Wednesday, January 30, 2008


The rumors are flying that John Edwards is going to drop out of the race today.

I hope it's not true. But if it's true, I hope he doesn't endorse another candidate. Not yet.

John has raised important issues during his campaign, and he has showed himself as a true progressive. Obama's closer to him on several issues than Clinton - and I expect him to eventually endorse Obama - but he's not there yet.

So I hope Edwards gives him a little bit of the ol' treatment before he offers an endorsement. And i hope Obama takes him seriously. He's earned that much.

John Edwards for Attorney General!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Reality Check - Should Edwards Drop Out?

Well, Barack Obama just killed his remaining two opponents in South Carolina. We've all seen the headlines - Obama wins more votes than both Clinton and Edwards combined. He won in every conceivable demographic (except over 65 - what's that all about?)

But then there's John Edwards - my candidate. Poor, poor, maligned, ignored John Edwards.

Edwards placed third in South Carolina (although he apparently surged more than ten points in the polls before Saturday, while Clinton plummeted). He's been in four races and hasn't won one.

So should he drop out? Is he, in fact, not a viable candidate? Is he just getting in the way of the "real" candidates? Is he wasting time and money and energy by running for a nomination he cannot win?

Well, let's think about it for a minute.

The Democratic nomination is not decided by wins in states. It's decided by total number of delegates. There are a total of 4049 Democratic delegates up for grabs during the campaign. The nominee must win 2025 delegates in order to close the deal - just over half.

This means that the winning candidate can't just get a plurality of the delegates - they need a straight-up 50%. South Carolina is the first state where any candidate won by over 50% of the vote. (There are 45 delegates tied to the primary, and another nine who are superdelegates.) Obama will receive 25 delegates from the primary, Clinton 12, and Edwards 8.

(I'm not some kind of idiot savant, by the way. All of this stuff is available on several websites, including CNN's Election Center.)

Edwards is gathering up the delegates he can, in hopes of making a play at the convention. He hasn't won a state yet, but he is winning delegates in each race. If he wins enough delegates to keep either Clinton or Obama from winning 50%, then he goes into the convention with a tremendous amount of power. Right now, this is a three-way race, not a two-person race.

Hillary Clinton, according to some reports, ignored South Carolina so she could campaign in New York, New Jersey, and California in hopes of racking up delegates. That way, even if she wins less states than Obama, she'll end up with more delegates and be in a position to take the nomination.

This is the way the game is played. This is the system that the Democratic Party has in place with all of the states that have proportional delegates systems vs. winner take all.

No one is gaming the system. No one is cheating the system. Each of them is winning delegates and votes. Each candidate is competing, in their way, with legitimate hopes of winning the nomination. No candidate is out until someone reaches 2025 delegates. Until and unless that happens, each of the three candidates remaining has a shot at the nomination.

If no one gets to 2025 by the time the convention happens, then all bets are off. A brokered convention is not entirely out of the question. It's happened before: as recently as 1976, for the Republicans, when Gerald Ford beat an ex-movie actor named Reagan on the first ballot.

Right now, Clinton has won two states and Obama has won two states. Clinton apparently leads in overall delegates, counting superdelegates, but Obama leads in delegates won from state primaries and caucuses.

But let's look at the numbers.

In the overall race for the nomination, Clinton has 230 delegates, followed by Obama with 152 delegates and Edwards with 61.

So the one who's closest to the nomination - Hillary Clinton - is nearly 1800 delegates short of the mark.

This race is far from over. And it'll be over when all of the voters - not just those in the early states, and not just those voting on Super Duper Double-Scooper Blooper Tuesday - cast their votes. (52% of all delegates will be up for grabs on that day, but no one is expected to win half of those delegates cleanly. It'll be a few here, a few there, some over here, and everybody get out yer blackboards.)

It's over when it's over, and until then, none of the three viable candidates has an obligation to step out for the sake of the party, or for the sake of the "realistic" candidates, or for any other reason.

And lest it be forgotten - John Edwards is talking about issues that the other candidates have only touched upon. He talked about predatory lending before Countrywide collapsed. He launched his campaign, not from New York or Washington, D.C., but from the devastated landscape of New Orleans. Edwards is moving the other candidates to the left, and that is a good thing. He is a unique voice in this campaign, and one that should keep speaking until he is no longer a candidate. That day has not arrived.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ice Cream Puddles, Anyone?

I think we may have accidentally killed our refrigerator last night.

What we know is this: last night, the fridge was running. Last night, one of us stuffed some things in the top shelf of the freezer compartment - behind which lives a fan that apparently runs the whole dadblasted thing.

Great big refrigerator. Leetle tiny fan.

Well, something happened and the little cheap plastic wall separating the fan from damage got caved in, and the fan was blocked or stopped or damaged.

We woke up this morning to a dead fridge, and puddles of water and black oil on the floor. We did the appropriate thing - we flipped out. I ran out to get a cooler and some ice. We saved everything we could - which was mostly condiments and cheese. (This USDA fact sheet proved to be a great asset.) I assumed the fridge had just croaked overnight and called the landlord to let him know that it was a dead parrot.

While I was unpacking the freezer, I noticed the caved-in panel. I moved the broken plastic panel away from the fan and whirrr! It started working again! Miracle of miracles! Saints be praised! We let it get down to temp again and jubilantly went out to buy some foodstuffs.

When we returned home, I unloaded the cooler and our brand new foodstuffs back into the fridge.

And then ... I noticed how warm the fridge was. And I noticed more oil leaking out onto the floor.

And then, Oliver said to me, "what daddy doing?"

"Daddy's going downstairs to curse."

Apparently, when the fan's running, it works fine. When the fan's off, it's not retaining cold. Fuckity.

So tonight, all of our cold stuff is sitting in a cooler on our back porch. The landlord's been called again. Hopefully, 1) we'll have a fresh refrigerator by Monday, and 2) the landlord doesn't see fit to charge us for breaking the fridge.

I don't really think that second part is either likely or legal. My guess is that it was damaged already, and that it was a matter of time before it died. It's just a little weird that moving a few frozen foods around would kill a perfectly healthy fridge, don'cha think? Anyway, I've got the Tenants' Union on speed dial just in case.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Radical Love Gets a Holiday

As a public service, I'm recommending that everyone - everyone - read Sarah Vowell's excellent column on the legacy of Dr. King.

I already love Sarah Vowell more than should be allowed, but this cements her place as one of my favorite writers.

Stay Awake

Today is a holiday to celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (King Day?) I want to offer one of his speeches for consideration today.

In church yesterday, our minister quoted a sermon that Dr. King delivered at the National Cathedral in 1968, attacking the folly of the Vietnam war. The words, delivered forty years ago, ring as true today as they did then.

I want to say one other challenge that we face is simply that we must find an alternative to war and bloodshed. Anyone who feels, and there are still a lot of people who feel that way, that war can solve the social problems facing mankind is sleeping through a great revolution. President Kennedy said on one occasion, "Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind." The world must hear this. I pray God that America will hear this before it is too late, because today we’re fighting a war.

I am convinced that it is one of the most unjust wars that has ever been fought in the history of the world. Our involvement in the war in Vietnam has torn up the Geneva Accord. It has strengthened the military-industrial complex; it has strengthened the forces of reaction in our nation. It has put us against the self-determination of a vast majority of the Vietnamese people, and put us in the position of protecting a corrupt regime that is stacked against the poor.

It has played havoc with our domestic destinies. This day we are spending five hundred thousand dollars to kill every Vietcong soldier. Every time we kill one we spend about five hundred thousand dollars while we spend only fifty-three dollars a year for every person characterized as poverty-stricken in the so-called poverty program, which is not even a good skirmish against poverty.

Not only that, it has put us in a position of appearing to the world as an arrogant nation. And here we are ten thousand miles away from home fighting for the so-called freedom of the Vietnamese people when we have not even put our own house in order. And we force young black men and young white men to fight and kill in brutal solidarity. Yet when they come back home that can’t hardly live on the same block together.

The judgment of God is upon us today. And we could go right down the line and see that something must be done—and something must be done quickly. We have alienated ourselves from other nations so we end up morally and politically isolated in the world. There is not a single major ally of the United States of America that would dare send a troop to Vietnam, and so the only friends that we have now are a few client-nations like Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, and a few others.

This is where we are. "Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind," and the best way to start is to put an end to war in Vietnam, because if it continues, we will inevitably come to the point of confronting China which could lead the whole world to nuclear annihilation.

The speech was titled "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution." Read it in its entirety here. Don't sleep.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My Son Convinces Me to Keep Him Around for Another Week

I was in bed, laying next to Oliver in his toddler bed, waiting for him to fall asleep. The bed's small, so my head was on the mattress instead of his miniature-sized pillow.

He scooted over on his pillow and indicated that I should lay down on it. "My friend lay down on pillow."

"Daddy's your friend?" I asked him, bemused.


I tucked my head on his pillow. "Daddy likes being your friend."

After a minute, he responded, "Oliver likes being daddy's friend."

Another minute. Then he added, "Oliver likes being daddy's Oliver."

He fell asleep shortly thereafter. I stayed for a few minutes to watch him breathe, wondering what heroic act I had committed in another life to be blessed with such an amazing little boy. It must have been a big one.

Monday, January 07, 2008

What Roger Clemens Should Have Said

Did you see Clemens on 60 Minutes last night?

Yeah, I didn't believe him either.

Bill Dwyre, columnist for the L.A. Times, offers some sage advice that Roger Dodger should have gotten from his lawyers, but didn't. Here's his first suggestion on how to fight off a story like this.

* You don't wait three weeks. You call a news conference the next day, or maybe the day after. You need only enough time to read the report and prepare to respond to each and every accusation. You are innocent, after all, so you want everybody to come and ask their questions. You want it open, free-wheeling, immediate. Not sanitized in some TV studio with only one questioner. Not used for a network ratings bonanza and edited for time.
Read the rest here.

What Dwyre suggests is a perfect path to clear your name - if you're innocent. If you have nothing to hide, then you hide nothing. Maybe that's why Roger chose the other path - shouting, pouting, glaring, but offering no other proof than his own word.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


I'm posting very late - like a few weeks late - because I forgot to report back from Oliver's first! dentist! appointment!

(The appointment was back in the first week of December, so forgive me for my tardiness.)

The dentist, first of all, was amazing. I thought he was going to have to sit back in The Dreaded Chair, or else he'd sit on my lap while the dentist poked and prodded in his mouth. But no. Instead, while he was standing up and playing with a fire truck, she came over and started playing him and talking about the fire truck. She befriended him. He smiled at her. Then she showed him the flashlight. She shone it on the fire truck, through the windows, and then while he was smiling, she aimed it in his mouth. The dental assistant furiously took notes while she called out all the teeth she saw. (She used the letters for each tooth, so it sounded like - "oh, look, Oliver, those windows are really cool. Look at that. K, F, C, L! What a great truck you have! A, D, G!")

He barely knew he was being examined. Then she brushed his teeth and flossed them. The whole thing was over before he realized that "the exam" had begun.

Exciting news #1 - all of his baby teeth are in!

Exciting news #2 - not a single cavity!

We were really worried because his cousin had a bunch of cavities around this age, when she went for her first dental appointment. I don't know what we did right, but it's working!