Sunday, March 30, 2008

Maggie Williams and sub-prime lending...Clinton campaign honcho in the crosshairs... And I ain't gonna hate on Maggie's job no more...

I ain't gonna hate on Maggie's job no more... Nor should you.

Unlike Samantha Power, I won't apologize for calling Hillary Clinton a monster. Just to prove the point, let me do it again now. Hillary Clinton is a monster. No apology forthcoming.

My point? I am virulently anti-Hillary. I am biased. I'm so biased, in fact, that I truly believe Hillary Clinton causes cancer of the human soul.

So, you're probably guessing I'm sporting political wood over the "breaking news" that Maggie Williams, Clinton confidant and campaign manager, has some strong ties to the very sub-prime mortgage industry Hillary has been criticizing day after day. I'm loving every minute of this egregious act of Clintonian hypocrisy, right?

Wrong. I'm not aroused. I'm not on the attack. If you don't like The Monster, find something else to gripe about. At least for now. This Maggie Williams thing, as currently reported, is a non-issue.

For those with better things to do than browse news headlines while watching the Washington Nationals (side note for DC fans: it is a very bad sign when you're ace is Odalis Perez, even if you do win), a quick recap of subprimegate is probably in order.

Maggie Williams is running the Clinton campaign. Maggie Williams, a long-time Clinton associate and PR guru, served on the board of directors at Delta Financial Corp. for about 7 years. Delta is one of those sub-prime lenders everyone hates these days. You know, the ones we're all blaming for the recession and those nasty foreclosures? Maggie made about $200K plus a heaping pile of now-worthless Delta stock in exchange for her guidance and advice. Delta is now bankrupt.

The Clinton campaign manager was intimately involved with a nefarious sub-prime lender! Why, oh why, am I not using this fact as a means of attacking Hillary? Why is John Brown, the guy who'd eat shit and vote for McCain to avoid a Hillary White House, taking it easy on HRC?

Here are 5 reasons why attacking Hillary based on Williams doesn't make sense to me...

Maggie isn't Hillary. Maggie works for Hillary. That's it. The transitive property of political bullshittery, where we pretend everything those around a candidate do can somehow be used to impugn the candidate is baloney. Maggie did her own thing. Part of that thing involved working for Delta. That doesn't prove Hillary loves subprime lenders or that her calls for regulation aren't sincerely motivated. Please note that I'm not agreeing with The Monster. I'm just not questioning her sincerity based on the actions of Williams.

No evidence of wrongdoing. Even if you do play the "your person is dirty, thus you are dirty" game, which I again reject, there's no dirt here. Being involved with Delta doesn't mean you supported everything that happened there. It doesn't mean you even knew or needed to know everything while you were there. The role of directors varies with the operation and there's no evidence to suggest that Maggie Williams sat around a table with a bunch of evil super-villains and plotted ways to screw the Joneses out of their money and homes. None.

Evidence of good. Williams, based on the accounts I've read, was called in to help Delta do a better job with respect to meeting legal requirements and responding to problems. Additionally, I have no reason to doubt Williams' own comments about the sub-prime industry. She saw wider latitude in loan decisions as a means by which those in lower income groups could get a decent shot at home ownership. She perceived Delta's home equity loans as a way for middle and lower class people to survive financial hardships and to improve their circumstances. Now, we can doubt the wisdom of her judgment, but there's no reason to question her motives. Many people felt the exact same way and not all of them were evil bastards. The reason so many people are getting screwed as this house of cards collapses is because so many smart people like Williams didn't see it coming and believed that looser lending made sense.

Bigger fish to fry. I can think of at least 238,300,121 reasons to attack The Monster that don't involve Maggie Williams. Over 72% of those reason are far more significant than Maggie Williams' links to Delta. Time is a finite resource for mortals. If we feel a need to spend some of our precious time berating Hillary, we should use it where it counts.

Tit for tat, ad infinitum. Roasting candidates because their friends and allies did foolish things creates an infinite loop of stupidity. Those who'll look to the Williams story as a way of turning the tables on those who knocked Obama over Wright merely set the table for the other guys to bag on Barack because of something someone involved in his campaign did. In turn, someone in BHO land will find something not to like about another Hillary backer. We've seen this shit happen over and over again in the last several months. Now is a fine time to take a stand against it. Even those blinded with rage at Hillary can occasionally take the high ground.

I'm always a fan of uncovering new and exciting reasons to dislike Hillary Clinton. I'm going to pass on subprimegate, though. Unless something extraordinary develops, I think it's a non-starter. I will, however, use the Maggie Williams controversy as an excuse to play some Bob Dylan. Maggie's Farm.


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Fraud or legitimate pundit... Taylor Marsh biography... Who in the hell is this woman and what does it mean?

(NOTE: The saga continues)
(NOTE: Additional information available at this update)
(NOTE: I've also read and reviewed her book)
(NOTE: Find out about the Taylor Marsh cartoons here!)

A few days ago, I read a confused and silly piece at The Huffington Post by Taylor Marsh.

Taylor Marsh. She's all over the place these days, it seems. She's shown up on TV shows. She's a regular contributor at HuffPo. I see links to her blogs all over the place. I don't think you can call Taylor Marsh one of the great opinion shapers of our time, but she's definitely making an impact in certain circles.

She seems to have a lot of oomph among Hillary supporters. Her blog offers a daily dose of crazed Obama bashing and gets hundreds of comments from Clinton true believers who echo her sentiments as if they were gospel. Compared to little ol' John Brown, Taylor Marsh is BIG TIME.

I've been wondering. Who in the hell IS Taylor Marsh. I decided to find out. Strangely, this talk radio host and published author doesn't have a Wikipedia entry. Although I found several people wondering who she was, I found no bio outside of the one she's provided at HuffPo and the one on her own website. I figured it was time for someone to find out something more than that about Taylor Marsh and/or to collect available information in one place.

I'll be honest with you, though. I wasn't motivated by pure curiosity. I had an ax to grind. Day after day, I find the ramblings of Taylor Marsh and the ass-kissing dittoes of her Hillary-backing fan club more and more irritating. Her remarks are, in my estimation, another sympton of Hillary-induced soul cancer. I think Taylor Marsh sucks.

Thus, I was sort of hoping to find out that Ms. Marsh is a completely unqualified, unimportant, silly hack who just happened to fall into an audience because she decided to pledge an undying allegiance to The Monster during a contentious primary process. Hey, like I said, I had an ax to grind.

Guess what? I did discover that Taylor Marsh fails to meet the Pundit Worthy of Attention Threshhold. She is a wee hack with an audience. She does suck--at least on some level. However, she's also interesting. Believe it or not, I now have an admittedly bizarre newfound respect for her.

The Taylor Marsh story has two parts. First, it cautions us to remember that having a slick blog and a knack for PR doesn't make someone smart, qualified, or credible. Second, it teaches us that anyone can command an audience for his or her opinions. The Taylor Marsh story is about fame for the foolish, attention for the mediocre, and how a kid from Missouri can somehow grow up to be an oft-cited resource among those with an interest in serious matters--even if she might not have any business sharing the stage with serious people.

The Taylor Marsh story is at the intersection of Horatio Alger and Clifford Irving.

It starts with Michelle Marshall.


Michelle Marshall was a Missouri girl from a conservative family who entered beauty pageants to earn money for college. She ended up winning the Miss Missouri title in 1974. Even though she didn't take home the big Miss America tiara in Atlantic City, pageant circuit winnings helped her pay her way to Stephens College. Stephens is an all-female college in Columbia, Missouri. Michelle Marshall graduated, receiving a BFA.

She left Columbia (and if you've ever been there, you'd appreciate the decision) and went to New York. Her good looks, grace and talent landed her on a few Broadway stages. For whatever reason, Michelle's Broadway career was brief.

That's where Michelle Marshall vanishes. We don't hear from her again. Michelle Marshall becomes Taylor Marsh.


Michelle Marshall/Taylor Marsh went to Los Angeles. She found herself acting as a "relationship consultant" for the LA Weekly, a free alternative newspaper. Maybe. Sort of. She claims that experience today, but the details are cloudy. An interview with Marsh indicates that she wrote more political pieces. Marsh herself says she wrote relationship columns, but tried to sneak politics into them until someone in the editorial department made her stop. The interesting part of that comment is that Marsh said her future columns ran with an announcement of ADVERTISEMENT above them. Usually, if your colum is labeled an "advertisement" it's because it's not really a column at all. It's an ad.

Who was running the ad? Who was paying her to write the ad? Was it really an LA Weekly article and they just randomly slapped "advertisement" on top of it? I have no freaking clue. I'm a blogger in Kansas. I'm not Mike Wallace. What I do know is that Judith Proffer (Jablonski) was one of the publishers of LA Weekly. I also know that Proffer would later become a Marsh ally when Taylor decided she should be a radio host. I also believe that Proffer's role at the LA Weekly was concentrated on advertising issues.

All I'm saying is that it seems pretty likely that Taylor Marsh was never a paid columnist for LA Weekly. Columnists aren't labeled "advertisers" and would be far less likely to develop a close and lasting relationship with the people in the ad department than a regular columnist might. That's just a guess, but I think it's a pretty good one.

Before we move on with the Taylor Marsh biography, I want to mention an old post from Taylor Marsh. It's a review of a musical about Deep Throat porn star Linda Lovelace. Marsh gives an enthusiastic and positive review of Lovelace: The Musical. She even gives props to its executive producer for doing such a damn good job. She doesn't mention her friendship with the executive producer and future business partner, though. The backer? Judy Proffer.


A review of Lovelace: The Musical isn't the only Marsh foray into the pornography and sex industries. Somewhere along the line, Taylor Marsh developed a keen interest in the topic. She claims to have extensively researched the field for several years. Part of that research involved working with/for Danni Ashe. Ashe, a porn star, was one of the pioneers of making shitloads of cash by peddling porn online. Marsh was there with her, serving as the editor-in-chief for Danni's Hard Drive.

That year in the field served as the basis for Taylor's book, My Year in Smut: The Internet Escapades Inside Danni's Hard Drive.

We'll talk more about that book and Taylor's claims about it later. Here's what I'm interested in knowing, though. Was the year with Danni Ashe a "research thing" from the beginning or was it a job with a porn outfit that turned into a book later? I could buy a copy of My Year in Smut to find out, but I'm not really THAT interested. I have a feeling Ms. Marsh will eventually fill us all in if people begin asking for answers, anyway. By the looks of this Marsh post, it was a gig. Nothing more.

I don't think it's a stretch to imagine that someone was writing relationship and sex advice pieces that appeared in an alt weekly would hook up with a porn company to serve as an editor. I don't think Taylor Marsh was going deep undercover when she was working with Ashe. I think she was just working a job. That guess fits nicely with the record of some Taylor Marsh appearances in LA that were focused on erotica and sex.


My Year in Smut is THE Taylor Marsh book. I don't mean it's the best. I mean it's the only one. I mention that because she likes to occasionally mention her status as an author. Her background as an author and her "research" for the book create a kind of implied credibility. They probably shouldn't.

When your research is actually your job working for a porn site that's an issue. When you're book is printed by AuthorHouse, that's another issue.

AuthorHouse, previously known as 1st Books, served as publisher for My Year in Smut. Do you know what it takes to get AuthorHouse to print your book? Do you need a good literary agent who can sell them on your manuscript? Do you need a track record as an author? Do you need a knockout manuscript they just can't resist? No. No, you don't. You need a check. Or a major credit card.

AuthorHouse is a self-publishing vanity press. You pay them, they print your book. That's about it. I could take my four-year-old's assorted scribblings and Crayola pieces and transform them into a coffee table book, complete with glowing reviews of each drawing written in the tone of a serious art critic. I could do that for around $500. Would that make John Brown's daugher a serious artist? Not really, huh?

Vanity publishers are, generally, where you go when you can't get a real publisher to take your book. Yes, there are exceptions. There are always exceptions. However, if you take a tour around the AuthorHouse site and look at the kind of stuff they're publishing (oh, and they aren't editing this shit, either, you just give them the goods and they create books), you'll get a pretty good idea of what kind of stuff comes out of the self-publishing world. If you're interested in learning more about Author House specifically, here are about 8 million observations about it from writers of all sorts.

Look, My Year in Smut might be awesome. However, it's almost disingenuous to play "I'm a published author" when the very reason you're published is because you coughed up the cash. That's all I'm saying. Take it for what it's worth. Taylor Marsh mentions her book fairly regularly. You don't hear her mention the fact that she paid for it instead of getting paid for it.

That's not the World's Biggest Deal, but it is sort of interesting with respect to Taylor Marsh because she likes to build credibility via My Year in Smut and by describing herself as a radio host. She paid for the "author badge". Turns out she paid for the "radio badge", too.


Taylor Marsh is a radio host. She says so. Everyone says so. It's all over the fucking place. However, you probably haven't heard her in your car on the radio while commuting to work or going to the store. You see, Taylor Marsh isn't on the radio. No one has actually paid her for being on the radio at any time, based on what I can find.

Taylor Marsh has a website that looks like it belongs to a radio show host. It's illusion. She's a podcaster. She records a show like the ones they actually broadcast on the radio and makes it available for download.

I have nothing against podcasting and I listen to a few semi-regularly. Many of the "big names" in radio make their real radio shows available via podcast. There's nothing inherently silly about podcasting.

There is something inherently silly about calling yourself a radio host and garnering credibility as a media figure from it when all you're really doing is taking a few calls from ass-kissing blog readers and converting results into MP3 format. That isn't a radio show.

Radio shows are broadcast. Radio shows, in most cases, have advertisers. Babbling into a $15 Radio Shack microphone in your basement and uploading the results to your website isn't running a radio show. Sorry, it just isn't. You are not a radio host if you do that. You're a podcaster.

But she DID have a radio show at one time, right? Well, sort of. I can understand the confusion. Occasionally she mentions wanting to find a "new home" for her radio show and she discusses her status as a screwed-over radio host when she makes crazily shallow comments about the Fairness Doctrine. Clearly, she had a radio show. Right?

Here's the deal. In 2002, Taylor Marsh went to Las Vegas and became a radio host... Sort of. Judy Proffer (Magpye Media) and Marsh came up with the cash to buy time on KLAV, a Las Vegas AM radio station. That's right. They bought time.

KLVA is to radio what Author House is to publishing. If you can't really get a job on a real radio station, you can go to KLVA and buy blocks of time. They give you the studio, provide production assistance, and you're on the air! Instant radio host status. If you'd like to become a talk radio host tomorrow, call your local AM vanity station and offer them some cash. That's all it takes. You can stutter. You can whine. You can say outrageously stupid things. You can be boring. It's on your dime. I could put my four-year-old in front of a mic and have her sing variations on "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" for two hours a day and, voila!, she'd have a claim equivalent to Taylor's as a "radio host".

The little group that funded the project didn't sustain it very long. It looks like the Marsh plan was to buy time on KLVA and to put together a show that was good enough to attract some attention from other media types. They could then syndicate the show and turn in into a profitable enterprise instead of a pay-to-play operation. That never happened. Taylor's foray into the real world of actual broadcast radio consisted of being a self-proclaimed hour-long "antidote to right wing talk" that never found backing beyond incubation.

So, Taylor Marsh is a pocaster who took a shot at becoming a radio host once upon a time. That's the bottom line, as I see it.


A lot of people would look at her authorship and radio host claims and say, "Hell yes, she's a fraud". Originally, I was sort of thinking about saying that, too. I'm going to stop short, though. She isn't a fraud. She's just good at making things sound better than they actually are.

She can take a self-published workplace story and spin it into being a respected author, buttressing her grandiosity because some other author just happened to mention her book in another book. Taylor Marsh can take her work experience in online porn and transform it into research for her book. She isn't a former porn employee, she's an expert.

Taylor Marsh can buy radio time in a gambit to get a paying job, fall flat and then spin that into being a talk radio icon. She can take what might have been little more than writing advertisements in an alt weekly and create a background in a print journalism.

Now, I don't want to pretend like she's a complete fabrication that suddenly emerged, fully formed, out of nowhere. If you start digging, you'll find that Taylor has been prolific on the web for a long time. She writes, writes and writes some more. She's blogged all over the place, including pro-Kerry work and Patriot Project efforts during the last election cycle. Blogging regularly, however, doesn't make one a genius. Otherwise, the guy from would be on TV in place of David Gergen.

Taylor Marsh isn't a fraud. She's a spinner. A dedicated spinner.

This is the weird part of this post. Every time I read a Taylor Marsh post, I make that face usually reserved for sniffing a pot of human feces. I think she's a buffoon with a website, undeserving of an audience. I find her analysis feeble and obvious. I find her writing amateurish and her weirdly unrelenting support of Hillary Clinton suspicious. I think her blog is a bad thing. I want to say she's a phony. Hell, she might be. But in the end, I'm going to tip my hat to her more than I'm going to mock her. I'm leaving this foray into Taylor Marsh biography with a newfound respect for her.

She's found a way to go from being a regular person with a strong interest in politics to having a voice, an audience and some impact. She might be full of shit, but she's slinging it to people in numbers I can't imagine. Taylor Marsh might be part of the political soul cancer that's been killing our liberal democracy, but she's good at creating a reputation, credibility and an audience. The spin is Clifford Irving. The success story is Horatio Alger.

I'd like an audience, too. Right now, this little new free blog brings me about 30-50 people per day. She gets 10X that many comments on every post because she's willing to pitch herself like crazy.

I could do that, but I don't. Now I'm wondering why.

You see, I am the author of countless published pieces (many ghostwritten for others, but what the hell). I'm an award-winning blogger (not this one). I'm an accomplished public speaker who has given literally hundreds of presentations. I'm a published academician in the communications field. I am a legal scholar and a former recipient of an American Jurisprudence award for the study of criminal law. I am a former PAID radio personality. I've made multiple television appearances, including one just last weekend on Easter, discussing matters related to a specific aspect of the economy. I've successfully operated my own copywriting firm, successfully represented the downtrodden in administrative proceedings and have inside connections at both the state and federal levels of government.

If I wanted to Taylor Marsh myself, I could be the next big thing at HuffPo. Yeah, I'd have to cut out a lot of the "fuck" and "shit" you find here. I'd need a proofreader, too. I'd have to sacrifice anonymity and just go nuts with it... That'd be tough...

But if I was willing to be as brazen and audacious as Taylor Marsh, I'd be big time.

Maybe I'll do that. Maybe I'll make this blog disappear, buy a new domain, put together a hot looking site with a few glossies of me, write a check to Author House, upload a few "radio shows", shine up my resume and go Big Time.

Maybe not.

Taylor, if you're reading this...

Your punditry sucks ass, but you're one helluva self-promoter. Use your powers for good instead of evil and you might just have a fan in John Brown.

I suppose the other Marsh lesson is even more important. If you're listening to someone and taking them seriously, you might want to make sure they're worth taking seriously. Am I? Is she? It's worth some thought.


And WHO IS JOHN BROWN, anyway... And why did her review Marsh's book?


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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Remember that one time? Real solutions for fishing...

Hey, remember that one time? The time I went fishing in Minnesota and I caught that record walleye? You remember. I had light test weight line on my reel and was just jigging the rocks for perch when I landed that monster. Almost fell off the boat. Crazy stuff. Remember how everyone was clapping for me when I finally brought it in? Took me the better part of an hour to reel it in, but that party in the lodge later was worth every minute. Man, that was AWESOME.

What? Oh yeah.

It was a baby bullhead. That's right. I caught it off the dock? Oh, right. Well, it did struggle. And that kid did clap. We did buy a six pack at the lodge later, too.

The important thing to remember is that I am an experienced angler who knows what it takes to land the big ones. I have experience with Minnesota lake fishing and can deliver real answers for your bait questions. I have REAL solutions for fishing.

That record walleye? Sorry, I'm sleep deprived. I was up late last night. People keep calling me at 3 a.m. with crises. I guess I misspoke.


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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Taste the doom... Jesus, imaginary combat and Bill Clinton's semen... We suck...

As we watch Hillary Clinton slowly, but surely lose her bid to run as the Democratic nominee for the presidency, things keeping getting dumber. Here are three low-lights from the past few days...

The former Iowa chair for Obama got pissed off at Bill Clinton's campaign tactics on behalf of his wife, The Monster. Gordon Fischer invoked Monica's blue dress, stating that Bill's remarks were a "stain on his legacy, much worse, much deeper than the one on Monica's blue dress." Any time someone mentions Clinton cum, a media firestorm reignites.

That's right, it's over ten years after Moncia slobbed knob and we're still talking about Bill Clinton's semen.

Former Clinton strategist and Skeletor-looking shit-slinger James Carville decided that Bill Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama was an act of political disloyalty.

He made his point over the Easter weekend, comparing Gov. Richardson to Judas. For you heathens out there, Judas is the dude who sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Bill Richardson = Saviour Killer. Carville ain't sorry. He thinks he hit a home run on the Judas thing.

Hillary Clinton described a risky landing in war-torn Bosnia. Sniper fire, running (heads low) to the "base". It was the kind of shit that apparently would pass with some dummies as foreign policy experience (if it were true). Oh, but it came from The Monster's mouth. It isn't true. Not even close.

Hanging out with Sinbad on a plane, shaking a few hands, accepting a present from some random Bosnian kid, and smiling like crazy doesn't sound much like the dangerous mission Hillary described from the stump with a "I'm so fucking full of myself I could explode at any moment" look on her face.

She lied. Dangerous mission = bullshit. Now, the campaign is trying to cobble together some sort of explanation for the whole fib. Not compelling.

Meanwhile... Just in case you missed it. We hit the 4,000 mark for U.S. deaths in Iraq and we are going to have to choose between leaving the place or sticking it out as the number climbs. The economy seems to be hinting that we may very well be in an actual recession. China is laying the smack down in Tibet, Medvedev is grumbling about NATO expansion, and a host of other important things that don't involve Bill Clinton's semen are happening.

Barack Obama mentioned "silly season" in one of the debates, referring to our tendency to discuss matters of triviality and to focus on "gotchas" during campaigns. Silly season is in full-swing. An Obama guy, a Clinton guy, and another lie. Nero, bust out the motherfuckin' fiddle.

Oh, and I don't blame Fischer, Carville and The Monster. Not really. In a perfect world, no one would get into a lather over Fischer's semen reference. In a perfect world, we'd roll our eyes at the Crazy Cajun. In a perfect world, no one would particularly curious about fish stories involving a trip with Sinbad, a kid and Sheryl Crow from twelve years ago.

So, do I blame the media? Do I hate them for feeding me this shit day after day while real issues go completely ignored? A little. Mainly, I hate you. Yeah, you. And me. The collective "we". We ask for this shit. We eat it up. We watch. We read. They know it. If a real discussion about a serious issue could draw an audience that would attract those car advertisements, we'd be watching smart people talking about smart things.

We prefer silly season. Thus, we deserve our punishment. We deserve the insult of constant exposure to the simplistic and foolish. We deserve the consequences of an uninformed citizenry. We deserve these days and, just to borrow a line re-popularized in the wake of Jeremiah Wright, our chickens will eventually come home to roost.

We suck.


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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mildly amusing... Casey Knowles, Barack Obama...

Sometimes my posts get so downright ornery and negative. I thought I'd take a moment to counterbalance the presentation of my constant, deeply held rage.

Casey Knowles was the little girl at risk in the Clinton 3 a.m. advertisement. As you surely know by now, she grew up to be a precinct captain for Obama. She's now involved in an ad countering the 3 a.m. thing. It's not great, but it's cute.

Plus, there's something mildly amusing about the fact that the anonymous little stock footage girl would grow up to be a pain in Hillary's behind. Not that Casey Knowles' ad is going to be the deciding factor or anything...

I'm no Hillary fan, but you almost have to feel sorry for the random bad luck. Almost.

Oh, and I thought I'd also let you know about all the great things Barack Obama will do for you. This website gives you the straight dope on his remarkable capabilities.

Check it out IMMEDIATELY!


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Hillary voters won't back Barack? I can live with that... We'll be fine...

According to the one and only Jake Tapper (Officially Certified Idiot) at ABC, Democrats are taking this Clinton vs. Obama thing seriously.

Apparently, tons of Clinton voters will bail on the Democratic party if Obama wins, handing McCain a decided advantage in a general election.

It's the same on the flip-side. If Hillary wins, Obama backers won't help her out. Good news for McCain. Not really, because a Clinton win would require the intervention of Mr. Rourke and Tattoo, but more on that later.

Let's assume that Jake Tapper got lucky enough to actually report the poll findings correctly for a moment. Considering his history of dumb-shittery, there is a strong likelihood he didn't, but we're going give him the benefit of the doubt this time. Plus, let's pretend like the data is accurate. We're just playing with ideas here, after all.

If it's true that Hillary people won't back Barack and that Obama people won't turn out for Hillary... If it's true that this race has fractured the party... If it's true... Well...

I'm okay with that.

Look, Hillary isn't going to win the nomination. That will not happen. Period. The 10% chance thing is a pipe dream. The odds of her winning are zero. A Coppin State NCAA tournament championship was more likely than a Clinton nomination (Sorry about the play-in loss, Fang.).

I don't have to worry about choosing between Hillary and McCain. Hillary isn't going to win.

So, we have the now-inevitable match-up between John McCain and Barack Obama. What in the world will happen if the Taylor Marsh crowd and assorted other fans of The Monster decide to pout and stay home? What will happen if they backlash and throw their support behind John McCain?

I guess McCain will win. And I can live with that.

About a year ago, I saw some guy driving around with a bumper sticker on his car proclaiming "Anyone but Hillary". I thought that was a pretty silly sentiment. After getting a refresher course in Clintonian politics and reacquainted with The Monster, I have to give that dude kudos for getting it right. Hillary Clinton causes soul cancer and is bad. Period.

Compared to Hillary, John McCain is super awesome! I would totally tape his poster to my wall and write "John Brown McCain" all over my Trapper Keeper a billion times before I considered voting for The Monster.

Obviously, Obama is my first choice. But I'm going to level with you... I don't agree with everything he says and believes. I think he's silly about some things. I think he's wrong about some stuff. It just so happens that John McCain is a better match for me on some of those things, too.

Shhhh... I know, I'm supporting Barack. I'm supposed to be a true believin' cult member with a belief that Barry is a messiah. Don't spread it around that I'm a reasonable Barack backer. It will kill my rally cred.

I believe we need a change in our national vision. I believe we need someone in the White House who is genuinely dedicated to approaching our divisive politics and knee-jerk animosities seriously. I think we need someone who really does believe in America's potential and recognizes the way our current arrangements compromise that power. That's why I'm voting for Barack. I'm voting on meta-issues.

When it boils down to procedure, mechanism and policy alterations Barack and Hillary occupy similar turf. I like some of what both believe on this technocratic level, I disagree with some of it, too.

I feel the same way about John McCain on that level. I don't think he has the "vision thing" and I don't think he gets The Big Problem like Barack, but I'm damn near as comfortable with the idea of McCain's positions as I am with Barack's. Near, but not there.

So, if I can't get someone to help with a paradigm shift, I'm okay with getting the old-timer who's probably smart enough to avoid engulfing me in a nuclear fireball for four years. He'll just be the last 8-track tape we toss into the deck before moving on to better technology next time.

McCain may be a traditional pol. He brings more ho-hum than hope. I don't think he's evil, though.

I don't think his soul is a gnarled, dried up pod holding only a maniacal drive for power. I don't believe his brain has been reduced to an election calculation device that fragments populations, looks for cheap shot opportunities and disregards honesty in pursuit of victory. That describes The Monster.

I wouldn't be okay with rewarding the sick and degenerate politics of Hillary Clinton, though. She is the poster monster for the meta-problem. She is the fucking meta-problem.

Thank goodness I won't have to make that decision. Obama vs. McCain is forthcoming. I'm voting Barack. If the Hillary people stay home in November that's their fucking problem.

To borrow a sentiment from Hillary (who borrowed it from John Edwards who may have borrowed it from Bill in the first place):

Whatever happens, we'll be fine.


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Friday, March 21, 2008

Jeremiah Wright's 9/11 Sermon... Listen to what Obama's pastor said... ALL of it, this time...

Interested in Jeremiah Wright?

Trying to figure out what Obama might've been listening to at Trinity on Sundays?

Here's the full audio of one of the "controversial" sermons. This is the "9/11" one. The one where the "chickens come home to roost".

Listen to it. Then see what you think about Wright. Maybe it'll change your mind if you take in some context and here him en toto instead of via a ten-second YouTube clip. Maybe it won't.

I might have time to write all about my long reaction this weekend. Suffice it to say that I'm a little pissed off at myself for not making the effort to get this kind of information earlier and for strangely accepting some spoon feeding about Wright from media sources. I'd like to hear more of the sermons from which controversial remarks were plucked.

Without further ado, I give you Jeremiah Wright:

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Obama, Wright and RELIGION... Whoops, we've sort of skipped that one... Why understanding Obama/Wright may not have THAT much to do with race...

Millions upon millions of words have been uttered or typed about Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama. We've dissected Wright's statements. We've parsed every word Barack Obama has said about the man. We've examined its impact on elections.

We've talked about white guilt, black bias, generational differences and their correlation to perspectives on racial equality, black vs. brown, black vs. women, Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Sister Souljah, Jesse Jackson, Bill Clinton on Arsenio fuckin' Hall and when someone finally tore the last "coloreds only" water fountain from a wall in Mississippi.

Racist this and racist that. Inequality, history, bigotry and "do you think Obama could sufficiently distance himself from Wright if he called him a black-robed Klansman and proceeded to beat the shit out him with a lead pipe--if, and this is an important 'if'--the pipe was painted red, white and blue?"

We're a nation obsessed with race because a black candidate belongs to a church that had a preacher who yelled "GOD DAMN AMERICA!" and who unleashed a verbal shit-storm in whitey's direction. Racism, reverse racism, how could anyone possibly go to a church where someone isn't preaching racial harmony the "nice" way? "I'm offended, I'm impressed, I'm confused, I'm worried that Barack might put Louis Farrakhan on a postage stamp if he wins."

Barack gave the race speech. It was pretty good and it made a lot of sense. Now it's the Greatest Speech Ever Given by Anyone in the Whole Wide History of All Things. Either that or it's the Dumbest Pile of Crap Ever Spoken in the History of the Universe. Some say it was Another Example of Smooth Vote-Grabbing Technique and others argue the speech as nothing short of An Unnecessary Comment on an Issue Better Left Alone Forever.

Obama's speech was less than an hour long, if I remember correctly. If you added up all of the reaction pieces to it and read them aloud, you could fillibuster the Senate long enough to kill every civil rights bill ever passed. Strom Thurmond wouldn't have needed the phone books. I mention Strommy-Boy intentionally. Because I'm obsessed with race issues right now.

I went stopped at a 7-11 this morning for a Big Gulp and there was a black kid putting gas in his Toyota. I couldn't stop staring. I couldn't stop thinking about the black experience, white privilege, if he'd worry my grandma and what they might be saying at his secret black church when white guys like me aren't around.

Last night, I fell into a weird self-induced palsy. I was listening to Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" while reading Ann Coulter's criticism of Obama's speech. I just started vibrating.

God damn YOU, Jeremiah Wright! God damn YOU for opening this can of worms! Thanks to your little outbursts, I have to think and write about race very god-damned day! Why can't we just go back to the way it was before Jeremiah Wright showed up on YouTube? Why can't we go back to those carefree days of yestermonth, when America wasn't a nation so racially divided?

Thanks to Jeremiah and Barack, we have been forced to examine race from every perspective with the kind of intensity and acumen only available to us during Presidential elections. In other words, we get to turn it into a bizarre game played by TV talking heads. (Why won't CNN issue scorecards for home viewers and some kind of system to distribute points? Bob says Buchanan is winning by 2, but I have Gergen up by 3!)

We want to know about Barack Obama. Therefore, we must know about Jeremiah Wright. Thus, we must come to terms with race.

I think a good discussion on race makes sense. It's probably overdue. However, I don't think it's the best way to understand the Wright/Obama relationship. Before we begin investigating the possible race-based motives behind the hacking of Obama's passport info (current odds are 7:1 that the State Dept. employees are white lackeys of The Man), I think it's critical to mention one little thing.

The Wright/Obama thing isn't really a race thing.

No, I'm not kidding. Yes, it is partially about race. You can even say it's 50% about race, although I think that's generous. If you strip away pure politicking, the Obama/Wright mess is really, in very large measure, about religion.

Our reaction has been, predominantly, focused on race. That, kids, is a mistake. An error in judgment. It's the "good television" issue and it avoids the very real third rail of religion.

We didn't get lucky. We couldn't have just one of the R's on the table. We have to deal with religion, too. I'm not just talking about this whole "black church" notion, either. That falls back on the race side of the discussion.

Wright's stupidity may be about race, but Obama's relationship to Wright is a matter of religion. It's about the way different people approach faith and their relationships to churches and church leaders.

Before I went race crazy, I sort of touched on some of this. Since then, I've been shocked. The race frenzy has been amazing to behold, but no one is really talking about religion and how different people approach their faiths. This is at the CORE of determining the significance of the Obama/Wright relationship and it is being IGNORED.

I really am amazed. So many people think the relationship between Barry O. and Jerry W. is a critical aspect of understanding a potential POTUS and his outlook on the world, but no one is talking about that pastor/congregate relationship in terms of Barack Obama and HIS religion.

I'm not talking about "his" faith in terms of Christianity (notice how that "secret Muslim" shit has disappeared?). I'm talking about Barack Obama and HIS relationship to the faith of Christianity, and to his particular church.

Many people are aghast that Obama would belong to a church that had a pastor who said crazy shit. They can't figure it out! They can't understand WHY anyone would go to a church that consistently offered perspectives that are so out of the mainstream!

I mean, really. Would you go to a church for 20 years if you had to listen to someone tell you that you could only have sex if it was for procreation and that birth control was sinful? Would you worship somewhere that taught you that members of your faith were the only chosen people who could expect a happy afterlife? Would you go to some crazy church where pastors told you it was important to nuke Iran in order to usher in the return of Jesus?

Would you keep on going to some church where the pastor told you that your gay cousin was going to burn in hell for all eternity because pictures of Brad Pitt raise his steeple?

How could anyone spend 20 years in a church that's been populated by numerous pedophiles in positions of authority?!? How could any sane person maintain membership in a church that preaches the destruction of a competing religion through whatever means necessary--including violence--Sunday after Sunday?

Hmmm... People do that. Week after week. Why?

Well, there are a few reasons. And a lot of it might be the same reason Barack continued to hang out in a church led by some guy who was jumping around hollering "God damn America!"

Now, if you're Dick Morris, you argue that Obama's involvement with Trinity was purely pragmatic. Jeremiah Wright's church has big influence on the south side of Chicago, so Barack found an empty pew. It was political networking from a young organizer and future politician who recognized the non-supernatural powers of Trinity.

I'm sure Obama considered the positive mojo that was coming his way by virtue of membership at Trinity United. He ain't stupid, after all. However, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I'm ready to accept his explanation of how he came to be a member of the church.

Even more importantly, I believe his explanation of his relationship to religion. In his own words:

And in time, I came to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world and in my own life.

It was because of these newfound understandings that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice and not an epiphany. I didn’t fall out in church, as folks sometimes do. The questions I had didn’t magically disappear. The skeptical bent of my mind didn’t suddenly vanish. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt I heard God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to his will, and dedicated myself to discovering his truth and carrying out his works.

Just in case you skipped over that, read it again. Carefully. This is Barack Obama explaining his Christianity. His individual relationship to the concept of faith and to the church. This is Barack Obama explaining why we should be looking at the Wright controversy in terms of religion instead of perseverating on race to the exclusion of all other considerations.

Today, on the way to work, I was driving across an overpass that spans a busy chunk of interstate highway. There was a guy standing there on the little fence-protected sidewalk. He was carrying a large wooden cross. He wanted every car headed westbound on I-435 to see the holy cross on Good Friday. That guy has a certain outlook on religion. He has a relationship to his faith. It's wildly different than my own. It might be different than yours. It's probably different than Barack Obama's.

There are stalwarts and true believers in every denomination. There are Catholics who never miss a mass and who make confession (and follow through with penance) regularly. There are Jews who really do keep kosher every single day. Some of them listen to every word their pastor, rabbi, or priest says and accept it as True. There are those who listen to those same leaders and funnel it through their own faith and understanding. There are those who listen and then storm out of church or temple, fuming.

Then, there are those who don't fall into the hardcore category. They have faith, but they have questions and they aren't necessarily willing to compromise their sense of reason and right because someone at the pulpit says so. They share much in common with the stalwarts who believe there is a difference between the voice at the pulpit and the voice of God.

There are cafeteria Catholics who get birth control prescriptions filled and who'll skip mass for the Steelers/Browns game. There are Jews who occasionally have a cheeseburger. There are fundamentalists who don't really buy into the whole "speaking in tongues" thing and who don't have a problem with a "gay lifestyle" even if their denomination's hierarchy says they should.

Then, there are those who don't belong to a specific church or denomination but share beliefs common to one or more. Then, there are the atheists. And the pagans. And the neo-paganistic druids. And the agnostics. Fuck the agnostics.

I don't want to argue about who's right and who's wrong (Except with respect to the agnostics. They're just narcissistic and/or cowards). I don't want to compare the merits of one outlook to another. I just want it recognized that one person's understanding of religion may be radically different than that of another.

Barack Obama doesn't sound like someone who believes his church has all the answers. By his own admission, he still has questions. He's still looking for answers. His Christianity isn't an exercise in gathering and following absolute political truths from his pastor. He's not there to follow the instructions of Jeremiah Wright to a tee.

He's just like the people who keep going to John Hagee's church even though Hagee is certifiably nuts. He's not unlike the Rod Parsley congregates who keep showing up every Sunday even though they have their doubts about the miracle healing prayer cloths he sells to the desperate.

Would you keep going to a church if you don't believe in everything the church leaders say? If you go to church every week, you probably are doing just that. You might be one of the stalwarts who never disagrees, but the odds are that you don't necessarily put the words of the person at the pulpit on par with the word of God.

Put simply, Barack's religious convictions aren't altogether different than those held by many others. It just so happens that his pastor is a little more fucked in the head than most of the other ones holding services on the weekends. Isn't there something in the bible about casting stones? There are few thousand people who might want to look that up, based on what I've seen lately.

Aha, you may say, there is a difference. The mellowly-presented anti-birth control stance of the Catholic Church isn't quite as radical as "God damn America". There's a difference between a biblical stance against hot girl on girl lesbian action and "the chickens have come home to roost". The protestant pastors who seem to have some questionable viewpoints aren't quite as "out there" as Uncle Jeremiah. It's not right to compare Wright to Billy Graham. It makes more sense to compare him to Fred Phelps.

People say they can understand someone sitting through sermons with which they may have minor disagreements but that they can't believe Barack Obama would nod along with Jeremiah Wright for many years. Most people, they argue, wouldn't keep going to a church that preached white supremacy or that consistently supported some other completely reprehensible world view. Why would Barack hang out with Jeremiah spouting all that nonsense?

That's an interesting argument. It's also one of the more sensible. Where do we draw the line between church statements that are tolerably questionable and those that are utterly reprehensible. Does damning the gays fall on one side of the line while "God damn America" falls on the other?

I do have an opinion about why we're drawing the line in a spot that puts Jeremiah Wright on the wrong side while leaving Pat Robertson in the clear.

Culturally, we're a lot more accepting, in political and social terms, of crazy clergy who keep their preachin' on the conservative side. That's a natural byproduct of our nation's history and traditional religious biases. When Barry Goldwater's progeny married the children of the religious right, U.S. culture sort of collectively decided to let some brands of crazy slide a little more.

There's another factor at play, too. We're suffering from a lack of context. Jeremiah Wright has been preaching and speaking for decades. I doubt he's gone more than 48 hours in the last 20 years without giving a presentation or preaching a sermon. We've seen nothing but excerpts. Snippets of the guy at his very worst. Based on what I know, Trinity United and Jeremiah Wright have done a lot of good things in Chicago. That doesn't excuse the lunacy, but it might help put it into perspective.

There may be enough good in that church to justify repeat visits even if some days are batshit crazy. The church may function as a community that's diverse enough to accept the idea that members can disagree with a pastor's politics.

(Not to get back on race again, but there is also a difference in how the majority interpret the behavior and commentary of black churches vs. those of white churches.)

But this isn't just about politics any more than it's just about race. Their both factors, but focusing on them at the exclusion of the individual religious experience itself is foolish.

I'm not a traditionally religious guy. We'll have an Easter egg hunt at the John Brown estate and the loveable giant bunny will make his presence known, but I won't be attending services. Just for this post, I decided to be a non-heathen for a few minutes and I dug this up in the bible. I thought it was pertinent, considering Hillary Clinton's White House ambitions... In 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. Paul wrote:

As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

By the way, I just tossed that out there because I couldn't bear the thought of writing a long post like this without finding some way to piss off Hillary Clinton supporters.

Have a happy and/or soulful Easter.

Save an egg for John Brown!


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