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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What If Lamont Wins His Primary?

I realize that as far as blogs go, nationally, I'm barely on the radar, if at all. Having said that, I'd thought I'd weigh in on the hottest blog issue of the moment, that being the primary challenge to Joe Lieberman's Senate seat in Connecticut by Ned Lamont.

To sum up, Ned Lamont, a telecommunications/internet millionaire, decided to challenge Joe Lieberman, an 18-year incumbent, in the Democratic primary due to Lieberman's wholehearted support of George W. Bush's Iraq policy, or lack thereof. The national blogs jumped on Lamont's bandwagon early and vocally, not only for Lieberman's war support, but for Lieberman's views on Social Security privatization, his cloture vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito, his rather callous defense of Catholic hospitals' refusal to provide emergency contraception to rape victims and his support for the large bank-favored bankruptcy bill that was recently signed into law. Almost daily, any campaign move made by the Lieberman camp, either through a television attack ad or press releases and quotes from Lieberman and the incompetents running his campaign, is being debunked by the blogs with facts that Lieberman would rather not address.

A few weeks ago, Lieberman and Lamont took part in a debate. Rather than the tame Republican-enabling pussycat that faced Dick Cheney in the 2000 vice-presidential debate, Lieberman came out swinging, attempting to frame the debate in terms that defended his position of incumbency as financially beneficial to the citizens of Connecticut. Nevermind that Connecticut ranks 49th out of 50 states in bringing home the bacon from Washington in a recent study. Lieberman intimated that Connecticut couldn't afford to start over with a freshman senator. Lieberman also attempted to reestablish his Democratic credentials by trotting out freedom rides and JFK, which means virtually nothing to voters under the age of 45, except for historically significant, grainy black and white news footage of black people being firehosed down the street in Alabama and the Zapruder film.

Lieberman ended the debate with a ridiculous attempt to chide Ned Lamont for not releasing his tax records for the last five years. Ned Lamont, as previously stated, is a millionaire, and he and his family earned that money through hard work owning his own business. Ned Lamont, unlike Joe Lieberman, isn't a slave to PAC money. Therefore, the tax records issue is a non-issue, brought forth by a petulant incumbent who appears publicly to be insulted that he's being challenged to defend his record in the Senate.

Just days before the debate, Lieberman announced that he was going to petition the voters of Connecticut to appear on the fall ballot as an independent, in the event he lost the Democratic primary. Rather than defend his positions to people in his party, he's betting that the Republicans and independents in Connecticut will hold him over their heads in triumph over the Democratic nominee and the "vituperations" of his supporters in the blogosphere and throughout Connecticut. Based on the unpopularity of the Iraq War in Connecticut, this is quite a gamble. Still, based on his PAC money, Lieberman still stands as the favorite in the Democratic primary by an ever-shrinking margin, but Joe just loves his seat in the U. S. Senate. The party name he chose for his independent bid is "Connecticut For Lieberman". So much for humility.

Three weeks from today is the Connecticut primary. If Lamont wins this primary, I'd like to make an argument that he ignore Joe Lieberman from that day forward.

The usual pattern for political campaigns follows that after the primaries, debates are held between the major party challengers. The current Republican challenger is someone named Schlesinger, a guy not supported by other major Republicans in Connecticut who appears to have a compulsive gambling problem, in the Republican tradition of Bill Bennett. If Lamont wins the primary, the general election debate participants should be Ned Lamont and Schlesinger, and that's it. To invite Lieberman to such a debate is to reward vanity and lack of allegiance to established election conventions.

The way I've understood how a primary election works is this way. Two or more people of the same party fight for the nomination of the party for a selected office. The winner moves on to the general election against candidates from other parties, the loser goes home. Period. End of discussion. For Lieberman to come out and argue that he's a good Democrat (HA!) but every voter in Connecticut should have a chance to vote for him in the general election if he loses the Democratic primary is a sham.

The last time I checked, primary election losers don't get invited to the general election debates. On August 9th, if Lamont stands as the winner of the Democratic primary for U. S. Senate in Connecticut, Lieberman should be marginalized in a way that precludes him from taking part in a Senatorial debate. Lamont should treat Lieberman as one would treat a fly around a picnic table. Dismissively shoo him away as the scavenger and pest that he is, then ignore him. In addition, Lamont shouldn't even refer to Lieberman by name. He should refer to Lieberman as "the outgoing incumbent" or "the vanity independent" or some other such moniker when questions are posed to him about Lieberman's independent candidacy. He should use phrases like "desperate straw grasp to retain power" and "the Democratic voters have spoken" to make sure no one misses the point of what Lieberman is trying to do.

It is quite obvious that Joe Lieberman, by his personal actions and those of his campaign, has never received a primer from anyone in his life about accepting defeat with humility and grace. His attempt to retain his seat by ballot manipulation is insulting, and the insult should returned in full if he loses the Democratic primary.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A 10-Minute Glimpse Of The Future [In Wal-Mart]

I am a Caucasian. I have been all of my life. I grew up in an extremely racist Italian-American household, so I consider the rest of my life something of an internal recovery process. Being around blatant racism for the entirety of my early development, one becomes all too comfortable around racist jokes, demeaning language and stereotypes. I consider myself far more enlightened since turning my back on that particular mindset.

Having said all that, last Thursday, I found myself in Wal-Mart. I don't usually shop there, but I was dispatched by my wife to exchange a gift (a baby wipe warmer with a malfunctioning top latch) given to us for our new baby (born on the 4th of July; my little boy patriot). As I went about taking the defective item (made in China; but of course) into the store, up to the service desk and retrieving an identical item from the appropriate store shelf, I noticed something. In the world of Wal-Mart, I, a Caucasian, am a minority.

Including myself, I counted 8 white people in Wal-Mart out of roughly 50 to 75 people that I spotted during my visit. The most amazing thing about this is that I'm including Wal-Mart employees and the number of white people I saw in the parking lot, which was zero. I actually DID see two in the parking lot, but they were an elderly white couple I spotted on the way out that I had already seen inside the store. The balance of the people I saw in Wal-Mart that day were African-American or Hispanic.

I don't shop at Wal-Mart, based on their anti-union stance, their general abuse of their employee population and their being the biggest reason for American job loss over the last quarter century. In the history of me, this was the third time I had ever set foot in a Wal-Mart. I have no clue if this represents the usual shopping pattern at Wal-Mart, and I'll never know, as I don't plan to shop there in the future. Based on what I saw during my visit, and based on what I normally see in their parking lot (the local Wal-Mart shares a parking lot with Paul's Omega, my favorite Greek "we make everything" restaurant), I'm drawing a conclusion that this is normal for any given Wal-Mart.

What strikes me is that based on demographic shifts that experts are predicting will occur in the coming century, Wal-Mart today represents the population of tomorrow's America (if America as we knew it still exists or can return to normal after our current president gets done with it). Not only is Wal-Mart making billions of dollars a quarter on the backs of today's minorities, but they are, based on my amateur observations, poised to increase in strength as time goes on if we extrapolate the sales figures using these very same demographic shifts.

It's this thought that makes the act of simple digestion an impossibility. I don't begrudge today's minorities a shot at the American dream, but I wonder what kind of country I'll live in in the sunset of my life with an irresponsible corporate citizen like Wal-Mart holding such vast retail power with tomorrow's majority. I shall continue to avoid shopping at Wal-Mart with every fiber of my being, but I'm beginning to realize that my little stand doesn't mean much now, and will mean even less going forward economically for the Walton family and their offspring.