Sunday, March 30, 2008

Head to Head

Goal for the week of April 1st: Read Obama's "Blueprint for Change" cover to cover and stack it up against the positions of Hillary Clinton as presented on her website.

A quick glance indicates each candidate has about the same amount of information to read through (and a lot of it will be VERY similar), but I'm looking to find some interesting things during my digging.

P.S. PDFs are a whole lot easier to manage than printing, sorting, and flipping through computer paper...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Next Chapter

Four years of grueling high school work in preparation to head off to college begs a reprieve from the stress. Acting, taking photographs, writing, bouncing basketballs, kicking soccer balls, rowing on the Charles, and an insatiable appetite for politics became my escapes from the everyday grind

In two days my senior year switches from tests, papers, and nightly homework to a "senior project." For me that's blogging, continuing an AP art history course, immersing myself in a Polish language class, and giving my mind a chance to process things at a more natural pace than it's been running on for years.

Just as my ability to step back and pursue, think about, write about, and film the things I consider important will now increase dramatically, the campaign that has for so long been about picking apart differences among a large group of candidates has shifted to one about political philosophy and of which party's beliefs are the ones our country needs.

It's a challenge not just as a voter and citizen to think about that—and it's all the more difficult to think about it and then write about it. But hey, I've survived a freshman, sophomore, junior, and (almost) a senior year of high school analytical essays, class discussions, and debates, I'm sure I'll find a way to survive.

Friday, March 28, 2008

New York for Bloomberg...still?

Three days in New York City and I've overheard or been a part of three conversations about a Bloomberg candidacy. The situation New Yorkers see (and I think is within the realm of possibility) is Obama clinching the nomination within the next month or so, not holding up well in the face of continued pressure from McCain and a Republican machine that will play hardly as friendly as Hillary Clinton has, and a Republican base that doesn't completely warm up to McCain. It would be the perfect entrance point for Bloomberg, who, according to one New Yorker I spoke with, said "Bloomberg took on the gun lobbies, he took on the tobacco industry, and he's making this city greener, all without ever holding a fundraising event or asking for my money."

And the rewards of the Bloomberg mayorship can be seen all around the city. Not only did New York lead the way in banning smoking in restraunts and public spaces before most other cities considered taking on that challenge, but Bloomberg made a bold move by passing laws requiring the city's cabs go hybrid and putting aside money for the planting of 250,000 trees in Manhattan.

Will Bloomberg actually jump in the race? Who knows, but New Yorkers LOVE him...and this is "Hillary Country."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Goodbye, Florida

All good things must come to an end, and I'll miss St. George Island in Florida.

Seven days here, two days at home, and five days in New York City.

A little treat after three and a half years of grinding through high school? You bet.

(photo credit: 2008 by Caroline Kotter. All Rights Reserved.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Always the Underdog?

At times I bought into the fundraising pitches. On March 1st and 4th I donated to the Clinton campaign in response to a pair of online fundraising pleas they made before the "Mini Tuesday" voting days in Texas and Ohio.

The case the Clinton camp made then was that the Obama campaign had won big in Wisconsin and Washington because they had outspent the Clintons more than 4-to-1 on television advertising. It was clear to me: if I wanted Hillary to have a better chance of winning in Ohio and Texas, they needed as much money as they could get for their own advertisements.'s homepage was a side by side comparison of the Obama campaign's spending in Ohio vs. the Clintons' spending. Every donation, including mine, caused Hillary's bar to jump just a little bit higher. I, along with other Clinton supporters I know, donated that week. As it was, the Clinton campaign strategy never had Ohio or Texas in its plans from the beginning, and they needed some extra help.

Now, however, after months of knowing that Pennsylvania could be their last stand, the Clinton campaign is still playing the underdog card. Bill Clinton sent out an email yesterday to supporters asking for money and said, "The Obama campaign is already on the air with their first ad in Pennsylvania, putting their fundraising advantage to work. They're going to spend every dollar they've got to end this race in Pennsylvania, and we can't let that happen."

All this makes me think Hillary Clinton likes being perceived as the underdog in every new state that votes?it's a strategy that's worked well for her of late.

After enjoying that fundraising pitch before, I'm beginning to tire of the "we're going to be outspent!" line. So, I've designed a fundraising button of my own that I wish the Clinton campaign would use. Instead of giving money to Hillary Clinton because Barack is raising and spending more, I think Clinton supporters would rally around the idea of showing WHY they support Hillary. Whether it be ending the war in Iraq or working to provide universal health care, having supporters connect their contributions to the issues Ms. Clinton supports would show the campaign what really matters in the eyes of voters.

Check it out:

To the Clinton campaign: Use your candidate's strengths on issues, not her disadvantage in advertising, to gain and maintain support.



Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Powerful Prologue

Thomas Jefferson once said, "Whenever you are to do a thing, ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly."

In his book, "Letters from Nuremberg: My Father's Narrative of a Quest for Justice," Senator Dodd introduces the letters of his father with over sixty pages of his own commentary. His long remarks eloquently capture the importance of his father's work at Nuremberg, as well as the United States' decision to put Nazi officials on trial in a world still devastated by their crimes:

"By trying those who carried out a criminal war, a complete record of their actions could be shown to the world, therefore announcing once and for all that such behavior would not be tolerated by the community of civilized nations. And, in giving the defendants a chance to hear the evidence against them and to defend themselves, the Allies would take the moral and legal high ground."

In our era of the Military Commissions Act (of 2006) the precedent set at Nuremberg seems long forgotten. The Military Commissions Act states:

"No alien enemy unlawful combatant subject to trial by military commission under this chapter may invoke the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights as his trial by military commission."

Undoubtedly, among the prisoners we're holding at Guantanamo are those who seek to kill Americans and destroy our way of life. However, for the reasons that Senator Dodd cites, Guantanamo's "enemy combatants" should be given the opportunity to "hear the evidence against them and defend themselves" just like those who were responsible for the deaths of over 6 million Jews.

Under the imprudence of the Bush administration we have become a nation that no longer abides by the enlightened hand of justice, and have instead fallen under the control of fear?the same fear and anger that prompted the British and Russians to call for the swift execution of those at Nuremberg, not the fair, albeit arduous, trial that they were given.

I read on....

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Room with a View

Two weeks of vacation have begun, and despite clouds rolling in just a few minutes ago, 74 degrees sure beats Boston with snow squalls and lows below freezing.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The End

Today is my last full day of high school classes.

It's been an unbelievable ride, but I'm too exhausted from 3.5 years of straight work to want to do anything now but sleep and get ready for spring vacation.

But what could be better than a little celebrating?

On New Years Day, 1990. Communism's over. U2 takes the stage.

Expect a light sprinkling of posts from the Florida Panhandle starting Sunday.

Goodbye BB&N, hello Florida!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

When You Say...'re the winner of a state, people will believe you.

But when you lose Texas by 101,000 votes in the primary, it makes you wonder if Obama's narrow delegate win due to the caucus system qualifies him to claim absolute victory in the state like he is doing now. What Texas does do for Obama is allow his graphic designers to animate a new part of his webpage graphic [above].

Notice too how Connecticut and Vermont's glowing borders completely block out Massachusetts and New Hampshire—two states that went for Hillary Clinton, and Nevada looks oddly large compared to the measly size of California.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Comic Book

Rolling Stone endorsed Barack Obama in its most recent issue.

I can't say I'm surprised. Ever since Rolling Stone's political "experts" took to the airwaves before Super Tuesday as the new breed of hip campaign commentators—including the arrogant Matt Taibbi (seen recently bashing Hillary Clinton on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher") —it's been obvious where their support lies. A magazine that loves to idolize the gods and goddesses of rock 'n roll, RS treated their presidential endorsement with the same seriousness of a concert review.

The magazine's cover presents a drawing of Obama, lit from behind like the Son of God. Titles read, "A New Hope," "Inside his People-Powered Revolution," and "The Candidate and the Call of History."

In addition to the hyperbole, the depth of RS's analysis amounts to little more than piles and piles of naive statements like the following:

Although Obama declined to attack her personally for her vote for the war in Iraq, he did call it, devastatingly enough, a clear demonstration of her so-called experience and "judgment." He has also spoken forcefully about the need to break the grip of lobbyists — at a time when Clinton is the largest recipient of drug-company donations of anyone in Congress. Clinton could not address this issue at all, and neither will John McCain, who is equally a player in Washington's lobbyist culture.

If Rolling Stone were really trying to prove themselves as a serious source for campaign news and opinion in the upcoming election they would have acknowledged that one of the main thrusts of Obama's campaign is to attack Hillary for her vote on the war. In addition, they would have announced their endorsement of Obama at the same time that The New York Times or The LA Times did, earlier in the campaign process when seeing strengths in a candidate before the rest of the world did showed intuition and boldness. Instead, repeating the same old points, waiting until the rest of the pack has weighed in, and turning this important election into a glitzy, "This Week's Hottest!", tabloid event, Rolling Stone fumbles precisely where they wanted to show off.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

With Two Great Comedians...

...playing the roles of Obama and Clinton, there's a new reason to watch SNL this election season.

Spot. On.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A New Day

It's the popular thing for us Democrats to complain about the delay in selecting a nominee while McCain and the Republicans suit up for the general election. I don't consider myself one of those worriers — and I think most of them are Obama supporters — but I must say that John McCain sure knows how to blow you away when he wants to, and the new splash page for his website is the kind of epic beginning to a long and grueling campaign that every candidate wishes they could claim.

As for the Democrats, if Obama AND Clinton put on their war boots for the general election, then everyone wins.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Webb County, Texas

If one uncounted district stands out on the Texas primary results map, it's Webb County.

Bordering Mexico and including the city of Laredo, early results from Webb Country show Ms. Clinton ahead 77% to Obama's 21%. Southeastern Texas is swinging dramatically to Clinton tonight, largely because of the high Latino populations in these counties, and Webb County is no exception to that trend.

Though Hillary currently leads by 2.5% statewide, Harris County (greater Houston) and Tarrant County (Fort Worth) are still largely uncounted. Those two districts will help Senator Obama, but Webb County, along with solid Clinton support in El Paso, San Antonio, Val Verde County, and a handful of other border counties, Hillary looks like she can hang onto a win in Texas.

Reports from the Lonestar State indicate lots of disorganization at caucus sites, which could dampen turnout, but look for Obama to still perform strongly. Argue all you want about how fair or unfair the caucus system is (and after watching a caucus in person in Iowa I think they're an awful form of "democratic voting"), but Obama will fare much better in that voting scheme.

Waiting until the early morning for results? You bet!

UPDATE: Webb County ended up voting 77% to 21% in favor of Sen. Clinton

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Texas Exit Polls

Does this say it all?

If not, try these:

The Hispanic vote looks to have come through big time for Clinton, and an 11% margin in the white vote doesn't hurt either.

My prediction: Ms. Clinton takes the Texas primary by 4-7%.

Now, that Texas caucus thing is a whole different story....

Ohio Exit Polls

The most noteworthy nugget of information I'm pulling from a skim of Democratic exit polls from Ohio tonight are votes by "Independents." Where Obama beat Clinton among independents 69% to 30% in Virginia — by 39% — Obama is only winning among Ohio independents 54% to 46% — by 8%.

Exit polling numbers can't be taken too seriously, but these numbers could evidence a shift in the way independent voters view Obama. Obama is a liberal Democrat by all measures, not necessarily the middle of the road "progressive" that voters in previous states believed.

If Clinton stays in the race after tonight (and my guess is she will), than the long stretch of time before the Pennsylvania primary could work to her advantage. Where Obama's momentum was continued from Super Tuesday to Wisconsin without pause, the long six weeks before Pennsylvania could benefit Clinton like it appears to have in Ohio (and perhaps Texas, too).

Meeting and Mourning Di Stefano

Yesterday morning I purchased a brilliant 1953 recording of Puccini's Tosca featuring Giuseppe Di Stefano and Maria Callas.

I've only recently become interested in opera, and it was only today that I discovered the name Di Stefano appeared on nearly all of my favorite recordings. Whether in his work with Maria Callas, Tito Gobbi, Zinka Milanov, or the countless others he appeared with, Di Stefano was no doubt one of the greatest opera singers of the 20th century.

In a rough translation of Tosca's final Romanza, "E lucevan le stelle," Di Stefano once famously sang out, "And I have never loved life so much!" before his death in the opera.

It was with that line ringing in my ears and my newfound excitement to discover Di Stefano's catalogue of works that I was saddened to hear of his passing just hours ago. Rest in peace, Giuseppe, your music now lives on.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Beyond the Title

The Georgetown Voice is one of my favorite student-produced news sources. In fact, alongside RealClearPolitics, CNN,, and a number of other websites and newspapers, The Voice has a special place in my election news and opinion lineup.

There happened to be an editorial entitled "Clinton Shouldn't Fake Comeback" in this past Thursday's online edition, and it caught my attention.

Quoting the editorial:

Her actions, far from showing compassion for the disenfranchised, betray Clinton to be calculated and contemptuous of the DNC?s agreed-upon procedure.

Clinton?s divisive tactics are the last thing Democrats need in the 2008 election. Instead of in-fighting and backroom deals, they should be striving to live up to their messages of hope and unity.

At first read I completely agreed! The Democratic Party has been unable to translate popular support into electing a Democrat to the White House the past two elections, and the Democratic nomination being decided by superdelegates overriding pledged delegates would be horrible for the party.

But then I hit the spot where I usually drop off in these arguments—when Hillary is said to be the "delegate-grubber" and selfish politician while Barack Obama is, according to the Voice's editors, "striving to live up to message of hope and unity."

I'm starting to wonder if I'm the only one who thinks this way anymore. If Barack Obama was losing the nomination and wanted to get the delegates from Florida and Michigan (assuming he won those two states), I feel the media would sympathize with his intentions to enfranchise voters and unite the country, not break the US down into states counted by a political party and states ignored by a political party.

I know Hillary Clinton wants Florida and Michigan to be seated at the convention because she won those two states, not because she's fighting for voter enfranchisement, but would Senator Obama be as highly criticized as Ms. Clinton if he was in need of those two states' delegates?

Clinton is desperate now, but can 'Hope' ever be desperate too?