Wednesday, November 30, 2005

New Jersey Drive-Thru: Newark - Change Should Come ...

Newark is as static and stagnant as molded clothes. Obviously, there may be some glimmer of needed change with this latest development as the New York Times reports:

Mayor Sharpe James of Newark has met repeatedly with Essex County College officials over the past few months to discuss a teaching job. He has tossed out the names of several potential successors, and this week, two city officials said that a "legacy committee" to honor his achievements had already been formed.

But is Mr. James, after 35 years of running for office and never losing, really ready to retire?

We're compelled to cite CUNY Political Science Professor Jerry G. Watts recent piece in titled "What Use are Black Mayors?":

Part of the problem is that too many black political scientists continue to treat black elected officials as if they are part of an insurgent political formation. This is nonsense. Regardless of their rhetoric, black elected officials are, in varying degrees, part of the political establishment. I remember when Andy Young used to claim that black elected mayors were the vanguard of the continuing civil rights movement. Young’s utter BS should have been seen for the self-serving nonsense that it was. A black mayor of a city today is no more insurgent than I am as a bourgeois black academic in a predominantly white academic setting. Both of us may try to claim to that our personal advancement is a brick hurled against an entrenched racism. Both of us would be guilty of manipulating race to mask our self-interested actions.

Such is the case with Mr. James, and perhaps he (and others) should examine Watts piece. We're not making any endorsement of James' opponent - the 36 year old Councilman Corey Booker - either, even though we are eager to see a shuffling of the "old" Black political guard and a transition into the "new." Yet, the African American electorate should not get fooled into authenticity assumptions based on the vigor of youth, just as we've been fooled before based simply on the similar complexions of high profile Black candidates.

But, we must say, a city like Newark is in need of serious change. Maintaining the same leadership for so many years - with little in the way of substantive results - seems a little despotic. There's more to being a Black Mayor than just being Black.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Obama Feeling Less Green ...

The lone Black Senator in a sea of White male clones is feeling less like a freshman, and batting like a senior, according to the AP:

"I believe that U.S. forces are still a part of the solution in Iraq," the Illinois Democrat said during a speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. "The strategic goals should be to allow for a limited drawdown of U.S. troops, coupled with a shift to a more effective counter-insurgency strategy that puts the Iraqi security forces in the lead and intensifies our efforts to train Iraqi forces."

The debate over when to bring troops home has turned bitter since decorated Vietnam War vet Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., called last week for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. He was criticized by the Bush administration and other Republicans.

Some analysts may say Obama is biting rhymes off Murtha. But, the Black political establishment and activist community have been among the most vocal - yet least reported. Still, we wonder what the Administration response will be to Obama at the risk of alienating a Black political base eager to see more than just one Black Senator.

This is strategic on the part of Obama who may be egged on to make a 2008 or 2012 bid. He's feeling around trying to find a voice and a theme. We suggest at least wrapping up his first term and, possibly, an Illinois gubernatorial run. He may need a little more season, little more time beyond the burning lights of a political celebrity.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Nothing To Be Thankful For

The initial response was slow, embarrassing and deadly. But after several trips, none to the heart of New Orleans, the President finally swaggered through the flood lights in front of the statuesque building in Jackson Square and pledged to “do whatever it takes” and to “clear the ruins and build better than before” as he promised America would rebuild the city of New Orleans that was then, 18 days after the breaching of the levees, nearly empty.

The President, sleeves rolled up and blue jeans on, promised among other things to:

~ Provide $60 billion in initial aid;
- Move evacuees out of temporary shelters by mid-October into apartments;
- Reimburse States for assistance given and pay overtime for service providers and workers;
~ Create jobs for those affected by the storm;
~ Create the “Gulf Opportunity Zone” – a job incentive package and loans to minority businesses;
~ Create the “Worker Recovery Act” – which would have “provided $5,000” for evacuees to draw on for job training, education and child care; and
~ Create the Homesteading Act – providing land, through lottery, so that new homes could be built.

While those plans seemed interesting at the time and may have laid a decent foundation for rebuilding the city, here we stand nearly three months since the breech, two months since the speech and one day before Thanksgiving and only the initial aid has been completed. The president has breeched his promise, speaking nary a word since, Congress has imploded and taken little to no action and America has moved on.

We suppose it’s not fair to say the president hasn't acted. Mr. Bush did eliminate MBE and WBE’s from being used in the area (which is majority African American), suspended prevailing wage in the areas affected (which is one of America’s poorest areas) and has objected “to a bipartisan proposal that would give [Louisiana] up to 40 percent of the more than $5 billion in annual federal revenues generated by Louisiana’s offshore oil and gas industries”1 (adversely affecting a state that has had its economy demolished.) So the president has responded in his own way.

The response to Hurricane Katrina, both immediate and long-term, has been completely different than America’s active and constant response to the attacks of September 11th; the response to Katrina has been stagnate, sluggish, and non-responsive.

America’s response immediately after the breech was overwhelming, but the attentiveness to fellow Americans since has seemingly gone the way of the president and Congress and waned. On the lips of nearly every America on August 29th, on November 22nd Americans have moved on and are now discussing their holiday plans from the comfort of their homes and jobs. They do so with the story of August 29th drastically and grotesquely incomplete. Nearly 7,000 people are missing, (a thousand of those are children) and hundred of thousands are displaced, jobless and uncertain of their future.

While America begins its holiday season we hope that at some point during this festive time America and its leaders remember those who continue to suffer from Katrina and renew the work it will take to rebuild the region and recommit to the promises made by the president, so that all America can be thankful at some point this season.

Leaders of the Old School - Why Black Lawmakers are Mum on Maryland ...

Back to our favorite Senate race, where we're hoping for an all Black Senate-bid in 2006. We're like political Don Kings salivating at the thought of a historic heavyweight clash. Yet, Mfume doesn't seem that heavy weight when it comes to money, writes Jonathan Kaplan in The Hill:

Despite Mfume’s his national reputation, he has not been able to raise a substantial amount of money. He had just $97,000 in cash at the end of the third quarter, while Cardin had raked in more than $1.5 million.

Among lawmakers, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) gave Cardin $10,000 from his PAC and $4,000 from his personal campaign. Reps. Gary Ackerman (N.Y.), Ellen Tauscher (Calif.), Joe Crowley (N.Y.) and Diana DeGette (Colo.) have contributed to Cardin.

None has given to Mfume.

This raises more disturbing questions about the fundraising prowess of the Black political establishment. Even though the African American electorate is in a much better, more solid position to run for statewide offices, there is still a major problem when it comes to fundraising - though Black people spend enough money to match South Korea's GDP. This is what Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's former 2004 Presidential campaign manager and now Mfume advisor, had to say:

Joe Trippi, who ran Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2004 and is advising Mfume, said Mfume’s campaign would attract white, progressive voters in Montgomery County and other parts of the state, in part by presenting himself as the anti-war candidate.

Cardin could also claim that mantle. He voted against the Iraq war resolution in 2002.
Trippi did not say what steps Mfume is taking to reach out to white voters but instead attacked Cardin.

“All Cardin has been doing is basically trying to force everyone else out of the race,” Trippi said. “He’s raising money, picking off endorsements, but that has not worked. It’s not going to happen for him.”

If Mfume is relying solely on Trippi as his ace guru to win the primary, he might as well hang it up.

We also found the observed silence from Congressional Black Caucus members as intriguing as it is deafening. It also shows the set of usual suspects clinging on to the usual strategy, giving more thought to pleasing the party apparatus than considering another Black Senator could be an asset. Why is that? Kaplan continues:

Cardin has emerged as the favorite in an expanding field of Democratic candidates, but a recent Baltimore Sun poll showed Mfume trumping Cardin by 48 points among black voters, 63 to 15 percent, even though the two candidates were in a statistical dead heat. White voters overwhelmingly backed Cardin in the poll.

CBC members face a tough choice between their colleague and Mfume, a national black leader and former congressman, who are seeking to succeed retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.). The primary will be held Sept. 12, 2006.

The winner is expected to face Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R), who is African-American. The Sun poll found that Steele would beat Mfume but would lose to Cardin by 11 points.

Judging from the latest poll, Steele wins in a Mfume v. Steele bout. Alright - so he's a Black Republican. Steele has announced that if he won, he'd join the CBC. If that were to happen, wouldn't that prove useful as leverage to CBC members looking to maneuver through Republican-controlled chambers? And, if Mfume or Steele won, then you'd have more than just one face of color in the Senate. Obviously, watching the latest Baltimore Sun polls, the feeling may be that a White Democrat in Maryland is better than a Black Republican; plus, the prevailing mood amongst Democrats on the Hill is that they'll snag the House and Senate back in 2006 - very cocky for a party with no platform less than a year away from the mid-terms. Shouldn't the CBC rethink this?

Monday, November 21, 2005

How Bad Are Our Kids?

Couldn't ignore this compelling piece floating through titled "The Color of Public School Discipline" by Starla Vans Cherin of the Westside Gazette:

Are we bad or are we just Black? African- American students in Broward County are three times more likely to be disciplined with out-of-school suspensions than white students. In elementary school, Black students comprise 30 percent of the population but account for 80 percent of out-of-school suspensions. The overwhelming numbers, not just in Broward but also in the state, paint a bleak picture for students that act out. Zero tolerance policies make it easier for administrators to wash their hands of problem students and turn them over into the justice system. Five to 10 day suspensions add up to failing a school term, being retained a grade, dropping out of school and going to jail. The NAACP, the Advancement Project and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. are holding public hearings on school discipline throughout the nation. The Advancement Project’s report, Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track, documented school discipline in three sites: Denver, Chicago and Palm Beach County, Fla. It demonstrates that schools are “shifting disciplinary issues from the principal’s office to police stations and courtrooms.”

Certainly, using Broward County as a sample, there is need to seriously re-examine the role of discipline and punishment in public school systems. Behavioral trends suggest a rampant problem. But, The Advancement Project's "Education on Lockdown" report suggests something much more troubling than fledgling school districts besieged by bad apple kids - it shows that public schools have no sense of creativity or innovation in addressing this problem:

The colloborative report further investigates the nationwide trend towards using zero tolerance polices in schools as a "take no prisoners" approach to dealing with the most trivial acts of student misconduct. The report also examines how students of color are disproportionately affected by these policies. Three school systems, Chicago Public Schools, Denver Public Schools, and Palm Beach County Public Schools, are profiled as an example of how the national trends are being enacted at local levels.

Could it be race? As the lone or primary explanation, perhaps not. There's a confluence of factors, from

1) Race - because it's easier to incarcerate African American and Latino students who have few resources due to their socio-economic background


2) Class - because, regardless of race, if you live in a city, county, suburb or rural enclave with a low tax base and access to few resources, you have few options as a public school student


3) Bad Management - let's face it: there are a lot of good teachers and concerned administrators out there, but there are, unfortunately, too many who may not care for a variety of reasons. Hence, the reason for such simplistic approaches. Not to mention a budgetary environment more focused on Homeland Security, military R&D and lining the pockets of state/local bureaucratic cronies than on putting money to good use and preventing the problems that created this situation in the first place.

Instead, the response of school districts faced with disciplinary issues suggests a society content with teaching kids in prison-like environments. Have we made a case for "school choice"? We think not. This is not a new issue and should be addressed within the context of the best approach for all students rather than a select few who happen to get a voucher.

That all said, there is a larger social dilemma that Black families must face in relation to the performance and disciplinary standards of their children in public schools. From dress and appearance to courtesy, civility and respect; from good etiquette to established moral standards differentiating what you can and cannot do - it's become obvious that an "old school" approach is desired. There is a need for greater focus on what exactly is happening when African American children are not in school, leading to certain behavior when they arrive, considering the distressing level of evidence before us. Basic lessons previous generations learned and applied (with great success) should be relayed in a most urgent manner to the current generation. For the record, this isn't just a "Black" problem, either.

Let's not front on this. We shouldn't avoid that conversation for fear of White reaction to aired laundry. Juvenile incarceration may be a bit too punitive and unnecessary, we can all agree. But, we can indeed impose a better sense of self and community through firm and uncompromising standards.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Under the Cover of Darkness the Future Dims

The sparse viewership on C-Span was probably close to nil. It was long past newspaper deadline time. Television network news had long been broadcast, when the vote came. At 2:00 am Thursday morning the United States House of Representatives voted 217- 215 to cut $50 billion dollars from the federal budget. Those cuts included $8.9 billion from Medicaid, $746 million from Food Stamps, $14 billion from Higher Education, $2.9 billion from Farm Subsidies and $4.9 billion from Child Support Enforcement.

Citing the cost of ongoing wars and military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan and the price to rebuild New Orleans, wherever the federal government gets around to it, the House of Representatives decided to lay those cost on the shoulders of the poor, the elderly, farmers, students and single parents. And to add insult to reduced revenue the House announced that a vote will occur after the Thanksgiving break to retain tax cuts for the affluent and wealthy because not even the House leadership is arrogant enough to pass a mult-billion dollar tax cut on the heels of slicing and dicing social programs.

Those social programs could have well helped the targeted populations pull themselves out of poverty in the future or stopped them from tumbling into poverty as they live on the precipice and the margins. While the House budget package must be reconciled with the Senate package (which is marginally better than the House -- only $35 billion in cuts and tax cuts) in conference committee, the least among us will get no assistance from the White House.

President Bush halfway around the world, took time while brow beating China to "expand political, social and religious freedom" (emphasis added) to express displeasure and threaten a veto of the Senate action (becuase the tax cuts are not deep enough) and called the House plan "...a significant savings package that will restrain spending..."1

"A significant savings package?" When income and wealth inequity continue to grow (and may expand thanks to the House budget plan) and when poverty has received renewed attention after the flooding of New Orleans, Congress responded in the middle of night and the President acquiesced in dimming the future for those who exist on the margins.

When push came to shove, the compassionate conservatives decided to conserve government spending by being as uncompassionate as possible and doing so in under the cover of darkness and from tens of thousands of miles away.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Making Ohio an Issue ...

There is little national talk about what looks like a serious Black political movement stirring in Ohio:

- City Council President Frank Jackson became Cleveland's 3rd Black Mayor (by the way, Cleveland was the first major U.S. city to elect a Black mayor in 1967)

- State Sen. Mark Mallory won Cincinnati's city executive seat with 52 percent of the vote

- Dayton re-elected Mayor Rhine McLin

- Youngstown elected its first Black Mayor (who, interestingly enough, is an Independent), Jay Williams

- And there is Michael B. Coleman, Columbus' 2 term Mayor, who is a candidate for governor in 2006.

Other than Williams, everybody above is a Democrat. But ...

- Just so happens, Coleman could be running against Black Republican and current Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell ... who came close to being the Katherine Harris of Ohio in during the 2004 Presidential race. That didn't work.

All that Black political action taking place in Ohio and yet, raises Margaret Kimberley in her column:

On Election Day in Ohio, four ballot provisions that would have brought greater integrity to the elections process went down to defeat at the polls. Not only were all four defeated, but polls predicted that all four would either win, or be decidedly by thin margins.

Reform Ohio Now had initiated the four proposals. The proposals would have changed rules on campaign finance, established a legislative redistricting commission, allowed the option of voting by mail, and put electoral issues in the hands of an independent commission, beyond the reach of Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

... It is more logical to assume that the electronic voting machines now in use in half of the state’s counties were hacked to insure victory for the status quo.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Senate Window Dressing ...

Check out and get schooled on why yesterday's Joint Senate Hearing on Energy Pricing and Profits blew gallons of polluted second hand smoke into the collective American face:

"A review of the PACs of the top ten oil companies shows that over $700,000 in PAC money continues to flow in the first nine months of the 2005-2006 cycle. These ten oil company PACs gave out a total of $712,290 to federal candidates, plus other funds to party committees and leadership PACs. Of the $712,290 total, eighty-five per cent ($608,350) went to Republican candidates, 14% ($102,940) went to Democratic candidates, and 1% ($1,000) went to others. The top recipients in 2005-2006 were Rep. Joe Barton $31,500; Sen. Conrad Burns $23,500; Rep. Tom DeLay $22,500; Rep. Richard Pombo $21,000; Sen. Craig Thomas $20,500; Sen. George Allen $20,100; Speaker Dennis Hastert $20,000; Sen. Trent Lott $16,000; Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison $12,250; and Sen. John Ensign $12,000. "

Senators Burns, Lott, Bailey Hutchison, Ensign and Allen all sit on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee (one of the two Committees holding the hearing).

"The members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee received the most, $110,550. They were followed by members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transporation Committee $99,350. "

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

How to Campaign & Win - Without Big Money! ...

Lots of discussion on what Tuesday's election meant for an embattled Bush, nervous Republicans and cautious Democrats all keeping their eye on the Congressional mid-terms come 2006. Tim Kain (D) beats Jerry Kilgore (R) in Virginia days after a Presidential visit on behalf of the dissed Republican candidate and, suddenly, conservative columnist Bob Novak is even writing in the Chicago Sun Times:

"The antidote to avoid that fate is to keep as far away from President Bush as possible, a lesson underlined by the president's failed election rescue mission for former Virginia state Attorney General Kilgore. The consequences may be profound. As his approval rating dipped, Bush increasingly has been treated in Congress as a lame duck. Tuesday's Virginia outcome increases the propensity of Republican senators and House members not only to avoid their president on the campaign trail but also to ignore his legislative proposals."

And, there are other Republican disappointments in key states: a Gubernatorial win in New Jersey after a nasty, unnecessarily personal race; and Gov. Schwarzenegger getting his referendums shot down in California (which, we hope, will gradually deflate the underground movement to restructure the Constitution so the Austrian-born box office hitter can run for President).

Lots of discussions about what this bodes for 2006 - will there be a changing of the House and Senate guards? But, this doesn't really concern us as much as the money that is flowing through these campaigns and what this means for the future of modern American democracy. Is it really democracy? Or, is it the cigar smoke filled poker room where only businessmen and lawyers flaunting money clips like well-dressed thugs and hustlers can roam? Is it a body politic for and by the people? Or, has it become a personal golf course where cats similarly dressed and groomed measure egos on public platforms?

In Virginia, $42 million in gubernatorial campaign spending (and still counting) has topped state records. The Jersey governor's race was like a scene from The Sopranos, where two extremely rich businessmen ripped each other's throats at the ching-ching of $70 million. In New York, billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg spends close to almost breaking the $75 million record he set in his 2001 bid.

Reports on the funding in state races:

"The biggest spender, Republican Steve Poizner, pitched in $5.9 million himself to compile a $6.65 million campaign war chest, outspent his opponent more than 3-to-1 and still lost his 2004 race for an open seat in the California State Assembly. Undeterred, he's already announced he's running in 2006 for state insurance commisioner. Of five Californians in the top 10, three lost their races.Legislative leaders with easy races in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Texas also showed up as top fund-raisers in an analysis of campaign contribution data collected by the Institute on Money in State Politics. Pennsylvania House Speaker John Perzel (R) raised $4.6 million last year but gave $1.9 million to fellow candidates and a state political action committee. He still captured nearly 75 percent of the November vote. "

An ugly theme constantly resurrects itself in modern American elections: only big money can win you a chance to participate in the process. The average cat on the street who wants to run for office is benched since passion and true advocacy can hardly compensate for empty pockets.
And fuh-get about it if you made some bad turns or judgements in a past life - which is pretty much all of us homo sapiens. Basically, the lesson here: only money can get you a skeleton cleaner. No cheddar? Don't bother if you don't want your dirty laundry aired. But, money can buy you all the clean reputation you want ...

Kudos to CNN analyst Jeff Greenfield for raising it briefly during a recent broadcast of The Situation Room. Does it surprise us that there is little follow up?

Here's an idea for a New York Times bestseller: "Creative Ways to Campaign and Win Without Deep Pockets: How You Can Reclaim Democracy."

Monday, November 07, 2005

Signs of a Better Strategy?

Freshly installed NAACP President Bruce S. Gordon makes some encouraging comments on the high court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. as it relates to modern Black political strategy:

"The NAACP has every obligation to be thorough and not overreact or make a decision without all the information, but I sense this is a nomination that may not be consistent with the America Rosa Parks sat down to create ..."

The Washington Times further reports: The new leader said that despite his "preliminary" assessment of Judge Alito, he still thinks the group must put politics aside and engage both political parties on civil rights, economic equality and diversity in all facets of American life.

Gordon implies a level of prudent response on the part of the NAACP that is reasoned. Yes - there are serious concerns with Alito's nomination (the announcement of his nomination timed against memorial services for Rosa Parks was uncomfortably surreal), but let's express those concerns in a manner less rhetorical and more informed or thoughtful.

This seems more consistent with the reality of the American political landscape, where major Black political and public policy organizations will need to exercise calculated balance in their relations with the dominant dual party apparatus. Despite the Washington Times hopeful analysis, that doesn't mean African American voters should or will suddenly shift allegiance en masse to the Republican Party - but, it's never a bad idea to vote based on issues and the candidates discussing them rather than just the party affiliation. It's called independence.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Long Term Investments ...

In principle, we believe something must be done to curtail what is becoming a runaway $314 billion budget deficit and, certainly, cuts in spending should ensure a positive fiscal outlook. The question is: what to cut?

However, this latest move by the Senate leaves us extremely concerned with the prioritization of those cuts. Beyond the indictments, closed session tirades and partisan barbs, this is the real story getting little headline. Congress seems eager to cut student loans, thereby widening the disparity between rich students who can go to college and the increasing number of poor to middle class students who can't afford it - yet, if you ask that same Congress to cut spending and initiate a withdrawl from an unpopular and directionless Iraq War, you hear crickets. 8.6 percent of the nation's poorest young adults earned bachelor's degrees by age 24 in 2003, barely up from 7.1 percent in 1975, according to Postsecondary Education Opportunity.

There is a perverted logic on Capitol Hill that finds greater value in the short term and questionable progress of a scandalous war than promoting a long term investment in the nation's intellectual development. Ironically, Senate cuts on student loans occur at a time when half of the nation's military recruits come from lower-middle-class to poor households - how convenient (for those in Congress who aren't sending their sons or daughters to war) to continue reducing access to college funding for strapped high school graduates, yet provide a sweetening array of financial incentives if they sign up for extended tours in sunny Iraq.

The lack of public outcry is even more telling. That trend could potentially reverse itself once Americans realize they can make, on average, $20,000 more with a Bachelor's degree than without.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Rule 21 and the Location of a Spine

For months many observers have wondered where the fire and passion was from the Democrats. While the Republicans have seemingly been imploding, the Democrats have been nearly silent. On the war, on the Hurricane Katrina response, on the rising gas prices, on the Roberts nomination, on the first indictment in 135 years of a White House staffer, the Democrats have offered no leadership, no alternative vision and no political spine.

However, the giant woke up today around noon and began to roar. From the floor of the United States Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) angry at the lack of movement of a Senate investigation of pre-war intelligence and whether Congress was mislead to go to war invoked Rule 21, which means Senate must go into a closed session to discuss national security issues. It is the first time in 25 years that it has been invoked and the Senate shutdown.

After last weeks indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the now former Chief of Staff for the Vice-President, the Dems may have seen an opening to have a national discussion about the reason we went to war in Iraq.

The ongoing investigation of the Special Prosecutor despite the Libby indictment has allowed pre-war intel to remain in the news and the Democrats now seem to be taking advantage.

The dramatic maneuver was not taken lightly. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) called the move "a slap in the face" and a move that broke with Senate protocol.

Broken protocol? I think thou doth protest too much. This is the same man who "broke protocol" and campaigned (hard) against a sitting Minority Leader when he waded into the South Dakota Senate race last year.

Despite the hypocrisy, the Republicans were clearly caught off guard and truly angry about the Democratic procedural move.

We now sit and wait outside the closed Senate doors and see what this secret session yields. We also sit and wait to see if the Democrats will use this new found confidence and will filibuster the President 's most recent choice to the Supreme Court.

Was the invocation of Rule 21 a blip on the screen of political machismo or was it the first revelation of a new steel political spine, determination and passion?

Only time and the discussion behind the closed doors will tell.