Monday, March 24, 2008

7 Classics Nobody Reads

A few weeks back, Nicole and I started a discussion about those books that people talk about all the time but that nobody has actually read. You know what I'm talking about: classic literature that people discuss as if they've read it (maybe you were supposed to read it in school, maybe you started it but never finished, or maybe you just have a vague idea what it's about). Everyone talks about how great they are and yet you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has actually read them cover to cover.

We had a lot of fun bouncing suggestions off each other for books that belong in this group via phone, text message and gchat so I figured I should compose a blog post listing some of them. And why not make it a countdown? Everybody loves a countdown! So here's my pics for the Top 7 Classics that Nobody's read.

7) William Faulkner/The Sound and the Fury

I'm proud to say I've actually read this one (that's why it's not higher on the list), but it took two attempts and a whole lot of willpower. Faulkner's prose is pretty opaque. It can be difficult to figure out who's narrating each section, whether a particular sentence is dialogue or the narrator's internal monologue, what is going on in the present (and what year is it anyway?) and what is a memory. From what I could discern, this is the story of three generations of a landowning white family from rural Mississippi and their black servants/tenant farmers (who are basically part of the extended family). One guy goes off to Harvard, and I think he had incestuous relations with his sister maybe and was all jealous when she got engaged. To add to the confusion, I swear there's a girl who was named after her uncle (it took me like half the novel to figure out they were different characters). Oh and there's a mentally handicapped man child -- it just wouldn't be Faulkner without a mentally handicapped man child.

(6) Marcel Proust/À la recherche du temps perdu

This seven volume autobiographical novel represents like 95% of Proust's writing. It's traditional English title is Remembrance of Things Past but recent translations use the more literal In Search of Lost Time; meanwhile Proust-heads just call it "the Novel." A lot of people would put Proust's oeuvre on the short list for the coveted title of Greatest Novel of the 20th Century, yet reading the whole thing is a rare accomplishment given that it's about the same length as 6 medium-thickness Victorian novels (when considered as a whole it dwarfs the exemplarily weighty War and Peace).

As I said, the Novel is heavily autobiographical. The narrator is a frail young social climber who in the end decides to devote himself to writing. Interestingly, he is never explicitly named in the text and he's rarely if ever given direct dialogue. There is also (Nabokov points this out in his lectures on Proust) a split perspective, as we are given the thoughts and perceptions of both the younger narrator who is present when the "action" takes place and the older narrator who recalls the story as he writes it down.

The Novel deals with a myriad of themes: World War I, human sexuality (Proust himself was gay and although the narrator is not there are several gay and lesbian characters), musings on philosophical topics such as the passage of time, how the names we give places affect our perception of them, how we must regain our sense of where we are and who we are when we wake up each morning, how memory works.... Probably the single most famous passage of the novel occurs when the adult narrator dips a madeleine into a cup of herbal tea and the taste brings with it a flood of memories of his Aunt Leone, her house in Combray, the town, his childhood.... Proust's psychological treatment of dysfunctional love is also right on the money: how one might take a lover for granted, but one grows jealous and obsessed when he feels that lover is slipping away.

A lot of people have cracked the pages of Volume I (Du Côté de Chez Swann or "Swann's Way"), but many of them don't finish the book let alone continue on to Volume II. Swann's Way is typical of the Novel as a whole in that it includes some interesting parts that I read through relatively quickly (e.g. "Swann in love") as well as some dull parts that dragged (mostly in the first part about his childhood summers spent at his great aunt's house in the country town of Combray). I've read up to the beginning of Volume VI thus far and I can tell you that my reading pace and enjoyment varies greatly from page to page. My favorite parts include the descriptions of high society gatherings and the witty conversation which takes place there, while some other passages (long descriptions, philosophical tangents, whinings about his girlfriend) are a bit more laborious. Proust cleverly ends each volume on a sort of cliff hanger so I find myself forgetting the tedium and looking forward the what happens next. If you're interested in reading Proust in English make sure you get your hands on the new translations which are edited by Christopher Prendergast. I like to say, half joking, that the Novel doesn't really pick up until Volume III.

(5) John Milton/Paradise Lost

This epic poem written by the blind Milton in the 17th-century is partly an exegesis of the Bible story of Adam and Eve and the "fall of man." It also deals with the chiefly apocryphal story of the fallen angels who rebelled against heaven. Indeed, a lot of people consider Lucifer to be the protagonist or anti-hero of the poem. It's also true that many contemporary Anglophones get the actual text of Genesis mixed up with Milton's version.

I read some of Paradise Lost in my Brit Lit class in college. I remember enjoying some of its beautifully written passages (such as the part where Milton asks for divine inspiration before attempting to describe the heavens, so that even though he is blind he might see the light -- the first 2 stanza of Book 3). The poem is also not without drama, as when the army of fallen angel wages war against Heaven with cannons. But, as was pointed out in the Norton Anthology's snarky introduction, you can't expect that much excitement from a story whose dramatic climax centers around a woman taking a bite from a piece of fruit.

(4) James Joyce/Ulysses

There's a lot of noise out there about how Joyce is the greatest writer of the 20th century and how Ulysses is the century's greatest novel, but just try and find someone who's actually read this one. If people have read anything by Joyce, they've probably read The Dubliners (I read that "Araby" story for a class in college). From what I gather, Ulysses is the story of a day in the life of Leopold Bloom as he wanders around Dublin running errands (or something) -- oh, and somehow its all an allusion to Homer's Odyssey. Joyce is known for his opaque prose and his stream of consciousness style which make UIysses anything but an easy read -- yet it is apparently a walk in the park compared to the elusive Finnegan's Wake which like 5 people in the world have read (and they didn't understand it). Someday I'm going to tackle Joyce.

(3) Herman Melville/Moby Dick

"Thar she blows!" Moby Dick is often lauded as the greatest American novel, and yet again no one has actually read it (Have you read it? I haven't read it). Moby Dick is the American Ulysses! We all know, however, that it's the story of Captain Ahab and his obsessive quest to harpoon the titular white whale. His crew includes the narrator, ole "call me Ishmael," and the Polynesian, Queequeg, who I think is the strong, silent type. Is this passing familiarity enough to spare us the task of reading this one?

(2) Geoffrey Chaucer/The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer was a 14th-Century English courtier who (inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron which was written around the same time) penned this classic in which a group of pilgrims on a journey to Canterbury take turns telling stories to alleviate the boredom of the road. The character's include a saucy widow (the Wife of Bath), a prioress who is more haughty than holy, some creep who sells phony religious relics, a noble knight and his not-so-noble squire son, and a humble country parson. Chaucer planned on having each pilgrims tell one story on the way to Canterbury and another on the return journey, but as it stands we don't even have a story from all of the characters. What we do have though is some lovely poetry ("Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote \ The droghte of March hath perced to the roote"), a unique picture of what life was like for members of different social classes in England during the Middle Ages, and a lot of anticlerical sentiment which, in my mind, presages the Protestant Reformation and the split between Rome and the Church of England.

So why doesn't anyone read this one? Well, Chaucer wrote in Middle English (some people falsely state that Shakespeare is Middle English, but it's not -- Shakespeare wrote in an antiquated form of Modern English) which makes his work tricky but not impossible to read (you definitely need some explanatory footnotes). It's actually difficult to find a copy of the Tales that isn't written with modern spellings, which I think is akin to reading those versions of the Bible for teenagers that are translated into street slang, but Penguin Classics can hook you up. I had to read the Wife of Bath's tale in Brit Lit I (and maybe something else), but my favorite section thus far is the gory, antisemitic Miracle of the Virgin recounted by the Prioress.

(1) Dante Aligheri/La Divina Commedia

And finally, a classic that practically no one has ever read: Dante's Divine Comedy. This epic poem was written at the beginning of the 14th century by Dante Aligheri who is universally recognized in Italy as the nation's greatest poet and who is called "il vate" the same way Anglophones call Shakespeare "the Bard." It's divided into three parts "Inferno", "Purgatorio" and "Paradiso." Basically, the narrator (who's just a fictional Dante) somehow finds himself going on a guided tour of the afterlife as it was imagined by the poem's Medieval Christian author. The Roman poet Virgil leads him through Hell and up Mount Purgatory, and then Dante's muse, Beatrice, is his guide through Heaven. I really have no idea how he ended up on this journey in the first place (shit, I didn't read the thing!) but I want to say maybe he was having a midlife crisis and so like his guardian angel thought this would be good for him... maybe I'm getting this mixed up with It's Wonderful Life. Also there's like a lion and a tiger in the beginning... who knows!

Anyway, the Inferno is the only part that people even pretend that they've read. Dante places various figures from history, legend and the recent past in the different circles of hell depending on their sins. From what I gather, it's a rather political poem in that corrupt figures from recent memory are castigated to hell. This includes a famous hole where bad popes are thrown head first (watch yourself, Benedict).

So why doesn't anyone read this? Well its kind of religiousy and Heaven and Purgatory might be kind of dull. Plus it's written in the 14th-century Italian vulgate (your average Italian could definitely use some explanatory notes) and since it's a poem you know that it'll be hard to find an English translation that does the original justice. Also, much like Milton with the Book of Genesis, a lot of people's concepts of the afterlife owe as much to Dante as they do to Church doctrine.

* * *

So that's my list. Feel free to share your additions or your thoughts on these titles. If you have read any of these (a) thanks for messing up my theory and (b) give yourself a pat on the back. And as for the rest of us dilettantes: we better hit the books or else keep our traps shut about these "greatest books of all time." When you do read a book like this it's also interesting to gauge your experience: with some of them you're like "this is delightful and fully deserves all its praise" (the Odyssey, Jane Eyre), with others you're like "boring! I bet all those people singing its praises didn't even read it" (Anna Karyenina), and with still others you're like "damn! how do people even get through this thing?!" (the Sound and the Fury)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Election Madness: Who says Hillary is the stronger candidate? (Part II)

The Case for Obama

Picking up the polemic where we left off, here's my thoughts on why Obama would be the stronger Democratic candidate. First, let's get a couple of negative factors weighing against Hillary out of the way:

(1) Hillary Hate

A lot of people in this country HATE Hillary Clinton (and I'm not talking about people like me who have only recently grown annoyed with her). Many conservatives would love to see Clinton nominated in August so that they can pounce on one of their favorite nemeses (Remember the "How do we beat the bitch" incident?). I think a major reason for this personal enmity is that Hillary can come off as condescending. Even in the debates, I thought that she sometimes sounded like a school teacher (not entirely patiently) explaining the details of her health care policy to a nation of slow students. Lately we've seen a little more personality from Hillary (some tears, her snarky parody of Obama's idealistic hope message), but a lot of people's opinions of Hillary became solidified back during her husband's first term of office. At any rate, I think that this ill will would severely handicap Hillary in her efforts to court swingy independents and Republicans.

(2) The Clintons are drrrty

Not only do they fight a dirty campaign, but a vague odor of impropriety pervades the air surrounding the political couple. Let's not forget, before Halliburton became a household word there was Whitewater and the Lincoln bedroom controversy. Unlike Obama, Hillary has rejected calls for her to publish a list of projects she managed to get funded with earmarked federal dollars while serving as Senator for New York. Likewise, Hillary has put off making the Clinton joint tax records public (to be fair, McCain is doing the same thing). This sort of thing makes people wonder what Clinton has to hide, and you can bet that it will come up in a race against McCain who likes to talk about government accountability and transparency.

Now that we've got that dirty business out of the way, let's discuss the strong points favoring Obama:

(3) Obama rocks the vote

As I mentioned in an earlier Election Madness post, Obama is a candidate who inspires supporters to get out and vote. In particular, he has mobilized a lot of young people and black voters to participate in the election process, two groups that skew Democratic and who are usually underrepresented on election day. Voter turnout is crucial given how close the last two Presidential elections have been. Shoot, if Al Gore or John Kerry had been better able to stir up enthusiasm and excitement, maybe more people on the left would have gotten off their asses and voted and things would have turned out differently.

(4) Don't underestimate Obama's appeal to independents and Republicans.

Obama is a statesman who instills pride and respect at a time when many people may have had their fill of executives who look like the kind of guy you'd want to toss back a beer with at a barbecue. Moreover, he talks a lot about putting aside partisan politics and coming together as a nation. I think this unifying and patriotic message appeals to a wide array of Americans across the political spectrum. When I was walking to Whole Foods the weekend before the Virginia primary, I passed a guy on the street who didn't look like your typical Obama supporter: a weathered, middle aged, blue-collar white guy (I want to say he had a mustache and was wearing a plaid shirt). He was holding up a sign that said "Veterans for Obama."

(5) Obama wins on symbolism

Obama is a fresh, young face in Washington and with his paradigm shifting campaign (talking about unity and hope while -- mostly -- staying away from mud slinging) he represents a potential new era in American politics. Hillary on the other hand seems to be asking us to look backwards. The Clinton era already took place (it's called the '90s), and while we may have reminisced about it fondly during the dark days of the Bush Administration (i.e. the entire Bush Administration), in this campaign the Clintons have succeeded in reminding us that it wasn't all one big bundle of roses. Moreover, you know if Hillary gets nominated we're going to have to hear people reciting the potential order of the country's four latest presidents (Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton) in an annoying singsong for months and months (it's almost enough to convince one that Nader was right about the political system). Whereas Obama's candidacy represents change, Clinton would arguably be the establishment candidate. Is that really going to get people excited enough to vote?

I found the above photo of Barack Obama on the web and it was uncredited.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Election Madness: Who says Hillary is the stronger candidate?

Mmm... and we're back with more politics. A big part of Hillary's campaign to woo superdelegates (and voters) is the argument that I keep hearing from her supporters that Hillary would be the stronger candidate in the general election against the evil forces of John McCain. I've never really heard Obama's people counter this (I guess because they're focusing on how he's like winning), so I wanted to share with you all out there in the internet the reasons that I strongly disagree with this assertion.

The Case for Hillary

I think that the Hillary camp's argument about her electability is three-pronged:

(1) experience

Point one is that Hillary has more experience than her opponent -- particularly more foreign policy experience. This is a fair and wholly valid point: Clinton has served longer as a Senator, she serves on the Senate's armed services committee, as first lady she acted as a sort of ambassador, and -- er -- she spearheaded that ill-fated health care plan.

That said, I do think Hillary pads her resume a bit. Joking aside, she wasn't the Clinton who served as President of the United States. We'll never really know what issues Bill kept Hillary informed of and on what issues he sought her counsel (I don't doubt they powwowed about almost everything), but we do know that Hillary did not have security clearance to attend key meetings or to read intelligence briefings (for a good discussion of Hillary's experience read this Slate article by Timothy Noah). And -- as Obama himself has repeatedly pointed out -- for all this touted foreign policy experience, Clinton's decisions regarding the most important foreign policy issue of our young century have been nothing to brag about. Also, hilariously, Sinbad has come out to dispute Hillary's attempt to characterize a 1996 trip that she made to Bosnia (accompanied by a teenage Chelsea, Sheryl Crowe, and Sinbad!) as an example of her being tested in a dangerous situation (its worth reading the Washington Post blog entry to hear his overall views on Clinton).

So, anyway, the experience card is really not a winning move for either Democratic candidate because both their resumes are trumped by John McCain's 25 years serving in Congress (not to mention his status as a POW war hero).

(2) swing states

Point 2 is that Hillary has won the primaries in important swing states (she's ahead in Pennsylvania, she won in Ohio, and she also won in Michigan and Florida -- not that I'm ready to get into the mess with those two pains in the ass). But then Obama won in Iowa and Minnesota (caucuses) and Michigan (primary), and those are solid second-tier swing states. But anyway, this whole line of argument doesn't really hold water since history shows that carrying a state in a primary is not a good indicator of performance there in the general election (since, you know, different people come out to vote and you're up against a different opponent).

(3) prejudice

Point 3, which I think is implicit even if it is almost never verbalized, is that Barack Obama would be handicapped by people's prejudices in the election because (a) he is a black man and (b) he has a Muslim father and a Muslim name. Dirty pool.

In the voting thus far Obama has had success transcending race and he has won a lot of primaries and caucuses in lily white states where there's large swaths with ne'er a person of color for miles. It is of course possible that things will be different in the general election, but I still think that (a) most of the racially prejudiced are probably voting Republican no matter what, and (b) even if this is a negative electability factor it is compensated for by the positive points I will mention in my next post.

Yes, y'all it's late and I should really be in bed already seeing as how I have work tomorrow and all that. You'll just have to wait until tomorrow night for part 2.

May 22, 2007 photo of Hillary Clinton by AP/Susan Walsh

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Election Madness: Who are the Superdelegates?

From left to right we have: Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, Diane Feinstein, John Kerry, Dick Gephart, and Nancy Pelosi.

"Superdelegates" are Democratic party leaders and elected officials (e.g. Governors, Senators, Congressmen) who get to cast a vote in the Democratic National Convention. Unlike the pledged delegates who are selected based on the results of the primaries and caucuses and who must cast their votes accordingly, the superdelegates are automatically reserved a seat at the convention due to their superstar status and they're allowed to vote for whichever candidate they choose. There's no set criteria for the superdelegates to follow: some may think it's their duty to vote for the candidate who won the popular vote (but the popular vote where: in their state? in their district? or in the country as a whole?) while others might vote based on personal preference or on whom they think is the best candidate for the party.

While some of these superheroes are still uncommitted, others have publicly endorsed one candidate or another although there's nothing to stop them from changing their mind between now and the convention. Interestingly enough, it looks like Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut was going to enjoy the status of superdelegate even though, after he lost the Democratic primary, he ran for and won his seat in the Senate in 2006 as an independent. But now he's been stripped of his superdelegate status because he's crossed the aisle and publicly endorsed Republican John McCain. What an asshole.

Our situation

There are 796 superdelegates. As I said in a previous post, it looks like neither Obama nor Clinton can reach the magic number of 2,025 pledged delegates needed to clinch the nomination ahead of the Convention. Rather, CNN estimates that so far Obama has 1,404 pledged delegates and Clinton has 1,243. On top of this, again according to CNN, 207 superdelegates have come out in support of Obama while 237 have said they support Clinton. This would give Obama an overall lead of 1,611 to 1,480 or 131 total delegates.

This means that there are stll around 350 superdelegates on the loose who have yet to express an opinion about which candidate they'll vote for. That's more than enough people to tip the scales one way or another in this tight race. Likewise, remember that there might be conversions among the "committed" superdelegates between now and the end of August.

Who came up with these superdelegates?

This system was put into place in the early 1980s in order to check the nomination of a theoretical candidate who might win in the primaries and caucuses due to his disproportional popularity with far-left activists while he remained unpopular among the greater Democratic party and the general electorate at large. In other words, the superdelegates are a safeguard to keep some crazy from hijacking the nomination.

Is Obama an activist candidate?

Hillary's campaign has been attempting to raise the argument that her supporters are more representative of the party's grass roots while Obama-maniacs are more atypical. One interesting point they make is that many of the states where Obama scored big wins (including Iowa) were caucus states. Whereas primaries are basically carried out just like elections with voting booths and all that, caucuses can be very different. Depending on the local rules, caucusers might have to spend hours in a high school gym, signing lists (it's not a secret ballot), standing around, being counted, all while people wave signs in their face and pass out cookies. Why do states have caucuses? In some places its a tradition. Also it usually allows a state to schedule their race earlier in the election season

Hillary claims that her salt-of-the-earth blue collar supporters, Joe Lunchpail and Sally Punchclock, may have been underrepresented in caucuses because other time commitments such as work and family might have kept them from joining in on all this fun. This is part of the argument the Clinton camp is raising in order to justify a possible superdelegates intervention to tip the balance in her direction.


Caucuses may not be the most Democratic way to choose a candidate, but as it stands now its the only indication we have of who the people in these states want. If there's a problem with caucuses the solution is to switch over to primaries (not that this will ever happen somewhere like Iowa) or to make them more efficient and democratic. The solution is not to have the caucus and then discount the results...

Also, who says it's a bad thing if Obama's supporters are inspired and motivated to the point where they will go out of their way to cast their vote? Voter turnout is always crucial in an election, and if people are inconveniencing themselves to participate in a caucus then I'm willing to bet they will get off there arses to vote for Obama in November. Moreover, many of these Obama supporters are African Americans or young people -- two groups that favor Democrats and who are notorious for their low turnout on election day -- if Obama has inspired these people to participate in the democratic process this is a very good thing.

Where's the kryptonite?

The superedelegate institution doesn't seem very democratic. Their votes count as much as those of the pledged delegates, who represent hundreds of voters from the caucuses and primaries, and yet a superdelegate may not represent anyone other than himself. Thus if they were to reverse the results it may look like Tammany hall style backroom dealing or maybe like some kind of junta that decides on its own what is the will of the people. I like to think that most of them understand this, that the superdelegates will use their power for good rather than evil, and that thus they would only decisively intervene in an extreme scenario.

On an irreverant and wholly unrelated note...

The above picture brings to mind this question: who do you think was the hottest Superman?

Superfriends cartoon (c) Hanna-Barbera, DC Comics

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

It's almost Saint Patrick's Day! When I was a kid, my parents seemed to look for any excuse to affect an Irish brogue (mostly they would say "Oh, tis a grand day" and "Oh, the quiet man"). More recently, I've tried to keep this tradition up with my impression of Ardal O'Hanlon (aka Father Dougal from Father Ted, or Thermoman from My Hero), but Nicole told me I sound more like the Lucky Charms dude.

Anyway, I've always enjoyed celebrating Saint Patrick's Day whether I was drinking Guinness, eating corned beef and cabbage, listening to Irish folk music, or catching green beads and potatoes on Maple Street. To help you observe this grand day, I've uploaded a few Irish songs. The recording of Molly Bawn by Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Harem Scarem was actually recorded in Edinburgh, but it is nevertheless a popular Irish folk song. Enjoy!

Songs for St. Patrick's Day 2008

Shamrock photo taken from flickrs St Patrick's Day group.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Election Madness: Why I Hate Hillary Now

Hey there. Wow, it's been a long time since I posted anything; but what better way to get back into blogging than with a contentious political post?

Ok so here's some full disclosure before we get started: in case you don't know me at all, I'm a Democrat, and from the very beginning I've pretty much favored Obama (despite that annoying Oprah endorsement). Yet even as late as the eve of the Potomac primaries (February 12) I was not 100% committed, and I could be heard saying things like "well, no matter who wins we'll have a great candidate/president." Now that's all changed.

Before the primaries in Texas and Ohio, everyone had Obama pegged as the frontrunner. Hillary came off well at the debates in Austin and Cleveland, and she basically seemed to say "we'll see what happens, may the best candidate win, let's keep our party united no matter what" which I respected a lot. Meanwhile, Bill had publicly stated that if his wife lost in those states she would have no choice but to call it quits.

As it turned out, Hillary won in Ohio by a significant margin (10%: 54% to 44%), and she won the Texas primary by a smaller margin (4%, 51% to 47%) -- but wait, then Obama went on to win in the TX caucus which decides who 1/3 of the state's pledged delegates will cast their vote for and thus he actually came out ahead (just when you thought the primary system couldn't get any more complicated...).

Anyway, Hillary still won in Ohio and Texas (sort of) so, according to the criteria that the Clintons themselves set, I guess we can't blame her for staying in the race (I'm not even going to get into the possibility of a "Limbaugh effect," i.e. the suggestion that some Republicans went out and voted for Hillary on March 4 just to fuck shit up). Also, it's clear at this point that neither she nor Barack are going to get the 2,025 delegates needed to secure the party's nomination outright before the convention, and I guess Barack doesn't quite have a big enough lead to invoke the murder rule. Nevertheless, it must be pointed out that Obama is still ahead in votes cast, delegates pledged, and states won.

Indeed, Obama's people have suggested that it's unlikely that Clinton can catch up. To help illustrate this point: CNN reports that Obama has won 1,404 pledged delegates so far (we'll save those enigmatic superdelegates for later) while Clinton earned 1,243 -- that gives him a lead of 161. Meanwhile the state of Pennsylvania only has a 158 delegates up for grabs total, while a poll from earlier this month gives Hillary a 10% lead there (45% to 35% with 24% undecided).

In response to these facts, people in Clinton's camp seem to be arguing "Well it doesn't matter if Obama has won more votes and delegates and states because Clinton won in the big important states that really matter." My answer to this: FUCK YOU! I don't know about you, but I really resent the suggestion that my primary vote doesn't count as much as the vote of someone in Ohio (I mean, this isn't the general election!). Moreover, it rather seems to me that the Clinton people are defining "important state" as "state where Hillary has won or is ahead."

This seems to go hand in hand with the argument that the Clinton campaign has been making since Super Tuesday that alleges that Clinton has the support of working-class people (that should read non-black working-class people) who are the "cornerstone of the Democratic party" whereas all the people voting for Obama are either blacks, or college students, or rich people. I was unaware that having darker skin or being more highly educated or making more money meant that our votes should be discounted. And if we're stereotyping voters, it seems like Clinton's strongest support might not come from the working class but from white women, old people, and gays (ok, and Latinos).

I would have no problem if Hillary was saying "well let's see what happens in Pennsylvania... (and those other states that still have primaries that the Clinton people never talk about because they expect to lose there)... and let's have a do-over in Michigan and Florida..." but that is not the argument her camp is making. They're basically saying "the numbers don't matter because the important people favor Hillary."

The only thing Hillary Clinton cares about is winning the Democratic nomination, and she will do whatever she has to to achieve this goal. If that means disenfranchising Democrats and convincing her friends in the party's hierarchy that they should override the will of the people and nominate her because she's the "stronger candidate" then so be it! I mean, shit, Hillary, maybe we should just let your husband decide who gets the nomination; how about that?

As you can tell I find this "nuclear war" strategy of Clinton's to be infuriating. But I do think that in the end it's destined to fail for several reasons: (a) Obama also has supporters among the superdelegates and the party elite such as Ted Kennedy, and (b) the Democratic party would have a spiritual crisis if the party ripped the nomination from out of the hands of a black candidate with a majority of the popular vote (For chrissakes, the popular vote! I'm already having Bush v. Gore flashbacks!). Nancy Pelosi, who is herself a tough cookie, seemed to acknowledge this on Friday when she said that superdelegates would do damage to the party if they overturned the results of the caucuses and primaries.

I could go on and on about the election so I think it's best that I stop here for now and make this an ongoing topic for future blog posts.

Oh, and lets have a quick word about the above photo where the candidates are looking all mad (it almost looks like Barack is asking Hills to "read between the lines"). Is it just me or does the collar on Hillary's jacket kind of make her look like the Wicked Queen from Snow White? Seriously, who let her go on TV wearing that thing? Where were all those Hillary gays?

photo from February 22 Austin debate taken from the gothamist.