Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Obama's Essentially Right

Unusually correct reporting by the M$M:

Hopefully this gas tax holiday pander will be exposed for what it is. However, Obama won't be able to fully take advantage of this issue unless he can come up with a solution (even a long term solution) that's tenable and can be explained concretely. Still this is good news.

Hat tip: MY

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Damage Control

A couple of moments ago Obama responded to Rev. Wright's renewed media coverage and associated comments. TPM put up a few quotes here:

"The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate, and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church.

"They certainly don't portray accurately my values and beliefs. And if Reverend Wright thinks that that's political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn't know me very well. And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I might not know him as well as I thought, either."

Imperial McCain

I forgot to link to Yglesias' great article explaining why McCain is a Neo-con's wet dream. Money quote:

"He's [McCain] the candidate of ratcheting-up action against North Korea and Iran, of new efforts to undermine the United Nations, and of new cold wars with Russia and China. Rather than hating war, he sees it as integral to the greatness of the nation, and military service as the highest calling imaginable. It is, in short, not Bush but McCain, who among practical politicians holds truest to the vision of a foreign policy dominated by militaristic unilateralism."

Read it.


Obama that is:

Not Really Helping (Or the Foresight of Al Sharpton)

You know, I remember last year when Obama's campaign was heating up, Al Sharpton was asked if he endorsed the Junior Senator, and he said he was on the fence and he wasn't endorsing anyone. Later he admitted that his endorsement would probably hurt Obama more than help, rightfully realizing that, for better or worse, he is a controversial figure in the M$M. I remember feeling a bit dismayed at this obvious political duplicity. But in light of Rev. Wright's media tour, I'd have to say that Al's silence might have been one of his classiest political moves.

For the record I happen to agree with alot of what Wright says, with the whole exception of the US/ AIDS conspiracy thing, which, like Stan's response to Cartman's Christopher Reeve jokes, I say, "I'm not even going to go there." Ultimately though Obama's campaign isn't about Rev. Wright no matter what the M$M tells us, and now you have to add that to Rev. Wright's vanity driven tour. I don't know what he thinks he's doing by hitting the talk show circuit, but like a person who thinks people are laughing with him and not at him, he doesn't seem to realize that people don't shove microphones in his face to hear his thoughts, but only hope he provides more ammo against Obama, and boy has he been effective at that job. By the way, I think what makes it worse is that I really do believe that Obama doesn't buy into alot of what Wright believes, that's really the pity of it all.

That said, I am thankful that Wright's doing this now while Obama seems poised to win the Democratic nomination rather than the general election. This will undoubtedly fade come mid-summer and in that time I'm sure the Obama campaign will figure out how to unearth John Hagee from under whatever rock he squirmed his venomous sac under. It's dirty politics, but since McCain seems so eager to use Wright, it seems to me that Hagee is fair game.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Taking FOX On

I noticed a couple of postings from over at TPM and criticizing Obama for not 'taking on' Fox News when he was interviewed this weekend. In some ways I empathize with these sentiments, after all Fox has been a bastion of meaningless reporting, disinformation and attacks against the left for the sake of polarization. All this is true.

But a fact that I think these guys miss, and alot of liberals in general, is that, like it or not, millions of Americans tune into Fox, not for the academic reason of hearing what 'the other side' has to say, and not because they're ideologues, but because the attitudes on Fox are more in sync with their values. Of course, I can and do disagree with those values, but they're there and they're a large bloc of America. Obama could have gone on like Bill Clinton did and trashed those views and Fox's style of misinformation. We would have cheered and felt better. But let's face it--Obama's got our vote, and we know he's a liberal. Nothing he said Sunday would lend to the believe that he's going to have a sea change in regards to that. But to get elected he's going to have to 'reach across the aisle' and appeal to Fox News watchers for their vote and he's got to do that in a way that doesn't alienate them or his own supporters. I think Obama did a fine job of doing that.

If your goal is to get a Democrat in office and to end Bush's policies then you're going to have to do it in such a way that doesn't use anger or righteous indignation; and, ultimately, posts like those above are counterproductive to that effort.

Something I've Wondered

About whether Hillary's been 'vetted'. From MY:

"It's worth noting that Hendrick Hertzberg is absolutely right to say that it's just not true that Hillary Clinton has already been vetted, she "has not, in fact, survived the worst that the Republican attack machine (and its pilotless drones online and on talk radio) can dish out." There's a whole set of potential vulnerabilities dealing with pardons and finances from about 2000 to 2006 or 7 that haven't been explored in detail during the course of this or any other campaign.

"I don't really want to rehash those incidents because I think it's sleazy and their existence isn't the reason I think Clinton would be the worse nominee. But if you're out there thinking Obama's got this Ayers and Wrght stuff in the closet and Hillary has no new vulnerabilities for the GOP to explore you're fooling yourself."

And to go a bit further than that, I think this whole 'vetting' thing is a bit of a straw man. Frankly, in politics if you can't find dirt, you can make some up and sling that. No amount of 'vetting' could have told you that John McCain had an illegitimate black baby, because he didn't have a illegitimate black baby. But that didn't stop Bush in 2000 from saying it, and people believing it. Hell, it didn't even stop McCain from supporting Bush till now. In the absence of the truth, pols will just lie.

Surprise, Surprise

Who would have thought that Chris Wallace and Fox News would have delievered a more fair and balanced interview with Barack Obama than ABC? The questions were tough but substantive and they even delievered Obama a few softballs. It's definately worth the look:

Course, as we've seen, Chris Wallace does seem to be a bit of a fan:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sean Bell Re-Up

Over at, Odeisel perfectly puts the Sean Bell trial into it's proper context. Money quote:

"The issue is not the verdict. Under the rule of law, with what was heard as evidence, and with the charges levied, the verdict was predictable. The issue is the ease and frequency of these events and why the police can continue to take Black life.

At the heart of this recklessness, you have a mentality rooted in racism, prejudice, and fear driven societal paradigms. Ask yourself when was the last time a white man was fired on that may times by police. Ask yourself when was the last time a white man was fired on by the police period. The most recent of those cases, in New York anyway, was a rampaging gunman who killed two unarmed auxiliary policemen outside a pizzeria near Houston Street. In order for a white male to be fired on by the police, you need a reenactment from “The Terminator.”"

Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

Are the Clintons Pissing off Black Voters?

The highest ranking black congressman, Jim Clyburn, seems to think so:

"Mr. Clyburn added that there appeared to be an almost “unanimous” view among African-Americans that Mr. and Mrs. Clinton were “committed to doing everything they possibly can to damage Obama to a point that he could never win.”

I'm not sure if he's saying this is a racial attack per se by the Clintons, and I don't think it should be construed in that matter. Seems to me Clinton would be tossing the kitchen sink at Marvin the Martian if he opposed her and he's...oh wait, he's black...well, you get my point. It's ambition not racism that seems to be her motivation. Now if Clyburn seems to think that the Clintons' owe blacks something, then I'm not sure he's met a Clinton--or a politician for that matter.

Of course he might just be blowing smoke up our asses; since, as Ambinder reported, he's an undecided Super Delegate. Put your money where your mouth is Clyburn!

Officers Acquitted in Sean Bell Shooting

Was there a doubt?

At the least I would have figured Oliver, who shot 31 times, would have gotten something but I thought Kerry was going to win in 04.

PA Primary Wrap-up

Better late than never:

Tuesday night Sen. Hillary Clinton won the Democratic Pennsylvania primary, beating Sen. Barack Obama by 9.4 points, which was enough of a margin for the Clinton camp to round it up to ten, making it the double-digit win they had needed. Undeniably, this will continue this long and brutal campaign, but in actuality did this primary change the big picture? Did her win help make her case that she would be the better Democratic nominee? And how important was race in this contest? These are all questions we’ll be unwrapping in this primary edition of Election ’08.

By the numbers Clinton made small gains. She picked up 12 elected delegates, 200,000 more votes, and one contest, but Obama is still the overall leader. He has 1,719 delegates to her 1,586; he’s won 29 contests to her 15 (not counting her ‘wins’ in Florida and Michigan), and he leads in popular vote by roughly 300,000 to 400,000 votes. So though Hillary may claim that, ‘the tide is turning’ this was by no means a sea change. In fact as the numbers stand she might be worse off today than she was yesterday. Why? Because yesterday it was possible that she might have taken a huge win giving her 20 to 30 delegates and 300,000 to 400,000 more votes. Then she would have been in a much stronger place to ride out the rest of the primaries and hope to at least pull even with Obama come convention time. If that had been the case she would have had a much, much stronger argument to make to the Super delegates to vote for her since Obama and her would have been in a statistical dead heat. But as Ambinder noted,

Clinton's chances of winning the nomination based on pledged delegates is effectively over tonight.

If Obama keeps his pledged delegate lead to around 150, Clinton needs to win 70% of them on May 6 -- and if not, 80% of them after May 6.

That's more than next to impossible.” [Boldface mine]

So by the numbers Clinton’s campaign is done. Now all that’s left is spin, and there is a lot of it.

On Clinton’s side they are stressing two key points. The first is that delegate numbers don’t count, but it’s the popular vote that matters. In that case Hillary does have a tiny chance to eke that out but considering that most new voters go to Obama (In PA he beat Clinton in new voters 59-39) she has an uphill battle. The second point is that Obama outspent Hillary in PA paying over 11 million for ads in PA. The idea behind that is that she wins contests even when she’s coming with less cash. Of course that leads to another fact that’s problematic for Clinton. Right now her campaign is flat broke, and when that happens to campaigns they usually end. Of course Hillary could Bloomberg it, and pay for it herself, but like Bloomberg she knows doing so would risk her really becoming a vanity candidate, a title few politicians would embrace.

Meanwhile, in the Obama camp, their spin seems unduly optimistic though their fundamental premises are sound. Their argument is that they did much better in PA then they did in another Clinton stronghold, Ohio, especially pointing to their statistical gains with white men and older people. Of course that didn’t really help on the PA county map, where Obama pretty much was boxed in by the outlining suburbs, though I’m sure it does help to counteract Clinton’s popular vote argument.

Ultimately and unfortunately, as Josh Marshall stated, “I'd say the real story is that this leaves us basically where we were.” If you’re a Clinton supporter you have a reason to get up today, and if you’re an Obama supporter you have a reason to get up today. The delegate math is a little tighter than it was pre-PA primary, but it doesn’t substantially change the overall shape of things and it looks like were still heading towards a Super delegate fiasco.

The last thing I want to note about this Primary though could be the thing that least affects the candidates, but is the most telling about American politics and culture. If you look at yesterday’s exit polls you’ll notices some pretty interesting lines that have been drawn in places you might have expected them to be. While it was projected that the black and white vote would be stark (Obama took blacks 84-16), what wasn’t as apparent was that the clearest divide was among age. Basically, as people got older in PA they went for Clinton, this also explains why Obama gets such a boost from new voters—they tend to be young. What this says about race quite possibly supports the argument that Obama made in his ‘We the People’ speech that says that today’s racial disputes are generational. This isn’t to say that older voters vote for Clinton because she’s white, but there does seem to be some proof that it is a factor. How this info will change the dynamic of the campaigns is anyone’s guess but this nuance will have to be addressed in some manner by the Obama camp.

Things to look forward to: More super delegates will flock to Obama by the end of the week, and they might be tied in that category by the beginning of May. Should that happen, or he takes the lead then Hillary will be forced out.

UPDATE: The above prediction is a bit optimistic. Yes, should they go for Obama Clinton will be forced out, but that defection doesn't seem to be happening. Along with the 10 million they just earned, the Clinton's have shown that they're in it till the end.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

15th Inning Update

One sign that Clinton's not going away; she just raised 10 million.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Weekly Round-Up

Turns out the folks over at want me to give you the post primary coverage on Wednesday rather than my usual weekly round up. Of course I discovered that after I wrote the darn thing up, so I decided to post it up here. Enjoy:

Well this is it. Tomorrow is the primary in Pennsylvania, which could possibly be the end of what has been one of the most brutal Democratic primaries in recent history, highlighted by what was, quite possibly, the worse televised debate ever. As the shape of the election unfolds, this debate will undoubtedly set the tone, not only for the Republican strategy this fall; but, more importantly, how the media will shape the conflict. The debate was the story this week and it is the focus of this edition of Election ’08.

My full write up can be read here, but long story short, the moderation and content of ABC’s debate was an abomination. Karl Rove and the GOP smear machine couldn’t have written it up better. For 45 minutes moderators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopolous asked nothing but tabloid ‘gotcha’ questions, with an inordinate amount flung at Obama. Questions such as “Why don’t you wear a flag pin?” and “Do you think Rev. Wright loves America as much as you do?” were posed and from there it only went further south as the Sean Hanity inspired question about former Weatherman Bill Ayers’ tenuous connection to Obama was brought up by Stephanoplous. What followed summarized the tone, and central flaw of this calamity:

Stephanoplous: …first a follow-up on this issue, general theme of patriotism, in your relationships. A gentleman named William Ayers. He was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and other buildings. He's never apologized for that…Can you explain that relationship for the voters and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem?”

OBAMA: George, but this is an example of what I'm talking about. This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.

And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense, George.

The fact is that I'm also friendly with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in the United States Senate, who, during his campaign, once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions.

Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn's statements? Because I certainly don't agree with those, either.

So this kind of game in which anybody who I know, regardless of how flimsy the relationship is, that somehow their ideas could be attributed to me, I think the American people are smarter than that. They're not going to suggest somehow that that is reflective of my views, because it obviously isn't.”[Boldface mine]

By the time the questions got to actual issues such as taxation and Iraq Obama, and Clinton to some extent, was beaten, vomiting up answers with a robotic lack of passion, unable to challenge the moderators’ dubious premises.

This substance, or lack of, leads us to two important questions about the state of political discussion in America. The first, of course, has to do with Obama and whether or not this has hurt him. On the surface it has, and even his supporters know that his performance as lackluster at best. Viscerally, he looked as beat up as Rocky at the end of any Rocky movie; an image that only supports Sen. Clinton’s argument that Obama will be unable to withstand the Republican attack machine come the fall. However, the polls may tell a different story. Some of them do see an extension of Clinton’s lead, but most of them show a tightening; and, on average, they’re showing a five to seven point margin between the two candidates. Assuming Clinton wins, and there’s no reason to think that she won’t, a single point victory will still be spun into a win for Obama. They will say that she went 100% negative during the campaign, coinciding with her shameful performance last week, and Obama still managed to keep it close in a state where the demographics favored her. Thus, ultimately, the test of how much Obama has been hurt will be decided in the PA primary.

The second and more important question though is whether the public is getting exhausted at negative campaigning. While negative tactics has been, and will continue to be a strategy employed by both parties, it has never been a hallmark of the Democratic Party and has never leaked over as openly into the mainstream media. The MSM has always touched on these matters tangentially, but it has never immersed itself into smearing as it did in last week’s debate. The backlash against ABC has been almost violent as both pundits and regular people have, as Chuck Todd wrote, put “ABC…under siege.” has already amassed a 200,000 + petition against the media outlet, and further protests are ongoing. Obviously such actions have political roots (Moveon supports Obama), but the grassroots sentiment of such organizations does represent a certain populist attitude. Either people will oppose tabloid journalism or it will become the status quo of American political discussion that Karl Rove dreamed of. Ultimately, the choice is ours.

Obama did manage to get the final word in regarding the debate, but in doing so did the Junior Senator channel Jay-Z? You be the judge.

And Jay:

I always though Hip-Hop has the appropriate gravitas to cut to the heart of the matter.

Things to look forward to: The PA primary. Hillary has to win by double digits to keep this thing alive. If she doesn’t the DEM intelligentsia will finally step in and tell her to hit the road.

How Ugly Will It Get?

Seems that it's pretty ugly.

I predicted that the last couple of days would be a low in this campaign for both sides, as Obama would wait for a last minute blitz to cut Hil's win to a single digit. What are going to be the long term repercussions is any one's guess, but what is indisputable is that McCain remains the big winner.

For 1st Person Insight into Obama's Campaign

Check out Mithras' blog, from PA.

Hard Choices

Should the death penalty be used against offenses other than murder? As Gib reports a case like that, involving the rape of an 8 year old girl, is before the Supreme Court. Gib gives a great rundown and it's definitely worth the read. As an opponent of the death penalty I find myself really unable to give an enthusiastic argument against imposing it in this case. I would though like to address a point Gib brings up here:

"There are practical objections raised as well. Opponents claim that the death penalty for child rape will result in rapists killing their victims. It will also result in children victimized by family members not reporting the crime if doing so could result in the rapist's death. The interesting thing about this argument is that death penalty opponents have claimed for years that the death penalty does not serve any deterrent function."

I don't believe the death penalty does serve a deterrent function, but I disagree that, "the death penalty for child rape will result in rapists killing their victims." I mean how much sense does that make in this particular case? If the rapist's intention is to escape the death penalty how would upping the ante, so to say, defend against a death sentence? In any event, any argument like that doesn't take into account that if a person is so deranged to rape a child I doubt that the repercussions of that action really enter their mind.

Ultimately though, what's going through my head right now isn't the ideological benefits of capital punishment but the visceral emotion of vengeance. In some ways I think it's more appropriate to use the death sentence in cases like this rather than murder. For things so heinous a child rape death doesn't feel just enough. I suppose I should be more forgiving and academic in my meditation on the subject, but we can't all be Obama.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"The Crowd's Turning on Me"

There was your real poll last night.

Addendum to the Debate

Ambinder makes an interesting point:

"I personally have no problem with a "one-sided" debate, particularly one that focuses on the de-facto nominee, on the the guy who wants voters to elect him to the most powerful office in the land. It also is illogical for Democrats to assert that simply because Republicans are likely to bring up certain issues and associations in certain ways, the media or other Democrats ought to be prohibited from bringing those up."

I agree to a certain extent with this statement. First though I'd like to clarify, if I didn't make the case before, that my criticism of ABC's debate wasn't that they attacked Obama more than Clinton. Perhaps my examples of their shoddy and slimy questions were those pointed to Obama, but it wasn't the fact that they were to Obama that pisses me off, but rather I'm pissed off because questions of that vapidness were asked at all.

Secondly, I have no problems with them being harder towards the front-runner, although I'm not sure if it should be the media's job to make that case. It seems to be that the case should be made by the opposing candidate. Following Ambinder's logic it's like saying that in a basketball game the refs should rule against the better team as to 'level the playing field'. That doesn't make much sense.

His third point is a bit more complex. He's right to say that if the Dems claim that the Republicans will do this in the fall the media should have the right do it now. But it's the Democrats fault (ie: Hillary Clinton) to make these tactics acceptable. Either they are right or they are wrong and if they're wrong you shouldn't do them. It's like if I'm a boxer and I'm sparring with someone to prepare for a bout with Andrew Golota, and they kep punching me in the nuts because Golota's known to do that. Eventually by the time I manage to get in the ring I can't fight because my balls are the size of my head and who the hell can fight like that. The sad logic of it all is that no candidate, by this definition, will ever be sufficiently 'vetted'. As Obama said, if you're forced to defend every one who's ever had some tangential relationship with you you'll never because to talk about yourself. And coming from someone who has a relationship with some one who STILL has to defend theirself from charges of rape and lying, that argument seems a little...suicidal.

George Stephanopoulos = Sean Hannity's Hand Puppet

Wonder who was feeding George his questions? Look no further.

But then again what do you expect from the dude who was Bill Clinton's hand-puppet back in the day.

God I'm angry! One might even call me 'bitter' but then I'm supposed to get mad about that. I gotta get me a gun and a bible.

The Debate

If you were to ask me who won the debate last night, I would have to respond back with a question of my own. In a dogfight who wins? If you said Michael Vick, you're right; and, undoubtedly, last night ABC was Michael Vick.

Oh sure, people are rightly condemning ABC's trite and inane questions and criticizing the substance (or lack thereof) of moderation by Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos but their criticism only reinforces ABCs market share and profits which are further reinforced by their iron grip on the debate footage. Using an amped up version of Tim Russert's "gotcha" tactics, Gibson and Stephanopolos took presidential debates to a new low. A couple of bouncers and a blood test was all that separated last night from an episode of Maury or Jerry Springer, and just like those shows the hosts pitted their guests off using extremely loaded questions. And while Obama and Clinton ripped each other to shreds the moderators stood back with their cocky grins and tried to look as if they were civil and calmly academic. It was as if they said, "Hey look at how full of shit they are! All we asked was a simple yes or no question and they just refuse to answer it. Now buy my book." This is the type of ploy that has made Tim Russert's career and undoubtedly Gibson and Stephanopoulos' cred has risen. As Sully commented:

"...this was ridiculous...Again, it's not illegitimate as such - but the only reason it is asked is to try and trip these people up and make Gibson and Stephanopoulos look smart."

Good for them, but disasterious for any one who actually cares about knowing what our candidates think of anything that might, you know, possibly, affect our lives. Does Hillary bake cookies? Does Obama wear a flag pin? I wouldn't care less if Hillary baked pot brownies while Obama wore assless chaps if they got us out of Iraq and gave us health insurance, but hey, at least I don't have to worry about whether or not they know Bill Ayers. Great.

You know how bad this was? Type in ABC debate in Google and look at the hits. Usually you'll find at the top basic summaries of the debate followed by opinion and critique, but this time around all the hits are criticism. I haven't seen such bad reviews since "Glitter" hit the box office.

As for the candidates...well in a way I felt sorry for both of them. It was like watching Mad Max and Master Blaster in Thunderdome, and Blaster's helmet got knocked off revealing him to be a 'tard. Now I can't exactly say who was who out of Obama and Clinton, but I know that your moderators never stopped their chant of "Two men enter! One man leave!" Egged on by such questions as, "Why don't you wear a flag pin" (To Obama) and "Do you thing Rev. Wright loves America" (To Obama--I still CAN NOT believe he asked that question) Obama was constantly kept on the defense, and when again attacked by Clinton he was forced to get a little dirty, reminding us that Bill Clinton pardoned two weathermen, and Hill's 'cookie' scandal. True enough, his retorical skill was effective and on a textual level I think he made an appropriate response, but physically he looked beat up, like Rocky at the end of Rocky...well at the end of every Rocky movie. Hillary didn't fare much better. Sullivan claimed that Hil looked less exhausted because she had her "humanity surgically removed". I wouldn't go that far, but her years of experience in dealing with that kind of filth from the GOP has given her a harder skin to withstand that pressure. Still though, there's a part of me that had my Luke Skywalker moment, looking into her eyes and thinking "Damn, there's some part of her in there that's still good." To me she looked ashamed at herself for slinging that same crap at Obama that for years was thrown at her, and she should be ashamed. When Obama mentioned the 'cookie' incident, her eyes looked down and she flushed. She knew that this pit was wrong but she jumped in again, her ambition overruling her integrity.

For that point, if I had to pick a winner between the two of them I would have to say Obama. By the time it came to policy he definitely was beat and was completely running on fumes. His explanations of his cap on the Capital Gains tax and payroll might as well have been read off a telepromter by a robot, but he won in that first half for this simple reason, a reason I think Americans will recognize. When forced to jump in that pit with Hillary he was the only one to really look around and verbalize that the pit itself is a despondent and dreary place that isn't worthy of regard, where as Clinton seemed to welcome its dark fold. Because he made that point eloquently and repeatedly I think that, just like Hillary's attack ads, her embracing of smears and negativity will blow back against her worse than anything charged to Obama.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Big Endorsement

Looks like The Boss, Bruce Springsteen is supporting Obama:

"After the terrible damage done over the past eight years, a great American reclamation project needs to be undertaken. I believe that Senator Obama is the best candidate to lead that project and to lead us into the 21st Century with a renewed sense of moral purpose and of ourselves as Americans.

"Over here on E Street, we're proud to support Obama for President."

About 'Good' Debates

There's alot of talk going around that the battle between Obama and Clinton is good for the country because it enables us to fully vet our candidate. Well I'd just like to clarify something. Debate between candidates can be good, but this debate, where Barack has to fend off the irrelevant matters of, 'his elitism', his 'patriotism' and whether or not he thinks working class people are 'bitter', isn't good for the country. Just because you argue something doesn't necessarily make it 'good', it's the content of the debate that will inevitably make it important. This Obama-Clinton war doesn't make the grade.

On Second Thought

Maybe Guantanamo isn't that bad...

Guess we know what the premise is for the new Harold and Kumar movie.

Hat Tip: MY

The Weekly Round Up

My weekly column is posted up over at Get yourself a nice brandy and a J and enjoy.

You Stay Classy Joe

Talking about sinking to new depths--first Joe says he'd make the keynote address at the GOP convention, and then this sickening exchange occured on Fox News:

"NAPITALIANO: Hey Sen. Lieberman, you know Barack Obama, is he a Marxist as Bill Kristol says might be the case in today's New York Times? Is he an elitist like your colleague Hillary Clinton says he is?

"LIEBERMAN: Well, you know, I must say that's a good question. I know him now for a little more than three years since he came into the Senate and he's obviously very smart and he's a good guy. I will tell ya that during this campaign, I've learned some things about him, about the kind of environment from which he came ideologically. And I wouldn't...I'd hesitate to say he's a Marxist, but he's got some positions that are far to the left of me and I think mainstream America." [Boldface mine]

'That's a good question?' are you kidding me? The only way that would be a good question is if the words, "that's a good question" meant "that's a horrible question." The question itself is a smear, and Lieberman played along. Could this dude just switch parties already?

The Final Bout?

Tonight's debate on ABC could be the final match up between Clinton and Obama. I'm not sure really what Hillary can do to reverse her aggressive image and dominate this thing, but she needs nothing less than a grand slam to give her a shot of winning PA by more than 10 points--which is what she'll need to continue to run. Meanwhile expect Obama to hit her on the recent negative ads that she's posted in PA.

The wild card in this? Charles Gibson and the ABC guidelines of the debate that say that for 24 hours following the debate other news outlets will only be able to post up 30 seconds or less of footage. These rules give ABC and Gibson tremendous power to shape the candidates' messages in the media, and thus, should Gibson decide to throw grenades at Obama, he'll have 30 seconds to make his point. Given that Obama works best with longer more nuanced and complex arguments this can put him at a tremendous disadvantage. Hillary on the other hand is better at coming up with sound bytes, but 30 second footage can destroy her attempts to create a proper context should he play hardball with her. As usual in our political system, the advantage goes to the corporation.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Politics of Beerfest

Just when you think they can't sling any more BS, they reach deep under the bull to find another turd.

This weekend Clinton latched onto this comment Obama made at a fundraiser in California. I'm posting up more of the quote so you can see his context:

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them," Obama said. "And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not."

"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

In my opinion, he's correct. Just like the black community, there are elements among poor working class whites who rightly feel that they've been shafted by their representatives, and like the black community their rightful anger has led to frustration and bitterness. Seems like this would be something that Clinton would agree with, right? Wrong:

"I saw in the media it's being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter. Well, that's not my experience.

"As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves. They are working hard everyday for a better future, for themselves and their children.

"Pennsylvanians don't need a president who looks down on them, they need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families."

Following this steaming pile Clinton ran to a bar in Indiana to establish more blue collar cred, by downing a beer and a shot of Crown Royal--which, ironically, doesn't seem to be the working class' booze of choice. Anyway, Obama fired back today with this nugget:

"Now it may be that I chose my words badly. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. But when I hear my opponents, both of whom have spent decades in Washington, saying I'm out of touch, it's time to cut through their rhetoric and look at the reality.

"After all, you've heard this kind of rhetoric before. Around election time, the candidates can't do enough for you. They'll promise you anything, give you a long list of proposals and even come around, with TV crews in tow, to throw back a shot and a beer.

"But if those same candidates are taking millions of dollars in contributions from the PACs and lobbyists, ask yourself, who are they going to be toasting once the election is over?"

Basically I'm sick and tired of this type of pandering nonsense. When candidates play dress up and campaign like it's Halloween it only makes them look as fake as their costume. Is anyone thinking that because Clinton downs a pint that she's a steel worker? Is is the level of our political discourse? Does Obama have to dress up like Bob the Builder to show that he cares for the working class?

I mentioned a while back that Edwards got the shaft unfairly because he owned a big house and liked to get his hair done, and this to me seems like a continuation of that same argument, but it's even worse because where as the right-wing stuck him with that 'elitist' label, Hillary, hardly a model of June Cleaver, is tossing Obama under the bus. You know, I don't know what makes me sicker, the fact that she's doing this, or the fact that I actually have to take up space to talk about it while all this other crap is happening. Let's just hope this doesn't turn out to be Obama's screaming moment.

Josh Marshall gives a good summary here, but I have a better one; Hillary--there's the door.

PS: Looks like the people aren't buying it either.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

War Crimes: A Breakdown

Ambinder forcasts the political implications of ABC's war crimes story:

"Thanks to Memeorandum, this short post on an ABC News story has received much attention and much more misinterpretation.

"It is a fact that many liberal Democrats believe President Bush and other senior administration officials to be guilty of war crimes.

"It is my educated conjecture that, in a Democratic administration, there will be some DoJ political appointees and/or administration advisers who share that belief.

"Indeed, the director of the CIA, Michael Hayden, shares my conjecture. He recently agreed to purchase, at $300 a pop, legal liability insurance for about two thirds of his agency's workforce, including virtually all of the National Clandestine Service, precisely to protect against any future administration's attempt to hold officers legally accountable for their actions.

"Another source of potential prosecutions comes, of course, from the Hague, although the failure of the US to participate in the ICC kind of puts the kibosh on that possibility.

"It is within the realm of possibility that reports like ABC News's are used by the government, by private citizens, or by international actors, to substantiate charges against the Bush administration, against CIA officers or against the Department of Defense.

"I'm not endorsing the idea of prosecuting anyone; I'm not calling President Bush or anyone else a war criminal; I'm not even saying that prosecutions will go forward; I'm just describing a scenario that may intrude upon our politics in 2009 and beyond."

The (Not-So-Surprising) Surprising Obama Story

Check this out:

"I actually covered Obama on one of these visits not long ago (to a USAID-supported furniture plant, actually) and he didn't seem as dismissive of the experience as he does in the quote above. In fact, Obama's trip to Africa two years ago was hardly the routine, photo-op driven junket he makes public diplomacy out to be: particularly memorable was the HIV test he took with his wife before a crowd of thousands of Kenyans. Never mind how out of character this is for an American politician, the public taking of an HIV test sent an enormously important message on a continent where so much stigma is attached to this disease and people deliberately avoid knowing their status."

Amazing. I'm not saying that other politicians wouldn't do what Obama did (I think Hillary would get a pap smear at MSG if it would get her some votes) but the fact that he thought of it shows not only character but a real ablity to think out of the box, a skill I think we need today. Regardless, this story surprised me on many different levels. I'm not sure which is more surprising so I'll leave it up to you.

Was I surprised that:

a) Obama did something like this and the media never reported it?

b) Obama did something like this and his team never reported it?

c) The author of the above story actually told the story to diss on Obama?

Riddle me that Batman!

Hillary Leads Obama Follows

A couple of day ago Hillary called for Bush to boycott the Olympic opening, and it looks like Obama's joining her:

"If the Chinese do not take steps to help stop the genocide in Darfur and to respect the dignity, security, and human rights of the Tibetan people, then the President should boycott the opening ceremonies. As I have communicated in public and to the President, it is past time for China to respect the human rights of the Tibetan people, to allow foreign journalists and diplomats access to the region, and to engage the Dalai Lama in meaningful talks about the future of Tibet. I am also deeply concerned about China's failure to support efforts to halt the genocide in Darfur. Regarding the Beijing Olympics this summer, a boycott of the opening ceremonies should be firmly on the table, but this decision should be made closer to the Games."

You know, this is one of the few things I agreed with Bill Richardson about. In a debate, when questioned about Darfur, he suggested a boycott by the US. I agree, not really because I think it will be effective in changing China's policies; it won't, but because I just don't like the Olympics. I really don't. Waste of time. Swimming? Running? Only if Aquaman and the Flash are participating. Or Tiger Woods.

Go Tiger.

Who's Honest?

Sully's quote of the day:

"We know that government cannot solve all of our problems, and we don't expect it to. We don't want our tax dollars wasted on programs that don't work or perks for special interests that don't work for us. We understand that we cannot stop every job from going overseas or build a wall around our economy, and we know that we shouldn't," - Barack Obama, while advocating a tax hike, and a bail-out of reckless mortgage-owners. "

That sounds typical Obama. Beyond a shadow of a doubt the man is a liberal with the desire to see liberal policies make people more self-reliant. On the other hand McCain says stuff like:

“It is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers.”

And then promotes, "...a plan... that offers select homeowners the chance to trade a troubled mortgage for a loan reflecting the market value of their home."

Wonder what he means by 'select'? Wouldn't happen to rhyme with "Beating Jive" would it? He seems to like things whose name sounds like that.

War Crime Watch

ABC news strikes another nail in the coffin:

"Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.

"The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic."

Looks like Henry Kissinger's going to have more mates in his bunker.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Why I Miss Joe Biden

Because he says stuff like this:

"At the Senate Foreign Relations hearing, Barbara Boxer related the story of how, a month ago, Iranian prez Ahmadinejad traveled to Iraq and got kissed on the cheek by Iraqi prez Talabani. Then she asked, in a pained tone,

"BOXER: After all we've done, now Ahmadinejad is getting kissed on the cheek, and Bush has to sneak in? Isn't it true that, after all we've done, Iran has gained Iraq?

"CROCKER: It's a mixed bag. Iran by no means has it all its own way in Iraq.

"BOXER: I give up. It is what it is. They kissed him on the cheek! He [Ahmadinejad] had a red-carpet treatment.

"CROCKER (sheepishly): When the vice president was in Iraq, he got a very warm reception!

"BIDEN: Did he get kissed?"


And Just in Case You Forgot

Mark Penn really, really sucks.

Here's the funny thing. Gore fired Penn in 2000 because Penn never predicted that Bill Bradley would come in as strong as he did. And now in 2007, Penn didn't predict Obama's rise over Clinton.

On second thought, as an Obama supporter, I think Hillary should stay with Penn. And make him her VP.

America's Secret Plan

It's been obvious to me that, at least implicitly, Bush is trying his best to make sure that the US is so entrenched in Iraq that it will be impossible for us to ever withdraw. His creation of a Rhode Island sized embassy in Baghdad is one tip off, the other might be this secret plan that the UK's Guardian got their hands on:

"A confidential draft agreement covering the future of US forces in Iraq, passed to the Guardian, shows that provision is being made for an open-ended military presence in the country.

"The authorisation is described as "temporary" and the agreement says the US "does not desire permanent bases or a permanent military presence in Iraq". But the absence of a time limit or restrictions on the US and other coalition forces - including the British - in the country means it is likely to be strongly opposed in Iraq and the US.

"Iraqi critics point out that the agreement contains no limits on numbers of US forces, the weapons they are able to deploy, their legal status or powers over Iraqi citizens, going far beyond long-term US security agreements with other countries. The agreement is intended to govern the status of the US military and other members of the multinational force."

Racial Interjection

Yup, race doesn't have anything to do with 21st Century politics:

What a dork.

The Weekly Round Up...

...over at The addendum is posted here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Petraeus Set to Testify Today

So what do you want to bet this will be more about our Presidential canidates (and Chuck Schumer) grandstanding than any real discussion about Iraq?

UPDATE: Looks like McCain's already started. He's putting words right into Petraeus' mouth. Oy vey.

An Addendum to My Column

In my soon to be published piece, I talked a bit about Mark Penn and his 'resigning' of his post on Hillary's team. I mentioned during the article about the 'inside joke' regarding the ethical conflict of having Penn on Hill's team since, you know, she's supposed to be against special interests and he's, well, a lobbyist. But one thing I forgot to mention is that not only is he a lobbyist but he's a lobbyist that busts up unions.

Shreding the Consitution Update

Following the Yoo Two story, top White House Legal Counsel, Will Haynes has retained a defense attorney of his own:

The panel notified the Pentagon in early February that it wanted to question Haynes. Before receiving any response, investigators learned on Feb. 25 that Haynes was leaving for Chevron in San Francisco. "How often does somebody like that give two weeks' notice and leave town?" said one government source familiar with the sequence of events.

Good question. How often do guilty people run?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Must Read

Scott Horton, on John Yoo's newly released torture memo. Shocking? Only if you've been under a rock for the last 5 years.

UPDATE: Reading it over and this passage stuck out:

"The circumstances under which the memoranda were prepared and issued constitute a joint criminal enterprise involving individual actors; the memos were issued as part of an actual plan to induce individuals to commit criminal acts by ensuring that their crimes would never be investigated or prosecuted. Under the standards of United States v. Altstoetter it was reasonably foreseeable that the issuance of these memoranda would result in serious harm, including assault, torture and death, to protected persons in the custody of the United States. Accordingly, each of the actors, including the memoranda writers, is criminally liable. As a product of a joint criminal enterprise, none of the legal memoranda has any force or effect as a legal opinion. It is particularly noteworthy that the major focus of Yoo Two is the criminal liability of the actors."

The Belated Weekly Round-Up

It's late, but it's up over at

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


The friends Hillary has chosen.

From the Department of 'Duh'

GAO says that Pentagon's budget is out of control:

"Government auditors issued a scathing review yesterday of dozens of the Pentagon's biggest weapons systems, saying ships, aircraft and satellites are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.

The Government Accountability Office found that 95 major systems have exceeded their original budgets by a total of $295 billion, bringing their total cost to $1.6 trillion, and are delivered almost two years late on average. In addition, none of the systems that the GAO looked at had met all of the standards for best management practices during their development stages.

Auditors said the Defense Department showed few signs of improvement since the GAO began issuing its annual assessments of selected weapons systems six years ago. "It's not getting any better by any means," said Michael Sullivan, director of the GAO's acquisition and sourcing team. "It's taking longer and costing more.""

Hey guys--with practically no industries in American outside of Death Row and Bad Boy, something's gotta keep this country's economy running. What? Did you think Medicare and SocSec could be paid for on Ipods and cigarette taxes alone?

Another Obama Steal?

Looks like Hillary's slipping in PA polls. According to Rasmussen she leads by 5, down from 10 last week. SurveyUSA shows her at 12, but down from 19 last week.

My prediction? Hill wins PA by 10--just on the cusp of the number she needs to continue. If it's a single digit she's out.



KIEV, Ukraine - President Bush said Tuesday he will work "as hard as I can" to help Ukraine join NATO and declared that Russia will not be able to veto former Soviet states joining the transatlantic military alliance.

"Your nation has made a bold decision and the United States strongly supports your request," Bush told Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko after talks at the Presidential Secretariat here.

Bush praised Ukraine's democratic and military reforms, and noted that Ukraine "is the only non-NATO nation supporting every NATO mission."

This isn't the type of story that'll get alot of attention in the M$M but it is important, especially since Russian strong men (Putin) seem to be consoldating their power, and Ukraine defecting to NATO would put a wrench in their works. It'll be interesting to see what Putin, er I mean Zubkov has to say about this.

The Full Story

So who's more honest, Obama or Hillary? Turns out they both bend the truth. Welcome to the world of politics folks.

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