Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vile

So if there's one thing John McCain can no longer run on, it's character.

The Obama-Britney-Paris celebrity ad gets the BAGnews semiotics treatment, and it's brutal. First, the sexual race-baiting:
I agree with Josh that McCain's video hit man (reprising his Harold Ford handiwork) is playing heavily on racist allusions to sexual promiscuity and even rape.

If you study the individual frames, in fact, you'll see how the fades juxtaposing Obama and Britney, and Obama and Paris Hilton are virtually identical.

In each, Obama -- framed as a protean black celebrity (like O.J.) -- comes up on the woman, each an oversized icon, and creates the digital effect of a physical merger...On the other hand, the difference between the two -- Britney more "receptive" and Paris seemingly "unwilling" -- also resonates with the two dimensions of this ugly stereotype, one objectifying the white woman's supposed secretly lust for the black man's sexual prowess, and the other representing the more predatory "take it by force" scenario.)

And McCain dares to say Obama's playing the race card. He even says he's proud of this divisive, issues-avoiding, swiftboating commercial. Has he no shame -- or is he just playing the "Playing the Race Card" card?

Sounds like McCain campaign "outside advisor" Karl Rove to me. Is there a more perfect harbinger of George W. Bush's Third Term?

But there's worse. BAGnewsNotes uncovers the deeper evil of the ad, the bone-chilling call to violence:
But then, watching the video without the sound, and looking at it slowly, bit-by-bit (lessening the "distraction" of the celebrity meme, and considering the subliminal allusions hitting the brain as fast as the scenery from a speeding train), the imagery starts to suggest other inferences.

Beginning with a sequence of flashes paired with isolated hands, followed immediately by a sequence (above) from what looks like the last Democratic Convention (where Obama made his first major jolt, but where the scene itself bears next-to-no direct connection to Obama having his picture taken), now all the "pop-pop-pop" and the violently-sensory "flash-flash-flash" seem indistinguishable from explosions.

With those fireworks serving as a (possible Denver) table setting, and just on-the-other-side of the seductive Britney/Paris segment, we arrive at this chronological sequence in which Obama is mingling with the Berlin crowd, a single nervous-looking Secret Service agent fixed off the candidate's left shoulder...

...I don't even want to think what this looks like to me...

Thank goodness Obama can take care of himself:


John McCain is shrinking by the day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Why?

Why does Sen. John McCain want to be President?

It's not often that I run the opposition's dirty work, the smear material devoid of issues but filled instead with malignant innuendo, but here you go:



Yep, if ever there was a whiny petulant campaign ad in a Presidential race, this is it. Imagine -- Obama's popular, hence he must be wrong for America. But what's really wrong, per Chris Bowers:

Let's do a quick rundown of the identity politics at work in such a comparison:

  • Obama is a girly-man. The ad only compares Obama to female celebrities, which is a direct shot at Obama's "manliness."
  • Obama will sleep with your white daughters: Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears are known for their sexuality as much as anything else. That must go for Barack Obama, too. And the history of attacking African-Americans in association with white women is such a positive one.
  • Obama is too young: For a campaign that is hyper-sensitive to attacks on McCain's age, they certainly have no problem attacking Obama's age. Which is what comparing Obama to Spears and Hilton is.
  • Obama is a Hollywood liberal: This is also a run of the mill attack on Obama as a Hollywood, liberal elite, in line with decades of conservative backlash narratives.
This is really atrocious stuff, and trying to bring out all of the worst aspects of America in order to win an election. At this point, the McCain campaign is just hitting Obama with whatever it can think of, and seeing if Obama will respond.
Obama's response? Brilliantly flips McCain's tactics around and uses them to reinforce Obama's core message...:



..which can't help but leave you thinking as well about McCain's age. What makes it fair game is that McCain's low road strategy -- or that of the Bush campaign vets like Karl Rove running his media campaign -- is to make Obama "other" whether black or foreign or uppity. In response, Obama is essentially painting McCain as "other" -- someone we don't really know as well as we thought, someone from a dark past from which we're all straining to break free, come November 4th.

If McCain can't run on the issues and won't bow out, if his only chance is to make this election a referendum not on eight years of failed Republican policies but on Obama, and if he can successfully muddy his image, he'll lose for sure. Hillary Clinton tried some similar tactics and ended up losing anyway, behind where it counted from early in the race, just like McCain.

Obama is exponentially better organized than McCain -- finalizing plans to use his stadium speech as the world's largest phone bank at the Democratic National Convention, reaching out to Republicans currently in the shadows, and for the first time breaking 50% in a national poll. And McCain, who's shredding his clean campaigning pledge with his media attacks being labeled "childish" and self-reductive by his former confidante and ally, he's desperately trying to define Obama as out of touch?

Per Barack, when asked about the ads earlier today:

Obama noted McCain had stepped up his attacks against him and questioned his approach.

"I don't pay attention to John McCain's ads, although I do notice he doesn't seem to have anything very positive to say about himself," Obama told reporters after visiting a diner in Lebanon, Missouri.

"He seems to only be talking about me," Obama said. "You need to ask John McCain what he's for, not just what he's against."

That's right. Everyone knows what Obama is running on: Change. That We. Can Believe In.

Meaning Change, Unity, Hope.

And John? What is he running on?

Anybody?

Still More Felonies and Lies

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) has been indicted in what boils down to endemic bribery, getting him on multiple false statements.

John McCain's TV ad criticizing Obama's Trip and the wounded veterans is a proven lie. He has nothing left to run on but lies and suggestion, and everyone finally knows it. He shouldn't have hired Karl Rove, but John McCain is clearly not capable of not hiring Karl Rove.

He's not even trying not to be GWB II.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wreckage

Criminals:
The White House predicted Monday that President Bush would leave a record $482 billion deficit to his successor, a sobering turnabout in the nation’s fiscal condition from 2001, when Mr. Bush took office after three consecutive years of budget surpluses.

The worst may be yet to come. The deficit announced by Jim Nussle, the White House budget director, does not reflect the full cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the potential $50 billion cost of another economic stimulus package, or the possibility of steeper losses in tax revenues if individual income or corporate profits decline.

The new deficit numbers also do not account for any drains on the national treasury that might result from further declines in the housing market.

Wow, bad news. But remember Bushie's Law: any damage done by his and Cheney's Administration will turn out to be worse by a factor of 3x. I'll predict we're looking at closer to a one-point-three trillion dollar deficit ($1,300,000,000,000.00) to be discovered within three months following January 20, 2009. And American will have the next installment in paying down the Bush/Cheney debt.

Unless, of course, the designated Republican wins.

What else would not be properly punished? More prosecutable violations:

In her position as White House liaison for the Justice Department, Ms. Goodling was involved in hiring lawyers for both political appointments and nonpolitical career positions. Regardless of the type of position, the report said, Ms. Goodling would run applicants at interviews through the same batch of questions, asking them about their political philosophies, why they wanted to serve President Bush, and who, aside from Mr. Bush, they admired as public servants, the report found. Sometimes, Ms. Goodling would ask: “Why are you a Republican?”

In Ms. Goodling’s notes from the interviews, she would give a shorthand assessment of how well they fared on threshold political issues, as in the notation for one candidate who she wrote was aptly conservative on “god, guns + gays...”

...Such consideration of political views would have been allowed in hiring candidates to political appointments, which make up a tiny part of the Justice Department’s 110,000 employees, but it was clearly banned under both Civil Service law and the Justice Department’s internal policies, the inspector general said.

Like I said, no one will have to know any more about this if this guy gets elected. He's not interested.

Time for a new generation to lead, but is also times like this that the most recidivist element growing malignant all these years with the anger held in abeyance thanks to the exported violence and imported repression, but continued to be fed on smug mass marketed hatred and ignorance by folks like this guy read and undoubtedly listened to and watched.

I predict there will be more of them but the most important thing is to keep ourselves between them and our next President. Because even if there's blood on the hands of the lying purveyors of righteous bile and license, it's no substitute for someone as well-equipped, as poised and focused on solving these problems as any living American could hope to be.

Because this time, if anyone, it's going to take an Obama to clean up after a Bush.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Frighteningly Obvious

Here's a taste of how Obama, fresh of the plane from his whirlwind, sleep-deprived week solidifying his position as the world's most popular politician, handling a full hour interview with Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press, this portion about a ridiculous write-up of his Berlin speech by one of the NY Times conservative columnists.

The excerpt shows how on-the-ball sharp his is, but it doesn't do justice to the full range of issues he handled smart and honestly throughout the span of the program. The big news is his immediate pivot, now that he's returned to the U.S. of A., back to the economy. As I've written, I expect him to weave together the values of his trip with his plans to put America on a winning track for the 21st Century, and sure enough he's already hitting back hard on those questioning him about the surge saying that no one is asking John McCain if he would vote to for the Iraq War again after knowing what that vote caused.

Once again, he's two corners ahead of the McCain Campaign. Once again he's prepared to steer the discourse to the economy while the McCain campaign is still whining and prevaricating about last week:

McCain's ad asserts that Obama "made time to go to the gym, but cancelled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras."

The McCain campaign provides no evidence for the assertion that being told he couldn't bring media had anything to do with the trip's cancellation.

Oddly, when discussing Obama's trip to the gym, the ad uses footage of Obama playing basketball with US troops in Kuwait over the weekend.

What's up with John?

McCain going against Veteran's benefits again -- doesn't want the VA treating them unless seriously injured. A winning platform, uh. McCain fundraising off of impugning Obama's patriotism. McCain reaping oil company donations off his flipflop on oil drilling. McCain running on kicking Russia out of the G8 -- that's a WWIII we can believe in? McCain with a secret plan to capture Bin Laden.

I believe the question is rapidly moving away from whether BarackObama is qualified to be President, Chief Executive, Commander-in-Chief to whether John McCain is cracking up. We seem to be tumbling into some sort of Elia Kazan film with McCain, in a few interviews today spent beating back his inconvenient acceptance of withdrawal timetables Saturday, relying just a little too heavily a single catch-phrase:



Hey, John. Here's the conditions on the ground.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

McCain Green Screen

Stephen Colbert gave his fans some footage from Sen. John McCain's ill-conceived "counterspeech" on the night Obama clinched the Democratic Presidential nomination and asked them to help make John McCain more exciting.

Here's some faves I just discovered. This one is real eerie, very well grafting McCain into the sci-fi classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still:



This one's quick -- just twelve second -- and both masterful and cutting, pretty close to the line but just so well executed:



How about McCain in classic original series Star Trek?:



And now mapped beautifully into the cinematic masterpiece, Citizen McCain:



Nice punch line.

Two Candidates

Here's the best comment I've read on Obama's Berlin speech, from The New York Times website:

Those who castigate Obama for being long on vision and short on policy forget the fact that no politician who lays out policy during the campaign actually remembers it after taking office (”Read my lips”).

What the candidate has said in this speech is very clear: We saved your Berliner behinds in 1948 when you were still stuffing your Nazi overcoats into the attic and now it’s time for you to help save the world from terrorism, even if you’re used to letting us do it.

But what’s important to me is that this argument is couched in terms of a vision of the future that considers our obligations to our children and the sorry planet we’re bequeathing them.

— Posted by magisterludi


That's what I think people have yet to catch onto about Obama due to his youth and optimism -- he's tough, and he wants tough things. He just knows how to frame the arguments from the start.

On the other hand, here's Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars on his opponent:

Like every speech of McCain’s lately, his confusing verb tenses claim that we have won and will win, have succeeded and will succeed and yet he’s still able to predict “defeat” from Barack Obama’s position, despite all this winning and success. It’s a stunning psychic ability for McSame as he then says that the troops will come home during “the next president’s first term.” Isn’t that what Obama promised as well? McSame actually told Wolf Blitzer that he thought Obama’s 16 months was a pretty good timetable. Confused yet? As Logan points out, McCain says that when he brings the troops home, they’re staying home. What does he plan on doing in Afghanistan? Those permanent bases in Iraq? Is this yet another flip-flop?

Here's the Blitzer interview moment:



One wonders if, behind the scenes, McCain has been losing his famous temper. One wonders if, by the time business opens on Monday, Obama will be hitting the headlines with more well-planned campaigning, continuing the foreign policy narrative of the past two weeks but somehow bringing it home, tying it to the economy, again turning the story.

I do think he and his campaign are that good, but we'll see shortly, next hurdle.

I wonder about luck as well.

And never bet against it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Booyah

Obama slides into the Tiergarten in Berlin like a wind from the West, a breath of clear air, an athlete at the peak of his game, nothing but net.

His speech masterfully wove the post-WWII history of the Berlin airlift, recalling the great feat of America rescuing their so very recent enemy from brutal Soviet blockage, and weaving it in with the challenges we face today for a compelling call to action -- a call for all to renounce apathy and take up leadership again, as only together, reunited, can we make the world we want to live in; the world we want our children to live in.

The 200,000 people who attended, in large part a young German audience, got an event they'll always remember. Without hectoring or scolding, he called up all better angels. He struck a righteous balance between love of America, in essence reintroducing America to Europe by way of his own personal story, and citizenship of the world. The latter, fodder for those within our own American ranks who would seek to destroy us by recidivism, xenophobia and ignorance, is in the grand tradition of both John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Not surprisingly, the two best orators to have help that office since Obama was born.

I can't see how this hurts Obama except with the hardened rightwing partisans and the smear merchants. It's been a long time since I've felt this rising feeling about America, deep inside, a true pride in the ideals of this country as embodied by flesh & blood. Obama's message to Berlin today was not to count us out. Not if he had made it there:



To quote an email I sent to a friend earlier today, I'm not sure the MSM wants to acknowledge Obama's awesome coup in Berlin -- they seem to be downplaying. But for any intelligent American the choice of McCain now becomes even costlier, as we've seen in pictures for ourselves all the personal equity Obama has now built with these key Middle East and European leaders. Only a fool would squander that for McCain, who might not even last four full years in office.

So aside from the semiotics of Obama's adventure, aside from the leaders-equity, aside from the sheer guts to take such a risk where one real faux pas overseas could capsize his poll standings, what I like best about the whole trip is that he's very, very seriously preparing to hit the ground running when he takes office. He understands in a way McCain (and Bush) doesn't the magnitude of the job. That's why he has a transition team already gearing up, win or lose.

It's not cynical semiotics, especially as his whole trip is a gamble that it won't turn voters against him for perceived "arrogance". It's that he's actually a responsible adult who knows what it takes to lead.

America, take heed. Protect this one.

I've said before that, no matter his attributes, by the time November 4th rolls around, voting for John McCain (should he still be on the ballot) will feel like voting assisted suicide for America.

I didn't realize that feeling would actually congeal so soon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bottom Falling

I may have become disappointed with John McCain for his opportunistic embrace of El Presidente George W. Bush during the 2004 campaign, the kissing of the ring, the hug, but I can't say that I have any reason to hate him. I'd expect most folk opposing McCain would agree. However, I don't think I can quite bring myself to pity him, at least not yet. Who knows, he could still win the election, he could drop out, he could get someone to pull his campaign together in a dignified fashion (since he clearly can't do it himself, not like Obama can lead his own campaign).

But however you look at it, this is the week, if any, that the bottom keeps falling out of the McCain campaign.

Last night on CBS, in his attempt to turn the election from a mandate for change from eight years of disastrous Republican rule to being all about the surge and trying to claw up some distrust of Barack Obama, McCain got himself interviewed by Katie Couric and promptly made another gaffe, this one confusing the chronology of the "Anbar Awakening" and the start of the surge.

Then his campaign went on today to try and split hairs about over a rather statement made by Obama at the most solemn of Israeli memorials, Yad Vashem, built in honor of the six million European Jews slaughtered under Nazi rule. Not exactly tactful. More like try anything -- desperation.

And, in one of the strangest turns of his campaign so far, McCain's campaign had arranged for him to appear in a great big photo op on an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana with that state's Republican Governor Bobby Jindal...but it was suddenly canceled. The McCain campaign claims weather was the reason, and perhaps that was true. But there's also, suspiciously, this concurrent news:

The U.S. Coast Guard has closed 29 miles of the Mississippi River from New Orleans southward after a tanker and a barge collided, spilling more than 400,000 gallons of fuel oil into the river.
Tugboats hold up pieces of a barge after it collided with a tanker Wednesday in the Mississippi River in New Orleans.

The river, a major shipping route between the Midwest and Gulf of Mexico, could be closed for days during the cleanup, the Coast Guard said Wednesday.

More than 30 ships already are queued up along the river, waiting to pass through the closed zone, Coast Guard Petty Officer Jaclyn Young said.

The Coast Guard has deployed 45,000 feet of inflatable booms to contain the spill and is lining up another 29,000 feet, but it could be days before the river is reopened, she said.

The accident left a sheen over 90 percent of the area, she said.


So much for a safe drilling message, John.

Even the mainstream media has to bow to reality sometime...and it looks like they're starting to. And if they're distaste turns to pity, well, we just can't elect a man we pity to Commander-in-Chief.

So I ask again:

Will McCain make it to November 4th as the Republican Presidential nominee?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Good

Finally, one of the most evil men alive, Radovan Karadzic is arrested. This Serbian nationalist butcher who led his troops to the murder, rape and destruction of countless innocent Bosnians during the 1990's had grown a huge white beard and assumed a false identity in Belgrade, as a lecturer in alternative medicine.

Nice irony for such a killer.

The Hague wants him and his buddy for ethnic cleansing war crimes:
The arrest, nearly 13 years to the day after his indictment in connection with the massacre of nearly 8,000 Bosnian men and boys at Srebrenica, seemed aimed at strengthening Serbia’s ties to the European Union. A condition for membership remains the capture of Mr. Karadzic’s wartime ally, Gen. Ratko Mladic, who is also being sought for trial in The Hague on genocide charges...

...The indictment states that his forces killed, tortured and raped some of the thousands of non-Serbs they funneled into camps set up by the Bosnian Serb authorities. In addition, he was charged with responsibility for the shelling and sniper shootings of civilians in Sarajevo during the 43-month siege of the city in which thousands were killed or wounded, including many women and children.

The "before and after" photos of Karadzic accompanying the article are striking, containers of unlockable meaning, our inquiring gaze lost in the Gandolf-esque disguise, the signifier of a peaceful, scholarly man.

I look forward to seeing Karadzic cleanshave, now thirteen years after his disappearance. Take away the disguise, let's examine the face, the disguise underneath it. All that may be revealed is the very banality of evil, the seeming face of a principal or a financial or a pipefitter.

But I'll be looking for the guilt.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rock & Roll

Check out Obama sitting with Petraeus in this official U.S. Army photo accompanying the NY Times article.

These two guys look like they could get us the hell out of Iraq nice and safe together.

This trip is a disaster for McCain. If Obama's lead in the polls doesn't double by next week, there's something seriously wrong with America. Obama looks like Obama Bond overseas while McCain, who thought he had goaded him into the trip, is making another major geographical gaffe and seeming like a failing Mid-20th Century politician -- not even close to the moment today, so much has Obama changed the expected level of discourse:



Compare Obama in the chopper with the accompanying photo here of McCain with Bush Sr. (in an appropriately Mid-20th Century turtleneck and beige sportscoat) earlier today. And what is his current ad campaign? The first negative ad of the cycle: per McCain, or his campaign, or someone getting paid to make shit up, the reason that gas prices are so high is, in fact, Barack Obama.

It gets worse. Obama's startlingly smart, far-reaching and firm foreign policy op-ed in last Monday's NY Times, which as he must have planned over a year ago would signal the true opening of his general election campaign, after a month of Primary recovery, has keynoted this extraordinarily on-message two week foreign policy vetting spectacular. So some genius in the McCain campaign thought their candidate should respond today, one week later, a day and a half into Obama's sojourn.

The resultant op-ed has yet to run -- rejected by the Times editor for not defining victory clearly enough to be using it -- and "failure" -- throughout the piece. In fact, it's no more than a political hit job, with no vision, no new ideas, nothing that hasn't been propagated before by the campaign. Hackwork, and bless the Times for recognizing it properly.

I don't think McCain nor his campaign have a grip anymore. Novak says they'll make a VP announcement this week, but is even Mitt Romney really going to make a difference? Do a dry run for 2012, maybe even take over if McCain drops out, and either way lose twice to Obama?

McCain is even switching positions again, edging towards his younger, smarter, more vigorous rival's troop withdrawal "horizon."

Bob Dole is looking better and better every day.

Ah well, maybe not.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Trifecta

While the mainstream media is still playing catch-up, Jonathan Martin in Politico makes a compelling case for the current news on "terrorism" -- Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran -- all strengthening Barack Obama's hand with the most auspicious timing possible:
Barack Obama’s long-awaited and much-hyped trip overseas, in large part intended to overcome a perception that he’s not up to the job of commander-in-chief, seems to have come at the perfect time as recent events in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran have played into his message.

Chuck Todd was on MSNBC today saying the GOP is, actually, panicked by Obama's trip overseas:



And while covering for Andrew Sullivan, hilzoy slams home the point that Iraq Prime Minister Maliki's interview statement supporting Obama's approach to the Iraq War completely undermines any remaining rationale for the McCain campaign:
McCain's entire rationale, as a candidate, turns on Iraq and related issues, like terrorism and (to a lesser extent) Iran. What else is he going to run on? His grasp of the economy? His health care proposals? The widespread popularity of the Republican brand? He can't even run on the rest of foreign policy: McCain's approach to foreign policy has always lacked any kind of integrative vision; he treats problems in isolation from one another. This means two things: first, McCain really doesn't have an overarching foreign policy vision, and second, for him, Iraq has always been The Big Thing, and as a result, everything else got slighted...

...Again, McCain would have to choose: does he say that Iraq's government has made some real political progress, and is capable of making its own decisions? In that case, he should accept its wishes. Does he say that he can disregard its requests on matters of Iraqi sovereignty? In that case, he undercuts a lot of his claims that the surge has enabled real and lasting progress in Iraq.

As I see it, Maliki's statement is all upside for Obama. It neither poses risks for him nor presents him with problems. But it's a minefield for McCain. And this will, I think, become clearer as time goes on, when people begin to ask him these sorts of questions.


Chris Bowers thinks it may be endgame happening right now:

I am trying to think of the last time that Iraq was actually bad for Republicans and good for Democrats according to the pundit elite.

And, to top it all off, Obama is expected to have a million people attend his campaign rally in Germany on Thursday, which would make it the largest political rally in German history. Think about that for a moment: an African-American is heading up the largest rally in German history.

Obama is changing the world, and the world likes it. That is something McCain can never match. This trip should not only give Obama a bump in the polls, but position him extremely well for issue debates in the fall. This overseas trip could really be checkmate in the election.


Fingers crossed.

Winning

America wants -- Americans need to feel like winners again.

On the international state, this is the biggest deal that Obama offers, and yesterday provided prominent examples.

For one, Iraq Prime Minister Maliki endorsed Obama's 16-month redeployment/withdrawal plan. And someone in the White House communications system "accidentally" put it out as a press release!

Then there was Obama meeting with some troops in Afghanistan on a basketball court and, answering a request, making a single shot:



Nothing but net, America.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Security Threat

Let's stop kidding ourselves.

Is Sen. John McCain in any tangible way prepared to be President of the United States of America?:
Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Friday that his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, is likely to be in Iraq over the weekend.

The Obama campaign has tried to cloak the Illinois senator's trip in some measure of secrecy for security reasons. The White House, State Department and Pentagon do not announce senior officials' visits to Iraq in advance.
Per Josh Marshall, imagine if the situation had been reversed -- the McCain campaign and the media would be trying to paint Obama as too dangerously inexperienced for what is arguably the most intel sensitive job in the world:
If it is true that Obama is going to Iraq this weekend, it is a very serious mistake for McCain to have disclosed it publically. Even for run-of-the-mill CODELs the military gives guidance like, "Please strongly discourage Congressional offices from issuing press releases prior to their trips which mention their intent to travel to the AOR and/or the dates of that travel or their scheduled meetings. Such releases are a serious compromise to OPSEC." If Obama is going to Iraq this weekend, I can not begin to imagine how much this is complicating the security planning for the trip.

It's known that Obama is leaving on his foreign trip this weekend and the Journal OpEd page this morning said that Obama could arrive in Iraq "as early as this weekend." And with a slew of reporters in tow, it's not exactly highly classified information. But there is a reason definite information about these sorts of trips aren't released in advance.

Hypothetically, maybe McCain was just guessing. But even so it would still be a serious lapse of judgment on his part.

Judgment -- Obama's core value proposition.

Daniel Burrell asks if America can even afford a First Term by Sen. John McCain:
Since announcing his candidacy last April, McCain has been unable to get control of his organization. The campaign's messaging, strategic planning, grassroots, and fundraising operations all have been mired in disarray. Most of the mess is attributable to the candidate's inability to establish a clear chain of command at the top and to quell infighting among senior staff, a somewhat stunning revelation when considering McCain's stature in the Party and past experiences as a presidential contender. But while the chaotic state of McCain headquarters has become a well worn subject over the past two weeks, with a litany of Republican elected officials and strategists questioning the candidate's chances in November, as well as mainstream media figures such as Bill Kristol and Adam Nagourney writing pieces chronicling the myriad and ongoing staffing problems, few seem focused on the more substantive issue of what all of this means for a McCain first term if he is actually elected...

...Contrast this against the Obama organization and the differences are stark. They remain focused, organized, and well managed. Notwithstanding some shuffling of his policy team earlier in the year, Obama has made no major changes to his inner circle since announcing his candidacy. Moreover, the chain of command is defined and clear...

...With the Fall approaching and the campaigning reaching its peak, McCain's current political team will no doubt ratchet up the charges of inexperience and youth against Obama. But these cries will likely fall on deaf ears if Obama continues to deliver a consistent message and organize effectively through November...
There's rumors of the Republicans running someone else, maybe McCain steps down for one of his hundred pages of health report that reporters got a glance at one Friday afternoon a few months ago. It would certainly set an interesting precedent. Or case study.

Phil Gramm was on the outs earlier this week for his "nation of whiners" geniusness, then in again this morning as McCain's chief economics (stealonomics?) advisor (image sub-prime king Gramm as Treasury Secretary?), then after a day of no doubt a lot of long phone calls, out completely with an unrepentant, bitchy statement:
“It is clear to me that Democrats want to attack me rather than debate Senator McCain on important economic issues facing the country,” Mr. Gramm said in a statement issued by the campaign. “That kind of distraction hurts not only Senator McCain’s ability to present concrete programs to deal with the country’s problems, it hurts the country.”
Stop hurting the country, Republicans. Stop fucking with our infrastructure, moral highground, and common sense.

As President, which is all but an apocalyptic fantasy, McCain would be a serious security threat to our nation. He's not reliable on the issues, he's not a successful manager of his campaign apparatus or message, but worst of all he's not a successful manager of his candidate -- he can't manage himself well enough to safely do the job.

Maybe 2000 was different. Maybe his embrace of his arch-rival, his saboteur, during the 2004 election corrupted not only his politics but his body and mind as well. Maybe he's feeling his age worse than, say, Joe Bruno, because of the sacrifices he made for us and his country.

Experience and age don't always correlate. I work with and often learn from people younger than me. There are difference experiences than 26 years working in our legislative branch, 22 in "The Millionaires Club." And different ways to grow from those experiences, different ways to apply their lessons, to grow rather than diminish.

Everyone is following Barack Obama's lead. It started the day he announced his candidacy on the Internet, and Sen. Hillary Clinton quickly moved up her announcement by several months and followed. She followed him on raising money through small donations on the Internet and this week the Bush Administration followed him, after years of vicious Chamberlain-baiting, by flipflopping on relations with Iran.

Well, today Obama actually affected Iraq policy. The enormity of his candidacy's withdrawal message, particularly starting the week by promising to complete within sixteen months, must be pressuring the White House to switch course and call for a timetable-I-mean-horizon:

Mr. Bush, who has long derided timetables for troop withdrawals as dangerous, agreed to at least a notional one as part of the administration’s efforts to negotiate the terms for an American military presence in Iraq after a United Nations mandate expires at the end of the year.

The agreement, announced in coordinated statements released Friday by the White House and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government, reflected a significant shift in the war in Iraq.
Obama's going to go to Iraq and do something we haven't seen before -- maybe meeting with someone outside the tight circle of showcase normally experienced by U.S. politicians visiting Iraq, maybe making a speech before some interesting group, maybe the Iraqi Parliament, a chance to lay down his vision in person and give a coming attractions they can all buy into. Then he'll go to Europe and blow away unprecedentedly ginormous crowds. Then he'll come home even more fired up and ready to go, having laid clear groundwork to be picked up on January 21st. You know, on Day 1.

There is nothing to follow with McCain, not just because he'll just flipflop around, but because he's got no vision. He's trying to own the surge, which is just the cherry on top of the dungheap. He's running as Best Manager like losing Democratic Presidential candidates traditionally do.

Obama not only has vision, so far he's extraordinarily successful in executing it by enlisting the public, i.e. leading.

Anything less, in this brittle age, is far too perilous to consider.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Public's Financing

Contrary to the Chicken Littlish squawkings of the Wall Street Journal a week or so ago, Barack Obama was not out-raised by John McCain in June, he's more than doubled McCain's cash intake ($52M to $22M) and, as we've come to expect now, with fewer big donors -- half as many.

Is this the equivalent of public financing?

Oh, and Al Gore is a hero.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Right Again and Again

So if you want any more evidence that Sen. Barack Obama has better judgment than El Presidente Bush and Sen. John McCain put together, there's two huge pieces of brand new evidence: Both Republicans have flip-flopped and are now favoring two of the Democrat's long-averred policies.

McCain has flipped his flop to support Obama's longtime position on troop levels to finish the job in Afghanistan, even if the McCain-coddling mainstream media has yet to notice:



It turns out the Pentagon agrees as well. And all the McCain campaign can do is toss out a desperate, laughable lie that Obama is somehow the real "= Bush", i.e. not their guy. Huh?

Meanwhile, while Obama has been called an appeaser for advocating direct talks with Iran by every McCain, Lieberman, Bush and Cheney around, now it seems that El Presidente is switching to his side:
The United States will announce in the next month that it plans to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30 years, a British newspaper said on Thursday...

...The United States will announce in the next month that it plans to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30 years, a British newspaper said on Thursday.
It remains to be seen whether George and John end up pulling the lever for Barack come November.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Baraq

Obama hits it out of the park today with what will come to be seen as the pivotal speech of his campaign. Bush tried to preempt him with a press avail in the morning. McCain attempted to counter afterwards.

Highlights of the contenders, per TPM:



What strikes me most is that Obama defines success, and basis part of that on the answers Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker gave to him in committee hearings a few months ago. McCain says the surge worked so trust me, "I know how to win wars." (???) but never defines success, certainly not in clear terms like Obama. Obama offers 16 months -- we can hold him to it. It takes guts for him to lay it out like this, defining victory and vanquishing surrender.

McCain is making the Humphrey/Carter/Mondale/Dukakis mistake, only the Republican way: he's running as best manager. Military manager, to be sure, but still just manager.

America does not vote for Best Manager for President. America votes for Vision. We'll even take substitutes when the pickings are slim, but we love the real thing, the one we share, the one who gives voice to what's been brewing all too long and shows us a path to reach better days.

Here's the rock solid argument at the heart of this masterpiece:

At some point, a judgment must be made. Iraq is not going to be a perfect place, and we don't have unlimited resources to try to make it one. We are not going to kill every al Qaeda sympathizer, eliminate every trace of Iranian influence, or stand up a flawless democracy before we leave - General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker acknowledged this to me when they testified last April. That is why the accusation of surrender is false rhetoric used to justify a failed policy. In fact, true success in Iraq - victory in Iraq - will not take place in a surrender ceremony where an enemy lays down their arms. True success will take place when we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future - a government that prevents sectarian conflict, and ensures that the al Qaeda threat which has been beaten back by our troops does not reemerge. That is an achievable goal if we pursue a comprehensive plan to press the Iraqis stand up.

To achieve that success, I will give our military a new mission on my first day in office: ending this war. Let me be clear: we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 - one year after Iraqi Security Forces will be prepared to stand up; two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, we'll keep a residual force to perform specific missions in Iraq: targeting any remnants of al Qaeda; protecting our service members and diplomats; and training and supporting Iraq's Security Forces, so long as the Iraqis make political progress.

We will make tactical adjustments as we implement this strategy - that is what any responsible Commander-in-Chief must do. As I have consistently said, I will consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government. We will redeploy from secure areas first and volatile areas later. We will commit $2 billion to a meaningful international effort to support the more than 4 million displaced Iraqis. We will forge a new coalition to support Iraq's future - one that includes all of Iraq's neighbors, and also the United Nations, the World Bank, and the European Union - because we all have a stake in stability. And we will make it clear that the United States seeks no permanent bases in Iraq.

This is the future that Iraqis want. This is the future that the American people want. And this is what our common interests demand.
It ties into his whole responsibility theme, the same one pissing off Jesse Jackson, the one that America agrees with wholeheartedly.

Here's the whole masterful thing.



If America doesn't give Barack Obama a landslide victory, America is on notice.

PS: I expect Obama to pop up in Iraq sooner than you think. This whole set-up and build is looking long in the works. Ready to move. Advancing over all of McCain's supposed territory.

Cartoon

Political cartoonists are the first ones targeted by dictators when they want to shut down free speech. They're the ones threatened with fatwas when they draw Muhammad. So as a lover of cartoons, comics and political satire, I can't condemn Barry Blitt, even if I think The New Yorker, of which I am a subscriber, wanted to sell magazines more than it understood the difference between effective satire and Blitt's cartoon which they are running as their cover this week.

(BAGnewsNotes does a nice job of explaining the discrepancies here.)

In the spirit of open discussion, I've posted my latest video microblog segment in the little Zannel widget to the right of this post. Some folks have commented already. You can click on the Z and then on the link that's revealed to go and comment yourself.

Otherwise, just hit play and enjoy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

On the Move

Oh my goodness.

If you had asked me five years ago if I'd be this proud of my Governor Schwarzenegger, I wouldn't have believed it. But he did our state proud today with George Stephanopoulos today, coming out strongly on the environment, praising Jimmy Carter's energy policies, saying that cheaper oil under Reagan just meant those opportunities were discarded, strong with the state against drilling off our coast, hard against the Cheney/Bush Administration saying basically not to bother with any attempted face-saving environmental initiatives in its last few months.

And he not only said he was willing to work with Obama on energy, he was open to a post if Obama does become Chief Executive:

That apparently prompted George Stephanopoulos, the moderator of “This Week,” to ask Mr. Schwarzenegger whether he would take a phone call from Mr. Obama if he was calling with an offer to be his energy and environment czar.

“I’d take his call now, and I’d take his call when he’s president — any time,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “Remember, no matter who is president, I don’t see this as a political thing. I see this as we always have to help, no matter what the administration is.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger also offered some praise for Mr. Obama, saying he disagreed with people who have criticized the senator as a flip-flopper.

“Someone has, for 20 or 30 years, been in the wrong place with his idea and with his ideology and says: ‘You know something? I changed my mind. I am now for this,’ ” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “As long as he’s honest or she’s honest, I think that is a wonderful thing.”

Right on, Governor, and nice relief from some new magazine art. And how perfectly does that reinforce Obama's post-partisan message. As does this:

It's official: Republican Senator Chuck Hagel's office has put out an announcement that he will be joining Barack Obama on a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, along with Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island...

...going on a overseas visit in the middle of the campaign season will be about as much of a vote of confidence in Obama's foreign policy vision as you could get without it turning into an outright endorsement.

Bing bing.

What I think we're seeing starting this week will be that that the Obama campaign has, understandably, taken a month to gear up after the battle with Senator Clinton, and may be putting their general election strategy fully into motion now. There will be the overseas trip establishing Obama as a world leader in the wings, the Vice Presidential nomination which will hopefully establish his wisdom.

(I'm still betting on Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, even if it alienates some Hillary as Queen Bee die-hards. Sebelius reinforces Obama's post-partisan message, has strong executive experience, was an early supporter and now friend, has chaired the Governors Association so she has great ties nationwide, and her look kind of counteracts Cindy McCain.)

As a final bellwether of this notion, the Obama making his move theory, there's his perfectly timed, crystal clear, prescient Op-Ed in Monday morning's New York Times, "My Plan for Iraq". Events are helping Obama here, as the Iraq Government rejects a longterm U.S. presence, and talk of early withdrawal crosses Administration lips, making Barack more right than ever. While he goes into detail of the 16-month, careful leave, and forcefully answers the flipflop talk, here's the heart of the unequivocal piece:

Only by redeploying our troops can we press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation and achieve a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country. Instead of seizing the moment and encouraging Iraqis to step up, the Bush administration and Senator McCain are refusing to embrace this transition — despite their previous commitments to respect the will of Iraq’s sovereign government. They call any timetable for the removal of American troops “surrender,” even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government.

But this is not a strategy for success — it is a strategy for staying that runs contrary to the will of the Iraqi people, the American people and the security interests of the United States. That is why, on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war.

The time is right. Make your move, Barack.

We're ready.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

= Bush?

A comment to my post last night offers the firm opinion:
The short story is that McCain is simply not intellectually up to the job. Period.
McCain isn't exactly Bush in terms of craven behavior, even if his economic "plan" is, at best, a pandering lie. He's not affiliated with the hard Religious Right and he didn't duck out of military service while acting the chickenhawk.

However, maybe in terms of intellectual capability for the job, McCain is rather similar to El Presidente Bush. After all, he is computer illiterate, albeit, perhaps, trying:

He said, ruefully, that he had not mastered how to use the Internet and relied on his wife and aides like Mark Salter, a senior adviser, and Brooke Buchanan, his press secretary, to get him online to read newspapers (though he prefers reading those the old-fashioned way) and political Web sites and blogs.

“They go on for me,” he said. “I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need.”


We learned this past (er, current) Presidency that there are certain skills which can't be picked up on the job.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Prediction 4 U

It may not happen next week, or the week after. But when I see a Presidential candidate in a video like this:



...I figure it's only a matter of time before the bottom drops out and the poll margins get big.

Landslide big.

Unless something truly odd happens and the GOP replace McCain as their candidate, what we're looking at is someone who is not prepared to be President, who does not have the skills or readiness necessary to come within 100 yards of being an appropriate President, especially in times like these where America needs a solid, positive reboot.

We already have our under-equipped Chief Executive. Time for a change.

Even McCain's home state of Arizona seems to think so. And all the partisans on McCain's side can do is criticize Barack Obama for his opinion that our children should learn a second language, i.e. get better educated, be prepared world citizens, essentially improve our populace.

What kind of moron argues against Americans getting smarter?

Here's what I think will happen, especially if there is a debate or series of debates, but perhaps anyway: John McCain himself will realize that Barack Obama is the more worthy candidate.

All Obama has to do is his strong suit: rock steady. In a long marathon, like this insanely long election cycle we're still enduring, steadiness is more important that jackrabbit starts, because marathons are by nature games of attrition. Stay steady and some opponents will fade, some will self-destruct, and some will hobble across the finish line in your dust.

The ones with any brains and integrity know the winner deserved it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

McPhil

Per Max Bergmann, this should have been the week that ended McCain's Presidential hopes -- so many gaffes, indications of sub-par skills, knowledge and judgment.

But the finest has to be McCain's Jimmy Carter "malaise" moment, when his economic adviser, Ex-Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) who's part of the sub-prime debacle at UBS and who's wife did quite well on the Enron board, had this to say about our recession:

“You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession,” he said, noting that growth has held up at about 1 percent despite all the publicity over losing jobs to India, China, illegal immigration, housing and credit problems and record oil prices. “We may have a recession; we haven’t had one yet.”

“We have sort of become a nation of whiners,” he said. “You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline” despite a major export boom that is the primary reason that growth continues in the economy, he said.

Easy for a multi-millionaire to say! UPDATE: Video version:



At first the McCain campaign supported the statement, then came the flip-flop as McCain claimed:
"I strongly disagree" with Phil Gramm's remarks, McCain told reporters in Belleville, Mich. "Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me."
Then why send him out today to the Wall Street Journal to speak for you?

The fact is, multi-millionaire McCain has previously said that our problems are psychological, making me wonder if he's going a little "psychological" himself.

As for Obama, it must have been a relief to take up this gaffe after a bruising FISA week, and he seems genuinely loose, funny and (most importantly) connected again:



For comparison, McCain's response:



Which one looks ready to lead America and the World out of the reactionary Cheney-Bush years, and full-blazing into the 21st Century?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A B(ruce) C(onner)

(UPDATE NOTE: Per the comment request by the Conner estate attorney, all links to online video version or embedded versions of Conner's films have been removed.)
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One of the least known and most pivotal filmmakers of the mid-20th Century, a maker of shorts, generally assemblages from found footage, and a ground-breaking artist in other media, Bruce Conner just died yesterday in San Francisco, age 74.

I was introduced to Conner in college, and it's not really possible to describe the experience of seeing one of Conner's films projected, in 16mm, with an audience even if in a classroom, a special retrospective at a film festival, or in a room off the main gallery displaying his life-sized radiogram photography, sculptures and drawings. It's like taking the David Lynch theatrical experience, then dialing it back to Eraserhead, then dialing it back another ten fathoms into our collective unconscious.

The monument and best introduction is, of course, A Movie:

A Movie is a 1958 experimental, or avant-garde film in which Bruce Conner put together snippets of found footage, taken from B-movies, newsreels, soft-core pornography, novelty shorts and other sources, to a musical score. The film is associational, in which a number of narratively and spatially unrelated shots from a number of sources are edited together to evoke emotions and make thematic points. A Movie consists of many shots of animals and people moving quickly, precariously balanced objects, cars and people crashing, and, perhaps most importantly, violence and war. This film is generally viewed as a metaphorical commentary on humanity's violent nature. The film has also been described as a metaphor for sex where the men traveling are the sperm, ending with a scuba diver, representing the sperm reaching the egg.

In 1991, A Movie was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

The "A" is both minimal, indicating a starting or origin point, whether for Conner's practice or cinema itself, stripped of new production down to disparate found footage knitted together and intention found by dint of the new filmmaker's will. And, in the middle of the film, it becomes clear that "A" has a more disturbing, catastrophic meaning, A-tomic Movie, as it were.

This archival-seeming film, a fragment from a secret past seems to reveal our future, a gathering storm, primitive and sophisticated civilizations growing aware of the oncoming annihilation, and someone ending with an Adam & Eve heading into sanctuary deep under the sea, escaping history in hope of emerging someday to build a new one, from square "A."

Conner was a Kansas boy who found his wife early, moved to San Francisco, participated heavily the the 1960's counterculture there including a lifelong friendship with Dennis Hopper. His art:
Gathering scraps from abandoned buildings, women’s undergarments (including nylon stockings), pieces of old dolls and Victoriana, he created gauzy assemblages which garnered his first art-world attention. These assemblages represented what Conner saw as the discarded beauty of modern America. They deal will issues like the atom bomb, violence against women, and consumerism. Social commentary and dissension remained a common theme among his later works.
Here's a partial descriptive filmography, here's a great interview transcript. I had the great fortune of seeing Conner speak about ten years ago at the San Francisco Film Festival. He seemed as ascetic as aesthetic, artistically firm, physically tall and spare. Cleanshaved as a youth with round spectacles, he looked something like an intellectual, counterculture Harold Lloyd, as in my favorite photo by Dennis Hopper ever, Conner with Toni Basel and Teri Garr (I can't recall the third woman's name). He also announced his own death (prank) on two different occasions:
Mr. Conner announced his own death erroneously on two occasions, once sending an obituary to a national art magazine, and later writing a self-description for the biographical encyclopedia Who Was Who in America.

Ironically, for such a subversive, non-corporate artist who was at times in dire financial straits, Conner may ultimately get credited as the father of the music video, with his visionary, hypnotic 1966 music short, Breakaway, featuring a young, sometimes naked Antonia Christina Basilotta (later Toni Basil, who has an early MTV hit with the New Wavey "Mickey"). And later, still anticipating MTV by several punky years, another assemblage, this time in service of Devo's most excellent "Mongoloid". No band shots. No specially shot "scenes." Just more found, alarming narrative freakiness.

And that specialty of Conner's, the impossibly long-tail nostalgia, for a time that could have only existed in our heads, not real enough to be called reality, but all too stark and aching to be entirely fake; dreamscapes, worlds turned upside down.

And now Conner himself joining his images in memory.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

He's Coming

Looks like some smart studio p.r. flacks are seeding the news with early hints of Sacha Baron Cohen's next tour de prank, featuring his gay German fashion maven, BrĂ¼no.

From as far away as Israel:

Israeli analyst Yossi Alpher said he was invited to be interviewed for what was supposed to be a documentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Alpher says he was led down a winding staircase and through long corridors to the interview site in Jerusalem.

He realized something was amiss when he saw the interviewer - a man claiming to be a German rock star dressed in leather and studs...

...In one, the interviewees had to explain the difference between Hamas - an Islamic group ruling Gaza - and hummus - a chickpea paste eaten throughout the Mideast.

"One of us mentioned Hamas, and the exchange that ensued went something like this: 'Vait, vait. Vat's zee connection between a political movement and food. Vy hummus?' We exchanged astonished glances," Alpher recounted in a letter that originally appeared in the New York Jewish weekly, the Forward.

After a dumbed-down explanation of the difference, the interviewer asked "'Ya, but vy hummus? Yesterday I had to throw away my pita bread because it vas dripping hummus. Unt it's too high in carbohydrates,"' he said, according to Alpher.

And as close by as Texas:

"We had a contract for cage fighting. We were deceived," said Dwight Duncan, president and CEO of Four States Fair Grounds in Texarkana, where the first of two Arkansas fights raised suspicions last month...

...The day after the June 5 Texarkana bout, Fort Smith's convention center hosted "Blue Collar Brawlin.'" Fort Smith police Sgt. Adam Holland said organizers told him a character named "Straight Dave" would goad a planted audience member into the ring for a fight...

...An elaborate array of mounted and handheld video cameras caught the crowd of 1,600's reaction as the two men "went right up to the line" of the city's morality laws, Holland said. The two men stripped down to their underwear, kissed and rubbed on each other, the sergeant said.

The audience, as well as local fighters drawn to take part in the show, became enraged. "It set the crowd off lobbing beers," Holland said. "They had beers in plastic cups. Those things can get some distance on them actually."

Holland said it took officers about 45 minutes to clear the convention center, as the two actors sprinted away through a specially set-aside tunnel.


May 15, 2009.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Signs

I'm a big fan of Laura Ries' The Origin of Brands Blog. I don't know how she is as a consultant on a product that hasn't come out yet, but she does sharp, succinct, insightful analysis, particularly amusing with regard to politics this year:

One look at the signs at a campaign rally says it all. Who will win. Who will lose.

When building a brand, words matter. And the words that matter most for a politician are the words on campaign posters and website home pages.

The candidate who has the best and most consistent words will build the strongest brand and most likely will win the election.

On Hillary:

Where did Clinton go wrong? It all comes down to the signs. She never had consistent sign language. I have never seen so many different and ever changing campaign slogans in my life. I complain about Coca-Cola changing taglines every year, but Clinton seemed to change her signs every day. Except for keeping the printing industry happy, her signs did little to build her brand.

In fact, her constantly changing message reminded people of one of the Clinton brand’s greatest weaknesses. A common criticism of the Clinton presidency was its constant change of strategy with every shift of the wind based on poll tracking data.

On McCain:
So far, John McCain has survived without a message, but going into the general election he won’t go far without one. If he wants to avoid being labeled as “Bush Third Term,” he’s got to start printing some good signs right away. Not an easy task, but without the right sign language, he is doomed.
On Obama:
The Obama campaign demonstrates the value of having the right sign language. Barack Obama faced an uphill battle in establishing his brand. First of all, his first and last name are strange. And even worse, Obama rhymes with Osama the country’s number 1 enemy. Add to that he is black, young and new to the national stage. The wacky Reverend Wright hasn’t help him either...

(On Obama vs. Clinton)...All that said, the race has been a tight one. But one I believe was definitively ended on Tuesday night. Not because of the primary results which gave one win to Obama and one to Clinton. But because of the images of each candidate’s “victory” speech. The sign language spoke loud and clear that Obama will win the nomination and Clinton will lose it...

...In North Carolina, Obama was brilliant. He stood tall in front of a sea of supporters all holding the same sign, with the same message, in the same colors. “CHANGE we can believe in.” Powerful stuff. Of course, his speech was incredible, but what clinched it was the sign.

Rather interesting considering this affront to civil liberties today when a 61-year old librarian was denied her right to peaceful free speech today:



In comparison to what the above signifies about the Republican candidate, how about what this says about the Dems'?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Proof

The BBC has an astonishing report providing definitive proof of vote-rigging by dictator Robert Mugabe's forces using a concealed camera bravely carried by one Shepherd Yuda, who has now fled the country with his family:



With over 200 members of Mugabe's opposition seeking refuge in the U.S. Embassy to avoid the systematic murder that has intensified in the aftermath of the rigged run-off election, it's a stark reminder of the very right so many Americans take for granted. When people all over the world put their actual mortality on the line for the right to free and fair elections, it's a shaming rebuke to all those in our country who don't bother to exercise their right here.

Worth noting this Independence Day weekend, and godspeed to those who would take Mugabe down.

Friday, July 04, 2008

4th and Four

Four months from today the big decision gets made. Today the well-mannered, anti-Progressive ex-Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) has passed away. I won't pretend to mourn him politically, nor do I enjoy the white-washing (sic) the MSM is bent on doing, but do offer bloggy condolences to his family.

With four months to go we've got an outgoing President being openly heckled at a moderate-sized Independence Day event. We've got oil prices above where our nation's arch enemy, Osama Bin Laden, has wanted them since before the start of El Presidente's disastrous Presidency, Cheney/Bush essentially using their eight years of rule to give Osama the win. We've got a Republican candidate running who, in this time of economic peril and energy crunch, owns eight-count'em-eight homes.

On the other side, we've got a challenger to all of the above GOP cognitive dissonance whom they are flailing around to negatively brand, and whom is considering hosting the largest acceptance speech audience in American political history -- at Denver's Mile High Stadium.

So after reading attacks on Obama from the left, some of them even justified, most of them revealing partisan ignorance of the candidate who's being nominated, it is particularly enjoyable to read Andy Borowitz's latest juicy column full of satire, "Liberal Bloggers Accuse Obama of Trying to Win Election":

Suspicions about Sen. Obama's true motives have been building over the past few weeks, but not until today have the bloggers called him out for betraying the Democratic Party's losing tradition.

"Barack Obama seems to be making a very calculated attempt to win over 270 electoral votes," wrote liberal blogger Carol Foyler at LibDemWatch.com, a blog read by a half-dozen other liberal bloggers. "He must be stopped."

But those comments were not nearly as strident as those of Tracy Klugian, whose blog LoseOn.org has backed unsuccessful Democratic candidates since 2000.

"Increasingly, Barack Obama's message is becoming more accessible, appealing, and yes, potentially successful," he wrote. "Any Democrat who voted for Dukakis, Mondale or Kerry should regard this as a betrayal."


As a young teenager I watched the Left in this country commit ritual suicide with a combination of infighting and corruption.

Let's not let history repeat itself.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Patriotism

Anyone who doesn't think Barack Obama is an underdog until the day after the election is out of their mind. The press LOVES John McCain so much so that AP reporters take care to bring him his favorite donuts, while trying to do Karl Rove's dirty work and paint Obama as someone he isn't with every angle they can try. In a week where Obama gave a major speech on the true meaning of patriotism, he still has to respond to the left on his FISA stand and the Republicans on his Iraq comments.

Obama has the cajones to let those supporters opposed to his FISA position have a place on his website, the exact opposite of the Bush/Cheney practice of screen speech attendees. He has the cajones to address the issue in writing today and tolerate, even encourage dissent. Because he believes that without differing opinions, there is no democracy.

Happy 4th of July.

Happy Independence Day.

I've been dying for a true patriotic voice ever since Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld and Bush turned patriotism against us McCarthy Era style to get their Iraq War, and here it is, couldn't be clearer. While he goes on to talk about his childhood as an American and separates loyalty to country from loyalty to a particular leader of the government, and he calls for a new national service, sure to grow as a campaign theme leading into the Convention (with some of the leaders to be drawn, no doubt, from his current one million campaign activist recruits), here's what I think is the pivotal set-up passage:
My concerns here aren't simply personal, however. After all, throughout our history, men and women of far greater stature and significance than me have had their patriotism questioned in the midst of momentous debates. Thomas Jefferson was accused by the Federalists of selling out to the French. The anti-Federalists were just as convinced that John Adams was in cahoots with the British and intent on restoring monarchal rule. Likewise, even our wisest Presidents have sought to justify questionable policies on the basis of patriotism. Adams' Alien and Sedition Act, Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, Roosevelt's internment of Japanese Americans - all were defended as expressions of patriotism, and those who disagreed with their policies were sometimes labeled as unpatriotic.

In other words, the use of patriotism as a political sword or a political shield is as old as the Republic. Still, what is striking about today's patriotism debate is the degree to which it remains rooted in the culture wars of the 1960s - in arguments that go back forty years or more. In the early years of the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War, defenders of the status quo often accused anybody who questioned the wisdom of government policies of being unpatriotic. Meanwhile, some of those in the so-called counter-culture of the Sixties reacted not merely by criticizing particular government policies, but by attacking the symbols, and in extreme cases, the very idea, of America itself - by burning flags; by blaming America for all that was wrong with the world; and perhaps most tragically, by failing to honor those veterans coming home from Vietnam, something that remains a national shame to this day
.
Most Americans never bought into these simplistic world-views - these caricatures of left and right. Most Americans understood that dissent does not make one unpatriotic, and that there is nothing smart or sophisticated about a cynical disregard for America's traditions and institutions. And yet the anger and turmoil of that period never entirely drained away. All too often our politics still seems trapped in these old, threadbare arguments - a fact most evident during our recent debates about the war in Iraq, when those who opposed administration policy were tagged by some as unpatriotic, and a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal.

Given the enormous challenges that lie before us, we can no longer afford these sorts of divisions. None of us expect that arguments about patriotism will, or should, vanish entirely; after all, when we argue about patriotism, we are arguing about who we are as a country, and more importantly, who we should be. But surely we can agree that no party or political philosophy has a monopoly on patriotism. And surely we can arrive at a definition of patriotism that, however rough and imperfect, captures the best of America's common spirit.

The fact that this speech got drowned out by the MSM's protective hue over Wesley Clark's statement about McCain's POW experience not being in unquestionable qualification for Commander-in-Chief, that Obama has to message-battle previously planned MSM conjecture stories casting doubt on his mortgage rate without any hard evidence, barely reporting, shows what he's up against each and every day. That's one of the main reasons Nettertainment is so strongly for his candidacy, damned the purity trolls and all the other torpedoes.

Oh, and even if I believe Obama is an underdog as a challenger to the MSM status quo, let alone as a mixed race candidate trying to be the first in 44 thus far, I do believe he is a (finally, Democrats) winner at heart, and that's what makes him so important to support.

After all, he's just flipped the poll numbers against McCain in the traditionally big red state of Montana.

God bless America.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Fairness

Is it fair to invent stories about Barack Obama and disseminate them in major newspapers and Republican emails

For example, is it fair to create a fake bru-ha-ha claiming he received a discount on his home mortgage

Is it fair to take a true story about his refusal to sign a schoolboy's hand without his mother's approval and turn it into a fake story about him refusing to give the boy a fist bump?

And what does it say about our Mainstream Media?

At the same time, is it fair to point out John McCain's own inconsistencies, on camera and in print, about whether he really understands economics?

Is it fair to point out that his health insurance plan might actually raise taxes?

Is it fair to point out that one of his topmost fundraisers supported a terrorist organization?

Is it fair to bring up a story told by a Republican Senate colleague about McCain flying off the handle during a diplomatic meeting, grabbing a Sandinista official by the collar and physically lifting him off his chair?

And how about this: Is it fair to call McCain's campaign a run for El Presidente George W. Bush's Third Term if he's using one of Bush and Cheney's top men to run his campaign?

Whether the fabricated stories about Barack Obama are part of the Mainstream Media's bias in favor of balance, even when the truth tips in one particular direction (i.e. away from Conservative rule), or whether they're part of a concerted attempt to make a real horse race in an attempt to keep people watching the news and buying newspapers, it doesn't much matter, does it?

We've got a nation in dire need of change.  One candidate brings it, albeit with less extremism than his purity trolls would like and less than the 100% certainty of winning that his concern trolls need.  The other may be a different individual than the current White House occupant, but the party to which he must appeal, that runs his campaign, and from which his appointees would be drawn is exactly the same.  And the guy doesn't seem that stable of temperament, that sound of judgment, or that educated in those areas most central to our nation's troubles.

So life isn't fair.

So what.