Saturday, January 26, 2008

Electoral revenge is sweet

By Edward Copeland


To those who doubted that the Clintons were trying to marginalize Barack Obama as the "black candidate," Bill made it clear today. A couple of days after he told the press, "Shame on you," wagging that famous finger and accusing the media of injecting race as an issue. Today, in South Carolina, when asked the straight-forward question of what he thought that it has taken two people (him and Hillary) to take on Obama, Bill laid his race-baiting cards on the table by replying:

That’s just bait, too. Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice, in '84 and '88.

Yes, South Carolina always votes for African-American candidates, so its results don't really count in Bill's mind. (I bet Al Sharpton must really want to know how it is that John Edwards won over him there in 2004.) However, the voters have won over the Clintons' despicable tactics, giving Obama a win of nearly 30 points.

Alas, Edwards couldn't top Hillary, but at least he continued to display his class in his concession speech. Hillary barely acknowledged that there was a vote in South Carolina, preferring to look ahead to the Super Tuesday states (even American Samoa) and, most tellingly, continuing to mention Florida. Does she know something we don't? That the delegations from Michigan and Florida will be counted come the convention after all. If this will truly be the case, let's hope Florida voters don't let themselves be used as electoral pawns yet again and come out in droves for Obama, something Michigan voters didn't get to do since his name wasn't on the ballot there.

The South Carolina exit polls also show that as far as racial polarization goes, while Obama overwhelmingly won the African-American vote, the three candidates pretty much evenly split the white vote.

The exit polls also had something to say about the turn the campaign has taken in the last couple of weeks, with 70% saying that Hillary had unfairly attacked Obama, 56% saying Obama had unfairly attacked Hillary and 50% saying they both had unfairly attacked each other.

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South Carolina Watching

By Creature

(Update -- 12:45 am: See the latest at the NYT, the WaPo, CBS, ABC, and CNN (which has the results here). Check out Chris Bowers, Pamela Leavey, the moderate Joe Gandelman and, on the right, Ed Morrissey. See also Andrew Sullivan on Obama's victory speech: "This is the America we all love. He is showing us how to find it again. That's leadership." As always, there is much more at Memeorandum. -- MJWS)


6:20 - Turnout looks big. Always a good sign for democracy (and bad news for Bush). No surprise: MSNBC is setting up the SC vote to be a referendum on Bill and his magic wagging finger. Personally I'm hoping for some Bill-backlash. Hillary's people: Grow-up, this is politics (and, when Obama wins it's because of race). I'm thinking this thing gets called early. Maybe right at seven. Stay tuned.

7:00 - And, it's over. Barack wins South Carolina by a "substantial margin." These exit polls are going to be interesting.

7:20 - It's being called a "rout." Whites joined in to put Obama over the top. Yes, Hillary, your husband is a liability.

7:32 - MSNBC is getting a bit breathless. It sounds a lot like Iowa's aftermath. Obama owns the narrative tonight by winning so big. Keith O: the exit poll numbers are "daunting." Even Keith's swept up. Cool.

7:45 - They call second place for Hillary. Looks like Edwards will get his usual 15-20%. That's not the surge he needed to stay viable. It's a shame.

8:37 - Suddenly Obama is a genius for suckering Bill into a fight. Suddenly it's Obama who got into Bill's head. Wow, the media can turn on a dime. Either way for the Clintons it's "on to Florida." Where they shouldn't be and where their presence only serves to further destroy their party. Slash, meet burn.

8:50 - Here's Bill clearly crossing the race line. He wants Obama to be the black candidate. They are willing to lose the black vote in exchange for the bigot vote. End. Of. Story.

9:00 - Victory speech time. How do you spin "landslide"? Very successfully, I assume.

9:20 - The man moves me. He's the melting pot candidate and I love it.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Polarized, paralyzed, chastized, dramatized

By Carol Gee

The current affairs news these days has me "bewitched, bothered and bewildered," as the old song goes. I am bewitched by the stories of the presidential primary season. It seems I have to know the latest "dish" about the two beauty contests. Who's ahead, who's withdrawn, who's the victim, who won the latest race? I am bothered that I get taken in by the mainstream media's poor coverage this political season. Knowing that I watch far too much television. And I am bewildered about making my own voting choice. I have February to decide. And I am conflicted about whom to choose.

Conflicted -- In fact we live in an incredibly conflicted time. And it is not the kind of conflict that makes me merely uncomfortable. Too much of it is actually killing people; Wikipedia authors cannot agree on the numbers. Iraq is in civil war. Pakistan is a tinder box. Gaza, the West Bank and Israel have been shooting at each other for decades. Africa has experiencing a major AIDS epidemic and repeated genocidal episodes.

Polarized -- I first posted about the death toll of Iraqi civilians in August of 2005 and very recently here. Yesterday the Iraqi government announced a major offensive against Al Qaeda in Mosul, northern Iraq, "after two days of deadly bombings killed nearly 40 people. . . the fight "will be decisive," according to Yahoo! News.

Paralyzed -- At about the same time as the Iraqi civilian death toll story in 2005, I posted about the Middle East peace process being at a critical point. Where is the Middle East process today, three years later? On January 15 the U.K.'s Guardian Unlimited reported on the Bush trip to Saudi Arabia: "Hopes low as Palestinians and Israel argue key issues." Gaza militants recently blew up a portion of the huge wall between Egypt and Gaza. Egypt moved to close the border with military troops. According to CNN, "The United States and Israel have pressured Egypt to close the open border areas, worried that terrorists with weapons could travel undetected from Egypt into the Palestinian territory." CNN also reported on the big meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland, where "Fears of world recession briefly took a back seat Thursday at the World Economic Forum, where leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq focused on how to establish security in their volatile regions." CNN is a crucial element of the mainstream media, but, as always take what they say "with a grain of salt."

Chastized -- The MSM has been roundly criticized recently for its failure to question the 935 lies told by the current administration in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. As of a week ago, Glenn Greenwald's feud with Joe Klein continued. His post is an extensive examination of the veracity of Klein's reporting in Time Magazine, including his and other MSM stories about the current political races and earlier about the war. Of particular interest to me was a tiny link about what happened to Ashleigh Banfield, of whom I had lost track, contained in the following quote. [See "get fired (like this)."] To quote:

The establishment press works as a group-think wolf pack. Now, the only ones who are invited on with Chris Matthews and Tim Russert are the ones who chirp endlessly about every conventional horse race wisdom of the moment or the latest gossipy item from the traveling press corps. Reporters who do actual journalism -- like this or this -- never get anywhere near the television, and the ones who meaningfully criticize media coverage get fired (like this).

Dramatized -- Media Matters reported on Chris Matthews' victimization of Hillary Clinton on 1/18/08. Matthews is a dramatic pundit. His show is called "Hard Ball." His on-air style is dramatic and bizarre at times. And I do not seem to be the only blogger that sees him this way. A "Chris Matthews" search on my Bloglines news aggregator. It turned up 39,100 "hits." With this I am back to my opening observation in this post. I watch far too much television. It is hard on my head. The effect of it is polarizing, paralyzing, chastising and dramatizing.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Does he get a new girlfriend with this job too? ... Does the job "pay for itself"?

By J. Thomas Duffy

Maybe it's the clarion call of his old colleague, Donald Rumsfeld, that tugs at his heartstrings of public service.

Wolfowitz Returns to U.S. Government as Adviser:

As we said when the job offer was reported in December, the board meets quarterly to provide advice to the secretary of state and one of her deputies based on classified intelligence on some of the most important issues in United States foreign policy today, from Iran to North Korea."


The Wolf Man, back, prowling the corridors of State.

Hmmm, Rumsfeld calling for a new Propaganda Agency... Wolfowitz, back at the State Department, advising, among other things, on Iran ...

Do we smell a build-up here? ... Get the old team together, for the final run down the stretch, putting their considerable prevarication skills to use for a push into Iran?

Does the girlfriend get a gig, too?

Are we gearing up to go after the Filipino Monkey?

Will we soon here the rhetoric, from the Wolf Man, or, perhaps the Madam Secretary herself, that a preemptive, offensive entry into Iran will "pay for itself"?

From The Lede, back in December:

"Another official called the reported appointment “amazing.” That comment alluded to Mr. Wolfowitz’s staunch support for the Iraq War when he was deputy secretary of defense under President George W. Bush. He hasn’t won much good will since then, either during a relatively quick rise and fall as World Bank president, or in his current post at a conservative think tank in Washington.

But if nothing else, Mr. Wolfowitz really needs no introduction, especially to his detractors on the blogs, who are a puzzled, angry lot today:

The Next Hurrah: “Condi, is it a coincidence that so many people responsible for gaming the intelligence to get us into Iraq are on your advisory board?”

The Brad Blog: “In Bushworld, incompetence must be rewarded.”

Arms Control Wonk: “Andrew Sullivan has a better line than I can muster.”

Andrew Sullivan: “He’s advising Condi on WMDs. Curveball wasn’t available?”

So far, The Lede has not turned up any bloggers weighing in to support Mr. Wolfowitz."

On the downside, with the protracted, ugly, almost never-ending saga of his resignation from The World Bank, will the next President be able to get him out of this position?

Stay tuned Wolf Fans, this one is surely to be a ever-giving gift!


Bonus Wolfie Whoppers

Yes, Wolfie, People Will Be Talking, For Years, About You ... The Results - The Garlic Weekly Poll

Larisa Alexandrovna - Scott Ritter: Neocons as Parasites

"Hillary 1984" Video Blogger Takes On Wolfowitz

Andrew Cockburn: The Puppet Who Cleared the Way for Iraq's Destruction

Developing Story! White House Giving World Bank, Wolfowitz Green Light To Blame McNulty; New Strategy Of Leveraging Scandals; Cheney Says Embattled Hero "Definitely In Final Throes" At World Bank

Yeah, it's a head-scratcher for us, too, Wolfie...

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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If only politics could drum up such a reaction

By Carl

As lightning rods go, Fox News has to stand out as one of the best. For some bizarre reason, it matters to us on the left how slanted this network gets.

Is it the ratings? Could be. Fox consistently surprises me with the depth of its rating strength, altho that has waned over the past two years. However, I'd wager that somewhere on the order of ten percent of their ratings is lefties watching Fox, trying to be the first to count coup on Bill-o's latest gaffe or some such nonsense.

We've never really had an effective retaliatory strike on Fox, perhaps because in our heart of hearts, we know they have no power over anything but a sliver of the population, who wouldn't listen to us anyway. Or... we might try taking a page out of
the gamer's book...

Irate gamers have flooded the page on selling Ms. Lawrence’s most recent book, “The Cult of Perfection: Making Peace With Your Inner Overachiever,” sending its user-generated rating into oblivion.

By Friday afternoon 412 of the book’s 472 user reviews were the lowest possible rating, one star. Another 48 ratings were for two stars. Only 12 of the ratings were for three stars or higher. In addition, 929 Amazon users had tagged the book with the keyword “ignorant.” Tied for second place with 744 tags were “garbage” and “hypocrisy,” while “hack” and “hypocrite” tied for fourth place with 710 votes. Gamers have also attacked the book on the Barnes & Noble Web site. Many of the reviewers admit that they have not read Ms. Lawrence’s book.

As one Amazon user put it: “I know all about this book but have never fully read it. Why? Due to the overwhelming backlash, I have no choice but to agree with the 1 star ratings. The rumors are rampant that this book was poorly written and poorly researched. So without verifying the contents myself — I give it a 1 star. Good thing video games aren’t judged in this manner — whew!!!”

The closest reaction I've seen from the political left has been to Jonah Goldberg's book, Liberal Fascism. But even there, that was intended more as a mocking joke than a serious protest of an idiotic opinion spewed by a man who did his research from the back of a box of Lucky Charms. In a real political movement, Jonah would have been hunted down, tarred, feathered and ridden out of town on a rail, just like the right wingers used to do down South when someone made a complete ass of himself. Lawrence's reaction?

In an interview on Friday, Ms. Lawrence said that since the controversy over her remarks erupted she had watched someone play the game for about two and a half hours. “I recognize that I misspoke,” she said. “I really regret saying that, and now that I’ve seen the game and seen the sex scenes it’s kind of a joke. “Before the show I had asked somebody about what they had heard, and they had said it’s like pornography,” she added. “But it’s not like pornography. I’ve seen episodes of ‘Lost’ that are more sexually explicit.”

Imagine Bill-O being forced to apologize to Jeremy Glick, for example. I sort of feel bad for Lawrence, from one respect: she probably got a call from Fox, asking if she would come on and slam the game, because Fox had heard it was pornographic, and hey, a chance to be on a national network? I can imagine she was rather flattered.

And now, she's just flattened.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Media bullshit

By Michael J.W. Stickings

You've seen it on Jon Stewart, who tells it like it is night after night, and the good people at Hullabaloo make the same point:

By historical standards, this has been an unfailingly nice primary, and only recently have tempers flared. There have been some whispers from surrogates, some opposition research dropped into the papers, and some out-of-character behavior from a former President, but in general, that's politics, and it's not being played at a particularly cutthroat level. And Barack Obama seems to understand that this is a slap-fight compared to what we'll see in the fall from the Republicans.

The media -- and specifically the 24/7 news media -- want drama and are out for blood. And so their coverage of the campaign focuses not on the issues, not on the policy proposals of the major candidates, but on dirt, or what they perceive to be dirt, or on their own manufactured dirt:

The media is trying to push a narrative that this is the nastiest Democratic primary in history, and that it's causing an irreparable rift within the party that will never be patched up. They love the conflict and they're writing breathless articles about how the Clintons are "double-teaming" Obama and how everybody hates each other and the fate of the Democratic Party hangs in the balance.

The only thing nasty about this primary is the coverage of it, which has over-hyped every back-and-forth charge, and in particular over-hyped this so-called "rift." It's like the media heads into every campaign season as a tabula rasa, without the memory of any past performance in other primaries.

The media play this up, but their consumers also lap it up -- which is, in part, why they play it up in the first place. They and their consumers don't want to think seriously about say, economic stimulus packages or global warming or even Iraq. It's so much easier to focus on the supposed drama of it all: Clinton vs. Obama, race, gender, and all that nonsense. Yes, of course, Clinton and Obama are locked in a tense and sometimes bitter campaign. But it's no more tense or bitter than campaigns past, including the recent past.

And, what's more, Clinton and Obama are also locked in a campaign of ideas, of serious policy proposals, a historic campaign that has addressed such issues as the Iraq War, terrorism, the (sagging, even collapsing) economy, health care, social security, the environment, and energy. These are pressing concerns to Americans, and to many who are not, but, again, the media prefer to focus on the horse race, and specifically on the negative aspects of that race, aspects that are blown out of proportion to the point that they come, according to the media, to dominate, even to define, the race itself. So it's not about what the candidates have to say about this issue or that issue but about race and gender and that so-called "rift".

But is there a rift? Not really. To me, the race is healthy and competitive. Both Clinton and Obama, as well as Edwards -- and it was true of the other candidates as well -- are serious and credible presidential candidates. They have their differences, and at times there has been strenuous disagreement, at times even apparent animosity, but the race has not been one of unrelenting and insurmountable conflict between and among the candidates. The media present it that way, but the reality is far from what the media are telling us this campaign has been all about.

What is worse, the media "conflict" narrative has been played up for the Democrats but not for the Republicans. And yet there is far greater "conflict" among the leading Republican candidates, I would argue, than among the leading Democratic ones. The sensationalization of race and gender does not come into play with the Republicans, of course -- and, no doubt, the media love the black man vs. white woman drama, combined with the Democrats-don't-get-along-with-each-other myth -- but the "rifts" are deeper on the Republican side. In general, Democrats tend to address their internal disputes in public, while Republicans prefer to keep their disputes private, putting up a show of unity that suckers the media, but on on the Republican side both the policy differences and the personal animosities are immense and intense this year. But where is the media coverage of those "rifts"? Or of that drama generally?

No, the simultaneously gullible and manipulative media reserve their "breathless articles" for the Democrats, lapping up the Republican spin and otherwise leading their consumers to believe that there is nothing but disharmony, to put it mildly, on the Democratic side.

The media's bog of bullshit seems to be getting deeper and deeper. And the Democrats, like the truth, end up suffering for it.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Is the fix in?

By Edward Copeland

After agreeing with all the other Democratic candidates not to campaign in Michigan or Florida to punish the states for holding early primaries, Hillary Nothing-But-Ambition Clinton wants the delegates she's won elsewhere to vote to seat delegates from Michigan and Florida. How convenient. Since nearly every other candidate except her took their names off the Michigan ballot, she'd get most of their delegates without a fair contest and polls show her ahead in Tuesday's Florida primary, if polls are to be believed. That's the Clintons for you: Always wanting to change the rules in the middle of the game.


Update: For more, see Josh Marshall and Ezra Klein. "This is the sort of decision that has the potential to tear the party apart," writes Ezra. "[I]f this pushes her over the edge, the Obama camp, and their supporters, really will feel that she stole her victory."

This could be very, very bad for the Dems. Seriously, does Hillary need to do this? Can she not win the nomination fairly?


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The Miserables

By Michael J.W. Stickings

As you may have heard (or seen, or read, or smelled), there was a public sector strike in France yesterday -- just a one-day affair, but enough to get the riot police out. (As a public sector employee myself -- more specifically, as a public servant -- I cannot but be sympathetic, although I find myself significantly less sympathetic when it comes to the grossly over-bloated French public sector than when it comes to, say, the Ontario public sector.)

Here's an amusing photo from the BBC, taken during a protest by railway workers. Needless to say, those sketchy-looking troublemakers in the bus shelter -- and don't think they don't have their own barricades to erect on a moment's notice -- won't be storming the Bastille anytime soon.

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Bush, fascism, and the war on democracy

By Michael J.W. Stickings

(Following up on posts by Carol and Libby yesterday...)

The headline at the Times says it all:

Yes, Bush and his Republican enablers are winning this fight -- and the Democrats, some of them, caving in, selling us out, are playing right along:

A White House plan to broaden the National Security Agency’s wiretapping powers won a key procedural victory in the Senate on Thursday, as backers defeated a more restrictive plan by Senate Democrats that would have imposed more court oversight on government spying.

The vote moves the Bush administration a step closer toward the twin goals it has pursued for months: strengthening the N.S.A.’s ability to eavesdrop without court approval, while securing legal immunity for the phone companies that have helped the agency in its wiretapping operations.


As the Senate opened debate on the security agency issue, it agreed by a convincing vote of 60-to-36 to set aside a bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee that would have given a secret intelligence court a greater role in overseeing wiretaps on terrorism and espionage suspects. The defeated measure, while imposing more judicial restrictions, omitted immunity for the phone carriers that aided the agency in its wiretapping operations.

The Senate will instead consider a measure passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee that has the backing of the White House. It would give legal immunity to AT&T and the other phone companies against some 40 lawsuits growing out of their alleged roles in eavesdropping. It would also give the N.S.A. a freer hand to eavesdrop on foreign-based communications without judicial checks.

The White House has agreed to "give members of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees access to internal documents on the N.S.A.’s wiretapping program and the legal foundation for it," and that's a significant concession, but so what? With the Democrats divided and the Republicans backing the White House, as usual, Bush's anti-freedom agenda is moving forward.

And just what is that agenda? It is an agenda to enhance executive authority by removing, or at least restricting, legislative and judicial oversight, an agenda to protect corporations and corporate interests friendly to the White House and to the agenda itself, an agenda to wage the so-called war on terror, a war of Bush's defining, autocratically and without regard for civil liberties, an agenda -- let's be frank about this -- to undermine democracy and the rule of law.

Bush's surveillance bill, the Protect America Act, expires next Friday, a week from today. Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid want a one-month extension so that there can be further debate, but the Republicans have objected to any extension, just as they have objected to Democratic amendments. They want their bill now, a bill that gives Bush wants he wants, extra-legal executive authority and corporate immunity. Besides, the issue isn't about time, or about an extension, or about more debate, but rather about the objectionable content of the legislation. Democrats would cave in a month from now just like they're caving in now.

As usual, Bush is playing the terrorism-is-everywhere fear card: "If Congress does not act quickly, our national security professionals will not be able to count on critical tools they need to protect our nation, and our ability to respond quickly to new threats and circumstances will be weakened." In other words, if he doesn't get what he wants, al Qaeda will get us.

It's the classic strategy of authoritarians and totalitarians everywhere. In using propaganda to stoke public fear, in trumping up or simply manufacturing threats from enemies both at home and abroad, and in protecting corporate friends and interests, Bush is proving once more that he is, in essence, a fascist.

I don't expect Republicans to do anything other than to give Bush what he wants. It may not be wise of me, but I expect more from Democrats, from the party I have long supported, often enthusiastically, sometimes against my better judgement. Unfortunately -- and to our great misfortune -- far too many Democrats either haven't learned a thing or are happy playing along with and even encouraging the undermining of democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.

(See also the Post and Paul Kiel at TPM.)

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Beat the clock

By Capt. Fogg

They used to say that the sun never sets on the British Empire. Will we have to say the clock never runs out on the American Empire?

George Bush's rhetoric is still all about freedom in Iraq and that means the freedom of George Bush to do what he pleases with Iraqis with impunity and immunity from any of the silly laws they pass under the false impression that they are free. It's no more convoluted than the argument that we had to attack Iraq for having a nuclear program when we knew he didn't have any - an absurdity that only Condy could say with a straight face.

The UN mandate authorizing our presence in Iraq expires at about the same time George Bush's term of office and George seems to want very much for the association to continue indefinitely according to The New York Times today. With the customary secrecy and anonymity protecting the customary suspects, White House, Pentagon, State Department and military officials have drafted a proposal that would commit the next president to keeping troops, both regular and mercenary, there indefinitely and keeping them above and immune to any laws Iraq might pass to protect its citizens from their boots and bullets.

It's a technique familiar to students of the British Empire and should be a caution to anyone who thinks Iraq 's citizens will be content to submit to tyranny and institutional abuse of power in order to further the interests of an occupier.

Nothing here surprises me except for the fact that the media continue to insist we'd rather hear about celebrity overdoses and childish spats between candidates than about the fact that Bush continues to equate freedom with eternal domination of Iraq and acts as though he did not give a flying hoot about representing the will of the United States People. If this becomes law, we might as well forget about electing a new president at all, because Bush will have the last laugh.

Click me!

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

"They don't like me! ... They really don't like me!"

By J. Thomas Duffy

No, I don't expect we'll hear Make-Up Mitt Romney squeal like Sally Fields, but the word is out that he is, pretty much, despised by his fellow Republican candidates.

The NYT today, in its account, "Romney Leads in Ill Will Among G.O.P. Candidates," lays it out:

“Never get into a wrestling match with a pig,” Senator John McCain said in New Hampshire this month after reporters asked him about Mr. Romney. “You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.”

That it might make Make-Up Mitt rap again, breaking into an improvised "Who Let The Pigs Out - Oink Oink", remains to be seen, and, the timing of this article should make for an interesting sidebar, in tonight's GOP Florida Debate (with the dreadful duo of Little Timmy Russert and Brian Williams moderating once again).

With Rudy911 slipping into oblivion, he may be the only one that will suck up to Make-Up Mitt, if the others, openly, show their dislike and contempt for him.

Mustang Bobby, over at Shakespeare's Sister, doesn't see McCain offering any platitudes:

It must be especially galling to John McCain who went through the 2000 primary against just such an opponent, got his head handed to him by Karl Rove, and paid his dues by sucking up to Bush and Company over the last eight years, leaving him with the feeling that if anyone is entitled to be the next Republican president, it should be him. Then in walks this matinée idol with a political pedigree and the same simplistic nostrums about a CEO presidency and "Washington is broken" that worked so well for the last guy, and the GOP voters are eating it up. No wonder McCain's pissed.

And Steve Benen, from The Carpetbagger Report, nails it with his "Mitt Romney and the Eddie Haskell Phenomenon":

For practically an entire year now, the various campaigns have gone up and down, but in every instance, there was Romney, in their face and presenting himself to voters like an ingratiating, toadying Eddie Haskell.

You can almost bet Make-Up Mitt will keep smiling through it, but, if they do gang up on him, let's hope, for the Mittster's sake, he doesn't get rattled, go into Robo-Mitt mode, and attempt to pander to the Floridians, saying something like he saw his father march with Anita Bryant, or worse, Castro, alienating the Cuban GOP.

He does have a track record of getting flustered and flubbing his lines in debates.

More Madcap Make-Up Mitt

Romney Speech: Where's Leonard Pinth Garnell When You Really Need Him?

This Just In! Romney Backs McCain In Wanting To "Shoot Obama"; Says Consulted Sons About Using Deadly Force; Hopes Opportunity Comes Before Primaries

Top Ten Cloves: Things About Mitt Romney's Announcement To Run For President

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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It's a fight for our lives on FISA

By Libby Spencer

I posted on this yesterday at Newshoggers but the situation is heating up more quickly than I expected and I'm busy at work today so I'm sending you to the experts for the updates. The situation is critical and needs immediate and intenstive citizen response. Glenn Greenwald is on the case and has comprehensive posts on Reid's tricks and Rockefeller's smug boasting that the tricks are working and the Democratic 'leadership' expects to be able to sell us out without a fight.

Yesterday's call to arms in Blogtopia produced some good results. John Edwards stepped forward to make a statement.

"It's time for Senate Democrats to show a little backbone and stand up to George W. Bush and the corporate lobbyists. They should do everything in their power -- including joining Senator Dodd's efforts to filibuster this legislation -- to stop retroactive immunity. The Constitution should not be for sale at any price."

And as Jane points out:

Well...yes. And that includes candidates, you know, leaving the campaign trail to do their jobs. Which Obama and Clinton can -- and should -- do. South Carolina is an hour and a half plane ride away.

Indeed. We need to pressure Obama and Clinton to get their butts on the floor and walk their talk. They say they're going to fight for us. Well now is the time to prove it. They need to put their self interest aside and get to DC and stand with Dodd to fight for the rule of law and accountability for the lawbreakers.

As Kos points out in a piece posted at The Hill, there is only one tiny fix needed to the FISA bill.

A single uncontroversial technical correction, allowing unencumbered monitoring of foreign communications routed through the United States, is required to fine-tune FISA. Yet that simple fix has been hijacked by Republicans in an effort to protect their telco pals. As usual, the GOP hopes that its patented fear-mongering will browbeat timid Democrats into submission.

The Dems knew this when they sold us out in August so they could go on vacation and promised to fix the bill to protect us, not to put in the fix to protect the White House. We can't let them get away with this without a fight.

Christy has the lastest on what you can do to help. Please take a moment and let your voice be heard. This is a battle we can't afford to lose.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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Hungry for leadership

By Carol Gee

Update of this post for The Reaction: 4:45 PM Central Time -- Regarding the FISA action in the Senate.

The Judiciary Committee version of the bill was tabled by a vote of 60-36 this morning. The Intelligence Committee bill came up for debate. Various Democratic senators wanted to offer amendments. All were objected to by Republican leadership, who just filed a cloture motion that will come up for a vote at 4:30 ET on Monday. The Senate will be in for "morning business" tomorrow. Senator Reid will vote against cloture and urged his colleagues to also oppose it.

The Vice President demanded the passage of the Rockefeller-Bond bill yesterday in a speech. Our current president demanded the bill's passage in a statement today. Take it or leave it. No amendments. No debate. No extension of the current legislation. These leaders are in a game of "chicken," racing their jalopies towards the edge of the February 1 expiration date of FISA. And the president -- through other people --is saying he has the authority to do whatever he wants anyway. Now more about leadership!!!!

The American electorate is desperate for new leadership.* Nine hundred and thirty-five lies of the current administration are but frosting slathered on the towering wedding cake of reasons why:

  1. Right Wing -- The bottom white cake layer is the right wing theocratic base of the Republican party. People of color have reason to feel left off the current administration's priority list.

  2. Neocon -- The second layer is the marble cake neocon influence on foreign policy. Neocon dogma is a strange marbled combination of hardline Democrat beginnings swirled with current imperialistic ambitions that include military intervention.

  3. Incompetence -- The third layer is the one that fell in the oven -- the cake of competence. The current half-baked leadership is remarkable inept in far too many of the key dimensions of leadership.

  4. Feeding Fears -- The next layer is yellow cake which is related to fear mongering. This layer is very fluffy, having a mushroom-cloud-like flavor.

  5. Aggression -- The layer near the top is the spice-flavored aggression and unilateralism of the U.S. in the Middle East. This cake is characterized by its lumpy unmixed style of go-it-alone diplomacy.

  6. Fiscal & Legal Irresponsibility -- The top cake layer is chocolate mocha-flavored. The current administration is addicted to the chocolate of runaway spending and the caffeine of law-breaking.

Leadership qualities are what voters are wondering about. What should we look for as we watch political ads or listen to candidates debating, whom to trust to tell the truth? The study of 935 lies is an indicator that the country is ready to face the facts about the dishonest run-up to the war in Iraq. But it will take years to recover. Shameless fear-mongering has debilitated our confidence as a people and called into question OCP's (our current president's) leadership in a very flat world. What can leaders do about our current president (OCP)?

Will Democratic and Republican leaders not running for the presidency be able to assist the electorate in deciding who will be the best for the job? Does the endorsement of a Senator or a Governor indicate that person understands leadership's state of the art? Not necessarily, but some voters may decide that "it takes one to know one." Though endorsements by the leaders we know and trust can help, it is more useful if we make up our own minds based on knowledge.

The tapestry of leadership theory is not that hard to digest. For example, behavior is an indicator of leadership capacity. Good leaders have a vision beyond what is right in front of them or what someone is telling them. A good leader instills confidence in those who are looking to him or her for direction and guidance in difficult matters. Good leaders are trustworthy. They lead by example. Their thoughts words and actions are consistent with those of good leaders from the past, the present and, we hope, in the future. These qualities matter in leaders in all walks of life, whether it be politician, a corporate executive, or a platoon sergeant.

And it is becoming more clear over the years that women can lead and that African-Americans can lead. All people who are not white males, thank goodness, can now can be seen as potential leaders. Step back and think what good news that is for non white male members of the electorate who have not had such viable choices in the past.

A crowded roster of candidates -- We could have a worse problem. I sense a renewed hopefulness in the country, an excitement about the possibility that things could change. Else, why would the word "change" get so deeply into the lexicon of most of our candidates. We may be on to something here!


*Reference on wanting to learn about leadership: Recent examples -- Readers often come to this blog as a result of a Google search on leadership and related ideas, terms such as "good qualities of Democratic leaders," "google quotes freedom of fear" (Australia). One visitor did a Yahoo! search on "good leadership qualities."

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Random rabid rantings

By Carl

Cuz, you know, I don't particularly feel like writing anything serious today...

I'm fifty. I've taken 7.5 million inhales through my nose. It's been a good nose to me, helps hold up my glasses (reading, distance AND sun!), gives me a place to put my finger when it's cold. Yes, it's big but it has character! It's been broken more times than I care to count (OK, eight, I think. I'm not counting the time I bumped it into the monkey bars). It's smelled some wonderful aromas: the scent of a tea rose, the wafting odor of hot coffee first thing on a Spring Sunday morning, a woman's passion. And it's smelled some godawful things, mostly that I made myself.

I'm going to miss however much of it I will lose in two weeks. I hope it's not much, but I know it will be some, and before it does go, I want it to know how much I appreciate it.

Someone at work suggested I could put in a nose ring when the doctor is finished. I like that idea.

I'm tired of seeing doctors. Every time I see a doctor, I get sicker! If I stopped seeing doctors, I bet everything that's wrong with me would go away.

I wonder about anti-abortionists and how they justify seeing a doctor. After all, you know, God's plan, but maybe God's plan includes us dying on His schedule...I mean, if every life is sacred to Him, every death should be, too, so when it's time to go, your life stops being so sacred. Why would you see a doctor and thwart His will? Maybe the Christian Scientists get this, after all?

I dunno.

Life is like bodysurfing. Ever bodysurf? You swim out to a wave,
turn around and try to nestle in the break. If you get too low, the wave overtakes you. If you get too high, the wave slips out from under you. You have to get it just right and get your body pointed back towards shore just in the slope of the wave as it begins to break and you can ride it all the way in.

At first, you move pretty slow, trying to pick up speed. Then, suddenly, you're rocketing along, but eventually, the wave overtakes you, swallows you up, and tosses you about as it speeds on its way to crashing onshore and dying, it's energy spent.

Life is like that. Tom Petty wrote "You never slow down, you never get old," but I'm moving as fast or perhaps even faster than when I was in my twenties, and I can *see* life passing around me. I didn't slow down, it just sped up.

I worry about what I see around me, too. People are people and for the most part, people seem to be better now about being people than when I was a kid. And then I look at how the world around them has changed, and that's what makes me worried.

The last recession, in 2001 and a pretty mild one, about 11% of the population of the country was below the poverty line. This time, heading into what will be a gale force of recession, the percentage of people who are below the poverty line is actually up.

That means that the "recovery" this country underwent in the intervening seven years was a failure: the people who were broken by the last recession didn't make it out, and indeed, they were joined by another 12 million or so Americans.

People live longer, but only to end up paying down their debts. No longer able to file bankruptcy, yet no longer able to pay off what they owe, they spend their lives in fear that the banks will throw them in jail if they miss a payment.

And why? So they could buy that one more thing that was advertised to them? That Playstation? That pair of shoes? Dinner for the family?

A man-- or more likely, woman-- goes through a divorce, or has health issues, and suddenly can't work or can't keep up with his (her) bills, and next thing you know, is borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, rocketing debt about like a pinball.

What makes this worse for me is, no one running for President seems to get this. John Edwards comes close, but even there I get the sense he pays lip service to the notion of "Two Americas," because it plays well on the campaign trail. Bill Clinton got it, and showed he sincerely wanted to help people get up on their feet and fight for their dreams.

I'm lucky. I've got a bit to cushion the blow. But for the grace of God, that could have been my life story. I know people struggling right now, living in places that I never could have imagined them living. Some are in group homes, practically permanently, because they can't take the stress of living in a society that's passing them by, despite the fact they are talented, intelligent people.

And I have friends who had it all and lost it, and are trying to make something of their lives that erases some of the disgrace they feel.

Me, I just hate my job. I'm lucky, in that respect, because I have one to hate and I have a place to go home to, and while I wish I had a life, I can rest assured that I will when the time is right.

I can, however, remember what it was like to sleep in my car, and sneak into a gym to take a shower and try to make my clothes seem not-too-shabby so I could go to a low-paying job with a little respect and dignity. Even then, I was lucky to have a car to sleep in.

I wish the world was different. I bet we all do. It's not. And that's the tragedy of it all. And the wave is catching us, all of us, and tossing us around as if it was a washing machine.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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935 lies

By Michael J.W. Stickings

WaPo's Froomkin:

A nonprofit group pursuing old-fashioned accountability journalism is out with a new report and database documenting 935 false statements by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top administration officials hyping the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the two years after Sept. 11, 2001.

The Center for Public Integrity reports that its "exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

The database also documents how Bush and others had reason to know, or at least suspect, what they were saying was not supported by the facts.

Make sure to read the CPI report. We know the warmongers lied -- but now we know with precision when and how often they did. It was indeed "orchestrated deception" on a massive scale.

And check out this revealing graphic:

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John Gibson is still an asshole

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Fox News's John Gibson is an asshole of astounding proportions.

His latest outburst of assholery? -- mocking the death of Heath Ledger, mocking both Ledger himself and the circumstances of his death.

I'm with Pam and Chris on this: Gibson is a sick, sick man, and he deserves to be fired, to be banished from the airwaves.

But of course it's Fox, where Gibson's bigotry, ignorance, and idiocy -- which is to say, the many components that make up the gaping spectrum of his assholery -- are right at home.

A network of assholes extraordinaire is not about to fire one of its most exemplary hosts.

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The state of the climate... is not good

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Please take the time to read Gary Hart's "State of the Climate" piece at HuffPo. Then go check out the University of Colorado's Presidential Climate Action Project, where fantastic work is being done on the most pressing crisis of our time.

Here are "ten steps that must be taken before the 44th president delivers the next state of the union address," which is to say, over the next year:

  • Recognize that climate change transcends politics and partisanship;
  • To reverse our catastrophic slide, accept that sacrifices will be required;
  • Acknowledge that climate action requires a new national energy policy;
  • Recognize that our national security is at stake with climate deterioration;
  • Begin transition to a post-carbon economy. Opening new economic opportunities for all segments of society;
  • Impliment concrete climate action at home to set the stage for engaging other nations;
  • Break the hold of entrenched special interests over our climate policy;
  • Make a major investment in federal earth sciences research;
  • Evaluate products and energy supplies for climate impact over their lives;
  • Recognize that climate change is the leadership issue of our times.

"If this is our defining moment, then let us be known as people of courage, morality, vision and goodwill -- a people who gladly accept the responsibility of ensuring that the America of tomorrow is even better than the America of today. That commitment to the future is required of us if we wish to keep faith with those who founded our nation, with those who have sacrificed for it and with those around the world who look the United States of America for hope."

It is indeed a defining moment -- for all of us. And we must all act if we are to have any hope of succeeding.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tumblin' Rudy Three

By Michael J.W. Stickings

A new poll suggests that the GOP contest in Florida is looking more and more like a two-man race... between McCain and Romney. As for Giuliani, who ignored the early states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, etc.) in favour of a national, ego-driven campaign, it looks like he'll be battling it out with Huckabee for third.

"Giuliani's decision to pull out of the early states is going to go down in history if he finishes out of the money in Florida as one of the worst political decisions," said pollster Tom Eldon. (By the way, as Marc Ambinder points out, Eldon and his partner Rob Schroth are "generally considered the best of the non-partisan political pollsters in the state.)

OTB: "All-in-all, it looks very likely that Rudy will be joining Duncan, Tom, and Fred in the loser’s lounge before the month is out."

TMV: "Unless something changes, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's campaign will be mentioned in political science classes and by political consultants for years to come — as the way not to do it."

And if anyone deserves to wallow in such personal and historical failure, it's Rudy and his 9/11-sized ego.

(See also Tumblin' Rudy One and Two.)

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Screw it

By Michael J.W. Stickings

See, now this is funny: "Bill Clinton: 'Screw It, I'm Running For President'":

After spending two months accompanying his wife, Hillary, on the campaign trail, former president Bill Clinton announced Monday that he is joining the 2008 presidential race, saying he "could no longer resist the urge."

"My fellow Americans, I am sick and tired of not being president," said Clinton, introducing his wife at a "Hillary '08" rally. "For seven agonizing years, I have sat idly by as others experienced the joys of campaigning, debating, and interacting with the people of this great nation, and I simply cannot take it anymore. I have to be president again. I have to."

He continued, "It is with a great sense of relief that I say to all of you today, 'Screw it. I'm in.'"

And you know what? He'd get a lot of support.


But you know what's not funny? Dick Morris.

Who wrote this appalling piece on how the Clintons are (allegedly) intentionally trying to turn the Democratic race into "a racial fight". Booker Rising's Shay gives him the benefit of the doubt, but I don't, won't, and never will.

Morris has it in for the Clintons, and it doesn't matter that he worked for them. And all he shows here is that he's a race-baiting idiot.

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"A bomb on the road of reconciliation"

By Creature

WaPo: Iraq's New Law on Ex-Baathists Could Bring Another Purge

"This is a bomb on the road of reconciliation," said Kareem, a former director general in the ministry. "This law does not bring anything new. This does not serve national reconciliation that all Iraqis are hoping for. On the contrary, it envisions hostility, hatred, discrimination and sectarian strife."

Since the announcement of the new re-Baathification law the Bush administration and all those heavily invested in the fairy tale of the surge's success have been touting its passage as a sign that political reconciliation is indeed moving forward in Iraq and that this political progress is further evidence for perpetual war. As the WaPo reports today, the truth is considerably less hopeful, to say the least. Either way, I'm sure the surge cheerleaders will soon rein in their happy talk and correct the record. Well, soon as in never and correct as in ignore. Mission accomplished.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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I listened to the Dems debate

By Carol Gee

The two top candidates were really going at each other. I hope there's not too much blood on the floor by the time the general election starts. Their conflict makes me a bit nervous. But I assume they know what they are doing.

And the economy is teetering, especially early in this week's first stock market trading day. But I am optimistic. There are only 362/363 (depending on whether you count "leap day") days left until our current president (OCP) leaves office. Some people are rethinking how they will continue to oppose OCP for the remainder of the year. For many of us it is hard to keep up the struggle in the face of today's Washington climate of legislators caving in. This headline indicates a kind of pulling back: "Anti-war groups retreat on funding fight," Ryan Grim of wrote on (1/17/08). To quote:

In recognition of hard political reality, the groups instead will lower their sights and push for legislation to prevent President Bush from entering into a long-term agreement with the Iraqi government that could keep significant numbers of troops in Iraq for years to come.

I need to hold on to my aforementioned optimism -- for these next two parts. I received a couple of compelling e-mails that have stayed with me because of the power of their words. I think the words reflect views held by thousands of people like these two men. They need to be shared:

1) Yes, water boarding is torture -- My blog friend Bobby sent me this e-mail, from which I quote:

Carol -

I hope that 2008 will be a good year for all of us. Although I have no idea what would constitutes "good."

One idea, now that I think of it. That we stop lying to ourselves about water boarding. The debate over whether it is torture is absurd. And the reason for the debate is that by continuing it (the debate), we never have to face the truth about who and what we are (or have become). Water boarding itself is no more than a symptom; but for as long as we dally over its definition we are able to put off acknowledging that we are a people who torture our enemies. We are postponing addressing the disease by discussing the symptoms.

So what I want for 2008 is for our friends in Washington (and in the compliant national media) to say, Yes, water boarding is torture, so let's have a conversation now about what being torturers means to our republic.

Of course I dream. But that's what, I suppose, the early days of January are for.

2) No wonder young people don't vote -- I have also been saving another e-mail I got at The Reaction the month before. It was from someone I did not know. Tom, its author, was referring to a post I did on December 13 of last year titled "It will take years to recover." I wrote it on one of those days when I was really mad at OCP. I also quote his e-mail, this time in full.

Dear Carol,

I see where you have discussed the challenge of recovering from the Bush years and the many scandals on The Reaction. I recently posted a piece on regarding the challenge of explaining all of this administration's ethical lapses to students:

"No wonder our young people don't vote"

I would appreciate any feedback you might be able to give on the post and if you like it I would be grateful if you would share it with your readers.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

Tom Hanson

I need to remember that my words have consequences, and I did not realize how seriously I would be taken by Tom Hanson. And in reality I am really glad he is such a serious person, because his concern is for teachers of social studies to high schoolers. Here is how he opened and closed his post [with a full rundown of the failed presidency of OCP] in between:

I wonder if anyone recalls the original campaign promises. Back when George Bush would raise his right hand as if taking a solemn vow and announce he would restore “honor and integrity” to the White House if elected. Sometimes he would alter the phrase ever so slightly, making it “dignity and honor” or other variations of the same three words. . .

. . . Given the extreme ethical transgressions, it seems preposterous that there will ever be a time when this presidency will be seen in a favorable light. I am sure that the ethical transgressions that are so troubling to most Americans today will only get darker as the future rolls in.

For teachers, the behavior and decision-making within the current White House makes it very challenging to fairly discuss politics with the next generation of voters. Walking the political line of fairness in a high school social studies class has likely never been more difficult than it is today. That is because the close examination of these ethical transgressions would be seen as nothing more than bashing our president.

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

Mr. Hanson deserves my best serious answer to his query, as does my blog writer friend who wanted some honesty about waterboarding. Here is what I truly believe:

Our country will emerge from this dark night, though it does not seem possible to some. In 2009 it will only get better. The kids need to know that. In the future there will again be people in the government who operate with honor and integrity. The students need to be taught that politics is not a dirty word; it is the art of working towards what is possible.

I have seen my share of very fine politicians and presidents. I was born in 1937. I'll name some of the best: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King, Jr., John and Robert Kennedy, Gerald Ford, and, currently, Senators Chris Dodd, Patrick Leahy, Arlen Specter, and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Representative Christopher Shays, and Lynne Woolsey, to name just a few.

This administration has been a temporary aberration. George W. Bush is the exception to the norm, ill suited to the job. And if you fairly report his actions and behavior, those are facts that speak for themselves, rather than mere Bush-bashing. There is no way you can teach that telling a lie is telling the truth, if you back it up with the facts, for example. Aggression and lawbreaking can never be justified within our tradition of operating under the rule of law. Also remember there were a number of people with integrity who resigned from this administration along the way.

The new president will bring in a whole new set of leaders upon whom I intend to bestow trust. They deserve a fresh start with all of us. And voters will send a new set of legislators to Washington, because I predict a thorough "house-cleaning." This country has a pretty good record of righting itself. These bad days are temporary, not something for which we can blame ourselves, and are confined only to those people who make the scandalous headlines. Many career bureaucrats (again, I use this as an honorable word) labor on year after year, keeping the ship of state upright, the payroll made, the borders guarded, and long-time foreign alliances mended.

Truth be told, water boarding is what it is -- torture, pure and simple. The thing that we all must fight with all our might, both from within ourselves and from the outside, is fear mongering. We do not need to be fearful of a "forever war," or a globally pervasive world of terrorist extremists, or an internal revolution, or a nuclear holocaust, or the invasion of hoards of illegal aliens, or the disintegration of our long-standing democracy.

The best thing I can think of, that is the opposite of fear, are these examples of gutsiness: Women got out of their chairs or cars or wherever they were and went to vote in New Hampshire. And they refused to let the pollsters in on their secrets. And millions of us are still the electors. Look at what those little old blue-haired lady election judges did in South Carolina. They gave people tablet paper for ballots when they ran out. And then they tried to make sure the ballots counted.

Most of us are honest, do the best we can and operate in good faith. This administration is on its way out, a small minority of small people. Their successors will not be perfect. But I believe that they'll do fine by us.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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A peace of my mind

By Carl

This absolutely ridiculous bickering between the Clinton and Obama camps must stop. Now.

Don't try to get the last word in, Barack. Hillary, just let it go.

Why, you ask? It's simple. It's getting to the point where the "winner" will lose the general election.

I base this on a poll released yesterday:

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll asked voters who has the personality and leadership qualities to be president. Republican John McCain had 60 percent, Democrat Barack Obama had 59 percent and Democrat Hillary Clinton had 55 percent.

"The presidential race now looks like a toss-up -- perhaps even with a Republican edge," Paul Starr, co-editor of the liberal American Prospect magazine, wrote in The Washington Post on Sunday. "If Democrats don't stay smart, tough-minded and realistic, we could blow it yet again."

It's bad enough that Hillary already has trouble convincing people that another term of the Clinton-Bush nexus is a good thing. It's bad enough that Barack Obama has enough skeletons in his closet to drape an entire couture collection off. People are tired, and scared, and scaring them more is not a good thing.

September 11 did change a lot of things, but one thing it should have changed was the politics of fear, but Republicans managed to find a way to go to the well one more time-- wolves at the door, Swiftboating, "flip flopping" their way to the White House with an incumbent who is an insult to the title "President."

They'll go to the well once more, make no mistake about it. Despite Obama's admirative utterances, the Republicans are bereft of ideas and the substantive ones they've managed to bleat out are tired and ineffectual.

John McCain appears to be the nominee (it's still early, of course), they'll run a platform of steady stable command with experience, and paint the Dems as the Not Ready For Prime Time players (particularly if Obama wins).

This catfight has to stop. It's distracting the candidates from the one truth: we need a plan to recover from the first eight years of this millennium.

Frankly, I'm surprised more at Obama than Clinton in this respect: Obama's message of hope was resonating with the electorate, and as soon as he was attacked, he exposed an extremely thin skin, as well as the "politics as usual" knife-fighting tactics he's been railing against.

It's almost as if two consummate politicians had him by the strings and were dangling him for their amusement, it's worked that well. Truly, which sounds worse to you: sitting on the board of directors of Wal-Mart, the biggest company in your "home" state, or representing a slumlord that you are still accepting donations from? Keep in mind that the majority of Democrats live near a Wal-Mart, shop there, and have friends who work for the company.

When I watched that exchange during the debate (I saw a tape last night), I realized Hillary set Barack up. Yes, there was a reaction when Obama mentioned Clinton's position, but the reaction of the audience when Clinton had the chance to mention "Obama" and "slumlord" in the same sentence made me think that perhaps she was premature in leaving South Carolina.

If one can find any gold in this pile of dung, it's that by levelling these charges now, both candidates have inoculated themselves against those charges being a surprise in the general election. If you recall, in 2004 no one challenged Kerry's patriotism. No one called Al Gore a liar in 2000.

Maybe they should have. The thing is, Hillary's dark points are already known, already out there. I suspect that because Obama is such an unknown quantity, these e-mails about him being a Islamist, and swearing his oath on a Koran, and turning his back to the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance have resonated so well on the right wing.

Obama's electability numbers predate this wave of revelation, and the "slumlord" one is going to stick, big time, in states like California and New York and Georgia, with large urban minority populations.

Hell, Hillary did extremely well in Las Vegas in the Nevada caucuses, which should have been heavily tilted towards Obama.

Hillary has less to gain but more important, a lot less to lose, in a spitting contest with Obama. This would be a good time for both camps to send out feelers for a truce.

You've both drawn blood. Let it go. By the way, Barack? You might
want to pull that finger back in, as well, or didn't you learn the Lazio lesson?

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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