Saturday, July 26, 2008

McCain pulls a Maliki, almost

By Michael J.W. Stickings

As the NYT is reporting, the warmonger of warmongers seems to be having second thoughts (or third or fourth, or wherever he is now):

First the Iraqi government gave Senator Barack Obama a boost by seeming to embrace his proposal for a 16-month timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq. Now could Senator John McCain, who built his candidacy in large part on his opposition to such a schedule, possibly be following suit?

"I think it's a pretty good timetable," Mr. McCain said Friday in an interview on "The Situation Room" on CNN, before adding that it should be based "on the conditions on the ground."

Of course, that qualifier -- "the conditions on the ground" -- is all-important here. For McCain, the conditions on the ground may never, or at least for a good long time, allow for any sort of significant withdrawal of U.S. troops. And, while Obama too has recently talked about withdrawal in terms of stability on the ground, McCain has been fairly consistent in opposing any sort of timetable for withdrawal, unlike Obama.

Until now.

Simply put, I think, reality in terms of the ongoing U.S. military presence in Iraq has passed McCain by. Maliki's endorsement of Obama's timetable was perhaps not as dramatic a singular event as some might think -- it did not take place in a vacuum, nor did it come out of nowhere -- but it signalled at long last that Iraqi political opinion is much closer to Obama and the proponents of withdrawal sooner rather than later than to McCain and the "100-year-war" advocates on the other side.

As ardent a warmonger as he may be, McCain isn't entirely delusional. Surely he can, at times, see the writing on the wall. (Or maybe I'm giving him too much of the benefit of the doubt?) And the writing calls for withdrawal not if or when there is stability "on the ground," or however the "conditions" must be, but sooner rather than later and according to a firm timetable. A timetable made less sense a few years ago. Now it's what the Iraqis want -- and what makes sense for the U.S., too.

Not that McCain's fellow warmongers will give in to what Obama and the war's critics and opponents have been calling for for a long, long time. After all, what they want is not just virtually endless war, and not just a permanent U.S. foothold in the region, but essentially global American hegemony. That on top of being utterly delusional with respect to the reality of the war and occupation.

But McCain is running for president, not barricading himself behind the walls of an administration nearing its end. Whether he likes it or not, and whether he wants to or not, he must deal with what is actually going on. And what is going on is the ascendancy of Obama's position on Iraq. McCain can't come out and actually endorse Obama's proposal, unlike Maliki, but in a signficant concession, a significant admission, he was driven by "the conditions on the ground" to do just that.


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White House fed talking points to Fox News

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It wasn't so long ago that former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, fresh memoir in hand, was all over the media with his allegation -- and, let's face it, a supremely credible one -- that the Bush Administration had lied about Iraq and took a "permanent campaign approach" to governing and that there was a Rove-Libby conspiracy to cover up their roles in the outing of former CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Well, the ex-mouthpiece is back, telling Chris Matthews last night -- as Think Progress reports -- that the White House fed "script[s]" to certain Fox News hosts ("the nighttime guys," as Matthews described them), essentially using them as "spokespeople." Later, he told Keith Olbermann that "'it was done frequently, especially on high-profile issues' and that Fox often gave the White House 'its desired results.'"

As Olbermann put it, it's "one of those things you assumed to be true all along, yet you are shocked when the hard confirmation actually shows up on your door."

Well, no, we shouldn't be shocked by this. But it's nice to have the confirmation straight from the mouthpiece's mouth.

(Image from here.)

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"I pledge allegiance...

By Carol Gee

. . . to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stood,"

said Daniel Ellsberg, July 25, 2008, on Glenn Greenwald's Salon Radio program debut. Ellsberg stated that this is the way he would have to say the Pledge of Allegiance today, given the recent passage by Congress and signing by the President, of the new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Congress fails to uphold the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution -- Greenwald and Ellsberg both feel that the Senators and Representatives who voted for this legislation failed to uphold their basic oaths of congressional office. Though Ellsberg said he will vote for Senator Barack Obama, he does not feel that any president, including Obama, will willingly cede presidential powers once they have been conferred. Salon's debut podcast yesterday did not disappoint. I recommend this a fascinating half hour plus conversation on history joined with the current sorry state of Constitutional protections in the USA.Ellsberg believes that the republic is no more; Greenwald's term for the current definition of our form of government is "empire." To quote from Greenwald's post:

Knowing that he was risking life imprisonment, Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in an attempt to alert the public to what the Government was doing . . .

For his efforts, Ellsberg was subjected to extensive warrantless eavesdropping by the Nixon White House, had his psychoanalyst's office invaded and searched at Nixon's behest in an attempt to obtain incriminating information about him, and was arrested and then brought to trial where he faced life imprisonment for having leaked the report (though the charges were ultimately dropped as a result of the Nixon administration's misconduct towards him).

In countless ways, Ellsberg embodies exactly what our political system has been so conspicuously and tragically lacking, and he has become one of the most insightful analysts of our current political crisis. My discussion with Ellsberg can be heard here by clicking PLAY below [Glenn has the link]:

Congressional leaders fail to uphold ethical standards -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Boehner will jointly appoint former House Member and head of the CIA, Porter Goss, to the new House ethics board. (H/T to "emptywheel") To quote from The Hill's story:

The appointment of Goss, a prickly personality who left the CIA after a short, turbulent tenure, surprised even some Republican members of Congress. Several shook their heads in disbelief when told he was named to the board.

While he was chairman of the House intelligence committee, Goss opposed launching an investigation into the Valerie Plame CIA leak case.

Goss is close to Boehner and served with Pelosi on the intelligence and ethics panels. . .

Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.) said he supported Goss’s appointment, although he didn’t know why the former senior GOP member would want to come out of retirement to take it.

“[Goss] is a man of impeccable character, integrity and conviction and I can’t imagine why he wanted to take this job,” Putnam said.

Congress fails in its oversight responsibilities -- The House Judiciary Committee has been holding hearings on Presidential power, and on the Bush administration's use of torture against its enemies. It has not yet taken up the remedy of impeachment, and in all likelihood will not do so during its current term. Dandelion Salad posted about last night's pertinent episode of "Bill Moyer’s Journal: Torture Hearings + Jane Mayer + Fritz Hollings." It offers video links to the committee's torture hearings, and to Moyers' interview with Jane Mayer, author of a recent book, THE DARK SIDE: THE INSIDE STORY OF HOW THE WAR ON TERROR TURNED INTO A WAR ON AMERICAN IDEALS. The third video link is to Moyers' program-concluding interview with former Senator Fritz Hollings on the place of money raising in the lives of people in Congress. His book is MAKING GOVERNMENT WORK.

Additional references from Dandelion Salad:

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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The audacity of dopes

By Carl

As a Hillary partisan, I was surely subjected to my fair share of hubristic shpiel by Obombers. Sometimes it got very personal, but I've got a thick skin.

And I don't write a column that's read by thousands of people or even millions of people a week. I'm lucky if I hit four figures in seven days.

The New Republic sees some troubling signs on the Obama campaign bus:

Around midnight on July 16, New York Times chief political correspondent Adam Nagourney received a terse e-mail from Barack Obama's press office. The campaign was irked by the Times' latest poll and Nagourney and Megan Thee's accompanying front-page piece titled "Poll Finds Obama Isn't Closing Divide on Race," which was running in the morning's paper. Nagourney answered the query, the substance of which he says was minor, and went to bed, thinking the matter resolved.

But, the next morning, Nagourney awoke to an e-mail from Talking Points Memo writer Greg Sargent asking him to comment on an eight-point rebuttal trashing his piece that the Obama campaign had released to reporters and bloggers like The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder and Politico's Ben Smith. Nagourney had not heard the complaints from the Obama camp and had no idea they were so steamed. "I'm looking at this thing, and I'm like, 'What the hell is this?' " Nagourney recently recalled. "I really flipped out."

Later that afternoon, Nagourney got permission from Times editors to e-mail Sargent a response to the Obama memo. But the episode still grates. "I've never had an experience like this, with this campaign or others," Nagourney tells me. "I thought they crossed the line. If you have a problem with a story I write, call me first. I'm a big boy. I can handle it. But they never called. They attacked me like I'm a political opponent."

I'm guessing there was some low-level operative in Obama's campaign who got a little overenthusiastic.


Obama's press liaison, Robert Gibbs, has built a particularly large reservoir of ill will. David Mendell, who covered Obama's Senate campaign for the Chicago Tribune and authored the 2007 Obama book From Promise to Power, wrote about Gibbs as "the anti-Obama" and described him as "Obama's hired gun, skillfully trained to shoot at reporters whose coverage was deemed unfair. Mendell tells me, "if [Gibbs] feels you're necessary to achieve a campaign goal, he will give you access and allow you in. But, if he feels you're not going to be of help, he can just ignore you." Mendell has his own specific gripe: Apparently, the Obama team was less than pleased with his biography, on which they cooperated, and Gibbs has since refused to help with the second edition.

One reporter sniffs that Gibbs, a native Alabaman and veteran of John Kerry's 2004 campaign, is the "communications director who doesn't communicate." "If you're getting an interview, and they say ten minutes, it's ten minutes," adds Time's Karen Tumulty, who scored an interview with Obama in June. "Robert Gibbs will cut it off."

Now, as the article points out, this could just be the stress and strain of a long campaign with reporters jockeying for stories. What concerned me was this bit:

Still, the campaign hasn't helped itself, approaching reporters with a sense of entitlement. "They're an arrogant operation. Young and arrogant," one reporter covering the campaign says. "They don't believe in transparency with their own campaign," another says.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, yes, young and arrogant. Almost hubristic.

That's a trope I'm very familiar with from the Obombers, as is anyone who spoke even faint praise of Hillary Clinton before June.

The problem is, if you piss off someone who buys ink by the barrell (I think that one was Harry Truman's), you tend to pay for it large time in the end. The press had given much of Obama's life story a miss during the primary, since it was clear a) it would ruin a good story to find out Obama was not who he claimed he was, and b) Hillary was going to be the whipping boy girl of the primaries.

During the early part of the primaries, Obama gave good press: good access, full interviews, lots of face time in the press plane/bus/room.

Later, he contracted that.

Now, he practically doles out press time as if it was precious gold. Or oil.

That's not a real bright strategy this early in the campaign.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Quote of the Day w/ bonus video

By Creature

"We'll put people in prison. We'll take away the thing that they care about the most, their money. They stole, they hurt the troops, they killed people, they hurt the taxpayers year after year and they've destroyed this economy. They're not going to get off scot-free." -- Alan Grayson, Democrat running for Congress in Florida's eighth district, drawing a line in the sand against the Bush crime family.

Here's his campaign ad:

Via Matt Stoller who has much more.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Bush Is Batman? Holy Batshit!

By J. Thomas Duffy

I, perhaps, must first disclose that I haven't rushed out to be part of the record-breaking box office for the new Brokeback Batman, errr, The Dark Knight movie.

However, it seems that one of Rupert Murdoch's minions, Andrew Klavan (once you read the piece, you'll understand he must be related to Cheers' Cliff; okay, okay, one of them changed the spelling to disassociate himself from the other), has penned a wet dream to our Court-Appointed President (h/t Barry Crimmins) with his "What Bush and Batman Have in Common":

A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . .

Oh, wait a minute. That's not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . . a "W."

There seems to me no question that the Batman film "The Dark Knight," currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society -- in which people sometimes make the wrong choices -- and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

Those are the first three paragraphs, and, as a warning, it gets more noxious as it goes on.

I hazard a guess that the closest The Commander Guy has come to being Batman is, under the guise and cover of Halloween, running around the house in Laura's tights.

Or, maybe they donned costumes in the Bush Grindhouse, when they met to choreograph the torture of suspected enemy combatants.

As you can imagine, bubbling up is a boatload of feedback, dissing and derision on the World Wide Web

Spencer Ackerman, actually, has a good case,
calling out Klavan for stealing the idea of his own essay, "Batman's 'Dark Knight' Reflects Cheney Policy; Joker's Senseless, Endless Violence Echoes Al Qaeda."

Read it yourself, but, trust me, Ackerman's is leagues better.

Michael Cohen, at Democracy Arsenal, has THE BEST OP-ED EVER!!!!!

David Neiwert - Must. Stop. Fist … Of … Doom!

Atrios brings it home with his "Bat-tusi."

The Retro Part

The Garlic covered this over two-years ago:

Top Ten Cloves: Difficulties DC Comics' Batman May Have Fighting Osama bin Laden

A little taste:

3. Sidekick Robin will beat to death and overuse the "Holy Mushroom Clouds, Batman" phrase.

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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(Stupid) Headline of the Day (NYT bratwurst edition)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Elisabeth Bumiller's article isn't terrible, but the headline -- and I assume her editors are at fault -- is incredibly stupid:

Right, because Obama's Berlin speech was just a substance-free photo-op. And because giving an inspirational and enlightening speech to 200,000 people is nothing next to eating at a sausage haus in Columbus? I know it's just a headline, but it feeds off of and into the larger media narrative that posits Obama as an out-of-touch elitist and opportunist next to the down-to-earth, straight-talkin' McCain.

And I, for one, would rather have the POTUS inspiring and enlightening and reaching out to and connecting with America's friends around the world than knocking back some bratwurst (at a politically calculated campaign stop -- come on, bratwurst at a German restaurant... what, to make Obama look bad for actually being in Germany?)

Thanks for lowering the bar again, New York Times, supposed "paper of record."

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"Obama? He's my pal."

By Michael J.W. Stickings

So said Nicky Sarkozy to Le Figaro -- so reports Le Politico's Ben Smith -- and, what's more, he claims he knew all along that Obama would beat Hillary: "Unlike my diplomatic advisers, I never believed in Hillary Clinton's chances. I always said that Obama would be nominated." Indeed, Obama "would validate" his efforts to reestablish a strong relationship with the U.S., to mend the fences broken by the Iraq War and Bush's foreign policies generally.

(Remember, as David Knowles does at AOL's Political Machine, that Sarkozy is a conservative.)

Obama is in France today, and apparently the French love him as much as the Germans do. Here's today's cover of center-left newspaper Libération:

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It is about where one stands

By Carol Gee

One's perspective on reality depends on where one stands. Within the past month I traveled across several Western of these United States. The journey was a useful experience in regaining a sane perspective in an occasionally insane world. The question of what happens to perspective when a person stands in a different place also applies to our two presidential candidates.

Obama's foreign perspective vs. McCain's purposefully domestic campaign view -- In the past day or so Barack Obama stood before 200,000 people in Berlin and talked to them about what it means to be citizens of one world. John McCain stood in a grocery store and projected a somewhat narrower perspective by ignoring an opportunity to talk about the economic difficulties of his fellow U.S. citizens. One looked at the horizon. One looked at the eggs and failed to really see them, because he got lost in his bizarre campaign appearance that missed the mark. Obama stood before the largest crowd ever assembled to hear him speak; McCain decided to make another appearance, this time in a German restaurant and at a Fudge Haus.

These current little news stories, that will soon be lost to the next episodes of campaign buzz, illustrate why voters can trust their guts about choosing the next president based on where he stands. Barack Obama looks and sounds like a genuine leader moving with the times; John McCain looks like a "has-been" politician traveling by reality and failing to recognize it.

My travels across a familiar route, over which I have traveled annually for several years, again brought home some simple truths to me. Family matters to me, and keeping in touch with my family of origin is important enough to make a 2400+ mile journey every year. Geography matters to me also. Texas and Wyoming have similar characteristics, but the differences are stark. A change of perspective reminds me of the value of Wyoming's clean blue skies, open lands and green grass, abundant natural energy resources, animals still roaming wild, and a fiercely independent little cadre of voters. I am reminded again that the entire population of the state is less than the metropolitan area in which I live. For the past month I drove on a freeway only twice. And I saw very few television news broadcasts because my siblings prefer either no news or Fox Network. Now that I am back home, I am again breathing the detritus of life beside the freeways. And my eyes are smarting again from the pollution caused by Texans' love for their individual cars and trucks. And my old friends at C-SPAN, CNN, and MSNBC are again defining reality for me. For a political blogger, it is sublime.

Expansive geography characterizes each state. Both states have huge raw energy reserves that are being consumed at rapid rates. Wind farms dot the horizons of each. Crops being harvested across flat or rolling plains help to feed and clothe the nation. Both native populations are "independent cusses" with a basic mistrust of government and dislike of the news media. Both peoples have a large connection to animals and empty open spaces with miles and miles of highways.

I stand on my own porch again, glad to be home, but equally glad to have been in the vicinity of what was my original home until I became an adult. And I sit at my own computer again, no longer befuddled nor limited by time with a borrowed or library computer. It may take me a while to get my feet on the ground and reconnected with Blogworld.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Internet in the corporate crosshairs

By Libby Spencer

I see Carol already flagged this story in an earlier post but I want to highlight it more fully because it's that important. Via Avedon some troubling news from Canada. At ICH, a report on a proposed test run of de-neutralizing the intertubes in the name of corporate profit.

In the upcoming weeks watch for a report in Time Magazine that will attempt to smooth over the rough edges of a diabolical plot by Bell Canada and Telus, to begin charging per site fees on most Internet sites. The plan is to convert the Internet into a cable-like system, where customers sign up for specific web sites, and then pay to visit sites beyond a cutoff point.

So in other words, just like cable, you pay for a package with predetermined channels and if you want to visit something not listed, it's a pay for view extra. I don't know about you, but I might visit over a hundred sites in any given day when I'm looking for information. I would be priced out in matter of hours. Not to mention, return visits to sites I visit daily for updates. And then there's the other side of the equation.

And this is where the Internet (free) as we know it will suffer almost immediate, economic strangulation. Thousands and thousands of Internet sites will not be part of the package so users will have to pay extra to visit those sites! ...

There are so many other implications as a result of these changes, far too many to elaborate on here. Be aware that we will all lose our privacy because all websites will be tracked as part of the billing procedure, and we will be literally cut off from 90% of the information that we can access today. The little guys on the Net will fall likes flies; Bloggers and small website operators will die a quick death because people will not pay to go to their sites and read their pages.

And what about people who conduct business through the internets? Small entrepreneurs would be out of business. Comparison shopping could cost more than you save. In short, everything that is good about the internet would be gone. This is why we have to fight now to preserve neutrality.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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Novak victim "doing fine"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

WaPo: "The homeless pedestrian who was struck by a car driven by syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak said in a radio interview yesterday that he is 'doing fine,' recovering from a dislocated shoulder."

Just thought you'd like to know.


What a story, though, huh? Bob Novak hits an 86-year-old homeless man with his black Corvette convertible. It couldn't really get any better (now that we know the guy is okay).

Novak claims he didn't know he hit the man -- Don Clifford Liljenquist -- until he was alerted of the incident by a bicyclist. And Liljenquist backs him up: "Yeah, it's possible that he didn't know he hit me. The vehicle was moving at 10 miles per hour or something like that, and the driver might not have seen me, because I rolled off and fell down to the pavement. So, yeah, it's possible that he didn't see me. He wasn't paying attention to his driving."

Yes, the man who outed Valerie Plame and who gets many of his inside scoops from his buddy Karl Rove is a menace behind the wheel.

"He's a very good reporter," said Liljenquist of Novak.

Forget his shoulder. Someone should check his head.

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McCain's Fudge House

By Michael J.W. Stickings

So McCain -- understandably, perhaps, given how little attention he's getting these days -- dumped on Obama's speech in Berlin yesterday: "I would rather speak at a rally or a political gathering any place outside of the country after I am president of the United States," he said. In other words, presidential candidates should stay at home, in the U.S., where the voters are, and not travel around the world giving speeches (like, to thousands and thousands of Germans).

"However," NBC's Mark Murray reminds us, "on June 20, McCain himself gave a speech in Canada -- to the Economic Club of Canada -- in which he applauded NAFTA's successes... McCain's trip to Canada was paid for by the campaign."


Call it envy, call it whatever you want, this was also yet another gaffe from the gaffe-filled McCain. Maybe he really had forgetten about his speech in Toronto, or maybe envy got the better of him, or maybe he was trying to score a political point against Obama's worldly cosmopolitanism, but, whatever the case, he's been making a lot of mistakes recently.

In terms of looking and sounding utterly pathetic, McCain just keeps on outdoing himself.

And the contrast yesterday was stark: Obama in Germany speaking to 200,000 people, McCain speaking to a few reporters outside Schmidt's Fudge Haus (after eating at Schmidt's Sausage Haus) -- I'm not kidding -- "in the Heart of Historic German Village" in Columbus, Ohio (via Cookie Jill and Josh Marshall):

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

"People of Berlin -- people of the world -- this is our moment. This is our time."

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I posted on Obama's Berlin speech earlier today. HuffPo has a round-up of reaction to the speech here.

And here, below, is the speech itself. With the camera trained on Obama, the video doesn't give much sense of the incredible magnitude of the event -- 200,000 people, according to reports -- but it's still a stirring speech worth watching:

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Obama in Berlin

By Michael J.W. Stickings

There is no denying that Obama has already become an international statesman, celebrity, and inspiration. While McCain is holding town-hall meetings in small communities and generated little media or public attention, Obama is travelling the world, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Israel to Europe, meeting with world leaders and looking not just presidential but like the personification of all that is good about America.

Germany's Der Spiegel is reporting, based on police estimates, that "at least 200,000 people turned up to listen to Obama's speech" today at Berlin's Victory Column.

Let me repeat that: 200,000 people.

I will post video later today. (See this photo gallery already up at Der Spiegel. And this one at the BBC.)

Upon initial reflection, I agree with Michael Crowley: The speech was "unsurprising, but elegantly wrought and delivered, and the stagecraft was perfect." My only major concern is that Obama could come across as far too much of an internationalist for the American electorate, much of which is nationalist, isolationist, and, in terms of America's place in the world, arrogant and self-aggrandizing. Indeed, some critics will likely charge Obama with caring more about world opinion than about Main Street America. As Noam Scheiber puts it, "the combination of the visual and some of the rhetoric... was a little too post-nationalist for the typical American swing-voter. I'm not sure you win the presidency without being seen as an unambiguous nationalist." Although that might be overstating it a bit -- this isn't the year for unambiguous nationalism in American politics -- there is the very real possibility of some voters objecting to "the atmospherics," if not the actual content, of the speech.

For more on the speech, see The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and the BBC.

The transcript is here (and here, at Obama's website). Actually, upon reading it again, I find it much better than "unsurprising." It's only that way because we've heard so much of it before. It may be typical for Obama, but it's actually quite awesome. Here's the best part, from the end:

People of Berlin -- people of the world -- this is our moment. This is our time.

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived -- at great cost and great sacrifice -- to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom - indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us -- what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America's shores -- is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

Those are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. Those aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of those aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of those aspirations that all free people -- everywhere -- became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of those aspirations that a new generation -- our generation -- must make our mark on history.

People of Berlin -- and people of the world -- the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. Let us build on our common history, and seize our common destiny, and once again engage in that noble struggle to bring justice and peace to our world.

It isn't just America. The world, as I have often said, needs Barack Obama in the White House.

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The McCain Myth: Yet another example of the media's abominable coverage of the presidential race

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Look, it's yet another ongoing series at The Reaction -- of which there will no doubt be many parts throughout the current campaign for the White House. It's called:

Yet another example of
the media's abominable coverage of the presidential race

The first installment (with a slightly different name for the series), on breathless reporting of Obama's trips to the gym last week, is here.


(Update: You know what they say about great minds. Creature has also posted on the media's pro-McCain bias -- see here.)

This installment has to do with the media's ongoing narrative -- and it's been ongoing for years and years -- that buys into, and propagates, the myth of McCain as an expert on foreign policy and national security issues. He's been touting his military background, experience, and alleged expertise throughout his political career, well before his '00 and '08 presidential runs but especially now, and his admirers in the media -- and there are many of them (and many more who simply like him and give him the benefit of the doubt) -- have been happy to help.

And yet the current campaign has witnessed a steady stream of gaffes from this alleged expert: mixing up Sunni and Shiite, referring to the Czech Republic as Czechoslovakia, mentioning the non-existent Iraq-Pakistan border, etc. Critics have understandably guffawed in response, but, for the most part, the media have either written them off as symptoms of being old or ignored them altogether. Over at Slate, Fred Kaplan explains what's wrong with this:

If Obama had blurted even one of those inanities (especially the one about the Iraq-Pakistan border), the media and the McCain campaign would have been all over him like red ants on a wounded puppy.

McCain caught almost no hell for his statements -- they were barely noted in the mainstream press -- most likely because they didn't fit the campaign's "narrative." McCain is "experienced" in national-security matters; therefore, if he says something that's dumb or factually wrong, it's a gaffe or he's tired. Obama is "inexperienced," so if he were to go off the rails, it would be a sign of his clear unsuitability for the job of commander in chief.

It may be time to reassess this narrative's premise -- or to abandon it altogether and simply examine the evidence before us.

I'd prefer abandonment over reassessment, but I'd settle for either. The media need to be shaken up. But who is about to do that? The media themselves? While they've shown signs of moving away from the narrative, it would be far too optimistic to expect them to dismiss it entirely. More McCain gaffes of this sort, however, could finally force them to reevaluate their long-standing love affair with the Arizona senator.

And there is a deeper problem: "Quite apart from the gaffes, in formal prepared speeches, McCain has proposed certain actions and policies that raise serious questions about his suitability for the highest office," including calling for Russia to be expelled from the G8 and proposing the creation of a so-called League of Democracy. What's more, McCain has in recent years morphed into a blend of Cold Warrior and neoconservative. Perhaps worse than Bush, he is now one of the chief warmongers, and not just with respect to Iraq.

The narrative that excuses his gaffes also avoids any real, sustained confrontation with his actual policy positions. And so while Obama is under the microscope, where any slip-up would derail his campaign, McCain carries on making mistakes -- and proposing bad and perhaps disastrous policies -- beyond the media glare. The flip side to all this is that while Obama is getting most of the attention, and most of the media coverage, especially recently on his global tour, McCain is being ignored, or at least relegated to second-candidate status. McCain may want more attention, but being ignored, that is, not having his gaffes and inane policy positions prominently exposed, might just be the best thing for him.

So far, Obama has weathered the scrutiny extremely well. Still, it is time for a new narrative. How about one based on the truth?

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It depends on your definition of "is"

By Carl

Of all the idiotic things for the campaigns to suddenly get bogged down in,
this has to rank right up there:

Senator John McCain was chiding Senator Barack Obama for “a false depiction of what actually happened” in Iraq in a television interview this week. But in giving his chronology of events in Iraq, Mr. McCain gave what critics said was his own false depiction.

OK, not so bad in its own right, but...

“I don’t know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened,” Mr. McCain told Katie Couric, noting that the Awakening movement began in Anbar Province when a Sunni sheik teamed up with Sean MacFarland, a colonel who commanded an Army brigade there.

[...] The Obama campaign was quick to note that the Anbar Awakening began in the fall of 2006, several months before President Bush even announced the troop escalation strategy, which became known as the surge.

Seriously, anyone who has paid attention to the Bush administration realizes that it is absurd to think that the surge started after he announced it.

Think about it: On September 12, 2001, the Bushies were already planning to hit Saddam Hussein. Even during the surge, we were warned that the limit of 20,000 additional troops would be breached and it turned out to be nearly 50% higher.

Who is going to believe that Bush had not already very quietly shifted troops deployments and rushed stop-loss orders to inflate the number of troops in what was admittedly already a tenuous and crucial province in the invasion aftermath?

Too, one has to look at the "off-sheet" military, the mercenaries, who were far easier to deploy with little to no announcement. Think of it as a transfer to a branch office.

So Obama's criticism here might be better off muted. It's a silly nitpick, and sounds somewhat desperate. This is a criticism that would be better levelled at Bush, if he makes an incredulous statement like McCain did.

The bigger issue, the one both Obama and McCain seem reluctant to discuss, is whether the surge worked. There's the meat of the debate, and naturally, the basic premise of the entire invasion rests on how effective our military strategies for restoring Iraq have been.

As a military strategy, it seems pretty clear it worked, at least the way a bug bomb works: throw enough materiel quickly at the pests, and you have a lot of dead and dying bugs.

But it's not preventative, and here I think is where the surge breaks down: the political will of the Iraqi people is not focused on defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq or the other insurgent groups, but in getting the real irritant (irritant, in this sense, meaning that which incites violence) out.

Meaning us. That Maliki's government is nearly unanimous in their praise of Obama's stated withdrawal plan-- I still don't trust him to put it into play. His big financial backers have too much at stake.-- is indicative that their focus lies elsewhere.

Getting to the bottom of that is the key to "winning" this invasion.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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The what-if-Obama-had-done-it game

By Creature

Steve Benen's right, as with almost everything McCain, if Barack Obama had confused the "surge/awakening" time-line and then continued to dig himself into a hole by, well, conveniently redefining the whole damn thing, the Right, along with their media lapdogs, would be calling it a campaign ending gaffe.

I know it's fun to play the what-if-Obama-had-done-it game, but with the outcome always the same -- McCain's gaffe excused, while Obama's is magnified -- it's getting kind of tiresome. McCain may want to whine media bias, but they've got his back and they will rehabilitate him at every turn.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

All this gas talk reeks of classism

By LindaBeth

You know, I'm really starting to get sick of all the "news" stories about rising gas prices and how that's affecting family summer vacations. Several times a week I hear, read, or see some sort of report about how people are "coping" with having to cancel vacations and instead are creating their travel experience at home (i.e., having a luau in your backyard because you can't afford to go to Hawaii). There's even a cute name for them: Stay-cations.

This is by and large the hot gas-related story of the summer. The gist of the story? Woe is me, gas is so expensive that we can't afford to take our family vacation, we're sooo stressed out over it, we're handling this stressful and tragic situation the best we can by having a pretend glamorous vacation at home.

Ahem, privilege, anyone? Honestly, I really don't feel all that bad for the families who are so economically privileged that they can actually afford to take off of work (or are privileged enough to have paid vacation time) and can go on a family vacation. Why should I?

I'd say I was solid lower-middle to middle class growing up. We went on a vacation every year: a week at my grandparents' condo in the Southern Tier of New York, less than 3 hours from home. Why? Because it was free. A few summers we didn't go; those years we visited my aunts, uncles, and cousins in New England. Besides the travel costs of my parents' station wagon? Also, for the most part, free.

We never went on what you might call a family vacation. And up until now, I didn't realize that going on some wonderful elaborate trip was some sort of innate American right such that we ought to spend valuable news time lamenting that middle class families this year can't afford to drive halfway across the country and stay in a resort for a week. Heaven forbid for a summer you actually spend that week doing activities--gasp!--in your own general region. Or that you might now have to vacation--shock!--every other summer. Or, that you--horror!--spend time socializing with friends and neighbors. In an age where we hardly know our neighbors, and where most people are unfamiliar with the gems and resources in their own town, is it really all that huge a loss that the privileged Americans have a Staycation?

Why are middle and upper-middle class families and their precious Disney vacations the face of the rising cost of gasoline and not the working class families who lived month to month as it was before the exponential price increases...who maybe have to skimp on food or medical services, and for whom a Myrtle Beach trip isn't even on their radar? Instead of moping about being stuck at home, maybe some of these families should spend part of their summer volunteering for charities who help those who will only ever hear about DisneyWorld in the stories told by other more fortunate kids.

(Cross-posted to Smart Like Me.)

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Activists' digest of awfulness

By Carol Gee

Blogging is an activist tactic that many of use to try to make a difference in the world. Activists also write letters to the editors of newspapers, call the offices of government officials and even take to the streets. We want something to change, because there is something awfully wrong happening. And activists often work together for change. The blogosphere does this through exchanging e-mails, as well as posting to blogs. I get regular e-mails from my fellow blogger friends "betmo," of life's journey, and "Dan'l," who writes The Future was Yesterday.

*from betmo --

FYI, Republicans & Big Business-- Blogger "betmo" often titles the subject of the e-mail, "fyi." This link came in on 6/26/08: from, the story discusses some awful campaign tactics by Republicans. It reads, "Justice for Sale: How Big Tobacco and the GOP teamed up to crush Democrats in the South." On 7/8/08 betmo asked, "huh?" The headline read: "JOHN MCCAIN’S WIFE HIDING WAR PROFITS, UNTAXED OFF-SHORE ACCOUNTS? Federal agents: Cindy McCain’s full tax returns will show war profits, pre-9/11 insider trading, secret off-shore accounts linked to 1241 Class C Nevada corporation payoffs and bribes." It is awful that voters might let John McCain (through his wife) get away with this. And make no mistake, Senator McCain is no different than George W. Bush.

FYI, the FBI -- The Bush Republicans have held the White House for far too long for many reasons, not the least of which is their massive assault on Fourth Amendment civil liberties privacy protection. On 7/5/08: KDFA, News Channel 10, Amarillo, TX reveals that the "FBI Could Investigate You." And there does not need to be much of any excuse. "Strains of Wagner!" is what came to betmo's mind about this awful news. On 7/9/08: betmo warned, "and so it begins." Secrecy News headlined, "FBI Headquarters Not Cleared for Classified Intelligence," the atory continues to reveal that federal standards for secure classified storage cannot be met by the FBI. In a related linked story, the FBI said that this does not mean that classified information is not secure.

Fyi, Under Republicans -- 7/16/08's McClatchy Newspapers headline reveals that "Results are in: California's San Joaquin Valley is the worst." To quote: "Poverty, poor health and plenty of school dropouts have put the San Joaquin Valley's 20th Congressional District dead last in a new national scorecard that ranks the overall well-being of residents."

FYI: interesting site -- Pattrice Jone’s Bravebirds.Org, 7/8/08. This is an interesting view of the values surrounding not eating meat. I am not a vegetarian, so please understand that I will not be marching on this subject. Not that I ever march, actually. I write. I am including several of the paragraphs that betmo sent me. To quote:

In this passage, Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer gets right to the heart of the connection between violence against animals and violence among people: the principle that might makes right. Even people who are pacifist in every other aspect of life will condone violence against animals with no better justification than “because we want to and we can.”

Killing in self-defense is one thing; killing for pleasure is another. As every happy vegan demonstrates, people do not need to eat meat to be healthy. As long as one has access to other sources of protein, then one cannot claim to be killing in self-defense when one eats meat.

When we torture and kill animals so that we can have snack foods, we are doing something to the body of a non-consenting creature in order to obtain pleasure for ourselves. The same dynamic is involved in the sexual abuse of children. In both cases, the wishes of the victim are ignored while the desires of the perpetrator are paramount. In both cases, the only “justification” is that might makes right.

A different, more subtle, form of child abuse occurs every time a child’s natural empathy for animals is supressed by parents or care givers who demand that the child eat meat. When the crying child who does not want to eat a cow or a pig is forced to swallow those tears along with the dinner, real damage is done. Psychologist Alice Miller has shown that children who have been taught not to feel empathy grow up to be adults who can follow the orders of Nazis. Thus, in forcing children to participate in violence against animals, parents endanger not only their children but the world.”

When will we see the unity of oppression, see how the treatment of animals is mimicked by the inhuman treatment of so-called human beings. The brutality visited upon animals by kindergarten sadists always finds expression through domestic battery, child abuse, police brutality and war. And those kindergarten sadists aren’t born - they are made, produced, cultivated, nurtured and rolled off of the cultural assembly line. When will we see that when all life is respected, all life is respected and when some lives are not respected…Abu Ghraib’s happen, Holocausts happen, slavery happens, reservations happen, incarcerations, rapes and torture happens.
**From "Dan'l" --

Surprise Surprise - NOT! on 7/12/08. This is like a lot of other awful stories about Cheney and also about Halliburton. To quote waronyou:

According to journalist Jason Leopold, sources at former Cheney company Halliburton allege that, as recently as January of 2005, Halliburton sold key components for a nuclear reactor to an Iranian oil development company. Leopold says his Halliburton sources have intimate knowledge of the business dealings of both Halliburton and Oriental Oil Kish, one of Iran's largest private oil

Don't be surprised when this happens -- As of this moment I am exercising free speech, lawfully. I feel that it would be awful to enlist ISP's as policing agents for the unlawful theft of intellectual property. That is the job of law enforcement. According to ABC News, 7/4/08: "This is a well disguised step...":

closer to what the video and music industry really want - to hold ISP's accountable for files sent by users. Ultimately, this could easily result in the Web and it's contents being controlled by Corporations and Courts, which has been a Republican dream since the web came to be."

Or when this awful thing happens -- To close, betmo sent me this. The story says that "corporados want to completely monetize the internet." The story begins with an awful situation in Canada, but the scenario is entirely possible in the USA. Hold on to your hats folks. The free Internet is continually under threat.

(Cross-posted 7/17/08 at South by Southwest. Sorry for the delay. I am still on the road.)

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Veepstakes: further reflections

By Michael J.W. Stickings

An update to yesterday's post.


There are, of course, many factors that go into picking a running mate, and the game for us junkies isn't just about picking a name or ranking names but trying to figure out what factors are most important to a candidate.

Take McCain: It doesn't seem to make all that much sense for him to pick someone like himself, that is, old, with a military background, and experienced in the ways of Washington. So, instead, will he go with someone with whom he has a close personal connection, like Pawlenty or Thune; or with someone who has experience and expertise, of a sort, where he doesn't, namely, with respect to economic matters, like Portman or Romney; or with someone charismatic and even exciting, relatively speaking, like Huckabee or Giuliani; or with someone from a key state, like Crist (Florida) or Portman (Ohio); or with someone who is well-liked by the base, like Jindal or Thune; or with someone relatively young, like Jindal; or with someone who is a big-name celebrity with McCain-like national appeal, like Giuliani; or with someone who is an outsider, like Jindal or Palin; or with someone who is relatively unknown but who would show that McCain is willing to take a chance on a rising star and to try to broaden the party's appeal in a historic year, like Jindal or Palin?

The same goes for Obama: Will he focus on friendship and compatibility (Clinton-Gore) by picking, say, Kaine? Will he focus on making up for his own perceived weaknesses (Dukakis-Bentsen, Bush-Cheney) by picking, say, Biden (Washington experience, foreign policy creds), Reed (military background), Nunn (national security creds), or Bayh (dual experience, possible swing-state, Hillary supporter)? Or will he pick Hillary?

These are personal choices for the candidates, and it is likely that all of these factors and considerations come into play at least to some degree in the selection process. It seems to me you would want someone you get along with (though Reagan and Bush I were rivals who didn't have a close bond), but of course, an election being what it is, it helps to have someone who can win you some votes, if not some key states, and/or who can make up for some of your weaknesses or deficiencies, real or perceived.

And yet it seems to me that there is an overriding factor, namely, the ability to step in and do the job. Which is to say, a candidate's running mate must, these days, be the anti-Quayle -- someone with an impressive background and the capacity to lead, preferably (post-9/11, Iraq War and Occupation ongoing) someone with extensive national security experience (or, if not, extensive economic experience) -- someone with gravitas. This is the overriding factor whether the candidate has been around for a long time (McCain) or not (Obama).

Which should mean, for Obama (focusing on foreign policy and national security): Biden, Bayh, Nunn, Reed, or (of course) Hillary or Edwards or Kerry.

And for McCain (focusing on the economy): Romney, Portman, or, turning to national security, Ridge or Giuliani (even though he actually has next to no experience; for Giuliani, it's all about the mythology of 9/11).

This rules out Kaine for Obama and Jindal, Thune, and Pawlenty for McCain. There are cases to be made for all of them, but, to me, they lack what the others have. And at a time when the Iraq War rages on, terrorism remains a serious global threat, and the economy is weak and possibly getting weaker, the risk of picking the next Quayle is simply too great.


So, upon reflection, new predictions:

-- Romney for McCain

-- Biden for Obama

As always, though, such predictions are in flux.

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New Obama attack ad

By Libby Spencer

It's outrageous. Horribly unfair. An abuse of the First Amendment. A disgrace to democracy... Just kidding. It's done by three of our own, but mild profanity alert: May be NSFW if you work in an uptight office.

Of course, everyone is blown away by Watertiger's remarkable voice, but mad props to Thers for the script and Dan McEnroe for the stellar production as well.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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Support PETA, oppose the FDA's abuse of animals

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I don't always agree with its priorities, nor with its methods and tactics, but, in general, as a proponent of animal rights, I applaud PETA for the work it does to bring attention to, and to fight, the rampant and horrific abuse of animals in our "civilized" society.

This full-page ad appeared in yesterday's Washington Post. It features Andrew Von Eschenbach, the head of the FDA (Federal Dog Abuse). Here's how PETA puts it at its Stop Animal Tests site:

In addition to millions of mice and rats—hundreds of thousands of dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, birds, and primates are poisoned each year with pesticides, industrial chemicals, vaccines, and drugs.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) often require that these substances be tested in at least two animal species, even though these tests do not accurately predict how a substance will affect humans. Beagles have become the dog of choice for most tests because of their size and gentle nature.

These dogs spend their whole lives in barren cages, deprived of everything natural and important to them. They are denied the love of a family, a home, and the freedom to run, play, and feel the earth beneath their feet.

Please. TAKE ACTION. Say NO to the abuse of animals by the U.S. government. Say NO to the abuse of animals period.

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The 1988 Massacre in Iran

By non sequitur

Here's an important article about a horrendous massacre of Iranian dissidents in 1988. As the author points out, it meets all the requirements to be formally classified as a crime against humanity, but is still almost entirely unknown outside of Iranian dissident circles. The author, Kaveh Sharooz, has done a lot of the important and original research into this massacre, and published some of his findings in the Harvard Human Rights Journal. The article contains a link to that piece.

Here's a brief account of the massacre, from the article (because of the length of the quote, I'm not going to use the usual quoting mechanism here).


In late 1987 and early 1988, prison officials began the unusual process of interrogating political prisoners again and separating them according to their party affiliations, religiosity, and length of sentence. In Tehran, this meant that some prisoners were moved between Evin and Gohar-Dasht prisons. This preliminary segregation of prisoners strongly indicates that there were pre-existing plans for mass killings. Furthermore, the filtering process belies the notion that the 1988 executions were in response to armed attacks on Iranian territory.

At the end of July 1988, shortly after Iran had accepted a cease-fire in the war with Iraq, and days after its military had soundly repelled an attack by the Mojahedin-e Khalq on Iran's western border, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini gave two unprecedented secret orders(2) to begin the re-trial of all political prisoners across the country and to execute those who remained steadfast in their opposition to the Islamic regime. To give effect to Khomeini’s order, a commission was assembled -- called the "Death Commission" by the prisoners -- consisting of a representative from the Judiciary, the office of the Prosecutor, and the Ministry of Intelligence. In Tehran's Death Commission, those government agencies were represented by Jaafar Nayyeri, Morteza Eshraghi and Mostafa Pourmohammadi respectively, although others also played a role. The task of the Death Commission was to determine whether a prisoner was a Mohareb ("Combatant against God") or Mortad ("Apostate") -- and to execute both groups. In the case of most Mojahedin prisoners, that determination was often made after only a single question about their party affiliation. Those who said "Mojahedin" rather than the derogatory "Monafeqin" ("Hypocrite") were sent to be hanged. In the case of various leftist prisoners, the Death Commission asked about religious belief and willingness to cooperate with the authorities. Sample questions included: "are you a Muslim?", "do you pray?", and "are you willing to clear minefields for the military of the Islamic Republic?" If a plurality of judges felt that the prisoner was a Mohareb or Mortad, the prisoner was sent to hang immediately.

Several thousand political prisoners were killed in a matter of two months. Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri estimates that the number killed was somewhere between 2,800 and 3,800. Others believe the number is higher. Even those who survived the questioning of the Death Commission did not always fare well. Some could not bear the emotional pain of what they had witnessed, or the physical pain of the regular floggings they received, and simply committed suicide. The prison guards are said to have encouraged that decision.

To add insult to injury, the Iranian government did not inform the victims' families about the re-trials until the executions had been carried out and the bodies had been buried in mass graves. Once informed, the families were not told of their loved ones' burial spots and were ordered not to erect any monument or hold any ceremony. When asked about the killings by the Western press, representatives of the Iranian government -- Abdollah Nouri, Ali Khamene'i, and Hashemi Rafsanjani -- flatly denied them. The Iranian government continues to deny the 1988 elimination of opposition prisoners.


As mentioned at the outset, the murder campaign of that summer is a crime without parallel in Iran's tumultuous modern history. In fact, the executions have all the elements required by international law to be labeled as crimes against humanity: The murders were widespread and systematic, they were directed at a civilian population, and, as made clear by Ayatollah Montazeri in his memoirs, they were a policy preconceived at the highest ranks of the Iranian government. The sheer magnitude of the 1988 massacre makes it too large to ignore, even after twenty years.


(Please read the whole thing, including the proposals for action.)

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Leave them laughing

By Capt. Fogg

George has a habit of making an ass of himself when he's with the power elite he was born into and thinks the cameras and microphones are off. At a June 18th fundraiser, the Real George Bush stepped up to the mike thinking it would all be off the record, but somehow missed the fact that a camera was still on.

A video of Mr. Cocky joking about the privations of living on "government pay" for 8 years and about how housing prices haven't fallen enough to please him yet, begins with comments from the Harvard MBA about how Wall Street has to stop trying to do "all these fancy financial instruments." It first appeared on You Tube but it has now disappeared -- I wonder why -- but you can still see it for the moment at The Raw Story. Enjoy watching him laugh it up with his cronies while they foreclose on your house and you're reading the classifieds looking for work you can still afford to commute to.

Still looking for a president you can have a beer with? Think John McCain the millionaire is going to come over to your house to watch the game and laugh at your jokes about rich people and liberal elitists?

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Veepstakes: rankings and predictions

By Michael J.W. Stickings

With the exception of posts on Hillary Clinton and, earlier today, Bobby Jindal, I haven't really waded into the Veepstakes game. I don't see much point to it unless you have access to insider campaign information, or are a conduit for leaks, but that's not to say that I haven't been paying close attention to it. The choice of running mate, after all, may not make or break a presidential bid -- Bush I didn't lose in '88 because of Quayle; Clinton didn't win in '92 because of Gore; Kerry didn't lose in '04 because of Edwards -- but a) it can make a difference; b) it is one of a candidate's key pre-election decisions and hence a major campaign milestone; c) it is reflective of the candidate's values and priorities; and d) it is exciting, at least to us political junkies.

(On that last point, just imagine a Clinton-Giuliani vice presidential debate. If that doesn't excite you, you might want to rethink your own values and priorities.)

Over at WaPo's The Fix, Chris Cillizza offers up the top 5 veep candidates on both sides. They are as follows:


1) Evan Bayh
2) Tim Kaine
3) Jack Reed
4) Joe Biden
5) Hillary Clinton


1) Mitt Romney
2) Tim Pawlenty
3) Rob Portman
4) John Thune
5) Sarah Palin

On the Republican side, note that Jindal isn't on the list. Neither is Giuliani (although I don't think he ever had a serious shot at it) or Huckabee (who seems to have disappeared). I just can't see Romney getting it -- McCain doesn't much care for him personally. Thune makes sense, but, without delving into identity politics, there is the question of how voters will respond to yet another white guy ticket at a time when history has been made on the other side with Obama and Hillary. Jindal would be, as Cillizza puts it, a "Hail Mary" choice, but perhaps less of one than Palin, about whom I know very little but who would be, to put it mildly, an inspired choice -- maybe not a great one, I'm not sure, but certainly a high-risk-high-reward one.

On the Democratic side, I understand Bayh's appeal (statehouse and Senate, loads of experience), but I've never much liked him. He would certainly offset Obama's history-making persona with an equal measure of blandness, but he could turn Indiana blue and win over some of Hillary's former supporters (as one of her more prominent supporters himself). Note that Sam Nunn isn't on the list. Despite his impressive background and expertise, he's rather dull. Reed has a long military background and is on the rise in the Veepstakes game. I'll ask here the same question I asked in the post linked above: It could be Hillary, right? Sure, why not? Because of Bill? Because of her outsized celebrity status? Because she could outshine Obama? Because of all the questions that would come up about the Clintons' past (and present)? Well, okay. So then why not Biden? He may be too conservative for some Democrats -- and the Netroots wouldn't like him -- but there's no denying his formidable credentials as a Washington insider with outside appeal and one of the leading Democrats on foreign policy and national security. He's a bit too outspoken for his own good from time to time, but he would, I think, be a solid pick. (Otherwise, I still think Edwards would be great, if not, given the fact that he's been there before, terribly exciting.)


-- Thune for McCain (good friends, economy a priority)

-- Reed for Obama (trip to Iraq, military background)

I reserve the right to change those predictions at any moment, however. And my doubts have already deepened. Perhaps Jindal for McCain and Hillary for Obama? Or...

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Best. rebuttal. evah!

We had our own presidential campaign cover in the works, which explored a different facet of the Politics of Fear, but we shelved it when The New Yorker’s became the “It Girl” of the blogosphere. Now, however, in a selfless act of solidarity with our downstairs neighbors here at the Condé Nast building, we’d like to share it with you. Confidentially, of course.

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