Monday, March 31, 2008

Live Zeebop this week

Join us tomorrow night, April 1st, at Pap and Petey's from 8-11 p.m. for straight-ahead acoustic jazz. Pap and Petey's is located at 421 H St., NE, two and a half blocks from Union Station. This is an intimate bar with a great neighborhood feel.

We'll be playing at Pap and Petey's on April 9, 16, 23 and 30 from 8-11 p.m.

As always, Zeebop is Mark Caruso on guitar; Justin Parrott on bass; and me on drums.

Learn more about Zeebop by clicking here.

Red State Update

Jackie and Dunlap discuss Hillary's trip to Bosnia, McCain's confusion over the War on Terrorism, and more.

New Tom Tomorrow here

Click here to see the new Tom Tomorrow Cartoon.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The worst hockey parent ever?

Patrick Roy, who played 19 NHL seasons (1985-2003) for the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche, winning two Stanley Cups with each team, and is considered the greatest goalie ever, added another notable feat to his hockey resume -- sending his son, Jonathan, a goalie in the Quebec Major Junior League, to fight the other team's goalie. You have to see this bit of lunacy to believe it. Just take a careful look at the uniforms and you'll see that it's not an outtake from "Slapshot," although it looks like one.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Crazy white preachers and their Republican friends

In November 2007, when the Deep Thinkers in the mainstream media had, by then, anointed Rudy Giuliani the Republican presidential front-runner and perhaps, because of his social liberalism (he thinks gays are people and women should decide for themselves whether to bear a child) and his no-nonsense, bomb-the-fuck-out-of-everyone approach to foreign policy, our next president in waiting, Rev. Pat Robertson formally endorsed him for all the world to see. According to Pat, only Rudy, Mr. 9.11 himself, could save the world from the "bloodlust" of Islamic terrorism. Six years before, Robertson had heartily seconded Rev. Jerry Falwell's assessment that the World Trade Center attacks were God's revenge for American society's permissive attitudes towards gays, lesbians and abortion rights. Rudy wasn't fortunate enough, though, to get the support of Bob Jones III, the president of Bob Jones University. Another former Republican presidential contender, Mitt Romney, won that prized endorsement. Here's what Bob Jones III had to say about his decision to endorse a man who, as governor of Massachusetts, once supported abortion rights and legal equality for gays.

"As a Christian I am completely opposed to the doctrines of Mormonism. But I'm not voting for a preacher. I'm voting for a president. It boils down to who can best represent conservative American beliefs, not religious beliefs."

"If it turns out to be Guiliani and Hillary we've got two pro-choice candidates, and
that would be a disaster."

A quick primer on Bob Jones: Founded as a whites-only Bible college, Bob Jones didn't admit African-Americans until 1971. From 1971-1975, it denied admission to unmarried blacks to prevent inter-racial dating. After a 1975 court order compelled Bob Jones to admit blacks without regard to marital status, the university established rules prohibiting inter-racial dating between unmarried students and punished by expulsion any student who belonged to a group advocating inter-racial dating. That same year, the IRS revoked its tax-exempt status, a decision the university challenged, and one that resulted in a Supreme Court ruling upholding the IRS's decision. Incidentally, the Reagan administration sided with Bob Jones in that case, concluding that the bigger issue of religious freedom was at stake. The Solicitor General's office refused to defend the IRS in the Supreme Court. The Court ultimately assigned William T. Coleman, a former Transportation Secretary in the Gerald Ford administration, to represent the IRS. The Court, 8-1, sided with the IRS, with only Justice William Rehnquist dissenting.

Since 1980, Bob Jones has been a regular stop for Republicans on the presidential campaign trail. Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, Dan Quayle, Pat Buchanan and Phil Gramm all paid their respects. In the 2000 Republican presidential primary, George W. Bush made an appearance there, although he later "apologized" for not using that appearance to take the university to task for its views on race and religion.

You would think that a business-minded conservative like Mitt Romney, who has experienced his fair share of religious discrimination for adherence to his Mormon faith, would have rejected Bob Jones III's endorsement. Not so:

"We're proud to have the support of Dr. Jones and look forward to his help in delivering Gov. Romney's conservative message to the voters."

In 2000, John McCain rightly branded Jerry Falwell, the granddaddy of modern televangelists and founder of the Moral Majority, as an "agent of intolerance." In 2006, McCain gave the commencement speech at Falwell's Liberty University, and the two men set aside their differences, including Falwell's comments that the 9.11 attacks were the result of "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians."

And then there's John Hagee, the Texas preacher who appears determined to give the departed Falwell and the reigning kook of political preachers, Pat Robertson, a run for their money as the nation's most prominent religious nut job. Hagee is a virulent anti-Catholic, anti-Semite, anti-gay, anti-anything and anyone who isn't a down the line Christian fundamentalist to the nth degree. McCain is proud to have the endorsement of Hagee, who has called the Catholic Church the "Great Whore," claimed the anti-Christ is Jewish, and said that Muslims are trained to kill Christians and will be part of the devil's army when Armageddon comes. McCain has also called the Rev. Rod Parsley, a self-professed "Christocrat" who ministers to the mega-World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio, his "spiritual guide," even though Parsley shares Hagee's views on Islam ("a false religion"), homosexuality (an "abomination" -- nothing new there), abortion (he's likened Planned Parenthood to Nazi Germany), and calls the separation of church and state a "lie," noting that the United States is a Christian nation.

Thanks for clearing that up, Rev.

McCain welcomed Parsley's support during the Ohio primary, just as Romney welcomed Bob Jones III's support in South Carolina, just as Giuliani embraced Pat Robertson (and had nothing but nice things to say about his parish priest, Monsignor Alan Placa, who was accused of molesting two teenage students and an altar boy when he taught at various Catholic schools in New York during the 1970s and against whom criminal proceedings began in 2002 but were dropped due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. Giuliani hired Placa to work at his consulting firm after the church told Placa to stop performing his priestly duties).

And let's give a tip of the cap to former Republican presidential aspirant Rev. Mike Huckabee, whose "aw-shucks" country boy act concealed some woefully nutty views on life in the modern world. Just like his Republican colleagues, Huckabee was never really asked to explain his views on evolution (doesn't believe in it), abortion rights and the usual menu of crazy religious causes, pet peeves and so on. Doesn't matter when running for the presidency, he said. Apparently, the mainstream media didn't think so either, because they never really pressed him on it. C'mon, now . . . the guy lost a lot of weight, plays guitar and bass, and is funny in a sort of Reader's Digest way . . . why should his views on science, economics, religion and world politics matter?

The Republicans get a pass. Barack Obama, on the other hand, gets it from all sides, including the nation's Interrogator-in-Chief, Tim Russert, who demanded that Obama renounce and reject and cast off and stone and throw in the lake and blast into outer space the Rev. Jerimiah Wright, then cut his brake lines, blow up his front yard and kick his ass one-on-one on the basketball court, before declaring him an enemy combatant and shipping him off to Guantanamo Bay. Put Hillary in Russert's corner on that one, although she still hasn't had to explain, nor has her husband, why Wright was invited to the White House for a "prayer breakfast" in 1998 as part of the "spiritual team" to help Clinton find his way back from the Monica Lewinsky saga, an event Hillary attended.

Perhaps Geraldine Ferraro was right after all: Barack Obama's racial background does confer on him a special sort of treatment. White politicians can have all the crazy preacher friends they want. But blacks? Mmmm . . . not so much.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mis-speaking

In May 1954, seven years before I was born, I sat on the steps of the United States Supreme Court, all jiggly and goose-bumpy, after the justices handed down their decision holding state-mandated segregation in public schools unconstitutional (that's me, with my cousin, on the right). Even at the tender young age of pre-pre-pre-viability, I was fortunate enough to be part of the NAACP's legal team that argued Brown v. Board of Education. Don't get me wrong -- Thurgood Marshall deserves some of the credit he's received over the years for building the legal strategy that resulted in this historic decision. But let's not forget that I was out there in the woods with him, arguing cases in small towns throughout the Deep South. There was that one time when I was in Yadkinville, North Carolina, where I had traveled to argue a case on behalf of teen-age African-American boy who had been sentenced to death by a local jury for a crime he didn't commit (the white woman he allegedly killed would later confess to her minister, who told the local sheriff, who told the local barber, who told the local operator that she made the whole thing up to get back at ole' Jesse Staples, who stood her up at the Sadie Hawkins dance during her sophomore year in high school). I'd come into town to take this case because nobody else would, something I was used to doing on behalf of people who needed their day in court but couldn't afford a fancy lawyer. So this judge -- and this is true just like the sun rises in South and sets after dark -- says to me, he says, "You looka here, Mr. Ivers . . . we don't really appreciate colored lawyers from the North comin' down here lookin' to agitate our ways and all. So if you don't mind, I'm gonna have ole' Lowell here drive you to the county line and wish you well. For your own good."

Sure enough, Lowell drove me to the county line and dropped me one foot over it, just far enough so that I was now the problem of Hillsborough County. But Lowell said something to me I'll never forget . . . he said, "Sir, I think the work you're doing on behalf of African-Americans down here is noble, and something that history will recognize you for one day. But you can't tell anybody I told you that 'cause they'll take my job and my hide and . . .

BAM! A shot rang out, and I dropped straight to the ground, and then crawled over to an abandoned Confederate war ship that had been abandoned, Praise the Lord, not five feet from where Lowell dropped me. I managed to get there safely, even as the gunfire, which was now coming from all directions, got more intense. RAT-A-TAT-TAT! RAT-A-TAT-TAT! I tucked myself behind an old yard arm, pulling my son, Herschel, who hadn't been born yet to the woman I decided not to marry, to safety.

Then . . . silence. The threat had passed, and Herschel and I hiked the 275 miles back to Washington, D.C., just in time to get something to eat at the old Friendly's down near what is now Metro Center before it closed, which, in those days, was early or late, depending on what time it was.

* * * * * * * * * *

A few months later, I made what, to this day, is considered the greatest catch by a center fielder
in the history of Major League Baseball (on the left, running with my back to the ball in the deepest part of the Polo Grounds, so named for Ralph Lauren, who even though he was only a year or two old, bought the naming rights to the Giants stadium for bupkis). In those days, though, I went by the name Willie Mays, a name given to me on the playgrounds of San Francisco, where I learned to play baseball in the 1930s and 40s. My parents renamed me Willie Mays so that I'd have a better chance of gaining admission to Harvard, Columbia or Yale, which placed a quota on the number of Jews it admitted each year, but, like all elite schools in the pre-civil rights era, aggressively recruited African-Americans. Our family name was Brandeis, and my father, Louis, believed that advertising our ethnicity would hurt my chances to succeed where he hadn't. "Schlomo," he used to tell me, "being only a Supreme Court justice brought shame to our family. I want something more for you. I want you to be Chief Justice." So he changed my name and, knowing the advantage that black skin had for an ambitious young man in America, made me an African-American. What he didn't know was that his decision to bridge that racial and religious divide would make me the greatest center fielder of all-time, and the most beloved athlete ever to play in New York, more so than Joe Namath or Joe Pepitone or Joe Torre or Brad Park or Mickey Mantle or Lawrence Taylor or Willis Reed.

* * * * * * * * * *

In the early 1960s, I converted back to Caucasianism and moved to Great Britain. Bored to tears playing in the local production of "My Fair Lady," I accepted the invitation of a couple of lads I met down at the local pub to join their band. After a few years of playing rough bars on the Liverpool docks and the underground clubs in Hamburg, where I met, married and then divorced my second wife one night, we made a couple of good records and caught the attention of an American promoter, who brought us to the States to appear on the Ed Sullivan show and play a few gigs in Washington, D.C. I remember the excitement I felt walking on the tarmac at JFK Airport in New York (that's me, the goofy-looking one in the back behind John Lennon), thinking I had finally made it, that . . . finally I would impress my father, whose heart I had broken by not becoming a rabbi, and my mother, who had not spoken to me since I gave up the home run to Bill Mazeroski in the 1960 World Series to blow the World Series for the Yankees. But, rather than being thrilled for me, they were forlorn, with looks of disappointment that had settled deep into the crevices of their weathered faces.

"All this, and for what," my father asked. "To become a Beatle?"

* * * * * * * * * *

That episode, which happened when I was three, humbled me for many decades and put me into a funk that would last for thirty more years. Then, on September 5th, 1995, I played in my 2,130th consecutive major league baseball game for the Baltimore Orioles, tying my old teammate from the 1927 New York Yankees, Lou Gehrig. I hit two home runs that night, and, after the second one, my teammates pushed onto the field for a curtain call. I don't know what came over me, but I started shaking hands with fans on the first base line, and before you know it, I took a lap around the entire field, high fiving everyone with arms long enough to reach down over the walls. That night is considered by many baseball fans, quite justly, as the night that saved baseball. I couldn't agree more.

I would do it again, weaving through the sniper fire a second time. I had crossed the Commander-in-Chief threshold once, back during my service as team captain of my college intramural softball team, and I was prepared to do it again. Baseball was and is bigger than just one person, unless that person is me.

* * * * * * * * * *

I was going to write some more, but a friend of mine I spoke with earlier today pointed out that these brief snapshots of my life don't bear any relationship to the person he's known for 35 years. "You didn't play with Lou Gerhig in 1927," he said. "Neither of your parents was religious, much less a rabbi. You were never black. You didn't play with the Beatles. You didn't argue Brown v. Board of Education, and you didn't avoid sniper fire running a celebratory lap after hitting a home run in Camden Yards because you never played one game in the major leagues, much less 2,162 consecutive ones. If you ever decide to run for public office, you'll get fried for making statements like that."

Mea culpa (French for, "I fucked up."). So I misspoke. So what? Haven't you ever confused people, places and events that you've written and spoken about for . . .

. . . oops! Phone's ringing . . . . gotta answer it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Tom Tomorrow here

Click here to see the new Tom Tomorrow cartoon.

Red State Update

Jackie and Dunlap on what really motivated those State Department employees to peak in on Barack Obama.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Live Zeebop this week

This Tuesday night, March 25th, Zeebop will play at Pap and Petey's, a new Jazz/Blues club located just north of Union Station in the District. Pap and Petey's is located at 421 H St., NE, close to the corner of H and 5th St. Come on out and support this new club, which is part of the revitalization of this historic neighborhood. We play from 8-11 p.m., and our set will be acoustic (upright bass, brushes, light sticks).

Wednesday, March 26th, Zeebop will be back at Maggianos in Friendship Heights. We'll play from 6.30-9.30 p.m. If you need an inducement, there's free (and excellent) appetizers available while you sip your beverage of choice. Our set will be electric -- straight ahead at the beginning, settin' the funk free towards the end.

As always, Zeebop is Mark Caruso on guitar; Justin Parrott on bass; and me on drums. Learn more about Zeebop by clicking here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Congratulations AU men's basketball

Confession: I've attended less than ten American University men's basketball games in almost twenty years -- an average of one game every two years. One season, maybe four or five years ago, I went to five games -- none of which were very good. The athletic program is a very small part of my university, and, since there is next to no school spirit around the sports we do have, the athletes who play them go about their business in relative obscurity.

That might change after today.

The AU men's basketball team gave a bigger, stronger, Tennessee Volunteer team all it could handle before falling, 73-57. The game was much, much closer than the score indicates. AU had to resort to the foul-o-rama that is a staple of basketball strategy in the closing moment of games where one team has to make up a deficit in hopes of forcing its opponent to choke at the free throw line (Note: Is there anyone else out there who hates this part of basketball? A game that can breathtakingly exciting gets reduced to fouling and free-throwing shooting in the closing moments of regulation. Does any other sport do this?). Tennessee didn't choke, and sunk free throw after free throw to put a game, that had seen the lead change hands early on and AU pull to within a point with five minutes to go. This was truly a David-and-Goliath match-up. I went to Tennessee my first two years of college, and I had the chance to see a big time Division 1 athletic program close up. To say there is no comparison with how schools like Tennessee do sports and schools like mine do sports might be the understatement of 2008. Mom-and-Pop operations have their charm; in the end, though, it's hard to withstand the Wal-Marts of college athletics, which is what schools like Tennessee are.

The game was great. What was also great was the genuine excitement leading up to the game and the . . . gasp!, since this is AU we're talking about . . . school spirit during the game. I watched the game on a big screen in the student center (The Tavern, for insiders), and it reminded me of the times I watched big-time college games in off-campus bars during college when I couldn't get tickets to attend them. Of course, readily available cheap pitchers of cold beer would have made the afternoon perfect, but . . . it was still a moment unlike any other I can remember at AU. Most students don't this excited about anything unless a former Deputy Press Secretary to a former President visits campus to give a well-compensated talk about what everyone in the audience already knew.

Congratulations to the men's basketball team. Let's hope this is the start of something great, for the athletic program, the students and the university.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My day in the big leagues

Professional athletes, it's pretty safe to say, are not "late bloomers." From the moment people like Bobby Orr, Alex Ovechkin, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Hank Aaron, Greg Maddux or Tony Gwynn picked up a hockey stick, baseball or basketball, they rolled over everyone in their path. For every one Michael Jordan who was cut by his high school basketball coach, five hundred others dominated their sport from their days in organized athletics.

And depending on the sport, most athletes reach their peak by around 30 or so, after which they're generally characterized by the sports media as "elder statesmen," "on the downside" or "playing remarkably well, considering they're getting long in the tooth." Pick almost any sport, and tell me if you've ever heard a sports commentator refer to a team where the players' average age is over 30 as "young." Gotta tell ya . . . it's not exactly uplifting to hear some sportscaster refer to a 33 year-old pitcher as "crafty" as opposed to "overpowering," or a 37 year-old left wing in hockey as getting by on his "smarts" because he can't keep up with the 25 year-olds who can blow by him at any given moment. Makes me feel about 173 years old.

I always find it mildly amusing when students say to me that I was probably a National Honor Society geek in high school or suppress a laugh when they learn that I played competitive baseball up until college or continue to slog around ice rinks, run, play music and bike at the ripe old age of 46. Professors, in the minds of many students, are career nerds, now simply grown-up versions of the eight year-old dork who took an interest in the mating habits of turtles while on a Cub Scout camping trip or enraptured the elementary school assembly with a passionate call to her classmates to combat the social construction of gender that leaves young girls confused and repressed. Whatever I may have been between the ages of 6 and 17, the last one out of the library wasn't one of them. So, no, I wasn't one of those high school kids working up an ulcer over whether to attend Duke without financial aid or take the full-ride to the University of Virginia. I don't remember studying for more than 30 minutes on any given day in high school, and that given day came about two or three times a year. Fortunately, I did well enough on the ACT or SAT -- I don't remember which one -- so that I didn't have to attend one of the third or fourth-tier state schools in Georgia, like Georgia Southern University, which welcomed me during the fall of my high school senior year to the class of 1983, even though I never applied.

I thought about all this as I finished preparing a talk late last night and early this morning I was invited to give several months ago at Harvard. Even now, as I sit in the airport waiting for my flight back to Washington, I have no idea how the professor who invited me up found me or why I was asked to speak on a topic that many, many other scholars are much more qualified to speak about about than me. Even more harrowing was the audience that awaited me when I entered the seminar room. Two endowed chairs from the Harvard Law School, whose work encouraged me to structure an earlier book of mine the way I did, were present. They were very polite and looked far less imposing than I imagined they would. If I knew that either one had been invited to my talk I would have stayed home or developed some mysterious illness that required a 24 period of isolation. A well-respected professor from the Divinity School was there, as was the Chair of the Department of Government. Less well-known scholars were also there, as were a few graduate students, all of whom knew more about, it seemed, what I was talking about than I did.

After spending an evening and the better part of a day talking with people who are much smarter and accomplished than I am, I gave myself a bit of advice I sometimes give other people who overestimate their own abilities: there is good, and there is good. American University is a good school that might, in my professional lifetime, become a very good school if . . . if the administrators that make most of the decisions about what we do and how we do it ever learned to value the opinions of faculty and educators from outside the university with good ideas. American is a very insular place that is oligarchic in structure. Decisions are made at the top and then floated below, where, depending how far below you are on the bureaucratic totem pole, your opinion might matter but, most likely, it will not. Professors like me who have opinions on matters academic and organizational that aren't altogether bad tend to give up after awhile. Banging your head against a wall will, no matter how hard your head, leave you with a migraine or concussion. You reach a point where you decide that your time is better invested elsewhere, like working directly with your students or taking new chances in your intellectual development.

Harvard really is an amazing place. Just the three hours I spent in formal and informal conversation with the professors and students who came to hear me talk made me realize that a whole different world exists out there that is way beyond me. I'd be chewed up and spit out in three weeks if ever taught a class at Harvard, much less tried to build a career there. I've taught at American for 19 years as of this May. In that 19 years, I've been promoted and tenured, and then promoted to full professor. But, other than the school-wide (not university-wide) award I received in 1993 for "excellence in teaching," I have never received a formal award from my department, school or university for teaching, research or service. A few years ago, I was nominated by my school for the university's scholar-teacher of the year award but I didn't receive it. Strangely enough, I didn't receive either the school's teaching or research awards that year. Worse, an announcement went out university wide and to AU alumni that I had been named the SPA Scholar-Teacher of the Year, only to find out two days later, after I had received congratulations from a few colleagues and students past and present that the announcement was a "mistake." No such award existed. I had been nominated for the university-wide award, which, as I mentioned I did not win. That was my closest, and probably last, brush with fame at my university. I have enjoyed my 19 years at American, a period in which I have grown a lot and learned a lot. But my labors have been mostly anonymous, and my professional interests have grown increasingly eclectic and off the beaten path so that I am equally invisible in my professional discipline.

You know what, though? It's all good or, as a musician-friend of mine likes to say, "it's all groove." My students are, for the overwhelmingly part, great; my band is going to record some tracks soon for a possible CD; I am in good health, and my family is gorgeous, hilarious, crazy, argumentative, frustrating and perfect. This week, I became the Crash Davis of academia -- a career minor-leaguer who got the call from the big leagues, even though it was barely long enough to finish my coffee, to speak to people smarter than me at the finest and most famous university in the world. No, I don't expect to go back nor do I expect that invitations like this will become a regular part of my life. Still, for a public school kid whose mind thirty years ago was everywhere except where it was supposed to be, those few hours earlier today will be something I'll always remember.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Unspoken race privilege

Barack Obama's speech yesterday in Philadelphia was the most honest, heartfelt and extraordinary public effort by a political figure of stature in my adult lifetime to address the complexities of race in America. Obama's decision to give a public address on race in America stemmed, of course, from the inflammatory statements of his pastor, Rev. Jerimiah Wright of Chicago, last week. Wright went from obscurity to fame after sound and video clips of his sermons and public speeches condemning white America specifically for everything from the spread of the HIV virus among blacks to provoking the September 11th attacks hit You Tube and the public airwaves. Since Obama has known Wright for years and referred to him as his "spiritual mentor," the onus fell to him, first, to "repudiate" Wright's comments, just as he was asked to "repudiate" the crackpot Minister Louis Farrakhan's unsolicited "support" for his candidacy back in February. And, of course, between the cracks came a request to "repudiate" campaign advisor Sandra Powers's description of Hillary Clinton as a "monster."

For the record, Obama is 3-0. He repudiated Wright and Farrakhan, and fired Power. For the establishment media monitoring the repudiation sweepstakes, Obama handled Power quickly and correctly, but was slow to the draw on Wright and Farrakhan. Yesterday's speech, however, should put all those issues to rest. If anything, Obama's forceful, nuanced and mature speech, in a just world, will enhance his standing and leave behind such important questions for America's future, such as whether Geraldine Ferraro is senile, stupid or just insensitive, and whether she could kick Jerimiah Wright's ass in a caged, knock-down closed circuit television match-up between these remarkably unimportant people.

My purpose here, and now I need to tread carefully, is raise a couple of questions about the controversy surrounding the Wright-Obama "relationship," his speech yesterday and the establishment press's reaction to it. And here they are: Is there a better example out there of the racial double standard on black politicians running national campaigns than this one? And how does the reaction of many establishment commentators to yesterday's speech and Obama's campaign more generally offer a subtle but prime example of white privilege in America?

After Geraldine Ferraro let loose last week with her comments on Barack Obama's candidacy, saying, in a nutshell, that he is where is because he's black, there was no demand on Hillary Clinton, for whom Ferraro worked in a volunteer capacity as a finance chairman in New York, to give a major address on the racial resentment of white working class Northerners to a group of white working class Northern racists, repudiate Ferraro's career (including her affirmative action candidacy in 1984 as Walter Mondale's vice-presidential running mate), severe any and all ties with Ferraro immediately or question why Hillary had chosen to walk arm-in-arm (and employ) a figure of hate. After Hillary Clinton told a "60 Minutes" interviewer just before the Ohio primary that Barack Obama was not, "as far as I know," a Muslim, no one demanded a public apology or a speech before a Muslim congregation simultaneously retracting and explaining her comments. Hillary was responding to a comment made by an Ohio voter earlier in the week that he had heard that Obama was a Muslim and did not know the words to the national anthem. The right answer was this: "Steve, I don't think questions like that have any place in a presidential campaign." Not this: there's nothing to base [the "accusation" that Obama is a Muslim] on, "as far as I know."

Imagine had Obama had answered the following question this way: "Do you think that Hillary Clinton is a lesbian, as so many right-wing talk show hosts have insisted?" Obama: "As far as I know she's not a lesbian, and I take her at her word."

Imagine. Imagine. Imagine.

Imagine is all you can do. Because it would never, ever happen.

* * * * * * * * * *

In this morning's Washington Post, Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for President Bush, complimented Obama's "political performance," but concluded that his speech fell short because he did not sufficiently distance himself from the "anti-Americanism" of Wright. He listed all the terrible things Wright has said, and concluded that Obama has chosen to travel with a minister of hate.

Gerson fails to note, however, that his former employer, who embraces the Stone Age regimes of the Middle East that formally subjugate women, promote state-sponsored anti-Semitism and make homosexuality a crime, has a complicated record of his own to defend. Bush has accepted the support of Rush Limbaugh and others in the right-wing media complex who openly and unapologetically espouse racist, sexist and homophobic views. Okay, okay . . . so Bush is an easy target. And he's just about to leave town, so let's just let his historically abysmal record speak for itself . . . and ask some questions about the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, and his "welcome" endorsement from Rev. John Hagee of San Antonio, Texas. Hagee has a long record of anti-Catholicism, comparing it to a "cult," and less than flattering statements about women, gays, Jews . . . pretty much everyone who is not a born-again, fundamentalist Chrisitan.

No demands from the establishment press for McCain to give a speech before Hagee or an audience of similar clergy "repudiating" and "denouncing" his views and formally requesting that he stay as far away as possible from his campaign. You'd think that McCain's largely illusionary reputation as a "straight talker" would lead the media to jump at the chance to demand of him what they've demanded of Obama. But they won't, for the simple reason that a white politician as skilled at massaging the establishment press as McCain will always be one of the boys, whereas a black politician will never be. Neither McCain nor Hillary will ever asked to "repudiate" the views of "white leaders" or explain how their views are not threatening to white people. John McCain, like every Republican politician of the past 45 years, will concede the black vote to the Democrats and work to maximize turnout among white constituencies that continue to harbor racist views about blacks. He won't be asked to explain that strategy. On the odd chance that he is asked, he'll offer an answer like this one: "We welcome Americans of all creeds and colors to join the Republican Party as we work to rebuild our country and keep us safe from terrorists."

And no one will blink an eye.

On the other hand, neither Hillary Clinton or John McCain -- the real "dream ticket" if you're a Republican strategist -- will ever give a speech like the one Obama gave yesterday. The reason is simple: neither has the life-experience, sophistication or courage to say what came so naturally to Obama.

* * * * * * * * * *

In 1995, Major League Baseball introduced the "wild card" format for the playoffs, amending the rule in place since 1969 that sent only the winners of each division in the National and American Leagues to play for the league title and a shot at the World Series. Now, the winners of each league's three divisions and the team with the best regular season record compete for their respective titles. "Purists" initially complained that it would diminish the teams who won their divisions. Advocates of the new system said it would stimulate interest among fans whose teams might normally have no chance to win a division. I was initially skeptical; but, over time, I've come to accept the "wild card" as good for baseball.

Ruth Marcus, a columnist for the Washington Post, apparently believes that the presidential primary system should adopt the "wild card" rule for the 2008 nominating contest in the Democratic party. She suggests a three-way debate between Hillary, Obama and McCain so that Democratic voters (and presumably all those mysterious Independents that pollsters and politicos drool over) can decide who would make a stronger candidate in the general election.

Unless I missed something, Democratic voters have already made that choice, and it is Barack Obama. Obama has won almost twice as many states as Hillary, leads in the popular vote, and leads in pledged delegates. He trails only in one category: "superdelegates" who are not bound by a state's popular vote or caucus results. For Hillary to finish the primaries with more delegates than Obama, she must win every remaining state by 28 percentage points or better. That is simply not going to happen.

If the roles were reversed and Barack Obama had been all but mathematically eliminated from the Democratic primary, you would not be seeing calls in the establishment press to give him another chance, or alter the rules to allow him to bring in delegates from primaries that were disqualified, or insisting on a three-way debate so that voters could have one more chance to weigh his merits against the front runner. Leading the charge to have Obama leave the race would be the Clintons, who would have demanded his exit after losing 12 consecutive primaries in late January and February.

I find it remarkable that anyone believes the protracted street fight the Clintons are waging against Obama is a good thing. It's not. Hillary should pack up and go, and simply accept that, once voters were given the chance to vote, they chose someone else. But no . . . as long as there are columnists like Ruth Marcus around to enable this destructive process, Hillary will hang on until she and/or the party self-destructs. Race is not on the surface of the Hillary "wild card" effort, but it lies just underneath it, like an undertow that will sooner or later reveal its true power by devouring the unsuspecting.

Put another way: If Barack Obama were John Edwards, Joe Biden or any other establishment white male political figure, Hillary would have been sent along her way or, in the best case, mentioned as the possible vice-presidential nominee as the second-place finisher. Instead, Hillary, who will finish second, remains "open" to Obama as her vice-presidential running mate, and the establishment press floats this scenario as if it should be taken seriously. Reverse positions, and Obama would have been ridiculed to no end. He would have lost all credibility as a "serious black candidate" and lumped into the Sharpton-Jackson scrap heap. And the white commentators who dominate the airwaves and op-ed pages of the nation's most elite media would have beat that drum until there was a hole the size of the Grand Canyon in it.

Does gender matter in American politics? Of course. Does race matter more? Absolutely. If you doubt that, you're not watching this campaign carefully enough.

ADDED: I'm in the Boston area today (Thursday, March 20th) . . . and came across this column in the Boston Globe this morning by Dan Payne, "The race card is the wild card," who sees some of the same things as I do, and points to even more examples of the "unintended" racial slights of the Clintons. The metaphor of Barack Obama as "Driving Miss Hillary" is particularly clever . . . and dead-on accurate.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

So much privilege, so little time

“We think she’s ready to make the trip,” said Burberry Mom 1 to Burberry Mom 2. “We have her in Chinese immersion, she’s taking a cultural supplement on China and the language tutoring is doing a wonderful job getting her ready. So we think she’ll do fine. I have her as well prepared as possible. The interesting question will be what she decides to do with it once she comes back.”

“Oh, you must be so proud of the job you’ve done!” reassured Burberry Mom 2 to Burberry Mom 1. “A trip to China is such a big deal. Whatever happens, you really outdid yourself preparing your daughter for this trip. And you must be really happy you chose to put her in Holton. What a great thing for a school to do! I’m so glad I talked you into coming to our school!”

Not so, said Burberry Mom 1. “I don’t think that’s the way I remember it,” she said through smiling, though gritted, teeth. “We decided to come to Holton before (tapping Burberry Mom 2’s wrist for emphasis) we even met.” And then Burberry Mom pulled out the big gun.

“That’s why I was able to come in as a room parent,” said Burberry Mom 1. “And chair the auction this year.”

Conversation over. Back to their planners.

The daughter in question is a 14 year-old girl who takes an individual tennis lesson at the Cabin John indoor tennis facility while my nine year-old teenage daughter, sporting her “Future Mama for Obama” button, toils away in the group lesson. Holton is Holton Arms, one of the most elite girls’ schools in the Washington, D.C. area, the kind of school where the girls and their moms wear Lily Pulitzer, Martha’s Vineyard and Talbot’s clothing, with the occasional Ugg boot thrown in to acknowledge at least one post 1940s-fashion trend, without any sense of irony, have so many bows and ribbons in their hair that their heads look like bobbing birthday gifts just wrapped at Toys-R-Us and carry themselves with an ardor that says, “One day, if you work hard and play by the rules the rest of us ignore, you can wash our cars, clean our houses and pick up our dry cleaning. . . .

. . . . but in the meantime, run out and pick us up a latte, no foam, half-soy, half-caf, with a shot of vanilla, but not a full shot, a dash of chocolate, a pinch – a small pinch – and, should I write this down for you? BEEP-BEEP! BEEP-BEEP! Sorry, gotta take this call! The Blackberry never stops!”

No, it doesn’t. Just imagine how much worse it would be if she had a job.

Seems the class trip this year for the 15 year-old Holton girls is an excursion to China. During my 10th grade year, which took place when I was 15, a remarkable chronological achievement for a student in the Georgia public schools, I accompanied a friend of mine who said he was 16 but really wasn’t for a car ride around I-285 in Atlanta, the city’s “Beltway.” Our transport consisted of a 1966 Chevy Impala that, to the best of my recollection, had no seatbelts and only an AM radio to amuse us. We made it around I-285 in about 45 minutes, impressive when you consider that one complete loop was around 65 miles and the speed limit had just been lowered, thanks to then-president Gerald Ford, to 55 miles per hour.

I’ll admit, without a note of jealousy, that a trip to China at 15 is much cooler than a 65 mile trip around your hometown in a beat-up old car. But the I-285 trip was a step up from our usual out-of-the-ordinary entertainment, which consisted of taking the number 30 bus downtown and riding the glass elevators at the Hyatt Regency up and down until we were nauseous, and then walking the streets in search of nothing in particular, although we were always curious about what was so adult about the adult book stores whose blue and yellow painted windows prevented us from seeing what was inside.

But had my school offered me a trip to China when I was in 10th grade, would I have gone? I don’t know. The only trip my school offered me at that age was to the assistant principal’s office, where, instead of choosing which four-star hotel I would stay in while in Bejing or whether I should board the luxury bus with or without a translator while making the rounds to historic sites, I had to weigh the relative merits of taking two whacks from Mr. McKee’s paddle or spending four days in detention.

Easy choice. Take the licks, sign the paddle (I’m convinced the deranged surplus store operator in “Pulp Fiction” and the psychopath in “No Country for Old Men,” were each based on Mr. McKee. How else do you explain the glee of a grown man who hit you in the ass with a piece of wood with all the force of Albert Pujols jacking a fastball 450 feet, laughed about it, and then stuck out his hand and said, “Hey, no hard feelings?”).

I’d say I wonder whatever happened to Mr. McKee, but I’m guessing he may have met a fate similar to Elliot Spitzer.

Moments like the one I experience on a weekly basis as I wait for daughter to finish her tennis lesson, or my daughter to finish her hip-hop class, or the nearly identical conversations that took place when my 13 year-old son was that age in the lobby at the Tae Kwon Do and now on the ball fields and hockey rinks where he plays with his friends make me wonder whether I should turn myself into Montgomery County Social Services as Bethesda’s worst parent. Our children have never been to designer summer camps that “guarantee” a superior level of academic and athletic accomplishment, or labored hour after hour in “enrichment” courses designed to put them on a 46th or 53rd grade reading and math level while they’re still in elementary and middle school, or sent them abroad on luxurious vacations to “stimulate their cultural awareness,” as Burberry Mom 1 reminded Burberry Mom 2 was the “real” purpose of her daughter’s China trip, or, as one father pointed out to me several years ago, joined a country club so that his son could begin the “socialization process” with the “class of people we expect him to live and work with” as an adult.

Our kids were in 3rd grade, all of 8 years old, preparing for their yellow belt test at Tae Kwon Do, when I was on the receiving end of this bit of wisdom.

Having not grown up in an environment remotely like the one I live in now, pushing my kids beyond what they're interested (and able) to do is not something that comes naturally to me or my wife, who is much smarter than I am now and was a responsible adolescent when I was busy diagramming John Bonham's bass drum head or calculating my earned run average, which was always, no matter what kind of season I was having, much better than my algebra grade. For better or worse, my parents did not have enough time to organize, supervise, enhance (culturally or otherwise) or monitor every waking moment of my formative years. And when they did have some time to themselves, they -- gasp! -- actually believed that they should be able to do things that interested them or -- double gasp! -- nothing at all. No matter how hard we try, we simply cannot force our children to like sports they don't like, play musical instruments they don't want to play or pretend they're mini-adults when, in the grand scheme of things, they're actually much closer to the womb than the never-never land of adulthood.

Am I a bad parent for not spending every moment of every conversation I have with another adult talking about my kids, their activities or their latest accomplishments? Do I want to be that parent who, when asked by an adult how I am doing, respond by saying, "Jack's team won the championship this season!" Perhaps the response I could have given this morning had I been asked that question, "Not so great. I just had eleven blocked oil glands seared off my face by some high-powered heat gun and it hurts like hell, " wasn't all that uplifting. But at least I didn't say, "My daughter's spring recital is June 8th and my son's hockey team lost the championship yesterday in a shootout. And can I count you in for a Wyngate Spring Fair raffle ticket?"

Privilege has its advantages -- no doubt. Sometimes I wonder, though, at what cost to the joys of living, whether as an adult or a teenager. And that simply begs the question: advantages for what? More advantages, or to learn more about life, and live it more fully, by figuring things out on your own?

ADDED: A regular reader was kind enough to send me this link, "Hire Education," from this week's Washington City Paper, by a tutor to the privileged in the D.C. suburb of Potomac, where, not coincidentally, Burberry Moms 1 and 2 are mapping out their children's futures.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Red State Update on Elliot Spitzer, Obama's preacher and more

Jackie and Dunlap offer editorial insight into the latest political scandals, including Elliot Spitzer's expensive secret life, Barack Obama's crazy preacher friend, Geraldine Ferraro's racial observations . . . and the search for Fred Thompson continues.

New Tom Tomorrow here

Click here to see the new Tom Tomorrow cartoon.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A McCain-Hillary Ticket?

Far be it from me to take a break from spring break, but this one's just too good . . .

Apparently, I am not the only person who found it stunning that Hillary Clinton, the second-place candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, endorsed John McCain for president on Friday. This assumes, of course, that the voters don't have the good sense to elect her our next Commander-in-Chief, a position for which, based on her "experience," she is exceptionally unqualified.

By the way, Obama won Texas, 98 delegates to 95. After Obama's Wyoming victory on Saturday, Hillary trailed by even more delegates than she did going into last Tuesday's Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island primaries. She will certainly lose Mississippi tomorrow (all those "urban" votes that Bill Clinton spoke about over the weekend that Obama could help Hillary with in a general election will certainly favor the Illinois senator, presumably not because he's from Chicago, an urban area, and not because he runs so well among African-Americans. I know Mississippi has one of the largest per-capita African-American populations in the nation. But I didn't realize just how "urban" that state really was).

Since Hillary can't win the Democratic nomination without blowing up the entire nominating process, shouldn't she just quit now and run with McCain?

Back to spring break . . .

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spring break

1. Circle the most correct answer, write an essay explaining what the individual was thinking or choose (c).

a. New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, who made his public reputation as the state's crime-fighting attorney general, admitted to patronizing a prostitution service this morning.

b. Hillary Clinton said Friday that she and John McCain have crossed the "threshold" that qualifies them to serve as Commander-in-Chief. She said that someone would need to ask Barack Obama if he's qualified to join her and McCain on Mount Threshold. Although Hillary did not specify exactly what foreign policy experience qualified her to serve as CIC, it's clear that, in her view, she has the experience to keep our children safe from terrorists who would attempt to kill them at 3 a.m. Hillary has also said that Obama does not have the experience to serve a president. On the same day, Hillary told reporters that Obama would make an excellent vice-presidential running mate and, one can only presume, a fine vice-president, which means, one can only presume, that he would make a fine president.

I can only assume that the states would ratify a constitutional amendment, proposed by Hillary in her will, abolishing large parts of Article II of the Constitution, especially the clauses making the president the commander-in-chief and giving him the power to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. The nation cannot afford to have a hand-picked president of the former president exercising power that the former president said he was not qualified to have or carry out responsibly. Why would Hillary pick a vice-president who she said wasn't qualified to serve the office? This is a toughie.

(c) Go on spring break until Monday, March 17th and prepare for baseball season.

Live Zeebop this week

Zeebop will play two shows this week and guest at another. This Wednesday, March 12th, we'll be at Maggiano's in Friendship Heights. We play from 6.30-9.30 p.m. On Thursday, March 13th, we'll play at Fuzion in Bethesda, located on 6821 Reed St., next to the Bethesda Row movie theatres and across from Barnes and Noble. We play from 8-10 p.m.

On Friday, March 14th, we'll combine with Bemsha Swing for a show over at Clare and Dan's in Falls Church, right next to the State Theatre. We play from about 6-9 p.m.

To learn more about Zeebop, including our schedule (which has directions to all venues), click here.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

New Tom Tomorrow here

Click here to see the new Tom Tomorrow cartoon.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A legacy of torture

Other than John McCain, who spent the week watching the Democrats make their best effort to self-destruct before their nominating process comes to an end in early summer, the happiest Republican in the United States has to be George W. Bush. I mean, how would you feel if almost everyone -- with the exception of a few loyal sycophants and the right-wing media echo chamber -- thought you were either the worst president ever or the second worst president ever, behind James Buchanan, whose main accomplishment was to steer the nation towards the Civil War, and still . . . still . . . you could get everything you wanted. Remember the big fuss over Mr. 33%, how his "relevance" had disappeared, how he would have to serve out the rest of his term in isolation, so radioactive was he among members of his own party, forgetting, for now, the Democrats glee in watching the man that almost 50% of the country didn't want to elect in either 2000 or 2004?

Well, well, well . . . it looks like the Decider will win again, beating back the Democrats who pledged, after their 2006 victories, to reign the excesses of his crazy-ass foreign policy, on the torture issue.

You heard me. President Bush just vetoed a bill that would have banned the C.I.A. from using torture when interrogating suspected terrorists. The legislation explicitly banned "waterboarding," which almost no one disputes is an interrogation method that qualifies as torture. In his weekly radio address, the president said that the C.I.A. must possess absolute power to extract information from suspected terrorists. “Because the danger remains," he told Americans earlier today, "we need to ensure our intelligence officials have all the tools they need to stop the terrorists.”

Incredible. The president of the United States is now on record, more so than ever before, of condoning torture and ensuring that it remains available to the C.I.A. and, presumably any executive branch or military agency that interrogates prisoners held on terrorism charges. Presidents have always sought to expand executive power, especially in times of perceived or real crisis, to protect and carry out their prerogatives. Bush's success in expanding executive power at the expense of Congress has been extraordinarily successful.

Still . . . incredible. The United States crosses over to the dark side on torture, and Congress cannot and will not do anything to stop the president. Eight of the president's 10 vetoes since taking office in 2001 have come since November 2006, when the Democrats took control of Congress. The Democratic Congress has only overridden one of Bush's vetoes, a $34 billion water bill that contained enough goodies to encourage Democrats and Republicans to join hands to preserve their joint largess. No one believes the Democrats will have the votes to override this veto.

As disappointing and scary as the president's decision to allow torture might be, can you imagine what the world would like if most Americans actually liked and respected him? Do you want to?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A guide to the Democrats delegate mess

Confused about the discussion over delegates vs. superdelegates in the Hillary-Obama race? This handy guide should help.

Hillary can claim all she wants that Obama was brainwashed in pre-school by crazy Arab sheiks, or that his presidency will result in presumably thousands of dead children attacked at 3 a.m. by terrorists who view an Obama administration ripe for the pickings, or that he steals speeches from his friends. In the end, the numbers do not favor her. Unless she blows Obama out in almost every remaining state (23% points or more), she will not catch him in popularly elected delegates. Using superdelegates to overturn the popular will is a very risky strategy, but not something beyond her playbook. Unable to beat Obama by running a positive campaign, Hillary resorted to what she and her advisors know best, and that was to tear her primary opponent apart by bringing up one thing after another that simply doesn't matter. That will continue.

I simply don't agree with the conventional assessment that a protracted fight between Hillary and Obama is good for the Democrats. Hillary's insistence on plowing on is not about getting her voice "out there" on the issues. It's an act of selfishness bordering on the homicidal. From this point forward, she won't be running to enlighten the electorate about health care, foreign policy or anything else. Hillary will rip Obama to shreds; John McCain will enjoy it all; and, come November, the Democrats, should Hillary subvert Obama's trajectory, might be wondering what all this accomplished.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Pat Buchanan rewrites history -- again

Here we go again . . . the Pat Buchanan show, still crazy after all these years.

Over the weekend, Pat Buchanan reminded so many people why, despite his annually renewed membership card as a Washington pundit in good standing, this guy is an unredeemable, complete, just-add-water, asshole.

Upset by Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean's remark that the Democratic presidential contenders mirrored the demographics of America (including departed candidates such as Bill Richardson) while the Republican candidates were all over-50 white males who looked like the 1950s and talked like the 1850s, Buchanan commented to Tucker Carlson (whose rise to the top ranks of the Washington pundit class is Exhibit A that ours is not a merit system) that he was "offended" by the beating that white males take in the "liberal media."

And then he said . . . this:

"I am offended by this. Look, what did white males do? OK, they were the only guys signing the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, all the dead at Gettysburg, all the dead at Normandy. Why is it . . ." (emphasis added).

For the record, white men were not the only people who died at Gettysburg, Normandy, Atlanta, Paris, Berlin, Saigon or any town city or country where American soldiers have given their lives in battle. African-American men died at far higher rates than white men in Vietnam, a war that Pat Buchanan thought and still thinks was a good idea. White men are not the only people who have died, so far, in Iraq.

Buchanan's record of anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist and racist comments on the air, in print and any other venue that continues to give him a voice is long and extensive. Yet, and not inexplicably, he continues to appear on all the Washington gabfests, and his opinion is routinely sought out by reporters who like to interview other reporters about what people they haven't talked to or investigated are really thinking about matters they know nothing about.

Oh, and just two weeks ago, Pat Buchanan was on "Meet the Press," appearing as a panelist for his "friend" Tim Russert. Will Russert now demand of himself that he reject and refute Buchanan's latest offensive and racist comments? Or is all about just agreeing to disagree?

Can you imagine how quickly conservatives would be calling for a black journalist's scalp if one uttered something as stupid as this? Or how quickly Tim Russert would be demanding that Barack Obama or any other black politician "disassociate" himself from remarks like these? What are the chances that any black journalist with Pat Buchanan's rap sheet would even be invited to appear on any of the babble-fests?

I'm sure there's a cute Saturday Night Live skit in there somewhere . . .

Can Mommy Dearest protect me?

I arrived home last night about 10.45 p.m., late enough to miss my children's bedtimes, but early enough to sweat out the next four hours and fifteen minutes, waiting for the clock to hit 3 a.m. And when it did, who would protect me from foreign invaders, "sleeper cell" terrorists in our midst, the squirrels returning to my poorly-manicured grounds to start digging up their acorns, the Northwest winds that blow tree sap and algae onto the just-powerwashed side of my house and a good-natured but absolutely crazy 13 year-old kid whose parents just emailed to tell me that he "would be returning!" for the spring baseball season?

Hillary Rodham Clinton, that's who!

Yesterday was a pretty good day, too, as most Mondays are for me. I taught three classes I really like to students who I really like. Most of my second semester seniors were actually in class the Monday before the Monday of spring break. One who came late even apologized! After I taught my classes, I drove to La Ferme to play a great three hour gig, using nothing but brushes. Great practice, lots of fun -- and great food.

But then I came home, and, as I peaked in my daughter, tucked in with her latest Webkinz, oblivious to the world, the cold, hard reality of life without Hillary in office hit me: Who would protect my daughter (actually, it's my older son I'm worried about -- my daughter can handle herself) when the bad guys strike? Who, despite not having a security clearance during her husband's two terms as president, would protect my beautiful wife as she slumbered, dreaming of the spring shoe sale at Nordstrom? Who would protect the cute Girl Scouts down the street, who managed to pilfer $45 from me in sales for cookies I will never eat? Who has the energy to stay up until 3 a.m. every night, waiting for terrorists to strike? Who will protect my 24 year-old (and single and very smart and very cool) bass player, who is usually up doing God-know's-what at 3 a.m., should he fall asleep in his truck, which also doubles as his mobile office and home?

Who will protect Alex Ovechkin and that magic stick of his?

Who will protect the alter kachers in the men's locker room at the Rockville JCC as they compare their ailments and their investments?

Who will protect John Smoltz's right arm for one more season?

Who will protect Tiger Woods's swing as he prepares to mow down the field at the Masters next month?

Hillary Rodham Clinton, that's who!

After Hillary aired her "nuclear" ad in Texas -- a last ditch, and, quite frankly, pathetic effort to derail Barack Obama's candidacy -- John Dickerson of Slate asked her campaign team the following question:

"What foreign policy moment would you point to in Hillary's career where she's been tested by crisis?"

The answer: Hillary's been endorsed by more retired generals than Obama. You can hear the response for yourself here.

Hillary has said that her time as First Lady from 1992-2000 gave her the experience she needs to make the right call to prevent crazy people from killing my children. I wonder: did she give Bill the go ahead to launch air strikes in the Balkans, send cruise missiles to Afghanistan to let al-Qaeda know we were paying attention after it attacked the USS Cole? How did her "experience" lead her to vote for the disastrous Iraq war? If you are going to campaign as the candidate of "experience" and "judgment," you should be able to demonstrate some (a) experience and (b) examples of prescient judgment that separates you from your peers. Hillary has neither. Nor did Bill, but that didn't matter in 1992, when he was the candidate of "change."

And, no, this isn't a "But what about Obama?" moment. Obama has made his campaign about the future. Hillary has made this campaign about three things:

1. Herself.
2. 1992-2000, proof positive that she can fight and go negative better than anyone else (true).
3. Her superiority to me and every other moron too stupid to vote for her. Since I'm not capable of making an intelligent choice, I need someone to do it for me. How is telling me that I am nothing more than a lost camper from the Jim Jones cult going to inspire me to vote for her?

Yesterday, in a class I teach on landmark constitutional cases to a class of mostly second semester seniors, I tried to emphasize the importance of judgment, and how to hone that skill, in their post-undergraduate education. Many of them are going to law school, and, since they're all pretty damn smart (or at least smarter than me at that age), what will ultimately separate them from their classmates is not their ability to acquire and comprehend information, but to exercise good judgment with the information they have and to seek out those data points that will give them a little more insight into a problem before them. At a certain point, everyone is pretty smart. Every student I teach is smart -- there isn't a lemon in the bunch. My job, as I see it, is to give them the tools and the confidence to make independent decisions, even if they're not terribly popular or consistent with conventional wisdom. The students who leave college and make a mark in their graduate program and, later, their careers will do so because they have developed the confidence to make good decisions. And part of developing those skills is acknowledging and learning from mistakes. Trust me . . . made a million myself, but I try to learn from them.

Hillary can say what she wants about Barack Obama, that he's some modern day Barry White who can make the girls swoon and leave the boys wishing they were that cool. The reality is that their resumes are very similar. I'm not sure how a Harvard education, editorship of the the Harvard Law Review, time as a constitutional law professor, a record of accomplishment as a community organizer and success as a state legislator and U.S. Senator makes you an "empty suit." Is Hillary dumb, without genuine passion on some issues or incapable of navigating the rough waters of American politics? Not at all. I hope Obama has the good sense to appoint her as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.

But would Hillary be a better president? No. For me, it's pretty simple. Hillary Clinton cannot inspire and lead, and she has never demonstrated the judgment necessary to separate her from other conventional politicians. Too many qualities that remind me too much of W -- a misplaced confidence in her own abilities, a refusal to acknowledge error and seek out smart people to tell her what she doesn't want to hear, inflexibility interrupted by awkward moments of pandering and, most importantly in the current moment, a firewall of appeal that turns potential supporters into enemies.

So it's all come down to this . . . Hillary asserting that only she possesses the ability to keep my family and Alex Ovechkin safe. This from a person who couldn't figure out why Domino's was making all those pizza deliveries to the West Wing back during the glorious years of Bill's presidency?

It's 1 O'Clock on Tuesday, March 4th. That means only 14 hours remain until 3 a.m. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Red State Update on Hillary's scary ad

Jackie and Dunlap consider whether a Hillary Clinton presidency will prevent 3 a.m. terrorist attacks.

New Tom Tomorrow here

Click here to see the new Tom Tomorrow cartoon.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Live Zeebop this week

Zeebop will make the final appearance of our four consecutive Mondays at La Ferme in Chevy Chase tomorrow night, March 3rd. We play from 6.30-9.30 p.m. If you can't afford a major night out, don't worry. You can have coffee, dessert or a glass of wine (or whatever) and listen to the music.

We'll be back at La Ferme in the late spring. Details to follow soon.

You can learn more about Zeebop and get directions to La Ferme -- at no extra charge -- by visiting our website, and clicking on the "schedule" tab.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Kid-tested, mother-approved . . . let's eat!

After my nine year-old teenage daughter complained that the cereal choices in our house were “disgusting” and demanded that I “go to the store right now to get some new flavors” (which, of course, I did), I headed right up to our local Giant to straighten out this latest crisis before we pushed the level on our family drama chart to nuclear meltdown. But apparently, General Mills, Kellogg’s and the other members of the Cereal Mafia aren’t comfortable with Dads making these difficult choices on their own. No, no, no . . . not unless the cereals are “Mom-tested and kid-approved,” like Kix, which are to Trix what Hydrox are to Oreos, or “Fruity Fun that Moms and Kids Love!,” like Fruity Cheerios. Even though I do 104% of the grocery shopping in our house and even more of the food preparation and cooking, the tacit approval of Dad isn’t good enough. “Why can’t you stop buying the stuff that’s good for us and just buy the stuff we like?” pleads my earring-clad, mop-haired thirteen year-old son.

A bar mitzvah, making him a man . . . all that stuff. Good idea.

And just why do I insist on buying cereal that's good for you? Because, dear boy, none of the cereals, nor any other product in a grocery store pitched to kids, comes with the “Kid-tested, Dad-approved” label. Come to think of it, have you ever seen a laundry commercial with a smiling father nodding approvingly over getting that nasty chocolate pudding stain out with new Tide, you know, the one with the “secret” stainfighters? Read Parents magazine, or any of the other publications designed to make well-educated mothers feel inadequate by featuring articles like, “Yes, you can have great sex with your husband, get dinner ready, Blackberry your boss and supervise a play-date of 3 year-olds without medication or Margaritas!,” and count the number of men you see in the ads. Women have the glass ceiling in the worlds of business and government, but men face a different set of challenges, limits, stereotypes and what can only be called sexist behavior from women when they attempt to enter the domestic realm as an equal.

Come to think of it (again), has anyone ever seen a "Kid-tested, mother-approved" product in a grocery store, or anywhere else?

Here's what you do see:

-- "Do your socks match? If not, you're a Mitchum Man." (anti-perspirant)

-- "Manwich" (a concoction for sloppy joe's or some other "manly" food)

-- "You can take my wife, my truck, and even my dog. But my gun? Never" (Trucker hat available for purchase at a 7-11 in Howard County)

Subtitles: Are you a complete moron? If so, buy our product. Be a man!

And so much more so flattering to the American male. Treat us like we're that stoopid, and perrty soon we'll done start to act out that way.