Sunday, December 30, 2007

Internal threats

By now everyone is familiar with this quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." The quote has become wildly popular in the wake of the hysteria following the events of September 11, 2001.

One of Andrew Sullivan's readers thinks that internal threats to our liberty is the defining issue of this election,
This is THE most important issue in this election, and in all ways. Everything else is small by comparison, including Iraq and the GWOT. Why? Because those things are purely external threats. External threats come and go. The issue of executive power is the only issue in this election that can fundamentally alter the nature of the American state. If the Bush/Cheney theory is not explicitly repudiated during THIS election as the ridiculous affront to the constitution that it is, we're going to be stuck with it for decades, even after the external threats that gave it currency have faded. There will always be a new threat to justify, in the minds of some, the unchecked executive.
The reader has a point.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Anonymous Liberal: Obama For President

An interesting case for Democrats to back Obama:

If Hillary Clinton is the nominee, I suspect that the dominant media narrative will be the dynastic element of the election (Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton). I suspect the media dynamic will be very similar to campaign 2000, where press coverage was overwhelming tilted in favor of the Republican candidate. If Obama is the nominee, however, I suspect that the dominant media narrative will be the historic nature of the election. Coverage will revolve around America's willingness to take a giant leap forward as a country and elect its first black president. And I think the mainstream press corps--who are political junkies at heart--will be rooting for that outcome, in much the same way sports fans rooted for the Red Sox in 2004. They wanted to see history being made. The Republican candidate, whoever it turns out to be, will have to try very hard not to be seen a merely a footnote to history.

I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who remembers the 90's and feels more than a little Clinton fatigue.

McCain the new Huckabee?

Novak's latest column declares McCain the new favorite for the nomination.

So it must be true.

It's really amazing where the GOP finds itself at this point with no one running for President that "The Establishment" (we're not sure who makes up the GOP Establishment but everyone knows Novak speaks for them) wants to be president.

My guess is that Novak's column is nothing more than yet another attempt by The Establishment to derail the rise of Rev. Huckabee who they fear more than McCain.

And don't forget, McCain beat Bush handily in the 2000 NH primary for naught.

Bhutto Assassinated

This is not good.

CNN reports at least 22 others dead.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ron Paul

Ezra has a great take on Ron Paul.

I disagree with Ezra's use of the word "phenomenon" to describe Dr. Paul's recent celebrity. Polling at 3% nationally......with Alan Keyes is not a phenomenon.

Ron Paul's anti-war / anti-imperialism message gives a voice to Republicans exhausted by Bush and Iraq but would never dream of voting for a Democrat (and some anti-war Democrats). Paul's message as been somewhat amplified by the bizarre choices of every other GOP candidate to run on 'more war' platforms despite Iraq fatigue even in the GOP rank and file.

Most of the recent Paul supporters really know little to nothing about his other positions and beyond the next election aren't likely to join any movements to eliminate the Federal Reserve Banking system, public schools, etc.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Romney and MLK Again!

Back to the original story.

The Phoenix stands by it story,
Two women contacted the Mitt Romney campaign this week, offering their memories of seeing Romney's father march with Martin Luther King Jr., in Grosse Point Michigan in 1963. Campaign officials were well aware that the women were mistaken. Yet, they directed those women to tell their stories to a Politico reporter. The motives and memories of the two women are unknown and irrelevant; the motives of the campaign, however, were obvious -- to spread information they knew to be untrue, for the good of the candidate.

By getting this story out late on Friday afternoon, heading into the holiday weekend -- good luck getting a King historian on the phone before Wednesday -- the campaign was pretty well assured that it could keep alive through Christmas their claim that Mitt Romney was mistaken only about "seeing" it, not about it taking place.

Then-governor George Romney did indeed march in Grosse Pointe, on Saturday, June 29, 1963, but Martin Luther King Jr. was not there; he was in New Brunswick, New Jersey, addressing the closing session of the annual New Jersey AFL-CIO labor institute at Rutgers University.

Those facts are indisputable, and quite frankly, the campaign must have known the women's story would eventually be debunked -- few people's every daily movement has been as closely tracked and documented as King's.
Only the truth of the Phoenix story explains the bizarre behavior of the campaign when called on the lie and their silly definitions of "saw".

The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" has upgraded the Romney claims from two pinocchios to four pinocchios ("whopper") after having verified the march date, Kings whereabouts and spoken to one of the supposed witnesses .

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Beer, wine and blue collar voters

Big Media Matt is of the opinion that Hillary will ultimately be the nominee since she is favored by blue collar voters -- the beer set -- versus Obama's crowd -- the wine set. Beer always beats wine, as Matt sees it.

But wait! Obama seems to be experiencing a New Hampshire surge driven by working class voters, as predicted by Noam Scheiber some time earlier.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

George Romney and MLK

TPM reports that the Romney campaign has now produced credible evidence that George Romney did march with MLK in 1963 through Gross Pointe MI.

And while that's good news, Romney's behavior when challenged is no less bizarre. What the hell was he thinking with all his evasive comments and definitions of 'saw' etc.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The future of home theater

Johnny Lee is a Carnegie Mellon doctoral student. He's one of those people who sees the future.

Watch until at least 2:45

Thursday, December 20, 2007

depends on your definition of "saw"

On Meet the Press this past Sunday Mitt took a little walk down memory lane telling Russert that he saw his father, George Romney, marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963. Except that it never happened.

And now an embarrassed Mitt Romney is struggling to explain his statement, and it's not going well.
"I've tried to be as accurate as I can be," he continued, smiling firmly. "If you look at the literature or look at the dictionary, the term 'saw' includes being aware of -- in the sense I've described."
Indeed.

UPDATE: Andrew pulls this gem from the latest Boston Globe article.
Mitt Romney went a step further in a 1978 interview with the Boston Herald. Talking about the Mormon Church and racial discrimination, he said: "My father and I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. through the streets of Detroit."

No Wonder Our Young People Don’t Vote

Tom Hanson writing at his blog, Open Education, has an excellent post up today expressing frustration as an educator over the impact on young Americans of the Bush Administrations ethical lapses.

As we've watched the latest scandal roll out over the destruction of the CIA tapes I was again reminded of how these constant scandals and this administration's utter contempt for the law has jaded the public.

Tom reminds us of Governor's Bush's comments from the 2000 campaign,
I wonder if anyone recalls the original campaign promises. Back when George Bush would raise his right hand as if taking a solemn vow and announce he would restore “honor and integrity” to the White House if elected. Sometimes he would alter the phrase ever so slightly, making it “dignity and honor” or other variations of the same three words.
And Dick Cheney,
“On the first hour of the first day, he will restore decency and integrity to the Oval Office. They will offer more lectures and legalisms and carefully worded denials. We offer another way, a better way, and a stiff dose of truth.”
I'm not sure what's more shocking to me. The depths of lawlessness of this administration or the acceptance from both the MSM and the public.

But Tom brings us back to earth by reminding us that the long term impact is much more serious than just disgust by the Democrats,
For teachers, the behavior and decision-making within the current White House makes it very challenging to fairly discuss politics with the next generation of voters. Walking the political line of fairness in a high school social studies class has likely never been more difficult than it is today. That is because the close examination of these ethical transgressions would be seen as nothing more than bashing our president.

However, our democratic process is supposed to lead our great nation in a direction that puts the proper people in the position to further the very ideals our country was founded upon. If we adults are thoroughly confused and shaken by what we are witnessing, imagine how difficult it must be for our children.

GOP Senators break a record

This graph (click to enlarge) appears in this Campaign for America's Future report(pdf) on the unprecedented obstructionism of the Senate Republican caucus. On December 18, 2007, the Senate Republicans set an all time record for filibusters when the forced the 62nd cloture vote of the 110th Congress, which still has a year to go. The Previous record set in 2002 actually took the entire 2 year term to set.

Not surprisingly, the MSM has been slow to pick up this important story. The NYTs recently ran a story(including a great account of the GOP reflexively blocking a bill they supported), but this extreme obstructionism takes place everyday. Perhaps having a nice chart to drive the point home, might make this unprecedented level of obstruction news worthy.

The Republicans are playing a high-risk game because they are blocking popular legislation. They have the benefit of a Democratic Senate Caucus without leadership so that helps, but still. With twice as many Senate seats to defend next November, they are giving the DSCC (which is not obstructed by a bumbling Harry Reid) a lot of ammo for the coming election.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A musical number

No Christmas Sweater

The Tell-Tale Stall

Dan Froomkin, writing in today's WaPo, says that easiest way to determine how deeply involved the WH is in any given scandal is by how emphatically they refuse to comment.

By this standard it would appear that the CIA tapes were burned in the oval office fire place,......and Bush and Cheney drank beer and peed on the fire.

The one thing all Iraqis can agree upon

As Kevin Drum says, 'you can't make this stuff up'.
According to the Pentagon, new focus group findings in Iraq have produced some good news: it turns out that Iraqis have a number of "shared beliefs" about their current situation that "cut across sectarian lines."

Great! And what is this good news? "Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of 'occupying forces' as the key to national reconciliation."

Viet Not

Steven Simon and Jonathan Stevenson have an excellent essay in the journal Democracy.

They respond to recent revisionist attempts to re-write history by pointing out that Viet Nam was not winnable and our desire to hang on only made our situation Worse. The authors argue that if the US wants to preserve its prestige and strength, we must withdraw from Iraq now.

They never cease to amaze

I missed this story over the weekend.

The Bush administration is concerned that the Rule of Law has become an interference in administration policy.

The Bush administration has been frustrated by JAG officers insisting that the law be followed so they proposed having political appointees oversee and approve all JAG promotions. Play ball, you get promoted. Follow the law, your done.

Needless to say, they're was an outcry, and Bush has backed down.

They really have no shame. The outrageous proposals from the WH never end and it seems we're all becoming immune to it. Just imagine the outcry had a Democratic President made such a proposal.

Note the Christmas Sweater



But where's the baby Jesus?

MY's idea of the day

Yglesias ,
John Edwards should up the populist ante and promise that if elected president he'll conduct warrantless surveillance on all corporate executives who oppose his health care plan and blackmail them into endorsing progressive change.

Who would Jesus torture?

In a pointed OP/ED today in the WaPo, Harold Meyerson confronts the obvious hypocrisy of a uber-Christian Republican party built around hate and intolerance.

Never mind Christ's message of universal salvation, Meyerson observes that GOP Christianity's "catechism is a merry mix of torture and piety."

But it's immigration where Meyerson thinks they most go astray.
....Not on immigration as such but on the treatment of immigrants who are already here. ...."Thou shalt neither vex a stranger nor oppress him," Exodus says the Lord told Moses on Mount Sinai, "for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."

Yet the distinctive cry coming from the Republican base this year isn't simply to control the flow of immigrants across our borders but to punish the undocumented immigrants already here, children and parents alike.

So Romney attacks Huckabee for holding immigrant children blameless when their parents brought them here without papers, and Huckabee defends himself by parading the endorsement of the Minuteman Project's Jim Gilchrist, whose group harasses day laborers far from the border. The demand for a more regulated immigration policy comes from virtually all points on our political spectrum, but the push to persecute the immigrants already among us comes distinctly, though by no means entirely, from the same Republican right that protests its Christian faith at every turn.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bill vs Hillary

Andrew Sullivan brings us the difference between Bill and Hillary in an anecdote,
[O]n the way out of the store, a woman asked Bill to sign a greenback. Bill obliged, while pointing out "this isn't legal" to the amusement of folks standing nearby.

A few minutes later, the same request was made to the senator, who said that she couldn't do it. "I can't sign money. That's illegal. I'm so sorry," she said.

Why conservatives fear Huckabee

Publius makes some very shrewd observations:

The fear [of Huckabee from the right] is not of fundamentalism itself. The fear is losing. On some level, they know that these positions freak out mainstream America. That's why Bush fumbled about on Roe v. Wade during the 2004 debates and could only bring himself to speak in code (Dred Scott). The backlash shows that these people - like much of the GOP establishment - are ashamed of this coalition. They're happy to make out with them behind the football bleachers on Saturday night, but ignore them in the lunchroom on Monday.

But still, the GOP needs them. And so the deal has been that "the crazies" stay below-radar in return for below-radar policies (e.g., judges, denying funding to international organizations who don't believe in abstinence-based policies). Huckabee is a threat because he violates the terms of the unspoken deal.

This just in!

Mormonism an issue for Romney in South Carolina

Income inequality


Nothing drives home the extreme level of income inequality like this chart which I've lifted from Afferent Input who does an excellent job of explaining the problem. The data comes from the CBO.

This chart puts to rest the lie that income inequality can be explained by increased returns on education and technical skills (which in the 21st century means advanced computer skills).

Think about this chart as we discuss tax reform and the estate tax, etc.

Does this mean anything?

A new Gallup poll finds that Barack Obama would be a stronger Democratic nominee than Hillary Clinton. Either of them could win when matched up against three top Republicans, but Obama has stronger margins and is above 50% support for himself in all three cases:

Clinton (D) 49%, Giuliani (R) 48%
Clinton (D) 53%, Huckabee (R) 44%
Clinton (D) 52%, Romney (R) 46%
Obama (D) 51%, Giuliani (R) 45%
Obama (D) 53%, Huckabee (R) 42%
Obama (D) 57%, Romney (R) 39%

Talk about pork!


Although it has always seemed so far off, come February 17, 2009, all local US TV stations stop broadcasting analog signals. This is only an issue for people who don't have cable or one of the dish providers, which is apparently 20 million homes.

Well, not to worry, the Federal Government is coming to the rescue with "$1.5 billion subsidy program aimed at making sure the nation's couch potatoes continue to get their viewing needs met. Come January, each U.S. household can apply for two $40 coupons to help buy the converter boxes."

Here's how to get yours:

On Jan. 1, households can begin to take advantage of the TV Converter Box Coupon Program. Its aim is to help consumers buy converters that will allow them to use analog television sets to view digital programming.

Between Jan. 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009, households will be able to request coupons while supplies last in one of four ways:

  • Apply online at www.dtv2009.gov. This Web site will be active on Jan. 1.
  • Call the Coupon Program 24-hour hotline 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009), TTY 1-877-530-2634
  • Mail a coupon application to: P.O. BOX 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000
  • Fax a coupon application to 1-877-DTV-4ME2 (1-877-388-4632)

So far, Best Buy, Circuit City, Kmart, RadioShack, Sam's Club, Sears, Target, Wal-Mart have been certified to participate in the TV Converter Box Coupon Program, along with more than 100 other retailers. There are no income guidelines for eligibility.

The government will begin distributing coupons on Feb. 17, 2008, one year before the transition takes effect.

Giuliani's sinking ship

McClatchy Washington Bureau,
WASHINGTON — These are tough times for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

He's still the leading Republican presidential candidate in national polls, but only by two percentage points over former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, according to five national polls this month averaged by RealClearPolitics.com.

And in early-voting states, Giuliani's sinking fast. He's a distant third in Iowa, a closer third in New Hampshire and has sunk to fourth in South Carolina, according to recent polls....

Not so soverign Iraq

With US permission, the Turkish Army is continuing cross boarder raids into Northern Iraq to chase the PKK.

What the Turks do not have, and evidently do not need, is Iraq's permission.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Telecom immunity

I guess this is not as obvious as I thought.

Any telecom who followed the statutory provisions of FISA as its existed for 30 years or allowed wiretaps pursuant to a warrant or court order already have full civil immunity under the law.

The only reason any telecom would need some new blanket immunity is if they broke the law by allowing or participating in illegal wiretaps.

And we now know this really has little or nothing to do with terrorist or the war on terror and predates the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

This is really all you need to know.

But if you want more detail and eloquence go to Glenn Greenwald.

Reid pulls FISA Bill!

Evidently, I misunderstood an earlier report.

Dodd-- and no doubt Reid's jammed phone banks -- caused Reid to pull the FISA Bill from the floor.

Reid's statement is here.

Note the Christmas sweater

Rove can't find a publisher?

Apparently, Karl Rove is having a hard time finding a publisher willing to givc him a big advance for his memoir.

I don't know squat about book publishing but this should be a red-hot ticket. After all, there's only one other person more inside than Karl Rove in the most secretive modern presidency in history and he can't put two sentences together.

Unless the publishers don't believe Karl will be honest.

It's just bizarre

A Federal judge has ruled WH visitor logs are public documents subject to FOIA requests.

Seems like a no-brainer to me. What I don't understand is the extreme level to which the Bush administration has been willing to go so no one can find out who has visited the WH or the VP mansion.

The visitor logs are created by the Secret Service. To prevent the public from knowing how many times Jack Abramhoff or James Dobson or Jerry Falwell visited the WH, Bush ordered that the Secret Service turn all of it's logs over to them and destroy any copies!

Not only have they spent taxpayer resources fighting this out in the District Court, but it looks like they are going to the Supreme Court!

WTF are they so afraid of?

So why are American military personnel still dying in Iraq?

Haven't posted on the surge because I'm not much interested in the debate as to whether or not the surge has worked. At this point it appears undeniable that violence is down and equally undeniable that the continued military presence is Iraq will do nothing to bring waring factions together to build a lasting, unified Iraq.

Matt Yglesias offers an accurate summary:
a great map [click to enlarge] showing rather conclusively that those who warned...that the result of leaving Iraq would be ethnic cleansing got their continued war, [and] ethnic cleansing as well. We can also see the dubious success of the surge here. The level of violence kept going up during the early surge months and seems to have died down because the radical decline in the number of mixed communities has reduced the opportunities for violence.

[....]

But whether or not you want to characterize walling off Baghdad into a series of separated, segregated neighborhoods while the government remains dominated by a sectarian clique and unable to actually govern in vast swathes of the country (areas where rival cliques rule through force) as "success" this is the new reality. And, of course, for liberals part of that new reality is that the levels of violence really are much lower than they used to be.
And that really is the point. Whether or not the surge was successful seems a bit academic. Of course less violence is good. But what is our mission? What defines victory? If we can't begin an orderly pull-put now, what needs to be accomplished to allow such a pull-out?

As Steve Benen points out at TPM Sen. Lindsey Graham (R--SC) 90 days ago offered the following criteria,
"What we do can affect the outcome. But if we don't see progress on two of the three big issues -- oil revenues, de-Baathification, provincial elections -- in the next 90 days, it may not happen. And Iraq could be a failed state."
Graham promised on September 2, "In a matter of weeks, we're going to have a major breakthrough in Baghdad on items of political reconciliation — the benchmarks — because the Iraqi people are putting pressure on their politicians." Graham told Time magazine's editors that unless there was political reconciliation in Iraq within 90 days, Americans should give up hope.

And so here we are. We are on the back side of the surge. Violence in Iraq is down and the country is no closer to reconciliation (in fact the Bush administration has completely abandoned this goal) or an agreement on oil revenue or on any of the so-called benchmarks set several years ago.

So why are American military personnel still dying in Iraq? And by the way, Americans are still dying in Iraq--138 Americans soldiers / Marines have died since the surge was declared a success in September, 13 so far this month.

If we don't know what our mission is, how do we know when the mission has been accomplished?

Can we do as Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested and give up hope? How about just declaring victory and coming home?

Dodd filibusters

Senator Dodd has taken to the Senate floor today vowing to filibuster the FISA bill providing retroactive immunity the the telecoms. Who will stand with him?

“[W]e say to President Bush that a nation of truly free men and women would never take ‘trust me’ for an answer, not even from a perfect president — and certainly not from him”:

If this disastrous war has taught us anything, it is that the Senate must never again stack such a momentous decision on such a weak foundation of fact. The decision we’re asked to make today is not, of course, as immense. But between fact and decision, the disproportion is just as huge.

So I rise in determined opposition to this unprecedented immunity and all that it represents. I have served in this body for more than a quarter-century. I have spoken from this desk hundreds and hundreds of times. I have rarely come to the floor with such anger.

Watch it:



UPDATE: [click here]

'Broader and deeper than ever before'

As the New York Times reported yesterday, NSA wiretapping of phone calls predates the war on terror and goes way beyond any terrorist surveillance.

It's a stunning article that documenting pre-Sept 11 attempts to use the telecoms to listen in on every Americans phone calls to mine data for drug smugglers and who knows what else.
In a separate N.S.A. project, executives at a Denver phone carrier, Qwest, refused in early 2001 [months before the Sept 11 attacks] to give the agency access to their most localized communications switches, which primarily carry domestic calls, according to people aware of the request, which has not been previously reported. They say the arrangement could have permitted neighborhood-by-neighborhood surveillance of phone traffic without a court order, which alarmed them.
On Friday, Neville Chamberlain Harry Reid agreed to put forward the administration's FISA bill that would grant retroactive immunity to the telecoms for a vote today. The Spineless Wonder Sen. Reid could have put the Judiciary Committee's bill forward but that bill did not grant immunity to the telecoms for conspiring to spy on Americans which upset President Bush so Harry will only allow that latter bill to be considered as an amendment. Reid's sent a letter to Bush apologizing and hopes they can still be friends.

Call The Gutless Weasel Senator Reid's office at 202-224-3542 and let him know -- politely -- how disappointed you are in his lack of leadership on the FISA bill and telecom immunity.

Next, call the Whitehouse at 202-456-1414 and ask them --politely -- if they will please give Harry Reid back his balls.

Republicans don't 'heart' their choices

You know the tide has finally turned on the GOP when Adam Nagourney, normally very frightened to write anything that could be construed as critical of Republicans, writes a major piece in the Sunday NYTs documenting the unhappiness of GOP voters.

As I've been noting for years, our nations demographics don't work for a Republican party that hasn't had a new idea since the Reaganites succeeded the Nixonites almost 30 years ago.

In truth, the GOP has only won one presidential election since the end of the cold war, and that was during the height of the latest war in Iraq when self-proclaimed 'war time president' Bush won by the smallest re-election margin in our nations history. But the parties leaders have continued to drink their own kool aid while the voters have continued to march into the future without them.

It's only due to Democratic incompetence (see the Democrat's Congressional Leadership) that the Republican party has been competitive to this point in a national election.

The bad news for us Dems, is that they are starting to figure it out,
“Our party generally has grown stale in its message and we’re not as tuned in as we once were,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican who sought his party’s presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000. “We’re repeating words and phrases that were from the 1980s, rather than looking ahead to 2008. We haven’t been as original and fresh in our presentation as we ought to be. We have been applying our old principles to new circumstances. The world is new.”

Richard Lowry, the editor of the conservative magazine National Review, said the field “has been less than the sum of its parts.”

“The debate among these guys has been so unedifying and so backward looking,” he said. “It’s all, ‘who did what wrong seven years ago.’ They are also not talking about the future, which is a sign of a deeper Republican malaise. The Republican Party has run out of intellectual steam and good ideas.”

“It seems like there’s a broader amount of concern and a greater degree of reservation about this field than I can recall,” [conservative historian George W.]Nash said. “The only year that in some ways parallels this is 1940.”
And while this election should be the perfect chance for the Dems to drive a fatal stake into the heart of the Republican party, judging from how things are going right now on Capital Hill, I'm just not optimistic.

Stick a fork in him,

Rudy's done.

It's like I said a couple weeks ago, Giuliani's campaign is over, someone just needs to tell Rudy.

I think "death spiral" sums it. Up. Rudy's campaign is pulling out of NH to focus on Florida why they are crashing and burning.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Conservatives are in a Huckabee panic

I'm really amused by it all. I have a friend from work telling me his Roman Catholic (ie non-evangelical) Republican wife thinks Rev. Huckabee is 'da bomb'.

Apparently, Conservatives are not quite as taken by Reverend Huckabee. They're are afraid of being eaten by the monster they created.

As Steve Benan at TPM points out, signs of the freak-out are popping up everywhere,
In the new issue of the Weekly Standard, conservative Stephen Hayes highlights the many ways in which Huckabee seems to have a child-like understanding of international affairs. In the new issue of National Review, conservative Rich Lowry writes that Huckabee's nomination "would represent an act of suicide by his party," in large part because the Arkansan is "manifestly unprepared to be president of the United States."
Steve then points to an excellent post by Kevin Drum, who sums it up,
[A]s with blogosphere conservatives, mainstream conservatives are mostly urban sophisticates with a libertarian bent, not rural evangelicals with a social conservative bent. They're happy to talk up NASCAR and pickup trucks in public, but in real life they mostly couldn't care less about either. Ditto for opposing abortion and the odd bit of gay bashing via proxy. But when it comes to Ten Commandments monuments and end times eschatology, they shiver inside just like any mainstream liberal. The only difference is that usually they keep their shivering to themselves because they want to keep everyone in the big tent happy.

But then along comes Huckabee, and guess what? He's the real deal. Not a guy like George Bush or Ronald Reagan, who talks a soothing game to the snake handlers but then turns around and spends his actual political capital on tax cuts, foreign wars, and deregulating big corporations. Huckabee, it turns out, isn't just giving lip service to evangelicals, he actually believes all that stuff.
Couldn't happen to a more deserving group.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Obama takes 9 point lead in Iowa

Likewise Huckabee has a 9 point lead over Romney.

TPM,
The new Research 2000 poll of Iowa gives Barack Obama a healthy lead in the caucus, at 33% support, with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards tied at 24% each. On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee leads with 31%, followed by Mitt Romney at 22%, with nobody else breaking into the double digits.
The Clintons knew Iowa might be a problem, but they had New Hampshire as a solid firewall to Obama. Well, the firewall is on fire. Obama has a 1 point lead in the latest NH poll.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Democratic Margin of Victory


I've been talking about CNN's latest head to head match-up poll (pdf), but haven't blogged on it.

I don't pretend that this describes the outcome of next years election.

The poll is interesting for two reasons. One, it's findings, while consistent with every other national head to head poll of the last few months, are the opposite of what so many of my friends and acquaintances seem to think about where the American public is right now on candidates.

Secondly, and more importantly, the poll shows the strongest Democrat in a national race would be John Edwards and the strongest Republican would be John McCain, neither of whom will be their party's nominee. In fact, John McCain is the only Republican who wins any match-up (but not against Edwards), no doubt because independents still like him, albeit not as much as they did before.

(The chart was shamelessly lifted from Matt Yglesis under a creative commons license)

Can't count Hillary out

Hillary Endorsed By String Of Weeklies In New Hampshire

Hillary's campaign starting to sound despirate

Hillary's New Hampshire campaign co-chair, Billy Shaheen suggested today that Obama's past drug use (while he was a college student like nearly everyone I know, including myself) calls into question his electability because it will give Republicans an opening to attack him in the general election.

And of course Hillary, by comparison, has no baggage to speak of.

I'd be curious to know Shaheen's age. Since the baby boomers have come of age, experimental drug use in college has almost become a requirement. Clinton's having not inhaled was much more damaging to him, than had he just admitted to having smoked a little pot.

As we've watched one scandal after another roll out in recent weeks for Giuliani, and more recently Rev. Huckabee (more dark ages quotes -- but those of us reading ahead know there's plenty more to come), I've been struck by the cleanness of others.

Despite the best efforts of the Clinton Campaign and the GOP, Obama has been almost completely unscathed. Even GOP attempts at marketing Hillary scandals has come up short (perhaps because they trashed her so much in the past that nothing is 'news'). Same is true for Romney -- best anyone has come up with is that he's a flip-flopper and a Mormon -- which can't compete with criminal activities and releasing a serial rapist to become a murder.

Follow-up on Iran and the NIE

I've been meaning to post this for a week.

I think it's important to make the point that simply because Iran has mothballed it's nuclear weapons program does NOT mean their continued enriching of uranium is not a cause for concern.

There is a difference between a weapons program that has been mothballed and one that has been verifiable abandoned and deconstructed.

As McClatchy reported last month, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar, has said that Iran would suspend it's uranium enrichment if the US and EU would acknowledge that it's nuclear program was peaceful. However, the ambassador was quick to point out that he doesn't trust the United States because he believed nothing Iran could do would satisfy the US. Remember that Saddam offered to allow the IAEA to verify that he didn't have a nuclear weapons program and Bush would have none of it because he knew they had the program and the only solution was an invasion. Thus is the very serious impact of insisting on 'regime change' in sovereign nations.

While Bush continues to insist that Iran must stop processing uranium or face military attacks, he has not taken the ambassador up on his offer even though he knew at the time the offer was made that Iran's program was peaceful. Ambassador Asghar was correct -- nothing short of war will satisfy this administration.

The public disclosure of the NIE on Iran has saved us from a third middle-east war, but Iran's program is still a problem. I have no problem with Iran having nuclear power, but it's long past time for the US to get on board with the EU and the IAEA and negotiate the deconstruction of the weapons program while allowing Iran nuclear power that is openly and verifiable peaceful.

Iran has every reason not to trust Bush, but the next administration must make this a priority.

Joe Biden

Aren't we all assuming he's running for Secretary of State?

Obama is overtaking Hillary

From TPM,
Two new Rasmussen polls give close results for the Democratic contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. In Iowa, Hillary Clinton leads with 29%, followed by Barack Obama at 26% and John Edwards with 22%. In New Hampshire, Obama is the one who is ahead with 31%, followed by Hillary at 28% and John Edwards with 17%. Both results are within the margins of error — but this may just be the first poll ever with Obama ahead in New Hampshire.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This is where Bush has taken us

Today was a dark day for the American military.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “The Legal Rights of Guantanamo Detainees” this morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann, the legal adviser at Guantanamo Bay, if a hypothetical waterboarding of an American pilot by the Iranian military would amount to torture. “I’m not equipped to answer that question,” said Hartmann.

Sen. Graham pushed Hartmann on his answer, asking him directly if it would be a “violation of the Geneva Convention”:
GRAHAM: You mean you’re not equipped to give a legal opinion as to whether or not Iranian military waterboarding, secret security agents waterboarding downed airmen is a violation of the Geneva Convention?

HARTMANN: I am not prepared to answer that question, Senator.
In October, State Department Legal Adviser John Bellinger’s refused to condemn “the use of water boarding on an American national by a foreign intelligence service.”

Sen. Graham, a former military judge advocate, has said before that someone doesn’t “have to have a lot of knowledge about the law to understand this technique violates Geneva Convention Common Article Three.”


(via Think Progress)

Romney blasts Rev. Huckabee on imigration

Rev. Huckabee is too soft on the children of Illegals.



Maybe someone should ask Mitt, "what would Jesus do?"

Indicting the Castro brothers

John McCain, Mitt Romney and Reverend Huckabee have called for the indictement of Fidel and Raúl Castro.

Before wanting to be president, Rev. Huckabee opposed continuation of the embargo against Cuba.

One would think that Republicans in particular might be more sensitive to setting any precedents on the indictments of heads of state. But of course, sometimes the desperate desire to pander wins out.

Running a fundamentailist will present certain problems

Those of us who are not fundamentalist don't spend a lot of time thinking about such things, but running a fundamentalist minister as your party's nominee presents baggage of it's own, including a history of revealing beliefs that mainstream Americans might find peculiar in the 21st century.

In 1998, Reverend Huckabee signed a full page ad placed in USA Today by the Southern Baptist Convention that included this,
"A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ."
As Andrew Sullivan suggests, someone should ask the Reverend if this applies to Senator Clinton.

These sorts of um....revelations will be trickling out as long as the Reverend is a candidate for national office, and while much of this plays well to the fundie base, it may not sit well with independent voters who actually chose the president every four years.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"...my desire is that you be released from prison."

Wrote then Gov. Huckabee in a letter to serial rapist and murderer Wayne Dumond. That letter was sent by Huckabee to Dumond to advise that he would deny his request for Clemency. The same day the letter was sent, Dumond was paroled from prison in Arkansas.

Dumond went on to rape and murder two women in Kansas City. The family of the murdered women are now speaking out,

Authorities say the two victims, Carol Shields and Sara Andrasek, were killed by the same man — Wayne DuMond, who was released from an Arkansas prison in 1999, a year before Shields' murder.

Their mothers say Huckabee is responsible, at least in part, for DuMond's release.

"What a fool," said Lois Davidson, Shields' mother. "Thinking he could rule the country when he couldn't even do a good job as governor of Arkansas."

Janet Williams, Andrasek's mother: "Wayne DuMond should have never been on the streets in Missouri. ... When politics are involved, people get hurt, and Sara and Carol Shields paid the ultimate price with their lives."

Now that this story is getting a lot of attention, it will be interesting to see if it impacts Huckabee's campaign.

Welcome to the major leagues Rev. Huckabee

Then Governor Huckabee granted twice as many pardons and commutations as his three predecessors combined.
Huckabee granted 1,033 pardons and commutations in his 10 1/2 years as governor of Arkansas. The acts of clemency benefited the stepson of a staff member, murderers who worked at the governor's mansion, a rock star and inmates who received good words from their pastors.

"It seems to be true at least anecdotally that if a minister is involved, (Huckabee) seems likely to grant clemency," prosecutor Robert Herzfeld said in 2004 after successfully battling the then-governor over the release of a killer.
Perhaps most interesting was his pardon of Whitewater figure David Hale,
a government witness in the trial that forced Gov. Jim Guy Tucker's resignation and let Huckabee ascend to the office, was pardoned after being sentenced to 21 days in a state insurance case. Huckabee complained it would cost too much to hold him. The price tag: $1,200.
Or Keith Richards who he pardoned for a 1975 traffic stop after meeting Richards at a concert.

Libby's dropped his appeal

Libby has dropped his appeal saying it is too much a burden on his "young family". Does Libby have children at home?

Libby remains a convicted felon. I assume since Libby has taken the fall for Cheney that Cheney would fund the appeal if there was not enough money in his legal defense fund.

Perhaps he has no been promised a full pardon.

Can we assume now the White House will finally answer questions about the Plame matter?

Michael Vick gets 23 months

Disgraced football star Vick sentenced to 23 months.

Evidently, while I was in London Vick turned himself in to voluntarily begin serving his sentence early.

Interestingly, prosecutors recommended only 12 to 18 months.

Vick still faces charges in VA and is now claiming to be broke.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Joe Biden today on The Situation Room

"...the Nixon administration without the competence."

Tax cuts still don't boost revenues

Via Matt Yglesias, TIME gives some attention to a favorite Republican canard,
If there's one thing that Republican politicians agree on, it's that slashing taxes brings the government more money. "You cut taxes, and the tax revenues increase," President Bush said in a speech last year. Keeping taxes low, Vice President Dick Cheney explained in a recent interview, "does produce more revenue for the Federal Government." Presidential candidate John McCain declared in March that "tax cuts ... as we all know, increase revenues." His rival Rudy Giuliani couldn't agree more. "I know that reducing taxes produces more revenues," he intones in a new TV ad.

If there's one thing that economists agree on, it's that these claims are false. We're not talking just ivory-tower lefties. Virtually every economics Ph.D. who has worked in a prominent role in the Bush Administration acknowledges that the tax cuts enacted during the past six years have not paid for themselves--and were never intended to.

Huckabee's finally getting the attention he has wanted.

Be careful what you wish for.

The AP located a 1992 questionnaire they had given Reverend Huckabee as he sought a senate seat from Arkansas.

This man from Hope had some interesting positions. Here are a few,
  • AIDS patients should be removed from society and isolated.

  • Homosexuality is an "aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle."

  • Government AIDS funding should be reduced with any extra funding coming from "Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna" and other celebrities who claimed to be so concerned.
Not surprisingly, Reverend Huckabee's views on the subject of AIDS have grown since 1992. In response to an inquiry by the AP, his campaign released a statement,
"We now know that the virus that causes AIDS is spread differently, with a lower level of contact than with TB," Huckabee said. "But looking back almost 20 years, my concern was the uncertain risk to the general population — if we got it wrong, many people would die needlessly. My concern was safety first, political correctness last."
Surprisingly, The AP calls bullshit,
When Huckabee wrote his answers in 1992, it was common knowledge that AIDS could not be spread by casual contact. In late 1991, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 195,718 AIDS patients in the country and that 126,159 people had died from the syndrome.

The nation had an increased awareness of AIDS at the time because pro basketball star Magic Johnson had recently disclosed he carried the virus responsible for it.
The Reverend Huckabee was doing nothing more than pandering to an intolerant and bigoted base.

Rev. Huckabee still opposes gay marriage. Matt Yglesias points to this recent GQ Interview in which Rev. Huckabee observed,
I don’t think the issue’s about being against gay marriage. It’s about being for traditional marriage and articulating the reason that’s important. You have to have a basic family structure. There’s never been a civilization that has rewritten what marriage and family means and survived.
When Rev. Huckabee speaks of "traditional marriage" I assume he is referring to Biblical Marriage.

As any student of the Bible knows, polygamy among our ancestors was common. The Old Testament (aka Torah) is full of polygamists, including such heavyweights as Abraham, Jacob, Esau, and David. The Old Testament includes a few specific regulations on the practice of polygamy, such as Exodus 21:10, which states that multiple marriages are not to diminish the status of the first wife; Deuteronomy 21:15-17, which states that a man must award the inheritance due to a first-born son to the son who was actually born first, even if he hates that son's mother and likes another wife more; and Deuteronomy 17:17, which states that the king shall not have too many wives. There was also the practice of levirate marriage, wherein a man was required to marry and support his deceased brother's widow, per Deuteronomy 25:5-10.

When Reverend Huckabee calls for "traditional marriage" is he referring to marriage as Abraham (and Mitt Romney's grandfather) knew it? Have we, to borrow a phrase from Rev. Huckabee, "rewritten what marriage and family means" at our own peril?

The WaPo gets a black eye



A November 29 front page story in the WaPo under the headline, "Foes Use Obama's Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him" repeated false rumors of Obama being a Muslim mole. The reaction was immediate and furious. The author and the editor of the piece spent all of that day and most of the next couple trying to defend the indefensible.

Even the WaPo Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist Tom Toles called his colleagues out the very next day.

Now, the ombudsman weights in,
My problems with the story by National Desk political reporter Perry Bacon Jr. and the headline ("Foes Use Obama's Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him") were that Obama's connections to Islam are slender at best; that the rumors were old; and that convincing evidence of their falsity wasn't included in the story...

The story also brought up a discredited Jan. 16 story in Insight magazine, which is owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church and owner of the Washington Times. The Insight story said that Obama had gone to a madrassa, an Islamic religious school, as a child. CNN, ABC-TV and the Associated Press went to the school and reported that it was not a religious school but a public school. Bacon's story should have noted that information...

Another problem: Bacon's story also picked up a quote labeling Obama a Muslim from the Snopes.com Web site, which knocks down Internet rumors, but it didn't mention the investigation that found the rumor to be false.
The story is indefensible and the paper owes Senator Obama a formal and public apology.

MSM is extremely careful -- fearful actually -- what they write about any conservatives for fear of reactions exactly like what the WaPo experienced on this story. That can only be good.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Giuliani

Having given the matter some thought, I've decided to support Rudy Giuliani for the Republican nomination for President.

I fear I'm too late, but I can't think of anyone I would rather see win the nomination.

The Clinton Campaign in Iowa

Some insight from a Congressman and former Iowa state Democratic Chair,
....national reporters have been calling and the most common question is “What is wrong with the Clinton campaign?”

I have offered an explanation that I believe is still valid. It is very hard for the Senator to connect to ordinary Iowans. This in part because of understandable security concerns but also because of the type of presentation she has chosen. To get Iowans to work for you they have to feel that their support is essential. You cannot do that at a rally of 5,000 of their closest friends.

However, I am starting to believe there may be a deeper and more underlying cause. It is not the so-called Clinton fatigue, for the non-supporters a reluctance to embark on eight more years of a Clinton Presidency was there from the start.

But in one clear phrase please tell me this: why should we caucus for her?

For example, one word describes Obama’s effort: Change. For Edwards, it is economic justice and for Dodd, restoring the rule of law. For Biden, foreign policy experience in an increasingly dangerous world.

I can’t give you a one word or simple explanation as to what a Clinton Presidency would mean. The reason we find this New Yorker moving from issue to issue is that she has yet to define it herself. We know she wants to be President, but we don’t know why.

Military families

According to the latest Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll of active-duty service members, veterans and their family members, 6 out of 10 military families disapprove of Bush's job performance and management of the war.

60% of those families with service members who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan believe those wars were not worth the cost, and more starkly, nearly seven in 10 favor a withdrawal within the coming year or "right away."

This represents a significant loss for Bush in support most so-called war-time presidents may take for granted.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

C.I.A. Destroyed Tapes of Interrogations

As the old saying goes, it's not the 'crime' but the cover-up.

Per the New York Times,
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 — The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.

The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy, several officials said.
The DoJ memos approving the torture (assuming they were in place at the time) might protect these folks from legal jeopardy for the acts themselves, but nothing will protect them from obstruction charges.

Always a bad idea to destroy what you believe to be evidence. Always.

Giuliani's campaign is over....

someone just needs to tell Rudy.

Queasy Giuliani Faithful Ask For Truth On Trips.

As well they should.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Obama closing on Clinton in NH

This is a big deal.

According to the most recent ABC News poll Obama is on the rise in NH and now at 29% to Clinton's 35%. ABC calls Hillary's support more solid, but there's plenty of people to jump on the Obama bandwagon on the heals of his Iowa victory.

I view Obama's rise in NH, which was widely believed to be safely on the Clinton side, as supporting my assertion at the end of October that Clinton really must win Iowa.

Obama is going to win in Iowa and then if he pulls off a NH upset, the Clinton campaign will head into SC reeling.

Merry Christmas?

Christianity Today responds to the bizarrely militant "merry Christmas" movement.
In 167 B.C., the Maccabees rebelled against the Syrian king Antiochus IV, who desecrated the temple in Jerusalem with an altar to Zeus, and tried forcibly to Hellenize the Jews. After years of fighting, Judas Maccabeus and his small band of guerillas drove the Syrians from the temple, then cleansed and rededicated it. Modern Hanukkah observances focus less on Judas's military victory than on the miracle of a single day's worth of consecrated oil—the only container undefiled by Antiochus—burning for eight days.[....]

The Jewish Hanukkah story is one of triumph over a culture that wanted to force the Jews to assimilate against their will. The Christian Hanukkah story is one that starts with Jesus asking provocative questions, but retreating rather than forcing the issue.

To insist that non-Christians say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays" runs against the lessons of both Hanukkah stories.

(via Andrew Sullivan)

Huckabee's Dumond problem

Murry Waas has some inconvenient documents on Huckabees role in releasing Wayne Dumond.

Dumond was convicted, and imprisoned for the rape of Ashley Stevens, a high school cheerleader, who was a distant cousin to Bill Clinton and daughter of a Clinton Contributor. Dumond's conviction occurred when Clinton was governor. When Huckbee took office in 1996 he was under a lot of pressure from Arkansas conservatives to pardon or commute Dumond who they believe was 'framed' by the evil Clinton cabal. Initially, Huckabee indicated he was going release Dumond, but backed down after a public outcry. Instead he leaned on the parole board to release Dumond, who went on to rape and murder at least one other woman in Missouri and probably two.

The Huffington post now has documents that directly contradict Huckabee on his knowledge and involvement,
...the confidential files obtained by the Huffington Post show that Huckabee was provided letters from several women who had been sexually assaulted by Dumond and who indeed predicted that he would rape again - and perhaps murder - if released. [...]

Huckabee kept these and other documents secret because they were politically damaging, according to a former aide who worked for him in Arkansas. The aide has made the records available to the Huffington Post, deeply troubled by Huckabee's repeated claims that he had no reason to believe Dumond would commit other violent crimes upon his release from prison. The aide also believes that Huckabee, for political reasons, has deliberately attempted to cover up his knowledge of Dumond's other sexual assaults. [...]
In response to this article Matt observes,
A stark reminder both of how crazy the craziness was in anti-Clinton circles and also of how influential it was. This is a giant country, so there'll always be a certain number of nutters out there. But in the 1990s, the Clinton conspiracy theorists were in the driver's seat, getting governors to release rapists and people died. Appalling stuff.
The media had deemed Huckabee not relevant to the race and so have ignored him, but that's now changing.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Rudy had a bad week

And TPM did a great job at a video round-up from the Sunday talk shows.

Latest Rudy ad

They have a point.

Well, this is a little embarrassing,.....

The latest NIE on Iran was released today and it turns out that Iran ended it's nuclear weapons program in 2003.

Imagine the egg on our face had we went ahead with our plans for another 'preemptive war' only to learn after the fact that we were wrong......again!?

Kevin Drum asks some pretty good questions.

First, this NIE was apparently finished a year ago, per Kevin, and it's contents and conclusions well know at the WH and in the VPs office. "This means that all the leaks, all the World War III stuff, all the blustering about the IAEA — all of it was approved for public consumption after Cheney/Bush/Rice/etc. knew perfectly well it was mostly baseless."

Second, why were the key judgments finally released when it was clear that Bush, Cheney and DNI Mike McConnell did not want them released?

Kevin speculates and McClatchy confirms that the NIE was released at the insistence of Congressional Dems.

Now I have a question of my own. Given what the NIE says, what are we to think of this president and vp who are calling for acts of war against a sovereign nation based upon assertions they know to be false? It's no wonder our nation has lost the support of the citizens of all our allies, and why public opinion polls in Europe shows a majority of the population believes the US is the biggest threat to International peace.

My suggestion from this point forward to all Neocons, and my friends (you know who you are) who seem to endless be duped by these idiots, is to take a page from the George Costanza play book and do the opposite of what ever it is you think is the right thing to do.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Iraq to become permanent US satellite

The WH has released a plan for a permanent US presence in Iraq.

Spencer Ackerman translate for us,
A "democratic Iraq" here means the Shiite-led Iraqi government. The current political arrangement will receive U.S. military protection against coups or any other internal subversion. That's something the Iraqi government wants desperately: not only is it massively unpopular, even among Iraqi Shiites, but the increasing U.S.-Sunni security cooperation strikes the Shiite government -- with some justification -- as a recipe for a future coup.
And the US occupation of Iraq without end will guarantee and endless supply of America hating terrorists. But on the bright side, Bush doesn't have to admit what a huge disaster he has created, and that's what really matters at the White House.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

On my way home

I'm at Heathrow now. It's been a great trip.

I can't get over how easy it was this morning to get to the airport. Despite the horror stories I've heard about Heathrow, I found the entire experience extremely easy and efficient. I left my hotel at 7:05 by cab to Paddington Station (7 pounds), caught the Heathrow Express at 7:25 and was checked in and through security by 8:10!

And was not required to remove my shoes. The Brits mock those in line who want to take off their shows. I had the same experience in Canada.

London is an interesting city. Aside from trips to and from Paddington, I only took one cab. The London Underground was easy enough to use, and I used it multiple times every day. The crowds at peak travel times can be overwhelming. Friday night I was traveling to Bloomsbury to meet a Friend for dinner. We were backed in on the Central line like sardines and I started to get claustrophobic. I had the same experience on Saturday night, but otherwise thought the tube was great. One a few times did I have to wait for a train more than 3 minutes. They move an amazing amount of people on their underground.

I'll write more later. Time to log-off and head to the gate. O'Hare should be a lot of fun later today.

Appeasment

Matt has a thought provoking post up today.

It seems Iran is interested in making a deal to dial down tensions including a willingness to stop processing uranium. But the Iranians don't trust the United States.

Matt understands. Here's the gist,
And, indeed, it's not clear that a policy of appeasement would be wise. True, we've seen rational leadership even from vicious dictators like Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong, but the contemporary United States is led by religious fanatics, which introduces a new element into the equation. What's more, the USA is the only country on earth to have ever actually deployed nuclear weapons. Indeed, current political elites are so war-crazed and bloodthirsty that they not only engineered the 2003 attack on Iraq -- a country that tried to appease the Americans by eliminating its nuclear program and allowing IAEA inspectors to certify that it had done so -- but they continue to deny regretting it to this day. And that includes not only radicals like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, but so-called "moderates" like Hillary Clinton as well.

Key religious leaders like John Hagee explicitly argue that the United States should attack Iran in order to hasten the coming of Armageddon, and Hagee gets not only a respectful hearing at the White House, but also works closely with AIPAC giving him important entrée with many Democrats. All of the incumbent faction's candidates from office have said they'd contemplate a nuclear first strike against Iran, media sources generally lambaste anyone who criticizes American moves to ratchet up conflict with Iran, and in general any responsible Iranian leaders needs to wonder if the USA is really a country that one can risk doing business with.
Matt has a point. Why would anyone trust this administration and those who wish to succeed them don't sound much better.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Huckabee on Imigration

If you're upset about immigration, "you don't grind your heal into the face of a six year old child."

That Huckabee is on the defensive from GOP attacks for this view, tells you all you need to know about where the GOP finds itself at this point in time.

That this GOP is even competitive as a national party tells you all you need to know about where the Democratic party finds itself at this point in time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The treasures of the anciet world

The Brits spent the better part of the 18th and 19th centuries looting the Eastern world and what they stole purchased (not unlike the purchase of Manhattan from the Indians) are displayed at the British Museum.

Want to see friezes that lined the Parthenon? Don't go to Greece.

Want to see giant statues of Ramses II? Well you might see the bodies in Egypt but the Brits lopped off the heads and they're at the British Museum.

You may safely assume that anything from Egypt, Persia, Lykia (southern Turkey) and Mesopotamia that could be moved, was hauled off by the Brits and is on display at the British Museum. I spent about 3 hours yesterday at the Museum. It really is an amazing place.

After the museum I had fish and chips (not the best) and took the Tube to Trafalgar square and walked the length of the mall to Buckingham Palace. Really an impressive crib.

Toured the Queens Art Gallery featuring great works from the Renaissance and Baroque periods of Italian Art.

Finally, I had dinner at Yo! Sushi where the food goes by on conveyor belts and you just grab what you want.

Today, I hit the Tower of London in the morning and the King Tut exhibit at the O2 Center in the afternoon. We've had two semi-sunny days in a row.

The Crown Jewels are impressive. Bling, bling.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner tonight at BoDeans in Soho. Probably a pub after.

For some reason, I'm losing interest in seeing a play.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cold and wet

Made it to London with surprisingly little drama. O'Hare was socked in but we left only 25 minutes late and made up almost all that time in the air.

It was cold and rained all day in London.

For whatever reason I only dosed briefly on the plane over so I've basically been away for 35 hours.

I did a bus tour today to get my bearings. I've got the tube figured out and under control.

I'll post more after some sleep.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Yglesias on Clinton

Matt has a very good post up on Clinton's pros and cons.

What were we thinking?

Several House Rs are are filled with regret for having backed 'Easy' Fred Thompson.

They've complained to Congressional Quarterly that Thompson has failed to put to rest concerns that he is lazy and unwilling to campaign hard by being lazy and not campaigning hard.

Friedman is an Idiot

Why does anyone give this goof the time of day?

His column from Sunday has all the sophistication of an 8th grade term paper.

Friedman actually argues with a straight face that if Obama should be the Democratic nominee he should choose Dick Cheney as his running mate!

And he was serious.

I'm speechless. It's the kind of thing some smug guy at a cocktail party would say to you and you would walk away thinking that you had just meet the dumbest guy in the world.

So far, so good

So far my holiday travel has been anti-climatic. Two years ago I was flying thru Miami on the Friday BEFORE Thanksgiving and it was complete chaos. My early morning flight was canceled and I spent an entire day in St. Louis as I got bumped from one flight to another, gate agents choking back tears, etc. I ended up in Puerto Rico late that night and I was never supposed to be in PR.

Today, I get to the airport nearly two hours early and there's nothing going on. No line at International check-in. I'm told that there is a low ceiling at O'Hare and so they place me on an earlier flight that actual left when my original flight was scheduled to depart.

It's a little foggy at O'Hare and flights are about 1 hour behind but it's no big deal and not chaotic at all.

I'm starting to feel a little cheated.

London Calling

I'm off to London for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Wish my luck getting there!

I'll try and report on travel from the Admiral's Club at O'Hare.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Romney

Yglesias follows up on Josh's post earlier today which I had also commented on.

Matt questions the wisdom of Mitt trying to recast himself as a right-wing Christianist.

I'm convinced that if Governor Mitt Romney were running for Pres as a Democrat, he'd be the national front runner.

This is the Mitt Romney I'm talking about,



Of course Romney made other choices so fuck him.

What If Huckabee Wins Iowa?

Josh speculates on a Huckabee win in Iowa.

Apparently, Huckabee doesn't have much of an organization outside of Iowa making it hard for him to capitalize on such a win. However, the entire Romney campaign is based upon early wins in Iowa and NH such that a Huckabee win could derail Romney even if it doesn't do much for Huckabee.

It's hard to overestimate the importance of campaign infrastructure in each key state, but with a strong evangelical following, if anyone can over come lack of infrastructure, it's Huckabee. Huckabee is the only true believer on gays and abortions so where else do those people go?

If you follow politics is pretty easy to map out how the top tier candidates from either party won't win the nomination, and yet we know both parties will have a nominee.

It's going to be fun to watch. Missouri votes on Mega Tuesday Feb. 5 and I'm very curious to see what the race looks like on Feb 4.

The September 11 candidate

This is really a hoot.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Interesting

The AP reports that the DoJ has reopened the inquiry into warrantless wiretapping.
The investigation by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility was shut down last year, after the investigators were denied security clearances. Gonzales told Congress that President Bush, not he, denied the clearances.

"We recently received the necessary security clearances and are now able to proceed with our investigation," H. Marshall Jarrett, counsel for the OPR, wrote to Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y. A copy of the letter, dated Tuesday, was obtained by The Associated Press.
It remains to be seen if this will be a serious inquiry or a whitewash, but this is at least encouraging.

Herbert straightens out David Brooks

There has been recent attention to the GOPs so-called Southern strategy of catering to racists whites in the South to win their votes. While it's obvious that the GOP does this, and in fact can only win an election with the racist vote, they still bristle when called on it.

To make matters worse, some people have have the bad taste to point out the obvious: Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia Mississippi -- famous only as the site of the kidnapping and murder of 3 white civil rights workers in 1964 -- as a not so subtle appeal to the GOP racist base.

Last week David Brooks swallowed his credibility and took his turn as GOP lacky and in a very unconvincing column full of mock indignation attempted to deny the obvious and suggest that Philadelphia Mississippi with a population of 7,000 literally in the middle of nowhere was just an inocent choice to kick-off a presidential campaign.

Brooks has been rightly criticized from several fronts, with the best so far being Bob Herbert's column today in the NYTs. Herbert doesn't mince words and cuts to the chase,
Reagan apologists have every right to be ashamed of that appearance by their hero, but they have no right to change the meaning of it, which was unmistakable....

Everybody watching the 1980 campaign knew what Reagan was signaling at the fair. Whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans — they all knew. The news media knew. The race haters and the people appalled by racial hatred knew. And Reagan knew.

He was tapping out the code....

And Reagan meant it. He was opposed to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was the same year that Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney were slaughtered. As president, he actually tried to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He opposed a national holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He tried to get rid of the federal ban on tax exemptions for private schools that practiced racial discrimination. And in 1988, he vetoed a bill to expand the reach of federal civil rights legislation.

Congress overrode the veto.

Reagan also vetoed the imposition of sanctions on the apartheid regime in South Africa. Congress overrode that veto, too.

The Dark Side of Mike Huckabee

Max Brantley has covered Mike Huckabee from Little Rock for 16 years.

Brantley thinks the national media is lazy. As he watches the current national love-fest for Huckabee he can't understand why people don't bother to see what Arkansans think of him. The short answer is 'not much'.

Brantley goes through a quick litany of scandals and ethical lapses.

Brantley notes of Huckabee, who left the Governor's mansion (with most it's furnishings apparently) in January of this year,
If you think he left a well of warm feelings in Arkansas, note that Hillary Clinton had raised more money in Arkansas at last report and that a recent University of Arkansas Poll showed her a 35 to 8 percent leader over Huckabee in the presidential preferences of Arkansas residents. Only one-third of 33 Republican legislators have said they will support him for president.
Brantley wants us to believe that Huckabee is your standard ethically bankrupt right-wing zealot and has several anecdotes in support.

Brantley recounts my favorite Huckabee story. Governor Huckabee championed of the early release of convicted rapist Wayne DuMond.
If I could resurrect one batch of files [Huckabee crushed numerous computer hard drives before leaving office] , it would be those reflecting the advice of his staff that he not pursue his desire to free convicted rapist Wayne DuMond. By "advice," I mean I think some of them all but pleaded with Huckabee not to do it.

Though DuMond's prior record included a conviction for assault and his alleged involvement in a slaying and one other rape, by the start of Huckabee's governorship DuMond had become a national figure thanks to Republican efforts to depict him as a victim of the Bill Clinton machine. The rape victim was a distant relative of Clinton's.

Huckabee, perhaps persuaded by DuMond's supposed conversion to Christianity, announced his intention to commute DuMond's sentence without talking to the victim. Outraged, she stepped forward to protest publicly. The backlash was swift and powerful. Huckabee backed away from commuting DuMond's sentence, but in a private meeting lobbied the state Parole Board to release him. Huckabee said, in writing, that he supported DuMond's release. DuMond moved to Missouri in 2000, where he molested and killed one woman and was suspected of doing the same to another, but died in prison before he could be charged in the second case.
Then there's Gov Huckabee's opposition to a medicaid funded abortion (per Federal law) for a mentally retarded women from Ft. Smith who had been raped by her step-father.

No matter how you slice it, this is going to be one crazy campaign year.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Federal Judge orders WH to preserve emails

The Presidential Records Act of 1978 requires all administrations to preserve their emails. Patrick Fitzgerald revealed in 2006 that many WH emails were missing. And we now know that the WH stopped archiving emails back in 2003 for reasons that are still not clear.

In response to lawsuits filed by CREW and National Security Archive a Federal Judge has ordered the WH to preserve all emails currently in their position. Despite being under a lawful obligation to do so, the WH has resisted any court orders compelling them to obey the law.

In response to the court's order today, a WH spokesman tried to offer reassurance,
"We will study the court's order and the magistrate's recommendations," said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel. "However, the Office of Administration has been taking steps to maintain and preserve backup tapes for the official e-mail system. We have provided assurances to the plaintiffs and to the court that these steps were being taken. We will continue preserving the tapes in compliance with the court's order."[emphasis mine]
In other words, the WH will not stop the destruction of any emails used by WH personnel on other systems such as the RNC.

Why are Iowa and NH so important?

Because they are first, and only because they are first.

Neither Iowa nor NH is a great bellwether state. You wont hear anyone say, "as goes New Hampshire, so goes the nation".

Our modern 24 hour news cycle and endless talk shows on TV and radio drives this silliness. When a candidate wins Iowa all the news coverage will be about that candidate being a winner. Likewise, the also-rans will enjoy endless coverage of them as loser. The coverage is shallow but ubiquitous and creates a buzz greatly in excess of the value of either state.

I don't see how any candidate goes into super Tuesday on February 5 with 3 losses under his or her belt -- and the resulting 'loser' news coverage -- expecting to win the nomination.

Rudy's tacit concession of both states at this point (and SC too?) is really huge and I think desperate. He can't win them and so is trying to dodge the 'loser' label by claiming he wasn't trying to win Iowa or NH. Good luck with that Rudy.

Hillary has her own problems in this regard. I see Obama winning Iowa (ala John Kerry) and then all bets are off for the so-called inevitable nominee. I'm convinced that this is why Hillary is the only major candidate to not withdraw from Michigan -- she thinks she might be dire need for a win going into SC (note the tone of desperation from this commenter).

Of course this is all worth what you've paid for it.

What do you think?

Rudy abandons Iowa & NH

I think this is big,
While Iowa and New Hampshire are crucial states for most Republican candidates, Rudy Giuliani thinks of them more as a nuisance. Giuliani's campaign told reporters today that they think Giuliani can lose the first three contests in the cycle and still win the nomination. They essentially conceded defeat in Iowa and New Hampshire to Mitt Romney, who has double-digit leads in the polls and has poured millions into radio and television advertising.
Would Brownback and Robertson liked to have known this before they endorsed Rudy?

Will either withdraw their endorsement?

Was Brownback promised the VP Slot?

I'm standing by my prediction that Huckabee wins Iowa.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tim Russert is the problem

Yglesias provides an excellent take down of Tim Russert and his 'style' of gotcha journalism.

The point of a show like Meet the Press should be to inform and enlighten the public. Ask tough questions about significant policy issues politicians promote and let the guest defend his/her position. But,
Russert doesn't care -- at all -- about whether or not his actions inform the American electorate. Rather, he cares about creating a "news-making" event -- likely something embarrassing for the politician -- and about burnishing his reputation for toughness. He attracts a circle of admirers who share his perverse and unethical lack of concern for whether or not his work helps produce an informed public, gobs of less-prominent television journalists seek to emulate his lack of concern with informing the public, print journalists eagerly court opportunities to appear on the non-informative shows hosted by Russert and his emulators, and down the rabbit hole we go.
Russert's style is sensational and journalistically unethical, as Matt points out. It's also lazy. Russert doesn't have to inform himself on the policy proposals of any guest and the pros and con's of that policy. Too much work. Much easier just to pick at a scab to embarrass a guest using old quotes a production assistant hands him 30 minutes before air.