I think I must have been hallucinating. I thought I saw two intelligent, well-informed candidates actually debate for a full 90 minutes in detail, the ISSUES: Iraq, health care, immigration, the economy, and taxes. Incredible. There was no name-calling, no petty squabbling over nonsensical or trivial matters, no evading the problems, no flowery BS. It was a remarkable performance by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. A truly refreshing change from what has gone on previusly as "debates." It makes the recent Brafia debates look like a bunch of kindergartners. It was all the more interesting because the differences between the two candidates on these issues are not really very great. It would be impossible to say who "won." There is a difference between the two health plans, mainly over the issue of whether or not they should be mandatory. Obama says not, Hillary says yes. Both plans would still have problems with people who did not want or would not join a plan. I don't think this is a really serious difference. Then, Clinton doesn't want illegals to have driver's licenses whereas Obama does. Obama argues there is a question of public safety involved. Clinton says illegals shouldn't be rewarded with priviledges. Again, I don't think this is a big difference or problem. On the big picture of immigration they seem to be pretty much in agreement. with one very important exception. This was pointed out by the very clever Rachel Maddow and I'm not sure many were fully aware of it. Obama, among other things, said blacks should not scapegoat illegals as they were not the cause of black unemployment (in the overall scheme of things). Clinton, however, implied just the opposite, by making a subtle (or not so subtle) hint that they might be responsible, thus potentially shoring up part of the black vote.
When asked how they would pay for their health care plans they both said they would raise taxes on the wealthy by doing away with Bush's obscene tax relief for the wealthy, and also by streamlining the system with better technology and organization. As near as I can tell from this debate the only real difference between Obama and Clinton has to do with her unfortunate vote for going to "war" with Iraq, a vote she continues to defend because of the circumstances of the time. She is not being completely honest about this, I think, as she apparently did not even read the document involved and there were thousands of people who knew better that she must have been aware of. Even though there seems little difference in their respective positions about Iraq at the moment, Clinton has a continuing problem here that she will never really be able to bury. I'm not sure that I think this is as important as it has been made out to be. The accuse her of making the vote for political purposes. But she is a politician and politicians often make strange votes for political reasons. Clearly it was a mistake in retrospect, but does it really mean she has terrible judgment all the time? How strongly this should be held against her I'm not sure. The experience vs inexperience issue in general seems to have lost its salience. Both seem to be ready to take over the Presidency quickly. So, is five days enough time for Obama to overcome Clinton's lead? Or is this taking place just too fast for people to get to know Obama better? Perhaps we should all just flip a coin.
Except for the one thing that truly bothers me about Clinton. She is DLC, Brafia- lite. And of course no matter what the candidates say they want to do or will do, there is no guarantee they will actually do that if and when they become President. More importantly, her best line of the night was "It took a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush, maybe it will take a Clinton to clean up after this Bush." This bothers me because in a very real sense Bill Clinton did not entirely clean up after the first Bush administration. Remember Iran-Contra. There is no doubt that the elder Bush was involved up to his eyeballs in illegal actions but Bill Clinton just let it drop. Will Hillary Clinton do anything about the Bush/Cheney war crimes? Will anyone, for that matter?
And how long do we have to put up with this disgusting charade about waterboarding? Now Mukasey says if it was done to him it would be torture. But at the same time he refuses to say if it is (legally) torture. It has been defined as torture since the Inquisition. People have been prosecuted for it. Virtually everyone in the world knows it is torture. People that have experienced it say it is torture. Even John McCain says it's torture. So what's the problem? Mukasey says the CIA doesn't do it anymore. I guess that means it was okay that they did it before? Obviously he won't say it's torture because if he did Bush and Cheney would be clearly guilty of a war crime (actually, they are guilty of so many I don't know why this one would by itself make much difference). But that's the way it stands. The Brafia will do anything to protect their war criminals. Will Hillary Clinton do the same? Will Obama? The question that apparently dare not show its face.
I have just finished Jeffrey Toobin's book on the Supreme Court, The Nine. Absolutely fascinating. Well-written, easy to read, informative, and a pleasure. It tells a great deal about the personalities of the Judges, goes into detail about the major cases, who handled them and why, and in general gives us a lucid picture of an institution that is otherwise pretty secretive. It also gives a glimpse of what went on behind the scenes in some of the appointments. Rather than a sensationalized expose or highly charged partisan political hit, it is a serious and fair assessment of the players and their important decisions, how they came up and how they were decided. Highly recommended.
Another foot of snow! We're on track to have one of the heaviest snow seasons on record. There must be a good three feet of it on the ground already and there is no let-up in sight. One of the cats managed to catch a Flicker and drag it into the house while still alive. It managed to wedge itself behind the water heater where it could not be retrieved and could not escape. Our neighbor came to our rescue and finally managed to catch and release it. We retain lots of feathers. I hope it won't freeze. Life in the country.
reflects on virginal snow
and sacred silence