Monday, March 31, 2008

Back Room Barack

Yesterday, after reading a disturbing account of goings-on at the Texas Democratic Convention, highwayscribery suggested superdelegates would begin backing Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in his quest for the party nomination.

We thought it made for good reading because of a delicious irony that finds Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) hoping party backroomers will overturn the will of rank-and-file voters by annointing her, when really they might be the ones who do her in.

The piece began, "By superdelegates she hopes to live, but by super delegates she may die."

highwayscribery is almost terminally wrong with such hunches, but today is a new day.

"Salon" claims the "Wall Street Journal has reported that six of North Carolina's superdelegates planned to back Obama before that state's upcoming primary, which remains to be seen. But Associated Press revealed the certainty that Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has come out for Obama.

Says Salon: "Moves such as these are being widely interpreted as a sign that superdelegates are impatient with the continuing race, and worried aboout the impact it will have on November voting."

Told ya so.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

End Game

By superdelegates she hopes to live, but by superdelegates she may die.

News from the Texas Democratic Convention that activists are at each other's throats should put to rest the contention of supporters that Sen. Hillary Clinton's refusal to accept defeat is "good for the party."

The "Los Angeles Times," article depicts proceedings characterized by "bedlam," in which Clinton supporter Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee was booed by hundreds of Obama supporters, which if we're not mistaken, are normally her supporters.

That's what we mean by driving the party over the cliff and (everybody with it).

Those who think Jackson-Lee's district won't remember the slight at some later electoral date are drinking Kool-Aid served by the senator herself.

Indeed Sen. Clinton has taken her newly grafted "nightshift" persona to extreme limits, pouring that Kool-Aid into as many mouths she can pry open.

Comes news in Sunday's "Washington Post," that Clinton not only refuses to bow out, but plans a "fight all the way to the convention."

That's code for. "I care most about myself."

Ms. Clinton is quoted as saying the party will resolve the Michigan-Florida mess at the convention, because, "that's what credentials committees are for."

Which is to say she's all for party mechanics when it serves her purposes, but has no use for the same rules which discredited the two states in the first place, or when she's knocking the caucuses by which Democrats in most states express their preferences.

Clinton continues to serve her unfortunate supporters the Michigan-Florida cocktail with a guile that crossed the line into dishonesty the first time she brought it up.

No Clinton supporter, drunk on the possibilities of the Michigan-Florida concoction, remembers that their candidate signed a pledge to skip those primaries nor that her vaunted "victories" occurred following zero days of campaigning.


Maybe signing the pledge was a "misstatement."

Confronted with a rising crescendo of "enuf!" Clinton clings to a strategy of attrition and the hope Obama will trip himself up.

Two weeks ago FOX News did the job for Obama, putting a friend's words in his mouth, but it didn't stick.

At the tables marked "reserved," the nightshifter is serving up a "flawed candidate" theory - which contravenes evidence gathered in states disparate as Wyoming and Iowa - that white guys won't jump for Obama if offered the Gentleman John McCain option in November.

But as "New York Times," columnist Frank Rich noted in his Sunday column, Obama's fate may not, after all, be buried by "a stereotypical white blue-collar male voter in the apotheosized rust belt town of Deer Hunter, Pa."

Writes Rich, "Well, Mr. Obama isn't going to win every white vote. But two big national polls late last week, both conducted since he addressed the Wright controversy, found scant change in Mr. Obama's support. In The Wall Street Journal/NBC News Survey, his white support was slightly up. As pollster Peter Hart put it, his result was a 'myth buster'."

Ms. Clinton's friend Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, and other establishment endorsers, may deliver her the Keystone State, but it won't do much to close the delegate gap she surrendered through a February strategy blunder.

Superdelegates get more than Clinton Kool-Aid. They drink at the open bar and the prospect of the party coming undone presents the kind of circumstances wherein they are supposed to bring their weight to bear.

Ms. Clinton's last hope may have been their turning her way, but the hunch here is that, very soon, party pillars will go for the other guy to avoid drowning in the blood she's selfishly drawing.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Damning Ourselves seems a thousand years ago.

"Yes We Can," seems less about changing the world than holding onto a nomination fairly earned through the accumulation of delegates.

So much hope; joy even.

The attack on Sen. Barack Obama goes beyond the sullying of his name, image, and vision. It is an attack on the name, image, and dreams of his supporters.

Obama's movement was not naive about politics and the dirty game it is. Many are not of the new generation at all, rather refugees from earlier shipwrecked flotillas of hope.

Obama did not awaken their faith in politics. He taught them to hope for this country again.

The response has been ruthless.

How can we believe that programmers at FOX actually care about what the senator might have to say about race when a post-speech lineup of piranha has already been arranged complete with an "expert" to tell viewers "what his words really mean"?

Do they hate so much, so automatically? Their snarky smirks suggest that they do and if they're goal is to hurt the candidate, they are a success. If it is to hurt those who support him, then they are good at meting out pain.

Congratulations to them.

In ways both large and small the concerted effort in our media to bring a man down, to put the words of a friend in his own mouth and demand he answer for them, is evident to all save for the willfully blind.

Did he do enough? they ask in the wake of a heartfelt speech.

Enough what? Bootlicking? Apologizing? Backtracking from what he truly thought?

Do his associations detract from his judgment?

Where is the judgment in this hound dog hunt? What service to the public is rendered?

And what of the government? What are we to think when its minions are combing through Obama's files at the State Department in a low-rent version of "Spies Like Us."

Is no one safe? Who were they? What were they looking for? And does it really matter when their actions are but a part of this pile-on that wreathes the man himself in a toxic cloud, associates him with things dark until he and they become inextricably mixed and, ultimately, truncate the promise he foreshadowed?

The assassination of this man's character, the web of associations and insinuations true or not, the superimposition of idiocy and meanness over a plan to redirect the course of America towards a kindness lost, are all devastating blows.

Those who destroy a man because they claim to love America so, love it naught, for he is this country, too. And his supporters have come to see themselves in him and to press their stake in national affairs.

Perhaps Obama was wrong about our country. Perhaps we are too divided to do anything but lunge at each other's throats while treading water too deep for comfort.

America doesn't need God or Jeremiah Wright to damn it. The country is doing a fine job all on its own.

Perhaps America doesn't deserve Obama.

But his supporters do. He is their prize for listening; the prize for belief in someone, anyone, whom might steer us from the sneering people we have become.

Bad Press III

Okay, the "San Diego Union-Tribune" has placed the correction next to the article, which is a victory for this blog and for the Obama camp, living its darkest hours, but maintaining form.

The "New York Times," on the other hand, is covering its tracks and not interested in explaining how the Bill Kristol hit piece went out to syndicated customers minus the correction, or determining how many places it continues to run as an unqualified piece of legitimate journalism.

We did what we could.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Like Some Dark Angel

highwayscribery will stake claim to the "San Diego Union-Tribune" correction box this morning given that we alerted them to the original error.

It reads:
"In his March 18 Opinion column, "Generation Obama? Perhaps not," William Kristol cited a report claiming that Sen. Barack Obama had attended services at Trinity Church on July 22, 2007. The Obama campaign provided information showing that the senator did not attend Trinity that day. Kristol acknowledged the error in a subsequent correction. The Union-Tribune regrets the error."


The article itself continues to run without the correction and highwayscribery has a sense that is not the only place this bit of disqualified information can be found on the Internet.

We contacted the times "public editor" Clark Hoyt asking him to confirm the "Union-Tribune's" claim it received the correction under separate cover. Thus far we have an automatic response, which came on Tuesday.

It is the scribe's hunch they're not interested in discussing the matter. Here is their e-mail address if you want to give them a push:

highwayscribery's time in newsrooms has taught that errors of this type are raised the status of sin and if you don't buy into it, you can't work at a news outlet. It is unlikely that something quite so egregious as Kristol's poor work would have been treated so blithely, with "The Times" casually sending out files of the discredited work without fair warning.

Toxic things, after all, are usually carried in special containers.

Obama made an "error" too, and he's been answering for days now, undergoing and endless extrapolating and tea-leave reading into his being based upon somebody else's speech.

Nonetheless, it is hard to deny Obama has cemented his status as a national leader turned to with much attention to give substantive, almost conceptual address on race in America.

His enemies are certainly there, but his considerable base appears sustaining.

For all this media hoo-ha and ganging up on this angel of darkness, Obama continues to gain fresh support in a tough moment for himself personally and the campaign.

Both continue to receive worthwhile and informative coverage worthy of a new political force on the national scene such as this profile on the generation of middle class, black professionals whom so identify with him.

And for people who know how things work, he continues to pad his delegate lead into something insurmountable.

The damage from a kind of three-sided Clinton-McCain-Media assault has taken its toll on Obama whom, one gets the impression, is going to have to fight this battle with the supporters he already has, because his name is largely mud to those he could not reach on his own terms.

Bad Press II

To editors at the "New York Times."


[highwayscribery] blogged Bill Kristol's faux pas in "Generation Obama? Perhaps Not" at highwayscribery yesterday. Today, I see the "San Diego Union-Tribune" ran the piece sans retraction. I wrote them a letter and blogged the matter once again.

The "Trib" responded that it was a matter of human error, and that a correction would go up tomorrow. They claimed the retraction came under separate cover from the "N.Y. Times," and given the follow-up to Sen. Obama's error, I thought it only fair I hold media folks to the same standard.

So, to confirm, did you guys send the retraction separately?

Regards, highwayscribery

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bad Press

Yesterday, highwayscribery performed a dissection of a column by conservative writer Bill Kristol that ran in the "New York Times." Out to nail Obama, Kristol went with some information about the Illinois senator's presence at an incendiary sermon by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright only to retract it later in the day as false. Nonetheless, the "San Diego Union-Tribune" saw fit to publish the piece, without the retraction, a day later.

Those of you in the media who care about the standards under which we are obligated to labor should call the "U-T" on their questionable publication of a tainted piece. You can do so at

It is unacceptable that you run the article, as is, without the retraction. What kind of outfit are you running? Where are your journalistic standards of accuracy and honesty? What is behind your decision to present Kristol's article without the clarification? In fact, why would you run a discredited piece at all.

Your clumsy, sloppy and suspicious work will be duly noted at the blog, "highwayscribery."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bill Kristol's Ball

"We have been told that we cannot heal this nation, by a chorus of cynics. They will only grow louder and more dissonant..."
Sen. Barack Obama

When those who butter your bread hand over the talking points, you better start talking.

That's how columnist Bill Kristol got in trouble on Monday.

The attack dogs were on Democratic presidential frontrunner Barack Obama's heels over some things that someone, whom he knows, said.

The marching orders from Fox News and this country's rancid right were to follow-up on the matter of Reverend Jeremiah Wright's jeremiad, to stoke its dying embers into a conflagration that would burn the Illinois senator beyond recognition.

The problem with Sen. Obama, for his enemies at least, is that he is a genuinely good man with an intelligent legislative agenda. He is talented and mounting a remarkable campaign against rather difficult odds.

With a few missteps, Obama '08 has been a model of excellence and efficiency; ever vigilant, mindful of the dangers awaiting the candidate and a step ahead of everybody in America including Hillary Clinton, Kristol, the Dodos on "This Week with George Stephanopolous" et al.

So that when these unkind forces find something, they go with it, even if it's at their own risk.

Kristol rendezvoused with other carrion who make a lifestyle of personal destruction, including one Ronald Kessler who has covered Wright and told Kristol that Obama was in church when reverend said some bad things nobody should be allowed to hear in the groupthink paradise Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and their ilk seem to equate with a free country.

There's a nice microcosm of everything that has been wrong with mainstream media coverage in recent weeks for you.

To wit: The insistence that Obama's critique of a country he is arguing must be set right is proof the candidate is no patriot, coupled with a willingness to cast aspersions upon his maturity, experience, and preparedness...regardless of the evidence.

In his own personal contribution to this effort Kristol notes, "But one has the sense that elsewhere in this great land the bloom is coming off the Obama rose."

How could it not?

"Generation Obama? Perhaps not," starts out with a lousy title that tips its empty hand goes downhill from there, even wallowing in shoddy craftsmanship.

highwayscribery got to the piece at 2:30 p.m. Pacific time and by then there was a paragraph up top, in italics, that read, and the scribe quotes:

"In this column, I cite a report that Sen. Obama had attended services at Trinity Church on July 22, 2007. The Obama campaign has provided information showing that Senator Obama did not attend Trinity that day. I regret the error."


Deprived of us his fake fig leaf, Kristol ended up with his peter-principle flapping in the wind, peddling the rather innocuous profile of a,

"...conventionally opportunistic politician, impressively smart and disciplined, who has put together a good political career and a terrific presidential campaign."

We CANNOT have someone like that leading this nation.

The more scurrilous charges are that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner had a party for Obama at Boston's Rumor nightclub, which claims it "brings together the sexiest and hippest people from around the globe."

Kristol is perfectly comfortable hitching this marketing copy to the real message of the "Generation Obama," which is the activist base that is tying up caucus after caucus for their candidate and which the campaign calls, "the next great generation."

Too much "conceit" there for Kristol who sees Obamacal "scripture" everywhere he turns, rather than the enthusiasm of people younger and more excited than he is about politics, or a preacher with an axe to grind much bigger than his own.

He says maybe conservatives should prefer the cynicism of Hillary Clinton to the Obama message, which is a rather honest admission on his part.

Of course, the Obama generation's story is still being told. This chapter involves the candidate gamely beating back the attacks of lesser political gods through the power of his steadfast movement and the strength of his own constitution.

We shall see what happens.

The columnist himself has no Kristol ball, he cannot with a glib column and the connivance of much larger media attack machine tell whether generation Obama is or is not the greatest generation yet.

That is a task they have set for themselves and which Kristol has chosen to stand by and pepper with pot shots while Obama has attempted to do the more noble thing.

To lead them.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Parallel Universe (Part II)

Cringing last night through CNN's coverage of the Reverend Wright flap it was easy to shrug and say "This thing is coming undone."

Sworn off the Internet for a day, temptation entered the picture and a quick check-in online revealed that Sen. Obama had increased his delegate lead in Iowa.

It was not inconsiderable booty his impressive ground troops left the convention hall with. Considering the take from Mississippi and Wyoming, those Iowa additions represented a real nice jolt.

But that's not why we're posting here. Instead, the notion was to point out the continuing disconnect between the place where our national narrative takes place, and what's happening in the real world free of media interpretations.

It's quite clear that Iowa delegates, and John Edwards followers in particular, could care less about Rev. Wright and the other divisive means by which the powers-that-be are hoping to muddy the limpid waters of Obama's message.

People continue to desire change and they continue to view Obama as the guy to do it. An interesting article in the "New York Times" on Saturday pointed to a superdelegate shift towards Obama.

The reasons were threefold and all could have been written by Obama campaign chief David Plouffe. The super-Ds are afraid Hillary's knife fight (A David Brooks concept) is going too far and will weaken the party ticket.

Even those not partial to Obama would have a hard time arguing the contrary. For all Sen. Clinton's bloodletting over the past three weeks she's only moved farther away from her goal of catching him in delegates. More of this can't help anybody, least of all Ms. Clinton.

The delegates canvassed by "The Times" reporters seemed to think backing Clinton in the instance Obama continued to lead in delegates, popular votes and states won could only damage the party and discredit the entire, multi-zillion dollar primary process.

Finally, there was general trepidation a Clinton atop the ticket would hurt those at lower levels. These are politicians worried about their own careers directly refuting her claim she wins the big states and matches up better in the autumn.

It has been a difficult three weeks, but mostly in the media, which can do its fair share of damage, but in this unique election season, are finding it hard to sway a solid base of Obama supporters from what it is they want for their country.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Video From Omar Torrez

Check out this video: Senorita

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Here is a music video from highwayscribery compatriot Omar Torrez. Omar and the scribe do spoken word/flamenco music to passages from the scribe's novel "Vedette."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

And highwayscribery thought Obama was winning...

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama continued his implausible march toward becoming the Democratic Party's nominee for president with a resounding 24 percentage-point win over Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) in the Mississippi primary.

Obama's triumph demonstrated his continued strength with the key Democratic constituency of African-Americans, which at one time appeared ambivalent toward his campaign and sympathetic to the Clinton legacy.

It came on the heels of a victory in the Wyoming caucuses where the electorate's composition is overwhelmingly white and further demonstrated the candidate's multi-racial appeal.

The wins served to erase both the delegate gains and claims to momentum made by the Clinton campaign following its Ohio success.

The above is what Bill Clinton called a "fairy tale" prior to the New Hampshire primary and it is a song no longer being sung in our land.

The current wisdom has Obama in trouble over the fact blacks support him unequivocally. It permits Hillary Clinton to continue paying a lamentable Geraldine Ferraro over bungle-headed comments attributing the frontrunner's remarkable success to his race.

It is a magical realism yarn that maintains Clinton's claims of momentum and supports her interpretation that places where Obama wins are not as important as those where she does.

It is a narrative that stokes the fantasy of some immaculate disconnect between the will of party-rank-and-filers and the "superdelegates."

It foreshadows these party regulars jumping to Clinton en masse after she wins Pennsylvania, which is a foregone conclusion, because only she can win THE BIG STATES


The press continues to harp on Obama's "bad week," even though the senator walked away with more delegates in Texas than Clinton did.

That fact coupled with Wyoming could not change the media's takes.

On "This Week with George Stephanopolous" the host confronted George Will, Cokie Roberts, and Sam Donaldson with the hard reality of Obama's delegate lead.

The only one at the roundtable to work as a political operative, Stephanopolous knows the mechanics of choosing party nominees, but the three Dodos joining him shrugged off his sagacity to ply the superdelegate tsunami scenario.

Donaldson said the Obama campaign would "implode."

We see no implosion. We see a campaign rolling along, raising money in greater amounts the Clinton's, picking up more delegates than Clinton's, collecting more popular votes than Clinton's, all in some parallel universe not covered by our mass media.

Only the Bloomberg News Service seemed, in an understated way, to capture the true balance of a week's campaigning and voting since Ohio.

Here are the two most quote-worthy passages:

"To win the nomination, a candidate needs 2,025 delegates. Because the Democratic Party awards delegates proportionally based on voting in congressional districts or statewide, a candidate needs to win by a wide margin to gain an edge. Even a 60 to 40 percent victory can mean the delegates are divided almost evenly.

Thus, Clinton, 60, faces an uphill battle to come even close to Obama on pledged delegates."

The writer, Catherine Dodge, quotes Colby College Professor of Government Anthony Corrado as saying, "Clinton hasn't begun to catch up in the delegate race."

Others are highlighting the prospect of "re-dos" in Michigan and Florida with an underlying implication that Obama will lose those states the way he has been losing them all.

But wait, the current count is 30 contests for Obama, 14 for Clinton.

The storytellers are peddling the Clinton spin of a "showdown" in Pennsylvania where Obama needs only to stay within 25 percentage points of Bill's wife to hold steady.

A showdown is something that occurs between equals, not between someone who won 11 contests in a row, effectively pocketing the nomination, and someone else who lacks the grace to cease deluding her supporters and act in the selfless manner required to close the widening rift within her political party.

Someone who needs to let go of her own fairy tale.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Primaries Colored (the nomination process explained)

Folks are in over their heads.

The presence of two novel candidates for president on the Democratic side have led to big numbers in votes at the polls this political season and big dollops of confusion at how things work.

After Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois won the Wyoming caucus today, Clinton supporters from coast-to-coast were worked into a wrist-flapping dither over the short-lived momentum from their candidate's victories just four days ago.

Taking cues from Sen. Clinton herself, they are attacking caucuses as undemocratic and misleading as to the direction of a given state's political leaning. They are furious at the "proportional" allocation of delegates in primaries, which rendered Texas and Ohio impotent at closing the delegate gap with Obama.

the highway scribe is here to tell you that, in spite of its name, the national Democratic Party's nomination process is not nearly as democratic as the general election. One is run and paid for by the Democratic Party and designed to meets its needs. The other is paid for by taxpayer dollars and designed to meet theirs.

You see children, you may be registered as a Democrat on your state rolls, but if you don't go to local Democratic Club meetings, work in a public sector trade union, or slave for an elected official, then you are naught but a mere conditional invitee to somebody else's soiree.

The Democratic Party is like a country club and the people who do the most work, pay for things, and make sitting through deadly boring meetings a considerable facet of their legacy, get to approach the dais and make the big decisions.

That's what super-delegates are. They are the party. It's their thing and in spite of your well-thought out sentiments on this candidate or that, they'll do in the end what they want with it.

Then there are the delegates Clinton and Obama are battling to place at the convention. Here's how that works. Say you work in a teachers' union and you like Hillary Clinton and have even met her before. When the political season comes around the local or state Democratic organizations ask the candidate to assemble a list of potential delegates, prioritized.

As a teachers union rank-and-filer, you might end up number five on the list after the president of that union's local, the county supervisor, a city councilwoman, the county labor federation boss, and some other hack.

They submit the list. When registered Democrats go to vote in primaries, they pull the lever for the candidate, but what they are really doing is voting for the list. Once the votes are tallied and Hillary gets 60 percent, well then, 60 percent of the people on the Hillary list become delegates to the convention.

They are people who live, eat, and breathe Hillary. They will not be supporting the other person at the convention unless somebody offers them a bridge to nowhere in their district, which is something that happens up in Alaska.

Caucuses are even more closed, as you have all seen. That's where the people who sit in the boring meetings do almost all of the voting, plus some other folks they know they can count on to do the right thing thrown in to pump up the numbers.

All these state entities have charters or certificates which seat them at the larger Democratic National Convention where nominees are chosen, but a lot of other important party work is done, too.

The Democratic National Committee sets the rules and if they tell you there are too many primaries too early in the season, you need to put yours somewhere else, or you're not invited to the party.

Florida and Michigan were not invited to the party and their electoral affairs were neither sanctioned nor conducted even to the measly standards listed above. So they don't count. And the candidate who signed the same pledge as everyone else to stand by the national committee's decision, or pay the consequences, doesn't get any delegates from those two places. Simple as that.

These aforementioned mechanical realities are why when Hillary Clinton proclaims momentum after winning her first primaries in a month, you have to take it with a grain of salt because the delegate lists in Wyoming are set, and the people on them have their supporters lined up.

Which is what is awaiting her in Mississippi, too. So set in stone are these logistics that we can say with certainty what will happen.

Caucuses don't care about spin from either campaign or media interpretations thereon. Only the family really knows what is going on inside the family.

That is why this writer has spent a lot of time explaining to the few who will open their ears that 100-plus delegates is a ton of delegates when you are talking about a closed convention.

And the highway scribe means CLOSED. Try walking onto the floor at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August without a delegate's badge and see how far you get.

In 2000, the scribe covered the event in Los Angeles, snuck in, and took an empty seat with folks in the Hawaii delegation. It was Kennedy night. Caroline and Ted were speaking in that order. George Stephanopolous was near the stage. He had sweat on his brow and looked pretty short. Caroline looked cute as all get-out. Teddy Kennedy was about to speak, but somebody grabbed the scribe by the neck and removed him bodily, not only from the floor, but from the arena itself. Still don't know what Kennedy said.

It used to be worse, but sixties radicals busted some doors down and got the primaries up and running. If you don't like all of this, and you don't like the way Clinton is losing, you can start your own party.

And she is losing. Obama netted a two-delegate advantage in Wyoming, but this thing's not open-ended. The other five delegates with which she matched him represent five more superdelegates he won't have to woo that Clinton will, as the finish line draws nearer and the available numbers dwindle.

What we have this season are the Clinton clique, something of a party within the party, being defeated, much to their shock, and to that of most observers, too.

Folks hoping to demean Obama as naught but a Chicago pol are right-on regarding the characterization, but not as to the negative patina they are trying to burnish.

The young senator saw something in the nominating process nobody else has seen for quite some time and exploited it, going into small states his opponents viewed as unimportant and picking up boatloads of delegates.

It's been strikingly like the Republican national map in general elections which sees Democrats win a few big splotches of blue in a sea of lost victorious red. It's so obvious a strategy we could say Obama wasn't so smart, were he not so smart.

Did he game the system? Of course, which is what campaigns do. It's just that one does it better than all the rest and wins. Ron Paul made good money on the Internet. Clinton convinced the media elite she was inevitable. Mitt Romney rallied corporate titans to his pretty face and John McCain waited a long time for his turn at the top of the Republican machine.

Obama has done all of the above, except wait his turn.

How could the Clintons have let it happen?

Well, they have always been media-focused what with their war-rooms and "on-message" mantras. They knew how to finance and script television buys in big states while Obama kept it close and then played where you have to show up someplace other than the network advertising office.

And only in the new light of this campaign season is it safe now to suggest the Clintons were not all that beloved with party apparatchiks as they led us to believe (from those war-rooms).

Is this all right and good?

For the most part. These "big state" victories certainly do take the measure of more casual voters who don't live, eat, and breathe politics. They are individuals and the foundation of both our system and culture. And they have been heard.

Once Obama is president, he will mostly do photo-ops with individuals, though certainly not in traditional Arab-influenced garb.

The rest of the time he'll be meeting with the heads of institutions with their own rules, preferences, and processes. The young senator's understanding of how his own party works, his ability to best a powerful group of people who thought it their personal feud, bodes well for that part of the job that requires the sizing up of a leader present before him, as well as the institution that person leads.

And finally, it bodes well for the Democratic Party which, for all its shortcomings, has said "no" to the idea of two families ruling this country over a 32-year interregnum as if our founding fathers approved of dynasties.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Wyoming Woes

Barack Obama

Barack Obama grassroots supporters. Get Barack Obama Shirts.

Hillary Clinton is setting the expectations "low" for Wyoming and Mississippi according to the Associated Press.

Where's the momentum? Obama should have made them his "firewall" and called them "witching hour" contests and touted them as "corner turning."

But he doesn't do that, which is why we like him.

If Sen. Clinton is doing so well, why is she attacking so relentlessly. He is most likely the nominee. The numbers hold it to be so, no matter what your read to the contrary. What is she trying to do? Sink the party's best opportunity to take the White House in eight years?

It highwayscribery's hedge that hard core pros in the party recognize Obama's edge and move toward the Illinois senator in an effort to avoid Clinton's pulling the whole Democratic establishment into a kamikaze mission.

The Powers remark looks lousy at an "official" level, but serves as a pointed reminder about the Clinton brand and wht the history is. Today she's a fighter, before that she was no "night shift," tomorrow she's willing to let him be her vice president.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Lessons Learned or "Says You?"

A "Washington Post" piece entitled "Clinton's Strengths Aren't Lost on Obama Team" came as welcome news before bedding down Thursday night.

It's never been clear why the media and, unfortunately, the Obama campaign allowed Bill Clinton to set the standard of importance relative to Ohio and Texas. In retrospect, maybe Barack should have stayed out and not contested the former quite so hotly. What did he get in the Buckeye state for his investment?

But that's hindsight.

In "Clinton's Last Stand," highwayscribery noted that the New York senator would head to Ohio for a photo opportunity she might or might not get.

She got it and milked the cow for everything she was worth.

But "fighting on" means just that, and new contests are approaching to dull the impact of what was largely a public relations coup. To wit: That's a lot of work and money for a 15-delegate gain which is looking somewhat fragile with Mississippi looming.

Columnist Eugene Robinson noted that the Clinton team are trying to cast Pennsylvania as the "new Iowa" in an effort to minimize all of Obama's prior, historical gains.

What kind of momentum requires you to look six weeks ahead while dropping in on Missippians who won't be for you, just to say you're for them? When what you're really saying is their votes don't count as much as those of big state folks?

highwayscribery has always held that the Clinton crowd drinks too much of Kool-Aid visions suggesting the whole campaign is taking place on a mediated canvas, rather than in caucuses with real people pledging staunch support in Denver.

So it's right and good that the Obama campaign play up the importance of states where it hopes to do well, because they learned that from the champs of self-cheering across the way. And it's wiser to admit some places are less friendly to his message.

Then the folks in those places can spend the days prior to voting explaining what it is about hope and a new vision for America that repulses them so.

As Robinson noted, the Clintons' just-formulated "new Iowa" will be something of an insult to those in the "old Iowa" who braved the winter winds in support of the Senator from Illinois.

But at the convention, they will have their say.

Why highwayscribery?

Today is the third anniversary of highwayscribery. We couldn't think of anything special to do, so here is the very first post:

Here I am, the highway scribe and my topics of discussion will be sweet, brief, but wide in variety. Journalism, literature, poetry, culture and social commentary of the highest and lowest strains will be found here, day in, day out.

"Highwayscribery" is a relic from an earlier life I led, traveling tirelessly and writing down what passed through my mind, soul and bowels on an old Underwood named "Barton Fink."

On that typewriter I wrote a novel called "Vedette." You can buy it (and should) at after using the title for a search on that publisher's Web site.

Barton's gone, long since been lost to some lucky soul in southern Spain, and now that I'm married with a child and living quietly in Los Angeles (if such a thing is possible) the road is but a figment of my imagination.

But imagination is where I'm at and living most of the time, so that reduced travel time is but a technicality. I am and remain, the highway scribe in my mind.

I'm going to open this blog with one of my favorite exercises, which is writing to hacks who do the bidding of the Bush Administration and other right wing interests. I've been a professional journalist since 1983 (do the math) and have had the unpleasant experience of watching the craft go to hell in a corporate handbasket.

You're supposed to represent a counterbalance to power in journalism, call it (power) on its cant and make those who bow before it uncomfortable, too. Because that's my understanding of the craft, I've been bounced out of the more high profile jobs fortune sent my way.

What you have today are any number of guys (the business is infested with them) who spend their time writing off the top of their heads (rather than reporting) in support of the corporate interests that finance their well-heeled existences.

Today, you can e-mail these guys by clicking their address at the bottom of the piece or trying a few simple combinations like or I'm going to relay these missives of mine to you, my august readers. Sometimes these clowns write back and when they do, you'll get that, too.

Two of the worst offenders work at the "San Diego Union-Tribune." They are Joseph Perkins, whose primary credential is having worked on Dan Quayle's staff. Talk about blue chip. The other is the editor of the Sunday editorial pullout, Robert Caldwell.

You don't need to read Caldwell if you can get your hands on a copy of the Republican "talking points" for a given week, because that's his template.

For a while he wrote me back, but he's not smart enough to match me thrust for thrust and so I just fire away, mindful of the fact he knows I'm watching and writing. This newfangled blog thing makes me even more of a threat.

I like to call him "Bob" because that's all the respect he rates in my book, which is filled with reverence for Kerouac, Marat, Azana, Boyle, Marquez, Mills, Hunter Thompson, and our last political/literary lion, Gore Vidal.

On Monday, March 7, Bob wrote an article about the "revolution" being offered up by (g)ov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (r) here in California. The Austrian actor and bodybuilder, Caldwell promises, is out to do away with the "entrenched" interests and give government back to the people, by passing over the legislature and running a movie star media campaign to divest it of significant, constitutionally granted duties.

Here's what I had to say. It's nothing earth shattering, just something I did this morning before the idea of starting a blog took over my mind:


So now you're a revolutionary (Along with Martin Kondracke, George Will and all the other pinstriped sans culotte)

Really, of all the crap out there, the notion that this guy, who rode establishment money into office and reappointed what was left of Pete Wilson's old administration, is representing "the people" is the crappiest of all.

The legislature, by the way, are the folks we out here in the real world vote to represent us. Unions, in turn, are large collections of "the people" who organize to bargain collectively and put the lie to nonsense like this most recent shill from you, the shiller of all things Republican.

Why don't you put a little elephant where your byline is?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What Kind of Clinton Victory?

The accompanying image contains "hit" totals from highwayscribery (homesquare) - this blog's My Space edition for the last post, "Clinton's Last Stand."

The numbers demonstrate 5063 hits on Saturday, 7754 on Sunday, and 1372 on Monday, which amount to three-quarters of the total views for the last three years.

So it was a big win for highwayscribery, except for the fact that its contents were dead wrong.

Sort of like last night's primaries.

Nobody said Senator Clinton could not win another primary. The open question was what might be achieved with such victories.

Clinton and Senator Obama split the small states (Rhode Island, Vermont). She trounced him (let's call it what it is) in Ohio and fashioned a slim win in the Lone Star State, which the Associated Press reports is being dulled by the Illinois senator's success in the Texas Caucuses.

As the "Washington Post" accurately noted only hours after the networks had called the wins for Clinton - and before the Texas caucuses started evening things out - the true result for Clinton was "Energizing Victories, But Difficult Math."

It said, "The slim margin in the Texas popular vote and an additional caucus process in which she trailed made clear that she would not win enough votes to put a major dent in Sen. Barack Obama's lead."

But she did put a major dent in Obama's image. For two weeks in a row her friends at "Saturday Night Live" portrayed this wonderful and intelligent man as a dope who got all the benefits of the press.

The result was the press jumped all over Obama and the esteem in which he was held among fellow Democrats started coming undone.

By agreeing to "fight on" and make remarks about a "shared ticket" normally the provenance of front runners -- which Obama still is -- the New York senator has further exposed him to "A Costly Battle On Two Fronts," and begun to cleave what was a very united party.

For make no mistake, in floating pictures of Obama in Muslim garb and portraying him as an empty suit, Clinton may have convinced a certain class of "serious" and "practical" Democrat that he's a latte drinking phony.

But the latte drinking phony coalition held and is real. There just weren't as many of them in what "Salon" called "old shoe Ohio," but there are enough to hold the delegate lead he won fair and square.

Maybe the scribe wasn't so wrong after all. Clinton may have won her "last stand," but it was still "a last stand."

The object of the primary season is not to prove you can "win the big states," but to capture the most delegates and Obama's small state strategy has trumped Clinton's.

Meantime, we have a split developing made up of some very bad feelings, which might have been avoided by a reasonable calculus that having lost an entire month's worth of primaries and caucuses, it was time to get out for the good of the party.

But in the end the Clintons think only about the Clintons and those of us who stood by them through impeachment and other disasters wrought of their own carelessness are faced with the frightening realization that there may have been truth to Republican accusations all along.

There are those who would like to see Obama go negative, too, which he has not, usually opting for the debater's job of "blocking" an unfair or overstated charge and moving on.

He still refuses, according to the "Two Fronts" piece:

"I have said consistently that we do things differently. It's worked for us so far. And I'm not going to do things that I'm not comfortable with."

For certain Americans, that pledge is worth more than all the detailed policy papers in the world.