Almost there...

A lot of people, myself included, are looking forward to June 4th. On that day, the final tallies will be counted, the numbers processed, and the pundits will give their epitaphs for the election. There will be nothing left to discuss, and we as a country will move on to better and greater things.

Wait, no, I'm wrong.

Come August will be the Democratic National Convention. There, finally, we will have our official branded conclusion. Our next President will be decided, and we can all take a deep sigh of relief and relax.

Hah, who am I kidding?

The Daily Show with John Stewart termed it best, "The Long, Seemingly Endless Bataan Death March to the White House". This won't be over when the last Primary is done, and it certainly won't be over when the convention starts. There'll be a brief period where there isn't any primary fuel for the political news tsunami, but there's plenty of secondary kindling in the form of vice presidential speculation, shots over the bow from both sides, and Hillary's refusal to bow out.

So if you were looking for much political relief in the month of June, you'll sadly have to wait until January. In the meantime, my views on the current political situation.

The current polls of who would win which state in the general election at this point are like predicting who will win a Marathon after the first mile. To say "a lot can happen" is a vast understatement, almost everything has yet to happen. The general election might be as exciting as the democratic primary, or it might be the single dullest general election ever. We can't tell.

The vice presidential searches going on will be more interesting when some actual names are dropped. I don't know enough politicians or politics to have any sense for what would make sense.


There have been a number of allegations recently, spawned by the once vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, that Hillary Clinton lost due to sexism. While I'm sure that sexism has naturally had some small measure of impact, I think that pointing it out as though it were the major or sole cause of her demise is foolhardy and disrespectful to the harsh realities that women face every day.

Look at the playing field. Every last white, Anglo-Saxon male democratic candidate was absolutely positively demolished, by a woman and an African-American no less. There should be people singing praises for how both candidates have overcome boundaries once thought unbreakable, but apparently that only counts if you get elected.

Generally, I tend to rule out sexism as a major contributing factor because it strikes me that racism is probably an equal barrier for Obama, if not a greater one. It's tough to say as no one took polls on misogyny, but with recent wins for Hillary showing 20% of people admitting they're racist... one has to stop and wonder how much of a disadvantage she really had.

Clinton had key advantages starting out. She was slated to win before it began, she had massive name recognition, money, allies, and super delegates who had already thrown their support behind her. News coverage was basically Clinton vs Everyone Else, with Everyone Else losing soundly.

What lost her this campaign was complacency and short term thinking. She was presumed to be the 2008 nominee as early as 2004. A good contender doesn't rest easy when they're on top, but Clinton did. Her campaign was set up under a number of really bad assumptions as to the nature of the primary season and it showed.

It was assumed that there wouldn't be any substantial competition. The campaign worked from the top down, convincing first the all important local politicians and going down from there. They'd be crucial for the general election. However, in a contested primary this is a very bad strategy. Working from the bottom up not only tends to get more votes (and more people to caucuses) but it also ties the hands of democrats who are still somewhat sour over Al Gore's 2000 popular vote win and presidential loss. The local politicians won't go against the popular vote unless they feel bold enough to risk the ire of their constituents.

It was assumed it would be short. This lead to several separate issues.

Short campaigns don't need to ration money. Once "Super Tuesday" ended the Clinton campaign was effectively bankrupt. They had assumed that would be the end, and Obama's uncontested victories throughout February were the result; completely reversing te gap Hillary had established.

Short campaigns don't need careful consideration. There were a number of promises, positions and policies Hillary spoke about early on which were completely reversed later. Comparing her words from last year versus a few months ago versus today is like looking at three separate people. As a result, her trustworthiness is down the chute.

Short campaigns don't need a unifying theme or message, which Clinton did not have until well into the primary season. Without a clear purpose or response to Obama, he was granted a free ride on his rhetoric for months. It took the internet to find his crazy once-pastor and finally break the invincible bubble.

As much as Rudy Guilliani's campaign will go down in history as how not to win a nomination, so too will Hillary Clinton's.

Right now, Clinton's main arguments are the unseated Delegates in Florida and Michigan and her greater potential for the general election. Lets look at the situation.

I won't go into the math because it's boring, finicky, and pointless. By Obama's math he's obtained a solid majority of pledged delegates in addition to his lead in the popular vote. By Clinton's math no majority has been reached yet, and she leads the popular vote.

The difference comes down to two things, caucuses and the disenfranchised states of Florida and Michigan (a deed effectively done by their own legislatures). Clinton doesn't count caucus votes in her popular vote totals, and she is firmly of the opinion that you can't have a majority without taking into account Florida and Michigan.

I personally find both disingenuous. The former because it's stupidly selective (lets subtract all states that used a particular kind of ballot, had their primaries in months beginning with F, or looked at me funny), and the latter because it actually doesn't help her any.

In the case of the latter, allotting the delegates based on her wins in those states loses her the nomination. Obama retains his majority on pledged delegates and, by any sensical way of counting it, his lead in the popular vote. Hillary closes the gap significantly, but is still so far short that more than 70% of super delegates would have to back her in order for her to win.

This is why so many pundits, talk show hosts, newcasters and political analysts have called the election for Obama. The democrats can not hope to field Hillary as a candidate without alienating their support base. The kind of "screw you" nomination theft that would have to occur would completely obliterate the hopeful people who have set record turnouts and made this primary season as big a deal as it is and was. A very significant portion of Obama's supporters, myself included, would be disheartened, depressed, and ultimately disinclined to ever care about politics again.

The democrats want a democratic president too much for that to happen.



It makes more sense if you watch it at 3AM while your phone is ringing.

In other news, according to the Democratic delegate counter Hillary could win all the remaining primaries 77% to 23% and still lose the primary if the undecided superdelegates are split 50/50. On the other hand, Hillary could convince 70% of the remaining superdelegates she's the best candidate, and Obama would still win splitting the remaining primaries 50/50.

It will be interesting to hear how Clinton plans on continuing her case for the presidency in the face of such odds.


Someone's MADD

I'm generally supportive of MADD and its attempts to curtail drunk driving. My mother was a member last that I could remember, and I agree that drunk driving is unarguably a Bad Thing(TM).

I distinctly remember playing with cars on one of my grandparents' oval rugs like it was a raceway. Along with one of my siblings, we crashed cars and joked about one of them being a drunk driver. My dad quickly curtailed that joke, lecturing us on the severity of the consequences of drunk driving. I must have been only four or five at the time. This was a Good Thing(TM) for him to do, as we were developing children.

However, MADD is currently attacking Grand Theft Auto IV for including the ability for the player to drive drunk. And I quote:

"'Drunk driving is not a game, and it is not a joke.'"

Taken by itself this is a reasonable sentiment. In the greater context of being a direct criticism of GTA IV I find it somewhat ridiculous. Here are several responses, in no particular order.

1. So, does this mean that prostitution, gang violence and drugs are games and jokes?
2. It's a game now!
3. I'm sorry, I couldn't hear your complaint over the sound of the tanks chasing me across the city.

Alright, those were all snarky and completely unhelpful responses, I'll admit to that. Pardon me for indulging in ridiculous answers to a ridiculous problem.

In short, I don't see drunk driving being a good enough reason to bump GTA IV from an MA rating to an AO rating, nor do I see the need to recall the game or stop its production. This is not because I love violence or feel that we should have a reverse prohibition wherein alcohol is available to all ages. It's because I believe that video games are a new media form that needs to be given its chance to grow and flourish.

We have plenty of books, cinema and radio programs that sport references to sex, violence, drugs, drunk driving and worse. They are appropriately judged and restricted from those who might be impressionable. There is an implicit understanding that what is contained within these media is not always appropriate for children.

My continual vexation is that people still do not have this implicit understanding when it comes to video games. We often hear the argument, "It will end up in the hands of children anyway." Why? Studies have shown multiple times that it is the children's own parents buying them these games, despite the warnings of both the box and the store clerks. Either these parents don't care, or they still make the bad assumption that video games are purely a child's entertainment.

I would no more buy GTA IV for my child than I'd buy them Memento. Some things are just not meant for children.

Eventually our sensibilities will catch up to the fact that video games are just another media form and should be treated appropriately. For now, I shake my head again as unnecessary controversy is stirred.