Radical environmentalism from...The Vatican

Viewed through the lens of U.S. political definitions, the Catholic Church is quite paradoxical in its value system.  Staunchly pro-life and holding traditional views toward women and homosexuals, the Catholic Church seems to be a natural fit for the Republican wing of the Republican party in the U.S.  However, the Church is also serious about promoting economic equality, peaceful solutions to world crises, is open to modern scientific thought such as evolution, and welcomes action to prevent climate change.  The Catholic Church is also extremely active in promoting health services (sans abortion) in the Third World.  One could reasonably argue that the Church is actually to the Left of the Progressive wing of the U.S. Democratic Party on these issues.  And so we are left with a paradox.

Even viewed through this seemingly contradictory lens, it was surprising for me to learn that the Vatican is considering developing a collection of environmental thou shall's and thou shall not's known as the "Environmental Ten Commandments".  It was even more surprising to read the Commandments being considered.  They range from mundane to truly radical and would probably not see the light of day even at the most Liberal caucus meeting you could find in the U.S.  Let's have a look.

From the Catholic News Service:

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On monikers and zeitgeists

Deep thoughts:

It is fascinating to me that the name "John McCain" lends itself to a more damaging moniker than the name "Barack Obama".  On its face, the name Barack Obama, Barack Hussein Obama no less, would seem to lend itself to a myriad of permutations of Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden or twenty other distinctly alien-sounding Middle Eastern names.  This should be tremendous baggage on Barack Obama.  But so far nothing seems to work.  Sure, all the right-wing blowhards emphasize his middle name.  But, really, that's going to get old, if it hasn't already.

But somehow the moniker "McSame" seems more damaging.  I personally don't care for it.  Nevertheless, it seems to capture the zeitgeist better.  People want change, they want George Bush to disappear from the face of the Earth for good.  Plus, the opening "Mc" gives it a certain low-rent cookie-cutter quality like "McMansion" or "McDonald's".  Yes, I know I am reading way too much into this.

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This is what new politics looks like

Poblano over at www.fivethirtyeight.com has an interesting post up today examining the frequency of negative hits against the three remaining Presidential candidates, McCain, Clinton, and Obama.  The metric used is press releases by each of the candidates, the DNC and the RNC.  The differences are quite stark with Barack Obama both sustaining the highest total number of negative attacks and delivering the lowest number of negative attacks.

The current tallies, from September 2007 to May 2008 are:  226 attacks on Obama, 196 attacks on McCain, and 56 attacks on Clinton.  Meanwhile Obama has delivered 19 attacks compared to McCain's 27 and Clinton's 144.  But, the real key, I believe is this statement from Pablano:

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Obama behind VP talks stories? Now I'm totally confused

http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsm emo.com/2008/05/hillary_accuses_obama_ca mpaign.php

TPM is reporting that Hillary is not only denying the stories that she has been seeking a VP pick with Obama, but apparently accusing his campaign of being behind these rumors as a way of prematurely ending the nomination contest.

OK, so I'm totally confused.  Granted, gossip has never been a strong suit of mine, but I'll play out a few scenarios until their logical breakdown in my mind.

1)  Hillary is right.  Obama is just saying that Hillary has been asking him for the VP slot.  Why do this?  It just seems to cheese off Clinton supporters at a pretty critical time.  The benefit may be to end this sooner and then let Clinton supporters come back to the fold afterward.  But did he really think this would work without a backlash from Clinton or her campaign?  That is either dumb politics or extremely brave.

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The old politics of sexism

I understand that this must be a difficult time for many Clinton supporters.  As an Obama supporter, I can say, quite honestly, that I like and respect Hillary Clinton.  She is a highly qualified leader and someone who could become a very good President.

She was let down by an incompetent campaign staff.  A sin for which she must accept a large share of the blame.  She was also facing something akin to a tidal wave in American politics.  Younger voters, in particular, have come to view the Democratic party as either feckless or perhaps even deceitful.  The Democrats have not been able to capture the discussion for at least eight years.

As a result, many people have sought to give someone new a chance.  This person, Barack Obama, is an untested quantity and could fail spectactularly.  In which case, it'll be a monumental case of "I told you so".  Nevertheless, there are many of us out there who are willing to give him a shot.  We think he can do it.  That's what motivates our vote.  What does not motivate our vote is sexism.

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Demographics and Hillary's Chances

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/29/opinio n/29brooks.html

David Brooks wrote a thoughtful piece in the New York Times yesterday titled "Demography is King" which reiterated many of the same points political junkies like ourselves know already.  Essentially he points out the Clinton wins big among blue-collar "lunchbucket" Democrats while Obama's base is in the black community and among urban, educated white Democrats.

Brooks cites an amazing statistic that Clinton has won 70 % of the least educated counties while Obama has won 90 % of the most educated counties.  This contrast has been starkest in places with a dearth of highly-educated counties such as Pennsylvania and Ohio.  Clinton's path to the nomination, and possibly the presidency, clearly lies in these economically stressed areas.  But how much support will she actually gain in these counties?

A look at one of these counties, Crawford County, PA, where I grew up, offers some insight.  The county boasts approximately 80,000 residents.  Just over 11,000 of these voted in the primary on April 22 and Clinton received about 6,800 of these votes.  McCain, meanwhile received about 4,600 votes that same night.  This county went >60 % for Bush in 2004 and will probably go for McCain by similar margins in 2008.  Neither Clinton nor Obama will do particularly well in this county.

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Krugman: Hillary brings continuity you can believe in

I have a lot of respect for Paul Krugman.  I discovered him as a reassuring voice of dissent in 2001.  This campaign cycle, Krugman has taken every opportunity to remind us that he favors Clinton.  That's fine, he's entitled to an opinion.  I expect that it is an extremely well-informed opinion.  Krugman typically writes two op-eds each week for the New York Times and devotes one to bashing Obama.  This week, his Obama-bashing came on Friday.

He opens with a few choice digs just to make sure we know whose side he's on:

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Electoral vote maps are coming together

The website www.electoral-vote.com is crack for poll-watchers.  If you are looking for a way to obliterate another 15 minutes or so of your life each day, I suggest bookmarking this page.

The website meticulously tracks polls from individual states to generate a composite picture of the likely electoral outcome.  This method has its flaws, and most of us could probably take a pretty decent stab at what the electoral landscape will look like in November 2008.

Nevertheless, it is with some relief that the most recent set of polls from this website are beginning to look like a reasonable approximation of a 2008 GE.  That is, Hillary and Obama both can win NY, CA, MA, NJ, PA.  Obama loses FL and OH.  Hillary loses CO, IA and MI with WI a tossup.  This makes intuitive sense to me and it highlights the most realistic swing state scenario for November.

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Hillary Clinton - The new boss really is the same as the old boss

Hillary Clinton, in an apparent nod to "The Who", confirmed one of the band's most memorable lines by reminding us that the "New boss" really is the same as the "Old boss".  The clarification came in an interview with Keith Olbermann in which Clinton raised the specter of a nuclear showdown with the only functioning democracy in the Persian Gulf region.

MSNBC reports

In [an] interview Monday, Clinton affirmed that she would warn Iran's leaders that "their use of nuclear weapons against Israel would provoke a nuclear response from the United States."


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What happens when 56% of the public doesn't like you?

A poll conducted April 10-13 by ABC/Washingtonpost shows Hillary Clinton to have a 56% unfavorability rating compared to 39% for Barack Obama and 40% for John McCain.  The net favorability rating (Favorable minus Unfavorable) of the candidates were +17% for Obama, +13% for McCain and -10% for Hillary Clinton.  Notably (or not), Bill Clinton had a -4% net favorability.

This poll is remarkable for several reasons.  First, Hillary is in a relatively strong position in the Democratic primary.  Obama is clearly leading at the moment, but she appears to be poised to win Pennsylvania convincingly and perhaps Indiana as well.  There is a possibility that she could hang in there until the Convention and make things..uh...interesting...for all of us.  But perhaps most surprising is that she had a net +18% favorability in January in this same poll, that's a change of -35% in her overall favorability - while campaigning.  That's not good.

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