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Aug 04, 2007

The "Lobbyist Moment" At The YKos Debate


Although it's fantastically late, I can't pack it in without taking note of yesterday's YearlyKos candidate forum.  Or, call it the real YouTube debate -- except with live people and minus the idiocy of CNN.)  I want to start out with a question, though:

How is it I was able to clearly capture Hillary's lobbyist blunder (above) with my point-and-shoot ....

(click for full size)

... while The Caucus -- dedicating a whole post to the moment -- illustrated it with this fiction of "one big happy family?"  If the write-up by the Times blog did justice to the words, this image does nothing but play down the story along with any tension, and run interference for HRC.

I mean, c'mon.  I was up front and studying the body language.  I didn't see any point where Edwards, Clinton and Obama we're sharing a peace pipe.  And, in light of this visual suggestion that Hillary and Obama somehow get a kick out of each other, didn't Obama go off on Hillary after her expression of lobbyist love?  And then, when the candidates were exchanging handshakes and back pats immediately following the contest, Obama -- upon finding himself smack in front of Clinton -- emitted a grimace, then executed a quick sidestep.  (And, as for Hil's part, she passed Obama like he was invisible.)

(To see how the "lobbyist moment" -- with full crowd response -- really went down, by the way, check out the video accompanying the Times news story of the debate.  (It's in the second segment.)

One comment on the politics, by the way.  I realize candidates take money, in one shape or form, from various special interests, even if they refuse contributions from lobbyists.  I also understand the point -- argued by some here in Chicago -- that Hillary deserved credit for the blunt honesty.

If Hillary had answered the question: "Will you continue to take money from lobbyists?" solely by commenting that she still considers herself an ethical person, or by questioning why all lobbyists (nurses and educators, as well as pharmaceutical and oil companies) should all be tarred with the same brush, she could have been truthful and still saved her skin.  Instead, however, Mrs. Clinton -- who juggled her schedule to do her "meet the bloggers" session first and seemed a little tired by the time the debate rolled around -- will hence be saddled by the blanket "yes, I will."  And her further protestation (beginning with: "The idea that somehow a contribution is going to influence you...") assuming that a politician's good intentions are somehow synonymous with purity -- will be more recalled for the ensuing laughter.

UPDATE: 8/6/07 10:27 pm PST:  Hmm, could the NYT be reading The BAG?  In a political memo today by Jeff Zeleny (Competitors, Once Collegial, Now Seem Cool - link), we find out what I observed and reported days ago.  Apparently, Hillary and Obama haven't spoken for months.  Just as interesting, the article contains an image that is diametric to the one The Caucus initially ran.

Edited for clarity: 8/7/07 9:05 PST

(image 1: August 4, 2007.  Chicago.  The BAG ... via the CoolPix 4800. Image 2: unattributed.  The Caucus.)


What I also found interesting from this picture and others from the forum is how Hillary, wearing those crayon-coloured jackets and suits, sticks out...not stands out. She is emphasizing her femaleness as a difference, not able to stand with the males as a genuine "equal," but, defensively, in those kindergarten colours.

Edwards showed his courage. When you are supposedly "third" ( we know who has decided ain't the People, yet...) you have "nothing" to "lose."

Thank you Bag for providing a visual sense of things that a single photo can't, or even obscures.

How is it that one guy with a point-and-shoot could capture Hillary's terrific blunder when the MSM couldn't (or wouldn't)?

I find it instructive that both of your own YearlyKos photos are quite possibly, well, manipulative, in that they show us what you want us to see. For example, what "terrific blunder" did you capture in this image? As a stand-alone photo it is ambiguous, indecipherable, neither positive nor negative. It's impossible to tell what is going on, and even with your description of events, it doesn't reveal a blunder. In fact, it doesn't much line up with your words at all. (Maybe you just forgot to tell us about the clapping part.)

What's instructive is that it demonstrates that no one — not even point-and-shoot guys — can take an objective photograph. Nor do they seem to want to.

The lobbyist issue is disingenuous of both John Edwards and Barack Obama. If we're going to talk about lobbyists, why doesn't anyone ever bring up AIPAC? Oh, wait, a commenter did in The Caucus piece:

How about foreign lobbies and our bellicose foreign policy?

The Israeli lobby (AIPAC) is the second largest lobby in washington and is actively working to push our government all all presidential candidates to (Obama, Edwards, and Clinton) to confrontation with Iran.

Clinton will not even take a nuclear option off of the table for a country that posses as much as a threat to the US as Iraq did!

What is more important? Higher premiums for insurance via drug/corp lobbies or another catastrophic war where hundreds of thousands will die and billions will be put into the pockets of war industry and bankers?

Question AIPAC and their influence in our govt!!!

— Posted by Dante

I don't see Hillary's bright colors as defensive, though maybe that's quibble.

I see of it as playing more like "Yeah, I'm a woman in a sea of men. So what? I'm comfortable with that, it's not a big deal."

Hillary doesn't need to convince people she serious. Even her opponents think she serious. In fact, she's usually regarded as too serious.

But she does need to convince people that she's strong, brave, and can stand up to America's rivals and enemies.

Dressing in a style that's just a little brighter, being comfortable about who you are, can dramatize this. I think this is where they are going with this. Not being a slave to fashion, willing to push the envelope a little.

The outfit, though unremarkable on the street, seems fairly low-cut for political figures. I think the same reasoning applies.

Not to mention, it makes any photograph that includes her seem to be OF her. She completely pops out of that field of dark suits.

I actually think this outfit doesn't work as well as some of the others. Combined with her haircut she looks just a shade to retro-70s for my taste, but then, she WAS at YearlyKos.


Point well taken. Because the main news story -- which I hadn't seen when I wrote this up early early this morning -- offers a video of the whole "episode," I have linked to it and toned down the criticism. In spite of the issue I take with the image The Caucus chose to represent Hillary's lobbying comment, the video accompanying the news piece gives the whole thing.

Taking your comment even further, though, it's even interesting -- having been there -- how much the read can shift seeing the episode play out in the room as opposed to viewing it as "extruded" in the news story.

For example, when Hillary said what we said, the laughter -- in the Hyatt ballroom -- felt to contain one part amazement, and one part ridicule. It was that much more pronounced, in fact, because the audience (throughout the whole day), believe it or not, was much less inclined to take issue with any particular individual so much as react -- and yes, react openly and strongly, based on whatever came out of their mouths at any point in time.

Looking at the video, on the other hand, the audience sounds more like a laugh track, seeming to reflect some of the reaction I mention above, but perhpas more amusement than anything else.

" are quite possibly, well, manipulative, in that they show us what you want us to see..."

Whoever holds the camera frames the subject based on their biases, that's no secret, it's not a trick. Perhaps you'd like to post your photos to see if your words match an image you capture.

In the first photo, Hillary looks stressed, is she attempting to gain control of the audience by clapping? In the second photo, she's smiling, relaxed, which was obviously not a true reflection of her feelings in the real-time heat of the moment. If a question about lobbyist's money caused the most controversy, which lead to a story in the Times, then an accurate portrayal of her response was purposefully edited out of the story.

I don't see Hillary's bright colors as defensive, either. "Crayon colors?" Hmmm, I think you're projecting, Margaret. I mean for crying out loud, she can't wear a black suit and tie or she'd be called out for being butch. It's so much easier for men to be able to put on that uniform. Hillary wears the black pants (power color, power statement) but she has to come up with something different on top. What's wrong with blue? And as for her hairstyle being "retro," might argue that Edwards' blow-dry is retro, too. Except of course all this seems to matter more for a female.

I'm really tired of the fashion analyzing. Hillary is wearing what other women politicians wear. Go look at women senators and representatives. Go look at women governors and mayors. Go look, for Gods sake, at our Secretary of State!

It's the same uniform, unchanged. It's completely unremarkable, and Hillary conforms to the standard.

Do we spend time analyzing the shirt and tie colors of the men running for office?

C'mon people, this is stupid.

No, the colours of clothing are not stupid to discuss....we have done that a lot, here, especially about women in politics, and, the concensus was that Pelosi did it crayons there, just quiet self-confidence. The uniform that political women wear in Washington, the bright colours, are "look-at-me" colours. And, their impression is that they are not one of "us." For a egalitarian culture which we ought to be....the Prez, being "first among equals," the clothing should reflect that....not the overpowering stuff I see on Hillary and less famous ladies of government.

rtbag, how interesting the poster was named Dante and its unfortunate this person was not in attendance.

To raise questions about AIPAC, in virtually any forum is to invite the label of anti-Semitic and an expedited trip to the inferno.

Given the past individual and contradictory statements of these Democratic presidential candidates had AIPAC been raised I'd love to see the ensuing group photograph, of course a video would be even better.
Whats going on here, is it politically incorrect or considered incendiary in a YearlyKos gathering to raise certain questions ?
Elephants are not small animals.

Men can wear ties--red, yellow, blue--and they immediately communicate status, power. Women have no equivalent. But what Clinton can do-and, as g says, all other women politicians ( I would add newscasters) do--is wear a bright, vivid jewel toned suit jacket. The effect is to produce a high contrast, so she stands out from the crowd. The psychological effect is classic. As a woman she would stand out anyway, but the bright color demands the attention and distracts from the sex. I think she has been dressing very shrewdly these days. She looks great in that color.

How a candidate dresses should be the last thing we care about, but clothes provide powerful non-verbal-cues and insofar as we want to see beyond the disguises, talking about clothes is essential.

The picture posted by the SCLM does make it appear as though Edwards, Clinton and Obama are enjoying each other's company, having a little laugh together. Kuchinich appears to be marginalized. I wonder why the SCLM want the Democratic front-runners to look happy together? I don't think your picture is persuasive evidence of the interpersonal tension among the front runners (sorry)--it is a little too in-between things and Obama is missing. In both pictures, however, Clinton dominates. She looks comfortable and confident. All camera eyes are on her. I would not imagine she had just made a faux pas.

I think the colors Hillary has been wearing in these events is worth discussing, because a couple of months ago, in one Democratic debate, she was dressed in a dark suit, just like the men. (See this post.) Since then, she's decided to break out of that mold and wear these colors.

I think that in the second photo, it looks like Obama is saying something very earnestly, and Clinton and Edwards are laughing at him; even Kuchinich is not taking him seriously. (I'm not saying that's actually what's going on - but that's what I get just from looking at the photo.) So while the focus might be on Hillary first, since she's in the middle and has the bright color, it doesn't have anything to do with her controversial statement.

The BAG,

You said: I also understand the point -- argued by some here in Chicago -- that Hillary deserved credit for the blunt honesty.

Then you pointed out Hillary’s “unethical” stance on refusing to give up lobbyist money.

So I’m confused. I thought honesty was an integral part of one’s ethics, i.e., moral values. Worth more than some “credit,” actually.

Sounds (once again) like Hillary’s damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t.

Because, if Hillary had said she would stop taking lobbyist money, then she’d be lying. Right? She chose not to lie. So where’s the terrific blunder exactly? I still don’t see it. Even after watching the video. Did she blunder by not falsely presenting herself as a purist to the YearlyKos audience?

Um, to me, that’s a good thing.

I personally wouldn’t expect Hillary to give up the money, wherever it comes from. I mean, c’mon. What politician (in Hillary’s frontrunner position) would actually do such a thing? And besides, the question is fixed: It only affects Hillary.

Anyway, as far back as May, The Nation posted a story online called “Hillary Inc.” In it, Ari Berman talks in depth (4 pages’ worth) about where Hillary’s money comes from: It comes from some scary, scary corporate (Republican) sources. Berman also talks about how Hillary votes in Congress (“Clinton has a consistently liberal Senate voting record, earning near-perfect scores from Americans for Democratic Action”) in relation to the money she’s received (“There's no evidence that she has taken a position specifically to benefit one of her advisers' clients or a top supporter”) and about her 35 years in politics (all in just 1 page). It’s an interesting read. Perfect for the beach, I would think. And it's not a pro-Hillary piece.

What really stood out for me in the Caucus video was when Obama started getting in Hillary’s space with his hand gestures. That’s something men do to dominate (women). There was really no need to reach clear across the table to make his point. Total Eww moment.

The BAG also said: I have linked to it and toned down the criticism.

No matter, the damage had already been done. It’s called leading the witness(es).

chris in sacto,

You said: Whoever holds the camera frames the subject based on their biases, that’s no secret, it’s not a trick. Perhaps you’d like to post your photos to see if your words match an image you capture.

Perhaps I will do that some day. In the meantime, you and I are saying the same thing, only using different words. I include myself when I say that no one can be objective. But we’re not talking about me; I’m not the one who bragged about joining the “goat-f*ck.” I would (and do) try to recognize my biases. I'm just saying The BAG is not acknowledging his.

Not to mention, it makes any photograph that includes her seem to be OF her. She completely pops out of that field of dark suits.

i agree with Jay - her pants are completely invisible in the sea of black . . . that aqua jacket, along with the other colors, creates intense focus on her.

The crayola colours do truely "distract" from the fact that she, the lady of Health Care Reform in her husband's Administration, now takes lots of money from the Health Care Industry....ahem. Why didn't any of those guys up there call her on it?

By the way, I still think she looks terrible in those garish colours. I don't trust her.

The crayola colours do truely "distract" from the fact that she, the lady of Health Care Reform in her husband's Administration, now takes lots of money from the Health Care Industry

Huh? Really? Are we so mesmerized by her magical jewel color that we can't think? What would be a fashion choice that highlights her Health Care hypocrisy? Taupe, perhaps, or grey flannel?

Turquoise jackets don't distract from the issues. DISCUSSION of turquoise jackets do, however, which is why I get irked at this silliness.

My point was - the media and many online discussions are focusing on silliness like her jacket color and her necklines instead of the issues, and it's even MORE silly because what she is wearing is what ALL women politicians wear.

It would be more understandable if she came out wearing Pucci caftans or torn blue jeans - sure, let's talk about that, if and when a candidate does that.

But Hillary is wearing what everyone else in politics or business wears. It's hyper-analysis about the micro-choices of the ordinary. It's like wondering whether she's calculating to convey a message by choosing pachysandra over boxwood to landscape her yard.

I look forward to the discussions during tne New Hampshire primary about whether she orders her eggs over easy or scrambled, and just what that means - along with a cadre of skeptics wondering if she actually prefers Raisin Bran but is making a calculatedly dishonest choice to appeal to voters by eating eggs.

g: "Huh? Really? Are we so mesmerized by her magical jewel color that we can't think? What would be a fashion choice that highlights her Health Care hypocrisy? Taupe, perhaps, or grey flannel?"

Surgical green? Probably not a good choice for HRC.

Step back from issues for a moment and look at the photo. Hillary Clinton stands out in part because she is the only woman, in part because she is dressed in turquoise, and in part because she is projecting authority and confidence. Now, should we vote for her because we subliminally believe she is different, that she stands out from the crowd, that she exudes confidence?

We are all frustrated that policies are not being discussed, but what many of us learned in the 2004 election is that policies mean little. After the election, it turned out that Bush's supporters didn't even know what his policies were--in fact, in many cases they though his policies were the opposite of his actual policies, but they thought Bush was a trustworthy guy. Check out this article for your daily downer. Money quote: When voters were asked to name their main reason for supporting their preferred candidate in the primaries, the vast majority (60%) named a personal quality, such as intelligence or trustworthiness. That was the double the fraction (30%) that gave issue oriented or ideological responses, and more than double the fraction that listed experience (23%)

Notice that experience is last on the list, which for most jobs is the most important predictor of future performance. I consider experience even more important than issues--especially in an executive who will have operational responsibility. George Bush, with his history of business failures, should never have made it past the primaries. But he, like Hillary, was a first degree relation of a former president so he could capitalize on celebrity and familiarity. He, like Hillary, had been groomed for his presidential run for a decade. Like Hillary, the money had rained down on him. Then, as now, the campaign was taking place in an emotionally charged, divisive environment where people make gut decisions. And during the primaries, Bush seemed different from the other Republicans, he communicated confidence and good humor, he seemed to embody the values of his supporters (in part because he speaks like a Texas fundamentalist preacher.) Bush did it by emphasizing manly Texan. Hillary is doing it by wearing turquoise.

Since 80% of communication is non-verbal, and a significant proportion of that occurs out of consciousness, automatically, quickly, these non-issue discussions are necessary. I wish we could get beyond them too, but I wish we could get into the realm of context, principles, and experiences that might predict future performance. But first, we have got to get people to become aware of the unconscious factors that influence their initial judgments.

PTate, I was going to commend g on the necessary and brilliant diatribe (g: bravo and thank you). I was also going to tell g how thoughtful I thought Doctor Jay's comments were (Doctor Jay: well done) as opposed to margaret's (margaret: beating a dead horse, although you did get a discussion going, which is good, but there's no excuse other than laziness for your insistent lack of depth; this is not a "flame" but a challenge, because I think you can do better than "garish colors" = not to be trusted, harrumph!).

PTate and ummabdulla, I agree that how Hillary presents herself (i.e., dresses) is important to discuss, but not when the discussion degenerates (and/or breaks into two gender camps of understanding), as it almost always does. Like g, I see the discussion as hopeless on this particular site, another opportunity lost. Of course if we'd ever had a woman president by now, it might not seem as important an issue to examine.

But, PTate, to reduce Hillary's strategy for winning the primary nomination to wearing turquoise (your words were: Hillary is doing it by wearing turquoise) is wrong not only because it's imprecise, it's wrong because it's a cheap shot and comes off sounding sexist (women can be sexist too, of course). And that doesn't help advance this discussion, which seems to be the opposite of what you'd intended.

Also, you've mashed together the voter psychology of primary and general elections, and while I don't know what the differences are for different types of elections (including local, gubernatorial, condo board president, homecoming queen), I do know many people don't pay much attention to the presidential primaries at all. Nobody, on this site or in the media, however, seems to have noticed that this time around, Americans are paying attention to the primaries. This is ginormous.

And, while I agree with you about voting for experience, I can't take your source very far when she claims Hillary Clinton's "high negative polling" is confirmed by a Harris Interactive poll she herself links to that says (right in the subtitle): Twenty-one percent of Democrats also say they would not vote for the United States Senator. Since when is twenty-one percent against a high negative? Cheney and Congress live with that number on the actual positive side every day. Looks instead like Hillary's sailing into the nomination, according to the fact that 79 percent of Democrats support her. Holy crap!

But we won't know how Hillary became the Democratic nominee because we were busy discussing her jewel-toned jackets. Some Democrats here will blame the DNC and vote against her in the election, ensuring the long-lived Republican dynasty, the final gutting of the Constitution, and nuclear war in the Middle East.

There will be no excuse for that, no one to blame but ourselves.

readytoblowagasket: A while back you and I quarrelled on a thread.

At that time, I said, "It seems to me that you declared yourself a Hillary supporter when the BAG first began posting profile shots. You began chastising us for not appreciating her enough. You defended her record. ..."

You responded: " I'd like to clarify my take on Hillary. Yes, I have vigorously disagreed with the unsupported bashing of Hillary on this site in the past, but that's not the same as crowing....
I have gone to the trouble to look up and read Hillary's speeches on the Senate floor, including her authorization vote for the Iraq invasion, but that's not the same as defending her record. I like Hillary and I am impressed by many things about her, but I can't defend her record, and I wouldn't even try. You must be confusing me with someone else, or you don't read me very carefully..."

Meltdowns like your comments at 10:28AM would be why I got the impression that you are a supporter of Hillary Clinton.

What was it that set you off this time? You've started bolding just in case we don't hear. Jeez, you even attacked margaret! Was it my clever comparison of George Bush and Hillary Clinton? heh. I rather liked that. It seems to me that you are so worried about a Republican dynasty that you can't see the Democratic one right in front of you.

You know what? We know how Hillary is wrapping up the Democratic nomination. It is because she is a celebrity; She married a powerful man. The media is abuzz. She is competent, and smart enough, and she is being very, very careful not to offend anyone. The majority of voters don't go any further than that. They see Hillary's bright turquoise jackets (I speak metaphorically), and they say "Wow, she is outstanding." "Wow! She's different." She makes promises and makes these inane "I have a three point plan" sound bites, but she has put no policy proposals on the table. And we are not allowed--by censors like you--to say anything against her or in favor of anyone else, because our negative impressions can only be "unsupported bashing of Hillary" due to our bias, our lack of appreciation for her accomplishments.

PTate, please, I'm not having a meltdown (yet), and yes, I remember our last misunderstanding, which I personally wouldn't define as a quarrel.

But anyway, I didn't realize that bolding was inherently offensive. I consider it part of my writing rhythm (I used to use caps, then asterisks, until I learned how to bold; go back and take a look through old threads circa 2005). This time, however, I bolded simply to highlight "g" from regular text, and for consistency's sake, I bolded everyone's name throughout. It's because I'm trained as an editor to be consistent! A liability, I see, in this case. I wasn't yelling, but it looks like I was (I guess?). My mistake. I promise never do that again! Geezil pete!

About margaret in particular: I rather like margaret's comments, especially when she draws on her experience as an artist. But since she pushed the inane crayon idea repeatedly in this thread, I pushed her to work harder. I really think she'll survive anything readytoblowagasket has to say. Artists tend to acquire a thick hide early in their careers. Plus, she's lived in New York, so she may not offend as easily as you. (Remember, I come from the Midwest, so I think I understand how you are misreading me. But I do wish you would try to read me more calmly, more humorously. While I am no gentle-speaking Garrison Keillor, I do not speak incautiously.)

I think umabdulla knows I like her immensely.

Do you really want to know what got me interested in this thread? Michael Shaw's original post, which quite possibly you never saw because he changed it. The remnant of the change is this line, which he forgot to erase: I want to start out with a question, though:

His post was completely biased against Hillary, as his posts about her usually are. That would be fine with me, if he wouldn't present himself as neutral. This I find irresponsible, frankly. Especially for a therapist.

Why? Because he has authority as the host of this site, double for the psych background, and so, everyone falls into step. And why wouldn't they with a double dose of authority? (Maybe this never occurred to him, I don't know.) But if Michael fails to acknowledge his prejudices, especially when he runs a site devoted to revealing bias in others, what's the freakin' point? I'm sure it has bothered other commenters who no longer visit.

And so, PTate, I know you don't believe me, but I really don't care if Hillary wins the nomination or not (although I predict a Clinton/Edwards ticket). What I care about more than Hillary and more than this blog, however, is the current state of this country, which I never knew I cared so much about until I spent some time living elsewhere (briefly, eh?). If another Republican is elected after all that has happened under Bush/Cheney, I think I'm going to plotz.

yours truly,

I doubt that Mr. Shaw has a bias against Hillary. He told us when she first declared her candidacy that he had been asked by her internet manager (if that is what the person is called) to open his blog to responses to her announcement video. That's how I remember it, and he wouldn't have been asked that if he were thought to be hostile to her. But she and her acolytes simply must accept that she, like everyone else running for this supreme office, is subject to the most intense scrutiny AND criticism, and that this is utterly fair.

Johanna, notice how you and margaret both followed The BAG's lead as first commenters in this thread? He changed his post soon afterward (as he himself acknowledged: I toned down the criticism), and the commenting changed too.

Just sayin'.

re the update: the photo of Barrack "correcting" Clinton might be worth a thread of its own. I agree with readytoblowagasket's comment that "... when Obama started getting in Hillary’s space with his hand gestures. That’s something men do to dominate (women). ...Total Eww moment" The gesture itself was simple and fleeting, but I also responded quickly and automatically to Obama's power move. It left a negative afterimage.

I also tip my hat to John Lucaites here...hands, hands, hands, eh??? We see Hillary's hands in these live debates, and they add to her authority. We see Obama's, and we have a negative impression.

readytoblowagasket: In the blogoshere I haunt, bolding is second only TO ALL CAPS as a non-verbal way to indicate intensity of feeling.

And that is an elaborate rationale you've got going: You are an editor, a New Yorker, really respect other posters, and really afraid for America's future, therefore I shouldn't be so easily offended. In fact, you assure me, I am misreading you (perhaps because I am a Minnesotan, a state which you totally understand.) I should just read your comments more calmly and with more humor. You aren't condescending when you call us sexist, lazy, ill-informed, and biased. You are just trying to push us, challenge us, advance the discussion.

Okay, sure. I'll try that perspective. I'll just remind myself the next time something you say gets my hackles up, "oh,that rtbag! heh! She's such a New York editor, and she's just saying this for our own good."

In exchange, perhaps you might go back to your Minnesota roots occasionally to remember "that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." Upthread you were despairing about the state of America. I totally agree. We have become a brutal country where casual aggression against others--in word and in deed--is embraced and defended. One wonders how and when the ancient virtues of gentleness and humility became qualities to scorn.

either way.

Ptate, see what Steve said? (That was hilarious, Steve.) Hey, PTate, maybe we should write a book together.

PTate, I'm sorry to pickle your hackles. Your points are all taken about bolding and honey. Thanks for the familiar homily; that's so Minnesotan of you! (ha ha ha!) Having been raised in scrappy blue-collar Cleveland (just like Dennis Kucinich), I could never blend in Minnesota (Let's have a shoutout for Windom!). My spots are too rusty, plus I'm not blond. So I ended up in New York (not as fast as a scalded jackrabbit, but eventually). The Island of Misfit Toys. Where I belong.

I'd been thinking that you and I are, in truth, freaked out about exactly the same thing. We just have different focuses for our panic, and different ways of expressing ourselves. When I get impassioned, I get cranked up much like Bruce Fein, not more softly earnest like Bill Moyers (although I love them both). I'm sure Fein comes off as condescending too on many occasions, even though he isn't. So, while you read my manic expression as superiority, I consider myself "sexist, lazy, ill-informed, and biased," just like everyone else in the world. In debating issues here, I consider the specifics of these characteristics not as flaws but as essential information. (NB: If it needs to be said, I am furiously intolerant of biases like racism, however.) If we are going to study bias in politics and the media, shouldn't we pay attention to our own biases as well? Is there something wrong with that approach?

(Speaking of wrong, I think the word that bothered you most may have been the word wrong. And you are right to be bothered, so point taken there as well. Wrong gives the totally wrong inflection and derails my point!)

I remember a time on this site when people did back up their arguments with links to articles, etc. Not to exclude anybody (MonsieurGonzo, Asta, Cactus), but I learned a lot from people like jtfromBC, ummabdulla, and PTate in MN because of it. I also learned from fotonique and Annoying Old Guy.

A lot has happened since those days, however, and I suppose the shifting (more cynical?) tone on this site parallels the plunging downward spiral of the state of Iraq, the state of American politics, and the state of human rights that the U.S. is trampling worldwide. Maybe people gather here now to seek refuge and sling mud together at Hillary's photographic effigy to feel empowered. I don't find that a comforting activity myself, so as long as I'm here, I'm very likely going to object and lobby for more impassioned content.

Because, the truth is, I can go read Michelle Malkin if I need a big steaming cup of unadulterated Hillary-bashing.

readytoblowagasket: I thought it was extremely sweet, very clever of Steve!

Re your comment: " I remember a time on this site when people did back up their arguments with links to articles, etc."

We are suffering from changing times in other ways as well. Now, if we try to put up more than two or three links, we get tagged as a spammer and can't post. Damn the spam.

If anyone needs help posting a comment that is blocked for length, language or links, PLEASE send it to me (with html intact). Make sure you include an email aqddress and your screen name -- even if I already know it. I'm not sure, but a TypeKey account might also help deal with the security. Sorry I'm not more available this week to respond, but I am keeping up with the threads. I'd still like to get a couple more YK07 posts up before the story gets too old.

"I remember a time on this site when people did back up their arguments with links to articles, etc."

For me, that's changed partly because I don't really follow the loooooong political campaigns as closely as I used to, so I don't have much to add.

(Here's a link to a photo I liked, of Bush with Karzai, not that it has anything to do with this topic. The puppet seems to be upstaging his master, who is not happy about it.)

Re: Kucincich

I love anyone who can make John Edwards laugh out loud these days.

Sorry Dennis about the extra c in your name. I'm from your neck of the woods, so I do know how to spell your name. I just don't type accurately.

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