Take Care of Lupita, Lou

30 06 2008

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Maureen Dowd on Bill Clinton and Campaign Debt

30 06 2008

Bill Clinton apparently does not like to lose. That’s understandable. But advertising that bitterness does not suit anyone well. Case in point. The UK Telegraph reports on how Bill Clinton apparently told close friends that Senator Barack Obama can “kiss his for support. Perhaps, its hard to say whether or not this is an indication of how Bill Clinton actually feels or if its simply rumor or innuendo. But the terse and tepid endorsement of Obama by the 42nd president just a few days earlier only helps spur the rumor mill.

According to Associated Press:

President Clinton is obviously committed to doing whatever he can and is asked to do to ensure Senator Obama is the next president of the United States.

Thats it. That’s the entire statement. Its just that one sentence. So much for being a team player.

Maureen Dowd in her Sunday NYT column captured the subplot to this melodrama very well while reporting from Unity, New Hampshire.

They did not, however, commiserate about Bill Clinton, who is in a self-pitying meltdown about not being Elvis anymore, trying to shake down Obama for more – more apologies for perceived snubs and more help paying off the $22 million Clinton debt.

It’s hard to fathom why Obama should be mau-maued into paying off the debt that Hillary and Bill accrued attacking and undermining him, while mismanaging the campaign and their nearly quarter-billion-dollar war chest so horribly that one Hillaryland insider told The New Republic that it bordered on fraud.

But the former president can’t stand being a loser, so he’s taking it out on the winner. When it comes to Bill, there’s a lot of vanity but very little humility in Unity.





Mixed Race Marriages By State

29 06 2008

While doing some work related research the other day, I stumbled upon an interesting graphic (see below) as I was reading a 2003 report analyzing 2000 U.S. Census racial data by the demographer William Frey.

Not surprisingly, Frey found that interracial marriages went up from 4.4 percent in 1990 to 6.7 percent in 2000. But what I found fascinating was how disproportionate the rates of intermarriage was among different races. According to Frey, prevalence of mixed marriages nationally among Hispanics and Asians was roughly the same at 29.7 percent and 28.9 respectively, whereas only 12.9 percent of black folk overall were involved in an interracial marriage.

To provide some perspective here, in 2000, Asians accounted for 3.4 percent of the U.S. population, while Hispanics and African Americans both accounted for 12 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau numbers.

Another unsurprising yet still very interesting factoid was that California, Texas, Florida, and New York had the most mixed race marriages. In fact, California led the nation in being home “to one in four of all mixed-race marriages involving Latinos, and nearly one in three involving Asians.”

Clicking on the map will give you a slightly better resolution of the graphic, but I recommend reviewing the 10-page report to get superior image quality as well as a better understanding the data. The report consists of mostly graphs anyway.

(H/T: William Frey)

Update: This post has been updated with additional demographic information.





John McCain Does Not Know the Price of Gas

29 06 2008

Senator John McCain continues to tout his gas tax holiday plan despite the fact that no economist sees any merit in his or Senator Hillary Clinton’s proposal. Under McCain’s plan, the federal gas tax charging 18.4 cents per gallon at most gas pumps and 24.4 cents for diesel fuel would be eliminated for an entire summer.

The Arizona Senator announced his plan in April of this year in an effort to convince the public that he is a man of the people. “This measure, combined with the summer-long ‘gas-tax holiday,’ will bring a timely reduction in the price of gasoline. And because the cost of gas affects the price of food, packaging, and just about everything else, these immediate steps will help to spread relief across the American economy,” said the Republican Presidential presumptive nominee in April.

Experts say, however, that the plan would do more harm than good. For starters, if the plan went into effect it would seriously deplete the highway trust fund, which finances the building and repairing of the nations roads since, “every $1 billion of federal highway investment supports 34,779 jobs.”

Plus, abolishing the gas tax, even for just a few months, may stimulate greater gas consumption. That would inevitably drive up the demand for an already scarce commodity causing prices to sharply rise by the end of the year and beyond. This remains a very real possibility considering how the U.S. already accounts for a quarter of the world’s oil demand.

Not long ago, Good Morning America asked five economists what they thought of the McCain and Clinton plan on gas taxes and this is what they found:

Obama, and other people who are simply concerned about future of our planet, should also be mindful of how McCain’s stubborn support for the so-called gas tax holiday at best stands in tension with his seemingly pro-environment proposals. Surely, encouraging the consumption of more oil will not serve our goal of reducing carbon emissions over the long term very well.

True to form, Senator McCain maintained his steadfast support for the gas tax holiday plan while in California recently. But oddly enough the same man who claims to be attuned to how people are hurting at the pump did not know what the price of gas was.

In an interview with Martin Wiskol of Orange County Register, McCain said the following while en route to a fundraiser in Orange County:

WISCKOL: I’d like to ask you a couple questions suggested by voters here. They’re not reporter-type questions.

McCAIN: Sure. It’d be a pleasure.

WISCKOL: When was the last time you pumped your own gas and how much did it cost?

McCAIN: Oh, I don’t remember. Now there’s Secret Service protection. But I’ve done it for many, many years. I don’t recall and frankly, I don’t see how it matters. I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of town hall meetings, many as short a time ago as yesterday. I communicate with the people and they communicate with me very effectively.

Come again? We are not talking about the price of Raisin Bran here.

We are talking about the price of gas, which as of this writing is more than $4 nationally and $4.57 per gallon just in California alone. Additionally, not only do 62 percent of people in a recent CNN survey believe that high gas prices are due to unsavory business practices by oil companies, but another Washington Post and ABC News poll also found that gas prices was just behind health care in terms of what issues mattered most for voters.

But perhaps none of that matters much since he can communicate with voters.

Interestingly enough, when John McCain was asked by the OC Register how he differed from Bush, one of the issues the Arizona Senator cited was a willingness to “Addressing climate change effectively.”

In fact, he repeated it twice in response to the same question.

At least that was one question he was prepared to answer.





America’s Demographic Transformation

26 06 2008

Many on the left or simply those who happen to closely follow this year’s Democratic primary often remark on the lack of substantive discussion regarding race and gender. I for one never believed that such a discussion would take place, at least not in a thoughtful way, during an election season. Elections easily lend themselves to fast media coverage and bit sized reflections on policies that fail to dive deeper than conventional talking points.

Thus, politicians in general, but particularly during election cycles, are ill equipped to lead such national conversations. They may help ignite it or contribute to it in some small or great way, as Obama did in his “A More Perfect Union Speech.” But they are in no position to lead it, unless they are running a protest campaign and aren’t really all that serious about winning.

Sorry, just being honest.

But do we really need a politician to help us appreciate how this country is changing? Consider what the United States looked like when it just hit the 200 million person mark in the mid-1960’s. In 1966, the U.S. was 84% white, 11% black, 4% Hispanic and 1% Asian and Pacific Islander.

Today its a far different story. Once the United States reached its milestone of the 300th million person, people of color compromised a third of the population.

Immigration had a lot to do with this change. 55.3 million of the people responsible for the 100 million person growth spurt during the last four decades were immigrants. Hispanics alone increased by more than five fold and Asian and Pacific Islanders increased their numbers by more than 9 times as much going from from 1.5 million to 14.3. Meanwhile black folk never quite doubled their numbers during this period and the overall percentage of whites went down from 84 percent to approximately 66 percent in forty years.

This kind of rapid change to the U.S. merits a national conversation whether or not we manage to elect the first person of color as president.

(H/T: Pew Hispanic Center)

Update: Assuming current trends continue until at least 2050, the U.S. will be a very different country than it was in 1960, as evidenced by graph below.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center





Jacob the Jewler Gets 30 Months in Prison

26 06 2008

The Associated Press is reporting that New York businessman Jacob Arabov also know as a “Jacob the Jeweler” in the rap world has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for lying to the authorities investigating a mult-state drug ring. Arabov made a name for himself during the 1990s after he began selling outsized bejewelled necklaces, wristbands and earrings to rappers and athletes willing to chase fame at the expense of their wealth, and not too mention common sense.

The Russian immigrant was originally charged with attempting to launder approximately $270 million in drug profits in 2006. Prosecutors dropped the charges once Arabov cooperated in a plea deal. But Arabov then falsified documents and gave prosecutors false information.

Not exactly what you want to do when you want to feds off your back, particularly if you along with 41 other people stand accused of trafficking 1,100 ponds in cocaine and conspiring to launder $270 million in drug profits.

Prosecutors pressed for at least three years. Arabov’s attorney’s got his sentenced reduced based on his charity work.

I guess it pays to do good in the community even if you got your hands dirty in the process.

Of course, this poses an even greater question.

Where is Fabolous going to go for his gaudy white and yellow jewelry?

We all know Jacob, check the shit he did,
We spent more time, “Making The Band” than Diddy did,
You feel my campaign, then drop your old spouse,
I’m out in DC, at the “White and Gold House”…

Note: Jacob makes a cameo appearance at about the 1:56 mark of the video.





Polling More than Just Our Prejudices

23 06 2008

Instead of reporting on which presidential candidate fares better with respect to the war in Iraq or who has the better health care plan or better plan for the economy, the Washington Post choose to devote an entire article on the admitted racial and ageist biases of the respondents in a recent Washington Post ABC News poll.

According to the Washington Post, a narrow majority (51 percent) of all those surveyed said race relations were “good” or “excellent,” though an even greater percent (more than six in 10) of African Americans polled had a much sour opinion. Just about three in 10 Americans whites and blacks admitted to harboring “personal racial prejudice.”

But of course with this being election season the real purpose of the poll was not to ask such trite questions about race relations. With a slow news cycle they need to introduce something to feed our idle chatter and so here it is:

At the same time, there is an overwhelming public openness to the idea of electing an African American to the presidency. In a Post-ABC News poll last month, nearly nine in 10 whites said they would be comfortable with a black president. While fewer whites, about two-thirds, said they would be “entirely comfortable” with it, that was more than double the percentage of all adults who said they would be so at ease with someone entering office for the first time at age 72, which McCain (R-Ariz.) would do should he prevail in November.

Does this mean that a country that has historically demonstrated a strong preference for electing old white guys as president is somehow inclined to vote for the black guy because he is younger? Are we now led to believe that ageism trumps racism? No quite.

Even so, just over half of whites in the new poll called Obama a “risky” choice for the White House, while two-thirds said McCain is a “safe” pick. Forty-three percent of whites said Obama has sufficient experience to serve effectively as president, and about two in 10 worry he would overrepresent the interests of African Americans.

Of course, one can never truly know what is meant by such words as “risky” and “safe,” but one can guess that while it cannot be solely reduce to race or age, it indeed has something to do with it. That said, the chief message of the article is clear. Our prejudices are so inescapable they will inevitably define one of the most significant elections in years and diminish any discussion of real issues.

Funny how when John McCain won the 2008 Republican New Hampshire primary no one said he defeated the 64-year old Mayor Rudy Guiliani, or the 61-year old Gov Mitt Romney, or the 52-year old Gov. Mike Huckabee, even though the Arizona Senator is 71 years old. I also don’t recall his age being much of an issue when he won in South Carolina, Florida, New York and so on. But, interestingly enough, McCain’s age suddenly emerging as a hot button issue once he’s paired up against Senator Barack Obama in the general election. This is such a farce.

Most people would rightfully wonder why would anyone simply want to poll just those questions. Well, it didn’t. The truth is that the poll also asked many other questions that did not receive any mention in the article.

For example, when asked who is the stronger leader Obama or McCain, they were tied as 46 percent.

On who would do more to curb the influence of lobbyists in Washington, Obama beats McCain 51 t o 36 percent.

53 percent of the respondents said they thought Obama understood the problems compared to only 35 percent for McCain.

Even on taxes Obama polls better than John McCain 48 to 40.

One stubborn trend that seems to pop up in most polls is that while Obama nearly ties McCain with respect to the war in Iraq 46 to 47 percent, McCain beats him decisively on the war on terror 53 to 39 percent. Thats a fairly interesting finding considering how most people at 63 percent surveyed said the war in Iraq was not worth fighting for compared to 34 percent who said it was indeed worth the effort. It definitely reveals how far Obama has to go to convince people he can handle a foreign policy crisis.

But obviously none of those poll results are newsworthy enough to write an entire article about them.