Speaking of conservative slurs against leftists for California Governor, this Susan Estrich column has achieved a popularity online completely out of proportion with its substance. Estrich’s essential argument: Being a good female politician means being a good woman, being a good woman means being a good mother, and being a good mother means not running for public office if your family doesn’t want you to. Estrich throws a few more classic gender-tinged insults at her for good measure – Huffington is a manipulative siren seducing liberal men; Huffington is a heartless social climber and political chameleon who only cares about using others for power; Huffington is a neglectful mother who cares too much about her career.

Michael Huffington says she is very seductive. I guess. He’s admitted to being bisexual, and she got him to marry her…

But when it costs you your kids, when the kids ask you not to do it, when they move out . . . whew. If you don’t get that right, Jackie Kennedy used to say, what difference does anything else make? You’re only as happy as your least happy kid, one of my friends always says.

I guess that’s not true of Arianna Huffington. She looks pretty happy these days.

There’s a strong argument that with the Democratic party uniting behind Cruz Bustamante – a man who for all his faults is well to the left of Gray Davis and could be the first Latino governor of the nation’s largest state – Arianna’s stated goal to represent a real left alternative in the vacuum left by the refusal of Democrats to run no longer applies, and her promise not to be “a spoiler” in the race rings empty. While I agree with more of Arianna’s politics, were I a California voter my vote at this point would go to Bustamante. But the “madonna/whore” type of attack Estrich makes is simply absurd.

On her new campaign blog, Arianna writes:

Leaving aside her completely inaccurate description of my relationship with my children – based on nothing other than my ex-husband’s one-note rants – it was like reading a piece written in 1903, not 2003. Or even 1973. I guess we haven’t come as long a way, baby as we thought.

I assumed we were long past the argument over whether you could be a woman, a leader, and a mother without having the powers-that-be shaking their heads and pulling out the slime.

My thoughts exactly.


To those of you sent here when you googled…

aclu supports internment camps
Sorry, but no. Zinn argues that in the 50s the ACLU “withered” and muffled its criticism of McCarthyism to remain politically viable – heavy charges that I don’t have the background to support or refute. But the ACLU was one of the few groups to visibly and stridently condemn the Japanese interment – raising the contemporary ire of Ann Coulter, who argues that it’s hypocritical for a left organization to support J. Edgar Hoover’s left stances (opposition to internment) and not his right ones (opposition to privacy and democratic oversight). I should apologize for already having given her argument too much ink back in July when she wrote it – as well as her equally silly one that since Democratic FDR shamefully caved to conservative animus towards Japanese-Americans in supporting internment, Conservative Republicans must be the real defenders of civil liberties. For anyone who still believes Coulter that FDR and the ACLU (and, for that matter, everyone from Bill Clinton to Cynthia McKinney) get their marching orders from the same playbook (care of Karl Marx), I should perhaps also clarify that the ACLU also opposes HOLC red-lining and the racial segregation of blood donations.

Kissinger the war crimminal

That about says it right there. That, and lemme know if you want to take a trip with me to look through his archives after his death for some tidbits about the full depravity of the man.

IBEW chatroom

Is there one? Hot. Sign me up.

Ed Rendell hoagie photo

Populism is not about eating a hoagie better than John Kerry (although I don’t know who eats a hoagie worse than John Kerry). Populism is about wanting to see the Democratic Leadership Council go the way of the AFL-CIO’s CIA-tool the AIFLD. Populism is most certainly not having the DLC choose Philadelphia for its annual celebration of prostitution to big business and scorn towards the American people to celebrate you as the kind of Democratic candidate that will reassure the bosses that they have nothing to worry about from the Democrats. Oh yeah – and the Philly soft pretzel is the real icon, not the hoagie or the cheesesteak.

Matt Naclerio

Should run for Mayor of New Haven.

Katie Krauss

Should’ve gone for Ari Fleischer’s job while it was still open.

Schwarzengger and antisemitism

The most thorough and judicious article-length discussion of Schwarzenegger’s relationship with Kurt Waldheim I’d say is Timothy Noah’s here. Schwarzenegger’s refusal to condemn a member of the Wehrmacht “honor list” for the Kozara massacre – or even his actions – raises troubling questions about his political courage and his sense of justice. Although on the question of how he’d govern the state of California, this is more disturbing.

auth cartoon philadelphia inquirer israel, auth antisemitism, etc.

I think I spilled enough (virtual) ink on this here. Josh Cherniss’ thoughts to which I was responding (a response to my original piece here), are here. If he posts a response to mine, it’ll be posted here – I suspect we’ve both exhausted the topic for now however. If you’re one of the several who entered one of the searches above and you want to talk more about it, lemme know.

Al Franken and Arianna Huffington’s political show in bed

It’s been too long. Bring it back. Maybe we could get Arianna Huffington, Cruz Bustamante, Peter Camoje, Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Simon, and Gary Coleman in bed together on TV – who says the American people don’t have the patience for substantive political coverage?

verizon cwa strike

Read about smart tactics, support from Senators, and what you can do to help.

arianna huffington verizon

Know something I don’t?

Lynda-Obst Bitch

Now I don’t know the woman personally, but that’s just not nice.

Interfaith religious symbol

I have been known on occasion to refer to James Baldwin as God…But I have to say Jim Lawson really wowed me this weekend. So he may be my nominee. Unless you found this site thinking it was an interfaith religious symbol, in which case sorry to disappoint…

And for all of you who came here searching for

wild bouquet

If you’re looking for a gift, get something here. Trust me – it’ll make him/her swoon. Or buy me something and make me swoon…

The Times on the scene of the election building on the deadline to file to run in the CA recall:

There was the 100-year-old woman from Long Beach who was sponsored by the 99-cent store chain; the busty pornographic film star; the cross-dresser in pink; the soul food restaurateur; the angry car salesman; the techno geek; the student too young for whiskers; and the structural engineer worried about earthquakes.

It’s strange how many anti-populist conservatives have had a convenient change of heart just in time to herald the recall as the epitomy of the democratic process. This election is, in many ways, the strongest case for instant run-off voting. For those who don’t know, instant run-off voting essentially allows each voter to rank their preferences among several candidates. In the first round, every voter’s vote is counted towards his/her first choice. The candidate receiving the lowest votes is eliminated, and in the second round, everyone who voted for him/her has their vote counted for their second choice. The process continues, eliminating one candidate each round and counting each voter’s vote for their preferred candidate of those remaining each round, until only two candidates remain, and the one of the two who’s preferred by the majority of the voters wins.

Let’s say, for example, that the eight candidates above are the only ones on the ballot, and my preferences are:

1st: Cross-dresser in pink
2nd: Soul food restaurateur
3rd: 100-year-old woman from Long Beach
4th: Student too young for whiskers
5th: Busty pornographic film star
6th: Structural engineer worried about earthquakes
7th: Techno geek
8th: Angry car salesman

In the first round, my vote is counted towards the cross-dresser, and the angry car salesman (apologies to any angry car salesmen who are reading this site…), who was the first preference of the fewest voters, is eliminated. In the second and third rounds, my vote is still counted for the cross-dresser, and the student too young for whiskers and the 100 year-old woman are eliminated for being the favorite (out of the remaining candidates) of the fewest voters in the second and third rounds respectively. In the fourth round, the votes that had been going to the angry car salesman (in the 1st round), the student too young for whiskers (in the 2nd), and/or the 100 year-old woman (in the 3rd), spread mostly between the structural engineer, the techno geek, and the busty pornographic film star, and the soul food restaurateur has a strong base because of his outstanding corn bread, but the cross-dresser, who automatically receives my vote as long as he’s in the race, is the preference of the fewest voters and is eliminated. In the fifth round, my vote goes automatically to the soul food restaurateur because he was my second choice, and the techno geek receives the fewest votes and is eliminated. The sixth round thus pits the soul food restaurateur, the busty pornographic film star, and the structural engineer against each other. Most of the voters whose votes had been going to the techno geek had marked the porn star as their next choice (thought it would be the structural engineer, didn’t you?), and the soul food restaurateur has a strong enough base to come in second, eliminating the structural engineer, who hopefully will continue to worry about earthquakes in some not-gubernatorial capacity. In the last round, thus, every voter’s vote is counted either towards the restaurateur or towards the porn star. Someone who rated the restaurateur 7th and the porn star 6th, for example, is now automatically voting for the porn star. In this final round, while my vote goes to the restaurateur – an unreconstructed liberal Democrat whose politics are my favorite second only to the more radical cross-dresser – more people are drawn to the, well, platform of the busty pornographic film star, and she emerges the winner of the gubernatorial race.

The advantages of this system are clear. It demonstrates the actual level of support for various candidates by allowing everyone to rank them based purely on how much they’d like to see them in office. It eliminates the fear of hurting your second – (or maybe eleventh-) choice candidate’s chances by supporting your first-choice. Unlike the California recall, instant run-off voting is a sustainable, viable measure which would increase the democracy of our republic – and, not coincidentally, rock the casbah that is the two-party system. That’s why it’s been part of the platform of the Green party for years, and is part of the platform of its candidate in the recall, Peter Camoje, who I would likely vote for first in an instant run-off election, followed by Arianna Huffington, then likely Cruz Bustamante. That’s why you don’t hear a lot about it from the Democrats – who came up with progressive reforms like the recall election and now are suing to to have it stopped – or the Republicans – who become populists overnight when it means embarassing the Democrats.

A brief round of updates:

Verizon negotiations continued last night, with the company reporting major progress taking place towards a settlement, the unions reporting little substantive movement, and both sides committing themselves to continued talks. Work is continuing as usual in the interim.

Arianna Huffington has a press conference scheduled for today, and has confirmed to members of the press wide speculation that she plans to announce her candidacy for the Governorship. Meanwhile Arnold will announce tonight whether he’ll run, and the national AFL-CIO has come out in support of Davis and against Democrats running to replace him. You can see who’s filed a statement of intention to run for Governor here.

Finally, Bob Culver’s termination as Yale Vice President of Finance and Administration was apparently announced to Yale managers in a letter from President Levin chalking it up to the a sudden exasperation with the “long commute.” No official announcement has yet been made to the press or to anyone else in the Yale community, including the workers whose negotiations Culver was supposedly orchestrating.

But finding a politician willing to talk about fundamental reform of America’s education system beyond the president’s anemic Education Act is harder than locating a flat chest — or a real one — at the Playboy mansion.
– Arianna Huffington, April 4, 2002

Van Jones, quoted in Marc Cooper’s column in today’s LA Weekly, sets forth succinctly and resonantly the bind in which California progressives find themselves:

“We can’t afford another three years of these state budgets,” says the 35-year-old Yale Law School graduate and director of the Oakland-based Ella Baker Human Rights Center. “In my town we’ve got classrooms of 30 kids who have to share six books. We’ve got classrooms without chalk. We’ve got a state where prison spending has risen 650 percent in 20 years. We’ve got a prison guards union that, in the midst of this budget crisis, is getting a 7 and a half percent pay raise. California has become the biggest incarcerator in the world. From our point of view this recall election is a survival struggle. We’re disgusted and appalled by Gray Davis, and we’re afraid of the Republicans. We need another choice.”

That third choice, Van Jones – and a more sceptical Marc Cooper as well – see personified in Republican-Congressman’s-Trendy-and-Witty-Wife turned Trendy-and-Witty-Leftist-Populist-Divorcee Arianna Huffington. As David Brock describes her in Blinded by the Right:

The leading social light in the new GOP power structure in Washington was Arianna Huffington…The indefagitable Huffington, whose failure to comply with the laws governing household help probably cost her husband the election, returned to Washington determined to reinvent herself as the godmother of the Gingrich Revolution. Since her debut as the first woman member of the Cambridge Union student debating society, the witty, articulate Greek-born beauty had set out, with brio, to conquer her world. In the 1970s, she took London by storm, writing a famous antifeminist manifesto at the height of the women’s movement, and carrying on a high-profile affair with the British intellectual Bernard Levin. Moving on to New York in the Reagan years, she hosted the likes of Brooke Astor and Barbara Walters at glittering dinner parties…

With Arianna honing the campaign’s conservative message and even standing in for Michael in candidate debates, Huffington confounded political experts and won the seat. THe only discernible theme through it all was Arianna’s boundless ambition. “The Sir Edmund Hillary of all social climbers,” as Los Angeles magazine put it. Arianna drew the attention of Newt Gingrich during Michael’s first congressional term, when she published a book called The Fourth Instinct, in which she argued that the welfare state should be replaced by reviving the concept of tithing, or charitable giving…

Nearly ten years after the period Brock is describing, Cooper writes:

For anyone who knew Arianna in her past life as a “compassionate conservative,” the meeting of that informal committee at her sprawling Brentwood home last Sunday afternoon would have seemed unimaginable. Van Jones, environmentalists, leaders of the anti-war movement and some of the most effective advocates against the drug war crowded onto Arianna’s sofas and divans to hear her come just short of a formal announcement. The several dozen activists included an ex-president of LULAC (the leading Latino civil rights organization); Marge Tabankin, who once ran the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee; Salon.com founder and editor David Talbot; producer and liberal activist Lynda Obst; Lara Bergthold, from Norman Lear’s operation; the radical educator and former Crossroads School president Paul Cummins; former RTD official and onetime mayoral candidate Nick Patsaouras; Jerry Brown’s former campaign manager and current Code Pink organizer Jodie Evans; and civil rights attorney Connie Rice.

Huffington, who has another week at most to decide whether to run on the recall ballot but says she’s leaning towards it, has several factors running against her. As Cooper puts it:

And as someone who had publicly encouraged Arianna to consider the run, let me be among the first to openly acknowledge the scope of the challenges her candidacy would face, beyond that mountain of $10 million or so. In an extraordinarily compressed campaign window between today and the October 7 vote, Arianna needs to craft an understandable and coherent program that offers serious alternatives to both Republicans and Democrats yet retains mainstream appeal; she must convince voters that, if elected, she has the executive oomph both to manage the current crisis and to effect real policy reform in Sacramento. And she must be effective in blunting what will be the inevitable attempts by the media and other candidates to marginalize and trivialize her independent run.

What Huffington does have, however, is the freedom as a non-Democrat to aggressively promote herself and run against the ugly record of the New Democrat Davis, the potential as an independant to mobilize progressive (or merely exasperated) Democrats with a suspicion of organized third parties, and the combination of wit and charisma responsible for her quick rise first on the right and then on the left. It’s hard not to feel some affinity for a woman who would do televised election-night debate as a Republican in pajamas sharing a bed with Al Franken, and fund commercials as an independant suggesting that, contrary to the government line, it’s your oil habit and not your drug habit that’s funding international terrorism.

The founders of http://www.runariannarun.com, including Van Jones, argue Huffington has a strong shot under three conditions:

1) The Democrats offer up only Davis, and refuse to list any credible, marquee Democrat as one of his potential replacements;
(2) The GOP fields three or four major candidates at the same time;
(3) Liberals and progressives field only one, big-name populist like Arianna as a potential replacement for Davis.

It may be, as has been widely speculated, that the Democrats will draft someone other than Davis at the last minute for the ballot, figuring that the embarrassment of breaking ranks is less than the potential embarrassment of losing the governorship of the largest – and one of the leftest – state in the Union. But pronouncements like Terry McAuliffe’s recent one seem to make such a move more and more costly for them. Meanwhile the chance of the GOP uniting behind one candidate seems infeasible if not impossible – Issa’s spent much too much of his car alarm fortune (plus whatever he made off of those cars he broke into before that) on recruiting petitioners from around to country not to see his name on the ballot; Riordan and Schwarzenagger seem adamant that one or the other will run in an appeal to the libertarians that are convinced Davis is a big spender but would be scared off by the socially conservative Issa; and Bill Simon hasn’t yet figured out how to dig up. Finally, Camejo’s suggestion that he and the Green Party would drop out of the race and throw their support behind Huffington eliminates a crucial competitor.

Where does this leave us? A Huffington candidacy would be, if nothing else, an interesting prospect which would facilitate the articulation of a real progressive agenda and leftist vision during a period in which a conservative Democrat is somewhat successfully being portrayed as a left-wing radical – and could potentially garner competitive support. Meanwhile, check out her writing on SUVS, the drug war, economic justice, and democracy.

Speaking of prospects (the twisted, sensational, voyeuristic kind specifically), while I suppose it’s good news that Michael Huffington has gone back on his earlier suggestion that he too might enter the race, if a deal were cut where the Governor’s race were a one-on-one between Michael and Arianna, with nightly televised debates, I might be convinced to rethink my stance on the merits of the recall…

Picture it:

Michael: Your view of America is as cold as your lovemaking.
Arianna: Your economic plan is as potent as, well –
Michael: You know, for someone who never had time for her children, you sure put a lot of time into bastardizing the political discourse.
Arianna: Michael, let’s not bring your mother into this.