Monday, February 25, 2008
A few political notes: Haven't had the chance to go over the blogs but have caught some news on CNN and some Brit channel called Sky. From what I see out here Obama is wiping the floor with Hil and concensus out here says that he won the last debate. They kept hawing on about her final comments, which they appriopiately said sounded like a concession. Course the next day she was attacking Barack's health care mailer that had been circulating for the last two weeks. If this is the only ammo in her basket then she's in trouble and the rezko trial can't come fast enough. But like I said, that's the word in Israel, maybe things are closer in the states.
Oh and I think I called the Oscars pretty well, I though Blood could have won more, but I suppose they gave them the one they most deserved, best actor to Day-Lewis.
I'll try to get in a few more posts before I leave, but if not you'll get a full report with pics when I get back. Shalom!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
"Salter blamed the New York Times' obsession with this sort of intramural scorekeeping as the paper's real motivation for going ahead with a story "they'd already spiked." "They did this because the The New Republic was going to run a story that looked back at the infighting there," Salter said, "the Judy Miller-type power struggles -- they decided that they would rather smear McCain than suffer a story that made the New York Times newsroom look bad.""
In my previous post I mentioned that we really shouldn't care whether or not McCain was having an affair with a lobbyist, and that the other info in the article was more important. Let me also back that by saying that just about all of these assertions by the Times regarding said alleged affair is speculation. As MY says:
"...the Times's effort to substitute innuendo for making a straightforward true or false assertion is seems like a pretty shameful attempt to set up a Kaus-like presumption of guilt. If they have reporting they're willing to stand behind of a McCain-Iseman affair, they should publish it. And if, as seems to be the case, they don't have the reporting, then they shouldn't write the story."
Regardless, the bottom line on this one: It won't end McCain's run, but it sure won't help him get any new votes come the general election. He'll lose some independent votes because of the lobbyist hypocrisies, but, surprising to some, he won't lose the few religious voters he's got. For some strange reason they only seem to care about sex scandals when the perpetrator has the last name Clinton.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I suppose if there were two stories last night worth mentioning it is the picking into Hillary's demographics by Obama, and the media narrative that's emerging that makes this Obama's election to lose. Though this thing won't be wrapped up until Texas, Penn, and Ohio the media seems ready to crown Obama the champion. It's hard to maintain some impartiality in the face of all the Obama love.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
At least Hilzoy was able to find some good news in the middle of the Cluster-F--:
"One interesting note: as far as I can tell, the Pakistani religious parties seem to have done very, very badly. Here are the results so far; the MMA is the union of religious parties, and it looks as though they are being demolished. Background here: apparently, the MMA was both divided and not very good at running things. Interestingly, the party that seems to have done best in the NWFP is a secular Pashtun nationalist party.
"I hope this means that we won't hear any more hyperventilating about the possibility that jihadis could sweep to power in Pakistan at any minute if we don't keep supporting dictators. The religious parties have never been very popular in Pakistan. They seem to be even less popular now."
So is the Iraq war in the US, but we surge on.
"MEXICO CITY — Fidel Castro stepped down Tuesday morning as the president of Cuba after a long illness, ending one of the longest tenures as an all-powerful, communist head of state in the world, according to Granma, the official publication of the Cuban Communist Party.
"In late July 2006, Mr. Castro, who is 81, handed over power temporarily to his brother, Raúl Castro, 76, and a few younger cabinet ministers, after an acute infection in his colon forced him to undergo emergency surgery. Despite numerous surgeries, he has never fully recovered but has remained active in running government affairs from behind the scenes."
Saturday, February 16, 2008
"MANAGUA, Nicaragua -- The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl and ended the season with a perfect 19-0 record -- at least it looks that way in Nicaragua.
"The NFL donated 290 Patriots hats and an equal number of team jerseys trumpeting the slogans "Super Bowl Champions, 19-0" to impoverished children from two small communities in southern Nicaragua."
In more recent news NE Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady bought a town in Nicaragua renaming it 19-0. Bill Belichick was voted in as mayor the the slim margin of one field goal.
By the way, take a real good look at Ross' Iraq post (the first link). I've often said that if McCain's got a shot of winning he's got to sell the surge big time, but Douthat shows how hard that's going to be. Hint: If a tree surges in the forest and Brian Williams doesn't report it, does it really surge?
"Here's Victor Davis Hanson:
"Under pressure to produce some facts and specifics, the Obama team is beginning to release a little on the economy, taxes, and new entitlements."
"Now the reason I balk at this is that I actually sat through a long Obama speech on taxes last year in Washington. I couldn't get through the details there were so many. It bored the pants off me. The notion that Obama has not released details and specifics on economic policy is a fantasy. It's a product of pundit laziness. The cocoon right seems to believe that because they haven't done their homework, Obama hasn't."
It's all laid out right here. And just to be fair here's Hillary and McCain. Yeah, I know sorting through the numbers is boring, but um, isn't that what pundits are supposed to do?
Friday, February 15, 2008
So, if that's the case, why did he vote for it?
McCain: Panders Like Mitt Romney, but doesn't have nice hair.
Sorry I've been off for the last couple of days, but I've actually been doing work, believe it or not. Anyway, I was meaning to post up a surprising developing story about the House passing contempt charges against Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers, both of whom had ignored Congressional subpoenas to testify before them about White House abuses of power. The resolution passed 233-32 after the Congressional Republicans staged a walk out, complaining that the Democrats were "grandstanding". This of course was said in front of a camera crew on the steps of congress.
House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers also included in the resolution a recommendation for his committee to sue the White House should AG Mukasey refuse to prosecute the the contempt charges.
But wait--there's more.
The House also looks poised to let the Protect America Act lapse, should they not pass the Senate Immunity bill (which includes Telecom immunity) by midnight. While pragmatically this may not mean much,
"It might have something to do with the fact that the lapsing of the Protect America Act (PAA) won't substantially affect things at all. The old FISA law will kick back into effect. And authorizations granted under the PAA in the last six months to wiretap entire terrorist groups will stick for an entire year. In the words of House intelligence committee Chair Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), "Things will be fine.""
It would be a symbolic loss to Bush, who for the last couple of days has been putting the full court press on Congress to pass it, most recently stating that House Democrats were, "jeopardizing "the lives of countless Americans...at this moment, somewhere in the world, terrorists are planning new attacks on our country."
This type of fear-mongering has worked in the past, but it looks like the Dems, so far, look confident enough to fight back. We'll be following this situation closely...
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
"The Washington Post leads the paper today with a story about how a "clean team" from the FBI and the military re-interrogated the 9/11 suspects who will be put on trial on capital murder charges, collecting the same information the CIA obtained from five of the six under far harsher conditions at secret prisons.:
"To ensure that the data would not be tainted by allegations of torture or illegal coercion, the FBI and military team won the suspects' trust over the past 16 months by using time-tested rapport-building techniques, the officials said."
Yeah...won their trust. Sure they did. Sorta reminds me of how slave owing whites pre-civil war looked at their slaves:
"They look so happy, smiling and singing as they picking that cotton--they just love their master!"
Yeah, love to break a foot off in their ass.
Then Tumulty states the obvious:
"But this revelation that the government felt the need for an interrogation do-over actually hurts the Bush Administration's case in the court of international public opinion. It also jeopardizes the legitimacy of any verdict that comes out of these trials. First, it seems to acknowledge that the CIA was on shaky legal ground with what are euphemistically known as coercive interrogation techniques. Second, it raises the question: If this information was obtainable through "time-tested rapport-building techniques," why didn't they use them in the first place? (Indeed, FBI Director Robert Mueller--whose agency deals with its share of tough characters, including Saddam Hussein--told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that his agency never uses "coercive techniques of any sort" and has found the ones it does use "sufficient and appropriate.")"
Regardless of the ruling, this case can't help but be mired in doubt. Thanks for the torture fellas!
"Thus far, it looks like Obama really will pull off the sweep, which is good for him. But the most recent poll of Ohio shows Clinton with a big lead, and considering the convincing nature of Clinton's wins in states like Arizona, Oklahoma, and California I think you need to assume she'll win there until we see some kind of poll offering clear evidence to the contrary. Obama's put together a string of impressive wins, but it's still the case that in the Democratic Party women outnumber men, whites outnumber blacks, working class people outnumber college educated professionals, and senior citizens outnumber under-thirties. Under the circumstances, Clinton continues to be in a strong position."
Right. While I'm all about momentum, which may possibly be VERY important come convention time, the race remains close. This is still Hil's game to lose, and any thought Obama supporters might have of thinking that he's in the driver's seat are only setting them up for a big fall. Things are looking good, but the battle's only just begun.
PS: By the way, if Hillary does win, can be be civil and unbiased enough to say that she ran a hell of a race that showed grit and stamina? I know it had tons of faults, mostly springing from her overconfidence, but if she does pull it off I'll admit that she showed courage under fire. Then I'll cry.
Uno makes history by become the first Beagle to win the Westminster Dog Show.
In his acceptance speech he thanked all the Beagles that came before him, especially Snoopy, who taught him to always believe in his dreams, particularly the ones that have you shooting down the Red Baron. Then he endorsed Barack Obama before getting in a stretch Hummer with a pack of bitches.
Hat Tip: Sully (yes, I did steal his pic)
"When I am the nominee, I will offer a clear choice. John McCain won’t be able to say that I ever supported this war in Iraq, because I opposed it from the beginning. Senator McCain said the other day that we might be mired for a hundred years in Iraq, which is reason enough to not give him four years in the White House.
"If we had chosen a different path, the right path, we could have finished the job in Afghanistan, and put more resources into the fight against bin Laden; and instead of spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Baghdad, we could have put that money into our schools and hospitals, our road and bridges – and that’s what the American people need us to do right now.
"And I admired Senator McCain when he stood up and said that it offended his “conscience” to support the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in a time of war; that he couldn’t support a tax cut where “so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate.” But somewhere along the road to the Republican nomination, the Straight Talk Express lost its wheels, because now he’s all for them.
"Well I’m not. We can’t keep spending money that we don’t have in a war that we shouldn’t have fought. We can’t keep mortgaging our children’s future on a mountain of debt. We can’t keep driving a wider and wider gap between the few who are rich and the rest who struggle to keep pace. It’s time to turn the page."
McCain's reply? Feeble:
"To encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas that trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope. It is a platitude."
And what are these "sound and proven ideas" that you have Sen. McCain? I'll let Pat Buchanan paraphrase:
"The jobs are never coming back, the illegals are never going home, but we're going to have a lot more wars."
Now that's straight talk you can cry about.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
"February 12, 2008 -- A prominent member of the national Democratic Party has circulated a sharp e-mail saying the removal of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle was disloyal to Hispanics and should give "pause" to superdelegates and voters.
The e-mail from, Steven Ybarra, a California superdelegate who heads the voting-rights committee of the DNC Hispanic Caucus, was sent to fellow caucus members in the hours after word broke that Solis Doyle - the most prominent Latina in Clinton's campaign - would be replaced by another close Clinton loyalist, Maggie Williams, who is black."
Personally I think this is unwarranted. I mean Hil went from being a 20 point over to a slight under with Omentum going against her. Heads were bound to roll and odds are the campaign manager's would be the first to go (and Mark Penn's but that's another story). It's even been suggested that she was hired because of loyalty rather than qualification. Regardless though, this comes a horrible time because Hill is going to need Texas to win and to win Texas she's going to need every Latino she can muster.
"Let there be no doubt: a majority of senators, and a large number of Democrats, think the telecoms should not suffer the hazard of accountability for cooperating with the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) took to the floor last night to give a speech asking, "This is our defining question, the question that confronts every generation: The rule of law, or the rule of men?" The resounding answer: the rule of men.
"The Senate voted on the Dodd/Feingold amendment, which would have stripped retroactive immunity from the surveillance bill just now. The final tally was 31-67"
Of course a large number of Dems voted against the amendment. Who do you think they are? The opposition party? For a full list check out the link.
Note: Obama voted for it, and Hillary wasn't present, which is interesting since, as MY notes, she happens to be currently campaigning in DC.
"With no Teleprompter signaling the prepared text, Obama failed to deliver the speech in his characteristically flawless fashion. He had to rely on notes. And his memory. And he improvised."
Gasp! I'm totally taken aback; now I'm totally not voting for him. Improvised? Well, that sorta thing is best left to the stage at the Blue Note. I'm shocked.
Then again, not everyone can be as good of a speaker as Bush.
"JERUSALEM - Hamas has reached a new low in its cartoon brainwashing of kids to kill Israelis: a Bugs Bunny look-alike who declares, "I will eat the Jews!"
"Assud the rabbit is the newest star of "Tomorrow's Pioneers," a Hamas-authorized kids show that airs on Gaza TV and is beamed around the Arab world."
Ok, that's pretty nuts, but does anyone remember Farfur, the Mickey Mouse wannabe who used to "tell children to drink milk, pray daily - and take up AK-47 assault rifles to defeat Israel and the U.S." Well he isn't around any more:
"The producers of the show later told kids that Farfur had been beaten to death by Israeli soldiers.
"A short-lived bee character called Nahul was also killed off recently - his death blamed on Israelis preventing him from reaching a hospital to get urgent medical treatment."
Monday, February 11, 2008
ARG: Obama 55%, Clinton 37% (Today)
Mason-Dixon: Obama 53%, Clinton 35% (Feb. 10)
Rasmussen: Obama 57%, Clinton 31% (Feb. 9)
SurveyUSA: Obama 52%, Clinton 33% (Feb. 8)
SurveyUSA: Obama 60%, Clinton 38% (Today)
ARG: Obama 56%, Clinton 38% (Today)
Mason-Dixon: Obama 53%, Clinton 37% (Feb. 10)
Rasmussen: Obama 55%, Clinton 37%
Honestly, Obama's campaign has been smart, smart, smart. By attacking the small states they exploit Hillary's overconfidence, gain delegates, and keep the media shouting Omentum! (Trademark Teethwriter 2008) even though Hil can still win the most delegates. From a political wonk standpoint, this is great stuff. Course I probably wouldn't be so entralled if I wasn't for Obama, but I would like to think I could be more objective than Andrew Sullivan.
I know it's supposed to be funny, but...he actually said 10,000 years! That's sorta chilling when you remember that there's an off chance that he could win. I mean, has Hillary or Obama said anything that nuts? Seriously, I wanna know. And gimme a link with the quote please. To something other than Red State or Michelle Malkin.
With 800 Superdelegates, and about three months to go, Scarlett can make all the difference:
"Jason Rae, a 21-year-old super-delegate from Wisconsin, has not only had breakfast with Chelsea, he's gotten a phone call from Bill:
"Former President Clinton called Rae on his cell phone, Jan. 25, the night before the South Carolina primary.
Rae was about to head out to dinner with friends when his phone rang and the screen said, "Number withheld." The voice on the other end said: "Please hold for the former president" and then a familiar voice said "Hey Jason, it's Bill here."
"I started to think, is this real? I am a junior in college and Bill Clinton is talking to me?" Rae said as he recalled the phone call.
Clinton talked about Hillary Clinton's electability and gave Rae an update on how things were looking on the ground in South Carolina. He then regaled Rae with stories about his travels to Wisconsin as president and the cities he visited during that time.
"Impressively (especially for a 21 year old), Rae says he won't endorse until after the Wisconsin primary.
P.S. While Hillary has Bill and Chelsea making her case to Rae, it looks like Obama has . . . John Kerry. Uh, two words of advice for the Obama people: Scarlett Johansson.
Time to stop F! 'ing around Obama.
Hat Tip: MY
Hat Tip: 5 PS: Ah, heard Foo Fighters won for best rock album. Not saying anything, just saying.
If you said no to that last question (and I hope you did) then I would agree. Sometimes, as a nation, the ends don't justify the means. If that was the case we'd be a pack of nihilists, traveling in death squads going willy nilly throughout communities shooting indiscriminately into crowds because, chances are, you're going to get a least a couple of 'bad guys'. Sure we know that it doesn't work all the time, but we maintain our Justice system because its the best way we know of to separate the guilty from the innocent, to appropriately punish those that are guilty, and to keep from becoming barbaric. In short, our Justice system keeps us civilized. And while I'm just as much a fan of The Punisher as the next guy (assuming the next guy isn't Jigsaw), I wouldn't want him to be my judge, jury, and executioner. He a bit too high strung for an impartial hearing.
That being the case I have some real issues with a military tribunal trying and executing the six suspected terrorists being held in Guantanamo Bay. That's not to say that I don't think they're guilty (for whatever that’s worth)--as I mentioned before, I bet one of those 5,000 lynched was guilty, but when someone is lynched their guilt becomes moot. Whatever pleasure the individual victim gets from the execution is overwhelmed by fear and doubt as their society descends into anarchy.
And yes, obviously there's big differences between a military tribunal and a lynching mob, the largest being that, for the former, there are some rules and organization. So is there in theocracies, and dictatorships. The Inquisition has some rules? Did that make it any less of a lynching?
The idea is that we hold our American Justice system to a much higher standard of equality and fairness. What I'm not talking about here is a literal lynching as much as a symbolic lynching, a political steamroller that's trampling over defendants' rights and our own search for truth.
Let's review some facts. Since the Supreme Court struck down the original mandate for the military tribunal system, the defendants are given more liberties, including the right to appeal to the US Supreme Court. However the trial will still be held at Camp X-ray and only select journalists and lawyers will be present. Also, much of the evidence gathered against these men came from such torture techniques as waterboarding. It would be inadmissible in any state of the union, so why do we hold this court to a lower standard? Because the defendants are 'evildoers'? Last I heard it's innocent until proven guilty, and I heard that idea is pretty good--so why do we exclude them from that criteria?
It's important to get this right the first time, and so far this is going wrong. In many issues affecting the so-called war on terror, the administration has tried to have their cake and eat it too. They couldn't just pull the dictatorship card out, and by allowing the Supreme Court to rule they've opened their selves up for appeal after appeal by the defendants. Furthermore, while I personally wouldn't care (if they were in a real court) if they are seeking capital punishment (though I'm against the death penalty), the international media is rallying against it. Finally though, the biggest issue, and what is likely to be the most controversial, is the use of the military tribunal and the conditions of camp X-Ray. For nearly a decade blacks were lynched in America and there wasn't a substantial blowback. It was all "somewhere else", much like Guantanamo is "over there", and I wouldn't expect there to be a different response. But in the following decades, as our fear and anger recedes, we will look back on this and realize that our rush to judgment and our willingness to bend our rules will cast doubt on these proceedings and represent a return to the darkest side of our humanity.
Hillary Clinton has either run out of tricks in her political bag, or she’s having a nervous breakdown. For the third time, in about as many weeks, Clinton has teared up this time at a rally in Maine. Out of the three times that she’s bawled though, this one might be the most honest. Why? Because, depending on where you look, Barack Obama has either pulled within 27 delegates or has taken the lead with 48 delegates. Over the weekend Obama routed Clinton, winning all the primaries and caucuses, taking Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, the Virgin Islands and Maine by large margins. This has to be beyond distressing for Sen. Clinton. A year ago she had a 20 point lead in the polls over everyone. She was crushing the competition and measuring out her presidential pantsuits, when the young upstart snuck behind her and hit her with a metaphoric roll of quarters. Now it appears that she’s panicking: shedding tears, loaning her campaign money, and firing her campaign manager, but does she need to be?
We can’t forget that we still have nearly half of America to go, and both Clinton and Obama would need about one thousand more delegates and super delegates to win. I’m not going to give a break down of the polling for each individual state but right now a big focus is on the three of largest delegate rich states, Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Together these states add up to 492 delegates; and, with the exception of Penn, all have a distinct possibility of going Clinton’s way seeing that they fit her particular demographic. Also, these states happen to come towards the end of the primary season, which could lend her some momentum. Why is momentum important? It’s important in dealing with the super delegates. A longer video can be found here; but, in short, a super delegate is a delegate who’s given a vote based on their position in the Democratic Party. For instance, former Democratic presidents are super delegates, as are Democratic members of Congress. They are not indebted to cast their vote with the majority of elected delegates, although traditionally they do. But seeing as how close this primary season is playing out, it is possible that neither Obama nor Hillary will have a clear advantage. If that’s the case the super delegates might cast their vote with their region (and if it’s still close it might come down to John Edwards’ delegates), or they might cast it with the candidate who has the most momentum. Momentum is one of those intangibles that are impossible to calculate but one has to feel from what’s going on, on the streets and in the media, and right now it’s undeniable that Obama has the mo; especially when you consider headlines like this. Taking that back from Obama has to be as much a Clinton priority as winning primaries.
On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee is also pushing his momentum through the South, marching from victory to victory like General Sherman. Saturday saw Huck destroy McCain in Kansas and eke out a slim W in Louisiana. Meanwhile McCain maintains his dominance in the North taking Washington. While this sounds interesting, this race is pretty much done as Huckabee has no political power in the North and McCain, with 723 delegates, only needs about 400 more to win. What was really interesting this week on the Republican side was watching McCain pander to the Conservative wingnuts at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He was even booed when he spoke about immigration, which isn’t so bad when you consider that they give this chick standing ovations. I think if Clayton Bigsby spoke there the entire conference’s eyes would melt out of their skulls just like the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Yet this is only one of the many indications that the traditional conservative movement is falling apart. McCain’s rise in the GOP primaries has shown them to be a bunch of zealots, fixed in their supply side, preemptive war, and anti-immigration agendas. This is the party that Karl Rove built, but where as they thought it was built to last, it’s about to crumble under the weight of its own incompetence and hate.
Things to look forward to: Primaries in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia (a big one the Dem side), Hawaii and Wisconsin. Watching the mainstream GOP media weakly try to fall in behind McCain, and Huckabee will give the stiff arm to a minor scandal emerging in his campaign.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Friday, February 08, 2008
Thursday, February 07, 2008
"Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat. And the consequence of that would be devastating. It would mean attacks on America, launched from safe havens that make Afghanistan under the Taliban look like child’s play. About this, I have no doubt."
You stay classy Mitt.
Seriously...look at that picture...is that cheese too? I'm actually drooling.
Hat Tip: Sully
"Cynics may argue that those aren't bombshells at all, that the Bush Administration would never investigate itself in these matters. Perhaps so. But this is a case where cynicism is itself dangerous.
"We have now the Attorney General of the United States telling Congress that it's not against the law for the President to violate the law if his own Department of Justice says it's not.
"It is as brazen a defense of the unitary executive as anything put forward by the Administration in the last seven years, and it comes from an attorney general who was supposed to be not just a more professional, but a more moderate, version of Alberto Gonzales (Thanks to Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer for caving on the Mukasey nomination.).
"President Bush has now laid down his most aggressive challenge to the very constitutional authority of Congress. It is a naked assertion of executive power. The founders would have called it tyrannical. His cards are now all on the table.
"This is no bluff."
More and more The End of America seems foretelling. The abuses of this admistration threaten to completely disintegrate our democracy; and before health care, before Iraq, this is the greatest problem in our nation. The next president must have the strength and determination to restore the rule of law, checks and balances, and habeas corpus to our system and I can't see McCain or Clinton having the desire to do so. Their ingrained establishment roots and hunger for power makes them unlikely of shirking such tyrannical authority. And while Obama might be just as susceptible to abuse the presidency, his freshness and rehetoric inspire me to believe that he's the best chance we have of restoring our democratic process.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
The best part? He doesn't have to do jack.
Ain't politics sweet?
"I'm a bit surprised as to the source of Barack Obama's strength in rural states like North Dakota and Kansas. These would seem to be places where the demographics run heavily in Clinton's favor -- older, whiter, less educated populations. Obama should be counting on big cities with plenty of black people and young hipsters. North Dakota and Kansas are basically the reverse. Now, these are states the Clinton campaign didn't invest many resources in, but we know Obama did very well in the rural areas of Nevada as well. Since these are kinds of places where relatively few people, and especially few Democrats, live we don't hear much about them. As a result, we're left a bit in the dark. There's a clear pattern, but it doesn't fit with our larger pattern."
First off, anyone who tells you that they know what happened last night is probably full of it, especially if they're this guy. The last episode of the Sopranos had more closure than Super Tuesday. Five people went in and five came out with no clear favorite, but one clear winner: Mike Huckabee.
Huckabee, considered the spoiler for Mitt Romney, did more than just take away votes from Mitt, but won nearly all the southern states that participated last night. These wins did more than just elongate Huck's candidacy, but virtually guaranteed him either a VP spot on the McCain ticket, or a cabinet post. Why? Because in a battle to shore up the Republican base Huck is the CLEAR favorite. Come election time, McCain is going to need these votes to have a fighting chance and only Huckabee will be able to deliver them. If the Huckster isn't around the evangelicals will stay home since it's extremely unlikely that they'll rally around Micky C who they consider a traitor to the social conservative movement. His wins, by the way, were really the only surprise of the night.
Mitt Romney is in a WORLD of hurt, bleeding out his behind like the dude who got raped in American Me. Though he managed to snatch up more delegates than Huck, he trails McCain by a significant amount, he's lost Mittmentum and his attempt to become a face of mainstream conservatives. Losing Cali was a huge blow, and really showed that for all his money he just can't shore up voters. According to MSNBC, Romney's campaign said today will be a day of "frank discussions" regarding the rest of the race as they crunch the numbers to see if they still have a shot.
McCain is doing A-ok, finally conceding that he is the front runner. As long as his body holds up, it looks like he's got the GOP nod.
But, for the Democrats, things aren't nearly as obvious, as the race has become nearly a dead heat. If you take the Obama's campaign at face value, everything is going according to plan as they reported to Ambinder:
"We fully expect Senator Clinton to earn more delegates on February 5th and also to win more states. If we were to be within 100 delegates on that day and win a number of states, we will have met our threshold for success and will be best positioned to win the nomination in the coming months."
'Binder thought they were aiming low (probably trying to get some of that underdog Giants momentum) and sure enough they did do slightly better, garnering more states and slightly more delegates than Hillary, although they're still behind by about 70 or 80 delegates. Clinton tried to claim that she was gaining momentum, but what we're seeing is an Obama surge, pushing against her ingrained supporters, especially the Latino community that gave her a big push in California. What happens when an immoveable object meets an unstoppable force? Well MSNBC.com claims they might go negative, and I'm sure they will as the spin war intensifies to tornado proportions.
But what really has been bobbling around in my mind today is how the picture is looking for the general election. If you'd asked me a year ago how the GE would go I would have given you the same answer I gave in 00 and 04: all Democrats, all the time. But with the Huckabee surge, and the impact of Latinos in the Democratic primaries, I'm not so sure. Let's say it's Hillary and McCain and let's say McCain takes Huckabee as his running mate. Huck shores up the South, Hil takes Cali and the strong Northwestern Democratic states, which leaves the East coast open. Assuming she's able to take white women, and blacks from McCain, and splits the white male vote (which is definately not guaranteed) then that puts Latinos is the driver's seat and they tend to be more pragmatic while socially conservative. Still I can't say that they wouldn't go Hil's way since they like her. But now substitute in Obama for Hil and the picture changes. Not only do I think he'll do worse with Latino voters, but he'll, most likely, bring the war up as his focus since his early opposition is his strongest point, and he definitely lacks experience versus McCain. Now here's where it becomes VERY tricky.
See there's two ways you can look at the war: a) we shouldn't have been in there in the first place, and we should withdraw at the earliest possible time (Obama) or b) Yeah, yeah we shouldn't have been there, but screw it, we're there, Middle East = Terrorist, 'we need to fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here' (trademark Don Rumsfeld 2003) and the real issue isn't should we be over there but we're not fighting them competently and we want to 'win'. (McCain). While I totally agree with item a--I see that b, strategically can work. It worked for Bush in 04, and considering that Americans don't like to 'lose', and McCain has a war hero 'presidential' image, b can be enough of a polarizing argument for McCain to make against Obama to win if he can siphon off enough white men and Latinos.
Of course it's too early to tell, and most of this is mere speculation. Obama has shown himself quite able to bring out votes from no where, McCain has hung the Bush albatross around his neck, some of those southern voters wouldn't vote for McCain if Jesus Christ was running with him, and I'm underestimating Latinos' adherence to both the Democratic party and progressive ideas. But even the Death Star had a weakspot, and although it was no bigger than a womp rat, the rebellion was able to exploit it. We may be enthralled in watching 'history unfold' (trademark Wolf Blitzer 2007), but we shouldn't forget what lies down the road.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
"President Bush issued a veto threat Tuesday in the debate to update terrorist surveillance laws, rebuking Democratic plans to deny retroactive legal protections for telecommunications providers that let the government spy on U.S. residents after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."
You have to say this, Bush is loyal to his friends. But I suppose it's easy to stand up when no one shoves you down.
"Anyone who's undecided is undecided because their gut tells them it's a close call. Table-pounding does more to suggest that the pounder lacks perspective than it does to persuade. But if to be effective you can only try to nudge people gently, then it's just going to be very difficult to have a large effect."
Right. For all the wit, wisdom, college degrees ,and viterol that Rush, Coulter, Hannity, Sully and the Kos crowd eschew at varying levels they fail to realize that in the grand scheme of things all their rants don't really matter. In a manner all they are (and yeah, I'll include myself), are glorified sports reporters sitting around wondering if the Celtics or the Spurs are going to win the NBA championship. But the difference is that while I really don't think that they believe that their words are going to change the outcome of a game, pundits really do think their thoughts and speculations have LIFE CHANGING results.
Of course, the dynamic is quite different as an election does hinge on popularity, which is linked to perception, a perception that pundits try their best to create. But they really do overhype their ablities and completely forget about the individual citizen, simplifing them into a label; black, white, man, woman, etc. (And yeah, I do it too).
This morning as I happened to be listening to the Steve Harvey radio show and his guest was Hillary Clinton. She made her stump, and I began to phase out when she said something that was not only correct, but stuck me as unusually wise. She stated that in this election people are really torn about their decision; and, while I was waiting to hear her jump in about why she is the better candidate, she simply respected the voters' difficult choice. In a moment where everyone is trying to convince you of something it was refreshing to hear someone say that regardless of who you chose just making this hard choice is worthwhile; the essence of democracy. This is a point that I think pundits rarely recognize because either they're ideologues and zealots, or their financial success hinges on their foresight (unless you're Bill Kristol). Yes, sometimes choices are cut and dry, but this isn't one of those decisions. While I support Obama I can't say Hillary is anywhere near as incompetent or corrupt as Bush nor is her ideology conservative. I simply think that Obama's the better candidate because he can push a liberal agenda through with a greater ease than Clinton.
"I just heard David Tyree on CBS news attributing his astounding catch to . . . God. I guess it's not really my place to say, but I always find this idea that God is intervening in the big game sort of bizarre. Beyond the theological implications, it's sort of like saying the games are all rigged."
Monday, February 04, 2008
Think Giuliani misses being mayor?
"WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush sent the nation's first-ever $3 trillion budget proposal to Congress on Monday, contending that the spending blueprint will fulfill his chief responsibility to keep America safe.
"The $3.1 trillion proposed budget projects sizable increases in national security but forces the rest of government to pinch pennies. It seeks $196 billion in savings over five years in the government's giant health care programs -- Medicare and Medicaid.
But even with those restraints, the budget projects the deficits will soar to near-record levels of $410 billion this year and $407 billion in 2009, driven higher in part by efforts to revive the sagging economy with a $145 billion stimulus package."
But wait, it gets worse. From Huffpo, Hale Stewart gives us this tidbit:
"Here is the total amount of Federal debt outstanding at the end of the government's fiscal year for each of the last 7 years:
When I was a child my mother used to tell me that you can't have your cake and eat it too, but this is precisely what Bush is asking for, and Congress seems ready to deliver. He's taken the image of the fiscially responsible 'conservative' Republican and sunk it down the drain--and people wonder why McCain does so well in the polls. Enough is enough. If this budget gets passed, not only will will our grand children and great-grand children be paying off this debt, but the next president's hands will get strapped with these constraints, all to continue his unpopular war. Like a sore loser, Bush loses the game and threatens to take the ball with him as he leaves the field, and the worse part: all this cash, all this life has been wasted in vain. Suddenly, socialized medicine doesn't look too bad. At least you'll get a bed to die on.
My first reaction was "wow, Hillary's got nothing on this" but quickly I became rather worried. While I'm sure this will be a hit with the under 30 hipster crowd (which Obama already has in the bag, cause Hillary's a total square man!), I wonder if the older set won't get turned off at the Hollywood elite's intervention. Yglesias waxes a bit philsophical here, but I think it's simplier than that. I think people just don't wanna be told what to do by the black dude from the Black Eye Peas. Now, Scarlett Johnansson--that's a whole other story. (Not really).
Although, it should be stated, that on a musical level this video is really, really good.
"Americans continue to turn against anything the Republicans touch. The most vivid example of that is public opinion on the Iraq War. Even with the press corps and Beltway elite insisting by consensus that the Glorious Surge has made everything so much better in Iraq -- we're finally winning! -- and even as we were endlessly told that the war was only unpopular because we were losing, Americans hate the Iraq War more than ever before. The poll asked:
"All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war with Iraq was worth fighting, or not? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
"The results: only 34% believe it was worth fighting, a record low. A resounding 65% believe it was not worth fighting, and 53% believe that "strongly" -- both one point away from the record high. It simply doesn't matter how well things are going in Iraq: the vast (and still increasing) preponderance of Americans have concluded that the war was a stupid, wasteful thing to do and they will not change their minds, no matter how much happy news springs forth. GOP propaganda and Terrorism-exploitation now affect nothing."
Economy be dammed, it's still about the war stupid.
Election ’08: The Big Picture
First off, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a New Yorker if I didn’t give a big shout out to Blue Magic, the NY Giants, for giving what could possibly be the greatest Super Bowl performance of all time. Perhaps it was destiny as this football season has turned out to be a premonition of the 2008 Presidential election. As perennial underdogs, the Giants have been the giant killers serving the inevitable Patriots their sole and most important L, and this is no more different or surprising as the rise of Barack Obama and John McCain. At this time last year both were trailing their respective opposition by double digits, but as we turn the corner to Super Tuesday, McCain now holds huge leads against Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, while Obama has just now (as of 11:02 Monday) pulled slightly ahead of Hillary Clinton. Is this the year of the underdog, or will the favorites pull an Eli, get out of the pocket, and find Tyree 32 yards out for a miracle first down? That’s what we’re going to look at today.
The week started out with Edwards exiting, and Obama and Hillary facing off at their only debate before Super Tuesday. My full write up is here, but long story short, both did very, very well. Clinton’s debating style is much more refined and smoother than Obama, but what he lacked in finesse he made up for in preparation and strategy. The debate was broken into three major parts: health care, immigration, and Iraq, and while it was a split in the first part, and Hillary took the second, Obama made huge gains at the end successfully testing out his new slogan, “You have to be right on day one,” which is a clear reaction to Hillary’s “Ready from day one.” This is was a very important hit for the Obama camp who was already using the term in their campaign materials and by effectively using it they took away Hillary’s experience: the greatest weapon in her arsenal. Of course I think it’s successful, but ultimately it will depend on the voters. As I mentioned before Obama is currently beating Hillary in the national polls, but as we saw in New Hampshire, the polls can be wrong. Obama’s success, especially in the big states of California and New York will depend on Latino voters, and gaining their vote will be very tricky. Already Obama’s doing Spanish language ads with his new BFF Ted Kennedy, but he’s got to be concerned with what happened in Nevada and how polarized the line became between blacks and Latinos (Latinos went roughly 2-1 for Hillary there). Not only that but Latinos also happen to be more conservative then African-Americans, and don’t share blacks’ traditionally stalwart Democratic loyalty. Put all this together and that is a negative sum for Barack both in the primaries and, should he make it that far, the general election. What might counteract it, and could be Hillary’s biggest problem? White males, especially former Edwards’ supporters. Yeah, give the irony a moment to settle in.
He calls himself older than dirt, with more scars then Frankenstein, but one thing no one has called John McCain in a while is a winner. That changed this week, as John McCain rose to take both the GOP primary delegate lead and, more importantly, the psychological lead in the mainstream media. Somewhere Mittmentum turned to MCmentum as the Republicans debated in the Regan Library and McCain went after Romney with a vengeance. Acting like he had nothing to lose McCain continually berated Romney about setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq even though Romney never proposed such a thing. And far from letting it go, Romney fell into the trap again and again, defending himself against a bold face lie.
But Romney’s biggest problem isn’t Iraq; it’s Mike Huckabee, who continues to remain in the race for no other reason but to drain votes from Romney. As I mentioned before, Huckabee’s running hard for VP or a cabinet post and he’s adamant about staying regardless of Romney’s protests. (An implicit endorsement of McCain?) Unless Huckabee retires in the next twenty-four hours Romney will have no shot of taking Super Tuesday, and if he can’t take that then he’s done.
Oh and Ron Paul’s in the race too. He’s chilling and relaxing. He’s chilaxing.
Things to look for in the coming days:
Super Tuesday, Super Tuesday, and Super Tuesday, which will define the rest of the election season. On the Democratic side expect to see some more pandering to Latinos, and the war will become a greater issue, as things aren’t quite going America’s way.
Friday, February 01, 2008
"The insurgents are now using mentally disabled women as suicide bombers. Though suicide bombers may not be the right word, since the women don't seem to have known they were carrying bombs. I don't know why this seems worse than just killing a lot of innocent people, but it does."
And I agree there does seem to be something especially tragic about it, but here's my issue: modern medicine defines suicide, or suicidal tendencies, to be a mental health issue and thus, when you think about it, all suicide bomber are mentally disabled. If that's the case shouldn't that 'worse' feeling translate to all suicide bombers? And if that's true then shouldn't many of the ways we treat depression and suicidal tendancies be incorporated into our counter-terror policy?
Just a thought. Feel free to eviscerate me.
"BAGHDAD - Remote-controlled explosives strapped to two mentally handicapped women detonated in a coordinated attack on pet bazaars Friday, police and Iraqi officials said, killing at least 73 people in the deadliest day since the U.S. sent 30,000 extra troops to the capital this spring."
Then I was going to mention something snarky about 'surging' and the fact that a British poll estimates that the Iraq conflict has killed a million Iraqis, but that ain't a joke either.
"It was, I think, his best debate in the campaign so far. The one-on-one format elevated him instantly and he commanded the stage and the occasion. Hillary Clinton did not do poorly. All her strengths were on show: the policy mastery, the gaffe-free talking points, the Clinton record in the 1990s. But that made his mastery all the more impressive. The good natured sparring helped him. He neutralized her on healthcare and simply cleaned up on the war in Iraq. But most crucial: he seemed like a president. He was already battling McCain. She was still pivoting off Bush. In his body language, he carefully upstaged her, without looking as if he were trying. By the end of the debate, he was pulling her chair back for her."
While I agree that Obama won, I don't share Sully's attitude that it was rout. It wasn't a stunning performance on Obama's part, and Hillary didn't just 'not do poorly' she was very, very good. In fact, her debating style was better than Obama and probably has been thus far. So why did he win? In one word, strategy. (I swear I won't make the Bush joke) If we slice the debate up into three parts, health care, immigration, and Iraq, I'd say it was a split on the first, Hil crushed Obama on the second, and Obama crushed Hil at the end, (with an assist from Blitzer). Health care was a split because, as mentioned numerous times, they don't really differ on policy and it showed. Hillary scored some emotional points on her dedication to provide, eventually, universal health coverage, and her 90s record of fighting for it giving gave her a slight edge. She crushed Obama on illegal immigration because it's not one of his strongest issues, and she was quicker with soundbites. Again, they primarily said the same thing--pushing a 'humane' policy, but Hilary just sounded better. But it was Obama's strategy of 'being right the first time' that gave him the W. Clinton's Iraq vote is the albatross hanging from her neck, and Obama slapped her in the face with it while sucessfully selling the idea that his opposition to Iraq is a quality that compares if not eclipses Hillary's experience. It was also nice (if you're an Obama fan) for Blitzer to remind us of that fact and then implictly call Hil 'naive' to boot. If that slogan does as well from him with the voters as it did with the crowd last night, Obama will take Super Tuesday.
Yet, and I may be turning mole hills into mountains, it seems to me that the gaping hole in Obama's debating style continues to be his stammering. I'm sure you noticed it, but when he answers questions he has this tendancy to mutter vowels when he's searching for a response. It reminds me of that 'MMMM' song by the Crash Test Dummies from back in the day. It's understandable, since most people have some filler noise or phrase they use as a place holder while they organize their thoughts such as, 'like' or 'you know what I'm saying', but the effect of using these place keepers is that it makes the speaker look unprepared and unpolished. When you compare that to the ease that Hillary speaks it makes her look organized and intelligent.
Obama does manage to counteract some of that with his posture. Hillary does have a tendancy to slouch in her seat, while Obama strikes some serious JFK poses when he's not speaking (you notice the slight recline, the fingers against his lips, the arms crossed with his head tilted down? Remind you of anyone?) But his stammering takes away from his greatest strength, which is his eloquence. Once his sentances run smooth I'm not sure if there's anyone in politics who can stand against him.
Note: Something's wrong with Blogger's spell check on my computer, so if you're finding errors in my writing then you're looking too damm closely! Um, I mean mah bad.