Thursday, June 19, 2008


For those who check in here on a semi-regular basis, there's a new place to start checking. dwahzon's village is moving to a new location at and joining a new blog called Reality Window.

Please join me over there.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Catching up ... sort of

Looks like we weren't the only ones to have a busy week / weekend.

The pictures in this dkos diary are stunning. Almost as good as being there in person.

And then there's video from the Washington Post:

And here's a video of the rally courtesy of NWCN via dkos diarist Patch Adam who wrote about his experience at the rally. The video includes his complete speech without any commentary or voiceover.


Click on picture to go to website with video

This is the picture that just amazes me.

This is a primary rally. Not a general election rally in October but a primary rally in May. Simply amazing.

Tis the season for graduations

It's been a very busy couple weeks in our household, preparing for not one, but two college graduations in two different states only a couple days apart. But I can now report we did it.


One from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA with a major in Government and International Politics and the other from Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT with a double major in International Studies and German with a minor in History.


Oh, and the Fairfax graduate just found out that she got her Fulbright scholarship so it's off to Germany in September for her.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Items of Interest

-- Matt Stoller has a significant piece of analysis about Obama's consolidation of power over on OpenLeft which I highly recommend.

-- Publius has a very interesting post arguing that Iraq is the fundamental reason that Hillary's campaign stepped off on the wrong foot and never recovered. Recalling what she said at the YearlyKos convention, I have to agree that she never figured out that it was a huge disadvantage for her but I do also think that the campaign mismanagement was a big contributing factor.

-- John Cole at BalloonJuice points out that the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick are cheaters.

-- Standing in love vs. falling in love by Mark Vernon via Sully. Yeah. Given that my 29th wedding anniversary is 9 days away, I'd have to say that I agree with that assessment. It's good to see it outlined in such straightforward language.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Arianna and West Wingers Expose McCain

Per the LA Times, West Wing aides back up Arianna on McCain's vote.

John McCain called out by Jed Bartlet's aides

It turns out that hobnobbing with liberal blogger Arianna Huffington and the cast of NBC’s "The West Wing" on the left coast can be a risky proposition for a Republican with White House ambitions.

In Jersey City Friday morning, John McCain emphatically denied a report by Huffington on her blog that he confessed, during a Beverly Hills dinner party in 2001, that he had not voted for George W. Bush after his bitter defeat in 2000. But "West Wing" cast members -- who said in published reports they supported a Democratic ticket -- back up Huffington’s story. [...]

But actors Bradley Whitford and Richard Schiff, who played White House deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman and communications director Toby Ziegler on the show, told the New York Times -- at Huffington’s prompting -- that they too heard McCain’s confession at the dinner party at actress Candice Bergen’s Beverly Hills home.

Whitford told the New York Times and the Washington Post that when a guest asked McCain at the dinner if he’d voted for Bush, McCain put his finger to his lips and mouthed "No way."

West Wing is the house favorite here. We own all 7 seasons on DVD. If Josh and Toby say that Arianna told the story accurately, then McCain hasn't a chance on that one.

If he says that he doesn't remember it, then one has to question his memory and his age. Of course, Arianna does a good job of pointing out McCain's memory problems in her update to her original post:

Through a spokesperson with the colorful name Tucker Bounds, McCain has denied telling me he didn't vote for Bush in 2000. "It's not true," Bounds told the Washington Post, "and I ask you to consider the source."

My sentiments exactly -- because John McCain has a long history of issuing heartfelt denials of things that were actually true.

He denied ever talking with John Kerry about his leaving the GOP to be Kerry's '04 running mate -- then later admitted he had, insisting: "Everybody knows that I had a conversation."

He denied admitting that he didn't know much about economics, even though he'd said exactly that to the Wall Street Journal. And the Boston Globe. And the Baltimore Sun.

He denied ever having asked for a budget earmark for Arizona, even though he had. On the record.

He denied that he'd ever had a meeting with comely lobbyist Vicki Iseman and her client Lowell Paxon, even though he had. And had admitted it in a legal deposition.

And those are just the outright denials. He's also repeatedly tried to spin away statements he regretted making (see: 100-year war, Iraq was a war for oil, etc.).

So, yes, by all means, "consider the source."

Items of Interest

-- Rasmussen: It's Over - H/T to Walt starr

...while Senator Clinton has remained close and competitive in every meaningful measure, she is a close second and the race is over. It has become clear that Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee. [...]

With this in mind, Rasmussen Reports will soon end our daily tracking of the Democratic race and focus exclusively on the general election competition between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama.

-- Bill Moyers was interviewed on Democracy Now yesterday and quoted:

All the rest of us should hang our heads in shame for letting it come to this in America, where the gluttony of the nonstop media grinder consumes us all and prevents an honest conversation on race. It is the price we are paying for failing to heed the great historian Jacob Burckhardt, who said, “Beware the terrible simplifiers.

The whole interview is interesting and worth checking out.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

More on Hillary's Low Road

More reaction to Hillary's claiming the low road:

From Ben Smith,

And it's also noteworthy that the blunt talk on appealing to whites surfaces the day after the last round of primaries in which there's a substantial number of black voters.

Good point, Ben. I did find some satisfaction in this daily kos rec listed diary from a Utah resident, Plea from the bleach-whitest state in the union: Give us the inspirational black president!

It may be true that Hillary Clinton is the only acceptable candidate to some narrow income group of Caucasians that reside between the Mississipi river and the states bordering the East coast. But, MY GOD, who cares? It is Hillary Clinton's utter lack of ability to be competitive among white voters in Western states that resulted in Obama breaking the proportional allocation system, and making narrow Clinton wins in states that satisfy the Penn/Wolfsson criteria insignificant.


All of this brings me to my simple and main point: These people hate Clintons. I do too, but that is irrelevant. There is a reason why our primary had a record turnout, and why Obama absolutely trounced her here. There is a huge and growing number of voters here in the West that is looking for some sign that the Democratic party is ready to be something new. These people aren't particularly happy about voting for another Republican, but they sure as hell know they aren't voting for a Clinton. More than any problem with message or organization, our party suffers here from a stigma and an association with ugly political battles of the past. If we are going to build on what we have here, we have to offer something new. It doesn't even have to be a new message; it just needs to come in a new package. It needs to come in a package that doesn't remind skeptical voters that are upset and ready for a change of anything they despised in the past. We are doing good things here in Utah, and it will get better if we have a real chance to appeal to independents and disaffected Republicans. That will happen with Barack Obama. It will never happen with Hillary Clinton. In fact, I'm afraid a Billary ticket (even in the VP slot) would so inflame the Republican base here that it would threaten my beloved and effective local elected Democrats.

And I would add my own plea to his:

Superdelegates: Please do not disregard our huge and one-sided primary elections this year in red Western states. These developments mean something. End this thing quickly. Give us a case to take around our neighborhoods that this is a new Democratic party. Give us a chance to show that the 50-state strategy is working.

There was another dkos diarist with a diary that responded to the implicit and explicit racism being expressed in the media and in certain outposts in the blogosphere. Jeff Lieber pointed out in "I am Not Worth Much":

In the last Presidential election, with the exception of the odd voter who wrote in Bill Cosby or Tiger Woods, 99.99% of WHITE Americans voted for a WHITE candidate. In that same election, 99.99% of AFRICAN AMERICANS also voted for a WHITE candidate.

But 99.99% of any group can't have the same political beliefs, right?

So all those white people must be... what?

And all those African Americans... all voting for the WHITE candidate... what's THEIR deal?

Well... wait... let's go back another election.

In the year 2000, 99.99% of WHITE Americans voted for a WHITE candidate and 99.99% of AFRICAN AMERICANS also voted for a WHITE candidate.

Oh, and in 1996? And 1992? And 1988?

There was a slight rash of black on black voting in 1984 when Jesse Jackson was around, but in 1980 and 1976 and 1972 and 1968 and 1964 and 1960 and 1956 and 1952 and 1948 and 1944 and 1940 and 1936 and 1932 and 1928 and 1924 and 1920?

99.99% of WHITE Americans and 99.99% of AFRICAN AMERICANS voted... WHITE.

Now there was a period when not one single African-Americans voted for the WHITE candidate of the cycle, and that was prior to 1865 when "those people" couldn't even be bothered to stop picking the cotton long enough to cast their ballots.

It's so obvious it shouldn't need to be highlighted but it did. This is what's wrong with the media's fixation on slicing and dicing everyone into groups. Is it the race group or is it the gender group or is it the age group? Based on my race, age and gender, I supposedly should have voted for Hillary. However, that's not how I made my decision. I decided based on who I thought was the best choice for the nomination -- not on what gender, race or age they were. My race, gender and age are irrelevant to my choice.

That anyone can seriously try appeal to be chosen for the nomination based on slice'n'dice statistics, overturning the candidate chosen by individual voters in the in the Democratic primary process is appalling.

UPDATE: George Will does snark so nicely in pointing out Hillary's duplicity in today's WaPo.

Hillary Clinton, 60, Illinois native and Arkansas lawyer, became, retroactively, a lifelong Yankee fan at age 52 when, shopping for a U.S. Senate seat, she adopted New York state as home sweet home. She may think, or at least would argue, that when she was 12 her Yankees really won the 1960 World Series, by standards of "fairness," because they trounced the Pirates in runs scored, 55-27, over seven games, so there.

Unfortunately, baseball's rules -- pesky nuisances, rules -- say it matters how runs are distributed during a World Series. The Pirates won four games, which is the point of the exercise, by a total margin of seven runs, while the Yankees were winning three by a total of 35 runs. You can look it up.

After Tuesday's split decisions in Indiana and North Carolina, Clinton, the Yankee Clipperette, can, and hence eventually will, creatively argue that she is really ahead of Barack Obama, or at any rate she is sort of tied, mathematically or morally or something, in popular votes, or delegates, or some combination of the two, as determined by Fermat's Last Theorem, or something, in states whose names begin with vowels, or maybe consonants, or perhaps some mixture of the two as determined by listening to a recording of the Beach Boys' "Help Me, Rhonda" played backward, or whatever other formula is most helpful to her, and counting the votes she received in Michigan, where hers was the only contending name on the ballot (her chief rivals, quaintly obeying their party's rules, boycotted the state, which had violated the party's rules for scheduling primaries), and counting the votes she received in Florida, which, like Michigan, was a scofflaw and where no one campaigned, and dividing Obama's delegate advantage in caucus states by pi multiplied by the square root of Yankee Stadium's Zip code.

Or perhaps she wins if Obama's popular vote total is, well, adjusted by counting each African American vote as only three-fifths of a vote. There is precedent, of sorts, for that arithmetic (see the Constitution, Article I, Section 2, before the 14th Amendment).

"We," says Geoff Garin, a Clinton strategist who possesses the audacity of hopelessness required in that role, "don't think this is just going to be about some numerical metric." Mere numbers? Heaven forfend. That is how people speak when numerical metrics -- numbers of popular votes and delegates -- are inconvenient.

The audacity of hopelessness ... what a perfect summation of the Clinton campaign.

Bobby Kennedy, Where Are You?

Sen. Clinton has gone 'there' in her rationalization of why she is continuing her quest for the nomination. In an interview with USA Today,

Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

"There's a pattern emerging here," she said.

And what pattern would that be, Hillary?

First of all, the assertion that people who voted for Hillary in the primary would not vote for Obama in the general election is based on highly-malleable opinions which are at a height of emotion given the hard-fought primary contest. Any exit poll numbers on that count will surely change by the time of the general election as they always do.

Second, it is a comparison of unlike contests to suggest that the breakdown of voters in Hillary vs. Obama is comparable to that of Obama vs. McCain. Choosing between Hillary and Obama is like choosing between brownies and chocolate chip cookies for dessert ... which form of chocolate do I like best? Suggesting that there is any comparison between brownies, chocolate chip cookies and brussel sprouts for dessert is absurd.

Third, does the Democratic Party really want to select a nominee based on the fear that there might be some racist Americans who won't vote for the nominee? Does Bobby Kennedy need to come back to life and give them some spine? Did we let racists dictate what happened in school desegregation and the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

As RFK said, "Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope..."

It's time for the Democratic Party to stand up and do the right thing.

Hillary, I'm ashamed and angry that you're choosing this path. I thought better of you.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Items of Interest

-- McCain is having problems living in the 21st century. Looks like he's somewhere back in the 20th century based on his references to Czechoslovakia as his preferred missile location and his inability after 5 years worth of war in Iraq to differentiate between Shia and Sunni, Al Qaeda and Iran.

Then there's his supposed defense expertise in which he demonstrates his ignorance of who does what in the current structure. For someone who's the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services committee, it's a huge gaffe. I mean, how do you NOT know that when it's your day job and has been for quite some time?

-- Here's something that I missed when it came out. From Martha Raddatz at ABC News, Surprising Political Endorsements By U.S. Troops. The video is the best. Watch it if you can. (I'd embed it if ABC News offered that option but they don't. Need to catch up with the times.) H/T to dantrotheplanetman

-- Sully has a real cute anecdote here

-- Via John Cole at Balloon Juice, a tale of pre-school politics:

-- Also from Balloon Juice via The Grand Panjandrum at TPMCafe, the:

Best. Blog. Comment. Evah.

John Cole, ruminating about the potential disaster awaiting the GOP this November found this gem in his comment section:

The GOP let Alfred E. Neumann sit behind the wheel of their bus and drive it off a cliff. The fuckin’ thing is falling, Alfred’s grinning mug is turned to them asking “Hows that fellas?” and somewhere from the back of the bus a genius removes his tongue from the window and mumbles “Pssst, I think we have a message problem.”

Now if we can just get Danziger or Oliphant to draw the cartoon.

-- Watch Taylor wiggle. Interesting how past rhetorical outbursts come back to bite one in the ... so to speak.

John Cole: It Is Over

I so enjoy reading John Cole at Balloon Juice. I know that I'll go away with a smile on my face with his irreverent approach to things and he doesn't disappoint today either. It seems he stayed up late along with the rest of us political junkies and then had insomnia and couldn't sleep. So he penned some thoughts for the morning.

At any rate, I feel a profound sense of relief the whole nomination process is finally over. I guess I am just not used to the messy way you all do things here in the Democratic party, but these past few months have been excruciating. The primary, for me at least, was over after March 5th, when she failed to blow him out in the firewall state of Texas, but as a new member of the party I guess I am in the wing where “firewall” and “math” still mean things. So I endured another month of listening to certain wings of a party (that, again, I am a newcomer to) do their best NRO and Weekly Standard impressions and talk about electability, stealth Muslims, lapel pins, patriotism, new new delegate math, Rev. Wright, and whatever else they could dream up.

Whatever. She threw everything she had at him. He weathered the storm. Consider him vetted. Consider Rev. Wright kicked in the junk. Consider me relieved. Now, can we get to the very serious business of dismantling the GOP? I have a very serious axe to grind, and it is deeply, deeply personal for me. There are a bunch of frauds, crooks, and phonies with whom I have a serious grudge that I want to settle. You see, I still have my “Peace Through Strength” button from when I campaigned for Reagan. I believed in limited government, I believed in a strong national defense, I believed in fiscal restraint and balanced budgets and I believed in personal integrity and individual liberty and personal freedom.

I am pissed. I want the frothing nutters, the fraudulent hucksters, the race-baiters, the anti-science frauds, the anti-intellectuals, the gay-bashers, the big-money cheats, the torture fetishists, the religious nuts, the tax and spenders, the xenophobes, and the phonies to pay. I want payback. I want the people who ruined my former party relegated to permanent minority status. I know I am a newly minted Democrat, and, as such, it is ballsy for me to start telling you what I want from the party, but this is my website and you are just going to have to deal with my opinion.

I am under no illusion I will buy into everything Barack Obama puts forward, but I am damned sure convinced he is a decent man who, at the very least, will restore a sense of competence to the national stage. I am willing to meet most Democrats half-way, and I am already doing everything I can to get this man elected. I think Obama will act in good faith for this nation, and I am responding in kind. His policies are not outlandish or crazy or uber-left- they reflect a rational, and I would argue, a decent and progressive way forward out of the mess I helped to create. I won’t like all of them, and I will not agree with all of them, but there is no chance that I will ever be President, so perfect agreement is never a possibility.

And don’t get me wrong- I am not for Obama because of what I am against. I am for Obama because he is a decent man, a break from the past, and really a once in a lifetime opportunity. He has treated us like adults throughout this primary, and it is time to act like adults. There will be times we feel he lets us all down, but we are not electing a diety. We are electing a leader, and Obama is that leader. It is time to get past the bullshit of the last 20 years, the battles I am really tired of fighting, and time to turn our attention to the really important issues of the day- the economy, the budget, our international presence, our crumbling infrastructure, our military, medicare and medicaid and social security, and on and on and on.

If Barack Obama was not your your preferred candidate, I am sorry that person did not win, but it is time to remember that the target is John McCain and the Bush/Cheney way of doing things. If you can not accept that and help move us forward, please at least get out of the way.

Thanks John. You said for me some of the things that I think sometimes but never quite overcome the politeness threshold and actually blurt out. Go check out the rest of his post... you'll like the picture.

The Next President & the Next Congress

barack-michelleFirst, I'd like to thank the people of Indiana and North Carolina and the volunteers who worked so hard in the Democratic primary. Both states are responsible for the change in the race as of last night (or this morning if you want to include Lake County results). As I was watching Barack Obama speak in North Carolina last night and then when Michelle joined him onstage, I kept thinking I'm looking at the next President and First Lady of the United States.

Though I look at what our nation faces and I realize that one person won't ever be able to address all the damage and all the needs alone. We need a Congress that is ready to go to work with our President to put our nation back together after the last 7+ years of Republican ravaging.

So here's to the next stage in the 2008 campaign. Barack was right last night. It's not about him, or Hillary or McCain. It's about us, the American people. Get ready to work to recover our nation.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Primary Day Drill according to Al Giordano

Al G. nails it in his post, The Primary Day Ritual.

Today marks the 47th and 48th primaries or caucuses for the Democratic presidential nomination. More than 90 percent of the delegates will have been chosen by tonight. By now, we all ought to know the drill.

The day begins with the Clinton campaign “leaking” something to the Drudge Report to set expectations for the day. That then gets repeated on political blogs and cable news, where Clinton surrogate Terry McAuliffe elaborates. Today’s “expectation”: That the Clinton campaign expects a “15 point” defeat in North Carolina. Clinton’s yapping puppies in the news media repeat the manufactured expectation all day long, in which the bar is supposedly now that if Clinton comes within 15 points in that state that she has somehow “won” with a 14 point (or 6 point) defeat.

Around 4 p.m. rumors of exit polls begin circulating on the Internet. Around 5:30 p.m. AP and other news organizations leak minor data from the exit polls that explains almost nothing of value. Sometime after 6 p.m. Drudge posts raw numbers from exit polls that - if past is prologue - show Obama doing an average of seven percentage points better than he actually does.

Obama supporters then get prematurely jubilant and after polls close (tonight at 7 p.m. ET in Indiana and 7:30 p.m. ET in North Carolina) the real results start to come in and reveal Clinton then doing “better than expected” (at least better than the new expectations promoted during the day).

The media talking heads then ask aloud why Obama can’t “close the deal” (in Clinton’s own words) and what is numerically a defeat for Clinton (because the results, even in her recent wins, bring her objectively farther from the nomination in the context of the smaller number of delegates then available) gets spun as a Clinton victory.

Clinton takes to the stage, claims “unexpected” victory, gives out her web site address and pleads for elder women on fixed incomes to send more money to the $109 millionaire. The following day they claim that $10 million rolled in, only to be disproved more than a month later when the actual FEC filing is due. Obama’s FEC filing simultaneously reveals that he raised much, much more, from more small donors, and the Clinton campaign plays the victim card over being outspent.

Go read the rest at Al's place. Great job, Al. I think you got it just right.

Items of Interest

-- Jesselyn Radack called for action yesterday in a diary about an EPA whistleblower who's just been fired. Mary Gade refused to back down on a study of serious dioxin contamination in western Michigan and her attempts to get the source of pollution stopped and the contamination cleaned up. Jesselyn noted a few items worth repeating here:

"There is all of this mystique about dioxin . . .Just because it's there doesn't mean there is an imminent health threat."
Jim Musser
Dow Chemical spokesman

"[The only way someone could be exposed to dioxin is if they] eat the dirt."
Bob VanDeventer
President, Saginaw Chamber of Commerce

FACT: Low levels of dioxin have been found to cause cancer, immune system disorders, and reproductive problems.

FACT: Saginaw Bay, one of the sites Mary Gade sought to clean up, has the highest concentration of dioxin ever recorded in the country.

The Chicago Tribune has the whole story.

-- Keith Olbermann does a masterful job summarizing the "Clinton Rules" concerning which votes really count. Just wait till he gets to his final summation sentence at the end! H/T to dsharma23

-- I bet Mrs. Conyers wishes she hadn't lost her temper. And I hope someone is looking out for Ms. Kierra Bell. That young woman has a bright future.

The Company They Keep

Steve Benen summarizes it so well in Judging them by the company they keep that I'll just quote from him.

The Chicago Tribune’s Steve Chapman posed an interesting question in his column over the weekend about John McCain having a Bill Ayers-like problem of his own. [...]

What McCain didn’t mention is that he has his own Bill Ayers — in the form of G. Gordon Liddy. Now a conservative radio talk-show host, Liddy spent more than 4 years in prison for his role in the 1972 Watergate burglary. That was just one element of what Liddy did, and proposed to do, in a secret White House effort to subvert the Constitution. Far from repudiating him, McCain has embraced him.

How close are McCain and Liddy? Pretty close. Liddy hosted a McCain fundraiser in ‘98 at his home. When McCain appeared on Liddy’s show in November, Liddy greeted him as “an old friend,” and McCain gushed like one. “I’m proud of you, I’m proud of your family,” McCain told Liddy. “It’s always a pleasure for me to come on your program, Gordon, and congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great.”

Given Liddy’s “principles,” McCain’s praise seems more than a little out of place.

Which principles would those be? The ones that told Liddy it was fine to break into the office of the Democratic National Committee to plant bugs and photograph documents? The ones that made him propose to kidnap anti-war activists so they couldn’t disrupt the 1972 Republican National Convention? The ones that inspired him to plan the murder (never carried out) of an unfriendly newspaper columnist?

Liddy was in the thick of the biggest political scandal in American history–and one of the greatest threats to the rule of law. He has said he has no regrets about what he did, insisting that he went to jail as “a prisoner of war.”

All this may sound like ancient history. But it’s from the same era as the bombings Ayers helped carry out as a member of the Weather Underground. And Liddy’s penchant for extreme solutions has not abated.

In 1994, after the disastrous federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, he gave some advice to his listeners: “Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they’re going to be wearing bulletproof vests. . . . Kill the sons of bitches.”

He later backed off, saying he meant merely that people should defend themselves if federal agents came with guns blazing. But his amended guidance was not exactly conciliatory: Liddy also said he should have recommended shots to the groin instead of the head. If that wasn’t enough to inflame any nut cases, he mentioned labeling targets “Bill” and “Hillary” when he practiced shooting.

McCain doesn’t distance himself from this guy; he embraces him, accepts his campaign donations, appears on his show, and praises his “principles.” And yet, McCain still feels perfectly comfortable demanding that Obama “apologize” for knowing Bill Ayers.

(On a related note, the NYT’s Frank Rich over the weekend highlighted the story that political reporters are reluctant to touch: McCain’s ties to bigoted televangelist John Hagee.)

To clarify, I’m not necessarily arguing that I want more guilt-by-association attacks in the presidential campaign. Major political figures meet and know plenty of people, some are going to be controversial, and some are going to be unsavory. In an election this important, there are far more important things to cover.

I do care, however, about consistency, hypocrisy, and fairness. If Wright is a reflection on Obama’s judgment and character, it’s incumbent on the media to take McCain’s suck-ups to Hagee, Parsley, and Falwell seriously. If it’s important that Obama knows Ayers, it has to be at least as important that McCain has picked G. Gordon Liddy as one of his buddies.

And if McCain is going to go after Obama directly over his associations, as he did last week, then McCain should expect similar questions about the company he keeps.

Why did McCain seek and accept the support of an anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic televangelist? Why did McCain cozy up to a preacher who blamed 9/11 on Americans? Why did McCain praise the principles of a right-wing shock jock who instructed his audience on where to shoot federal officials?

I really don't want a political campaign that consists of guilt-by-association accusations flung ad infinitum throughout the media. But as Steve said, let's be consistent and fair about this. If those types of questions and attacks are deemed appropriate for one candidate, then they're appropriate for all. So why isn't the corpmedia pursuing John McCain?

"Elite Opinion"

Regarding "elite opinions", Steve Benen speaks for me including the headbanging, though I should add that I tend to yell at the radio and tv as well. My family has taken to rolling their eyes and leaving the room. Really, Steve's post is excellent. Check it out.

And when you're done with that one, read his next post:  This … is CNN?

Monday, May 05, 2008

State-by-State List of Cost of Gas Tax Holiday

dkos diarist Jimmy Crackcorn posted a chart from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association which pretty well sums up just how ridiculous Clinton and McCain's gas tax holiday proposals really are.


Jimmy went on to say:
John McCain and Hillary Clinton have suggested suspending Federal Taxes on all Gasoline/Diesel sold between Memorial Day (5/26) and Labor Day (9/1) this year. According to this study by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, this "Gas Tax Holiday" will lower tax revenue for infrastructure by roughly $9 billion and potentially cost 300,000 highway construction jobs. The highway trust fund that the gas tax finances provides money to states and local governments to pay for road and bridge construction, repair and maintenance.

Obama addressed this issue on Meet The Press yesterday and not only explained what was wrong with the gas tax holiday concept but clearly laid out what he plans to do to address the rising cost of gasoline and oil consumption.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Cognitive Age

I rarely agree with David Brooks who I believe is a highly over-rated talking head that's too impressed with himself. Nonetheless, he makes a point in his NYT column today on the changes in manufacturing globally that I think is well-made.

The chief force reshaping manufacturing is technological change (hastened by competition with other companies in Canada, Germany or down the street). Thanks to innovation, manufacturing productivity has doubled over two decades. Employers now require fewer but more highly skilled workers. Technological change affects China just as it does the America. William Overholt of the RAND Corporation has noted that between 1994 and 2004 the Chinese shed 25 million manufacturing jobs, 10 times more than the U.S.

The central process driving this is not globalization. It’s the skills revolution. We’re moving into a more demanding cognitive age. In order to thrive, people are compelled to become better at absorbing, processing and combining information. This is happening in localized and globalized sectors, and it would be happening even if you tore up every free trade deal ever inked.

The globalization paradigm emphasizes the fact that information can now travel 15,000 miles in an instant. But the most important part of information’s journey is the last few inches — the space between a person’s eyes or ears and the various regions of the brain. Does the individual have the capacity to understand the information? Does he or she have the training to exploit it? Are there cultural assumptions that distort the way it is perceived?

The globalization paradigm leads people to see economic development as a form of foreign policy, as a grand competition between nations and civilizations. These abstractions, called “the Chinese” or “the Indians,” are doing this or that. But the cognitive age paradigm emphasizes psychology, culture and pedagogy — the specific processes that foster learning. It emphasizes that different societies are being stressed in similar ways by increased demands on human capital. If you understand that you are living at the beginning of a cognitive age, you’re focusing on the real source of prosperity and understand that your anxiety is not being caused by a foreigner.

It’s not that globalization and the skills revolution are contradictory processes. But which paradigm you embrace determines which facts and remedies you emphasize.

Of course, he then ends with one of his usual nonsensical summations: "Politicians, especially Democratic ones, have fallen in love with the globalization paradigm. It’s time to move beyond it."

David, just how would you describe what the Republican administration and politicians have done for the last 20 years?

Gen. Sanchez: Bush Admin's "gross incompetence and dereliction of duty"

Another retired general steps forward to tell us just how the Bush administration screwed us over and in the process, screwed over our military forces as well. From Time magazine via Andrew Sullivan:

Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq in 2003-2004, has written a new memoir, Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story, an account of his life and his service in Iraq. Sanchez was a three-star general — and the military's senior Hispanic officer — when he led U.S. forces in the first year of the war. He was relieved of his command by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2004 following the revelations of the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. In 2005, Marine General Peter Pace, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called him to say his career was over and he wouldn't get the promotion to a full general — four stars — that Sanchez says he was promised. Six months later, at Rumsfeld's request, he showed up at the Pentagon for a meeting with the defense secretary shortly before retiring. In this exclusive excerpt, Sanchez details what happened next:

I walked into Rumsfeld's office at 1:25 p.m. on April 19, 2006. He had just returned from a meeting at the White House, and the only other person present in the room was his new Chief of Staff, John Rangel.

"Ric, it's been a long time," Rumsfeld said, greeting me in a friendly manner. "I'm really sorry that your promotion didn't work out. We just couldn't make it work politically. Sending a nomination to the Senate would not be good for you, the Army, or the department."

"I understand, sir," I replied.

Then we walked over to his small conference table. "Have a seat," he said. "Now, Ric, what are your timelines?"

"Well, sir, my transition leave will start in September with retirement the first week of November."


Secretary Rumsfeld then pulled out a two-page memo and handed it to me. "I wrote this after a promotion interview about two weeks ago," he explained. "The officer told me that one of the biggest mistakes we made after the war was to allow CENTCOM and CFLCC to leave the Iraq theater immediately after the fighting stopped — and that left you and V Corps with the entire mission."

"Yes, that's right," I said.

"Well, how could we have done that?" he said in an agitated, but adamant, tone. "I knew nothing about it. Now, I'd like you to read this memo and give me any corrections."

In the memo, Rumsfeld stated that one of the biggest strategic mistakes of the war was ordering the major redeployment of forces and allowing the departure of the CENTCOM and CFLCC staffs in May - June 2003.

"This left General Sanchez in charge of operations in Iraq with a staff that had been focused at the operational and tactical level, but was not trained to operate at the strategic/operational level." He went on to write that neither he nor anyone higher in the Administration knew these orders had been issued, and that he was dumbfounded when he learned that Gen. McKiernan was out of the country and in Kuwait, and that the forces would be drawn down to a level of about 30,000 by September. "I did not know that Sanchez was in charge," he wrote.

I stopped reading after I read that last statement, because I knew it was total BS. After a deep breath, I said, "Well, Mr. Secretary, the problem as you've stated it is generally accurate, but your memo does not accurately capture the magnitude of the problem. Furthermore, I just can't believe you didn't know that Franks's and McKiernan's staffs had pulled out and that the orders had been issued to redeploy the forces."

At that point, Rumsfeld became very excited, jumped out of his seat, and sat down in the chair next to me so that he could look at the memo with me. "Now just what is it in this memorandum that you don't agree with?" he said, almost shouting.

"Mr. Secretary, when V Corps ramped up for the war, our entire focus was at the tactical level. The staff had neither the experience nor training to operate at the strategic level, much less as a joint/combined headquarters. All of CFLCC's generals, whom we called the Dream Team, left the country in a mass exodus. The transfer of authority was totally inadequate, because CENTCOM's focus was only on departing the theater and handing off the mission. There was no focus on postconflict operations. None! In their minds, the war was over and they were leaving. Everybody was executing these orders, and the services knew all about it."

Starting to get a little worked up, I paused a moment, and then looked Rumsfeld straight in the eye. "Sir, I cannot believe that you didn't know I was being left in charge in Iraq."

"No! No!" he replied. "I was never told that the plan was for V Corps to assume the entire mission. I have to issue orders and approve force deployments into the theater, and they moved all these troops around without any orders or notification from me."

"Sir, I don't ... "

"Why didn't you tell anyone about this?" he asked, interrupting me in an angry tone.

"Mr. Secretary, all of the senior leadership in the Pentagon knew what was happening. Franks issued the orders and McKiernan was executing them."

"Well, what about Abizaid? He was the deputy then."

"Sir, General Abizaid knew and worked very hard with me to reverse direction once he assumed command of CENTCOM. General Bell also knew, and he offered to send me his operations officer. In early July, when General Keane visited us, I described to him the wholly inadequate manning level of the staff, and told him that we were set up for failure. He agreed and told me that he would immediately begin to identify general officers to help fill our gaps."

"Yes, yes," replied Rumsfeld. "General Keane is a good man. But this was a major failure and it has to be documented so that we never do it again." He then explained that he would be tasking Adm. Ed Giambastiani, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, to conduct an inquiry on this issue.

"Well, I think that's appropriate," I said. "That way you'll all be able to understand what was happening on the ground."

"By the way," said Rumsfeld, "why wasn't this in the lessons-learned packages that have been forwarded to my level."

"Sir, I cannot answer that question," I replied. "But this was well known by leadership at multiple levels."

After the meeting ended, I remember walking out of the Pentagon shaking my head and wondering how in the world Rumsfeld could have expected me to believe him. Everybody knew that CENTCOM had issued orders to drawdown the forces. The Department of Defense had printed public affairs guidance for how the military should answer press queries about the redeployment. There were victory parades being planned. And in mid-May 2003, Rumsfeld himself had sent out some of his famous "snowflake" memorandums to Gen. Franks asking how the general was going to redeploy all the forces in Kuwait. The Secretary knew. Everybody knew.

So what was Rumsfeld doing? Nineteen months earlier, in September 2004, when it was clearly established in the Fay-Jones report that CJTF-7 was never adequately manned, he called me in from Europe and claimed ignorance, "I didn't know about it," he said. "How could this happen? Why didn't you tell somebody about it?"

Now, he had done exactly the same thing, only this time he had prepared a written memorandum documenting his denials. So it was clearly a pattern on the Secretary's part, and now I recognized it. Bring in the top-level leaders. Profess total ignorance. Ask why he had not been informed. Try to establish that others were screwing things up. Have witnesses in the room to verify his denials. Put it in writing. In essence, Rumsfeld was covering his rear. He was setting up his chain of denials should his actions ever be questioned. And worse yet, in my mind, he was attempting to level all the blame on his generals.

But why now? Why was he doing it in September 2006? I wasn't completely sure. I knew it had been a hectic week. The media was hounding Rumsfeld, because a number of former generals had staged something of a revolt and were calling for his resignation. Perhaps he wanted to set up this link in his chain of denials before I left the service, or gauge how I was going to react to his position. Or Rumsfeld might have been anticipating a big political shift in Congress after the midterm November elections, which, in turn, might lead to Democratic-controlled hearings. I didn't know exactly why it happened at this particular time. I just know that it did happen.

Upon returning to Germany, I had some very long discussions with my wife, especially about Rumsfeld's offer of a possible high-paying job in the Department of Defense. "I'm not sure I want to pursue something like that," I said. "But given my reaction to Rumsfeld's memorandum, he now knows that I'm not going to play along. So I don't think he'll pursue it."

"Ricardo, they are just trying to buy you off and keep you silent," said Maria Elena. "I don't think we should mess with them anymore."

My wife had hit the nail right on the head. "I believe you're right," I replied. And sure enough, no one from the Department of Defense ever followed up. So at that point, I closed out all options of doing anything with DoD after retirement.

Gen. Sanchez then goes on to describe a conversation he had with Admiral Giambastiani who had been charged with the task of doing a study on just what had happened with the withdrawal. Sanchez notes that he was interviewed in depth by the investigative team from the Joint Warfighting Center (JWC). A few months later he was back at the JWC to do a presentation and saw some of the investigative team. He asked them about the study.

"Say, did you guys ever complete that investigation?" I asked.

"Oh, yes sir. We sure did," came the reply. "And let me tell you, it was ugly."

"Ugly?" I asked.

"Yes, sir. Our report validated everything you told us — that Franks issued the orders to discard the original twelve-to-eighteen-month occupation deployment, that the forces were drawing down, that we were walking away from the mission, and that everybody knew about it. And let me tell you, the Secretary did not like that one bit. After we went in to brief him, he just shut us down. 'This is not going anywhere,' he said. 'Oh, and by the way, leave all the copies right here and don't talk to anybody about it.'"

"You mean he embargoed all the copies of the report?" I asked.

"Yes, sir, he did."

From that, my belief was that Rumsfeld's intent appeared to be to minimize and control further exposure within the Pentagon and to specifically keep this information from the American public.

Continuing the conversation, I inquired about the "original twelve-to-eighteen-month occupation deployment," because I wasn't sure what he was talking about. It turned out that the investigative team was so thorough, they had actually gone back and looked at the original operational concept that had been prepared by CENTCOM (led by Gen. Franks) before the invasion of Iraq was launched. It was standard procedure to present such a plan, which included such things as: timing for predeployment, deployment, staging for major combat operations, and postdeployment. The concept was briefed up to the highest levels of the U.S. government, including the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, and the President of the United States.

And the investigators were now telling me that the plan called for a Phase IV (after combat action) operation that would last twelve to eighteen months.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I had never seen any approved CENTCOM campaign plan, either conceptual or detailed, for the post-major combat operations phase. When I was on the ground in Iraq and saw what was going on, I assumed they had done zero Phase IV planning. Now, three years later, I was learning for the first time that my assumption was not completely accurate. In fact, CENTCOM had originally called for twelve to eighteen months of Phase IV activity with active troop deployments. But then CENTCOM had completely walked away by simply stating that the war was over and Phase IV was not their job.

That decision set up the United States for a failed first year in Iraq. There is no question about it. And I was supposed to believe that neither the Secretary of Defense nor anybody above him knew anything about it? Impossible! Rumsfeld knew about it. Everybody on the NSC knew about it, including Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, and Colin Powell. Vice President Cheney knew about it. And President Bush knew about it.

There's not a doubt in my mind that they all embraced this decision to some degree. And if it had not been for the moral courage of Gen. John Abizaid to stand up to them all and reverse Franks's troop drawdown order, there's no telling how much more damage would have been done.

In the meantime, hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars were unnecessarily spent, and worse yet, too many of our most precious military resource, our American soldiers, were unnecessarily wounded, maimed, and killed as a result. In my mind, this action by the Bush administration amounts to gross incompetence and dereliction of duty.

I don't think I can add anything to General Sanchez's assessment. Do go read the entire article. I think I may have to find a copy of Gen. Sanchez's book.

Update on Delegate Numbers

Here's the update from DemConWatch and Daily Kos after yesterday's primary in Guam and other superdelegate endorsement announcements.

The Magic Number (2,024 delegates needed)
Barack Obama 1,739 285
Hillary Clinton 1,608 416


Hillary's War

The truth about Hillary's stance on the Iraq War and how she's shaded her past statements to protect her candidacy. H/T to LJW and peraspera for highlighting this article.

Hillary's War
By Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr.
Published: June 3, 2007

Nevertheless, on the sensitive issue of collaboration between Al Qaeda and Iraq, Senator Clinton found herself adopting the same argument that was being aggressively pushed by the administration. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials had repeated their claim frequently, and by early October 2002, two out of three Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was connected to the Sept. 11 attacks. By contrast, most of the other Senate Democrats, even those who voted for the war authorization, did not make the Qaeda connection in their remarks on the Senate floor. One Democratic senator who voted for the war resolution and praised President Bush for his course of ''moderation and deliberation,'' Joe Biden of Delaware, actively assailed the reports of Al Qaeda in Iraq, calling them ''much exaggerated.'' Senator Dianne Feinstein of California described any link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda as ''tenuous.''

The Democratic senator who came closest to echoing Clinton's remarks about Hussein's supposed assistance to Al Qaeda was Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. Yet even Lieberman noted that ''the relationship between Al Qaeda and Saddam's regime is a subject of intense debate within the intelligence community.''

For most of those who had served in the Clinton administration, the supposed link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda had come to seem baseless. ''We all knew it was [expletive],'' said Kenneth Pollack, who was a national-security official under President Clinton and a leading proponent of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Pollack says he discussed Iraq with Clinton before her vote in 2002, but he won't disclose his advice.

The lengthy article is well-researched and it cosupports what I recall hearing on NPR. My local NPR station broadcasts to southwestern CT and Long Island hence we get both CT and NY news including coverage of the respective senators Dodd, Lieberman, Clinton and Schumer. I recall yelling at the radio regularly when they reported on Lieberman and Clinton. The real point is that Hillary and Hillary's campaign has done a good job in spinning her into a candidate acceptable to the cultural right. And her stance on the Iraq war and the flag-burning bill and numerous other items were all highlighted as attempts to triangulate, to make herself acceptable to conservatives when they happened. Somehow people have forgotten that.

What concerns me most though is her nuclear umbrella stance and war-mongering concerning Iran. I thought we'd learned our lesson about politicians who talk about war for political purposes. We've just had 7+ years of that. We don't need anymore.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Hard Data from the NYT via Al Giordano

Al Giordano highlights an NYT article by Charles Blow:

I turn on the TV, read the political columnists (and a significant number of analytically-challenged bloggers, too) and all I hear is a bunch of white folk prattling on about their favorite narrative: “Obama’s losing white voters!”

They’ve swallowed the Clinton racially-obsessed spin, hook, line and sinker. [...]

So imagine my pleasant surprise this morning to see a New York Times columnist, Charles Blow, who did what none of these chattering lunkheads have done. He looked at the hard data of how voters, white and black, view the two Democratic candidates - favorably or negatively? - and how those views have progressed over time. The data is based on multiple CBS-New York Times polls (among the most respected survey outfits among competing pollsters) over two years and more. Check it out:

Click on image for larger picture

Nobody - not blogger, nor superdelegate, nor cable news anchor - should open their mouths with another word about this contest until they’ve studied those graphs and the numbers upon which they are based. Blow explains:

Since January, the Clintons have pummeled Barack Obama with racially tinged comments and questions about his character…

The question is this: Have white Democrats soured on Obama? Apparently not. Although his unfavorable rating from the group is up five percentage points since last summer in polls conducted by The New York Times and CBS News, his favorable rating is up just as much.

Wait. The numbers show that the cynical effort to turn the 2008 campaign into a race riot has hurt the popularity of one candidate among an important demographic, and it’s not Barack Obama:

On the other hand, black Democrats’ opinion of Hillary Clinton has deteriorated substantially (her favorable rating among them is down 36 percentage points over the same period).

So, to sum up: Look at the damn graphs. You can see that Clinton is in a staggering free-fall among African-American voters, her favorability is down 36 points while 17 percent view her more negatively than before, while Obama’s favorable and negative ratings among whites have paired at five point increases. You can even see the small dip - about two percentage points - in his popularity among whites that can be attributed to the news cycles about his ex-pastor, and see that it has leveled out and is now on a straight horizontal line (meanwhile, Clinton’s numbers among blacks continue on an extreme downward precipice). The greater context is that even including Obama’s slight dip, he’s more popular today among white voters than he ever was prior to February.

Not since Ronald Reagan has an American presidential candidate withstood such an assault in the media and seen his popularity not hurt by it, but, rather, galvanized by it. That’s what is meant, in politics, by the term “Teflon.”

Those facts won’t stop many media (and Internet) talking heads from continuing - whether out of gullibility or intentional dishonesty - to prop up the “white voters” narrative, but it ought to inoculate you, kind reader, from believing it.

So the next time you're tempted to give some consideration to the talking heads on CNN, MSBNC or wherever you get your news, do keep this bit of hard data in mind.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Obama Countdown

From DemConWatch blog:

Or as Daily Kos puts it:

The Magic Number (2,024 delegates needed)
Barack Obama 1,733 291
Hillary Clinton 1,603 421

UPDATE: The Daily Kos numbers above do not include the just-announced endorsement of another former DNC Chair, Paul Kirk. According to the story broken by ABC's The Note, there will be other superdelegate endorsements for Obama today as well.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Don't blame me for this mess

From John Cole at balloonjuice today:

... I read that and my first thought was that if McCain wins, it is profoundly unfair that I have to go down with the ship with this idiot, and then I immediately realized what it must have been like for the people who hated Bush all along, knew he would be a disaster, and had to sit around and suffer while jackasses like me voted for the guy they wanted to have a beer with or voted for Bush because they didn’t really “trust” John Kerry.

John, why else do you think that people left their Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers on their cars for so long? It was their way of saying "Don't blame me for this mess".

McCain Flip-Flop # whatever

Via Matt Yglesias:

It seems that back in 2005 John McCain understood how dumb John McCain's current position on Iraq is:

Host Chris Matthews pressed McCain on the issue. "You've heard the ideological argument to keep U.S. forces in the Middle East. I've heard it from the hawks. They say, keep United States military presence in the Middle East, like we have with the 7th Fleet in Asia. We have the German...the South Korean component. Do you think we could get along without it?"

McCain held fast, rejecting the very policy he urges today. "I not only think we could get along without it, but I think one of our big problems has been the fact that many Iraqis resent American military presence," he responded. "And I don't pretend to know exactly Iraqi public opinion. But as soon as we can reduce our visibility as much as possible, the better I think it is going to be."

Items of Interest

-- Roger Simon at Politico really smacks down the Hillary number counting approach in this post. He agreed with me.

-- Obama received the endorsement today of superdelegate Joe Andrew, former DNC chair appointed by Bill Clinton and current Indiana resident. Dkos diarist slinkerwink has posted the entire letter from Mr. Andrew about his decision. It's a must-read:  The Amazing SuperDelegate Letter of Joe Andrew

-- One of my favorite Kossacks, Unitary Moonbat, who does the History for Kossacks series has a new book coming out. Check out this announcement diary:

History for Kossacks: Role-Playing Games, the Crusades, and Moonbat's Book

-- Sen. Kerry tells the Traditional Media to get focused on the right things. KerryVision, Daily Kos and TPMCafe all cheer.

-- Reuters lines up the policy wonks who all think that the gas tax holiday is a really bad idea. H/T to Ben Smith And ABC News does the same with this clip per Matt Yglesias: "...a reporter informs us that he spoke to several economists about the issue and they all agree that "Obama is essentially right" that what Clinton and McCain are proposing wouldn't accomplish anything".

And here's Obama's comment on it during an Indiana appearance if you haven't already seen it.

-- The MOMocrats blog disliked the PA debate as much as I did and came up with their own questions for Obama and Hillary and sent them off to the respective campaigns. Obama has answered them. Good questions. Good answers. H/T once again to Ben Smith

A side-note: I just want to say I love the MOMocrats blog comment policy.

Comment Policy: Use Your Big Girl Voice

We would love to hear from you, so please feel free to comment or ask questions. Please use your inside voice and mind your manners. Potty mouths, fibbers, and bullies will be given a timeout. Don't make us moderate you.

-- A TPMCafe report from a NC resident about Obama's appearance at the UNC's Dean Dome offers something a little different from the current CW line the corpmedia are pedaling.

-- OpenLeft diarist JewishJake has an interesting post about Obama's appearance on Fox News. He discusses it in the light of Dan Rather's interview of Bush 1 and the subsequent right-wing conservative reaction to CBS. What really caught my eye was the video clip of Rather's interview of Bush. You'd never see that kind of interview of a Republican candidate in today's media. It will take your breath away to realize just how different yesterday's journalists are from today's lapdogs and stenographers. Check it out here:

and here:

Go read the entire post for additional background on what happened then and how it relates to what's happening with today's media chorus.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Elizabeth Edwards 1, Mainstream Media 0

Elizabeth Edwards does it again. And the accompanying illustration by the NY Times sums it up so well graphically.

Bowling 1, Health Care 0

Why? Here’s my guess: The vigorous press that was deemed an essential part of democracy at our country’s inception is now consigned to smaller venues, to the Internet and, in the mainstream media, to occasional articles. campaign-remote-control I am not suggesting that every journalist for a mainstream media outlet is neglecting his or her duties to the public. And I know that serious newspapers and magazines run analytical articles, and public television broadcasts longer, more probing segments.

But I am saying that every analysis that is shortened, every corner that is cut, moves us further away from the truth until what is left is the Cliffs Notes of the news, or what I call strobe-light journalism, in which the outlines are accurate enough but we cannot really see the whole picture. [...]

The problem today unfortunately is that voters who take their responsibility to be informed seriously enough to search out information about the candidates are finding it harder and harder to do so, particularly if they do not have access to the Internet.

Did you, for example, ever know a single fact about Joe Biden’s health care plan? Anything at all? But let me guess, you know Barack Obama’s bowling score. We are choosing a president, the next leader of the free world. We are not buying soap, and we are not choosing a court clerk with primarily administrative duties.

What’s more, the news media cut candidates like Joe Biden out of the process even before they got started. Just to be clear: I’m not talking about my husband. I’m referring to other worthy Democratic contenders. Few people even had the chance to find out about Joe Biden’s health care plan before he was literally forced from the race by the news blackout that depressed his poll numbers, which in turn depressed his fund-raising.

And it’s not as if people didn’t want this information. In focus groups that I attended or followed after debates, Joe Biden would regularly be the object of praise and interest: “I want to know more about Senator Biden,” participants would say. [...]

Who is responsible for the veil of silence over Senator Biden? Or Senator Dodd? Or Gov. Tom Vilsack? Or Senator Sam Brownback on the Republican side?

The decision was probably made by the same people who decided that Fred Thompson was a serious candidate. Articles purporting to be news spent thousands upon thousands of words contemplating whether he would enter the race, to the point that before he even entered, he was running second in the national polls for the Republican nomination. Second place! And he had not done or said anything that would allow anyone to conclude he was a serious candidate. A major weekly news magazine put Mr. Thompson on its cover, asking — honestly! — whether the absence of a serious campaign and commitment to raising money or getting his policies out was itself a strategy.

...A report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy found that during the early months of the 2008 presidential campaign, 63 percent of the campaign stories focused on political strategy while only 15 percent discussed the candidates’ ideas and proposals. [...]

News is different from other programming on television or other content in print. It is essential to an informed electorate. And an informed electorate is essential to freedom itself. But as long as corporations to which news gathering is not the primary source of income or expertise get to decide what information about the candidates “sells,” we are not functioning as well as we could if we had the engaged, skeptical press we deserve.

And the future of news is not bright. Indeed, we’ve heard that CBS may cut its news division, and media consolidation is leading to one-size-fits-all journalism. The state of political campaigning is no better: without a press to push them, candidates whose proposals are not workable avoid the tough questions. All of this leaves voters uncertain about what approach makes the most sense for them. Worse still, it gives us permission to ignore issues and concentrate on things that don’t matter. (Look, the press doesn’t even think there is a difference!) [...]

If voters want a vibrant, vigorous press, apparently we will have to demand it. Not by screaming out our windows as in the movie “Network” but by talking calmly, repeatedly, constantly in the ears of those in whom we have entrusted this enormous responsibility. Do your job, so we can — as voters — do ours.

Italics and bold added for emphasis.

NYT: Obama on Wright

The New York Times has embedded video of Obama's press conference concerning Rev. Wright's appearances. They have chosen to include 27 min of it -- not just a soundbite or two. The video appears on the left side of this article.

If you haven't seen it and if you're interested in learning more about Obama as a person, you may want to spend the time. It does give a glimpse of a man speaking forthrightly about something that has pained, angered and confounded him. The measured response tells you something about the man.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Stone, Light, Water & Ice

A distillation of photos ...

View it in larger full screen mode here.

Thank you Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas asked the hard questions. Dana Perino then illustrated why sane people think that the White House lies, openly and brazenly. But what this video is really about is how some in the US have lost their moral compass.

There is NO JUSTIFICATION for torture. None. Ever. And for those who approve it, remember it is likely that you are authorizing it for your loved ones... your sons, brothers, cousins. Why should any country refrain from doing to US citizens what the US feels free to do to citizens of other countries as well as its own?

The Republican party has developed a moral and ethical morass so great, it's inconceivable that they'll recover from it. It should be rejected so utterly, so thoroughly that it is destroyed. No one, even a "moderate" Republican, should think that it's okay to associate with people who are so morally bankrupt that they think it's okay to lie with impunity, to torture, to scorn the law and the treaties of the United States of America.

Friday, April 25, 2008

What really counts: delegates vs. popular vote vs. superdelegates

feliks at mydd posted a brief diary about the WSJ article below to which one commenter responded with the Clinton meme du jour ... she's ahead in the popular vote and the superdelegate count.

Oh please. Superdelegates as a category don't count for anything.  That's a pretty silly thing to itemize as a positive -- though per DemConWatch, Obama has 234 and Clinton 256. That's a difference of 22 -- a difference which has shrunk dramatically since Jan. 13 per DemConWatch's Superdelegate History Tracker. (The chart is pretty cool if you like numbers and graphs.) And then there are the officially undeclared superdelegates who are known to favor Obama such as Rep. James Clyburn. I know it's not comforting to Hillary supporters to confront these numbers but they're real.

As for the popular vote, NO - she does NOT lead.

I've seen the twisted counting methods by which one arrives at a number that says she has more in the popular vote.  Even 3rd and 4th graders know that something stinks when the methods leave out  people who showed up to be counted in states with caucuses, and include a state in which one of the candidates didn't even appear on the ballot.  But no problem -- go ahead and include that state counting the 238,168 uncommitted votes as Obama's as well as the people from the caucus states (see point #2 below).  Guess what? She still doesn't lead in the popular vote.  [Note that the figures at the top of RCP's chart do NOT include Michigan's uncommitted votes.  Obama leads in 4 of 6 methods of summation without those votes.  When those are added in, Clinton does not lead no matter how one adds up the figures.]

And last but not least, there's PocketNines' insight (h/t to Ben Smith) on the popular vote metric when applied to primaries.  #2 is my particular favorite.

Point Number 1:  If the popular vote determined the nominee, no candidate would ever go to Iowa or New Hampshire.  They'd spend all their time in big urban areas all over the country from the outset of the campaign, racking up raw numbers.  What would be the point of even visiting New Hampshire if you could camp out in Brooklyn?  Concrete Example:  Barack Obama would not have spent only a day and a half in California before the Feb 5 primary.  He would have never gone to Idaho.  Duh.

Point Number 2:  If the popular vote determined the nominee, no state in its right mind would ever hold a caucus, instantly disenfranchising itself.  Concrete example: Minnesota-Missouri.  Minnesota gets credit for 214K votes, and Missouri gets 822K votes, but they each get 72 delegates.  Is Missouri's voice 4 times more important than Minnesota's?

Point Number 3:  The arbitrary distinction between who gets to vote in these primaries is nothing like the general election, where everyone registered gets to vote.  In the primaries, sometimes it's just Dems, sometimes Dems and Indies, sometimes anyone.  Concrete example:  Texas gets a million more votes than similar overall population New York (2.8M to 1.8M), even though New York is far more Democratic, simply due to this arbitrary restriction on who can vote (NY = closed, Texas = open).

Overall point: regardless of the fact that Obama will win the popular vote, it is completely illegitimate in this race.  THIS IS NOT LIKE POPULAR VOTE IN THE GENERAL ELECTION.

I'd also like to point out Elizabeth Drew's thoughtful post which points out:

The torrent of speculation about the end game of the Democratic nomination contest is creating a false sense of suspense – and wasting a lot of time of the multitudes who are anxious to know how this contest is going to turn out.

Notwithstanding the plentiful commentary to the effect that the Pennsylvania primary must have shaken superdelegates planning to support Barack Obama, causing them to rethink their position, key Democrats on Capitol Hill are unbudged. ... Their reasons, ones they have held for months, have not changed – and by their very nature are unlikely to.

Essentially, they are three:

(a) Hillary Rodham Clinton is such a polarizing figure that everyone who ever considered voting Republican in November, and even many who never did, will go to the polls to vote against her, thus jeopardizing Democrats down the ticket – i.e., themselves, or, for party leaders, the sizeable majorities they hope to gain in the House and the Senate in November.

(b) To take the nomination away from Obama when he is leading in the elected delegate count would deeply alienate the black base of the Democratic Party, and, in the words of one leading Democrat, “The superdelegates are not going to switch their voter and jeopardize the future of the Democratic Party for generations.” Such a move, he said, would also disillusion the new, mostly young, voters who have entered into politics for the first time because of Obama, and lose the votes of independents who could make the critical difference in November.

(c) Because the black vote can make the decisive difference in numerous congressional districts, discarding Obama could cost the Democrats numerous seats.

One Democratic leader told me, “If we overrule the elected delegates there would be mayhem.” Hillary Rodham Clinton’s claim that she has, or will have, won the popular vote does not impress them – both because of her dubious math and because, as another key Democrat says firmly, “The rules are that it’s the delegates, period.” (These views are closely aligned with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement earlier this year that the superdelegates should not overrule the votes of the elected delegates.)

Hudson's point about the fallacy of choice being perpetuated by the chattering class and Jack 'N' Jill's highlight of a comment about how persons of color view the Clinton manipulations of the Democratic nomination process underscore the point Ms. Drew and Mr. Henninger both make. The next Democratic party nominee for president will be Barack Obama.

Sen. Clinton's only real choice is how to exit the race gracefully.

UPDATE: I bookmarked this NY Times article the other day but never got it posted. It basically makes the same points along with a little emphasis on Obama's broader appeal.

Yet for all of her primary night celebrations in the populous states, exit polling and independent political analysts offer evidence that Mr. Obama could do just as well as Mrs. Clinton among blocs of voters with whom he now runs behind. Obama advisers say he also appears well-positioned to win swing states and believe he would have a strong shot at winning traditional Republican states like Virginia.

According to surveys of Pennsylvania voters leaving the polls on Tuesday, Mr. Obama would draw majorities of support from lower-income voters and less-educated ones — just as Mrs. Clinton would against Mr. McCain, even though those voters have favored her over Mr. Obama in the primaries.

And national polls suggest Mr. Obama would also do slightly better among groups that have gravitated to Republican in the past, like men, the more affluent and independents, while she would do slightly better among women. [...]

But the Pennsylvania exit polls, conducted by Edison/Mitofsky for five television networks and The Associated Press, underscore a point that political analysts made on Wednesday: that state primary results do not necessarily translate into general election victories.

“I think it differs state to state, and I think either Democrat will have a good chance of appealing to many Democrats who didn’t vote for them the first time,” said Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster not affiliated with either campaign. [...]

Mr. Hart, as well as Obama advisers, also say that Mr. Obama appears better poised than Mrs. Clinton to pick up states that Democrats struggle to carry, or rarely do, in a general election, like Colorado, Iowa, Missouri and Virginia, all of which he carried in the primaries. Obama advisers say their polling indicates he is more popular with independents, and far less divisive than Mrs. Clinton, in those states.

WSJ: The Democrats have a new magician. It's Obama.

Daniel Henninger at The Wall Street Journal pronounces the end of the Clinton campaign with this:

For modern Democrats, winning the White House always requires some sort of magic to get near 50%. For the Clintons, that bag is empty. The Democrats have a new magician. It's Obama.

He noted that:

No matter how many kicks the rest of us find in such famously fun primary states as Indiana and South Dakota, it's going to be McCain versus Obama in 2008.

I believe the cement set around the Clinton coffin last Friday. The Obama campaign announced it had received the support of former Sens. Sam Nunn of Georgia and David Boren of Oklahoma. [...]

The 2008 nomination was hers. There was no competition. She was a lock to run for the roses against the Republican nominee. Republicans must have had this conversation a hundred times back then: "It's Hillary. She's got it. Get over it."

Sam Nunn and David Boren by political temperament should be in her camp. Instead, they threw in with Obama, who calls his campaign "post-partisan," a ludicrous phrase. The blowback at ABC's debate makes clear that Obama is the left's man. So what did Messrs. Nunn and Boren see?

The biggest event was the Clinton Abandonment. In a campaign of surprises, none has been more breathtaking than the falling away of Clinton supporters, loyalists . . . and friends. Why?

Money. Barack Obama's mystical pull on people is nice, but nice in modern politics comes after money. Once Barack proved conclusively that he could raise big-time cash, the Clintons' strongest tie to their machine began to unravel. Today he's got $42 million banked. She's got a few million north of nothing.

But it's more than that. Barack Obama's Web-based fund-raising apparatus is, if one may say so, respectable. The Clintons' "donor base" has been something else.

Yes, that's been noted elsewhere. The 1996 John Huang-Lippo-China fund-raising scandal, Hillary's difficulty with Norman Hsu, the reliance on the Tan family, Bill's 60th birthday gala which has been noted before, her list of donors with legal difficulties and dubious backgrounds.

Amazing that the mainstream hasn't gotten around to doing their "vetting" on that point until now. Just waking up to the idea that Hillary really isn't fully vetted yet? Well, it seems the Wall Street Journal has finally gotten there.

UPDATE: I didn't even mention the story about Bill Clinton, Frank Giustra and Kazakhstan or Bill's involvement with Ron Burkle and Dubai World or his involvement in Acoona or Senator Clinton's involvement in the 2000 Hollywood fundraising bash. That fundraising effort resulted in Andrew Grossman admitting wrongdoing and a private settlement with the FEC (for more info, enter case # 5225 at this FEC  link) and a civil lawsuit which is proceeding in California* in which she will have to testify, most likely shortly before the November election.  According to that article, the trial date is supposed to be set in a hearing today in California.

There's more background in this youtube clip from ABC's 20/20 program and if you don't think this will come out in the general election mudslinging fest, you're sadly mistaken. The wingnut sites that I unfortunately viewed in the process of researching that particular story make it extremely clear that they can't wait for her to be the nominee.  They feel they have so much dirt to unload on her.


* I apologize for linking to WorldNetDaily but evidently no other media organization is following the various hearings and motions in this civil suit.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Balloon Juice Rules

John Cole at Balloon Juice has such a deliciously wicked sense of snark.

In a post reflecting on the rice rationing at Sam's Club and Costco, and the arrival of the $100 fill-up at the gas pump, he writes:

For all the Canadian readers who are upset they don’t get to contribute to the Obama campaign, here is how you can help. We have six more months of Bush, and at this rate, what we need most from our allies are a stable currency and the willingness to send in the RCMP to help stop the food riots. Thanks in advance.

In an analysis of one of Bill Kristol's unfortunate assaults on the English language and the politically-conscious public, John summed it up with:

"I tried to get back into things this morning, and the first thing I read was Bill Kristol attempting to determine political world views by analyzing campaign Passover statements. Seriously. Up next, Red State attempts to figure out the candidate’s tax policy by examining past Hallmark Mother’s Day cards they have sent. [...]

Apparently Red State will not be examining Hallmark cards, as they are too busy sniffing out godless communists at google. In all seriousness, this Red State piece has to be considered an early frontrunner to sweep the 2008 Golden Wingnut Awards.

Why do white voters matter more than black voters?

Al Giordano at The Field has an excellent post up that I'm not going to attempt to excerpt. It must be read in its entirety. The maps are very interesting but just as important is the comment highlighted by Jack and Jill.

I wish the chattering classes would address this question.

Why, in all the MediaMathTM discussions we've seen on the talkinghead shows, do white voters matter more than black voters?

Chuck Todd and Charlie Cook: The Game's Over, Hillary

Chuck Todd: 'Impossible for Obama to Lose His Lead'

Charlie Cook weighs in once again, noting that Hillary has won some battles but she has lost the war.

The good news for Hillary Rodham Clinton is that she’s winning a lot of battles. The bad news is that the war is pretty much lost. Sure, she won Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary by a strong 9 points in the face of being outspent on television ads by Barack Obama 2-to-1. She also won Ohio, Rhode Island, and at least the primary part of the bizarre “Texas two-step” primary-and-caucus combination on March 4. But today, she is 133 delegates behind Obama, 1,728 to 1,595, according to NBC News. At this point last week, she trailed by 136 delegates. Since then Clinton has scored a net gain of 10 delegates in Pennsylvania, according to NBC, but has lost a few more superdelegates, so she has made little headway. [...]

At the end of the day, the popular vote for the Democratic nomination means nothing. I doubt that having won the popular vote in the 2000 general election is of much solace to Al Gore. Many a football team gains more yards than its opponent in a game yet loses on that important technicality called points. [...]

But you can’t change how the game is played once it has begun. The Democrats have decided that the nominee will be determined by the number of delegates won, not by the popular vote, and that primaries held in direct violation of party rules (in this case, Florida’s and Michigan’s) don’t count. End of discussion.

H/T to dkos diarist timmyc