Thursday, January 31, 2008

Party On

Watched about 1/3 of the Democratic debate tonight and just read a slew of postings. Both Barack and Hillary were at their best, and for the first time I imagined a Barack-Hillary ticket actually working (with him at the top, as he Obama once responded as a disarming punchline on Letterman). She was smart, played nice, no twisting of his words into lies. He was substantive, gracious, talked of their friendship, even held the chair out for her after the debate.

Per much of what I've read and seen, Obama won by holding his own with Clinton. He seemed Presidential. She's hit her ceiling (check out the Frank Luntz focus group in the link above) and he's still finding his. They said he was a great closer, but no one has expected this. Crowds like this for a primary speech?

Holy cow.

There's also been this brewing scandal for Clinton, mainly another reminder that we don't need her husband distracting us for the next four years. And there's been this new truly key endorsement for Obama.

Most of all, the debate was a rebuke to the literally empty Republican party. Empty of ideas, empty rhetoric only appealing to their shrinking base, empty of anything approaching a worthwhile candidate for November.

There's even rumor of Mitt and McCain both dropping out...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Johnny E. Goode

I started the year as a John Edwards supporter and moved to Barack Obama when I watched his victory speech in Iowa, because he moved me. And also because I don't want a Clinton Dynasty on the heels of a Bush Dynasty, and I realized Obama was right from the start of his campaign -- he's the only one short of a de-politicized Al Gore who can save the Democratic Party from defeat at her hands in November.

It's not just the lack of a stirring speachifying style, the embarrassment of a husband or her lack of clarity on where she stands. It's the fact that Democrats always lose when they run as "Best Manager." We don't want managers for President (Stevenson, Humphrey, Mondale, Dukakis, Mondale, Kerry), we want leaders, i.e. with a vision of our country. All of it.

But Edwards had my heart at first, because he was the one who moved the debate where it needed to go: U.S. poverty, Presidential abuse of power, and honest regret that he, like so many honorable Americans, allowed themselves to be bamboozled into a ruinous war.

Although his campaign never caught fire in the actual voting, it was still a bit of a surprise when he announced his decision to leave the race today, what after having sworn in more than one concession speech to go all the way to the Democratic Convention, perhaps just as a kingmaker with his cache of delegates. Maybe he did the math (15% viability rule that would have made the kingmaker plan futile) or maybe he ran out of money.

My bigger fear is that his awesome wife, Elizabeth, may not be doing so well in her battle against cancer. Winning might have buoyed her, but a protracted losing battle would simply be wearing, maybe life-threateningly so.

In any case, he picked a great time to go out -- blunting Hillary's phantom Florida play, and stepping on Rudy's McCain endorsement. In fact, Edwards did not endorse a candidate on the way out, smart for a number of reasons.

While Rudy looks small for fighting so wussily and falling into John McCain's strong white-furred arms the very first day out, in essence negating himself, Edwards ran a real campaign of social justice, a tough love message, but one firmly siding with the working middle class of America and our poorest. The so-called Liberal Mainstream Media slaughtered him, the only big name threat of any real menace to the corporate uberlords, the guy with the hair no matter that he's telling the truth. He's angry, they emphasized, but Edwards is a happy warrior, who loves and doesn't shy away from people. And who hasn't been angry for extended periods these past seven years at this Cheney/Bush/GOP hegemonic disaster.

Johnny went out in class, exiting from New Orleans just as he had when announcing he was running, the only candidate amongst either party to put that striken American city and people front and center, so it might get help.
I began my presidential campaign here to remind the country that we, as citizens and as a government, have a moral responsibility to each other, and what we do together matters. We must do better, if we want to live up to the great promise of this country that we all love so much.

It is appropriate that I come here today. It's time for me to step aside so that history can blaze its path. We do not know who will take the final steps to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but what we do know is that our Democratic Party will make history. We will be strong, we will be unified, and with our convictions and a little backbone we will take back the White House in November and we'll create hope and opportunity for this country.

If he chooses to make an endorsement, and I'd be disappointed if it is for Hillary over Barack, I hope it's in a timely enough manner should it be necessary to take Obama over the top.

Down to only 3 points in California.

Thanks in large part to you, Sen. Edwards, I'm fired up.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


As John Amato points out:
50 million bucks gets Ghouliani 1 delegate so far. What an amazing story…

Suh-weet! There's talk of Rudy endorsing McCain tomorrow, surely angling for Attorney General (VP?) where he can run his House of Fascism the way he likes. But the pleasure right now is in the fall, i.e. The New York Times:
...Just three months ago, Anthony V. Carbonetti, Mr. Giuliani’s affable senior policy adviser, surveyed that field and told The New York Observer: “I don’t believe this can be taken from us. Now that I have that locked up, I can go do battle elsewhere.”

In fact, Mr. Giuliani’s campaign was about to begin a free-fall so precipitous as to be breathtaking. Mr. Giuliani finished third in the Florida primary on Tuesday night; only a few months earlier, he had talked about the state as his leaping-off point to winning the nomination...

...The more that Republican voters saw of him, the less they wanted to vote for him.

It's icing on the cake to see his equally self-entitled wife, Judith Nathan, who surely had pretensions to First Lady in keeping with her reported Queen-like tendencies, accompany him on the fall. Her face has actually fallen, clearly struggling to endure while Rudy is all triggerish bonhomie, with that crazyman laugh of his. She and his habit of charging his adultery with her to city agencies is surely responsible for much of his freefall. Let Tom Brokaw explain it to you as he explains all of Rudy's baggage to the once-fawning Chris Matthews.

Per Joe Biden, all Rudy really campaigned on was "A noun, a verb and 9/11." He was dubbed by the media, "America's Mayor" for his calm demeanor during that fateful day while George Bush ran like a frightened mouse and President Cheney was about to shoot more planes out of the sky. But so many of the casualties in 9/11 might have been escaped had Rudy not made his selfish decision to locate the anti-attack command and control center under the World Trade Center -- the one structure on American soil that had ever previously been attacked by foreign terrorists.

America's Mayor? Maybe if you repeat it enough times:

Toodles, Rudles.

Monday, January 28, 2008

El Teddy

So what might be the most significant impact of Sen. Edward Kennedy's endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama for President?

Todd Beeton suggest the West is the best:
Interestingly, look where the campaign is sending him, per The AP:
Kennedy is expected to campaign actively for Obama beginning later this week, beginning in Arizona, New Mexico and California. Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of John Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963, will also make campaign appearances, officials said.

No accident that they would choose these three states for Kennedy to stump for Obama as they have more in common than that they all vote on February 5th, namely their significant hispanic populations. This voting bloc is one of Hillary Clinton strongest bases of support (her 64%-26% win over Obama among this group in Nevada is widely considered responsible for her win there) and eating into that is a must for Obama if he hopes to win any of these three states.

So, how is Ted Kennedy uniquely qualified to be able to swing this base to Obama? As Chuck Todd put it on MSNBC earlier today (I'm paraphrasing,) you go into the homes of Central Valley (CA) Latinos and you'll see two portraits on the wall: one of the Pope and the other of JFK.

One Al thinking of making his voice heard or keeping his powder dry so he can work with any ultimate Presidential contest winner?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Can't Stop What's Coming?

The title's a quote from the odds-on Best Picture favorite as of tonight. The reference here is to the flip from Hillary to Barack, and I think you're going to see some tectonic-type shifts in the national polls, and the upcoming February 5th Super Tuesday state polls shortly.

It'll be trickle-down. It'll be because of voters like this. It'll be because of former Clinton allies (in this case FCC Chairman appointed by Bill) like this.

Losing New Hampshire will be seen as the best thing that ever happened to the Obama campaign. If it had seemed so easy, you wouldn't have young volunteers from both political parties coming to work for the campaign like this.

Sure, there will be twists, maybe one that denies Obama the nomination, but that's getting increasingly risky, what with the massive deflation of Democrat enthusiasm that would ensue, what with all the endorsements being put on the line.

If Obama does win the nomination and then the Presidency, it will not only be the most meteoric rise of a politician in my lifetime, it will also be the most underestimated politician in generations. Even more underestimated than the current White House denizen.

After all, he went 70%-27% just three and a half years ago.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Carolina/Caroline or Change

Barack didn't just win in South Carolina today, he won big. His coalition included all income groups. His victory speech gets everything right, for instance:

We are up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as President comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor, and judgment, and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose – a higher purpose.

We are up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together to make college affordable or energy cleaner; it’s the kind of partisanship where you’re not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea – even if it’s one you never agreed with. That kind of politics is bad for our party, it’s bad for our country, and this is our chance to end it once and for all.

We are up against the idea that it’s acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election. We know that this is exactly what’s wrong with our politics; this is why people don’t believe what their leaders say anymore; this is why they tune out. And this election is our chance to give the American people a reason to believe again.

Some interesting stats about the win:

- Hillary Clinton's support in that state has been sliding for two months from her original dominant poll position, and Obama soared over the past few days. Very important to get those late deciders.

- Holy cow on fundraising -- in one hour after Obama's win tonight his website took in over half a million dollars in donations, which seems to be the rate for the night, extraordinary.

- Obama received more votes in the primary than John McCain and Mike Huckabee combined. This surely goes to electability -- unlike Clinton, Obama may be able to peel off some Southern states for Dems.

- Rasmussen has a new poll out today (and yes, I'll want to see some others before I take it with less than a grain of salt) putting Obama, for the first time, within three percentage points of Hillary nationally.

There's a secondary narrative that's influencing the campaign, something I've written about over the past week (always nice to seem prescient), but liberal Dems are starting to turn against the Clintons (also now known as "Billary") due to their assholic campaign style of late. Left-side columnist Jonathan Chait hit the nail on the head in The Los Angeles Times today:
Something strange happened the other day. All these different people -- friends, co-workers, relatives, people on a liberal e-mail list I read -- kept saying the same thing: They've suddenly developed a disdain for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Maybe this is just a coincidence, but I think we've reached an irrevocable turning point in liberal opinion of the Clintons.

The sentiment seems to be concentrated among Barack Obama supporters. Going into the campaign, most of us liked Hillary Clinton just fine, but the fact that tens of millions of Americans are seized with irrational loathing for her suggested that she might not be a good Democratic nominee. But now that loathing seems a lot less irrational. We're not frothing Clinton haters like ... well, name pretty much any conservative. We just really wish they'd go away.

He goes on to list their lying about Obama's positions from abortion to Reagan, and even asks the most deadly question of all:
It made me wonder: Were the conservatives right about Bill Clinton all along? Maybe not right to set up a perjury trap so they could impeach him, but right about the Clintons' essential nature?

It's interesting to see the old Clinton bastion of support, African Americans, starting to turn, from Colbert I. King in the Washington Post:
Who would have thought, eight years ago, that the country might get back Billary, two people reeking of self-pity and spoiling for fights with anyone who has the temerity to stand in their way?

to Obama supporters actually booing the supposed "first black President" and ostensible Democratic Party leader when his face appeared on the Jumbotron.

And it's hard to say he doesn't deserve it -- if even in his reaction to Obama winning the state sounds like some nasty, knowing, dog-whistle race-baiting:
Jesse Jackson won in South Carolina twice, in '84 and '88...

Yeah. Yucky.

But maybe hope really is on the way. Brand new editorial endorsements for Barack include the San Francisco Chronicle (reprieve and renewal of our political system), The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Obama the comet of hope vs. Bill Clinton reemerging "as the Luca Brasi of the campaign trail"), and The Harvard Crimson (with a great analysis of his policies, putting to rest any notion that he'd be a lightweight in office).

But there's one endorsement that's potentially the most significant, appearing on the very same editorial pages that endorsed his opponent just the other day.

Caroline Kennedy has endorsed Barack Obama for President on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times.

It seems that he reminds her of her father.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Truly Madly

I quite recently got to fulfill a childhood dream and visit the offices of uber-influential publication, Mad magazine.

Besides the joy of seeing original Norman Mingo cover oil paintings, I got to re-submerge in the deep river of Mad legacy still coursing through my consciousness, sub-conscious and hallucination, and brought up having seen legendary founding publisher William M. Gaines on the old TV quiz show, To Tell the Truth.

Our guide then pointed me to the discovery of that very clip not two weeks ago, now presented for your viewing pleasure:

Read more about it in the terrific Classic Television Showbiz blog, including comments from some certifiably Mad people...

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Back at the ignition of the Iraq War I always said that if one thing was going to trip up Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld and company it was the fact that they lied. Now, some call that politics, but I think there's a key difference when you say something you know to be untrue. The truth, no matter how badly it may be taken upon delivery, is ultimately always defensible. Owning up can suck f'sure, but getting caught in a lie, or having to waste additional energy, cycles and reputation propping up a lie, that's the basis for maybe 80% of all film noirs.

So Bill and Hillary (or is it Hillary and Bill?) Clinton are lying. She lied during the debate this week about what Barack said about Ronald Reagan, she and her campaign is lying about Obama on abortion rights, and Bill, if he isn't lying, is squandering whatever goodwill he retained for eight good years ending in one sour blowjob by acting as un-Presidential in attacking Obama as Donald Trump would be vs. Rosie O'Donnell.

He's got his own Former Labor Secretary, Robert Reich, decrying his lies. He's got Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) calling him up to say stop. Meanwhile, a female Hillary supporter who ran the Chicago division of NOW (National Organization of Women), someone squarely in her target demo, switching her vote and endorsement to Barack over Hillary's lies about his pro-choice record and making extremely compelling online videos about it.

Even Michelle Obama is getting into the act, with a letter to supporters of her husband:
We knew getting into this race that Barack would be competing with Senator Clinton and President Clinton at the same time.

We expected that Bill Clinton would tout his record from the nineties and talk about Hillary’s role in his past success. That’s a fair approach and a challenge we are prepared to face.

What we didn’t expect, at least not from our fellow Democrats, are the win-at-all-costs tactics we’ve seen recently. We didn’t expect misleading accusations that willfully distort Barack’s record.

Probably great for fundraising, especially as, by some assessments, Obama is starting to win the spin war on it. Greg Sargent at TPM frames it as a battle for who's being victimized (remember Hillary nearly crying?) with Barack coming out on top:

Right now -- if media coverage, pundit opinion, and insider chatter among Dems is any guide -- it's hard not to conclude that Obama is winning this particular spin war handily.

At risk of overgeneralizing, much media coverage and commentary right now appears to be hewing closer to the Obama campaign's chosen narrative, which is roughly that the Clinton machine is using every gutter tactic at its disposal to halt the triumph of new politics and the making of history.

Every gutter tactic includes racial innuendo and just plain willful mischaracterization, all in service of the Karl Rove-style tactic of going after your opponent's strength, rather than their weakness. Most recently, this has meant attacking Obama's honesty. But are the Clintons (and how Soprano are they seeming now -- their own ad prophetic) playing with fire?:

The Clinton campaigns emphasis of experience throughout the campaign is entirely consistent with the perceived importance of the competence/experience brand. Emphasizing areas of perceived strength in a campaign's final days is a basic element of Political Strategy 101, which makes the sudden, blistering shift to issues of personal character by both Clintons so curious.

Of course, Schmelzer was right to hedge. Only time will tell," he wrote on Tuesday, whether the "trust/truth narrative" would overtake the "'experience' narrative of the past few weeks," or whether such a shift might benefit Obama "at the polls."

The last 24 hours, however, brings signs that the coverage may be changing: A front page story in today's Washington Post takes sides in the Clinton-Obama dispute, hitting a Clinton radio ad for repeating a "discredited charge" against Obama and "juxtapos[ing] it with GOP policies that Obama has never advocated." A companion editorial in goes further, concluding that this "episode does not speak well" for Clinton's "character and judgment."

And there's nothing the GOP likes to run on more than their own twisted yet successful meme of "character."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Just How Bad

In case you're wondering if President Cheney and El Presidente Bush have really been all that bad or if it's just your imagination after seven years of suffering through their general assholishness, here you go.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

Evolving Orson

Having experienced P.T. Anderson’s extraordinary There Will Be Blood the other night, I feel like I’ve been through something of an Orson Welles revival at the tail of the 2007 moviegoing season, with three films somehow evoking and, to varying degrees, building on the legendary filmmaker’s legacy.

While a number of critics have compared the story of Daniel Plainview’s rise and dissolution (as channeled by Daniel Day-Lewis) to that of Welles’ Charles Foster Kane, there seems a lot in common between Joe Wright’s adaptation of Ian McEwan’s Atonement and Orson’s studio-mutilated sophomore pic, The Magnificent Ambersons. Both are tales of true love tragically impeded by a jealous youth and class strictures, and in both the key blocking moment happens at the entrance to a great manse where the non-aristocrat is blocked from entering.

Ditto some of what has long been described as Welles' mise en scène, his famous long takes where the camera, in Ambersons, navigated the space of a formal dance, picking up on characters here and there in elegant rococo movements bringing us deeper into the action than audiences had been before that time. In place of Welles' high society scene there's the remarkable, sweeping 5 ½ minute take on the beach at Dunkirk where the British army is in retreat, perhaps intended as a mirror on the famous Ambersons shot -- the flip side of a civilization at its highest by taking us so vividly through a nation's lowest point.

Then there's the comeuppance, which in Ambersons happens mainly via voiceover (in the studio version), as Welles tells us that Georgie Amberson finally learned is lesson. Not to give too much away, but there's a similar description of "atonement" summing up Wright's picture, albeit with a screen translation of McEwan's literary twist.

The Coen Bros extravagantly down & dirty adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men arguably echoes Welles’ wild border town corruption movie, Touch of Evil. Welles essentially took a "low" exploitation form and imbued it with Shakespearean qualities, some of which have taken the most recent reconstructive "director's cut" to come fully clear. I've read all sorts of elevated metaphoric readings of the Coens' movie, which at its heart is a very effective, brutal, suspenseful chase. But just as with the Welles movie, it is an evocation of extreme evil, albeit with a Terminator-like hitman as the unstoppably destructive specimen under the lens rather than a corrupt Southern sheriff. Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh's relentless movement motivates the camera tracking much like Welles' Hank Quinlan, both fascinated and aghast at what we are presented.

Both movies run long takes following the pressurized characters across borders and through border towns, into sleazy motels and across unforgiving landscapes. Both seduce high-brow audiences by implicitly offering the elevation of the tawdry and violent. Both end with the finish of a lawman, if in very different ways.

Which brings us back to There Will Be Blood. While the method of cutting abruptly in and out of stark white-on-black titles and scoring the picture with eerie futuristic sounds is more reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick (maybe the foremost cinematic disciple of Orson Welles to date), the story echoes that of Citizen Kane.

Both are epic tales spanning long years of monumentally ambitious men who make mutilating sacrifices of their humanity -- or maybe are emotionally mutilated to start -- in pursuit of material greatness. While hollowed out of love and prone to bullying, we find ourselves rooting for Daniel Plainview and Charles Foster Kane when they are up against the business establishment, those who would seek to belittle or conquer them. Cinematically, both use deep focus to draw us into their vividly breathing historical worlds. And both are dominated by a towering performance, around which everything else revolves like satellites.

But where upon repeated examination Citizen Kane reveals the driving motivation behind the man, the sudden truncation of mother love (and the hermeneutic object that last stood between the boy and separation from that love) leaving a gaping hole that he desperately tries to fill with the fickle love of the public, Anderson offers a different motivation for his man.

As a filmmaker known for his father issues both in his films and certain interviews, he shows us Plainview at his most kind when protecting a little girl from being beaten by her father, a clue that maybe Plainview's world-sized shoulder chip may be from a similar upbringing. Psychologically, if this is indeed the case, Plainview ends up replicating such behavior in a comic-horrific manner as befits the title.

If there is an echo of the young Charlie Kane in Anderson's movie it is not Plainview but his adopted son, H.W., who fits the bill. He's the innocent who loses his natural father early on, but has more father-love to lose down the line. Any hope in the movie comes from him, maybe more forgiving that Welles for it.

So if this thesis is correct, why the reemergence of the Welles influence all at once now? Maybe it's the renewed interest in Welles from a few years back, including HBO's dramatization of the making of that first milestone, RKO 281, or the similarly timed DVD packaging of a restored Kane print along with the documentary that the HBO movie was based upon.

Or maybe its just that the shadow of the man, with his topsy-turvy moviemaking career and penchant for getting into trouble as he made the grandest, most daring movies of his time has never left us, his legacy one to be grappled with from generation to generation.

Orson triumphant.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Who's Reading?

Just last night I post about how Bill is bothering me more than Hillary on the campaign trail, and now behold:

In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts to air Monday on "Good Morning America," Obama, D-Ill., directly engages Bill Clinton on a series of issues.

"You know the former president, who I think all of us have a lot of regard for, has taken his advocacy on behalf of his wife to a level that I think is pretty troubling," Obama said. "He continues to make statements that are not supported by the facts -- whether it's about my record of opposition to the war in Iraq or our approach to organizing in Las Vegas.

"This has become a habit, and one of the things that we're going to have to do is to directly confront Bill Clinton when he's making statements that are not factually accurate," Obama said.

Should be a fun interview, and maybe in going after the Big Dog (and that can be read in the best and worst sense) Barack will suddenly up his name recognition and visibility -- what I continue to believe are the key advantages of his leading competitor.

Prepare for the nasty Clinton blowback as well. One can only hope Bill's hubris will keep him from learning from this -- making him the issue is a great way for Obama to score without looking like he's "beating" ungallantly on Hillary.

I believe there are lots of Democrats who, no matter how happy they were with the Bill Clinton Presidency, have a festering sore over how, due to his over-obvious selfishness, he left us after with...nothing.


Okay, so Obama's team spins it as a delegate win, but Hillary wins the popular vote and momentum perception, and it looks like she wins it pretty ugly. And what the hell with Bill Clinton acting as un-Presidential as possible?

Look, I'm all in favor of Obama taking heat and proving his campaign through it. If he can't handle Rovian tactics as channeled by the Clintons, he won't be able to in the General Election. That includes racism both subtle and overt, inexperience claims, lack-of-substance smears (check out his website for all his smart plans), Muslim and Anti-Semitism smears and, the cherry on the sundae, scaring Americans with his middle name, "Hussein".

But if the Clintons (and it sure seems to be a gang-up effort) manage to win by bitterly dividing the Democratic Party, how the hell do they plan to get even their miserly 51% on Election Day?

Friday, January 18, 2008


Here's a Nettertainment experiment, the first in a long time, in embedded video (welcome to 2008):

Love the Bowie song, and a little chilling there at the end, no?

Even chillier from the same YouTube auteur, if you need a reminder of why these past seven years have been such a political bummer:

It's why we need lots of what Bowie was singing about in the first video.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Reason Why

The Democrats have three, yep, three great candidates for President.

My heart starts with John Edwards and he's gotten a horrific, shameful deal from the news media, but somehow his message, while justified and righteous, does not appear to have the broad appeal necessary to win his Party's nomination. He gets mischaracterized as "angry" but there's enough of it there to hurt him -- we don't tend to elect on anger so much as opposition, and there's a line there.

In many appearances I find Hillary Clinton to be smart, competent, and well within the bounds of my beliefs. In a certain sense she's due, and in another it'll be a sad day if she does lose for women and especially young girls across America, because another likely female Presidential candidate does not appear -- to me -- to be on the near horizon.

However, she's got a big problem, and it's the very thing that should be a strength. The problem is Bill.

If I'm feeling any of the so-called Clinton fatigue, it's not really her so much as her husband. I'm just so over Bill, my favorite President since JFK. When I see him going after a reporter by quite politically characterizing the questioner's beliefs here, I'm just over him. Not enough to vote for any Republican over his wife in the General Election, but enough to want an alternative now, as seems to be a growing case with the Democratic Electorate. Why else all these high profile endorsements for this other guy?

The saving grace of this election cycle is that the alternative is here. Barack Obama is getting slimed nice, just like a frontrunner or a threat to the status quo.

In the Washington Post there's columnist Richard Cohen with a vile anti-Semetic smear based on guilt by association-to-association, whereas Obama has evinced a firm and principled support of Israel.

The Edwards campaign, hopefully just a wildcatter in there, got a falsified version of Obama's quote concerning Ronald Reagan on CBS News, making it seem like Obama supported Reagan's policies when he's actually, to paraphrase Kos blogger Fonsia, "come to bury Reagan, not to praise him."

Chris Bowers has an excellent explanation of how he's come to prefer Obama over Clinton vis-à-vis ending the Iraq War, well worth reading.

But if you really need to be convinced, if you want to spend some quality time, like you may not get again this election, with a very, very smart, able, interesting, amiable, refreshing and oh-so-clearly prepared candidate...

...if you finally want to close the deal with yourself... here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Right Again

If Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is successful in his campaign for President, the most remarkable aspect may not be his race or youth, but that he's consistently saying things that pundits on the left and the right consider breaking the rules.

As someone of Obama's age group (within 15 months) and what I believe to be a similarly progressive viewpoint, I find it particularly refreshing when he pisses off certain doctrinaire leftists by telling truths that veer from their playbook. The latest is Obama's comments on deceased former President Ronald Reagan.

While various DailyKos diarists are up in arms and even Open Left's Matt Stoller misleadingly entitles his post "Obama's Admiration of Ronald Reagan," I'm surprised and pleased to see Obama making a case I've been expressing for a long time:
I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.

Taking the first part of this statement, there's no way Al Gore would have lost in 2000 if Bill Clinton had been less selfish, had not had sexual relations with a 23-year old intern and been able to effectively campaign with Gore. Clinton left behind no enduring political legacy save his wife's subsequent political career. While Bill Clinton was President, the "Reagan Revolution" was completed when, in 1994, the House of Representatives turned over the Republican Party for the first time since 1931.

Next we have his statement on excesses. Again, correct. While Stoller reads this as, "Those excesses, of course, were feminism, the consumer rights movement, the civil rights movement, the environmental movement, and the antiwar movement," I beg to differ.

The fact was that when Jimmy Carter was elected President and the Democrats suddenly had control of both Houses of Congress and the Executive Branch, they didn't go progressive, they simply porked up. The more honest New Deal generation was gone and in the long years between 1932 and 1980 that old guard was replaced, as so often happens over the long haul in initially successful and popular organization, with hacks. Everyone felt safe, everyone got a piece, while the economy was going to hell. This on top of the, yes, excessive Vietnam War -- a war the Democratic Party escalated most heavily when Democratic President Lyndon Johnson was in office, with a Democratic House of Representatives.

The last part of this Obama statement is essentially his strategy for winning the Presidency and securing America's future. Jimmy Carter spoke of an American malaise which, even if true, came across as blaming the American people for it. Not a pro-active leader who made you expect a better day tomorrow. While you'll find few voters who despised the Reagan Administration more than I, or who yelled at the screen more when he gave a speech, I do acknowledge that America was hungry for a change, hungry to feel better about their nation and their prospects again, and the Dems were only delivering the "promise" of better, kinder management, a promise gainsaid by their performance at the time.

The fact is that the Democrats always lose when they run on "better management," which is why Hillary Clinton has, I believe, only illusory advantage in her competence/hands on differentiation claims this week. Sure, we don't want another George W. Bush working purely from his gut and taking little responsibility for the disasters of his team's making. But Obama is not only obviously smarter than Bush, he's clearly emerged from the progressive sphere, that of community organization.

What Obama does appear to have, then, is the proper positioning to win the Presidency. While Hillary and Bill were fast to co-opt his message of change after Iowa, suddenly plastering it over appearances, calling Hillary "Ready for Change", they've actually fallen victim to Obama's rope-a-dope.

Sure, Obama gave his Iowa victory speech surrounded by huge versions of the word, "Change," he's actually selling something more than that. His secret weapon is exactly the same as Ronald Reagan's. Obama is selling hope.

As he said in that speech, this isn't a passive form of hope. Like Reagan, it requires active participation and entrepreneurship. But he knows it's the kind of trajectory that can actually make Americans of different stripes feel better about themselves and their country. Just like it did in Ronald Reagan's electoral success.

Only this time, make no mistake about it, it's coming from the left.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Looks like an actual Primary race out there in both parties.

In Michigan tonight, the Republicans went three-for-three -- their third winner in three states, with Willard "Mitt" Romney taking it tonight. As the New York Times says, "No G.O.P. Anchor in Sight":
On the most tangible level, the vote on Tuesday was proof from the ballot box of what polls have shown: this is a party that is adrift, deeply divided and uninspired when it comes to its presidential candidates and unsure of how to counter an energized Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton won Michigan on the Democratic side, but it's a meaningless win as that state is being punished by the Party for moving up their Primary. Not only did Obama and Edwards not appear on the ballot...Clinton had a tough time against "Uncommitted," particularly in the African-American sector of the electorate:

Even so, roughly 70 percent of Michigan’s African-American voters — a group that makes up a quarter of Michigan’s Democratic electorate — did not cast their votes for Clinton, choosing the “uncommitted” option instead. Yet these voters weren’t uncommitted at all: in fact, according to CNN exit polls, they overwhelmingly favored Barack Obama, whose name did not appear on the ballot.

Had Obama’s name been on the Michigan ballot, CNN exit polls show that he would have won an overwhelming 73 percent of the African-American vote, in contrast to 22 percent who say they would have voted for Clinton under those circumstances.

After Bush, it seems...democracy.

Monday, January 14, 2008


If anyone needs any more proof that El Presidente George Bush, no doubt channeling the all-too-silent (lately) President Cheney, will not leave office without widening the Iraq War to include massive bombing of Iran, here's his take on the truth:
That NIE, made public Dec. 3, embarrassed the administration by concluding that Tehran had halted its weapons program in 2003, which seemed to undermine years of bellicose rhetoric from Bush and other senior officials about Iran's nuclear ambitions. But in private conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week, the president all but disowned the document, said a senior administration official who accompanied Bush on his six-nation trip to the Mideast. "He told the Israelis that he can't control what the intelligence community says, but that [the NIE's] conclusions don't reflect his own views" about Iran's nuclear-weapons program, said the official, who would discuss intelligence matters only on the condition of anonymity.

In other words, "his own views" are whatever the hell he wants to believe, damned be the evidence from the best-funded intelligence service on the planet -- ours.

So assuming he successfully handcuffs the next President to the enlarged War, probably hoping his violence tips the scales to maybe John McCain, what else is he looking to lock in?

There's digging into Afghanistan:
Military officials said Monday that about 3,200 Marines are being told to prepare to go to Afghanistan _ a move that will boost combat troop levels in time for an expected Taliban offensive this spring.

Once complete, the deployment would increase U.S. forces in Afghanistan to as much as 30,000, the highest level since the 2001 invasion after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Maybe just positioning for Cheney/Bush attack plans on Iran?

And how about another ten years in Iraq:
The Iraqi defense minister said Monday that his nation would not be able to take full responsibility for its internal security until 2012, nor be able on its own to defend Iraq’s borders from external threat until at least 2018.

Wow, President Obama's may actually be the one who brings the troops home...after President Clinton's second term...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hillary Nixon?

The battle is on and the Clintons are doing their best to win, even if it means plays straight out of the Karl Rove textbook -- undermine his strength. Per one of Andrew Sullivan's astute readers:

Many of your recent posts on the Obama-Clinton contest are missing the forest for the trees. They are focusing on small annoyances from Camp Clinton. The big story of the last week is that the Clintons are trying to strip Obama of his rightful advantage on the Iraq war "judgment" issue and carry out the tactic from the Rove playbook that says, "Attack your opponent's perceived strength." If that strength is merely "perceived" and not real, it's a legitimate tactic, but Rove attacks even when the perception is justified, and the Clintons are now doing the same.

Bill did this in New Hampshire when he contended that Obama was not really a consistent war opponent. Hillary put this tactic way out front on Meet the Press today. She said that Obama's campaign is premised entirely on his October 2002 speech, and she said that Obama did nothing after that speech. This is just an out and out lie; there are no shades of gray here.

An equally astute reader of Talking Points Memo has the goods on the very subtle race-baiting from the Clinton side:
Cuomo didn't utter the phrase "shuck and jive"without forethought; nor did Clinton bring up LBJ and MLK on the spur of the moment. Both are experienced street-fighting politicians who don't say that kind of thing to the press without thinking it through. Such comments are a provocation, waving a red cloak in front of the Obama people. When they respond angrily with charges of racism, suddenly they look like Jessie Jackson redux...just the kind of angry, militant black folks who scare white people (btw I think black anger and militancy are completely understandable...this is just a point about how much of the white public reads such charges of racism). Then the Clintons deny responsibility.

The whole point was to get the Obama people to respond angrily, which they did. Clintons win.

Who's Hillary Clinton using to bolster her (previously impressive) credentials with African-Americans? The first African-American billionaire estate-tax enemy and Bush Social Security destruction enabler, Robert L. Johnson, founder of BET. The inflammatory quote seems to hint again at Obama's acknowledged teenage drug use:
"I am frankly insulted," Johnson declared, "that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood -­ and I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in the book -­ when they have been involved."

At least Johnson's ex-wife and BET co-founder, who divorced him in 2002, is a confirmed Obama supporter.

On the legal front, Hillary and company just opened up with a lawsuit to try and quell caucusing in Nevada by the type of workers who's union just endorsed Obama. Republican-style voter disenfranchisement?

And is she starting to overplay the type of voice-breaking emotional moment that's credited by many with contributing to her win in New Hampshire?

Look, there's no doubt in my mind that the GOP will try to trash Obama in exactly the same ways, if not worse, if not more nefarious, should he win the Democratic nomination. It's just that should Hillary end up winning, I'd prefer that I not think of her, her husband and her entire campaign apparatus as evil.

As to the horse race, over at MyDD you have Todd Beeton making a strong case for how Hillary is starting to gain traction in the "heart" area, while Obama needs to get some momentum in winning "minds." Meanwhile, Josh Marshall points out how Obama is winning some incredible endorsements at a time when there's considerable risk to those Dem politicians now that Clinton has won New Hampshire.

But the two most interesting observations I found were from hardcore Obama supporters Andrew Sullivan and Byron Williams, backers ostensibly from opposite sides of the political spectrum.

Sullivan has the clip of Hillary on today's Meet the Press and declares that the kinder, gentler Hillary is gone and the operator is back:

I just watched the whole thing. I'd say this: the old pre-New Hampshire Clinton was back...

If you want yet another president who cannot say he or she made a mistake, who can never cop to errors, and who uses everything as a political tool against his or her opponents, you have your candidate. And she is ready on Day One. Oh, so ready.

Then there's Oakland pastor Williams, who claims it's all gutter politics to win on the part of the Clinton campaign, going so far as to write:
Maybe Nixon's 1968 playbook is the answer for the 2008 Clinton campaign. You don't have to be liked, just be tough, formidable, smart, and divisive enough to carve out a majority of the electorate to secure the nomination in the summer and 270 electoral votes in the fall.

I guess we'll get a taste of her "Southern strategy" in South Carolina soon. But I'm wondering how it'll all be seen by the Democratic electorate. Will Obama's campaign of "hope" survive the Clinton campaign of "fear?" Will he end up appearing tough enough or wily enough to beat her at this game?

Just like in the last most powerfully idealistic year in U.S. Presidential politics, 1968, will we somehow end up with a Republican President at the end of the year?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Wired for Speed

If you've never watched The Wire until this season and don't expect to go back starting with Season 1 DVDs (highly recommended), or if you're a longtime viewer/fan who wants a quick recap, this "4 Seasons in 4 Minutes" is a pretty funny to superficially catch up.

And he's not even Greek...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tragic Women

Scoured the news of the day and these two stories stood out above the sordid fray of the U.S. campaigns and the surge failure in Iraq, two women who have made grave decisions gone tragically, horrifically awry.

On one hand you have Marion Jones, once a young American Olympian and hero, a record-breaker, the fastest woman on earth. Now, at age 32 with two young children, she finds herself sentenced to six months in prison for lying to Federal prosecutors (you know, what El Presidente allowed apparatchik Scooter Libby to get out of), in financial ruin as she is stripped of five Olympic medals and all titles after 2000 erased from the record books.

One imagines she's nothing but contrite, certainly based on her public statements, and got some breaks for going against her ex-coach in a fraud investigation. It's too sad to imagine, this golden girl of Sydney 2000.

Then there's this account in BagnewsNotes of Condoleezza Rice's personal responsibility for coaxing Benizar Bhutto to return to Pakistan:
For Benazir Bhutto, the decision to return to Pakistan was sealed during a telephone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just a week before Bhutto flew home in October. The call culminated more than a year of secret diplomacy — and came only when it became clear that the heir to Pakistan's most powerful political dynasty was the only one who could bail out Washington's key ally in the battle against terrorism.

...where she was promptly assassinated:
On October 26th, Wolf Blitzer also received a now highly publicized message from Bhutto, via Siegel, to be disclose only upon her death. It detailed the basic security requirements above, and asked that the reporter make it known that the four police vehicles she had requested to surround her vehicle while traveling were never supplied. ...If you haven't seen the video footage of the assassination, by the way, you might notice that not only was there no escort, but three nearby policemen supposedly tasked to protect Bhutto's car at the moment of the attack where simply idling around.

Blood on their hands.

Marion Jones' cheating meant the diminution of the second place athletes, the ones who seem to have played by the rules and had their careers eclipsed by hers. The blood of her reputation as a human being, as a member of society, whether on the national stage or buying groceries in the supermarket.

Condoleezza Rice, trying so obviously to wash the blood of Iraq off her hands (and, to some of us, some stainage from 9/11) with the renewed yet inconclusive Mideast peace initiative and the stabilizing of Pakistan.

She put her faith in another political woman, one who had once run the country to which she was being spurred to return; and then, with whatever degree of culpability, sent her to a swift and violent grave.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Secret Mission?

The rock & roll Primary has taken over the front page of every newspaper and the top of all cable news shows this past week, while the Cheney/Bush Administration has either stumbled into or attempted to fabricate a "provocation" from Iran in the very waters we are jamming with battleships right next to their country.

It turns out the sparking radio threat was likely not made by Iranian gunships. It appears no confrontation actually happened.

At the same time, El Presidente Bush is over in Israel, engaged in the kind of "shoot the moon" Mideast peace strategy his team actually belittled his predecessor, President Bill Clinton, for attempting in his last year of office. Credit where credit is due, El Presidente is actually somewhat bold in what he's saying he wants to see happen, I believe the first U.S. President to use the term "occupation" for Israel's control of the West Bank.

On the other hand, I don't believe for a second that Cheney et al don't want to bomb the hell out of Iran and leave the next President dug in with whatever they've wrought.

So with that in mind, is there maybe the possibility that Bush is in Israel not only for his peace plan, but to coordinate at the highest levels for an attack on Iran to follow...maybe under cover of the February 5th "Super Tuesday" Primary hoopla?

It'll shame me to say it if I have to, but you'll have read it here first.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Late Thoughts

So the day after there are a few more plausible explanations of why Sen. Clinton bested the poll numbers and beat Sen. Obama in the only poll that really counts.

There's the Biden/Dodd drop-out theory wherein their supporters went to the next longest-serving Senator on the ballot. Makes sense, particularly with older voters, especially older female voters.

There's an emerging argument that Obama's conciliatory "unity" speech actually hasn't gone far enough in criticizing El Presidente Bush, as (sorry, GOP Barack supporters) we really are angry about what he and President Cheney have done to this country, and the fact that they're still in power more a little more than another year, still time enough to gin up an attack on Iran. (As they've been doing under the cover of Primary fever -- maybe deliberately?) Obama seems to have started correcting that today in speeches. Very important to do -- as all of the Republican candidates, aside from Ron Paul, have in some way fundamentally endorsed or enabled Bush's policies.

There's a very compelling case to be made that the misogyny of the pundits gleefully piling on after her loss in Iowa, specifically Chris Matthews, created a groundswell of sympathy for Clinton. Even Kos found himself half-rooting for her against the onslaught. Matthews seems to single-handedly be trying to get her elected in some sort of self-destructive pathology. And in one instance she actually handled him beautifully, cuddling up when by all rights she should have been clobbering him.

Caryl Rivers wrote a great piece about it in HuffPo today, and it's a pretty stirring argument for Hillary over Obama if you're old enough to have had a working mother who actually experienced sexism when pioneering the workplace, a ceiling that all-too often still exists today (i.e. how many male vs. female CEOs?):

And why was Barack anointed so instantly? To use a sports metaphor, it was like the talented rookie being handed the Cy Young award after his first pouting on the mound. As Gloria Steinem noted in her much-discussed New York Times op-ed, what if Barack Obama had been a woman, with the same resume? She'd have been laughed at if she said she wanted to run for president.

I believe a lot of women thought "This isn't fair. Give her a chance. She's earned that. Maybe she won't win in the end, but if she loses, let it be fair and square. Any why doesn't the media seem very excited about the first woman president. Why isn't that 'change?""

For women of a certain age, there was an air of familiarity about the whole process. Often, women work hard, learn their craft, pay their dues, don't try to step in front of other people, and then, when they are due for the big promotion, something happens. Some young guy is suddenly standing in front of them. He's the hot new commodity, and she is just expected to gracefully step aside.

The real big hidden story of New Hampshire, one that I'm sure Fox News and the GOP establishment desperately wants to keep under wraps until they can fool us in the General Election that the country really is 50% theirs, is the massive disparity between the Parties in number of voters. 60,000 less people voting for any Republican candidate than for Democratic.

That's 44% voting Republican, and 56% Democrat -- a 12-percentage point difference!

In politics, that's called a mandate, and some might cry landslide.

- You've got "frontrunner" McCain ceding President authority to end the war in Iraq to General Petraeus, what Jonathan Zasloff calls disqualifying himself from the Presidency.

- You've got ex-frontrunner Romney now losing his firewall state, Michigan, to McCain.

- You've got Conservative "savior" Fred Thompson at 1% and losing to write-ins.

- You've got loser Giuliani stringing together a noun, a verb, and 911.

It's enough to make one wonder...and you may want to punish me for the thought, at least at first:

If Sen. Clinton does succeed in winning the nomination, and if they keep at least the victory and concession speechifying between now and then as graceful, civil, and mutually respectful as they have so far...

...and if she were to actually turn around and (shades of Reagan/Bush) choose to unite the Party by offering Sen. Obama the Vice Presidential candidacy...

...and if he were to actually think about it, being the first black VP in the history of America, with a chance to not only be President in eight years time but also establish sixteen years of Democratic Executive control (the first since FDR/Truman)...

...would the Hillary haters within the Party come around and...

...would it finally unite the Democrats?

At that point, would there be any way for the Republicans to stop us?


Look, I want Obama to win in the end, but most of all I don't want Rodham go get the nomination uncontested and untested. There shouldn't be a coronation, king or queen.

The best possible outcome would be for the two of them to trade off states for awhile, pretty even after Super Tuesday, and then Obama lands a decisive blow before the convention. Based on Hillary's success with the female vote, Obama's not so much up against a wall of racism as a wall of women, who want their turn and have been waiting 235 years for it. Regardless of whoever the other guy is, but particularly a younger one as-of-yet untested on the national stage.

As usual lately, I'm in general agreement with Andrew. To wit:

... She was knocked off her pedestal in Iowa and people prefer candidates not on pedestals. We will hear more about the Bradley effect, but I have no evidence it was actually there. I sure hope it wasn't. And South Carolina will give us more data.

I am now listening to her victory speech. It is my penance. Two great lines:

"I found my voice. And let's give America the comeback that New Hampshire has just given me."

But I would still note: this is still a very close victory. Compared to what we were expecting two weeks ago, it's amazingly close...

I do think that both Obama and Clinton have benefited from this campaign as candidates. Democracy works; and we need to pause and honor its findings...

As for Obama, class all the way:

"You know, a few weeks ago no one imagined that we'd have accomplished what we did here tonight in New Hampshire," he told supporters. "For most of this campaign, we were far behind. We always knew our climb would be steep.

"But, in record numbers, you came out and you spoke up for change. And with your voices and your votes you made it clear that at this moment in this election there is something happening in America."

He congratulated Hillary Rodham Clinton on a hard-fought victory and asked the crowd to give her a round of applause.

"All the candidates in this race have good ideas and all are patriots who serve this country honorably," Obama said.

Back at his place, it's still a political party. He so damned loose, you just want to hang around with him. Solving global and domestic problems.

We'll see what he comes back with, next up Saturday, January 26th in South Carolina.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


If I ever needed a final reason to switch over to Sen. Obama for President.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


I've been thinking that part of the reason America may be ready to elect an African-American man as President is that they've been prepared. Barack Obama won't be the first black President. He may not even be the second, if you count Bill Clinton (as a black friend of mine affirmed on Friday).

The actual antecedent to Sen. Obama as Head of State is President David Palmer.

If Obama takes this across the finish line, he'll owe a debt of gratitude to Dennis Haysbert, who convincingly portrayed a black politician you actually believe had won, and who's smarts and steadfastness have stood in stark contrast to our current Republican President.

In fact, he'll really owe the debt to the men who created 24, and in particular to first-listed creator Joel Surnow, a self-described "right-wing nut job" who's buddies with Rush Limbaugh and a GOP supporter. Tick-tick-irony-tick-tick...

Will Surnow come out in support of Obama? There's already one old-style Conservative, Andrew Sullivan, who made up his mind for Obama early and quite correctly makes the connection between Obama's rhetorical style with not MLK, JFK or RFK so much as with Republican godhead Ronald Reagan. Writes Sullivan:

The analogy that worries Republicans the most is a more recent one. Could Obama be a potential liberal version of Ronald Reagan? Could he do for the Democrats what Reagan did for the Republicans a quarter century ago?

It’s increasingly possible. Reagan was the cutting edge of the last realignment in American politics. With a good-natured, civil appeal to Democrats who felt abandoned by their own party under Jimmy Carter, Reagan revolutionised the reach of his own party.

He didn’t aim for a mere plurality, as Bill Clinton did. Nor did he try for a polarising 51% strategy, as George W Bush has done. He ran as a national candidate, in search of a national mandate, a proud Republican who nonetheless wanted Democrats to vote for him.

He came out of a period in which Americans had become sickened by the incompetence of their own government. Reagan shocked America’s elites by pivoting that discontent into a victory in 1980. And by his second term, he won 49 out of 50 states.

From Reagan Democrats to Obama Republicans?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Streamroller Building

Two new polls out for New Hampshire, Barack up either 38%-26% over Hillary, or 37%-27%. Somewhere in the range of a 14-point jump in forty-eight hours. Nice.

His strategy has bested hers, plain and simple. Her machine is showing the first pulls at the seams as donors go what the hell and her campaign head, pollster Mark Penn (has worked for, oh yeah, Blackwater) looks like the central failure. Letting Obama take the mantle of change while they played experience. Misunderestimating the emerging civic-minded Millenial Generation that Obama nailed through Facebook.

Good stuff from the New Hampshire debate tonight, much better format and better with just four great candidates.

Here's how Obama beats her on change.

Here's a great longer segment, where Clinton makes her best argument for actually having accomplished things in office, and John Edwards runs interference for Barack Obama.

Here's just a bunch of great Edwards clips from the debate -- really seemed the most rested and happy of all of them. Makes you wish he hadn't been a VP candidate under Kerry four years ago, might mean it can't happen now.

I can't bring myself to link to anything from the Republican debate. It's just not about anything the majority of Americans are thinking about. Ron Paul makes the most sense on foreign policy. Huckabee is the only other candidate who listens to Paul respectfully. Romney takes hits from all. McCain throws in a little old guy straight talk on pharmaceutical companies. Rudy again uses the word "perverted" with regard to radical Muslim thought.

You want real?

Here's Obama's barber shop.

Political Partying

Very funny parody thanks to a faithful reader -- the latest Ron Paul Money Bomb!

Last big New Hampshire debates this weekend. Dems are Obama vs. Edwards vs. Clinton vs. Richardson. Hillary getting booed at Dem dinner tonight. Obama riding the big mo, rocking the house:

The crowd goes absolutely berserk. And in his crescendo moment, he says that if New Hampshire votes for him on Tuesday, “you and I will heal this nation and repair the world and finally have an America that we can believe in again _ in four days time.”

One tiny anecdote will tell you how this went over here. We were seated next to supporters of Mrs. Clinton. They applauded throughout Mr. Obama’s speech. Said one: “He almost changed my mind.”

Rock on.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Killer numbers out of the Iowa caucus tonight. Game changing:

Good Guys:

1,781 of 1,781 districts reporting

Obama 37.58
Edwards 29.75
Clinton 29.47
Richardson 2.11
Biden 0.93
Uncommitted 0.14
Dodd 0.02

Bad guys:

1,546 of 1,781 districts reporting

Huckabee 34
Romney 25
Thompson 13
McCain 13
Paul 10
Giuliani 3

How weird that the Dems have the more complex caucus system, but they had all precincts reporting while the GOP can't seem to do anything right -- even without George or Dick at the helm.

Gotta say my sentiments are here, and it's this landmark speech that's sending shivers down my spine just thinking about it.

Congrats to Mike Huckabee, but here's a damning set of numbers -- you can see the Republican turnout vs. the Dems in sharp relief:

Total Voter Turnout (approximate)


Percentage of total vote

24.5% Obama
20.5% Edwards
19.8% Clinton
11.4% Huckabee (R)

That's the GOP ending up with only 1/3 the vote between six candidates -- that's at best a 6% average each.

Can I be the first to say I actually thought Hillary was actually cruising to do a lot worse? I expect the story to be all the second choice votes (under 15% first rounders) flipping from Edwards to Obama in just the past five days. Kucinich led the way, then all those rumors about Biden and Richardson doing the same (more surreptitiously).

She lucked out and maybe her panicked drones can spin it for her as "not third place" although I doubt they'll want to say it's a tie for second. She needs to fashion an underdog/fight back persona, and maybe it'll work. But I expect if she does it plays as the last straw, like Rudy's maximum fear TV ad that he vomited out yesterday.

As Nettertainment readers may already know, I fear only Mike Huckabee and John McCain, in that order.

The two candidates I did endorse, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, are dogmeat, saying more than you might think about the intelligence of the Republican rank & file. I'd love to have dinner with Huckabee, funny, smart, maybe get him to jam on bass after dessert, but I don't want him for my President. And neither does the hardcore conservative GOP activist core.

For the first time in my life, I agree with about 85% of what David Brooks writes in a column. On Obama:

This is a huge moment. It’s one of those times when a movement that seemed ethereal and idealistic became a reality and took on political substance.

Iowa won’t settle the race, but the rest of the primary season is going to be colored by the glow of this result. Whatever their political affiliations, Americans are going to feel good about the Obama victory, which is a story of youth, possibility and unity through diversity — the primordial themes of the American experience.

And Americans are not going to want to see this stopped. When an African-American man is leading a juggernaut to the White House, do you want to be the one to stand up and say No?

On Mike:

Huckabee won because he tapped into realities that other Republicans have been slow to recognize. First, evangelicals have changed. Huckabee is the first ironic evangelical on the national stage. He’s funny, campy (see his Chuck Norris fixation) and he’s not at war with modern culture.

Second, Huckabee understands much better than Mitt Romney that we have a crisis of authority in this country. People have lost faith in their leaders’ ability to respond to problems. While Romney embodies the leadership class, Huckabee went after it. He criticized Wall Street and K Street. Most importantly, he sensed that conservatives do not believe their own movement is well led. He took on Rush Limbaugh, the Club for Growth and even President Bush. The old guard threw everything they had at him, and their diminished power is now exposed.

Third, Huckabee understands how middle-class anxiety is really lived. Democrats talk about wages. But real middle-class families have more to fear economically from divorce than from a free trade pact. A person’s lifetime prospects will be threatened more by single parenting than by outsourcing. Huckabee understands that economic well-being is fused with social and moral well-being, and he talks about the inter-relationship in a way no other candidate has.

Here's the scoop. If McCain vanquishes Romney for good in New Hampshire and becomes the anti-Huckabee establishment candidate (McCain does, after all, think it acceptable to stay in Iraq for 100 years) we have an epic match-up on our hands, at on three different levels.

There's the maximum generational level. A clear choice between two men twenty-five years apart in age.

There's the straight-talk face-off. The GOP will try to smear Obama, but he's not a serial flip-flopper. Meanwhile, for all the Chris Matthews adoration, McCain supported Bush from starting all the way through the Iraq War, aside from the Bush/Cheney policy of U.S. torture. Aiding and abetting the very guys who smeared his family in South Carolina after he won New Hampshire and ruined his chance to be President in 2000 with their dirty, dirty tricks.

That's feet of clay.

The third and potential most fascinating level is one of payback.

Back two years ago, in February 2006, Obama reached out to fellow Senator John McCain on ethics and lobbyist reform, and got slapped down in in letter form, by what could be read as a pique of that famed McCain temper or maybe brutal political posturing with an eye to 2008, or maybe just putting the young'un in his place.

McCain calls Obama a liar more than once in the letter for wanting to do the legislation a different way. Obama's response, however, is profoundly consistent with the tone of his campaign:
For this reason, I am puzzled by your response to my recent letter. Last Wednesday morning, you called to invite me to your meeting that afternoon. I changed my schedule so I could attend the meeting. Afterwards, you thanked me several times for attending the meeting, and we left pledging to work together.

As you will recall, I told everyone present at the meeting that my caucus insisted that the consideration of any ethics reform proposal go through the regular committee process. You didn't indicate any opposition to this position at the time, and I wrote the letter to reiterate this point, as well as the fact that I thought S. 2180 should be the basis for a bipartisan solution.

I confess that I have no idea what has prompted your response. But let me assure you that I am not interested in typical partisan rhetoric or posturing. The fact that you have now questioned my sincerity and my desire to put aside politics for the public interest is regrettable but does not in any way diminish my deep respect for you nor my willingness to find a bipartisan solution to this problem.

I've heard it described as Obama taking conservatives at their word, and then hanging them by it if they play a trick. It's very above board, very good lawyerly style, and may work better than an Edwards-type us vs. them approach. Hopefully more effective, if Obama wins the big job.

But imagine this letter exchange in the context of a potential November victory for Obama head-to-head against McCain.


It's been a long time since I remember a moment like this in politics, maybe back to when I was a kid, or when Corazon Aquino delivered the Philippines from longtime dictator Ferdinand Marcos, real investment in a new political leader who appears both good and smart, a best hope.

Best of all for Obama, winning by such a definitive margin (imagine the margins if Edwards drops out of the race) and proving he can not only create such an effective organization, but harness the long-mythical youth power, he finally seems completely viable as a Democratic Presidential nominee...

...or President himself.