain would outdo himself this week?  How could I have guessed that in a week relatively short on buffoonery, McCain would come up with such a remarkable gaffe?  Actually, I suppose if I’d been watching the previous six months of his campaign more closely, I would have been prepared for this. . . .

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Today’s post, “My Newest Jacket Art,” can be found at  Check out the site and enjoy!

Here’s the new art work:

So I’m doing something a bit different with my website right now and I want to encourage you to help me out with it.  I usually have a contest of some sort going on the site.  I ask a trivia question about one of my books and choose a winner from among those who send the correct answer.  The winner gets a signed copy of one of my books.  Sometimes, I’ll try something a bit different — I’ll ask people to cast a (imaginary) movie version of one of my book or I’ll ask for a cover idea.

Well, as some of you know, I’m currently writing the third book of my Blood of the Southlands series.  The first book, The Sorcerers’ Plague, came out in December 2007, and the second volume, The Horsemen’s Gambit, will be out in January 2009.  I’ve been referring to this third book jokingly as The Author’s Nemisis.  The fact of the matter is, though, that I’m two-thirds of the way through the book and I still don’t have a title for it.  So I’ve just started a new contest on my website — the winner will choose the title of my next book from a list of possible titles that I’m considering, AND will receive a signed uncorrected proof of The Horsemen’s Gambit.  So check out the website,, and follow the links to the contest page!

Please.  I need your help.