Tag Archive for 'Hillary Clinton'

To what extent should the media mention that somebody is from a minority?

It turns out that Tim Cook, the new CEO of Apple, is gay.

Felix Salmon suggests that this makes him the most powerful gay man on earth (an idea of which I am sceptical – surely at least one head of state among all the nations of the world has been queer at some point) and that the media ought to be celebrating this fact, or at least making mention of it:

Personally, I don’t care.  Why should I?  Fundamentally, the only relevant facts are those that inform me about his ability to do his job, and knowing whether he’s a member of ethnic group X, holds religious view Y or is turned on by Z is of no use in that regard.

In a completely post-bigotry world, those things might (or might not!) be included in a puff piece that wanted to tell you about Tim Cook, the man, as a sort of background colour (“raised a Catholic, Mary-Anne’s atheism was a source of family friction in her early adulthood, but …”), but they’d play no part in people’s opinion of him as a manager and so would never appear in a serious article about the future direction of whichever company he works for.

Salmon’s point, I believe, is that (a) we’re not in a post-bigotry world and so there is a lead-by-example case for publicising Cook’s sexuality in the same way that people discussed that Hillary Clinton is female and Barack Obama is black; and (b) even if we were, the media is going out of its way to make no mention of it even in the puff pieces, that it’s going out of its way to self-gag and so, ironically, subtly reinforcing the closet.

I dunno.  I think that stuff like this is only relevant to public discourse — even puff-piece writing — if at some point it helped shape the subject’s motivations in life.  Furthermore, I believe that for at least some queer people now, and eventually for all of them, their sexuality (will have) played absolutely no role in shaping their motivations in anything other than who to look for in a partner.

As such, I’m instinctively sceptical of a need to draw attention to it.  Not even the puffiest of puff pieces would spend time discussing people’s preferences over ice cream flavours unless the subject made a point of bringing up their obsession with chocolate-mint.

When it comes to playing a role as a societal leader, I can’t help but feel that it’s up to Mr. Cook to decide for himself.

Dani and I rewatched “Good Will Hunting” last night.  I think there’s a parallel with the kid who’s a genius.  I always get angry when Ben Affleck’s character (the well-meaning, but idiot friend) tells Matt Damon’s character (the genius) that “you don’t owe it to yourself man, you owe it to me … ‘Cause I’d do fuckin’ anything to have what you got. So would any of these fuckin’ guys. It’d be an insult to us if you’re still here in 20 years” [IMDB].  It’s Rawls’ veil of ignorance turned arse-end backwards.  It’s also complete rubbish.

I can see a moral argument for why Rawls’ veil implies that society at large should help people who drew particularly shitty numbers, but why should any one individual be required to do something just because they drew a particularly awesome number?  The whole goddamn point of Rawls’ veil is that nobody consents to it in the first place and so, as a society, we ought to not force people into the pigeon-hole that the lottery put them in.  Just because you were born into a poor family doesn’t mean you have to stay poor.   Just because you’re black doesn’t mean you have to like basketball.  Just because you have an IQ of 180 doesn’t mean you must do research.  Messers Affleck and Damon need to reread “Brave New World”.

Nobody can deny that Barrack Obama is black, but the extent to which he makes speeches to the black community declaring that they can be black, proud and successful is entirely up to him.  People working to bring about racial equality might feel he has an obligation, but he really doesn’t.

If Tim Cook wants to try to improve the acceptance of gay people in society at large, he can, but the idea of saying that he ought to just because he’s gay himself is illiberal.

Why Obama chose Hillary for State

I like both of these answers:

Tyler Cowen:

This is exactly the kind of detailed political question I don’t follow so let’s try some crude, fact-poor economism. Hillary Clinton commands the loyalties of significant segments of the Democratic Party. The implication is that Obama will need these segments for what he is trying to do. Since Obama already has 58 (?) Democratic Senators on his side, we should conclude that Obama will try to do lots in the first few months of his term; this is the “throw long and deep” scenario.

He can always encourage her to leave later, if the relationship does not work out. Latinos, on the other hand, are stronger as voters than as a lobby or as an organized segment of the Democratic Party. The implication is that they will get relatively little at the beginning of Obama’s term — when lobbies are needed — but successively more as the next election approaches.

Andrew Sullivan:

Earlier this year, it seemed a good idea to plonk her on the ticket to defang the threat. That would have followed the “team of rivals” concept that Obama wanted to purloin from Lincoln. It would also have given the Clintons an independent claim on power. By winning without them and even, in some measure, despite them, Obama can now bring the Clintons into the power structure while retaining clear dominance. The State Department appointment is prestigious enough not to be condescending, yet also keeps Clinton off the Washington circuit more than any other position. She’ll be on a plane or abroad a great deal. Extra bonus: Bill will just love that. Sending his wife to the Middle East is the ex-president’s idea of a good time.

There’s also the small question of Iraq. Think of the appointment this way: “You voted for this bloody war, Hillary; you can end it.”

Withdrawing from Iraq will not be easy and it may well be gruesome. I have no confidence that the place won’t erupt into an even nastier civil war when the United States pulls out than it did when the United States didn’t fully push in. How does a president avoid the domestic blow-back of essentially cutting his losses on a doomed adventure? He uses Clinton as a protective shield from domestic critics. It’s also a rather brilliant manoeuvre against those elements on the right – from Fox News to Washington neocons – who came out in praise of Clinton in the spring when she sounded more hawkish than Obama on the Middle East. Having hailed Clinton as the Iron Lady of the Jews, the stab-in-the-back right will find it hard to pivot immediately and accuse her of treason if and when she ends the Iraq occupation.

But why did Hillary accept the job?

The best I can imagine off the top of my head is that (a) she really believes that the Obama presidency will be a successful one; and (b) a successful stint as Secretary of State after time in the Senate would look very, very good on the resume in eight years time.

The scale of campaign finance in the US election

I’ve spoken before about how the sheer scale of the Obama campaign will give Republicans something to hide behind instead of doing some serious soul searching.

The NY Times has great graphic showing the campaigns’ finance by area and week.  The totals:

Obama:  $659.7 M

Clinton: $249.0 M

McCain: $238.1 M

Romney: $113.6 M

Giuliani: $65.9 M

Edwards: $62.2 M

Paul: $35.1 M

Yes, that’s right – Hillary Clinton raised more money than McCain and Obama more than Clinton, McCain and Romney combined.  Incredible.

Where is Obama’s big speech on sexism?

I can’t write much at the moment – exams – but it just occurred to me to ask:  Where is Obama’s big speech on sexism?

Why didn’t he give a month ago?  In particular, why didn’t he give it before the DNC made their decision on Florida and Michigan?  Giving it after Hillary bows out will look like what it will be – a naked political attempt to convince her most ardent supporters to turn up on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November.  If he’d given it two months ago, it would have had at least a chance of being seen as an honest, even gracious attempt to reach out to the Hillary-voters and convince them that he believes in fighting all forms of bigotry.

An update of my Obama numbers

Taking the data from Real Clear Politics today (14 March), here is an update of how Obama and Clinton have been going in running totals of pledged delegates:


As always, when calculating the percentages in the centre column, I’m ignoring pledged delegates that are too close to call and those with John Edwards.

Date Barack Obama: running total Barack Obama: share of pledged delegates Hillary Clinton: running total
3 Jan (IA) 16 51.6% 15
8 Jan (NH) 25 51.0% 24
19 Jan (NV) 38 51.4% 36
26 Jan (SC) 63 56.8% 48
5 Feb (Super Tuesday) 913 50.9% 879
9 Feb (LA, NE, WA, Virgin Is.) 1019 52.2% 934
10 Feb (ME) 1034 52.3% 943
12 Feb (DC, MD, VA, Dem.s Abroad) 1144 53.3% 1004
19 Feb (HI, WI) 1200 53.5% 1041
04 Mar (OH, RI, TX, VT) 1380 52.9% 1227
08 Mar (WY) 1387 53.0% 1232
11 Mar (MS) 1406 53.0% 1246

There are now 566 pledged delegates to fight for (assuming that Florida and Michigan don’t get redone), 26 with John Edwards and 9 that have been voted on but are still too close to call.

The gap in pledged delegates between the candidates is now 160.

I assume that the 35 delegates that are with Edwards or too close to call will be split 50-50 between Obama and Clinton. I actually believe that Obama will get more than half of them (22 of Edwards’ delegates came from states where Obama won) but let’s be generous and say that 18 go to Clinton and 17 to Obama.

That means that Clinton needs to close a gap of 159 with only 566 pledged delegates to come. She needs to win 363 or 64%. To stay in front, Obama only needs to win 204 or 36%.

If Florida and Michigan are redone, then we have 879 delegates to come, from which Clinton would need to win 519 or 59%. To stay in front, Obama would only need to win 361 or 41%. Given its large population of Hispanics, it seems clear that Clinton would do well in Florida, so it’s pretty obvious why she wants these two states back in play.

But is it plausible to think that she can win among pledged delegates? No, not really; not even if Florida and Michigan do get redone.

On the basis of pledged delegates, Clinton has only won 13 out of 46 contests so far. On the basis of popular vote, she has won 14 out of 40; 16 if you include Florida and Michigan (Iowa, Maine, Nevada and Washington haven’t released their popular vote counts).

In those states she won in pledged delegates, Clinton has averaged 57% of the delegates on offer: she got 688 to Obama’s 517.

So in order to win overall among pledged delegates, Clinton needs to win all 12 (if FL and MI are included) remaining contests and do better in every one of them than she has previously in her winning states. If she loses any of them, then she’ll need to absolutely blow Obama out of the water in the rest. I just can’t see this happening.

My past ramblings on this topic: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]