Friday, June 27, 2008

District of Columbia vs. Heller

The landmark opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290), interpreting the Second Amendment, is available here. Justice Antonin Scalia, the greatest 'strict constructionist' in the history of the Supreme Court wrote for the 5 to 4 majority.

The actual text of the Second Amendment in full:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
I've always found the Second Amendment to be very straight forward. Having just fought a revolution against a tyrannical government, the individual states were very concerned about any federal government being given too much power. A 'unitary president' if you prefer. The Second Amendment assured the states that the federal government would never have the power to disarm their individual 'well regulated militias' thus guaranteeing them a measure of their own sovereignty which they already enjoyed, and had no intention of surrendering.

Of course, I'm no 'strict constructionist' and only attended a state law school. As it turns out, I actually had no idea what the second Amendment said. Thankfully, we have Justice Scalia, to interpret the ancient text for us.

The great strict constructionist explains that the Second Amendment in fact reads thus:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed
Justice Scalia acknowledges that 3 drafts of the Second Amendment unequivocally granting an individual right were considered and rejected which, as any strict constructionist knows, can only mean that the founders intended exactly what they rejected.

Admittedly, I've only made it through the first 30 pages, but I have to say that at times, it's almost laugh out loud funny. Sadly, I do not believe humor was Justice Scalia's intent, but then it's hard to assert, with a straight face, that half the language of an amendment doesn't exist.

Read the opinion if you like. I hope to finish it soon. If you can't bring yourself to read the whole thing (the verbal gymnastics are Olympian) you can find very good commentary here.

Iraq's just like Germany and Japan

We're going to be hearing a lot of this from the right.

Josh takes issue with this nonsense,
...there's one distinction between the case of Germany and Japan and Iraq today that gets far too little mention. It's not a matter of culture or religion. It is the fact in the aftermath of World War II, both Germany and Japan had been conquered by the United States and her allies in a wars of aggression that Germany and Japan had started. The civilian populations of each country, whatever their war guilt, had experienced shattering levels of violence and privation in the final years of the war. And both countries were immediately faced by nearby hostile powers they feared much more than the United States. There are almost countless differences between the two historical situations, either separate from these points or growing out them. But taken together, these three factors explain a great deal of why our occupation of Iraq lacks both the legitimacy and the acceptance we enjoyed in those two countries.
We entered Iraq unilaterally to 'liberate' them, and Iraqis will never, ever, believe our occupation is legitimate.

US troops in the heart of Islam will always be targets. Always.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

DoJ official pleads the Fifth

Wow. I kinda think this is a big deal.

Michele DeKonty, Chief of Staff for the DOJ's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Administrator, asserted her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in refusing to testify before the House Oversight Committee last week. Waxman's committee thinks DeKonty awarded 'hundreds of millions of dollars' in grants to cronies.

Her taking the Fifth leads me to believe Waxman might be right.

Why did John McCain hate America?

"I really didn't love America until I was deprived of her company," - John McCain, talking candidly of his time as a prisoner of war on Fox News last March. Fox never broadcast the comment and removed it from the transcript of the Hannity interview.

(HT to Andrew)

Polling 'independant voters'

NBC's Chuck Todd offers some perspective regarding independent voters in national polling,
Be careful over-interpreting the independents number for McCain in current polls. The reason he's doing well among indies is that a growing slice of them are former Republicans.

This goes to the party I.D. issue. As more folks refuse to identify themselves as GOPers, they move into the independent category, making those voters more conservative than we've seen in the past and therefore artificially increasing McCain's share among them.

When looking at national polls, it's better to study ideology (those who identify as "conservative" or "liberal") rather than party ID ("Republican," "Independent" or "Democrat").

Republicans jumping in Obama's boat

I'm speechless.

GOP ads thus far have tried to demonize Democratic candidates by linking them to the wildly popular Democratic nominee. Not surprisingly, this has been a total failure with the GOP losing 3 house seats in 3 of the most Republican congressional districts in the country.

So, if you can't beat him, join him?

Oregon Republican Sen Gordon Smith's new TV ad brags of his relationship working with Obama and insists that Obama approves of him. This has to be unprecedented.

"Obama's campaign said the Illinois senator appreciated that his ‘record of bipartisan achievement is respected by his Democratic and Republican colleagues.’ But Obama is backing Democrat Jeff Merkley in the Oregon Senate race, said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.”

Bayh: 'Yes' to VP

No surprise here. Indiana Senator Evan Bayh want's to be VP,
Asked by NBC's Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC this afternoon if he would accept being vice president if asked, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) said, in part, It's not something you turn down. "The answer to that is 'Yes,'" he said.

When asked if he was being vetted by the Obama campaign, he didn't say no, and, in fact, intimated that he is being vetted.

It's the date, stupid

TPM reader HW thinks everyone has missed the point of Rove's recent remarks about Obama being "the guy at the country club with the beautiful date".

The bounce continues

Obama holds 12-point lead over McCain in the latest LA Times/Bloomberg Poll.

There is a lot of good news for Obama in this poll. He's running ahead with women voters (again, so much for all the silly talk a few weeks ago of this being an issue) and running even with white voters and independents. With Barr and Nader in the mix, Obama's lead widens.

But what I find most significant -- and very troubling for McCain is this,
McCain suffers from a pronounced "passion gap," especially among conservatives who usually give Republican candidates a reliable base of support. Among voters who described themselves as conservative, 58% said they would vote for McCain; 15% said they would vote for Obama, 14% said they would vote for someone else, and 13% said they were undecided. By contrast, 79% of voters who described themselves as liberal said they planned to vote for Obama.

Even among voters who said they planned to vote for McCain, more than half said they were "not enthusiastic" about their chosen candidate; 45% said they were enthusiastic. By contrast, 81% of Obama voters said they were enthusiastic, and almost half called themselves "very enthusiastic," a level of zeal found in 13% of McCain's supporters.
Bush won re-election by the smallest margin of any incumbent in US history. If you add 10% to Obama in new and independent voters -- a conservative estimate -- and subtract 10% of McCain -- also a conservative number -- you have an Obama landslide. This is not missed on McCain's campaign.

Obama's plan to redraw the political map

The Politico has a must read article up today explaining just how important -- and far reaching -- the money advantage can be.

Part of the strategy is obvious: Obama is targeting 4 key states Bush narrowly won (Iowa, NM, OH & NV) or which his campaign believes very reasonably they can win such as Colorado, Fla, MO, VA, NC, MT, ND, Indiana, GA and Alaska (yes, Alaska where every member of the congressional delegation is on the verge of indictment).

The not as obvious part of the strategy is to run hard in states they really don't believe they can win but want to pick up House and even some Senate seats on the road to building a Democratic coalition the likes of which haven't been seen since the New Deal. And this is not just about 2008.

Deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand explains,
“Texas is a great example where we might not be able to win the state, but we want to pay a lot of attention to it,” Hildebrand said. “It’s one of the most important redistricting opportunities in the country.”

Texas Democrats are five seats away in each chamber from control of the state Legislature, which will redraw congressional districts after the 2010 census.

In Wyoming, Democrat Gary Trauner, running for the state’s sole congressional seat, lost narrowly against an incumbent in 2006 and is now seeking an open seat.

“If we can register more Democrats, if we can increase the Democratic performance and turnout, maybe we can pick up a congressional seat,” Hildebrand said.
This is what a big money advantage means.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Given the changing nature of the nation's demographics many states once thought to be blood red may be an election or two away from being a swing state or even a blue state. But the electoral map won't redraw itself -- It takes time and money.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

National transportation overhaul

The legendary former head of American Airlines thinks that deregulation of the airline industry has been a bust. In a recent speech Bob Crandall (who loudly and famously opposed deregulation at the time) outlines what he thinks is wrong with the current airline industry and steps necessary to fix the problem which includes re-regulation.

The full text of the speech is here, and I highly recommend reading it if you have any interest in national transportation policy.

The nonexistence of a comprehensive national transportation policy is one of the biggest failures of leadership of the Bush administration and the Republican controlled Congress. In just one example, they have been working on a much needed comprehensive redesign of the air traffic control system operated by the FAA (who everyone agrees is outdated by decades) since 2003 and completely paralyzed by absurd ideological issues as to payment for the new system, etc (use tax or excise tax, privatize or keep public, blah, blah, blah). These same GOP politicians think nothing of spend $12 billion a month in Iraq and our ATC is in shambles....but I digress.

The nation is in desperate need of a comprehensive national transportation policy that completely rethinks how people move from place to place. And we are desperate for a major infrastructure investment on the scale of Eisenhower's Interstate Highway system.

One of the things that surprised me about Crandall's remarks was his support for a huge pet issue of mine: modern high speed rail service.

Given the high level of congestion at our major airports and our desire to operate a more energy efficient transportation complex, I am similarly mystified as to why we have heard little or nothing about the development of alternative surface transportation systems for short haul journeys. At our major airports, a significant percentage of flights are to destinations less than 300 miles distant, which could readily be replaced by the modern high speed rail systems found in many countries around the world. Similarly, we could increase long haul aviation capacity to and from our major cities by linking near by airports to those cities with high speed rail links.

The East Coast offers easy examples. It would be a relatively simple matter to improve rail service between New York and Washington sufficiently to render airline service unnecessary and thus free the LaGuardia and Reagan slots now allocated for service between the two points for longer flights.
There are many markets that would be ideal for such rail service including STL to Chicago, STL to KC, Indy, etc. If I could take a train to Chicago Union Station in 3 hours or less I'd do it every time and so would every other business traveler working online the entire journey. But such service would require major Federal infrastructure investment in modern, dedicated rail lines that presently don't exist outside of the East Coast corridor.

And in addition to an overhaul of the national air infrastructure and modern rail travel, we need to repair our existing highways and bridges and provide funding for major light rail expansion in nearly every large American city. American cities that can move workers around in a reasonable and economical way are at a competitive disadvantage in a global economy.

Post war America led the world with modern infrastructure -- and not just transportation but electrical power and communications -- which fed an economic boom that allowed the US economy to dominate the world.

But as a result of our absurd and idiotic post cold war spending priorities, we are now decades behind the rest of the developed world in infrastructure investment.

Barack Obama has called for a new modern rail system wherein the US would have the world's fastest trains but when we insist on DoD expenditures literally at World War II levels for equipment to fight enemies that haven't existed in more than 20 years, there simply is no money for infrastructure. Of course the rest of the G8 living 'in the now' are investing heavily in modern infrastructure while the US falls further and further behind.

A campaign arms race

Forgive the lengthy quote, but I wanted to get this up because it is a very important point to keep in mind as we watch the McCain camp react to Obama's money advantage.

From the folks at First Read yesterday,
...One of the more under appreciated ways that Obama defeated Clinton in the Democratic primaries is that he forced her to compete in a political arms race that she couldn't win. Think about it: Clinton raised more than $200 million, and she now finds herself $22.5 million in debt. It was Obama playing Reagan to Clinton's role as Gorbachev. Now that Obama has decided to opt out of the public financing system -- enabling him to perhaps raise $300 million between now and Election Day -- could history repeat itself? Over the weekend, via the New York Times, we learned that he’s dispatching paid staffers to all states and that he might run national TV ads tied to the Olympics, as well as targeted ones on MTV and BET. For the first time in quite a while, Republicans are going to be outspent significantly in a presidential election. Can they prove they can win when being outspent? (Have they ever done it before?) McCain having $84 million to spend between the GOP convention and November -- less than 60 days -- is a lot of money. Then again, Clinton's $200 million-plus was a lot of money, too.

Charlie Black's hope to save McCain campaign

The McCain campaign is pushing hard the meme that McCain is the man a scared nation would turn to and they're hoping for a big terrorist attack on US soil to save their campaign.

McCain's chief strategist, Charlie Black in Fortune,
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But [McCain's] knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.
Of course McCain expresses concern and surprise at the comment but let's not be naive, no one has lost their job as a result of it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin RIP

I couldn't let the day pass without a tribute to George Carlin. I was lucky enough to see George Carlin live in St. Louis many years ago. He was tremendously cleaver and irreverent in a very important and meaningful way. He always challenged authority regardless of fashion and pointed out the absurdity of certain societal conventions regardless of who he offended. Who will do this now?

This is the routine that got Carlin arrested, and which found itself in front of the Supreme Court:

Here, George takes on organized religion.

This post was updated to replace the orginal videos that were deleted from Youtube.

The FISA rewrite

The netroots are not happy.

I've been in NYC for most of the last week and really not blogging. I didn't comment on the supposed FISA compromise brokered by Steny Hoyer (D-MD)that would include telecom immunity but my feelings on this are no secret. I vigorously oppose any immunity at least until all the facts are known and am deeply offended as an American by the idea that private phone calls, emails, etc. of US citizens would be compromised by the Government without judicial oversight.

I find it stunning that at this late date anyone could be surprised by the strong feeling not just from the left but from civil libertarians of all strips.

Blue America PAC has raised $310k and counting virtually overnight to run against Hoyer and others who have supported telecom immunity.

Below is the opening shot newspaper ad against Hoyer.

I intend to send a little money there way. And remember, the donation does not have to be large. That's the point. Even $10 or $20 makes a difference.

You can donate here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

IKEA Brooklyn

The first IKEA in NYC just opened yesterday on the Brooklyn waterfront, and it's been all over the local news so I went and checked it out.

IKEA is operating a free water taxi from lower Manhattan and bus service to bring people in for the grand opening weekend.

IKEA had to go to Brooklyn because their stores are so enormous there was no (affordable) room anywhere else. It's hard to appreciate the size of the store until you have seen it. The store is 346,000 square feet and employs 500 people. It's an entire old warehouse the size of St. Louis Center. Pulling onto the parking lot reminded me of pulling into Six Flags being directed and routed by a small army to a parking spot.

I've never been to an IKEA store and was really interested to see what all the hype is about. IKEA has the best looking and best quality cheap crap I've ever seen. It would have been great to have had an IKEA handy when I was in college or just out and trying to furnish an apartment. That stuff is really perfect for NY and I'm surprised their so late arriving. And I would have bought some of it, if I wasn't flying.

(Posted from the Hilton Garden Inn, Staten Island)

Cafferty: The McCain Flip-Flop

McCain is approaching an all time flip-flop record and people are starting to notice.

(Posted from the Hilton Garden Inn, Staten Island)

Obama opts out

For the first time in public campaign finance history, a candidate has opted out for the general election.

I'm a little surprised because the general election is only two months long and Federal Funding is $80M plus.

Needless to say, McCain will flip shit. Obama has outraised McCain 3 to 1 and it's expected that margin will go up dramatically when June is reported.

But McCain doesn't have clean hands on this issue. He opted for public financing in the primaries when he was broke and driving around in a van, and used the public financing to guarantee loans, only changing his mind after his fundraising improved and he could have more money to spend by opting out. In otherwords, exactly what Obama is doing.

(Posted from the Hilton Garden Inn, Staten Island)

Loving Priceline

I'm in Staten Island on depositions today and tomorrow and spending the weekend in Manhattan. Finding a reasonably priced room in Manhattan is the trick.

I went on Priceline and looked at their standard discount rates and while they are not bad, they're really no different than Exedia, Orbitz, etc. And in fact, you can almost always get those rates directly from the hotel without all the restrictions placed on reservations through the online discounters (like paying in advance, no refund, etc).

The real trick to getting a cheap room in Manhattan or Chicago or San Francisco, etc. is to bid for a room on Priceline. These are very restricted. You win a bid and you buy the room right then, use it or not.

The Priceline no bid rate for this weekend at the Sofitel on 44th Street at 6th Avenue was $485/night. So I bid 4 stars in Midtown West / Time Square and after a couple rounds of raising my bid I landed the same 4 star Sofitel for this weekend for $217/night. Both nights less than one night at the no bid rate.

I'm loving Priceline. The best rates seem to be had just before the weekend.

(Posted from the Hilton Garden Inn, Staten Island)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Unemployment benefits

These kinds of fights are like a gift from above.

Via The Hill's Blog,
Senate Republicans blocked an attempt Wednesday by Democrats to move a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits. The GOP objection to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) unanimous consent request virtually ensures that Democrats will add the politically popular measure to the supplemental war bill that the House plans to pass this week. President Bush has threatened to veto the bill over the unemployment-insurance extension.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gore endorses Obama

Better late than never, I suppose, although not by much.

Obama Will Visit Iraq

According toThe Hill's blog.

Good. He needs to go check it out and eliminate yet another McCain talking point.

Barr Paul 08?

I'm very skeptical but a boy can dream can't he?

The Boston Globe,
Signs are emerging of a possible alliance this fall between Ron Paul, the libertarian-minded rebel Republican, and Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee.

....Just before formally ending his presidential bid Thursday night, the Texas congressman praised Barr, and in a statement yesterday, Barr reciprocated.

"Congressman Ron Paul has fought tirelessly in both the Libertarian Party and the Republican Party to minimize government power and maximize individual liberty," said Barr,... "I want to thank him for all that he has done for liberty in this nation, and encourage him to continue his fight through whatever avenues he sees fit."

The Libertarian Party plans to get Barr on the ballot in 48 states in November,...
If this happened it would devastating to the McCain campaign. I just don't think it's very likely. The more likely explanation (Occam's Razor) for Barr's comments is his desire to get Paul's supporters.

I haven't really followed Paul's candidacy, but have the impression that Paul is not interested in playing a spoiler role in the general and that's what he would be doing if he signed on as Barr's VP.

What do you think?

Edwards back in Veepstakes?

No, I don't think so.

Yesterday Edwards was on This Week and said,
"I intended it to say that this is not a thing that I'm seeking. I think Senator Obama, first of all, has earned the right to make this decision for himself. I think he has enormous choices available to him, really great choices available to him," Edwards said on "This Week" on ABC. "And I think he'll go through this process in a thoughtful, orderly way, and he'll decide who he wants to be his running mate. And that's exactly how it should be done."

Asked whether he'd rule out the possibility, Edwards said: "Well, I'd take anything he asked me to think about seriously, but obviously this is something I've done and it's not a job that I'm seeking."
It wouldn't exactly surprise me that Edwards, who doesn't have a job, would have second thought now seeing that Obama has a real chance of winning, but I suspect more likely, he was just being polite and didn't want to sound like a jackass (See Gov. Strickland).

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert R.I.P.

I need to leave for a charity event but keep coming back to this sad news. I haven't felt like writing about anything since hearing the news.

I was often critical of Russert for his 'gotcha style' which annoyed the hell out of me at times, but now such things seem so trivial. Russert was an amazing reporter and the person to watch on election night.

I remember reading about his testimony in the Plame trial. It's apparently not widely know, but Russert was a lawyer and conducted himself as such during his testimony, which may well have sealed the conviction of Libby. Libby's attorney attempted to cross Russert but did nothing more than kick the stone wall that was Russert's mind.

Ezra Klein has a fitting little tribute,
Whatever my issues with Russert's coverage, he was there, week after week, night after night, playing the bulldog against politicians in the way he thought best. It was quite a commitment to American politics, and over the years, gave rise to some remarkable moments. Because I think folks should be remembered for their best work, here's a transcript of his September 2002 interview with Dick Cheney. If the press had been as skeptical and aggressive in the run-up to the war as Russert was on that morning, sitting next to the vice president, we never would have invaded Iraq. But for now, it's going to be strange indeed to turn on the TV on Sundays and not hear his voice. Presumably, he's up somewhere beyond the cloudline, hectoring God about His inconsistencies. "But Lord, in Exodus 6:12, you clearly said..."

Things will be quiet here for a couple days.

I'm stunned

NBC's Tim Russert dead at 58

Tom Brokaw reports the sad news,

1993 all over again

Watching the flooding in Iowa and Nebraska reminds me on the great flood of 1993.

This is exactly how it began.

The Right politicizes everything!

Since 1997 Google has chosen to commemorate wacky and nerdy milestones by occasionally tweaking their logo.

The Right has demanded control over what Google can commemorate and has denounced them as un-American for not obeying.

Does Google hate America? - By Chris Thompson - Slate Magazine

Thursday, June 12, 2008

McCain greenlights swiftboating of Obama

This didn't take long.

McCain: I Can't Stop Outside Groups From Attacking Obama.

North Carolina

As I've said, the electoral map will be re-written in November, and I've been planning in my head a post on the subject.

TPoll Suggests Obama Is Putting North Carolina In Play.

Obama is going to win NC.

The Rule of Law Prevails

Justices Rule Terror Suspects Can Appeal in Civilian Courts.

Turns out that "Liberty" may not be the enemy after all.
WASHINGTON — Foreign terrorism suspects held at the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba have constitutional rights to challenge their detention there in United States courts, the Supreme Court ruled, 5 to 4, on Thursday in a historic decision on the balance between personal liberties and national security.

“The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court.
Gitmo is a complete and total disaster, and it's going to get a lot uglier.

The latest NBC/WSJ Poll

The best news for Obama comes from the details of the latest NBC/WSJ poll and lays to rest any concerns that the Clintons supporters would not support Obama.

Via First Read -,
Obama leads McCain among African Americans (83-7), Hispanics (62-28), women (52-33), Catholics (47-40), independents (41-36) and even blue-collar workers (47-42). Obama is also ahead among those who said they voted for Clinton in the Democratic primaries (61-19). Meanwhile, McCain is up among evangelicals (69-21), white men (55-35), men (49-41), whites (47-41), and white suburban women (44-38). However, Obama has a seven-point edge (46-39) among all white women. How important is that lead? NBC/WSJ co-pollster Neil Newhouse (R) explains that Republican candidates always expect to win white men by a substantial margin, but it’s white women that usually decide the race. “If a Republican wins among white women, we usually win that election,” he says, noting that George Bush carried that group in 2000 and 2004.
It's good news but it's a long time to November.

UPDATE: This poll was taken last weekend on Friday, June 6, Saturday (when HRC stepped aside) and Sunday. It's reasonable to expect the next several polls to come out to show a nice Obama bump. However, it's a long summer and fall and Obama and McCain's numbers will be rising and falling. I suspect McCain's current 41% support will be his lowest showing of the election cycle.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

MoveOn's new add with John Cusack

Very well done.

Go here and donate a few schekels to put the ad on the air. I did.

Let the Democrats leave Iraq

It's no secret that many, many Republicans hate the occupation of Iraq as much as Democrats and see a Democratic administration ending that occupation as a win, win.

One, the US occupation is ended along with the enormous cost which is a drag on the economy.

Two, they can pass the blame for enormous mess that is Iraq to the Democrats and beat them over the head for leaving for 20 or more years.

Bringing troops home 'not too important'

After having tried to walk back from him pledge to stay in Iraq for 100 years, McCain backslides.

From this morning's Today Show courtesy of our friends at TPM,

This will be denied away by the end of the day.

And by the way, having US troops placed inside a Muslim country in the heart of Islam will always be a problem.

This isn't Korea or Western Europe. I think this is obvious, but clearly for many it is not.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

For those hoping for HRC as VP

It would appear that Democrats are the only people who like Hillary.

Independents and Republicans? Not so much.
A substantial 32 percent of independents strongly dislike Clinton, 10 points more than they say so about Obama, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll conducted over the last several months. Independents, a group that both Obama and McCain won during their party primaries this year, comprised a quarter of voters in the 2004 election and have been closely contested in every presidential election since 1992.

Other groups with significantly stronger negative feelings about Clinton than Obama include whites under age 30, male college graduates, white men and whites earning at least $100,000 a year.
That Republicans detest Hillary is not exactly news but matters because gives them a fundraising rallying cry that McCain doesn't have right now.

Attacking Iran

Steve Clemons notes that Cheney's forces are again on the rise and they want to attack Iran before leaving office.


...of Bush's biggest donors have given to McCain.

Congressional Quarterly,
According to a Congressional Quarterly analysis, only about 5,000 of the 62,800 donors who gave the maximum contribution of $2,000 to Bush — roughly 8 percent — had given to McCain as of April 30.

Although the general election is still months away, the hesitancy on the part of former Bush donors may point to larger fundraising challenges for McCain. So far, he has been out-raised by his Democratic counterparts, tallying only $101 million in receipts through the end of April compared to $272 million for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama , the presumed Democratic nominee.
Old mayor Daley had some sage advice for those who want to play in politics that may be operable here: "Don't make no waves, don't back no losers."

Big time donors don't give out of the goodness of their heart; they see such donations as investments. And those who can write $2000 checks are not in the habit of making bad investments,.....or for that matter, backing losers.

Bruce Bartlett wrote about this a year ago.

Bay Buchanan

Conservative lunatic Bay Buchanan writing in Human Events,
... in reality there is only one candidate. Barack Obama. In November he will win or he will lose.

John McCain is relevant only in so far as he is not Barack Obama. The Senator from Arizona is incapable of energizing his party, brings no new people to the polls, and has a personality that is best kept under wraps. And while his strong suite is experience, especially on military matters, it was gained almost entirely in Washington, a city that 80% of Americans now believe has miserably misled and mismanaged the nation.
Something I would have never guessed I would have ever said, even if I lived 100 years: Bay Buchanan has a point.

Bush wants 58 permenant bases In Iraq

The Bush administration is demanding 58 permanent bases in Iraq as a part of a "Status of Forces" agreement with Maliki, which they want done by July.

The agreement would also surrender Iraq's sovereignty to the U.S.

Not surprisingly, it's controversial among many Iraqis who are fond of their sovereignty.
Leading members of the two ruling Shiite parties said in a series of interviews the Iraqi government rejected this proposal along with another U.S. demand that would have effectively handed over to the United States the power to determine if a hostile act from another country is aggression against Iraq. Lawmakers said they fear this power would drag Iraq into a war between the United States and Iran.

"The points that were put forth by the Americans were more abominable than the occupation," said Jalal al Din al Saghir, a leading lawmaker from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. "We were occupied by order of the Security Council," he said, referring to the 2004 Resolution mandating a U.S. military occupation in Iraq at the head of an international coalition. "But now we are being asked to sign for our own occupation. That is why we have absolutely refused all that we have seen so far."
This agreement would not be approved by our Congress or the Iraqi parliament, but for some odd reason, the Bushies seem to think that such an agreement between Bush and Maliki is binding on any future administrations in either country. Apparently, even at this late date, they continue to believe their own spin.

Largest campaign debt in history

The New York Times reports that the Clintons have ended their latest presidential campaign with the largest debt in history.

And campaign finance laws prohibit the Obama campaign from simply paying it off.

McCain-Feingold prevents the Clintons campaign from paying off their personal loans after the August convention so the Clintons will likely not see that money again, and most people seem to think the millions still owed Mark Penn should never be paid.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Moyers eats O'Reilly producer for lunch

Crooks and Liars has the video and it's pretty good. And stay to the end so you can see O'Reilly's producer skulk off refusing to talk to reporters.

3G iPhone day

Everyone who follows such things is convinced that Jobs will announce the new 3G iPhone today at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference. Upon announcement the phone will either go on sale immediately or in a week.

There is also speculation that Apple will now allow AT&T (and international carriers) to subsidize the new phones like any other cell phone.

I plan on getting the new iPhone as soon as it's available, whenever that might be.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

What makes you think she even wants the job?

Kevin Drum doesn't think HRC wants to be VP.
...what makes anyone think that Hillary wants to be Obama's VP? I just don't see it. On a social level, it's hard to picture someone of Hillary's age, experience, and temperament being willing to play second fiddle to a young guy like Obama. On a political level, she has more clout in the Senate than she would as vice president. On a personal level, Obama and Clinton (and their respective teams) just don't seem to like each other much.

Now, maybe she wants the VP slot anyway. Who knows? But I think she'd be more effective in the Senate, have way more freedom of movement, have more career opportunities, and would do more for the party by helping to hold down a second branch of government than she would by being Obama's shadow. Anyone disagree?
Of course many of us have made the same points. HRC as VP makes no sense which is why I said for months that she would never want or take the job. But what makes us now think she wants it? Because every reporter who has spoken to her inner most circle says she does, and I think even Terry McAuliffe said she wanted it in an on the record interview (but maybe I'm wrong and I'm too tired to look for it.). Her Husband says she wants it. Her BFF Diane Feinstein says she wants it, etc.

The only person who hasn't said she wants it is Hillary. In fact Hillary has said she doesn't want it, but then isn't that how the dance goes? It would be unseemly (and humiliating) for HRC to actually ask for it publicly. If fact, I'm pretty sure such direct communications are illegal under the Political Surrogate Full Employment Act (PSFEA).

Frank Rich gets it

Frank Rich's column today is must read.

If you are struggling to understand Obama you need to read Rich today. Rich explains very well why the Clintons ran, and McCain is running, campaigns mired in the past.

Here's just a taste,
The selling point of Mr. Obama’s vision of change is not doctrinaire liberalism or Bush-bashing but an inclusiveness that he believes can start to relieve Washington’s gridlock much as it animated his campaign. Some of that inclusiveness is racial, ethnic and generational, in the casual, what’s-the-big-deal manner of post-boomer Americans already swimming in our country’s rapidly expanding demographic pool. Some of it is post-partisan: he acknowledges that Republicans, Ronald Reagan included, can have ideas.

Opponents who dismiss this as wussy naïveté do so at their own risk. They at once call attention to the expiring shelf life of their own Clinton-Bush-vintage panaceas and lull themselves into underestimating Mr. Obama’s political killer instincts.

The Obama forces out-organized the most ruthless machine in Democratic politics because the medium of their campaign mirrored its inclusive message. They empowered adherents in every state rather than depending on a Beltway campaign hierarchy whose mercenary chief strategist kept his day job as chief executive for a corporate P.R. giant. Such viral organization and fund-raising is a seamless fit with bottom-up democracy as it is increasingly practiced in the Facebook-YouTube era, not merely by Americans and not merely by the young.

Obama's 50 state ground war

Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny provide a lengthy analysis Of the Obama campaigns plans to press their financial and infrastructure advantage to run a nation-wide campaign.

As a result of the drawn out primary fight, team Obama has built a campaign apparatus in all 50 states, where paid staff and volunteers are either gearing up for the fall or waiting to be activated.

Bush-Cheney 2004 had the largest advertising campaign in US history running TV in 17 states. Obama is looking at 25, and may run national advertising which has never been done before.

The McCain campaign in contrast has very little infrastructure in the states and plans on running an old-fashioned big state campaign, not unlike the failed Clinton campaign. Obama plans on making them defend Georgia, Montana and North Carolina (which Obama will win).

Team Obama is already moving to bring in Clintons top specialist including Aaron Pickrell, the chief political strategist of Gov. Strickland (D - OH) who delivered Ohio to Clinton. Another example is Dan Carroll who was Bill Clinton's top oppo guy in the 90's.

And on Monday, Obama heads out on a 17 day economic tour visiting several states, while McCain literally spends every day at fundraisers trying to catch up on money.

'Changing the Topic '

Mark Kleiman has a good post up at Huffington. Republicans have become expert at changing the subject, which is something McCain is doing daily with Obama.

Here's the crux of Kleiman's post,
In politics, who "wins" the argument is less important that who decides what the argument is about. Republicans have learned that lesson. Democrats need to catch up.

Take the discussion about Scott McClellan's book. From a liberal or Democratic perspective, the most important aspect of that book is the revelation that even Bush's own press secretary thinks that the press was too deferential to the Bush administration, especially when the Iraq War was being sold to the public...

In discussing McClellan's book, Jessica Yellin acknowledged the extent to which corporate pressure to be "patriotic" shaped news coverage at MSNBC, one of her employers during that period....

Between them, McClellan and Yellin completely demolish the "liberal media bias" myth that has served the right so well for so long.

Given the facts, the Bush administration and its allies didn't want to have to argue that McClellan and Yellin are wrong. But of course they also didn't want to admit that McCellan and Yellin are right. So what do they do? Ignore the substance entirely, and make the argument about McClellan's character: the old slime-and-defend game. "He's just a disgruntled employee." (Have you ever noticed how few former employees are actually gruntled?)

The point is not to win the argument: it couldn't matter less what judgment the public forms about McClellan's character, or even about whether the Bush White House told the press a pack of lies. Neither McClellan nor Bush is on the ballot this fall.

The point is to distract attention from the fact that Bush's own press spokesman says he and his boss managed to bamboozle the press. That's the fact that the right wing can't afford to have the public notice, or reporters know that the public has noticed; otherwise the next bamboozlement might not go as well, and reporters might have to at least try to conceal their adulation of John McCain. That's why the media were so eager to downplay McClellan's charges, despite their accuracy.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Voter Turnout

will be the story on election day, and it will be staggering. The African-American vote will be up 25%.

None of the pundit models right now are built to account for this because they are based upon the past, not unlike the Clinton campaign was, and McCain is.

The electoral map, my friends has just been redrawn. It's going to be a long summer and a bumpy ride, be we have every reason to be very hopeful.

Now if you haven't already done so, Go show Obama a little love.

A gracious concession

In an excellent speech today, adopting many of Obama's words and theme Hillary made a gracious concession and call for unity that seems genuinely heart felt.

This will go very far in uniting the party.

I'll post the video when it's up at youtube.

UPDATE: Here's the video,

(Posted from PHX Sky Harbor Airport)

Friday, June 06, 2008

It was Rengel,...

You read it here first, and now Politico confirms that Charlie Rengel forced the exit,
In the end, the same man who ushered Hillary Clinton into electoral politics nine years ago pushed her out.

On Wednesday, Clinton was asking supporters to wait — it was unclear for what — and to give her time to gather her thoughts. Many seemed willing to accede to the request, but Rep. Charles B. Rangel, the blunt, 77-year-old dean of New York’s congressional delegation, had had enough.

In public statements and on a crucial afternoon conference call, he told Clinton it was time to go. And Rangel, for reasons of state politics, personal history and race, is not a man Clinton could afford to ignore.
In a campaign defined my miscalculations, HRC and her inner-circle (Ickes, Davis, Penn, yada, yada, yada) really believed their own spin. They thought they would be greeted with a ground swell of superdelegates clamouring to get onboard the Hillaryland express as soon as the race finished and by mid-June the Obama campaign would be in trouble. They were genuinely stunned to wake up to the truth that Charlie Rangel spoke. In almost comical fashion, the NY congressional delegation couldn't abandon her fast enough, endorsing Obama yesterday even when she has yet to withdraw. And pay attention to the somewhat odd remarks of Rangel yesterday,
"And we wanted to publicly state, as we have stated privately, that it was a great campaign, and we were so pleased to see that on this Saturday in Washington D.C., she intends not only to reach out for unity but to reach out and support directly Senator Obama."
Rengel committed Hillary in a way that Hillary has yet to do herself, almost as if he wanted to be sure she did not change her mind.....

(posted from the Mesa Holiday Inn, which is much nicer than you might think)

Reflections on 5,400 hours with Hillary

This kind of stuff is crack to political junkies.

Athena Jones has an excellent post-mortem posted today at First Read.

A blog post is really an odd choice for something like this that could easily be the cover of the Sunday NY Times Magazine.

Here's a taste,
Iowa was a shock. It stung the Clintons. The former first lady managed to turn New Hampshire into the stage for a remake of "The Comeback Kid," but the campaign never truly recovered from that Iowa defeat. It never fully digested what the loss said about their assumptions and their strategy.

The size and scope of the loss also surprised many of us on the Clinton bus. And yet a week earlier, at an "Orphan Christmas dinner" for a dozen or so reporters stranded in Des Moines on an unusually balmy Christmas Day, most of those assembled -- many of whom had covered Obama extensively for months -- had been convinced he was going to win. Big.


They had hoped a win in that first crucial contest would send them on their way. The problem with Iowa was that the main lesson they took away from their devastating third-place finish was not that they had underestimated the youth vote, or Obama's ability to appeal to white voters in small Iowa towns, or that they needed to adjust their message.

Instead, they concluded that caucuses were a sham, all but ceding all future caucus states -- save Nevada -- to their rival and allowing him to rack up the kind of lead in pledged delegates, states won, momentum, and overall hype that seemed to invalidate their argument to superdelegates that she was the candidate best-poised to win in November.
(posted from the Mesa Holiday Inn, which is much nicer than you might think)

A leading voice of American Conservatism

"Your best friends stink. You are surrounded by scum. We don't know anybody good in your life," -McCain supporter Dennis Prager to Barack Obama, on his radio show.

I've never understood where this kind of visceral hatred comes from but the right is full of it. Hell, Fox News is all about it. I've also never understood how the Dems could ever lose an election to this.

(posted from the Mesa Holiday Inn, which is much nicer than you might think)

One of Andrew's readers

Andrew Sullivan got an email that I wanted to share,
I am an American who is a graduate student in the UK, and I have been congratulated by people from around the world over the past couple of days for the Obama nomination. Strangers hear my accent, and want to talk about Obama. One British person said, "America didn't become the nation it did with guns and tanks; it became the nation it did with ideas. An Obama presidency represents everything that America has told the world about itself in the past century--and what the rest of the world wanted to expect out of America. The idea that you talk before acting, the idea that you make friends, not enemies, and the idea that anything is possible."

Another Italian told me, "Obama will cause my country to fall in love with America again...."
(posted from the Mesa Holiday Inn, which is much nicer than you might think)

My Congressman says 'no' on HRC

Citing a story in The Hill on Thursday, Rep. Lacy Clay (D - St. Louis and Obama's MO co-chair) was concerned that placing HRC on the ticket might energize a lethargic base, "It might ignite their fundraising base," Clay said. "We want them to stay somber."

(posted from the Mesa Holiday Inn, which is much nicer than you might think)

I miss Tom DeLay

"I have said publicly, and I will again, that unless he proves me wrong, he is a Marxist."

Does DeLay really thinks such comments might move someone? He might as well have called him a whig.

Delay's preaching to wingnut choir and everyone else just laughs, and not with him.

The cold war ended 20 years ago and calling people Marxists probably lost it's voter appeal 20 years before that, even in Republican circles.

(posted from the Mesa Holiday Inn, which is much nicer than you might think)

McCain's final 3?

Looks like McCain's list has been narrowed to Charlie Crist, Mitt Romney and Tom Ridge.

Crist is a homosexual and Ridge is as dull as dirt, so I'm going with Mitt. He won't bring Mass, but he brings lots of money to the ticket, which McCain and GOP are very worried about.

(Posted from the Hilton, Mesa AZ)

Headlines McCain does not want

Adviser Says McCain Backs Bush Wiretaps

(Posted from the Hilton, Mesa AZ)

How not to win FLA

Obama's lucky we're all so obsessed with secret meetings, because his apparent reversal on Jerusalem -- telling AIPAC that the city must remain “undivided” and then backtracking yesterday by saying to CNN's Candy Crowley that the city should be up to negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians
This kind of mistake is unacceptable and cannot happen.

(Posted from the Hilton, Mesa AZ)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

It's always about her.

Bob Cesca has an interesting take on the Clintons failure(s) and not just because he captures my frustration. I commend you to read the whole post.

Why shouldn't HRC be the VP?
Because a would-be Obama-Clinton campaign would end up being entirely about the Clintons. What they said; what they're doing; who's in control; do they get along; is she undermining him from within. Me, me, me. And besides, if she really wanted to be on the ticket, she wouldn't have engaged in this infuriating slash-burn-point-clap strategy in the first place -- a strategy which, by the way, continued through last night's speech.
His post is about much more, but it's hard to argue with this issue.

(Posted from the Hilton, Mesa AZ)

Clinton camp makes major concession

For the sake of party unity, the Clintons campaign offered a major concession today. Barack Obama will be allowed to pick his own runningmate.

And yes, I am very well aware of my earlier pledge to make this a Clinton free zone. I just can't help it, I need to vent my anger.

(Posted from the Hilton, Mesa AZ)

Most NY reps to skip Hillary farewell,...

Per Glenn Thrush, the NY Congressional delegation has had enough, and will be skipping Hillary's swansong Saturday. The leader of the delegation, Charlie Rangel, observed, "It's a Jewish holiday -- enough said."


(Posted from the Holiday Inn, Mesa AZ)

OH Gov. Strickland endorses Obama

First Read has the story.

(Posted from the Holiday Inn, Mesa AZ)

The case against Webb

Can be found here.

(Posted from the Holiday Inn, Mesa AZ)

Part 2 of Senate Intell Comm report on Iraq

The Senate Select Intelligence Committee has finally issued the second part of their investigation into the intelligence used to sell Iraq.

Part two examined five speeches by Bush, Cheney and Powell between August 2002 and February 2003 as well as public "declarative statements of alleged fact" by Rummy, Rice and Tenet made at that time. The report attempts to determine what the President (VP, SecDef, etc.) knew and when did they know it. It's not flattering. Interestingly, the report was approved on a 10 to 5 vote with Republicans Hagel and Snowe crossing over to vote with the Dems.

Per McClatchy the report,
concludes that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made public statements to promote an invasion of Iraq that they knew at the time were not supported by available intelligence.

“Before taking the country to war, this administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence,”....

"Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information,"....
Obviously, there's a lot more and it's going to occupy some time in the news cycle.

(Posted from the Holiday Inn, Mesa AZ)

Obama had a talk with Lieberman

Obama endorsed and campaigned with Joe Lieberman when he faced his 2006 primary challenge suffering criticism from the netroots who were challenging Lieberman and supporting Lamont.

As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. Lieberman, being an enormous creep, has not only endorsed McCain, but been harshly critical of Obama, even as recently as yesterday following Obama's remarks at AIPAC. Further, Lieberman will be speaking at the RNC convention.

Yesterday, in the well of the Senate, Obama and Lieberman ran into each other.

Per Jake Trapper at Political Punch,
They shook hands. But Obama didn’t let go, leading Lieberman - cordially - by the hand across the room into a corner on the Democratic side, where Democratic sources tell ABC News he delivered some tough words for the junior senator from Connecticut, who had just minutes before hammered Obama's speech before the pro-Israel group AIPAC in a conference call arranged by the McCain campaign.

The two spoke intensely for approximately five minutes, with no one able to hear their conversation. Reporters watched as Obama leaned closely in to Lieberman, whose back was literally up against the wall.
UPDATE: updated to correct the original assertion that Obama did not endorse Ned Lamont after Lamont defeated Lieberman in the Democratic primary.

(Posted from the Holiday Inn, Mesa AZ)

Obama moves to take over DNC

As is typical when the nominee is determined, Obama is moving his people into the DNC which announced this morning that they will no longer be taking donations from PACs and registered lobbyist.

(Posted from the Holiday Inn, Mesa AZ)

Webb struts his stuff

In a Huffington Post exclusive with Sam 'the man' Stein.

Here is a taste,
"Under the right circumstances, you have to [talk to your enemies]," he said. "My model for Iran is China in 1971. China was a nuclear power, it was a rogue state, it had American war on its border with Vietnam, it was spouting the same kind of hostile rhetoric. We took none of our military options off the table, we abandoned none of our alliances, but we reached out in a aggressive way diplomatically to bring China into the world community."
Another great line, "I don't think Franklin Roosevelt was ever at the front in France during WWII in order to help end the war."

Read the whole piece and you will know why he's the Ward Report #1.

(Posted from the Embassy Suites, Tempe AZ)

Primary race post-mortum

USA Today has a good post-mortem on the primary race, the mistakes and the winning strategy.

I do not expect HRC to endorse Obama for president on Saturday and I think it's a mistake for anyone to assume she will do so until those words leave her lips before the cameras (how many times will the supposed best reporters in the nation be duped? How many times have they reported this?). She will 'suspend' not end her campaign and with lawyerly weasely words grudgingly acknowledge him as the 'likely' nominee without actually endorsing him for president. Hillary will not surrender her supporters. Expect her to 'reserve the right' to place her name in nomination at the convention. During this speech she will also take cheap shots at him as she did Tuesday night and again yesterday at AIPAC. Like the scorpion who stings the frog, she can't help herself. It's who she is. She will never actually quit, but will attempt to plant the seeds for Obama's defeat in November and pave the way for her in 2012.

Watching the party unify is fascinating and wouldn't it be great to be privy to the back story? Suffice it to say that real pressure is being applied both publicly (ie Rengel and Hillary Rosen) and privately.

Public endorsements to lookout for are the governors of MI, OH and PA.

(Posted from the Embassy Suites, Tempe AZ)

The Obama effect

Via First Read, All evidence seems to point to Obama boosting turnout in places that will benefit Dems down the ballot.

The Obama effect could devastate the GOP in the House and Senate.

(Posted from the Embassy Suites, Tempe AZ)

Barack Obama at AIPAC

As promised earlier today, here is the video,

(Posted from the Embassy Suites, Tempe AZ)

Obama's Veep committee

Obama's Veep committee is an interesting group.

Conspicuously absent is anyone from one of the competing campaigns. And my guess is that the beloved Caroline Kennedy is intended to silence the jackals.

(Posted from the Embassy Suites, Tempe AZ)

Charlie Rangel

Charlie Rangel was blunt today on all the networks.

When the history of this nomination is written, it will credit Rangel's very frank public comments that forced the issue.

(Posted from the Embassy Suites, Tempe AZ)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

It's a revolution!

The crowd kept pouring into the Xcel Energy Center. All ages. All races. All backgrounds. Young Somalis chanting "O-bama!" And older, white women, bedecked in sparkling red, white and blue and holding up a sign, "Women for Obama!''

But most noticeable was the arrival of such people as Buck Humphrey, who once had headed Hillary Rodham Clinton's Minnesota campaign. And Jackie Stevenson, a DFL activist, a feminist and a Clinton-supporting superdelegate, who at the last minute had changed her mind about attending the event. And St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who was a Clinton supporter until sometime Monday. And Rick Stafford, another Clinton superdelegate.

Hill Democrats fall in line

Hill Democrats fall in line behind Obama.

It's time to crack the whip. Pelosi and Reid need to be leaning on their respective caucuses to pledge their votes to Obama by Friday at the latest. And I mean lean hard if necessary. I think Pelosi has the cajones to do so, but Reid will likely have to grow some.

Obama's people as well as Obama personally needs to be pressing all Dem governors for public endorsements, including the Governors of PA, MI and OH.

Enough playing house, we have an election to win.

Early reports: Obama took AIPAC by storm

I'll post the video as soon as it's available.

Via First Read
"We will also use all elements of American power to pressure Iran," Obama said. "I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. That starts with aggressive, principled diplomacy without self-defeating preconditions, but with a clear-eyed understanding of our interests. We have no time to waste. We cannot unconditionally rule out an approach that could prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We have tried limited, piecemeal talks while we outsource the sustained work to our European allies. It is time for the United States to lead. "

On Iraq, he attacked McCain: "Sen. McCain offers a false choice: stay the course in Iraq, or cede the region to Iran. I reject this logic because there is a better way. Keeping all of our troops tied down indefinitely in Iraq is not the way to weaken Iran. It is precisely what has strengthened it. It is a policy for staying, not a plan for victory. I have proposed a responsible, phased redeployment of our troops from Iraq. We will get out as carefully as we were careless getting in. We will finally pressure Iraq's leaders to take meaningful responsibility for their own future."
In all matters of foreign policy, there is no gun or bomb that is more powerful than the Western world speaking with one voice. The events of September 11th, 2001, presented an opportunity to confront terrorism that no small Middle Eastern country could resist, and that opportunity was squandered in a way that history will never forgive George W. Bush.

It's not easy to unit the West, but skilled diplomats can certainly do so on matters of common interest, and when presented with a united front, the government of Iran cannot resist and survive. There are times when war is inevitable, but that to must be with a united coalition.

These are common sense lessons from history that some just can't seem to learn.

Obama's Nomination victory speech

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Clinton free zone

It is my intention to make the Ward Report a Clintons free zone from this point forward (unless she does become the VP).

Let's see how long I make it.

Hillary's "Army"

Ok, Tweedy is drifting again. And only yesterday I was telling friends I thought he had stabilized his meds.

I'm listen to Matthews going on about HRC controlling 18 million voters who will do as she commands, and never leave her side.

Where to begin? Everyone who voted for Hillary along the way is not waiting at home for their orders. 70% of them have either moved on, or will in the next day or two. The remaining supporters will be drifting away over the next couple weeks to months at the latest.

Democratic women are not going to vote for McCain and and throw Roe on the funeral pire of Hillary campaign.

Emotions tonight are running high, but get real Matthews, you're supposed to be the professional.

Fallows on HRC's speech

The very even tempered James Fallows weighs in,
You HAVE LOST the nomination. There are NO MORE primaries. And you're urging your supporters to nurse their bitter feelings on your web site, and keep selling their bikes to give you money that you'll spend on... what? The unseemliness -- and, yes, destructiveness -- of this is too obvious to mention, though perhaps not obvious enough to have occurred to you.

This is a new low.

Hillary's Speech

Obama began his speech singing at length the praises of Hillary even though moments before she continued her campaign to knee-cap him.

She rallied the crowd declaring yet again herself to be the only one able to actually win in November and then took a couple cheap shots at him ("I was working on health care not for 16 months, but 16 years") as she encouraged her supporters to go to her web page and egg her own. And this last part is important. She is expressly asking them to not go to Obama.

I didn't expect her to concede tonight and have no problem with her taking a couple days, but taking cheap shots at the nominee while asking your supporters to not rally to the nominee is beyond the pale.

HRC had the audience tonight for a major moment and she blew it.

Hillary has been accused of many things, but classy was never one of them.

Obama on McCain

Just as I was about to express irritation at Obama's habit of always praising McCain's patriotism when he mentions him, Obama gives me this:

"I respect John McCain's many accomplishments, even if he choses to deny mine".

No one denies McCain's heroic military service or patriotism and it needed be mentioned every time Obama's on the stump,....unless of course it's to get a dig in.

If Daschle was on your short VP list,...

scratch him off. MSNBC has just called SD for Clinton.

MSNBC calls Obama the presumptive nominee

Based upon the delegates he will win in SD even as they say SD is too close to call.

HRC as VP (updated)

Howard Fineman is explaining on MSNBC that HRC really doesn't want the VP slot(for obvious reasons), but wants it offered so she can turn it down.

Obama doesn't want HRC as VP (for obvious reasons), and would only offer it with the guarantee that she would turn him down.

Why have this dance, you ask? Fineman explains ego and and the appearance of healing to her supporters would be the point.

Fineman also reports that despite all the talk about Bill being livid over HRC's defeat, he's dying to campaign for Obama to redeem himself in the eyes of Democrats, his infamous desperate need for approval overtaking his supposed anger. Fineman is confident Obama will ask and Bill will accept.

Can this get any sillier?

OH, and I forgot to add that one of Hillary's terms would be no women as VP.

UPDATE: Mitchell, Russert and now Brokaw both claim sources that say HRC wants the VP slot.

Obama Closed the gap and will clinch tonight

It appears to pretty much be a done deal.

By last count, Obama is just 11 delegates away from claiming the nomination.

He will win more than 11 delegates in Montana and South Dakota, to close the gap. Based upon the coverage I'm watching right now, the networks are just dying to declare him the presumptive nominee.

Of course, Lanny Davis and / or Harold Ickes will soon surface to remind everyone that the supers can change back 'until the votes are cast' and suggest that they will be working them all summer,....

Penn tells HRC to stay in

From NY Newsday,
Even if reports that Hillary Clinton will acknowledge Barack Obama has enough votes to win, one man is urging her to stay in it.

Former top strategist Mark Penn, reviled by many on Hillary's staff but still an important voice in the candidate's ear, has emerged (to no one's surprise) as the strongest advocate of her remaining in the race regardless of what happens in the next 24 hours, according to sources inside the campaign.

In contrast to the "realist faction" (which reportedly includes Penn's replacement Geoff Garin, communications chief Howard Wolfson and others), Penn is advising the Clintons to remain in the race through the convention -- just in case another Rev. Wright-type scuffle breaks out.

His argument: Suspend the campaign if you must, but don't end it, because all those Obama supers will flock to Hillary if more dirt on O emerges before the convention.
It's like I've been saying, the Obama campaign would be nuts to make any deals until they have unconditional surrender. If the Clintons want to hedge their bets, they can retire there own debts.

HRC says,....

she would be open to being Obama's VP, which I'm pretty sure is the first time she has said this versus other alleging to speak for her.

Vetting Bill

Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

Todd Purdum's lengthy Vanity Fair profile of post-POTUS Bill Clinton is all the buzz today, and has already received a harsh rebuke for the subject himself.

It's is a fascinating read of everything good and bad about Bill's last 8 years, with no easy quote to pull out and capture the gist of the profile. Several years ago (probably at the time of his by-pass) I had read of some of Bill's globetrotter exploits in either Esquire or GQ but it was not nearly as comprehensive as this profile.

Over the last the last several months as the Clintons insisted that Obama had not had an appropriate national vetting (which was accurate), several have pointed out that Bill had also not been vetted on his post-presidential life. There have been many suggestions (and published articles) that the company Bill has kept and the donors to his foundation (which he has kept strictly secret) might make McCain's campaign look like a group of school teachers.

Here is just a taste,
The New York Times disclosed that, in 2005, Clinton flew to the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan on [Canadian mining magnate Frank] Giustra’s MD-87 jet for what was billed as a philanthropic three-country tour. The two men had dinner with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has held the country in a vise-like grip for nearly two decades. At their meeting, Clinton expressed support for Nazarbayev’s bid to head the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which monitors elections and promotes democracy. That position was sharply at odds with official American foreign policy and came in the face of stinging criticism of Kazakhstan’s record on human rights from many sources, including the junior senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Within two days, Giustra’s company signed preliminary agreements allowing it to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency. And months after that the Clinton Foundation received a $31.3 million donation from Giustra that remained secret until a Giustra representative acknowledged it late last year. (Giustra has separately pledged another $100 million to the foundation.)
With many, many (mostly anonymous) quotes, Purdum presents the thorough vetting that will likely provide the public ammunition necessary to tap down media speculation of HRC as VP. And give the Obama camp a reference for lack of interest.

To be clear I do have something of a problem with Purdum's very, very heavy reliance on anonymous quotes from "Clinton insiders" and people "close to" or "formally close to" Clinton as well as all the sexual innuendo (which does make for a great read). I think when you are writing a very critical piece about someone you need to use people on the record as much as possible and I'm always suspicious of the agenda of those who withhold their name. However, I'm not naive to the fact that in situations such as this, few will go 'on the record'. Also , I'm not sure how much real new ground Purdum breaks, versus just confirming numerous reports and piecing the story together in a comprehensive and readable narrative.

Read the profile and tell me what you thought.

The AP says,....(updated)

Clinton set to concede delegate race to Obama tonight.

I'll believe she's out when she endorses Obama and surrenders like Lee at the Appomattox Courthouse.

UPDATE: Big surprise. Hillaryland says the AP is FOS. No concession tonight.

Shout out to JFR who keeps me updated by email on the latest reports of withdrawal, or not.

The end of the road

South Dakota and Montana primaries today mark the end of the primary season.

Obama cannot win enough pledged delegates today to clinch but many seem to feel that they will be rolling out sufficient pledged delegates to claim victory tonight, or tomorrow at the latest.

Everyone in the media says Hillary will endorse Obama this week, perhaps even with an appearance together.

As I was pointing out yesterday, what the Clintons campaign says on background to the press and their public conduct seem to be very different.

I'll believe she's out when she endorses Obama and not a moment earlier.

Monday, June 02, 2008

HRC's PR victory speech

Fact checked by the WaPo
You have to admire Hillary Clinton for her ability to reshape reality to her preferred outcome. She seems to assume that if she says something loudly enough, and repeats it often enough, it will become true. Her victory speech in Puerto Rico was a minor masterpiece in carefully parsed self-delusion. Unfortunately for her, it takes more than conviction to win the Democratic nominating contest.
She earned two Pinocchios, which isn't bad but far short of her personal record of 4 Pinocchios.

"August, and no earlier"

Ben Smith's Blog,
A Clinton donor tells me that on a conference call today with major fundraisers this afternoon, Harold Ickes told them Clinton isn't planning to drop out. He pressed donors to stay unified, and reviewed tactical options, including challenging the Michigan delegation.

State finance committees are also circulating letters to deliver to Clinton tomorrow in New York, and I've obtained a draft of the Illinois finance committee's letter, being circulated by a Clinton fundraising aide, Rafi Jafri, which stresses a fight until the convention, and a resolution in "August, and no earlier."[continue reading]
Why would you stir up your most loyal financial supporters who have suffered the slings and arrows to stick with you, only to dowse their hopes in two days with a withdrawal. For what purpose?

Obama's VP?

Chris Kelly weighs in with a blog post that made me laugh out loud.

The Clintons winding down?

Tom Edsall reports at the The Huffington Post that the Clintons are literally winding down their campaign,
Obama and Clinton spoke Sunday night and agreed that their staffs should begin negotiations over post-primary activities, according to reliable sources. In addition to seeking Obama's help in raising money to pay off some $20 million-plus in debts, Clinton is known to want Obama to assist black officials who endorsed her and who are now taking constituent heat, including, in some cases, primary challenges from pro-Obama politicians.
But, even as Harold Ickes is reported as sounding much more conciliatory regarding Obama,
He told the participants that Clinton wants to "significantly" help Obama, but he did not go so far as saying that she will announce withdrawal -- that is the prerogative of the candidate.

Ickes told the group to "take a deep breath" and let Clinton proceed in her own fashion.
Any help from Obama with debts, bailing out her supporters, jobs for her people etc. must be premised upon her unconditional surrender and endorsement. Obama would be a fool to act otherwise.

The Clintons plan is to poison the well

As I've been predicting, the Clintons plan to keep their campaign going on a low boil.

There will be no 'uniting' behind Obama until after the convention.

First Read explains,
On the plane just now flying from Rapid City, S.D., to Sioux Falls, S.D., campaign spokesman Mo Elleithee maintained that Clinton is not getting out of the race tomorrow night -- or anytime soon.

Elleithee said as long as there is still no nominee (and incidentally he wouldn't say the campaign acknowledges a delegate number at which there will be a nominee), the senator will be making the case on the phone to committed and uncommitted superdelegates and uncommitted delegates.

He repeatedly said there will be "an ongoing dialogue" with committed and undeclared superdelegates.
As Lanny Davis made clear last week, there is no nominee until the votes are cast, and that happens in Denver.

Until Denver, the Clintons will do all they can to keep the party divided and to pick on any Obama stumble to attempt to get superdelegates back in their camp. In areas like Appalachia where the can divide Dems by race, they will do just that in an attempt to bully local superdelegates from endorsing Obama, and poison the well in hopes that he doesn't win, and they can save America in 2012.

The only hope for winning a concession of the race from the Clintons is every party so-called luminary (Al Gore, where are you?) and former major supporters like Gov. Rendell and Gov. Strickland literally calling them out by name and insisting they step aside. Of course, no one has been willing to do this chosing instead to endlessly indulge the Clintons.

The next two weeks should be interesting but why do I feel like 14 days from today won't be any different than today?

Will the Clintons ever quit?

The final two primaries are Tuesday. It's been widely predicted that shortly there after Obama will have the delegates he needs to declare himself the nominee, so will the Clintons make a gracious exit?

Every reporter everywhere is reporting that the Clintons see the handwriting on the wall, won't play spoiler, etc. Clearly, that's what the Clintons have been saying on background for two months, but what have they said or done publicly that would give anyone the impression that they plan a gracious exit?

Via Chuck Todd this morning,
While there are plenty of hints today from some of her top supporters (like Ed Rendell and Debbie Wasserman Schultz) that Clinton won’t take this to the convention, it’s also clear that she and her campaign aren’t leaving without a fight. Examples: 1) Harold Ickes declaring that Clinton reserves her right to take that fight to the convention over four Michigan delegates; 2) the campaign implicitly linking Obama with George McGovern by stating that the last time the Democrats didn’t give the nomination to the candidate who won the most votes was in 1972; 3) Clinton demonstrating that superdelegates can change their mind by introducing one such super who has switched from Clinton to Obama and then back to Clinton; and 4) her victory speech yesterday from Puerto Rico, in which she said in the end: “Let’s keep fighting. Let’s keep fighting. Let's keep fighting. Let's keep fighting.” Clinton certainly has the opportunity to make bygones be bygones -- as well as quell the resentment brewing among some of her ardent female supporters -- but when does she do this? And what does she say?
The ultimate outcome has not been in doubt since mid-February but you wouldn't know it to listen the Clintons. They are convincing their supporters that the nomination has been stolen from Hillary, and to what end? How does such inflammatory rhetoric lead to a unified party?