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Spitzer Resigns

| Wed Mar. 12, 2008 1:11 PM EDT

Eliot Spitzer has resigned effective next Monday. There's not much to add, but let's take a step back and reflect on the double standard at work here. Spitzer cheated on his wife and broke the law, but he hasn't been charged with a crime. He is now out of office and endured intense pressure to resign in the two days it took him to make up his mind.

Larry Craig, on the other hand, pleaded guilty to a crime (disorderly conduct) and cheated on his wife. He is still in office. David Vitter, whose number appeared in the DC Madam's phone logs, likely cheated on his wife and likely broke the law, but was never charged with a crime. He, too, is still in office.

So what's the double standard? Governors vs. Senators? Jews vs. Gentiles? Democrats vs. Republicans? Or people with self-respect vs. people without?

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Obama Campaign: It's Not All About Pennsylvania!

| Wed Mar. 12, 2008 12:58 PM EDT

Part of a memo from Obama campaign manager David Plouffe to reporters:

Now that Mississippi is behind us, we move on to the next ten contests. The Clinton Campaign would like to focus your attention only on Pennsylvania — a state in which they have already declared that they are "unbeatable." But Pennsylvania is only one of 10 remaining contests, each important in terms of allocating delegates and ultimately deciding who are nominee will be. Senator Obama campaigned in Pennsylvania yesterday and will do so again later this week, but he will also campaign aggressively in the other upcoming states — he will travel to other upcoming states in the very near future.

Got it, Keystoners? You're not the whole show!

Hey, Did You Hear Barack Obama Is Black?

| Wed Mar. 12, 2008 12:07 PM EDT

As you know, Geraldine Ferraro went and expounded on her original comments on race and gender by making them worse. But you may not know that she went on TV this morning, ignoring my advice ("go away!"), and continued her insanity.

Clearly the Clinton campaign hasn't told Ferraro to stay quiet; to the contrary, it is trotting her out. So, screw it, I'm posting this:

An emailer writes in with an excellent summary of the Ferraro situation:

Seems to me she probably made the original comment off the top of her head, but [the Clinton campaign] made a very cynical short-term political calculation that among the white voters of Pennsylvania painting Obama as a whiny affirmative action case who's constantly "playing the race card" and is racist against whites(!) is in their best interest. Maybe they're right! But you know what, after Mississippi yesterday, Obama has a /bigger/ delegate lead (161) than he had before March 4th. Which means in the last week and a half, while HRC has been "winning" the narrative, she's lost ground in the nomination battle.

Second Muslim Ever Elected to Congress - For 56 Days

| Wed Mar. 12, 2008 11:26 AM EDT

andre-carson.jpg On Tuesday, Indiana's 7th Congressional District elected 33-year-old Andre Carson to the House of Representatives in a special election. Carson, a Muslim and a former cop, replaces his late grandmother, Julia Carson, the first African-American and the first woman to represent Indianapolis in Congress. Julia died in December of last year.

Carson is the second Muslim to ever serve in Congress. The first, Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, was elected in 2006 and came under attack because of his faith. One can only hope that as more and more Muslims enter Congress, the openly discriminatory members ("In the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt strict immigration policies," said Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, a Republican) will realize that Islam doesn't automatically turn people into monsters.

Carson won't have long to make an impact, however. There is a Democratic primary on May 6 to determine who will run for election in November. If Carson is to serve into 2009, he'll have to win three elections in the span of nine months.

A Million Man March Against STDs?

| Wed Mar. 12, 2008 9:54 AM EDT
According to a new CDC study, 1 in 4 American teens has an STD. Specifically, reports CNN, they have one of these: "human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer and affected 18 percent of girls studied; chlamydia, which affected 4 percent; trichomoniasis, 2.5 percent; and herpes simplex virus, 2 percent."

As unsettling as this news is, it's downright mindbending that black girls' infection rates are more than double those for whites and Mexican Americans; nearly half had at least one STD. It's hard to figure out how to grapple with these numbers; they implicate religious repression, ingrained patriarchy, lack of basic sex ed, pathetic AIDS awareness, nihilism, and childhoods interrupted much too soon. Not just by the STD, but also by the poorly thought out sex that likely caused it.

Nearly half of black teenaged girls has an STD. My daughter will be a teen in only nine years, my son in only six. This is the reality they'll be facing?

Obama Wins Mississippi, and It's All About Race

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 10:10 PM EDT

MSNBC has projected two things: (1) Obama has won tonight's Mississippi primary and (2) Obama's pledged delegate lead will be 160 at the end of the night. Hillary Clinton will have to win 64% of all remaining pledged delegates in order to finish with the pledged delegate lead. That is, shall we say, highly unlikely.

The Clinton campaign plan, best I can see it, is to downplay Mississippi, play up Pennsylvania and win it, and then take the remainder of the states (potentially including do-overs in Michigan and Florida) by severely tarnishing Obama's luster. Narrow the popular vote to almost nothing, then convince superdelegates that are undecided or that support Obama to choose Clinton because she has won the second half of the primary race. Is that a strategy that is likely to win? No, but it's the best they got.

Exit polling from Mississippi says race was a huge factor.*

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Surrogate Problems Continued: How to Make a Bad Situation Worse

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 9:28 PM EDT

Mrs. Ferraro, I respect the role you played in American history, but you are most definitely on the list of people from both campaigns that just need to stop talking.

After saying that Obama is only a hair's breadth from the Democratic nomination because he's black, Ferraro had this to say about her critics:

"Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up," Ferraro said. "Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"

Then she kept it going on Fox News:

Enough, enough! Go raise as much money as you possibly can for Hillary Clinton. Go campaign in some corner of Pennsylvania. But stop turning what should be a national debate over two strong candidates both looking to make history into an unhinged essentialist pissing match over whether racism or sexism is worse!

Dean Baker On Fed Bank Bailout

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 8:23 PM EDT

In a must-read, Dean Baker explains here how the Federal Reserve may have just handed over hundreds of billions of government money to America's biggest banks. He also examines the reasons this is a bad idea, both the obvious and the non-obvious.

Senate Phase II Report To Be Whitewash?

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 7:58 PM EDT

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Senate Intelligence Committee is finally wrapping up its report on whether government statements on Iraq were supported by the underlying intelligence. The committee promised to do this over four years ago.

I don't know anything about it beyond the article, but the reporting strongly suggests the Senate Intelligence Committee has failed to ask hard questions. Beyond the fact it's taken them this long to do it, there are two obvious problems:

Lyrical Analysis Proves New Portishead Album a Tad Mopey

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 6:08 PM EDT

mojo-photo-portisheadthirdcover.jpgBristol, UK-based trip-hop combo Portishead are known for two of the bleakest albums of the late '90s, Dummy and Portishead, whose claustrophobic, atonal soundscapes drew from jazz, soundtracks and cabaret. The music's chill was matched by singer Beth Gibbons' angst-ridden lyrics—witness 1997's "Only You," that kicks off the fun with the line "We suffer every day." Well, good morning to you too Beth. So, the band have been "on hiatus" for nearly ten years, but their comeback album Third has just leaked onto the intertubes. One wonders: have the intervening years lightened them up at all?

To be blunt: oh, hell no. On the contrary, they seem to have spent their time off in an underground factory/torture chamber in Antarctica, returning to the surface only to be betrayed by objects of affection and promptly sent back down to their cold, echoey prison. Lyrics sheets aren't yet available, so I poured a stiff drink and listened to the whole album, taking notes, and checking in with a counselor every few minutes. After the jump, a chart of all significant words that make more than one appearance.