This page shows all the posts for the "2008 Presidential Election" Category from E Pluribus Unum
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November 29, 2007

Rudy's Ties to a Terror Sheik

Wayne Barrett has published a bombshell story about how Rudy Giuliani's business contracts tie him to the man who let 9/11's mastermind escape the FBI.

It is a masterful job of investigative reporting, but it is a tremendously complex story. I have boiled it down to one picture that hopefully will allow you to get what Barrett is saying.

Click graphic to see full-sized version. Then go read the story.

November 26, 2007

Obama On Race (Updated)

[cross posted at Daily Kos]

You don't think of Iowa as having any significant sort of minority population. So when Sen. Obama held a forum on urban issues at a Des Moines high school, it got my attention. He talked about what it takes for a teenager to succeed at a job (only a black candidate could make the comments about "Pookie" that Obama did). Then it got serious:

[P]eople turned silent when Annette Brown, an African-American woman, told Obama of her struggle to integrate into the community, after moving to Des Moines from Chicago.

"I come from a diverse background. I have people of every race in my family," Obama responded. "When we were at Thanksgiving, you looked around and everybody tried to figure out, how do all these people fit together? I see a lot of different perspectives.

This is so much better, and believable, than his cringe-inducing contention that being 10 years old in Indonesia uniquely qualifies him for foreign affairs.

And one of the things that I truly believe is that the vast majority of Americans want to do the right thing. They want to live together. They believe in diversity...They believe everyone is American. I truly believe that is where America wants to be."
Who else talks like this? No one. In an era where fear-mongering is the standard means to getting elected, Obama's appeal is refreshing. This is the kind of talk that attracted me to Obama in the first place.

Is it enough to win him the nomination and the election? I've said it before: if Giuliani is the nominee, race will be THE issue whether it is overt not (look for "Pookie" to reappear one way or the other). That said, I'm entertaining the idea that perhaps Obama, not Clinton, is the best Democrat to run against the Republicans.

"But here's the thing that I've said before and I'll say it again. We do have a legacy of racism in this country, and we see it in our daily lives. There's a reason why African Americans are more likely to be incarcerated. There's a reason why Hispanic Americans are more likely to be without health care and in low-wage jobs. It has to do with the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow and discrimination.

And even if people aren't discriminated against now...that legacy still persists. And one of the things that we have to do is finally acknowledge that legacy and go ahead and try to make it right. Not by calling each other by names, not by acting suspicious towards each other, but rather simply saying, let's go ahead and solve this problem in this generation, so it doesn't persist for the next generation."

The phrase "Only Nixon could go to China" floats in one's mind. I'm just saying.

In any case, America has always been about embracing the disenfranchised -- It's even inscribed on the Statue of Liberty -- and so we necessarily a pluralistic nation, too. If we are to be united, then that's where it starts. E Pluribus Unum, baby.

I like this guy.

UPDATE: ...but can he, you know, throw a punch? Richard Wolffe has some commentary.

November 20, 2007

War and Politics: Time to Change the Way You Think

Somewhere in one of John Rogers' posts I found a link to John Robb's blog, Global Guerillas, wherein Robb discusses the concept of open-source warfare.

There's way too much there to do it justice in a single (or multiple) short posts, but I think Robb nails it in one specific post when he talks about perpetual war and how it enables and strengthens a regime. That's nothing new. What stopped me and made me think was how that it happening here in the US.

A sample:

The privatization of conflict. This is likely the critical factor that makes perpetual warfare possible. For all intents and purposes, the US isn't at war. The use of a professional military in combination with corporate partners has pushed warfare to the margins of political/social life. A war's initiation and continuation is now merely a function of our willingness/ability to finance it. Further, since privatization mutes moral opposition to war (i.e. "our son isn't forced to go to war to die") the real damage at the ballot box is more likely to impact those that wish to end its financing. To wit: every major presidential candidate in the field today now gives his/her full support to the continuation of these wars.
Remember: the optimist's view of Iraq envisions 80-100 thousand troops there for 30 years.

The guy is very perceptive and he is changing the way I look at war and politics -- and this campaign for president.

November 19, 2007

Odds & Sods #45: Optimist's Edition

November 15, 2007

Rove vs. Kos at Newsweek

[cross posted at Kos...UPDATE: Recommended!]

I would have guessed Malkin, but that's why I don't get the big bucks.

From the Post:

Newsweek has signed the president's former deputy chief of staff as a commentator who will turn out several columns on the 2008 campaign through inauguration day. The move is not likely to prove popular among liberals who believe the mainstream media have been too soft on the Bush administration.

Batten down the hatches.

"We want to give readers a feel for what it's like to be on the inside," says Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham. "Our readers are sophisticated enough to know that what they get from Karl has to be judged in the context of who Karl is...Readers will have to decide if he's simply an apologist."

Oh I think we already know the answer to that.

Newsweek (which is owned by The Washington Post Co.) will announce tomorrow that it is granting regular space to both Rove and Markos Moulitsas, the liberal firebrand who founded the Web site Daily Kos.

Can Hillary take a punch?


“Edwards and Obama are still waltzing around [Clinton] rather than hitting on doubts about her that would really resonate with voters,” said Ross K. Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University.

Gosh, I don't know: Edwards has been pretty clear. He's saying she talks out of both sides of her mouth at the same time. Not an original charge, nor one that hasn't been leveled at any given candidate at any time (Edwards included).

“One absolutely devastating accusation that could resonate is that she is gullible — she bought into two false story lines, one from her husband about Monica Lewinsky and one from President Bush about Iraq,” Mr. Baker added.

Hillary gullible? Now THAT's an interesting notion. All the more so because I could see Edwards doing that. I could also see Giuliani doing it. Not sure about the others.

Something else to consider: how would the public react?

Many have said if she can't take the heat now, wait til the Republicans have at her. They have a point. Could Clinton take that punch and still remain standing? Or would she be down for the count?

My guess is that she's the toughest and most durable fighter the Dems have -- in fact it might be her one greatest redeeming characteristic. Edwards? Cheney already kicked his ass once. Obama? Not sure he can throw a punch. But Clinton -- a real street fighter. I'm not talking about that nonsense of "fighting for the people against the powerful." That's Bob Shrum talking and we can see where that got him.

I'm talking about the will to win no matter what. Wanting to win more than your opponent and doing whatever it takes to take him down. I see that in Clinton. The others -- not so much.

P.S. Another thing to consider: the bar has been placed such that, unless Hillary is taken out on a stretcher, she wiins the night.

November 14, 2007

Odds & Sods #44: Silence Of The Lambs Edition

  • Breaking News: "Musharraf Expects To Quit As Army Chief By End of Month." Riiiiiiight. And Larry Craig expects to leave the US Senate by the end of October.

  • When Brian Williams guest-hosted on SNL a couple of weeks ago, it went a long way in changing my opinion of him. But this softball interview with Rudy Giuliani reminds me again why I didn't like him in the first place.

  • Speaking of Williams, apparently his ratings are up post-SNL. Then again, so are Katie Couric's and she wasn't even on the show.

  • Judith Regan is suing News Corp. over her firing in the OJ book affair. She's claiming (among other things) that Murdoch tried to ruin her reputation to protect Rudy Giuliani's. You know -- she was boffing Bernie Kerik and they were afraid she'd blab about it. Sounds to me like they all -- Murdoch, Giuliani, Kerik, Regan -- deserve each other.

  • Bush's plan for the economy: prop it up with matchsticks and duct tape until January 20, 2009. Then blame the new president for ruining it.

  • James Carville compares Don Imus to Bill Clinton.

  • A Wiki site has leaked the Gitmo Camp Delta manual online. Or at least, ahem, that's what they tell me.

  • Silence of the Lambs: Baghdad, post-surge. [Note: for those of you who didn't read the novel, the reference is to the silence that was heard after the lambs had been slaughtered; it haunted the novel's protagonist.]

  • Chris Bowers: "If Obama wins Iowa and New Hampshire, he takes the nomination." Maybe yes, maybe no. One thing for sure -- of all the top tier Dems, he has shown the most upward momentum over the past 30 days or so. Even the prediction markets are starting to reflect that. I just wish he had more of Jack Kennedy in him and less of Adlai Stevenson.

  • Matt Stoller asks whether the negative attacks on Clinton are working. Short answer: maybe.

  • Got to know when to fold 'em: Apparently, Gov. Spitzer has decided to abandon a plan to issue New York driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

November 12, 2007

Giuliani's Weekend At Bernie's

The Sunday talk shows have a lot to say about Giuliani's indicted crony, Bernie Kerik.

November 09, 2007

Hillary Might Not Have Tipped A Waitress in Iowa! And, oh yeah, Giuliani's Police Chief Indicted on Corruption Charges

At the top of the news this morning: witnesses allege that Hillary Clinton failed to tip a waitress in Iowa recently. The Clinton campaign disputes that.

In other news, Bernie Kerik, former police commissioner of New York City, former nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, and protege and former business partner of Rudy Giuliani, was indicted today.

Continue reading "Hillary Might Not Have Tipped A Waitress in Iowa! And, oh yeah, Giuliani's Police Chief Indicted on Corruption Charges" »

November 07, 2007

Clinton's “Downturn:” Conventional Wisdom?

Over the past month, and despite some ups and downs, the prediction market is showing the following:

  • Clinton, up (and still the overall market leader)
  • Edwards, down (a nickel stock)
  • Obama, down
  • Giuliani, up (still the Republican market leader)
  • Romney, up
  • Thompson, down (crashing into nickel stock territory)
  • McCain, up (another nickel stock)

If you're wondering how Clinton's "debate stumble" and/or the others holding her feet to the fire is affecting her numbers, well, the results are mixed. While many of the polls show a decline in her support, a nearly-equal number of polls show nothing of the sort. Regardless, her lead is still in the double digits.

Chris Bowers has a round up and offers an excellent analysis as well:

I imagine most people reading this blog are either happy that Clinton is somewhat down, or at least not disappointed. However, they should be careful what they wish for.

In this case, what appears to be a Clinton drop in the polls was largely fueled by the same media machine that, most of the time, happily reinforces Republican narratives as conventional wisdom. The lesson here, I think, is to remember that the corporate, established media is still very good at creating national convention wisdom as they see fit.

While in this case that conventional wisdom might make many people in the netroots happy, most of the time it won't. It is still a powerful institution that Republicans and conservatives are better able to control than Democrats and progressives, and we shouldn't forget that.

After the fact re-branding of debates remains of the biggest reasons George Bush is President instead of Al Gore, for example. Their after the fact coverage of Howard Dean's concession speech in Iowa, or General Petraeus's rosy portrayal of Iraq are even more gratuitous examples.

Most of the time, it feels as though the conventional wisdom machine works against us, and even in instances where we might enjoy the conventional wisdom that is being created (and I admit that I enjoy it simply because a blowout campaign is a boring campaign), we shouldn't forget that.

November 06, 2007

Giuliani: I Believe I Can Fly

Barring a surprise consolidation of Christian evangelicals behind Mike Huckabee, it looks now like Rudy Giuliani will probably get the Republican nomination. That said, if you're a Democrat, how do you fight this guy?

I think Josh Marshall takes an interesting approach -- mockery and ridicule:

So far Rudy Giuliani has told us he was a 9/11 recovery worker, an expert on torture and 'enhanced interrogation' techniques from his days as US Attorney and now commander-in-chief of New York City. In Tuesday's episode of TPMtv, we ask the question ... Rudy Giuliani, Grade School Fibber or World Class Megalomaniac? You watch & decide...

November 05, 2007

Iraq Not An Issue in '08?

[cross posted, with poll, at Daily Kos]

So suggests Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria. Skeptical? Hear him out:

First off, he debunks the observation that everything is on a glide path to a soft landing.


This is a nation where 4.5 million people have fled their homes, ethnic cleansing has transformed whole cities and religious fanatics have imposed a theocratic rule that is often more extreme than in Iran.

In much of the country, thugs rule the streets. The police chief of Basra told the Iraqi newspaper Al-Sabah last week, "Most of Basra's ports, especially Umm Qasr, are under the control of militia gangs. The police force is incapable of executing its duties because its members report to the militias."

The central government is barely functioning. Half of the cabinet ministries are either vacant or nonfunctional.

Iraq's oil production is down this year. Sectarian divisions are, in some ways, getting worse.

No purple fingers here, folks.

On the ground, far from Bush's rhetoric of transformation, these conditions have moved American policy toward realism.

So if you thought "victory" was going to be a democratic Iraq friendly to US interests, then we lost the war.

That said, it hasn't stopped Petraeus, according to Zakaria, from seizing an opportunity to take credit for himself and his clients:

Petraeus has been willing to do what no American official has until now: accept Iraq for what it is and not what Washington wants it to be. Searching for a stable order, Petraeus has allied himself with whoever, within reason, could produce that order.

If I could, I would have added air-quotes to the words "stable order."

Petraeus has, in effect, given up hopes of Shiite leaders in Baghdad reconciling with Sunnis, and instead he's made up with them himself. The result has been that Al Qaeda in Iraq has been marginalized, Sunni leaders no longer demand an American withdrawal and the Shiites have recognized that America's support is not unconditional.

Hey, if it means fewer dead Americans, good on him. Declare victory, for all I care -- just come home, godammit.

In the Shiite south, U.S. policy has abandoned the goal of an impartial government and has picked a side: Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), which holds sway over most local governments in the region.

I have a feeling we'll regret this someday, but ... whatever.

Petraeus has even been somewhat accommodating of the Sadrists. In Baghdad, U.S. forces now primarily target "rogue" Mahdi Army militants. The more maintsream Sadrists have been tacitly allowed to operate in several Shiite areas.

"Let Freedom Reign?" Nuh-uh. This is us pointing a gun at everyone as we slowly back out of the room.

Bottom line: Hundreds of billions flushed down a hole, tens of thousands dead and wounded -- and the same people who got us into it are still in power...ready to do it again in Iran.

As for Iraq being an issue in the fall of '08, Zakaria suggests that you not bet on it:

In the new NEWSWEEK Poll, the economy now tops Iraq as the issue that voters say will most influence their choice for president, 22 percent to 19 percent. For two years, Iraq dominated these kinds of surveys. Only a month ago, in a CBS News poll, 28 percent of respondents wanted Iraq to be the campaign's most-discussed issue, while the economy came in second at 16 percent. One can't make too much of one poll, but other evidence also suggests that the gap seems to be closing.

It's the economy, stupid!

P.S. Of course, he doesn't mention the fallout if the US is at war with Iran 6 months from now. If that happens it is not going to be good for the Dems -- or anyone else for that matter.

You know it's coming. Will we be ready -- whoever we nominate?

November 04, 2007

How To Win The Democratic Nomination

[cross posted at Daily Kos]

Hunter complains that the '08 election reveals that "America is definitely devolving into a contested monarchy and [worse yet] we like it that way." He also complains that Sen. Clinton (a member of the royal family, like Bush) is too corporatist, too conservative, too much an establishment candidate.

Name the top five Democrats to actively fight against the excesses -- no, the abominations -- of Bush rule: unconstitutional violations of law, the 'defining down' of torture, criminal acts by members of the administration, corporate handouts on a staggering scale. Name the top ten Democrats. The top twenty? Is Clinton (or Obama, for that matter) anywhere in that top list?
I guess Hunter is talking about John Edwards? Chris Dodd? Your guess is literally as good as mine.

In contrast, Clinton has played the far more conventional establishment game, by the establishment rules -- while other Democrats have put their reputations on the line on various issues they have passion for, Clinton has carefully cultivated behind-the-scenes, institutional power, and avoided potentially damaging fights about the big-picture issues that face the nation. Very smart, yes. But not progressive, and certainly not courageous.
Courage. Really, Hunter? In a politician? You also say that the most progressive candidate should be the nominee. Courage and progressive values: you're describing Teddy Roosevelt running on the Bull Moose platform. How many of them is walking the earth these days? And -- newsflash! -- Roosevelt lost that election because he split the Republican vote and gave the presidency to Woodrow Wilson.

I'm thinking Hunter probably likes John Edwards. After all, he's running an anti-poverty campaign. But it will take more than that to win him the nomination. Same goes for the others that Hunter might be thinking of.

Hunter apparently doesn't care for Obama; but I have a feeling Obama is speaking for more than a couple of "courageous progressives" (translation: "trailing candidates") when he says this::

Obama...described Clinton as a skilled politician running a textbook campaign but said the textbook itself is badly flawed and skewed against ordinary Americans. "It's a textbook that's all about winning elections but says nothing about how to bring the country together to solve problems," he said.
I like Obama, but that's what a loser says.

Perhaps you see where I'm going here. You don't get the nomination simply because you're "right on the issues." You get the nomination because you defeat your opponent(s). Bobby Kennedy -- who was right on the issues -- knew that.

So what if there are five -- or fifty -- Democrats who are right on the issues (and Clinton isn't among them). The fact still remains that any single one of them has to win before they get to use the levers of power. Is Hunter suggesting that certain candidates should be granted the nomination because they are "right on the issues?" Is he suggesting that certain candidates should be eliminated because they aren't?

It is going to take more than progressive values and courage to defeat Rudy Giuliani.

As for a "contested monarchy," we wouldn't be having this conversation if SCOTUS hadn't stuck its nose where it didn't belong.

November 03, 2007

Clinton: What doesn't kill her only makes her stronger

Polls (and trading markets) are showing that Tuesday's debate didn't hurt Clinton; in fact she might have gained some ground. And as for her playing the gender card? Last I looked, every candidate plays the gender card -- whether it's Bush in his codpiece, or Kerry "reporting for duty." Even the fortunate candidate who has overt sex appeal is playing the gender card. Anyone who thinks otherwise (including that sexy candidate) is being disingenuous.

I liked that Clinton refused to be shoe-horned into the Republican frame of "decisiveness vs. nuance:"

"I will continue to say what I believe," Clinton said. "And sometimes it may not be as artfully presented as I would wish, but I think some of the challenges facing our country and some of the difficult issues we have to grapple with are not so easily answered in a 15-second hand-raise or sound bite."
Edwards, who is drifting dangerously close to Rick Lazio territory -- and, in a deja vu moment, even being aided by Tim Russert, no less -- had the wrong response IMHO:
Edwards, scoffed Friday: "I have a really simple rule: If you get asked a yes or no question, you don't give a yes and no answer."

This is one of those cases where being a trial lawyer may actually hurt -- after all, Clinton isn't in the witness box and I think people sense that Edwards is coming off a bit harsh.


November 02, 2007

Lying With Impunity

by shep

Greg Sargent talks about Paul Krugman’s recent call out of the press to mention the fact that Rudy Giuliani has a bad habit of lying dissembling and wonders why the press seems so reluctant to do so when it is always oh so ready to trot out the latest GOP smear of Democrats:

Indeed. As this blog has been noting regularly, in the case of Dem candidates, your pundits will cheerfully springboard off the most trivial of anecdotes -- and in some cases, things that never happened at all -- to reach sweeping judgments about Dems' character deficits. But when it comes to Republican candidates, there is, with a few exceptions, a deep-seated reluctance to doing something so crude and impolite. This enormous double standard has been plainly obvious for years and years now. Yet you'd be hard-pressed to get anyone in the media to admit this. The denial about it runs too deep.
These days, it’s rare to hear a Republican open his mouth and not have a lie come tumbling out. For a typical Bush speech, I have to take off my shoes to count all of the lies, mischaracterizations and obfuscations (come on, we all have to find some way to get through a Bush speech and I figure this one beats drinking rat poison).

So what is it, MSM? Can you no longer discern the truth from an outright falsehood? Do you lurve you some big strong daddy Republicans? Do you just hate Democrats? Has this hypocrisy gone on so long and been so horrifically tragic for the nation that you can’t face your own duplicity and responsibility?

Do tell.

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

October 31, 2007

The real winner in last night's debate (Updated)

[cross posted at Daily Kos]

Notwithstanding Krugman, it looks like a narrative is forming for the general election, and trust me, you've heard this song before: firmness versus nuance. It's a Republican frame and that means the traditional media will be eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And that means there was only one winner (see below).

But first, hear me out:

To the extent that Edwards (and Obama) attacked Clinton on being "for it and against it at the same time," it helps the Republicans as much as it helps any Democrat. Why? Because, for Republicans, right and wrong don't matter -- only firmness and resolve matter. [Note: did I miss something or did Edwards pass when it came to declaring his position on Spitzer's proposal?]

Granted, Edwards is showing he, too, has cojones. The problem for Edwards comes later -- during the general election. Far more people believe Giuliani and/or McCain have the stones than believe Edwards does. So, down the line, Edwards may only have himself to blame. That's what happens when candidates accept their opponents' frame -- it leaves your opponent with plenty of ammunition during the general.

Also: another Republican frame is going to be fear. So when the debate turns to drivers' licenses for immigrants (as it will for at least the next few days) I'll give you one guess as to who that helps. Hint: It ain't the Democrats. [UPDATE: Jonathan Singer addresses the pros and cons of the issue.]

Deal with it: fear is a Republican frame. Fear of terrorists, fear of illegal immigrants, free-floating fear of "colored people." In fact, racial fear will be the most potent theme that the Republican base responds to.

And Giuliani is all about racial fear. Clinton? Buddies with Charlie Rangel and everyone in Harlem (just ask O'Reilly). Edwards --helping those in poverty? Please. You know who that helps, right? Obama? Too black. Not black enough. Can't make up his mind about what his race is. Except we know he's soft. Soft on Islamofascists. And you know what color their skin is.

Bottom line: the real winner last night was George W. Bush. And, by extension, his rightful heir: Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani who (like Cheney and Bush) has made his career out of fear. Long before 9/11, he made a name for himself by appearing at -- and later, as mayor, ordering police riots. And that's not to mention the infamous killing of Amadou Diallo. In fact, before this is over, the 9/11 thing may very well have fallen by the wayside, having been exposed as his weak spot, not his strength. His strength? Giuliani is the one virulent, determined, resolute, angry white male who will stick it to em, once and for all, wink wink nudge nudge.

Will the Dems be ready for that? As I see it, the only way to be truly ready is to be prepared to hang Bush around Rudy's neck and let him sink to the bottom of the fetid ocean he swims in. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Who among the Dems is ready to do that?

Because you know Rudy's coming for you. Don't say you weren't warned.

October 30, 2007

Night of the Living Republicans (Updated)

Jib Jab has done it again. This time they've made a Halloween horror show about zombie Republicans coming to get ... me! Yow!

Odds & Sods #43: Campaign Edition (Updated)

  • I always wondered if Obama could take a punch; now, it turns out, he can't throw one. UPDATE: Chris Matthews, that runaway beer truck, on what Obama should say from here on out.
  • Whatever happened to John Edwards? Wasn't he running for President? When you search on "Edwards" at Google News, only four out of the top ten stories are about the former Senator from North Carolina.
  • Apparently Republicans now believe that Terrorists Prefer Hillary. So let's save ourselves a lot time and money, shall we? Let the terrorists decide. Whoever they pick, we'll vote against them.
  • Speaking of crackpot Republicans, Rudy Giuliani's "facts" about prostate cancer recovery rates in England v. USA are embarassingly (and provably) wrong. So it raises the age old question about Republican presidential candidates: is he a liar or a dope? Either way, we don't need another one those in the White House.
  • I had a chance to hear Dan Senor talk over the weekend; he's yet another in a long line of Republicans who've turned on the Bush administration while pretending they had no part in creating the mess we're in.
  • Speaking of clueless failures, I caught former presidential speechwriter Michael Gerson on TDS last night. He's got a new book out (you'll have to find your own link, sorry) that pretends as though it's 1999 again and that -- wait for it -- Republicans should be more compassionate. Ack.
  • Speaking of compassion, the Republicans cannot win if they try to be like Democrats. Think about it: if the restaurant menu has two items -- a Cheeseburger and a "sort of Cheeseburger" -- which one are you going to order?
  • UPDATE: On the other hand, it looks like their strategy might be to run against incumbent-Hillary. This accomplishes two things: conveniently erases the collossal screwup of the Bush years from the history books, while shifting the blame to the Clintons (something Republicans are naturally good at).
  • Looks like Hillary understands the game plan.

October 25, 2007

Rudy's all about race

Oh, we can use buzzwords like "law and order," we can call it "fighting islamofascism" but the bottom line is that Rudy's base looooooves him because they know he'll stick it to 'em, if you catch my drift.

How do you fight that? It's very difficult. Don't expect Rudy's opponents to "play the race card" Nuh-uh -- that will backfire. Besides, Rudy will probably beat them to it: look for campaign ads next fall showing Al Sharpton and Hillary Clinton standing side by side and smiling.

You know it's coming.

October 23, 2007

Iran: Electoral Disaster for Dems?

[Cross posted, with poll, at Daily Kos]

Yaakov Kirschen's cartoon goes like this: "The optimists think that the US Presidential campaign will be about the war in Iraq, while the pessimists think it'll be about the war in Iran." Substitute "Democrats" for "optimists" and "Republicans" for "pessimists" and I think you have a prescription for Democratic electoral disaster.

Hear me out...

Flash forward 6-12 months: tensions are high with Iran; maybe we've had some cross border skirmishes (like the Turks vs. the PKK). Maybe we've concentrated more ships, planes and bombs into the Gulf region. I'm not a betting man but the odds seem pretty strong we'll see that, or worse, in the immediate future. Who's going to stop it? Congress? Riiiiiiight. This is the same bunch that couldn't even compel Harriet Miers to comply with a crappy subpoena.

So now tensions are high. Very high. We're talking 24/7 war mania. Of course, the media is no help. In fact, Murdoch's new WSJ business channel bangs the drums louder than anyone -- whatever is good for the corporation is good for America. Blackwater stock goes stratospheric.

Who do you think this help the most -- Democrats or Republicans? Or more to the point: which candidates does this help most? Don't shoot the messenger, but I'm here to tell you it's short list -- and it has more Republicans on it than Democrats:

  • Giuliani -- Death to Islamofascism. No more 9/11's.
  • McCain -- The son and grandson of Navy admirals, blah blah blah.
  • Clinton -- Stood (and will stand) shoulder-to-shoulder with the Commander in Chief
The rest of the field are (rightly or wrongly) perceived as lightweights. Not only that: the press will cast the story that way as well. Romney? Edwards? They cancel each other out as pretty boys. Obama bet on Iraq (being the optimist, see above, that he is) but he has no cred on Iran. Thompson? Compared to McCain and Giuliani, he's about exciting as a plate of grits. Dodd & Biden? I'd like to think they could stop Bush/Cheney via the Senate but I'm not counting on it. Richardson? His strength is his weakness -- he's a diplomat.

For those of you who were electoral optimists (see above) this is not good, my friends: McCain and Giuliani already poll relatively well against Clinton. A looming war with Iran helps them more than it helps her. Whichever one of them gets the nomination, all bets are off for an easy Dem takeover in the White House.

One bit of good news: I think Hillary Clinton intuitively sees these pieces on the chess board and is thinking several moves ahead. The others either don't -- or can't -- deal with it as it stands now.

Am I missing something here? I don't think so.

Bottom line: the worse the situation with Iran, the better it is for the Republicans in November 2008.

October 18, 2007

Dear Senator Rockefeller,

by shep

I am not a constituent of yours in West Virginia or a well-funded lobbyist from K Street so it should be doubly easy to dismiss my comment, as I am sure you will choose to do.

However, I am a lifelong Democrat and I am outraged at your support for retroactive telecommunications company immunity in the current FISA legislation reportedly coming from your committee. I consider your support of immunity for telecommunications companies as nothing less than selling your office to the highest bidder. Obviously, there is no more disgraceful act by a public official.

I will do everything in my power to see that you are replaced by a Democratic candidate who respects the rule of law, the privacy rights of American citizens and who understands and upholds the ethical responsibilities of public office.


[NOTE:] Congratulations to Senator Chris Dodd, who shamed most of his Democratic colleagues, including both of his Senate rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, by vowing to block FISA legislation that gave retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies for civil suits arising from illegal disclosure of customer information to the government. I immediately donated to his campaign and he can go get a beer and a massage with it for all I care.

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

October 16, 2007

Meet the Four Horsemen of Giuliani's Apocalypse

Josh Marshall checks out Giuliani's foreign policy team. Why not? It's the key to knowing what to expect if Rudy gets in.

Bottom line? It's everyone and anyone who was too crazy to make the cut with the Bushies.

October 15, 2007

The REAL Rudy: NYC 9/11 Radio Debacle

Robert Greenwald:

Rudy Giuliani is running for office on how he handled 9/11 and here we have proof positive that firemen were killed because his administration did not fix the long-standing (since 1993!) problems with the radios.

This Brave New Film (BNF) investigative report calls attention to four key questions about Rudy's handling of the broken radios from firemen's families and experts:

  1. Why was nothing done to improve NYFD radio performance for seven years after a clear need was demonstrated in the 1993 World Trade Center attack?
  2. When new radios were finally ordered, why did the city block other companies besides Motorola from bidding on the contract?
  3. Once Motorola was given the contract, why did its cost jump from $1.4 million to $14 million?
  4. Why were these new radios never tested?

These questions should and must be investigated. New York City councilman Eric Gioia has the power to begin an investigation. If we can garner enough attention and signers, we have a major opportunity to help launch an investigation.

Urge the New York City Council to investigate Rudy's failure to fix the inadequate radios.

Sign the petition →

Don't wait. If you don't want any more lies, any more self-aggrandizing, any more passing the buck, any more corruption, then tell everyone you know about this petition.

Maybe we can stop him before he gets the nomination. We don't need another one like Bush/Cheney in the White House.

Don't wait. Sign the petition now. And show everyone you know this film.

October 12, 2007

Okie dokey! Merle Haggard Endorses Hillary Clinton

That's interesting, but not a total shock -- Haggard's people were part of FDR's New Deal Democrats.

What's really interesting is his take on George W:

"The thing that gets under my skin most about George W. is his intention to install fear in people," he said, after walking me down a hallway lined with gold and platinum records. "This is America. We're proud. We're not afraid of a bunch of terrorists. But this government is all about terror alerts and scaring us at airports. We're changing the Constitution out of fear. We spend all our time looking up each other's dresses. Fear's the only issue the Republican Party has. Vote for them, or the terrorists will win. That's not what Reagan was about. I hate to think about our soldiers over in Iraq fighting for a country that's slipping away."


Haggard sensed a certain reluctance among the Hillarians to embrace his endorsement—in part, I imagine, because he's not shy about saying that one of the biggest things Hillary has going for her is Bill, who ranks up with Reagan in the Haggard pantheon and not only because the former President used to have a pickup truck with Astroturf in the back. "He cared about this country, about our problems," Haggard said, with a twinkle. "And I figure that whatever she doesn't know, he does."

Why Gore Won't Run in '08

It's partly because he'd have to campaign in front of the electorate he has, not the electorate he wished he had:

Does the American public care about the Nobel, a prize awarded by a bunch of ... foreigners? Wouldn't winning a "peace" prize brand Gore as weak on national security? Doesn't it show that he thinks he's better than us? Who would want to get a beer with a Nobel Peace Prize winner? Wait, did he just sigh?

It's also partly because he'd have to run in front of the political culture he has, not the political culture he wished he had:

If he entered the race, Gore would run headlong into the same dim-bulb, theatrics-obsessed political press that did him so much harm in the 2000 race. He'd also run into Hillary Clinton's political machine. He would own the climate change issue, so other candidates would have to start attacking him on it and distancing themselves from it. He'd be forced to spend his time discussing one piece of frenzied ephemera after another, instead of focusing on his animating passion. He'd end up in a bruising, demeaning battle, and winning some peace prize wouldn't shield him.

The process of electing a president, like so many things in the U.S. today, has become small and petty. It shrinks, cheapens, simplifies, and plasticizes those who take part in it, [as] Gore has already learned.

Fact is, Gore is smarter -- and already more powerful -- than the average politician-activist. He understands he can do more for his cause outside of this system than he could ever do from the inside. It's a rare individual who can say this. It is a rare individual who has the ability and potential to affect change on a global basis. Gore is that kind of person.

I think he believes that he can affect the kind of global change that is necessary -- without putting himself through the soul-destroying exercise that US politics has become. That's why I don't think he'll run.

Hillary Pops Up On Countdown

Keith Olbermann interviews Hillary and when it's over I'm thinking, "Wasn't she running against a couple of other guys...? Whatever happened to them?"

October 09, 2007

Republicans Debate Today

Republicans. Debating in Dearborn. During Ramadan.

Oy! What a country.

October 08, 2007

Is Giuliani's “Electability” Really A Big Deal?

Speaking of William Kristol and Hillary Clinton...Kristol challenges Giuliani's "electability" argument:

The difference in Rudy's relative performance and Thompson's [versus Hillary in the polls] really isn't that great. And it's not as if Rudy is defeating Hillary while everyone else is losing. They're all losing, in accord with the current generic gap between the parties. Indeed, six months ago Rudy was running 4 points ahead of Clinton (in the Real Clear Politics average), whereas he's now 6 points behind. So the notion that Rudy would significantly outperform other Republicans in the general election, or that Rudy alone can magically save the GOP from defeat, or that longer exposure to him helps with swing voters - all of this is far from clear.
OK, so Kristol buries the lede: Giuliani has lost 10 points to Clinton in the last six months. And all the others are doing even worse than Giuliani.

And this doesn't even begin to address the possibility that Christian evangelicals will peel off and vote for a third-party candidate -- or even just stay home -- if Giuliani gets the nod.

And, frankly, we haven't even gotten to the point where people -- independents -- have begun to dig into Giuliani's crackpot past, e.g., the miles and miles of audio tape from his NYC radio show. Wait til that starts to sink in.

P.S. Speaking of Christian evangelicals. Why aren't they supporting Mike Huckabee? He's polling below the margin of error and his fundraising totals are abominable. Shouldn't he be their guy? He's got it all -- and he's loads more personable than Sam Brownback. IJS.

Hillary's Big Tent

Recently the Washington Post published a list of national security and foreign policy advisers to the Clinton campaign. Buried near the bottom is this entry:

Michael O'Hanlon, Brookings senior fellow and former Congressional Budget Office defense and foreign policy analyst, supporter
What's intriguing is that he is not listed as "foreign policy adviser" as are many others on the list; nor is he even listed as "an informal advisor." Just "supporter." I guess that's because you can't say "turd in the punchbowl" in the newspaper, can you?

Of course I mean that in a nice way.

Glenn Greenwald:

[O'Hanlon is] among the biggest cheerleaders for the war, [and] repeatedly praised the Pentagon's strategy in Iraq and continuously assured Americans things were going well. They are among the primary authors and principal deceivers responsible for this disaster.

He (O'Hanlon) also co-signed the infamous letter from Project for the New American Century (along with, hmmm...let's pick someone at random... William Kristol).

Predictably, this has raised all sorts of hackles around Lefty Blogville.

When I see these folks [O'Hanlon, Mark Penn, Terry McAuliffe, et. al.] on Hillary's team, it makes me cringe. I do not want these people to have direct influence on our next president.
Neither do I. But when I read the rest of the names on the list (presumably released by the Clinton campaign), I wonder how much influence O'Hanlon might have:

Here's the partial list, in alpha order:

  • Madeleine K. Albright
  • Samuel R. Berger
  • Gen. Wesley K. Clark
  • Leslie H. Gelb
  • Richard C. Holbrooke
  • Martin S. Indyk
  • Joseph Sestak
  • Strobe Talbott
  • Togo D. West
  • Joe Wilson

Not a bad bunch to have available in your Rolodex.

The real question is: when they talk, will she listen? As of right now, we can't really say, can we?

October 05, 2007

What Obama's Missing Flag Pin Really Means

Sen. Barack Obama:

"I said, you know what, I probably haven't worn a flag pin in a very long time. After a while I noticed people wearing a lapel pin and not acting very patriotic."

"My attitude is that I'm less concerned about what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those who serve. You show your patriotism by being true to our values and ideals. That's what we have to lead with is our values and our ideals."

Exactly -- it's not what you say, it's what you do. A simple message, no? But there is more, much more, to it than this.

But let me digress for a moment.

Mark has a round-up of the reaction from the other side. It illustrates the old saying: It's the hit dog that howls.

That said, Obama's declaration got me thinking about how there are only two REAL parties in this election cycle:

  • Flag Party
  • Constitution Party
One party pledges allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. The other party pledges to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

One party promises rule by emotion (fear), spectacle and symbolism. The other party promises to rule by law, using the blueprint laid out by the founding fathers, to protect the rights and liberties of individual Americans -- whether they're in the majority or not.

One party pushes new, liberty-restricting amendments -- like the anti-flag burning amendment. The other party promotes the amendments we already have -- like the First Amendment -- amendments that have stood the test of time, history and our culture.

But wait -- there's even more:

The real difference between these two de facto parties is this: Members of the Flag Party know what's at stake. But Constitution Party members? Not so much. They don't even know they're members of their own party! They have no demonstrated ability to frame the nature of their philosophy, or even the nature of the opposing arguments in the current election cycle -- security vs. liberty, words vs. actions, symbols vs. reality.

Even Obama, in yesterday's comments, didn't (or couldn't) lay out the boundaries of this battlefield -- although he did come close.

October 04, 2007

Odds & Sods #41: “Fred Thompson vs. The Soviet Union” Edition

  • Judge to Sen. Craig: You're stuck with your plea: Are Republicans stuck with Craig? [Answer: Yes.]

  • Kudos to Obama: Blocks odious FEC Republican nominee Spakovsky...for now.

  • Conservative "pro-family" activists would rather vote for a third party candidate than they would vote for Rudy Giuliani. I'll believe it when that candidate hands Florida to the Democrats in 2008. IJS. That said, maybe it's time for Rudy to claim he's pro-life now. After all -- 9/11 changed everything!

  • Now that Pete Domenici has announced his retirement, will Bill Richardson quit his run for the White House and try for the Senate instead? His campaign says, no, they're in it to win it and they are "confident" of their chances. Right.

  • Speaking of losers, do you ever get the impression that Fred Thompson is just going through the motions? What ever could he have been thinking? (Answer below.)

  • Sleep-walking his way through Iowa, Thompson tries to out-Reagan the rest of the Republican field by slamming "the Soviet Union." Yes, you heard me. The Hunt For Red October is on again, baby!

  • Speaking of the USSR, today is the 50th anniversary of the launch into space of Sputnik. Did you know that what the Soviets were really trying to do was draw attention to the ICBM that launched the little-satellite-that-could?

  • Speaking of Sputnik, here's an interview with Arthur C. Clark (now nearing 90) wherein he remembers where he was that fateful day when his prediction finally came true.

  • Props to Sergey Korolyov, the genius behind the Soviet space effort. He was called "The Chief Designer" because his identity was deemed a state secret by the Politburo.

  • A new AP-Ipsos poll has Bush's approval ratings at 31 percent, the "lowest level" ever recorded in that poll's history. Not sure if they mean lowest for any president or just lowest for the Bush family.

  • Surprise! People still really, really like Bill Clinton.

And here it is, your moment of Zen:


September 29, 2007

The REAL Rudy: Skips Debate To Fundraise With Bo Derek...

...and Dennis Miller. I kid you not.

Robert Greenwald:

We can imagine how busy Rudy is. Running for president while distorting your record on 9/11, takes a lot of time and energy. So I can't say we were surprised to learn that Rudy (plus Romney, Thompson and McCain) was too busy to attend Thursday night's debate on minority issues hosted by Tavis Smiley...

Turned out [Giuliani was] right here in Southern California accepting an endorsement from widely discredited Pete Wilson, who's known for exploiting racial division for votes, and pushing the horrible proposition 187. Then off to a $2300-a-plate fundraiser at the Biltmore Four Seasons in Santa Barbara with Bo Derek.

September 26, 2007

Today Was The Day the Iran War Started (Updated)

Future historians will point to September 26, 2007 as the day the US-Iran war started:

By a vote 76-22, the Senate passed the Lieberman-Kyl amendment, which threatens to “combat, contain and [stop]” Iran via “military instruments.”

[Full marked-up version of the amendment here.]

Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) called the amendment “Cheney’s fondest pipe dream” and said it could “read as a backdoor method of gaining Congressional validation for military action.”

Batten down the hatches. If Democrats thought they had a clear shot at the White House, they've got another thing coming.

UPDATE: Here's what World War III may look like.

September 25, 2007

Hillary Has Landed

Sen. Clinton made the rounds of all five Sunday talk shows and apparently played the pundits like a fiddle. They said she was tough, strong, serious, smart, disciplined, and so forth. This could be a turning point in the campaign: Hillary has landed.

Todd Beeton:

[T]he progressive movement took one lesson from Gore and Kerry's losses: that to win, Democrats need to forsake the down the middle politics that have led us to losses in the past and instead stand up clearly and strongly for progressive values...[but] Clinton appears to be banking on a slightly different lesson: that in fact running down the middle is a winning strategy as long as you convince people that your positions are sincere and come from a place of strength, not weakness, a feat Clinton appears to be accomplishing, if the reactions to her Sunday talk show appearances are any indication.
It has to be more than that, though. Bush was perceived as being sincere and strong, not weak. So is Giuliani. All things being equal, Clinton has to also convince people that she has the judgment, experience, and stature to step into the job on day one.

September 21, 2007

Mommy And Daddy Have A Conversation

Shorter version of what happened in the Senate yesterday:

Democrats: I think we need to make some important decisions about our family's future.
Republicans: Don't talk to me.

All the rest is detail.

(HT to George Lakeoff)

September 17, 2007

Pop Quiz: Who Stole John Edwards' Health Care Plan?

by Mark Adams

If you answered that "unabashed Marxist" Hillary Clinton, (go ahead and giggle at that one, I did), you win.

Seriously, Hillary is best know to Wingnuttystan as the failed author of what they like to call "Hillarycare" and I've been waiting since 1994 for it to be implemented. But instead of immediately entering the presidential race by offering a health care plan she has been identified with for a decade and a half, she originally said that she'd like some kind of vague "universal" program to be implemented by the time she leaves office after her second term.

She's upped the timetable to the first term, and echoing John Edwards includes a mandate that requires medical coverage for all (Obama's plan does not) making it truly universal, sets up a competing public system to compete with private insurers like Edwards proposes, removes obstacles to access for pre-existing conditions (Edwards, ditto), and except for the devil-in-the-details tax considerations and the relative burden on small businesses, it does look every bit as "very, very sound" as the one offered by John Edwards.

Continue reading "Pop Quiz: Who Stole John Edwards' Health Care Plan?" »

Giuliani: AWOL on Iraq

Rudy Giuliani: booted from the Iraq Study Group after missing meeting after meeting so he could make millions of dollars giving speeches.

Donate a few bucks so MoveOn can put this ad on TV in Iowa.

September 15, 2007

Edwards/Dylan Video Mashup: The Courage To Bring Them Home

(Cross posted at Daily Kos)

I made this using an online video mashup application at Go ahead make your own.

And pass this along to your like-minded friends.

September 14, 2007

Edwards: “No timeline. No funding. No excuses.” (Updated)

Edwards goes over the heads of the President and the Congress and directly to the American people:

Our troops are stuck between a president without a plan to succeed and a Congress without the courage to bring them home. But Congress must answer to the American people. Tell Congress you know the truth...No timeline. No funding. No excuses.

Edwards has managed to frame the debate on his own terms.

UPDATE: Don't just sit there -- go on, call your Congressman. What are you waiting for? Tell them "no timeline, no funding, no excuses."

September 12, 2007

Obama Outlines His Troop Pullout Plan (Updated)

I'll make it brief: There are only 16 months before the next president is sworn in. If that president is a Democrat and if we still have 100 thousand (or more) troops in Iraq by then, this new president's term will be crippled by controversy.

Simply put, s/he will be dogged by accusations that s/he lost the war. Republicans (and some Democrats) will use this impossible situation to accuse the Democrats of being everything from cowards and dilettantes to terrorist appeasers and traitors...and worse. They'll use the issue in the mid-terms of 2010 and the election of 2012 and beyond.

That said, Sen. Obama's sense of timing is pretty good:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is calling for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. combat brigades from Iraq, with the pullout being completed by the end of next year.

"Let me be clear: There is no military solution in Iraq and there never was," Obama said in excerpts of the speech provided to The Associated Press.

"The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq's leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year -- now," the Illinois senator says.

I'll be waiting to see what he does next. And that goes for Hillary as well. As for John Edwards, he's out of power and all he can do is talk.

It's Obama who has the stage today.

UPDATED: Well, Sen. Edwards has upped the ante:

Bush is going to talk about his handing off the Iraq war to the next president [Thursday], and John Edwards has bought two minutes of airtime to follow Bush:

Edwards has bought two minutes of air time on MSNBC, scheduled to air after Bush's 15-minute televised speech from the White House at 9 p.m. EDT...

"Unfortunately, the president is pressing on with the only strategy he's ever had -- more time, more troops, and more war," Edwards says in the ad, according to excerpts provided by his campaign.

The ad was taped at Edwards' home in Chapel Hill, N.C., in the style of an Oval Office address, with him sitting at a desk and speaking straight to the camera, with American flag in the background.

..."Tell Congress you know the truth," Edwards says. "They have the power to end this war and you expect them to use it. When the president asks for more money and more time, Congress needs to tell him he only gets one choice -- a firm timeline for withdrawal."

Well played, Senator!

September 10, 2007

Odds & Sods #40: Petraeus Day Edition

September 07, 2007

The REAL Rudy: Command Center

From Robert Greenwald, Brave New Films:

"It's just not possible."

That was the sentence we heard over and over from families who had firefighter sons, brothers, husbands and fathers killed on 9/11, from experts on emergency response, and from investigative journalists. It was just not possible that Rudy could so distort what happened on 9/11 and his role on that terrible day.

These experts, these grieving and furious family members, were united only by the fact that this story had to be told. Republicans, Independents, and Democrats could agree on just one thing: the cold hard facts about Rudy's terrible handling of 9/11 and the aftermath.

We need your help. We don't have ad budgets, so like all our videos, we are counting on you to spread these to your email list, to your local paper, to blogs, to websites. We are fortunate that today we have the new technology and ability to reach millions, but it only happens when you send the video with notes to as many people as possible.

September 06, 2007

Open Letter To Barack Obama

Geekesque calls on Sen. Obama to take the lead role in ending the occupation of Iraq:

There was a time for Congress to be the steering wheel of our Iraq policy. Now, someone needs to slam on the brakes.

That person should, by all rights, be you. You alone of any major candidate running in either party had the prescience and honesty to oppose invading Iraq. You understood the disaster that would unfold. This gives you credibility--as well as intellectual and moral authority-- that no one else on the national stage possesses.
Senator, you're either moving forward or you're moving backwards. Relative to other candidates, you're moving backwards on Iraq. How on earth is it even remotely possible that Hillary Clinton, a clinical study in opportunism when it comes to Iraq, is perceived amongst primary voters as essentially indistinguishable from you?

Do the right thing and the smart thing. For your nation, your party, and yourself. Step forward, demand the damn ball, and be prepared to accept the consequences one way or another. The voters will not punish you for speaking out against a tragical farce like our so-called Iraq debate.

Playing it safe will result in Bush winning and Hillary getting the nomination. Playing it safe is the ultimate form of living dangerously.

Sometimes you just have to step out of line.

Quinnipiac Polls Ohio -- We Like Edwards

by Mark Adams

September 6, 2007 - Clinton Opens Lead Over Giuliani As Dems Surge In Ohio, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Little Unity Among Republicans

That's their headline, but look underneath the hood and Edwards shines. He enjoys the highest favorability ratings 54%, and is within a tick of Obama for low negatives, 26%/25%.

Strange results analyzed below the fold...
X-Posted at KOS

Continue reading "Quinnipiac Polls Ohio -- We Like Edwards" »

August 27, 2007

Dems: Toughen Up...Or Else

If you know my writing at all, you know I am pretty skeptical of politicians who try to lead by using facts and logic. Why? Because, if you occupy a highly-public position, people judge you mostly by how you look, how you carry yourself, how you sound and not so much by what you say. This is not to say that ideas and plans are irrelevant. It's just that you need to take special care with the other stuff first, otherwise you are handicapping yourself from the very beginning. Or worse yet, you are letting your opponent do it for you. Just ask Al Gore, John Kerry and (wait for it) John Edwards. Of the top tier candidates, I think only Hillary Clinton understands this at a molecular level.

And as for Barack Obama, Drew Westen has some advice:

I think a good example of this is the attempts by the right to play on Barack Obama's name by calling him things like B. Hussein Obama. If you understand how the brain works, you understand that the more times people hear "B. Hussein Obama," the more they think, "He's foreign, he's Islamic, and he sounds like Osama," and the more they develop emotional associations between Obama and all of those things that they don't like.
And this is before he even says a damn thing! What could be worse? Ignoring that BS or just smiling and shrugging it off as...silly or irrelevant. Bad idea.

So a way that Obama could handle that that would address any masculinity issues that are raised against him, any national security issues that are raised against him as well as the implicit or unconscious, sort of stealth racist appeals that are involved in those comments ... is to say to Ann Coulter, who calls him B. Hussein Obama all the time, "Listen, my name is Barack Obama, and I expect to be called that. I call you Ann Coulter. My name is not B. Hussein Obama, my name is not Osama, it is Barack Obama, and you will address me that way."

Now imagine if Barack Obama spoke like that. Immediately people would say, "Wow, this is one tough son of a bitch. We'd better not mess with him." If you want to talk about winning the center, that's how you win the center if you're Barack Obama. It's not by saying, "Let's get along with Ann Coulter." It's by saying, "Ann Coulter, you will not talk to me that way. You will not talk about me that way. This is my name."

Not to belabor the point about a black man with an Islamic sounding name, but this reminds me of Muhammad Ali's response to Ernie Terrell in their 1967 heavyweight championship fight. Terrell, who insisted on calling Ali "Cassius Clay" long after he had changed his name, was mercilessly whupped -- and taunted -- by the champ. "What's my name, fool? What's my name?" Ali kept yelling, as he pounded him to a bloody pulp in the ring. "What's my name, fool?" Pow! "What's my name?"

That's what I'm talkin bout.

August 24, 2007

Hillary: I'm The Best Democrat To Deal With Another Terror Attack

(cross posted at Daily Kos)

I'm not the first one to point out that there are only two things that can rehabilitate George W. Bush's reputation and legacy:

  • Total victory in Iraq
  • Another massive terror attack on the US.

Problem is, Bush no longer knows the difference between the two.

Now, Hillary Clinton is addressing this chilling reality:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday raised the prospect of a terror attack before next year's election, warning that it could boost the GOP's efforts to hold on to the White House.

Discussing the possibility of a new nightmare assault while campaigning in New Hampshire, Clinton also insisted she is the Democratic candidate best equipped to deal with it.

"It's a horrible prospect to ask yourself, 'What if? What if?' But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world," Clinton told supporters in Concord.

"So I think I'm the best of the Democrats to deal with that," she added.

I think she's right to bring it up and I think she's right to grab that niche.

What do you think?

August 23, 2007

Time Magazine Does Rudy A Huge Favor

Rudy.bmpThis week, Time Magazine delivers a profile of Rudy Giuliani that couldn't have been better had it been written by Judi Nathan herself.

Continue reading "Time Magazine Does Rudy A Huge Favor" »

August 21, 2007

Doing Beers With Huckabee

by Mark Adams

The heck with who I'd rather do beers with, I'm pretty sure I already did a lot of beers with this guy.

Free Image Hosting at

Lots of Beers

Mike (inset) and David Huckabee, doing "one of those stupid things," that endears him to Daddy.

(HT David Dayen)

[File under memories of college, nine of the best years of my life.]

Grab Some Popcorn

by Mark Adams

We won't have to do too much to thwart the GOP juggernaught as the gloves come off the former fake New York prosecutor and the former real U.S. Attorney and later real Mayor of New York.
Time's Swampland pits Fred Thompson against Rudy.  First up, the Law And Order guy:

"Anybody who knows me knows I’ve always cared deeply about the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. So I’ve always felt sort of relieved when I flew back home to where that particular civil liberty gets as much respect as the rest of the Bill of Rights."

and Giuliani's response:
"Those who live in New York in the real world - not on TV - know that Rudy Giuliani's record of making the city safe for families speaks for itself. No amount of political theater will change that."
Shorter GOP primary ... "Shaadup!"  "No.  You Shaadup!"

Honestly, just how stupid would it be if New York City was reincarnated as Dodge City?  Can you imagine the clusterf#%&k at the subway in Fred's world?  Everybody packing heat.  And everybody strip searched at the turnstiles.  Metal detectors at every taxi stand, but you're free to let a few rounds go into the air instead of whistling to hail a cab.

You really can tell Fred's version of the Big Apple existed exclusively on a studio back lot, and Rudy, as does the entire GOP field, loves to invoke Ronald Reagan's name over and over and over again, takes a pot shot at Thompson for being an actor.

These guys are a joke -- especially since Reagan's 11th Commandment was thou shall't not speak ill of another Republican.

August 18, 2007

Cheney is a Dildo and Other Quyck Hyts

by Mark Adams

From his lust for Kralizec to his desire to privatize Social Security, Rudy unites left and right, by his stupidity.  Seriously, the guy is absofreakinglutely bat-shit crazy.

Obama figures out
he's just not that good at the 30 second sound-byte debate format -- cuts and runs from attending any more debates than those already scheduled.  I assume that means there will be a hard limit of no more than 47 more until we begin voting -- probably right after Thanksgiving.  Hopefully, there will be lots of arugula.

After watching some TPMtv, spotlighting Mitt Romney's profound ignorance of anything east of Boston Harbor, Raising Kaine concludes "Multiple-Choice Mitt" is a "Giant Foreign Policy Goofball."  News Hounds gets the hypocrisy of Romney's schpeel, but you really need to watch Josh Marshall put it all together to understand how profoundly delusional Romney is. 

Meanwhile, Eleanor Clift has a question for Mitt & Co. that might stop some of the GOP hopefuls in their tracks -- since of course, they'd have to think instead of regurgitating their 30 year-old talking points or trying to remember whether they we talking to an audience that preferred the flip to the flop.

Stop asking Romney and the other Republican front runners about abortion and start asking them where they stand on family planning.
Shorter Elly C.:  "Please stop talking about this wedge issue that is destined to lose the election for us.  Our candidates suck eggs on this."

Fred Thompson, who turns 65 today (thus eligible for all the entitlements he vows to abolish), is the only candidate who needed to have his fat, lazy ass trucked around the Iowa State Fair in a golf cart. 

Actually he looked kinda gaunt.  He'll need to scarf down a few more elephant ears to be the right's answer to Michael Moore. 

She really ought to take it easy on the old guy.  How many little blue pills can one man take?

I noted before that Mike Huckabee was kind spoken towards the Clintons, to the point where he would sound almost gushing if he weren't a Republican.  Rights Field's David Dayen thinks these remarks point to where Huckabee first got the idea that cars and buses were lame, that his super-coolness would be enshrined forever once his Harley cleared the shark tank.

This kid came from a dysfunctional family — alcoholic abusive father. And yet he didn't just aspire, he was elected president of the United States not once, but twice. That is an affirmation of the system. And it's a wonderful testament to give to every kid in America that no matter where you've come from, you've got an opportunity to do something extraordinary.
John Edwards gets ahead of the "gotcha" game and David Sirota approves, he rejects right wing framing of the "war on terra" in the same way that former Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Meyers approved, connects with ordinary folks and David Brooks approves, talks the talk and walks the walk in a way RFK and MLK would approve, calls Coultergeist a "She-Devil," and I approve.  Atrios insults Instalinker and FU by comparing them to Annie Sunshine -- Digby approves.

Wingnuttystan still says, "Gotcha," cuz that's all they got.  I mean, what are they gonna do?  Buy into McCain trying to be the anti-war candidate?  Puh-Leeze.

More Wingnut News...

Vice President Cheney
is a dildo, what else to you call a dick substitute? (Do not Click if you are under age ... 40.)  Doctor BooMan advises us to use a condom anyway.

Speaking of nuts and other guilty pleasures of the alternate universe ... you know you just gotta click on a link that says Ron Paul teams up with Dennis Kucinich.

August 13, 2007

Rove Leaving White House (Updated)

(Cross posted at Daily Kos)

I have no idea why Rove is leaving. But here are some guesses:

  1. His work is finished
    Bush is a lame duck with no credibility with the American public. No one believes him (and by extension, Rove) anymore. Why fight to the finish, especially when more lucrative pursuits beckon?

  2. He's following the money
    If Keith Richards can get $7 million for his memoirs, so can Rove. And down the road he can make $250 thou per speech. He's set for life. Why not get going while the going is good?

  3. He's avoiding the frog-march
    It's only a matter of time before the authorities close in. Cut a deal now and quietly slip away into the witness protection program.

  4. He's joining another campaign
    I hear John McCain has some openings. OK, maybe not. And no matter who he'd join, it would be hard for the campaign story not to be about The Boy Genius.

  5. Leave now or get shot in the face.
    It was only a matter of time before dick Cheney got his revenge for Rove ratting out Libby.
That's all I got. Y'all got any insights?

UPDATE: I'm generally not a big fan of instant analysis, but I think Rove has been around long enough that we can draw some conclusions about his performance as Bush's Brain. First up, Simon Rosenberg:

Karl Rove was the 'architect' of one of the worst governments in American history, and the one who engineered the end of modern conservatism, one of the most successful ideological movements in modern world history.

Next, Kevin Drum:

History will judge Rove a colossal failure, a man who never understood how to govern and, for all his immense knowledge of polls and politics, never really understood the times he lived in. It was 9/11 that both made and broke the Bush presidency, not some kind of mystical McKinley-esque realignment. Rove was blind to that, and blind to the way Bush should have governed after 9/11. His one-track mind, in which every problem is solved by wielding the biggest, nastiest partisan club you can lift, just couldn't adapt. It's fitting that he insisted on making even his final act as calculatedly partisan as he could, announcing his resignation not through the White House press office, but in an interview with the editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Sic transit, Karl.

August 10, 2007

Rudy: “Freedom is about authority.”

Rudy.bmp“Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.”

----- Rudy Giuliani, potential dictator

August 08, 2007

Democrats' Debate In Chicago, August 2007

Count me among those who feel the number of debates is just fine. Granted, I don't watch every one of them (I got blindsided a couple of times because I flat-out didn't know they were happening) but they serve an important function in a year when there is no sitting president or vice-president running for the nomination. Scarecrow elaborates on this:

The debates they’re having now over foreign policy, or health care details and trade provisions are helping all of them refine the larger Democratic message. They are collectively writing the Democratic platform, instead of leaving that to the front runner a year before the conventions. They are all getting better, and Kucinich, who helps keep them all honest, reminds people that short men are not stupid or weak, and can rally the country. And it just makes me smile to wonder what Chris Matthews must think when his post-debate “experts” all agree that Kucinich did great.
Ah, Chris Matthews. He's like your beefy first baseman who hits about .240 but can power the ball over 500 feet on occasion. The rest of the time he strikes out and you tear your hair wondering if the infrequent home runs are worth carrying him on the roster.

Anyway, speaking of Kucinich, is it me or do you also believe that if he and Edwards were to switch bodies, he'd be doing better in the polls than Edwards is? In other words, is Kucinich a more authentic Edwards...than Edwards himself?

P.S. And -- dang! -- every time there's a Dem debate, traffic on this blog spikes...for the short post I wrote about Kucinich's wife. In fact, as of this morning, E Pluribus Unum is ranked #3 in Google for the keyword phrase "Kucinich's wife."

P.P.S. Come to think of it, we're ranked #1and #2 in Google for the keyword phrase "Gonzalez liar."

August 07, 2007

Republicans: Pulling Crap Out Of A Hat calls BS on Republican talking points at last Sunday's debate:

  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney falsely claimed U.S. job growth had been nearly 17 times faster than Europe's. Actually, European Union employment grew faster than that of the U.S. last year. Romney's source for the information told that he himself would no longer use the figures.
  • Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani accused Democratic candidates of "appeasement" toward Islamic terrorists. In fact, leading Democratic candidates have spoken out strongly against terrorism.
  • Sen. John McCain claimed American families spend $140 billion of their income preparing federal income tax returns. We find no support for that figure, which the Internal Revenue Service puts at $19 billion.
  • Rep. Tom Tancredo claimed illegal immigrants "are taking a large part of our health care dollars." But the independent Rand Corp. estimates that undocumented immigrants account for 1.5 percent of health care spending or less.
This kind of stuff should come as no surprise: it is well-known that viewers of Republican-friendly Fox News rank nearly dead-last for knowledge of national and international affairs of any newscast on broadcast or cable TV. Best informed are the viewers of the fake-news Daily Show and Colbert Report.

August 06, 2007

Do People Really Remember Dr. Strangelove Anymore?

Mitt Romney in Iowa this past weekend:

"I mean, in one week [Obama] went from saying he's going to sit down, you know, for tea, with our enemies, but then he's going to bomb our allies," Romney said. "He's gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week."
While I didn't watch that debate, I'd bet that his little zinger got a foot-stompin' good reception from the Republican base.

But who remembers Dr. Strangelove anymore? If anything, the name and character are more closely linked with Henry Kissinger than with Stanley Kubrick or Peter Sellars. And Jane Fonda? Have the Republicans become so ... idea-bankrupt that they're reaching back to the 1970s for iconic imagery? What's next -- calling John Edwards "Meathead?"

What that whole episode emphasizes is how old the Republican base has become. They're living in the past. The future belongs to today's young people and they aren't energized by imagery -- and issues -- from the 60s and 70s.
The last time they saw Jane Fonda was on The Colbert Report and she handled Stephen pretty well. And, more seriously, we now have full trade relations with Vietnam, right?

Lastly, how many people really believe that Pakistan and Musharref are really acting in our best interest anyway? If they're sheltering Osama bin Laden (for whatever reason), wouldn't you want to do whatever it took to catch the bastard -- whether or not that offended our "ally?"

August 02, 2007

Michael Moore's Question For Rudy Giuliani

It's questions like this one that probably are the reason Giuliani chickened out of the CNN/YouTube Republican debate.

P.S. Remember the little kerfuffle that happened when Moore and GOP savior Fred Thompson traded videos a while back? Whatever happened to Fred Thompson after that? Anyone heard anything?

July 31, 2007

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back Into The Water...

Thinking there's no way the Dems can lose the White House in '08? Well, then wrap your head around this --

Two weeks ago, one of the most important Republican lawyers in Sacramento quietly filed a ballot initiative that would end the practice of granting all fifty-five of California’s electoral votes to the statewide winner. Instead, it would award two of them to the statewide winner and the rest, one by one, to the winner in each congressional district. Nineteen of the fifty-three districts are represented by Republicans, but Bush carried twenty-two districts in 2004. The bottom line is that the initiative, if passed, would spot the Republican ticket something in the neighborhood of twenty electoral votes-votes that it wouldn’t get under the rules prevailing in every other sizable state in the Union.
Now, California is not the only state to do this -- it's just the biggest one. And I have no idea if something like this is even constitutional. But do I even want this to go to the Supreme Court? No way.

There's only one way to win and that is to win big. Really big. Big enough that this kind of stuff won't matter.

July 30, 2007

Giuliani's Princess Bride

Vanity Fair serves up a juicy new profile of Rudy's wife:

Judith Giuliani always dreamed big, which got her out of small-town Pennsylvania, through two marriages, and into the arms of Rudy Giuliani. But, as her husband runs for president, people are asking, "Who does she think she is?"
If you don't think a candidate's wife has a huge impact on his candidacy, you're sadly mistaken. And when people get a whiff of'll be "Katie-bar-the-door!"

July 26, 2007

Pssst -- Mitt! It was someone just pretending to be a snowman...(Updated)

"I think the presidency ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman."

Mitt Romney, on why he might not participate in the CNN/YouTube Republican debate.

UPDATE: Mitt still doesn't get it, confusing YouTube with MySpace:

"YouTube is a website that allows kids to network with one another and make friends and contact each other," Romney said. "YouTube looked to see if they had any convicted sex offenders on their web site. They had 29,000."

Fred Thompson: Over Before He Begins? (Updated)

Random thoughts:

  • Thompson "shakes up" his staff? A bad sign, especially considering he isn't really even in the race yet. Worse yet: he appoints Michigan's Hack-tacular ex-Senator Spencer Abraham as his campaign manager. Clearly, Thompson is trying to send a message that he is a true conservative. But Abraham is yesterday's news. He represents the failed policies of the Newt Gingrich wing of the party.

  • Speaking of which, is Newt about to endorse Thompson?

  • Is it possible that Thompson has hesitated so long that the excitement is leaking away? Is it possible that all we're left with are the uncomfortable realities of his background? (Link includes video):
    A woman screaming “you’re not a real conservative, sir” was removed by police from a welcoming reception for likely GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson Wednesday morning. A second protester was also taken from the room...

    She asked him why he was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and noted that the organization supported the North American Union with Canada and Mexico...

    [T]he likely candidate [responded, saying] “Don’t fuss at me. You asked me a question. Let me answer it.” He told the woman, “I try to learn as much as I can from all viewpoints.”

    "Don't fuss at me." I love it! Hey Fred -- that shtick might have charmed the ladies you used to date, but that was then. This is now.

  • And speaking of his background...would you believe he was a "sleazy trial lawyer"?:
    Before he was elected as a tough-on-crime US Senator from Tennessee or played a New York prosecutor on TV's Law And Order, Fred Dalton Thompson worked as a lawyer who argued against the government's authority to regulate drug paraphernalia or to search a boat packed with 14 tons of marijuana.
    Personally, that don't make me no never mind. After all, trial lawyers do important and valuable work. But will Republican base voters see it that way? My hunch is they'll rationalize this part of Thompson's past -- for now. But later? It depends on what else they discover about him and how his campaign progresses.

    P.S. I have to assume that the Romney campaign sees this as good for their man.

  • UPDATE: Thompson's fundraising operation sucks.

  • UPDATE: Wheels coming off the bus?
    J.T. Mastranadi was hired just a week and a half ago to be the campaign's director of research. He resigned this morning, a friend of his said. The friend said that Mastranadi was "fed up" with the "lack of structure" and was unclear about his role in the coming campaign.

  • UPDATE:Is Thompson running or not?
    "As you know, I've got some plans. I'm going to make a final decision in the not-too-distant future."
    To be, or not to be...that is the question.

Paging dick Cheney!

July 23, 2007

Senor Wences Asks Mike Gravel A Question (Updated)

OK, that last part I made up. But that's about all there wasn't on the YouTube/CNN/Dem "debate" Monday evening.

UPDATE: Jeez, all it takes is one mention of "Kucinich's wife" (from Biden or anyone else) and the traffic at E Pluribus Unum goes all 7.5 on the Richter scale. We're apparently in the top 5 for that keyword phrase at Google.

If you missed it, here's the debate transcript. And here is where Slate reviews the show.

P.S. Don't ask me why, but I think Abbie Hoffman would have loved this.

July 12, 2007

Follow Who? Where?

by Mark Adams

So Ara put it to me this way...

In any election, the candidate who can clearly say "follow me" and give the best reasons why, wins. Some would call this "providing a narrative." Or more specifically, it comes down to providing a narrative that gives meaning to people's lives.

Others would call this the "inspiration factor."

But whatever you call it, it is the core of leadership.

And people vote for leaders, not policies or parties.

So, based on that -- who is best positioned to get elected?

Jesus Obiwan, I dunno.

(Typical Ara, so maddeningly consistent, and right.)

I know it sure ain't John McCain. No way.

(I can't wait to see my son tonight, and ask him why his candidate imploded so spectacularly.)

I know it ain't Gore unless he decides to actually, you know, run.

With the top three Dems, I think the subconscious race/gender thing is more in play than anyone will admit.

Edwards is trying to prove he's not the usual white Christian male that is the natural GOP demographic (see Chris Bowers' and Matt Stollers new blog, Open Left, specifically this post by Bowers on Toward A Pluralist Strategy) -- so he's running wonkishly left. Hillary and Obama are doing the opposite, running to the right to prove that they aren't simply the minority candidates and won't alienate those old white Christians that have been voting for the GOP since the '64 Civil Rights movement.

Since I'm going to follow the leader who is the most liberal yet practical enough to be viable, centrists like Obama and Hillary hold no appeal for me. The most liberal, Kucinich (and maybe Gravel) are simply not viable and in no way practical (two sides of the same coin -- you need to be practical to be viable and visa versa) and Richardson -- who's positions and experience I really, really like -- just never figured out how to effectively get his name out there -- thus marketing has something to do with viability.

But that's me. Hillary and Obama are playing the follow-me game by being vague enough to get people to support them as the ideal of what they think the candidate is and what they stand for. Edwards ain't playing that game -- and is freer to do so since he's not in the Senate and not beholden to any specific group and doesn't take PAC money. It's a happy coincidence that Edwards is promoting an agenda, a very specific agenda, that I happen to agree with.

On health care, he wants universal coverage that is more inclusive and implemented sooner than the other two. On the war, he's led in calling for defunding of the surge and recall of our troops. The other two only recently discovered that you don't have to vote for continual funding of the war and it's in Congress's power to end the war.

The list goes on
. He led on boycotting the debates on FOX. He decided to run a carbon-neutral campaign before the other two. He called for Gonzales and Rove to resign. He's not nuanced in any way -- but very specific. He, much like RFK, was up to his neck in the beltway consultant DLC centric triangulation game, and rejected it. That's one of the reasons he was able to call the "War on Terror" exactly what it is -- a bumper-sticker. Hillary about lost it when he said that, but instead of rejecting the right-wing frame, she embraced it -- to pander to who? The GOP base?

Follow Hillary? Where? Into the arms of Joe Lieberaman? Follow Obama? Where? Seriously, where? I have no idea where he's going and neither do you -- and neither (it seems) does he. I know where I don't want to go, and only Ron Paul is leading the GOP away from the abyss of more of the same stupidity. Hillary is flirting with those folks and I won't go there. Obama seems to agree with Hillary more than he'd like to admit, and doesn't seem to be going in the same direction as Edwards (at least he's not in any hurry to go there). I fear that if I "follow him," I'll end up going in circles.

I see John Kerry pounding the podium in the Senate to end the war, freed of the straight-jacket of a presidential campaign, but not Hillary or Obama. Compared to Edwards, who's been accused of not being confrontational enough, Clinton and Obama have been downright meek. John Edwards has been even more vocal about transforming our politics to more closely resemble reality on so many issues in so many ways. I scramble to keep up with him. The problem (if you consider it a problem) with Edwards' leadership is you have to really hustle to respond to his call to "follow me."

I do know where he's leading in no uncertain terms. He's lighting the way with a lasar beam.

And the winner of the Climate Virtual Town Hall is...

Last week Miss Julie and I hosted a MoveOn house party in conjunction with the Live Earth events around the world. We hosted several dozen people, half of whom were people we hadn't met before (and were super nice). One of the things we were asked to do was show the Virtual Town Hall candidates forum. The Dem candidates offered up an opening statement and then took questions from MoveOn members. [Note: the question posed to Barack Obama was asked by -- surprise! -- Robert Reich.] Anyway, when all was said and done, MoveOn asked everyone to vote online for their favorite candidate.


Here are how members ranked the candidates' plans (remember, this does not imply a MoveOn endorsement):
Sen. John Edwards—33.10%
Rep. Dennis Kucinich—15.73%
Sen. Hillary Clinton—15.71%
Sen. Barack Obama—15.03%
Gov. Bill Richardson—12.60%
Sen. Joe Biden—3.06%
Sen. Chris Dodd—3.01%
Sen. Mike Gravel—1.78%

July 07, 2007

Clinton's Strength Is Also Her Weakness

Bill Clinton's record is Hillary's greatest strength -- and also her greatest weakness. She can rightfully claim his legacy -- and/but she'll always be called upon to defend it as well. The good news is she's very well suited for this fight. The bad news is she'll be fighting it all the time. Al Gore had to deal with it in 2000; but that was nothing compared to what it'll be like this time around if Hillary gets the nomination.

This alone might be the best argument for nominating Barack Obama. But I digress...

The fallout from the Scooter Libby fiasco is a good case study of what we're all in for if Hillary gets the nomination:

Whatever you may think about the merits of the Rich pardon versus the Libby pardon, the debate is one the Bush team wants. The White House would rather have everyone debating the relative merits of the two than debating the inconsistencies in the Libby decision alone...

If Hillary Clinton is elected president, how often will this phenomenon be repeated? With each piece of legislation Hillary Clinton proposes or each assertion she makes, Republicans will offer an analog from the Clinton years. They'd do the same with any Democratic president, of course, but another Democratic president would have an easier time walking away from such attacks.

If you are a faithful Democrat, this should come as no surprise, nor should it angry up your blood because a key part of any Democratic nominee's strategy to defeat the eventual Republican nominee will be to hang George W. Bush around their (the GOP nominee's) neck.

July 06, 2007

5 Reasons Why Gore Should Run

by shep

1) He’s the smartest man in politics.

2) He was already elected President.

3) He’s rich enough.

4) He’s already been through the press smear machine.

5) He wants to make a difference in the world.

5 Reasons Why Gore Probably Won’t Run

1) He’s the smartest man in politics.

2) He was already elected President.

3) He’s rich enough.

4) He’s already been through the press smear machine.

5) He wants to make a difference in the world.

July 05, 2007

It’s Independents’ Day

by shep

Congratulations Independent Libertarians. You’ve helped to take us all to that beautiful utopia where we can all be left alone by government (except for reading your email, watching where you go on the internet and listening to your phone conversations). You’ve been inspired by Goldwater, by Rand, by Reagan, into believing that government is the problem, that taxing the rich proportionate with their wealth is some sort of moral crime. The government should just tax everyone at the same rate and the provident hand of (what was that you believe in again?), oh, right, talent and hard work will take care of the rest.

Well, so how’s it going? You happy with the country you’ve helped to create? Is it good for you? Can you afford to buy a house? Can you afford to start a new business, write a book, pursue your dreams? Can you pay for your own healthcare, raise a family, send your kids to college? Do you think you have it better that your parents? Will your kids?

Rick Perlstein writes about a new book called The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat In Winner-Take-All America, by a young writer named Daniel Brook. (H/T: Digby)

“Instead, because investments are taxed so lightly, America has for all practical purposes adopted what only tyrannies had before - a flat tax: ‘Americans making $50,000 to $75,000 pay the same percentage of their incomes in taxes as the four hundred highest-income families in the country.’”

“It hasn't given us Athens. It's given us a world that better resembles Thomas Hobbes's state of nature: ‘No Arts; no Letters,’ as Brook quotes him - or more broadly, no chance for us to flourish to the best of our abilities.”

“Brook's portrait of the generation that grew up with Reaganism and the choices they face graduating from college now is striking. They can't afford to go into public service, even though a 2005 survey showed that public service was the most desired profession at top universities; Washington-area real estate is so expensive, he points out, that people are commuting from as far away as West Virginia.”

“What with all that college debt, they can't afford to go into much of anything except for the fields that immediately dangle the biggest the biggest paycheck in front of them. [snip] Brook, citing the social critic Brendan Koerner, calls college debt America's new ‘ambition tax.’”

“There is, too, the ‘public school’ tax. Brook cites one of the most shattering public policy insights of our age, the fact that there is no longer any reasonable distinction between ‘equality of opportunity’ and ‘equality of outcome’ when those who can't afford to live in the most expensive neighborhoods, whose high property taxes support the best ‘public’ schools, can't provide a decent education for their children”

(Note: the “public school” tax was just effectively doubled for poor black children by the most recent ruling of the corporatist majority of the John Roberts Supreme Court.)
“Most damning for conservatives who actually think they've accomplished something for freedom these twenty-six-plus years since Ronald Reagan's inauguration is the ‘entrepreneur tax.’ Put simply, in a society where to fail in business is to make economic survival impossible, fewer and fewer are willing to take the chance. Where are entrepreneurs better off? Dreaded Old Europe, according to the quite conservative Financial Times: ‘With its low [real estate] costs and generous welfare net, Berlin is an entrepreneurs' heaven, where barriers to entry are low and failure rarely entails personal ruin.’ Brook claims, counterintuitively, that America's self-employment rate is lower than it has been in decades. What if you do give it a go? ‘[T]he holes in the American safety net, health care chief among them, make entrepreneurship and family life mutually exclusive.’ That's not freedom.”

I hope that the lessons of the last 27 years haven’t been lost on economic libertarians. I hope that they’ve come to understand that without the careful, progressive, mitigating (yes, imperfect) hand of democratic government, the best will not rise to the top. The richest, the strongest, the most ruthless, the most subservient, yes. But not the best.

That's not freedom.

July 03, 2007

Scooter And Fred

Here's something I pounded out last night and this morning...

Scooter Libby lied to the grand jury and got caught and got convicted. Scooter Libby was convicted of obstructing an investigation of a crime, a crime that may have involved his bosses Vice President Dick Cheney and President George Bush.

Then his boss, George Bush, stepped in and set him free.

And Fred Thompson? He raised the money that made it possible.

Fred Thompson. We don't need another one like him in the White House.

July 02, 2007

On Hillary Clinton

What's wrong with this picture?

  • In head to head national polling, she does worse against the top-tier Republican candidates than the other top-tier Democratic candidates.
  • Her disapproval numbers are higher than any other top-tier Dem candidate.
  • The percentage of people that say they would definitely not vote for her (if she was the Dem nominee) is above 50%.
  • Barack Obama has raised more money than her.
And yet, right now, she's the odds-on favorite to win her party's nomination. Are we going to kick ourselves in 18 months when we look back at this moment? Or is she actually the best candidate the Dems can put forward?

June 30, 2007

Odds & Sods #37: The Jesusphone Edition

  • Supreme Court reverses itself on Gitmo case. Why do I have a creepy feeling they're going to rule for the Bushies this time?

  • No Satisfaction this Year. This year the Rolling Stones will not be performing in...Israel. Insurance costs are sky-high. I guess this means they won't be performing for the troops in Iraq either?

  • Lots of first impressions of the iPhone by new owners. Here's one from TechMeme. Here's a fetishistic photo spread on the actual unboxing of a new iPhone. Here's Xeni's report (calling it the Jesusphone). Here's a guy who tears the iPhone down -- literally.

  • Fred Thompson in New Hampshire: Republicans say his speech there was underwhelming. I'd say "where's the beef," but that would be so 80s. Or so Walter Mondale.

  • Woz spotted in line for an iPhone. When the crowd recognized him, they stepped aside and put him at the front of the line. Awwwww.

  • Prince is releasing his new CD ... in Sunday's edition of London's Daily Mail. The recording industry is pissed. I'm trying to imagine who's still reading a newspaper on any day of the week. Answer: nobody in Prince's audience.

  • When I saw that that iPhones are turning up on eBay, I remembered one important fact: "i" before "e" except after "c" (for "cash").

  • ...and finally, after watching the one laugh-out-loud moment of Thursday's Dem debate, I wondered: is Barack Obama a dutiful husband, homophobic, or just seeing Joe Biden on the down-low? You decide...and don't miss Al Sharpton's scowl -- it'll melt the hair off your arms:

June 29, 2007

Thursday's Democratic Debate

I did know about the debate before it happened -- but only remembered that fact after the evening was over...

...which is another way of saying that we did not watch it. What did I miss?

We opted to watch This Filthy World, the frequently hilarious, delightfully appalling, never boring (but not for everybody) film of Waters' one-man show. A must-see if you are a fan of two or more of the following movies: Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, Pecker, Serial Mom, et. al.

Back on the Dem debate...

I was particularly annoyed to hear that Tavis Smiley will be smooching Frank Luntz' butt and getting his "survey results" from the debate. How completely lame can you get? Will Smiley be getting Mark Penn's analysis of the next Republican debate? Not bloody likely -- Smiley loooooooves him some Frank Luntz.

June 27, 2007

Democrats Can't Win By Being Smarter Than Republicans

(cross posted at Daily Kos)

You heard me right. There is no correlation between being smarter than your opponent and actually, you know, winning the election. It is emotions -- not intellect -- that play a crucial role in shaping our values and beliefs.

If you've worked in sales and/or marketing you "get it." And if you sneer at people who do, you're going to lose elections. It's a paradox, I'll admit: intellectually (as backed up by science) we know now that if a message is purely rational, it isn't going to be successful in changing the way people vote. If anything, emotions veto rationality.

Listen to Drew Westen, author of The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation:

A dispassionate mind that makes decisions by weighing the evidence and reasoning to the most valid conclusions bears no relation to how the mind and brain actually work.
If you saw Hardball the other night you know what I'm talking about. Chris Matthews had on Ann Coulter. Elizabeth Edwards called in and asked (very politely) that Coulter stop with the insults and trash talk already. It was excruciating. It was like watching a responsible adult having a conversation with a bag of worms. The most revealing moment? When someone in the audience (a shill?) shouted, "Why isn't John Edwards making this call?"

Bingo -- point made: Edwards is a sissy hiding behind his wife's skirt. Fair? Of course not. Effective? Unfortunately, very much so.

Here's another example. Remember this moment from the 2000 campaign?

George W. Bush berated Al Gore during the 2000 presidential debates for alleged funny business in his fund-raising...

Bush said, “You know, going to a Buddhist temple and then claiming it wasn’t a fund-raiser isn’t my view of responsibility.”

It was a direct attack on the honor of a fellow Southerner, and Gore wasn’t taking it. “You have attacked my honor and integrity,” the vice president shot back. “I think it’s time to teach you a few old-fashioned lessons about character. When I enlisted to fight in the Vietnam War, you were talkin’ real tough about Vietnam. But when you got the call, you called your daddy and begged him to pull some strings so you wouldn’t have to go to war. So instead of defending your country with honor, you put some poor Texas millworker’s kid on the front line in your place to get shot at. Where I come from, we call that a coward...”

You don't remember it because Gore never -- unfortunately -- actually said it.

I guess the good news is that Westen has been approached by several unnamed Dem candidates this time around. Honestly, though, I'd be hard-pressed to come up with any Dem who could swing their stick in the way Westen suggests...

...on abortion, for example:

“My opponent puts the rights of rapists above the rights of their victims, guaranteeing every rapist the right to choose the mother of his child. . . My opponent believes that if a 16-year-old girl is molested by her father and becomes pregnant, she should be forced by the government to have his child, and if she doesn’t want to she should be forced by the government to go to the man who raped her and ask for his consent.”
...or gun control:
“My opponent thinks you shouldn’t have to show a photo ID or get a background check to buy a handgun. He thinks anyone who wants an AK-47 should be able to buy one, no questions asked. What’s the point of fighting terrorists abroad if we’re going to arm them over here?”
Quick -- which Dem candidate(s) can talk like this? Now think about which Republican candidate(s) can do it. I'll bet you there are more Republicans on your list than Democrats.

Yes, yes -- I know what you're thinking: this is the difference between Democrats and Republicans. We have a conscience, they don't; we are intellectually more able to find, and explain, the subtle nuances in the issues, they cannot; we're tolerent, they're not; blah blah blah. This is all very true, but it's not relevant, nor even remotely helpful.

Fact is, neuroscientific research (using brain-imaging devices) confirms what we already know (and feel!): that when voters evaluate candidates in a campaign context, it is the "emotion circuits" (not the rational frontal lobes) that are responding most intensely.

Can people rise above that? Perhaps. Can the right candidate make that happen? Not sure. Do we have any proof that it has ever happened before? Sadly, no. In fact, if history has shown us anything it is that all the winning presidential candidates from the last 70 years had an instinctive grasp of Westen's thesis -- especially as compared to their opponents.

This should not be discouraging news. We've got candidates who can do this. But we cannot be complacent or whine about "lowering our standards." We canNOT afford to ignore this advice. Because if we do, we may be watching President-elect Fred Thompson being sworn in on January 20, 2009.

June 25, 2007

Constitutional Perverts

by shep

Shorter John Roberts: Free speech for them but not for thee.

To Senate Democrats: I say again, never trust another Federalist, Republican Supreme Court nominee. They have no principles, no sense of the Constitution, no sense of shame and will lie to your face to get power because that is what they value above all else.

"Where the First Amendment (of the Constitution) is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor." --Chief Justice John Roberts

Unless the speaker has no corporate counsel.

Comedy Central's Indecision 2008

Woo hoo! Hillary's in the lead!

June 22, 2007

The Freak Show That Is Rudy Giuliani

From Scholars & Rogues:

So let’s say you’re Rudy Giuliani–darling of the media for turning New York City into Disney World, fawned over as the Saint of 9/11 and a “national security authority” simply for being mayor of a city that was hit by a terrorist attack, and considered socially liberal enough to sap the Democratic advantage even though your political positions put you to the right of George freakin’ Bush.

What are the three worst things that could happen to sabotage your seemingly anointed ascension to the GOP nomination?

  1. Word could get out that your campaign director in South Carolina was federally indicted for selling cocaine. No, that’s not a typo–this isn’t some garden-variety GOP fraud like robocalls or bribery. Ravenel apparently was selling the crack rock.
  2. It could then be publicized that you got kicked out of the high-profile Iraq Study Group for failing to show up to meetings–and that said failures had to do with the ISG meetings conflicting with your high-priced speaking engagements.
  3. Your successor, Mike Bloomberg, a self-described “Short liberal Jewish billionaire,” could switch his party affiliation from GOP to “independent,” fueling talk of a third-party run or even a switch back to the Dems, thus turning any presidential contest between you and him into a “Subway series”–and a referendum on how things REALLY went in New York when you were in charge.
And wait til they get a load of Judy Nathan and how she describes what it was like dating Rudy...while he was still married to Donna Hanover, his second wife.

“Sweet Mother of God, that is the WORST IDEA EVER.”

Hillary hit it out of the park with the Sopranos spoof.

But Barack Obama Official Campaign Ringtones??

(HT to Rachel Sklar)

June 19, 2007

Hillary Picks A Campaign Song

My money and Miss Julie's (and Bill's!) was on Smashmouth's I'm A Believer. Has there ever been a bad version of that song?

I'll save you the suspense: she picked You And I by Celine Dion, which (oddly enough) was originally written for an Air Canada commercial. Before it made it to air, Celine Dion recorded it. Then it went on TV. And now it's a part of Hillary's campaign.

P.S. And, yes, that really is Johnny Sack at the counter.

Rudy's Mobbed-Up Crony Cries The Blues

Austin Fenner:

Disgraced ex-NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik can't stop crying over his fizzled friendship with former BFF Rudy Giuliani.

"I accept the distance created by Giuliani. I understand it, but inside, it's killing me," Kerik said.

"It's like dying a slow death, watching him have to answer for my mistakes," the former top cop said of the ex-New York mayor-turned-presidential-candidate.

Oh, please. "Watching him answer for my mistakes?" What a crock. Rudy Giuliani was his enabler AND his beneficiary. After all, it was Kerik who got the richly deserved nickname of "Caligula's Horse,"
[named for the animal that] was attended to by eighteen servants, was fed oats mixed with gold flake and had a stable of marble, with an ivory manger, purple blankets and a collar of precious stones. Caligula planned to make the horse, named Incitatus, a Consul...It has also been said Caligula claimed his horse to be a 'combination of all the gods' and to be worshipped as such.

Bernie Kerik's corruption (and Giuliani's) was so monumental it stood out even in New York City.

When it was time to name the first head of the Department of Homeland Security, Mr. 9/11 lobbied hard for his former driver, bodyguard, and toady police chief to get the job. In hindsight, the situation was so ripe with rotteness that its surprising that anyone took the nomination seriously.

And, of course, now that Kerik is disgraced, Rudy can't run away fast enough; but apparently he left one last order for his pet crony: that Kerik should absolve Rudy of all the insanity and corruption that was the hallmark of his adminstration.

June 18, 2007

Odds & Sods #36: The Renegade Edition

June 12, 2007

It Shouldn't Be A Mystery: Tax Cuts Lead To Lower Revenue

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain has said that the major tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 have "increased revenues." He also said that tax cuts in general increase revenues.

That’s highly misleading.

In fact, the last half-dozen years have shown us that we can't have both lower taxes and fatter government coffers. The Congressional Budget Office, the Treasury Department, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers and a former Bush administration economist all say that tax cuts lead to revenues that are lower than they otherwise would have been – even if they spur some economic growth...

Capital gains tax receipts did increase greatly from 2003 to 2006, but the CBO estimates that they will level off and decrease in the next few years. The growth overwhelmingly resulted from a sharp rise in corporate tax receipts, the cause of which is a topic of debate.

Read the rest.

June 08, 2007

Required Reading: Fareed Zakaria

zakaria.jpgExcellent, outstanding piece by Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria, on America's future ... after Bush has left office:

At the end of the day, openness is America's greatest strength. Many people on both sides of the political aisle have ideas that they believe will keep America strong in this new world—fences, tariffs, subsidies, investments. But America has succeeded not because of the ingenuity of its government programs. It has thrived because it has kept itself open to the world—to goods and services, ideas and inventions, people and cultures. This openness has allowed us to respond fast and flexibly in new economic times, to manage change and diversity with remarkable ease, and to push forward the boundaries of freedom and autonomy.


We are not really in competition with Chinese and Indian workers making $5 a day. We want Americans to make things that they can't, move up the value chain and work on increasingly sophisticated products and services. We have an educational system that can help make this happen. Of the 20 best universities in the world, 18 are American. And the quality of American higher education extends far and deep, from community colleges to technical institutes.

Perhaps the most hopeful sign for the United States is that alone among industrial nations, we will not have a shortage of productive citizens in the decades ahead. Unlike Germany, Japan and even China, we should have more than enough workers to grow the economy and sustain the elderly population. This is largely thanks to immigration. If America has a core competitive advantage, it is this: every year we take in more immigrants than the rest of the world put together.


Above all, the United States has to find a way to send a powerful and consistent signal to the world that we understand the struggles that it is involved in—for security, peace and a better standard of living. As Barack Obama said in a speech in Chicago, "It's time to ... send a message to all those men and women beyond our shores who long for lives of dignity and security that says, 'You matter to us. Your future is our future'."


It is easy to look at America's place in the world right now and believe that we are in a downward spiral of decline. But this is a snapshot of a tough moment. If the country can keep its cool, admit to its mistakes, cherish and strengthen its successes, it will not only recover but return with renewed strength. There could not have been a worse time for America than the end of the Vietnam War, with helicopters lifting people off the roof of the Saigon embassy, the fallout of Watergate and, in the Soviet Union, a global adversary that took advantage of its weakness. And yet, just 15 years later, the United States was resurgent, the U.S.S.R. was in its death throes and the world was moving in a direction that was distinctly American in flavor. The United States has new challenges, new adversaries and new problems. But unlike so much of the world, it also has solutions—if only it has the courage and wisdom to implement them.

Romney and Mormonism (Updated)

romney-george.jpgForty years ago, George Romney ran for president. He was the governor of my state, Michigan, and was considered to be a moderate (translation: Rockefeller Republican). He was becoming increasingly anti-war. Back then, there wasn't much coverage of the fact that he was a Mormon, although polling was done on the question.

The Gallup Poll in April, 1967, asked, "If your party nominated a generally well qualified man for president and he happened to be a Mormon, would you vote for him?" 75 percent said yes, and 17 percent said no, while the rest either did not know or declined to answer.

romneycoulter1.jpgThat was then, this is now. Mitt Romney, his son, former governor of Massachusetts, is running for president. While he governed as a moderate, he is running as a hard-right conservative. And on the issue of his Mormonism, polling shows that things have, well, changed:

In March of this year, the CBS News/New York Times Poll asked: "Do you think most people would vote for a presidential candidate who is a Mormon, or not?" A majority of 54 percent said voters would not. FOX News in February posed the question, "Do you think the United States is ready to elect . . . a Mormon president or not?" A plurality of 48 percent said no while only 40 percent said yes.
And it's even worse than it sounds: an alarmingly high percentage of white Evangelicals -- the bedrock members of today's Republican base (Rockefeller now being a faded memory) said they would be "less likely" to vote for a Mormon.

Could it be because they don't consider Mormons to be Christians?

The Church of Latter Day Saints gives scriptural authority to the Book of Mormon, not a part of the standard Old or New Testament. Unlike most traditional Christian denominations, Mormons reject the Trinity and the belief that Jesus was the son of God. Finally, Mormons contend that God was once a man.
Is America Are white Evangelicals ready to elect vote for a non-Christian president? Or, more to the point, is America are white Evangelicals ready to elect a member of a religious cult to the Oval Office?

Sounds like Romney will have an uphill climb.

UPDATE: Speaking of Romney, Paul Krugman watched the Republican debate and has this to say:

In Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate, Mitt Romney completely misrepresented how we ended up in Iraq. Later, Mike Huckabee mistakenly claimed that it was Ronald Reagan’s birthday. Guess which remark The Washington Post identified as the 'gaffe of the night'? Folks, this is serious. If early campaign reporting is any guide, the bad media habits that helped install the worst president ever in the White House haven’t changed a bit.

Giuliani and Terror (Updated)

No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.
--- Edmund Burke

Rudy.bmpNo wonder stateless, and otherwise powerless antagonists use terror as a tactic: the leverage they gain is so enormous that it puts them on an equal footing with their enemies. And sometimes we help them unknowingly or otherwise...

Chris Matthews: I'll tell you one thing...I agree with what Fareed Zakaria wrote in Newsweek this week which is that terrorism isn't explosions and death. Terrorism is when you change your society because of those explosions. And you become fearful to the point that you shut out immigration, you shut out student exchanges, you shut people out of buildings, you begin to act in an almost fascist manner because you're afraid of what might happen to you. That's when terrorism becomes real...and frighteningly successful. That's what I believe.

And that's where I question the way Giuliani has raised this issue. He raises it as a specter and in a weird way, he helps the bad guys.

UPDATE: Here's Fareed Zakaria from the Newsweek piece Matthews references:
More troubling than any of Bush's rhetoric is that of the Republicans who wish to succeed him. "They hate you!" says Rudy Giuliani in his new role as fearmonger in chief, relentlessly reminding audiences of all the nasty people out there. "They don't want you to be in this college!" he recently warned an audience at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. "Or you, or you, or you," he said, reportedly jabbing his finger at students. In the first Republican debate he warned, "We are facing an enemy that is planning all over this world, and it turns out planning inside our country, to come here and kill us." On the campaign trail, Giuliani plays a man exasperated by the inability of Americans to see the danger staring them in the face. "This is reality, ma'am," he told a startled woman at Oglethorpe. "You've got to clear your head."


We are repeating one of the central errors of the early cold war—putting together all our potential adversaries rather than dividing them. Mao and Stalin were both nasty. But they were nasties who disliked one another, a fact that could be exploited to the great benefit of the free world. To miss this is not strength. It's stupidity.

June 04, 2007

Most Telling Moment In Sunday's Democratic Debate

Walter Shapiro:

The question of how tough a Democratic presidential candidate needs to sound to get elected hovered over the debate, as it may over the coming primary races.

Edwards boldly defended his prior comment that the "war on terror" was little more than rhetoric: "This global war on terror bumper sticker -- political slogan ... was intended for ... George Bush to use it to justify everything he does: the ongoing war in Iraq, Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, spying on Americans, torture."

That was too much for Clinton, who, as the first woman to wage a serious candidacy for president, must understand the political risks of seeming weak in any setting.

Responding to Edwards, she said flatly that she disagreed, before adding, "I am a senator from New York. I have lived with the aftermath of 9/11, and I have seen firsthand the terrible damage that can be inflicted on our country by a small band of terrorists who are intent upon foisting their way of life and using suicide bombers and suicidal people to carry out their agenda."

Of course they're both right. But Edwards' response focuses on his differences with Bush whereas Clinton's focuses (as Shapiro says) on her own strength and resolve.

The second most interesting moment was when Edwards and Obama sparred -- but not about Iraq. On that score I think Obama ate Edwards lunch, cooly reminding him that he [Edwards] was "4-1/2 years late on leadership."

No, I think their exchange on health care plans was more telling. Edwards' plan is mandatory (good) -- and Obama's is not (bad). Honestly, I hadn't thought about that until the debate. Of course neither plan is much good compared to Kucinich's -- the Ohio congressman has the best idea: Medicare for all. The only way you fix the system is to make it universal. Not only that -- you have to exclude the insurance companies completely from the equation. Health care should not be subject to profit and share price calculations. So anything shy of that is a cop-out -- and Edwards' plan (and Obama's) fall far short. That said, if either one gets elected, their plans will be subject to congressional influence (to say the least).

Bottom line? These are not really debates but rather candidate interviews. And based on last night, I'd hire Hillary Clinton for the job. Luckily for the other top-tier candidates there's time for them to improve their presentations.

June 03, 2007

Hillary Chooses A Campaign Theme Song

I thought Fred Thompson's video rebuttal of Michael Moore was pretty skillful.

But I hadn't seen this video from Hillary Clinton.

Yes, yes -- totally different topic but isn't she great?

P.S. Don't forget to vote to choose Hillary's campaign theme song.

Giuliani: Worse than Bush

Rudy.bmpMatt Taibbi reports from the Giuliani campaign trail:

Rudy moves on. "How about you?" he says to the next boy.

"I want to be a policeman!" the kid says.

Rudy smiles. Then the next boy says he wants to be a fireman, and the crowd twitters: Wow, a fireman and a policeman, in the same room! Rudy is beaming now, almost certainly aware that every grown-up present is suddenly thinking about 9/11. His day. As he leans over, the room is filled with popping flashbulbs. Then, instead of capitalizing on the sense of pride and shared purpose everyone is feeling, Giuliani utters something truly strange and twisted.

"A fireman and a policeman, huh?" he says. "Well, the first thing that I want to do is make sure that you two get along."

Huh? Amid confused applause, Rudy flashes a queer smile, then moves on to the heart of his presentation, a neat little speech about how the election of a Democratic president will result in certain nuclear attack and the end of the free market as we know it. I'm barely listening, however, still thinking about the "make sure you get along" line.

Although few people outside of New York know it yet, there is an emerging controversy over Giuliani's heroic 9/11 legacy. Critics charge that Rudy's failure to resolve the feuding between the city's police and firefighters prior to the attack led to untold numbers of deaths, the most tragic example being the inability of firemen to hear warnings from police helicopters about the impending collapse of the South Tower. The 9/11 Commission concluded that the two departments had been "designed to work independently, not together," and that greater coordination would have spared many lives.

Given all that, why did Rudy offer this weirdly unsolicited reference to the controversy now? Was he joking? And if so, what the fuck? It was a strange and bitter comment to make, especially right on the heels of his grand-slam performance in the previous night's debate. If this is a guy who chews over a perceived slight in the middle of a victory lap, what's he going to be like with his finger on the button? Even Richard Nixon wasn't wound that tight.

Giuliani's strongest asset is his connection to 9/11. Without that he is not a lot more effective than, say, Tommy Thompson. That is to say just another moderate Republican who was once a municipal executive. Without 9/11, the real battle for the nomination would be between Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson. But of course 9/11 will not fade, not completely, and Rudy will make it his trump card -- unless someone can create a template for him that includes the shocking lameness of his performance leading up to, and through 9/11.

Fact is, 9/11 happened on Giuliani's watch and decisions he made (and did not make) led to the needless loss of dozens, if not hundreds of lives.

May 25, 2007

Obama: “That's the truth in Iraq.” (Updated)

Sen. Obama:

I know the toll of this war. And what I know is, what our troops deserve is not just rhetoric; they deserve a new plan.

Gov. Romney and Sen. McCain clearly believe that the course that we're on in Iraq is working. I do not.

And if there was ever a reflection of that, it is the fact that Sen. McCain required a flak jacket, ten armored Humvees, two Apache attack helicopters, a hundred soldiers with rifles by his side, so he could stroll through the market in Baghdad just a few weeks ago for a photo-op.

That's the truth in Iraq.

UPDATE: which a McCain aide replied (paraphrasing): "Obama wouldn't know the difference between an RPG and a bong." which Bill Maher replied: "In case you don't know, an RPG is a rocket-propelled grenade and a bong is what McCain uses when he describes how well things are going in Iraq."

May 23, 2007

Maybe It Won't Pass...

by Mark Adams

In a time when our President is identified merely by one initial, "W," and the spine of the congressional Democratic leadership cannot be identified at all, I yearn for the days when 3-initial Democrats, FDR, JFK, even LBJ and the promise of RFK were something quite different than the breed in attendance today.

Democrats with Balls.

I, like so many on the left -- some far left, others only moderately so -- and even those wandering in the middle cannot express their reaction to the "Capitulation Bill" without using the word, "disappointment." Even that word hardly seems to capture the proper emotion.

I've seen weak displays of rhetorical tricks masking the inability to follow one's convictions before; swallowing principles to pursue the practical, pragmatic politics of the day. But what we witnessed yesterday with the cave-in by the Democratic leadership giving Bush yet another blank check for his Iraq war was nothing short of pathetic.

The most egregious example came from Speaker Pelosi herself, indicating that she probably would not vote for a bill she is actively helping to get to the floor. Could there be a more cravenly cowardly stance? Explain how this is not the height of hypocricy.

The oft quoted maxim by Margaret Mead advising us never to underestimate the power of a small group of dedicated people's ability to change the world because that's the only thing that ever has, neglects to consider the sheer stupidity of those people when they've been in elected office too long.

The only thing that gives me some solace is that the candidate I've been supporting for President came out on the right side of this issue, and so many others in the way he urges us to look at our foreign policy and reject the GOP framing.

The only way to beat them is to stand our ground and not give an inch. That's what John Edwards did today.

Today, he went to the heart of America's foreign policy establishment and called out the Bush crowd for their misuse of patriotism. He had the guts to say what all of us know—that the Bush Terror Doctrine has failed our troops and failed America by straining our military to the breaking point and sowing chaos around the world.

John Edwards offered a clear plan to rebuild our forces and cure the damage inflicted on our military by Bush's policies. He offered a vision of an America where moral leadership is once again the rule, and where we are stronger and more secure because of it.

John Edwards' principled stand remains strong and righteous. I've no doubt that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama face a difficult choice -- one far harder than voting for cloture on the Feingold defunding bill when they knew it would likely fail.

Their choice, however, should not be that difficult -- if they really meant they way they voted on Feingold-Reid. We shall indeed see if they will put their money (rather, our money) where their mouths are. So far, their silence is deafening, and as you know, "silence is betrayal."

UPDATE: Chris Dodd is going to vote no on the Capitulation Bill, putting more pressure on Obama and Clinton -- and giving hope to those of us who still hold out hope...and want action.

UPDATE II: Kerry says NO too.

"An Iraq Bill Without a Deadline is Meaningless"

"We support the troops by getting the policy right and this bill allows the President to keep getting the policy wrong. We need a deadline to force Iraqis to stand up for Iraq and bring our heroes home, not watered down benchmarks and blank check waivers for this President. We support the troops by funding the right mission, not with a White House that opposes a pay raise for our brave men and women in uniform," Kerry said. "The original Senate legislation offered a roadmap to change course in Iraq. This new version enables the Administration and Iraqi politicians to deliver more of the same. I am determined to continue pressing this issue until President Bush changes course. We owe our troops nothing less than a strategy that is worthy of their sacrifice."
Call, make some noise. Be heard. Don't let this one go down without a fight.

May 19, 2007

Answer This Quiz Correctly -- Win Valuable Political Junkie Points

Mark, in the comments, pulls up the recent gem from John Zogby:

And [Hillary] has the misfortune of running her history-making campaign against both Jack Kennedy (Obama) and Bobby Kennedy (Edwards).
I loved that! Zogby nailed it.

Here's the quiz:
Who was the last candidate to run against both Jack AND Bobby?

Ten bazillion political junkie points for the first one who knows the answer.

May 18, 2007

Send It Back

by Mark Adams

For reasons I neither appreciate, approve of, nor care to understand, impeachment is still off the table.

(Okay, it's a numbers thing, and we lose, I know.)

So, what do you do when Bush, Inc. insists on their war in perpetuity, and laughs at the Democrats' pitiful effort to impose benchmarks he can and will ignore, and timetables we know he will never honor.

Atrios says send the little punk in the Oval Office the exact same funding bill he vetoed the last time, again and again. If he want's to defund the troops, so be it.

So does MarKOS.

Joe Biden approved of the idea last week.

How about you? Do you you agree with this statement?

“The American people gave Congress a mission to end the war - not a mission to accept meaningless benchmarks or endless temporary extensions. There is only one way to stop the president - Congress should use its funding authority to end the war. Congress passed a plan to support our troops and bring them home, and they should do it again. And if the president vetoes it - if he vetoes any bill that supports our troops but sets conditions - then he alone is standing in the way of what our troops need.”

Continue reading "Send It Back" »

May 16, 2007

Hillary: “I won't sing it in public...unless I win!”

Hillary wants to hear your opinion about what her campaign song should be.

Here are the choices (so far):

  • "City of Blinding Lights" by U2. Key lyric: "Oh you look so beautiful tonight."
  • "Suddenly I See" by KT Tunstall. Key lyric: "You can see she's a beautiful girl."
  • "I'm a Believer" by Smash Mouth. Key lyric: "Then I saw her face/ I'm a believer."
  • "Get Ready" by the Temptations. Key lyric: "I never met a girl who makes me feel the way that you do."
  • "Ready to Run" by the Dixie Chicks. Key lyric: "I ready ready ready ready to run."
  • "Rock This Country" by Shania Twain. Key lyric: "Every blue-eyed girl/ gotta really go psycho/ give it a whirl."
  • "Beautiful Day" by U2. Key lyric: "Touch me/ Take me to that higher place."
  • "Right Here, Right Now" by Jesus Jones. Key lyric: "I was alive and I waited for this."
  • "I'll Take You There" by the Staple Singers. Key lyric: "Ooh! Oh! Oh! All right."
Ah. It's good to be the front-runner, yes?

May 14, 2007

Rudy Giuliani: “You're f-cking kidding me!”

Bill Maher has decried the over-abundance of Republican candidates he calls the "You're f-cking kidding me!" candidates. And he's not talking about the Sam Brownbacks, the Tom Tancredos and the Mike Huckabees.

Nixon? "You're f-cking kidding me!"
Reagan? "You're f-cking kidding me!"
George W. Bush? "You're f-cking kidding me!"

And now, Rudy.

Michael Wolff:

The explanation for what makes Rudy so compelling among people who know him best—including New York reporters who've covered him for a generation, and political pros who've worked for him—is simpler: he is nuts, actually mad...

[And] despite what's in front of everybody's face—behavior that's not only in the public record but recapped on the front pages every day—becoming president could really happen for Rudy.

No, that is wrong: virtually every Full Rudy veteran expects the implosion to happen any second.

And yet...and the front-runner for the same party that produced "Dick" Cheney as VPOTUS, Rudy could become the next POTUS.

"You're f-cking kidding me!"

Sadly, no.

That's why we cannot afford to simply watch what he says -- but what he actually does. And his vaunted record in New York provides plenty of ammunition for anyone willing to use it against him. Besides the fact that the police chief of NYC deserves as much credit as Giuliani for the decline in the crime rate (and was probably fired for eclipsing the mayor) there is "Rudy's WTC problem:"

Anyone who watched Rudolph W. Giuliani preside over ground zero in the days after 9/11 glimpsed elements of his strength: decisiveness, determination, self-confidence...

Those qualities were also on display over the months he directed the cleanup of the collapsed World Trade Center. But today, with evidence that thousands of people who worked at Ground Zero have become sick, many regard Mr. Giuliani’s triumph of leadership as having come with a human cost.

Giuliani's rush to put NYC back to normalcy (and elevate his public profile) was, in the view of the New York City Fire Department International Association of Fire Fighters, deeply offensive and disrespectful:
Giuliani ... made a conscious decision to institute a "scoop-and-dump" operation to expedite the clean-up of Ground Zero in lieu of the more time consuming, but respectful, process of removing debris piece by piece in hope of uncovering more remains.

Mayor Giuliani's actions meant that those who perished would either remain buried at Ground Zero forever, with no closure for families, or be removed like so much garbage and deposited at the Fresh Kills Landfill.

By now everyone should be familiar with the broad outlines of Giuliani's failures pre-9/11. Despite the best advice of his security people, he chose to put the brand new Emergency Operations Center high up in the World Trade Center instead of underground in Brooklyn -- despite the fact that the WTC had already been attacked once before in 1993.

In addition, on 9/11, he violated established emergency response protocols by splitting up the police and fire department command and control structure -- the result of which was the death of dozens of firefighters who had no idea what danger they were in after rushing into the burning buildings. Even without radios that operated on the same frequency as the police (something Giuliani could not, or would not, implement despite urging from security personnel) despite this built-in disadvantage, the firefighters might have been saved had the police and fire chiefs stayed together on 9/11 and communicated what they knew about the developing situation.

So Rudy was wrong before 9/11; wrong on 9/11; and wrong after 9/11.

I've always thought that McCain of all people would sic his attack dogs on Giuliani in the race for the nomination. I always thought that that there would be so much to attack him on that Republicans, before the primaries were over, would eventually believe that Rudy himself was flying one of the jets that hit the WTC that day.

But, sadly, McCain and his candidacy are diminished to the point that Giuliani may get the nomination -- and be a serious contender for the White House.

"You're f-cking kidding me!"

May 09, 2007

Why Edwards' Anti-Poverty Campaign Won’t Help Him

(cross posted at Daily Kos)

I read this item about John Edwards and took it at face value:

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said Tuesday that he worked for a hedge fund to learn more about financial markets and their relationship to poverty in the United States.

Edwards won't disclose how much he got paid as a consultant to Fortress Investment Group, but said he did keep the money.

"It was primarily to learn, but making money was a good thing, too," the 2004 vice presidential nominee said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The Edwards campaign had a righteous follow-up statement:
"Would it be better if I had done well and now I didn't care about people who are struggling?"
He also mentioned FDR and Bobby Kennedy as people of privilege who also cared about poverty whereas he "came from nothing and now I have everything."

These are all excellent points and there isn't anything about the hedge fund story that bothers me. I liked Edwards before and I like him now -- not enough to make him #1 in my book, but that's another story.

I think Edwards has a larger problem.

Fact is, what’s going to lead to Edwards’ probable failure to get the nomination (and if he gets it, his possible failure to be elected) is not the hypocrisy, but the very emphasis on poverty to begin with.

The sad fact is that (outside of religious institutions like churches, synagogues and presumably mosques) there is no cultural bias in this country toward helping the poor.

Fact is, deep down, most Americans probably believe that if you’re poor, it’s because you screwed up somehow.

And speaking of religion, didn’t Jesus say that “the poor will always be with you?” That doesn’t mean that you don’t help them; but it also doesn’t mean that we can permanently solve the problem, either.

Also: there is no political will to solve poverty. Even if Edwards is elected he’ll have a tough time getting any anti-poverty legislation passed. I hate to be brutal about it, but how many poor people actually, you know, vote?

Here's the thing: I'm old enough to remember Bobby Kennedy's campaign for president in 1968 and I was tremendously inspired by it. Kennedy was right: it was a crime that people live in this country and don’t have enough to eat or a decent place to live.

But that was then, this is now. Edwards is going to find that running on an anti-poverty platform, in 2008, may be noble but it isn’t going to get him a lot of votes.

P.S. Go back and read more about Kennedy's campaign. I recommend Evan Thomas' Robert Kennedy: His Life. Kennedy's underlying assumptions about poverty and how to fix it were surprisingly conservative in many ways. I think you'll agree that it was Daniel Patrick Moynihan, of all people, who took up Kennedy's fallen standard.

May 08, 2007

Odds & Sods #34: Detroit Edition

  • Barack Obama criticizes (Detroit) automakers on fuel economy. I would have liked to have seen him knock the unions, too, because they bellyache as much as anyone when the topic of fuel economy comes up. Bottom line: Detroit is reaping what it sowed.

  • Hey -- is everything seen through the prism of Detroit vs. Chicago? If so, the Pistons scored a big one for the Motor City, kicking the Bulls' ass again -- by over 20 points -- to go up 2-0 in the second round of the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs. Hey Obama -- can you play point guard?

  • Certain Europen governments have floated the idea that they'll let the US pick the next World Bank president -- but only if Wolfie leaves right now. Congrats, Bushies: another loss of world prestige on your watch.

  • $3.23: That's the highest-ever price per gallon of gas, corrected for inflation. It dates back to the oil-embargo years, the energy-shock, gas lines around the block, Carter years of the 70's. I mention it now because gas prices are higher than ever. And (coincidentally?) Bush's approval ratings are in Carter territory.

  • Does Romney believe in evolution or not? Inquiring religious fundamentalist zealots want to know. The rest of us? We just want to know...

  • ...Is Romney really just a science fiction fanboy with a great haircut and $2500 suit? Recently, Mitt claimed that the French engage in 7-year marriages with an option to renew or move on at the end of the contract. Turns out he read that in a science fiction novel. By a fellow Mormon. About Mormonism in space. And this, after saying his favorite book was Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard. Wonder what Ann Coulter is thinking now?

  • Has the Republican caucus really given Bush a do-or-die deadline of September -- or else they walk away from Bush on Iraq? Color me skeptical.

May 07, 2007

The Elite Media Psych Out

by shep

Bob Somerby continues his invaluable deconstruction of the endlessly shallow, partisan treatment of Democratic politicians by mainstream "journalists" (he has also “unofficially” nominated Glen Greenwald for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the subject). Say what you will about tough criticism of both parties on matters of substance, it is the Democrats who are relentlessly diminished and treated as unserious, through childish and repetitious stories about them concerning sex, haircuts, brown suites and windsurfing.

Somerby sees “big money” at the heart of the problem:

“Sometimes, money makes people get dumb; sometimes, people play dumb to get it. But nothing else can explain the haircut wars—wars which have raged for the past fifteen years—other than the corrupting role being played here by big money.”

While he doesn’t explain exactly how this money influences the punditocracy to be petty only toward Democrats, I do agree that it insulates them from the reality and the interests of the people they are supposed to be informing, which was not so much the case not too many years ago. But I have a slightly different take on the pampered press poodles, vis-à-vis, their superficial treatment of Democrats.

First off, I should point out, this is quite obviously the product of the press being inculcated with Republican frames about serious Daddy Republicans and emotional Mommy Democrats. That mostly explains the partisan aspect but still not the clueless, juvenile fixation on these silly stories.

And not enough can be said about the market-share-driven Barnumization© of journalism itself, especially on television. Katie Couric and Brian Williams sure are cute but can you imagine Walter Cronkite lending his giant disembodied head for a regular bit on a comedy cable show?

Nevertheless, I think that the biggest factor in the relentless substancelessness of the stars of the mainstream press may be their fundamental competitiveness. It is more than just a trait, it is a way of thinking, a psychological orientation, that they happen to share with politicians (which is why they seem more like the people they are supposed to report on than their everyman customers).

They all see things simply in terms of winning and losing – politics – in the highly competitive arena of politics and high-powered media. It’s one reason why, in general, they fixate on politics and almost never drill down into policy – almost the exact opposite of what they should be doing.

Their success is quite obviously not based on the quality of their work (understanding and explaining what’s going on in the world), since there are lots of smarter people who could do the job better. They get to the top by how well they play the game and how well they "play" on TV. Think of George Bush and Chris Mathews as being flip sides of the same, nearly worthless political/journalistic coin of the realm.

They aren’t stupid, it’s just that what should be fundamental to their work – what happens out in the real world and why – is of little interest to them compared to their own personal success and the inside game. They live in the world of the petty and the meaningless, except that their fortunes and fame hang on whether they understand it and exploit it successfully. So, in the end, they just don’t quite understand the world of the meaningful and important because they aren’t really paying that much attention.

It really explains their obtuseness about what matters better than the fact that they’re wealthy. There are actually some wealthy people who are not hopelessly shallow. You just won’t read their columns in Politico or see them anchoring the evening news.

May 04, 2007

No Democrat Started The War

by Mark Adams
Cross-posted. Also in Blue and Orange.

Let me be clear on one thing. Every single Democratic presidential candidate condemns the Bush Administration for its disastrous fiscal, domestic and foreign policies. Every single one knows Bush is a joke when he pretends to be the least bit competent on anything whatsoever. They understand that "compassionate conservativism" is a fraud. They all realize that the next president, who will undoubtedly be a Democratic president, faces a monumental task rehabilitating our nation's reputation in the world and economic and social rifts at home.

Nobody gets a cookie for being the "most" unlike Bush. Everybody will do their best to correct the disastrous course of our ship of state.

All of them.

Continue reading "No Democrat Started The War" »

May 03, 2007

Why Bush Lost The Iraq War

(cross posted at Daily Kos)

Recently, while browsing another blog's comment thread I was brought up short when I came upon this statement:

It’s still unclear where the main source of our problem in Iraq lies.
Gosh, where do we start?

But let's cut the snark and try to answer the man's question. Because until we can do that, not only will we have lost the Iraq war, we will have embarked on a path that will lead to one disastrous war after another, being bled dry by "leaders" who want one thing only: ultimate power.

Continue reading "Why Bush Lost The Iraq War" »

May 01, 2007

Get Thee Behind Me, Thetan!

I can't believe this guy could become the next president of the United States:

When asked his favorite novel in an interview shown yesterday on the Fox News Channel, Mitt Romney pointed to “Battlefield Earth,” a novel by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. That book was turned into a film by John Travolta, a Scientologist.
Scientology and Mormonism...Scientology and Mormonism. I can't decide which one is more credible!

By the way, am I the only one who sees a resemblance between Romney and Kronk from The Emperor's New Groove?


(HT to Anna Marie for the title of this post)

April 30, 2007

Mark Penn: Power Center in the Clinton Campaign

If you want to understand Hillary Clinton (and more importantly, her campaign) read up on Mark Penn.

Anne Kornblut has the goods:

While not her campaign manager in name, Penn controls the main elements of her campaign, most important her attempt to define herself to an electorate seemingly ready for a Democratic president but possibly still suffering from Clinton fatigue.

Armed with voluminous data that he collects through his private polling firm, Penn has become involved in virtually every move Clinton makes, with the result that the campaign reflects the chief strategist as much as the candidate.

Here's the first red flag: Penn's data is from polling. Compare that to Rove whose data was from direct mail. It's the difference between what a respondent says and what they actually do. It's one thing to answer a poll -- and quite another to give money. And Rove was very good at figuring out what prompted people to give money. Very, very good. Is Penn that good with his data? We'll have to wait and see.

Continue reading "Mark Penn: Power Center in the Clinton Campaign" »

April 25, 2007

Rudy Pulls A "Dick" (Updated)


MANCHESTER, N.H. —- Rudy Giuliani said if a Democrat is elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001.

But if a Republican is elected, he said, especially if it is him, terrorist attacks can be anticipated and stopped.

This is the worst kind of fear-mongering and Giuliani should be ashamed of himself.
cheney.jpgBut if he really wants that kind of debate then let the record show that America has already sustained nearly 50 thousand casualties in the various wars and terrorist attacks that have occured on Republican President Bush's watch.

Update: John Edwards nails it:

"Rudy Giuliani's suggestion that there is some superior 'Republican' way to fight terrorism is both divisive and plain wrong. He knows better. That's not the kind of leadership he offered in the days immediately after 9/11, and it's not the kind of leadership any American should be offering now.

"As far as the facts are concerned, the current Republican administration led us into a war in Iraq that has made us less safe and undermined the fight against al Qaeda. If that's the 'Republican' way to fight terror, Giuliani should know that the American people are looking for a better plan. That's just one more reason why this election is so important; we need to elect a Democratic president who will end the disastrous diversion of the war in Iraq."

Bravo, Mr. Edwards.

Stewart vs. McCain: No Contest (Updated)

If McCain gets the nomination (which I doubt he will) his appearance on Tuesday night's Daily Show should be required viewing for the Democratic nominee because Jon Stewart hammered the Senator on the war like no one -- in or out of politics or the media -- has before.

To begin with, the audience gave the Senator an icy welcome -- unlike his past appearances where he was a crowd favorite. And I'll give McCain credit for knowing that he's been the butt of a lot of jokes on the show recently. But he made an unfortunate crack about bringing Stewart a gift -- an IED for his desk ("That's why we keep the dogs here," replied Stewart). [Update: Murtha, on the other hand, was not amused.]

It went downhill from there -- for McCain.

Stewart punctured McCain's talking points swiftly and finally every time the Senator brought them out. McCain hung in there, but the longer the interview went the more ridiculous he sounded. Stewart didn't budge an inch and gave more than he got.

All the Democratic candidates should take notice: this is how you talk about the war.

Update: Here's Part Deux of the interview:

April 21, 2007

Bill Moyers on Barack Obama

Bill Moyers, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, is interviewed in the latest issue of Rolling Stone. And I was pleased to read his comments about Sen. Barack Obama:

Who do you see as a key figure in the time ahead?

I wish I were wise enough to answer that question. Who would have thought that an obscure black preacher from Montgomery, Alabama would become Martin Luther King?

I believe that elites have to let go. Hillary Clinton would make a good president, but the same old crowd would come back with her.

But when I look at Barack Obama, I think about John F. Kennedy, who leaped over Hubert Humphrey's generation to bring in fresh voices and fresh ideas. I keep thinking that we need to let that happen again.

People say, "Obama is so inexperienced." No, he's as experienced as Lincoln was when Lincoln went into the White House. Lincoln had two years in Congress and eight years in the state legislature. [And both were from Illinois. And both were tall. Yadda yadda yadda.]

Obama represents a generational metaphor. He opens up new gates so that younger people can feel that there's opportunity for them, that they can come in with him and create new possibilities. That's what's important. I've been around a long time in journalism and politics, and I come down to "Put not your trust in princes, they will disappoint you every time."

OK, a couple of thoughts:
  • I get what Moyers is saying about the elites, but (taken too far) that kind of talk can be tiresome. I like what Bill Maher had to say on the subject:
    In other fields outside of government, "elite" is a good thing, like an "elite" fighting force; Tiger Woods is an "elite" golfer. If I need brain surgery, I'd like an "elite" doctor. But, in politics, "elite" is bad. The "elite" aren't down to earth and accessible like you and me and President Sh*t-for-brains.

    Which is fine, except that whenever there's a Bush Administration scandal, it always traces back to some incompetent political hack appointment

  • When Moyers says "JFK leaped over Humphrey's generation," we have to keep in mind that Humphrey was only 6 years older than Kennedy, half the age difference between Clinton and Obama. Still, his point is valid: Clinton (and Humphrey) are perceived as establishment figures; Obama and Kennedy, not so much.

  • Speaking of comparisons -- Lincoln and Obama? Moyers is hardly the first one to do it. But I'd be careful that we not, ahem, set the bar too high.
Bottom line: Obama does represent himself as the candidate of the generational divide. But more than that, I get the sense that (unlike the others) Obama's best days may yet be in front of him.

April 20, 2007

Iraq War Funding Bill: With or Without Deadlines?

Looks like the House will compromise with the Senate by making the deadlines non-binding:

Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia, a freshman Democrat who represents a district strongly opposed to the war, said lending his support to a bill that funds the war without setting a firm end date will be difficult. On the other hand, he added, Democrats might be in a tougher spot if they can't pull the caucus together long enough to act against Bush.

"We have to look at the political realities of being the party that's in control, and prove to the American people we can govern," he said.

Forward movement toward a worthy goal. That's what I would call success, albeit modest.
With Senate leaders nervous the final bill would fail if it included a firm deadline, aides said Democrats were leaning toward accepting the Senate's nonbinding goal. The compromise bill also is expected to retain House provisions preventing military units from being worn out by excessive combat deployments; however, the president could waive these standards if he states so publicly.

On Thursday, Pelosi, D-Calif., summoned Woolsey, Lee, Waters and several other of the party's more liberals members to her office to discuss the issue. According to aides and members, concerns were expressed but there were no loud objections to a conference bill that would adopt the Senate's nonbinding goal.

Watson said she would personally oppose the final bill, as she did last month, but would not stand in Pelosi's way if the speaker agrees to the Senate version.

"It's still a timeline," she said. "We're not backing down from that."

I'm sticking with my original assessment that (regardless of what he says now) Bush will sign the bill that Congress puts on his desk. I had said that he'd take the money and ignore the deadlines (via a signing statement). Now that the deadlines look more and more like they'll be non-binding...well, you do the math.

April 13, 2007

The Christian Thing

by Mark Adams

Taegan's Quote of the Day:

"I believe in redemption, I believe in forgiveness."

-- John Edwards, quoted by WCBS-TV, on the racially-charged comments made by radio talk show host Don Imus. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were less forgiving.

Don Imus has been pissing me off for years. But, as Digby points out, not only is there a certain fascination, the show also exposed the unseemly underbelly of just how internecine the D.C. punditry was.

This strange relationship between the beltway punitocracy and elected officials first came to my attention when Imus dubbed Bill Clinton, "Bubba." Since then, a virtual parade of media elite and candidates seeking their approval have been a regular staple of the program. It all came to a head for me during the Libby trial. Nowhere else was Timmeh! Russert spouting off as much about the case than on Imus (just between friends), nor juicy tidbits like Andrea Mitchell's kidding around about being too drunk to really know what she said she knew about her involvement in the case.

Lately, the show would inevitably return to a "comedy" skit featuring their resident skin-head, Bernard McGuirk, doing an intentionally unflattering impression of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin as more of a Stepin Fetchit character than anything else. This recurring bit, more than anything, made me switch to see what was on CNN.

The list of indiscretions is long and well documented for an "edgy" program that far too often went over the edge. I lose no sleep over the end, if this is indeed the end, of Don Imus's show. I won't jump for joy that a blight on our public airwaves has been erased as long as Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savidge and Sean Hannity continue to pollute our national discourse with impunity -- or that Ann Coulter is given a forum to purvey her filth.

But I have to admire John Edwards keeping true to himself and his professed faith. I don't know that I am so forgiving, at least not enough to want to hear Imus again or believe that CBS Radio or MSNBC TV were wrong to fire him. Christianity, after all, is a faith of redemption from sin.

I believe in a benevolent and merciful God. That when things seem at their worst and their lowest, he will always be there for you. That no matter what you do, he will forgive you. And it is important to ask for his forgiveness. It's important in my case to have a personal relationship with the Lord, so that I pray daily and I feel that relationship all the time. And when I'm faced with difficult decisions, which I regularly am, I very often go to him in prayer.
There are some that criticize Edwards for missing an opportunity to pander to women or African-Americans who are indignant about Imus' behavior, to kick him while he's down in order to score some political points.

Cheap shots are easy, especially when the target is wounded. Again, John Edwards proves that he's something special, because he's just such a nice guy.

April 09, 2007

The DLC Doesn't Lead

by Mark Adams

They should be renamed, because they are the Democratic Party's leading compromisers and capitulators.

I'd like you to read something, and see if you agree that the official party-within-a-party-line of the Democratic Leadership Council is no better than President Bush when he says his sworn duty is to protect the American people -- when it actually is his sworn duty to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.

Normally, we would be skeptical of attempts by Congress to write war strategy into law -- as opposed to exercising its Constitutional duties to declare and finance wars.
The United States Congress has not declared war since WWII. Moreover, there is no obligation for Congress to fund a war it's membership no longer supports. These are legislative prerogatives, but certainly not their duty. Besides, this really isn't a war.

However, the DLC throws this framing into their argument to give George Bush exactly what he want's, a "clean" supplemental spending bill. Their "plan" is to (1) cave into Bush on funding after he vetoes the conditional bills, complete with their timetables, then (2) take a look at whether the surge escalation is working, and finally (3) to call for a diplomatic strategy.

(Cross-Posted and KOS-Posted)

Continue reading "The DLC Doesn't Lead" »

April 04, 2007

Holy Poll-y

by Mark Adams

I say this in all sincerely: Primary Polls this early MEAN NOTHING.

BUT ... What does matter is the narrative. The beltway pundits are the laziest "journalists" in the world. Take Timmeh! He doesn't go looking for stories, he waits for calls from the likes of Scooter, who always understands that everything is "off the record."

Polls are the media's way of making news instead of reporting on events. These polls will be talked about, and the trends noted. The movement will be discussed, and in the traditionally two most important primary states, Iowa and NH, the trends favor a positive media narrative for Edwards, and the opposite for Hillary and Obama.

The huge Feb. 5 primaries mean more when it comes to delegates, but those states are harder to poll, and the electorate there will be influenced by the media narrative of the polls in the earlier states.

For instance. Californians are in no way ready to think of themselves as an important primary state. The best that can be said of the state of the race, is that it's "fluid."

[Lots O Numbers after the jump]

Continue reading "Holy Poll-y" »

April 02, 2007

Hitting At Obama's Strengths

by Mark Adams, Cross-Posted and KOS-Posted

Karl Rove would be proud. Barack Obama's stance on the war was supposedly unassailable, but is now up for debate. Legislatively, ethics reform is his strong suit, yet it too has come under fire. Wishful thinking and good intentions won't change the fact that sometimes failure to address the issues with substantive plans means ... well ... you lack substance.

That's just bad politics.

Continue reading "Hitting At Obama's Strengths" »

March 22, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards

What shocked me most about Elizabeth Edwards' statement today was that her cancer is now considered "treatable" but not "curable." Being the son of a cancer victim myself, I remember that it was chiefly the hope (and belief) that my father was going to pull out of it that kept me going; when he died it was a double shock. Hearing that Mrs. Edwards will live with cancer for the rest of her life was especially discouraging. All the more impressive, then, is her public attitude of en(courage)ment. Not to mention that she is the 57 year old mother of 6- and 8-year old children.

Here's a short anecdote from Ana Marie Cox about what it was like meeting Elizabeth Edwards for the first time:

She was, as most will tell you, animated and interested, very knowledgeable about blogs and quick to laugh. After a bit, she asked if we'd "like to meet John." (Husband and I had hung back, as Edwards was receiving a long line of admirers.) We at first demurred but she sort of pulled us to the head of the informal line and said, "John, I'd like you to meet..." and introduced us.

Anyone who's been around politicians when they're on the job would have recognized the somewhat frozen smile and half-glassy eyes that Edwards then turned on us. He's got charisma, but he's human, and you can't get through years of shaking hands with strangers without developing the ability to do it by rote. But Elizabeth saw that same automatic gesture and she cut him off mid-"how do you do?"

She hit him gently on the arm in a loving, spousal way. "No, John," she said, "I want you to meet them." He looked at her, a little surprised I think, and then broke into a genuine smile as she re-introduced us. It was the difference between shaking hands with a stranger and shaking hands with a friend of a friend. I feel very lucky to have met someone with such heartfelt charm, and I don't mean John.

Doesn't that just make you want to be friends with her? Doesn't it make you feel like you already are?

March 14, 2007

Fearing and Loathing Fred Thompson

by Mark Adams

Just a sample:

He's Fred Thompson. You're nothing.

IMAO: Frank Facts About Fred Thompson:

* Fred Thompson has on multiple occasions pronounced 'nuclear' correctly.

* Fred Thompson has blasted more people in the face with a shotgun than even Dick Cheney."

* Every night before going to sleep, Osama bin Laden checks under his bed for Fred Thompson.

* Fred Thompson took over what was Al Gore's Senate seat, thereby dramatically reducing the Senate's carbon footprint. Fred Thompson then created carbon offset offsets by wastefully burning hippies.

* The Fremen consider "Fred Thompson" a killing word.

* Only two things can kill Superman: Kryptonite and Fred Thompson.

There's a whole lot more...

Feel free to add your own in the comments, like:

  • Fred Thompson is so macho he doesn't need to ask ... he can tell.

  • Fred Thompson only drinks Tennessee Sour Mash, either Jack Daniel's or George Dickel, straight, no ice. And he can drink more than you.

  • Fred Thompson will never violate the law ... he IS the Law (and Order).

  • Fred Thompson has no fear of Muslims, he thinks they're funny.

  • Fred Thompson won't doesn't need body guards or secret service protection. Bullets bounce off his chest.

  • Fred Thompson can kick Chuck Norris' ass.

  • Men and women both want to be him -- and be with him.

  • Good children love him and bad children fear him, (and it is rumored that Fred Thompson gets final approval of Santa Clause's list).

  • Fred Thompson will end global warming with mind control alone.

(Greg adds: Fred Thompson taught Don Corleone how to make an offer you can't refuse. )

You Can't Spell Controversy Without R.O.V.E.

by Mark Adams

Shep (who really should start his own blog) points us here:

John Dean: Refocusing the Impeachment Movement on Administration Officials Below the President and Vice-President: "The House Judiciary Committee Should Undertake Appropriate Proceedings

Given the number of officials within the Bush Administration who may have been engaged in Constitutional high crimes or misdemeanors, and the nature of the impeachment process, there is no shortage of civil officers worthy of consideration. Where there is clear prima facie evidence of such constitutional misconduct, impeachment action should be commenced."

Exhibit "A" -- Elliot Abrams, despite his pardon, could have been disqualified from holding office through the impeachment process.

Currently Alberto Gonzales is the focus of much of the left's wrath with a growing chorus calling for his resignation, and some intra-party partisans will point out that many of the current Democratic presidential contenders voted against his nomination, notably Clinton, Obama and Biden. John Edwards came out against the nomination as well even though he wasn't in the Senate at the time.

My question is, (since so much has been made about Edwards' vote for the Iraq war lately, suggesting that he should have done something then and not just speak out now) is why Gonzales wasn't given the same treatment as John Bolton or even a closely fought battle like we saw with Alito?


The President is not the Attorney General's client - the people are. And so the true test of an Attorney General nominee is whether that person is ready to put the Constitution of the people before the political agenda of the President. As such, I cannot approach this nomination the same way I approached that of Secretary of State Rice or VA Secretary Nicholson or any other Cabinet position. The standard is simply higher.
Where was the filibuster threat? If this position was so important, so substantively different than other administration officials, where was the "hold" of the nomination from Joe, Hillary and Barack?

This isn't sour grapes, this is outrage that the man who gave cover to an administration engaged in kidnapping, torture, murder and wholesale spying on you and me was given the job in the first place -- without a fight.

NOW we're suprised, shocked! Shocked that there was some shenanigans going on?

Well, at least they didn't vote for Gonzo.

March 10, 2007

Sock Puppets For Rudy

by Mark Adams

We've got to come up with a new term, because "astroturf" doesn't begin to describe this outright fraud -- not that the Associated Press didn't perform the usual stenography service for a transparant Republican lie.

The Washington Monthly:

"RUDY-MANIA....If New York City's actual firefighters don't like you -- and they don't -- but you're running for president as the hero of 9/11, what do you do? Answer: tell one of your campaign aides to invent your own group called "Firefighters for Rudy" and then tout it to the media.

Will they fall for it? Is the Pope Catholic? Greg Sargent has the scoop.

UPDATE: Just to give you an idea of how real this group is, check out They, um, don't seem to have made much progress.

Oddly, though, if you just type "firefightersforrudy" into your browser's address bar, it redirects you to this fine liberal blog. At least, it does in Firefox."

March 07, 2007

"Foxy" Edwards: Not A "Godless" Liberal

by Mark Adams KOS-Posted

John Edwards is just not your average tone-deaf, pandering politician with the common sense of a goldfish, like the so-called leaders we've become accustomed to. He's truly a liberal. But liberal does not mean you have to be "Godless."
First, the News:

  1. In yet another first, Edwards decided NOT to participate in the skeet shoot debate being hosted by FOX News in Nevada.

  2. Edwards directly links Jesus to the central themes of his campaign, saying Christ "would be appalled" that we "resort to war when it's not necessary," and ignore "the plight of those around us who are suffering."
Wondering where all those disenfranchised Christian voters might turn when the dust settles between the exasperated fiscal conservatives and imperial neo-conservatives as they fight over the hard-core Coulterites in the GOP?

Continue reading ""Foxy" Edwards: Not A "Godless" Liberal" »

March 06, 2007

Obama and “The Joshua Generation”

Here's the video from the first part of Sen. Barack Obama's speech in Selma.

A couple of things that jump out.

  • I like how he divides the civil rights movement into the "Moses Generation" and the "Joshua Generation."
    As great as Moses was, in spite of all that he did, leading a people out of bondage, he didn't cross over the river to see the Promised Land. God told him, "Your job is done. You'll see it. You'll be on the mountaintop and see what I've promised -- to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, what I promised to you, you can see that I will fulfill that promise. But you won't go there. We're going to leave it to the Joshua Generation to make sure it happens. There's still some battles that need to be fought, some rivers that need to be crossed."

    Like Moses, the task was passed on to those who might not have been as deserving, might not have been as courageous, who find themselves in front of the risks that their parents, their grandparents, their great-grandparents had taken. But that doesn't mean that they don't have a burden that they have to shoulder, that they don't have some responsibilities.

    The previous generation, the Moses Generation, pointed the way. They took us 90% of the way there, but we still have that 10% in order to cross over to the other side.

  • The other thing that's memorable about this speech is how he creates a narrative of the civil rights movement that includes his own family's history. I wrote about this in an earlier post and it's worth watching the video to hear the cadence of his voice and the response from the audience. It starts at 10:23 into the video and includes his salutory declaration, "I stand on the shoulders of giants" at 13:06.

    Here's the thing: every serious presidential candidate has a responsibility to paint a picture of him or herself that transcends a dry discussion of the policies he or she would advocate. The candidate needs to invoke certain qualities and emotions that are timeless; they need to paint a picture -- preferably using American icons -- that is instantly recognizable and then they need to place themselves in the foreground of that picture.

    All major candidates need to do this and some are more successful at it than others.

    • Clinton ("Boomer breaks the glass ceiling"),
    • Edwards ("Millworker's son makes good"),
    • Giuliani ("Rising to meet the challenge of 9/11"),
    • McCain (""Character forged by adversity").
    And then there's Obama who, with this speech, does it several ways.
    • He invokes his primary message ("Torch passed to a new generation") while putting it in the context of the Biblical story of the Israelites being freed from bondage ("Joshua Generation").
    • He gets extra points, during wartime, for identifying with a masculine warrior figure -- from the Bible, no less.
    • And lastly, he makes a bold move to consolidate his power amongst the very people that have long formed the base of any candidate that hopes to get the nomination of the Democratic party.
The guy is good at this -- very good.

Editorial Changes Proposal

by Mark Adams, KOS-Posted

Contrary to the high road taken by John and Elizabeth Edwards, who display such dignity and class in their response to Ann Coulter's notorious remarks at CPAC, it has been proposed that until further notice the editorial standards of Liberal Blogtopia should maintain a conscious effort to hang the Harpy formally known as The Coultergeist around the neck of GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, to wit:

I propose that it should henceforth be a matter of editorial policy that the names "Mitt Romney" and "Ann Coulter" always appear in the same sentence regardless of which one we're talking about it. -- Ara Rubyan
In keeping with this new standard, neologisms shall also be acceptable when it is clear from context, or use of gender specific pronouns, to which (or both when appropriate) of the intended conservative manifestations of their bankrupt ideology the author refers.

Therefore, saying, "Mit'Coultergeist hit a new low today," without further contextual clues, is considered vague and sounds far too German (unless of course the intention was that they did indeed appear "mit" each other -- then it's just plain clever). However, "Ann (Romney) Coulter is a shrew because..." is more clear as long as the She-Devil is the object of scorn.

"Mit'Coulter" and "The CoulteRomneyoid" need more references within the sentence or paragraph to enhance proper understanding, such as: "Mit'Coulter's base rejected his flip-flopping pandering today," or "After she learned of the cancellation of her syndicated column, The CoulteRomneyoid flew into a spittle-laced rage and kicked her publicist," are perfectly clear from a contextual and grammatical sense.

Parenthetical phrasing such as "Ann (I loves me some Mitt Romney) Coulter," and "Mitt (Ann Coulter is so foxy) Romney," are perfectly acceptable as long as brevity is not an issue. Likewise, hyphenation works as well, as in "Mitt undresses-Coulter-with-his-eyes Romney" or "Ann lick-my-toes-Mitt-baby Coultergeist" can be informative as well as fitting within this new editorial policy.

Unfortunately because of a tasteless and unsubstantiated rumor regarding the questionable physical attributes of Ann (I wonder what Romney looks like naked) Coulter, referring to Romney and/or Coulter as "Ann check-out-that-buldge Romney" is hopelessly ambiguous.

Please direct any questions or suggestions regarding this new policy to the comment section below. Address any private inquiries to

March 02, 2007

The Grand Illusion: Rudy Giuliani's Leadership On 9/11

Rudy.bmpLots of gleeful talk around the Lefty-Net today about the revelation that Rudy Giuliani is a draft-dodger and an adulterer.

Not so fast.

Seems to me that Democrats won't get much mileage out of chiding Rudy for this because conventional wisdom has it that Democrats are "soft" on those issues anyway, you know? So who cares what they think.

Also, some have suggested that voters will be turned off when they discover that Rudy was really a "crazy, mean, dangerous authoritarian" as mayor of New York. But, as Andrew Golis points out, this may be the very reason that Republicans give him the nomination. And it won't hurt if he starts spewing hatred toward Muslims, which I believe he is fully capable of doing.

If Democrats want to stop Giuliani, I believe it is much smarter to attack him where his base thinks he is strongest -- on his 9/11 reputation.

For example, here's what Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins wrote in The Village Voice ("Rudy's Grand Illusion," August 29, 2006):

Everyone agrees that a critical problem [on 9/11] was that the police and fire departments could not communicate; that's one of the reasons the lack of inter- operable radios became such a focus of fury.

[But] if the top brass of the two departments were at each other's sides, they could have told each other whatever they learned from their separate radio systems. Many of the command and control issues that might have saved lives could clearly have been better dealt with had Giuliani stopped, taken a deep breath, and pushed Kerik and Ganci to fully and effectively join forces. Insisting that Kerik, McCarthy, Esposito, or Dunne stay at the incident post would have established a joint operation.

What they're describing is now (post-9/11) called unified command and control and it has become the standard protocol for emergency management. But more than that, it's just common sense and Rudy didn't follow it. As a result, dozens and dozens of firefighters died on that day.

Will the surviving firefighters (who revere Giuliani) accept that? Probably not -- after all, the truth would be too painful.

But the truth must be told.

UPDATE: This post contains material I gleaned from a longer post by Barbara O'Brien entitled: What America Needs to know about Giuliani, Parts I & II .

March 01, 2007

Bwahaha, Rudy The Draft Dodger

No, this little bit of schadenfreide is not being brought to you by the further obscurity the echo chamber is falling into.  (Good on you Rose).

Rather it's the idea that the GOP's bestest chance of uniting their party is Rudy -- who is making the diggs against Bill Clinton look mild.

Adulterer?  Check -- 3 times married in fact (once to a cousin, yech).

Soft on Gays?  Check.

Okay with abortion?  Check.

And now this little gem makes me think he's really running for the Democratic nomination.  (HT: Andy Sullivan)

“Any suggestion that he was dodging the draft is totally, factually inaccurate,” said a senior Giuliani campaign adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. “He opposed the war on tactical and strategic grounds.”
Next thing you know, we'll find out Rudy DID inhale.

March isn't coming in like a lion or lamb.  A frickin' laughing hyena just walked through the door. I can't wait for April Fools Day when March 1 starts out like this.

February 28, 2007

Does Your Candidate Support Murtha's Plan?

Mine does :-)

by Mark Adams

Citizen 53 has posted the full transcript of an almost hour long interview with John Edwards from WNYC Radio. (Audio link to John Edwards interview).

This is an in depth interview with detailed examination of every position that matters in this election:

This interview is an excellent example of Edwards in full. shows his policies and much of who he is as a person, a human being, running for President.

If you have the time, I hope you will read it and offer your comments.

Clearly, what follows is better than any sound bite. is Edwards's views in depth, where he has an opportunity to expound. gives interested DKos'ers a chance to become better educated about Edwards, straight from Edwards, not from the flame wars in a thread that contains oft-repeated information and misinformation that, alas, is so prevalent in the blogosphere.

Get some coffee, settle back, and enjoy!

It's the following exchange that catches the eye. No other major candidate takes this position. None. As the Democratic Congressional Leadership quietly distance themselves from John Murtha's position that the time to get out of Iraq starts now, Edwards has Murtha's back:

BL: And what if you were in the house? This Murtha plan...

JE: I'm for it.

BL: ... to starve the war by requiring shorter stays for American troops, longer intervals between tours, some other're for it?

JE: I'm for it.

BL: You'd vote for it.

JE: I'm for it.

BL: Alright then, do one other thing on this before we leave Iraq to distinguish yourself from the other presidential c...

JE: Can I interrupt you for just a minute?

BL: Sure

JE: You did that very quickly. The Murtha plan that I know about is one that requires American troops not to be sent back for another deployment in Iraq, some of them 3rd and 4th deployments without adequate training, without adequate equipment - is that what you're talking about?

BL: Yes.

JE: OK. Yes, I'm for that.

BL: Which is just an indirect way to stop the troop surge, true?

JE: Yeah, yeah - it certainly affects the number of troops in Iraq.

This is very clear. Surely THE most unambiguous statement a politician could ever make regarding the Murtha plan, and John Edwards is the ONLY presidential candidate saying this.

This is big folks, possibly the best talking point Edwards Supporters have.

February 25, 2007

Crystal Ball Triangulation - Getting To Super Tuesday

by Mark Adams Cross-posted

Ara has the video of a Barack Obama rally with some 15 to 20 thousand very enthusiastic supporters in Austin, Texas. Impressive crowd. What his advance people lack in experience, cash and infrastructure (and he's getting more good people every day) his supporters make up in enthusiasm.

Obamania, Obamanon, catch it. It's a wave, and anyone who worries that he's peaking too soon might be on to something,

Obama's in a weird place and is going to get squeezed from both ends. Hillary and her "vast" network and practically unlimited cash will hammer him from above while Edwards and Richardson (who I think gains most from Vilsack's departure -- as do those closer to the scene) will keep the pressure on from below.

Continue reading "Crystal Ball Triangulation - Getting To Super Tuesday" »

February 24, 2007

Obama Draws 20,000 In Austin, TX

There was a lot of anticipation surrounding Obama's appearance in Texas -- and look what happened:

More than 20,000 supporters filled Auditorium Shores to hear him speak. The crowd shows Obama’s appeal crosses boundaries of age, race and gender. Long lines and rainy weather didn't keep supporters of the Democratic party's fastest rising star away. "He's not just a young persons person, but middle age and older people too,” Dorothy Johson said. Obama is re-energizing voters.
Other reports had the crowd at 15,000 but this stage of the game in 2003, Howard Dean was blowing people away with crowds a fraction of that size. Yes, yes, I know: Dean lost. But if I had my choice of drawing bigger vs. smaller crowds, I'd want to be where Obama is right now.

And it isn't just the crowd size that is impressive. Obama's saying the right things:

Obama, speaking at a massive outdoor rally in Austin, Texas, said British Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision this week to withdraw 1,600 troops is a recognition that Iraq's problems can't be solved militarily.

"Now if Tony Blair can understand that, then why can't George Bush and Dick Cheney understand that?"
"Now, keep in mind, [Cheney] is the same guy that said we'd be greeted as liberators, the same guy that said that we're in the last throes. I'm sure he forecast sun today," Obama said to laughter from supporters holding campaign signs over their heads to keep dry. "When Dick Cheney says it's a good thing, you know that you've probably got some big problems."
Obama told the Austin crowd that they should try to recruit their friends to support his campaign. "I want you to tell them, 'It's time for you to turn off the TV and stop playing GameBoy,'" Obama said. "We've got work to do."
[OK, so he doesn't play a lot of video games.]
Tickets to the rally were free, but Obama asked the attendees to give even $5 or $10. "I don't want to have to raise money in Hollywood all the time," he said.

There are two races right now: the money race and the public opinion race. By April, we'll know how much of a contender Obama is in each one. But for now, he looks like the real thing.

In the meantime, check out the pre-rally video from the campaign:

February 12, 2007

PM Howard: Al Qaeda loves Dems & Obama; Obama responds

Everyone knows that al Qaeda favored Bush in 2004 -- you don't need the CIA to tell you that. Think about it: A-Q's brand of religious fundamentalism is faaaaaaaaaar more closely matched to Republican theocracy than it is to the godless, libertine Democrats. The End.

And/But I liked how Barack Obama responded to Aussie PM John Howard's ridiculous comments:

[W]e have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq, and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1400, so if he is … to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq. Otherwise it's just a bunch of empty rhetoric.
In other words, sit down and shut your pie-hole.

February 11, 2007

Barack Obama speech

Barack Obama:

This campaign has to be about reclaiming the meaning of citizenship, restoring our sense of common purpose, and realizing that few obstacles can withstand the power of millions of voices calling for change.

By ourselves, this change will not happen. Divided, we are bound to fail.

But the life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible.

He tells us that there is power in words. He tells us that there is power in conviction. That beneath all the differences of race and region, faith and station, we are one people. He tells us that there is power in hope.

As Lincoln organized the forces arrayed against slavery, he was heard to say: "Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought to battle through."

That is our purpose here today. That's why I'm in this race. Not just to hold an office, but to gather with you to transform a nation. I want to win that next battle - for justice and opportunity. I want to win that next battle - for better schools, and better jobs, and health care for all. I want us to take up the unfinished business of perfecting our union, and building a better America.

And if you will join me in this improbable quest, if you feel destiny calling, and see as I see, a future of endless possibility stretching before us; if you sense, as I sense, that the time is now to shake off our slumber, and slough off our fear, and make good on the debt we owe past and future generations, then I'm ready to take up the cause, and march with you, and work with you. Together, starting today, let us finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this Earth.

February 07, 2007

How Giuliani Will Help Elect the Democrat

Rudy.bmpLawrence O'Donnell has the scoop on Rudy:

Rudy Giuliani's presidential candidacy is the best thing that will happen for the Democratic candidates this year. He's going to lose...[and on] his way to losing, Giuliani is going to divert a lot of money away from the inevitable Republican nominee, John McCain.
How do we know he's going to lose? He's the front-runner right now, isn't he?
[B]ut Howard Dean was the frontrunner for a while in the last contested presidential primary season.
Yeah, well, Giuliani is no Howard Dean, right?
When Republican primary voters discover how liberal Giuliani has been on social issues--along with how many wives he's had and how many gay men he has lived with while waiting for a divorce to come through--they are going to abandon him faster than Democratic voters fled from Howard Dean. But the only way they are going to "discover" Giuliani's record on social issues is for John McCain to tell them about it. McCain's campaign has the most vicious attackers in politics today, including Bush campaign graduates and the Swift Boat attack team. They are going to make Giuliani look very bad to conservative voters, but, in the process, they are going to make McCain look bad to moderates he will need in the general election.
I wouldn't be surprised if they begin to hammer Giuliani on his alleged "strong point": his leadership in aftermath of 9/11.

Consider this: who was it that put the NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM) in the World Trade Center to begin with? It was Rudy -- over the objection of his subordinates, one of whom (I kid you not) told him that the building had been bombed once before and it should now be considered "Ground Zero" for a future attack. Yet Rudy insisted because he wanted the command center within walking distance of City Hall.

Of course, on 9/11 he walked all right -- he wandered the streets looking for a place to make a simple phone call because the OEM had gone up in flames.

The mainstream media portrayed his presence on the street as an act of heroism when in fact it was the result of a colossal act of hubris and stupidity. Bottom line: His conduct in the time leading up to, and including, 9/11 and its aftermath makes a nice bookend to Bush's Hurricane Katrina conduct. What a pair of morons.

If you want the whole story, read Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11. I have a feeling someone on McCain's staff knows it forwards and backwards.

February 05, 2007

For Obama, what does leadership mean?

It's the eternal rallying cry of any political candidate:"Follow me!"

Of course, any and all potential supporters come back with the eternal response: "Why?"

If you're Barack Obama, what you say next could make or break the rest of your political career:

Obama gave a glimpse of how his campaign will look and feel on Friday, when he delivered somber remarks at the Democratic National Committee meeting that left the audience hushed at points.
"There are those who don't believe in talking about hope," Obama told the crowd. "They say, 'Well, we want specifics, we want details, and we want white papers, and we want plans.' We've had a lot of plans, Democrats. What we've had is a shortage of hope. And over the next year, over the next two years, that will be my call to you."
Is this enough to set him apart from his rivals? Clearly, Obama is the candidate of generational change. He's all about moving beyond the politics of the 1960's and the boomer cohort that still nurtures that paradigm. It's his unique offer to the voters and one that would seem to be aimed at those who are the newest among them. Can it work? Are there signs that it might find support?
From Washington, Obama headed to Fairfax for an event that his advisers said illustrated his campaign strategy even more directly: a student rally organized through the online networking site Thousands of students attended the Web-driven event at George Mason University -- evidence, the Obama campaign said, that the popularity of its candidate will spread virally through the electorate rather than as a result of paid television ads or campaign mailings.
Well, I'll say this: at least he didn't set it up on MySpace, which is so over it's ridiculous. Can you see Obama setting up shop on Murdoch's new toy? Not so much.

What else sets him apart?

"Our campaign will never be the most rigid, structured, top-down, corporate-type campaign in this nomination battle," said senior Obama adviser Robert Gibbs. "There are plenty of other people that can do 'politics as usual' far better than we can. But I hope we have a campaign whose support continues to expand even faster than you can put a fence around it."
Sounds familiar -- remember Howard Dean?

Now before you check to see if I've marked the previous sentence with my snark tags, remember this: The Democratic party has come around to where Howard Dean was 4 years ago. Progressive activists have directed the party to a successful 50-state strategy, they dominate the online space for fundraising and community development, and their pugnacious attitude is really pretty infectious. But the downside is that there are no guarantees that lots of Facebook members will translate into lots of primary election (let alone general election) votes:

Matt Bennett, a senior adviser to the Clark campaign in 2004, described the phenomenon as trying to "ride a tiger."

"It's the toughest thing to do in presidential politics, which is to walk the line between maintaining your genuine attractiveness to the grass roots and becoming a credible national candidate, because often those things are in direct conflict," he said. "He is the candidate that is exciting this huge mass of people, and he cannot let them down in a fundamental way. But he has also got to do the blocking and tackling that candidates do."

What exactly are we talking about here? If you're still unsure, just follow the money:
"Given the need to build a fundraising infrastructure and the fact that we do not accept contributions from federal lobbyists and political action committees, raising $8 to $10 million in the first quarter would be great news," spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said.
Well, one thing is for sure -- they seem to understand that they've got to manage expections in a very traditional concrete way because if they don't, God knows Obama's opponents stand ready to do it for him.

Rivals in the Democratic contest contend that he could raise as much as $40 million, potentially raking in $1 million in a single Hollywood fundraiser, and will all but fail an early test of his viability if he comes up with less than former North Carolina senator John Edwards before April. Edwards is expected to raise as much as $15 million in the first quarter, and Clinton is expected to raise as much as $30 million, though both of those campaigns, like Obama's, insist they could take in less.

"By all accounts, Obama is poised for a huge fundraising quarter," said Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson, predicting that Obama will raise $25 million or more. Wolfson played down the notion that Obama's campaign needs time to get up to speed. "You can build an operation fairly quickly if you know what you're doing, and I suspect they know what they're doing," he said.

Translation: "Or not."

And here's the thing: Whether or not Obama raises $8 million or $40 million, can he maintain his appeal with his core supporters? In a way, that's harder to do than just raising the money. Howard Dean did both, whereas John Kerry did not.

"If he tries to run a traditional campaign -- that is run, staffed, managed and operated in a traditional way -- he is playing to his opponents' strengths, both in terms of going head-to-head where they're going to be really strong, but also in terms of undermining a good chunk of his message," said Chris Lehane, a former spokesman for Al Gore who is not currently on the payroll of any presidential campaign.
Now I'd be the last person to buy everything Chris Lehane says, but the point is well-taken.
"I think he is very focused on the fact that he doesn't want to lose his essential self in this process, and if he does -- and if what he projects and delivers is just more of the kind of politics people have become accustomed to -- it would be a disappointment to him, and to them," [David] Axelrod said [Obama's chief media strategist].
"If this campaign is what it should be, this is not going to be the hoisting of an icon. It's going to be the movement of millions of people."
And, if Obama is going to win, that is how he is going to do it -- not from the top down, not with overwhelming firepower from establishment types, not with overwhelming name-recognition, not with decades of political tradition behind him, but because his vision and hope for the future was so compelling.

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