Monday, March 31, 2008

Hillary as VP?

In the Politico piece mentioned below, a "Clinton family adviser" is quoted as suggesting Hillary might be trying to leverage her position into the VP slot on the ticket.

As I conceded below, my predictions on Hillary have been off the mark nearly every time, but I just can't see Hillary on the number 2 spot of a ticket.

First, what's in it for Hillary? She will be 61 years old in October making her 69 at the next opportunity. Even as VP, Bill will have to give up the millions and millions of dollars he's earning on the international speaking circuit, and for what? The use of a house at the Naval Observatory?

Perhaps more significant, who in their right mind would want the Clintons as the number two on their ticket and in their administration? It would be a nightmare, with Hillary trying to steal every headline and Bill making his own headlines doing what he does best. No POTUS wants to be upstaged by the VP and worst still, the spouse of the VP. Who needs that?

Don't get me wrong, I have no doubt the Clintons will extract something significant to leave the race. That's just who they are. I heard a talking head on NPR a few days ago (don't remember who and make no representations that he didn't just make it up on the spot) suggest that one possible deal would be for Harry Reid to offer Hillary the Senate Majority Leader in exchange for a polite exit which makes much more sense to me. And besides, I think she would make an remarkable majority leader, but then anything is better than the flaccid Reid.

What do you think?

Pressure building on Clinton?

I'm not holding my breath but The Politico has up an interesting piece and nice recap of recent events.

It is suggested that the Clintons dire talk of floor fights and attacks on Obama's qualifications for office are backfiring on them with superdelegates.

The post concludes,
This gathering momentum has forced the Clintons into Hail Mary arguments, causing even some confidants to wonder about their logic or real aims. Bill Clinton recently pointed out that she was ahead in the popular vote in primaries, as opposed to caucuses — essentially saying she’s ahead in contests she has won.

“They’re trying everything, and nothing is sticking,” said a Clinton family adviser. “It is possible she’s trying to leverage all this into a spot on the ticket.”
I will be the first to concede that I've been wrong on nearly every Clinton related prediction, but I still can't see VP Clinton.

Went down to the crossroads?

I'm surprised this hasn't gotten more play.

I mentioned last week the bizarre rapproachement between arch Clinton enemy and leader of the fast right wing conspiracy, Richard Mellon Scaife and the Clintons.

Well, the story has now gone from bizarre to creepy as Scaife himself has published a favorable column about Hillary in his vanity rag, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Hillary, reassessed

It's as if Hillary and Bill, in complete desperation, have gone to the proverbial crossroads, ala Robert Johnson.

Broke Clinton campaign has stopped paying it's bills

The Times of London and The Politico both had stories yesterday of the Clinton campaign leaving a trail of debts to small business people everywhere it goes. Many have now gone public warning others who would do business with the campaign to get all cash upfront.

From the ToL piece,
[Clinton] Staff have left a trail of unpaid bills and trashed offices across America in the past three months, raising fresh doubts about the viability of her run for the Democratic nomination. A property manager who let rooms to the campaign last summer in Clinton, Iowa, said that he found rubbish, rotting food, holes drilled in the walls and permanent stains on the carpet. He did not receive unpaid rent until last month — but kept the $500 (£250) deposit to cover clean-up expenses.

In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, landlord Terry Bennett went to the media to complain about late payment from Clinton campaign tenants who, he said, “left enough trash for a small army” — but no rent. When he eventually got his cheque, he donated it to Barack Obama.

Ohio event management companies owed money by Mrs Clinton were quoted yesterday warning others to ask for money up front.
Campaigns can be notoriously slow payers, but we've seen reports of Clinton cash woes since Über Tuesday, and it seems that their need to keep pace with Obama's spending might be catching up. My guess is that as others owed money by the campaign see the story, they will start talking too. And it wouldn't surprise me if we didn't see a similar story planted this week by Clintonistas about the Obama campaign. As I said, campaigns can be slow payers and there has to be some out there still waiting on a check from the Obama campaign.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Boo birds descend on Bush....

as he throws out the first pitch at the Nationals new ballpark on Opening day.

Denial

I find it absolutely fascinating TPM Reader DS can feel so completely reasonable at calling for Obama to bow out and accept Hillary's VP spot.

And of course, there must be millions of others or she wouldn't be getting any votes.

Less there be any doubt

The Clinton campaign requested an interview with the WaPo, so that Hillary could make it perfectly clear that her campaign will end at the conclusion of a floor fight at the convention.
"I know there are some people who want to shut this down and I think they are wrong," Clinton said in an interview during a campaign stop here Saturday. "I have no intention of stopping until we finish what we started and until we see what happens in the next 10 contests and until we resolve Florida and Michigan. And if we don't resolve it, we'll resolve it at the convention -- that's what credentials committees are for.
Such comments are common from the losing candidate. After all, a losing campaign can't signal their supporters--who they are pleading with not to defect--that they are planning an exit. But, does anyone doubt that the Clintons really mean it? I used to, but not any more. They will stop only with the proverbial gun to their heads -- or when they lose their floor fight and break the party in the process, as Teddy Kennedy did in 1980.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Warlord vs. Warlord: The Battle for Basra

Struggling to understand the current situation in Iraq, I found Fred Kaplan's latest Slate piece very helpful.

In contrast to the unhelpful and childish "Good versus Evil" explanation offered up this week by the President, Fred notes,
The reality, alas, is less stark. The fighting in Basra, which has spread to parts of Baghdad, is not a clash between good and evil or between a legitimate government and an outlaw insurgency. Rather, as Anthony Cordesman, military analyst for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, writes, it is "a power struggle" between rival "Shiite party mafias" for control of the oil-rich south and other Shiite sections of the country.

Both sides in this struggle are essentially militias. Both sides have ties to Iran. And as for protecting "the Iraqi people," the side backed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (and by U.S. air power) has, ironically, less support—at least in many Shiite areas, including Basra—than the side that he (and we) are attacking.
This view, by the way, is pretty common place. Phillip Carter, A former officer with the 101 Airborne who served in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, writes extensively on the conditions there. Carter's take,
It's difficult to see how this ends well. This is some of the nastiest intra-sectarian fighting we've seen in Iraq. Second, it looks pretty clear that Maliki is using the Iraqi security forces to consolidate his own power and eliminate his rivals. Third, I can only imagine the trepidation being felt by Sunni leaders who are watching this and wondering whether they're next on Maliki's hit list.
Kaplan explains that al-Maliki and his minions have opposed new provincial elections for fear that the Sadrist would win control of the South and thus vetoed to bill to have an election in October. Under US pressure, al-Maliki has backed down on his opposition to the elections so he's moved to take out the Sadrist before that election while he has US muscle to back him up.

The bottom line is that Iraq is far more complicated than most of us can comprehend -- myself included. It's simply overwhelming to try and wrap your mind around it all and understand what we face.

McCain gives great speeches that sound immanently reasonable to anyone who has no idea what's going on in Iraq, and is completely ignorant of the history. Unfortunately, as the Brits learned 100 years ago, and we are learning again, one dead (and 10 wounded) American service member at a time, this fighting has gone on for centuries and we are naive to believe we can change it.

It's easy to talk about honor, duty and commitments. How long did those noble issues keep us in Vietnam? What McCain needs to explain is exactly what must take place to allow us to seriously reduce our forces in Iraq -- define victory in concrete terms. The problem the GOP has right now, is that they are drinking their own kool aid on Iraq.

More than 90% of Iraqi revenue comes from Oil. The Sunnis have no oil. The Kurds have lots of oil and are using their "ambassadors" to strike oil deals with US and International oil companies. The Shiites also have lots of oil and are fighting over it right now. Those who have the oil have no intention of sharing it with those who do not, thus no oil sharing agreement. There is no military solution to this problem and no political solution to Iraq until a working and lasting oil sharing agreement is in place -- So, how many US brigades are needed to hammer out an oil sharing agreement?

John McCain can have his honor and duty, I just want to know the exit strategy and it has to be much less than 100 years.

Sen Bob Casey Endorses Obama

Casey's endorsement is a big deal for Obama especially since Casey had previously pledged to remain neutral. Casey's appearances with Obama should help him to greatly catch up to Hillary in PA as Casey's supporters are at the core of the Clintons supporters.

But it's important to keep perspective. It's hard to imagine Obama winning PA, even with Casey. For one thing, Casey doesn't have a machine. PA Governor Ed Rendell and Philly mayor Michael Nutter, both of whom have machines at their disposal, have endorsed the Clintons which makes it very hard to beat them in PA.

Presumably, Casey's decision to reverse course and endorse Obama reflects a desire to get the contest over. It's not good news for the Clintons because it creates more of the buzz they want to silence.

And finally, should Obama keep the Clintons win below 10 points in PA, the superdelegate march to Obama will greatly increase and Casey's endorsement makes this very possible.

It's another good day for Obama.

UPDATE: Josh picks up on the symbolic effect of Casey's endorsement. and pointed to Leahy's and Dodds calls to end the race -- which I completely missed. April 22 is still a long way off and it will be really interesting to see increasing talk of the Clintons need to step aside will impact her performance in PA.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dates and Timing to Keep in Mind

Keep in mind as we talk about moving to a convention fight that the Democratic National Convention will be August 25-28.

The Republican National Convention will be follow September 1-4.

The election is November 4. So, if the Democratic nominee is not decided to the convention there will only be 8 weeks to campaign against John McCain. On the other hand, John McCain is campaigning against the Dems now.

It's hard to imagine a Democratic president if this fight goes to the convention.

And finally, keep in mind how a convention fight worked out for Ted Kennedy and the Democratic party in 1980.

Bill's Continued Adoration of St. John McCain

From MSNBC,
And, in a move that's becoming more and more common, [Bill Clinton] favorably aligned his wife with the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain.

"We now have a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate, bipartisan, to do something about global warming and do more buildings like this,” Clinton said, “because she and John McCain took reluctant Republicans all over the world and showed them how the planet was changing. She will work with anybody, go anywhere, do anything to move America forward.”
As I said earlier, the Clintons fawning praise of McCain is just bizarre so I want to start documenting it here.

The more conspiracy minded among us think the Clintons want to throw the election to McCain if they are not the nominee to set up 2012 with Obama destroyed and out of the way. I take the Clintons at their word when they say they are loyal Democrats and would never do such a thing.

So is this a somewhat subtle attempt -- almost subliminal -- of calling Obama un-American without actually saying it?

Chaos While We're There, Chaos After We Leave?

Some are asking if the situation in Basra following the Brits departure is a prologue to an American withdrawal from Iraq.

Spencer Auckerman, (who has reported on, and from Iraq) writing from his latest blog home at The Washington Independent weights in. Here's the crux,
So to avoid chaos -- and I recognize this is banal and generic -- you can't just pull up stakes. Some sort of political accommodation has to occur alongside a strategy of extrication. There will be some good suggestions coming out of various think tanks and government offices over the next several months that put flesh to bone here. But the broader point is this: if we decide we're just going to order the post-surge forces out of Iraq in X number of months/years, and nothing accompanies that decision on the political-diplomatic end, then yeah, Basra probably will be a prologue. But if we spend the time between now and then -- say, a new Democratic president's Inaugural -- working on some Undefined Diplomatic Strategy, then we have our best shot -- and it's not a sure shot; I'll be the first to admit -- at extracting ourselves with a minimum of chaos.

Now, this is true unless, like Sen. John McCain and President George W. Bush, you believe we should stay in Iraq forever. But if you don't, then you indeed have to grapple with this conundrum. There are no guarantees. There are no good answers. There are no grounds for certainty. That's what makes it a quagmire. But you don't have the luxury of throwing your hands up in despair and pleading that complexity should bring apoplexy. That's why it's called statesmanship.

So Where's John Edwards?

A week after Bill Richardson makes a call for unity still no word from Edwards?

After leaving the race he summoned the Clintons and Obama to appear before him and plead for his blessing and still nothing?

If he is going to side with Obama and plead for unity, he's running out of time. Obama is beginning a bus tour of PA starting tomorrow (March 28). Edwards should be on that bus introducing Obama across PA, but nothing.

Even assuming he were to choose the Clintons, where is he?

Now is the time for those who would be leaders of the Democratic party to speak, and I think we can fairly judge those who choose to remain silent. Those who place their own status above the mission of taking back the White House and ending republican tyranny,.....or something like that.

The DoD's Arms Merchants


The New York Times reports today that the Pentagon has awarded $300 Million in contracts to a 22 year old in Dad County and his 25 year old masseuse! They get the weapons and ammo on the black market using 40 year-old stock piles from the old Communist block,...at least what weapons and ammo they can get before the US and other Western nations have the stuff destroyed as dangerous and obsolete.

In purchasing munitions, the contractor has also worked with middlemen and a shell company on a federal list of entities suspected of illegal arms trafficking.

Moreover, tens of millions of the rifle and machine-gun cartridges were manufactured in China, making their procurement a possible violation of American law. The company’s president, Efraim E. Diveroli, was also secretly recorded in a conversation that suggested corruption in his company’s purchase of more than 100 million aging rounds in Albania, according to audio files of the conversation.

Congressman Waxman?

UPDATE: Waxman schedules hearings into the DoDs 22 year old arms merchant.

"We Are Clin-ton"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

'We Hate Her'

The latest NBC/WSJ poll is a bit of a mixed bag and shows a tight race with Obama and Clinton tied.

Sadly, for the Clintons, Hillary's negative problems are getting worse,
...Among all voters, 48% have negative feelings toward [Clinton] and 37% positive, a decline from a net positive 45% to 43% rating in early March. While 51% of African-American voters have positive views, that is down 12 points from earlier this month, before the Wright controversy.

More ominous for Sen. Clinton is the net-negative rating she drew for the first time from women, one of the groups where she has drawn most support. In this latest poll, voters with negative views narrowly outstrip those with positive ones, 44% to 42%. That compares with her positive rating from 51% of women in the earlier March poll.
_____

...Sen. Obama's gets a net positive rating, by 42% to 37%. Among all voters, he maintained a significant positive-to-negative score of 49% to 32%—similar to Sen. McCain's 45% to 25%.
Hillary right now is sitting at a net negative rating of -11 points while Obama is net positive of =5 coming off his toughest 3 weeks. This suggest to me that Hillary's negative attacks aren't working out so well...but they are all the Clintons have so don't expect them to stop.

The Pecking Order

Over at TPM, they've been talking about the recent polling numbers showing 28% of the Clintons supporters would vote for McCain over Obama.

Personally, I'm not to concerned about that number because it's March.

As for an explanation of the number, I think TPM reader AK gets it right,
Forgive me if I missed you saying this on your site, but there's any easier way than a structural argument to understand why many Clinton supporters say they'll vote for McCain instead of Obama: Clinton, whom they support, and, one assumes, trust, has told them to do so. She has made the case that the pecking order, particularly when it comes to [Commander-in-Chief], is her, then McCain, and Obama failing the threshold test. She has said the same about judgment and experience. This is a case where considering a structural -- to use your word -- double move is too clever by half. All you need to do is look at what they're being told by the Clinton camp to understand the polling numbers.
And it's unforgivable. The Clintons frequent flattery of John McCain is just bizarre. When was the last time a republican had anything nice to say about their democratic opponent? And it's both the Clintons who flatter McCain almost every day.

Some suggest Hillary is already looking to 2012 if she's not the nominee this round. Crush Obama so that if he gets the nomination, he losses the general, and come back in 2012 on the "I told you so" campaign. , with McCain then would be 76 and America having had 4 years to soak up just what '100 happy years' in Iraq really means. I'm not that cynical.

A June Wrap-up Is Not the Problem

Two thoughtful TPM readers make pleas for Calm as the Obama / Clinton fight to the death moves forward.
Here is the gist,
This talk of mortal peril for the Democrats is crazy. The idea that where the primary stands here in March jeopardizes the outcome of the election in November strikes me as wildly ahistorical. And I say that as an Obama supporter who believes that Hillary should have gotten out of the race a month ago when the central premise of her campaign became the proposition that superdelegates should overrule the outcome of contested primary elections.

Didn't Bill Clinton have to fight primary battles well into May and June? He managed to beat an incumbent President a six months laters. Didn't George W. Bush have to contend with John McCain in 2000 even after Al Gore had basically finished off Bill Bradley early in New Hampshire? Didn't Jimmy Carter manage to beat Ford despite Jerry Brown winning a string of late primaries in 1976?
Of course those readers are correct to point out that we are only in March and concern today that the Obama / Clinton fight will spoil November is very premature. Yes, the Clintons in 92 had to beat back Brown into June. But this misses the point.

So what happens in June? The Clintons have no intention of ever stopping until the delegates nominate them or reject them in Denver (feel free to make the case that I’m wrong about this -- nothing would please me more!).

The proper analogy is not 92, but 80 when Teddy Kennedy took his losing battle to the convention and broke the party. The Clintons are planning their floor fight now and not really being very shy about it. It was as recently as this week that Hillary pointed out again that no delegate is pledged – how many times has Harold Ickes reminded us of this fact. Harold Ickes – Teddy Kennedy’s floor manager in 1980 who lead the fight to get the delegates released from their voting commitments.

There is good reason to be very concerned if this fight goes past early June. The 8 weeks between the Democratic convention at the end of August and the November election is not enough time for the bloodied nominee to run a general campaign and beat back McCain. And there is no reason to believe this will end in June.

The biggest problem facing the Democratic party is a leadership vacuum exacerbated by the losers being the Clintons. Who is going to tell the former president in June to STFU and bow out gracefully?

To borrow the Bush/Cheney 2004 re-election theme, “be afraid, be very afraid”.

Pelosi Gets Letters

Top Hillary donors want to muzzle the Speaker for suggesting superdelegates should rally to the winner of the pledged delegate count. These donors are demanding she recant and are threatening to withdraw support of the DCCC if she doesn't.
We have been strong supporters of the DCCC. We therefore urge you to clarify your position on super-delegates and reflect in your comments a more open view to the optional independent actions of each of the delegates at the National Convention in August. We appreciate your activities in support of the Democratic Party and your leadership role in the Party and hope you will be responsive to some of your major enthusiastic supporters.
I really don't believe such bully tactics will work since almost everyone not on the Clinton payroll is saying the same thing. And of course, this monster we now face, is as much Pelosi's fault as anyones for letting it go this far.

It is a forgone conclusion that Obama will have the most pledged delegates and win the popular vote come June. What is the Clintons end game if it is not to rip the party apart for the nomination?

If Obama's opponent were anyone other than a Clinton would we even be here now?

What reasonable person believes the Clintons have any intention of stepping aside ever?

Dinner with Obama?

Here's your chance.

The Rapprochement


The blog world (Right and Left) was a buzz yesterday with the news of the rapprochement of The Clintons to Richard Mellon Scaife, the actual head of the vast right-wing conspiracy. (see here, and here, and here for examples).

But yesterday's meeting with Sciafe was not the first Clinton meeting of this campaign with their old enemy. Bill met with Scaife last November at his Harlem office which resulted in Scaife expressing "admiration" for the former President (and erstwhile homicidal maniac if Scaife is to be believed).

So it's no surprise that out of this meeting comes Hillary raising the Jeremiah Wright issue again. And anyone who thinks that the Clintons didn't provide their new friend with every bit of oppo research they have on Obama is naive. Look for Scaife's minions to start a Chicago Project.

The Clintons really could not care less about the future of the nation or the Democratic party. They care only about themselves and their hold on power.

This rapprochement with Scaife is just another step in the Tonya Harding Option.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

File this under WTF!

McClatchy,
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military mistakenly shipped four nuclear-missile detonators to Taiwan in 2006, then failed to detect the error for more than a year, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.
_____

The fuses mistakenly sent to Taiwan had been shipped in March 2005 from F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming to the Defense Logistics Agency warehouse at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Pentagon officials said they didn't know how the detonators had been sent when Taiwan had ordered helicopter batteries or who was responsible. Michael Wynne, the secretary of the Air Force, said the cone-shaped fuses didn't resemble the power batteries that Taiwan had requested.

'The cease fire is over'

Across Iraq, battles erupt with Mahdi Army | csmonitor.com
"The cease-fire is over; we have been told to fight the Americans," said one Mahdi Army militiaman, who was reached by telephone in Sadr City. This same man, when interviewed in January, had stated that he was abiding by the cease-fire and that he was keeping busy running his cellular phone store.
How this ends is anyone's guess. Many earlier reports suggested that Sadr didn't want a direct confrontation as the last had gone so badly for his militia but the battle for Basra (which appears to be a bonafide Iraqi Army operation) has caused fighting to erupted across Baghdad and Southern Iraq.

If the Iraqi government is to ever function as a federal authority the militias must be eliminated and they must be eliminated by the Iraqi government -- not American occupiers.

"Operation Chaos"

Rush's plan to keep the Clintons in the race.

'The Tonya Harding Option'

I love it!

So what will the Clintons have to do to win the nomination at this point? Per an anonymous "party official" to Jake Tripper,
She will have to "break his back," the official said. She will have to destroy Obama, make Obama completely unacceptable.

"Her securing the nomination is certainly possible - but it will require exercising the 'Tonya Harding option.'" the official said. "Is that really what we Democrats want?"
If it's not "what we Democrats want" who then will step in to stop it? Who will exercise leadership?

By the way, to carry the analogy out,
It implies that Clinton is so set on ensuring that Obama doesn't get the nomination, not only is she willing to take extra-ruthless steps, but in the end neither she nor Obama win the gold.

(In this metaphor, presumably, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would be Oksana Baiul. Does that make former President Bill Clinton Jeff Gillooly?)
Bill Clinton being Jeff Gillooly would certain clear up one mystery I've always wondered about.

Major Test of the Iraq Gov't

The battle for Basra appears to be going full bore as the Shia control Iraqi government attempts to take the city back from the Shia militias that have controlled the city since at least the time the Brits left (I don't think the Brits ever controlled Basra).

This is a huge test for the Iraqi government and it's ability to establish actual control of cities in the South presently controlled by Sadr's Mahdi Army and other assorted Shia militia groups like the Badr Bridage.

The down side is that Sadr will call off his cease-fire (why wouldn't he if he is under a full scale assault from the government?) and all hell will break out across Baghdad and throughout the South. The upside is that the Shia dominated Iraqi Government might actually establish control of the Shia sections of Iraq which has to be a positive step.

Wright Revived

Hillary and her surrogates are attempting to resurrect the Wright story as Obama's numbers start to tic upward again.

Sure, it's desperate on their part but it's not all bad either. The sooner the public gets sick of the story, the better.

The Mayor's Text Messages

Who the hell uses a text pager anymore?

Am I the only one concerned that old text messages might still be out there?

Monday, March 24, 2008

McCains Endless Free Ride

Kevin is really feeling exasperated at the endless free ride that John McCain enjoys,
Let's recap. Foreign policy cred lets him get away with wild howlers on foreign policy. Fiscal integrity cred lets him get away with outlandishly irresponsible economic plans. Anti-lobbyist cred lets him get away with pandering to lobbyists. Campaign finance reform cred lets him get away with gaming the campaign finance system. Straight talking cred lets him get away with brutally slandering Mitt Romney in the closing days of the Republican primary. Maverick uprightness cred allows him to get away with begging for endorsements from extremist religious leaders like John Hagee. "Man of conviction" cred allows him to get away with transparent flip-flopping so egregious it would make any other politician a laughingstock. Anti-torture cred allows him to get away with supporting torture as long as only the CIA does it.

Remind me again: where does all this cred come from? And what window do Democrats go to to get the same treatment the press gives McCain?

"only a minor blip"

Hillary fesses up to lying about the hail of gun fire she and her only child encountered 10 years ago at Tuzla.

Well, not exactly. Actually, she both claims to still recall the hail of gunfire even as she concedes "a misstatement" which was only a "minor blip" in her otherwise beyond reproach truthiness.

We of course, take her at her word that this was the only lie she has ever told in her lifetime.

Oops

AP: Pilot's gun fired Accidentally on US Airways flight.

Nobody is saying exactly what happened. No one was injured, but no word on the hearing of those in the cockpit when the gun went off. The plane landed safely, and has now been taken out of service for inspections.
Money quote:
"If that bullet had compromised the shell of the airplane, i.e., gone through a window, the airplane could have gone down," he said.
It will be interesting to see if we ever get a tally on total cost of this oops.

I guess until a plane is brought down by an accidental gun shot, this program will remain unchanged.

McCain now taking his marching orders from OBL?

Matt makes an important point about the lack of logic in the '100 years war' crowd.

McCain is reporting Osama's recent calls on Sunni Arabs to pour into Iraq to fight the Americans placing OBL and "General Petraeus in agreement, and that is, the central battleground in the battle against al Qaeda is in Iraq today."

So what happens if we leave? Al Qaeda losses it great rallying cry to kill Americans conveniently located in their back yard. And this would be terrible because?

Matt's take,
There's no question that, as McCain points out here at some length, that bin Laden would really like to see an epic struggle in Iraq between the United States military and an array of al-Qaeda recruits who, inspired by the idea of a struggle against American occupation, will flood into that country. As McCain says, this is bin Laden's view of how events in the world are unfolding. Why McCain thinks the correct response is to do what bin Laden wants, I couldn't quite say. Possibly, he's just not very bright.
This all seems so obvious to me, and yet, no one seems interested in challenging McCain directly.

Not Good

Is 'success' of U.S. surge in Iraq about to unravel?
BAGHDAD — A cease-fire critical to the improved security situation in Iraq appeared to unravel Monday when a militia loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al Sadr began shutting down neighborhoods in west Baghdad and issuing demands of the central government.

Simultaneously, in the strategic southern port city of Basra, where Sadr's Mahdi militia is in control, the Iraqi government launched a crackdown in the face of warnings by Sadr's followers that they'll fight government forces if any Sadrists are detained. By 1 a.m. Arab satellite news channels reported clashes between the Mahdi Army and police in Basra.

Hillary May have Misspoke just a little....

By now I'm sure you have heard the heroic tale of Hillary and Chelsea cheating death on their dramatic landing at Tuzla airbase under a hail of gunfire. Here is how Hillary described those terrifying moments last week, "We came in in a [sic] evasive maneuver*,...I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base." The dramatic video is here.

Some have questioned the former first ladies memory of that day, and others have called her a liar.

Today, on the morning conference call with reporters, the Clintons communications director, Howard Wolfson, was quick to point out that some of the story was true. Hillary and Chelsea did go to Tuzla and he did find a news report at the time that reported that it was believed that snipers could have been nearby. Never the less, the remainder of Hillary's tail was a complete and total fabrication. There was no gunfire and there was a big greeting ceremony complete with dignitaries, a band and a little girl to be kissed. Wolfson made it clear that the Clintons deeply regret having been caught in this lie.

* "We came in in a [sic] evasive maneuver" in not included in the official remarks posted at the Clintons' web site, but it evidenced by video of the speech.

UPDATE: CBS picks up the story:

Clintons to Endorse McCain?

Dreaming about a November match-up of Hillary and John McCain while campaigning in Charlotte, N.C., on Friday, Bill Clinton said, "I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country, and people could actually ask themselves who is right on these issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics."

This statement is of course outrageous and over the top. No more than any of the other and frequent Clinton attacks on Obama's readiness to lead, be Commander-in-chief, answering the phone at 3 AM, blah, blah, blah. (nor more outrageous that suggestions of 'McCarthyism' which the Clintons have themselves used to great effect.)

So when will someone summon the courage to ask the Clintons the obvious question:

Do you intend to endorse John McCain for President should you not be the nominee?

Their answers would be much more informative that the current tit for tat nonsense to which we are all being subjected. And the follow-up questions would extremely entertaining.

The Doomsday Scenario

Noam Scheiber lays out the doomsday scenario,
When Democrats contemplate the apocalypse these days, they have visions of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton slugging it out à la Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter at the 1980 convention. The campaign's current trajectory is, in fact, alarmingly similar to the one that produced that disastrous affair. Back then, Carter had built up a delegate lead with early wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, and several Southern states. But, as the primary season dragged on, Kennedy began pocketing big states and gaining momentum. Once all the voting ended and Kennedy came up short, he eyed the New York convention as a kind of Hail Mary.
And the fight ending in June doesn't give Noam any comfort.

The Latest Clinton Metric

to steal the nomination without winning the most votes or delegates is actually an old one.

Clinton surrogate (and likely Clinton VP choice) Evan Bayh is now pushing the 'most electoral votes' line of bullshit claiming --again -- that Clintons have won the only states that matter. The States the Clintons have won have the most electoral votes. This came up about 10 days ago and was shot down here.

How many states would the Clintons hope to carry in November without the black vote?

When does Edwards, Gore, Pelosi, etc. have the 'come to Jesus' talk with the Clintons that they so desperately need? Bayh's refloating the latest canard for a Clinton win is evidence enough of their desperation and the fact that they can't win.

Does any reasonable person think that the Clintons will ever concede short of the convention? The Clintons now like to ask everyone to wait until June. What will happen in June to change anything? The Clinton's will win PA and WV and maybe KY and Puerto Rico and still lose the delegate and popular vote races. Everyone already knows this, so why does anyone expect the Clintons to step aside in June?

I know I sound like a broken record. But here's the silver lining. In PA where people register by party, the Democratic party has grown by 111,227 new voters while the GOP has shrank by 13,391 voters. But there may also be some mischief afoot. Almost 58,000 registered independents and Republicans have switched parties to vote in the Democratic primary. Today is the last day in PA to register for the primary.

McCain's Flurtations with the Dems

Today's NYTs reminds everyone of McCain's two flirtations with joining the Democratic party.

The self described 'foot soldier in the Reagan revolution' talked about joining the Dems in 2001 to flip the Senate to the Dems, and in 2004 as he toyed with being Kerry's running mate.

This will not help McCain rally the reluctant to his side come November, but who knows how much real impact it will have.

McCain's Flurtations with the Dems

Today's NYTs reminds everyone of McCain's two flirtations with joining the Democratic party.

The self described 'foot soldier in the Reagan revolution' talked about joining the Dems in 2001 to flip the Senate to the Dems, and in 2004 as he toyed with being Kerry's running mate.

This will not help McCain rally the reluctant to his side come November, but who knows how much real impact it will have.

4000 and Counting

Associated Press: U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq at 4,000.

How many more will die before we realize that three ethnic groups that have spent centuries hating each other are never going to join together in harmony to make an unnatural nation work; a nation that was forced together by Churchill early in the last century.

'the quid without the quo'

Krugman does a good job explaining the need for more regulation in the financial sector.
America came out of the Great Depression with a pretty effective financial safety net, based on a fundamental quid pro quo: the government stood ready to rescue banks if they got in trouble, but only on the condition that those banks accept regulation of the risks they were allowed to take.

Over time, however, many of the roles traditionally filled by regulated banks were taken over by unregulated institutions — the “shadow banking system,” which relied on complex financial arrangements to bypass those safety regulations.

Now, the shadow banking system is facing the 21st-century equivalent of the wave of bank runs that swept America in the early 1930s. And the government is rushing in to help, with hundreds of billions from the Federal Reserve, and hundreds of billions more from government-sponsored institutions like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks.

Given the risks to the economy if the financial system melts down, this rescue mission is justified. But you don’t have to be an economic radical, or even a vocal reformer like Representative Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, to see that what’s happening now is the quid without the quo.
Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin succinctly summed it "If Wall Street companies can count on being rescued like banks, then they need to be regulated like banks."

Krugman has more. Go read it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

"So," Mr. Vice President?

Mickey Edwards is a retired Republican congressman who served Oklahoma's 5th congressional district from 1977 to 1993, and one of the GOP leaders to lead the charge in 1990 for the first Gulf War.

Mickey was recently offended by Cheney's glib response to ABC's Martha Raddatz who reminded the VP of the publics disapproval of the war in Iraq. Cheney's one word response was "so?".

Mickey replied by an OP-ED in the Washington Post that a republican friend forwarded.
Cheney told Raddatz that American war policy should not be affected by the views of the people. But that is precisely whose views should matter: It is the people who should decide whether the nation shall go to war. That is not a radical, or liberal, or unpatriotic idea. It is the very heart of America's constitutional system.
_____

If Dick Cheney believes, as he obviously does, that the war in Iraq is vital to American interests, it is his job, and that of President Bush, to make the case with sufficient proof to win the necessary public support.

That is the difference between a strong president (one who leads) and a strong presidency (one in which ultimate power resides in the hands of a single person). Bush is officially America's "head of state," but he is not the head of government; he is the head of one branch of our government, and it's not the branch that decides on war and peace.

When the vice president dismisses public opposition to war with a simple "So?" he violates the single most important element in the American system of government: Here, the people rule.
While this is obviously true, where has Mickey been the last 5 years?

And while I believe Mickey is sincere in his OP-ED, I look for a lot more Republicans to get religion on such issues should the White House change party hands.

Hillary's Death Defying Visit to Bosnia

Not for the squeamish or easily frightened.



God's speed Hillary!

Here's the WaPo report.

A White Easter?

snowing easter morning 2008

In the winter that will never end it is snowing in St. Louis on Easter morning!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Clintons' Money Woes Continue

The February FEC filing came in this week, and it would appear that the Clintons are functioning with no cash cushion.

From the NYTs Caucus blog,
Despite a strong month of fund-raising in February in which she brought in $35 million, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton finished the month essentially in the red, once her campaign’s outstanding debts are factored in, as well as her personal loan, according to filings submitted late last night to the Federal Election Commission.

After spending about $31 million in her efforts to keep up with Senator Barack Obama, Mrs. Clinton finished February with more than $33 million in cash on hand, but $21.5 million of that is earmarked exclusively for the general election, leaving her with $11.7 million for the primary.

Mrs. Clinton, however, loaned her campaign $5 million earlier this year and she listed $8.7 million in debts to various vendors, making clear why she has not yet paid herself back from her loan.
The Clintons are not obligated to pay back their personal loan, but of course, their vendors rightly expect payment in full.

In contrast, the Obama campaign finished February with $31.6 million in cash they can spend in the primaries.

As Josh points out, this is a bigger problem than just money. "The Clintons' fundraising prowess has been one of the factors convincing the super-dels that this race isn't over and that they should wait out the contest." Reports that they are running on a shoestring while Obama is flush with record-setting cash destroys yet another Clinton narrative.

Too Much, Even for Chris Wallace

Have you seen the video of Chris Wallace calling into Fox and Friends a couple mornings ago? Courtesy of Josh and crew at TPM,



Is it possible that Chris Wallace is starting to have some reservations about the um,... 'content' of Fox? I doubt it, but interesting none the less.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Richardson's Endorsement Speech

As promised earlier,

Finally!

Josh points to Jim Yandehei and Mike Allen finally writing the truth at the Politico today.

It is really amazing at how complicit the MSM has been in the myth that there is still a real fight for the Democratic nomination. I was listening to Good Morning America on Thursday morning and they pretty clearly suggest that with the FL and MI delegates Hillary could win the pledged delegate race if only they could get a revote, and this myth is repeated on almost every news cast.
Her own campaign acknowledges there is no way that she will finish ahead in pledged delegates. That means the only way she wins is if Democratic superdelegates are ready to risk a backlash of historic proportions from the party’s most reliable constituency.

Unless Clinton is able to at least win the primary popular vote — which also would take nothing less than an electoral miracle — and use that achievement to pressure superdelegates, she has only one scenario for victory. An African-American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, the prize is going to someone else.

People who think that scenario is even remotely likely are living on another planet.
The Clintons continue to lose ground, not gain it. Going into OH and TX, Obama had a pledged delegate lead of 157 votes. Since OH and TX he has increased his lead to 167 pleaded delegate! Hillary will win PA and she will win WV and she might even win Puerto Rico but she will not win the nomination.

It is really that simple.

McCain holds fundraiser on Foreign Soil

Did you know McCain's overseas campaign trip was on the public dime?

While on a campaign trip overseas at taxpayer expense, John McCain took time out in London to hold a fundraiser on foreign soil.

What would the Right say of either the Clintons or Obama taking a campaign trip overseas at taxpayer expense and holding fundraisers in the process?

Recall Bill Clinton's first campaign.

(posted from SeaTac, Seattle WA)

Richardson's Endorsement Speech

was excellent. I'll look for it on youtube later and post it here.

Off to the airport,....

(posted from the Airport Hilton, Seattle, WA)

FL and MI Caucuses

are the obvious solution.

Nothing could be more simple. The state parties can hold caucuses without any legislative approval or government assistence. They need simply the approval of the DNC and the money necessary to organize and hold the caucuses.

But of course the Clintons want nothing to do with a caucus in FL or MI because they could not care less about MI and FL delegates being seated. They only care about gaming the process to their advantage, and they have nothing to gain from a caucus. As a practical matter, the Clintons have conceded the elected delegate race to Obama and are trying to narrow the popular vote gap in hopes of stealing the nomination with superdelegates.

(posted from the Airport Hilton, Seattle, WA)

Breaking: Court of Appeals Upholds Dismissal of FL Lawsuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the dismissal of the Florida lawsuit (Dimaio v. DNC) challenging the DNC's power to not seat the Florida delegates.

There's no surprise here. Each party gets to make their own rules.

(posted from the Airport Hilton, Seattle, WA)

Obama Passport Issue

This is a strange story that's been all the buzz since yesterday afternoon.

Glenn Kessler reported that the State Department announced "that it had fired two contract employees and disciplined a third for accessing Sen. Barack Obama's passport file." According to State Department spokesman Tom Casey, the employees had individually looked into Obama's passport file on Jan. 9, Feb. 21 and March 14. They evidently tripped some security measures, which lead to their being busted.

The State Department has said that their preliminary investigation indicated that these contractors were just being nosey.

Condi has now personally apoligized for the snooping.

At this point I'm inclined to believe the State Department that this was nothing more than snooping employees. Sure, a full investigation needs to be made to be sure. And maybe if some stories start circulating about 'controversial private travel' on Obama's part I'll rethink.

If this were a Republican plot there would have been no announcement of the breach. Some have suggested links to the Clintons which seems extremely tenuous .

The story here should be at this point the appropriateness of 'contract employees' having such access.

UPDATE: In comic fashion the MSNBC news bunny has interupted the news every 5 minutes with new revelations. Turns out Sen Clinton's passport file was breached in 2007 and now, Sen McCain's records appear to have been snooped by at least one of the same snoopers of Obama's.

As I said above, the story here is the access of contract employees.

(posted from the Airport Hilton, Seattle, WA)

Richardson to endorse Clinton

Here's the AP story.

I'm not surprised by the endorsement but a little curious about the timing. This is a bit of a slap in the face to the Clintons but when Richardson didn't endorse the Clintons even as Texas approached it became clear to me he wouldn't be endorsing the Clintons who had appointed him to their cabinet and as UN Ambassador.

It's good news for Obama because this helps him move bast Wright.

It's transparently self-serving on Richardson's part. Richardson can count and is jumping on the bandwagon, but not before Texas when he could have actually had an impact.

(posted from the Airport Hilton, Seattle, WA)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rev Wright at the White House

Photobucket

Via Ben Smith

Will the press be asking any questions?

(posted from the Airport Hilton, Seattle, WA)

Iraq and National Security

Obama gave a policy speech yesterday on Iraq in particular, and national security in general. You can find the text here.

Of particular note, Obama has committed to leaving Iraq 1 to 2 brigades a month for 16 months. Here is the crux,
In order to end this war responsibly, I will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. We can responsibly remove 1 to 2 combat brigades each month. If we start with the number of brigades we have in Iraq today, we can remove all of them 16 months. After this redeployment, we will leave enough troops in Iraq to guard our embassy and diplomats, and a counter-terrorism force to strike al Qaeda if it forms a base that the Iraqis cannot destroy. What I propose is not – and never has been – a precipitous drawdown. It is instead a detailed and prudent plan that will end a war nearly seven years after it started.

My plan to end this war will finally put pressure on Iraq’s leaders to take responsibility for their future. Because we’ve learned that when we tell Iraq’s leaders that we’ll stay as long as it takes, they take as long as they want. We need to send a different message. We will help Iraq reach a meaningful accord on national reconciliation. We will engage with every country in the region – and the UN – to support the stability and territorial integrity of Iraq. And we will launch a major humanitarian initiative to support Iraq’s refugees and people. But Iraqis must take responsibility for their country. It is precisely this kind of approach – an approach that puts the onus on the Iraqis, and that relies on more than just military power – that is needed to stabilize Iraq
The complete and total disaster that is Iraq is the handiwork of the so-called wise men and woman of DC -- including Hillary Clinton -- who are too invested in saving face to be frank about how to get us out of this mess. Iraq was never a natural country but the handiwork of Winston Churchill who forced the Sunni, Kurds and Shia together to from a country despite their centuries of hatred for each other.

Absolutely no progress has been made on 'national unity' because no one in Iraq wants unity. The Shia and Kurds are pursing their own interest with the oil they have and the Sunnis are left out in the cold.

Why doesn't anyone ask Sen McCain to expressly define the victory or benchmarks that will allow us to bring the lionshare of our troops home? I believe that answer would be that we can bring out troops home when the Kurds, shia and sunnis join hands and sing Kumbaya. But these groups have hated each other for centuries and will continue to do so for centuries to come.

It's time for our bleeding to stop in Iraq and for Iraqis to sink or swim. If the Saudis or the EU doesn't want us to leave than they can fill the void. Enough already.

(posted from the Red Lion Inn, Twin Falls ID)

Libby Disbarred

Not a big surprise.

Live by the sword, die by the sword. Libby played a ruthless game of politics that included lying at every opportunity to anyone who would listen. He was perfectly comfortable destroying the reputation of others with lies. It is entirely fitting that his lies have destroyed him. He gets exactly what he deserves.

(posted from the Red Lion Inn, Twin Falls ID)

Much Needed Iraqi Dysfunction

Matt made an important observation as to the value of an enduring dysfunction in Iraq.

David Broder, the old fool of the Washington press corps, expressed disappointment in his hero's recent trip to Baghdad. Broder noted that McCain missed a real opportunity to let let the Iraqi government know that he would not be as patient as Broder's other hero, Gdub with Iraq's lack of progress on political reconciliation. " A warning shot from McCain -- even without a timetable -- would put the Iraqis on notice that the next president would not be as accommodating as Bush."

But what makes Broder think that McCain has any interest in seeing Iraq really improve?

As Matt observed,
In the real world, though, if your goal is an enduring American military presence in Iraq, you need political dysfunction. If Iraq were to emerge as a stable country with a government responsive to its citizens' wishes, they'd tell the Americans to take a hike. Its sectarian tensions and instability that make the continued, unpopular presence of a huge number of American boots on the ground viable.
There is simply no rational reason to believe that a President McCain would change current Bush policy in Iraq which includes, as McCain has said many times, an American presence in Iraq that is unlimited both in time and scope.

(posted from the Red Lion Inn, Twin Falls ID)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Barack Obama’s Speech on Race

I haven't written anything about the recent flap with Obama and his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, because I didn't think I had anything to say. I was frankly very disappointed in Obama over the entire affair. This disappointment piqued last Friday when Wright 'resigned' from his official/unofficial role in the campaign. It's a very complicated subject because I do understand Obama's relationship (or so I think) with Rev Wright. What I didn't understand is why, one year after these issues first surfaced, that Wright still had any role in the campaign. I would think less of Obama if he threw his minister under the bus, but that's not the same as recognizing Wright's offensive views make it inappropriate for him to have any role in the campaign. Does that make sense?

Wright's conspiratorial views on HIV and crack are things I've heard many times before. I first heard them 20 years ago interning at the State's Attorney's office. One of my fellow interns, now a judge, shared these views with me. I have no idea how widely held these views are in the black community but I'm certain they are heard regularly. So, it doesn't surprise me that Obama would not be 'troubled' when he heard them spoke. I wasn't troubled when my friend shared them with me 20 years ago, I just thought he was gullible.

Anyway, the fallout from recent disclosures of Wright's was to force Obama to address the race issue. Yesterday, he delivered a speech that I thought was brilliant. I've heard it a couple times and read it a couple times as well. This nearly perfect speech is exactly what needs to be said to attempt to move the nation to the next level on racial unity.

If you have not read the speech, you need to do so. Barack Obama has perfectly described both my grandmothers. The full text is here.

If you have not watched the full speech, you may do so here,



I'll write more later.

(posted from Chili's Too, Lambert International Airport, St. Louis)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Still no cash for a MI redo

Hillary surrogate PA Gov Rendell begged Soros to pop for a revote in MI.

Soros declined.

Clueless John McCain

Following his heroic visit to Iraq, McCain stopped off in Jordan and revealed he has no idea what's happening in Iraq:

Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.”

Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was “common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.” A few moments later, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, standing just behind McCain, stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate’s ear. McCain then said: “I’m sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda.”

The mistake threatened to undermine McCain's argument that his decades of foreign policy experience make him the natural choice to lead a country at war with terrorists. In recent days, McCain has repeatedly said his intimate knowledge of foreign policy make him the best equipped to answer a phone ringing in the White House late at night.
Matt is quite right to point out that this is a bigger deal than McCain just getting some minor trivia wrong. McCain holds himself out as the only candidate to know what's going on in Iraq and have the answers to solve the problem of Iraq and yet he appears to be clueless as to what's actually going on in Iraq.

What is "common knowledge" is that Al Qaeda is a Sunni based organization that has little or nothing to do with Iran. It's Saudi princes who seem to provide most of Al Qaeda's money and weapons, but that is an inconvenient fact we don't like to discuss.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Investment Banks

In comments to my earlier post, Nils Gilman makes an important point that others have made today (but no one has explained) but which most of us don't understand. Bear Stearns was not a bank like you and I think of banks (which accepts consumer deposits etc) , but rather was an "investment bank".
Investment banks help companies and governments raise money by issuing and selling securities in the capital markets (both equity and debt), as well as providing advice on transactions such as mergers and acquisitions. Until the late 1980's, the United States and Canada maintained a separation between investment banking and commercial banks.

A majority of investment banks also offer strategic advisory services for mergers, acquisitions, divestiture or other financial services for clients, such as the trading of derivatives, fixed income, foreign exchange, commodity, and equity securities.
The reason this is pointed out, is that investment banks are not regulated in the way consumer banks are, and as Nils pointed out, until now did not enjoy the Fed protection from failure enjoyed by Federally insured consumers banks.

In other words, the Fed and JP Morgan did not move to protect consumers, but rather used tens of billions of tax dollars to bail out investors who were up to their eyeballs in losses from 'drinking the kool aid' on so-called mortgage backed sub-prime securities.

I won't even try to explain further because I don't fully understand the situation, but this will give you an idea as to one reason why the bailout is so controversial.

Senator Vitter: "...an enormous difference"

Although lost on me, Sen David Vitter (R-LA) assures there is no comparison between him and Spitzer,
"Anybody who looks at the two cases will see there is an enormous difference between the two of them. The people that are trying to draw comparisons to the two cases are people who've never agreed with me on important issues like immigration and other things."
Immigration? Is that some sort of racist code that speaks to fellow Republicans, but is lost on the rest of us?

Mia Culpa

On the whole, I think Joe Klein is a jackass.

However, I must give him credit for his blog entry yesterday: Five Years After.
Here is the column I wrote five years ago as the war began. In retrospect, I made several obvious mistakes--namely, the assumption that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. The most regrettable sentence in the piece is this one:

Hans Blix's inspection regime wasn't nearly as muscular as it needed to be.


That was wrong. The UN's actions in the runup to the war were precise and admirable. The Bush Administration's actions were not. And while it was clear that I had a sense that there was trouble ahead--and an idea about the precise (sectarian) nature of that trouble--I was clueless as to the historic disaster the war would become, and couldn't imagine the utter incompetence of the Bush Administration in trying to restore order. The military decision to spare the power plants in Iraq, which I touted in the first paragraph, proved moot as those plants were rendered useless by looters and, later, by insurgents. Clearly, the column was written with the assumption that the war was "winnable." Stupid, stupid, stupid. It wasn't and isn't.

Color McClatchy Skeptical

McClatchy Washington Bureau headline: Cheney cites 'phenomenal' Iraqi security progress as bombing kills 40

(ht to TPM)

Irony Watch

This is actually from last week.

One of Hillary's top fundraisers, Alan Patricof, had demanded Howard Dean "exercise some leadership" to get the Clintons what they want in FL and MI.

Ironically, Howard Dean's impotent leadership is the only reason the Clintons are still in this race. If Dean had any leadership, it would be used to move the Clintons out given the fact that there is no mathematical path for them to win the nomination and has not been since at best, Wisconsin.

Big Surprise

Michigan Re-vote has Problems.

'Heads I win, Tails you Lose"

Not being an economist or banker, I am struggling to get a handle on current banking crisis. I do have a tiny advantage to most of my liberal arts major friends in that I lived the first 20 or so years of my life with a banker and the last 5 or 6 years of the period I did listen and learned a few things. For instance, I know the practice of the Fed to arrange a buyout of a failing financial institution by a solvent competitor is not a new practice.

I think most reasonable people agree and understand that we cannot allow any U.S. bank to fail. In having the world's safest banking system, our economy benefits in ways all Americans take for granted. Recent dollar woes aside, American banks attract trillions of dollars from all over the world, which is a good thing for keeping our interest rates low and providing lots of capital for economic expansion.

The problem is that we also can't allow risk to removed from the markets and subsidize the investment risk of Wall Street executives playing "heads I win, tails you lose" as Paul Krugman explains in his NYTs column today. The "you" by the way, is all of us, the US taxpayers. And it's important to repeat that the story of Bear Stearns ended as it should, with Bear's shareholders getting clean out.

Most reasonable people will concede that it is truly galling that the very executives who created this mess have made literally tens of billions of dollars ($178 BILLION in bonuses paid to Wall Street since 1999 according to Nils Gilman)

Krugman does a good job of explaining just where we stand right now (Jared Bernstein also sheds some light) and suggest that it's time to form a company like Resolution Trust to step in and liquidate the assets of failed institutions to pay back the taxpayer for the bailout. The Resolution Trust Corp was a Federally owned corporation formed to resolve the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s.

My guess is that Krugman is right.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Removing Risks from the Markets

Photobucket
Lucas Jackson/Reuters

The Fed is in a tough spot these days, damned if they do and damned if they don't.

Gretchen Morgenson writing in the Sunday Times argues that the Bear Stearns bailout crosses the line. "What are the consequences of a world in which regulators rescue even the financial institutions whose recklessness and greed helped create the titanic credit mess we are in? Will the consequences be an even weaker currency, rampant inflation, a continuation of the slow bleed that we have witnessed at banks and brokerage firms for the past year?" And Gretchen has a point even as she acknowledges that such large institutions can't be allowed to fail.

And now it seems that Gretchen will have her pound of flesh. Bear Stearns cut a deal today to sell itself to JP Morgan for $236M or $2 a share, which represents a 93% discount from the closing price on Friday. This price includes Bear's Madison Ave HQ valued at $1.2 billion. Last year Bear Stearns was trading for $170 a share. And this is exactly as it should be. By almost all accounts, Bear Stearns conduct in the sub-prime mortgage disaster was reckless. Its shareholders deserve to loose everything, while the depositors are entitled to complete safety.

Since the Great Depression the Fed has acted in this way; arranging buyouts of failing institutions by solvent competitors. The concern with the current credit crisis is a lack of sufficient solvent competitors with the capital reserves necessary to take on the liabilities of the failed institutions.

This is going to be a very rough ride.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Drunk History vol. 1

Not to be missed.

On August 6th 2007, Mark Gagliardi drank a bottle of Scotch...
And then discussed a famous historical event.

And with a few exceptions, it surprisingly accurate.

Friday, March 14, 2008

MI redo?

Greg Sargent reports that MI is close to "a deal" on a redo.

But in reading Sargent's piece, he only sites Obama people saying they are close to agreeing. No mention is made as to how to pay for such a redo (If they open every precinct it would have to cost $30Mil plus) or any other of the logistics. Sargent mentions in passing that the MI legislature might have to approve the deal as early as next week. What are the odds of that?

In short, there is no deal and we are no closer now to an MI redo than we were this time last month.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What does this say about the Clintons?

Mark Penn: Pennsylvania will show that "Senator Obama really can't win the general election."

If true, what conclusions might we draw about the Senator who trails Obama by 700,000 votes and 28 states?

Wow

in a Murrow moment Keith Olbermann has had enough of the race baiting Clinton Campaign. His remarks last night to conclude Countdown are all the buzz today. If you didn't hear them, here there are.

History as a Guide

The Clintons Bush-like sense of history is almost as disturbing as their Bush-like respect for voters.

The Clintons are behind Obama in every measure: popular vote, pledged delegates, total delegates, state's won, with no rational hope that they will overtake Obama in any of those metrics. So, they go forward now clinging to the claim that they may have lost twice as many races has they have won, but the only states that count are they states they have won, which will all be swing states in November.

Problem is, there is no historical correlation between states won by a candidate in a primary and in the general election.

NBC's Mark Murry:

In 2004, for example, John Kerry won early Democratic contests in Iowa, Arizona, and Missouri, but he fell short in all three states when pitted against George W. Bush.

In 1992, Bill Clinton captured primaries in Florida and Texas, but lost those states in the general election. And in 1984 — in a primary that has drawn parallels to the current Democratic race — Walter Mondale secured the Democratic nomination over Gary Hart in part by winning large industrial states like Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania.



Long past time to go Bill and Hillary.

Is Hillary the New Jerry Brown

Mark Schmitt runs the numbers and concludes just that,
For the record, Senator Obama came out of the Mississippi primary with an advantage of 99,000 votes over Senator Clinton, more than I had predicted based on his edge in Alabama. That puts his margin in the nationwide popular vote -- by a measure that includes Florida but not Michigan -- at more than 500,000.

As I noted yesterday, it will take a colossal victory, almost 60%, for Clinton to get a 200,000 vote edge out of Pennsylvania. And if she does that, there is no plausible scheme under which she could pick up the remaining 300,000 votes to gain even the dubious moral claim of an edge in the popular vote.

Democratic Leadership

Nancy Pelosi "expressed a bit of anxiety about the tone of the Democratic campaign."

Sadly, this is what passes for Democratic party leadership.

Ferrarro

Soon to be NY Gov Paterson is lucky to be not only black but blind too.

Laura Bush?

Can we all agree that should John McCain win the election that Laura Bush has to be on a short list for the next Secretary of State?

Reporting from FLA

I'm back in Florida on business. Local news is reporting that a mail-in vote would be illegal under Florida law.

There is still no money to pay for such a vote.

Interestingly, they run a lot of right-wing ads on TV down hear. This morning teahers unions were attacked and of course House Dems.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Popular Vote after MS

Here are the new popular vote totals.

With more than 52% of the popular vote, Obama has expanded his lead to 700,000 votes, 13,402,903 for Obama to 12,705,360 for the Clintons. Even counting Florida, Obama enjoys a 416,000 vote lead.

It's a tall order for the Clintons to win the popular vote, but rest assured Clinton fans, they will tear the party apart trying.

Good Riddance

It seems that NY Democratic Governor Elliot Spitzer will resign today. Go already. I'm sick of the story. I was as stunned as everyone when the story broke, but I'm already over it.

And Dems shouldn't burn an ounce of capital defending him. This story isn't about a personal indiscretion, but about criminal activity. It's no crime to have an extra-marital affair, it is a crime to hire a prostitute. I have no idea what Spitzer was thinking, but he certainly knew the risk he was taking.

I couldn't care less if he was the target of prosecution by the Feds. Like Seth, I'm tired of trying to defend people who should know better.

Live by the sword,....

Why Are Things Like This Tolerated

Via Big Media Matt,
House Democrats believe they have a decent shot at endangering the seats of a troika of South Florida Cuban American Republicans, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, his brother Mario, and the evil Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. But one problem. Representative Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, a Florida Democrat who co-chairs the "red to blue" program aimed at picking up seats won't get involved because she's pals with the Republicans in question. Which is nice for her, but obviously the role of someone in her position is to try to beat Republican incumbents, not protect them.
Apparently, Wasserman-Shultz shares he should-be rivals passion for the failed Cuban embargo. And all of this would be fine but for her chairing the committee to defeat her buddies.

Why isn't their a chorus for her resignation?

The Clintons End Game

Seth Grahame-Smith crystallizes my thoughts completely on the Clintons.

USA Today reports that Florida is going forward with mail-in ballot. Every time I read a cost estimate it's different. The Fla Dems are now saying $10M which they intend to raise. I'll believe it when I see it.

With Obama's win in Mississippi, the Clintons are now in worse shape on pledged delegates than going into Ohio and Texas.

The MSM focuses endlessly on the delegate race always suggesting that it is still a competitive race. The race has been over since Obama won the Potomac primaries.

Even big Clinton wins in PA, West Virginia, and FLA and MI do-overs won't do them any good on the pledged delegate counts, which they know perfectly well.

In listening to their surrogates the last several weeks, they have tacitly acknowledged that they can't win the pledged delegate count and now are focused on winning the popular vote. The Clintons hope to argue that superdelegates are justified in ripping the nomination from Obama if the Clintons have won the popular vote.

It is votes and not delegates that the Clintons seek going forward.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Southern Baptist leaders go green

Via the AP,
NEW YORK - In a major shift, a group of Southern Baptist leaders said their denomination has been “too timid” on environmental issues and has a biblical duty to stop global warming.

The declaration, signed by the president of the Southern Baptist Convention among others and released Monday, shows a growing urgency about climate change even within groups that once dismissed claims of an overheating planet as a liberal ruse.
It's easy to make light of this, but it really is a big deal.

Don't forget that this is the same group that waited until 1995 -- the 130th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation -- to finally give up on slavery.

This is real progress.

Obama Makes the Obvious Response.

Obama: 'If I am not ready, how is it that you think I should be such a great vice president?'.

An African-American superdelegate was quoted this morning on MSNBC also making an obvious point. The black candidate is winning the popular vote and has an insurmountable pledged delegate lead and the Clintons tell him to "go to the back of the bus."

Exactly when do the so-called party leaders wake up and us their power with superdelegates to end what is quickly becoming a disaster? Wait until the Clintons net 3 more delegates in the PA primary? Or 1 more in West Virginia?

Are they dumb enough to still believe the Clintons will at some point self-police and step aside? There is certainly nothing in the Clintons history to make any reasonable person believe that day would ever come.

The Clintons are poised to lose an entire new generation of party activist on their way to alienated the African-American vote.

Will superdelegates break after tomorrow? The biggest single problem the Dems have had since 2000 is a lack of leadership.

Enough already.

(By the way, a Republican for Obama (RFO) sent me the link to the Politico article.)

WTF!

NY Gov Elliot Spitzer Linked to Prostitution Ring.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Il-14 goes to Democrat Bill Foster!

Local Chicago news is reporting that with 99% of the precincts counted, Bill Foster has beaten Jim Oberwise in a special election to replace Denny Hastert 52% to 47%. This is big. This has been a republican district since 1976. Obama filmed a commercial that has been running heavily in the Chicago region for the last week. Oberwise was the hand picked successor by Hassert. This is the fourth time that Oberwise has ran for an elected office and he has failed every time. The DNCC and RNCC both invested millions in this race. Hopefully it is a good sign for this fall with so many Republicans giving up their seats.

Unfreakin' Believable!

The Democrats have taken Dennis Hastert's seat in Illinois, which has been Republican since the beginning of time.

Why?

The Clintons Sicilian Cajun errand boy James Carville thinks Clinton and Obama should raise cash for re-votes in MI and FLA.

First of all, the cost to actually open every precinct could easily be more than $20 mil for each state. Such a full scale re-vote would require the cooperation of both state governments (would the legislatures have to act?) who own the equipment and infrastructure (including personnel) necessary to run the elections, count the votes and certify the results. It's not as simple as writing a check. Would each state advance all the costs and expenses and bill the DNC? I will predict that they will not.

Mailing ballots would be much cheaper but even so, the logistics are still significant. Someone has to canvas the election records for the names and addresses of each Democrat. Do people register in FL and MI by party? In MI, independents can vote in primaries. How would this be handled and what measures could be used to prevent tampering in each state?

The most particle solution would be to hold caucuses (as MI is rumored to be planning) in each state but the Clintons would flip-shit at that proposal. Add to this the fact that the Florida Democratic party has no interest in a re-vote in any form.

But logistics aside, why would Obama want to burn some of his fund raising dollars to pay for revotes? He has an insurmountable delegate lead without either state.

The DNC's dispute with MI and FLA is all about the rules that those states refused to follow. Not a day goes by that the Clintons don't speak passionately of the rules of the DNC that would allow them to loose the popular vote and delegate race and still be the nominee. They are Bush-like in their passion to lead without the support of the voters.

Über Clintonista Harold Ickes was on the Rules Committee of the DNC and in fact voted to strip both states of their delegates.

So why now should Barack Obama use any of his ability to raise money to pay for a second vote in two states when he has nothing to gain from the process?

The Clintons are desperate for those delegates, let them raise the money.

UPDATE: MI Sen Carl Levin has now come out against a MI re-vote citing costs and logistics.

Obama wins Wyoming by 19 23 points

And this despite the Clintons attempt to win this race.

The AP: Obama wins Wyoming, pads delegate lead

Thursday, March 06, 2008

FL and MI Redo?

As I said below, there are reports the MI will announce a caucus in the next few days. Look for the Clintons to flip-shit at the thought of a caucus. My guess is they are right now trying to kill it, for fear that such a caucus could kill them.

Hillary surrogate Sen Ben Nelson is calling for the DNC to pay for a re-vote, which the DNC has no plans to do. The history of both MI and FLA resulting in the loss of their delegates is long and sordid, with the DNC trying very hard to for solutions late last year and Democratic leaders from both states told them to pound sand (and don't believe those stories of the FL Dems being the victims of the GOP).

MI may do a caucus because it's much, much cheaper and easier to organize (you don't need all the voting machines and statewide and state owned infrastructure to count the votes.).

The Clintons to date have opposed a FL re-vote, and I'm speculating that a possible MI caucus is forcing them to re-think their position. A FL caucus makes much more sense than a very expensive state-wide re-vote in FL. FL isn't Rhode Island. The logical choice for FL, like MI, is a much less expensive party run caucus. But has the Clintons have made repeatedly clear, caucuses don't count.

The thought of MI and FL caucuses to seat their respective delegates amuses the hell out of me.