Is Pimping Inherently Offensive?


Once again the campaign coverage has become centered around things having nothing to do with the issues. The Clinton campaign is going to war against MSNBC after David Shuster made a rather inappropriate comment. Shuster, discussing Chelsey Clinton’s role in the campaign, asked, “Doesn’t it seem like Chelsea’s sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?” (Video above.)

What is weird about an adult daughter participating in her mother’s presidential campaign? While Chelsea and I are obviously on opposite sides as to who we support, I don’t see anything weird at all about Chelsea either supporting her mother or making calls on her behalf. There certainly isn’t anything about this which has the slightest thing to do with prostitution, which is the first thing most people would think of when hearing the word “pimp.” There is neither any money being exchanged or anything either sexual or sordid about this.

There have been some attempts to excuse this, but there really is no excuse. A post at Slate asks three questions:

Is this use of pimped out inherently offensive? Is that, in fact, what the campaign is doing with Chelsea? Are they now taking excessive umbrage so they can generate coverage and sympathy?

Yes, pimped out is inherently offensive, especially when used to refer to a young woman. No, that is not what the campaign is doing with Chelsea. The third question is a bit harder to answer. We know Hillary Clinton is someone who will say or do anything to win, and we cannot exclude the possibility that her campaign saw this statement as an opportunity to obtain favorable publicity. We also know that Hillary Clinton is a woman who heard her daughter insulted, making an angry reaction understandable and placing her in a strong position here even if she is being manipulative. Maybe this is ultimately a brilliant chess move on Hillary’s part, but if so it came about as a consequence of a really dumb move by a journalist.

Just like the tasteless acronym adopted by a right wing group (Citizens United Not Timid) to attack Clinton, there are times when attacks on the opposition only work to their advantage. Clinton learned the hard way that some attacks are counterproductive. Obama realized this when he vowed not to resort to the type of distortions the Clinton campaign has engaged in. Obama gained politically as a result of some of the inappropriate attacks upon him from the Clinton camp. Unfortunately, while Obama isn’t going to give Clinton the opportunity to benefit from improper attacks from him, Clinton still stands to gain politically from attacks of this nature from the media and from the right wing.

SciFi Friday: Lost; Star Trek Spoilers; Doctor Who Returns; and an R-Rated Kristen Bell Trailer

Last night’s episode of Lost once again revealed more information on the story and left us with more questions. We learn about four people from the freighter in flash backs, including a ghost buster, but it is not clear how they fit into everything. As we were already left to suspect, it looks like someone might have gone to a lot of trouble to make it look like Oceanic 815 is at the bottom of the ocean with everyone aboard dead. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to find out either that getting Ben was the primary objective of the mission, or that Ben had his own spy aboard the freighter. Matthew Abaddon turned out to have sent them, but didn’t seem to believe there were survivors from Oceanic 815 as he becomes when he confronts Hurley at the asylum.

At times Lost has been frustrating as characters have seemed to avoid asking questions when they have a chance to find out more, primarily to keep us viewers in the dark. They actually asked Ben about a long standing mystery, but Ben denied knowing anything about the monster. One thing we do know about Lost is that characters wind up interrelating with each other in unexpected ways. This makes me wonder about the woman whose face was not shown in Daniel Faraday’s flashback. I bet she is someone we know, and the same might be true of Ben’s spy aboard the freighter. Next week we find out the identity of another one of the Oceanic Six, which presumably means we will see a flash forward involving another survivor.

Jericho returns on February 12. Variety has a review.

The SciFi Channel has announced that they have acquired the fourth season of Doctor Who and the first season of The Sarah Jane Adventures. They will both be airing in April, which hopefully means there will be minimal delay in the airing of Doctor Who following the initial broadcast on the BBC. More good news from the Sci Fi Channel–today is finally the last episode of Flash Gordon. The BBC has also renewed Sarah Jane for a second season.

USA Today has information on sixteen upcoming science fiction and other genre movies. There is a possible spoiler with regards to Star Trek XI. J.J. Abrams says the movie “won’t suffer from the problem that prequels suffer from: that you know all the characters will live.” Screen Rant has more potential spoilers which possibly explain why things might not turn out as we expect:

The story does not just involve time travel. It actually explores alternate timelines, and jumps between them quite a bit.

While from what we’ve seen so far it seems like they’re being very faithful to the original Enterprise design, in an alternate timeline there will be a significantly different version of the NCC-1701. From what I’ve been told it will be a very kick-ass version – essentially an all-out warship.

Some of the film will also take place in the time of Star Trek: The Next Generation, although I won’t say at what point in the film.


I’ve previously posted a trailer for the upcoming movie with Kristen Bell, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. An R-rated version of the trailer is available above, with a higher quality version available here.

The Unemotional As Opposed To The Cult Case For Obama

Andrew Sullivan is on a roll today. The previous post contains a portion from one of his posts in response to a discussion of health care debates, but I found it a better overall commentary on the placement of Obama on the left/right political spectrum. In another post today Sullivan has a good response to a topic I addressed yesterday–the descriptions of Obama supporters as cultists. Sullivan writes:

But the strongest case for Obama is not emotional; it is as coolly rational as he is. I tried to express it in my “Goodbye To All That” essay. On the most critical issues we face – Iraq, the war against Jihadism, healthcare, and the economy – he makes more sense as a president than Clinton. And when you watch the knee-jerk opposition to him, I think it is actually more emotional and less rational than the support for him. Fear is more emotional than hope.

And defending Clinton on the grounds of “experience” and “substance” is a fairy tale on both counts, if you pardon the expression. Her legislative experience is one term longer than Obama’s (and that’s if you don’t count Obama’s state legislative record), is notable mainly for its uninspired diligence in constituency work, and on the most important issue of the day, Iraq, simply wrong. Her main executive branch experience was destroying a historic opportunity for healthcare reform through arrogance, secrecy and over-reach. Her “substance” claim is just as phony. There is no detail in her policy apparatus that isn’t matched by Obama’s.

Who Is More Liberal, Clinton or Obama?

There’s been a lot of ridiculous arguments as to whether Obama or Clinton is more liberal. The problem is that the simplistic left to right spectrum doesn’t encompass the real differences between the two. Andrew Sullivan sums it up:

In general, they represent different strands of liberalism, and it’s reflected in their campaign rhetoric. Obama tends to emphasize people’s ability to help themselves and their capacity to do so independently of government. Clinton tends to emphasize the neediness of people for government support and help, and she’s much more comfortable with coercive government action.

It’s “Yes, We Can,” vs “I’ll Take Care Of You.”

And that’s why a simplistic Obama-is-a-leftist critique won’t work as well as some seem to think. He’s a liberal, but a reconstructed one. He’s the kind of liberal who sees dependency as a problem not a solution. And he’s not a statist in the way previous liberal generations have been. He actually listened to and absorbed some of the conservative critique of liberalism these past two decades. And he has changed not just to protect his right flank.

If you must ask who is more liberal, I would consider Obama more liberal in terms of social issues, civil liberties, placing restrictions on the power of the Executive Branch, and on foreign policy compared to Clinton. Even this analysis is not totally clear as there are conservatives who also stress civil liberties issues. Their views on economics are different in a manner which a left versus right comparison applies even less.

Counting the Delegates

The Wall Street Journal updates the delegate totals. The problem is that nobody agrees on how to count them:

At least five different news organizations are tracking delegate counts, and as this blog and others noted after Super Tuesday — and others pointed out earlier in primary season — the numbers have been all over the map. By Friday, the Associated Press’s count (used by The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and others), was scoring Ms. Clinton ahead, 1,045 to 960. CBS News had a Clinton lead of 1,069 to 1,001; at ABC News, it was 1,069 to 990; and CNN called it 1,037 to 933. Meanwhile, NBC News had Mr. Obama in the lead, 861 to 855…

The biggest discrepancy is between NBC and its competitors, both in the margin and in the total. That’s because it’s the only outlet of the five to exclude so-called superdelegates, whose votes aren’t pledged based on outcomes of state votes. Most who have expressed a preference have pledged support for Ms. Clinton, but they can change their minds until the party convention.

It does make sense to include super delegates as a vote is ultimately a vote at the convention. However there is not agreement as to the super delegate count and they can change their votes. I think the news organizations would be the most helpful in their reports if they reported both committed delegates won in primaries or caucuses and report their estimate of super delegates, but keep the two numbers separate. An honest news report might even mention that other news organizations have different estimates and admit that these numbers are only their best guess.

Why Obama Is Better Than Clinton

Obama Vows He Will Not Imitate Clinton’s Dishonest Campaign Tactics

An interview with Barack Obama is scheduled to appear on 60 Minutes this Sunday. Obama both argues that Swift Boating won’t sink his campaign and has vowed not to resort to such tactics as Hillary Clinton has:

Asked by Kroft if he will be able to endure attacks from “swift-boating” Republicans who may use his race or his youthful drug use against him, Obama replies, “Whoever wins this Democratic primary…they’re the toughest, baddest candidate on the block. And if I beat Senator Clinton, then I will be more than capable of beating the Republicans. And if I don’t, then she’ll be the nominee and [race or past drug use] will be a moot point.”

But the senator from Illinois vowed not to use such tactics himself to beat Hillary Clinton. Kroft’s question on whether he would pull out any “Clinton skeletons” prompted Obama to say, “We don’t play that. I mean, one of the rules that I laid down very early in this campaign was that we will be fierce competitors but we will have some ground rules. And one of the ground rules for me is that we battle on policy differences, and that if we draw a contrast between Senator Clinton and myself, then it is based on fact,” he tells Kroft.

Then Obama promises, “We’re not going to fabricate things. We’re not going to try to distort or twist her positions.”

While Obama promises not to resort to such tactics, Clinton has distorted Obama’s positions, statements, and record on many occasions. These include distorting Obama’s position on Social Security, abortion rights, the Iraq war, responding to the mortgage crisis. Clinton has also distorted Obama’s statements in an interview where Ronald Reagan and Republican ideas were discussed and has distorted the meaning of voting present in the Illinois legislature. I’ve reviewed each of these distortions in previous posts, and recently posted an excellent video from Lawrence Lessig which also reviews these episodes.

The DNC versus John McCain

Now that John McCain is the presumptive Republican nominee, the Democratic Party is starting to attack him. The Democratic National Committee is sending out a fund raising letter seeking funds specifically for this purpose. The problem is that their fund raising letter highlights how weak the Democratic case will be if they nominate Hilary Clinton. There are certainly reasons to promote the Democratic candidates over John McCain, but finds a number of major errors in the current attack. If Clinton wins the nomination I’m sure that such attempts at dishonest smears will continue–and probably backfire. If the Democrats want to show that they deserve the votes of those who have abandoned the Republicans, they need to keep it honest.

Many of the attacks simply do not work if Clinton is the nominee. The DNC writes, “We can’t afford four more years with a President who fights an endless war in Iraq.” A candidate who both supported the war and voted for Kyl-Lieberman doesn’t come across as convincing in arguing based as a supporter of peace.

The DNC raises John McCain’s admission that he still needs to be educated in economics. I feel more comfortable with someone who realizes their limitations than a big government junkie who proposes endless government interventions into the economy when she clearly has no idea what she is doing. A review of her recent proposals on the mortgage crisis demonstrates this. Obama certainly isn’t an economist either, but I have far more confidence that Obama, and his advisers, are on the right track with regards to the economy. His ideas can also be sold to moderates, while those of Hillary Clinton will not go over well.

The DNC refers claims McCain will be “a President we just can’t trust.” If the election comes down to a choice of Hillary Clinton or John McCain on trust, my bet is that McCain will win that one without difficulty. John McCain might not be the straight talker he bills himself as, but few in politics match Hillary Clinton for the ease with which she can tell a lie.

Both Democratic candidates are clearly preferable over McCain with regards to abortion rights, and does agree that this is a rare area where the DNC attacks are on the mark. The problem is that beyond abortion rights I cannot think of many other good reasons to vote for Clinton, while there are far too many reasons not to vote for her. If the Democrats want to win in 2008, the first thing they need to do is nominate a candidate worth voting for.

Obama Calls on Clinton to Release Tax Returns

As anticipated, the recent news that Hillary Clinton has loaned $5 million to her campaign from her personal funds has revived questions regarding the Clinton’s finances. Political Radar reports:

“I’ve released my tax returns,” Obama said today on his campaign plane, noting that Presidential candidates have a duty to be transparent and accountable.

He said, “The American people deserve to know where you get your income from.”

Back when Bill Clinton was an office-holder, Hillary Clinton’s business dealings were often a source of controversy. Remember the Whitewater land deal and all the scrutiny given to her client list at the Rose Law Firm?

Now that she is running for President,. Bill Clinton’s finances are attracting attention.

He has cashed in since leaving the Oval Office – raking in a small fortune in speaking fees, as well as consulting for private clients and foreign governments. Fundraising for his Presidential library has also come under scrutiny.

In one recent controversy, he reportedly consulted with businessmen connected with the repressive government of Khazakstan. Some have criticized him for selling his credibility and, in the process, undercutting US foreign policy and his wife’s public pronouncements.

Should Hillary Clinton use the former President’s windfall to fund her own bid for the Presidency, it would inevitably become a campaign issue.

And, for her, there’s another sensitivity. Given that she is making the case that she is an independent career woman, dipping into a rich husband’s assets might undercut that image.

Nonetheless the Clintons have resisted frequent calls to open the library’s books or release their income tax returns.

Pressed by reporters for his thoughts, Obama said “I don’t have enough money to drop $5 million on a campaign.”

Should Clinton win the nomination we will be hearing a non-stop attack from Republicans based upon her financial dealings, along with those of her husband. Clinton’s secretiveness about her financial dealings is likely to extend to her governing style should she be elected. Clinton has been a supporter of increased executive privilege to keep information from the public and has been keeping her papers as First Lady secret until at least after the election.

Peggy Noonan Considers Obama The Bulletproof Candidate

I’ve noted before, including in this post last night, how Obama would be a much stronger candidate against John McCain than Hillary Clinton. Democrats remain evenly split on their choice, but Republicans appear united in realizing which Democrat would pose the greatest threat to them. On the way to the office this morning I heard Matthew Dowd interviewed on NPR as he discussed how Republicans realize that Obama would be a more difficult candidate to run against. Now looking at The Wall Street Journal I see that Peggy Noonan is writing the same:

He is the brilliant young black man as American dream. No consultant, no matter how opportunistic and hungry, will think it easy–or professionally desirable–to take him down in a low manner. If anything, they’ve learned from the Clintons in South Carolina what that gets you. (I add that yes, there are always freelance mental cases, who exist on both sides and are empowered by modern technology. They’ll make their YouTubes. But the mad are ever with us, and this year their work will likely stay subterranean.)

With Mr. Obama the campaign will be about issues. “He’ll raise your taxes.” He will, and I suspect Americans may vote for him anyway. But the race won’t go low.

Mrs. Clinton would be easier for Republicans. With her cavalcade of scandals, they’d be delighted to go at her. They’d get medals for it. Consultants would get rich on it.

The Democrats have it exactly wrong. Hillary is the easier candidate, Mr. Obama the tougher. Hillary brings negative; it’s fair to hit her back with negative. Mr. Obama brings hope, and speaks of a better way. He’s not Bambi, he’s bulletproof.

The biggest problem for the Republicans will be that no matter what they say that is not issue oriented–“He’s too young, he’s never run anything, he’s not fully baked”–the mainstream media will tag them as dealing in racial overtones, or undertones. You can bet on this. Go to the bank on it.

The Democrats continue not to recognize what they have in this guy. Believe me, Republican professionals know. They can tell.

Win or lose, it would be an improvement if the election remains based upon issues as opposed to a repeat of Rove style attack politics. We already saw Clinton resort to trying to Swift Boat Obama, but her dishonest tactics failed. During the process Clinton showed both why she is the poorer choice to be president. Obama remains a better choice both on character and because he has shown that he can respond effectively to diffuse Rove style attacks. Obama might not really be bulletproof as Noonan says, but a candidate like Obama can finally force Republicans to get out of the gutter or pay the consequences.